Monday, October 31, 2005

Disingenuous Derelicts

My Goodness, is it Halloween already? When did this holiday decide to creep up and pay us a visit? I didn't have any time to grab some candy for the little runts in the barrio, much less muster up the necessary creativity for a costume - although that may not be a bad thing. The costume, I mean. The past two years I've gone to various Halloween parties dressed as the same thing, and while I won't go into details, I'll just say it wasn't exactly appropriate for most environments. I'm sure several of you reading this know what I'm talking about. And so, not wanting to offend the not-so-easily-offended I'm opting for the low key/no key approach to Halloween this year. No dress up, no candy for the neighborhood kids (judging by both their decibel & energy levels, they already have enough anyway - and it's been injected with Ritalin), no decorations, and, to quote George Plimpton in Good Will Hunting, no more ballyhoo.

Still, it
IS a fun holiday and one that, for better or for worse, has had the spook factor taken out of it in recent years. So, consider this post both a half-assed attempt to remedy that, and just a nod to the holiday in general. After all, I'd feel bad if Halloween went by and I didn't even acknowledge it. With this in mind, I'll tell you the strange story of the derelict Mary Celeste:

(Note: The following account may or may not be a true story. Although certain facts remain indisputable, there have been numerous exaggerated accounts over the years that it becomes difficult to tell fact from fiction. Much of what is to follow was cobbled together, and often copied directly from, various websites - most notably Wikipedia,, and

The Mary Celeste was a 103-foot, 282-ton brigantine launched out of Spenser's Island, Nova Scotia in 1861. Originally dubbed the "Amazon", the ship seemingly had bad luck and was involved in several accidents at sea. As a result, she changed hands several times before turning up in a New York salvage auction (creepy place, New York. The Yankees play there, you know) where she was purchased for $3,000. After extensive repairs she was put under American registry and renamed the "Mary Celeste" in 1869.

On November 7, 1872, under the command of Captain Benjamin Briggs - known to be a staunch abstainer (of alcohol, we hope, for his wife's sake) and devout bible reader, the ship picked up a cargo consisting of 1700 barrels of raw American alcohol (for fortifying wine) shipped by Meissner Ackermann & Coin in New York City (creepy place, New York. The Yank... nevermind) and set sail for Genoa, Italy. In addition to the crew of seven, it carried two passengers: the Captain's wife, Sarah E. Briggs (née Cobb), and daughter, Sophia Matilda.

Almost one month later, on December 4, 1872 (some reports give December 5, due to a lack of standard time zones in the1800's), the Mary Celeste was sighted by the "Dei Gratia" - a ship that had left New York harbor only seven days after the Mary Celeste and followed a roughly parallel course. The Dei Gratia's crew, captained by a Captain Morehouse who was well acquainted with the aforementioned Captain Briggs, observed the Mary Celeste for two hours and concluded that she was drifting. Indeed, she was yawing, coming into the wind and falling off, indicating that she was out of control - though she was flying no distress signals. Oliver Deveau, the Chief Mate of the Dei Gratia, led a party in a small boat to board her and reported (surprise, surprise) finding absolutely no one on board. In addition, he found only one pump working, with a lot of water between decks and three and one-half feet of water in the hold. The forehatch and the lazarette were both open, the clock was not functioning, and the compass was destroyed. Both the sextant and the chronometer were missing, suggesting that the ship had been deliberately abandoned, and the only lifeboat she carried appeared to have been deliberately launched, rather than torn away. Although, he reported, "the whole ship was a thoroughly wet mess," she was still, for the most part, seaworthy. Hull, masts and sails were all sound. Even her entire cargo load was still on board. Yet, there was not a soul to be seen.

When Captian Morehouse of the Dei Gratia examined the ship's log, he found the last entry dated ten days earlier, on November 24th as the Mary Celeste passed just north of St. Mary's Island in the Azores - more than 400 miles west of where she was found. She was also found sailing on the starboard tack, while the Dei Gratia, again following a similar course, had been obligated to sail on the port tack. It therefore seems impossible that the Mary Celeste could have reached the spot it did with the sails consistently set to starboard. Someone would probably have had to man the boat for at least several days after the final log entry.

