Sam's notebook

Triple Gripe December 24th, 2005, 5PM


Eighteen buckets of water for A.’s garden. A cycle over to my new community garden plot in O’Connor. And now much grief caused by our bothersome host.

It’s fun carrying buckets, when one doesn’t have to worry about getting sunburnt. I’m oh-so-excited about digging my new plot! If you’re in the market, don’t, whatever you do, host with—I’ve never had to submit so many support tickets for anything.

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My xorg.conf December 18th, 2005, 11AM


At last we have Ubuntu working with a SGI 1600SW Flatpanel display. Here’s the xorg.conf:

# /etc/X11/xorg.conf (xorg X Window System server configuration file)
# This file was generated by dexconf, the Debian X Configuration tool, using
# values from the debconf database.
# Edit this file with caution, and see the /etc/X11/xorg.conf manual page.
# (Type "man /etc/X11/xorg.conf" at the shell prompt.)
# This file is automatically updated on xserver-xorg package upgrades *only*
# if it has not been modified since the last upgrade of the xserver-xorg
# package.
# If you have edited this file but would like it to be automatically updated
# again, run the following commands:
#   cp /etc/X11/xorg.conf /etc/X11/xorg.conf.custom
#   sudo sh -c 'md5sum /etc/X11/xorg.conf >/var/lib/xfree86/xorg.conf.md5sum'
#   sudo dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xorg

Section "Files"
	FontPath	"unix/:7100"			# local font server
	# if the local font server has problems, we can fall back on these
	FontPath	"/usr/lib/X11/fonts/misc"
	FontPath	"/usr/lib/X11/fonts/cyrillic"
	FontPath	"/usr/lib/X11/fonts/100dpi/:unscaled"
	FontPath	"/usr/lib/X11/fonts/75dpi/:unscaled"
	FontPath	"/usr/lib/X11/fonts/Type1"
	FontPath	"/usr/lib/X11/fonts/CID"
	FontPath	"/usr/lib/X11/fonts/100dpi"
	FontPath	"/usr/lib/X11/fonts/75dpi"
        # paths to defoma fonts
	FontPath	"/var/lib/defoma/x-ttcidfont-conf.d/dirs/TrueType"
	FontPath	"/var/lib/defoma/x-ttcidfont-conf.d/dirs/CID"

Section "Module"
	Load	"bitmap"
	Load	"dbe"
	Load	"ddc"
	Load	"dri"
	Load	"extmod"
	Load	"freetype"
	Load	"glx"
	Load	"int10"
	Load	"record"
	Load	"type1"
	Load	"vbe"

Section "InputDevice"
	Identifier	"Generic Keyboard"
	Driver		"keyboard"
	Option		"CoreKeyboard"
	Option		"XkbRules"	"xorg"
	Option		"XkbModel"	"pc104"
	Option		"XkbLayout"	"us"

Section "InputDevice"
	Identifier	"Configured Mouse"
	Driver		"mouse"
	Option		"CorePointer"
	Option		"Device"		"/dev/input/mice"
	Option		"Protocol"		"ImPS/2"
	Option		"Emulate3Buttons"	"true"
	Option		"ZAxisMapping"		"4 5"

Section "Device"
	Identifier	"Number 9 Computer Company Revolution 4"
	Driver		"i128"
	BusID		"PCI:0:10:0"

Section "Monitor"
	Identifier	"SGI 1600SW F"
	DisplaySize	370 240
	Option		"DPMS"
	VertRefresh	30-75
	HorizSync	30-70
	VendorName	"SGI"
	UseModes	"Modes0"

Section "Modes"
	Identifier "Modes0"
	Modeline "1600x1024d32" 103.125 1600 1600 1656 1664 1024 1024 1029 1030 HSkew 7 +Hsync +Vsync
	Modeline "1600x1024d16" 103.125 1600 1600 1656 1664 1024 1024 1029 1030 HSkew 5 +Hsync +Vsync

Section "Screen"
	Identifier	"Default Screen"
	Device		"Number 9 Computer Company Revolution 4"
	Monitor		"SGI 1600SW F"
	DefaultDepth	16
	SubSection "Display"
		Depth		32
		Modes		"1600x1024d32"
	SubSection "Display"
		Depth		16
		Modes		"1600x1024d16"
	SubSection "Display"
		Depth		8
		Modes		"1600x1024"
	SubSection "Display"
		Depth		15
		Modes		"1600x1024"
	SubSection "Display"
		Depth		16
		Modes		"1600x1024"
	SubSection "Display"
		Depth		24
		Modes		"1600x1024"

Section "ServerLayout"
	Identifier	"Default Layout"
	Screen		"Default Screen"
	InputDevice	"Generic Keyboard"
	InputDevice	"Configured Mouse"

Section "DRI"
	Mode	0666

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All that I want to do is write. November 25th, 2005, 4PM


I am unsure as to just how wise this whole online journaling idea is, and yet I feel drawn to it time and time again. Why on Earth would I want the world to read what I have to write? Why do I not just write it in my [other, paper-and-ink, bound, real] journal? That’s where I’ve poured fourth my ramblings for these many years, and I don’t see why I should feel that this is a better medium; and indeed I don’t feel so. Rather, I am drawn to blogging precisely because the world can read it, and it is something new to me to have an audience.

