Past Rants: 2000

Monday was my Birthday, woopie doo. I had to work from 6pm to 12am. That took care of all of my birthday plans. Yeah, I'm 20 years old now. I think "What the hell, I'm only 20 years old?", and "Geez, 20 years old already?" Feeling A predominates though, as I really feel a lot older than I am.

Age is relative, and I'm not talking about your grandmother Helga here. I may be 20, but I know a lot of people who are 26-28 who are more juvenile than I am. I am in college, supporting myself and my dream of a college education. While I talk to my mom a lot, she doesn't support me financially, nor does my father. I cook and clean for myself (my room is still messy, but no one really minds that too much), I have a job, and I'm actually on the brink of excelling in my very hard classes. I don't have a boyfriend, but there's plenty of time for that one latter. I feel pretty mature for a 20 year old.

I also think of the things I have accomplished at 20 years old. 3 time regional champion in the Solo-Ensemble Trombone division, 1 time in the Vocal division, 3 time state Solo-Ensemble participant. Member of Phi Theta Kappa. I conducted the Yakima Symphony Orchesta once. Winer of several trivial persuit games among my peers and professors. Very close to getting my national certification as a pharmacy technician. I graduated from my with my Associate of Science with honors, just 1 year after graduating from High School. I have big dreams, and I'm working towards making them realities.

While my birthday was a very lonely day for me, examining myself closely I see a very well adjusted young woman who can use her past experiences to her advantage. For me, my birthday was just another day, albeit a little more depressing than most because I didn't have anyone to share it with. What it does, is give one a moment of self-reflection. I've reflected, and found someone worthwhile underneath the flawed shell of my flesh. In my life, I hope other people will be able to see past my outward appearance, and see me for what I really am, an inteligent, kind young woman whose strength comes from her will to finish what she starts. --#3

