Nothing I try to do can work the same way

9 03 2017

I don’t know how deep these cracks go.

I noted at the end of the last post that I didn’t see what was always there, but the real kicker was less or not just the lack of sight but that I thought I did see: I thought I knew what I did not.

This isn’t just about thinking that racism or sexism weren’t that bad: I knew, knew, that it was bad, but that knowledge had not, somehow, been fully absorbed—tho’ I thought it was.

I hate head/heart binaries, so I’ll go with head/body: I had all of this knowledge tucked safely into my noggin, then the election came along and cracked my skull, and it all flooded down my spine, into my guts, and buckled my knees.

My body was not prepared for the blow.

To put this in less somatic terms, my sense of self is based on some notion of awareness (which, oy, creates all kinds of problems for me. . .), so I try very hard, intellectually, to maintain an awareness of my inability to be aware. I try to keep in mind that I’ll think I know more than I do, so, y’know, best not to run too far ahead of myself. And while I sometimes fail at this I sometimes also succeed, I sometimes remember there’s more out there.

And maybe that’s where I went wrong: Because I did sometimes remember about the out-there, I forgot that there’s also something in-here, in me, which affects how I experience that knowledge. It’s not just or even primarily emotional, but more basic, ontological.

The failure to see is painful; the failure behind that failure, even more so.

I’m fond of quoting Leonard Cohen’s line from “Anthem”: There is a crack in everything/that’s how the light gets in. Maybe so, maybe so. But if the light is to reach all the way down, then so, too, will the crack.

This is not the worst thing, but it is a hard thing. If I can manage it, there’ll be a reckoning ahead.





Communication breakdown

27 02 2017

The good thing about keeping a computer for so long is that an even relatively inexpensive replacement feels luxurious.

I’ve transferred all of my files over and managed to load on older versions of WordPerfect and (a stripped-down) Microsoft Office, so I won’t have to buy new software. (And yeah, I’d buy the software: renting Microsoft Office for a year is about 70 bucks, which for me with my one computer would be a terrible deal: the stripped down or student version of Office is only 130 bucks.) I’m getting used to the new OS and its insistence that everything that’s not hardware or the OS itself is an “app”, which. . . whatever.

What nearly killed me, however, was the new router. I got it set up and communicating with my computer with the about expected amount of hassle, but holy mother of Mary the hookup to the printer was an ordeal.

And a failed one at that. Oh, I downloaded the drivers and my computer says, Oh, hey, there’s that printer; and after many, many, many false starts, managed to get the router to say, Yep, I see you.

But could I send something from the computer to the printer wirelessly? Why no, I could not.

I printed out the printer settings page, and the encryption mode and wireless link status are A-OK, but what should be a happy ménage à trois most certainly is not.

This is more irritation than crisis—I jacked the printer into the computer and was able to print my class notes just fine—but irritation nonetheless: I know this can work, should work, but it does not.

Yes, the story of life. Still.





Shock the monkey

25 02 2017

Yippee, my new computer is here!

Okay, I know, it’s just a computer, nothing high-end, basic black, but. . . Yippee, my new computer is here!

It didn’t come pre-loaded with all kinds of software/goodies/nonsense like my last one did, so I had to do a bit of figuring out the configuring, but nothing too drastic. Tomorrow I’ll dig out my old WordPerfect and Microsoft software and see if I can load ’em up and use ’em.

The big hassle was getting the new router sorted. I was going to wait until tomorrow—to see if the slowness of my old computer was due to its age or to the even older router—but then thought, What the hell, just hook it up already.

I always fuck up the router hook-up. I mean, I get it right, but never on the first try, which was once again my experience. Tomorrow I’ll try to get the wireless printer hip to the new router; given what a hassle it was setting it up last time, I see much swearing ahead.

The final bit of computer business was setting the wallpaper.  The computer came with a very nice ocean scene background, one which, were it on a work computer, I might have kept. But for my personal PC, I go with primates-in-the-wild: two computers ago, I used a snow monkey; the last one, lemurs. A quick search, and I found one I’m happy with:

pensive-howler

Photo by Joel Sartore

I spanned it (which had the happy effect of cropping out the text), and now I have a pensive howler monkey on my desk.

This works for me.





I turn to my computer

17 02 2017

Bought it, and a router.

Of course, I spend an hour (or so. . . ) looking at router reviews, settled on two or three (of the cheaper ones), checked reviews, then said What the hell and went with the mid-priced one. Again, I’m sure it’ll be fine.

Part of the issue is just making my way through the completely different kinds of reviews. The variety makes sense, really: a technophile will look focus features x, y, and z, while an end-user like me, who just wants something reliable, will likely focus on p, q, and r. Still, reading the techie reviews can at least clue me in the importance of, say, x, and so I’ll factor that into my considerations as well.

