Diary of a Network Geek

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

2/11/2011

Try Making A Habitable Planet

Filed under: Fun,Garden of Unearthly Delights,Life, the Universe, and Everything — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:36 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

No, really, go ahead and try.

It’s not quite as easy as science-fiction would have you believe.  Honest.  Don’t believe me?  Then head over to Extreme Planet Makeover and try for yourself.
The folks at NASA have brought us a pretty challenging, little game; make a planet habitable.
On the surface, that seems fairly straight-forward, but that’s only because we over-simplify just how miraculous it is that this happened on our own planet.  There’s actually a pretty narrow margin by which life becomes possible and taking an existing planet and forcing it into that margin is way, way harder than fans of science-fiction, like me, generally want to believe it is.
Go ahead and try the game yourself.  I think you’ll find it an eye-opening experience.

We live on a paradoxically robust and delicate world.
This place has existed for millions of years and “modern” humans have existed for just a few hundred thousand years.  This magnificent ball of dirt and rock has seen more kinds of life come and go than we can even imagine.  We tend to think of ourselves and the world as it is right now as “life”, but I firmly believe that life, in some form, will continue on even if we do the unthinkable and foul our own dwelling place to the point that we, as a species, can no longer inhabit it.  The Earth will continue and, I think, life in some form will, as well.
Though, we may no longer be here to see it.

Well, in any case, take a minute and go play the “game” at their site.  You may be surprised at just how big a miracle life on Earth is!  Besides, it’s Friday, so what else are you going to do?

4/17/2009

Green Grass in Space

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Fiction,Fun,Garden of Unearthly Delights,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:02 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Third Quarter Moon

This is not new.

Setting aside for a moment the fact that there is nothing new under the sun, there are some ideas that have been around for a long time that are just now seeing the light of day. The idea I’m thinking about today is regenerative life-support systems for long-term space exploration. The idea is simple, really. You just create a tiny, self-sustaining ecosystem on a spacecraft and send it on its way toward Mars or Jupiter or wherever you’re interested in going. The astronauts tend the garden which provides them with both fresh produce and breathable air. Of course, actually implementing this system is much more challenging than it seems on the surface. Discover takes a little closer look at the problem in a recent article on their blog.

You can read a short-story about this, or at least with this as a theme, in the New Yorker on-line called Lostronaut. It’s good and it inspired the Discover blog posting. Also, it’s science-fiction published in the New Yorker, so it’s worth reading.

3/30/2009

Damned Illegal Aliens!

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Garden of Unearthly Delights,hoosgot,Personal,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 Waxing Crescent


LittleYellowBird2

Originally uploaded by Network Geek

No, this is not a post about migrant workers.

But, you have to admit, it caught your attention, didn’t it? And, I’ll be honest, I’ve ranted about illegal aliens and off-shoring and all that, especially in the IT industry, before. Interestingly enough, that had an Indian IT worker calling me a racist because I advocated American jobs for American workers. I think I’d be more accurately accused of being a Socialist, or even a Communist with that, but because there were non-Americans involved, somehow, that accuser made the illogical jump to making me a racist. Go figure.

In this case, though, I’m talking about a bird that doesn’t seem like a Texas native bird which showed up in my backyard Thursday. I saw it at lunch and grabbed my camera and zoom lens and snapped this from the back door. Go ahead and click on this picture and it will take you to a bigger version that will let you see the invader more clearly. Well, it may not be an actual alien, since I don’t recognize the bird, but I’m hoping one of my regular readers will be able to tell me what it is. Also, I figure that since we’re in the Gulf Coast, and in the middle of the migratory pattern for quite a few small birds, it’s quite likely this is one of those species that’s just “passing through”.

If no one can tell me what this is, I’ll send it to a friend of mine who works for the Houston Zoo who can probably tell me what it is. Or connect me with someone who can tell me what it is. But, I know that I have genius readers, so I thought I’d get you to tell me first. Besides, my buddy from the Zoo is out of the country at the moment.
So, uh, anyone?

(Also?  Don’t forget to vote in the poll!)

