Nightmares

I’m a man haunted by his mother’s death, specially now that the anniversary of this horrible event is looming on the horizon.
Some people I know would say that I’m feeling guilty, but that’s just an instant case of hoof’n’mouth disease on their side: open mouth, insert foot into it. Period. These are just idiots that don’t know what they’re talking about.
You see, my mom choose her fate when she dismissed all my offers to follow my footsteps and leave Venezuela. She simply wouldn’t abandon her illusion that things wouldn’t get any worse. Meanwhile, I was the one who had to listen her on the phone every other week, complaining she had lost twenty pounds and was starving. I wanted to shout at her, yelling that she ought to abandon that place and come. That there was food here. Clothes. Hot, running water. But I had to bite my tongue up to the point of tasting blood, because it was to no avail. She stubbornly stuck to the point that her place was there, in that hellish jungle.
I see a few more heads shaking out there, muttering ‘Guilt, guilt, guilt.’
But there are a few more points to consider here.
I have read my mother’s death forensic report, you see.
Not an experience you’d wish to anyone, mind you.
That piece of paper didn’t say much, but as a writer I’m able to extrapolate a lot from a few simple facts. My mom was dressed in only a bathrobe when somebody broke into our house down there, either forcibly or with her consent.
Then they stabbed her in the belly five times with a sharp knife, and then they let her bleed to death while these thugs freely roamed through the place, trashing the entire house to see what they could steal.
She was found the next day, lying on a pool of her blood.
The labor of a writer is simple; aided by his or her imagination, an author would then work on a few real or imaginary facts and people and build a long series of ‘what if’ scenarios into a coherent story.
There are no ‘what ifs` here. I know there was no other solution than to extract her from that terrible place, but she wouldn’t yield. But I still have to contend with all the dreams I’m having every night. Dreams concerning her death.
Well, I guess this blog post won’t solve anything, but at least is a rant that takes off some weight off my chest.. at least temporarily..

Edwin Stark
Signing Off

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Three Years ago…

Last weekend was the third anniversary of my engagement to Kathryn. As a few of you may remember if you have following this blog long enough, it happened during our brief get-together vacation at Aruba.

It was a memorable occasion; we reunited again after a three months separation and we got rooms at this fantastic place called Bubali Studios, which I heartily recommend if you ever feel inclined to spend some time in Aruba.

I will always remember vividly the way we both dealt with Oranjestad’s convoluted traffic to reach downtown. At the moment, we had our minds set on acquiring an engagement ring, and since Aruba is one of the most romantic locations in the world, the notion of going downtown to find a decent jewelry shop was a number one priority.

We waited on a very sunny curbside for a few minutes, next to a huge sign that detailed all the necessary data to deal with the local bus grid. Kath was rather baffled by its tropical intricacies, while me, more accustomed to a more chaotic and dangerous way of transportation, was able to decipher the information with an almost scary easiness.

After some long minutes, an open-sided tourist bus stops in front of us. I urge Kath to hop in, a suggestion she took with a fleeting look of doubt in her eyes. The driver was a garrulous, dark-skinned woman who seemed unable to keep her eyes on the road, but in the end we managed to reach Oranjestad’s main hub.

If you are not aware of the fact, Downtown Oranjestad is to the engagement ring industry like Las Vegas is to the quick-marrying chapel business; you can find a jewelry store in almost every corner. After looking a while and casting doubtful blanching stares at what some shops offered as “tanzanite”, we settled for an opal ring studded in itsy, bitsy diamonds at a Kay store. Well, Kath did the shopping, for I have absolutely no clue about jewels.

We offhandedly commented to the saleslady that it was an engagement ring, which she joyously celebrated by joking that I ought to drop to my knees and do the proposal on the spot. We quietly agreed and paid, coughing inwardly at the idea of such public display.

Then we spent some more time downtown, and decided to have lunch at some “Iguana-something” restaurant. We found the name amusing and somewhat ironical, as we did enjoy most of our meals at the Iguana Café in Curacao the first time we met.

It was very close to noon, which meant traffic had eased up, but also the bus frequency at the stops, so to avoid wasting time, we walked back in our lodging direction while occasionally checking for a bus coming at our backs. Believe me, this is something you do a lot in the tropics. Finally, the happy coincidence of a bus stop and a bus approaching to it happened at last, and we returned to our rooms.

