Holiday in Preutopia, Day 1: Oklahoma

I’m up at 5. We were up until midnight the night before, packing and loading. I finish loading, burn some music to CD, and run upstairs to wake Hot Pants and the kids. One last minute check to make sure we’ve got everything (and it seems like we’ve got EVERYthing) and we’re off. Sarah’s Pop got her a GPS for her birthday – tomorrow, for those who wish to harass her – and we plug in the coordinates for the Oklahoma City Zoo and roll. Goddamn, GPSeseses are awesome. Why did we not have one of these things before?
We stop 3 times on the way to OKC for bathroom breaks and general-get-the-kids-out-and-stretch breaks.
The Flint Hills are absolutely breathtaking this time of year.
The OK zoo is OK. Their tiger forest was real bitchin’. Their aquarium was pretty lackluster, and their elephants were M.I.A. And it was hot! Like 1 million degrees. We lasted about 3 hours and were out.
Back on the road.
Our overnight spot to rock is the Days Inn in Clinton, OK. It’s Sunday night in small-town, Oklahoma. Not much is open. Good thing we brought our own beer.
It takes over an hour to get the kids to sleep. Ro’s pretty good, just antsy being somewhere new. Bebe ain’t having the shit. I pat her bottom for 10 minutes, she’s quiet. I stop, she rolls over, laughs, and grabs my nose. 45 minutes later and I’m wondering who’s gonna win, she or I, and she’s out. Ro’s out. Hot Pants is typing for work and telling me about the church shooting today. Our hotel is overrun by college-aged kids and they’re living it up at the pool: right outside our window. I have a theory that they are all actually locals and this is their Sunday night ritual: to pitch in and get a room and a keg and have hotel pool parties. I think I heard some Russians in the lobby, talking on their cell phones and looking at Russian Facebook on a community PC.
I’m typing and my back hurts and it’s time for bed.
Tomorrow, Albuquerque.

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Holiday in Preutopia, Day 1: Oklahoma

No brake…no problem

When commuting to work, I ride a single-speed, single-brake, slick-tired mountain bike named Ginger. She gets me through the West Bottoms with nary a snag. (My road bike, Amelia, can barely make it to the West Bottoms with seeing a flat tire).

So Friday after work, I’m cycling home, heading north on Delaware, right after it splits from Main, just over I-70, coming down the hill into City Market when my right trigger finger gets into position to brake for the stoplight at Independence Avenue. One gentle squeeze, I’m ready for a yellow light. Another gentle squeeze, to keep my speed down – SNAP! – my brake line is gone though my trigger finger instinctively squeezes again and again to confirm pure breakage.

Act. My right foot down on the ground, hard plastic-shoe sole eaten alive by pavement. Lift. My left foot down. I’m not going to be able to stop for the intersection – come what colored light may. Quick right down, left down, can I jump off the bike if need be? Is there anyone behind me? What’s coming westbound on Independence Avenue? Anything? Can’t see…fuck it…yellow light!

And I’m through. Off the bike and onto the sidewalk. On the phone to the wife: “Sarah, my brake broke and not in the way you want your brake to break. I’m in City Market. Come in the back way. There’s a show going on tonight.”

Are there really that many people that still listen to Taking Back Sunday, The Used, or The Offspring? I’m glad none of them happened to blow through that intersection about 4:45 Friday PM.

No brake…no problem

Netbookenstein with UNR

So Sarah’s laptop (a 6-year old Toshiba Satellite P25-S507 (yes, you read that right – 9.9 lbs!) – a mighty warrior of a laptop still to this day – donated to her by my brother) was wearing down faster than the Battlestar Galactica and we didn’t have any more Cylon goop to hold her together. Time for an upgrade.