The Dei Gratia crew split in two, and both ships were sailed to Gibraltar, where, during a hearing, the judge praised the crew of the Dei Gratia for their courage and skill. The admiralty court officer however, suspecting foul play, did his utmost to turn the hearing from a simple salvage claim into a trial of the men involved. In the end, prize money was awarded the crew, but the sum was much less than it should have been, as "punishment" for wrongdoing which the court could not prove. None of the passengers or crew aboard the boat were ever found, however in early 1873 it was reported that two lifeboats landed off the shores of Spain, one containing a body and an American flag, the other containing five bodies. It was never investigated whether or not it could be the remains of the crew of the Mary Celeste.

Numerous theories abound as to what actually happened to the crew and passengers. Some seem fairly plausible (the crew abandoned ship due to what they thought were highly combustible alcohol fumes that would cause an explosion and sink the ship - not an unreasonable assumption when your cargo was raw alcohol in the year 1872 - and died due to hunger thirst or exposure.) Other theories seem fairly ridiculous (alien abductions.) Matters were not helped when Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (before he had penned any of the Sherlock Holmes mysteries, and in desperate need of money) wrote an account of the tale, yet included a considerable amount of fiction and renamed the ship the
Marie Celeste. The story proved so popular that much of it's fictional content, renamed ship included, has come to dominate popular accounts of the incident. What is certain, however, is that the ship set sail with ten people on board, and one month later was found with none. What happened to them? I'll leave it up to you. But while you're thinking, feel free to listen to the accompanying mp3 download I've provided by Nurse with Wound. Entitled Salt Marie Celeste, the track is a whopping 57 MB and one hour long. As you may have guessed by the title, the track is inspired by the events of the Mary Celeste and isn't so much a song as it is an exploration of the sounds aboard a derelict ship - a ship sailing itself with no passengers on board. Listen to it at night with the lights out, and prepare to be spooked. Happy Halloween, everyone.

Download: Salt Marie Celeste

Friday, October 28, 2005


It's been quite some time since I had a Friday links post. What do you say we start this old jalopy up again, eh? Let's go.

But first - am I disgruntled? I just got IM'ed (that's instant messaged for you those of you who are, like, SOOOOO out of the loop) from my friend Greg who said, "You sound disgruntled in your blog." Thanks, Greg. Hello yourself. How's the day going? Wife well?

My response was "part of my schtick" - and I guess, in a sense, it is. But really, why do I have to have a schtick? I mean, chances are all five of you would read this space anyway and, to be honest, I don't really feel as if I'm trying on a different persona when I write these posts. I'm just me being me, damnit!! Good Lord - Greg and I were roommates for five years! He of all people should know that "disgruntled", or better yet "curmudgeonly" (disgruntled makes it sound like I'm going to walk into the lobby with an Uzi and go off), might be an appropriate character description. But what if it isn't? What if I'm someone in real life and something completely different when I'm writing these posts? Maybe I'm breaking the wall down, getting rid of the facade and letting the REAL Old Man Eric shine through. And how does one define this duality in real a world context, not just a psychiatric sense (schizophrenia, dumb dumb.)


Screw it - let's try some links.

Choose Your Life - This first link fits in rather well with my identity battle you just read in the paragraph above. According to this survey, I am a demonic, hideous, wretched, unlovable, enslaved, twisted, cranky, skanky, wasted, sickly and faithless person. Let's see if you can do any better. I'm guessing not. Heathens. (FYI - Some sketchy banner ads too - but that's never stopped you before....)

Escape from Rhetundo Island - You know... they had me with the original Hapland. Hapland 2 was even better. It would stand to reason that Hapland 3 would be the best yet. But instead, we get Escape from Rhetundo Island, which is a
thinking man's game. Go figure. I can think. I can think well, actually, but I still can't get past the giant scissors and boulder thing a ding and the pool of fire after it. Eventually I'll break down and look at a cheat sheet... For now though, the battle rages on. Addictive, and frustrating as hell. Flash 8 required. You can get it here.