And of course, there, in privacy, I asked Kath to take off the ring and I did the knee drop thing in front of her. I’m a bit old fashioned, after all, you know.

Edwin Stark

Signing Off.

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Chuffed

Well, I was really, really chuffed a couple of weeks ago. (Don’t you love the English language? It has a small word that tells the world you are elated with pride in so few letters. And the sound of it! Chuuuuuffeeeed… OMG!)

This was due to two different incidents concerning my books. The first one happened bout two weeks ago, when someone who borrowed a physical copy of Cuentos told me that she had a nightmare related to one of its short stories, Hate the Future. Knowing that it is a tale about a guy being hung by his neck with a loop of his own guts, the less said, the better.

The second one happened when I browsed Amazon-s website and discovered that there was a new review for Clayton Chronicles. (You can read it here.) Of course, I was vaguely aware of its existence for a time but I was too occupied elsewhere to worry much about it. Then I realized that the book was being compared to similar literature written by Joe Hill. This last part resonated in my mind for a while, as the name sounded familiar in some dark recesses of my memory. Joe Hill, Joe Hill, Joe Hill… Hmmm

Then I fired up my search engine and I was surprised on why the name sounded familiar. Joe Hill is the nom de plume of Joseph Hillstrom… King…

Stephen King’s son.

OMG.

You can only imagine the level of my elatedness at the moment.. or my level of chuffedness, as it might be, and if you want to reuse this magnificent word in some bizarre-ish way.

And of course, this sent me daydreaming. For some time, Stephen King wrote several books under the Richard Bachman name. These books languished with modest sales for almost a decade… until the rumor that Bachman was actually King in disguise… and then Richard Bachman’s sale numbers exploded exponentially.

Now.. if somebody started the rumor that I was Joe Hill writing under another name… Hmmm..

Come on, Internet Rumor Squad! Where are you guys when I need you?!?!

Edwin Stark

Signing Off.

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Toto, I don’t think we’re in Texas any more…

Well, that’s quite right; Kathryn got a job offer for a teaching position at a Community College in Kansas, so last January we packed all our stuff and moved out of Texas. That’s it.

No complaining, no rants. I think it is a wise, positive move after all.

Reasoning? When Kat and I met, she was working on her English Masters degree so she could achieve her life-long aspiration of teaching in college, instead in the chaotic environment that High Schools or Middle Schools do represent. It gives us a marginally larger budget, she gets to do what she wants and it makes her happy.

On my side, well, I was finally able to land a job on almost on my first try, while in Texas, even though I had spent six months placing my résumé in every single place I could think of (as soon a I got my work authorization) which had yielded me nothing.

I have the itching suspicion it had a lot to do with the fact that the city we lived in was within the boundaries of the Rio Grande Great Valley, too damn close to the Mexican border. I strongly believe I was in a very disadvantaged position there, with all those people around me that were easily recommended for a job just because they were somebody’s primo. I guess nepotism was strong with this one, young padawan.

Of course some clarification is in order: don’t get all too delusional about my job, as it is just a daily five-hours-a-day routine of hauling beer cases in a liquor store, and put them wherever I’m told. I had applied for several dozens of similar jobs while living in the Valley, and I got no results, while here I just walked in, asked for a job application and a few days later I got an interview and the job. It seems to me that people in Kansas just want others to work decently, I guess.

The main thing here is that this job will allow me to rebuild my credit score from scratch at last; I had an excellent credit in my home country (one so high that I possesed a Platinum credit card back there) but that’s just the sort of stuff that doesn’t cross country boundaries, so I was basically a financial non-entity in the States…  until now.

A job represents that I’ll have some income, which will allow me to apply for a credit card, which wll allow me to… well… you get my drift, I guess…

Well, here I am, already two months into a new job and you can’t even imagine the feeling I experienced while depositing my first paycheck. After almost a decade of deprivation in the jungle and spending a year inactive just waiting for my paperwork to come through, the feeling of accomplishment is beyond belief.

I guess that’s about it for now..

