All that is wrong with the world…

April 18, 2011

Thoughts on Slackware

Filed under: Tech — Tags: , , — allthatiswrong @ 11:40 am

Slackware is an interesting distribution known for being stable and having a minimal approach, two of the reasons why for a long time it was my favorite distribution. It is also the oldest still surviving distribution, which should speak for itself. When I started learning about Linux and getting into the low level details of computing, it was through Slackware that I learned a lot of what I know today, or at least the foundation. I had played with Red Hat, Debian and Caldera to varying extents, but they all needlessly obfuscated simple details. It was with Slackware that I had direct access to my system and the native utilities to interact with it. It was with Slackware that I was encouraged to read the documentation and learn how things work rather than use a poorly written GUI tool that tried and failed to make configuration seamless.

One thing I always liked about Slackware was that I always had the feeling of total control over my system. I knew where all my system scripts were that did everything, I knew where every file on my system was and if I didn’t I could find it. I knew how everything worked and if something was out of place, I would know it. This was less true of other distributions where there may be varying levels of obfuscation or several different locations where things may be placed. Slackware has somewhat of a reputation as being difficult to learn, but nothing could be farther from the truth. Everything is well documented and it is easy to do anything. Editing a configuration file is not any harder than having a GUI tool do it for you and for those who think it is they should probably get a Mac.

After traveling around and not having a PC for a few years I hadn’t used Slackware much. It isn’t used in production very often so I didn’t encounter it when working and I wasn’t using it personally, so it wasn’t until 2009 when I got a PC again that I got into using it. I knew I wanted to get up to speed on the Linux stuff I had missed and Slack seemed the obvious choice, especially given the alternatives. The core distributions had not changed in philosophy so much, while newer distributions such as Gentoo or Ubuntu offered no real advantages and many disadvantages. After installing and setting up 13.0 (which I will cover in a later post, the 64bit version is also very nice!) I was glad to see that things seemed mostly familiar. Yet, I also noticed a lot of changes, most of which were not positive. I noticed these changes mainly in the community but they were apparent in the design of the distribution as well.

The current community seems to be full of rabid Microsoft hating zealots who were unwilling to reason and happy to jump on any bandwagon criticizing Microsoft or Windows. This was not the community I remembered, that I had learned so much from. The community I remembered tended to be more mature than that, realizing that Windows and various Linux distributions both have strengths and weaknesses and that one is not automatically and always superior to the other. It isn’t surprising that the community is like this given Slackware’s relatively recent priority on being a desktop; however I wonder which came first? It seems like a chicken and egg problem….did Slackware change first and attract these new users or did they come to Slackware which caused it to adapt? Either way, it’s slightly disappointing.

Another major change I saw in the community was in the attitude towards learning and problem solving. Back in the day if I wanted to know how to do something there would always be people willing to explain things to me or I would be pointed towards the relevant documentation. Nowadays it seems more common that people will question why you want to do something in the first place assuming they know better or disapproving if it doesn’t meet their highly biased standards. An example of this might be that I had an issue with my soundcard module causing problems on occasion. In the days of old I would have been offered help in troubleshooting the issue and perhaps learning something from it. These days the most anyone would offer is a suggestion to reboot.

Another example of something I felt had changed was the recommendation and near requirement to do a full install. This is completely contrary to how I use Slackware, as I like to have quite a minimal install with just the programs I need and use and Fluxbox for a minimal GUI. However the current version of Slackware assumes that everyone is going to do a full install, which leads to stupid dependencies such as Mplayer requiring Samba just in case that niche functionality might be required. Aside from being a waste of space and increasing the risk of an attack, it encourages bad habits. Slackware was famous for adhering to the KISS principle but when a full install is the simplest way to satisfy dependencies, then that wouldn’t seem to hold true any longer. I don’t know that Bob would be happy with how things have changed. It might be OK if this was simply the recommendation from the Slackware team, except the community has blindly followed suit. When asking which package might contain a certain library you inevitably get bombarded with questions asking for justification as to why you didn’t do a full install.

I can’t help but feel that these changes are due to a desire to keep Slackware in the race for desktop Linux, and as a consequence has forgotten its roots. The community and distribution now seem closer to Ubuntu or Mandrake in the sense of target audience and community, which is a shame. It seems that many Slackware users of the past have migrated to Gentoo or Arch or various other distributions. I would not be surprised, as the Arch community and wiki is exactly the sort of community and advice I used to associate with Slackware. If it wasn’t for the cutting edge/rolling release aspect I would probably adopt it as my primary distribution.

One of the things I always liked about Slackware was that it took a minimalistic approach. There was always only what was necessary or what would actually make things easier present, nothing unnecessary or in the way. This no doubt helped Slackware to maintain its reputation for stability as well. It was easy to install specific programs without having to install all the related programs you didn’t actually need. The packages tended to be quite vanilla, which was useful when you were compiling your own software. It was easy to add 3rd party packages without interfering with the rest of the system. There were no kernel updates as Slackware just used the vanilla kernel, which most people knew how to build and update themselves.

One aspect of Slackware that had always received constant criticism was its package management. When compared to offerings such as rpm and apt-get it may seem lackluster, yet at a time when those systems suffered from a dependency hell worse than any windows version had been afflicted with Slackware was a breath of flash air. Originally a Slackware package was simply a collection of compiled binaries and config files inside a tarred gzip file, with an additional text file including a package description and some basic instruction. The installpkg command would extract the files in the right places and place an entry in /var/log/packages where you could easily see what packages you had installed and the files belonging to each package.

Of course most software was not offered in a Slackware package format, although this was not a concern. Using the program checkinstall you would just grab the source tarball, and run checkinstall instead of make install. This would install the program while creating the appropriate entries in /var/log/packages, allowing for an easy uninstall if desired. This is probably the area Slackware had matured the most in in the few years I had not kept up with it. checkinstall was no longer being developed, however the much more diverse src2pkg had appeared to take its place. Slackpkg had been introduced and is now an official tool in the distribution. It is an awesome tool that allows for installing and checking for updates all from one interface. It also makes it easy to create templates which allow you to setup other machines the same way in a very easy way. One of the nicest features is that you can search all packages for a particular file which makes satisfying dependencies trivial. I had a script to do this but having such functionality available natively is much better.

Probably the biggest change was the appearance of Slackbuilds. Slackbuilds are simple build scripts for pretty much any software not officially included with Slackware. You simply grab the source and the associated Slackbuild and run the Slackbuild script, and then install the resulting package. They are easy to configure and understand, and available for most software you will encounter. They don’t tend to be kept so up to date, but since the compiling process doesn’t change so much it isn’t much of an issue most of the time. For the few packages that don’t have Slackbuilds src2pkg works like a charm.

The last thing I would note about Slackware is that it has suffered from some odd decisions preventing it from moving forward. Things like a non graphical boot or sticking with stable versions of programs rather than newer cutting edge versions is all fine. Other decisions seem odd, such as still sticking with LILO over GRUB. It’s true that LILO works fine, however GRUB has a number of distinct advantages over LILO. In which case it is worth asking why not switch to GRUB? Then there is PAM. Slackware is the only modern distribution to have support for PAM. Back in the day, Linux-PAM was a mess and the justification somewhat made sense, however it no longer does. The option to use PAM should at least be included as without it, it makes it hard to use many programs, or even stuff like SELinux which is now native kernel functionality.

Despite everything I still have a lot of love for Slackware and it is still my distribution of choice. I like the hands on simple approach and the easy configuration. I like the simple yet powerful package management which despite the FUD being spread, has no disadvantages over more complex package management systems. I like the most of the packages are compiled from vanilla source without various buggy patches incorporated. Slackware remains a simple and reliable distribution that is easy to use, learn and maintain. For my needs which consist of a stable and minimal install without having to update constantly Slackware is the only option. It is getting harder to keep a minimal install however after doing the initial work the configuration can be kept with tagfiles. As packages continue to have unnecessary dependencies it is becoming easier/necessary to compile my own versions. This is only true for very few packages at the moment and hopefully that won’t change.

