far too much writing, far too many photos

My new copy of The Secret Guide To Computers (28th edition) arrived today. This makes the fourth time I’ve bought a copy of the bugger — each time a different edition — in part because, not being the world’s most technically-minded individual, I need a good, basic, understandable, reasonably comprehensive computer reference manual. The Secret Guide is all that, in addition to being a genuinely wacky piece of low-budget art in its own way. Its author, Russ Walter, has attitude to burn, most of it droll (example, from the first page of the book: “I hate this book. I wish this book didn’t have to exist. I wish computer companies would create pleasant hardware, software, and manuals; but until they do, scribes like me are doomed to spend our lives explaining the computer industry’s mistakes.”). The writing is not dry and it sure as hell isn’t written like a tech manual. This is good, as my teeny little brain sometimes shuts right down as soon as I try reading technical writing. Sometimes it shuts down if I even think about reading technical writing, so that when I actually have to read some of that stuff I need to sneak up on my brain, make like I’m actually thinking about doing something altogether different and then ambush it with reading material that makes it want to scream and curl up in fetal position.

But I digress.

Russ Walter not only has comic attitude, he is endearingly unattached to making huge sums of money, selling the book at discounts that quickly become steeper the more copies you buy (give them to friends! use them as conversation pieces or to prop up the short leg on that wobbly dining table!) and encouraging people to make and distribute reprints of “as many pages as you like,” asking only for the insertion of a notice at the beginning of the reprint. He even includes his home phone number encouraging calls at whatever hour of the day or night.

This is not to say he’s a saint. I’ve actually called him on two or three occasions, experiences that were a bit less than wonderful. On the other hand, someone else I know called him and had a fine experience, so what do I know?

The book is easily worth checking out. Educational, and good goofy fun.


The leaves have been turning in this area (this area being northern Vermont, about 15 miles northeast of Montpelier — just outside the Northeast Kingdom), but sparingly. Here and there a tree will be well along, but for the most part the color green still abounds. The equinox is coming on fast, the evening shadows stretch out across the ground earlier and earlier — the only thing about this time of year I’m less than crazy about.

The weather these last couple of months has been sensational — warm and dry through July and August, shifting to a more normal cycle of sun and rain during September. The last three days have all started off with fog, giving way late morning to blue, blue skies and rising temperatures. The air is clear, the ridges stretching up from the floor of the valley sharply vivid. It’s beautiful, in a way that almost leaves me speechless (and wouldn’t that be a nice change?). The temperature sails up into 70s during the day — near 80 today — then as soon as the sun moves down behind the trees to the west, the mercury coasts precipitously down, the air developing a chilly edge with surprising speed. One minute you’re out there in a t-shirt, warm (almost too warm in direct sunlight), the next you’ve got gooseflesh and a cool breeze sends you inside the house in search of a flannel shirt.

I stepped outside at dusk tonight, shortly after the nearly-full moon had hauled itself up from the ridges across the valley. Several stars shone above, the cold air had the beginning of some bite – a gentle bite, but a bite. Insects sang in the grass all around the yard. A few chickadees still came and went at the bird feeders that hang by the dining room windows, their flight a series of swoops as they made their way back and forth between feeders and the fir trees that stand in a curving line off this end of the house.

Autumn will assert itself more forcefully in the coming weeks. Montpelier and the local highways will grow busy with carloads of leaf peepers. Trees will grow starkly bare. Leaves will blow before chilly winds.

I intend to enjoy these warm days while they’re around.


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