 

Edwin Stark

Signing Off

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Name change for this blog? Nah… not for the time being…

Some time ago Kathryn suggested I change the name of the blog since I no longer reside in the jungle. I put this notion under heavy consideration, analyzing all the factors involved in the decision. Yes, I no longer live in the middle of a tropical rainforest, so I could do the change. But.. does it matter? This blog has less than 200 followers at this moment, it never helped me to sell any books that I know of, and it mostly worked as a pressure valve for me to vent when things got really bad in the jungle I was living in. As you may have noticed, the posts are now far in between each other (the last one was about three months ago).

But there will be always post related to my past in the rainforest; I don’t think that a man can live through such a traumatic lifestyle, rife with deprivation and uncertainty for almost 17 years and yet be able to escape unscathed by the experience, so I guess this option outlet must remain open for a little longer. So no changes in the foreseeable future, okay?

One fine example of this is that I’m not sleeping well of late, for I’m having a recurrent nightmare that haunts me these days. In this particular dream I’m back in the outskirts of Caucagua, forced by some unseen power to walk through that accursed town’s winding streets once more. In this dream, I have the strong sensation that I must perform some task, but I’m completely clueless about it.

The start of the dream is not that bad, but quite dreadful; I’m alone in the lonesome gravel roads of Cholondron. Doesn’t sound like much but since way of how this dream will progress is quite familiar to me, I’m already filled with trepidation.

After a while, I enter the town of Caucagua proper, finally seeing the first shacks that mark the edge of this location. I see three local men leaning against the wall of a rancho (my country’s version of a shack made out with metal sheet and whatever building materials the can get their hand on). They’re glaring at me, and I walk past them, doing my best to ignore their threatening looks.

Of course, this doesn’t work at all; a few blocks ahead I meet another similar group… and I notice that the first group of menacing men have been following me all along. You must realize that there are basically two types of dreams; those that you know are having a dream and in which you have a certain level of control, meaning that you may decide to flee or face your fear, therefore changing its outcome. This one is the other kind of dream, in which you can’t alter its flow, no matter what you do. I tried once to outsmart it by confronting these individuals, but that action only accelerated its denouement.

I keep moving through Caucagua’s streets, getting deeper and deeper into its mazelike structure. In every corner I meet another small group of angry men, which are then added to the increasingly larger party of people already pursuing me, which by now is a massive throng. The faces of these guys are full of hatred, an anger directed at me because I never fit this place too well: I’m too different and smart for that.

I’m able to make it back to main street, but this location suddenly becomes a dead end when I meet a brick wall that oughtn’t to be there. It seems it has sprung out of nowhere, blocking my escape. Then I turn around and then I find out I’m surrounded by at least a thousand pursuers. I’m with my back against the wall, and the group slowly closes in around me. Remember Michael Jackson’s Thriller final sequence? My dream is more or less like that.

One of these individuals draws out a sharp switchblade from his pockets. It’s then when I wake up, feeling exhausted and restless, usually at 3 AM in the morning. To top it all, it’s very rare the occasion when I’m able to go back to sleep after such an experience. That’s a nasty way to start a day, folks.

It’s quite fortunate, however, that these days I only have to scoot closer in bed to where my wife is laying next to me to convince myself that this horrible dream is no longer my reality. Kathryn is quite aware of these nightmares; she tells me that I talk loudly in Spanish while I have to live them almost every night.

At this moment I’m more or less writing this post to exorcise my demons (some one, two three! calisthenics and then a few laps around the track… Ooops…. wrong way to exorcise them)…. I hope it works, because all this is whacking my sleep cycle back to the one I had about a couple years back… which isn’t kinda nice…

Well, that’s about it for now, folks

 

Edwin Stark

Signing Off

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Under Pressure

Well, my mom is finally laid to rest.

But I’m not at ease. I was under a lot of pressure from my acquaintances back home on what to do about all the property that’s left behind in the rainforest now that my mom has died. I say “was” because I’m kinda washing my hands off the whole thing. I know my acquaintances will insist on coming back to the topic about selling the house and furniture, and storing the remainder in a safe place, just so burglars won’t have a go at it.

Sigh

The problem is it isn’t worth the effort and money that all this entails.

Let’s see… For starters I’d have to go to the Consulate in Houston (again,,,) as it’s the only place where I can go to perform the necessary legal actions. This would represent an investment of X days and a Y sum of money that I’m absolutely sure it’s a complete waste.

