Old News

Archived news items from July 1999
Since this is old news, some links may be broken.

Saturday, 31 Jul 1999 [16:25 CDT]

Wandered into CD Warehouse today and found way too many CDs I needed. Fortunately the used CDs were way less than the $15 a pop which is standard fare these days, so I bought a lot of the ones I wanted and got out of there for under fifty bucks. Here's what new on the turntable:

I'm currently listening to the used ones (all but RATM) to check for scratches and such. As I write this, U2 just got started. I've updated the wish list to reflect these purchases and some other changes.

In other news, I finally got dial-up networking working (two times, dammit!) in Linux. This makes me immeasurably pleased. I'm now seriously considering abandoning Microsoft products entirely. KDE (the K Desktop Environment) is pretty nice, the Enlightenment window manager that sits underneath it is beautiful, and Microsoft products have failed me in my time of need one too many times in the last months. We'll see. If I can get a decent mail client going and download StarOffice, I may never boot Windows again.

Monday, 26 Jul 1999 [22:08 CDT]

I just got back from watching the new South Park movie. It was incredibly crude, extremely perverse and probably the funniest movie I've seen in years. I would recommend only a certain breed of people go see it because it's really that bad. If you don't give a damn about anyone or anything, go see it. It'll suit you. If you've already seen a lot and are no longer bothered by movie violence, sex, or sacrilege, go see it. You'll just see the humor and not be bothered by the rest. Everyone else... you have been warned.

It is an interesting sociopolitical commentary on society right now and has a lot to say about the current hypersensitivity to violence in the media. And it pokes fun at Microsoft and Jar-Jar Binks....

Anyway, just thought I'd share.

Sunday, 25 Jul 1999 [19:45 CDT]

Well, early this week I managed to destroy the contents of my hard drive again. I lost all my data from the ten days since my last backup, which fortunately wasn't much of value (except an email address; Carrie, if you're reading this, I lost your address. Email me again).

The good news is that when reinstalling Windows this time I used the older version of my video card drivers and things do not crash. Of course, I'm having to video corruption, but at least the machine shuts down properly.

Mostly I've spent the week trying to revive my computer again and reading My Àntonia by Willa Cather, which is our novel for AcaDec next year. I'm not quite finished, and it is fine so far, but I wouldn't necessarily encourage you to run out and read it anytime soon. There are far too many better books out there.

Some of you know that I wrote a jukebox voting program around last Christmas, which I use in my classroom to allow students to vote on the musical selections for the class period. I used it all spring semester, and it seemed to work pretty well. I had a student ask if he could get a copy of the code, so I bundled it up, wrote some spare documentation, and have now posted it. This basically begins open-source development for this code, so if you need a polished end-product, this is not the place to look. You can find the source for voteamp on the coding page.

Saturday, 17 Jul 1999 [18:33 CDT]

I just noticed that I've been mislabeling the timestamps as "CST" Central Standard Time zone when it is actually currently daylight savings time. This has been corrected on this page, at least.

I've had an eventful weekend so far. Thursday night I went with some friends to the Alamo Draft House, which is a combination restaurant, movie theatre and bar to watch a midnight showing of This Is Spinal Tap, which is one of the few movies I've seen more than three times. It was great, as usual. Rank that up there with Ghostbusters and The Princess Bride as a movie you never grow tired of seeing.

That kept me up pretty late, so getting up for the Academic Decathlon study session the next morning was tough. This week, we talked about jazz, our musical focus. We've got a great list of artists we're going to learn about, including Fats Waller, Billie Holliday, John Coltrane, Louie Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie, and Miles Davis, just to name a few (okay, half). The session was good. Now, I'm not saying I didn't enjoy the opera selections from last year once we got into it, but I'm really looking forward to this year.

This morning I went to the first meeting of the Lakeline Apologetic Group, something I've been interested in for a long time. Apologetics is "defending the faith", in this case Christianity. We study philosophical arguments for Christianity. This should be a lot of fun, as we are definitely going a bit deeper than the standard fare you find in church:

Typical churchgoer: "You need to straighten up, man!"
Typical man on the street: "Why?"
TC: "Because God says so!"
TMOTS: "But I don't believe in God. There's no proof."
TC: "What?! Of course there is! Don't you believe the Bible?!"

