The Little Computer Geek Within

So last week, my computer decided to play possum. It shut down on me early last week, and when I tried to boot it up last Friday, I got a black monitor and the sound of silence from the mini-tower.

Not having any weekend plans – and h0ping to spend what part of the long weekend I did have catching up online – I was faced with the possibility my microchipped piece of crap may have given up the ghost, and that I might have to spend the next several days without a computer. Like in the good old days.

So first, I panicked. And then I panicked some more. And then on Saturday, when I tried my computer again and it still wouldn’t boot up, I called my friend Lee.

He came over on Sunday, checked it out and found the problem: the power supply inside had blown a fuse and that I’d need a replacement. It was lucky for me that that happened; had it continued to work, it actually would have exploded and started smoking from the back.

Briefly forgetting which day it was, I inwardly panicked again, until Lee mentioned that we had just enough time to hop in his car and boot it over to Tiger Direct to buy a new one.

Little did I know this would be the beginning of the odyssey towards my untapped inner computer geek. Kinda.

I’d never really set foot inside a computer parts store, being – for years – of the ignorant opinion that your spare computer parts came from the place you bought your computer in the first place; parts were for crazy computer geeks who excelled at calculus in high school and majored in computer science at university.

Was I wrong. I couldn’t believe it. This place was a gamer’s paradise. Flat screens. Flashy computer tower casings. Keyboards with Bluetooth technology. Crazy aerodynamic mice. You name it, they probably had it. I really didn’t realize that people used some of the things on sale to soup up their computers, much in the same way some people pimp out their cars. It was nuts.

Not only did we find my brand-new power supply, we actually strolled around the store. With each aisle we travelled down, I felt a growing, irrational need to soup up my own computer. Replace that clunky monitor at home with a sleek new LCD flat screen … toss my loud, clacky, squeaky keyboard with something sleeker and quieter. Get some new speakers. Maybe trash the mouse, too. My brain was working overtime.

But I managed to restrain myself, and just buy what I needed. Now my computer runs much better now, in comparison to its former narcoleptic self. But I’m saving a little money for when I’m going out to that shop the next time. And there will be a next time.

(If you’re a stranger visiting this site – that’s not me in that picture. But pretty good that I found her, hey? Check out Dedi and her geeky friends at Geek Speak.)


The Ills of Working Thanksgiving

Did you all have a good Thanksgiving?

I wish I could say I did, but … I really didn’t have much of one. Neither did the loads of people who ended up at work today. And I think a few omens made themselves known.

First, North Korea decides TODAY to try and prove they deserve a seat at the nuclear poker table, much to everyone’s surprise and annoyance.

Then a couple of people here in Toronto are paralyzed because of the botulism in their organic carrot juice (which was recalled, like, two weeks ago), probably prompting junk- and fast-foodie fundamentalists somewhere in the world to break out the “I told you so” dance.

And then, the piece de resistance. You Tube gets swallowed WHOLE by Google.

Did the whole world just tilt sideways?

See, my friends? This is why no good ever comes of making people work Thanksgiving. Bad things happen, dudes. Bad. Things. Happen.

D’s Loquacious Reads for September/October

Hey folks,

Happy Thanksgiving. Sorry it’s taken so long to write … life – and a busted computer – got in the way.

Ever go through those periods of time where you don’t read any books for weeks and weeks, and then you’re suddenly hit with this insatiable urge to read a whole bunch of ’em at once, even though you know you don’t have much time for it?

Well, that was me in September. Here’s three books I’d heard about and recently got around to cracking open:

David Gilmour’s A Perfect Night to Go to China won last year’s Governor-General book awards, and with good reason. It’s actually pretty good. I didn’t really know much about this book going into it – silly me, I actually thought part of it took place in China. So much for that theory.

The book is narrated from the point of view of a man whose young son goes missing one night when the father steps out of the house briefly, leaving the door unlocked. The novel follows the narrator’s slow unravelling of his marriage and himself as he searches for his son.

Aside from being a fairly fast read, I found the way the story was woven to be a bit fantastical, which you always want from time to time. I wonder, though, if I read the book maybe a tad too fast and didn’t soak it up like a real bookworm should. The ending took me a bit aback (of course, reading between subway sleeps may have contributed a bit to that, too). I’m not going to ruin it here. Just read it for yourself.

I then decided to depart from fiction for a while and picked up Norah Vincent’s Self-Made Man. I actually watched a TV interview with her and heard another colleague – who’d read the book – talk about it, so I really had wanted to read this one for a while.

Vincent, a syndicated columnist, decided to go undercover as a man for a year, to really get a sense of the male experience. What she learned surprised her, not only about men, but about women, too. The experience also ends up affecting Vincent in a way that she didn’t even anticipate.

I thought this book was not only well-written, but I think it’s a book both men and women should read. There’s no bashing of the sexes here. Just frank, honest observations by an individual of one gender delving into the world of the other.

Last, but not least was this book – The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. I had heard about this book, but it’s taken me this long to get around to reading it. I was actually warned by the librarian checking out the book to me, “Get ready to cry.” I thought she was kidding. And believe me, I’m pretty sure I came close a couple times.

The book tells the tale of Amir, an ethnic Pashtun living in the United States, who returns to Afghanistan to make amends for an event that had happened earlier in his life. The narrative then akes the reader backwards in time to Afghanistan – Kabul, to be precise – and the life Amir leads with his father, and his poor Hazara friend/servant Ali and his little son, Hassan.

Hosseini’s was an Afghan-American, first-time novelist who took time off from his job as a doctor to write this book. And believe me, the time was well-spent. At the huge risk of sounding like a cliche, this book is breathtaking and heartbreaking. I’d seriously sometimes read a chunk of the book on my way to work, and by the time I’d closed the book, I’d get up stunned, trying to process what I’d just read. I seriously DON’T understand why this book didn’t win an award.

I don’t know if I plan on seeing the movie adaption when it comes out next year (because I don’t want to end up being one of those purists that kvetch when they cut parts of the book out), but I encourage anyone who hasn’t read this book: Read it. It’s that good.

That’s it for now. We’ll see if time allows me to do this again in about a month’s time. Happy reading!