Diary of a Network Geek

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

3/16/2011

Japanese Tragedy

Filed under: Art,Calamity, Cataclysm, and Catastrophe,Deep Thoughts,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Rooster which is in the early evening or 6:03 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

Wow, where to even begin…

Readers of my blog may not be aware of what level of Japanophile I really am, but, well, let’s just say I keep track of what’s going on over there better than the average American.  Many of art and movie trends, especially in animation and comics and science-fiction in general, end up being a pretty big influence over here.  Fashion, too, actually, and in ways most of us aren’t even aware of most of the time.
So, with that in mind, when I saw a couple of my contacts over there in Tokyo talking about the earthquake, tsunami and general devastation on Twitter and Facebook this past Friday morning, I was concerned.  As news media started to pick up the stories, detailing just how bad it was, I have to admit, I started to wonder about the damage done to the global economy and what it meant for our entire future.  Think about all the electronics and cars and, well, all kinds of things, that come out of Japan or through Japan and consider what will happen when those things aren’t manufactured for a while during this crisis.  The ripple from that will be felt all over the world for quite some time.

What’s worse, though, is what’s happening with those reactors.
Boing Boing has an article about how regular citizens are tracking the radiation with home-brew Geiger counters, which is cool, but, frankly, a little frightening.  I mean, I was concerned when one of my friends said she was going to spend the night in her office because the trains were out and she had a 20+ mile walk home, but this…  Well, when the government, any government, tells you not to worry about radiation, frankly, I’d worry.  You know it has to be pretty bad when the U.S. Navy moves its fleet because they were concerned about radiation levels 160k out into the ocean.  That just can’t be good.  From the stories, at least one reactor is most likely experiencing a melt down, and probably more than one really is.  They claim it won’t be another Chernobyl, but, somehow, I just don’t believe them.  And, with so many people in such a tight geographical area, I have to wonder what the long-term implications of this will be.  I haven’t heard many clear estimates on how many have already died in this tragedy, but I’m sure it’s going to get worse.
Thank God for the brave workers who stayed, at peril to their own lives, to try to contain the damage as much as possible.  They’re real heroes.

I don’t know how many people are without basic shelter and necessities, but there are a couple ways to help.
First, a company named Shelter Box is sending disaster kits there and needs funding.  They seem legit and their kit is a pretty good selection of things that people would be needing.  Remember, we’re hearing a lot about the reactors, but there are also thousands of people who have been hammered by tsunamis as well.  It’s just like the hurricanes have been here in the States.  They have the same kinds of problems and need the same kind of help.
Another great way to help is to donate to the Red Cross at this link.  They always help and get the maximum amount of your donation directly to the people who need it.  Also, a general donation to them will help the people in Christchurch, New Zealand who were hit with earthquakes recently and the people in Haiti who still need help, too.

And, if you can’t donate, pray for them.
If you don’t pray, then at least send whatever positive energy you can their way.

Finally, for those of you, like me, who live in hurricane country, now is the time to think about putting together a disaster survival kit.  Seriously.  I talk about this almost every year, but, really, we need to do it.  I know I’ve been putting things together for the past several years, just in case, but it never hurts to plan a little more.  Even under the best circumstances, authorities expect us to be able to fend for ourselves for at least 72 hours.
Think about that and ask yourself if you’re prepared.  If not, seriously consider getting prepared before it’s too late.

7/30/2010

Cyber Cafe in a Shipping Container

Filed under: Fun,Fun Work,Geek Work,Life Goals,News and Current Events — 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 Waning Gibbous

I always come up with these ideas just before someone else announces their version to the media.

No, seriously, I was just thinking about finding the time to research what kind of power requirements a small network would have and figuring out what sort of solar setup would meet those needs.  I was thinking about it for disaster recovery, like after a hurricane or an earthquake, but, still the principal is the same as the Computer Aid Cyber Cafe in a Shipping Container.

I may still write up my ideas, one day, but, I think not during this particular hurricane season.

9/17/2008

Almost Normal – Hurricane Ike Part 7

Filed under: Calamity, Cataclysm, and Catastrophe,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Geek Work,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 9:51 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

Well, I do have power again.

Many still do not, but, at long last, I do.
Yesterday, at about 4:30pm, my power came back on. I’d lost my land line, though, so, I figured I was batting .500. Then, an hour and thirty minutes later, or so, that came back, too. Cable has come in and out, but, really, that’d be all gravy as far as I’m concerned. So, mostly, things are back to normal for me.
I expected to work until dusk cleaning up tree debris in my back yard, but my lawn guys had done most of it. So, before next Wednesday, I plan to have a case of beer for them and I’ll have a bonus in cash the next time I pay them, too. I spent about an hour cleaning up what they didn’t quite get. Mostly it was stuff still partly in trees or still attached. Saturday, I have a friend coming over to see what we can do about the fence.

There is something special about having electricity again. As a guy at work put it, there’s not quite anything like the sound of ice cubes tumbling from the automatic ice maker in the refrigerator into the bucket. Though, I have to admit, the sound of air-conditioners is very much like the sound of generators. It’s an irony that I cannot escape or ignore.
There’s a friend of the boss who’s got a mailserver that he’s trying to find a temporary home for, due to power loss. It’s his own server, but, I have to tell you, this is why if you’re going to run servers at the house you need a recovery plan, just like you would if you were a small business. Of course, I say this, but I don’t have one. At least, not yet.

