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Caustic Comments

Part 3

Blowing in the wind...: All are are is dust in the wind. Or un-raked, water-saturated leaves being shot across the street as if they were geese being sucked into a jet engine (that last bit being yet another topic: about Air France or some such airline suing JKF airport (or some such airport) because a flock of geese got sucked into the engines of one of their Concords (and I mean the whole damn flock...not just a solitary bird) and ended up causing around $8 million worth of damages). Indeed, today we had some rather nice—or nasty, depending on your perspective—wind, with many really strong gusts: the doors on the 3rd floor of Van Hise could not be kept shut.

Tuesdays are not generally really interesting days. After all, I only have Italian—I usually end up spending a lot of time in the office doing next to nothing simply because I’m bored. Today, however, was my day to work on Cora Lee’s Micron Transport Trek laptop, which has an interesting glitch: in word processors (WP8 and Word97, as well as Notepad, I discovered), the cursor will occasionally jump to a previous point in the text—and occasionally it even selects and deletes text. It’s not a regular software problem, and after much work, we ruled out the possibility of a virus. That leaves us with two possibilities: the touch pad is fucked (most likely) or there is some annoying little conflict/incompatability with Windows 98. The latter would please me, because then I could just install 95 and be done with it all. I suspect the former, however, is the case, and we will have to ship the laptop back to Micron for their engineers to ponder over—the phone tech-support guy had never encountered this particular problem before. Thus, I got little work done today (so much for spending the afternoon in the library as planned).

Still, I got a ride home from Cora Lee, which allowed me to avoid the grey sky, drizzle and very high winds that were abusing all the poor souls stuck walking home today. I thought, what a useless day, all told—we didn’t even fix the computer problem, and indeed, what a useless day for the most part. However, taking Cora Lee’s advice, I called up Educational Travel Centre (only two blocks away on Frances... but I am not crazy... with this weather, I’m staying inside). <plug> Educational Travel Centre, at (608) 256-5551, rocks my world. If you are in Madison and need to arrange travel, call these folks.</plug> Anyway, the person there was very helpful and polite, and with a minimum of effort, and even taking into account my rather convoluted X-mas travel plans, she found a pretty good fare for me on Delta. Compared with the combined 45 minutes spent waiting to talk to Micron tech support people (two calls) and the complete uselessness of said calls, talking to the “travel agent” (probably a college student) was a real relief.

Of course, my day has just begun (it is 6:30pm), as I still have a shit-load of work to do for tomorrow, including the preparation of a project proposal/outline/progress-report for Joe (*cough* *cough* ... you want what, Joe?). I did manage to register for my 4 for-credit courses for next semester, but my attempt at registering—as an auditor—for Slavic 442 (4th semester Intensive Serbo-Croatian) was unexpectedly thwarted. Curses, foiled again. Oh, got a letter from Florence, which is always nice—meaning I should write her back soon (perhaps tonight if I feel like avoiding work). Reminds me also that I should write to Elisa. I always get behind on such tasks. Shame on me. Tsk tsk. At least work and procrastination (the latter being a result of the existence of the former) usually helpe me to actually do things that I enjoy—such as writing letters. Oh, and I got an A on my Italian exam.

—November 10, 1998

KDE, et. al.: Go MadLUG! Awesome group of people, from a variety of backgrounds it seems—academia and “business and industry.” Young and old, and not only men (although clearly male dominated). Several experienced Linux (and Unix) users—many employed as System Adminstrators, it seems. There also seem to be novice and/or recreational users, and more than a few /. readers. The group is new (formed in September or so, it seems), but we had over 20 people there tonight, which is promising. Contact (of a sort) has already been made with Red Hat and contact will be made with Corel and Star Division, it seems, as well as some of the other distributions.

Speaking of distributions, they got in touch with Virtual Net down in Castro Valley, CA, which donated about 20 CDs or so of “Guru Linux”—basically Linux Mandrake (Red Hat + KDE), which is now using Red Hat 5.1 (I bought 5.0 a year ago). So, I got a CD and brought it home. I have partions to spare, and hence, it is now installed—talk about trivial installation, it was as easy or easier than 5.0, and more trouble-free than installing Windows 95 or such. KDE is definitely prettier than FVWM (1, 2, or “95”). Admittedly I’m still rather fond of AfterStep (I would like to try Window Maker, which I hear is actually better than AfterStep in many regards). Now all I need is a modem ... a simple, Linux-compatible modem (read: non-WinModem)—maybe that’s what I’ll ask Satan, I mean Santa, for this X-mas.

—November 13, 1998

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