So Smart I’m Dumb

Let’s begin with this:

Windowx XP running in a virtual machine on Linux Mint

Windows XP, running in a virtual machine on Linux Mint. Hell, I even configured the Quick Launch toolbar, and the single screenshot I have of my XP days shows I never used the Quick Launch toolbar.

So, why do I have a Windows XP virtual machine running under Linux?

Yesterday morning, I was doing my work for Diamond from my Mint installation. I’d gone into my remote desktop to grab some files and clean up some text for layout, but mainly I was working on digital content for Diamond’s websites which required only a VPN connection to the network, and I could access the backend through my browser, not unlike using WordPress or LiveJournal or another CMS.

I reached my final article, and while I had the spreadsheet with the data for the article, it needed to be converted into an HTML table to go in the website. I use macros in Excel and Word for that, macros that will not work with LibreOffice. I rebooted into Windows, ran the macros on the spreadsheet, connected to the VPN, and did the last article.

Surely there was a better way? No, converting the VBA to LO’s macro language is not on my agenda. I wouldn’t even know where to begin.

“Maybe I could set up a virtual machine under Linux? I have Windows install discs. I have Office XP install discs. I can set up a virtual machine, then when I need to run a macro and I’m in Linux, I can hop into the virtual machine and do it. I won’t need to reboot.”

That evening, I found two Windows install discs — Windows 95 and Windows XP — and my Office XP discs in my closet and set to work. After installing KVM and having to deal with chmod and directory permissions and the like, I converted my discs to ISOs, put them on an external drive, and got to installing.

Windows 95 would not boot at all.

Windowx XP, though! I gave the virtual machine two cores, 2 gigs of memory, and an 8 gig “hard drive,” which is way overkill for what I need doing. But it’s just space, and I have 6 terabytes of storage…

Office XP installed, my macros loaded into Word and Excel templates, my wallpaper set, I was quite chuffed with myself. I did it! I had a problem! I solved it! Genius!

And after I took a victory lap on Twitter, I realized with stark clarity that I didn’t need to do all that work. There was no need to reboot into Windows for the necessary surgery in the spreadsheet. I was connected to the VPN to do my CMS work. All I had to do was to launch my remote desktop, access my work computer, load up the spreadsheet, and run the macros there. Then I could paste the resulting table into my local browser.

I didn’t have to do all that work! I had a tool! A perfectly good tool! I couldn’t see it!

Sometimes I am so smart and clever I’m dumb.

I’m so dumb.

But, I have a Windows XP virtual machine now.

I saw this survey of Carbon Leaf fans on Facebook this morning, and I wanted to share my answers.

#1- What’s your absolute favorite Carbon Leaf song?
“Blue Ridge Laughing.” I love the lyrics — “space brings back boyish wonder.” They make me think wistfully of someone I knew long ago.

#2- What’s a song or two by Carbon Leaf that you really want to hear them play live but haven’t gotten to so far?
Two come quickly to mind: “When I’m Alone” and “Love Rain Down.”

#3- if you were to pick one song to hear Carbon Leaf cover live, what would it be?
Delia Derbyshire’s Doctor Who theme.

No, I’m being totally serious here.

I have several friends who discovered Carbon Leaf and are now quite passionate about the band because of a 2007 Doctor Who fanvid set to “What About Everything?” (I have an FLV of that original version of the fanvid; it was pulled down for copyright.) I think the band could do a really funky, groovy, rocking, 4-5 minute instrumental jam on the Doctor Who theme, the middle eight included — drums, bass guitar, electric guitar, pipe. Celtic Who!

For something more… conventional, elbow’s “My Sad Captains.” They’re two very different bands, yet I find that Barry and Guy Garvey have similar lyrical sensibilities, heavy on precise imagery and imaginative wordplay. I think about how Carbon Leaf would approach some of elbow’s songs (“Scattered Blacks and Whites” and “New York Morning,” for instance) and how elbow would approach some of Carbon Leaf’s (“Lake of Silver Bells” would be amazing). I could hear Barry’s lyrics in Guy’s Mancunian burr, and I could hear Guy’s everyman lyrics in Barry’s Virginia bass. “My Sad Captains” is a song that breaks my heart every time I hear it, especially the way elbow performs it live, as an acoustic piece. It’s a song of loss and mourning — it’s one of a number of songs Garvey wrote about the death of his close friend, Brian Glancy — and the joy of having had the experience of friendship in the face of its loss. I think of the friends I’ve lost over the years, and the good memories I still hold of them.

#4- what’s your favorite venue that you’ve seen Carbon Leaf play at so far?
Longwood Gardens, Pennsylvania, July 2013.

It was ridonculously hot and muggy that Saturday. I hadn’t been to Longwood in a decade. I didn’t even decide until that morning that I was going. To be honest, I didn’t know it was even happening until an email landed in my inbox.

Great show, a really different setlist (“The Friendship Song”!), and a really cool setting. (Their stage was a lighted fountain.)

#5- What year was the first time you saw Carbon leaf live? And where was it?
KA party, University of Richmond, late September 1997. Shadows in the Banquet Hall had just come out. I bought the first album, Meander for eight dollars. (Shadows was ten.)

Published by Allyn Gibson

A writer, editor, journalist, sometimes coder, occasional historian, and all-around scholar, Allyn Gibson is the writer for Diamond Comic Distributors' monthly PREVIEWS catalog, used by comic book shops and throughout the comics industry, and the editor for its monthly order forms. In his over ten years in the industry, Allyn has interviewed comics creators and pop culture celebrities, covered conventions, analyzed industry revenue trends, and written copy for comics, toys, and other pop culture merchandise. Allyn is also known for his short fiction (including the Star Trek story "Make-Believe,"the Doctor Who short story "The Spindle of Necessity," and the ReDeus story "The Ginger Kid"). Allyn has been blogging regularly with WordPress since 2004.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *