Category Archives: Not a Hobby

Sometimes, I post about things that aren’t even hobbies!

There is Forgiveness in Honour

I’ve heard it said that forgiveness is the ultimate act of self-compassion. That it is, in essence, a gift the forgiving one grants themselves in order to release the negativity they hold for their transgressors.

Forgiveness has not been a strong suit of mine. I can say it out loud “Transgressors, I forgive you!”, but… I don’t need a holy-man to tell me that the unshifted resentment towards the other, despite my proclamation to the contrary, is my ultimate proof of failure.

A seductive proclamation too, because I can fool the outer world with such a statement. It’s even possible to fool myself with enough disconnection from my emotional response to my truly ‘head-felt’ delivery.

But what if releasing that negativity is actually really important to me? How can I achieve a heart-felt forgiveness when my head is clearly unwilling to release such a tasty coulda-shoulda-woulda chew-bone?

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You Got No Say In It

So there I am, standing in what I’ll call a pre-undergraduate motivation-collapse coffee line, waiting for my afternoon hit. In a month or so, The Slackening begins, and I can get back to just walking up to the barista and getting my afternoon hit of my last-great-crutch.

Behind me are two first-year girls bitterly criticising a mutual male friend of theirs for his decision to quit University and do something he thinks he’d enjoy more. From what I can piece together, it’s to do with serving people in the 3rd-world in some capacity. A noble calling for those who hear that tune calling their name on the wind.

And now that I know what I’m looking for in these conversations, I recognise that I’m tuning into an absolutely gluttonous gorging of fear-programming around lack of time and money. These girls are true believers, beating out a relentless dirge of doom whose predicate is a foolish young man’s desire to do something he might enjoy more than plugging into the career ladder-climb ASAP.

Now.. this wouldn’t be much of a story except for the fact that I wasn’t really listening. I’d slipped comfortably into unplugging from my thoughts to give my own story-teller a rest from a typical litany of programming around a lack of time.

Coasting on the sound of their voices and the background radio trying to drown out a hundred such conversations around it, the subconscious finally smirked its familiar “got a pattern I’m enjoying” smirk at me and jogged me out of timelessness to hand me the recognition that I was hearing this song:

So there I am… ordering my latest mug of mud-coloured crutch; re-acquainting myself with a song I loved (but didn’t really grok) as a child.

I’m thoroughly enjoying the little mental gender-bending real-time filter tweaking required to fully align the song’s message with the judgement coming off these two girls, working it into a pretty little visualisation of balanced scales.

Good luck ladies. When your time comes to accept that dancing to the tune of another’s fear only pays dividends in a currency of sorrow, we might be ready for an interesting conversation. Sounds like your friend is already in a place I’d appreciate a deeper understanding of.

Merry Post-Materialism Christmas!

Lately, I’ve been struggling with the amount of “stuff” in the house.  This year, like no other, I’m dreading the influx of the new stuff that Christmas traditionally represents.  To my delight, something was going around work  recently on things we can do towards a sustainable Christmas.  One of the ideas pushed was to cut down on the stuff being passed about in favour of experience, or intangibles, and that is SO speaking my language lately.

So, this year, the present buying I’m in charge of is taking a real intangibles bent.  I’m pouring over service aggregation sites like redballon, and targeting queries to places where my gift recipients live (mostly Brisbane and Cairns).

I’m also looking into other options like supporting threatened and endangered species, which includes trying to match people against animals I know they like, and sponsoring support programs on their behalf.

For instance, I recently learned that 2012 has been a very rough year for our native Koala, and its conservation status has downgraded from ‘vulnerable’ to ‘threatened’. Programs like adopting a koala and bushland restoration are now options that I’m considering for friends and family who are keen on koalas.

I was also recently sitting in on a presentation from a researcher specialising in tree carbon dioxide uptake.  I learned that there is a carbon dioxide tipping point for vegetation, that once passed, cause them to absorb less carbon dioxide, triggering systemic collapse.  This researcher was arguing that for certain susceptible species, it’s already demonstrably happening.

Now, this presentation spooked me. Consequently, what I’m also looking for in terms of presents are options to do with carbon sequestering.  The Carbon Offset Guide of Australia has been a useful aggregation site.  My personal preferences come to the fore now, and I’m most interested in local options that involve forestry development.

Unfortunately, there’s not much for individuals. Seems most of these initiatives , such as Ecofund and CountryCarbon are targeted at landholders interested in revegetation programs.  What about the city-dwellers who want to participate in progams that actively support carbon sequestering?

Well, there’s always Greenfleet.  They allow contributions from individuals.  It’s been a while since I looked at Greenfleet, and I was delighted to discover that they supply “typical” packages targeting carbon offset values that match the circumstances individuals might find themselves in.  As a sweetener to the deal, these donations are tax deductible.

That’s about it.  I’m not keen on getting more stuff, so I’m actively seeking to gift others with not-stuff that might just make a positive difference.  No doubt there are other things I’ve missed, so if you have any further ideas, let me know.

