Sunday, October 30, 2005

Still Slogging Through the Muck

Still suffering from jet lag, which explains the time of this post.

Still working through my e-mail. So far, I've deleted around 60 or so spam posts, and have read about half of my 80-plus unanswered messages.

Still sifting through the contents of my luggage. Fortunately I've been able to set aside the stuff that I'm giving away already. There's not much, and I'm a remarkably cheap man, so don't get your hopes up. :)

Still trying to fit into the many pairs of trousers I left behind. I did warn myself about the food, I suppose.

Still updating myself on what's been happening while we were gone. The way I understand it, it's pretty much been business as usual.

Still recovering from the urge to drop any amount of cash on any available product or service. I don't have as much money to spend or the motivation to spend it here at home, after all.

Still checking up on the sites I usually check up. Don't worry -- you'll get your turn. :)

Eulogy: Rosa Parks

In retrospect, Ms. Parks, you actually didn't do much of anything.

All you did was refuse to do something, really. Anyone could have done it. In fact, I've found that some of us even do it all the time nowadays, and there's often nothing noble or significant about their refusals at all.

But your time was different, wasn't it?

I suppose it was.

It's kind of unfair to compare your situation back in 1955 and our situation here in 2005, and say that we all could have done the same thing.

1955 and 2005... it's been 50 years, come to think of it.

I suppose that I can understand where you were coming from. You were tired. You were on the bus long before any of the other commuters showed up. You had a right to sit down and rest a little, just like any other passenger on a long ride.

Of course, things were different back in 1955. You were an African-American woman, after all. You were a Black. You were a Negro. You were whatever the contemporary analysts choose to reference. And you were obligated to give your seat to a White if required, according to the full interpretation of United States law.

Anyone could have refused to do that, just as you did. Looking back on it, I figure that most people nowadays would believe it to be a stupid law.

Strangely enough, however, no one did anything about it. Up until you came along, in fact, there had been very, very few people who chose to do what you did. Everyone just followed the law to its letter, no matter how blatant the injustice may have been. They were much like sheep, I believe.

You were simply a middle-aged woman who just wanted to rest her feet after a long day of work, and when you were arrested for it, you forced your country to ask itself some very hard questions.

Your act inspired African-Americans across the United States to boycott bus services for an extended period of time. Instead, they took cabs. They organized carpools. They walked. They showed their resistance in disobedience, in a way that did not involve acts of violence or revolution.

You caused the United States government to take one long hard look at the issue of segregation in their country. You forced them to realize that they could talk about emancipation all they wanted, but the fact remained that, a century after the Civil War, African-Americans were still not truly free.

And you encouraged an anonymous reverend to lead marches across his little parish in support of your gesture. He was a nice young man, wasn't he, that Martin Luther King? He himself is often missed.

You refused to follow what you felt wasn't right. And you changed your country for the better, because of what you did.

A single stone, as we see, can start an avalanche.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


Man cannot sit down and wait for roast duck to fly into mouth.

- Chinese proverb

Five Chinese restaurants into my vacation, I've noticed that fortune cookies happen to be a staple here. If the waiters aren't distributing a bunch of them to your table after your meal, they're offering the doughy treats in a transparent plastic bowl next to the exit.

Fortune cookies are remarkably uncomplicated snacks -- almost Zen-like in the way they're taken apart, read and eaten. They're not even "cookies", for that matter -- just thin batter pancakes that happen to be folded into crescent shapes in order to harbor the mysterious piece of paper inside.

Personally, I don't have a good relationship with fortune cookies. One of my first experiences with them involved stuffing my mouth with what I thought was dessert, and then complaining to my relatives about the weird papery taste.

Even at a stage later in life (when I've hopefully taught myself not to eat any more foods with hidden messages in them), I refuse to ascribe any mystical or charming value to fortune cookies. The cookies, for their part, refuse to give me any respect at all. That's Chinese pastry for you.

I remember making the mistake of opening up a fortune cookie early this year, at a nice little restaurant near my place of work. The tiny slip of paper inside essentially told me this:

There is no right time to get married, only the right person.

