Most people who know me know that I’m lucky enough to be a mild asthmatic. This is especially true when I’m exposed to allergens, in particular cats, which can give me a severe attack in mere minutes. Even more fun, the effect can be magnified if I happen to have a chest cold.
Well, on Friday, we went play poker at Javan and Christina’s… and they have a cat. And I have a cold. The poker was good fun. The asthma, not so much. Fortunately, I brought my inhaler… but, with the cat, not to mention the gradually increasing temperature of the house (thanks to the additional bodies), and all the talking and laughing, I had to take a number of doses in a fairly short time in order to control things.
But, it gets better! After getting home, the symptoms flared up, so I took another puff and tried to get to sleep (I would have also taken a Claritin, but I’d taken some allergy pill that Massie had (which is, evidentally, ineffective for me) and wasn’t in to mixing meds). Then, at around 2am, I woke up, wheezing away (see, isn’t this fun?), and did what you’d expect, and took another couple of puffs. And that’s when everything went bad.
You see, the drug in my inhaler is one called Salbutamol. It’s a beta-2 antagonist and binds to receptors in the lungs, triggering the fight-or-flight response normally generated by adrenaline, resulting in a smoothing of the bronchial muscles and a widening of the airway. In a pinch, it’s a miracle drug, capable of moderating an asthma attack in minutes. Unfortunately, it also triggers a number of side effects which, under normal circumstances, rarely occur for me. Except for this time. The difference, however, is that, after some reading, I’ve come to the conclusion that I, in fact, probably overdosed on the stuff. Among the fun things I experienced:
As well as increased urination and mild muscle cramps in my feet. Joy! To be honest, I think it was probably one of the worst things I’ve ever experienced… imagine feeling uncontrollably nervous and scared, combined with a racing heart and the sensation of pressure on your chest. Then throw in difficulty breathing, thanks to the asthma, not to mention exhaustion due to lack of sleep.
As you can imagine, there was no way I could go back to bed with all this going on, and so I went downstairs to watch TV and try to relax… and I never really went back to bed. I dozed periodically here and there, but never really slept, and in fact didn’t really sleep until the next night.
So, let this be a lesson to all you asthmatics out there! Salbutamol is a powerful drug! Don’t mess around with this stuff! Exceeding the recommended dose is a very dangerous, unpleasant, and frightening experience, especially if you don’t know that’s what’s happening. Be careful!
So, in an amusing twist of fate, after going to Best Buy (yes, again… piss off!) and buying myself another video card for a whopping $129, I discovered (during a household search for other components, but I’ll get into that later) that I did, in fact, have a spare video card that will suffice… an old PCI Mach64, which will certainly do the job for the short term (and will eventually find itself in my server, in a swap for the GeForce card it currently possesses). Thus, now I find myself needing to go back to Best Buy (yes, for a third time) to return the card I just purchased.
Oh well, on the bright side, I’m saving myself $129, and I found that old card I was sure I had!
Bah, so I plugged in the Mach64 card, and the board wouldn’t power up. Odd, I thought. I pulled the card, and when I hit the power switch, at least the fan started spinning. So I plugged in the GeForce and… spinny fan, but no POST (Power On Self Test, for those not in the know… the part of the boot sequence where the RAM is counted, etc). Not even a beep from the speaker. And the HD led stays on, which doesn’t seem like a good thing.
So, I think I’m gonna abort this whole process. I’ll try taking the board back to BEST, and the card back to Best Buy (I’ll keep the RAM and just load up Frodo for now). Now, on to trying to compile a new kernel for Frodo, since the current kernel apparently doesn’t recognize more than 896 megs of RAM (as oppose to the 1.5 gigs that’s in there). I hate computers.
Further Updated Update:
Got the new memory in and the new kernel compiled. After futzing with my video drivers, I even have X working again! Now comes the wait to see if anything broke… good thing I kept the old kernel around.
