Diary of a Network Geek

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


Christmas Gifts

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Personal,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dog which is in the evening time or 8:25 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

No, not the kind that come wrapped.

You didn’t really think I was going to go all commercial and mainstream and retail on you, did you?  C’mon, dear readers, you surely know me better than that!
No, this is the time of year that I babble about spirituality and gifts of the spirit and the magic of the season.

Okay, you know, I did get some cool gifts, too.
My older sister made me stuff, like she often does.  But, then, I think she forgot that when we saw each other earlier in the year at her son’s graduation from Basic Training she gave me some art that she’d found somewhere, too.  Either way, it’s always nice to be remembered and she always adds a personal touch.
The younger of my two older sisters and her husband sent me a book by one of my favorite authors, though I’m not entirely sure how they could have possibly known that.  Possibly, just a lucky guess, but it was dead on.  In fact, it was a book I’d almost gotten for myself, but had decided to wait on buying until it came out in paperback.
And, Mom and Dad got me art.  Well, they got me art by one of their favorite artists, which is nice, but what I really like was the portrait of themselves they sent to me.  It’s really well done and they look fantastic in it.  Now, I just have to figure out where to put that where I can see it all the time.

But, really, those gifts were incidental to the real gifts I got this year.
Some of them may seem small.  In fact, I hope they do seem small to you, because that means you’re far removed from the situations that make some of those small things important.  For instance, I didn’t change jobs this year.  I don’t have the perfect gig by any means, but it is a good job, that pays well, and gives me pretty decent flexibility, when I need it.  And it’s close to home, so I have a short commute.  And I genuinely like the people I work with and for, so that’s a pretty amazing gift.  Especially when you consider how many people are out of work right now.
And, I’m surrounded by friends.  Lots of friends.  Sure, I don’t have that “one, special relationship”, but, you know, I’ve all but given up on that anyway.  Sheesh, if my mockery of a marriage didn’t burn me out on romantic relationships, I don’t know what would.  Besides, as much as a part of me would like all that, frankly, I’ve just been too busy this year to be bothered to put in the effort.  No, really!  And, that’s a gift in an of itself!
Oh, sure, I haven’t always been busy with the things I would have liked, but, wow, it seems like every time I turn around  I have one friend or another who wants to go do something, whether it’s see a movie or go socialize and network with fellow geeks.  There’s always something shiny to distract me and keep me moving forward.  And, while I haven’t done as much volunteer work this past year as I would have liked, not everything that’s kept me busy has been self-serving.  There has been the odd mission of mercy to help a friend in need, so to speak.  And, no, you filthy minded gutter-thinkers, that is not a thinly veiled reference to a “booty call”!

And why that makes me think of all the ways I’ve seen my creativity unlocked this year, I’m not sure, but, well, there you are.
Between a bit more writing, here and elsewhere, and the photography, well, I have felt a certain amount of artistic growth, though, writing that seems a bit pretentious to me somehow.  I doubt I’ll ever be a great artist of any kind, either writer or photographer, but, really, that doesn’t matter.  What matters is that doing those things, and watching them, feeling them, improve brings me joy.  Getting the words right, or nailing the lighting on a candid shot at a party, or even just learning something new about either craft makes me light up inside.  Sometimes, I’m almost afraid to admit that out loud because I’m terrified that calling attention to it will somehow kill the magic that makes it happen.

And, perhaps, that’s the greatest gift of all; realizing that seeing the joy in my life won’t destroy it.  God, the God of my understanding, has given me so many gifts this year.  Some came in the form of ideas, some in the shape of learning opportunities, some even came in the arms of a new mother.  But, one by one, like a string of pearls, the small joys came to me, threaded through the year and my life.  Often, they came in the guise of friends, these gifts from God.  People, some of whom had been there for years, some of whom had just shown up, who came, each with their own light, to show me at least the next steps my Creator seemed to want me to take.
Maybe I’m getting even more sentimental in my middle-age, but I find myself thinking more about all that than I have been willing to since college.