Slackware has changed from a distribution which was plain and simple to understand while being easy to configure and slim down for your needs to a distribution which now recommends a full install and tries to accommodate the typical needs of a desktop user. It is made more difficult now to remove unwanted functionality or to integrate 3rd party programs into the distribution. I find Slackware less convenient for my needs and fine myself less wanting to interact with the new community; however this doesn’t mean it is worse than it was before. It just means that it is catering to the needs of its users as they changed and adapted. Still, it is possible to learn a lot on Slackware and I hope much of the community can one day move past their rabid anti MS hate and mature, learning something in the process.

I don’t know if I would still recommend Slackware to new users wanting to learn the ins and outs of Linux, as the community and distribution no longer seems suited to that where something like Arch does. I still use it daily and suggest it to people; I was just disappointed to see it change from how I remembered it in a direction I felt was less true to its user base and principles. I want to give a lot of thanks to Patrick Volkerding who has put in so much work into Slackware, which allowed and encouraged me to learn so much so many years ago. I also want to stress that my opinions should not be taken as a slam on Slackware and I will continue to use and support it, or at the least remember it fondly.

April 12, 2011

Thoughts on DC vs Marvel

Filed under: Entertainment — Tags: , , , — allthatiswrong @ 7:17 pm

DC vs Marvel is an interesting issue for those who care enough, as people tend to have fairly strong opinions on it. For me, the issue is simple. DC represents quality while Marvel represents quantity. DC has a few key characters, all iconic and complex. All have been interpreted and reinterpreted in a myriad of ways, because doing so allows interesting things to be explored. Take for example Batman, where we had the campy 60’s version, the 90’s TAS, the appalling Burton series and the current Nolan series. Has anything similar even been attempted with a Marvel character, or is it even really possible? To be fair, Frank Miller managed this with Daredevil, but by adding a lot to what was a poorly defined character in the first place.

By contrast Marvel seems to bank on having a huge collection of characters interacting with each other in interesting ways. These characters always seem to simply be catalyst for the plot, without ever being interesting characters in themselves. If I read a story about Batman, it can be riveting if he is in his home for more than half of the story. I can’t see that working with many Marvel characters. To be fair, Marvel does have a few interesting characters, Wolverine (whose gain in popularity was also due to Miller), Silver Surfer, Hulk and sometimes Punisher. It’s not often however that these characters are really explored or have interesting story arcs. Indeed whenever I try to get involved I can’t help but feel they have just been stagnating, not having progressed much in the last few years.

One thing I have noticed anecdotally is that many marvel fans are really X-Men fans. They identified with the X-Men during childhood, feeling different or picked on for whatever reason. The thing with the X-Men is that it is so glaringly obvious that I can’t see what people get out of it. Oh look, a group of mutants (people who are somehow different) ostracized by society. I too am different and feel picked on, so I identify! Yeesh. DC comics may not have such superficial metaphors, but I’ll take carefully developed complex characters over that any day of the week. The other thing with Marvel characters is that they all seem to be fundamentally good or bad people. The heroes always end up doing the right thing more often than not, while the villains either try to do the right thing or go back to their villainous way. I mean, can it get any more obvious than a Brotherhood of Evil Mutants?

This is a trivial post, but I would be interested if Marvel fans could defend their brand and maybe point me to some interesting counter examples. I still have yet to read Civil War which I hope will explore some interesting issues, although I can’t help but think it’s not going to get across the same message as Kingdom Come did in only four issues, which it does appear to be trying for. Still, if anyone can recommend me some interesting complex characters or story arcs, or just refute my assumptions/observations, it would be much appreciated.

Update 1 – September 19th 2011

Another thing that always irked me about Marvel was the amount of Characters who happened to be a result of radiation. I guess this is a result of many characters being created in the 50’s and 60’s….but still. Marvel has Spider-man, Hulk, the Fantastic Four, DareDevil, Phoenix and probably others I can’t remember right now. Radiation doesn’t seem to be the origin for DC characters nearly as often…instead we have humans with various personal motivations or scientists who discover something new they can use or aliens. Not simply coming up with a new power and using radiation as the explanation for it. It just seems lazy to do so.