Oh yeah, that's right. Remind me of my bachelorhood, why don't you.

Despite this ominous little reminder, I decided to open up a second fortune cookie. I don't know if I did it because I was still hungry, or because I wanted to erase the stigma of the first message, but I did it nonetheless. The piece of paper inside this new one said:

Listen to the first fortune cookie, Sean.

All right, no, that was a joke. What it really said was:

Wisdom comes in many faces, but never from your own.

Yeah, my relationship with fortune cookies is a little strained right now.

It's kind of obvious at this point that there's at least one factory that churns out these fortune cookies, packages them, and then delivers them to Chinese restaurants across the United States. In five different eating establishments in multiple locales, I've noticed that the baking style and packaging has been very consistent.

What's not consistent, however, are the fortunes themselves. I find myself wondering just how many different sayings there are that can be found on little slips of paper. (For that matter, I find myself wondering if the fortune cookie manufacturers actually pay people to come up with sayings like these. Writers like me can probably make a killing that way.) When a group of seven people gets a totally different gathering of interesting quotations in five different restaurants, you know that someone out there is going to great lengths to keep things new and refreshing.

It would probably be a lot better if fortune cookies dispensed some better pieces of advice, though. It's hard enough to puzzle out what the current Zen-like quotations mean; I, for one, would rather that the fortune-writers put down the stuff that would be immediately useful for many of us:

You probably haven't noticed this yet, buddy, but your fly is open.

Stop ogling. Her boyfriend's going to come around the corner behind you in... oh, about two seconds.

The winning numbers for this month's $340-million state lottery are 21, 3, 40, 18, 7, and...

Fact is, one can probably write anything he or she wants in these fortune cookies. I mean, who would complain if they got offended? We'd all probably just take them as worthwhile pieces of advice or something:

Nobody likes a weasel. Stop sucking up to the boss.

I hate to break it to you, buddy boy, but most women do
not find a hanging gut sexy.

Stop trying to hide it. Everybody knows you're bald, anyway.

And hey, why can't companies place advertisements in fortune cookies, anyway? You'd at least be catering to a significant portion of the Asian-American public:

Looking for bargain-basement prices on used clothes? Then drop by Jin's Emporium right next door! Lowest prices on everything from shawls to hats to men's trousers and cowboy boots! Open Mondays to Saturdays, 10 to 8.

Hong's Fortune Cookie Factory... for all your fortune cookie needs. Guaranteed accurate fortunes written by our top-level team of pesudo-astrological experts!

Okay, I'll stop now. I'm starting to get pretty insulting.

Now, just so that I can technically make this a suman latik post, how about the possibility of inserting pieces of paper with little bits of wisdom into the glutinous-rice treats themselves? I would imagine that there are a lot of people in the country who would benefit from a little less stupidity.

Sadly, the more I think of it, the more I figure that it probably wouldn't work.

They'd probably just complain of the strange papery taste in their mouths.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Antaria: Where Loyalties Lie

Fifteen minutes into the meeting, Davin Earthwalker began wondering exactly who among his fellow Tempestites would be the one to kill him.

"It was ill luck," Valen insisted, "and nothing more."

"Most certainly, Lord Valen," Calla said without any trace of a smile. "Doubtless you responded appropriately."

Valen glared at her, although the bandages that were tied around his forehead did little to sustain the gesture.

"And what of the peasant, then?" Calla asked Davin. "I hear that you've taken him under your wing."

Davin smiled. "I've given him to Hieron."

"Hieron? The man couldn't wring venom from a snake."

"Yes," Davin said, "but do we really want one of the lesser peoples walking among us, Lady Calla?"

Calla smiled despite herself, and for a moment Davin admired how beautiful she was. Calla Iceflame was more than perfect for many a man -- rich lineage, landed gentry, artful appearance -- and had just the right disposition for the Tempestites. Others either warmed to her smile, or shivered ar her touch.

"Ten crowns says that the young man doesn't survive," Valen said.

