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One day not long before the end

Exactly who are you?

Upon my return I checked the web site usage statistics. The number two most popular page on the site is a page called Big tits, a fact that tells me something about my readership that I probably didn’t want to know. Another popular page is Sex with the teacher which says something about the educational establishment that I also didn’t want to know.

Speaking of the educational establishment, do they really use The works of Jane Austin as source material in English classes? How embarrassing. On the other hand I opine that The Cold Equations – A Critical Study is a legitimate piece of scholarship, particularly if one counts superficial essays about genre fiction as scholarship.

I can only suppose that the ever expanding American waistline accounts for the popularity of the Whole stuffed camel recipe.

The theology of driving automobiles

I recently drove about 4000 miles on various U.S. highways. Along the side of the road there were many shrines marking where people had died in auto accidents. Almost all the shrines included a cross. I only saw a couple with Stars of David.

There’s only one possible conclusion: Jews are better drivers than Christians.

Watching the debate

I watched the first presidential debate. My conclusion? President Bush should use Preparation H before the debates instead of afterwards.

Excuses, excuses

Usually I have a pile of stuff, aka profound, scintillating essays probing the human condition, enchanting fiction, and other such trash, that I can add to the jokes scraped off of my jokes.txt file. Well in advance of the first of the month I massage a selection of said stuff into HTML pages to be uploaded into my web site – often as much as 24 hours in advance.

This time around, however, the machine was in and out of repairs for several days. It all started when the CDrom burner developed clunking noises and then petulantly refused to operate at all. I simply could not get into its drawers. Not being willing to tolerate this bit of unseemly behaviour, I hauled down to my friendly computer fixit shop to have the offending device replaced. (This hauling, by the way, involves a trip to the metropolis of Pierre SD, a mere fifty miles away.) The friendly folks at the fixit shop said to come back in a couple of hours and all would be well. I returned at five o’clock to discover that all was not well.

The fixit folks, as a gesture of good will, had decided to install different burner software, software that supposedly was better, niftier, and more efficient. It might well have been. However ….

When they tried to reboot the machine it wouldn’t boot. It just sat there, blinking at us.

We never did figure out exactly what happened. My machine isn’t an out of the box Micro$oft system. It had windows 98. It also had system commander and a linux partition on it, along with a number of partitions on the hard drive. Presumably the installation software was written for a vanilla system – it might not even have been happy with an old version of windows 98. The lads at the fixit shop thought the registry might have been damaged. I dunno. Whatever the problem was, it wasn’t one we wanted to solve in the late afternoon.

Instead they put in a second hard drive with (supposedly) the original hard drive as a secondary slave drive. I wasn’t entirely happy with this solution – it meant that all my stuff would be moved, and that I would have to reinstall a quantity of software. However I have been this route before so I know the routine.

That wasn’t the end of the story. They now discovered that the modem (also a recent replacement) no longer worked – its software had to be reloaded. Unfortunately the disk for that was back in Highmore, 50 rather odd miles away. Naturally they didn’t have a duplicate copy. Rather than trying to fish around in the old disk for the modem software – a daunting task – they swapped in yet another new modem and installed that. Once that was done they could download all of the drivers from Gateway. Finally all was done and the machine was buttoned up. I put it back into Matilda and trundled home with it, rather later in the evening than I had planned.

Once home I put all the bits and pieces together and sat down to reload software. It was then that I made the unhappy discovery that my old drive, supposedly now a slave drive, wasn’t visible at all. Perhaps this was a punitive strike by the disk liberation front; if so I wasn’t amused. I opened the machine up and looked inside. The source of the problem was evident; the old disk was not connected to anything.

What made matters worse was that all of this happened on a Friday; the fixit folks would not be available until Monday. I said the hell with it and loaded software instead. Monday I called the fixit folks. The guy on the phone (the only guy – they were shorthanded that day) told me what cables I had to connect to get the old drive active. (I probably could have figured it out, but I am nervous about guessing about hardware.) After a bit of fumbling around I connected the ribbon cable and the power cable. I plugged the machine back in and turned it on, expecting to see all my old disk partitions. Disaster. The blinking cursor returned; the machine would not reboot.

I called the friendly fixit folks again. The chap on the other end said that what I would have to do is to move a jumper on the old hard drive from the master position to the slave position. After a bit of looking I located the jumper, a tiny bit of plastic and metal across a pair of small pins in an inconspicuous and hard to reach location. At this point I decided that moving that jumper was a task for the professionals at the friendly fixit shop.

Wednesday I returned to the fixit shop where a young lad opened the machine up, unscrewed sundry screws, removed the offending drive, pulled the jumper off its current set of pins with a dental pick, and delicately put it in place on a new set of pins. He put the drive back in and turned on the machine. Nada. It seems that there is no standard universal layout for these little drive pins. Out came the drive again. This time he looked at the little layout diagram on the side of the disk. (Yours truly also looked – all of this was a major learning experience.) He moved the jumper yet again, inserted the drive yet again, connected it up yet again, fastened screws yet again, plugged it in yet again, and turned it on. Success! The old drive and all its partitions was visible. The machine was once again alive!

That’s why this issue is late. Oh, yes. I still haven’t checked the new CDRom burner to make sure that it is working. I really don’t know what I will do if it isn’t.

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This page was last updated October 3, 2004.
It was reformatted and moved September 8, 2006

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