Good riddance to Groklaw

Filed under: Tech — Tags: , , , , — allthatiswrong @ 7:14 pm

So, Groklaw is coming to an end, with PJ stating she is no longer going to be making new posts. I have to say, I’m not to upset at this and in fact I’m glad Groklaw is finally shutting down. See, when Groklaw started it provided some useful legal opinions on some of the issues Linux faced as it gained prominence, particular in the SCO fiasco. However as time went on the site became heavenly biased, attracting many of the worst kinds of Linux zealots. What was once an objective overview of legal issues became a front to attack anyone or anything that threatened or criticized Linux, or to a lesser extent open source. Perhaps naturally the audience the site then began to attract were those that found a reference they could sell as authoritative which matched their views. Despite the fact the legal analysis became increasingly flawed as viewed through a particular lens, it didn’t matter as long as those people were hearing what they wanted to hear.

Some critics of Groklaw began to question if the site was a shill for IBM or some other entity with an agenda. I don’t think that was the case at all. I think it’s far more likely a paralegal with a cursory interest in open source and Linux got a little too comfortable with the very strong support from the community and then started writing posts an analyzing legal issues in a way that would most appeal to that crowd, with all regard to objectivity gone. Perhaps a good example is in one of the non SCO issues the site covered, such as the whole Psystar case. In her analysis it seemed that PJ forgot many of the ideals she seemed to believe in, randomly siding with Apple. The analysis of the case was lacking in many areas and was certainly far from objective. It seemed like this random Pro-Apple support came just as the site reached its peak in its childish anti-MS campaign. Anything MS is evil and thus by extension anything that may hurt MS is good.

These type of people are one of the very worst things about the Linux community and Groklaw has fueled and supported them for the last several years. It is for this reason I am not sad to see the site go, while simultaneously having respect for PJ and the good work she did in the beginning of the site.

Two weeks in NYC, again

Filed under: Travel — Tags: , , , — allthatiswrong @ 1:20 am

I have so many chapters and stories to write about my travels, just about the experiences I have while trying to get established and living back in NYC, legally while trying to setup my business. I also have so much to write about my opinions on various issues, lengthy articles which I am still not terribly much closer to writing than I was six months ago. With traveling and work and socializing and day to day stuff I seem to lose time and I lack the discipline to do even a small bit every day. Still, my most recent two weeks in NYC is short enough that I can right about it and at least get it done, while focusing on my larger Canada and Cancun chapters at a later stage. So, here goes, hopefully the start of a burst of writing.

Leaving Montreal was interesting, as I no idea if I would be allowed entry into the USA or not or what would happen if I was denied entry. I’m from a country that qualifies for the VWP, which means I get 90 days entrance to the US without too much trouble. It also means to qualify for a new 90 days I have to leave the region the US defines as ‘North America’ which includes Canada, the US, Mexico and every island in the Atlantic or Caribbean, although oddly not Guatemala or Belize. So, after going straight from the US to Canada and staying there for a few months, I did not qualify to enter the US again. However, days before I left I was aware of the flooding in Australia, which as I was traveling on an Australian passport figured I could use to my advantage. Entrance to the US is at the discretion of the border guards, so with a ticket to Australia and a story that I was going back due to the flooding I was admitted entrance – albeit only for 2 weeks.

Still, this was better than not being denied at all, although far from ideal as I had planned to wait in the US for 90 days while sorting out my Canadian visa and then just reenter Canada to obtain it. Being admitted for 2 weeks meant I had to leave after or stay illegally, something I was considering as the US is pretty terrible about keeping track of tourists coming in by land. Still, I didn’t really want to take the risk. I did find it interesting that despite having an approved ETSA I still had to pay $6 to come in and fill out the obsolete I-94.

Still, I was approved! Only an hour into the road trip from Montreal to NYC and everything was going fairly well. The trip was interesting, as the other guy who caught the rideshare was interested to discuss a lot of interesting topics. We started off with economics only to end up discussing if evil has to be intentional. The guy who was driving us turned out to be friendly and not strange at all, so I’m glad my first impression was wrong.

