Been an even longer time

Found at: zaibatsu.circumlunar.space:70/~solderpunk/phlog/been-an-even-longer-time.txt

# Been an even longer time

Alright, I've now very definitely gone longer without posting
anything to the small/slow internet than I ever have before
since I started phlogging over four years ago - well, that's not
perfectly accurate, I *did* contribute to the first two issues
of the Circumlunar Transmisisons zine, which were released during
my recent away time.  But my own personal phlog, gemlog, Mastodon
account and email account have all been untouched for five months,
and badly neglected for even longer.  This prolonged absence was
not planned but was, I think, sorely needed.  That said, I think
I am ready to start slowly and carefully re-engaging with the
online world.  I don't think I'll ever end up back where I was,
active on most fronts on most days.  But I also don't think I'm
ready to disappear for good just yet, either.

So, where I have been?  Well, in some sense, twenty years or so in
the past.

Over a year ago (it honestly doesn't feel like it could possibly
have been that long, but presumably URL timestamps don't lie) I
was really intrigued after reading visiblink's phlog post[1] where he
described his experiment with living his life as if it were 1979
(having been there the first time 'round).  To some extent I've
been using my recent offline time to do something similar, although
perhaps not quite as rigorously.  I have no particular target year
in mind and there have been definite exceptions to this undertaking.
But in my leisure time lately I've kind of been LARPing the late
90s or early 00s.  I have been reading a lot of books on paper and
listening to a lot of music on CD (most of it from before 1979,
actually).  I have started building very simple medium and shortwave
radio receivers and when the sun goes down I've sat on my balcony
and twiddled knobs and passed time bearing witness to the inevitable
but slow and highly geographically-heterogeneous death of analogue
broadcasting in Europe.  I'd never really tried MW DXing before,
but I got really into it.  I might write a post about it later.

Somewhat ironically, my dominant use of computing and the internet
during this time, once I get home from work anyway, has been
for buying stuff!  Mostly used CDs and used books, having found
really a really good online source for both, but also new music
released on Bandcamp (the best of which I usually end up recording
to either cassette or MiniDisc so I can enjoy it without turning on
a computer), electronic parts (maybe half used and half new?) for
the radios mentioned above, and more recently even art supplies
(I've have pretty well hit all my non-computer related resolutions
for 2021[2], and I'm happy about that!).  I buy these things online
and then they arrive and I spend most of my free time enjoying
them offline.  This seems to be working out for me just fine.

I felt really disconnected from computing, as something more than
a mere means to very pedestrian ends, the entire time.  To be
honest, if it were not for long term projects like the Zaibatsu
which I wanted to maintain and which were linked intimately to my
"solderpunk" identity, I might very really have just retired that
persona altogether and disappeared for good, ala "why the lucky
stiff"[3].  I really think I could have done this and never looked
back and been happy.  I'm not sad that I didn't;  I'm happy to have
gotten close enough to doing so to convince myself that I could.
I think it's important knowledge of the self to have.

What has pulled me back?  Well, somewhat to my surprise I remembered
ROOPHLOCH in time to announce the 2021 event on the 1st of September.
I didn't actually participate myself.  But during that month I
finally grit my teeth and got around to performing a long overdue
hard drive replacement on my laptop.  The refurbished spinning hard
disk I bought with the thing about 5 years ago started displaying
intermittent faults, causing my computer to occasionally "freeze"
for brief periods while waiting for disk IO to either time out or
finally work after many retries.  The SMART status indicated it
was in "pre-failure" condition.  I put off doing anything about
this for quite a while (and honestly even briefly thought about
just *not* doing anything about it).  I eventually bought a new SSD
(buying used drives unfortunately doesn't seem to make much economic
sense) and migrated my stuff over.  Getting my rickety offline-first
email system and its many moving parts (which I never bothered to
document for myself) working again provided just enough of that
special precision blend of "this is frustrating as hell but also
important and I know that I can get it working just the way I want
it if I keep at it just a *little* longer" (most of you know the
stuff, I suspect, and are equally susceptible to it) that I became
not unhappily ensnared by the machine again.  And by then ROOPHLOCH
was over, so I went and actually read the posts[4] (all four of them -
thank you to those dedicated outdoor phloggers who kept the challenge
alive!).  This was, no kidding, my first contact with Gopherspace
in months and months.  After reading Shufei's post in particular[5] I
felt a tremendous sense of being right back where I belonged.  So,
if you're happy to see me back, thank Shufei.  She's as jake as they
get, folks.  A proper spiffing wizard.  Not the least bit feckless.

I don't think I will bother returning to Mastodon.  I do plan to
start writing again, thought.  I might write quite a bit for a
little while, both to help get back into the swing of things and to
clear out my mental buffer of stuff I've been thinking about while
gone, but then I think I will probably settle into writing longer
things less often.  Expect a continued focus on the intersection
of environmentalism and technology, but perhaps with less of a
focus on sustainable/salvage computing than I originally planned.
The longer I think about it, the less that seems like a sensible
thing to focus on all that much.  But, you know, there will be some
of it.  I'm not a monk.

[1] gopher://zaibatsu.circumlunar.space:70/0/~visiblink/phlog/20200822
[2] gopher://zaibatsu.circumlunar.space:70/0/~solderpunk/phlog/2021-resolutions.txt
[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Why_the_lucky_stiff
[4] gopher://zaibatsu.circumlunar.space:70/1/~solderpunk/roophloch/2021/
[5] gopher://zaibatsu.circumlunar.space:70/0/~shufei/phlog/20210910-Life-ROOPHLOCH-Howdy.txt