Why X and Y?

Because as it’s always the case with my home country’s government you never know how long it will take and how expensive it may be in the end. But I can give some estimate figures. First there’s the matter of the trip itself ($100, by bus nonetheless.. and you know my Pavlovian feelings toward buses, guys), then I’d have to get some legal assistance from a sleazy lawyer knowledgeable in my country’s equally sleazy laws (could be $200 or more), plus the costs of my stay in Houston (food, local transportation, et cetera), which could run up the bill to unimaginable levels, as I’m not able to determine the exact amount of time this would take. Plus the legal fee this will take ($100-$300), plus another extra $100 to ship the whole damn thing (just ONE piece of paper!) back to my country.

And that’s just to keep things at the lowest minimum cost possible. The house by itself is worthless; by the time I left, property values in the area were at their absolute lowest due to the reigning conditions: A) bordering a large patch of rainforest, B) poor electricity and NO water and C) now the place is a rampaging crime zone. Even if somebody was deranged enough to buy it from me, I wouldn’t be able to do anything with the money since there’s a currency exchange restriction that would prevent me from getting my hands on it. Of course, I could go to the local friendly Black Marketer, but that would dilute the whole thing to just about a couple hundred bucks, even if I’m lucky.

And what about the furniture and books, you say? Most of it are just mass produced, particle board things, but there are at least two pieces (real wood and all) of furniture down there that I cared about as they were kinda family heirlooms and I’m rather fond of them, but I can’t see a practical way to recover them without bankrupting myself in the process.

And the books (hisses in pain) is what stings the most. I’ve been a reader for the better part of 4 decades and I had been stockpiling a ton of books and reference material. My mom was the same, and her personal library was nearing the thousand books.

There are at least three books I’ll certainly miss from my own collection: one was a vampire tales anthology, an imitation leather-bound copy of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and my signed copy of Shay Addams’ book about Richard Garriot’s Ultima game. But most of all I will miss is my IDEA! book, just a huge college notebook where I jotted every single notion for all my future books. Yeah, I could sort of rebuild it from scratch, but it also acted like a massive index to all the comic books, Sunday funnies, other books et cetera that I left behind, and without all that source material the new notebook would be rather useless… sigh… quite a nice catch 22, I guess.

As you can see, I’m just writing to get this off my chest and justify my attempt to cut down my losses. I know some of you may say “it’s just stuff”… bu t”this stuff” represents all my past and the last ties I had with my mom, so letting go is terribly painful and leaves me feeling quite inadequate, so bear with me for a while.

Until next time, guys and guyettes…

Edwin Stark

Signing Off

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Dark Tidings…

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In loving memory of Friederike Stark (7/13/1937-7/3/2016)..

It has been a very rough month; you see, I was told that my mom had died on July the 3rd, just ten days before her seventy-ninth birthday. I hope you never get to deal with the grim details involved with having to perform funeral arrangements from a distance, which is what I’ve been doing for a while.

I had to travel to Houston urgently, mainly because that’s where my home country’s consulate is. There was a lot of paperwork to be done, especially a document that would allow one of my mom’s oldest friends to represent me in my affairs back in that accursed land. Kathryn and I traveled there by bus (airfare proved prohibitive) and we spent two days in Houston until all the legal knots were neatly tied and everything was A-OK (a cozy illusion into which we deluded ourselves; there never is an A-OK state whenever my country is concerned).

All in all, the trip represented a $600 expenditure, including fares, hotel room and the legal costs of composing the document, having it stamped and sending it to my mom’s friend back home. We were lucky that one of our writer friends lived in Houston and could be bothered with driving us around town, which proved of great help. Thanks, Julie.

And thanks to my wife, too, for being there when I needed her. Love you, mi gatita…

Kath and I then returned home, and we paid an exorbitant fee of $75 to send just one sheet of paper to South America. Finally, my mom was laid to rest on July 29th, after almost four weeks of legal wrangling.