The Pumpkin Gutter - I was never any good at carving pumpkins. I had the triangle eyes and nose... the weird looking mouth, the cut out circle head... All nonsense... and not at all scary.... and oh, how the things would rot and stick up the place. Yeeeuck. I'm guessing the pumpkin gutter doesn't have that problem. I'm also guessing he has loads of time on his hands. DAT'S some impressive pumpkin carving, yo. Great Pumpkin carving, in fact. Linus would be proud.

Purportal - BOOKMARK THIS PAGE!!! ALL OF YOU!! RIGHT NOW!!! If I get one more e-mail asking me to help find some girl named Penny Brown, or any other fictitious youngster for that matter, I am going to gouge out my retinas and paint the world paisley. Purportal has five different search engines in which to check and see if the old wives tale you've just heard is, in fact, a hoax. Useful tool. Only takes a minute and will save you from looking like a fool in the eyes of the eighty some-odd people you're about to forward the abduction notice to. Oh, like you haven't done that before.....

Meanwhile - Remember those Choose your Own Adventure Books? So do I. In fact, for my 30th birthday my cousin Brian sent me one as a gift. I was, to say the least, flabbergasted. Here's a neat little online one... or it may be big... I actually haven't read the thing, so I can't vouch for it's content. It LOOKS pretty cool however, and it was forwarded to me by a friend, so it may, in fact, be trustworthy. In any case, if you need something to idle away the time..... you'll need lot's of it by the looks of things.. uber-confusing.

Lost In Translation - Cute and somewhat dumb, but I needed a link to throw in here. This is what happens when you translate a phrase in five different languages before turning it back into English. Some amusing results.

Food Defect Action Levels - Ever wonder if that bumblebee in your curry is considered acceptable? Well, wonder no longer!! Here, friend, is the list of natural or unavoidable defects in foods that present no health hazards for humans. It's still repugnant. Yeah, yeah, I know - we all in the same gang.... whateva. I still don't like finding rodent filth in my cocoa powder press cake.

Scrabble - I was never a good scrabble player. Many moons ago my cousin threw the board at me and accused me of cheating for using the word "yelp." I haven't played since. I understand there are some fanatics out there though, and I say more power to them. I truly understand that boats do indeed need to float. I'd even like to help in this process - so here is the go anywhere disposable Scrabble game. Print it out and you're good to go. You're welcome.

Reverse Speech - WAAAAYYY back when I first started this blog I had a post on backwards messages in music. The post was written in jest. This website isn't. Good for a laugh, or a concerned nod of the head... or a Eureka! Again.... boats need to float.

Alfred Hitchcock - Those who know me know it's an understatement to say I'm an Alfred Hitchcock fan. I'm more of an obsessor. OK - maybe not, but he IS my favorite director... by far. And no, I'm not worried about being too trendy, Mister Tim Burton lover. Up until recently however, there had been precious little on the Intarwebs devoted to the poor fat guy. Then I discovered this site. A gem for all Hitchcock fans out there.

Enjoy the links, folks. In my (sort of) absence over the past few weeks, I made sure to keep track of the few, yet interesting sites I'd surfed to - so fear not, young brethren. There are more where these came from. I wish you all a wonderful weekend, and I bid you a hearty and a healthy adeiu (adieu... to you, and you, and yooouuuu.) Until next time.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Can I Get A Boo?

There are many things I love about my fair city of Boston. At the risk of sounding like a Chamber of Commerce commercial, there's the architecture, championship caliber sports teams, the skyline (check out this photo I just found - I may have to purchase it), the culture, the weather, the accent, the surliness, the Big Dig, the old boys political corruption, the sense of entitlement among it's residents - whoops, going down the wrong track here, sorry - the excellent restaurants, the music scene, it's smallness and old world charm, and of course, the history.

