Looking Back

It was actually mozzie who started this blog.

1/100 of a century ago, I established this blog to compose my thoughts, air my grievances, and share my joys. It was an idea largely inspired by my research of Michel de Montaigne’s Essais, who for his own part was inspired by the greek ideal gnothi seauton (know thyself). Up until a year ago, this notion hadn’t really occurred to me. At that point, I knew more about the dead French philosopher’s mind than my own.

So a year later, what have I learned about myself?

That deep introspection is tough. That’s what I originally intended- a goal that I fulfilled on several occasions, but still ends up a minority among the 90 some-odd posts I’ve churned out this year. The conditions have to be just right- you need energy (the quality of my writing suffers after a sh*tty day at work), time, a fine beer/wine, and if at all possible, a kitty. There are few intersections of these qualities in my life, which explains the number of anecdotal and narrative posts, as opposed to lengthy, well-reasoned essays.

That said, the narratives have value too. They’re some of my favorite entries, as a matter of fact, on par with the more philosophical posts in style, if not in content. Most importantly, nearly every single post was original thought. Nothing disgusts me more than bloggers who only repost and add some pithy comment to other’s work.

I feel I’ve at least begun to accomplish what I want to do (I certainly expect thoughtful introspection to continue beyond a single year). The fringe benefit of writing is being able to look retrospectively at the course your life has taken over time. For instance, I mentioned in one entry about the pleasure of working at LCLS during the filtering video project, told from an outsider’s perspective.

So how will I keep the blog fresh for the second season? Crazy romances? Faked deaths? Partial nudity? It’s all on the table.

Impulse Power!

During a trip to Target, I joined the 21st century by impulse-buying a wireless mouse. The beautiful rodent is one of the few instances where Chairman Bill and MS gang has gotten money from me. I don’t know why I was so attracted to it, but it’s mine now.

The good:

  • It’s a sexy design, comes in red
  • The flip feature saves battery
  • Works w/ Ubuntu!

The bad:

  • No charger
  • Not bluetooth
  • Comes in black/red (no blue?)
  • No matching keyboard

I’m currently using it w/ my desktop, but it might be nice not to sacrifice my wrists when using my lappie. Although Microsoft has won me over with it’s sexy hardware, I don’t know if I’m ready to use it’s lesser-known software division…

I’ll never tire!

March 2004 118 300x224It’s been 16 days since I’ve driven my car. It’s been nice, in spite of the early arrival of winter. For the most part, I’ve walked to work (excepting a single rainy day) or ridden my motorcycle (brrrrrr).

I hope I don’t disappoint anyone, but this wasn’t a wholly conscious effort. My car key went missing on the 1st of November, and I’ve not had the time to replace until today. In the midst of my auto-abstinence, some force of nature decided to remove my driver’s side window, leaving behind a glittering pile of glass cubes. Let’s hope the next window lasts longer than the former…

Fortunately, the irony of the whole situation isn’t lost on me- at a time when gas is approaching 2003-2004 price levels, I’m driving less than ever. Like others, some masochistic part of me actually wants to waste gas just to have the satisfaction of filling it up again for under $2 a gallon.

It also happens to be a time when the company which manufactured my car is begging for it’s existence. On NPR, a commentator I was listening to put it best “The big three have sailed against the winds of change for too long, and it’s finally showing”. Succinct and spot-on in this case, with only a minor extension it could be applied to a number of legacy librarians who see the world in exactly the same way they saw it 20 or 30 years ago, and who flatly refuse to acknowledge that what they learned in library school is often no longer applicable. I understand that change is seldom easy, but American automakers are a gleaming example of sticking to a outdated enterprise. Will librarians who fail to change be on the brink someday? I think part of our complacency is the deep-rooted reverence for the library as a social institution. People who don’t ever set foot in the library will continue to support it because of it’s perceived benefit to the community. But will this idea endure?

Archive, your chive

I’ve taken on the daunting task of sorting through the spindle of backup dvds which has resided on my desk for some time now.

Thanks to an extreme paranoia which has weakened a bit with age, I made backups of my documents and pictures about every 6 months for the last 6 years.  In that time, I’ve been through 4 computers, half a dozen operating systems, and several places of residence.  Through it all, I faithfully carried my backup spindle.

What brought on my sudden urge to purge was the realization of two facts: I have more hard drive space than I ever could use, and cheap burnable CD’s have a fairly short life.  To that end, I set to go through each disc and determine whether it’s contents were worthwhile.

The whole process took about 6 hours, and was worth every minute of it.  Rifling through the many files & discs is a bit like looking at the cross-section of a tree trunk.  The first backups were very small, and just barely occupied two cds of picturse & documents.  It would have been less, but I got my first digital camera two years before my first cd-burner.

The years wore on, and more pictures were being archived.  New cameras with more megapixels drastically increased the size of the images, which of couse meant more cds.  Before I finally convinced my Dad to give me his old DVD burner, I was burning 9 cds just to archive my photos.

With the advent of a DVD burner, I could fit my collection onto two DVDs, then three, then four.  In it’s current state, my photo collection would require13 DVDs to hold a full backup.  With that in mind, I’m beginning to back them up to Amazon S3, a medium which I hope will last for several years.

Besides a fresh look at how the collection has grown, I was able to regain a number of lost files & photos from my backup spindle.  Much to my chagrin, in the course of moving from one computer or OS to another, some pictures were lost over time.  It’s been years since I’ve laid eyes on some of the recovered photos, but I still remember everything about where they were taken and why.  It occurs to me that this is something I take for granted- the collection only represents the last 8 years, so most things are still clear in my mind.  Will I remember them so well 10 years from now?

Did you know ‘vote’ is an anagram of ‘veto’?

That’s the most unique coverage of today’s election you’re likely to get.

Like most Americans, I’m doing my best not to stare into the bottomless pit of speculation, lest I be hypnotized and fall in.  Besides, the issues that matter most to me aren’t even being discussed, like whether Obama is black enough, or is what is Palin’s opinion on Youth in Asia?

No, these are the tough questions that will never be asked.  We need to focus on the future now; specifically, what will be on the news once the election is over?  What will fill the 1000’s of hours of programming previously dedicated to prediction and punditry?

I’m particularly worried about comedy shows.  A victorious McCain-Palin  would be a boon for the Daily Shows and SNLs of the world, whereas an Obama victory might bring an end to 8 years of high-riding ridicule.  Or maybe not- maybe the feculent pendulum of media bias will swing menacingly toward the Democrats. Stranger things have happened…

No matter who wins today, it’s my sincere hope that the 44th president is chosen by our antiquated electoral college, and not by our 9 antiquated justices of the Supreme Court.