"Ten crowns?" Davin raised an eyebrow. "You've made more astonishing bets before, Lord Valen."

"If you think that I'd be willing to wager a small fortune on this... peasant, Earthwalker, then you'd better think again."

Calla laughed, and Davin joined her. There was little mirth in any of the sounds.

A shadow fell across the veil of sunlight that streamed through the windows of their chamber. "Your endless games bore me," a voice growled.

Davin held up a hand. "Patience is a virtue, Pyre."

Pyre approached the little group, his tall form radiating violence in all angles. "Patience lays many a man low. Patience opens one to slander and weakness. Patience kills."

"We are five voices, Pyre," Davin chided, "Five voices to govern the Tempestites. I know that you are anxious to begin, but I am certain that we hold enough affection for Lord Soran to overlook his... tardiness."

Pyre stalked across the floor slowly, but said nothing.

Calla waited until the tall man was out of earshot. "He has power," she neatly observed, "but no direction."

Valen snorted. "Would he find direction, however, then it had better not be aimed towards any of us, for his sake."

Davin laughed. "I should like to see that confrontation sometime."

"You should talk, Earthwalker. Pyre only takes orders from you."

"Pyre... owes me a few favors," Davin conceded.

"Everyone owes everyone a few favors," Calla said, enigmatically.

There was a sound of rushed footsteps, and then the door to the lavish chamber opened. A dark-skinned young man staggered in, clearly out of breath. All eyes turned to meet the newcomer.

"My... apologies," Soran Mistmoor mentioned in response to the glares directed at him. "My messengers arrived late today. Well met, High Ones. Well met."

"How diplomatic," Valen said, although the edge in his voice implied sarcasm over admiration.

Davin smirked. "What news from Queen Sasha's court?"

"Plenty of talk among the functionaries," Soran said, smoothing the front of his robes. "The Queen, it seems, has just given Lieutenant Ke'iara command of the armies of Allandria."

"The Tajikar woman?" Calla asked, curious. "An incredible choice."

"It would stand to reason," Davin said, "considering the severity of the fighting to the south."

"But still," Calla repeated, "a Tajikar?"

"Aran only knows," Soran said, shrugging.

Davin stole a glance at Pyre. The tall man stood against a marbled pillar, listening to Soran's pronouncement. Or perhaps he was merely sizing up the younger man in case of a fight.

Davin did not consider Soran to be much of a threat. "But sometimes," he said out loud, "the poisoned blade strikes from the unlikeliest of shadows."

Soran, Calla and Valen turned to face him. "Lord Davin?" Soran asked.

Davin only smiled in response. "What of Lord Gerad, then?"

"Gerad?" Valen said in a frustrated tone. "We hardly considered him for the post!"

"Yet he has ambitions to become General of Allandria, does he not?"

"Lord Gerad is the most skilled tactician in the Allandrian War Council," Soran said.

"Lord Gerad," Calla quietly noted, "is the most skilled male tactician in the Council. Allandria will only follow a female general."

"I see," Davin agreed, folding his arms. "Trust the Allandrians to assert the nature of feminine dominance," he added.

"I hardly think that Lord Gerad would be happy about that," Valen said.

"Lord Gerad is a military man," Davin said, shifting his gaze to the window. "He'll follow orders."

Pyre straightened. "Are you finished with your endless prattle, then?" he asked.

Davin turned, glancing at each of his fellows one by one: Calla Iceflame. Valen Stormseeker. Pyre. Soran Mistmoor.

If there was anything that the High Tempestites could be trusted to do, it was to bicker and argue among themselves without the slightest chance of conrete action. That was the beauty of the arrangement, after all: No one was willing to trust another long enough to gain an advantage.

Someone would strike against him soon enough, yes, but killing the leader of the wolves in this case would have meant exposing one's throat to the rest of the pack.

Ambition was a beautiful thing indeed. Davin smiled.

"Now then," he said, "shall we put this meeting to order?"

