The Stranger In the Woods, or ode to Glenn

I just finished a book that was given to me by the staff at Flexibility called The Stranger In the Woods by Michael Finkel.  What’s weird is that it took until the third-last chapter to draw a comparison between the character in the book, Chris, and my brother, Glenn.

They both escaped society and all its absurdities, couldn’t co-exist with people around, somehow found meaning in solitude, excluded the trappings of modern life from his own.

“He’s done some research; hypothermia, he believes, is a painless way to die.  “It’s the only thing that will make me free.”  (Page 182)  Glenn organized his things immediately around him in such as way that showed he knew exactly what he was doing – planned completely.

“Yeah, the brilliant man,” says Knight, “the brilliant man went to find contentment, and he did.  The brilliant man wishes he weren’t so stupid to do illegal things to find contentment.”  (Page 183)  My brother grew & sold pot as part of his income.  And, yes, he was brilliant, and he was trying to find contentment somehow.

I could go on, but I won’t.  The book is done.  Perhaps this is why Elma chose this book.  Thank you, Elma.  I get it.

tablet ease-of-use test – Surface 4 Pro & reMarkable

I’ve got my two tablets – the Microsoft Surface 4 Pro and the reMarkable.
Even the names begin to give away their characteristics.
It all began with a sore shoulder.  Those of you who read this know why the shoulder is sore, and several kilos of books and binders in my backpack made the shoulder ache big-time.  A tablet would allow me to carry ebooks and store my notes in electronic form rather than paper.
So I bought the Surface.  Really nice to use – except writing on it was glitchy, more so sequentially after each update from Microsoft Update.  Slick, fast, lightweight, powerful.  But glitchy sometimes.
After a year or so, I found an ad for reMarkable, a tablet that uses e-ink.  It’s a cross between an e-reader and a limited version of a tablet.  It does have limits, but I can stare at it for hours without my eyes popping out of my head.  The surface of it, as suggested in their ads, actually does feel for the most part like I’m writing on paper.
Keep in mind that I’d tested these in the classroom, coffee shop, home, inside, outside, in the dark, in sunlight, under pressure, at my leisure – in every imaginable scenario.
I recently loaded up AutoCAD, Revit, AutoCAD Civil 3D, and Inventor on the Surface.  They work well, but the Surface is somewhat under-powered for this.  Pretty good though.  An acceptable second to the HP ZBook 15 that the school provides.  I also put ebooks on the reMarkable and used it as a textbook e-reader.  It’s a little slow to flip from page to page, but it’s not slow when it comes to writing.
So I created a couple of videos.

12/14/2017  6:30 PM    167495387 tablet ease-of-use test Microsoft Surface 4 Pro 20171214_182812.mp4
12/14/2017  6:26 PM    103571641 tablet ease-of-use test reMarkable 20171214_182504.mp4

Have a look and see a comparison.  I cast no judgment on each one since they’re clearly different machines.  I thought I’d sell one of them once I decided.  But I see now that they’re both designed for very different tasks.  I guess I’m keeping them both.

last day of classes, mice, magazines, & banjos

As the title of this journal entry states, today is the last day of classes for this term.  I did my final exams for STS-2260 Statistics / Applied Research I and EDD-2268 Architectural Design II.  The goofy thing is that I think I did much better in my weaker subject, Stats, than I did in the one that gets my blood going, Architecture.  But we shall see.  My other two classes – ENF-2250 Fluid Mechanics and EDD-2255 Process Design I.

I got a subscription at the suggestion of my Architecture prof – Fine Homebuilding.  I haven’t gotten my first issue yet, but they did offer a free two-week online subscription.  Nice, except that I can’t print, can’t store it for later, and can’t get past page 32 of the issue.  I also asked my prof about a magazine I read ages ago called Architectural Digest.  His idea is that it isn’t what it used to be but is still an interesting read about various architecture of well-to-do folk around the world.  But I’m more interested in ideas and such that will help me in the ordinary-folk architectural world.

