Forgive my absence. Or not. It really should not matter, except as evidence that David Brin has priorities.
What have mine been? Other than my daughter's birthday, planting my garden, replacing my pool heater, doing more hours of daddying each week than I received in most years of my own childhood (not my father's fault, but another story) ... and generally living?
What's been the biggest time sink? Well, alas, it has NOT been writing science fiction novels.
Rather, it has been a modern form of medieval torture called technology.
I have just been through the worst imaginable month of electronic hell, with all of my files and computers trashing relentlessly and repeatedly, making me rebuild like a Katrina victim.
It began simply enough, with my son's #@$@#$# Dell 4700 (with expensive graphics card) fritzing just as soon as its internal clock said that the warranty had expired. Three hours on phone with a helpful fellow north of Delhi did not nail it down (so much for $#$@$##@@# MS diagnostics). After five attempted memory swaps, finally realized it is the #$#@# mother board. (Shall I buy a cheap Frys basic, transfer the HD and graphics card and hope for the best?
Oh but then there were all the replacement PCs bought, tried, rejected, returned... till finally a Pavillion HP Media thing seems to work, knock on wood... Only then the downstairs wifi crashed.
But at least I had my Mac. Right? A 4-year old G-4, reliable as a plow horse and just as loyal. I've used Apples (and owned stock) since 1981. Once had an Apple II with a serial number in 5 digits (stolen, alas). I've been quirky and kept the G-4 running sys 9.2, in order to run the only decent word processor ever made, the 1989 version of Word Perfect for Macintosh.
So, did my trusty G-4 HAVE to choose the same month to go fffffft?
Even more frustrating... there in the Mac shop, they said "we can't find a thing wrong with it!" (Oh, yeah, what about all the missing files? I drive south tomorrow to try and save THOSE. Pray for me)
Ah, well, I had already been planning to buy a new G-5 before they switch to Intel chips. Two reasons. The old guys will still run OS9 software. (And yes, I still can use WP'89). Moreover... Intel chips are all "numbered". If you get my drift, folks. So what the heck? I splurged. Hey, once every 4 years ain't bad for a work-horse machine. Give the G-4 to the wife and kids.
Only now I must learn OSX. (Sigh. Must I? Yes, you must) And yes, OSX is marvelous. It's merest bootlace, Windows is not worthy to kiss. Yeah. I know the hype. I even agree, it's all true. But oh! Ten years of productivity tools! Of tricks and time-savers! All needing replacement! Ouch!
Ooooog, I could go on all night. Things that had my blood pressure up and cussing... then slowly calming as I learned to turn into servants instead of horrors. Take the "dock". Sure, it is cute... and annoying... till I got the "dockyard" widget and tamed the thing just great. (Anyone at Apple? I have FIVE suggestions how it could be made better.)
Oh, how I hated the way Apple copied Windows formalism for minimizing, by shunting windows down to the dock and forcing you to go get them out again. Taking away my old OS9 "windowshades"... till I found a $10 app called "Windowshades_X" that wonderfully gives all the old tools back to me, and then some! Suddenly, when you add in stuff like Expose' - my double-wide pair-o-monitors is starting to feel like home. Kind of magical, in fact.
But first, argh... old Quickeys won't work in OSX. Bought the NEW Quickeys because I cannot live without it. Every key on the number pad can become a supercharged macro button. Must have... must... have... only now I must reprogram every single macro and key one at a time, by hand, relearning as I go. My back! Who can spare the neurons!
Is the pain over? Not so fast. Gotta get used to Safari. To the obnoxious blaring colors that they insist folder labels use, if you use colored folders. To browser-style navigation... probably good but hard to adapt. And to the weird logic of desktop/user/HD hierarchy in which NONE OF THEM CONTAINS THE OTHERS!
Oh! Managed to salvage use of my old LAserwriter IINT... a product so fine that it belongs in some Hall of Fame. Asante makes this Appletalk-to-Ethernet box and the guy there talked me thru it.... and it only took ten times longer than it should have.
Oh, it goes on and on. Maybe by May I may be back up to speed... back to NORMAL levels of drowning.
I wonder, might all of this have happened because of my last blog posting? Was it THAT effective?
(There are ways to shut guys like me up, you know....)
As evidence, just look at Newt Gingrich. In the last month, since I started hectoring him, the man has started showing real spine. Oh, I won't claim credit for any of it. (He was already grumbling.) But I sure want to.
And here in Cunningham's district, the democrat, Busby, almost won outright! Oh, there are signs of hope, in the polls, in the defections. But will it all be fast enough to stiffen the few thousand people the republic needs most right now? Those who can step up and say NO to any planned "October Surprise"? Thje officer corps. The intelligence community. The professionals who can save us from monsters, when those monsters start to panic....
Let me close with a couple of items.
1. The inimitable Dan Simmons offers a colorful (and extremely xenophobic)rant about war between civilizations. It sounds like he's been reading my famed predictive speech about "meme wars"
while on a fistful of downers. He names folks that I name pretty often, like old Alcibiades, though drawing a very different lesson. His lesson is wrong. Just plain flat-out wrong. But I respect the guy. He writes well. You deserve to be entertained.
2. Here's a snippet. No special reason. Just one of a myriad I've collected while in the 4th circle of electronic hell. Just clip it and give it to that wvering conservative. All the follows was written by Russ Daggattt.
Average annual budget change as a percentage of U.S. gross domestic product during these administrations:
G. Bush 0.2%
G.W. Bush 2.4%
How about that? Bush (with a Republican Congress) has overseen the biggest GROWTH in the Federal Government in almost 60 years. That follows Clinton, who oversaw the biggest DECLINE in the size of the Federal government in a generation. Conservatives who cling to their cliches about this are like freed slaves who stayed with their masters as sharecroppers, rather than standing up, looking around, seeing a new world, and coming to terms with it.
“Corporate profits accounted for 11.6% of gross domestic product in the fourth quarter -- the biggest share of the nation's income companies have taken since 1966. They have been able to do so, say economists, by sharing less with their workers."
I hope to be back in business soon. Thrive till then....
(PS can anyone tell me why so many programs like Word insist that when you are selcting passages of text, that you MUST select whole words? Who thinks up these things? WHat PLANET are they from?)