But the problem doesn’t end there; my mom died without any kind of insurance, leaving behind her an absolute legal and economic mess. My mom’s friend incurred into a ton of expenses while helping me in this terrible affair; I was able to wire her some money, but I have the strong suspicion that whatever sum I sent her will not suffice. And there’s the additional matter of all my mom’s stuff, the house in the middle of the rainforest and several other assorted knickknacks and legal issues that lay in the wake of someone’s demise while residing in my country.

Sigh.

This just represents a ton of present and future expenses that I can not even begin to fathom at this point. I guess I should consider myself satisfied that my mom has been at least buried, but the feeling of impotence concerning all these extra unfinished business will gnaw at my brain for the longest time.

Anyhow, I set up a crowdfunding campaign to help me cover a few of these expenses. If you guys are willing to assist me, you can share the link ( http://www.gofundme.com/2gzwmxt8 ) around through your social media. That little click you can do to Tweet or Facebook it will be greatly appreciated.

Edwin Stark

Signing Off

 

 

 

 

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Who you gonna call?

I’m having a blast while reading the nasty (and somewhat angry) reviews that the Ghostbusters 2016 movie has garnered during the past few days. Of course, you can dismiss a few of them as reviews coming from disgruntled fanboys, but that doesn’t detract from the fun I’m experiencing while reading through their rambles.

I agree with some of these, specially the one that claims “this movie has no right to exist” (I kindly replaced the stronger word the original review used with “movie” so you won’t get ofended).

However, most of the fun I’m having comes from the fact that I once wrote in 1993 a potential Ghostbusters III screenplay (of which I’m planning to post the opening snippet below) and that it would have been something the Ghostbusters franchise would have been proud of… It’d have been funnier movie and I suspect Bill Murray would have loved the screenplay as it placed him in the central spotlight, giving this actor a very meaty lead role, indeed.

However (sigh), it was never meant to be. Although I had submitted several dozens of screenplays to various minor movie production houses, I was never able to get a direct address to Columbia Pictures to send this one at the time, so the damn silly thing just sat in my hard drive until now, gathering mold as years went by. Besides, Hollywood doesn’t seem to fond of dealing long distance with writers residing in South America.

However, not all was a loss. I was able to recycle most of the fantastic scenes I conjured up for this screenplay into my book Fermata Girl vs The Medallion of Doom, though I must admit that I faced  a small problem when it came to adapting for a female heroine the scene in which Peter Venkman would dig into his trousers to find out if male ghosts still had a certain part of their anatomy, but I guess I managed quite right.

Of course, what I’ll share here is not and actual screenplay, but a cineplay, which is a general layout of the entire movie, plot, props, background scenario, camera effects and motions and what is done to who by whom. I suppose that I may end up publishing this one in a FanFiction site one of these days. Without much further ado, the opening of my never read movie script.

Edwin Stark

Signing Off

************************************************************************************************************

How to write a real Ghost******* screenplay

by Edwin Stark

NOTE: Any respectable ghosthead can easily replace the asterisks with the missing word and suitably guess who are Peter V, Ray S and Egon S, those incredible characters so masterfully played by Bill Murray, Dan Akroyd and Harold Ramis.

A PROPOSAL FOR GHOST******* III

FADE IN

This first scene opens in a desert. Anywhere with lots of sand so we can pass it as an archeological digging site. The camera slowly pans over the horizon. Real moviegoers will feel a cold sting as this will remind them of the opening scenes of the Exorcist. Suddenly, from a hole in the sand, excited and frightened shouts start to come out. A middle east type runs out of it, stumbling and shouting.

CHANGE TO

A dusty tent, with a portable generator on the side opens up to show the dirty face of Egon S. whose serious mug we should not be able to recognize yet, for he is hiding it under a scraggy turban. Inside the tent we see the most advanced equipment you can build from the special effects department – with gauges and brilliant lights so you will be tempted to press the first button you can put your finger on. Also, a 13 inches black and white TV set, showing some silly stuff, like I love Lucy translated into arabic. The guy

under the turban knows something has happened. He starts to run toward the hole. An excited bunch of guys with turbans and moustaches and filthy beards crawl out of the hole so fast they make one another stumble on the hand made ladder. When the excitement subsides to an annoyed murmur, Egon S. gets closer and starts to climb down. He glances around, to see what scared the heck out of his workers and he catches a golden glimmer. He grabs a brush and starts to remove dust with it. An ugly snout comes out of

the dirt an a crazy smile shows in Egon S. face. He grabs the medallion he just uncovered with a handkerchief and climbs out of the hole. Holding it high in his hand (can we have some Indiana J. music, please?) as a prize, the annoyed murmur is replaced by an angry chant. Egon vigorous pace toward his tent is almost interrupted when a scared worker runs away shouting his lungs out, as if he is calling for someone.

