Dispatches, thoughts, and miscellanea from writer Jon Konrath

Linux, Coney Island

Every time I need to do something on Linux, I run into a whirlwind of problems. Current issue: I turned on pretty much every firewall option when I installed Red Hat 7.2. Now I want to install a web server. Nope. The only method of reconfiguring this is to do everything short of pulling chips off the motherboard and crossing bare wires in the computer case. Is there any documentation on it? No. There’s a two year old HOTWO that does the “if your system has X Y Z do this..” crap, which means I would have to go on a major expedition to find out of Red Hat 7.2 has X Y Z, and of course it probably doesn’t, because Red Hat is legendary for installing stuff sideways and covering it with a bunch of unmaintainable crap.

Aside from that (which actually didn’t come up until today), I had a pretty relaxing weekend. It’s officially summer, and the city’s starting to smell like it. I think it’s going to be a long, hot, humid summer this year. New York summers are the worst, because the entire city is like a miles-long concrete solar collector, and then all of the big buildings dump heat out of their AC systems. But most of the buildings like restaurants, stores in my neighborhood, have substandard AC and aren’t built for the heat. And my building is like a big brick pizza oven. Luckily this year, I have a portable AC in my room, but it isn’t incredibly cool, and it uses a lot of power. I’m going to carefully orient the fans and maybe get another, more efficient one. Luckily, I will be out of town for about two weeks of the worst of it – next week, and the first week in August.

I went to Coney Island yesterday, just to take a long ride in the air conditioned subway and shoot a few photos. (I wanted to post the photos, hence the big Linux screwup.) I like the last part of the train ride through Brooklyn; the subway is outdoors, and passes all of these family houses with little backyards and stuff. Then you go through an immense train yard, with rows and rows of subway cars – some new, some old, some damaged or antique. The train stops, and you’re right at the corner of Surf and Seaside.

It’s very strange to be on the same train for so long, and then get out and see it right there by the beach. I had a similar feeling when I drove across the country for the first time in a small U-Haul truck. A few days into the trip, the truck looked so weird to me, because I had all of these mental images of it in Bloomington, at my mom’s in Elkhart, in the Badlands and at Devil’s Tower, the panhandle of Idaho after the plains and mountains of Montana. I could only imagine what it would be like to go to the moon and back, and then see your capsule sitting on the deck of an aircraft carrier with the interior filled with two weeks’ worth of tang bottles and moon rocks.

Despite the long trip, I didn’t do much at Coney Island. I shot some pictures, walked the boardwalk, got a hotdog at Nathan’s, and watched the people. Coney Island always has a strange feel to me, the way it’s laid out and the building surrounding the area. It’s a weird mix, because there are some high-rise projects or condos or something, and then there are hundred-year old businesses. There must be some strange zoning going on there, because I’d think it would be built up to the gills, like the rest of the city. Maybe it’s the practicality – I would love to have a view of the ocean, but the beach is always crowded, and how would you get to work every day? It’s a good hour and a half from Manhattan.

Anyway, not much else going on. I saw the new Ocean’s Eleven on Saturday, and Swingers last night. Trying to get in some Vegas movies before the trip. I’m not even sure I will gamble when I’m there, though.

OK, gotta finish eating…