1/2/2009

Rooftop Gardens

Filed under: Art,Fun,Garden of Unearthly Delights,Red Herrings — 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

Well, specifically, rooftop gardens in New York City.

Actually, the set of photos on Flickr is called Rich People Rooftops NYC, but it’s mostly gardens.
I’ve always loved the idea of private gardens hidden away on the roofs of buildings in big cities like this. Don’t know a thing about the set or the photographer, but the pictures look almost like an impossible fantasy to me. Very fun, well worth a look, and, hopefully, something to help you feel a little warmer this cold, cold month.

10/19/2008

[ Information Redacted ]

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Dog and Pony Shows,Garden of Unearthly Delights,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Sheep which is in the early afternoon or 2:56 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous


SwampFlowers-Manual-03

Originally uploaded by Network Geek

I deleted a post on my blog this morning for the first time in a long, long time.

Usually, I have an editing process for posts that may accidentally cross the border into Too Much Information Land or sound to bitter or too angry or too whatever. But, last night, I came home from church and dinner and had a wild hair to find a bunch of music via SeeqPod and run it in a loop while I hammered away furiously at the keys. Angry music. Angry music the like of which I haven’t listened to in a long, long time.

I felt a little hopeless and helpless and, well, angry. So, I dialed up a little Rob Zombie and Rammstein and Lords of Acid and Fu Manchu and then I used the “Discover” function on SeeqPod to find other stuff like that. Old thoughts and old memories just washed over me when it started playing and looping. I just wanted to jump up from the keyboard and rip into the heavy bag out in the garage. But, I didn’t, I just kept typing and typing and typing. Normally, I’d let that kind of thing sit over night and look at it again in the morning. Last night, though, I just hit the Publish button and walked away, exhausted, in the small hours of the night.

This morning, I reread a little of that post and then deleted it.
TMI, “sharing violation”, rant. Whatever you want to call it, that’s what I’d typed. It’s also why I deleted it. No one needs to read that. Not even me. It was good to write it out and get it out of my head, but it really shouldn’t have been out for public consumption. So, I deleted it.

If you’re still reading, you may be wondering what that has to do with the picture here. Bear with me.
So, this morning, I got up and threw on some shorts and a shirt and a hat to take the dog for a brisk walk before I got a shower. See, I want to get back into shape. Yes, back into shape. You see, more than ten years ago now, I was, to put it mildly, in far, far better shape than I am today. I did hundreds of push-ups and sit-ups every morning, five days a week. And, I hit the heavy bag. And, I worked with dumbbells. I was, in short, in good shape. I was lean and I filled out a suit jacket pretty damn well, thank you very much. Now, after a bad marriage, a couple of job changes, some other heart-ache, and a slight case of cancer, I’m fat and lazy. I don’t like it. Ergo, there’s only one thing to do about it; change it.

Well, as I’m letting the dog out to relieve herself before we go for our walk, I see these tiny white things on my sad, nasty pond. I get closer, thinking that they’re funny leaves or insects or something and I see that they’re teeny, tiny, little white flowers. Naturally, my walk can wait while I grab the camera and tripod. It took longer to get a decent shot than I thought it would, but, oh, it was worth it to me.
See, to me, these aren’t just little, white flowers. They’re a metaphor for my entire life right now. From the swampy morass of my mind and my slimy past, little, white hope can still bloom. There are no coincidences, truly. And, non-believers may scoff, but some power in the universe was sending me a message in an insignificant, white flower blooming on top of embarrassing slime.

Hope springs eternal.
Thank God.


Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"The moon does not think to reflect in the water, nor does the water think to reflect the moon."

10/17/2006

“A Stitch In Time…

Filed under: Art,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Fun,Garden of Unearthly Delights,Personal,Red Herrings,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Rooster which is in the early evening or 7:33 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

Saves Nine.” Though, nine what, I have no idea.

I’ve been thinking about buying a sewing machine.
Okay, go ahead. Just get it all out of your system. When you’re done laughing, you can come back and read my reasoning on this.

