Sunday, August 22, 2010

The more they stay the same...

Why can't religious pricks just leave others alone?

I've been reading about the Virginia army officer prick who's established his own little glee club called the Spiritual Fitness Concert Series and the troops who got punished for not being on fire for the Lard.

I am so pleased that I got the hell out of the military before this shit got as bad as it has. It's bad enough that one can't escape the stupid fundie zombies who shamble around or stand on street corners, desperate to infect others with their idiocy. But here we have such an asshole with the power of military rank (what amounts to the weight of government backing of the asshole's religion) and the ability to penalize troops whose religious beliefs (or lack thereof) aren't acceptable.

This fundie shitbird needs to lose his commission and get drummed out.

I got lucky. The Army I and the guys I trained with wasn't as infected with the fundie sickness. There were a few run-ins with overzealous NCO's, like the moron who frog-marched my entire company of Basic trainees to a gospel concert, the idiot who confiscated my deck of Tarot cards to "save my soul" (I got them back in a couple of days from a higher-ranking guy), and the goofball who told me that Jeeebus is my Lard and Savor when he found out I planned to play rock music with my shiny new guitar.

Yes, there's a lack of respect for rank. That's another reason I am pleased to have left that crap behind 20 years ago. I firmly believe that rank should go to those who are worth a shit--and not to useless morons who turn that rank into a megaphone for their own little agendas, political, religious or otherwise. I've seen enough of such people in the workplace, in the dojo, in the family, and elsewhere that I go for contempt first and respect later--when it's earned. Not really a team player.

We didn't have the resources to fight this creeping religious stupidity that are available to the troops today:

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation's going to be an uphill fight to bulldoze all the stupid out of the military. One of my favorite lines in the original M*A*S*H movie sums it up for me: "Goddamn Army."

Friday, August 20, 2010

Goodbye to a beloved old friend...?

I know it's just a piece of code, a little DOS-based text-editing program, but I've been using QEdit for more than 20 years.

Until now.

Every computer I've ever had 'till now would run QEdit, from the elderly-but-still-cool 8088 PC I was running until 1998 (green mono monitor, DOS 5.0, a 2400 baud modem) to the 386 with Windows 3.1 that replaced it to the 486 that followed to a little Pentium II with Windows 98 to the asshole Sempron and Windows XP that deviled my every waking moment from 1995 until the last days of June.

A friend knew a guy selling an evil black box with all this in it:
Windows 7 64 bit
Athlon x2 dual core 2.9ghz - new
3 gig of ddr2 667 ram
160 gig sata hard drive
Dvd/rw disk drive - new
Hd3850 video card ati (over clockable) 512 ram msi
5 cooling fans
500 watt power supply
Brand new motherboard

Three hundred bucks. *droooool* I'm not wild about some of the features--screamingly bright blue LED's in a couple of the fans, more blue LED's on the motherboard that flash like beacons when the CPU is thinking, and even more blue LED's on the front panel that look like blue neon on a jukebox. I don't like a lot of light in my room when I'm trying to sleep, so I disconnected what would disconnect and cover the thing with a towel to keep the motherboard beacons from FLASH!! waking me FLASH!! up in the FLASH!! middle of the FLASH!! night during FLASH!! overnight downFLASH!!!loads.

Something to really like about it: the fans and hard drive are all whisper quiet.

This was a few weeks before my aortic meltdown, and I was all over the opportunity to be rid of the worst computer I've ever had--the one that shat itself several times over 5 years and took a hard drive or two with it each time, losing all my data and making my blood pressure skyrocket to computercidal levels.

So far, the Black Box hasn't killed my data. It's got some maddening habits to amuse itself with, though. A few weeks ago, right in the middle of a Blog post, the screen went black--just a little hyphen in the upper left corner--and attempts to reboot got me nothing but "Disk read error. Press CTRL-ALT-DEL to reboot." Turns out the SATA cable had worked itself loose.

Before that, the thing would randomly start up without the keyboard or mouse (one or the other). I don't know HOW it has anything to do with it, but jiggling the connectors to the front panel (power & reset switches, status LED's) fixes the problem. [UPDATE--It was caused by a couple of extra standoff screws between the motherboard and case. They shorted something at random and kept the system from recognizing USB and keyboard.]

But this wonder of technology, this marvel of silicon and copper and lead won't natively run QEdit. I used that program for EVERYTHING from writing my [as yet never published] book to coding to putting together MP3 and other index entries. All the keyboard shortcuts can be assigned where you want them, there are some very useful text-management functions that make stripping a standard DOS-style directory listing down to just the parts I need. Sure, I can do it in Word, but in more time and with more cleanup. I just like QEdit.