I’m finding it hard to play the banjo and use a normal (i.e. cheap) mouse.  Why?  Ages ago, on my 16th birthday, I guy hit me and Ron Ripley while we were crossing the street on our bicycles.  His leg was broken and fingertip torn off, and my hand was broken.  To this day, my right ring finger bends somewhat toward my middle finger when curled.  I got a new mouse – the CAD Mouse from 3D Connexion – and even put racing stripes on it, allowing me to speed up my Revit, CAD, & Inventor use.  If only putting racing stripes on my banjo would help me play faster and better.

Sundry things:

Tomorrow I’m getting an oil change for my little Kia, pulling the forms off our experimental concrete blocks, and giving blood.

update

I wrote to Phil Harder in MB in the summer.  I sent him a card with a “thank you” for helping Uncle Al so much and an apology that I couldn’t make it out that (last) summer.  It came back – twice! – with the wrong address.  As it turns out, Mom had his address in her ‘little black book’ all along.  He probably thought I’d forgotten about him.  Not the case.

Only two weeks of classes left.  I did an exam today in Process Design and got the mark back in record time.  75%.  Not bad.  Not as good as I was hoping.  I’m not so great with Statistics & Applied Research.  I’m watching YouTube videos like this one to bone up.  Pretty simplistic, I know, but I tend not to do well if the instructor teaches rapid-fire. That’s just me.  The Applied Research part of it is not bad.  The other two classes, Fluid Mechanics and Architectural Design II, are not bad.

I slipped on the ice on my way to classes a couple of weeks ago and bruised my hip.  For a good week (actually not a very good week) I’d been limping, but now it seems to be getting better.  It’s the same old injury in my hip that will likely never go away.  I’m working on improving it.  I saw the doc about it.  He didn’t seem to think it was much – just bruised muscles.  My treatment?  Aspirin.  Yup – just plain aspirin.  I slipped just a week before that, too, as I was shovelling snow off the apron leading from the street to the garage.  I just sat there on the ground for a few seconds to take stock.  No, no problem.  After I stopped tensing, all was fine.

Aizlynn, on the other hand, did not fare as well.  She slipped once a couple of weeks ago while she and Caleb were here and then again with much more serious results while visiting Caleb’s folks in BC.  She slipped on the steps of Caleb’s parents’ house and went down several steps on her butt.  Apparently she’s quite bruised.  While here, she used my ice cleats since she has no Canadian-style winter footwear.  This is why I wasn’t wearing them and went down.

The weather has been warm the past few days, but it comes at a cost – wind.  I had a headache today and took 2 1/2 Tylenol-3s during class.  It more-or-less got rid of my headache.  It’s still buzzing away in the background.  I would have stayed at school a bit longer except that a) I had a headache, b) my study-buddies (Tyson, Randy, Christopher, Chrystal, & others) either left or were on their way out, and c) my tutoring student scheduled for 8:30PM cancelled.  So … I’m at home, studying Stats.

There’s a Facebook page related to the college called LC Confessions.  I looked a few times but could find nothing that pertains to me except for two posts – one on how crappy instant noodles are and one on if someone were to disappear off of Facebook, would they be missed.

Mom is feeling pretty weak these days.  There are times when she’s on top of her game and others when she’s a rag doll in a chair.  She tends to try to do too much.  I just overheard her talking with Floyd, exhuming two examples from memory of being really tired – one of when she was made to walk along next to the horse-pulled wagon when she was a kid and one where Father made her work out in the rain.  Floyd came up with the idea that no one was making her do stuff she didn’t want to do now.  It’s all up to her.

Suppertime.  Catch you later.

dream

Weird dreams last night.  I was in the military, this time the air force.  I was supposed to be someone who flew a small fighter jet, but I didn’t know how.  I tried bluffing my way through.  I was obviously walking in someone else’s shoes.  Nobody wanted to hear the truth.  I don’t think I flew, but people wanted to talk about what accomplishments I made, and I had no idea what to tell them.  I checked the internet for facts.  I believe this is the first time checking the internet in a dream.

Next, my phone broke.  It just snapped right in half.  The weird thing is that it was still working – sort of.  I guess that’s what they call a “dog dream”.

Dreams area supposed to have some correlation in reality, but I cannot place where the plane flying experience comes into play.  The phone?  Well, I’ve broken phones before.  Maybe it’s a sign to be careful.