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

A Case of Blurred Identities

One of the things I find funny over here in the United States is the fact that the concept of "Asian" culture has become generalized, whereas the concept of "American" culture has become extremely relative. The effects are quite obvious, especially when it comes to discussing the restaurant business around here.

The Asian restaurants in the Philippines, you see, come in many different flavors: You've got your Chinese restaurants, your Japanese ramen houses, your Thai places, your Vietnamese noodle spots... I suppose that anyone who's ever dined out in Makati City on a weekend evening will know what I'm talking about. If you want American cuisine, though, then you essentially get yourself to either Friday's, Chili's, or one of the international fast-food chains, and think nothing more about it.

Over here, it's quite the reverse. If you want steak, for example, you'd have to specify how you want it: Texan, perhaps? San Franciscan? The New Yorkers do a nice prime rib, I hear. And just the other day we visited this really nice New Orleans-style steakhouse...

Now, if you want a hamburger instead, then at least you get some degree of consistency there. After all, a hamburger's a hamburger, no matter where you go. But the international fast-food chains aren't the only inhabitants of the American culinary landscape around here; there are a lot -- and I mean a lot -- of independent hamburger houses sitting around. Some of them are even well-established family businesses. You're very likely to run into a burger chain from Arkansas as you are likely to run into a steak-and-soda joint that first started in Rhode Island.

The real irony, for that matter, is that Asian restaurants have fallen into a generalized rut around here. The vast majority of Asian dining establishments are known as "Chinese restaurants", and the strange part is that a lot of them don't exclusively serve Chinese cuisine. In fact, you're just as likely to find sushi and bibimbap as you are wonton noodles in a "Chinese restaurant".

I've found it curious, in fact, that Americans easily refer to themselves by state around here. A fellow from Nebraska, for example, will probably find a warm welcome in a Maine household inhabited by former Michigans. In sharp contrast, if you even vaguely look Asian around here, the first question you'll inevitably get about your lineage would probably be "Are you Chinese?" (Fortunately, most Americans appear to be too polite for that.)

We had dinner at a nice Thai restaurant a couple of nights back. (I think it was Thai, at least. It could have been Indonesian.) At the end of our meal, the impressed manager stopped by for a little chat and ended up offering us a token of his gratitude. Seeing that we were full almost to bursting by that time, we smilingly refused his gift, but one of my uncles must have been curious.

"What dessert do you have?" he asked.

The manager smiled. "Sticky rice," he said.

And then I thought of suman.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Damn the Man

What does it mean to be creative, anyway?

Does creativity involve coming up with a new idea for some purpose? I suppose so, yes, but what does it mean to come up with a new idea? And what's an "idea", for that matter?


Darn it, I can't come up with a definition of an "idea". And I fear that, if I ever do, then I'll get lumped along the crowds of would-be philosophers who espouse the logical proposition that we simply can't define everything.

So let's assume that being creative merely involves coming up with new ideas. Brand, spanking new ideas. Stuff that nobody's even thought of before.

But, come to think of it, that would significantly cut down the number of creative people in the world, wouldn't it? Let's take the literary field of Fantasy, for example: JRR Tolkien technically wrote the first series of Fantasy novels, and thus can be credited with the invention of the genre. Does this necessarily mean, therefore, that every other fantasy writer after Tolkien has been somewhat uncreative? They were following Tolkien's footsteps, after all.

I suppose that the point should be clear by now: Creativity extends to the generation of an idea as well as its execution. That, I suppose, is why we can come up with our own interpretations of "elves", "dwarves" and "orcs" in our Fantasy writings. That's why we can come up with original parodies of known works. That's why copyright law doesn't protect ideas to begin with -- it protects the conceptualizations of those ideas. You can't copyright the idea of a pet dog for your comic strip, for example. But what you can do is copyright the idea of a pet beagle who sits on top of his doghouse pretending that he's a World War I Flying Ace on his Sopwith Camel.

So now, let's bring this to a more modern example: Menudo was, arguably, the first "boy band". Given that little piece of knowledge, where does that leave the Backstreet Boys? N'Sync? Westlife? 98 Degrees?