I've always been somewhat enamored with the local history, but not to the extent that I study it for hours on end. Back in college, you know - when I actually
wrote, I was scribbling a short story period piece taking place in the late 1890's/early 1900's. It was full of death and blood and all sorts of disturbing topics, and really came out quite nicely considering I stole the idea from another author. Although I had no problem with the basic plot, I knew very little about the time frame in which the story was set. This required a lot of research and hunkering down at the Copley branch of the Boston Public Library (a fine construct of learning and information if ever there was one. Filled to the brim with books and journals of all sorts. Clean, well lit, and always smells of piss. Top notch.) I soon discovered that although I loved writing, I most certainly did NOT share the same enthusiasm for the research that occasionally had to accompany it. I simply did not have the patience to sift through endless tomes looking for obscure information, such as the relative distance between trees when originally planted on the Commonwealth Avenue Parkway (a small, but somewhat important part of the story.) After a bit, I got so bored with the whole process that I just made stuff up and hoped it would pass. It did - at least in this instance. Got a B+ as I recall, but part of it was actually deserved. You see, although I made stuff up, it was actually based on historical accounts and stories I had heard simply by growing up in the area. You know, things like Mrs. O'Leary's cow starting the big fire, and the great earthquake of 1898.

(Just kidding.)

Although I have a decent knowledge of the city's history, it's all stuff I've picked up in bits and pieces throughout my life. I've long known that I enjoyed the topic, but never really took advantage of the many ways in which to explore it - smelly library aside. So, when the opportunity to take a Ghosts & Graveyards tour appeared this past Monday, I quickly shelled out the $32 (yikes) admission and prepared myself for a deluge of tales about local serial killers and mischief makers. I love this kind of stuff. Hidden crypts, old gravestones at night, mysterious ghost stories - I mean yeah, I could just tune in to the Travel Channel and watch one of the eleventy million thousand "Ghosts of (insert tourist destination here)" shows, but this was far more authentic. Granted, Boston has absolutely no claim as a haunted city. None, whatsoever. Sure, there are plenty of ghostly tales and spooky goings on if you look hard enough, but compared to places like Edinburgh or New Orleans? Not even close. There are plenty of old graveyards however, like the Copps Hill and Old Granary burial grounds, and it is these that they pay special attention too, and which you get to tour in the dark. While driving to both places we were, rather typically, inundated with story after story of ghost sightings and infamous legends. Some highlights of the tour:

  • The original "boogeyman" was a Bostonian. He was a local lad named Jesse Pomeroy, who lived in the North End in the mid-1800's. Senor Pomeroy was unfortunate enough to have a cleft palate, and because of this, couldn't speak in a manner that anyone could make sense of. As a result, the local kids wound taunt him endlessly with chants of "Jesse, Jesse! Booga! Booga!" to make fun of the way he spoke. Somewhere along the line he went insane and killed a teenage girl, was sent to a prison for the criminally insane which he escaped from TWELVE times, each time going back to the North End. As a result, local mothers would tell their children, "Watch out for the Booga man. He may have escaped again."
  • Mary Sullivan (I think that was her name), one of the victims of the Boston strangler, was found dead in the apartment directly above the Paramount Diner on Charles Street - a diner I ate in at least once a week during college.
  • John Hancock has a headstone befitting the last four letters of his last name. It's huge, much like his signature, and is shaped like, well... you know.... One can only guess the founding father was trying to compensate for something.
  • The Old Granary burial ground is one of the most haunted spots in Boston, which admittedly, isn't saying much. Still, it's pretty spooky in the dark and this is where one of the tour guides, whom we had not seen previously, decided to jump up behind the group and scream loudly. I kicked him.
  • The original Angel of Death was also a Bostonian. A crazy woman (obviously) whose name I forget, she was a nurse in the geriatric ward at Mass General who had a habit of killing her elderly patients to "put them out of their misery" even if there was nothing noticeably wrong with them. She freely admitted to doing this, and maintained there was nothing at all wrong with it up until the day she was hung.
  • The tour guides made the group sing "America the Beautiful" outside the steps of the Park Street Church because that was the first place in the country it had ever been sung way back in 18 something-something. Passersby looked at us askance.
There were lots more stories told (Lizzie Borden, the black lady of George's Island, banshee wails, etc, etc...) that I wont get into here, but suffice to say I found the tour quite entertaining and worthwhile, even if it was a bit expensive. Sure, you could go to the library and probably find most of these tales in some local haunted history guidebook, but it's not quite the same. The fact that it was both autumn and Halloween season probably had something to do with the overall aesthetic, but that just made it a more enjoyable experience. Did I see any ghosts? Nope - and I was clearly on the lookout. But even so, I walk away knowing that if I ever get around to writing a book, I wont have to worry about some highbrow historian calling me on the fact that Paul Revere was not a colonial mortician with a penchant for homeopathic hallucinogens.

