To whom it may concern,
I am writing this missive while booted into Linux Mint from an ancient USB stick. How I came to this sad, low, lonely state is a tale of hubris and pride. You see, I am a habitual dismisser of Windows system restore disk nag screens. "System restore?" I cry. "Pah! I don't have time for that right now. Begone, thou pesky fiend! Begone!" Pride knotted my heart and furrowed my brow, each time that I swept the nag screen from my cluttered desktop with a snarl. What use have I for system restores? Nothing bad shall happen. Not anytime soon, anyway.
And so, I have a USB stick jutting like a swollen tongue from the front of my ancient HP desktop machine. I peer at a screen that looks as if it came to my desk straight from the darkened hollows of 1998. Once upon a time, I was a fervent user of Linux. Once, I crowed from the rooftops about the virtues of Gentoo and Slack and Debian. Once, I believed it the height of computational prowess to compile my kernel from source, custom configured to my machine through the fervent work of Cheetos-stained fingers dancing madly across the pleasing feel and click of a mechanical keyboard. Once, I thought nothing of peering at a desktop filled with flat grays, bleak and morose, adorned with a deep black terminal window astrewn with command-line spew. But those days are behind me. Far behind.
To a spoiled Windows user, it feels like a strange hell. I have a soft spot in my heart yet for this beast Linux, though. Like that friend, whom I've known for years. The one who ate many dried acrylic paint chips in art class, and who had a penchant for dosing himself with voltage straight from the terminals of the ignition coil in a '79 Chevy. Sometimes, that friend was a pretty cool guy, good for some solid laughs. But other times, no matter what I did, he was determined to wear a pancake like a hat upon his head, and all I could do was ignore him and hope that the febrile gleam in his eye would soon fade. I look upon this bleak, smoke-colored interface through the mist of years, much as I look through the boxes of ancient photographs in the closet to refresh those memories of laughter and howls of pain filling the grease-smeared walls of the auto-mech shop. I look back, peering through the years, and think, "sweet mother of pete, that dude was crazier than a shit-house rat. And what the hell is up with this desktop screen that looks like a pre-release version of Windows 95?"
No sound comes from my speakers. They should work, I think. My machine is old and mainstream, no funky hardware to be found. Alas, David Draiman silently mouths the words of an ancient Simon and Garfunkel tune upon my second browser tab with impassioned, yet forever silent, emotion. Sing loudly, David. I have ears, but I can't hear a friggin thing.
Weep for me, my friends. I have accidentally erased the Firefox shortcut from the bottom taskbar, and I lack the technical knowledge to restore it to its rightful place, just to the right of the tiny little white smudge and the word 'Menu'. Weep for me, for I fear that should this browser window of mine, with it's pale gray panes and panels--should it close, I shall never discover how to open it once more. I click, I drag, I munge and fudge and muck-about, to no avail. That taskbar, that hateful and dreary thing with its completely bullshit right-click context menu, glares back at me stubbornly, starkly absent the comforting orange and blue swoosh of the Firefox logo.
I must close this letter now. My second screen is flickering to black. I fear something has gone amiss. No doubt, the kernel is on the verge of a panic. I know the feeling well. I feel the bleakness closing in, and should the kernel panic, I fear that I shall not be far behind.
Farewell for now.