Off the Beaten Track

Sometimes I wander in thoughts and in actions.

Hiking the Adirondacks as a kid, I remember there were are all kinds of marked trails. They’ve got little signs tacked to trees marking colors. In some places, where there were no trees, they painted colors on the rock. These are the marked, well beaten trails. Sometimes they had helpful wooden signs posted here and there showing you the trail map. There was no GPS back then, but we always carried a topographical trail map in our pockets.

And then there was bushwhacking. We’d purposely wander off the beaten track. That’s where we’d get lost if we didn’t know what we were doing. My father always seemed to know what he was doing. We rarely got lost. Maybe we had awkward shortcuts, but never would we be lost. The moss always grew on the north side of the tree trunks.

It was not without adventure including bushwhacking itself and the occasional rattlesnake hiding under a rock or rotting tree branch.

Bushwhacking meant making your way through the thicket – broken branches and bushes, trudging over leaves and pine needles, encountering gnats, flies, and annoying threads left behind by spiderwebs. Sometimes there’d be some cool rocks to climb on. We had a collapsible metal cup we’d whip out when you came to a spring or stream, and we always had canteens too.

The Boyd solution to the snakes was simple enough. They were more scared of you than you were of them, my Dad used to say, so make a lot of noise. Get a big stick and whack at the tall grass on the hill you are climbing. Never got bit. Saw a lot of rattlesnakes and copperheads, though. My older brothers used to kill them by beating them with big sticks. Saw black bears, deer and pretty vistas.

Every aspect of that childhood still affects the way I am in front of my computer as an adult.

I prefer lesser known trails. Sometimes I prefer to bushwhack. Sometimes I get lost.

My computer hobby is this: the operating system that makes the thing work and the various desktop environments that sit on top of it. I’m always fiddling, never satisfied. My wife chuckles at me for this. “Are you installing Linux again?” “Well I screwed up something. It won’t boot, so I’m just reinserting the DVD. Don’t worry, I’ve been through this a million times.”

In 1983, Brooklyn, New York, I had a black screen with green words on it. That was what a computer looked like. It was a Tandy Radio Shack running the TRSDOS operating system. On that machine I used my first word-processor, wrote my first book, and learned BASIC programming.

Oh, why do I bore you? Windows came along. OS2 came along. Linux came along. FreeBSD and it’s latest incarnation TrueOS using Lumina -tried that too. Dabbled with Solaris. The worldwide web came along, domain names, another book, Turbo Pascal, perl and PHP. Added a wonderful wife, a job, pets, smart phones, tablets, laptops, and self-built computers, and here I sit, on my days off, fiddling.

Gotta stop now. See what’s going on in one of my other workspaces downloading Debian with their weird jigdo file download thingamabob. I’ll just press crl-alt right arrow and this whole screen flips over to the next one to see whuz up. I’ve got seven different screens called workspaces, all running different programs, or sometimes just there, all with different window background pictures, many that I took myself.

Author: Wayne Boyd

Wayne Edward Boyd was born in Morristown, New Jersey in 1953. He is a published author, former ISKCON sannyasi, and traveler, having lived on 3 continents and visited 37 countries. He presently lives in Amarillo, Texas working as a correctional officer and has interests in photography, political science and astronomy.

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