On Releasing My Need to Belong

Today’s post is a bit of a departure from my typical fare.  It’s a “Dear John” letter to a peer group where I’m officially accepting their inferred exclusion status (whether they find this or not is now inconsequential,  the writing is a form of catharsis.  It if helps those surprised by my actions today to understand those actions, all the better).

I hung on for a couple of years hoping against hope that somehow, I could rediscover a common-ground with a bunch of friends that I still love like family.  It hasn’t happened, and I see now that it’s not likely to.

It’s time to accept it and make some positive change.  I’ve had my last day playing victim to this exclusion. It’s time for me to get on living a life without this  roller-coaster ride. Today, I’m quarterizing the emotional wound and moving on.

I look  back on the situation that led me to making this  decision today.  It’s fair to say that I’ve been living in a kind of self-made hell for the past two years.  Each atom lovingly etched with my initials, and carefully placed in a a spot to cause me maximum emotional pain.  This moment was probably inevitably charged to fire the moment I asked Fiona to marry me.

My good days have been numb, my bad days angry, and my worst, depressed.  When I couldn’t bottle it up any longer, I’d lash out at whoever was nearest, which inevitably was my immediate family, generating a wonderful little tightly bound systemic collapse in me.

I won’t go into detail. Those who are intimately familiar with the story don’t need a recap.  I’ll just say here that it turned out to be impossible for me to find some kind of bridge between my wife and this peer group.

This decision is one where despite the fact that on many issues I agree with this peer group, my wife is still my wife. And there are ways to disagree with a person without being a f**king c**t about it.

I’ve had to accept some bitter pills in processing all this.  They were friends after all (and not just friends, but besties), and I was attracted to them because I resembled them in many ways, including being an amazingly judgemental a**hole when it suited me.

My wife remains the woman I love, and mother of two beautiful children who need me. Though I’ve had some pretty big disagreements with her on how we’re raising our kid. My children need me, not some heartbroken codependent f**ktard with anger mangement issues.   Dear ex-peer group:  Though it breaks my heart to say it, you don’t need me, so today, I release my need for you in my life.

It was me that needed you, and it’s not a healthy need, so I’m cutting deep into this little social network and extricating myself from it in a very obvious display.  The breaking point was looking through wedding photos last night and sitting with my pain, really allowing myself to be with it.  In that moment, I realised I’ve been here before.  It’s a kind of co-dependence where I’ve been desperate for your approval/love, and willing to hang in there for whatever little slops are left in whatever game we’ve been playing these past two years. Now that I see it, it’s time to rediscover my self-respect.

In this process though, I finally got it through my thick skull.  Turns out that it’s impossible to judge another human being (what do you know?  Seems that book had something for me after all).  The closest anyone can ever come is to judge the little facsimile that they have running around in their head representing the actual, ultimately unknowable entity that the fax represents.  This little avatar misses out on vital details, like the private thoughts the person has, the conversations they have when they aren’t around me, their history before we met, etc.

And when I can’t guess their motives?  I’ll fill in the missing detail with my own.  These little avatars are my mental constructs and they can be wildly inaccurate when another starts straying from the model of behaviour this avatar predicts. Show me a person judging another now, and I’ll learn a great deal about the former, and almost nothing verifyable of the latter.  I can’t un-see it now, even if I wanted to.  When I’m judging another, I’m just judging an aspect of myself that I formed to model that other.

So that’s how I want to end this: with heart-felt thanks.  I’ve been to a f**king awful mental place, and come back with a lesson that turned out to be worth the price of admission.  Thank-you ex-peer group.   I love you all, but I love myself enough now to know when it’s time to let you go.  Travel well. I’ll miss you.

One final thing for this group’s consideration:  You might be feeling that in tearing myself out of your social web, that I’m judging you.  It’s still possible that this is happening;  I’ve learned that the onion-ring of Linds-motivation runs deep.

Let me offer you an alternative perspective:  I can’t see/hear news of one of you without the wound of peer-exclusion re-opening.  In healing this pain, the only thing that has worked for me in the past is to simply have you drop out of conscious thought. Anything less allows me to pick at wounds that I need now to heal. If I felt there were an alternative that’d work involving contact between us, I’d have tried it by now.

with regrets,

Linds.

Hardware Interlude

Dear future self.

Thanks for coming back and actually checking what you remember of the internals of your desktop box. In doing so, you’ve proven that you’ve gained just that tiny extra bit of wisdom. A wisdom that I did not choose to draw on when I needed to replace a hard drive last Thursday evening. Here are some notes to make it easier for you.