Update on the last rant: Today I got to witness firsthand the effects of roadrage: I helped box-in this joker hood-wannabee that was pissing people off on I-5. Clown didn't ever hear of the concept of focusing one's energies at one goal; while the dude was playing chicken with me, the person who wanted to 'have a little chat with him' about his behavior a mile or two earlier pulled in front of him. Amusement ensued. He didn't learn his lesson, and kept chasing people, trying to run folks off the road, and eventually took an exit right behind the guy who twice had the chance to throw down with him. And yes, the joker had his bitch in the passenger seat, egging him on. Where was my freakin' paintball pistol?!?  But that's not today's rant. :)
My betroughed and I have moved into a nice little house. We never cease to be amazed about this place; there's just so much that's funky about it. Let's enumerate:
  · The only grounded (three-prong) outlets in the house are in the family room, where we don't have a need, and two in the kitchen for the appliances, and it's visible this was done recently. It's in the two bedrooms where we have our computers hooked up that we need grounding!
  · Despite the phone box on the side of the house being attached to a bedroom wall, there are no jacks in the two bedrooms the wire runs right past. I fixed this myself; see the closing of this rant. :)
  · Someone painted over the switchplates, so not only are they ugly (geez, if you wanted to go from beige to white, visit the hardware store and buy new plates for 19¢ each!) but they're stuck to the wall and removing them takes a little paint off the wall around the edge. We discovered the plate on the light switch at the back door is wood and probably looked excellent before they got to it.
  · The place didn't come with a fridge, a washer, or a drier. We have remedied this but not without some fucking around (Sears gave us the wrong color fridge, so they had to come exchange it; the threads on the water feed for the icemaker were stripped so we now don't have a shutoff valve but do get eight pieces of ice every couple hours!; in the process of moving the door handles I snapped the bit of plastic that keeps the bottom of the handle on... drat!; there isn't an adequate amount of room behind the drier for the hookups to be in comfortably yet still be able to walk past the machine to get to the pantry).
  · Previous person had really dubious taste in yard decoration. The flowers are wonderful and served to attract us, but as for the other tschachke -- plastic birdbath, ceramic animals, wooden birdhouses on the ground, other cutsie items (at least she took the chainsaw-art bear and the cherubs out of the front yard when she left!) -- it has got to go. We haven't had the time. Oh, and she took the fishies with her, which I can forgive because the crabapple tree over the pond has dropped leaves and fruit into it and they'd be gasping right now.
  · Various parts of the house, namely the kitchen and some bedroom features, were apparently painted in the dark, and someone had an affinity for yellow. And if some part of a wall didn't show because of their furniture scheme, they didn't paint it. We did luck out on one thing: when we took the switchplate in the master bedroom off (our crusade of today is replacing them all) we found that under the white and obligatory yellow there was... pink. A true no-go.
  · We are guessing that that is makeup which is splattered on the bathroom wall. Which doesn't jibe with the white paint that is on the sink and counter. I have confirmed what my mother always told me: do not use acetone to clean stains off of a painted surface, it's too effective. Someone can then explain why one particular makeup stain goes all the way under the paint (which I removed, oops) and into the wall itself. When Paige gets miffed enough at the color scheme (see previous bullet point) this will be fixed, and without the switchplates attached at the time I'm sure.
  · When I was trying to cut the power to do some electrical work, I had to find the fusebox. What's this in the closet? The old one, bolted shut because it's just spliced wires. So where is the real power panel? Outside the front door. How convenient! This is a broadening of the situation with the second bathroom, where the switch is outside the bathroom itself so one's siblings can turn off the lights while one is in the shower. Bad juju.
  · Shortly after this photo was taken, our neice bit the dirt when one of the swings (the one I'm sitting on in the photo) gave way. The eyehook overhead had such metal fatigue from years of wear that it broke, and the other three eyehooks and the S-hooks that connect to them are not long for the world either. We're working on it, we have new eyehooks...
  · There's a ceiling fan with five lights in it in the livingroom. There's a knob on the wall with four settings: Low, Medium, High, and Off. Low does nothing. Medium does nothing if four of the lights are in; with a three-way bulb in the middle, the power provided is Low. High turns everything on. [putting on Tim Allen toolbelt] It's time to rewire it!
But here's one bright note. When we realized there were no phone jacks in the two bedrooms, Paige called USWorst (now Qworst) to have them put them in. They said it'd be $85 for the first jack and $50 for the second. <raising eyebrows> She told them our new address like four times. They said they'd be along between 8am and noon Friday. And they called on Thursday to confirm the appointment, still citing the old address, and so I corrected them and presumably the person took notes. Friday comes, I'm sitting around, and at 11 I decide it's time to use that Y-chromosome. Off to Radio Shack for parts. (Next day I find out phone jacks are $2.50 at Sears, and I spent $5 at RatShack. Geez.) I get back at 11:30 and there's a message on the answering machine: USWorst saying that they're at the OLD HOUSE and we aren't, reschedule, blah blah. While I was drilling holes in the walls and stuffing four-wire 24AWG through them, Paige was on the phone with them giving them a piece of her mind (further proof she has a mind) and informed them that we won't be rescheduling. Both jacks are allowing connection to Earthspring at 50666 bps so I musta done it right... I wanna make up one of those images: 50' of phone wire, $10; 2 phone jacks, $10; two hours of doing your own home improvements on your day off, $0; denying the bastard telco of $135: priceless. I'm really enjoying this home ownership thing so far, despite all the goofiness seen above, I just wish there was less of the goofier goofiness, and that I didn't need to go around removing white paint from beige light switch toggles. --#2

