It is sort of like one of those movies where the burned out old cop is sitting in his living room drinking beer and eating stale potato chips. The phone rings. They want him for one last case. They can't handle this one without him. As bad as he is, as much as he pissed off the whole system, they need him now. They have to convince him. They try to tell him it is worth it. Eventually, he agrees, but he'll only do it on his terms. This is the plot of 20% of all movies made between 1978 and 1992.

I retired a few years ago. I retired in 1999. Having seen too much, and seeing it all, there was nothing there for me any longer. What else was I to accomplish? In the realm of love and romance, I was burned out and tired. There was no reason to continue. I got married just to try to help someone out with her life because there didn't seem much point not to. This would be okay. It wasn't, in the end, and things fell apart, and I thought I would finally have the chance to sail on my own through uncharted waters.

Then, the phone rang. Those pesky detectives down at the precinct had one more case for me. They brought me in, taking me off the couch where I was drinking cheap domestic beer and eating stale potato chips.

Then she walks in.
Of all the gin joints in all the world...
And so forth.

I'll come out of retirement for this one. She is special. When this movie ends, don't come to me asking for a sequel. I've sold all the film rights, but I won't be working on that sequel.

I'm retired, damn you.

I literally woke up this morning to the news that Johnny Cash -- one of the only musician heroes I have as an adult -- is dead.

The clock radio came on at roughly ten minutes after six. Bob Edwards was saying: "Two celebrities died today -- Johnny Cash and John Ritter."

What a blow. I'm very saddened by this, even though I knew it was coming. He's been so sick thorugh the years, and we're lucky to have gotten some of his best work in the late 1990's. He was one of the few truly seminal American musicians alive -- in many ways as important as Elvis Presley, Hank Williams, Patsy Cline. But his wife June Carter died on May 16, 2003 -- I knew it was only a matter of time.

And of course, the Washington Post gives greater prominence to Ritter than to Cash. But it doesn't change the fact that an important era in American music has now passed out of existence, never to return. And Johnny Cash is now part of history.

Hi everybody! I hope you are all doing good! I’m doing fine. 3rd grade is fun so far. I’m taking piano lessons this year and had my first one on Wednesday. It went okay. We got a keyboard at my dad’s house so I can practice. It’s got a lot of different sounds that it can make. I hope I can get good at it.

I wrote a poem last night in my room while I was looking at the moon. It’s called “The Flight of the Herd”, I hope you like it!

The Flight of the Herd

The horses blaze their way through the grass
I can tell that inside, they are flying
< Their soul leaves their body

Now it’s my turn.
I try just as they do
And I leave my body behind

The wind picks up
It blows my worries away
And my soul flys

It flies across the desert
It soars across the ocean
I reach back to the field

As the herd takes flight

I'm spending next week with my mom. I’ll try and write some more things while I’m gone. Bye!

I couldn't believe it.

I didn't think it was possible...

...just when I was getting sick of a pisspoor resolution, just when I was sick of being limited to the "Normal" KDE panel, just when I needed an upgrade to the bit of the computer that glows text...

My school gave away free monitors.

Yes, free monitors. Gratis. To put that into quantifiable terms, I spent £0.00 (that's zero Great British Pounds, zero hundredths of said pound) on a monitor. A monitor that would have set me back at least £20...cost me nothing. Sure, I had to lug it both up and down some stairs, then back out to a car, but what the hell, it was free!

I've always been a big believer in freely being able to download whatever little piece of software I need to complete a task, with the slight annoyance of having to compile it first (well, Spiff helps). Well, this is the same as that, in meatspace. I got a cool, free monitor, but my only tradeoff is me having to carry a large LG monitor, a small bag and my (how should I put this) ample frame around "campus"...

How did I come into such luck? Well, my school have been carrying out upgrades to their IT infrastructure. Following a quick back of the envelope calculation, I've worked out that "IT infrastructure" basically means "154 computers, all running a mix of Win2K and XP, with 1,200 users and a few laptops connected by some wireless access points and a few miles of Cat-5", which as you can imagine means a lot of boxen and their displays displaced by a few hundred new Dells. As you can probably also imagine, there was nowhere for all this silicon to go.

It was dumped under some stairs for a few weeks last year (one of the art teachers humourously put up a notice saying that "this pile of IT kit has been nominated for the Turner Prize for modern art") until, around about now, they decided that it was unsightly having lots of beige clashing with the nice blue colour scheme. Thus, they sold all the boxen for 20 quid each (a bargain, as these were Pentium 200s-with Linux, these would be attractive office machines) and just gave away the monitors.

One guy took around 5 of the computers and the accompanying monitors yet, as a real stroke of luck...

I got the last monitor.

Out of 100. I got the last one.

That I didn't have the money for a box was bad, because my family could have used one for typing essays and such things, but c'est la vie. And I at least got the consolation prize-a fully working (apart from the power button being a bit munged) LG StudioWorks 575N monitor, which I am typing this on now, along with my spiffy new mouse and keyboard combo.

God, upgrades are fun.

Johnny Cash died yesterday. It made me think. It made me reflect. It made me unreasonably sad.

My childhood seems like a Walton's episode in some ways. I grew up on a family-run cattle ranch. Not many of those exist anymore. Interest rates, taxes, low cattle prices and greed have forced most family owned ranches to sell out to huge corporations who use the ranches as a tax write-off. I grew up listening to old-time country music...Hank Williams SR!!, Buck Owens, Loretta Lynn, and of course Johnny Cash. On weekend evenings a group of friends that belonged to a group called the Old Time Fiddlers would come over with their families and we'd eat together, play country and blue grass music and just have fun. Neighbors helped each other out. When our ranch needed to gather the cows and brand, the neighbors would come and help us...arriving before dawn in horse trailers and cattle trucks. They'd help us, and then when their turn came to need extra hands, we'd load up in the dark and drive to their place to help them. The whole family worked every day to make the ranch succeed. Men, older kids, and the women who like the outside type of work would care for the cows, do the annual hay harvesting, and do the endless upkeep on the ranch buildings, equipment, and fences. The domestic-oriented women and older folks would cook and deliver meals, coffee, ice tea, and run the numerous errands to the ranch supply stores. The littler kids would hand raise the calves and lambs that were orphaned or abandoned by their mothers. Everyone had a job and a purpose and we all did it together.

It wasn't idyllic. My dad was an active alcoholic. There were many family fights and lots of the shame and fear that comes from living in a family like that. Money was often tight, and we never seemed to completely fit in with the "town" families, who never went into a store with cow-shit on their boots or drove a truck filled with hay. My town friends, while very excited about riding our horses, didn't appreciate that we had to walk across a manure filled barnyard to get to the horse pen. They thought the baby calves and lambs that we were constantly feeding from a bottle were cute, but they were grossed out by the piles of poop that the cute babies left behind. They couldn't understand how I could ignore the dead cow in the meadow that my dad hadn't drug to the boneyard yet. Somehow I always felt like I had manure on my shoes and hay in my hair.

Ah...but back to Johnny Cash. All of the ostracism, all of the fights and sleepless nights would be forgotten when my handsome okie dad would pick up his guitar and, accompanied by our good friend Homer McLain on the fiddle, begin to sing Folsom Prison Blues. He'd imitate a train whistle, just like Johnny did in his song, and he'd look at me and we'd laugh together.

Thanks Johnny.

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