I try to make myself care about the measuring sticks the world uses, but it seems to get harder and harder as the years go by.  Exponentionally harder since surviving cancer.  But, you know, I expect to die broke, possibly quite a ways into debt, actually.  Possibly, without ever knowing romantic intimacy again.  And, oddly enough to me, every year I get more and more okay with that.  Mostly, I have what I need, if not what I want.  I’ll die surrounded by friends, if I don’t outlive them all, and what pittance I’ve had pass through my hands will have hopefully done some good in the world.
I’m not sure I’m entirely at peace.  I think I may be a bit too young for that, but, I’m certainly more peaceful than I have been in many years.
And, that, I think, is the greatest gift of all.

Merry Christmas, faithful readers.
And, yes, God bless us, every one.


Late Arrival

Filed under: Deep Thoughts,Fun,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Pig which is late at night or 11:25 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a First Quarter Moon

The Christmas Spirit arrived sort of late for me this year.

So, yeah, I haven’t put up any decorations or anything.  Why?  Well, I just wasn’t feeling it this year.  I mean, I was all alone and I’m pretty much officially middle-aged now and, damn it all, I don’t even have any kids who are all mad at me because I’m not with their mother any more, or anything.  All of which translates to me feeling sorry for myself, right?  And, frankly, that just doesn’t make for a great holiday spirit.  Also?  It makes me a miserable bastard to be around.  Yeah, I know it and I own it.  It is, as they say, what it is.

So, what changed?  Hell if I know.  Monday was the Winter Solstice.  For those of you who don’t know, that means it was the shortest day of the year.  It had the fewest hours of daylight of any day of the year and was celebrated by the Pagans.  But, what they celebrated was the return of light to the world, because every day after the Winter Solstice was longer, filled with increasingly more light.
Maybe that’s what it was.  The increase of light in my heart.
I’m not sure what it is, really, but it is a change, even though I didn’t put up decorations.  I did go and do some last minute Christmas shopping yesterday, though.

I started out looking for a few simple things.
For one, I planned to hit Half-Price Books and get couple cheap, “token” gifts, so there’s something to unwrap, and a gift certificate for two-and-a-half of my favorite readers.  And, I’m sure the little half will grow up into a full-fledged reader.  The gift certificate is the real gift, though, I’d hoped to get a list of books from each of them to facilitate a low-pressure “to-read” stack for my favorite newest parents.
The next was a combo stop, a “two for one”.  Also at a bookstore, but this was a full-price shop to get a couple of Moleskines; a journal and a sketchbook, for two different people.  Also, since I was actually in a Barnes and Noble who had a music section, I thought I’d get the latest Dolly Parton CD and Snoop Dogg’s latest, too.  And, yes, they were both for the same person.  Unfortunately, for some reason, Barnes and Noble stopped carrying Snoop Dogg, which meant another stop somewhere.

Okay, so right now, you maybe asking yourself why in God’s name I’d be buying Dolly Parton and Snoop Dogg for the same person I’d be getting a journal for and, honestly, you’d be right to ask those questions.  She’s a little unusual, but in a good way.  She doesn’t fit a standard mold by any means, but she’s been having a sort of rough go of it lately.  Part of that included getting ripped off a couple of weeks ago.  And the weasels stole pretty much everything electronic or music related and that means that her entire, unusually diverse, music collection got lifted, too.  So, I decided to play Santa Claus and, hopefully, repair a little bit of the damage the world did to her this year before it’s too late.
Hell, it’s complicated.

So, the Moleskine sketchbook needed something more, namely, some colored pencils.  See, my Santa Claus duties are limited only by my meager budget!  So, from the bookstores I was off to Hobby Lobby to hunt up a set of colored pencils.  This person has stiffled their art instincts.  That almost physically hurts me to think of someone else cutting themselves off from their more creative urges because life circustances make it easier to set that down that face that particular demon.  So, for that one, the super nice sketchbook and a set of pencils and those big, rectangular acrylic crayons all in a pretty nice tin.  I put that all together with a note beneath the wrapping paper telling her to “MAKE TIME for art”.  I hope she takes the hint.

