cobras, turtles, and hacking coughs
Wednesday, December 2 2015
This morning I was trying out another lightweight Linux distribution called PuppyLinux (featuring the Slacko desktop) on my MSI Wind netbook, which I'd stopped using since getting a Chromebook many months ago. In terms of responsiveness, PuppyLinux was great, but after a few minutes using it I could feel a rage welling up inside me that made me want to fling my MSI Wind across the room, even though it wasn't at fault, at least not completely. The immediate problem that always confronts me when installing an OS on a laptop is that "tapping" is turned on by default. Tapping is a trackpad feature that makes it so that a static tap on the pad is interpreted as a click, with the result being that the computer interprets a lot of activity that isn't intended as a click to be a click. Slacko compounds this problem by making tapping impossible to turn off (well, it might be possible to turn it off if a Synaptic trackpad driver is somehow installed, but the computer was so impossible to use that this would have had to be a long-term goal. Slacko also defaults to opening files and applications with one click (as opposed to the more traditional double click), and, combined with tapping and the blizzard of temporary info-popups that happen with mouseover events, windows seem to open up at random, jumping in the way of other things. On top of this, changes made to preferences dodn't seem to have any effect, so even if I found a way to change an annoying default behavior, that behavior continued. Despite all this, I really tried to get PuppyLinux to work. My goals were modest; how about just getting Chromium to be the default browser? It couldn't be done, at least as far as I could tell, although it might have helped if I could find the application that configures the equivalent of what on a Windows machine is called the "Start Menu." There's also the matter of the multiple (and often redundant) poorly-designed configuration applications that do nothing to obscure the technical complexity of what they do while simultaneously failing to provide options to do anything that anyone would ever want done. And they all have names like "Barry's Networking Configurator." From what I know of him, I fucking hate Barry! These are the sorts of problems that used to plague Linux back in the day, and it seems they still plague the distributions that work well on old hardware.
This afternoon a masseuse came to the house to give Gretchen an hour-long massage down in her first floor office. Ramona the Dog gets really excited when people, particularly strangers, come over, and she was being so disruptive that she had to be locked up with me in the laboratory. Celeste the Cat (aka "the Baby") was also locked up with us, and occasionally she'd indicate that she wanted to leave, but when I'd let her out she'd turn immediately around and want to come back in again.
Later this afternoon, Gretchen and I drove across the Hudson to Rhinecliff and then rode the train to Pennsylvania Station in the City en route to the recording of a comedic performance by W. Kamau Bell. The train is much more comfortable than the bus, but it has its downsides too. People tend to talk loudly on their cellphones in a way they just wouldn't on a bus, and for this reason we were forced to move to a quieter seat that unfortunately placed us among a group of Millennials who were quiet at the time but soon started having a conversation involving phrases such as "tossing back some cocktails." A woman asked her male friend if it was creepy for a 40 year old man to use emojis, and he wasn't sure. And later she used the term "vegan" in a disparaging way, and I was surprised this didn't unholster Gretchen. Meanwhile, I was paying attention to the ongoing mass shooting in San Bernadino. This was back when the story was claiming there were three shooters, a number that seemed suspiciously high.
From Penn Station, we rode the A-line Subway to Hoyt-Schermerhorn in downtown Brooklyn and went directly to the venue, where already a long line had formed. I took a place in line and then Gretchen went to an Indian restaurant nearby to get four samosas, which would be the first thing I'd eaten since this morning. I'd also brought a flask of Duggan's Dew scotch, which Gretchen found almost drinkable (normally she doesn't like the peaty flavor of that style of whiskey). I was little worried about the glass flask being detected when we were wanded by a security guy with a metal detector, but neither its metal cap, nor my belt buckle, nor any of the change in my pockets set it off.
It was initially looking like we were going to be seated in the back, but then Gretchen said a miraculous incantation that got us placed three-rows from the front right in the center of the room. It was something like "We came from three hours away and are huge fans." If I'd said the same incantation, I probably would have mumbled it and the fat woman doing the seating would have asked, "What?" and the moment would've been spoiled.
The people handling the seating were particular about how we sat, wanting men to sit next to women instead of there being large unisex blocks. (The non-Gretchen woman to my left smelled vaguely of insecticide.) Also, it was important that all our jackets were hidden away, because the show being recorded was scheduled to be aired in the summer.
The comedian who fired up the audience had a weird series of jokes mostly built on oddities from the animal world. Why do cats purr? Did you know Galapagos turtles (someone in the audience corrected him by shouting "tortoise," to which the comedian replied, "I grew up in the 80s, we call 'em turtles!") live to be 300 years old? And what about the fearsome King Cobra? He's so bad ass, his venom will kill you in 30 seconds, and he's comin' to get you! Watch out, he's spread out his head thing! But then you pull out a flute and give it some toots and the cobra is like, "Hey, that's my jam!" and gives up killing to dance Axl-Rose stylee.
Then W. Kamau Bell took the stage. We used to watch his show on FX, showed up for a taping of that, and even signed up for the non-basic cable FXX channel when his show moved to that, but it was soon canceled, and we hadn't heard from him since. His humor today dwelled a long time on his family, and, aside from the bits mining the inherent comedy of his white wife dealing with the hair of their interracial child, I thought he spent too much time on that. Perhaps the fact that the show was scheduled to be aired months from now was the reason he stuck largely to such evergreen material and didn't do much to mine the thick veins of comedy in the ongoing Republican primary race. He did, however, have a choice thing to say about Donald Trump, calling him "the hacking cough that turns into full-blown AIDS." The performance lasted about an hour, with a very brief intermission for technical reasons, and during that pause in the action, W. Kamau Bell offered hugs, and Gretchen was nearby enough to get one.
After the show, Gretchen and I (and a number of others from the audience) headed to a nearby vegan restaurant called MOB. My burger was pretty good, though I've had such good vegan food of late that I'd have to say it didn't stand out as excellent. Better than that was the roasted cauliflower with some sort of faux cheese sauce.
On the train ride back north, I finished off the final third of my 200mL flask of Duggan's Dew[REDACTED]. There was a guy back behind us a few seats who kept making horrible throat noises, as if his hacking cough was threatening to proceed onward towards full-blown AIDS. When the train stopped in Rhinecliff, we made sure to leave the train from a different door than the one he was headed towards, and as we briskly walked towards our car, we could hear that cough trailing us like a persistent predator.
For linking purposes this article's URL is:feedback
previous | next