Post Computer Shock Syndrome

A photo from last spring, taken along the road on a trip to the little house in the city, taken from the moving car.
Old barn

It is all done, almost dusted. All files are now moved to the computers on which they need to reside. All computer hard drives are backed up. The old G4 tower is ready to head down to the little house in the city, where it will serve as a sound system, a youtube movie system, a cookbook, and a reference library of collected domestic tomes and manuals. It might even be connected to the high speed internet connection using an RJ45 cable. I had been hoping the Airport Extreme wireless card from the iBook would be compatible with the older computer, but alas, it is not. The iBook is whole in its box, ready for recycling or whatever fate awaits it, and some of its parts are sitting on my desk to be sold.

It has taken a few weeks to get to this point with the computers. It occupied my time and my mind. No more! I feel somewhat at a loss as to what to do with my time, a sort of temporary post computer shock syndrome. It will not last long, reality awaits.

At the little house in the city the seating has been whatever we could find. My seat in the living room is a wooden rocking chair, that I sat on, and slept on, with newborn Terra always in my arms, when I brought her home from the hospital. At that time her arrival was such a miracle that I refused to put her down, and held her close for the first few months of her life. She and I spent a lot of hours sitting in that chair. Now that I am older the chair is no longer comfortable for me, and so it will go to Terra as soon as a replacement has been installed. To that end I have dismantled an aging Ikea chair that we have been using at the country house, to use at the little house in the city. My old bones find the Ikea chair much more comfortable.

In the shower this morning, a random though popped into my head. It concerns yesterday’s quote:

“Every generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it.”
George Orwell (1903 – 1950)

As the water poured over my face, I thought, “There is another element of time to this statement. Each generation, when they are young, imagines themselves to be more intelligent than those who came before them. But when they have matured, mostly with time, age, and experience, they feel wiser than the generation that comes after them, because they now understand that they were not actually more intelligent than the generation that came before them.”

Life is cyclical.

Thoughts can be very amusing at times.

Worldly Distractions


Date: 11:04 AM EST Saturday 9 November 2013
Condition: Cloudy
Pressure: 101.6 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 1.2°C
Dewpoint: 0.5°C
Humidity: 95%
Wind: SE 17 km/h


“I have found the best way to give advice to your children is to find out what they want and then advise them to do it.”
Harry S Truman (1884 – 1972)

[Does not always work out well with minors! It is the only sane approach with adult children.]


It was something that had to be done. I did not want to do it. I don’t like doing it. I can do it. I did it.

The old iBook died suddenly, not giving me a chance to wipe the drive securely enough to let someone else have access to it. With the hard drive in place, I would not give the old computer to anyone who knew anything about computers, and who else would want an old computer, if only for parts! So, there was nothing for it but to get the hard drive out of the computer. I found a 33 step set of instructions on the Internet, setup the new laptop with the opened instruction file in front of me, and followed the steps, one by one, until I had the computer apart and the hard drive out. It took about four hours to get to the hard drive, removing every layer of framing and metal, disconnecting the keyboard and various other items. I may have damaged a few sensitive connectors, but I will never know because the computer will never run again.

There were layers and layers, all with multiple sizes of tiny screws that went into specific holes in different layers. I devised a system where I taped the screws to a piece of paper with each step and layer, and wrote down the information to identify the screws beside them on the paper. It got confusing very quickly. For tools I used torc screwdrivers, flathead and phillips screwdrivers, a wedge, a kitchen spoon and tweezers.

The hard drive is out and sitting on top of the iBook. Now to begin at the end of the 33 step instrucitons and work my way back to a intact laptop, minus the hard drive.
IBook dimantled DSCF3839

Then it was time to put the whole thing back together again, minus the hard drive.

It went slowly. I managed to get it all back together, and then discovered that ONE screw had gone into the wrong opening, which meant that the small foot in the corner of the computer could not be screwed in, because an incorrectly placed screw was installed on the layer below it. Since tearing the computer apart again, to correct this error, would have taken a few hours, I decided to leave it as it was. The foot is in a plastic bag in the computer box, and will be sent along with the unit when it goes.

I am very tempted to use only external drives for laptops, because removing hard drives from them is a misery. Not so for everyone though, there are those who love to tinker with complicated systems, with lots of bits. I am not one of those people.

It is sunny today, them temperature just above freezing. There is still a skiff of snow on the ground, from last night’s offering from above.

I have managed, in spite of it being a hardware day, to bake bread and wash a load of laundry. The laundry is drying in front of the masonry heater on a rack, and a good portion of one of the loaves of bread has disappeared during Attila’s lunch hour.