But, if you were paying attention, I had more things to get.
So, amidst the craziness that passes for last-minute Christmas shopping, I decided to brave the wilds of Target to get that Snoop Dogg CD.  But, it wasn’t as bad as I would have thought.  Of course, it probably helped that I was on a mission and just had the one thing to get, but it was pretty much in, right to the music department for the last copy of “Malice In Wonderland”, then right back out again.
Really, Target wasn’t the worst of it.  That, surprisingly enough to me, was Barnes and Noble.  Of course, I cheated there by checking out at the Music counter and bypassing the huge line up front.  Besides, I’m hoping that surprise of getting these very contradictory things from me, because, you know, I’d listened to what she was saying, will make the small effort of the extra trip worthwhile.  I mean, that is the point right?

When I was a kid, I was told that it wasn’t the gift so much but the giving and the idea.  Having something that was meaningful mattered more than what it really was.  But, this season in particular, that the whole commercialism aspect of this holiday really got to me.  I don’t know, it just seemed so bad this year.  Maybe it’s that I find myself struggling with my spirituality that I find the crass commercialism even more, uh, crass.  So, no one was more surprised than I to find msyelf suddenly motivated to spread a little joy.  Joy that extended all the way to a year’s worth of Flickr Professional for yet another friend, incidentally.
I hope it lasts until Christmas Day, at least.

Well, while you wait to see just how jaded I really am, you can track Santa on NORAD and hope that he brings you something good.  Oh, and they added a new feature this year!  Now, you can get updates to your cellphone for just where Santa is!  How cool is that?



Filed under: Deep Thoughts,Fun,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:54 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Do you remember THX1138?

It was George Lucas’ first real film, before he did American Graffiti or Star Wars.  Well, in it, the characters talked to computer “therapists” who “diagnosed” them based on what they said, rather like the now infamous ElizaBot, but with prescriptions.  Well, now, there’s TweetPsych which will analyze your Twitter stream and tell you based on your word choices and patterns, what you’re fixated on.  Dwight Silverman, at the Chronicle, reported on this and found mixed results, so, you know, caveat emptor and remember, the free advice is worth what you paid for it.

Have fun!


Reframe the Question

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Personal,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Horse which is around lunchtime or 12:45 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

When we’re unhappy, it’s because we’ve asked the wrong question.

Or, as the Lazy Man’s Guide To Enlightenment says it,”What am I doing on a level of consciousness where this is real?”  I really love that book and reread it regularly, though it has been quite some time since the last reading.
This is a funny time of year for a lot of people.  As we get closer to the end of the year, we often find ourselves reevaluating our lives.  At least, I do.  I see all the ways in which I believe I am lacking.  I start to think I need a better job and more money.  I let myself get worked up about not being in a committed relationship and not having even any realistic prospects on the horizon.  I start to wonder what’s wrong with me that I don’t have these things and how will I ever be good enough to get all the things I need to be finally happy.

But, the thing is, those are all the wrong questions.
Instead of asking myself, “Why don’t I have a better job?”  The question should be “How can I make my job better?”  Because, really, this year, everyone who has a job pretty much ought to be thankful for just having it.  And, even under the best of circumstances, somewhere, there’s someone who thinks I have a dream job and would trade their eye teeth to do my job instead of theirs.
A couple of months ago, I was standing around listening to a group of six or eight graphic designers complain about the problems that go along with their work.  They whinged about clients who insisted on “ugly” design, who had no concept of how long it took to come up with something creative that did what the designers were asked to do.  They moaned about the “kids today” coming out of school who thought they could do things their way and not have to listen to what the client wanted.  And, as I stood there, quietly, listening to their complaints, it occurred to me that I would love to have a job where I essentially created art, even art to someone else’s specifications, for a living.   I saw their challenges and complaints as insignificant to the pleasure I thought I’d have being creative, even within strict boundaries, all day and getting paid to do it.