What about the series of disaster-movie blockbusters that followed in the wake of "Independence Day"? Surely we remember "Armageddon", "Deep Impact", "The Day After Tomorrow", and "The Core"?

Or how about the modern-day descendants of the Sony Walkman? Is the well-hyped iPod Nano the latest example of creative or uncreative execution for an existing idea?

We really must admit that sometimes the line isn't clear. It's like the chalk line you draw on the kindergarten gym floor just before recess.

Is creativity a state of mind, then? If so, then it would be possible for me to come up with what I believe is a totally original effort, only to have an audience see it as "just another ripoff" of an existing idea.

But hey, it is possible for that to happen.

Unless, on the other hand, the audience sees your execution and decides that it likes it.

Remember Alan Moore's Watchmen? Some of the people out there probably do; It's considered by many to be one of the seminal works in the comics industry. In fact, it's considered by some to be the greatest comic book ever -- basically, the pinnacle of its art. The surprise ending is often cited as a primary contributing factor to the power of the work.

There's one catch, though. The ending to the great graphic novel was copied from an episode of the old TV show The Outer Limits. Alan Moore (and Len Wein, his editor) have both admitted as much, and have themselves been surprised at how popular their work has become.

What becomes creative then, in our eyes?

It's difficult to say, really.

Perhaps the truth really lies in the fact that we're writing for an audience. I think that we've already established, long before, that no matter how much effort a writer puts into his or her work, it is ultimately the audience that decides whether he or she's worth reading.

And that's it, I think. Perhaps creativity doesn't enter into the equation in the first place. If people read our stuff, then people read our stuff. Damn the critics who accuse us of being uncreative.

We write for people, I suppose. We don't write for the stuffed suits who take one look at our works, accuse us of emulating somebody's else's efforts, and then don't bother reading us ever again. We write for an audience.

Exactly what creativity is will probably remain a topic for debate. But, as with all topics meant for debate, it will most likely have little or no bearing on the real world as it stands.


Yes, I'm still alive.

As I expected, there's not much rice here. I've run into the odd person who's encountered balut and century egg (mostly via Fear Factor episodes), and I've encountered exactly one person who misses sisig, but I have yet to see anyone who remembers suman in some form.

For that matter, the only rice I've encountered here seems to appear only on gourmet dishes. And even then, the rice is always "wild": Poached Salmon with choice of baked potato or wild rice. Marinated Duck L'Orange served on a bed of wild rice. The rice around here is always "wild", for some reason. Maybe the Americans like their food a little more feral.

It's only my fifth day here, and I've skipped dinner twice. Too many meals in too little time. I've said no to too many desserts, for that matter. No suman for me, in more ways than one.

Friday, October 07, 2005

The Terminal

It's 10:00 pm inside the Frequent Flyer Lounge of the local airport terminal, and we've just heard that our flight will be delayed for another thirty minutes.

It's funny, really. I've spent the last three hours standing in line, lifting heavy pieces of luggage, and paying an absurd "terminal fee". The newspapers around here emphatically state that this fee may even go up in the near future; I'm wondering exactly what they're spending the proceeds on.

Frankly, I'm bored. I've brought two books along: Terry Prachett's Jingo, and a book from the Lone Wolf interactive fiction series that I spotted lying around in a sale the other day. Aside from those, however, I've got a sketch pad and a notebook lying around in my carry-on bag. And ironically enough, I'm loathe to while my time away with them because I've got three weeks of "vacation" ahead of me, and I haven't even left the country yet.

On the plus side, though, the sandwiches around here are excellent. Never let it be said that the kitchen staff at airports can't choose good-quality cheese. :)

Oh, and they have Internet access, too. They advertise it as "wireless" out in front, but I can tell you right now that I just took a look behind this desk, and frankly, it looks like you can have entire tribes of pygmies running around back there.

Their security setup needs a bit of work, but I suppose that that's to be expected when you have a lot of transitory passengers using the computers here. (Now that I have enough time to consider it, I don't even want to know where this keyboard's been... ugh.)

