5232 Bad Sectors

On 10/27 at 2:30am, just 30 minutes before I needed to dial in to work to do an important maintenance, my personal computer did the worst thing possible: the hard disk shat its bed and died. Completely gone. Blindingly unreadable. I was sunk. All my data! This machine is mission-control for what I do in my hobbies and my life. If it’s gone, my life is interrupted. It’s critical.

I had no choice but to break out my work laptop and try to continue on a single tiny screen (as opposed to two big ones).

I keep backups on an external drive about once a month (usually before I leave town for a weekend), which is fine, mostly. But I use a tool called BackInTime (a FOSS clone of Apple’s Time Capsule) to keep daily snapshots. I had the sick feeling that I only backed up my home folder. Luckily, Drunk Sysadmin struck again a year ago and changed the backup policy to include the whole system instead of just my home folder.

So, along with all the stress of my job and the knowledge that the machine that I rely on is dead, remembering that I had whole-system backups, including all of the config files for the apps and services that I rely on with my desktop, made it a little easier to deal with.

After scrambling around for a fresh hard disk, I reinstalled with the latest Ubuntu LTS, created a temporary account, installed BackInTime, installed NFS so I could get back to my backup fileserver, and restored my entire home folder. Unfortunately, the policy doesn’t include my music or videos, but the external backup drive had all that, plus it was mostly already on my fileserver. So, after cobbling all the configs and files from scattered sources, it’s all back together.

46 hours after kernel panic due to failure to read the swap device, I have a functional desktop again. I’m back in business.

Kernel Panic shows failure to read swap device - dead drive
Kernel Panic shows failure to read swap device – dead drive
Everything’s there, and it looks just like before the crash.

Like I said, BackInTime saved my ass. You have nooo idea.


There is still magic in the air. One must be a receiver to pick up on it. Right?

Shortwave Radio tuned to 6060KHz
Shortwave Radio

For what it’s worth, 6060KHz is also known as Radio Habana Cuba.

The magic of shortwave radio is that its broadcasts carry a long, long way. I’m able to hear broadcasts that happen in certain spots in this hemisphere. IN. THIS. HEMISPHERE. MAGICAL. So, yeah, I’ve always wanted a world radio, and now I have one. Okeechobee, FL, I got ya. Nashville, TN? Listening. North Carolina? Sure, talk to me about your god. Argentina? Yo no comprendo, pero yo escucho.

What’s interesting to note is that commercial shortwave radio in the USA is kinda boring. It’s mostly beacons and religious programming. How unfortunate! But hey, at least I can listen to WWV and get the exact time in places where my devices can’t pick up NTP (in this era of widespread cellular coverage, is that really a concern?).

Be that as it may, even if it’s boring here, I can take this radio into most countries and pick up something. Heck, the other night I picked up Radio NHK Japan, which was being simulcast from France. That’s a helluva DX, right? France!

If anything, I think buying this shortwave radio has ignited my latent desire to get a ham license. Who knows what the future holds? It’s not like I need a new hobby, but novelty is sorely missing from my life sometimes, right? Maybe I’ll find a new passion in the 2meter band.

Protip: WWV broadcasts on 2.5Mhz, 5MHz, 10MHz, 15MHz, 20MHz, and sometimes on 25MHz. I’ve successfully picked up 2.5, 5, 10, and 15 on Mount Bonnell in Austin. 20 is always fuzzy, if even detectable, and 25 is completely out on this radio set. It’s just not sensitive enough on the shorter wavelength bands.

Protip: Mount Bonnell isn’t the greatest vantage point for picking up SW broadcasts. Sure, it’s one of the highest elevations in Austin, but it’s in direct line of sight of the nearby radio tower range in Westlake where the local AM channels broadcast, so their signals interfere and bleed into SW broadcasts. Ah well.

Is Life

I never thought I’d say this, but Banco de Gaia is life. Actually, Toby Marks is a decent fella who has a history of making solid music regardless of fanfare. All told, I can totally respect the guy for being out on the fringes. He keeps going. Given my own history of nothingness, I have a strong respect for his tenacity.

Here’s a gem from his early days.

And here’s a gem from his most recent days:

All told: Solid.

Awaken Mistaken

How did I get here?

By signing my name on the dotted line.

Who signed me in?

You know who. Fuck that guy. He expected the consequences, but doesn’t want to live with them. Nobody forced him to a consigned life of agitation; he let it happen to himself.

Next time I see him, I’ll punch him in the head. Fuck that guy.


What about moving back to Arkansas? Why does that sound like a good idea? No, not moving back to Texarkana (never back to Texarkana). Was thinking about it while making my bed tonight. What if? Where? Fayetteville or Hot Springs? And, seriously, how would I make money?

I’m so shell-shocked by my current job. Maybe I should escape and find a part-time gig bringing wireless to the back woods. Fukkit. I dunno. Maybe I should quit computers and find something that makes money in an area that just doesn’t understand computers. I dunno.

If not I.T., then what? Fuckifiknow.

Nobody said I had to stay in Austin. Actually, my love for this city is unrequited. Austin doesn’t give a shit for me; it doesn’t even know me. Then why be a small fish in a big pond? Opportunity? Moral grit? Comeupance? But for 16 years this has been my home, and I’m so accustomed to it. I’m 44 and am becoming less flexible as the years pass. Eventually, I’ll move somewhere else and end up missing all of the creature comforts that are only found in Austin. (But, just like I miss some of the creature comforts of Greensboro, so I’ll miss those of Austin.)

So then, I ask: what next? Where and Why? I don’t fucking know. I hate computers. I hate loneliness. I need reconnection to humanity. If I can’t find that in Austin, then where, eh? Where?