Maybe this whole research business isn't so bad after all.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

You Could Hear a Laptop Drop



I wipe my hands clean (and oh, they are indeed filthy) of these crap pieces of Japanese machinery known as student notebook computers. Now, it's time to get back to the business of blogging. Huzzah!

Well, sort of... You see, as always, there are a few stragglers, a few hangers-on, a few stubborn... what's the word...... bumpkins? Fine, bumpkins.

Actually, I'm lucky to still have a job. In the ongoing poker game between myself and my workplace, my rough calculations have me about $2200 in the hole - a substantial figure by anyone's measure.

Here's what happened. As I have mentioned numerous times in other posts, the only thing I've been doing these past couple of weeks is to take each student's personal computer (at last count there were 252 of them), scan them for viruses, and, if clean, set them up to be used on the wireless network we have here at the school. Think of a Starbucks hotspot, but covering an entire dormitory, and one only certain people (in this case, our students) would be able to access. On day two of this process, I had my arms full with about 20 wireless network cards when I tripped slightly on a frayed rug and a few went flying - one of them right onto the keyboard of a nearby notebook. You can guess what happened. Off came the number 6...... oops.

Actually, at the time I didn't think this a big deal. I tried to put it back on myself only to break the spring the key sits on. Still, how much is a number 6, albeit a Japanese number 6, going to cost? A fucking fortune, as it turns out. In what surely must be one of the more unnoticed cases of conspiratorial corruption, you cannot replace a single key on a laptop keyboard. No no, you have to replace the entire keyboard. Further, this being a Japanese keyboard, you can not easily do so if said keyboard currently resides in the picturesque, yet skanky borough of Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts - at least not with this manufacturer. The entire machine has to be handed over to the geniuses at Fujitsu (the crappity assholes who make the thing - and who have computer service centers only in Japan) who will then keep it for a few weeks, fix it, and then send it back to you with a brand spanking new number 6. Total cost? Several thousand yen. To quote Inspector Gadget, "Wowsers." The student, surprisingly, wasn't pissed - at all. In fact, she was content to take her computer back and keep it for the semester. When she gets back to Japan, she'll get the keyboard replaced herself and then send us a bill. So, that little issue has been skirted for now.

The very next day however, after having whipped out my geek cap and buck teeth, I was transporting about nine laptops down the hallway using an A/V cart. For no reason other than sheer fate, one of them came leaping off the top of the cart and crashed with a sickening thud and crack, landing on the wireless card that had already been inserted, forcing it into the computers motherboard and warping the entire chassis. The machine, unbelievably, still works aside from the now broken PCMCIA slots (the thin ports on the side where you insert the cards.) On the plus side, the student now has an ergonomically designed keyboard where before there was none. Still, this one will require the purchase of a brand new machine - again, only available for purchase and shipping within Japan. Total cost? Another several thousand yen, assuming we can ever buy it. It's been sold out for weeks. This student is understandably more frustrated, but manages to keep a positive attitude - even around me, Clutzy McClutzy - although I think for a while she was blatantly swearing at me in Japanese, and I, not speaking a lick, remained oblivious to the entire diatribe. Ignorance is bliss.

