How to upgrade linux

GOD DAMN IT I hate upgrading linux. Well, I hate it mostly because the easiest way to upgrade it is to throw your fucking computer out of the window and then hit your testicles about five or six times with the sharp end of a claw hammer and then pour everclear in the wound and spend about 200 hours trying to download a brand new distribution at teletype speeds just so you can get a system that allegedly works better than Windows. As a side note, I plugged in my new DVD burner and TV tuner card and fired up Win2000 just for shits and giggles, and in about four minutes, I was watching TV and recording video and burning DVDs and having fun. Tonight, I have invested about the last five hours into installing Debian, and I just decided to fuck that and turn around and install Red Hat 9, despite everything that everyone tells me about the big evil corporation called Red Hat. I’m sorry, but I don’t like the ass-backwards bullshit factor in Debian, and I really don’t like the fact that it has an interface that only a sysadmin would love. I don’t really like to write a sixty page paper about the internal workings of my machine every time I upgrade, and I don’t want to have to write down the numbers of every chip of every board of my computer so I can search them all on google and find out what kind of obscure module needs to be added to my kernel on its 863rd recompilation. Fuck all of that.

I got the skydiving video today, and it’s pretty cool. I’ll try to tear a few images out of it and put them on the web when I do up the Vegas trip page. I haven’t had time to write anything about it given the machine situation, but it will happen.

It is once again so god damned cold that I probably won’t leave the house for the weekend. I am reading that Po Bronson book on what to do with your life, I forget the exact title. I enjoyed his book Nudist on the Late Shift, and a few people have evangelically mentioned this new book, so I bought a copy while waiting for a plane in Houston. I haven’t thought it was anything spectacular, but I’m still reading it. I think I like the way he has interviewed a bunch of people about their lives and how he strung this stuff together. I like the journalistic sense of it, mostly because I wish I could write a book like that. But as far as being motivational or telling me how to change my life, it’s mostly dreck. But like I said, I keep turning the pages.

It’s going to take another two hours to download Red Hat 9, so I guess I’m going to bed.

Pre-trip panic

I’m in that pre-trip panic where I think that I need to research or read a bunch about the place I’m going, because once I get there I will want to do nothing but watch TV in the hotel and eat at McDonald’s because I have no better plans. I have probably a whole shelf of books on Las Vegas, and I could probably name off every casino from Tropicana to Stratosphere without even thinking, but I still feel a great need to find other stuff to do.

To be fair, I think we have a lot of stuff already planned. We have tickets (front row!) to see Dave Atell and Louis Black on Saturday. I think we also have Penn and Teller tickets at the Rio for Sunday. Add in all of the meals and some gambling and shopping, and that’t at least two or three days of stuff. But I always want to eat somewhere new, check out something off the beaten path, or do something that isn’t part of the same old routine. So maybe I need to hit citysearch or something.

There’s a small part of me that also wants to do something outrageous and expensive on my birthday this year. It’s the 33rd, not a nice round number of any significance, but I think I should jump out of a plane at 15,000 feet or take an open-wheel racing course at the Vegas Speedway or do something else involving high adrenaline, higher cost, and little practical value. I’ve made it somewhat of a tradition to go to The Gun Store and fire off a few rounds when I visit Vegas, since there’s pretty much no other way a New York City resident can legally shoot a gun, other than joining the police force and aprehending a minority during a routine traffic stop. The gun thing has become rather passe, despite the fact that you can rent full-automatic rifles at The Gun Store, and they have at least three new weapons I’d like to try (AK-47, a .223 M-16 carbine, and the M-249 .223 SAW.) But sometimes I wish I could do MORE – kill a dolphin, eat every single item on the Denny’s menu, marry a complete stranger, total a rental car and make my old insurance company pay for it. Something.

I have this vague idea that I am going to write an offbeat, quirky, and hilarious travel guide to Vegas, laced with personal anecdotes and useless advice and trivia. Maybe I will try to write some more damn stuff down this time and see what I can come up with.

