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Collected editorials

Yesterday’s rodeo man


I believe the Navy’s definition of “portable” is “It can be transported by destroyer.”
   — Walter Bushell

Water for oil

The United States, well Alaska, is now planning to ship water to the Middle East. If all goes as planned 80,000,000 gallons of water from the Blue Lake in Sitka, Alaska will be transported by converted oil tankers to Mumbai, where it will be bottled and sold in drought stricken cities in the Middle East.

If I recall correctly, bottled water sells for more a gallon at the gas station than gasoline does. There is a moral here somewhere, but damned if I know what it might be.

Yesterday’s rodeo man

Recently Our Lady of the Large Black Dog gave me a couple of CD’s by Kyle Evans. Now it turns out that there are two singers named Kyle Evans. This Kyle Evans sang cowboy ballads. I don’t know where they came from, but some of them he wrote himself. Several of them are about cowboys and riding in the rodeo circuit. Many answer the question: where are you after competing for money and glory in the rodeo world? The answers are disquieting.

One of the songs is called Yesterday’s rodeo man. It is about a cowboy, bent, broken, and old, who was a champion bronc rider when he was young. He has little to show for his glory days. He lives in a one room cabin. His posessions are a few pieces of furniture, some buckles he was awarded, the picture of a woman who wouldn’t marry him because he was wedded to the rodeo life, and his memories. As he sits in his rocker and muses, his thoughts always return to his rodeo days when he was young and able, and one of the very best at what he did. Age and poverty fade away when he visits his memories. As the refrain goes, “In his heart he’s still a champion, he’s yesterday’s rodeo man.”

Of course, this isn’t just a rodeo story. It’s there in every competitive sport and every activity that provides an adrenaline rush. There are rodeo bums, ski bums, surfing bums, contract bridge bums, and skate board bums. There are young men and women focused on scholastic and olympic sports, with dreams of making it in the big leagues. For every one that makes it there are tens or hundreds or even thousands who do not.

So is it worth it? Another song suggests that maybe it is, that ten seconds in the saddle is worth a life time of sitting in the stands wishing you were there. Maybe yes, maybe no. Few get fame and fortune; most only get memories. Are they golden memories or are they poisoned? If your happiness is spent on rehearsing that which was, might you be throwing away all that could have been.

Difficult questions these; I have no answers.

Are you unhappy

It’s too bad you feel the way you do.
You might try feeling differently.

The life and death of computers

As of this writing I have, gasp, seven computers in the house, not counting the chips in the miscellaneous electronics. My, oh my, how did this happen? Let’s see: First of all there is a Windows 95 machine that was my work horse back in Boston. It had multiple partitions on it, including one dedicated to Linux. The last time I checked it still runs. When I was commuting between Boston and Highmore I needed a Highmore machine, so I bought a Gateway Windows 98 machine. It was my workhorse for a number of years. Deb bestowed a Windows ME machine of dubious provenance; I don’t think I’ve ever seriously used it. I still have these machines; they gather dust in a closet. I think that I have everything off of them worth retrieving. When I get the time and the inclination I resurrect them and see if they deserve anything besides a final burial.

Somewhere along the line, circa 2004 or 2005, I acquired Big Boy. Big Boy was a top of the line PC at the time. It runs Windows XP professional, has quad cores, and a quality of construction that is unusual for PCs. It also had a 22 inch monitor. In short, a very nice, rather expensive machine.

The odd thing is that Big Boy didn’t immediately become my workhorse machine. I had the Windows 98 machine configured to my needs and desires; my work space wasn’t set up for regularly working with two machines. Eventually, though, I retired the W98 machine and Big Boy became my standard bearer.

Somewhere along the way I acquired a cheap Vista machine called New Boy. I wasn’t enthralled with it, but I thought I might make it into a dual boot machine running both Vista and Linux. Until the recent disasters it sat unused. I also have two laptops, both running XP, that I use when travelling.

Recent disasters, you ask?

Well, yes. In our recent summer of no content Big Boy went down under a virus attack. It was a nasty one. I hauled the machine over to the near by repair shop (only fifty miles away) where they dug into the problems. While they were doing this I decided to get the Vista machine operational.

For my purposes, operational means running the portable environment that I have created. My usenet files (I use an ancient version of Free Agent) and my email files (I use an ancient version of Eudora), all of my html files for my web site, and all of the source code for my various projects all reside on a portable hard drive. The portable hard drive makes it easy to move my working environment from machine to machine. However there are a number of utilities that have to be set up on each machine for this to work.

To make a short story long, our not so local repair shop thought they had cleaned up Big Boy, but it turned out that they hadn’t and couldn’t. The only option was radical surgery, clearing out the entire hard drive and reinstalling XP. This meant that I had reinstall everything.

While all of this was going on I more or less settled down to using New Boy as my main work machine. And then New Boy acquired some parasites. Off it went to the repair shop where it was cleaned out. Over the years I’ve had very few problems with viruses and malware. Being hit twice within a few months was a real bummer.

One good thing that came out of this is that I finally converted Big Boy into a dual boot machine running both XP and Linux. Big Boy is running the Ubuntu version of Linux. I am impressed with how smooth and easy the transition from Windows to Ubuntu was.

For now I am using both machines. I move stuff back and forth using portable hard disks and memory sticks. At some point I am going to have to network them, but it probably won’t happen very soon.

So it all ends well. The dead have arisen and live renewed.

This page was last updated November 1, 2010.

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Collected editorials