Diary of a Network Geek

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


Expanded Santa Tracker

Filed under: Fun,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:22 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

I do this every year.

I guess I’m just a kid at heart, because I feel the need to link to the Official NORAD Santa Tracker every year.
I doubt most of the readers of either of my blogs either bother with this because they don’t have kids, or they already know about it because, well, they’re geeks like me and have kids.  Still, the old softie in me can’t help but get warm feelings when I think about the possibility of…
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Review (One of Three): Sherlock Holmes

Filed under: Fun,Movies,Review — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Sheep which is in the early afternoon or 2:55 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

AvatarandSherlockHolmesSo, I’ve seen a couple of movies in the past several weeks that I have been too busy to review.  Here’s one of those.

I’m doing this in reverse order, by the way, and reviewing the most recent movie first.  On Christmas Day, I saw Sherlock Holmes with a friend, like we have for the past three years now.  In fact, when we started that shortly after I got out of cancer treatment, that was the start of my massive spree of hitting in the theaters.  In any case, I’ve seen a lot of movies in the past two years, but I try not to get jaded and all snooty about it like the professional critics do.  I tried to set aside any preconceived notions about what this film should be and just tried to be open to the experience.

It was, um, interesting.
I don’t really think of Sherlock Holmes as an action hero, but, that’s sure what Robert Downey Jr. and Guy Ritchie made him.  And, you know what?  It worked.  Yeah, it really did.  Now, I’m sure purists will get bent out of shape with Holmes boxing, or doing savate, or whatever it was supposed to be, but, really, it doesn’t seem like such a stretch to me.

But, I’m getting ahead of myself.
The plot is typical Victorian era adventure stuff.  The opening scene starts with an attempted occult murder, a sacrifice, that is thwarted by Holmes, played by Downey, and his faithful companion, Dr. Watson, played by Jude Law.  The erstwhile occultist, and thwarted murderer, is Lord Blackwood, a nobleman and, quite obviously, the villain.  And, yeah, if his name didn’t give it away, his theme music did.  A little heavy handed, but, still all in the spirit of a good adventure.
Then, we quickly fast forward through Blackwood’s trial and right to the day before his execution.  Watson is set to attend the execution as both one of his accusers and as a physician, to certify his death.  However, it’s Holmes that Blackwood calls for before his execution so that he may deliver a prediction about his return from the grave and other, more dire, predictions about deaths that Holmes won’t be able to prevent.

Naturally, these things come to pass, in spite of Holmes and Watson’s best efforts to stop them.  We also discover the person Holmes always referred to as “The Woman”, in the stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Ms. Irene Adler.  In the movie, however, she’s a much more active and adventuresome woman, at least in the athletic sense, and played by Rachel McAdams.  And, she’s quite troublesome to the pair of friends.  At first, she seems to be working against the two men and, possibly, is in league with Blackwood.  But, it’s not long before we discover that she’s actually working for someone else entirely and is only partially at cross-purposes to Holmes and Watson.

There is also at least one subplot here; Watson’s engagement.
He takes his fiance to meet Holmes for dinner, though he’s obviously been avoiding it.  It seems he’s not all that keen on losing his best, and oldest, friend to marriage.  The meeting is a disaster as Holmes only partially deduces her story and essentially accuses her of being a gold-digger out to marry a wealthy doctor.  In fact, her previous fiance died and she is quite in love with Watson, who already was aware of all the things which Holmes correctly detected.  And this will prove a key relationship as she is quite helpful to Watson several times during the ensuing adventure.

The prophecies that Blackwood made all start coming true, of course, much to Holmes and Watson’s growing discomfort.  And, naturally, Holmes obsession with trying to prevent these events, as well as trying to track down Blackwood, leads the two men on a twisting journey through a slightly anachronistic Victorian, really almost Edwardian, London.  Along the way, they run afoul of Ms. Adler and her mysterious employer until she and Holmes eventually agree to work together, though, she never really stops working for the other man.
Blackwood’s predictions, incidentally, all seem to be centered around some sort of occult plot to take over the world, naturally.  Blackwood is trying to gain control over a quasi-Masonic occult secret society with roots in England, but branches as far as America.  As is usual in the Sherlock Holmes stories, he uses cutting edge science to make what seems to be magical events occur under his control.  The superstitious members of the society assume that he’s managed to achieve a higher level of occult competency and, therefore, out of fear, or greed, follow him.  But, of course, Sherlock Holmes and John Watson are there to fight for justice, etc., etc.

