journal for 2002-06-03

brand new dick

I really like Philip K. Dick’s writing. Or, better put, I like reading what he wrote. Sometimes, the prose is awful, although it’s more often pretty good. The ideas and general intelligence of the work are excellent, though. Sci-fi is often simplistic, and almost infantile, in its treatment of characters and society. It tells the story of a giant space battle, using the characters as plot devices. Phil Dick tells the story of characters and ideas, using giant space battles as tools.

After our Saturday breakfast, Gloria and I were browsing the Moravian gift shop, when I spotted her old shrew of a boss. We fled to the book shop, where she returned the favor (and then some) by spotting four new Dick books from Vintage. They’re reprints of books that have been out of print for years now. Of the four, I only had one, and that was too old for me to want to read. I was going to shelve them for future reading, but I succumbed to the temptation and am about halfway through Dr. Bloodmoney. So far, in my opinion, it’s one of his best novels.

After that, we headed to the Hedgehog, where my triumph was balanced with temporary defeat. Not only did they have neither of the two flavors needed to complete my tour, but a second name had also been added to the plaque, beating me to my rightful place! I got a teaberry shake, which was really good, but which I couldn’t finish. (“It tastes like Pepto-Bismol,” Gloria said. Mmmm. Pepto-bismol.)

the mall

We hit the mall, later that day, on my continuing quest to pre-order all the GameCube paraphernalia that I can. I put some cash down on the WaveBird, but they still aren’t taking deposits on Animal Crossing! In just over seven days, I will be able to play SSX wirelessly; this is some consolation.

Outside the mall entrance, we ran into Katie and Jerome, who were spending a Macy’s gift certificate on bedding. I thrilled them with an explanation of the games I was waiting for and told them they should come by some time for some Monkey Ball. “We’ll… call you,” they said.

programming and software

Despite the content of recent journal entries, I don’t spend most of my time playing or pining for video games. I spent a good number of hours this weekend working on the book server and mockturtle. I’ve gotten the book server back into a semi-usable state, but it’s still in no way ready for prime time. Once I write a routine for finding a node’s siblings, I should be able to write a navigation bar. With that done, it might be ready for some real use. Of course, at this rate, that could take months.

I also did a little work on our apartment card catalog. It’s getting out of date, mostly because I’ve never written a good front-end for entering new acquisitions. Maybe if I learn Perl/Tk, it will proove easier. At present, I just sort of want it to work without effort. Fat chance.

Mockturtle has traditionally been our ‘sandbox’ machine. I’ve used it for testing NFS/NIS, Debian, FreeBSD, Apache 2.0, and other stuff. This weekend, I thought I’d give Gentoo a second try. It consumed a stupid amount of my time, and a stupider amount of CPU time. I find it hard to take seriously a distribution that needs a network connection to install, but doesn’t install enough network tools (i.e., traceroute) to diagnose problems. I also had to manually edit Makefiles to get a few things to compile, which is ridiculous, considering the extremely vanilla hardware onto which I was installing. I guess, in the end, Gentoo is just too 31337 for me. I’ll stick with Slackware; I hear 8.1 is due out any time now.

Written on June 3, 2002