It was about 4pm when I got dropped off at Port Authority. It was just an amazing feeling to be back in NYC….I really do love that city. After buying some Dr Pepper and exchanging details with the other guy, I decided to head to Times Square to see if anyone I knew selling comedy tickets was around. As I walked up to MTV thinking people would be further up, I saw 2 of my friends. Jack spotted me with a grin on his face and Sam was next to him….both surprised and happy to see me, which was a very nice welcome. I was meant to meet a friend who lived further away, but they both wanted to know what I was doing and invited me to crash with them. This was pretty nice, and I would be staying with my other friend for most of the time anyway. Another girl working who I hadn’t seen for a while and didn’t particularly remember, but there was possibly some flirting. It was odd to consider an attraction with a girl I just remember joking around with. It doesn’t sound odd at all, but it was an odd feeling as I had not at all considered it.

Anyway, I went back with them, and almost immediately started vaping. Vaping is an odd thing. Normally if I smoke a joint it doesn’t affect me so much, but vaping, concentrated THC…, I get completely stoned with serious cotton mouth, unable to do much at all. It was during this time that I decided to restore my files. Because of the horror stories I have heard about laptops being searched when crossing borders and because some of the articles I am writing might give me unwanted attention, I backup everything to a server with Rsync and then retrieve it when across the border. I set this up to go automatically every night at 8pm, in case I forget. Of course, the problem with Rsync is that it syncs. As I happened to be using my computer around 8pm, everything was deleted off my server as it was deleted locally and I had forgotten to cancel the scheduled task. Well, fuck. Luckily I was quite stoned so was not panicking too much, and didn’t lose more than 3 days worth with my redundant backups due to not using the –delete flag. It all worked out OK, but it wasn’t a great start. It was a close call, which might motivate me to look into Rsnapshot. Although I think my redundant backups and canceling the task in the future is enough. Having to reset the permissions of sooo many files is frustrating however. Still, it all worked out OK.

It was odd watching Jeopardy while stoned. A computer question came on and Sam thought I would like it just because I work with computers. Odd. It was a good night and I crashed pretty early after a tiring day of traveling. Saturday was not too eventful…no one worked and we didn’t do anything, just hanging out and watching stuff and talking. Good times. We made plans to go to Shopsin’s the next day. So, Sunday was interesting. We woke up relatively early to get to Shopsin’s. At the departing subway in Brooklyn say a Chinese busker…who was an old woman or an old man, I couldn’t tell. Somehow though, it just seemed so fitting. A younger Chinese guy talked to him/her for a bit, although they didn’t appear to be friends. It was interesting to watch and ponder. We finally arrived at Shopsin’s where I had some delicious food, then on to Doughnut Planet which is apparently a very famous doughnut shop. I hadn’t heard of it, although it certainly had quite a line.

After going back home and vaping some more, it was time to go and see the King Tut expo. I was sad to have missed it the last time I was in NYC and it was partly the reason I came back to NYC, or at least to come back when I did. The first time the exhibition had been shown in 30 years, and it had been extended from the 2nd to the 17th, so it was a perfect opportunity. I bought a ticket for 6pm but ended up getting there late. I was worried as the ticket stated I had to be there only for that showing, but in practice it was just a long line and there were not showings as such, so it was fine. Charging a $1 delivery fee for an E-ticket seems a bit fucked up though.

I enjoyed seeing everything. One of the things I wonder about is as passionate as I was about Egyptology as a kid, I don’t know if I still genuinely like it. I don’t know if I don’t want to lose that part of myself, or if I have just grown past it perhaps. I know that I have not pursued it as much as I planned to as a kid. Perhaps too much stuff just got in the way. Perhaps inevitably, seeing all of this reminded me of my time in Egypt with My ex best friend. It was an odd thing, waiting all my life to go to Egypt and going with my best friend who I though shared my passion…but ultimately didn’t share my passion while entering into a relationship she wasn’t willing to follow through on…devastating me in the process. Still…I miss her more than anything, it just took me longer than it should have to get over everything. More than anything I wished she was there with me. I noted that the Giza is opening in 2012 and couldn’t help wondering if we would be talking again by then. If we were, maybe we could go together. I couldn’t help wondering as I left how the ancient Egyptians would feel about seeing their pharaoh’s face on various merchandise from baseballs to lunchboxes. Perhaps they would feel it was perfectly apt.

