OK Soda, Baffler, Hermenaut

Anyone remember this soda? It appeared on the market for about six months in the mid 90s and then promptly disappeared. Today I saw a reference to it on my favorite news and culture site Plastic.com:

http://www.plastic.com/article.pl?sid=01/06/29/1729221

Only to discover that the reference is due to the recent appearance of an article by my old Boston friend Josh Glenn in the Baffler:

http://www.thebaffler.com/glenn.html

Way to go Josh – you got plasticized! Very good article, too. But The Baffler competes with Glenn’s own magazine Hermenaut (www.Hermenaut.com), which, incidentally, used to be hosted at my site birdhouse.org. Sleeping with the enemy again Josh?

Tow truck

CycleTow just came and hauled away my bike to evaluate whether it’s totalled or repairable. Seeing it in the light of day, it’s more messed up than I thought. The subframe is tweaked, which may tip the scales toward totalled. So sad to see it being hauled off like that. Like watching a best buddy move away or something.

Such a beautiful morning… I should be going for a ride. Sigh.

a blur

Have spent the last five days mostly on the couch, in a blur of vicodin and movie rentals. Here’s what I’ve seen in the past few days:

Alfaville – Godard
The Harder They Come – Jimmy Cliff
Wonder Boys
Reefer Madness
Bamboozled
Twisted Obsession
Discrete Charm of the Bourgeoisie – Bunuel
One Day in September – 1972 Olympic terrorists
The Eyes of Tammy Faye
The Ladies Man – ugh

DVDs from the Criterion collection are so great. The Bunuel documentary on Discrete Charm was fantastic, as was the commentary on Harder They Come.

Getting so frustrated not being able to do anything. Even small things like washing the dishes are minor triumphs. Last night I “escaped” from my sling somehow and woke up wiyh my arm above my head somehow. No wonder it’s so sore now. Will have to cinch myself in tighter tonight. I’m so ready for this whole thing to be over and have my life back, but there’s much more pennance to pay.

Have been reading developer materials on groove.net. Much learning to do before I can be useful to them.

Bahjinagh

Bahjinagh is the Persian word for “husbands of sisters,” like Sharoq, Steve, and myself are vis a vis Ellen, Lisa, and Amy. In Iran, it’s a special family unit. In Persian legend, Bahjinagh are capable of overthrowing kings!

Shah told me about this when I was in Bothell, and I just found the note where I wrote it down. Wanted to post it so I’ll remember.

Paying the piper

It finally happened — I pushed it too far on the bike and bought the farm. Mike and i took a ride out Redwood Rd. to go to a gear shop in Castro Valley. Had a great Mexican lunch. On way back, we were really flying – felt so good to be on familiar twisties again. Was thinking how nice it is that the bike is finally all broken in and that I’ve found my zen with it.

Was in a decreasing radius left-hander doing about 45 when the turn suddenly got much tighter. Cranked it over harder, but started to freak out when I realized I was getting too close to a drainage ditch at edge of road. Because I couldn’t lean any farther with confidence, I should have been pushing down sideways on the bars to eek out a few more ounces of angle. Instead, I panicked and tapped the front brake. That’s all it took to stand it up, which sent me straight into the ditch.

Rambled through the ditch for a few feet, then the front tire bounced out and caused the bike to catch air and sail back toward the road. Bike came down nose first at an angle and i went head first over the handlebars. Had a moment to think about how to roll. Landed on my left shoulder and elbow, plus side of helmet. The bike came crashing down behind me with an evil, expensive sounding noise.

I immediately jumped to my feet and out of the road, then realized the bike was at the end of a blind curve and liable to be run into by a car or to become an obstacle for another bike. I went to it and grabbed the handlebars and tried to lift it. As soon as I pulled, I felt a rippling run through my upper left arm and something felt like it was out of place. The pain was pretty intense and I sat down on the side of the road. Everything was chaos. Realized later that I probably started the arm fracture in the crash but actually broke it trying to lift the bike.