Now, I won’t ruin the movie by revealing more of the plot and I certainly won’t tell you how it ends, except to say that they do leave things open for a sequel.
Okay, let me make it clear here, I liked this movie, even though it does present a somewhat non-traditional Holmes.  I didn’t mind the boxing or savate or whatever it was Holmes was doing.  It made for fantastic action sequences.  I didn’t even mind that Downey couldn’t seem to maintain a consistent English accent.  Honestly, the action was so good and the rest of the acting was so good that the minor slip of accent was barely noticeable.
I was somewhat less thrilled about the heavy-handed occult references and the entire secret society subplot.  Maybe it has to do with the fact that I am a Freemason, so I see the attempts to mimic the Fraternity in these occult societies and, frankly, I know just how wrong they are.  Also, frankly, the older I get the more hokey I find the average supernatural stories in the movies and such.  Maybe it’s just that I’m getting more spiritual and therefore less superstitious, but it just seems less and less believable.
And, the one anachronism that was just too huge to ignore was a reference to radio waves.  At the time the story takes place, if “radio waves” had even been discovered, which I’m almost certain they had not been, they certainly wouldn’t have been called radio waves.  If anything, they might have been called Hertzian waves.  But, Nikola Tesla, the first patent holder of a true, working radio device, had either not been born yet, or was less than ten years old, depending on precisely when the story in the movie was to have taken place.  But, honestly, that was a relatively small thing and didn’t get in the way of my general enjoyment of the film at all.

I know this film will be eclipsed by Avatar, but I really enjoyed it and I whole-heartedly recommend it to anyone who likes action movies, or even Sherlock Holmes.  It was thoroughly enjoyable and well worth seeing.
I think I may even look forward to seeing a sequel!


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?


Review: Yes Man

Filed under: Fun,Movies,Review — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:43 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent


Originally uploaded by Network Geek

I saw Yes Man on Christmas Day.

Being away from family on Christmas, and being single so, therefore, not entangled with someone else’s family, I’m often and odds with what to do. Last year, and now, this year, too, I connected with a friend who’s also away from family and single to see a movie. This year, we went to a Thai buffet, which was one of the few things open on Christmas Day, before heading out to the theater.
This year, we were both in the mood for a comedy, so, after looking at the possibilities, we opted for the Jim Carrey vehicle, Yes Man. The premise is nothing new, really. A lonely, single man, who’s nursing a hurt over his divorce, four years prior, Jim Carrey’s character has withdrawn from the world. He’s shut his life down to the bare minimum of going to work, renting videos and ignoring his cell phone so that he can avoid going out and doing more with his friends. Also, he’s avoiding the possibility of running into his ex-wife. Naturally, when his best friend finally drags him out to a bar for a few drinks, and to announce his engagement, the first person he runs into is his ex-wife and her new boyfriend. Naturally, he’s mortified and scuttles off back to his apartment. His friends check on him later and brow-beat him into promising to attend his best friend’s engagement party.
Unfortunately, after getting some bad news about being passed over for a promotion at work, his depression gets worse. Seeing an old acquaintance who’s somehow managed to change his life, for the better, via a self-help seminar that’s all about embracing the power of “yes”. Things reach a peak, or rather a bottom, when his depression leads him to miss his best friend’s party.
So, at his wit’s end, ready to try anything to change, he goes to the “yes” seminar that he heard about. The leader/guru focuses in on this poor soul who agrees to give into the power of “yes” and say “yes” to all of life’s opportunities.

Right, so about now you’re picturing Jim Carrey and all the comedic places that not being able to say “no” can take him. And, you’d probably be about right, too! The movie goes to all those socially uncomfortable places that you’d expect it to go. Saying yes to spam e-mail, the needy neighbor, the street person asking for a ride, the guy on the corner handing out fliers, and so on. And, yes, the movie is as funny as you would think Jim Carrey could be with this situation. In fact, this is the funniest Carrey has been for quite some time.
The other thing about this movie is that it’s actually romantic, too. The main character is the typical “lonely guy”, so it’s not a big surprise that he finds romance when he starts saying “yes” to everything life has to offer. And, yes, he gets into some trouble, too. Trouble enough that you’re not sure it’s going to be a happy ending. But, trust me, it is. I won’t say how it’s happy, because you should go see for yourself, but it is a happy ending.

In short, this is a funny movie that includes some romance, a good story, a moral lesson, and a happy ending. I loved this movie. It had me laughing all the way through. I’m not a huge Jim Carrey fan, but this is a great vehicle for him. It’s funny, crazy and unpredictable. Oh, and all the stuff that seems random and unconnected at first? It all ties together eventually, if you just stick with it. Uh, there is one slightly uncomfortable scene with dentures and oral sex off camera, but that’s how they got their PG-13 rating, I think. It’s in context and funny. Wrong, but funny.