Hopefully this'll be my last post before I start writing from abroad. Plenty of things can go wrong right now: The flight might get delayed some more, we could miss the plane completely, the authorities in San Francisco might not like us for any reason and send us back... anything can happen, really. Anything.

For now, though, I just hope they serve dinner on the plane. I'm starved.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

He's Making a List...

As of this writing, a number of people have asked me to bring them back some stuff from my overseas stay. The resulting list currently includes the following:

- One 2.2-pound bag of jellybeans (in 48 flavors)
- One stuffed Kacheek toy (from Neopets)
- Three copies of Togashi Shunsen (from the L5R CCG)
- Three different paperback novels
- Any number of assorted bookmarks
- A can of Dr. Pepper
- Porn

Yeah, I might not pick up that last one. :)

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Stranger in a Strange Land

My flight for the US leaves at precisely 8:30 pm Manila time, October 7, 2005. I'll be taking a Jet Blue flight. (Remember? It's the same airline involved in the incident last week when a plane's landing gear locked up and the pilots were forced to make an emergency landing.)

That, and I'll be traveling with five other people who are each at least twice as old as I am. Needless to say, I'm not too thrilled about this vacation. :)

At dinner this evening, my mind wandered over a plateful of rice. How much rice was I likely to run into while abroad? Would my rice meals in the United States be limited to expensive gourmet dishes and Chinese take-out? What am I going to end up eating? Will I have to upgrade the size of my slacks once I get back?

When one's mind wanders like this, one knows that there are no easy answers.

Suman, I imagine, would probably be a rarity in the land of the free and the home of the brave. Which is a shame, really, since they probably need more rice-based desserts over there. Heck, they probably need more rice over there, period.

The last time I bought a plateful of suman (and biko, and sapin-sapin) for a visiting foreign guest, I remember them enjoying it immensely. That said, they had these interesting expressions on their faces that basically went, "Oh, this is quite exotic. I'm glad I'm sampling some of the local cuisine before I get back home to my non-rice-based affairs."

Yes, I'm being cynical today. Every day probably needs at least one cynic, after all.

Anyone ever thought that maybe suman should be partially credited with the differences between American and Filipino physiologies? I mean, suman is such that it gives you this stuffed, I-can't-eat-another-bite feeling, which implies that Filipinos don't stick around for too much dessert. Whereas one can probably eat pies, donuts and other pastries all day and not have any mental warnings to show for it. That could be a possible explanation as to the rising trend of obesity among Americans.

On the other hand, now that I think about it, I'm going to be eating like them for the next three weeks. And even if I choose not to go and perhaps save on the cost of a new wardrobe, I've still got to consider the fact that there's a bakeshop in the stable of close familial proximations.

In other words, I lose either way.

Run, Sean! Run!

Walk in Shadows
Lie in Wait

Monday, October 03, 2005


There were a number of things lost among the shredded contents of my former hard drive: Accounting archives for my Mom's bakeshop, almost-completed save files for certain games, recent business presentations that had to be taken home in one way or another. Chief among my personal losses, however, was my two years' worth of notes on Antaria.

Mind you, I haven't actually written the stories yet, so I haven't actually lost anything. The plots and their basic outlines are still floating around in my head, and that's not mentioning the tales that are already present in this blog, as well as the occasional artworks I churn out.

Two nights ago, however, I was forced to pull up a chair and list down as many character names as I could remember. I had built a substantial background and storyline among these creations, and I was loathe to restructure my plans in order to work around a single forgotten character. The names, for that matter, were a solace: They gave me the impression that the setting and the story would still be kicking around my mind long after the death of any hard drive.

Out of an estimated 800 characters, I was able to remember about 300 names. The rest, it seems, are now well on their way to mnemonic oblivion. (The occasional character still bobs to the surface of my thoughts every now and then, and I've had to keep a paper and pen handy.)