I thought about that incident for a bit and something remarkable occurred to me; somewhere, someone felt the same way about my job.  There are days when my job is very difficult.  I’m often pulled in many contradictory directions at once and I cannot possibly meet everyone’s demands on me on their time schedule.  I have to prioritize and sometimes make hard, unpopular decisions about what comes first.  I work hard.  Sometimes, my job includes lugging PCs from one end of the building to another or working on my hands and knees under someone’s cubicle to get cables run or a PC set up.  My office doubles as a server room and a storage room for equipment.
In short, it’s easy for me to get lost in the mire of the things I don’t like about the job and lose sight of all the really great things about the job.  For instance, although I work hard, physically, I don’t work anywhere near as hard as the guys on our shop floor work.  My life is rarely in danger, like the servicemen who hang from deep sea platforms installing our products.  And, really, everyone does understand that I’m just one guy and doing the best that I can to get everything they need done and done in a timely fashion.

So, it’s not a question of what’s wrong wtih my job, but what’s right and what I can change.
So, too, it is with happiness in the rest of my life.  When I find myself getting or being unhappy, it’s because I’m thinking of all the things I think I need or should have.  When I get into a real funk, it’s because all I can see is what I think I lack.  The worst way I do this is to compare my life to someone else.  I never see the hard decisions that they made or the sacrifices they made to have the things I think I should have.  I never really see the price they paid to have the things I feel I lack.
But, then again, someone, somewhere, is jealous of something I have, material or spiritual, that I take for granted, and they don’t know the price I paid to have that, either.

So, during this crazy, difficult holiday season, I need to remember to reframe the question.  Instead of asking “Why don’t I have those things?”, I need to ask “Why do I have the things I do?”

Advice from your Uncle Jim:
Knowing that something is the right thing doesn't always make it easy to do, but that's not an excuse.


More Tests!?

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Deep Thoughts,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dog which is in the evening time or 9:14 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a New Moon

Right, well, I suppose I owe my regular and faithful readers an update.

First off, the doctors tell me that I’m not going to die from cancer before I pay my bill.  No, seriously, the tests all came back clear.  Now, there was some more to this one, if you recall, than just the cancer check.  They noticed some time ago that I have an irregularity of some kind on or around my adrenal gland.  So, there was an extra visit Monday to have a chat with an endocrinologist about what that all meant, if anything.

As far as we can tell, the blood work is all pretty normal and, since the alleged abnormality was pretty well unchanged for the past two years, the verdict is that it’s not a problem at all.  But, since they like be thourough, and I still have pretty good insurance that keeps paying out, I’ve got one more test to go through.  It seems they want to test whether or not my adrenal gland is functioning correctly.  To do that, they want me to take a pill around midnight that will flood my system with artificial cortisone.  That should keep my adrenal gland from making the naturally occurring amount over night.  Then, the next morning, I have to get to a testing center between seven and eight so they can take my blood and test the levels.  Now, the nice doctor told me that this was mainly a double-check and almost a formality, but, when it comes to cancer, and my life, you just can’t be too careful.

In fact, the only really bad news I got this time around is that I was wrong about how often I’m going to be scanned over the next three years or so.  See, I thought I was about to get on the annual scan plan, but apparently that was wishful thinking.  For at least the next three years, I’m going to have to get CT scans every six months.  I have to tell you, that really screws up my plans both financially and personally when it comes to spending my vacation time.  And, frankly, I was hoping to get a few less radioactive enemas!

Of course, all things considered, these are some pretty high-class, champagne problems.  I mean, I’ve got a job, so I can pay for all these tests, or at least the parts that insurance doesn’t cover.  And, frankly, I have mostly everything I need in the way of neccessities, like clothing, shelter and the like.  I even have enough disposable income to run this site, and several others, for the fun of it.  Not to mention the other fun toys I have, like the laptop I’m typing this on and my camera and my iPhone and other totally extraneous things that many people I grew up with think of as a bare minimum standard of living.  But, then, I was always the poor kid in a rich neighborhood who always sort of wondered at the opulence that so many of my peers seemed to enjoy.
Most importantly, of course, I’m alive.

