changes

I'm not the man I used to be. There's no doubt about it, I've changed.

As a teenager, I was top of my year at the Academy for Maths, but these days even simple arithmetic can put my head into a spin-cycle! My brain has changed, re-wiring itself along the way for whatever the task in hand, more and more becoming a different brain.

We all change. Every day. And There's no escaping it. Our thoughts, opinions, outlook, all fluid. The things we do, change, over time, and the way we do them. I accept this, but I do question one thing: Who decides these changes?

I don't watch TV, that's by choice. I watch people who watch TV, though, and I see how it gets inside them, sucks them in and assimilates them, changing them. It starts with wee things, you catch them quoting critique on the latest films, and actually caring about soap opera weddings, they are tuning in*. Not everyone is so affected. But I am, so I don't watch TV.

I remember sailing up the Themes, erm, Thames?, well, that big river in London (the one at the start of Eastenders maybe), and I'm only seven and I'm right up at the bow, yapping to this American guy with a fat camera and an even fatter wife. And I am startled to realise that for some reason I have adopted an American accent! It was fun, though, and I kept it up for almost the whole journey.

I remember at nine or thereabouts, my mother on the phone to her employer, and her voice got all posh, and I thought, well There's a strange thing, and then I noticed everyone does it, all the time, and I was the worst! Or maybe it's for the best, and There's another question.

I have more memories than when I was a kid, and this useful to me, more pieces of the jigsaw, as it were. But I've forgotten so much, too. I'm reminding myself right now as I blog, in an attempt to pinpoint exactly where I changed, because I don't seem to do it anymore.

Or do I?

Yes, I've changed. Yes, I'm very clever for spotting my flaws and doing something about them. But in reality, the traits themselves aren't gone, they have simply been transmuted to some higher function. At seven I could impersonate a pretty convincing American, or posh person, or whatever. But now, I can be anything I want to be! Role-play, it's practice.

So now I can assume any rôle.

If we humans are to thrive, even survive this next century, I suspect we'll all need to get on with our work, whatever that might be, our life's work. And to know what that is, we have to know, to coin a phrase, "our own mind". I think you can see where I'm going with this.

The mirroring is an infantile thing, sure, but essential learning, a necessary step on the road to true empathy. So we all do it, some more than others. Truth is, everything influences me, strikes me to the core. I find myself enthralled with the slightest and simplest of things, and partly this is why mathematical solutions become intangible to me, I am so enraptured by the beauty of the problem's simplest elements.

Soap operas depress me, and make me angry. They charge me up and make me want to shout "FUCK" at the whole world. If you watch them for a few days in a row, you become desensitised, and eventually care about very little at all. (If you want to get your true feelings across to a soap opera addict, you need to shout Very Loudly, to get through the surface tension, and their own screen of soap opera amplified kinesics, of course.)

Eventually, their lives become soap opera, and only those brave induviduals able to pull themselves away from the remote-controlled* retangular shrine between peak-time hours has any chance of a real life, or real change, change orchestrated by themselves.

Being most affected by the surrounding environment, a sensitive soul you might say, me, realising myself a mirror to the world around me, decided to turn this powerful capability in on myself, and that was when I realised what it was all for.

I AM!

And when all the crazy 50Hz people are milling around in their frantic, dizzy exclamation of an existance, declaring and proclaiming the importance of politics, or government, laws, religion, or morals and all that shite, I AM! and while I realise all these things are required in the world, for now, I have no part in them! In the world, not of it.

Got it!

The point! That crucial moment in time when I changed the path I was on. I rememer now. And it's ironic, especially down here in paragraph ten or whatever to realise that it was when I got rid of my TV and Video! I swapped the pair (and they were almost new, flat-screen, Sony, very nice!) for a Super8 camera and projector some guy had advertised in the local paper. UNderstandably, the guy was speechless when I phoned him. That was over a decade ago.

I'd never been a big fan of TV, as a kid I was always up to something else, building electronics or computers or rock climing or ritual magic, whatever, I'd tune into the box for a few favourite shows, Top Of The Pops, Inspector Morse, that sort of thing, and then back to whatever I was doing, though even my favourite shows got the heave-ho when I started programming.

But some time in my early twenties, during my rock 'n' roll days, I went through a spell of staying up late at night, vegging out for hours on end in front of the TV, flicking from one least disagreeable channel to the next. It went on for months, and I felt like my soul was being sucked slowly away. One day I got up and decided to get rid of the TV.

I didn't get rid of the problem, of course, just the TV. But it felt like my personal Grimer Worm-Tongue had been cast out, and I'd been released from his evil spell. I started shooting some film, taking more pictures, writing more, creating more, being influenced more and more by the most important guide I have on Earth; me.

