Steve Jenson's blog

I'm stuck in that usual 2am funk where I can't sleep but I know I need to. Stacy came over after work and we watched a '48 Hours' episode regarding sleep disorders. I think I've gotten a lot better as old age (I'm nearly 24. hoo-ah) has set in but for 2 long years I lived, or existed I should say, on 4 hours a night. I think stress was a very large factor, I was much younger than the median age of the little community college I could afford to attend and saw no real way of ever paying for a "real" degree at a "real" University. I was too young to realize that sheepskin really didn't matter very much. In fact, I really didn't understand that until I got a call from Tom Cannon and an offer to move to San Francisco based purely on my mastery of an idiotic scripting language.

Anyway, so while I do sleep 6-7 hours a night, I feel I need more and Stacy complains that I wake up frequently. She emphatically suggested that I see one of the Sleep Therapy centers that Dan Rather is yammering about. My dad still laughs at the time when I was caught eating Cocoa Pebbles at 4am. I laugh because I don't remember it at all.

Boy, it's nostalgia night here in my little blog. I was waxing poetic earlier about my first experiences with Unix, which happen to coincide when I first met punk rock, and first saw somebody get tattooed up close and personal. James and I took a little trip up to a stinking city called Pasco in south-east Washington state. We were up there to meet with PuNKeR, somebody about 8 years older than me, who had run a local BBS and appreciated VMS security. He had just hitchhiked back to Pasco from Phoenix, hobo-style, and invited us up to shoot the shit and bring some crap for trade. Punker was at his girlfriend's place getting tattooed on the couch by one of the local kids. A 9" skull with a mohawk, I guess to match Wattie from the Exploited's tattoo. I watched for a couple of hours while this kid used a gnarly looking tool straight out of The Dentist on P's back which was covered in a nasty mixture of ink and blood. The tattoo artist noticed I looked a little pale and said "you next, kid?" "oh, fuck no!" elicited some laughs. Punker later told James "Just wait, that kid'll have a mohawk and more ink than me in a few years". (He was actually right even though I scoffed at the idea then.) After that day's inkwork ended, I traded P the bag phone for a few books on "UNIX"; one on arcane shell script wizardry couched in D&D phrases and stamped with "Public Library of Phoenix" on the inside cover, the other a reference guide to the "Top 50 UNIX(tm) Commands", and a few floppy disks full of stuff I couldn't find at the time since there was no ISP anywhere on my side of the state yet.

Books in hand and curiousity piequed, I set out in search of a real live Unix machine so I could try out all this crap that had only run on the idealized Unix environment living between my ears. Luckily Ray had just acquired a Unix mini[1] from his dad's CPA firm which had recently migrated to an early version of Novell. Nobody wanted to house it so it eventually found it's way into my bedroom. It wasn't a physically large machine, certainly smaller than dnm's LispM but if you wanted to use it effectively, you needed to keep several tty terminals connected. (Luckily we had been able to score some ultrahip vt320's). I could only fit three on my desk at once and kept the reference manuals it came with on my knee while I did stupid things like cat binaries to the screen, not know how to reset my terminal (physically resetting the terminal's power wouldn't do the trick, obviously), reboot the machine, watch as the boot partition told me to go fuck myself (I can't blame it), and then reinstall the entire system from tape. I loved it.

So what's the connection between unix and tattoos? Arcane. Painful. Wonderful.

I suppose you're wondering what happened to that old monster? I used it until the SCSI bus gave up the ghost and then threw it in a trash compactor the day before I moved to SF. The system tapes had all broken years earlier but I never needed to reinstall until then. I still own my main vt320 terminal and the DEC manuals for it are on my bookshelf.

Saturday night Ev and Jish are throwing a big bash at the EvPalace. I'm such a geek, I'm wondering if Dave Winer's going to show because I want to hassle him about RSS 1.0 vs 0.93.

There's this thing I need to find. It's called a "life"...

[1]: Hardware specs for those that care: 68020, 12M, 340M, 16 RS-232C's, and some big-ass tape drive i've never stumbled across again. It ran SysVR4 and came from a company called Convergent.

# — 23 February, 2002