OK, food’s here. Two more days of work and I can (temporarily) leave this awful land of high winds and low temps.

eBay Astronaut Suit

It’s amazing how quiet it gets when it’s so damn cold that you can’t go out without a heated astronaut suit or something. Last night, I closed my bedroom door to trap some of the heat, and it blocked out the sound of my computer’s fans and the occasional refrigerator noise, and I was stunned at how quiet it really was. It reminded me of when I was sleeping in Ray’s basement in the middle of nowhere, Indiana, or when I get the huge, soundproofed suite in Las Vegas, and all I can hear when I get in bed is total silence, and maybe my own heartbeat. By morning, it was almost warmed up to 15, and the scumbag mafia was outside yelling at the tops of their lungs while moving around cars. But it was nice to have a few hours of peace, and I do get that Vegas suite in a matter of days.

I haven’t left the apartment all weekend, as I mentioned, although I did go out to throw out about eight bags of takeout food garbage, and I made a quick run (literally) to the Korean bodega on the corner for some supplies. There weren’t many people on the street, although it’s now about 26 degrees outside. I believe the temps will slowly crawl up into the 40s and then drop down into total devastation again before I leave.

I realize it may be boring to be reading the Weather Channel here, but not much is up. All I’ve done all weekend is read or cycle through the channels, but I guess I’m pretty happy with that. If I had the opportunity to do it for another 10 or 20 days, I think I would. I mean, eventually I might do something drastic, like actually write on the new book or do some sit-ups or something, but I don’t think it will come to that.

OK, food is on the way, so I better find my wallet and eagerly await the door.

It is so fucking cold.

It is so fucking cold.
It is so fucking cold.
It is so fucking cold.
It is so fucking cold.
It is so fucking cold.

I haven’t left the house since I got home Friday. I don’t even know how bad it is outside except that NY1 is saying it’s 10, and with the windchill, it’s -2. It is actually ten degrees WARMER at my birthplace of Grand Forks AFB, North Dakota. I spent my first few decades hearing the horror stories of how cold and miserable it was up there, and now it is WORSE here. Why haven’t scientists built some kind of weather dome to stop this shit? What about building a bunch of nuclear reactors that bilged into the Hudson River so the temperature went up about sixty degrees and we never had another fucking blackout again? And what the hell happened to that global warming we were supposed to be looking forward to? Jesus fucking christ.

At least this means I will have an even better trip to Vegas. I’m leaving on Friday morning, and I’m pretty psyched about getting out there. I haven’t actually thought about packing or what I will be bringing, but I am excited about seeing everyone again, eating some real food, and spending some money.

I’ve actually been spending some time reading Tom’s Hardware and all of the other usual sites to gear up for another big hardware upgrade. It’s been two years since I built Daisycutter (aside from the video and firewire upgrades) and I think it’s time to give her a new lease on life. I’m thinking about swapping in another motherboard with a fast Athlon 64 and a boatload of RAM, possibly swapping in a different video card, and maybe another drive (although I think I’ve only used 28% of the existing 40 Gig, so that could wait.) My ultimate goal is to run mythTV and turn the thing into a TiVO-killer. So I’ll probably try throwing in a TV tuner card and maybe two of them, one with an IR receiver and remote, and get everything built. I know that will be a bitch and a half, because I will have to upgrade to a new Linux distribution, and then get one that supports all of the new hardware, and I think Red Hat is about at the end of the line for me. I have vaguely thought about Debian, but I haven’t done any research yet. I know that will mean a whole new world of hurt, not because Debian is bad, but because I will have to unlearn all of the bad habits and small hacks I’ve picked up in the last six or seven years and start over.

Six or seven fucking years?!?! Fuck, time is going too fast. I guess I did switch from Slackware to Red Hat back in 97 or so, when I got an unexpected bonus at my old job and nobody told me, and I seriously spent an entire weekend mortified because it looked like two paychecks had been direct deposited in my account, and I wondered if I should immediately call someone in payroll at 9AM on Monday morning or I should take the money out of my account immediately. I did call payroll, and they said nothing wrong had happened. About an hour later, my boss came in and said “sorry, I forgot to tell you on Friday. Good job, etc.”

I immediately concocted ways to upgrade Dismember, my old computer that at the time had a fast 486 in it, which was about two generations behind the curve. Any time I have money in my pocket, it always seems to go to new hardware, because I can always justify the purchase of any equipment that could be use for writing. Peter, the guy across the hall from my office, was also hitting all of the hardware web sites, and told me about one of those hole-in-the-wall places that sold parts on the web, but they were also local and you could go in and buy stuff for the same prices, which sure beat going to CompUSA for stuff. So I rushed over there after work and bought a K6-2 motherboard and a bunch of RAM, a new hard drive, and the first CD-ROM ever to grace my computer. I got the newest shrinkwrapped Linux I could find at that point, which was Red Hat, I believe 4.0. And that started the allegiance to that particular distro.