The subject of Road Rage gets a lot of play in the media, so it's easy for me to think, "It's overdone, move along." Some people have told me that I am a major source of the malady. :) But in the last three days, I've been involved in four separate instances of idiot drivers trying to usurp the chunk of road I happen to be in, usually without warning, and it's really starting to steam me. And we're not talking lane changes where there wasn't enough room ahead; we're talking, in checkers terms, "king me!"  I may drive a stationwagon so would survive a side-merge collision just fine, but the GrannyWagon has come so far -- she's a 1980 Subaru GL-1800 -- without more than scratches and dings. The only body damage she has is from the front tire blowout on I-5 last year. I'm not willing to change this record, like most drivers. Which allows idiots in big pickups (big mirrors and the window wide open, so don't give me any "they couldn't see you" bullshit, they were looking right at me when they did it) or greasy people driving land yachts with out-of-state plates, to do a sliding merge into the acreage your car is -- or now, was, when you hit the brakes -- located in. My kingdom for a paintball gun right about then, especially when said window is open! Or the ability to cause a blowout in the tires on the other side of the vehicle so that they'd be pulled back into their own lane. The only recourse I take presently, beside passing their sorry asses like they were standing still Because I Can so they won't be near my airspace anymore (George Carlin says there are two types of drivers: the slow Assholes and the fast Maniacs; I am the latter), is to give them The Inverse Finger. For those of you not familiar with this symbol, one extends all of one's fingers except the middle, which is being held down by the thumb, and it means something more powerful than The Finger: May you die a virgin or by extention since half of these clods have a moll in tow May your itty-bitty weenie fall off. Say something cryptic and leave snickering, afterall. And in today's world, it makes you look like a gangbanger throwing a sign so do use some caution. If I weren't seeing red at the time, I'd be jotting down license plate numbers and coming up with creative uses for that information (ever wonder why when they show cars on TV, they mask the plates?) and rummaging under my seats for roadkill to huck at them. (I'm kidding about the last one... it's tough to throw accurately out the left window when you're right-handed.) But I do believe in karma, so figure them good-ol'-boys will either have a near-miss with an 18-wheeler or have a woman laugh at his dingle. Or get both at the same time, that'd be cool.  Mmmm, baby, -zzzzzpp- snicker-hehehe-AAHHHHHH! HOLY SHIT!!  The problem with countering dipsticks like this is that it may further the problem, an eye for an eye and so forth. The solution is simple: let normal folk drive the cop cars, and let the cops drive unmarked beaters so the putzes get a nice surprise. And paintballs, preferably with writing on them like those candy hearts so they literally get the message. --#2

Okay, the silence must be broken. I've been nice about it for months, but I can't contain it anymore:
If you are too stupid to use a computer, please do not buy one.
See, R.A.T. remembers the BBS days and earlier, when you had to know something about computers (and have money, double-height 40 meg hard drives cost a couple hundred dollars) in order to own one. You built the sucker, you didn't just waltz into Radio Shack and purchase a big box with everything in it. You read the manual that came with your serial card and configured jumpers, you learned a little batch language to construct AUTOEXEC.BAT and somehow whittled a working CONFIG.SYS, the only function key you ever touched was F6 (to end the on-the-fly batch file you were writing with the COPY CON command), and you spoke BASIC when needed. So now we come to the Windows [year] users, who don't know how fucking easy they have it. Pushing a damn mouse, clicking on an icon, having access to the preferences with a right-click instead of command line switches, an operating system that detects what is where (sometimes reliably) so you don't have to twaddle stuff, and of course 32-bit color instead of 4 color (RGB) or 16 color (EGA) porno pictures under a compression better than GIF. Okay, chiding "you young whippersnappers" for not having to hike uphill in snow five miles to get to school isn't the purpose of this rant. My bitch is that if it weren't for the simplicity, many folks wouldn't own computers at all. Hell, a lot of people have no actual need. My roomie back in Yakima would push the keyboard of his computer out of the way to use his typewriter, despite having a snazzy color printer and the latest version of MS Word, and the program most often launched was Minesweeper. I talk to people all night long who do not know what you mean when you say "click on the Start button" and call their ISP to bitch about their service if a window saying Error 680 - No Dialtone pops up onscreen. I trust that none of the readers of this page fall in that category, because you surfed to this site of your own volition (at this writing, Metacrawler Power Search doesn't know this site exists, and that's the only engine that matters) and you have had to assist some soul, likely someone you love, through the difficult processes known as double-clicking or filling in an URL in a browser's address bar. But you really don't know the anguish of some people's cyber-existance until you've talked to somebody who is strung out, or lives in the Deep South, or is over the age of 70 with a hearing difficulty they won't admit, to help them get connected to the Internet. Whose existance seems to hinge on getting on Yahoo! Chat or whose life will end if they can't check their email to see if someone sent them a joke (oddly enough, they know they have email with a joke because the person called them to say so -- without telling them the joke). These are the folks who raise your blood pressure and increase your smoking/drinking/eating, and you will eventually see those who have dealt with these folks wandering the streets of a metropolis, disheveled and muttering something about Plug-n-Pray devices with a general distain for all of humanity as they break a $20 on another quad-shot latte. (They're not homeless, they just look and smell the part. Homeless people don't have T1 lines in their bedrooms, and computer techs own two more changes of clothes than the average street person.) Please... if you are stupid, don't buy a computer, and don't breed. If you aren't stupid but just don't know anything about computers, take a community college course or Parks & Rec session about how to use one, and bless you for trying. If you have the attention span, buy a book or borrow it from your local library, then read the critter. If you're already online, chances are your ISP (and there are definitely plenty of resources on the Net as well) has some stack of Help and Tutorial files you can check out on their homepage. And please, please, whatever you do, if you do wind up calling your ISP's tech support line -- which I don't put down, it's keeping a roof over my head -- do not at any point use the word "idiot" or its synonyms to describe yourself. If you're trying to learn and it's apparent, it annoys the tech. If you really are an idiot, chances are you wouldn't say it so they'll say it for you, and possibly even tell you so directly if goaded. And whatever you do when you call please don't put your brain on Hold. Those error messages and informational dialogs mean exactly what they say, and if it says Click Okay do not ask the tech "Should I click Okay?". The "Windows cannot create a shortcut here, would you like to put it on the Desktop?" message when you create a connectoid shortcut is not an error message so don't freak out. Oh, and one last thing: if you are getting that No Dialtone error, there's not a damn thing the ISP can do about it because this is a local problem, your machine or your telephone company, and not a network problem. I did talk to a customer once who called on his cell phone because his local lines were out, who wanted to know what was wrong with our service because he was getting that error. I told him it was a hardware problem and he needs to return the machine to where he bought it and get a refund. (No, I didn't really do that. But I didn't hit him in the head with a brick either... darnit.) --#2

