Friday, July 22, 2011

Outside Jericho

Woke up thinking of grandpa's funeral
where one by one my cousins stood 
and told of a warm funny man
and I sat in a pew
holding my father's hand
because I never saw that man 
until the last few years
when his brain fell apart 
and the walls came down
and he forgot himself
or was it me?

It's funny what can trigger a series of thoughts.  A friend tweeted a link to a clip from the new Planet of the Apes flick which turned out to revolve around the ape lead defending a character with Alzheimer's. I couldn't get through it, which was kind of a surprise to me. My grandfather died 9 years ago, and his senility had been building for 6 years at that point.  I guess I thought I was done with all those feelings, but clearly I was wrong.

Maybe it's having kids. Christie's grandmother is still alive, and my daughter (age 3) is a huge fan of all 4 of her grandparents. So she's naturally curious about mine. How to explain that I was flat out scared of one grandfather, and never met the other? And that's not even getting into the question of how to explain death to a three year old.  I think that's going to have to wait a couple of years.

So, anyway, an idea popped in my head while I was in the shower, and I wrote a draft, showed it to Christie, and we talked about it. I said I worried that it was trite, and she said, "Well, anytime you end a poem with a question, you're taking a risk, but if it's how you feel..." which didn't exactly assuage my worries. But I've only writtem one poem since becoming a father, and I really wanted to take the time to craft some lines, so I revised, and revised until it's something a little more ambivalent and ambiguous, something with a clearer voice, something I like a little better.

Of course, talking about poetry in public always makes me feel like a Vogon, and reminds me of the Heinlein quote, "A poet who reads his verse in public may have other nasty habits." And then there's the central problem of the poem, that the version of my grandfather that I knew was not the version that everyone else seemed to know.  

Luckily, nobody reads my blog anymore anyway.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Third draft

Woke up thinking of grandpa's funeral
where one by one my cousins stood 
and told of a warm funny man
and I sat in a pew
holding my father's hand
because I never knew that man 
until the last few years
when his brain fell apart 
until the walls came down
and he forgot himself
or was it me?

Second draft

I woke up this morning thinking about my grandfather's funeral
how one by one my cousins stood and told of a warm funny man
and I stayed in my pew, holding my father's hand
because I never knew that man until the last few years
until his brain fell apart and the walls came down
and he forgot who he was, or was it me?

First draft

I woke up this morning thinking about my grandfathers funeral
How one by one my cousins stood and told of a warm funny man
And I stayed in my pew, holding my fathers hand
Because I never knew that man until the last few years
Until his brain fell apart and the walls came down
But was it because he forgot who he was, or who I am?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Linux on a Netbook

We bought a HP Mini netbook a few years ago for Christie to take a-traveling, but it's got issues. It was never fast, but Windows is a bio-degradable operating system, so it's been getting slower with every update. And speaking of updates, it seems like every time I opened the damn thing, it would try to update something, or run some sort of diagnostic, and because it was so slow, it would take forever to close the window or turn off the virus scan, or otherwise get back to the thing I was trying to do in the first place, at which point it would restart itself because Microsoft apparently doesn't think I actually want to do anything with the computer except maintain their buggy, bloated OS.

Although I do like Windows 7 well enough on the bigger laptop. So maybe my beef is really with HP.

It does, however, come with a HP Quickweb, a streamlined OS that's supposed to make it easier to open the netbook and start surfing the web. But I don't really like Quickweb. It feels like playing in the kiddie pool, and it steers me heavily toward its anointed solutions, which aren't always what I'm interested in. I would, for instance, rather use Gchat than Skype. Unfortunately, putting Linux on a netbook is not always super-simple, so here's a breakdown of how I got around and/or over the various hurdles.

Hurdle One:  Which OS?
I picked Ubuntu because it seems to be the one that requires the least fiddling with it. I have enough to do in my life, and I don't feel like spending my weekends tweaking my OS (no, that is not a euphemism).

Hurdle Two: No Optical Drive
This one was pretty easy.  Ubuntu.com has easy to follow instructions on how to create a thumb drive with all the info on it for installing Linux, and the software to build the bootable thumb drive is free for download.

Hurdle Three: How do I boot from a thumb drive?
Normally, there's a screen that shows briefly telling you which key to hit to get into the setup so you can change the boot order of the computer. The HP Mini doesn't do that; it just goes straight into Quickweb. But a bit of Googling got me the solution: While the netbook is booting up, just keep hitting F9, and you'll see a screen giving you a choice of boot disks including your flash drive.

Hurdle Four: "No Root File System Is Defined"
All the instructions for the installation package showed three options:

  1. Install alongside another OS
  2. Wipe the HD clean and install Ubuntu
  3. Do something else. 
All I was seeing were options 2 and 3 from that list, and I couldn't figure out the problem. I didn't want to completely wipe out Windows, but I couldn't get the "Do Something Else" menus to work for me. It would show me partitions, but I couldn't do anything with them, and if I tried to continue the install, I got a "No Root File System Is Defined" error.
Eventually, I figured out that I could only have a total of 4 partitions on the hard drive, and HP had already put 4 on there. There was the Quickweb partition, the main Windows partition, a Recovery partition, and a fourth partition that I think is just there to make it harder to install Linux, because there really doesn't seem to be any good reason for it.

Download.Cnet.com led me to Partition Magic, which wouldn't let me merge partitions in the free version, but would let me delete and move things, so I took everything off that useless 4th partition and shrank the Windows partition, aka the C: drive.  I was tempted to get rid of the Recovery partition because they aren't particularly useful (especially if you experience hard drive failure), but chickened out. Resizing the Windows partition from within Windows is not exactly trivial, but it's not exactly rocket science, and the software does most of the work:
  1. Tell Partition Magic to resize the C: drive. Click Apply, and restart when it tells you to.
  2. Tell Partition Magic to delete the 4th partition.
  3. Move the partitions around so that the unallocated space is contiguous.
And now you're ready to install Ubuntu. Restart the netbook, hit F9 a bunch, boot from the thumb drive, then follow the onscreen prompts.

Hurdle Five: How do I pronounce Ubuntu?
No idea.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Testing Google+

Well, I got my Google+ invite, and so I'm seeing how I like it. I use Facebook quite a bit to interact with old friends, but I live most of my life in the Google ecosystem (Gmail, Blogger, Picasa, etc.) so I'm really curious how this is going to work out. I'll admit that a big part of my desire for a Google+ invite is the increased photo storage it comes with. I wonder if this is going to kill my Flickr membership?

Of course, my main reason for writing this post is to see if posting on my blog has any affect on my Google+ profile.  Google+ knows about this blog, but does it do anything with that knowledge?