Yeah, let’s stop here for a moment, in the middle of the most commercial season of the year and consider that for a second.  People say that they’re “lucky to be alive” or that they’re thankful “just to be alive and healthy”, but I wonder how many really get what it means to almost not have that?
You see, years before I caught a mild case of near-fatal lymphoma, one of my favorite musicians died from cancer.  As he was slowly being eaten away by that hideous disease, he was frantically trying to record one last CD.  A legacy for his fans and his family.  Along the way, he did an interview with David Letterman who asked him what this process had taught him.  That artist, Warren Zevon, replied, “I know just how much to enjoy every sandwich”.

So, here’s what I hope you take away from my blog and my ranty little bouts with medical testing; enjoy every sandwich, because you never know which one will be your last.

Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"People who fight fire with fire usually end up with ashes."
   --Abigail Van Buren


Today I am Forty-One

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Deep Thoughts,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Pig which is late at night or 11:45 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

God, I don’t feel that old.

Wow, this year has gone fast! It seems like just yesterday I was starting the 365 Days Project on Flickr and now here I’ve finished it. That was an interesting experience. Not quite what I thought it would be and I’m not entirely sure it accomplished everything I was hoping it would, but it did force me to grow in my photography and get more comfortable with myself and my camera.  I have to admit, I’m not quite sure what I’ll do with all the “extra” creative time that I won’t be spending obsessing over what to do for my next self-portrait.  Honestly, it feels a little weird, since for the past year, a significant focus of my creative energy has been spent on this project and I feel almost at a loss to know what creative direction to head next.  I know I want to take a break and sort of get my feet under me, but then, I know I’ll want to do more with my photography than I have so far and I intend it to take me much farther from my comfort zone than it already has.  But, I’m still not entirely sure what I’m willing to committ to next, so I’m trying to be open to whatever feels right.

Aside from that, it’s been an unexceptional year for me in most ways.
Many things have not changed at all and I’m certainly not where I thought or even hoped I’d be in many aspects of my life.  For instance, I still work at the same company, doing the same things.  I still have fairly massive debt, especially medical debt.  I’m still quite very single.  I still dabble in art and what I do still lacks a certain amount of passion.  Well, perhaps it’s more accurate to say that my creative work suffers from an abundance of restraint, repression and control.
I have started to lose weight and get into better shape, which I definitely feel is a prerequisite for dating, for me.  I’m down about thirty pounds since last year, which means I’m just under two-hundred.  Far more importantly, I’m in better shape now than I have been in close to eleven years.  I’m leaner, stronger and if not more resilient, at least not significantly less.  I still need more work, but I’m finally getting to a point that I’m comfortable with my physical self.  I may never be truly satisfied, but, I am at least headed in a much more healthy and satisfying direction.

I’m still not sure about relationships and dating and all that chaos right now.  I keep telling myself that I’ll do that soon, but, honestly, I’m not sure  how soon that will be.  I know I don’t want to be alone forever, but, right now, doing the things that I need to do to change that seem life more work than it’s worth.  Obviously, at some point, I’ll take those emotional risks and make myself vulnerable in that way to someone, but, well, not during the holidays.
I’m sure there are many who would find it somewhat amusing to think of me this way, but I am very delicate in some ways.  I have scars on my heart and memory from the ways the phrase “I love you” has been used as a tool against me.  And, from the results of my saying those words without fully meaning them.  Rising above some of the wreckage of my past seems too difficult a task some days, though I know that there are many who have far greater obstacles to their happiness and their futures.

So, I try to take it all one day at a time.
I try not to worry too much about what will come and just live in the now.  I suspect that a lot of cancer survivors do the same.