I have been following the news about Toronto’s mayor, Rob Ford, and making a few comments of my own about him, such as:

“Drama King, puts any drama queen I’ve ever known to shame.”

“He should be ashamed of himself, but he is only embarrassed.”

“The new age of Fordism.”

“There should be mandatory drug testing for all politicians… they are driving vehicles with passengers.”

“I think we need to plough under this present crop of politicians and plant new seeds in the spring.”

The thing that bothers me the most, is that he cannot have changed all that much, he must always have been the “man” he is today, and if that is so, how could people have supported his rise to power. I don’t mean the voters, because they don’t know what goes on inside the political machine, they only hear the public relations released, or sensational dirt from the opposing forces. I mean the powerful people who supported his rise to power, the other “boys” in the “club”, the “old” and powerful friends of Mr. Ford, and of his family.

Harriet and Hogan are at their cottage this weekend, and dropped in for a visit this evening. Thank goodness the iBook was not sitting in pieces all over the place!

Worldly Distractions


Date: 4:00 PM EST Friday 8 November 2013
Condition: Mainly Sunny
Pressure: 102.1 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 2.1°C
Dewpoint: -4.3°C
Humidity: 63%
Wind: WNW 17 km/h


“Every generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it.”
George Orwell (1903 – 1950)

First Snow 2013

Timers are my best friends. They are accommodating, understanding, uncritical, and essential. I have a manual timer for the kitchen, at timer on the range, and a timer on the computer. Today they were all three put to good use.

Geeky Computer Details

After seven hours of downloading and updating, Mavericks for Mac is installed on the MacBook Air. This task requires intense focus for short periods of time. Simultaneously, the iBook was wiped clean and then fresh operating system was installed. Simultaneously the iMac software updates were installed. Simultaneously the old G4 was dragged out of the dark regions of the closet, the monitor for it carefully balanced as it was brought down from the top shelves of the closet, and the whole works hooked up and started up.

And I was responsible for getting dinner into the cast iron dutch oven, in a timely manner.

The real challenge was dinner. The timer told me when to get up and turn the searing meat, when to add the onions, when to add the potatoes, and finally when to add the carrots. Without the timer the meat might have burned, a vegetable might have been forgotten, or the stove might not have been set at the correct temperature for the afternoon.

The outcome with the computers is mixed.

The iBook is toast. I could not mount it in target mode on the G4, as I had hoped. It did start up on its own, and worked long enough for me to erase the drive and reinstall the original operating system, which started up and worked like a charm. Then it froze. Then it would not startup again. There is some sort of issue, perhaps overheating, who really knows. But, since it is a 2004 model, and will not run up to date software, it is not worth spending any more time trying to rescue. Rest in peace, faithful iBook.

The old G4, ca 1999, works like a charm. The monitor is an old one, but will not work with the new computers and that is a shame, because it is the best monitor I have every owned. The G4 has a nice pair of speakers, that again will not work with the new computers. So I am considering setting up the old G4 as a stereo system, CD player. The other reason I would like to hang on to the G4 is that it has some great software on it, like Photoshop and Mac OS9.

The iMac updates completed without any issues.

The Mavericks update on the MacBook Air was seamless. There were a few surprises though.
1. Mail behaved very strangely at startup and had thrown some of my important messages in the trash. They were retrieved successfully.
2. The old version of Little Snitch had to be uninstalled and the new version installed. It is security software, and so it was the first priority.
3. Another was trying to find the settings to allow TypeIt4Me to run correctly. I did eventually stumble upon them, via the software itself.
4. Another issue is that Netflix won’t run. Apparently a newer version of Silverlight was required, which had to be located and downloaded. Silverlight too had to be uninstalled, and then reinstalled. Also the browser needed to be shutdown and restarted after the install, in order for the plug-in to work properly, which it now does.

I suppose a few more glitches will be discovered as time goes on.

After working on all four computers simultaneously throughout the day, two of them could be shut down. The G4 to be relegated back to the closet. The iBook readied for recycling.

Yesterday I almost missed my 14 year anniversary in online journaling. So much has changed since I began, with the technology, and even in my own life. When I began to write this journal, Terra was still a teenager living at home, and Luna had recently moved to Calgary, Alberta. Now Terra has a husband and home of her own. Luna has a husband and three children, and will be moving to England after Christmas. Attila and I started out together in our first city house, moved to the country house, and now own another city house, in a different city, where we would like to retire.

I seldom read what I have written in the past. However, when trying to remember the details of some life event, I do a search on my blog to jog the memory. It works a treat.

