~~~ Austin ~~~

Computers and me

October 10, 02014

I took a summer school class back around third grade or so. Generally summer school was for people who didn't do well enough in normal school and needed to catch up, but I somehow got enrolled in a summer school class that was for a few of us that were doing just fine and needed some extra cool shit to work on.

I'll never forget the name of the teacher because who forgets a name like Mr. Vilwock? I do forget, however, how I learned this summer school option existed and how I chose to take part. I'd never done summer school before and I guess it would be a while before I'd have the idea that I should have a say in where I go and what I do.

Anyway, among the cool shit we got to do was build bridges out of toothpicks to see whose bridge could hold the most weight. We did this over the course of the whole summer, with the weight competition at the end. We actually had a budget and had to buy materials as we went. Thinking back, it seems pretty sophisticated for some 8 year olds.

We also hung out in the computer lab. This would have been 01993 I think. We learned to program in BASIC on Apple IIs and we played chess via email with a friend of Mr. Vilwock's. This was the first I'd seen of programming and the internet and I thought all of it was pretty cool, but not, like, something I had to keep doing all the time, so once summer school was over that was kind of it.

Until, that is, my dad bought a computer for our house a couple years later. It was some kind of "IBM clone." I don't remember what that actually means, but the phrase has stuck with me for almost two decades, so that's something. I used it to go on AOL and chat with my friends and also strangers. I downloaded and listened to clips of movies I'd liked, especially 'Independence Day.' Now you can just Google it and be watching Bill Pullman's speech on Youtube in like 3 seconds, but back in the day, I had to wait around for 20 minutes just for the audio.

My dad was pretty tech-savvy, but he had a "computer guy" who did this stuff for a living that advised him and helped us when the computer broke. Scott was clever and made it so that whenever our computer encountered an error, Windows (3.1, I believe) would play HAL's voice saying "human error." Scott later became Sonya, and I appreciate to this day the matter of fact way my parents explained that some men want to be women (and vice versa) and now we had a "computer lady" who was going to help us upgrade our modem from 28 to 56k. I think we got Encarta around this time, which was definitely my jam for a while.

Welp, my cat's being an asshole, so I need to go do some IRL shit. I'll have to pick this up another time. Be well, fellow Swintons.

Here's a picture I took in the middle of nowhere, Nevada


Lunch break

October 3, 02014

I figured I drop a couple minutes here and decided to free associate from a random Wikipedia article. I got the Prix Vermeille, which is a horse race that happens in France each year. Apparently it's sponsored by Qatar. It's been run since 1853, which seems like a pretty long time. I like that horse racing is such an old sport. The Prix Vermeille is a mile and a half race, which is on the long side for thoroughbred racing.

I know this last little fact because my dad trains racehorses. I never got much into it, but he sure seems to love it, even if it's more of an expensive hobby than a way to win millions of dollars. He does win races (not million-dollar ones) occasionally, though:

Nice work, Dad!

Racehorses have stupid names. It's kind of just a thing. I never understood it and have no idea why this horse is named what it's named. It's very common for horse people to make a name that combines the names of a horse's parents, so that's the most likely explanation here. Honestly, I'm pretty sure my dad bought this horse and it just came with that name. He's pretty fond of the horse herself (he says she tries really hard), but I never got the sense he really cares what she's called.

One time, he had a horse whose dad (I think 'sire' is the technical term here?) was named Flying Pigeon. The horse was very sickly as a baby and was basically saved from a sad early death by a vet named Dr. Johnson. When it came time to register the horse's name with the racing authorities, my dad did the name-combining thing, but with the sire and the vet. You make several choices and the racing commission people can reject certain ones if they're taken or they don't like them. He put down Flying Johnson as his first pick, which they rejected. I don't remember what they ended up accepting, because that little horse was always just Johnson to me.

Johnson kicked me in the head once. We were giving him a bath and he didn't like something about it, so he reared up on his back legs and then one of his front legs caught my head on its way back down to the ground. My dad was worried I might have a concussion, but I didn't get terribly sleepy or anything, so it was alright.

Tilde Club, you're alright

October 2, 02014

It's taken some googling, but I've managed to get this thing working more or less. I suppose it's a bit ugly, but here we are.

I'm loving keeping an eye on the recently updated page and seeing what folks are up to. It's also been fun to see little tendrils snaking their way through the pages: ~goldman led me to ~ross and his dependencies - what a wild, simple, delightful thing! Oh, and I got to ~goldman from ~droob.

I have no idea who you folks are, but thanks!


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