Midterm exam today, then architectural class, then an English tutoring student.  I’ve been working hard at the architectural plans.  Hopefully they won’t be a waste.  What I mean is, if someone else has already done it, maybe we’ll use theirs.  Gotta be sure that all details are correct.

calm after the storm

Things are settling down now.  I’ve been on my ulcer meds for about two weeks.  Only one somewhat nasty attack during that time.  I’m happy for that.  The doc said the third time I get this there’d be some major s*** to deal with.  I’m hoping this is not the case.

There’s a kind of calm these days.  I can feel it about here and there.  Instructors are not as go-go-go as in the past, no work stress to deal with, no wondering how Father is doing, Mom is doing better these days (made gravy for Sunday’s turkey dinner), Floyd has no issues to speak of, friends (most) are understanding of the various things that have gone down, and the yearly Hell is gone (Pete knows all about this).  Calm before the storm?  No, after.  Feels good.  (Knock on wood.)

I’m not as behind in classes as I was.  I’m actually ahead in one but behind in another.  The rest area good.

I fixed my stereo.  …  Ha!  They don’t call them stereos anymore, do they?  My home entertainment system.

The fan had been making noise, so I cut it out with some metal snips.  In the process, I ended up destroying it.  I just wanted to squirt some WD40 into it.  So much for that.  So I duct-taped a computer fan with a limiter to it.  It seems to work just fine.  A bit overkill, but it is quieter than before.

My little Fujitsu also developed a problem.  A ribbon cable controlling the power supply broke.  I ordered a new used one online and put it in.  It took some monkeying, but it’s working now.  It’s now 12 years old, so it doesn’t compete with today’s computers, but it does make a good background music player.  “Ghibli” on “Study jazz” on YouTube.  Kevin introduced this to me during our final week of last term’s studying.  Look it up – unless you’re allergic to jazz.

loss

Since Father got sick until just a bit ago, things have been stressful for me.  I’m not great with expressing my most inner feelings.  I’m not altogether sure I believe they should be expressed.  As Stanislof once said, “I have religion – I just think it should be a private thing, not yelled out for everyone to hear.”  There are things I don’t really wish to blab discuss.  It obviously does many people a great deal of good to explore, voice, compare, listen, vent, etc.  Those people have a hard time understanding that many of us don’t wish to.  I want to just live my life, not talk about how it is lived.  I feel – I just don’t want to discuss it.  As Curly once said, “I crap bigger than you.”  Well, good for you.  But TMI.  Keep your crap to yourself.
So I lost a friend.  They were upset at me that I didn’t call after Father died.  I was busy talking with many people and dealing with many details.  (Still am.)  Three other friends whom I told next time I spoke with them didn’t get angry.  They instead knew that I needed time to myself.  Acceptance.

On to other things.  I notice that since my old blog, going back to October of 2014 of the Third Generation of the Ongoing Letter (sounds official, eh?), nothing has been said of many things.  So here goes – a kind of rapid-fire update.

The van, a.k.a. “38”, is gone.  I sold it to a young person in Coaldale.  He wanted to buy an older ‘collector’ (and, being older than 25 years, it was) to pimp it.  Last time I saw it, he took the toilet out of it and removed the rear bumper.  I wonder what became of it.  I just know it’s gone, along with the Fun Craft logo Glenn painted on it.

I’m not at Flexibility anymore.  I quit.  I gave my notice before summer began.  Almost six years is enough.  I still see students now and then – Mongali, for example – and I’m happy to see they’re doing well.  New country, new life, new future.  But I wanted to concentrate on my education at the college and my new career.  I have one tutor student at this time.  Not sure if I’ll have more.  I’ve taken down my teaching website but might resurrect it in its new form later on.  Hard to know.  But, for now, I’m done with teaching.

slow server, howling server

If you find the server here at ‘Allan’s Place’ a little slow lately, it’s because it’s doing some boinc work.  The CPUs are maxed out at 100% pretty much full-time now.

Because of that, the server is howling like a freight train, so much so that I couldn’t concentrate on my schoolwork.  So I pulled up its stakes and moved it to the storage room.  Peace and quiet.

…until something else makes noise.