My Plextor CD-RW came in the mail today, and tomorrow will bring my Asus ACV266-E motherboard. I'm very pleased. Unfortunately (as regards this particular project), I have to head out of town for the weekend on Saturday morning -- my cousin is getting married in upstate Virginia . Otherwise, I'd head to my local chip shop on Saturday and buy myself an Athlon, a stick of DDR and a processor fan, and I'd be in business.
Much more exciting to me, though, is that with this new computer will come Debian. I've never used Debian, but I've long known that I should. I believe that I'll start off with Debian and Mandrake 8.2, but leave lots of free space so that I can add other distributions to play with. I've never had multiple distributions on a machine, but I'm hoping that I can come up with a fairly simple partitioning scheme that allows for me to have a single home partition, a single swap partition, and then another partition for each distribution. Normally I prefer to have more partitions, but given that this isn't a server, I'm not looking for sealed-bulkhead-style isolation of / var/ from /usr/ and such. I'll look around for some howtos on the topic, but I have a feeling that this approach will work just fine.
It's been a long time since I've had a machine to tinker with. Most of my machines are PPC, which puts me a behind a bit in the programs available to me. Consequently, I use most of them for very straightforward purposes, and they don't ultimately end up as comfortable computing environments. My Intel machines (I don't own any Athlons yet) are all servers, so there's no tinkering to be done. I very much look forward to doing all of the traditional hey-I-have-a- computer things, like playing games, staying permanently logged in, getting back into learning Python, burning CDs, using IM (!)  hooking it up to stereo equipment and the like. It'll be fun.
 I refuse to say "northern Virginia," because the
residents of that beastly area of the state have
shortened it to "NoVa," which I find horrifyingly
pretentious. So I invented my own term.
 I've never used instant messaging. Crazy, huh? It's just not for me...so far.