For as long as I can remember I've spent most of my days solving problems I didn't know I had when I woke up in the morning. I've also liked pepper. On Monday, a casual mention of "Ubuntu Linux " in a magazine sent me off downloading software to burn ISO images (CDBurnerXP Pro ) so that I could install this great new gift on a PC abandoned by my father. In my small home office I'm currently running Windows 2000, Win XP, Fedora Core 6, CentOS 4.6, and am usually connected to a CentOs 4.6 machine and a hand full of Win2k servers. Since Ubuntu Linux is "linux for human beings", I thought I'd give it a go. No dice. Three quarters of the way through the boot process something would hang, and after multiple attempts I gave up, and surrendered a small portion of my humanity. Along the way I downloaded a new version of bittorrent , and the latest build of Fedora Core 9. What the heck.
It's been dawning on me lately that simple things might actually work better. I believe the exact moment of this epiphany was when I was trying to build an Asterix box for the house. Our 2.4GHz cordless phones (or our neighbors) were knocking out the linksys WRT54G wireless routers I have scattered around. Something called "Asterix @ Home" (now called trixbox ) beckoned. Our home would have it's own multi-line VOIP server connecting us to the world. I just needed a Plain old phone to test some wiring. A trip to Family Dollar and $7 later and I had a working phone that sported a callerID display and a bunch of programmable buttons. That's when it hit me: My little family dollar phone had no power supply, no configuring, no patches, no upgrades, and unlike the VOIP box, it got a dial tone. A miracle, and for less that 10 bucks. Now I've freed up another machine to try to install Ubuntu on. No, wait.
Our new house has a postage stamp sized lawn. My move to simplicity really started a a bit over a year ago, a couple weeks after we moved in. The grass was growing. Not wanting to be the scourge of the neighborhood I set out to find a lawnmower. I would also need a gas can. Since, we don't have a garage, we'd need a shed to store the mower and the gas can. There were some very cool shed designs in an old issue of popular mechanics at the library, but the grass was really getting up there.
I'm now the proud owner of a 1930's vintage Montgomery Ward Reel lawnmower. It's been lovingly cared for by my 90 year old neighbor since it's original purchase, and since he has three others he thought $30 was a fair price. The lawn looks great. It takes about 10 minutes to cut. The mower fits nicely under the porch wrapped in garbage bags. Spray the blades of a reel mower with Pledge furniture polish, not 10W40 and the grass won't stick. It's simple. It was cheap. It works as well or better that its complicated cousins.
That brings me back to pepper. I've always loved the stuff. As a kid I thought it was great when waiters in restaurants would come around with giant pepper grinders. Great fun. I've had a succession of cool looking grinders, all of which disappeared during the move. A crisis. Must. Have. Pepper. This lead to the $1.39 cent purchase of the above picture "Best Yet" pepper. Amazingly enough, this stuff comes pre ground ! And ground to a powdery fine wonderful consistency never attained by any of my fancy grinders. And the taste…who knew? Chicken soup suddenly tastes like Grandma's.
I'm sold. Simple is the way it should be.