Saturday, 27 September 2008

[Notwow] Hobos, (vehicle) mechanics, and hubris

Laptop still broken.
Sort of.
Comes up with random memory failures.
Firefox thinks there's already a copy of Firefox running (which is not responding), and Firefox, being Firefox, thus won't let me start running a new window of Firefox. No Firefox isn't currently running.
The D-Link router at home gives me issues, and I can't 'apt-get' a new internet browser.
I suppose I should try to get ASUS to repair this thing, but there aren't any other verifiable problems with it now, so it probably won't register as broken. Sort of like when your car starts making a funny noise, it makes the noise when you start it, when you drive it, when you wait at red lights, and when you drive through red lights. After a while, it even starts making the noise when the engine isn't running, and, ever so faintly, you can hear the noise disturbing your dreams. Quietly but surely. Like a playground bully from many years ago. But as soon as you take the car to a mechanic it runs completely smoothly. In fact it runs smoother than you've ever heard (or not heard, as the case may be) it run before, since it's a 4th-hand Japanese import you bought from a crazy exchange student during the early 90s. Your mechanic gives you a long look, scratches his head (or her head, as the case may be), charges you $150 for wasting his (her) time and goes back inside after watching you drive off with your teeth tightly clenched. As soon as the door closes behind them, you know what happens? Yep. Your car, ever so gently, starts making that noise again. It gets louder. You know if it persists you will lose sleep, get divorced, and watch your teenaged daughter marry an in-bred hobo from the deep south (i.e. Hamilton) with barely enough intellect to fleece the ACC and WINZ out of sufficient money to finance a coup in Haiti (for reference, a level one troll rogue with Arcane Intellect has sufficient intellect to achieve this). Your grand kids will resemble cane toads going under the lawnmower. You consider going back to that mechanic, since you got a tax return of $263.37 yesterday (true story, the cheque is sitting on my desk, so will only take a day or two to find). But then you notice that even as you think of the mechanic the noise subsides and your petrol indicator has an evil gleam in its bulb. You surrender and drive home. The noise will slowly drive you mad, but if you lay off the coffee your blood pressure won't cause the arteries in your eyes to rupture.

The morale of the story? Buy a German car. They make the same noise, but it comes with a much angrier-sounding accent (people always tell me that when I speak to my parents on the phone it makes me sound angry, although this may just be the fact I'm calling home; I know my mother sounds angry fairly often, but this is because she IS angry). If you can't afford a German car, you now have a hobo-in-law who can teach you how to acquire one, at no additional charge (make sure your immune system can cope with tuberculosis, and be prepared to babysit the grandchildren on Friday nights).

The mechanic in the example above exhibits a fairly common quality (especially where technology is concerned). Think of it as the Midas Touch without the avarice, the anti-kaput, the borked-in-reverse. It's an aura of FIXED! whereby any problem of a particular type (such as car noises) immediately disappears when in close proximity to a particular person (such as a mechanic). Another example of this phenomenon is the photocopier at my work (I work at a library): it will jam, turn off all displays, shred unsaved printed e-tickets, decapitate the customer involved and trigger the fire alarms. Yet if I walk up to it it settles down, if I press a few buttons it starts printing again without fail, and if I croon to it, it plays Greensleeves (needless to say I like that photocopier a lot, I think that over the space of three and a half years it has earned me $4.25 in pay rises, while the computers guarantee my continued employment - although if I lose my job anytime soon just remember: HUBRIS IS A BAD THING).

Then there's the aura of FAIL (broken, borked, kaput, f**ked). Sort of like me and networks. For the life of me I can't set up a network between two objects (single exception: the photocopier at work).
Meellow and I can't get past 1500 rating, no matter what. An Enhancement Shaman will always appear to ruin our dreams.
Zorab will never type an accurately punctuated, formulated and spelled sentence into IRC (instead others will start writing baldly). Nor will he associate the text on a Magic card with what it does, and what he says out loud (Last Gasp does not draw you a card, nor is it legal in the format we're playing).

It is these facts of life you must get used to, and learn to deal with. If you don't want a hobo-in-law, become a mechanic. If you need to do photocopying at Avondale Library, get me to do it (come to me first, unless you have a spare neck). If you're sick of playing magic with rules-lawyers and pedantic nit-picks that take forever to end their turn (they've had a Mountain in their hand for the last three turns, and drawn nothing but land), go find Zorab and have a laugh. Some things you can't change, and some shouldn't be changed anyway.

In other news. Listen to yourself. Like this (courtesy of xkcd):

My only request: make this count for everything: forum posts, /trade chat, blog entries...

If this post wasted your time, I apologise. In future, I'll include adverts. And not just ones for German cars. But thank you for proof reading it.

[This space for hire]

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