INSIDE THE TENT

Egon places the medallion on his desk and plugs a probe on it. He flips a switch and a sudden sparks blows up all his equipment and leaves him in the dark. All goes black but the dim image of static in the b&w TV set and a lamp that barely shows us the outline of Egon profile. He taps the lamp and it sparks, regaining some more light. He looks scared, enough to jump because of the scare the TV set gives him when a weird face replaces the final credits of  I love Lucy. It nastily glares at Egon an then disappears.

OUTSIDE THE TENT

The crowd grows more restless.

INSIDE THE TENT

Egon glances out, wondering what to do. The final credits give way to Psychic World, and Peter V. appears on the screen smiling wickedly as we love it. An arabian voice over translates what he says about this week topic.

CLOSE UP

Egon’s face raises its brows in surprise and he stares at the medallion.

CHANGE TO

An arabian boy comes running to Egon tent, and he gives him a few coins and a package with tons of stamps glued to it. He says something in arabic and the boy runs away with the package.

INSIDE THE TENT

Egon looks relieved. He unfold a canvas chair and dusts off some of his equipment. Peter V.’s Psychic

World is gaining momentum with awful jokes impossible to translate into arabic. Whatever Peter is doing, it surely makes him rich enough. Out of sudden, a troop of guys with semi automatic guns trample inside

the tent. Egon nervously notice they carry on their fingers an ugly ring with the medallion’s face engraved on it. He makes a nervous joke.

EGON S.: Whoa! A crash party. I think I don’t have enough potato chips and dip for every one!

FADE OUT

FADE IN

Eerie note plays while New York City skyline fades in and the POV slowly gains speed toward it.

The camera knows where its going and sweeps through a window in a luxurious apartment on

Fifth Avenue. Meanwhile, a spooky tune with playful touches plays in the background.

INT. EVENING CAMERA SWEEP

The camera glances everywhere, trying to put together the pieces of the people living here.

Covers of numerous magazines, framed for display, are placed along the wall. (If we are lucky, the studio jerks will still have in file the covers and headlines used in the first movies’ montage) Some of them mention the break up between Peter V and the Ghost******* after they dealt with Vigo. The camera continues its sweep toward a coffee table and on its top lay copies of books written by Peter V. The camera barely allows us a peek, but their dust jackets read “My dinner with Elvis” and “My date with Marilyn”. (Possibly a book  can be named “Jam Session with Jerry Garcia”, but Deadheads could get p.d. off).

CHANGE TO

The counter of a personal bar. A wedding picture of Dana B and Peter V sits on its beautiful marble top. Everything tells us the guy is loaded and his wife most responsible for the good taste of the furniture. Suddenly, the noise of keys fill the air and someone pass through the POV and drops the mail on the counter. Junk mail and a partially opened package sprawl on the top of the bar, but

EXTREME CLOSE UP

the parcel finally breaks up and the WEEEEIRD medallion and a note slip out, the medallion bounces on a bar stool and clings near its legs. The camera keeps playing its silly games of telling us the outlines of things, when we can partially read DANGEROUS and MEDALLION. Just to make us suspect something about it. Anyway, the box is addressed to Egon S, not Peter V. care of the GHOST******* with lots of Middle East stamps clinging on it.

CHANGE TO

A general view of the back of a well dressed man. He’s calling out someone while slowly turning toward us.

PETER V: Honey, I’m home  (Possibly a cheesy The Shining voice)

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A matter of routine…

Oh my…. Three months since my last post…

It’s not that I’m being particularly lazy about writing something to put on my blog; there are at least a couple of dozen false starts for potential posts residing in my computer’s hard drive, posts that I began to compose but somehow managed to lose steam as I wrote them (this one almost went into the Recycling Bin).