In short, I decided to start impersonating me, to practice being the person I truly am, regardless of the consequences, or what you may or may not think, and eventually it all worked out, just like I knew it would. Though the transition was tricky, as they always are, and though it's certainly not over yet, I hardly ever have to pretend.

My brain's changed, and I did it! I still have a rectangular shrine, but transmuted into a portal, and what goes here is my choosing, you're looking at it! I AM! And the inertia of the universe is at back of me because more and more I assume my true place in it. Is this Haiku?..

I, being myself,
affecting real change here, now,
not lost in the world.

for now..

;o) Cor

references:

1:
Tuning in to the TV, tuning out of the real world!
2: You only think you control the TV, really it's the other way around!

mail me, no really me!

It was starting to get irritating. Here I am, with these perpetually accurate, super-cute dynamic hostnames for my workshop, courtesy of the ever-reliable dyndns.org, and yet no functioning mailserver. Oh the shame!

Why would I want my own mailserver? I hear half of you ask (you two really need to think more!) Well, for starters, you can send emails directly, missing out your ISP altogether. Many people don't trust their ISP, and with good reason. You could also pretend to be Bill Gates and send emails from billgates@microsoft.com, though this probably isn't recommended if you want to keep your internet access.

A more valid reason is so you can post email addresses onto the world-wide web, one-time addresses, or perhaps time-dependant, valid for just a day or a week. I have a whole domain solely for this purpose! You can also implement your own spam-protection measures, or better yet, authenticated reception, and so on, and so on, and so on, a million good reasons!

But for some reason, when I installed the latest (at the time, it's had an update since) Slackware, I didn't install Sendmail (at least not the full-blown thing, There's a binary in there somewhere, of course). My plan, if I remember, was to dabble with Postfix, because I'm so often told that it's "easy to use", which I figured might be a real timesaver in the long-run.

Anyways, at the weekend I decided to get this whole Postfix thing sorted out, and got stuck in. Six hours, and a lot of sweat, service restarts, and frenzied manpage/tutorial/forum reading later (not to mention one actual physical attack on my Linux rig, sorry Pengy!), I still have no mailserver! Bloody thing!

To cut a very long story short, the whole experience became so frustrating, I decided to delete the whole lot and grab the latest Sendmail package from Slackware software central. Less than five minutes later, I am sending mail over the internet. Sure, Sendmail may be a devil to configure, but it's a devil I know.

Of course I'll have to compile the beast from scratch if I want to get a "real" setup (why oh why can't Sendmail packagers leave the m4 config stuff where it bloody belongs?!?) but it works great, and is happily sending and receiving mail for my .ath.cx, .mine.nu and other dynamic domains. Mission accomplished, for now.

You see, I discovered that my router has a DDNS client built in, so my ISP can mess about all they like, and my dynamic hostname remains current, the router updates it automatically on every new PPP connexion. neat!

One crazy limitation of the router is that it can only keep three hosts updated; crazy when you consider that dyndns.org have been giving away five free domains for years. I thought I might see if there was such a thing as a ddns update script, something I could run as a cron job on me Linux box, no way am I installing one of those damn DUC things for the sake of two "back-up" hosts.

This search led me to the most enjoyable software installation I have ever experienced..

I found a likely script, a perl ddns script. It stated that it required the services of the "LWP" library, which I recognise from my server logs as being a all-things-www suite of tools for perl, that weird and wonderful scripting language that lives somewhere on most serious computers, and is even available for Windows®, along with loads of other "unix" software. I avoid it, generally, preferring the simplicity and power of PHP for web-side stuff, and plain bash in my shell.

When I found the LWP page, it states that it relies upon the services of a whole bag of other libraries and I could almost see myself, three hours later, trying to google-walk some crazy dependency tree, downloading and ./configuring and making and I'd almost given up on the whole thing when I discovered the " LWP Bundle" page with this funny wee perl command on it..

perl -MCPAN -e 'install Bundle::LWP'

which I duly entered into my shell..

OMFG!


These guys rock! perl fired into action, contacted the CPAN site, and after a few logical and amazingly straightforward questions, went on to automatically install, configure and TEST every single package I would need to get LWP working, and work it does! I realise other software distributions systems exhibiting similar intelligent behaviour do exist, but they are still too few and far between!

I altered the perl script slightly so it would run from a cron job, and accept multiple hosts (or rather, accept them on the command line) and TADA! Five free and permanently updated dynamic hostnames! mail me! I'll likely chuck the cron/cli variant into the public archives sometime soon, once I add notes!

So the router handles my main three hosts (which must be updated immediately if there is any break in my ISP link), and the perl script handles the two back-up hosts at some yet-to-be finalised interval. Daily seems reasonable.

Why am I telling you all this? No reason.

So until I can track down that picture of a food that looks like a vagina to post under the pretence that I'd like someone to help identify it for me, here's a strange thing..

an image  <- click it!

for now..

;o) Cor

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