After coming back, it was of course time again for vaping. Watching Jeopardy while high was interesting. For one category, John Travolta movies everyone was on fire but somehow everyone forgot Old Dogs…pretty funny. One contestant, Tim Haysack, by god his head looked hugely out of proportion. I always find altered perception to be interesting. The final question was on copyright, about which law had been extended for the last 100 years. It was obvious to me but no one else got it…it’s interesting to see how far removed many people are from many of the issues going on at the moment with the media laws and organizations.

I wondered how well I would do at Jeopardy as well. I know quite a lot, but the amount I would have to memorize to have a good chance at the show….sheesh. Is it just training…various memory exercises, or perhaps an innate capacity? I know that my memory is far better than average…perhaps the long running contestants have a significantly better memory than average. It would be interesting to see. I also wonder what it says about a society that enjoys watching smart or knowledgeable people compete. I suppose it is no different than watching athletes, yet intelligent or knowledgeable people don’t seem to be appreciated anywhere near as much as most athletes.

Jack and Sam’s cat was so cute. Easily the most affectionate cat I have ever seen and I grew up with many. The cat has FIV, which is feline AIDS which is very sad…yet this cat is so happy and content. Hearing children running and playing outside in the neighborhood was cool to hear and just seemed so fitting for a Brooklyn neighborhood so far. That interesting blend of city and suburbia. I couldn’t help but think how I wanted My ex best friend to meet them. They both had a picture of when they first met, like 15 years ago. I hope in 15 years I’ll be able to look on with My ex best friend at a similar picture.

Moved back in with Sarah on Sunday night….said high to everybody then crashed. By Monday my buddy from the road trip didn’t get back to me, nor did the various girls who wanted to meet me from Craigslist last summer. The Israeli girl I met in Columbus Circle in the summer did but wasn’t in NYC at the time. I worked that day, just an ordinary day. Although I learned about doubling down. I always thought some of the guys who sold more than 10 tickets were just better sales people, but actually they get people to buy 2 tickets instead of just the one ticket, saying they get one for free. Not too unethical, and an easy way to double sales. It’s worth using sometimes, a very useful technique. I had tried to drop a package off for Sarah at a building in Manhattan, but the bitch at the counter wouldn’t have it. I wasn’t a courier and was dropping it off for someone who worked there, but she made me go back. Seriously, not helpful and dismissive….hopefully she won’t have that job for too long.

I got into an argument about feminism with Sarah. I questioned the need for the Oscars to be gender separated, when she started saying how oppressed women had been in film, even today. Something I just don’t think is true. For every accomplished male actor there is an accomplished female actor. There has to be. It might be worth considering if parts are written for more males than women, but that isn’t at all what we were discussing. I don’t tend to consider how someone her argues from emotion often, but with this she was and it was interesting. It didn’t matter what point I made or how I backed it up, she wouldn’t hear it, even going so far as to dismiss me because I was white and male.

She works as a copywriter in a non-science field yet considers herself as working in science, while failing basic statistics. She is extremely well read, but seems to be the definition of someone who is purely booksmart. She dismisses me as a child despite being only a few years younger than her, simply because of how I travel and because I don’t want a career. It’s her lack of critical thinking and respect for me which prevents us from being better friends, and that makes me sad. She has been really, really good to me whenever I have needed help or been in NYC…yet, I don’t feel that I could confide in her or gain her respect without conforming to her standards.

The next two weeks were enjoyable. After that incident with Sarah things were OK, and we had much fun watching King of the Hill and imitating Hank Hill while discussing interesting things. Working each day selling tickets was boring, but a bit of extra money was nice to have. I got to meet up with people and see everyone again, so good times. Despite this….being in NYC and having to leave so soon, without being in contact and having lost my best friend…well, I started feeling mighty depressed, yet again. I started thinking how I don’t seem to really enjoy life…, just distract myself often enough not to feel depressed. My business idea, traveling, writing…whatever. I mean, if I was really focused wouldn’t I have taken 5 minutes to research my visa issue, instead of just assuming? A mistake which caused me to travel the coast of North America for a year and a half. I started wondering if suicide was likely if I am still doing the same thing 10 years from now….if there comes a point I can’t distract myself further…when I finally get bored.

