Normally, I abhor television. I rarely find anything on that isn't overly trite, incredibly predictable, or yet another copycat reality series. Lately, though, I've found a couple of shows that I really enjoy watching. As far as reality shows go, we still watch Survivor together, and The Amazing Race is one that I'll admit to actually liking. It's been a long while though since the last non-reality series caught my attention. Sure, CSI is great, and I look forward to new episodes, but it seems that the networks have cranked out a myriad of copy-cats. There are enough Law & Order spin-offs for a dedicated channel now.

Anyway, I was going to make a point. I started using the TV card in the PC to record shows on Sci-Fi that I was mildly interested in. I had heard of the new remake of the Battlestar Galactica series, so I recorded a couple of those, and I also had read about Firefly, a show canceled after one season, but with a huge fan base. I watched the episodes of Battlestar that I recorded, and I was immediately hooked! This is a great show! The Battlestar show of the 70's/80's was pretty cheesy, and I remember it mostly for watching the Cylons and humans engage in space battles ala Star Wars. The new Battlestar is a lot different, it is much more cerebral. I went to Blockbuster and rented the mini-series, and the Sci-Fi channel ran a marathon of season one episodes so I'm nearly caught up. The season finale was a great cliff-hanger too, and I'm looking forward to when (when?) the next season starts up.

That brings me to Firefly. Firefly is another sci-fi show that was written and directed by Joss Whedon of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame (and Angel and several other television shows and movies. I had heard great reviews and of the fanatacism of the "Browncoats": fans who nicknamed themselves after the rebels of the show. I watched a couple of episodes to see what the fuss was all about, and I have to admit, I am totally taken with Firefly. Once again, thanks to the Sci-Fi channel for picking this up and re-airing the full season after Fox dumped it. I don't know if there are any plans to revive Firefly like Fox did with Family Guy, but there is a new movie coming out this Friday called Serenity that is a continuation of the story from Firefly. I like Firefly because it is so different from other space "operas". Rather than put old western plots into shiny ships, the show really is a Western. The characters live in a universe where there are no Lucas / Henson aliens wandering about. Instead, there are only humans who are terra-forming planets and moving out like old time pioneers. Outworlds are sparcely populated, and outlaws are common. The crew of the cargo ship Serenity (Firefly class) live from one odd job to the next, and not all of them are entirely legal. The show is laced with a kind of humor that I really got into, and the characters actually have character. I highly recommend that any sci-fi fan run out and grab a copy of the first season on DVD (only $40 at Amazon) and watch this great show. I'm really hoping that I can pop into a theater soon and see Serenity.


It's been way too long since my last post. A couple of weeks ago, the whole family came down with some sort of sinus infection. I'm still not quite done with it, but I think I'm through the worst. This weekend I felt well enough to tinker around with my old Gateway PC. One thing had been really frustrating me for a while: I couldn't boot from a CD-ROM. Not only that, but if I tried using something like SmartBootManager or another Torito stack trick to boot the CD-ROM, I would get an Error 0xAA message. So booting from the CD-ROM was a no-go, even with a boot floppy. I thought maybe it had something to do with the fact that I had upgraded the CPU a couple years back using one of the Evergreen Spectra kits. I took the PC apart and put the old 100 MHz chip back in and flashed the BIOS back to the gateway supplied one (1.0.10.BR0T). It was kind of nostalgic to see that Gateway 2000 logo popup again when I booted the PC.

Anyway, booting from the CD-ROM was an option again in the bios, so I flipped it on and put in my SLAX live CD. Unfortunately, I got an ISOLINUX error. Evidently it was able to try to boot from the CD-ROM, but it ran into some other hurdle in the process. Fortunately, I have lots of spare CD drives hanging around. I took the spare Dell one and put it in, and sure enough it booted up fine. Something about that Plextor CD-R/W was not happy about booting. So then I thought, well maybe I can get this guy to boot to CD-ROM with the upgraded chip back in there. Well, it doesn't work perfectly, but using the SmartBootManager disk I can get it to boot to CD-ROM with the 400 MHz chip installed. Huzzah!

That leads to tonight. I've been trying to get the latest distro of Slackware Linux (10.2) running. It's installed, and I can use it, but it won't recognize my USB mouse. I have a PS/2 mouse plugged in now, and it likes that, but it is sort of a pain because the cable from the KVM is USB. So now I have 2 mice on my deks, one for the Dell, and one for the Gateway. Solving problems like this is part of the "joy" of using Linux. I'm sure I'll have it figured out in the next couple of days, or else I'll just switch to the next distribution.


Jenn got the call today that her dad was being activated by the national guard in response to the hurricane damage in New Orleans. I've been reading, watching, and listening about the devastation in the area. What I find most appalling is how rapidly the civil situation turned into anarchy. Looting is a sad but expected result, but shooting at rescue personnel and causing general mayhem? I had higher expectations of the people of our country than that. What are these shooters thinking? Of course, there are lots of things I don't understand about this situation. Why stay after the order to evacuate? Why build a city under sea-level? Why make a bad situation worse by harassing the rescue workers and terrorizing other victims? I just don't understand it.

I'm also really disappointed with the media, oil, and insurance industries. The media has already started the witch-hunt to blame someone. It's completely ridiculous. A study was done several years ago that stated that a category 5 hurricane would completely destroy New Orleans. It was a known risk. Yet nearly every newscaster has asked the same ridiculous question: "Why weren't you prepared?" In a catastrophe like this, the loss of life is unavoidable. It's wrong to try and lay blame on any person or organization.

The insurance and oil industries didn't waste any time in using the hurricane to boost profits. Gas around us ranges from $3.19-$3.50 a gallon. Insurance companies are talking about how rates are going to rise.

While I'm ranting, let me make one final observation. What nations are rushing to OUR aid now? Whenever tragedy strikes in the world, we Americans are expected to come running to the rescue. When we need help, who answers the call. If any foreign aide is headed our way, I haven't heard about it yet. I suppose the rest of the world thinks we either don't need or don't deserve their help.

Sorry for the rant, but the whole situation just puts me in a foul mood.

Jade Mason