Diary of a Network Geek

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

8/31/2009

Review: Julie And Julia

Filed under: Art,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Movies,Review — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:40 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous


JulieAndJulia

Originally uploaded by Network Geek

I saw Julie and Julia Friday with my usual movie-viewing pal.

I love movies and see as many as I can in any given year, a fact that regular readers know quite well. And, yes, I tend to enjoy more than the usual action thrillers you might suspect a guy like me would favor. Really, romantic comedies are mostly my favorite. Now, I wouldn’t quite classify Julie and Julia as a rom-com, but that’s closer than almost anything else.

It was a cute film, but a good one. The movie is really two parallel stories, one following Julia Child as she discovers French cooking and becomes the famous chef and teacher we all know, and the other following Julie, who blogs about a year of cooking every recipe in Julia Child’s famous book Mastering the Art of French Cooking. The two stories work surprisingly well together for a number of reasons. For one thing, both women are trying to “find themselves”, each in their own way. They’re both trying to “fix” their lives and they both try to do it through cooking.

Of course, the stories are vastly different in many ways; location, time, people. None of those are the same. But, the universal problem of defining, or redefining, who we are as human beings is what drove both women to seek a way to become someone new. And, each in their own way, that’s just what they did.

Julia was married to a man who worked for the U.S. government, though, they had met during World War 2 when they both worked for the O.S.S. Yes, that’s right, Julia Child was a spy. Oh, they joke about her being a file clerk, but she was quite a bit more than that. Incidentally, that’s something to keep in mind when seeing the movie as it will open up a couple small, inside jokes for you. But, at the time, the 1950’s, diplomat’s wives were expected to be little more than busy and social, which, as you might imagine didn’t sit well with Julia. So, she tried a number of things, before finally finding cooking in Paris, where she and her husband were stationed. The rest of her story follows the history of how she came to co-author Mastering the Art of French Cooking and, well, and become famous.

Julie’s story is a little different.
She’s about turn thirty and feels like all her friends are far more successful than she. She’s a writer, who seems to have a hard time getting published. It’s a character and situation to which I can deeply relate. She toils away in a cubicle feeling under-appreciated and unfulfilled. So, to fight her way back to a bit of control over some aspect of her life, and with the encouragement of her husband, she decides to cook her way through Mastering the Art of French Cooking in a single year and keep a blog of her adventures along the way.
The effort changes her life in more ways than she could have ever expected. And, that, to me is the aspect of both stories that tie them together and made the movie good.

Both women discovered that life is an adventure. An adventure that happens in small increments on a daily basis. Those small moments that we meet with no fanfare or crowd which change us in some small way, over and over again, are what make life both interesting and worth living. But only if we pay attention to them and look for them.
To me, that was the message of the movie and why I recommend that you see it. If you’ve missed it in the theater, rent it. It’s a nice, little movie and I think you’ll enjoy it.

8/28/2009

Awkward Family Photos

Filed under: Art,Fun,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:01 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a First Quarter Moon

Wow, this brings back horrific memories of getting pictures taken for the church photo directory when I was a kid.

Awkward Family Photos

The title says it all!
Enjoy!

8/26/2009

Mission Statement

Filed under: Deep Thoughts,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:47 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

No, it’s not what you think.

I don’t normally post a lot about church, but…  But, in a moment of weakness, I promised this really earnest, kind-hearted kid who is so excited about going to do good work in strange places that I told him I’d link to his blog.  See, he’s trying to raise money, several thousand dollars worth, to finance his own mission trip.  Of course, he’s part of a larger mission group, but each person is responsible for their own finances and he’s the only one from Mercy Street, the service at Chapelwood United Methodist that I attend, who’s going.  So, he sort of needs a little help.  Now, I don’t have a lot of spare money to throw around, but I do have some small ability to drive traffic on the web.  So, that’s what I’m doing, talking him up a little so that he gets a little more traffic on his blog.  His blog, which he’s just started, will track his progress from training to go away all the way through his entire mission trip.  Or at least that’s the plan.  Hopefully, he’ll be able to keep it up and we’ll get to see how he helps folks where he’s going and what he learns along the way.  The group he ended up with, by the “luck of the draw”, is headed to Africa.  It’ll be a little dangerous, but God knows, there are a lot of quite literally dirt poor people there who will benefit from this mission trip.

So, anway, go check out his blog and support him: John Parish, Serving the Kingdom Through Missions.
Thanks.

8/24/2009

Review: District 9

Filed under: Art,Fun,Movies,Review — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:59 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent


District9

Originally uploaded by Network Geek

I saw District 9 on Friday.

I see a lot of movies, both at home and in the theater. I probably don’t see quite as many as a professional movie critic, but I do love movies. I also love science-fiction in all its various forms. District 9 combines the best of both.