First, some context. I had the hard drive containing both my Ubuntu and Windows operating systems start reporting that it was close to death last Wednesday evening. It’s the first time I’ve seen a S.M.A.R.T drive do its thing and I’m impressed. Here are some pictures of Ubuntu’s Disk Utility tool doing its S.M.A.R.T. magic:

Disk Utility reporting an Imminent Disk Failure (001)

Imminent Disk Failure 001

Drill-down picture of Disk Utility reporting an imminent disk failure

Drill-down picture of Disk Utility reporting an imminent disk failure

Now, to the meat of this post. Yes, the box is rather nifty, but it can be surprising in what’s required to pull a disk out. There is a dedicated drive tray towards the bottom front of the machine that contains both drives. That tray is bolted into the frame of the box with 8 screws. In order to remove a drive, the only way to acces the screws that mount the drive to this drive tray is to slide the tray fully out. Here’s a reminder picture:

The drive tray, slid out to expose drive mount screws

Note also that the tray has a fan on the front, and a dust filter. The only way to clean that filter is to… you guessed it… fully unmount the tray and slide it forward (so the box isn’t perfect). Note also that the fan has a speed knob (yes, that little black bump in the bottom-front-left of the tray that you’ve no doubt once again forgotten exists). The knob, turned far enough will stop the fan running completely.

My favourite theory at the moment is that the drive that died (the top one as it turns out) was being cooked by the heat of it and its sibling. The sibling had the advantage of the hot air rising to cook the borked drive. The fan being off? Well, I’m looking at a very small boy who loves pressing buttons and twirling dials. A good habit to get into from here-on-in is to just shove a hand in front of that drive-tray’s grill every now and then to see if you can feel air being drawn into the case.

Note also that Ubuntu will allocate the two drives to /sda (the top drive) and /sdb (the bottom drive). If for whatever reason, the new drive isn’t allocated to one of these, please, please check again. If you reformat your external USB data backup drive mistaking it for /sda because it’s the same size again, you shall be very disappointed in yourself. I guarantee it.

Capturing The Masked Lampooner

I’m very close now to clearing out the inbox of all three of my email accounts (should I consolidate? Not yet.. each servers a dedicated purpose that is still needed). I’m down to the last dozen emails in my “possibly capable of being infected by spam” account, and it’s got a few really hard to classify/delete entries.

One of these last emails that I want occasional access to, but not in my email box. So, I’m going to post it here. It’s a superhero drawing and accompany text for my alter-ego, “The Masked Lampooner” as drawn, and written by the very talented Annette Fraser.

So here goes:


The Masked Lampooner

Possessed of an acerbic wit (and the skill to use it) and defying the inner self controls that would lead a normal man to rein himself in, Lindsay Bradford fights crime as the Masked Lampooner. Bradford’s powers are multifaceted: first he has the uncanny ability to quickly identify his foes’ weakest emotional points; second he instantaneously crafts the most vicious and devilishly clever verbal attacks which alone would be completely debilitating; and third, as he hurls these loaded words towards his adversary, the epithets take form, becoming razor sharp slivers of fast-flying matter that rend flesh from the bone and start the blood flowing.

Happily married to Grammar Gal,Fiona Black, the Masked Lampooner is a devoted and doting father to baby daughter Hannah who, as yet, has not manifested any super powers other than a disturbing ability to quickly change moods and a completely disarming smile.

Ressurection of my EPSON CX 3100 under Ubuntu

The draft résumé is ready for my wife to decimate with her l33t editing skills. She needs a printout, and because I’m a) currently in a phase of negative cash flow, and b) really wanting to know if our 5 year old printer/scanner truly died, (or as I suspected back then, just got rolled by Windows wierdness), today I resurrected the beast.

When I bought this scanner/printer, I was very careful to choose a model that sold itself as USB compliant. I originally had the thing on my desk running seamlessly under a variant of Fedora but Fiona needed it more, so we moved it to her Windows 2000 box, and it worked well for a while. Then one day, it just kinda died, Juice was going to it, and the device itself though everything was good, but Windows just couldn’t see it, no matter which USB port I put it in.

Then something big happened (wast it Hannah? The Thesis writeup?) Whatever it was, trying to sort it out on top of other priorities just wasn’t going to happen. Then, as these things go, we got used to not having it, and it just kinda faded into the background as a piece of “stuff” that just migrates with us, but doesn’t actually contribute anything beyond the volume of air it occupies.

Fast-forward to today’s deisre to print the résumé without spending any money.. I got the EPSON CX 3100 working with a bit of fiddling under Fiona’s Ubuntu environment. I ended up needing their online reference manual and the setup sheet to remind me that I had to disable the transportation lock (psst… it’s the switch beside the scanner glass plate).

I also had some trouble enabling the printer. By default, when I attempted to enable it, Ubuntu would prompt me for a root user password, which is a bit of a problem under Ubuntu. After way too long faffing around with google-fu, I finally tried granting myself privileges to configure the printer via System->Administration->Users and Groups.

See the checkbox “Configure printers” below? Check that, and the magic flows…

That’s the printer side sorted. The scanner side was thankfully alot easier. After an install of XSane, I just pressed the “gimme a scan” button and got my turtle drawing.

Life is good. Print and scan long, and prosper!