And, of course, my birthday wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t mention all the other famous people who had the good luck to be born on this particular day. Famous people like Frank “Chairman of the Board” Sinatra, Jennifer Connelly, Bob Barker, Gustave Flaubert, author of Madame Bovary, Edvard Munch, and Wells Fargo founder, Henry Wells. Not to mention, Mike Pinder of the Moody Blues, Tim Hauser of Manhattan Transfer, Dickey Betts of the Allman Bros, jazz musician Grover Washington Jr, and former mayor of New York City, Ed Koch.
All heady company to be sure, but for whatever reason, it tickles me the most that I share a birthday with Frank Sinatra. I guess it’s because he was such a unique and original character who really fought against and beat some long odds to become an amazingly famous, generally well thought of character. I can only hope to do the same, one day.

So, I don’t know what the coming year will bring, but I know I’ll be in a different place than I am today.  My dream is that in the next year I’ll have gotten paid for some piece of photographic work, that I’ll have written more in general and more fiction, that I’ll have taken more emotional and spiritual risks by opening myself to others.  My hope is that the attempt to do these things will be driven not from a sense of fear of what will happen to me if I don’t chase those dreams, but, rather, a sense of hope and courage and adventure and the possiblity of growth and positive, directed change.
There are no guarantees, of course, but those hopes and dreams provide me a road map for where to head next and a guide to my choices for the next year.
I hope you’ll all be here with me, to see just where I end up and how I get there.

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 Ways to Improve Your Composition

Filed under: Art,Fun,Ooo, shiny...,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:48 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

Not your writing composition, by the way, but your photographic composition.

You know, it’s not like the world needs another photography blog or anything, or I think I’d be tempted to convert this site from “Diary of  Network Geek” to “Journal of an Obsessed Amateur Photographer”!  So, you all will have to excuse me while I geek out over photography once in a while.
This time, I’m sharing a link to the Amateur Snapper’s 10 Top Photography Composition Rules.  Of course, I think of them as guidelines more than rules, but, then, I’ve always thought rules were for other people, so take that with a grain of salt.

In any case, the link has ten really good suggestions for composing better pictures.  You may be familiar with some of them, but I’ll bet there’s one or two you’ve forgotten or never thought about much.  Also?  The rest of the site isn’t bad, either, so, if you’re interested in photography, go ahead and click the link.  You won’t be sorry!


41st Birthday of the Mouse

Filed under: Deep Thoughts,Fun,Fun Work,Geek Work,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,Ooo, shiny... — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:03 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Third Quarter Moon

It’s not quite the “birthday” of the mouse, but…

Today is the 41st anniversary of the first time a mouse made its commercial debut, though the patent was actually granted just a few weeks earlier on November 17th. That’s right, the mouse, that marvel of modern technology that most of us use daily is just a little older than I am. Invented by Douglas C. Engelbart and the group of 17 researchers working with him in the Augmentation Research Center at Stanford Research Institute in Menlo Park, CA, the original mouse was little more than a square, wooden box, but the little device would change the world. Engelbart showed how the mouse could let a user jump from text on one part of the screen randomly to another section without having to scroll through the text inbetween. Doesn’t sound too revolutionary to us today, does it? But, think about how you navigated to this page to read this little blurb, then try to imagine doing it without a mouse.  Or, imagine trying to use Photoshop or any other graphic design program for that matter without the point-click-and-drag of a computer mouse.  Yeah, pretty much everything cool you can do on a computer these days involves a mouse or similar pointer.  Now, of course, to me, that’s the real genius of an invention like the mouse; it seems so obvious that we wonder why we didn’t think of it sooner!

So, happy demo day, little guy. Thanks for giving me a job and us a way to waste time at work.


Where’s my muse?

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Deep Thoughts,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Pig which is in the late evening or 10:17 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Third Quarter Moon

I think I’ve lost her.

Seriously.  My muse is like a missing person.
Oh, I could blame it all on my impending birthday.  My forty-first, incidentally.  It’s odd to be so old all of a sudden, since I certainly feel no different, physically, than I did ten years ago.  In fact, I’m probably in better shape now than I was ten years ago.  Okay, maybe not better, but probably not any worse and, I hasten to point out, I am getting better, more fit, with virtually every passing day.  And, of course, aside from being a cancer survivor with fucking lung scars and some lingering high blood-pressure issues.

