Diary of a Network Geek

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


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.


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


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!


No No NaNo!

Filed under: Art,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Dog and Pony Shows,Fun,Life, the Universe, and Everything,NaNoWriMo,News and Current Events,Personal,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Monkey which is in the late afternoon or 5:52 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Third Quarter Moon

I “failed” at NaNoWriMo, again.

I think November is quite possibly the absolute worst month for me to dedicate myself to a writing project. I end up with more social and work obligations in November than any other month of the year. At least, that’s how it’s seemed to me for the past several years. Hell, three years ago, when I planned to do NaNoWriMo for the first time, I was lucky to drag myself through the month at all! Last year, I was coughing blood and converting a phone system. This year I just had so many social obligations that I just got behind and never caught up.

And, I have to admit, I also didn’t plan things nearly enough. Last year, at least I had worked out a bit of research and I’d been writing a bit. This year, not only did I not do enough research, but I don’t think I’d written a word of fiction all year! Seriously, it’s kind of been a long year with a lot of physical demands on me, so I just haven’t been writing creatively, outside this blog, at all. I think it was pretty unrealistic of me to just jump in cold like that and expect to be writing over 1,500 words each day. In any case, I think what it proves to me is that I need to keep writing all the time. Waiting to get inspired is just foolish, as has been proven over and over by professional writers. Rather, if I keep writing, the inspiration will come of its own accord. So, that is my goal for the coming year: to write, every week.

HildaCuriousTo console myself, however, I bought my camera yesterday.
Ritz/Wolf Camera had a sale, which ended yesterday, that got me a Canon EOS Digital Rebel XTi with an 18-55mm lens and a 75-300mm zoom lens for just under $800 before tax. I added a 2gig memory card and the two-year protection and maintenance plan as well. The maintenance plan seemed a little expensive, at first, until one considers that it will repair or replace the camera and either lens, no matter the damage, for two years. And, it included an annual cleaning, each of which were almost half the price of the plan. Well worth it, I think, considering the investment I made. Oh, and the package deal specified a regular 55mm lens, but they were out of that, so I got a free upgrade to an 18-55mm lens with image stabilization built in. Super cool!
To be honest, I felt a little guilty about buying the camera. Still Life, with socks
I mean, sure, I did “earn” the money via ad revenue and I have wanted a really good digital camera for a while now, but, well… Well, the guilty, co-dependant in me feels like I shouldn’t spend money on myself. Rather, I should be spending that money on some charity or other. Giving it to the church or feeding starving children in Africa or something. Naturally, I called a friend to churn this over in my head and his response did help put things in perspective for me.
“Look, you just survived cancer this year…” And, that was as far as he got before I had already gotten the point. Yes, it has been a rougher than usual year and I have really wanted a good camera with which I can make art for some time. But, I do want to avoid that whole feeling of entitlement. I don’t ever want to get back into a mindset of “I deserve this because things have been rough lately.” In the past, that kind of attitude has not served me well. Not at all.

FeetsSo, I’ll try to avoid that feeling and still make use of and enjoy the camera.
I do deserve good things and I do deserve to have fun, cancer not with standing. I do work hard for most everything I have and I am grateful for the opportunities that God gives me, both to get good things and to give good things. And, I do appreciate every, single person who has ever clicked on an ad on my website that earned me the money to buy this. It has made me think more and pay more attention to advertising on other people’s websites, if nothing else.
And, of course, you all will get to see more photos as time goes by and I get better with my new toy. I know at least one unusual feature of Houston that I want to capture, though it may take some time. Oh, in case you hadn’t figured it out, all the pictures in this post were taken with the new camera.
Tomorrow, I’ll lay out the camera itself and take pictures of it, per a challenge from Peter, the Brit. Until then, though, enjoy these!


Friday Fun News

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Dog and Pony Shows,Fun,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 5:04 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

No, nothing new about my health.

Just some fun/strange news stories from the past week or so.
First, apparently, some political unrest in Africa is going to cause a world chocolate shortage. Yikes! (Actually, if you read the article, it’s more likely to cause prices to go up, slightly, because manufacturers have likely taken some of these problems into account.)
Then, in an impressive variation of “Man Bites Dog”, there was the story about a teacher being “reprimanded” for biting a student. But, before you decry the sad state of our proessional educators, the poor man, who happened to be the wrestling coach, was being attacked by several of his wrestlers who were trying to give him a wedgie. The kids got, basically, a scolding and were otherwise off scott-free. But, the assualted teacher got into trouble. That is what’s wrong with our education system today. Those kids should have been brought up on charges! Damn psycho-jock brats!
Thirdly, here’s a news story that proves what I’ve been telling my mother for years: it’s not a mess, it’s my system. Apparently, there is a direct link to a messy desk and higher productivity after all. See?! All this time I was right! HA!

And, as a bit of a bonus, here’s something for all the folks thinking about getting married soon: How to Tell that the Honeymoon is Over. In short, to summarize the article, you know your new marriage has taken a turn for the worse when your new spouse tries to run you over in the car. It’s a sure sign.
And, on a more personal note, yesterday was the anniversary of my adopting Hilda from H.O.P.E.. I know because someone I used to volunteer with there e-mailed me after seeing my blog. Apparently, she was checking on who had linked to their website and the post, four years ago, where I talked about adopting my darling girl, was one of the prominent links. If you’re in Houston, and thinking about adopting a dog, or cat, H.O.P.E. is definately the way to go. A great organization that I’m proud to pay dues to annually, even if I don’t have the time to volunteer for them right now.

So, in any case, I hope one of those things made you smile a bit on this Friday. Either way, enjoy your weekend!


Job News!

Filed under: Career Archive,Geek Work,Novell,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Snake which is mid-morning or 10:05 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

And, it’s good news, too!

I’ve been called back for a second interview!! Yea!
So, obviously, the interview last week went well. And, this could be a really good job. They’re a world-wide organization with offices in some really interesting places, like Singapore, London, Africa, and Equitorial Guinea. And, best of all, they’re building a big network all based on Novell products. Oh, and they’re rolling out a PeopleSoft solution on Linux. Score! So, I would get to use all my favorite skills, learn new things, travel to exotic locales, and the main office is less than 10 minutes from my house, even with bad traffic.
Well, anyway, I found this out yesterday, but I didn’t want to detract from my “fun Friday” posting, so I waited until today to post the update.
I’ll keep you posted!

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