Archive for May, 2007
Well, I’m finally tackling a meme and it has nothing to do with lolcats! Tagged by my friend Kirstin, this one is about posting eight little known facts about myself and then tagging eight people in return.
- I hate the taste and texture of coconut so much that I often tell people I’m allergic so I don’t have to sample their German Chocolate cakes.
- I didn’t go to my junior prom. Instead two of my friends and I got loaded on Mountain Dew and Little Debbie snack cakes, skipped school, and drove to Schenectady, NY because the name sounded funny and because it was the closest place to buy War Hammer figures without going to Boston or NYC.
- My house is littered with tiny scraps of paper with bullet points scribbled on them as I obsessively make lists be it songs, shopping, bills, or books but rarely use or act on them.
- I don’t drink and I don’t smoke but I’m definitely not the type to go grab a sharpie and paint a big X on the back of my hands.
- I played hockey for a good portion of my childhood but when I turned 12 it stopped being fun. It could have been the politics, both the parents and the kids, but I kept playing for a couple of more years because I thought my dad wanted me to and I wanted him to be proud of me. When I told him I didn’t want to play anymore the look on his face made me feel like I had betrayed him.
- With 14 concussions and counting I can’t be around strobe lights without getting dizzy or feeling like my head is going burst I almost never go to night clubs or indoor concerts.
- I haven’t eaten at a fast food chain in over 4 years now. No McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, KFC, etc. Management and I swore off of them one Saturday night for no reason in particular but this doesn’t mean we never nosh on burgers and fries, we just look for mom and pop joints to eat at.
- 10 years ago I started going by James rather than Jim because I thought it sounded more distinguished. Now it my life can be easily divided up between those who call me James and those who still know me as Jim.
Honestly, I thought that this day would be easier than it turned out. Nothing went wrong with the ceremony and Gabriella was so perfectly behaved sleeping on me through Mass and only complaining at the tail end of the baptism itself because the priest was taking just a little too long for her liking. No, instead I found myself deeply conflicted wrestling with feelings of anger, hurt, and fear.
I was raised in an absence of religion, instead my parents emphasized logic, reason, and skepticism. Growing up I was an outsider as I am not baptized and had never set foot in a church, excepting as a tourist, until I met my wife. To me matters of faith and religious belief were a curiosity as they are not something I have ever felt before nor really been exposed to as many of my friends were professed atheists or agnostics. In these recent years, though, my curiosity has curdled into an aversion as I hear the language of faith become intertwined with that of war, discrimination, hate, and violence, not to mention what feels like an all out assault on reason, logic, and intellectualism.
Sitting through the Mass, I had a hard time reconciling these feelings with the priests call to pray for enjoining my daughter to the church that here I stood on the threshold afraid of the capacity of their faith to do harm and what it might mean to my daughter. Can I protect her? Can I teach her to question deeply and throughly? Can I raise her to be skeptical enough to preserve her personal integrity? What will this mean to my marriage? Will we find ourselves reaching for each others throats playing out the tired stereotypes of atheist versus theist? The stress that day is still weighing on me today.
Management might know a little of my feelings. I have never been shy in expressing my dislike for organized religion, arguing that it is another political mechanism aimed at command and control of people, but I have not really expressed this fear that grips me tightly. We have only discussed this in the academic sense and never really tackled it as an emotional issue. Bluntly, I am afraid of religion and those people that call themselves religious but what makes it even harder to swallow is the irrationality of my fear.
On the surface, the fear might not seem so irrational what with the talk of this administration centering on a “divine right” to wage war, to incarcerate and torture individuals, DOMAs being passed nation wide that couch discrimination in passages from the bible, the ongoing attack on science from religious and political leaders among others. All but a handful of those issues affects me personally so why did I feel my stomach knot up and a cold shiver pass over me while I sat in church holding my daughter? I am not sure.
Maybe I want to shield my daughter from all of that, to provide her with the tools and skills necessary to survive in the toxicity of that environment. I fear for her. I fear the world we are making, or undoing, for her. I fear that I will not be a strong enough husband, father, and individual to help her through it but before I fall asleep, though, I find I am just afraid. Profoundly afraid.
One of my favorite things at the moment is wandering about my parent’s backyard where my mother has cultivated this oasis of color and life in the heart of the suburbs. It is a riot of colors, textures, and smells with life small and large, aloft on wing or scurrying underfoot under every leaf or alighting on each petal. Yesterday, after doing some small chores for them about the yard we walked and she pointed out some of her favorite things while I took pictures.
There are car sized bushes covered in these blossoms which seem to generate a light of their own.
My mother’s sharp eye spied this mushroom thriving below some of her taller plants.
One of my favorites, this ant crawled about hungrily dipping itself into the blossoms.
The other day I though I had lost my USB drive, a janky Kingston 1GB stick with no keychain holder that is temporarily replacing my burned out JumpDrive Sport. Deep sets of panic waves overtook me for most of the morning as I wracked my brain and retraced my steps trying to remember where I could have left it or dropped it. The reason that I was panicking was that I carry some quasi-sensitive data on there like the household budget and short stories I’m working on. No bank numbers or SSNs, just stuff that I don’t want people seeing.
Well, I did end up finding the drive wedged in the back seat of Management’s car but I learned an important lesson: if you are going to carry important data with you back it up and encrypt it. I already have the backup part down and have been doing it ever since my first USB drive crapped out on me and I lost piles of data but encryption was something I never got around to until now. The challenge is that I use Ubuntu at home (100% Windows free as of 60 days ago!) and by day I play at being a Windows sysadmin so I need a solution that works cross platform.
My first visit was to the TrueCrypt folks and while they make a fine product that for all intents and purposes worked well on my work box but completely borked the drive for my laptop. So I decided to approach the task from the Linux side looking for native solutions that had counterparts in the Windows world and LUKS plus FreeOTFE did the trick with a minimum of fuss.
On the Ubuntu side:
- Grab cryptsetup and cryptmount: sudo apt-get install cryptsetup cryptmount
- Wipe the disk or make some partitions: sudo cfdisk /dev/sdb [NOTE: check your drive's actual path with dmesg as you don't want to be wiping something like your primary drive]
- Create an encrypted partition: sudo luksformat /dev/sdb [NOTE: pick a passphrase that you can remember because if you forget it kiss your data goodbye]
Now, because I’m plain lazy I rebooted to get the modules running that are related to reading the new encrypted volume but after that when I popped my drive in it asked for my passphrase and then mounted it for me to work on it to my heart’s delight.
On the Windows side:
- Plug in the USB drive and go to Computer Management >> Disk Management, find the drive, and remove the assigned drive letter, FreeOTFE will assign a free letter to the drive when it mounts it
- Get a copy of FreeOTFE
- Unzip it into a directory and start it in Portable Mode
- File >> Linux Volume >> Mount partition and enter your passphrase
Pretty straight forward.