So, how did I make up for all those unnecessary costs the school hath incurred because of moi? Easy. I worked untold hours of unpaid overtime.. including one fourteen hour stretch through the weekend. Plus, I figure they already factored the costs in when they hired me, which is part of the reason I get paid so little. Regardless, it was a humbling experience, to say the least. Break two computers which aren't your own, and your first instinct is to run. When you realize it's not possible to do that and still keep your job, your second instinct is to lie - a lot. When you realize it's not possible to do that and still keep your spot in heaven, your third instinct is to settle for hell. That's not a viable option, really, so in the end I decided to tell the truth... which is why I'm able to sit here at my desk, still employed, and write a blog post during my, um... lunch break.

The lesson? Japanese laptops suck, and all things work out when you stay honest. True dat. Cue Alfonso Ribeiro and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints:

"Mr. Robinson! Mr. Robinson! Oh, what a terrible mess! I broke your window with my ball..... and I've come to confess!"

Aaand fade to black......

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

October's Madmen

I am sitting here in my... er, my roommates La-Z-Boy, new laptop at the ready, and watching Game 1 of the ALCS being played by the, get this, White Sox and Angels. Clearly this is someone's idea of a joke.

Actually, let me retract that last statement. It's utterances EXACTLY like those above which make the rest of the country growl when the names Red Sox or Yankees are mentioned (although more people like the Red Sox, because the Yankees simply suck.) I don't write a lot about sports on this blog for the simple reason that I am not at all objective. But then, who the hell am I kidding? This isn't journalism... and journalism isn't objective either.... so there goes that entire argument.

Fine. Sports talk it is. At least for this post.

I'm actually OK with this whole ALCS (American League Championship Series. That's baseball for those of you who choose to pay attention to more "important" issues.... losers.) My beloved Boston Red Sox (or Calcetines Rojos for our Spanish speaking friends) got swept by the pale hose of Chicago about a week back, and while I was slightly bitter the night the final out went down, I quickly got over it when I remembered that a) the Red Sox won the World Series last year and b) on the list of teams to hate the White Sox are somewhere near the bottom, having not won a World Series themselves since 1917 - a wait two years longer than any Red Sox fan had to endure. That's what happens when you throw the World Series (which the White Sox, of course, did in 1919 leading to that year's team being called the "Black Sox." This is all covered in the film Eight Men Out - a fine piece of cinema.)

Now, about the White Sox' opponent, the Anaheim Angels. Er, excuse me, I mean the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (yes, that's their name. Utterly ridiculous. They shouldn't be allowed to play the game much less market any merchandise.) I'm not a huge fan of this team. I've always found them annoying, and I will forever remember one of their former players, Bobby Gritch, acting like a dick during the 1986 ALCS against the Red Sox, back when they were known as the California Angels. They won the World Series as recently as 2002 (again, when they were known as the Anaheim Angels) and attributed it to a stupid good luck charm called the Karaoke Rally Monkey. I won't bother to explain, but it was another reason for me not to like them. They DID earn brownie points however, because they beat the Yankees to get to where they are now - and any team that beats the Yankees, particularly in humiliating fashion, is deserving enough, I suppose.

So, the nation has been spared a third straight Red Sox/Yankees ALCS, and I would imagine those not living in Boston or New York are probably pretty happy with that. Plus, after two straight Octobers of teeth gnashing, expletive shouting, and completely draining yet sleepless nights, I'm content to watch from afar this year and prepare myself for next. Besides, up until now I've been too busy at work to really enjoy much of anything this time around.

Ah... work. The reason for my existence. FINALLY, there's a light at the end of the sewage pipe. I am through setting up the student laptops and am now just dealing with the inevitable aftermath. Usually goes something like, "Excusa meeee, Eriku. Myyy computah, eh, can't connecto."


