Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Moment of Truth

I been thinking about the first computer I ever ordered all the parts for and put together myself.

The parts came separately packaged in this huge-ass box that you could've easily fit four or five humans in comfortably.

And so I unpacked everything and I wired everything up on the kitchen table.

And there was that first time you turn it on, after wiring it all up, where this horrible feeling of dread comes over you, this feeling that something terrible is gonna happen, that your mad scientist powers aren't quite up to snuff or you missed something or you didn't do something right and now you are gonna fry a bunch of these new super expensive components that you can barely afford to start with and you definitely can't afford to replace and it would take days to replace 'em even if you could afford to do it and all that.

That's the Moment of Truth, y'know.

The moment where all the bullshit spinning around in your head is finally put to the test.

There's no way to be awake enough to be sure you did everything right, no matter how many cigarettes you smoke and no matter how much coffee you drink.

Anyways, the first time I turned on the first computer I ever put together myself, there was a moment where nothing happened.

Followed by a little hissing noise.

Followed by a moment where the case filled up entirely with a thick gray curling soup of impenetrable smoke.

And then finally all the fans whirring along in the machine and the massive ceiling fan above the kitchen table instantly distributed the smoke throughout the room so that the entire dining area became a thick gray fog that nobody could see through.

Somebody was with me in the room, I don't remember who, but I didn't even get to go through this horrible process alone and maintain my dignity ahaha.

So then I turned the damned thing off, luckily my finger had never left the switch, or I prolly would have had a hard time finding it in all the smoke heh.

And then I waited 'till all the smoke cleared.

And then I poked around in the case until I discovered that the source of all my problems was that the wiring that came from the front connectors on the case (the hard-drive and power lights and stuff, they didn't have USB in those days but I think there was prolly audio jacks and junk) were pinched and shorted by the frame and structure of the case, and this HUGE amount of smoke had come from a tiny little bit of fried wire insulation.

It wasn't something I did, it was the guy that put the case together that did it, but I hadn't noticed it, and that's all that really matters, in the end.

And so I fixed all that (I actually soldered new wires on the crap, I had been an electronics bench technician while I was in college to be a computer guy and robot programmer), and everything was good, none of my "good stuff" got torched or anything.

But I'll never forget that deal with the suspense and hitting the button and the smoke pouring out and everything, I mean, it couldn't have been more cartoony and horrible, not even in a dream, with the ceiling fan strumming the fog and making it spin and the fans in the case spewing forth turbine jet streams of smoke, the whole deal, that was total mad scientist shit at its best, the special effects were perfect.

So, whatever, y'know, I worked on my karma a bit, and I learned a lot (the hard way, obviously), and now that kinda stuff hardly ever happens to me anymore.

But I figger its good to share the disaster I was greeted with when I first showed up to the nascar hillbilly of computers scene originally, y'know, like a dumb country boy with pockets full of hopes and dreams and not a whole lot else 'cause I had already been tricked out of all my money by fast-talking city folks peddling all sorts of magical ointments and devices along the way.

You won't get far if you can't take a few punches, right out of the gate, but you learn a little bit from every punch.

And in the end, you'll have a whole lot of stupid stories that you can laugh about with your buddies, if nothing else.

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