Today, I had one of the more me-shifting days. You have days where a lot of stuff happens, or you think you impressed a lot of people in a new way. But, at the end of the day, if your head is free of bs, you know that you haven’t shifted any. Today was different.
First, I’ll start with the recent past.
In a fit of discontent with more of the same, and feeling powerless to change much of anything at all, I decided to put Ubuntu back on this computer. I’d taken it off, and put Vista on here when the wi-fi stopped working completely one morning. Vista sucks, everyone knows it, I knew it, but I figured if I was going to have to use a Microsoft product, I might as well use one that was going to be supported moving forward.
At work, I’ve been using a Mac more and more, and starting to loathe coming home to put on the straitjacket that is Vista. So, I popped the Ubuntu disc in, saw that the wi-fi was working again, and waited a few days before making the semi-rash decision of wiping the hard drive.
My thought was that I’d start with my old version of Ubuntu, and it would be a piece of cake to upgrade. Heh. Turns out, that Ubuntu made a major structural shift going from 8.10 to 9.1, so, I could only upgrade from 8.04 to 8.10, which I did. Then, I discovered that my wi-fi was dropping every other minute, and I had to reconnect by hand. This, and the version of Flash that was supported by the OS couldn’t even play Hulu shows.
At this point, I began to doubt whether Ubuntu was even the best Linux for novices. I’d read a review about something called LinuxMint, so I grabbed the ISO at work, burned it to a DVD, and put it on my machine. Well, LinuxMint was pretty much Ubuntu 8.04 in a somewhat prettier wrapper, and it had the exact same problems with the wi-fi. So, went back to work to download the most current version of Ubuntu, and discovered that its ISO wouldn’t burn to a DVD. The only CD-ROMs I had were ancient, 4X ones, and many of them had failed to burn properly when I tried using one. But, it was all I had, and the burn software said everything went successfully, so I took the disc home, and began to install.
About 60% into the installation, it failed, saying there was a bad sector on the disk. Since it was Friday night, I couldn’t take one of my slightly-less-ancient 40X CD-ROMs into work the next day to try again. I had to face the fact that I was stuck with using the internet via a bootable CD. (The Cd with the most current version of Ubuntu on it actually worked okay as a bootable disk, and surprisingly held a persistent wi-fi connection.)
Then, I had a flash of brilliance. I grabbed my secondary flash drive, reformatted it, downloaded the entire ISO of the most recent Ubuntu via the most recent version (bootable, because as I said above, the older versions and Mint couldn’t hold a persistent connection long enough to download 700mb of data). I reinstalled Mint on the hard drive, because I’d messed up my hard drive with the failed install of the most recent version of Ubuntu, and used Mint to grab the ISO off the flash drive and burn it to one of my CDs, making a successful new Ubuntu disk, which I then installed.
I was able to get a version of Flash installed that plays Hulu shows with only a few minor hiccups, and so far the new OS hasn’t done anything unbelievably stupid. It looks and feels a lot nicer than it did two years ago, and beats the pants of of LinuxMint, which left me scratching my head—I mean, if you’re a member of the Linux community, and you’re really serious about making a highly usable version of Linux that average people will want to put on their computers, then why not contribute to the one you’re building off of, if you’re only going to make what appear to be minor, cosmetic changes?
On with today.
I wake up, and it’s a soupy mess outside. I’ve managed to keep my beer total to three tallboys, after a week of drinking at least four every night. I have to meet with my Little Brother from the Big Brothers program at 2, and don’t want to be JUST recovering from an achy, gloopy head. I decide to dash off a quick walk with Taffy, then I gotta get the car inspected, oil changed, laundry washed, recycling and trash out, groceries purchased.
I’m going to walk her up and down a quick stretch of the trail, and see this lady who has a husky dog getting ready to enter the greenbelt—she’s passed me for years in the Woods complex, and we’ve said hello, and she’s always been friendly and she’s supercute, but I’m shy and she never seemed interested beyond politeness, and she’s usually holding her dog back from sniffing Taffy.
So, I let Taffy off the leash when we get down there, and at first think that I’m just going to be my usual non-encounter self and walk the other way, but decide to at least pass her going her direction so she can see that Taffy and her dog would get along. That works okay, and I’m almost tempted to make conversation, but still fear I’d be a little presumptuous, so I keep walking with Taffy, but veer off on another fork of the trail, saunter, and then say to myself, if I run into her, fine, if not fine. So, sure enough, when our fork meets back up with the main trail, we run right into them, and I decide enough is enough, if she doesn’t really want to talk, she’ll politely or even rudely respond to my question in a curt voice, and things will go on as normal for Evan because that’s just how people usually react.
“Is your dog aggressive toward other dogs?” I ask in a curious and friendly way (I hope).
And so, for at least thirty minutes, maybe forty-five, we walk and talk together in the gloopy mess.
I wanna do the old “let’s meet up and go to the dog park some time, I live in 1007,” but she’s told me she’s thinking of leaving town in March, and it sounds like another situation like with Brea, where by the time I actually get the nerve to talk to her, and have an opportunity, she’s headed to Chicago to marry some guy she dated for years.
I figure at this point, since we have run into each other a lot, if God is willing, maybe so again, and then I’ll pose the possibility of another walk or dog park date. She did say “thank the Lord” once while speaking, which doesn’t necessarily mean she believes in anything, but I’ve gotten so used to being around Agnostic and Atheist people who don’t even say that, that I almost wonder if she meant it as more than just a figure of speech.
Anyway, so I get on with my day and its many chores. After getting the oil changed, the car seems to run more smoothly, but is still kind of complaining like it had been—sounding like air still in the clutch line. But, it runs more smoothly, and I get ready for my BBBS appointment. A block away from their offices over in East Austin, the clutch completely give, and stuff starts grinding when I shift. Damn. Maybe something was just out of whack, adjusting to temperature, I hope. I hope I can at least get it home, then down to the mechanic on Monday.
During my meeting with Jesus and his mom and the BBBS lady Sharlene, some weirdo keeps calling my cell from a private line. Nobody calls me for weeks, aside from the few usual suspects, then all of a sudden, I get hammered with strange calls during an intense meeting.
I feel like I’m in way over my head with this volunteering gig. Jesus is caught up in a world of adults that are selfish, blameful, and hardly that mature. He’s being raised by a number of people, and only his mother is doing anything to prevent him from going to jail like his dad. The rest are giving him drugs or getting him to take money so they can buy drugs.
It’s one thing when you’re midwestern WASP boy with a super-religious mom, a Dad hell-bent on sending you to college and making sure you finish, in a town full of WASPY religious folks. Then, you can dabble, and it’s cool, and go back home and back to circles of friends who are serious about their educations, and keep the drugs and drink in a separate little space. But, when it’s all around you, and there’s nothing even close to yearly vacations to Florida and Texas waiting for you, I have no idea how you get out of it, and get your head into something smarter than just drugs and TV.
And the story about his cousin Pedro.
Ah, there are just too many kids who need help in this world.
I left feeling only slightly better about what I do as a BBBS volunteer, and my car was clearly not going to make it that far without the help of a tow truck or me destroying it beyond repair. So, I called the tow truck, having just put $2500 into it a month ago, and $800 into it six months ago.