Anyway, there are probably some for which this level of understanding and argument is sufficient. Not for me. We're going to tackle the meaty stuff, and challenge everything we can think of. I'm getting excited just thinking about it.... ;)

So, this afternoon, after the apologetic group meeting, I went to the church of a friend of mine that was having a sort-of clown camp. St. Barnabas is having its second-annual "Fools for Christ" clown church service tomorrow. Today was the day they rehearsed everything, taught the young people in the church how to be clowns, etc. Now, I've had quite a bit of clown training, but no Christian clown training, so I wanted to check it out. Of course, they had me help out some, too, and I taught the kids a magic trick or two and showed them how to make balloon animals. Then we loaded up and went to a nearby nursing home and put on a little show for the folks there.

It was a lot of fun and everybody really lit up when all the kids started making balloon animals for them. I probably blew up eighty balloons, though, so I'm pretty beat. Of course, I'm not going to be able to help them with the actual church service tomorrow because I'm leading worship at Lakeline as usual. But if anybody reading this page wants to see it, they hold church at 11am at Round Rock High School.

Sunday, 11 Jul 1999 [20:46 CDT]

I'm beginning to really dislike Windows 95. My system, tweaked out over the course of several months, was experiencing slight instability. I also had a problem that began when I updated the motherboard BIOS months ago where any Windows shutdown command would turn off the machine with extreme prejudice, causing it to want to scan the hard drive when turned back on. I decided I'd reinstall Windows from scratch during my lazy summer to fix it.

Well, it turns out with just Windows 95 installed (nothing else), things work fine. However, if I install my video card drivers (so I can get a resolution better than VGA), it does the same thing. This does not make me happy. I probably installed Win95 from scratch six times this weekend, trying various combinations of things to see what breaks it. Right now it is running, but still exhibits the problem.

I even got frustrated about halfway through and swore I was going to go Linux only (which can warm reboot fine, by the way). I wiped my hard drive clean, installed RedHat 6.0 (a breeze) and sat down to get some basic things running. I spent about four hours trying unsuccessfully to get a PPP connection to my internet service provider. I finally gave up, after trying on two separate days. I went back to Windows.

Of course, Windows still can't reboot the machine, but at least I can check my email.

In happier news, my brother and his girlfriend came down from Dallas to visit this weekend. We got to spend a little time together, and it was nice. Much to my surprise, they brought all their pets, which are two hermit crabs, a baby toad and a skink. Well, unfortunately the kittens got to the crabs, and we spent most of this afternoon (over two hours) tearing apart my apartment trying to find the one that was missing (shell and all). No luck. Finally, they had to leave since they had an appointment in Dallas at seven.

So half and hour ago I hear my kittens playing in the other room, and the sounds aren't like their usual noises. I walk in to find the kittens batting around a shell in plain view near the fireplace. It turns out that the crab is still alive and seems to be unharmed. I have no idea where it was hiding, since we looked everywhere.

So the crab is now safely out of the reach of kittens, and I'm probably going to drive up to Dallas tomorrow to deliver it. Much excitement.

Tuesday, 6 Jul 1999 [16:18 CDT]

It's been quite a busy weekend!

On Friday night I went to a friend's surprise birthday party with an Austin Powers costume theme. I was instructed to go as Scott Evil (Dr. Evil's son) and my costume was fairly well received. The general consensus is that I really looked quite a bit like him when clean-shaven. Stayed there quite late just talking.

All day Saturday I helped a friend move most of his belongings to a new apartment in San Antonio (about 115 miles away), and this on two hours of sleep, no less! I can say that I'm definitely in poor shape and the three flights of stairs were pretty rough after the first dozen times.

Sunday I went to another friend's house for Independence Day BBQ and more just sitting around talking. We were going to see the fireworks, but they got rained out by a pretty good downpour about half an hour before we were planning to leave. So we played Pictionary instead.

Yesterday I went to campus (University of Texas) and had lunch with a friend who I hadn't seen in about a year. We also talked quite a bit. (Are you getting the impression that I like conversation?)

I also purchased some Vegemite and tried it for the first time. I imagine that I could eventually develop a taste for it, but I found it quite distasteful and have no desire to. If you've ever out of curiosity tasted a concentrated juice before diluting it (especially apple juice) you'll have the idea; it tasted somewhat like concentrated beer. Or perhaps a bouillon cube. Ick.

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