So some of you may remember that a while back, I had a combination hard drive and power supply failure, simultaneously. The hard drive failure was pretty easy to detect, thanks to that lovely, disturbing clicking noise that haunts the dreams of anyone who’s experienced such a failure. Fortunately, the danger here was mitigated by the fact that, for some time now, I’ve chosen to run a pair of drives in a mirrored configuration (aka, RAID-1). Thus, while it appears to the user that I have a single drive, in reality, the data is always written to both drives.
The power supply, on the other hand, was an entirely different matter. When I noticed the failed drive, I removed it from the mirror and attempted to reboot my computer. But the other drive wouldn’t spin up! Or, it would spin up, but the computer wouldn’t detect it! Scared, I moved the drive to a spare machine I had, but sure enough, that machine wouldn’t detect the drive either! As a last resort, I took the drive to work the next day, and, to my great relief, the drive was perfectly readable, with all data intact. It was at this point that Lenore reminded me that my spare machine wasn’t in use because the hard drive controller was hosed. I then made the assumption that the same was true for my main computer.
Thus, I resolved to purchase myself another motherboard. So I took a trip over to BEST Computers and picked up a new board and a pair of new drives to replace my old mirror. But, when I got home that evening, I had a little epiphany, and decided to use my spare computer’s power supply in my main machine, just to test it out. And voila! It worked perfectly! Let this be a lesson: power supply failures can create weird, mysterious problems.
Anyway, what does this have to do with building computers? Well, suddenly, I had myself a spare motherboard and nothing to do with it. The natural thing, I thought, was to build a new machine (as opposed to just returning it…). So, eventually, I picked up a new power supply ($80), and this combined with the surviving hard drive from my last mirror, and the video card and RAM from my spare machine equalled a new box. Or so I thought.
So I began assembly. All seemed to go well. I got the motherboard mounted, and proceeded to grab the RAM… which, I discovered was 133-pin SDRAM, too old for my new board which required 184-pin DDR-RAM. sigh So I took a last minute trip to Best Buy (yeah yeah, piss off) and picked up a gig of new memory ($140 - $26 rebate).
Alright, so, RAM now installed. Case back panel, mounted. Front panel connectors, connected. Hard drive and CD-ROM, installed. So far so good. Lastly, video card.
Now, you probably already know this, but the job of the tech industry is to make simple things hard and hard things impossible. In the case of video cards, they decided to invent the AGP slot, into which a video card is to be installed. Which would be simple. To make it hard, they decided to have different voltages for AGP. 3.3v, 1.5v, and if that wasn’t enough, 0.8v too! So, if you have a card in one voltage, and board which only takes another, you’re hosed.
I bet you can guess what happened. I, apparently, have a 3.3v AGP card. Conveniently, my motherboard only takes a 1.5v AGP card. grumble. So now I’m stuck buying a new video card ($80).
So, total for this adventure:
Motherboard $150 Power supply $80 RAM $140 Video card $80 Rebate -$26 Total: $424
And the sick thing is, for about $80 more, I could get a whole new computer with a bigger hard drive and a nice sized LCD flat panel monitor to replace the 15” piece of CRT crap that I have now. And that is why I hate building computers.
So we went to visit my Granda Kosinski on the Easter weekend… first time in, like, 5 months, much to my chagrin. Anyway, she lives down in Camrose, so we did the drive down there and visited for a couple hours and did the usual… talked talked talked. Well, during the course of discussions, we some how landed on the topic of books, and I discovered a rather interesting little factoid: apparently my great-grandma’s, and hence also my grandma’s, favourite book was/is “The Count of Monte Cristo”! Heck, my grandma owns two copies of the book, and while we were chatting about it, proceeded to describe some of the major plot points, something I can barely do with any book I’ve read. Now, this in and of itself is interesting, particularly since my great-grandma, when first introduced to the book, couldn’t actually read, and so only knew it because she heard other people reading it out loud. But the other thing that makes this all rather ironic, at least to me, is that TCMC is one of a small handful of books that I consciously chose not to finish (one of the others being “The Plague”, by Albert Camus, but I think I can hardly be blamed for that one).
Anyway, I think I can do nothing but make another attempt at the book, so back into the queue it goes. Which means I should get to it sometime… next year, maybe.
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