I made a crucial mistake in 1990 which still comes back to haunt me: I engaged in idle conversation with Patricia Ruth Rivera Saint Clair. You can't just look at someone and say "They're mentally ill" (or worse) most of the time, and as I have said here before I am not prejudice against the mentally ill. Take crazy people seriously. But sometimes you wind up getting the gunky stuff on your paws, you get involved, you discover too late that the charming person you've spoken those words to is out of their ever-lovin' gourd. Then as they say, Bad Things start to happen. If you're lucky, that only means that the person will fuck the taste from your mouth the night before you move out of state and forget to leave a forwarding address. Most of us, however, don't get off so easily, and wind up legally changing our names as we flee to another country. Okay, so I haven't done anything so extreme. Yet. And for the most part, Trish has left me alone for the last four years, but not completely. When she left Tacoma for points eastward our parting was like a good nature hike: take only pictures, leave only footprints, and don't forget to bring bugspray. Settled? Solid? Uh uh. Several months later I see her walking up Pacific with a 6' backpack (she's 5'3") and a kitten, and at 5am the next morning she'd slipped a note under my door. Months later, she's trying to call me collect repeatedly under her baby sister's name, and even got an operator assist so I could say NO to a human instead of just hanging up on a digitized message. Two-year-olds seldom call collect. I got married and moved, but kept the same phone number. Nine months into my betroughal, the phone rings and Paige looks at the Caller ID box. "You'll wanna take this one," she said. Yeppers, one guess. All it took was me shouting, WHAT THE HELL DO YOU WANT?, for her to buzz off. Fast-forward a year and a half. 2:20am the other day. From a payphone in Oregon. Saying she got my number off a bathroom wall with the caption saying "Gilligan, he gives good ear." Introduces herself as Mary Ann. Yammers on. Weaves in something about Crackima, uses my full name, pretty much removes any illusion that she is either A) a stranger or B) on her medication. Says she's just calling to say goodbye because she's moving to Kansas. "I said goodbye to you a few years ago," I shouted back (with one outraged insomniac spouse standing in the kitchen entryway, knowing exactly who was on the other end by some sense similar to the one used by housepets to detect impending earthquakes), and hung up. I should be good for another year or two now, presumably, but I'd really like this not to recur. Anyhow, there's a cautionary tale to all the above, and if you happen to meet this girl (or similar) on the road of life, run like hell in the opposite direction -- and if by some odd chance, Trish, you happen to be reading this at some point (I know you're a Luddite but...): Tissie dear, accept that you are fucked up, stay on your meds (yes, really), and leave me the hell alone for the next seventy years. Trust me on that. Of all the things I did in college -- including going to the college itself, but that's another story -- which could come back to haunt me regularly, this is the only one which has.
Oh, one final tangental note: Attention Lee LaRoche! I have never been called upon to diagram a sentence since your nineth grade English class in 1983! Just wanted to say that. :) --#2

