Diary of a Network Geek

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


A Little Less Bang

Filed under: Deep Thoughts,News and Current Events — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:30 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

Maybe this is a good year to skip fireworks.

The past couple of years, I’ve posted tips for photographing fireworks around this time of year. They’re popular and taking photos of them is just as popular. But, maybe this year, with tensions running so high and people under so much extra stress, maybe with all that, we could tone down the fireworks. I haven’t heard anything about public fireworks displays this year, but, considering the crowds, I would hope that most of them would be canceled this year. Unfortunately, that probably means that more private “displays” of fireworks will happen instead. Smaller gatherings of neighbors who buy fireworks from the roadside stands and light up the cul-de-sac with barely controlled, hand-lit explosives. In theory, they’re illegal in most good size cities and neighborhoods, but they’re such a tradition that they’re hard to stop entirely. I’ve already read stories that would seem to indicate these neighborhood fireworks have been on the rise since the COVID-19 lockdowns started. And, I’ve read complaints about them on local message boards, especially by dog owners whose dogs get so very worked up by the sudden and random noise. If you don’t care about how it gets the neighborhood dogs worked up, at least consider your neighbors that may have survived a mass shooting or served in the military and seen combat. I know several people who have been down range and had significant experience with high explosives that were definitely not fireworks. They all have post-traumatic stress disorder to some degree.
For many most, it’s not even diagnosed. It’s just something that happened and they have to live with it every day, but the government doesn’t give them much in the way of support. I know one person who qualifies as at least partially disabled due to his PTSD and he was actually given a diagnosis to qualify for aid. But, whether any of our honored veterans were diagnosed with any psychological issues as a result of their service and exposure to combat, I don’t know a single one that looks forward to holidays that include fireworks.
So, maybe, this year, we should consider those neighbors. We’re happy to politicize military service and our patriotism around how much we allegedly support the troops, but this is an actual thing we can do to help them in a real way. I know I’ve shot off my share of those supposedly harmless fireworks, too, but, as I got to know more guys who had served, I came to realize how hard it was on them. The random explosions and shooting lights are very much like small arms fire and the kinds of smaller devices that are used by insurgents in our more recent combat theaters and conflicts. It brings someone with PTSD right back to those battlefields and the incredible danger that they escaped physically, but can never escape mentally.

And, if you know someone who suffers from PTSD, or any other mental health issues, trauma related or not, don’t forget these resources:
MentalHealth.gov – Get Immediate Help

The National Alliance on Mental Health Helpline – 1-800-950-NAMI (6264)

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration National Helpline – 1-800-622-HELP (4357)

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-8255

And, specifically for those struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, National Center for PTSD “Get Help in a Crisis” page.

And, as I wrote last week, please, remember, there’s no shame in getting help. In fact, getting help is what strong people actually do.
If you or a loved one needs help with depression or any other mental health issue, please, don’t wait until it’s too late.

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words!


An Easy Way to Share Your WIFI Password

Filed under: Fun,Fun Work,Geek Work,Red Herrings — 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 a New Moon

I’m going to take a slight departure from my normal free stuff on Friday posts.

Don’t worry, this is still free, but it’s not just a “click here and look at this thing” kind of post.  This week, you’ll need to actually do a couple of things to get the full benefit of this post.  Basically, it’s a little Summer DIY project for the mildly geeky and social.

Have you ever been to someone’s home and had to ask for their WIFI…
Read More


Fireworks Photography Tips

Filed under: Art,Fun,News and Current Events — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:09 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

This seemed timely…

Okay, I love night photography, though, from my photos you may not know it.  Frankly, I think the whole Flickr 365 Days self-portrait project is starting to wear on me.  But, you know, I committed to it, so I’m, well, committed to it!

Anyway, like I was writing before I got sidetracked, I love night photography and there is an outside chance that some of my readers will have the opportunity to take some photos of fireworks this weekend.  I know, I know, it’s a wild, crazy idea, but, since it will be Independence Day on Saturday, I thought I’d link to the Wired HowTo Wiki article on HowTo Photograph Fireworks.  The nice thing about this article over some others I’ve seen is that it covers all kinds of cameras, not just the digital SLRs.  So, even if you’re using a “point-and-shoot” or an iPhone, there are tips there for you, too.

And, with that said, in all seriousness, have a happy, safe, Fourth of July weekend.


Happy Independence Day

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Deep Thoughts,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Snake which is just before lunchtime or 11:17 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

On this day in 1776, more than 230 years ago, our founding fathers signed the Declaration of Independence.

It is a national holiday here in the States, in case that wasn’t clear to my non-US readers. I think, though, that a lot of people here have forgotten just why the day is so important. Oh, sure, it’s nice to have a day off. In fact, I’m enjoying it now, having gotten up late and not planning an overly taxing day. But, the Fourth of July, Independence Day, is about a lot more than hot dogs, BBQ, fireworks, parades, and apple pie.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”
(You can read more at Wikipedia.)

These words, these ideas, are the basis of all the rest of our government. Oh, to be sure, these principals have not always been applied well or without bias, but the are what underlie all our political striving in this country. We are far from perfect, and certainly there are things wrong with our government, but it is still, I think, the best, most free, form of government we have. It’s something our forefathers fought and died to create for us. It’s something that many have fought and died for since then. I think it’s important to remember that. There was a time in our history, which only spans a little over 230 years, that Americans fought and died for their freedom, our freedom.

I think we all need to consider that as things like the Patriot Act and the pseudo-security invoked with claims of protecting us from terrorism. I’ve heard all the arguments, too, how people with nothing to hide have nothing to fear, how we must do anything within our power, no matter how heinous, to prevent further acts of terror. I’ve seen my fellow Americans dehumanize detainees in Guantanamo Bay based on their religion of choice or the region of their birth. Gentle readers, there is no excuse, no justification, for the erosion of our civil liberties. There is no argument strong enough to convince me that erasing hundreds of years of good work, sacrifice, and service that so many have given so that I can do something as simple as write a blog, take pictures of public spaces, or attend the religious institution of my choice. That, my friends, is what our founding fathers were securing for us on this day in 1776, these freedoms that we so take for granted.

So, enjoy your hot dogs, have a slice of apple pie, watch that parade and admire those amazing fireworks. But, let’s not forget that today is more than the Fourth of July, remember that today is Independence Day.

Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"Some people are always grumbling because roses have thorns; I am thankful that thorns have roses."
   --Alphonse Karr

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