It’s weird feeling that way and I don’t feel that way as I write this in April, yet I know I will feel that way again. All I can do is persevere, because I do believe in my ideas and goals, even if I lack the motivation to properly fulfill them. I know that I can be happy with the right people in my life and doing things I enjoy, so I know that I need to work on making that happen. While I may not be close to people, I know I have people that like my company and are genuinely happy when I visit, so that has to be enough for me at the moment. After that, when I am able to settle in NYC, then maybe I can try and get close again to people. Of course, I will never stop trying to right the wrong that ended in me losing my best friend, who was the most important person in my life for a long time.

On the 24th, early in the AM, a friend of mine appeared on MSN. Someone I had not spoken to in over 5 years. When I was 16 and living by myself, he used to take me out driving and we had a few drinks together. Indeed, it was with him that I first got drunk…such a vivid memory as I was so interested in how my senses were affected. We talked about many things, and then just dropped out of contact. I had thought he would be very happy to get back in touch with me…but we haven’t even talked since. Perhaps that friendship was also one I exaggerated in my mind…or perhaps I’m reading too much into it and he is just busy. It’s hard to say, I just know I don’t feel like making further effort when the effort I did make was not reciprocated.

I remember the night of the 26th, I randomly decided to look up my family’s house on Google Maps. Street view was oddly accurate…and I saw the house and apparently a new car and everything. It quite weird to spy on my family like this…, how I miss them and I’m simply not a part of their lives. I know they might talk about me….but why don’t we have any motivation to keep in contact or be close. I do miss them all and wish dearly that I knew how to be closer to them and perhaps make up for stuff. If that’s even possible.

The 27th was an interesting day. I started off dropping off a heap of unwanted books I was given, which I got $18 for. Quite nice, and worth the effort. Still about 10 after subway fares. Although at Union Square, there was absolutely no way to avoid the immense mush of the blizzard the night before. My first blizzard…I had never seen so much snow blowing horizontally before. Aye. I had not yet gotten my new shoes, so inevitably my boots became full of mush….not ideal for standing selling tickets for the next 5 hours, but eh. I got to work, and had arranged to meet someone from the HOPE conference for lunch, which happened almost straight away. We went to an awesome Indian place around the corner with Jack, although I wasn’t sure what I was ordering, it was quite awesome. Later in the afternoon some black guy came up and wanted to fight me, being convinced he knew me. Sam said I didn’t live there but he saw my comedy ticket and was convinced I did…ended up leaving, but still, it was odd. We laughed when he left which he took further offense to, but got talked down and left. I managed to sell 1 ticket that day…which considering how bad it was was actually pretty good. I had forgotten to ring my bank which previously closed my account, but will have to try again when I am back in the states. I was told I could open an account which I did, which they then closed and charged me $40. I will get my $40 eventually, it’s just annoying to have to fight that. Finally I went home, so very tired.

The next day, Hunter finally got back to me. Explaining why he had not been in contact and arranging to pay me back my money which was nice. What happened was lame, but he still could have let me know what was going on. I lent him a lot of money and not knowing why he wasn’t paying it back was quite lame. My new boots had not yet arrived…I managed to get them to send me new ones to NYC despite already having a pair in Canada that couldn’t be sent on….yet they didn’t arrive until after I left. So lame. I had wanted to finish my article on HOPE and DEFCON before leaving to Jack’s, as there would be no hope with vaping at Jack’s…yet I didn’t. I didn’t even finish before going to Mexico….but I did eventually. Aye.

