Saturday, March 1. 2014
Got back home last night from my long road trip to south Florida. Got as far out as Islamadora in the Keys, but having been to Key West before I didn't figure it was worth the extra effort. Drove 4,551 miles. Figured I would dally a bit on the way back, but ran into a rainy day that made St. Augustine unpleasant, so I turned inland rather than exploring the Atlantic coast further. Then the weather reports made it advisable to try to get back to Wichita yesterday, when it was 50F and sunny, rather than today -- 24F and threats of frozen whatever, leading to snow tonight and a forecast high of 11F tomorrow. Had the weather not threatened so, I would have spent an extra day or two with relatives in Arkansas and Oklahoma, and maybe more time with a friend in Mississippi. (We wound up having a nice chat as our paths intersected in Hattiesburg.)
Also, I had two more reasons to get back on Feb. 28: Josh Ruebner was in town promoting his book Shattered Hopes: The Failure of Obama's Middle East Process (sponsored by my wife's Palestinian Study Group) -- I missed the book reading but crashed the after-party -- and my wife's cousin, comic and sometime-sportscaster Mike Leiderman, was also in town to do a "shtick sermon" at a local synagogue, so we got a chance to see him. The latter was especially satisfying since one of the main points of the Florida trip was to see his parents -- my wife's aunt and uncle -- in Palm Beach.
Had several challenges when I got back. Both the CD players weren't working, probably the result of a power outage when I was gone. After some work, the main one skipped and stuttered a bit, then settled into what seems to be working order. Still have to fiddle with the upstairs system, so don't know yet whether it's cooked or merely contrary. Seems like we've gone through a lot of component CD changers in the last few years: they've become increasingly fragile whereas my amplifiers and speakers have an average of 30 years' reliable service.
A more annoying problem came when I booted my main computer. It's hooked on a KVM switch which was disconnected, so the software that probes for monitor type and size failed and selected a much coarser resolution (1024x768 as opposed to 1920x1280). I've run into this problem before, but rebooting didn't fix it, and the fixes that I had previously resorted to -- mostly hacking the "xorg.conf" file -- seem to have been closed off by an increasingly opaque configuration process. (The machine is running Ubuntu 12.04.4, which also has the disadvantage of not being the latest release.) I spent hours reading bulletin boards and poking values into something called xrandr to little avail last night, but somehow got it working today. There was a day when lesser resolutions were acceptable, but the 23-inch Samsung is wide enough I can keep a stack of browser windows on the left and my emacs editor on the right with no overlap. I typically keep 50 browser tabs and 50 text files open at once, and find it hard to imagine working otherwise. And that's just my main workspace: I've configured the window manager for six, so I can use another for mail, a third for gimp, yet another just for the Christgau website.
A second machine, which I run Rhapsody and Facebook on, came up fine. I copied the website files I had changed on the antique laptop to the main machine, then did a belated software update there (585 packages -- it's still on Ubuntu 10.04 LTS) and it seems OK, ready to be ignored until the next road trip.
Finally, I started to look at 452 emails, which is likely to take several days, mixed with catching up on old newspapers, unopened mail, and recorded TV -- also getting back into the stream of everyday life, and getting started on some long-considered, long-delayed projects.
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