This is a pretty gritty, real film that has a quasi-documentary feel to it, rife with allusions to aparteit, racism and segregation.
The movie is about aliens who find themselves stranded on Earth above Johannesburg, South Africa. When humans finally get into their apparently crippled ship, they find a lost, sick, malnourished hive-like species of vaguely humanoid creatures who are far from the fearsome invaders we fear are out there. They quickly become a management nightmare for the South Africans who are stuck dealing with these sad creatures who have little concept of our human customs. The real problem with that, however, is that the aliens, referred to by the pejorative “prawns”, don’t understand the human concept of ownership. They’re hated by the locals because they think they can just take things they want and go wherever they please. All of that is why the prawn slum of District 9 is being relocated outside of Johannesburg. And, yes, that’s where the movie gets its name. The film primarily follows Wikus Van De Merwe, a civil servant of sorts, with the company who’s been retained by the South African government to “manage” the aliens. His father-in-law is the president of the company and promotes him to a position of high-scrutiny, heading the relocation efforts. As Wirkus is a bit of a lovable, goofy dolt, it becomes obvious early on that his “promotion” was really setting him up to take the fall if the relocation goes poorly, as it is apparently expected to do. But, things go more wrong than you can guess when Wirkus and his eviction team find an illegal computer “store” run by one of the more enterprising and independently thinking prawn. In addition to the illegal technology, he finds a prawn “gang” cache of weapons and… And something more. Now, if I were to go into too much more detail at this point, I’d be ruining the movie for you and I don’t want to do that.

So, instead of going further with the plot, I’m going to give you some of the other reasons this is such an interesting film.
For one thing, it doesn’t shy away from the harsh realities of life in a modern Africa. A feature of the district 9 is a group of other Africans, in this case, Nigerians, who act as a criminal syndicate preying on all kinds of poor in the district, but primarily the prawn. Also, there is a significant sub-plot surrounding alien technology and weapons that humans can’t use and the aliens seem unmotivated to use to their full advantage. There are also themes about family and loyalty and doing what’s right, even in difficult circumstances.

The film is an expansion of director Neill Blomkamp’s short film Alive In Joburg. (You can see the short by following that link.) If you check out the short, you can see something about how District 9 is going to look and feel when you see it.
And, incidentally, I do recommend that you go see this film. It is a little gruesome and occasionally brutal in its dedication to realism, but I think it’s all worth it. The film is far and away the best film of the season, and probably the year. I cannot say enough about this movie. Well, without giving all the really good stuff away.

So, in short, District 9 is a great movie and you need to go see this film!

8/21/2009

“Terminate Yourself”

Filed under: Art,Fun,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 4:59 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a New Moon

No, that’s not a science-fiction way of telling someone to screw off.

Are you a fan of the Terminator movies? Do you like playing around with pictures of yourself or your friends? Well, then Terminate Yourself is for you! This website lets you take a photograph of a person and munge it into an evil terminator. How fun is that?

And, yes, it’s part of an advertising campaign for the latest Terminator movie, but it’s still fun.

8/19/2009

Blog Confessor

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,Personal,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Rat which is in the wee hours or 1:03 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

“Forgive me, blog, it’s been…  Well, a long time.”

Wow, my blogging has been really sketchy here the past couple of months.  There are reasons.  Lots and lots of reasons.  First, of course, would be my no-longer-pregnant-friend’s-wife being, uh, no longer pregnant.  Did I tell you they named the baby after me?  Well, his middle name is my first name.  And, he’s an angel.  Also, I heard yesterday, he was circumcised, which means statistically he’ll be more likely to recieve oral sex as an adult.  So, you know, he’s got that going for him.

But, I’ve had a few other things that have kept me from blogging as much, or being as personal, too.
For one thing, I’ve been depressed.  Not in the “holy-jeebus-I-can’t-stand-living-anymore” way, but a kind of low-level, unmotivated, anti-social, why-can’t-I-ever-get-enough-sleep sort of way that makes doing more than day-to-day living a little difficult.  Funny thing about that, though, is a couple of weeks ago I finally broke down and saw the therapist who got me through my divorce a couple years back.  Well, I suppose that’s not funny, but what he said was.  After talking to him for about 20 minutes, he suggested I go see my cardiologist about changing my high-blood-pressure medication.  After listening to some of the symptoms of my depression, like insomnia, mood-swings, irritibility, a general anti-social bent, terrible short-term memory, among others, and connecting that with new medication I started taking while I was getting chemotherapy, he related a tale of personal woe to me that had me covinced in no time that I needed to make a cardiologist appoinitment.  So, I have one Thursday afternoon.  It took more than two weeks to get in to see this guy, because he’s got that good a reputation.  Hopefully, that will bode well for changing my meds.  Can you imagine, though?  Two years of insomnia may have all been caused by side-effects of medication that I was ignoring.  Amazing.

Of course, some of my depression and what not is due to other things, but I think a lot of it is a side-effect of that insomnia.  The funny thing is, it all starts to reinforce itself.  So my messy house that I never have the energy to clean, makes me even more depressed and makes it harder for me to get the energy to clean.  All the projects that I want to start, including that other mystery blog, take more energy than I feel I have, which makes me more depressed and hard on myself, which, in turn, saps more energy away on useless recriminations and feelings of depression.  It’s a viscious circle.

