Category Archives: Assorted Ramblings

Books for Trade

Back in August, I found about PaperBackSwap from a post on Marauder’s blog. So far, I’ve only managed to send out 17 books, so it’s not done a great deal to help in my efforts to disenclutter, but at the same time, I’ve also received 8 books I’d never read before. So in that regard, it’s at least helping me save a little money as part of my personal economic stimulus plan.
A couple days ago, The Washington Post ran an article about PaperbackSwap. My only fear is that as Spider Robinson pointed out some years ago, being “discovered” is the worst thing that can happen to local bars and restaurants. What I’m hoping though is that more publicity perhaps means more people requesting books and thereby helping with my efforts to disenclutter.
Can I interest you in a book? 🙂

Summer’s Dark Ending

Although I disagree with his conclusion that it’s all meaningless, I thought Dave did a nice summary of some of what’s been going on. My experience over that time frame is a little different; not better, not worse, just different. I’ve been trying for the past couple weeks to find the right way to express it, but what I’ve concluded is that either the right words don’t exist, or else I’m not clever enough to find them.

The past 18 months have been a bit of a roller coaster. There were definitely some high points, but when you’re heading into a valley, it can be difficult to remember the peaks.

Last March, an aunt passed away. It was somewhat expected, and in many ways, I’ve no doubt it was also a blessing. But when the end came, it was astonishing how quick it was.

We’d no sooner laid my aunt to rest then another relative passed away. This time an uncle on the other side of the family. His health had been declining in recent years, but this time it took me completely by surprise.
Right about the same time, a close friend was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. Cancer. Thankfully, AJ beat the cancer and recently celebrated her first full year in remission. (This peak I remember. I’m looking forward to AJ celebrating many, many more such anniversaries.)

August of 2007 ended with news that another aunt had been hospitalized as a result of a stroke and for a brief time it appeared that I’d be ending the summer with another funeral. Happily, this was not the case and the rest of 2007 went by on a relatively high note. Along with news of AJ’s remission, friends Sue & Steve announced that they were expecting their first child, I threw my first-ever party for Talk Like a Pirate Day, took a creative writing class, and in November, took my first-ever swing dance lesson.

For me personally, the first half of 2008 was fantastic. I dove into swing dance, eventually taking three months of lessons and although I can no longer be a regular member of the Jaycees, I’ve managed to at least stay involved to the extent the organization is willing to make use of the skills and knowledge I’ve acquired.

The first crack in the patina of joy came in early July when Hodo’s brother passed away after a lengthy battle with colon cancer. I’d never met Chris, but I’ve known Hodo for four or five years, so AJ and I attended the viewing together to pay our respects and make sure Hodo knew that her friends were there for her.

Another shadow crept across the summer sky in mid-August. I’d like to think I could point out Robbie in a crowd, but the truth is that he was only 20 and the generational gap between us was such that I only really knew him as one of the kids who’d been growing up attending the local science fiction conventions. I know his father, Bob, well enough that we’ve occasionally chatted at the same conventions. I can’t claim to be a friend of the family, but I’m definitely part of their community.

In January, Robbie was diagnosed with Leukemia. I’ve known other people with Leukemia and they beat it. Between that and AJ’s successful treatment, I was certain Robbie would beat his cancer too. I was proud to be one of the people who contributed to the more than $2,000 that was raised at Shore Leave to help cancer patients and I was horrified when a month later, Robbie lost his battle.

It’s been raining off and on for the past day and a half. Not a downpour, but enough of a soaking to make the ground soggy and the skies gloomy. It fits my mood.

Last summer my aunt suffered a stroke. She made a partial recovery, but it’s not been going well lately. This past weekend she was accepted into hospice. There are a few potential wild cards that could change everything, but the prognosis at this point is somewhere between two weeks and two months.

I like Dave’s summary of the stages of life, but I disagree with his ending.

The sun rises in the East and sets in the West, and as the day ends, all slips into darkness. This too is meaningless.

When AJ was diagnosed with Cancer last year, her friends immediately closed ranks around her and Mike to make sure they had everything they needed. When Hodo’s brother passed away, her friends closed ranks to take care of her too. And when news came of Robbie’s illness, that community came together as well.

And that’s what I think it all means: Hold on tight to the people you care about. Let them know you care.

So if I seem a bit “out of sorts” or a bit “clingy” in days to come, it’s because that’s what I’m struggling with. I’m trying to figure out how to let my friends to know I care.

And perhaps those are the right words after all.

Clean-up Efforts Continue

After a bit of procrastination, my efforts to Disenclutter™ the place are getting back into gear. I’ve been using Freecycle for a year or two, but that’s sometimes a little hit or miss, so it’s time to get creative.
Some of the stuff I’m getting rid of is a bit fannish, so for those items I’m trying a more focused effort. I’ve had one reply already from that effort, which is pretty good when you consider that particular section of the site generally gets just one or two visits per week.
The newest effort is an attempt to thin out some of the books I no longer read. Borrowing an idea from Marauder, I’ve signed up with the Paperback Swap site on the theory that I’ll be able to trade books I no longer read for books that someone else no longer reads. The first book goes out tomorrow, but I think I’ll wait until the clutter level has been reduced a bit more before adding anything new.

Old Computers

Technology is one of those things where for the most part, things don’t improve with age. The main exception to this rule seems to be the old-fashioned division by hand versus trusting certain bits of silicon. (Thus leading to the expression/warning, “Don’t Divide, Intel Inside.”)
A couple years ago, an acquaintance gave me a notebook PC. It was in working condition, it just didn’t have a hard drive. (The original drive had failed and he’d decided to replace the entire thing with an Apple Power Book.) I tried to get a new drive from Dell, but eventually discovered they were no longer available. So the computer sat in my guest room, just gathering dust.
I think the correct term here might be “pack rat.”
A friend gave me a talking-to the other day and I resolved to do a bit more follow-through on my plans to Disenclutter™ the place.
So this morning I sat down and typed up a description of the notebook computer, making it clear that there was no hard drive.

This is an older (6 years?) Dell Inspiron 3000 notebook.
The specs are:

  • 233MHz Pentium MMX
  • 143 MB RAM
  • Swappable CD and Floppy drives (plus a cable allowing whichever isn’t plugged in to be connected to the parallel port)
  • PCMCIA Network and modem cards
  • Power supply

There is one catch: This computer has no hard drive. The original drive (3.2 GB, 2.5″ form factor) is no longer available from Dell and I haven’t had the time/energy/need to track one down elsewhere. The computer is otherwise in working order; you probably won’t be running Vista on it, but it should be fine for most word-processing or email tasks.

I then posted that description to the local Freecycle group.
The item was posted at 8:03 AM. Given the age of the computer, I didn’t expect there would be too many takers. In fact, I was a little worried some might accuse of me using the list as a means of getting rid of trash.
How’s that saying go? “One person’s trash is another’s treasure”? By 8:13 AM there were already seven people asking for the computer. Thinking that perhaps some had seen the word “computer” without reading the part about “no hard drive” I wrote back to the first one (for this stuff I figure it’s first come, first served) to make sure she understood that part. Yep, she’d understood that all along.
Evidently that computer still has some life ahead of it.

A Phrase in Search of an Occasion

“You talk about insanity as though it were something bad.”
I’m certain that somewhere out there, a situation exists where that’s exactly the right thing to say. I’m also equally certain of two other things: A) I have no idea what that situation is, and B) If I should happen to encounter it, I won’t remember what to say.