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June 22 1998, Monday


a few notes about hygiene

I forget to brush my teeth these days. I've always been kind of bad about remembering that sort of thing, but in Charlottesville I'd at least do it before leaving the house. But here, there is no leaving the house, at least not in the social sense.
For similar reasons, I haven't shaved in well over a week. There's no social reasons to shave, and by this point I'm kind of curious as to how bushy my beard can get. Last time I didn't shave I didn't really need to, if you know what I mean. It's a big mystery and it's growing right here on my face. The beard is reddish-blond, and on much of my face it's very thin, but around my mouth and on my chin I have a natural goatee. I'd be embarrassed to be seen this way in Charlottesville, and you can be sure I'll shave sometime soon if I can scoop together enough warm water in this place.
Last night as I lay sleeping, my athlete's foot problem dwindled away to a small fraction of what it had been. That KopperTox™ horse thrush remedy is truly amazing. It makes tough actin' Tinactin™ look like enriched white flour. My mother tells me that she's had horses recover from severe thrush overnight in exactly the same way following application of KopperTox. It makes me wonder if perhaps what I had actually was thrush. Look at the evidence: I contracted it soon after returning to the childhood home and walking barefoot on fields frequented by horses known to be infected. The fact that my brother and the goats weren't also infected can be accounted for by the fact that they've been exposed to the disease consistently for decades while I'd been a boot-wearing city slicker for the past two years.

an entirely different sort of infection

I've been doing most of my recent web work on my mother's Macintosh, since it's in a place suitable for typing (that is, not up in my bunk). Unfortunately, I've been unable to get BBEdit to work. Every time I'd launch it, I'd get a "cannot purge a locked block" error. It was very puzzling. I tried going in with ResEdit and unlocking the one CODE block that was locked, but that didn't help at all. Today, though, I applied myself. Knowing when and when not to use a search engine is an awful lot like intelligence in this day and age, and in that respect, today I got smart. I entered the following into Altavista:

Search the Web for documents in
Tip: To find all pages pointing to a URL, try: link:mypage.html.More tips

I got back two pages at, part of a BBEdit FAQ. The FAQ matter-of-faqtly stated that my computer must be infected by the MBDF A virus, and that I should take action.

I'd never even considered the possibility that my Macintosh problems (and through the months there have been many) were being caused by a virus. It seemed so unlikely. Most Mac viruses I have known are only trying to survive and wish harm to no one. I've actually studied the MBDF virus (I have a printout of its disassembled 680X0 code around my Shaque somewhere; it comes to something over 600 bytes in size) and know that while it causes occasional weird side effects, it's no big deal and is easily removed. I've never been concerned about viruses. I feel that much of the virus paranoia in this country results from the alchemy of software hucksters working hard to concoct an anti-virus software market out of thin air.
I ran Disinfectant, and sure enough, lots of applications were infected. But it was all easily sanitized, and BBEdit was mine to use once again.

yet another kind of infection

seeing the Windows 95 / Internet Explorer unification first hand

On my Windows 95 machine, something or another happened to my copy of Internet Explorer 4.0, so I went out on the Internet and downloaded a new installation, all 17 Megabytes of it. (For every byte of that download, Bill Gates has more than $2000. So I ask: "When can the nouveau-riche tackiness start being replaced with lavish charity?" A guy really could change the world with 40 billion dollars, that is, if he cared about something.)
I had no idea the profound effects this download, with its new Active Desktop, would have upon my desktop. Suddenly "My Computer" looked a lot more like a television, with all kinds of Las Vegas details shouting and elbowing each other aside hoping that I'd click them. I wasn't upset by these changes nearly as much as I was stunned. The thoughts going through my head as regarded this new vision were complicated, but let me start by saying that I felt like I was looking into a phenomenal new and somewhat frightening merger of crass advertising culture with the usually sanitary, boringly functional world of operating systems. The Internet had been gradually incubating a new infection, lowest-common-denominator-commercialism, and here it had finally metastasized right out of the browser windows onto my desktop, formerly the sacred realm of My Documents and My Computer, set up very much the way I like them. Of course, all the annoying initial parameters and settings could easily be changed, and that didn't bother me. What bothered me more was the potential I saw for advertisers to get at me in places I had regarded as personal.
And of course, now I better understand why this constitutes monopolistic behaviour. There's no escaping the Internet Explorer on this new Active Desktop. It has merged with the very file system. If I want to use Netscape, I have to open up windows that look and feel alien beside these native Internet Explorer windows. Being the operating system driving 90% of the World's computers, it really does look like a stranglehold on Netscape.
But I'm also impressed with how seamless, coherent, and fast the whole system is. I'm also impressed by the smaller touches, like the little thumbnails of web pages and graphics that pop up to the left whenever I select an item.
I'm sure I'll have more observations about this new Windows 95 situation as I use the Active Desktop more.

the infection I don't have to become

As you know, I've been kind of nervous about my prospect of getting the security deposit back for Kappa Mutha Fucka, the house I where I lived for the past year in Charlottesville. But I was overjoyed to get a check in the mail today for $750, the whole enchilada. My faith in humanity was, for a brief flash of overjoyed over-reaction, completely restored. I guess I have to go to Charlottesville sometime soon and split it up with Deya. Perhaps Jessika is entitled to some as well, since she helped with cleaning. In a way, getting back the whole security deposit is sort of a let-down. I'd been gearing up for a fight. Adrenaline had surged through my body every time I'd considered what would happen if I was ripped-off. Now it's all over, and I really am free.


one year ago
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