Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Jan 14, 2014—More on Winter Projects

 
My barn up the icy hill in the fog.


                            It has been a down time. I believe human beings are most closely related to animals that hibernate in winter. The weather has been awful, and my long country driveway is a sheet of ice. The town is down on sand; I have never seen the sandpile so low. I do not feel right about loading my truck with anything more than the standard four five-gallon buckets full, though numerous citizens do not share my inhibition. One fellow left with the rear fender of his Ford Ranger dragging almost on the road, he and a friend had shoveled into the pick up bed so much of our town's sand. What sand I do bring home is sufficient only to cover the main dooryard. If we get a snow storm, Clay, who has been plowing me out the last five years, will have to put on chains or risk getting stuck. Going for a walk is bothered by possibilities I do not want to test. Poor Sunshine is as afraid of falling as I am. The thought of hurting myself, breaking a bone on the ice, does not please me. At my age, or Sunshine's age (she is 13), a broken bone would take a long time mending. Then there is the problem of getting back into shape after the long lay off. Nothing about that amuses me. I'd run the risk of getting hurt again. There are the indoor projects I have been thinking about. Actually quite a few projects are a drag on my attention. A fellow gave me a neat Alienware desktop computer case.


There is in it a board and optical drives and floppy and so on. The board, a 2002 Abit ATX, in its day a very upscale board, appears to be broken. But it does not have on board video. The board is a lecture on why every computer motherboard should have some basic video chip on it, if only for testing. I don't know where the card went. But when I put power to the board, it lets loose such a cacophony of beeps and whistles that I am convinced it is still alive. I have a video card from about that period—I am a great one for hanging on to old computer junk—every time I have thrown something away it has come back to bite me. It is worth a try. The DIMMs—a fancy name for RAM—are buffered ECC, so you can tell this is not your regular piece of junk. It has 2G of memory. The power supply seems to work, although that is sometimes hard to judge. I hooked up the video and turned on the power, and more beeps and whistles, and the error code—there is a digital error code reader on the board—does not mean imminent death. Still the video does not power up the monitor which remains blank. In other words, the board did not boot to bios. Although the fan was running over the CPU heatsink, the heatsink itself was jammed with dust, and I theorize that the CPU was immediately so hot that it shut itself off, and thus all the sudden shrill sirens. So getting another computer going is one project. Besides, I am waiting for the botany to hit me. Usually about mid-winter seeds drag at me. I immerse myself in seed catalogs. What am I going to plant this spring, if I live so long? And of course a trip to the nearby used book store has turned up a volume of Stephen Crane's short stories. (Lord, how many library books do I have out? Five!) I have always read Crane with interest. Once it seemed to me that he had quite a few worthwhile things to say. In other words, he had done thinking beyond his age. But as I have gotten older, though I still find him interesting, I detect superficiality, as if he had picked up and copied his notions rather than struggle with them on his own. His style bothers me; where did he copy it from?; doesn't it seem stale? Fresh thinking demands fresh containers. Perhaps it is my winter mood. Who am I to criticize an American classic? Oh, in my present idleness I have this and that to say about everybody. Yeats, for instance, got a round overhaul from me just yesterday afternoon. Was that the reason why my mother preached against idleness. Idleness or no, though I kept a copy of Gray's "Elegy" on my desktop for several days, I was unable to read it through, try again tomorrow, maybe. What I really want to do is take a walk. Maybe Sunshine and I can pussyfoot through the woods some way. Best turn to winter work. I am in the mood for screws rather than words. The caps on that historical Abit motherboard seem fine. Now I have dusted it off, perhaps it will POST and boot and I'll while away the afternoon running an old Debian distro, an icy winter's tribute to a technological era gone past like lightning.

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