It happens that I’m currently leading a lifestyle with only a few minor details to complain about (and I already did on an earlier post), and none of them relate to the The times and life of an author who lives in a rainforest motto, which is now a complete thing of the past.

To be honest, I don’t really know what to do with this blog anymore, as it was a way to vent my frustration of being stuck in the middle of a tropical jungle.

Anyway, my hands are full as I do my best to get acclimated to my new, more civilized life. Most of it is getting used to do things. My daily routine in the jungle was getting off bed at sunrise, go outside to either hit the road to scavenge metal or hack my way through overgrown greenery to see if I could find something to eat… then take a break when the heat was too oppressive to continue and then resume activity when the temperature reached more manageable levels.

These days my routine involves tinkering about the house, tightening loose screws, unloading the dishwasher, exercising, pulling crabgrass and try to grow some vegetables in the backyard (the soil here looks very fertile in spite of its desert-like qualities but I’m on a wait-and-see attitude here, folks).

Yeah, I know it doesn’t sound much of a routine but it’s a hundred times better than the one I was doomed to carry while living in the tropics.

One thing worth to mention, though, is the fact that I’m slowly adapting to deal with people again. This specially true whenever I go outside for a walk or with the goal of buying something in the supermarket. You see, while living in Cholondron, every time someone popped in my neighborhood, be it a stranger or someone I knew, it usually meant baaaad news.

Presently, whenever I interact with somebody, I keep telling myself: “okay, cool now… not everyone is a backstabbing sunofaB that wants to exploit you, like everybody back in the jungle… take a deep breath…”

What am I aiming for here?

Well, if you keep a car parked on your driveway for a year, you wouldn’t just board it and hit the road without first checking if everything is in working order, would you? You’d charge the battery, check the tire pressure and oil levels and that squirrels hadn’t decide to make a nest out of one of the back seats.

That’s exactly what I’m doing with my life at this moment; slowly revving up a piece of machinery that had been left to rust in the jungle for almost seventeen years.

Just be patient… the ride will be amazing once I’m done with my checklist.

Edwin Stark

Signing Off

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My upgrade path towards Windows 10

For the past year or so Microsoft has been tooting the marvelous qualities of their exalted Windows 10 upgrade, but so far this little beasty has left me unimpressed. Since the end of January I’ve been trying to install the damn silly thing into my hardware getup, for I wanted to test run the software and how it supposedly runs so well in ancient hardware.

It would have been easier, of course, if I had gone the just-update-it approach that the Windows 10 upgrade offers all earlier version users, but I wanted to see how well this digital creature cohabited with Windows 7 in a multiboot setup without actually wrecking my computer data, since most of my old software barely runs in that particular environment already. Especially since I wanted to test the 64-bits waters and have full access to the 4 gigabites of memory  inside my aging HP 435 computer.

So I bought a new, larger hard drive where I could reserve at least 240 Megs in a separate partition so Win 10 could sit there comfortably; then I spent almost six weeks fiddling with cloning software to see if I could migrate all the contents and data inside my old hard drive without much hassle. Which didn’t happen. You see, whenever you try to clone a hard drive, being able to copy the Master Boot Record (MBR) properly is a pain in the caboose. The MBR is the most crucial part of your operating system, telling your computer how to boot up. I tried to use several repair disk utilities, including the one that came with the cloning program to no avail.

I was about to give up.

There I was, going nowhere with a hard disk that wouldn’t boot up no matter what I tried. Then, in a sudden burst of inspiration, I decide to create a bootable USB flash drive, so I would be able to install and run Windows 10, letting him detect the earlier Windows 7 version and force to rebuild the MBR for me.

I’m so clever. And stubborn. *chuckles*

Now I got exactly what I wanted… So I thought. However, one single issue remained (isn’t it always that way, folks?):

Windows 10 takes too long to boot in an old computer like mine; it takes a full minute to get to the selective boot menu that lets me choose between Windows 7 and 10. Then it takes even longer to successfully boot Win 7 and a little more to do the same with Win 10.

That’s unacceptable.

Sigh.

I guess I’ll have to restore my old computer setup to its prearlier configuration, and keep on tinkering with Windows 7 for a while longer, until the situation improves and I’m finally able to get myself a faster, newer computer model without actually flinching at the idea of buying one.

Edwin Stark

Signing Off

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