2008 — 12 Mar: Wednesday, and repairs continue

Turns out Windows has also toasted all my exchanges with chum Brack down in NZ. And with Brian. This is very irritating. I shall leave my two Linux magazines where my PC can see them, and see if that frightens it1 into better behaviour. I've just (again after midnight or so) finished manually rebuilding the contents of my Thunderbird mail files, with the noted exceptions. Again, enough to be going on with for a while...

Today's crockpot experiment will involve chicken (though informed opinion from no less than four of my chums suggests going for breasts rather than thighs was a mistake). How come everyone except me already knows this sort of arcane stuff? Where was I when the cookery classes were being held? Repairing PCs, I expect.

Back online

The human member of the household, that is. It's 09:30, the sun is up there somewhere behind what looks like ten/tenths cloud cover, and I'm advised that hot oil will seal the fowl and stop it disintegrating into a foul mess. Big Bro asks ironically:

So if my bro, computer wiz kid and all, has difficulties with the mighty Microsoft and some bits and pieces of assembled Chinese hardware masquerading under a multitude of end assembly names... Compaq, HP, Dell, Sony, Toshiba etc, then how the hell can mere mortals survive in this Vista/Centrino world? I do sometimes wonder.

Big Bro

So do I, John. Meanwhile, Brian suggests that the Linux hack to access iPlayer streams from the BBC without the DRM is yet another reason to shut all the Windows in the house. Time for a cuppa, methinks. I notice Windows has just downloaded (and, by now, run) its latest Malicious Software Removal Tool. And yet, and yet, Windows itself is still on the system... How strange is that?

Lord of the Rings, revisited... dept.

Thanks, Lis! I mentioned that my birthday present in 1968 from Big Bro had been the first one-volume paperback edition of "The Lord of the Rings" and that I'd passed that copy along to niece #3 (sometime at the start of this millennium, I guess). While I'm more than content to have the luxurious Folio Society edition downstairs on the shelves, I was utterly delighted to open today's dropping from Mr Postie and find a replacement copy of that paperback edition. It's come via "Hitchin's best kept secret" and is inscribed by its original owner, one M Aldridge, in December 1974. It is in good nick, and also carries a Foyles sticker. So, six years on from my original acquisition, it had gone through 14 printings, and increased in price from 30s to £2.95 and I suspect it cost you a little more than that, didn't it, Lis? It can even fit into the original place on one of the shelves in the study. Thank you.

What is it about books, and book shops? This article struck chords in what passes, these days, for my memory, though I've never been to, and don't expect ever to go to, Los Angeles. I cannot live without books any more than Thomas Jefferson could. Nor could Christa, for that matter.

Seeing, and shooting, stars... dept.

As I vaguely ponder (from time to time, but with no great urgency) the further dispersal of Christa's ashes from that weird plastic sweetie jar container, a serendipitous link strikes. To be honest, I would have expected this operation to be based on the West coast, not in the Roman town of Colchester! I wonder if the Chinese inventor of gunpowder ever foresaw such an application? And, as I clicked my browser's back button, the online ad cluster (from Google) that had taken me there is now offering three links about writing my will, and an offer to "pimp my profile". You hafta smile.

Thermal, and other, agitations

A glorious mixture of sliced chicken breast,2 chopped tomato, garlic and olive oil, cooking wine, chicken stock, spuds, carrots, leek, swede, onion, soy sauce, and a last-minute dab of flour is now undergoing (I hope) its slow transformation into a tasty dish for later consumption. Breakfast has been (at 11:30 or so) somewhat delayed and is taking a curious form, even for me. But it's a reasonably nutritious mixture, I hope. As is Maddy Prior, as she describes her musical involvement with "Wombles" producer Mike Batt on BBC Radio 2 right now. I've even done the latest crop of dishes.

The sun has been breaking through from time to time, and I may yet allow myself to tempt myself out for a pub lunch somewhere. (Shall I? What do you think, David? I agree with David.) Anything to avoid listening to the Budget speech, I guess. Particularly as Mr Postie also popped the latest extortion demand from the local council on my doorstep. The Council Tax (aka Poll tax) is, after the remainder of the (interest-free) car loan, by far my biggest outgoing expense and yet, as a single chap, I must currently be making the most minimal demands on my local authority. Mind you, it currently looks pretty cold out there:

Rather cold

You know how it is... dept.