I try not to think about what happens when that kind of thing takes place. If Antaria were a real universe, then I imagine that its inhabitants would be terrified at the sight of people suddenly disappearing from existence.

For some strange reason, I feel a greater need to tell the story now. That way, there's less chance of the setting or the characters falling into the endless void. You don't want to spook your creations that way, I assure you.

It's funny about how some conceptualizations can take a life of their own, isn't it? For that matter, it's funny about how we can be concerned for the welfare of some of these conceptualizations at all.

On the other hand, if it means less voices knocking around my head at any given moment, then I'm all for it. Indeed, writers are a lot less sane than most other people.

But hey, at least we're never alone. :)

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Get Me a File Recovery Utility, Stat! (Part 2)

JM and Clair's visit last Thursday evening came up with one conclusion regarding my hard drive: It's been screwed up, and it's been screwed up bad. Needless to say, a Linux Live CD didn't help much, although it confirmed the negative state of the drive.

My next step was to try PC Inspector File Recovery, a piece of free software that's supposed to help recover any lost files in any problematic drive, even ones that have been deleted or formatted completely. Seeing as it was a 20 GB hard drive that we were talking about, PC Inspector asked for a ten-hour analysis, which I duly granted. The next morning, all that the program had to show for its efforts was a 1.5 MB block of illegible data, and I immediately wrote it off as untranslatable.

At that point, I figured that perhaps the best thing to do was to look around the Net in case anyone had run into the problem in the past. (JM had suggested this last Thursday evening, and in hindsight, this should have been the first thing I did. Panic does strange things to people sometimes.)

After about a couple of hours of Googling, I figured that the problem lay in the File Allocation Table (FAT) designation. You see, whenever you save a file, your computer splits it up into a lot of different pieces and places those shards around its storage system. The FAT is technically the one that keeps track of exactly where all these bits and pieces are. (Yes, this explanation is in layman's terms. Bear with me, people.) Now, there are various FAT versions, and my hard drive was presumably using a 32-bit one, which is common for most hard drives nowadays.

Last Thursday evening, both utilities detected my hard drive's FAT as being 12-bit, which was definitely not good. A FAT-12, you see, is the usual version for diskettes.

Most solutions I found involved booting up the lost drive via MS-DOS or a Windows installer CD, then correcting the specific file containing the FAT designation. The trouble was that I couldn't access any of the files in the hard drive to begin with, which implied that there was another complication to the problem.

Finally I brought my unfortunate PC to the shop, where they set up and ran everything that they could. The Windows Recovery Utility did nothing -- it couldn't even detect the drive itself. PowerQuest Partition Magic performed a lot better, as it was able to detect the drive and provide an accurate summary of its size and expected FAT.

Some hours later, however, even Partition Magic was forced to give up when it encountered nothing but errors and more errors in its bid to save my files. The truth of the situation eventually dawned on all of us when the software finally slapped the most appropriate of all labels on its analysis: BAD DRIVE.

At that point, seeing that there was most likely nothing else that could be done, I made the decision to reformat. The thoroughbred had broken both legs coming down the home stretch, and all that we could do was get the shotgun.

So now I'm writing this on a brand-new 20 GB hard drive, and my old drive is now sitting pretty in its secondary position. Ironically, we're planning to use it purely for data storage from this point onwards, although we're probably not going to be stingy about the backups this time.

Interestingly enough, that means that I've got a total of 40 GB of pristine, unused free space around here. I suppose that, in a sense, my computer's gotten the chance to start over. No excess programs, no nested viruses, no adware. Pure tabula rasa.

Now, what to do with all this space...

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Disclaimer: October 2005

Ugh. Me Sean. This mine.

You no steal. You steal, Sean whack you on head with club.

Sean write all here. Sean write all here but take some from other. Sean say which ones take from other. All not from other, Sean write. Only Sean.

Sean Sean Sean Sean. This mine.

Ugh. Fire bad.

You want use, you ask Sean. Sean like you if you ask. No whack you on head with club.

Sean like club. Sean like whack with club.

Whack whack whack. Hee.