It’s a good movie, so go see it.



Filed under: Deep Thoughts,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dog which is in the evening time or 9:18 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

Surely, you didn’t think I’d actually pass up the opportunity to be philosophical on Christmas Day?

I’m sure some of my more secular readers will wince a little, but, well, it’s the celebration of the birth of Jesus and light into the world, so… So, I think about God and the nature of the universe on religious holidays like this. And, as commercial a holiday as this has become, it is still a religious holiday. At church last night they told us about how God loved the world so much that He gave us His son, who was destined to die for our sins, that we might be forgiven and find redemption. I’ll tell you true, sin I understand all too well. The other stuff, though, well, I struggle with it. It’s not that I came from a bad home or a rough neighborhood or anything like that. In fact, quite the opposite is true. I have a good, relatively tight-knit family and I grew up in a relatively affluent neighborhood. But, somewhere between junior high and my divorce I found more than my fair share of sin. I found it in spite of knowing better. I found it because I went looking for it, to see what I was missing, I guess.

I guess I found more than my fair share of redemption, too. It’s a strange thing, really, since I mostly did what I could to hide from it. But, then, God’s plan for all that, sin and redemption both, is a mystery to me. That mystery is what I’ve been thinking about today. I’ve been thinking about it a lot the past week, really, as we got closer to Christmas. God’s plan baffles me. I suppose it should, really. Who can know the mind of God?
I envy people who think they know God’s will for them. I envy those proud souls who think they know what the Scriptures all mean and how to sort everyone and what we should all do. I wish I had that kind of knowledge, that kind of confidence. Me, well, I’m not so sure. God surprises me still. Ha! God surprises me constantly!
But, I know people who believe they know God’s will. Hell, I have friends who believe they know God’s will, or at least some part of it. When I express a certain amount of despair over my ignorance, my sense of being lost in the wake of that. I struggle with seeking His will for me. I struggle to know if it’s His will or my own that I hear when I seek for what to do. There are times when I feel like God is telling me to do somethings that I don’t want to do. You see, that’s why I have a hard time believing those people who claim to know God’s will. He never seems to tell them to do things that are difficult. Have you noticed that?

It’s only in the Bible that people are told to do the difficult things. I don’t think I’ve ever known anyone who claims to know God’s will that thinks He’s telling them to do something that they’d rather not. But, you see, that’s my problem. I think God is telling me something. Something I’d rather not be true. I think He’s telling me that I’m meant to be alone. No kids, no wife. Alone. I have friends that disagree, but there are signs and portents. Moving half-way across the country to marry someone only to have that relationship end in divorce and her leaving the state seems a fairly clear sign to me that marriage is not in the cards. Oh, sure, perhaps that means I’m not meant for her, but maybe for someone else. Sure, sure. Except the last person I was dating has left the state, too. I mean, those two things sure seem to point toward me being alone. But, then, I have a friend who tells me that he sees me with someone. Who, he cannot say, but someone. Of course, he sees me as a father, too, but it seems to have been in God’s plan to sterilize me when I took chemotherapy. I’m willing to accept that it was in His plan to keep me alive, but it’s hard to see how I might still have all that other stuff after cheating death, too. I know there’s a lesson there, somewhere, because I do believe that God teaches me through these things, these trials, these conflicts. I have to believe that, or what would be the point?

But, God does surprise me.
Yesterday, I was prepared for a lonely, morose day today, filled with time and distractions from the emptiness. That’s not how today went at all. I was reminded by many friends today that I am far from alone. I may not have that one special, intimate relationship that I so crave, but I am certainly not alone. I was surprised by calls and text messages from friends new and old. And, don’t misunderstand me, there were plenty of people I expected to talk to or hear from today, but some of them took me quite by surprise indeed.
I also had a surprising amount of laughter and joy today.
Perhaps it sounds corny, or quaint, or, perhaps, even a little naive, but I felt something. Call it the presence of God. Call it peace on Earth. Call it what you will, I felt it today. Maybe it was even a bit of that redemption they keep promising in church. Just a hope that maybe my worst fears are wrong. It was no burning bush, but maybe just a hint that my future is filled with possibilities that I cannot know. Just the hope that God has a few surprises for me still.
And, that, dear readers, is what Christmas is about for me, at the best of times. That sense of hope, of second chances, of rebirth, of light that has not yet been overcome by darkness.

