Diary of a Network Geek

The trials and tribulations of a Certified Novell Engineer who's been stranded in Houston, Texas.

11/26/2006

Yesterday, Tomorrow, Today

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Horse which is around lunchtime or 1:40 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

I look forward to Christmas.

Thanksgiving has been a hard holiday for me for many years. For years I would get a litany of trangressions recited for me by my ex-wife. All the things that her family allegedly had done or would do at Thanksgiving. Every year, it got a little worse, until… Well, until the end, naturally.

Thursday, I was at my friend J’s house where he and his fiance, L, hosted Thanksgiving. L is exceptionally easy to talk to and, well, she must have asked just the right question to get part of the story of Thanksgiving 2004. You see, that was the year, the Sunday before Thanksgiving, that my ex-wife left. She left while I was in the shower, taking the only working car and her daughter, leaving no note or message of explantion. Just gone. Obviously, I think about that every year now. As the holiday draws closer that other anniversary does, too. But, what caught me a little by surprise was that I’d written down the actual day.

I’ve read from the same daily devotional for several years now. Some time back, I started writing significant things with the year on the day they occurred in this devotional, so that I might be reminded of them each year. On November 21, I have just a single name with the year 2004 written next to it. I know precisely what it means.
I mentioned that to L as I told the story. She commented that, maybe one day, I’d have a different copy of the devotional and write different things in it. But, I told her that I didn’t think I would. I don’t want to forget.  That moment, in part, defines who I am, as do many, many others.  I’m my past as much as I am my present or my future. Who I am today is based on who I was. I’m the choices I made, good and bad. I’m the result of poor planning, worse judgement and pointless struggles, just as I am the result of lucky breaks, hard work and the love and care of those around me.

I’m far from perfect, God knows, but I think I’m a better man than I was five years ago, or even two years ago, because of both the things I got right and the things I got wrong.
And, with every passing year, that feels more and more comfortable.

11/24/2006

Post T-Day Fun Links

Filed under: Fun,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,Personal,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Sheep which is mid-afternoon or 3:15 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Thought I’d forgotten, didn’t you?

Nope, but I was so in a turkey haze that I had a hard time coming up with good links.
Speaking of turkey, if you have enough leftovers, you can try Leftover Turkey Gumbo. It sounds delicious! And, next year, if you’re into killing your own, try Season Shot, brought to you via Boing Boing.  Yes, it’s actually seasoning filled shotgun shells.  No idea how well they work, but I love the idea.

I suppose I should mention my host’s delicious, hot, spicy nuts from yesterday, especially since his fiance insisted that I try them, but, I think I’ll wait for the recipe before I share.
Until then, I’m off to the movies!

11/22/2006

Office Space Comparison

Filed under: Bavarian Death Cake of Love,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Dog and Pony Shows,News and Current Events,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Monkey which is in the late afternoon or 5:38 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Wherein my little, male ego takes a bit of bruising.

So, the sweet, almost-divorced lady at work, C., gave what little male ego I have left a little battering yesterday. She compared me to Milton in Office Space. Apparently, all the extra hours getting our phone system upgraded to a new, modern phone switch had me mumbling rather like Milton, who famously grumbled about blowing up the building and his red Swingline stapler. To her credit, she quickly added that I didn’t look like Milton.
Obviously, I don’t think I’m anything like Milton.

Honestly, and I think this is true of most guys my age who do my kind of work, I saw myself as somewhere between Mathew Broderick’s character in War Games and Robert Redford’s character in Sneakers. Okay, maybe I’m pushing it with Reford, but, still, Milton? I mean, at least the other two guys got the girl!
Really, the most realistic comparison, is Peter in Office Space. I mean, I have five bosses and everyone in the company tells me when anything is going wrong with the computer system. My ex-wife’s name was Anne, just like Peter’s girlfriend, and she was cheating on me, too. Even at my current company I got moved from cube to cube until I had no view. Though, I have to admit, I did actually end up with my office in the storage room. Kind of sad, isn’t it? My office used to be one of two storage rooms and now it’s the server room, too. No windows and not enough A/C.  But, still, I’ve got to have more going for me than Milton!  I have people skills!  (If you’ve seen the movie, you get that line.)

Well, I suppose it could have been worse.  At least she didn’t compare me to Nick Burns!
All that and I still may end up adopting her dog because her ex doesn’t want it and I have a soft heart, especially for dogs.  Oh, and her divorce should be final December Fourth.  No idea if she even finds me remotely attractive, but, well, if she’s comparing me to Milton…

11/21/2006

Magna Carta Two

Filed under: Art,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Fiction,Fun,NaNoWriMo — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Rooster which is in the early evening or 6:16 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

As I mentioned in a previous post, here’s my Magna Carta II.

Okay, again, just in case you jumpped in here at the last minute and haven’t read anything else, Chris Baty talked about two Magna Cartas of noveling in his NaNoWriMo primer No Plot No Problem. The first is all the things I think go into a good novel. (That’s what the last post was.) And the second is the list of all the things that I think should be definately left out of a good novel. (That’s what this one is.)