Or, I could blame it on the fact that it’s been three years since I’ve been in a relationship or, hell, even on a date.  You know, the holidays can be depressing all by themselves, but facing the damn things alone are worse.  Worse still is having been with someone through these troubling and troublesome events and then finding ourselves alone again.  People who have never been partnered up during the holidays don’t know what they’re missing.  But, those who have, er, “loved and lost”, so to speak, remember…  We remember all the family that’s not ours anymore.  We remember only the best parts, though.  The happiest part of the holidays.  The laughs, the fun, the happiest memories.  Not, thankfully, the bitter, angry, often drunken, rants and tantrums.  Oh, the tantrums.  How I miss them.  No, it’s not that, though the holidays have been a little strange this year.

I could blame the past several months of non-writing behavior on the scans I have scheduled later this week.  That old favorite scapegoat; cancer-survivor.  The medical bills and the continuing scans seem like a great excuse for the creative well to have run dry.  And this time around, they’ve dealt me a wild card.  A scan I haven’t had yet; an MRI.  See, when I do this workout stuff to slim down and lower my blood-pressure and draw in those hotties like bees to honey, my throat tends to close off a bit.  The muscles in my neck get tight and the veins and arteries choke and throb and I find myself having a hard time swallowing.  Not all the time, but enough to concern my doctors.  And enough to generate concern warranting an MRI to take a closer look at just what the hell is going on there, since we can’t seem to figure it out any other way.  So, top that off with the usual readioactive enema and I suppose that could induce enough anxiety to choke a muse and make her run off with that guy she met on the internet.

But, honestly, it’s not any of those things.
Crap, I don’t know what it is.  It’s a phase, a cycle.  It’s just a bit of writer’s block or cock block or whatever horrible cliched phrase you want to use.  Temporary, I suppose, but I don’t know what I’d write if I were to suddenly be inspired again.  Is the blog writing?  I mean, really?  Does it tell a story?  Or is it just a nut rambling?  I don’t know.  I just sort of run my mouth at the keyboard and on the best days, I just pull out all the stops and safeties and just turn that dragon loose.
But, I have to tell you, good readers, blathering on about the horrid mundanities of my life isn’t the same thing as writing.  Writing is about plot and character and building a storyline from a hook into compelling scenes.  It’s about the reversal of fortune, or at least circumstances.  It’s about change and development displayed through dialog and narrative.  And, all that seems to run away from me like mercury when you slap it.  It skitters away from my grip and shatters into ever smaller droplets that never quite seem to coalesce back into a recognizable shape.

But, my advertising revenue goes up with the quantity of my expressed angst, so, as the story goes, all I have to do is open up a vein and bleed it all out on paper.  Or virtual paper in the case of this blog.  This equally loved and hated blog that provides both release and the agonizing shame of need.  I’ve practically forgotten why I started it more than nine years ago.  I think my relationship with this blog has just about outlasted all my other relationships, actually.  Or, given another year or two, will.
Besides, there was a time that I’d have rather written here, as poor as it was, than done almost anything else with clothes on.  Well, aside from this one fantastic apple pie with stars on it.  So, who knows, maybe it’s not real writing, but it does keep me off the streets at night.  Maybe I should do it some more.

All that aside, though, if anyone sees my muse, could you send her home to me?  For real.  There are a couple of nice women I’d love to woo with a bit of poetry and the like but I can’t seem to write it without her.  So, point her this direction if you stumble across her trampy self, okay?

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Hack Your Facebook Profile Picture

Filed under: Art,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Fun,Red Herrings — 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 Gibbous

Oh, God, help me, I’m writing about Facebook.

Yeah, so I’m all up in that Facebook stuff and the average Facebook profile picture is terrible, especially mine. Here’s a link to something you can do about that.  Maybe I’ll even update my Facebook profile pic when I get a couple minutes to rub together!

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