I went to Micro Center and found her a very nice and up-to-date refurbed Compaq. While browsing the laptops, my wandering technical eyeballs oogled several netbooks they had on display. One in particular, a refurbed HP Mini 1010NR, really caught my attention because they were asking just a wee bit over 2 bills for it. I thought back upon my own, aging Battlestar of a laptop (itself a 6-year old Toshiba Satellite A25-S207 with no working screen hinges ($80 to replace) and intermittent hardware issues sitting down in my basement, tethered to both the wall outlet (battery won’t hold charge and costs $100 to replace) and ethernet cable (wireless card doesn’t support WPA), and I thought – it’s high time to decommission that hulk of a machine (8 lbs), perhaps repurpose it down the road, and upgrade to this tiny little wonder. I ask the sales clerk what he thought about this model and he says – “those came in today, we got 6, me and that guy [points to other floor clerk] each bought one with the $20 memory upgrade…it’s a steal.”

So 2 bills and some change later (I purchased the 2GB RAM upgrade – $23 bucks for 2GB! – man, 1 GB of RAM for my old desktop costs twice that) and I’m home with this little mini wonder.

The thing weighs around 2lbs, has an SSD hard drive so when I power it on it boots up in about 15 seconds into XP, which I setup quickly and BAM! Toilet-top browsing here I come.

I don’t keep XP on it for long though. The European version of the Mini sells with a customized Linux OS that HP created called MIE (for Mobile Internet Experience – Mini MIE – har har). So I thought I would try that out. And I did. And it stunk. Very slick design, but surprisingly (for Linux-based OS) locked-down to user modding. Not that I wanted to mod much, but we’re talking barely any modding without config file editing – no shortcuts, locked panels. So f that. I want to play with the little bastard.

And then I remembered – my old tried and true fave Linux distro Ubuntu released a netbook OS: Ubuntu Netbook Remix. So I load that up. And I’ll be damned if almost every piece doesn’t work right out of the box: wireless, full-screen video, suspend. I had to tweak a bit to get the speaker sound working – but 2 minutes of googling and 10 minutes of creating and running a script later: I have a really awesome OS on this bugger. Smart and intuitive and designed with the minimal real estate and power of a netbook in mind – there doesn’t seem any reason to use another OS (unless I’m feeling penetrative and want to boot up Backtrack…).

Now I’m in the process of virtualizing Sarah’s old machine while she transitions to the new one and I’m shelfing mine until it needs resurrected.

Goodbye, Toshibas. You served us well. And I’m sure you’ll be serving our children well when they start begging for a laptop. It’ll be like when you asked for a Mustang but got keys to an old beater station wagon.

Netbookenstein with UNR

Beer Review Poem: Boulevard Brewing Co’s ZŌN

After The Beatles’ Happiness is a Warm Gun

It’s not a beer that misses much
Do do do do do do, oh, yeah

It’s well acquainted
With the touch of my eager hand
Like a king on a winning reign
The beer in the glass with the
Evergrowing head on its straw body

Bubbling with its fizz
While its spices are busy working overtime
A grand impression upon my taste buds
Which I swirl and sniff and hold up to the light

I need a drink; this beer’s going down
Down to the belly that is growing round
I need a drink; this beer’s going down

Blvd Brewco brewed the one
Blvd Brewco brewed the one
Blvd Brewco brewed the one
Blvd Brewco brewed the one
Blvd Brewco brewed the one
Blvd Brewco brewed the one

Happiness is a cool ZŌN
(Gulp gulp, swig swig)
Happiness is a cool ZŌN mama
(Gulp gulp, swig swig)
When I drink you on my porch
(Oh yeah)
And I get my fill of your perfection
(Ooo, oh yeah)
I know nobody can do me no harm
(Ooo, oh yeah)

Because happiness is a cool ZŌN mama
(Gulp gulp, swig swig)
Happiness is a cool ZŌN, yes it is
(Gulp gulp, swig swig)
Happiness is a cool, yes it is, ZŌN
(Happiness, gulp gulp, swig swig)
Well, don’t you know that happiness is a cool ZŌN mama
(Happiness is a cool ZŌN yeah)

Beer Review Poem: Boulevard Brewing Co’s ZŌN