So, without further ado, here’s my Magna Carta II, Elements of “Bad” Fiction:

  • Trick, “O’Henry” endings
  • Characters who do consistently stupid things and never learn
  • Info dumps
  • Characters who preach
  • No action or plot movement
  • Wooden characters without any background or substance
  • Mysteries that can only be solved with information/clues not given in the story ala “Murder She Wrote”
  • Not enough description
  • Too much description, especially with florid prose
  • No one working or trying to make a living
  • No conflict based in responsibility to a real life
  • Magic that doesn’t follow rules or has too many loopholes
  • Not enough explanation of how magic works
  • Inconsistent characters

Sadly, with so few days left and so many words to catch up, I doubt this will ever shape up into an actual novel.  Still, it’s been a good exercise and, as I’ve mentioned before, it has gotten me writing more than I’ve written all year long.  Ah, well, maybe next year!

11/17/2006

DDR for Life, Yo!

Filed under: Art,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Fun,NaNoWriMo,News and Current Events,Personal,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:36 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

DDR = Dance Dance Revolution for those of you not in the know.

First, some time back, I read this article on bOING bOING about how certain health insurers are participating in a study to reduce obesity in children. Via Dance Dance Revolution. No, that is not a joke. And, trust me, when I had a PlayStation 2 with the low-rent DDR controler at my house, I tried it. Once. Damn thing nearly made my heart explode! That is one serious game. But, beyond the game aspect, there was an included program to tell you how much game-play you needed to burn off a certain amount of calories. Yes, a video game with a calorie counter built in to it. Crazy!

Now, for those of you who want to do this, but don’t want to shell out the clams for an official DDR controller, you can build one yourself. The folks over at InventGeek.com have a “dancepad” project that takes you through the steps, so to speak, and helps you build your own, custom DDR controller. Cool, isn’t it?

Yeah, well, I thought it was cool. And, no joke, Dance Dance Revolution is a heck of a workout.  Besides, I’ve been stuck in front of a terminal at work all week, working extra hours, so I haven’t been able to scour the Internet for better links or work on my NaNoWriMo novel, which at my current word count, isn’t much more than a long short story.  Ah, well, maybe next year!

11/12/2006

Forgive me readers, it’s been…

Filed under: Bavarian Death Cake of Love,Dog and Pony Shows,Life, the Universe, and Everything,NaNoWriMo,Personal,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Pig which is in the late evening or 10:01 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Third Quarter Moon

Too long between updates…

Now, for the two or three of you who actually seem interested in my sad, little personal life, here are some updates.
First, I heard from LK for the first time in months this past week. She’s moved to Colorado and has investors and capital for her business. If I understood her story correctly, she made the decision to move in less than a month and has been there about three weeks now. The good news is that her business is doing fabulously well. The bad news is that she finally had to put her faithful companion of fourteen years down right before she moved. I cannot imagine how hard that must have been for her. I can’t imagine loseing my Hildagard now, much less after another ten years. I wish I’d known, so that I could have been there to help her with that, but… Well, I guess times change.
I have to say that I was quite shocked to hear about the move. I know I certainly couldn’t have made that large a decision in such a short time. I hope it all works out well for her.

Second, I finally have the full, complete title to my house! After more than a year of the divorce being final, the lawyers finally got all the paperwork fixed and the house is titled solely in my name. They had to get my ex to sign a second warranty deed, which got filed in Arizona, after they lost the first one she signed. So, there’s the second surprise of the week.

Thirdly, I’ve written about as many words for NaNoWriMo as most people might be short right now. If I were to calculate it, I’d bet that I’m about 15,000 words behind the projected goal for the month. In short, as I suspected this year, it will be almost impossible to accomplish this goal. But, it’s not a total loss, since I’ve written more words of fiction in the past two weeks than I have all year. So, while I’ll most likely miss the NaNoWriMo goal of 50,000 words before the end of the month, I’ll still see quite a bit of benefit from that effort.

Fourth…
Well, the fourth thing is a two-part answer. It’s work, mainly. Work has been busy and crazy and long hours, which drains me beyond belief these days and makes it hard to find the energy to write. But, also, there’ve been some personnel changes.
Now, that means two things to me. First, of course, it means setting up machines and users and all that junk on servers. In some cases, it means undoing things left behind on machines. This time, though, it means a bit more than that.
There were two women who weren’t quite as productive as one would like let go and three hired. Two to replace the two who were fired and one new hire for a new position. All three ladies are better looking than the ones who were let go. And one in particular, we’ll call her C., caught my eye. I don’t know quite how old she is, but close to my age. She’s got an eight-year-old and a ten-year-old. She’s a writer, though she writes very different things than I do. She’s also very pretty and, apparently, still a little married. Yeah, yeah, I know. See, ladies, it’s not just you who fall for the married ones! I don’t get this at all, but the married ones all seem to find me like iron filings find a magnet. Go figure. Anyway, I had to work on C.’s computer a lot this week and got a lot of positive signals. I did my best to be ultra professional, which meant a lot of very direct eye contact. In retrospect, that may have been sending the precise signal I was hoping to muffle. Ah, well…
At one point, she asked me if I knew what I wanted out of dating, since she knew I’d been divorced for a bit. Maybe I read a bit into it, but it seemed like a signal to me, a sign.
But, I’ll tell you this, I sure don’t want to have the whole office in on anything. Those nosy bastards would be gossiping about us all the damn day. So, now, I’m torn between just ignoring the whole thing, since it’s at work, and trying to find a very discrete way to let her know I’m interested if she is and find out more about the state of her divorce. Until then, I’ll do my best not to notice how nice her hair smells or how comfortable she seems to be in close quarters with me. *gulp* Thoughts? Suggestions?