Just as Attila and I emerged from the back door for our evening walk, a heavy wet snow began to fall. As we walked it weakened, and by the time we had travelled a quarter of a mile it had stopped snowing altogether. It melted as soon as it came into contact with the earth. Tonight 2 cm of snow will accumulate, according to the weather mavens.

It seems we have charged the masonry heater just in time!

Worldly Distractions


Date:10:15 PM EDT Wednesday 23 October 2013
Condition: Light Snow
Pressure: 100.8 kPa
Visibility: 2 km
Temperature: 0.1°C
Dewpoint: 0.1°C
Humidity: 100%
Wind: calm


“A handful of patience is worth more than a bushel of brains.”
Dutch Proverb

The End of the Rainbow

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

I arrived home shortly before 11:00 a.m., having begun my journey at 6:30 a.m.. The drive was tiring. I think that I might need a second cup of coffee, after the first two hours of driving. Next time.

I began loading the car at 5:30 a.m. this morning. When coming out of the door, with the first load, I looked up and was caught by a sky full of bright stars. How crisp and clean and chilled the world seemed.

I headed out just after loading the frozen turkeys into my homemade cardboard cooler. As I pulled away the clock read 6:30 a.m., It was still dark.

The headlights of the oncoming traffic weren’t really an issue until the light in the sky quickened. I found that keeping track of oncoming traffic, in the half-light and the headlights, caused eye strain. I was very glad when the light of dawn arrived. The fog drifted above the fields in the distance, beautiful, making it difficult not to look, which is ill advised while driving. Further down the road, before sunrise, the fog was so thick that the truck in front of me faded from sight. For a distance of about 20 km. it was necessary to proceed slowly, and watch carefully for signs of tail-lights in front of me, and head-lights behind me. As soon as the sun came out, the fog began to vanish.

Then the most extraordinary thing occurred. This has never happened to me before, and I wasn’t aware that it could happen. In front of me, across the width of the road, and extending into the forest on either side, was the end of a rainbow. Colours, light, wow. I drove through it in absolute awe.

Morning light is so full of joy, and driving across the countryside for that first hour or so of daylight was a delight.

Upon arrival, a call was made to let Attila know the journey had concluded safely.

Then the unpacking began. The turkeys were still frozen solid, with just a touch of frost on the exterior packaging. The cardboard was dry.

While I was away, Attila installed drywall on the eleven foot high walls in the upstairs hallway; mudded, sanded, and painted it with primer. It looks amazing! I have to admit I had my doubts. He used small, cast-off pieces of drywall, very cost effective, so it was a real patchwork. You would never know it from the finished job!

Also, he completed bringing in the firewood from the back of the property. It is all split and neatly stacked under a tarp, ready for next winter. This winter’s wood is in the woodshed.

Now Attila will turn his attention to finalizing the plans for the front porch at the little house in the city. He anticipates that it will only take a few days to complete. As usual, I have my doubts. I am a real “doubting Thomas” when it comes to renovation timelines!

The cardboard that was transported home was taking up a great deal of space in the garage. With it out of the way, Attila will have easier access to the wood for the front porch project.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Since arriving home, I have been busy catching up, with paying bills and cooking and all sorts of things. The weather has been flawless, sunny, warm during the day, full of colour as the leaves have all turned.

The computer Attila has been using is a ten year old iBook. While I was away it began to misbehave, not starting up properly. Attila was forced to use the iMac for the duration of my absence.

I began my rescue operation by inserting a repair CD in the drive and starting up the iBook, holding down the C key. That should have worked, it should have booted from the CD. It did not.

Next, I attempted to mount the iBook drive on the iMac, using a Firewire connection and target mode. The iMac mounted the CD in the iBook drive, but it did not detect the hard drive on the iBook. The Disk Utility software on the iMac found the iBook hard drive, but could not access it for verification or repair.

Conclusion, the iBook has died of natural causes, after ten years of almost daily use.

I now have to find a way to wipe the hard drive, which is proving to be quite difficult. I have one more trick up my sleeve, and if that fails I am not sure how I will wipe the hard drive. I may have to remove it and destroy it. However, before going to that extreme, I will try to mount the hard drive in target mode on my old G4 computer. Neither the iBook or the G4 are Intel, but the iMac is Intel. That may be why the iMac cannot find the iBook. If I can mount the iBook hard drive on the G4, then I will wipe it clean and send the iBook to a recycling facility.

The G4 is buried in storage, so this project has to wait until I have time to dig it out and experiment. There is no hurry, other than the clutter of one old laptop and cable.