There is no method to my shopping anxiety. I look top-ten lists, check various tech mags, and toggle back-and-forth between those and Amazon reviews (some of which are themselves quite tech-informed). I’ll then pull up this product and that, compare the specs, the prices, then maybe check out a few more products, check more reviews. I’ll twist myself around in a self-made tornado of information before I say, Paugh, enough.

I am, after all, only buying a computer, not a spouse.

As for the experts, I might concede their criticisms of while nonetheless concluding that it doesn’t really matter.

I’ve learned this lesson the hard way. Many years ago, when my little workhorse HP printer broke down (after a number of jerry-rigged fixes that kept it chugging along) and I was casting about for a new printer, I went with a highly-tech-rated Epson.

I didn’t love it. The features the reviewer concentrated on were not particularly the ones which mattered to me—something I realized only after I unboxed the thing. I still have it, but it’s basically stowed out of the way and hauled out only when I need to scan something.

For my day-to-day printing, I went with another boxy little workhorse, a Brother laser-printer. It’s basic—black-and-white, no scanning—but that sucker prints page after page after page of text; given that I do almost all of my printing in draft mode, the print cartridge can last for years.

So, are my new purchases what a technophile would buy? Hell no. I can appreciate their insights while recognizing that, when it comes to computers, I am pretty goddamned basic. And I’m all right with that.





I press Execute

15 02 2017

What a pain in the ass.

Buying a new computer, that is, or, more directly, trying to figure out which computer to buy.

I’m going low-end full-on laptop (non-gaming), meaning something in the $500-700 range. I thought I’d found a month or so ago what I wanted to buy, but tonight as I was clicking around, I got caught up in this review and that and ohmymotherpuppinggoddess by the end I was convinced that no matter what I’d choose, I’d choose wrong.

Fuuuuuuuuck.

Anyway, I think I’m going to go with what I’d originally settled on. It seems to have the combination of features I want, it’s at the lower end of the price range, and, y’know, given that this baby is 8 1/2 years old, anything I get will be better and faster than what I’m used to.

So tomorrow (payday!), or Friday, I’ll finally hit BUY. Then I’ll worry. Then it’ll arrive. Then I’ll instantly love/hate it. Then I’ll get used to it and it’ll be fine.

All of this agita for . . . and it’ll be fine. Shees.





On a rooftop in Brooklyn

25 01 2017

Yesterday both cats scrambled to get on to the windowsill to gawk out at what I figured was a pigeon.

Well, it was, but not in the way I was expecting:

024

She really went to town on that thing:

023

She hung around, snacking, for a good long time, before lifting off with what was left of the carcass and leaving just a puddle of feathers behind.

I’m not a bird-watcher, so even with the help of various online guides I can’t be sure, but chances are that bird o’ prey was a red-tailed hawk. They’re pretty common in the city, but this was my first up-close-and-personal sighting.

Pretty cool.





Nimble fingers that dance on numbers

27 12 2016

Alllla’ these motherfuckers bleating about the white working class, white men, working men, poor poor real white American working class men: shut up, shut the fuck up.

I’ve got nothing against white working class men—my dad was a white working class man! my brother! my brother-in-law! my neighbors and almost everyone I knew growing up! all white! almost all working class!—but I am sorely tried by all of these commentators telling ME that I need to be kinder, gentler, toward those poor poor real white American working class men.

It is fucking condescending.

I totally (well, maybe not totally, totally, but substantially?) understand why black people are tired of being told that they need to set aside their concerns for their own survival and focus on those PPRWAWCM; such counsel is white power in action.

But it’s also more than that: it’s a way for the non-working class white folks—men, let’s be honest, men—to demonstrate once again their superiority over every fuckin’ one.

Barack Obama was scalded for talk of bitter rural folks clinging to guns and religion and Hillary Clinton raked for drop-kicking some portion of the population into the basket of deplorables, but give some white dude a coupla’ column inches in the Times or Wall Street Journal and he’ll be lauded for his perspicacity in writing the exact same goddamned things.

Economic anxiety and fear and opioids and a disintegration of the American Dream and all are wrapped up in the soothing murmurs of I see, I see, as these pundits metaphorically pat their subjects on the head and assure them that It’s completely understandable they would feel this way.

Such horseshit.

This is, in the words of former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson, the soft bigotry of low expectations.

Y’know all those working class men I mentioned, above? They weren’t all racists. My parents, with their high school educations, somehow managed to teach all three of their children that racism was bad, that it was bad to be racist.

Were/are my parents prejudiced? Sure. But they didn’t and don’t think that indulging that prejudice was anything that decent people did.

They didn’t expect any of us to be perfect, but they did expect us to be better.