Well, time for some comfort food before bed. It’s going to be a long week.

11/10/2006

Crazy Friday Fun Links!

Filed under: Art,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Fun,Geek Work,Life, the Universe, and Everything,NaNoWriMo,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 4:58 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

Oy, what a week!

I’m thousands of pages behind on my NaNoWriMo work and massively over worked, so I’m afraid that today’s Friday Fun Links are not very exciting.
First, as I’m poor, here’s a link to the Top 10 Free Things to do in Houston. (And, for those of you from Chicago, there’s a link for you, too.)
Next, as a guy who loves computer security and contests, there’s HitchHACKER’s Guide to the Galaxy, which is a themed test of your mad hacking skillz. Sadly, I haven’t had time to even read the whole page this week. And, if you just want a way to keep your less technically inclined friends safe on the Internet, try Get Safe Online.
And, finally, a link that just grabbed my attention, espcially based on the comment Do Blood left last week regarding Trappist coffins: Huggable Urns. Yes, those are urns for holding the ashes of a departed loved one in a teddy bear. No, I don’t quite get that either.
Hey, cut me some slack, it’s been a rough week, so click the links and enjoy your Friday.

11/7/2006

Magna Carta One

Filed under: Art,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Fun,NaNoWriMo — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Rooster which is in the early evening or 6:33 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

As I mentioned in a previous post, here’s my Magna Carta I.

Well, just to refresh your memory, Chris Baty talked about two Magna Cartas of noveling in his NaNoWriMo primer No Plot No Problem. The first is all the things I think go into a good novel. (That’s what this one is.) And the second is the list of all the things that I think should be definately left out of a good novel. (That’s for a future post.)

So, without further ado, here’s my Magna Carta I, Elements of “Good” Fiction:

  • Violence. Lots and lots of violence.
  • Mystery
  • Exotic locales
  • Magic, or at least the hint of magic
  • Religious beliefs
  • A real villain who has good points (ie. “loves his mother”)
  • A tough “everyman” hero who’s good but has bad habits
  • Surreal interiors (ie. Basement hothouse, warehouse filled with Asian antiques, building facades that hide something super cool)
  • Smart use of current technology
  • Slightly futuristic/near future sci-fi stuff
  • Exotic creatures
  • Characters who change based on the plot
  • Characters who LEARN during the course of the book
  • Something criminal, or potentially criminal
  • Books, lots of books
  • Libraries
  • Big, strange houses filled with rooms of unusual things
  • Quirky supporting cast
  • Characters who worry about bills, money and similar every day concerns
  • Characters who have bodily functions
  • At least one scene inside a bathroom
  • Guns
  • Knives and swords
  • A monk, or hermit, or wiseman or guru
  • Characters with strange things in their pockets
  • Secret organizations
  • Adventure and daring-do and, maybe, even a bit of swashbuckling
  • Memorable images
  • Cinematic moments: action and description
  • Humor from what the characters say, not bad writing (ie. Humor from the characters being funny with each other.)

Up next… My Magna Carta II, Elements of “Bad” Fiction.
(And, sadly, I had computer trouble last night on my main system, so I have sincere doubts that I’ll be able to make up my 12000 word deficit at this point.  Still, I keep working at it.  Hope springs eternal!)

11/3/2006

Underground

Filed under: Art,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Fun,NaNoWriMo,Personal,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:13 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

My regular readers may not even know this…

But, I’ve had a long-time obsession with things like steam tunnels, bomb shelters and other abandoned, underground structures. Not to the point of risking my life to explore them, but they’ve always fascinated me.
Well, today’s Friday Fun Links are all brought to you via Boing Boing, and have an underground theme. First, there’s a giant, underground marijuana growing operation. Hey, if these guys can raise weed underground, maybe we can raise food crops and survive a nuclear war!
Next, we have the urban legend that the infamous Seymour Cray, of Cray supercomputer fame, was a secret, compulsive tunneler. Sadly, this turns out to not be anywhere close to the truth, but it sure made a great story!
The next link is to an actual, albiet less genius-like, tunneler in the UK. I mean, look at that guy in the picture. Doesn’t he look like the kind of guy who tunnel under the neighbors?
And, finally, there’s the infinitely more upbeat and fun, Tunnel-Digging as a Hobby. The peppy 1932 copy and clean illustrations sure make it seem appealing, don’t they?

Sadly, in Houston, if I were to tunnel, I’d probably be underwater before I got more than three or four feet. Besides, I have a lot of writing to catch up on if I’m going to even come close on this NaNoWriMo thing! Enjoy the Friday Fun links!


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