Review – Sweet Charity

I saw the musical ”Sweet Charity”  at the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts last Saturday night. This was a special occasion for several reasons. My first and only visit to this venue was over 30 years ago on a third-grade field trip to watch the San Jose Taiko (Japanese drums) perform. The other reason is that Molly Ringwald is playing the main character. The last time I saw her was in ”Sixteen Candles” on television since I didn’t watch any of her movies while growing up as a teenager in the 1980’s.

Since my friend and I went for the cheap seats (which weren’t so cheap after paying the extra $7.00 USD fee for ordering the tickets ahead of time), we sat in the third floor balcony looking down on the stage from the back wall. A pair of mini binoculars is almost a requirement.

Ringwald plays a dance hall hostess named Charity who has an unfortunate string of boyfriends that went nowhere, starting off with her current boyfriend dumping her into the lake to steal her purse, hiding out in a closet when the movie actor’s girlfriend appears unannounced at his apartment, and almost getting married to a nervous who gets cold feet after realizing just how many guys she slept with before him.

If you were madly in love with Ringwald as a teenager, you will love her performance in this play as sings and dances almost non-stop.

DSL Modem Gives Up The Ghost

My DSL modem decided to give up the ghost while I was working at home today. It took a few hours to figure out that I wasn’t having a temporary line drop out since the front panel lights and the back hub lights were flashing with the network cables unplugged. A phone call to tech support declared the modem R.I.P. after I plugged the power brick directly into the wall instead of the power strip and the lights stopped flashing. Maybe the power brown out from this summer shortened its life cycle.

That’s a bad situation when working from home without a fast Internet connection. Running four or five help desk applications over a slow dial-up connection wasn’t an option. So I hiked over to the library at San Jose City College to plug my laptop into their network and continued working for the rest of the day.

I ordered the business class DSL modem from AT&T since it had the same price as my deceased consumer class DSL modem and looked sturdier. The website required Internet Explorer since AT&T hadn’t caught on that there are other web browsers, forcing me to boot into Windows on my MacBook. The joys of being a telecommuter in Silicon Valley.

The Firemouth Laid Eggs

I got a small firemouth cichlid for my 25-gallon fish tank a year ago that is now 4.5-inches long, being my first large fish that I ever owned. Unlike guppies and other livebearers that have obvious differences between the sexes, I was never certain as to what sex the firemouth was. Over the last several weeks, I kept thinking the firemouth might be a female. I noticed last night that “she” was spending more time in the large cave than the small cave—busted in half clay pots buried in the gravel—while chasing off the other fishes a little too maternally.

Using a flashlight to peer inside the large cave, I found rows of eggs planted on the underside. Won’t see any fry without a male firemouth to fertilize the eggs. The pleco ate most of the eggs this morning. The rest is turning white from a fungus that kills unfertilized eggs. I’m amazed to see this happen, but I’m also saddened that the eggs were a wasted effort and the female firemouth won’t get any larger.

More Adventures In Unix Administration

The exciting adventures in Unix Administration II class continued after I had to abort the installation of Red Hat 7.3 Linux last week, as the two-disc textbook version wanted a third disc that I didn’t have and the hard drive partition table got scrambled after I rebooted the system. I was planning to install Ubuntu but decided to go with the three-disc Red Hat offshoot, Fedora, for consistency with the rest of the class. The full install went on for two hours before the installer declared that the third disc was no good. This computer did not like having a third disc for some reason.

Since Plan B got trashed, it was time for Plan C with a minimal install.

As the computer was rebooting, I pressed the button on the disc drive to replace disc three with disc one to start the minimal installation. The drive tray opened with disc three still spinning at high speed and it flew out with a loud zoom to the back of the classroom. The entire class was watching me as I was the only student having problems getting the operating system installed. The instructor told me to try not to destroy the computer.

The minimal install took 25 minutes and I finally had the operating system installed to do my class work on. If I need additional software, I’ll download it off the internet. I hope next week’s class will be less exciting than this.

Being White & Nerdy With Weird Al


“Weird Al” Yankovic came out with a new music video called “White & Nerdy”. I can relate to everything except for the Segway, wearing a fanny pack and making out with bubble wrap. As much as I like Star Trek, I would never have posters of Captain Kirk and Captain Picard hanging on my wall. I’ll stick to my white and normal Norman Rockwell posters. There is only so much whiteness and nerdiness a person can take.


The Rattlesnakes of Unix Administration

My Monday night class, UNIX Administration II, was the first computer class that I’ve taken in three semesters that wasn’t cancelled due to low enrollment. Unfortunately, it’s not one of the two classes I need for graduation. The instructor lives out in Redding, CA, a four-hour drive from the San Francisco Bay Area, and stays at motel from Monday through Thursday. He told us stories about the rattlesnakes on his property before the first class got started last week.

He scooted one rattler off his porch with the tip of his shotgun before blowing its head off into the flower bed. His wife told him to bury the snake head in the ground to avoid having the bees get into the venom that makes the stinger more toxic. That’s an old wives’ tale. As for the snake head, there was anything left to bury. The shotgun was two inches away when he fired. One student got up to leave because he thought he was in the wrong class. The instructor reassured him that UNIX Administration II wasn’t a rattlesnake hunting class.

This week’s class was interesting. I had the joy of installing Red Hat 7.3 Linux (released in 2002) on my class computer from the two-disc set provided in the Thompson textbook. Everything was fine until 25 minutes into the installation when the installer asked for a third disc that the textbook didn’t have. No one else in class had a third disc, but they were able to finish installing. I rebooted, tried to recover, and was so out of luck. The hard drive partition table got hosed.

I haven’t had that much fun since 1997 when installing Linux was more complicated than it is today. I later read on the Internet that some Thompson textbooks carry a sticker saying that the discs don’t work and had instructions for downloading the latest version. Next week I’m bringing a copy of Ubuntu to install. I’m starting to like this particular Linux distribution enough that I might make a switch from OpenSuSE on my file server.

Returning To School For Fall Semester

School started yesterday at San Jose City College. I’m two classes short of getting my associate degree in computer programming. The two classes I’m taking this semester I really don’t need except to satisfy my curiosity and pass the time.

Finite Math is a Tuesday/Thursday night class in the new science building that’s not quite finished yet, as only the upstairs classrooms is available for use. I’m not sure if I like the new building yet. The grey floors, white walls and ivory counter tops that are appropriate for a laboratory, but don’t work well for a classroom. Finite Math is one of the few math classes I didn’t take during my first tour through college in the early 1990’s.

Unix Administration II is Monday nights. This class might get cancelled due to low enrollment. An article in the San Jose Mercury News described how the state universities are overwhelmed by a baby boomlet of new students entering the system and some classes have a waiting list for the waiting list. Seem like more people are on campus now than last semester. That doesn’t change the numbers for the computer department since, as Steve Jobs once said about the product lines after returning to Apple, there’s no sex in those computers anymore.