Mike had been right in front of me, and though I knew he couldn’t see it happen, I knew he would turn around soon and come find me. Minutes later, another biker stopped to help me out. He was able to get my bike out of the road and to a pullout on the other side. It looked pretty messed up. Another guy showed up, then another. Some bicyclists were there. I started to come out of shock and was sweating like a pig. One guy had some medical experience and did some coherence and visual tests – I was fine, or at least didn’t have a concussion. But the pain in my upper arm was really starting to kick in. A bicyclist gave me 800mg of ibuprofen. Had a few sips of water.

Somewhere in the middle of all this someone rode down to the ranger station to call the paramedics. They arrived 15 minutes later followed by the CHP. More questions and more tests, then climbed into the back of the ambulance — first ambulance ride. CHP wrote up an incident report.

Went to Alta Bates emergency room where the interminable waiting began. Was in there for hours. Finally took x-rays. Big fracture running diagonally across my left humerus. Amazingly though, everything is in tact and in alignment. Doc predicts it will heal nicely but will take time.

Amy and Mike showed up around 10:30. Mike had taken care of having the bike towed down off the mtn. Amy had been teaching and saw Mike arrive with tow truck. She was worried sick. She has always been so worried for me and this is the last thing I wanted to put her through. But she was a trooper.

Finally got sent home with a splint and sling, a bottle of vicodin, and a prescription. Had fertility duty, then slept fitfully. Today it’s all still sinking in, what it means to be pattially disabled for the next 8 weeks, what I did wrong, how it could have been avoided.. Every little thing is a goddam hassle now (like buttoning my pants), and I need to start making money. Life is so weird. Went to see orthopedist and he said I wouldn’t need a full cast — just the sling and another x-ray in 12 days.

Pretty ironic that I just finished a 3500 mile ride without incident, then all this happens on a 50 mile afternoon jaunt. Helmet will probably have to be replaced. Jacket is deeply gouged but still viable. Aerostitch looks fine. Protective gear saved my life today. Head would have been smashed open without the helmet. Bike will need quite a bit of work and I can’t afford that until I’m working again. I won’t be riding for a while. May even make a bigger decision about riding. Can I trust myself to reign it in?

I’ve typed this out one-handed, hunt and peck. It has taken a long time. I’ll have to get used to it.

Time passes swiftly by

Let me respectfully remind you,
Life and death
Are of supreme importance.
Time passes swiftly by
And opportunity is lost.
Each of us should strive to awaken.
Awaken!
Take heed:
Do not squander your life.

– The Evening Gatha

Turning Point

BYTE ran a piece I wrote two weeks ago:

Turning Point for Be, Users

about the BeOS situation as it stands… just how bad it is, who should keep using and why, etc. Ignited quite a firestorm on BeNews, but most people didn’t begrudge my position… most agreed with it. A few flames, easily extinguished. The weird thing was that I got messages from old Be engineers and employees… people I hadn’t heard from for quite a while writing to commiserate, and to remember what it used to be like. Interesting that they’re still following Be after all this time, long after they’ve moved on personally. BeOS gets under you skin that way. People are never the same after they start using. Was kind of nice reconnecting with an older segment of the community.

Between that and the recent “Adamation leaves the BeOS scene” announcement I had to write, I feel like a Benedict Arnold. Except that I’m not a traitor – I’ve done everything in my power to keep things alive. Why there were never dozens of journalists on the BeOS beat is still a mystery to me. I shouldn’t have been alone.

Anyway, it just amazes me that there are people today who think I’m being unfairly harsh on Be. “They’re going through hard times. You shouldn’t be so callous.”

For godssake people, open your eyes.

How bad is the FreeBSD installer?

Just off the top of my head:

– When doing a net-based install, it hangs waiting for confirmation for some things (like if it couldn’t find a designated package on the ftp server). Which means you leave it running overnight, come back, and it’s been sitting there waiting for confirmation for 7 hours.