You get out there in your car, arrive at reliable lunch spot #1 (after some quite skilful parking beside an enormous Chelsea tractor), saunter in, and find the place abso-positively-heaving with (erm) even more elderly folk than you, a queue a mile long, and a suddenly-diminished appetite. So you unskilfully manoeuvre back out, much helped by the pair of ladies directly opposite leaving, and thus opening up a slot to reverse into, and head for reliable lunch spot #2. There you park equally skilfully beside a very large, Jeepish-looking, thing, saunter in, and decide you're not in quite the fishy mood that's all the bill of fare seems to have on offer. So you take your rumbly tum back home and placate it with a light and nutritious snack that you could quite well have made in the first place.

But then you wouldn't have pushed the car through that 6,000 mile barrier, would you? I have to get it to 6,020 miles or so to manage the personal 6,000 but I'm on my way. Just coming up to five months of driving, and an incredible four months and one day since Christa's death. Still strikes me (and others I talk to, it seems) as very unreal. But what can I say? It's real, it's happened, and I just have to carry on as best as I can. Yesterday, by the way, Christa's two remaining accounts were finally unfrozen by her/my bank and handed over to my control. That just leaves me to sort out Mr ERNIE,3 and I have (literally) another eight months before that becomes an issue. Still, I may just get a round tuit this afternoon and then dash out for a spot of Special Delivery before "they" close my nearest Post Office. (I signed a petition against that closure in mid-October, just after my best girl had gone back into hospital for the last time, and it seems to be working so far.)

Damn! Where did I put my printer drivers CD? It's impossible to interact with Mr ERNIE except, as it were, in writing.4 And I need to print out the PDF of the claim form. Meanwhile, I can amuse myself with the Guardian's list of the 50 most powerful blogs, I guess. And by sniffing for signs of developing tastiness5 in the crockpot. I won't bother linking to the story about Super Hi-Vision TV, since a) I could neither afford nor accommodate a 450" screen and b) who needs 33 times more data when the data they broadcast is already such rubbish?

Final quick trip out to Waitrose to buy yet more foodstuffs (though, naturally) I forgot the apples, say "hi" to my chum Marian (promoted to the tobacco and cigarette sales counter, so I had to tick her off about that) and the car is back in its nest for the night. Did you know a pack of ten ciggies is now around the £3 mark? Amazing! And she told me someone had just bought 800 of the things...

OK, found the printer CD, installed it, everything hunky-dory. Now where are the drivers for the Epson scanner? Answer, on the web. Thanks, Epson. That's definitely the way to do it. Brilliant. Though it did need a system reboot. So we've got image capture, manipulation, and printing back. Plus, of course, the office suite. The email. The web server access. The web browsing. The file editing. The (current) database software I use needs me to rename the PC to match the activation key, so I will hang fire on that until I see what sort of repair we can manage to the XP system on the primary machine tomorrow evening. And, with luck, I'll also have the hard drive external enclosure by then, for some more concentrated data sucking.

And so, nearly, to bed... dept.

It's now 23:48 and the eyelids are strangely heavy. I watched the (third, apparently) part of a series on fantasy books on BBC 4 (always nice to see Messrs Pratchett and Gaiman and Pullman) plus most of the following programme on Egon Schiele. Then I made the mistake of clicking up through the Freeview channels and am once again convinced that intelligent life on this planet has gone walkabout. (It's been remarked that about fifty dolphins have so far learned to recognise [and correctly demonstrate comprehension via context] several hundred words of human language, but no human has yet managed a single word of dolphinese [except David Brin, presumably].) The chicken experiment was entirely edible, by the way, and will provide a further two meals unless it develops a life of its own, intelligent or otherwise, in the meantime. Mouldy old town, indeed. G'night.



1  You shouldn't really anthropomorphise computers; they hate it when you do!
2  Suitably fried briefly first in hot oil to seal at least some of its structure in, I hope, to ward off the predicted disintegration as it slowly cooks.
3  She has already won several hundred pounds since her death. Incredibubble. The warrants all have to be returned and re-issued to me as her earthly (I guess!) representative. Death, taxes, junk mail, Premium Bonds... the list goes ever on.
4  Sadly, although the lady I talked to was very pleasant, she was less well-informed than I am about the various bits of process to be executed following the death of a National Savings holder. But I kept nice and cool, Christa, I promise.
5  My nostrils tell me I can be guardedly optimistic.