In the meantime, Attila must use the iMac as his computer. It is only four years old, and still runs the latest software without issue, so it is a real step up for Attila. It would be great if he had his own laptop, but that is not in our budget at the moment, and the need is not crucial. I am keeping my eyes open on the Apple site for refurbished laptops at a great price. A 15% savings is not great, relative to the average Canadian’s income.

I have no work scheduled, and anticipate few hours offered over the winter. The last offering was eight hours, 80 km from home, my route a one hour and fourteen minute drive, one way, according to Google maps, with no compensation for travel, or travel time. Not exactly a job that will pay bills, beyond those incurred owning a car, insurance, and fuel. Then, of course, the employer thinks nothing of suddenly reducing the hours to four, long after the shift is scheduled and accepted, which doesn’t really cover the expense of getting there and back. In reality, travelling that distance for four hours of work is subsiding the big corporation that employs me. Robbing from the poor to pay the rich. Same old, same old; progress, ha!

This week Attila received notice that working hours will be reduced, where he is employed, for everyone there. This is a two edged sword for us. Reduced income is always a challenge, but the silver lining is that I will see more of Attila. This will, of course, seriously restrict the funds for renovation in future, and it will become more challenging to support two properties. Thank goodness the kitchen and bathroom renovations are behind us, at the little house in the city! Also the removal of the old porch and waterproofing of the basement, which transformed the little house into a truly livable space. If we have to sell one of our properties, both are now viable options.

If the interest rates increase significantly, we will find ourselves needing to sell one house, or the other. In this we feel lucky, because there will be many who will be facing the loss of their one and only home.

Attila is working today, which is, according to the weather reports, our last summer-like day of the year. Me? I am sitting here, typing and gazing out the window at bright yellow leaves, drifting, earthbound, towards rebirth.

Worldly Distractions


Date: 9:00 AM EDT Saturday 12 October 2013
Condition: Sunny
Pressure: 102.4 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 11.2°C
Dewpoint: 7.0°C
Humidity: 75%
Wind: SE 9 km/h


“If you wish to know what a man is, place him in authority.”
Yugoslav Proverb


Terra and Lares have taken possession of their old “new” house and are entering into the adventure with great spirit. They arrived to find the oil tank leaking, fixed that, then found that the furnace was not working, fixed that… and so it went. They are able to laugh and enjoy themselves as they take control of their new home.

I have had FaceTime on my computer for a long, long time. However, it is a Mac to Mac thing, so I’ve really had no opportunity to use it to talk to my loved ones, who have all been windows people. Terra got a new iPhone, and within minutes we had FaceTime up and running. Love it. She was able to give me a little tour of the apartment they are moving out of; boxes!

I have been working on my genealogy research diligently, there is a lot of work to be done referencing all the material I am entering into the database. Slow going, but mostly enjoyable and worthwhile.

I am taping these single thickness bubble envelopes to the single pane glass to see if we can save a bit of energy during the winter!

Waste not, want not; I’ve always heard this proverb and believe it to be true, for the most part. Attila and I are proceeding with our “spend no money” renovation plans. Of course, it is only a goal, to spend no money; a goal we do not reach because we always end up spending some money. Be that as it may, I am always on the lookout to repurpose objects. An experiment I am currently undertaking at the little house is to add insulation to the old windows. I have saved a few bubble wrap envelopes, and as you can see I have taped them to the single pane glass of a window at the little house in the city. We cannot afford new windows, and the old ones are hardly energy efficient. It is worth a try, we shall see if it makes any noticeable difference in the amount of heating fuel we use over the winter.

The nice thing about this bubble envelope window treatment is that the light comes through. The white envelope lets more light into the room from outside, and the manilla envelope filters the light into a glowing golden colour. Both are quite nice, particularly when this window treatment is hidden behind a curtain that hides the details and lets the light through.

I mentioned this to a woman where I worked last week and she thought it was weird and made sure I knew it. She has lots of money, so thinking inside the box is a very comfortable place for her; so I left her there.

Attila is going to use this computer for surfing the Internet and communicating by email.

This morning the iBook G4 got a good maintenance and configuration session; it was set up for Attila’s exclusive use. I have configured the internet, the browser and bookmarks, and the email client so that he can login at startup and begin surfing or communicating by email. It took a while to choose the software, because it is a 2004 model, the operating system is old and a lot of the current software will not work with it. I found optimal programs to allow almost all functions on the internet to work properly, it took some time, but it was worth it.