But, I hope that will change soon.
Of course, staying up late to write this probably hasn’t helped, so now I’m off to bed.  Ciao!


Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"We cannot be sure that we have something worth living for unless we are ready to die for it."
   --Eric Hoffer

8/17/2009

Grant James Fordham

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Bavarian Death Cake of Love,Deep Thoughts,Life Goals,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:44 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent


RoughNight

Originally uploaded by Network Geek

A funny thing happened on the way to the rest of my life.

Yesterday morning at 12:58am, my best friend and his wife gave birth to a son. Rumor has it that she did most of the work. I served merely as a pre-marital counselor and general life-coach to the male half of the dynamic duo who created the angel you see in the picture which accompanies this post. However, in the future, I expect I’ll be babysitting, possibly the odd stint of spilling the secrets to life that the little guy’s father might be reluctant to disclose.

I have no idea where they came up with Grant’s first name, but he got his middle name from me. Yeah, I know, right? It sounds all crazy, but his father told me that his middle name was, in fact, after me. I’m pretty sure I started saying stupid things right about then and, let me assure you, not just because it was 1:30 in the morning and I’d been up so late it was early. I have a slightly hard time with precisely what motivated that, but I don’t think I’ve ever been more flattered or honored.
I hope they don’t think it’s going to keep me from spoiling this kid rotten, though, because, if anything, it’s going to make it that much easier to justify in my head.

I sort of have a funny relationship with other people’s babies these days.
You see, there was a time that I was a de facto father. I was on the lease-to-own program with my ex-wife’s kid. But, I did hope to one day make my own replacement from scratch. Unfortunately, one of the quirky side-effects of my chemotherapy was sterility. Now, I’ll grant you that the strangely optimistic oncologist who broke that news to me also allowed that, as I was “young”, I might eventually recover enough from that to be a viable agent of reproductive biology. Of course, that would generally require a partner, which I’m currently lacking, but that actually seems like the least of my problems with that whole process.
In any case, all those things have led me to, well, to get a little funny around other people’s kids, especially the freshly decanted ones.

Most of the people I hang with these days don’t know me as a father. I was one, though, and, I’d like to think, a pretty good one, in spite of how things seem to have worked out. I suspect they thought I was somewhat terrified of breaking the adorable, little monster, and, I suppose I was. I generally have started with kids after they were verbal and learning to stumble around their surroundings like a veteran drunk. Though, I do have to admit, I was gratified when someone asked if Uncle Jim wanted to hold Grant today and my friend replied immediately, without any hesitation or visible trepidation whatsoever, that “of course he would!”, which was, of course, quite true.

I’ll have you know Grant drifted off to sleep in my arms as I cooed to him in a very manly and macho fashion. In fact, I would not be surprised one bit if we set a precedent with that, since the men in my family do have the most oddly soothing voices, especially when we slide gently into middle age.
Apparently, the women in the room all decided that I was quite adorable with little Grant James. That may be something I use later, by the way. I’m not above volunteering to take my namesake for a walk in the park or a ride in the car as an excuse to troll for available women. For that kind of bait, I’d even change diapers. Really.

You can expect to see and hear more about Grant James Fordham as the years go by and we get to know him.
I don’t know how you all feel about all that, but I’m looking forward to it.


Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"A hero is no braver than anyone else. A hero is only brave five minutes longer."
   --Anonymous

8/14/2009

Remote Webcams

Filed under: Fun,Ooo, shiny...,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 4:57 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Third Quarter Moon

Ever wonder what the weather looked like in Tokyo?

Are you planning a trip?  Do you want to know what it looks like right now in some far away city?  Or, maybe, you just work in a windowless box with a bunch of servers and would like to see something that feels like that mythical place called “outside”.  No matter your reason for wanting to see some place far away from where you are, I have the sit for you: Official Webcams.travel Blog.  This mashup of Google maps and webcams lets you find the public webcam of your chosen destination and, well, actually look at it.  For those of us who probably won’t get a vacation this year, it’s nice to be able to look out at someplace else via our computer.

So, hit the link, readers, and dream the big dreams.

8/10/2009

Charlie Stross at Escape Pod

Filed under: Adventures with iPods,Art,Fiction,Fun,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:43 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

Good old science-fiction.

Hey, want to hear something cool?  Head over to Escape Pod and listen to Charlie Stross’ latest story, Rogue Farm.  But, first, stop by Biology in Science Fiction for the link, so they know we care and appreciate them bringing these kinds of stories to us.

I may post again later today, since I was at a wedding last night and very good friends of mine may be having their baby today, but for now, this is all I’ve got.

8/7/2009

Tourist Eraser

Filed under: Art,Fun,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:25 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

Oh, if only I could have one of these in real life and remove tourists from the airport!

Well, I may have to make due with the Tourist Remover webapp that does just what it says, scrubs tourists right out of your pictures.  It’s pretty ingenious, really, since a popular attraction is almost impossible to get shots of without getting someone else in the picture.  There’s a free registration required, but I think a little personal information is totally worth it in this case.
Oh, and just so no one gets on my case about it, this was found via Boing Boing.

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