I’ve never considered myself a particularly good writer (whatever I might mean by that!), but I have always enjoyed it. In school I was told that I was no good in English Class, and I assumed that that meant that I was no good at writing—after all, that’s what one is taught in English, isn’t it? I think not now, and I’m happy to say that I was not overly deterred from pursuing my own creative writing as I’ve grown older. I get such huge pleasure from writing—be it on paper or screen—and just wish that I did more of it. Prehaps I’ll off now to 2602 (our local wearing-a-black-beret-and-sipping-a-short-black place to be) and ponder the laziness of life…

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Begone broodiness! November 23rd, 2005, 12PM


Little One in a cage

We’ve been trying to stop our bantam from being broody for the last week or so, to no avail. Someone said that putting a clutch of ice cubes under her would do the trick, but it just seemed too painful—she sat there, looking poor and hungry and desperately trying to warm these frozen eggs; it was awful to see. So I pulled her off (much to her annoyance, as usual) and put her in the cage (the Funny Cage that came in the mail a few days ago, addressed to ‘Raymo’…). She seems unhappy, but willing to put up with it (she hasn’t really got a choice though, has she? Poor thing.).

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What's the point? November 23rd, 2005, 7AM


Oh weary thing! Oh listless drudgery! Oh the stupid work we make for ourselves!! Oh!…

Here I sit, on a cool spring morning, with nothing at all to worry about; I am happy. So why-oh-why-oh-why should I sit down to work at some sloppy, good-for-nothing code that purports to “record, display and analyze genealogical data”?! Why?! This world certainly does not need me to be spending my time in meaningless work that helps no-one. Programming feels at times as though we’re just making up work for ourselves, work that doesn’t — in the Great Scheme Of Things — actually need to be done. Growing food, building houses, having sex, talking to old people: these are fundamental to living. Building Drupal modules is not.

It must be said also, that blogging is not. So I’ll stop now. I do not really think that I was making much sense anyway; sorry.

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On The Love of Doing Stuff Well And Caring For Things November 20th, 2005, 8AM


In which I am prompted by events surrounding the previous night’s dinner to explain that Things being Wrong annoy me greatly; I outline something of what happens when they do; I float off into a daydream of how I should prefer to live; and I rant against others’ uncaring attitude towards wooden chopping boards and knives.

What is it about doing things correctly that riles me up so?! Pacing backwards and forewards last night in the kitchen, finding myself thwarted at every turn by things that (I imagine) most people would have not a second glance for, let alone be so disturbed by that they they would be unable to even prepare some dinner. Could I even put some rice on to cook without being filled with something close to revulsion at the poor arrangement of the rice/bean/olive buckets?! A revulsion who’s only remedy is to label the bins properly—no! more: build a better shelving system—but still more!: re-arrange the whole kitchen, replacing all (horrible) laminex with timber and building also racks for drying herbs, tables for bread-kneading… and still it’s never enough. On and on down this road of doing-it-the-right-way I go every time I start to take the smallest interest in Things around me, and although at every turn I feel a little closer there is rarely much satisfaction because a) I can see just a little more that needs to be put to rights, and this is preferable to the other times when b) I am unable—prevented by my friends, my housemates, the landlords, circumstance, whoever, whatever—to do things as I should like to.

Sometimes (whenever I can, to be honest) I let my imagination run free with thoughts of a little cottage—one or two rooms—all of my own and a garden that surrounds it. A workshop with a place for everything and everything in its place, for woodwork of course, and for bicycle maintenance and everything else that I’d like to be able to do. I’d have a nice armchair by a small potbelly, with a book nearby to put my book on and a standard lamp standing paxman’s duty; a footstool, space for a tea tray, prehaps a radio also…

Some find it excessively pedantic, but I like to have straight garden beds, laid out with string, bordered by box prehaps, and no-one can argue with many vegetables and what about a bit of wheat too; it’d be fun to try threshing in my own parlor.

I’ll not go on in that vein this morning, although prehaps I’ll return to these thoughts and paint a fuller picture of this One Possible Life for me (I’ll mention the walk to the train station in the morning to go to work, and the sewing table at which I’d make my three-piece suit). I began this post this morning with the idea of why don’t people care a bit more about the Things around them?!! Why is it always okay for things to be ‘good enough’? I don’t want things to be good enough—I want things to be Right!