But wait. There's hope: DOSBox!! I'm saved! The Mighty Q is back, and working more smoothly than it did with WinXP's clunky DOS emulation (up through Win98, we had a proper pure-DOS environment; with XP, you got a weaker simulated DOS shell).

I never thought about my old "Star Wars: Dark Forces" game not running on the Black Box. Might be time to try running it, too.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


If a simple shower was enough to make me feel elated a few weeks ago as proof of recovery, imagine my pleasure at being able to walk for minutes on end without falling apart like I did a few days out of the hospital.

In the last week, I've put some mileage on my legs that would have been impossible just days before.

Still not sleeping as well or as long as I'd like, still kind of tired, but much much much better than I felt last week. I'd say I'm about 70% of where I was before the torn aorta...still not recovered enough to go back to work, and I couldn't go back anyway without a doctor's note.

I'm Gonna Stop Going to Doctors.

Back in May, I went to a urologist. He took a look at my blood pressure (290/150!), freaked the hell out, and sent me to the Emergency Room.

Yesterday, I went to a new doctor, a basic family practitioner sort. He looked over my records, looked at my blood pressure (180/110), freaked the hell out, and sent me to the Emergency Room.

Fuck's sake. I've checked my BP half a dozen times, keeping a record of it (mostly because of this new guy, so I can soothe his hysterics), in the past 48 hours. It hasn't changed from 160/80 in all that time. If this second doc had noted a few details, he might have been more relaxed:

1) I drove to the office in a car with no air conditioning. It was in the 90's outside.

2) I hiked across a parking lot and along several hallways to get to his office.

3) I'm on a beta-blocker which limits my heart rate to 60-70 beats per minute, and it doesn't speed up like it should when I'm doing something like walking on a hot Summer day across a parking lot.

It only makes sense that my blood pressure would go up despite the meds I'm taking, and that it'd take some time for it to come back down. When I had the same high reading last week during a doctor visit, that doc nodded and said it made sense. He didn't freak the hell out. He just told me to keep an eye on the BP, try to keep it at 160/something or below, and have a nice day.

New dude wanted a CAT scan and blood samples and all this other stuff because my kidneys could be failing from lack of blood and I could die right there in the exam room, EVERYBODY PANIC!!!!!!1!!!

I'm getting tired of the freak-out-and-rush-me-to-the-ER stuff every time I darken the threshold of a new doctor's office. Sheesh. Now I'm scheduled for an aortic ultrasound on August 24. I can see the need for that--but this will be ANOTHER new doctor. Maybe I should call ahead to the ER and have them reserve my regular room.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


I've made it through a second week out of the hospital. They've been long, each day only marked by what's on TV but otherwise the same; little sleep, long stretches of sitting in the dark or near-dark and wondering if my leg or innards took any permanent damage, or whether I'll wake up. There's been little depression or fear; I tend to just take things as they come and worry about things when I need to.

I wanted information about my condition, but those numbers cut both ways when you're feeling a new pain. One site tells me there's a 25% chance I'll die within the first weeks out of the hospital. Another tells me that it's 40% I'll make it more than 10 years.
Even as I find small improvements--walking a little further, feeling less run-down--my mind wanders, making lists of who should get what when It happens.

Really, though, it'd be a shame to go while my little silver car needs me.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Song of the Day: One Little Victory (Rush)

I forgot all about the July 29th anniversary of Neil Peart joining Rush.

This song is the opening track from their 2002 comeback album "Vapor Trails." In 1997, Peart's daughter Selena was killed in a car crash. Barely a year later, he lost his wife Jaqueline to cancer.

Peart recuperated by getting on his motorcycle and riding more than 50,000 miles across Canada to Alaska, down through the western U.S., and then on through Mexico and Central America. He wrote about his ride in Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road.

Eventually, he joined up with his old friends again and Rush came back from Hiatus. Given that Peart writes the lion's share of the band's lyrics, it's not surprising that much of "Vapor Trails" is about his ordeal of the previous few years--nor is "One Little Victory" misnamed.

One Little Victory

Taking a shower doesn't seem like much of an event, but ever since I went into the hospital a simple shower has been an effort...until today. Even if it's not a big improvement, it's something to hold on to. It's the only thing in almost 2 weeks I'd call an "improvement."

I'll take it.