     On Silly Stuff... as you might recall, my Slackware-runnin' computer is the internet gateway for the house. Since discovering Diablo 2, I wanted to find a way to allow it to still be running as such while I'm in Windows.
     Try One: Free up 2 GB for new partition, install Win98, and discover that you can't get Internet Connection Sharing for Win98, you have to use 98SE. Fine, vape the 98 install and go to SE. After several hours of sillyness, I find out [via error messages!] that ICS only supports one client machine, and that machine has to be reconfigured greatly, even though ICS claims to be a (more or less) straight NAT setup like what I've been doing with Linux. Fuck this.
     Next, I snag a copy of WinGate 4.0.1. Install, and discover that the main selling point for it (NAT, etc) is actually not in the standard install, but is an add-on package. WTF? Okay, so I grab the add-on and install it. The main program doesn't akcknowledge that the new plugin is there. After install/uninstall several times, I decide to try out the beta versions to see what's up. In the docs for the beta versions is the *only* place it's mentioned that for the NAT plugin to work, you have to be using a V4 registration code, V3 will only enable partial functionality. Uninstall the entire thing and reinstall as a trial version. Suddenly all the options are visible. Re-register and the needed options diappear.
     Well, as a trial copy, all it does is swap configs for the two ethernet cards, and suddenly, nothing works at all. Try to manually fix this, and WinGate decides it doesn't like my interpretation of which card is on the LAN and which is connected to DSL->Outside World. Also, the routing table is totally screwed, and only partially modifiable. Note that the parts that are modifiable are irrelevant to the problem. Also Note that WinGate's requirements are an ethernet card and a modem, or two ethernet cards (one for LAN, one for internet), yet according to their own dox, some dual NIC setups Just Won't Work. After much struggling and research, I say "Fuck This."
     Then ask ROKNRED about what he does/has used. He points me to Midpoint Gateway as being a nice firewall/router setup. I download & install trial version, and after digging through the extended settings for a few hours, I can ping the outside world from a client machine (5 allowed), but DNS for the clients is thoroughly hosed. I can put in numeric addresses till my face turns blue, and they work, but.... The included documentation had some notes about DNS, none of it was helpful in the least. ARGH.
     Then comes about an hour surfing for product reviews, and I locate a product called SyGate, which has downloadable preview. Install it, it asks a few questions, probes network settings, and says it's done. Reboot, and wham, everything works. It's be nice to have a real firewall, but by this point in time I don't care. Total time wasted: about two days. I'd spent more time fucking with Windows n[e||o]tworking than playing Diablo 2 by then. Thus proving myself a masochist yet again. At least I learned a few things in the process (not the least of which is that my hate for Winblows CAN reach new depths), though it wasn't pretty. Also reaffirmed status as a masochist.
     Called that last bit a core dump? This must be closer to a meltdown. --#1

I was sorting through the snailmail yesterday and came across something signed by Hillary Rodham Clinton. Oookay, what does the First Lady want from me? Opened it up and it was a pretty quick read: she needs my assistance in her run for the New York Senate, and detailed what the Republicans are afraid of. I'm not a member of either political party, so rhetoric isn't gonna do much emotional to me. She's asking for a donation. I told my significant spouse it's be swell to donate a bucket of mud, since that fits my price range and would be very useful to a career politician. But then came that ray of truth, courtesy of that spousal unit: we live in Washington and the outcome of the New York senatorial elections isn't our cotton-picking concern. (Like it's not a foregone conclusion who is going to win that race, now that Mayor Rudy Guiliani has dropped out for heath concerns?) I gotta feel for the folks from all over the country who chip in, since they are essentially paying for their own junkmail, not what they thought they were sending the cash in for. Mrs. Clinton, one suggestion: You are welcome to write me another letter in a few years when you are running for an office I can vote on. Until then, tell your machine that just because I subscribe to the Funny Times and they share their mailing list, this doesn't mean I'm a Democrat. Or a New Yawker. As I was recycling the letter, Paigeroo said, "Why doesn't she get a clue?" I smiled and thought about the gamut that runs from Gennifer Flowers through Monica Lewinsky and said, "She should have gotten the clue about 20 years ago." --#2


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