– When it was done, went to reboot and got “boot signature not found”. But I know I set the BSD boot partition to bootable. Booted from floppies, went back into the slice editor and found that my “active partition” change hadn’t taken. Looked at the readme and found that it said I had to commit the change. But “commit” was buried down in some other menus in the installer where I couldn’t see it. Alternatively, you can use W in the slice editor. But W isn’t shown as one of the menu choices. It’s a “secret.” Retarded.

– Went through the whole rigamarole to set up X and everything seemed to go well. It launched a dummy screen in my chosen resolution, let me tweak the horiz and vert placement, etc. Even had the mouse working. Let it go ahead and link these settings to X. But once booted into BSD, running startx fails with some utterly cryptic message I haven’t gotten around to writing down. More research required.

– Set up a regular user account and booted into it. But it wouldn’t let me su to root. Not a password issue – it says I’m not in the right group to do that. So then I couldn’t shutdown or su to root to shutdown. Had to ctrl alt del. Later, killed that account and recreated it and specifically invited the new user into “wheel”. That worked, but was that the right thing to do? No idea. Felt kludgy.

– Ran /stand/sysinstall to have another go at configuring X. When I exited sysinstall, it went out onto the net and started grabbing the whole /bin directory again. I didn’t want that and I didn’t choose that. And there’s no way to cancel out of the net download process. Once it starts, you’re stuck in it. Let it go through the process, then found that the user I had finally set up properly had been erased and root login didn’t prompt for password. WTF?!

And that’s just off the top of my head. Status: Can boot from Be’s bootman now. Can log in as a regular user. No X running. No time to work on this again for a while. Grrrr. Unixland prides itself on being user-unfriendly, that’s one thing. But bad design is another. What I don’t get is why some writers have praised the FreeBSD installer. I want to send those people BeOS install CDs.

Net-Based Install

Turns out that the problem probably wasn’t that the cylinder boundary was too high. Well, it may have been, but once I got everything moved around I found that the FreeBSD fdisk wanted me to delete the BFS slice and re-create it as a FreeBSD slice. Previously, I had only tried to change the filesystem type from the main fdisk menu. The errors it gave were misleading and led me down a garden path. So much for usability. That’s the flipside — I always complain that no one has ever made things as easy or as logical as Be has. And when I spend half a day trying to get sound working on a Linux machine, I gripe and grumble. But I have to confess that my inner tweaker actually derives some kind of perverse pleasure from twiddling all the knobs. That’s Be’s secret Achilles heel – it’s too damned easy to install and configure. You get the satisfaction of using a coherent system, but not the satisfaction of banging your head against the wall for an hour and then solving something. Banging your head against the wall makes you grow as a person. I think that’s why Linux is so popular. Because it’s so hard.

Anyway, everything is humming along now. Downloading and installing FreeBSD at the same time. Gotta hand it to ’em. Net-based installs make sense. Everything should be that way. Start with a floppy, get it going, go eat dinner, watch some of the made-for-TV-movie about the legendary tenniss battle between Bobby Riggs and Billy Jean King, and you come back to a fresh-baked operating system. Pretty cool. Only it’s going kind of slow – 9.4KB/sec – 1/4 of my bandwidth. I think they meter it intentionally.

Partition Madness

It’s nice to have a small break. Back from Mom’s place, doing a lot by phone now. The pace at work has slowed down dramatically – actually working sane hours, getting home while it’s still light out. Just turned in my last Byte column. Taking care of odds and ends that have gone ignored for months.

Trying to install FreeBSD in the background, but running into partition problems. It’s partitioning utility won’t let me install to the fourth partition on secondary master… cylinder too high. I’ve got so many disks and partitions, it gets confusing. Now using a little known feature of Be’s brilliant Installer app to copy the entirety of the BeOS boot drive on the first partition to where I was going to put BSD. Will then reinitialize the first partition on that drive and try again. It amazes me… read these articles about how “impressive” the BSD installer is, but it’s so arcane. No better than the Linux installers I’ve seen. Is Be the only company every to have gotten OS installation right? But what’s the point? The world never cared.

Must eat something. Maybe there’s a box of rice pilaf I can make. Amy is teaching tonight and I fend for myself. Bachelor chow.