Friday, December 31, 2010

Jerk that Pistol: Firing into the New Year

I was talking with someone the other day about New Year's resolutions. The person I was talking to was negative in response - citing their unwillingness to succumb to peer pressure to state unattainable goals. I made some kind of blithe return that I didn't necessarily believe in 'resolutions' as such, but I did try and set myself some goals. Here is one right now: I resolve not to talk out of my ass so much. The concept of resolutions and making goals are so similar as to be totally interchangeable.

Having stated I would make no resolutions (but would have goals, insert eye roll here) I immediately started making resolutions. This got me curious. Where does this tradition of New Year's resolutions come from? A quick google around the internet revealed that it goes back to Roman times, and involves making promises of good deeds to the Roman god Janus. Janus is the one with two faces, one looking back and one looking forward. Ok, I can totally get behind a Roman tradition. Romans kick ass (please don't tell my Egyptian characters how much I love Romans). Of course for hundreds of years New Year's resolutions were quite attainable: I will a pile of gold to the poor, I will return the chariot I stole from my neighbor, I will marry the girl I knocked up, etc.

Somehow, over the years, the resolution came to be some personal goal of self-improvement. Which is, apparently, the reason that fewer and fewer New Year's resolutions actually get followed through on, with most people giving up after just a couple months. Giving a charitable donation is a very achievable goal; becoming a better person is not. Just think of all the people determining right this minute that they will lose weight, write every day, be nicer to the people they despise, or exercise more? Are you going to be one of them?

I resolve to write a novel this year. I already started it. I have the books I need for research. I'm not going to tell you how many hours a day I plan to write, or any other writerly self-improvement resolutions that I will probably break before I get a week or two into the New Year. I am simply going to set myself an achievable goal: I will finish my book.

There. Done.

What about you?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Pan Historia Technical Status Report

Here is the latest news as best I know it: Pan is protected by a uninterrupted power supply (UPS) that can keep Pan's server running even when the power goes down because it has a battery backup. It is programmed to shut Pan down automatically when battery power goes low. It seems that this battery is getting old and needs replacing, or we need a new UPS, whichever comes first, and it is shutting Pan down even though there are no power outages.

Unfortunately the man, Pandaman, with the technical expertise to determine exactly what is needed and how to program a UPS, is currently on a much needed vacation in the wilds of New Zealand with no internet access, so it's just me doing the best that I can. Until the problem is resolved there will be frequent interruptions of service as I shut down Pan to try and work on a solution. Right now I'm running around looking for a new powerful UPS so we can get Pan back online. I was able to confirm that Pan's status is good. There are no problems with the server itself and the backup server looks healthy too.

Please be patient and understand that any interruptions of service are far better than Pan crashing. Automatic or manual shutdown is good, crashing is BAD.

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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Christmas Present, Christmas Past, Christmas Virtual

Do I scream or do I cry? It's that time of year again. I love the holidays and I hate the holidays. Remember being a child? It was all so uncomplicated then. Santa came in the middle of the night, ate up all the cookies you left him and sucked down on the cream sherry (yes, we were that kind of household), and then left a humungous plethora of joy wrapped in silver, red, and gold paper.

Year after year it grew more complicated. The first Christmas away from home, spent in another family's home as an outside was like a dash of cold water that sent my youthful emotions spinning into darkness. Later on changing family dynamics changed the holidays from my uncomplicated joy to harrowing nightmares that might involve drunken binges (not mine). Expanding connections and networks produced an overload of spending, responsibility, anxiety, and stress as big business pushed ever harder for us all to succumb to an orgy of consumerism at the holidays. As a single parent there were those mornings when I knew I had failed my offspring because I couldn't afford those excessive gifts that were commonplace, it appeared, in every household but my own on Christmas morning.

Now I have a family that demands to be together, and yet collectively sighs and moans at the difficulties inherent at fulfilling the expectations of the season. I'll be doing a little of the same, but in the middle of all the chaos and tears, there will also be hugs, and moments of genuine gladness in each other.

Now if only the holidays could be like they are at Pan Historia: full of fun and games, where gift giving may be real or virtual, but it hardly counts which because everyone is just happy to be involved. No one worries about the stresses of real life too much because it is where they come to escape such concerns. The tree is big and gaudy with plenty of love decorating it, but no needles to sweep up at the end. The food is fun, but will not make you fat or give you indigestion. And it really doesn't matter what the holidays mean to you. We have something for everyone.

Oh, and I love our red cardinal and snow theme this year, simple and elegant.