Screw it. Let's just declare everyone a winner and go home. The 2005 American League Champions? The Los Angeles White Angels of Chicago. Game over. Good night. Let me see those laptops, ladies. There's always nexto yearo.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Hello Sherman

Well, I'm back.


In fact, I think this deserves to be announced with an exclamation! Raise the roof! Shout it on high! Uh Huh! Get loud, boys and girls. Eric the Red is back and screaming through your network. Like Steven Tyler sang, "I'm BAAACK!" Like LL Cool J rapped, "Don't call it a comeback! I've been here for years!" Like Toto sang......

Nevermind - you get the point. As I mentioned in the last post, I am the proud owner of a new computer, and as such, am able to spend much of my free time trying to bore you lot with the details of a monotonous existence. And oh, how I loooove this new computer. The beast, which I am typing on now while grooving to Fiona Apple (yeah, I know), is a behemoth notebook from Dell. It's got a 17 inch widescreen monitor, dual layer DVD burner (that means it can copy full length commercial DVD's with the exact same quality as the original - provided you have the software to do it and are willing to break a few copyright laws. I, of course, would never encourage such behavior, but the fact remains it can be done... if one wanted to... I'm just saying... I mean, Netflix is great too....), a gigabyte of RAM, and a lot of other bells and whistles. Best of all, I bought it refurbished from the Dell Outlet so I saved myself a good chunk of change. I just hope the fact that it's refurbished doesn't mean the motherboard is going to melt in a months time, but hopefully I have enough mad skillz to fix what issues, if any, may arise.

Still, the decision to purchase the thing was not an easy one. I've mentioned before that big money purchases scare me shitless, and this bad boy certainly qualified. When my old computer pooped the bed, the logical thing to do would have been to simply replace it, right? Still, I did anything I could to try and talk myself out buying it:

"No one reads Shirky Words anymore. You're a has-been."

"You can't afford it. Buy this computer and you can kiss the house, any future marriage, your next pair of shoes, your car, your apartment, and your pride goodbye."

"Take the money you'd spend and give it to the people who actually NEED it, you selfish friggin' bastard."

"You've already read the Internet anyway. It's time to move on. Find a new hobby. Stop isolating! Go do something! Experience life! See the world around you! Smell the flowers! Carpe Diem!!"


In the end, I told myself the voices in in my head were nothing but the voices in my head. Some of them may be speaking the truth, but I chose to ignore them. As someone who fixes computers for a living, it would make sense that I have a computer at home. Plus, as this here blog indicates, I enjoy writing and hope to gradually improve my writing skills. The only way I know how to do that is to keep writing (and reading, but that's another story.) While I can, and often do, write in longhand, I must admit that I miss both the spelling and grammar checks. Plus, if I ever get back to the point where I'm ready to, God forbid, submit something, I think it should look a little more professional than chicken scratch on lined notebook paper (although that's ALL the rage these days.)

So, I made the leap and bought Mr. Peabody, here. Yeah, that's it's name. Now, before you go calling me dork times twelve for naming my computer, I'll remind you that any computer running Windows HAS to be named, for complicated reasons I won't get into here. When Windows prompted me to name this thing I didn't want to name it something so original as "ERICSCOMPUTER" or anything like that. No, names are important and reflective of character. Instead, I looked up and saw my stuffed Mr. Peabody dog (as in Sherman and Mr. Peabody from the Bullwinkle cartoons) sitting on my speaker and thought, "You know, Mr. Peabody is the Mac Daddy Pimp, not to mention the man behind the Wayback Machine. He'll do nicely." And there it was. My computer had an identity. (Incidentally, I plan on going through the same process when I have children some day. My first born son will be named Grover. The second, Beaker. The rest will be determined as necessary. And no, my wife won't have a say. In fact, I'm thinking of marrying a mute to help facilitate this whole process.)

So, consider this the first post of my second coming. Although posts will be more frequent, things will start off slowly as I'm still quite busy at work. But at least now, I'm back on the Intarweb, and rolling along again. Now I just need to find something to write about. Sherman, set the Wayback Machine to 1997.....