Done? Great.
The other day, I was cleaning… No, no, it’s okay. You just go ahead and laugh it all right out of your system. I pretty well expected it.
Anyway, as I was cleaning, I found a great, big bundle of really nice, soft grey fabric that had been intended to make me a robe. Well, that was what I intended to be done with it. I was asked what I wanted for Christmas one year, when money was tight, but several hundred dollars of “birthday money” had been spent on a high-end sewing machine. Thinking of the sewing machine, and the owner’s penchant for wasting money on projects that never were completed, I asked for a home-made bath robe. We picked out the pattern and the fabric and, almost five years later, I still have the untouched fabric, but no sewing machine or pattern. And, that got me thinking.

There are a lot of things I could do around the house and yard that would be really cool, if I had a decent sewing machine. I don’t need some high-end, computerized, multi-stitch number with a built-in serger or anything like that. Just something good enough to sew, say medium-weight canvas. With that, not only could I make that robe, but I could recover the sofa cushions. Or make a cover for the entire couch. I could make canvas covers for the porch to replace the now quite aged and brittle translucent, corrugated, fiberglass roofing on it now. I could make privacy shades for the porch. I could make either a canvas roof or privacy shades or both for the semi-mythical teahouse/pavilion I have dreamed of putting up in place of the nasty, old shed in my backyard. Really, the possibilities are endless. And, yes, I would follow through on that. And, I figure, in the long run, it would save me money.

So, how hard is it to teach yourself to sew?

3/26/2006

Sunup

Filed under: Bavarian Death Cake of Love,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Dog and Pony Shows,Fun,Garden of Unearthly Delights,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Personal,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:51 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

Okay, so I didn’t make it quite as early this morning.
I made it through yesterday on caffeine and gumption, but I did make it through to almost 1:00AM before dropping off. So, I figure that hitting the blog before hitting the road at about 7:00AM isn’t too bad for starting some new habits. Right? Hilda seemed more eager, at least. So, when I finish my Monster energy drink, I’ll grab a cup of fancy joe and get out walking again. Then, I have those palm trees to dig up and that ugly-ass hedge to rip out. I still haven’t decided on a fruit tree, but I don’t think mangoes will work. Thanks to a friend, though, I now have some choices. He sent me a link to the Garden of Delights, which is a totally cool site that sells unusual fruiting plants. I might get one of their non-ornamental banana trees. I definitely want to get some of their coffee plants. I might not ever actually brew my own, home-grown coffee, but just the idea cranks me up. Either way, though, the ugly stuff comes out today.
I also just sent an e-mail to a totally cool, interesting chick on Match.com. Not unusual in and of itself, but this lady started her own dog biscuit company. How cool is that? I’m hoping that we might be able to hook up so, at the very least, I can pump her for how she got her business going. Hoffman’s Holistic Canine Cookies might become a reality yet! Hell, I wouldn’t even mind being a subcompany of her’s. Or even just a brand that collects some royalties!!
Oh, and one last thing before I go. I hope to have a new reader soon. I sat and talked with one of my ministers yesterday afternoon and told him about this blog. Now, understand, I’m used to being hit up for something when a minister wants to get together for a cup of coffee. I’m not used to a guy who just is interested in me and wants to get to know me. Very strange feeling for me. And, before you think it, no he’s not gay. Happily married with two kids and totally straight. He’s also very cool. Didn’t even flinch when we drove over to the Fourbucks in my Black Beast listening to Sehnsucht by Rammstein or when I showed him my tattoos. Way cool minister and a heck of a preacher. (You can check that out for yourself at Mercy Street.) We’ll see if he’s brave enough to comment. ;)
Well, time for my walk. Later!