I finished creating an itinerary showing my leaving Mexico and bank statements with sufficient funds to be prepared for the worse, although entering Mexico was quite easy, and I was not asked for anything. Perfect. I went to stay with Jack and Sam as Sarah’s roommates kid was staying so I couldn’t. Said my goodbyes, and went to vape up. Ended up going to the wrong apartment building, a similar number, but wrong. Managed to get upstairs but heard a baby, so definitely wasn’t the right place. Finally got back and went to a house party next door. Sooo many hot girls. I hadn’t been laid in such a while so was noticing it more…but aye. I didn’t end up staying as Jack and Sam wanted to leave…it would have been odd if I stayed as well.

Went back and vaped…while high kind of understood how feet could be erogenous zones. Somehow they felt amazing! Woke up the next day, more vaping and no plans except seeing Letty. It was odd how she invited me, saying I could come to a party or just when she would be there. I liked this girl…but I honestly hadn’t been with a girl in a long time and since I actually liked her, was quite nervous. I left at about 8pm thinking on the map it was 5 minutes away, but confused a street for an avenue and walked for an hour. I got there eventually….then it was awkward. So awkward. We liked each other but…I freaked out any time she tried to do something, even holding hands made me very anxious and closed off. Aye. I was so annoyed at myself for not being able to get over that and just dive in as it were….but it just freaked me out too much.

I wondered how long I will be like that, or when I will be able to get over it. As I write this in April in Cancun I have been laid several times, so I guess I’m somewhat over it….but it has to be meaningless, or in the case of the last girl we both have to be anxious and insecure and then somehow, it works. I ended up staying with her that night, sleeping on the couch with her. Which was nice, but we didn’t do more than hold hands. I don’t know what will happen when I return to NYC….I know she likes me, but I know I can’t handle a girlfriend…., but maybe she doesn’t want that anyway. I don’t think I would want to do anything with her physically unless she knew that. It’s a different situation to a hostel or nightclub where context makes intentions clear.

The next morning after feeling awkward I left, with the plan to go back early to Jack’s and then go and get my mouse and phone charger from Sarah’s, which I had forgotten. I lost the notes I had written down which was frustrating, but oh well. I then walked for 3 or more hours, as I again confused a street for an avenue and thusly following flawed directions from Google Maps…I walked for 3 hours. I walked right past my friend’s street for some reason not recognizing it for another 90 minutes, and then back again. Maybe I just needed to walk, I don’t know…but I know it was too late to go and get my mouse or anything. I just kind of hung out for the rest of the day, then it was time to go to the airport. Somehow, despite leaving early enough, I only got there on time. The bus was not as frequent as it should have been and then I got off on the wrong terminal…but everything worked out OK. A short flight to Florida and then overnight in Fort Lauderdale watching various shows and being alone in the airport, unaware that everybody was chilling on the top level. I just didn’t want to fall asleep as I had missed too many flights that way. It was all good and I went through security with ease, finally ready to go to Cancun and have an amazing Spring Break adventure.

April 4, 2011

Thoughts on Back to the Future The Game – Episode 3

I finished playing Episode 3 of Back to the Future: The Game yesterday, not even realizing it had been released. Like the other episodes it is very short, taking just under 2 hours to finish. All of the problems I have with the games (Marty being nervous, consistency for in game choices etc…) still exist and are unlikely to be ‘fixed’, so there is little point in talking about them further.

I liked how the episode started off with the DeLorean being stuck in the billboard, but thought it was odd that Marty couldn’t just fly out of there since the engine was still working. I also thought it odd that he would just leave the time machine there, since he needs Doc to fix it, not build one from scratch. The bizarre pocket space is still in effect, with Jennifer fitting a tire iron almost half her size in her back pocket and Marty able to carry his guitar in his back pocket.

There were some nice touches in this episode to the original films. I liked that in this reality Lorraine had an alcohol problem as she did in various other realities. I liked the return of Jennifer…but she was so very different from how she appeared in the movies and as we didn’t see the game version of her until now, the impact was kind of lost. Marty wasn’t too bad in this one and didn’t seem so overbearingly nervous even competing in a guitar play-off to win back Jennifer. Although….why he did this since that timeline is hopefully going to disappear seems odd.

Overall an enjoyable episode and I look forward to seeing where the story goes and how it wraps up.