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On bikes, crying, and the remedy to helplessness to be found in fixing November 13th, 2005, 11AM


I shouldn’t really be blogging this morning — I’ve got my last exam tomorrow afternoon and I’m supposed to be studying — but, when the spirit moves, what can we do but be moved by it? I’d thought that I’d not blog again, or at least not for a while, but this morning the bus didn’t come.

Strange, isn’t it, how some events can lead one to feel strong and seemingly quite unconnected emotions? I didn’t want to wait until the next bus, so I went home to get out my bike — for the first time in three weeks — and ride to school. Being the pedant that I am when it comes to Things (things be right or fuck them off I say!), I couldn’t bear just jumping on the dirty, sad machine, all rained-on and ignored, so I got out my tools and cleaned and pumped and oiled. I knew all the time that there were faults (the rear wheel being a case in point) that would annoy me and make me feel nothing short of miserable, and many times in the three minutes I thought I’d stop and give up…

Like a textbook case of someone being emotionally affected by the smooth-running, or lack thereof, of machinery [is there such a textbook? I’d love to read it!], the failure of my gears to change smoothly this morning nearly had me in tears. I was close to getting off the bike, throwing it in the gutter and storming away from it forever! Nothing unusual in that, though; why do you think I haven’t been riding lately? I knew that this would happen. What came of this though, and what prompted me to blog, was a realisation that in fact it is precisely because I am so affected by the well-workingness of the things around me that I must strive to have them as I wish. If one can be provoked to intense love by nothing more than the particular position of a teapot on a tray (for example), then one must certainly not deny positioning it thus! There is too much at stake to shrug it off, to say that it doesn’t matter, to *try not to care*. Nothing is more important than paying attention to the things that you care about!

My cycle’s grinding gears made me sad, so I plotted — the cable needed to be loosened by a bit less than a millimeter I figured — and I stopped, did what needed to be done, and huzza! hooray! glory be to the god of the cog! it worked! and my bike ran smoothly all the way to town. I smiled. Life was once again, not only okay, but perfect, glorious, joyful and I lov’d it. Riding to school on the bus never would have done this for me.

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Where Do I Walk, Then? September 10th, 2005, 3PM


Today I reinstate this weblog. I’ve shuffled files around on this server, and I’ve shuffled boxes and books around in my bedroom; it’s Spring, and time to re-organise, clear up, and start to think again. Last week I thought I was doing just so, but I wasn’t: I thought that I’d re-affirm my trust in Technology (my oh my what a foolish thing for a human to do!), and buy an ‘ergonomic’ stool. I thought it’d help me work at my computer, but it didn’t. So now is spring-cleaning; then was not.

I bought a stool, didn’t like it after a few days, so took it back. It was a journey for me, a journey from all-I-need-is-a-bit-more-Money-And-Stuff to remembering that it’s people and thinking and reading and love and simplicity that really make it — life— okay.

[ASIDE: The rain pisses down outside, it’s warm enough for bare feet and open windows, and oh! how happy it makes me.]

As I was leaving Harvey Norman (may they rot in hell), I had to go through the car-park, across some lawn and a flower bed, and up an embankment to get to the road. The Situation: people are allowed to walk out of their cars to the shop, across the car-park, and they are also allowed to walk along the road on the footpath — but there is nothing, no path, connecting the public roadway to the shop’s car-park. One must walk over the grass and through the flower bed to gain access to the road if one is on foot. Normally, or course, walking on this insulting attempt at making this horrid place beautiful wouldn’t bother me, but today there were two workmen leaning against a ute, and I had to walk past them to get to the footpath. They told me not to walk on the grass! How on Earth was I to get out of the fucking car-park?! My anger is seething, my blood boiling, and I can write no more…

People without cars are not despised by today’s urban planners, rather, their very existance is denied!

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A Return to the Web December 15th, 2004, 6PM


Returning to this blog after so long? What do I think I’m doing?! As if this is what it’s all about! I don’t want to return to this God-awful dive of diurnal dialog with myself; I don’t want to say, yet again, “Ooh, yes, woodwork is grand, but surely my life is “better?!” if I combine the old and the new, the high tech and the low?”. I’ve been here before!! Aaaggghh……

So, am I heading for a quiet workshop in which to practice my craft, slowly and carefully, and with chickens about? Will this little laptop sit near my workbench, perhaps with a canvas to keep out the dust, and at the end of a day be the place in which I record my thoughts, progress, dreams…? I should like, today, to think of this little wooden shed of my imaginings, to place a solar panel on the roof, a gas bottle inside and books along the walls. My workbench (oh!, where art thou, now, dear bench?) holds the meagre gleamings—nay: the beautiful, perfect, strong, clear gleamings—from the timberyard floor, or the building site skip, or the specialist timber-merchants’; and with them I shall work to embody the love that I feel for this craft, to embody what my hands know off by heart, for herein lies the crux: to know something so well.

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