At last I am baking bread again! Bread baking took a real dive when I worked full time. For more than a year I got up six days a week, put one foot in front of the other and dragged myself through each day, collapsing in exhaustion when the necessary domestic chores were done after work. My bread baking skills slipped significantly as a result of that long break. I’ve produced six loaves of edible but not great bread. They keep getting better, so maybe sometime before Christmas the bread will be as mouth watering as it was before I started working all hours. Attila has his fingers crossed, because he is the one who eats most of the bread.

Winter is approaching. During the first few months of winter weather, through November and December, I fare well. The snow and cold weather are a beautiful novelty, contact with people who know my name is frequent enough to maintain equilibrium and there are a lot of projects on the go as we adjust to below freezing temperatures, snow and ice.

Then January arrives, cold and relatively featureless physically and psychologically. Social contact begins to suffer from the weather and the flat white landscape stretches as far as the eye can see and soul can reach. Winter seeps slowly into my bones. By February I am struggling with cabin fever. By March I am considering running away from home, flying to Australia, hitchhiking to Mexico, taking a train to Florida. Of course I do none of those things, throwing caution to the wind is not my modus operandi, but in March they seem like a good idea. March is a difficult month in this little corner of rural Ontario.

Of course, then April arrives and the colour of spring chases away the dark and lonely days. The challenge is over until the following January.

Last February Attila and I were both working and so could afford to take a few days off work without wages. It was a one-off, as we can ill afford to lose wages on one income. I wrote the following during that blessed break from the bleak:

Attila and I have had a few days off work, an unpaid
mini-holiday. Much needed and we feel well deserved. The interlude is
well worth the tightened belts.

Change has always been a pivotal component in the way I live, think,
feel, breath. The constant drone of working full-time and part-time
numbs the life right out of life. The natural flow of change becomes
blocked and clogged like arteries victimized by too much butter and red
meat. The pressure of change builds in my life, when I’ve no time to

That is why these last few days have afforded me a rainbow of
epiphanies. My internal skies are full of tears and bright sunlight.

I have come to know a few things more intimately.

My beliefs have foundations. The foundations are living entities that
evolve over time, and to add interest, will vary according to
perspective at any given time. My beliefs are the garden from which I
gather sustenance.

One epiphany related to an old knowledge, is that my personal happiness
is a gift to those who love me, and it honours those who have loved me
and have passed on to the next level of existence. Their happiness
is/was a gift received. Letting happiness pervade my life is desirable
in the greater scheme of things. I am allowed to experience personal
happiness even when many other’s are in no position to enjoy such
feelings. If an imbalance exists, it does not need to be restored by
removing my personal happiness for the sake of others. The path to
healthy restoration of balance in this world we live in is to increase
the personal happiness of others. To think local is to act global.

Nothing new here, just the same old wonderfulness of being alive.

Endlessly fascinating.

Worldly Distractions


0 °C
Condition: Sunny
Pressure: 103.2 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: -0.1°C
Dewpoint: -4.5°C
Humidity: 72 %
Wind: ESE 9 km/h
Wind Chill: -3


“Shut out all of your past except that which will help you weather your tomorrows.”
Sir William Osler
1849 – 1919

“Sir William Osler, 1st Baronet (July 12, 1849 – December 29, 1919) was a Canadian physician. He was one of the “Big Four” founding professors at Johns Hopkins Hospital as the first Professor of Medicine and founder of the Medical Service there. (The “Big Four” were William Osler, Professor of Medicine; William Stewart Halsted, Professor of Surgery; Howard A. Kelly, Professor of Gynecology; and William H. Welch, Professor of Pathology.) Osler created the first residency program for specialty training of physicians, and he was the first to bring medical students out of the lecture hall for bedside clinical training.

He has been called the “Father of modern medicine.” Osler was a multifaceted physician and individual, functioning as a pathologist, internist, educator, bibliophile, historian, author, and renowned practical joker…

An inveterate prankster, he wrote several humorous pieces under the pseudonym “Egerton Yorrick Davis”, even fooling the editors of the Philadelphia Medical News into publishing a report on the imaginary phenomenon of penis captivus, on December 13, 1884. The letter (still cited in all seriousness in a number of textbooks) was apparently a response to a report on the phenomenon of vaginismus reported three weeks previously in the Philadelphia Medical News by Osler’s colleague Theophilus Parvin.

Davis, a prolific writer of letters to medical societies, purported to be a retired US Army surgeon living in Caughnawaga, Quebec (now called Kahnawake), author of a controversial paper on the obstetrical habits of Native American tribes which was suppressed and unpublished. Osler would enhance Davis’ myth by signing Davis’ name to hotel registers and medical conference attendance lists; Davis was eventually reported drowned in the Lachine Rapids in 1884.”