3/20/2006

Darwinian Gardening

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Fun,Garden of Unearthly Delights,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,Personal,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:02 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

Only the strong survive in my yard.
No, really, the entire past year has not been neglect at all, but an experiment in Darwinian garden theory. Well, okay, maybe not, but, it is true that only the strong plants make it through in my yard. The past week or so I’ve spent a lot of time in the yard doing all sorts of things.
In the front yard, I’ve been growing grass. The neighbors seem to think that I was devaluing their property by letting my front yard take nature’s course. They didn’t seem to appreciate the entire back to native plants motif that was developing there, mainly because the trees were killing the grass. They did not buy the story that I was “growing” dirt. Nope, not one bit. Seriously, I was chatting with one of the neighbors about they way my divorce turned out a couple of months ago and she asked if that meant I’d be growing grass again. And the other neighbor, who sold his house and moved a couple of streets over, just gave me a serious look and shook his head in agreement. So, I paid my lawn guys to trim the front trees and I’ve been growing grass. It’s really been coming up this week, too. I’m quite encouraged. And the neighbors wave at me again, so it’s all good.
In the back yard, I took out three mostly dead azalea bushes yesterday. Did you know that azaleas have giant, but shallow, root systems? Neither did I. Until yesterday. I did leave the one azalea that was actually flowering, though, when it’s done, I’ll be trimming it back, too. I also hacked out some reedy-looking palms that I previously tore out of my pond’s old waterfall. As well as chopping out some volunteer live oaks. Man, those running tap roots were HUGE! I must have lopped off a good eight feet worth of three-inch diameter roots just to make way for my new plantings! So, in case you’ve been keeping track, I basically removed anything that wasn’t actively flowering in one bed. Only the strong, flowering, plants survive!
I planted a peach tree where the crappy plants came out. It’s small, but it was only $13, so if it dies, I’ll go back and get something else. Maybe an orange tree or something. It doesn’t quite fit with my plan of a semi-tropical wonderland for my backyard, but it is a fruiting tree and I hope will be different enough to be interesting. Also, my ex-wife is allergic to peaches, so I had great fun choosing that particular tree to plant in a bed that we both hated but that she’d never let me change. I suggested to one of my friends that I might smear peach juice over my door way, much like the blood of a lamb, to make the Shadow of the Harpy pass over my house. I think he wet himself a little because he was laughing so hard at that image.
I have some crappy hedges to remove from the pond area next weekend or the weekend after that. I’ll replace them with bamboo, in pots and metal drums to keep them from spreading. Bamboo makes a wonderful screen, does wonderfully well in our climate and has a lot of decorative and crafty uses around the house. I’ve wanted to grow bamboo in my yard, one way or another, ever since I’ve been in this house. This is my year. Also, I think I’m going to trash one of the two cheap palms by the back of the house next to the patio. It’s a junky, little Chinese palm that never really took or got to look better. And, I may take the other volunteer palm of indeterminate variety out, as well. That one, though, I may just pot and keep small and portable. I thought I’d plant another fruit tree in their place. Maybe a mango tree. I love mangoes and have missed them since Paddi Thai closed down. Mangoes and sweet rice and vanilla ice cream are about the most wonderful thing in the world to me. I’d love to be able to have that fresh for entertaining friends and family. So, if I can find a mango tree, I think that’s what I’ll do.
Oh, and I’ve been dealing with pond issues, too. Once again, my fountain structure popped a seal and almost drained the pond over night. Luckily, it stopped before any fish died. Then, I spent most of a day filling it again and rerouting pumps and water flow to keep it going while I get the problem corrected. Luckily, the fountain with its plants and multiple layers acts as a bio filter, so, in creating this structure, even while bypassing the section that has the popped seal, I created a redundant system. Pretty cool, hunh? So, anyway, I got some heavy-duty, flexible, marine sealant to fix the external leak and now have to wait seven days for it to seal totally before testing it. So, next week Saturday, I should know for sure. In the mean time, everything is working just fine and I didn’t even lose any fish! Yea!

The best part about this weekend and all the work in the yard is that, just like my house, every change I make takes back more of that space for me. With every decision, I make this property more my own. Every passing week, I bring my house and my yard closer to my vision of how I want everything to be. Slowly, but steadily, I’m creating the haven that I need and that I want to welcome other people into. I really love my life, though I don’t always love everything going on in it at any given moment. All in all, things are looking up.


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