Life is full of surprises and God’s plan, seen only, perhaps, in the rear-view mirror, is just one of them, for me.
He surprised me, again, this year. I hope that He will continue to surprise me with the rebirth of light through the rest of this religious year. I hope that you, too, my friends, will have that same experience.

Merry Christmas.


Last Year’s Movies

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Fun,News and Current Events,Personal,Review — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:30 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

…And the first of this year, in review.

Last Year's Movies

First, there was the Simpson’s Movie. That was part of the Saddest Bachelor Party ever. Half of us didn’t drink, half of us were gay, and I wasn’t quite done with chemotherapy treatments. No alcohol, no strippers, and I looked like a walking corpse. Hell, I felt like a walking corpse.
I’ve never been a huge Simpsons fan, to be honest, though I love Futurama. We went at the request of the groom, J. I bought dinner at my new, favorite Thai restaurant and I bought J.’s ticket. The movie was hilarious. Everything that was ever good about the Simpsons crammed into one movie. At one point, Homer is trying to catch up to his family and save Springfield. He’s using a dog-sled to do so and driving the dogs hard. They run away in the night and Homer whines “Why does everything I whip run away?” I verbally sympathized. We missed the next five minutes of the film while we laughed. But, really, if you missed this one, rent it. It was good, even if you’re not a fan.

Next was Dragon Wars. This was a Korean import staring mainly unknown American actors, or B-movie actors that should have retired years ago. The best thing I can say about it is…
“Dragons! With rocket launchers on their shoulders!” It was our catch phrase for the evening. Don’t bother even renting this one unless you want to reenact Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Then, I went to see American Gangster with J. and L. just after Thanksgiving.
This was very, very good. It was so hyper-real that it was almost unbelievable. But, it’s pretty well all true. This is the story of the Black Mafia in Harlem in the Sixties and Seventies. It’s all about gangs, criminals, heroin, and the mob. Again, very real, very violent and very good. Another one to rent if you missed it in the theater.

After that, though, we started picking up speed.
Midway through December, I saw the disappointment of the year, the Golden Compass. After the massive build-up and comparisons to C.S. Lewis and the Chronicles of Narnia, I had high expectations for this film. I was betrayed.
The entire movie was rushed and it felt like huge sections of plot had been left out leaving indecipherable gaps. The only thing that saved me, frankly, was having talked to a friend who read the books about the premise of the first book, on which this movie was based. The CG was very good, but not good enough to distract me from the butchered plot and lack of real sparkle in the film despite some brilliant actors. To say that it was a huge disappointment is, at best, an understatement. If you haven’t seen it, but feel compelled, I’d wait to rent it.

On Christmas Day, I went with my mysterious artist friend, for whom I’m doing some creative work, to see No Country for Old Men. If you haven’t seen this yet, skip work this afternoon and go see it. Yes, it is that good. I hope to see it again while it’s still in the theaters and I almost never see a movie more than once in the theater. That is how good I think this movie is.
First of all, it stars two of my favorite actors, Tommy Lee Jones and Josh Brolin. Yes, Josh Brolin, son of James Brolin and husband of Diane Lane. Very, very under-rated actor, in my opinion. Also, I didn’t realize that this was a Coen Brothers’ movie until I was there with Mark. So, by the time I sat down in the theater, I had pretty high expectations. They were exceeded.
Now, true to their form, this is a violent film. And, a very realistically violent film. I’ve seen a lot of wounds, on myself and others, fresh and not quite so, and the effects in this film are very, very good and the most realistic I’ve seen outside of… Well, actually, they’re the best I’ve seen anywhere. Period. So, if you have a weak stomach, don’t plan on eating Italian after seeing this one. However, if you’re up for a bit of the old ultraviolence, then this movie is for you.
The story follows Brolin’s character, who finds a drug deal gone very wrong in the Texas scrub while hunting. He hunts around until he finds the money from the deal and takes it. The rest of the movie is about the consequences of that decision and that act. Brilliant work.
If you see no other movie in the next twelve months, see No Country for Old Men.