Anyway, I have a horrible headache for some reason. Maybe I haven’t drank enough Coke. I should get back to playing SOCOM II for a while.

Medal of Honor: Rising Piece of Shit

God damn it, I can’t believe it, but I think I finished Medal of Honor: Rising Sun already. I say “I think” because I finished this level, and then the credits rolled and it went back to the main screen, and that’s it. There’s this plot point that the main dude has a brother that was captured by the Japanese, and I thought there would be some big, final battle where you break him out of a POW camp, but there isn’t. I just looked at the EA website, and it’s pretty much full of posts saying “Is the aircraft carrier level the last one? What a load of bullshit!” There are seriously only like nine levels, and the last one is so short, it’s a joke. Plus the first one is also short. So it’s really like seven levels. There are also multiplayer/network games, but the first-person mechanism in the game is too “floaty” to really make it easy to run around and randomly shoot shit. Plus I don’t want to get my ass kicked online by a bunch of fourteen-year-olds that practice all day on it. At least now that it’s done, I will have that much more free time after I get home from work each day, at least until I buy more PS2 games.

On a related note, I’m reading Walter Lord’s Day of Infamy, a fairly well-recommended book on the attack on Pearl Harbor. It’s interesting, but also a bit jumbled. In thinking about how I write stuff, I wonder how someone would go about writing a book about an event where so many things happen at once – torpedos, bombings, strafing, midget sub attacks – and thread all of the different involved parties’ stories together in such a way that truly shows how the all-hell-breaking-loose tension must have been at the time. I don’t know if Lord went through old records, or interviewed a bunch of people, or researched existing stories and articles, or what. But in places it seems like has simply thrown together account after account, snippets of “person X was doing Y”, and I wonder if he had some greater purpose, like a timeline he followed or some other method of sorting. It’s not footnoted or anything, so it’s hard to tell. It makes me want to go out and buy 47 more books on Pearl Harbor and get out a razor and cut them all loose from their bindings and start taping them to the walls of my apartment and then build a model of Ford Island with a bunch of model ships and really get shit straight and then film it all on my camcorder. Or maybe not.

It’s cold as hell outside again, and I really hope I do not get sick again. I’m already hitting the orange juice and minimizing my time outside. I was going to write more, but my dinner is here (pancakes), so I must go watch the trainwreck of a Wednesday night TV lineup and eat.

Zappa dreams

I was up almost all night last night, then woke up early and read until I could fall asleep again. Then I had a weird dream that I was listening to this new album that was by Stanley Clarke, but it sounded almost exactly like if Frank Zappa had come out with a new album that continued on from the stuff he did right before he died. I half woke up, and still heard music, and then heard that it was really shitty Spanish music, like the stuff that sounds like flamenco or almost country, but with some crooner guy singing in a really awful style. It turns out that the landlord had some guys working down in the basement all day, banging around and listening to this total shit. So I had to listen to Hammerfall and Slayer at top volume to drown it out and possibly scare the people.

I went to Barnes and Noble today, because it was pouring rain and it seemed like the thing to do. I’m reading this book that’s an oral history of New York, lots of interviews of people about New York in the postwar period. I think I got the book for free last summer when I bought more than fifty bucks at Coliseum, and never read it. I’m really digging through the house for stuff to read; I have stacks of books I haven’t read, but it’s all stuff I don’t want to read. Does that make sense? Anyway, I went to B&N and looked around for a while, mostly trying to find books under ten bucks. I ended up getting books on Pearl Harbor, Lincoln’s assassination, and a cool pocket editon of Tale of Two Cities that’s printed like one of those little Gideon bibles, with thin pages and Metal Curse fonts, but a very nice binding. I also finally found a copy of the new release of The Adventures of Ford Fairlane. I’m listening to the commentary right now in the background, which is funny in a strange way. The director, Renny Harlan, has that halting Finnish sort of accent, where his English is perfect, but it has just that little bit of a pronouncement to it. Anyway, it’s entertaining to me.

The gout is about gone, so everything worked. Still eating cherries by the firstful, though. OK, gotta get back to Renny.