New Year’s Day 2020

It is 7:35 on New Year’s Day 2020.

I always have this image that the holidays will be a relaxing time. I imagine myself sitting on the couch reading a book with a fireplace on the TV and some Christmas music in the background. What I always forget is that they are always very busy and stressful. The schedule changes but my activities increase.

Here are a few of the activities in no particular order:

  1. Buy Christmas presents
  2. Decorate the house
  3. Go get a picture with Santa
  4. Write letters to Santa and get them mailed to the USPS Santa service
  5. Do the Portable North Pole Santa video
  6. Go to holiday parties
  7. Go see the Nutcracker
  8. Do year end backups of data.
  9. Fix all the things that needed fixing but there was no time.
  10. Play with kids during any free time
  11. Set up new devices brought by Santa
  12. Take holiday trips and attend family events.

The list goes on and what I’ve found is I actually have more free time at work than I do during the holidays. I’m also still technically working except for Christmas and New Years although there really isn’t anything to do. It does add a little stress being “on call” rather than being completely off which you never can be in this line of work.

The holidays have been productive however and I’ve accomplished what I set out to do. The main thing was to take the family back to Ohio as my kids had only been there when they were very little and don’t remember much. There were two family events, my cousin’s wedding reception followed the next day by my Aunt’s 70th birthday. Kai and Mark got to spend a lot of quality time playing Fortnite which was unexpected as he had previously not been allowed to play. The second he got the OK I helped him get all set up (micro SD card, skins etc) and now he is good to go. I was hoping he would be able to play the game as it is a great opportunity to actually talk and connect with his cousin through the game as we live thousands of miles apart. If it wasn’t for Fortnite the next time they might talk to each other could be a year or even a couple of years away.

The second thing I wanted to do was to update my kid’s tech. The main thing I want them to do is take pictures and video of their lives so they can look back on their own childhoods. I really wish I had more than just one video and one low quality recording of my own childhood. With their phones especially, they can take pictures and video which auto backup to their own Google accounts. However, updating to new devices can take a while as there are the settings, transfers, automation, backups, logins, updates and so on to get it all working. It takes time.

The last activity of the holiday season was going over to our family friend’s place where we caught the final sunset of 2019, had nice wine and conversation and the women watched Kohaku, the end of year Japanese TV show.

Last sunset of 2019

Well, with all this activity, travel and stress I’ve come down with a cold. It started yesterday with a sore throat and become full blown by the end of the day. As an added bonus one of my eyes turned red which sometimes happen when I get a cold and must be a viral thing. I wasn’t going to miss the gathering last night but my energy was completely gone by 9:30 and I had to tell the wife we were leaving although she wanted to watch 20 more minutes of Kohaku. I told her she could take an Uber but I was going. We all still have a bit of jet-lag from Ohio so it really was more like 12:30 AM for me. I took NyQuil and had a good night’s sleep but I’m still very tired this morning. The question is if I’ll actually rest today or take down the decorations.

I also have another activity and this is one I really enjoy. While home my Mom asked me to delete the data in a few of her old computers so she could safely get rid of them. I had a nice surprise when I realized one of them was my old computer from my time in Japan from 2001 – 2003. Now, I love to digitally record my life – as this blog attests – and finding an old computer is like finding a gold mine. It is an old Dell Inspiron 8000, big and bulky and one where I had password protected my Windows account. I was determined to get into it but didn’t have much time to try while in Ohio so I lugged the huge thing back to California.

I did manage to get in but it was a little tricky, especially since my buddy Horacio had helped me partition the drive to half Linux. When you boot it up the first thing you see is the GNU Boot Loader and so it took me a minute to figure out how to get into the Windows Safe Mode option screen. Reading the forums I figured out I should be able to by hitting F8 immediately after selecting Windows over Linux. It took a few tries but I learned it would work if I hit F8 approx 2 milliseconds after selecting Windows.

In the Windows Safe mode screen I could select Administrator, then users and just remove the password from my own account. I had tried this from the regular login screen by hitting CTRL, ALT, DELETE, DELETE, which takes you to a screen where I could type in Administrator but that didn’t work due to “account restrictions.” However, logging into Windows through administrator while in safe mode worked!

I had to go through all of this because there is no way I’ll ever remember my password from 2001. My password hint was “What is my favorite?” I tried a bunch of things but knowing me I probably just put that to ‘throw off the hackers’ should I have ever lost my computer and the real password being just a combination of letters and symbols. Little did I realize one could just go to safe mode and through the Administrator account for full access.

Opening up my old computer was wonderful and brought back a lot of memories. Here is a screenshot.

My desktop from 2003

To my delight I was greeted with my computer saying “ich will” from Rammstein. I really liked playing with my computer and getting it to do different things. The internet was still very new and exciting then and I was enthralled. Looking at the desktop I see old programs such as Kazaa, the forgotten file sharing service, Trillian the instant messenger and my PalmPilot desktop sync. I’m currently looking for my old PalmPilot which was indispensable to me and getting around the Tokyo metro. This desktop truly is frozen in time and it will be fun exploring it more.

The only slight disappointment is that I’ve been very good at transferring my data ever since the late 90s and so I already have all the pictures and videos. There was only one I did not currently have and had been searching for over the years and was delighted to find it. The other good find was a program that kept all my passwords. Of course it itself is password protected but perhaps since it is so old there will be a trick to force it open. I’d like to see if any of my old accounts still work on any services that are still around.

Closing the computer I was also treated with a nice surprise by Agent Smith saying “Goodbye Mr. Anderson.” Boy do I miss the old days. I think I might be one of a small group of people on this Earth who can actually have a look back in time due to the preservation of old data. I continue to be fascinated by the passage of time and feel I’m surrounded by those who are only cognizant of the present moment, with any memories being nothing more than white and black flashes. With this data especially, the past for me is more like a full color, surround sound IMAX movie. It is not only the memories I remember but the feelings and mindset as well. I can pick up with a friend of 20 years ago just as easily as with a friend I just saw yesterday. At 42 I’ve learned this is a rare talent.

Well, the family is now downstairs and my concentration broken. I’d like to get a post up with reflections on 2019 and thoughts of what 2020 will bring but now is not that time.

By Mateo de Colón

Global Citizen! こんにちは!僕の名前はマットです. Es decir soy Mateo. Aussi, je m'appelle Mathieu. Likes: Languages, Cultures, Computers, History, being Alive! \(^.^)/