Now, to wrap things up, I started my year with I Am Legend.
The weakest thing about this movie was the CG. Based on a book, which I’m currently reading, by Richard Matheson, this is the story of biology gone wrong. Will Smith plays an Army doctor who is the only survivor in New York City after a plague sweeps the world. The plague, which is the side-effect of a reengineered virus meant to cure cancer, kills most people and transforms the rest into Dark Seekers, zombie-vampire-like creatures that feast on living flesh and hide from the day-light. A classic monster movie. From what I’ve read so far, the movie is only vaguely similar to the book. In fact, it’s more like the Charlton Heston version of this movie, The Omega Man. (Apparently, this was also a remake of an even earlier version of the story staring Vincent Price called The Last Man On Earth, but I haven’t seen this version. Yet.)
As far as the movie goes, it’s worth seeing. I won’t spoil anything, but it does end on an up-beat. I do recommend that you see this with a friend, though, not alone like I did. At least, not if you’re feeling depressed or lonely. This is a very, very lonely film and Smith gets that feeling of hopelessness and futility across to the audience very well. If they’d spent just a little more on the CG, this would have been a truly great film. As it is, if not for Will Smith’s fame, I doubt it would have done well.
Of course, I might have enjoyed the film more if not for two of my fellow audience members that intruded on the experience. The first was an older gentleman that kept asking his much younger companion, daughter I assume, what was happening. When he asked where all the people were in the opening scene, I almost asked him if he knew what movie he’d come to see. The next time he asked a similar question, I had to bite my tongue to keep from snapping back at him that if he’d just shut up and watch the movie, the plot might answer his damn question! The other audience disturbance was the non-English-speaking family that brought a toddler into the movie 3/4 of the way through. You know, right before the horde of monsters stormed the hero’s stronghold. Perfect timing to scar the kid for life.
Other than that, though, it was an enjoyable experience.

So, here’s to the new year and many great movies to be seen!


Family Emergency

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Bavarian Death Cake of Love,Deep Thoughts,Dog and Pony Shows,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Monkey which is in the late afternoon or 5:40 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

So, you may have noticed that I haven’t posted anything since before Christmas.

Well, there’s a reason. I had actually planned to post something Christmas Day, but, well, I sort of lost heart. You see, my uncle, my father’s older brother, past away Christmas Eve. I got the call first thing Monday, Christmas Morning. It sort of put a damper on all the other stuff going on. I’ll be flying home tomorrow, thanks to very generous bereavement rates, for the funeral. The vet was all booked up, but I got a friend to let the dog out and make sure she’s got food and water, not that I expect her to really eat while I’m away. She’s funny like that.

It’s depressing, of course, to go to funerals. Though, mainly, funerals don’t bother me. I’m much more put off by mourners. I’m a little socially awkward to begin with and nothing’s quite so awkward as either trying to comfort someone who’s just lost their spouse or parent. At least, to me.
You see, I grew up with the idea of death. We talked about it at the dinner table. My grandmother, my father’s mother, lived with us from the time I can remember until she died, which was when I was still in college. She was quite comfortable talking about funeral arrangements for herself and all the related details. My father was one of the people with the AMA who coordinated the case work that went into the now famous On Death and Dying by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross. It’s not talked about much these days, but most of her raw data came from hospital chaplains and, apparently, that was something my father was involved with back then. One of my earliest memories is being told not to hang on the edge of the casket when I was trying to see my Great-Great-Grandpa Grosh, who died at the age of 99, when I was just a little, little kid. So, death in and of itself doesn’t bother me much at all. It’s just a part of life.
But, all the other stuff that goes along with death gets to me.

And, I have to admit, it occurred to me that, one day, perhaps soon, I’d be making a similar trip to bury one or both of my parents. That idea did not sit well with me at all. Apparently, even with all the childhood hours spent in and around funeral parlors and hospitals, I had managed to repress the idea that they’d be suffling off this mortal coil eventually.  This, though, brought it all home.  And, it makes my father the eldest living Hoffman.

In any case, that’s where I’ll be Friday and through New Year’s Eve.  Well, actually, I’ll be flying back into Houston New Year’s Eve, but I’m quite sure I won’t be celebrating at all.  Then, after things settle down a bit, I’ll get in touch with the girl from Match.com with whom I broke a date Tuesday because, frankly, with all this, I wasn’t going to be very good company.  She was sweet, though, and I look forward to meeting her in person, eventually.  Since she was born in China, I suspect I’ll be getting to know some new haunts with her, especially in our Chinatown.  Hey, I didn’t even know that Houston had a Chinatown!

Oh, and another bit of good news: The groom with cold feet, J., who will be watching my dog, has been talking to L., his once and future fiance.  And, she’s already taken the ring back.  They’re going slower this time, though, which I think is probably a good thing for both of them.  Still, I’m very happy that these two are back together.  Crazy as they both might be sometimes, they’re still perfect for each other.

Well, I’ll queue a Friday Fun Link post, but I won’t be active on-line until I get back Sunday night.  Enjoy the weekend.

Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."
   --Martin Luther King

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