It’s been a crazy couple of days here in Houston. People have been at both their best, and their worst. I’ve seen things like my lawn guys pitching in and clearing my yard without asking or being asked and like the guy at work who gave me half an ice chest of ice to let me save some food. And, I’ve seen people cutting each other off and running through intersections endangering themselves and others. I’ve heard just as many stories for either side. Still, it’s not like what happened after Katrina in New Orleans. There have been a few stories of looters, but not many. I’d like to think we’re more evolved, but, the truth is, I think the police were just better prepared. Either way, I’m glad that there have been more stories about neighbor helping neighbor than not.

So, things are settling down. I’m glad for that, too.
I hope my readers from the Houston area who aren’t back to normal will be soon.
Oh, and here’s a bit of fun everyone can look forward to! Friday is International Talk Like A Pirate Day! So, by then, I hope everyone can tell me what a pirate’s favorite letter is!

9/16/2008

Still No Power! – Hurricane Ike Part 6

Filed under: Calamity, Cataclysm, and Catastrophe,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Dog and Pony Shows,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,Personal,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Rooster which is in the early evening or 6:01 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

Well, as of about 1:00pm today, I still had no power.

Of course, a lot of people still don’t have power, but most people out by me have for several days now. Hopefully, I’ll have power soon.
I have a lot of fence debris and tree debris in my backyard that I have to get cut up by next week Thursday. Not sure that I’ll be able to do that since the City of Jersey Village wants all the nails pulled from the fencing. I don’t think they truly understand how difficult that’s going to be to get done in a week. I have a friend coming to help this weekend. I’ll work on it some tonight and tomorrow, at least. So, so glad I did laundry and dishes before this hit. We’re still officially under orders to boil our water, but I’ve been taking quick, warm showers. Thank God I have natural gas in my house!

I’m getting a little tired of eating so much meat, frankly, but it’s what was thawing first and would go bad fastest. Thankfully, yesterday, a guy at work brought in a bunch of ice and Seatrax, my company, lent me a cooler to keep it all in, so I’ve managed to save a lot of my groceries. I used to be able to eat so much more! Ah, well, at least my dog, Hilda, has been enjoying eggs and sausage and more sausage for breakfast the past couple of days. Not to mention the teriyaki salmon “burgers” we had last night. She’s certainly been living well!

Okay, I see my cell phone and my laptop are charged now, so I can go home, but I did want to call your attention to the Twitter “thing” over in the right corner of my blog. Yes, being without blog access for several days got me to breakdown and setup a Twitter account. Now, as long as I have cell access, I can update my blog and let all my non-Texas friends and relatives know how I’m doing, even when hurricanes hit Houston.

9/12/2008

Power – Hurricane Ike Part 4

Filed under: Calamity, Cataclysm, and Catastrophe,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,News and Current Events,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Pig which is in the late evening or 10:42 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

Well, I’m starting to have power issues here in Jersey Village.

Apparently, they announced on the news that Jersey Village is without power. Currently, I have power, but it’s blinked out at least twice more since I wrote about power the last time. I only know that I’m supposed to be without power because J. called to tell me. So far, I’m happy to be making the news casters at least partially liars. Not sure how long my power will hold, either, since the cable seems to be on the blink. Obviously, my DSL connection is holding up okay. That’s not a surprise, honestly, and one of the reasons I went with DSL over cable.

I probably won’t post again until morning, barring any power issues. All things being equal, I’ll end up sleeping through the worst of it. I’m going to turn down the A/C, so it gets nice and cold, in case the power goes out. At least it’ll take longer to warm up and get uncomfortable.
Either way, I know I’ll be able to make a cup of coffee!

Last Chance – Hurricane Ike Part 2

Filed under: Calamity, Cataclysm, and Catastrophe,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,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 5:28 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous


LastChanceGas

Originally uploaded by Network Geek

Well, this is about your last chance to get what you need before everything that’s open still closes.

I didn’t manage to top off my tank Thursday, so, when I went to get my friend’s DSL working, I swung into the Shell at the corner of Clay and Beltway 8. They were still open and there weren’t lines, even though they were busy, and they weren’t even price gouging, as you can see from the picture here.
I’m afraid I wasn’t very helpful to my friends, though, since they’d done everything right, as far as I could see. So, they ended up calling support who told them the last step that the automated setup seemed to leave out. At least one of the their laptops was connected to the Internet when I left. The other one had some other problem with it. I think it was a virus or spyware because as soon as we got an Internet connection working, the machine slowed to almost a halt.

Oh, and let’s see…
I’ve got my last load of laundry drying right now. And, the dishwasher is full, so after dinner tonight, I’ll run that, too. I’ve filled all my water containers, and the bathtub upstairs.
It’s been nice for most of the day, really. Cooling off a bit. The wind is starting to pick up a little bit and there are clouds, which are getting pretty dark, but, so far, it’s not a big deal.

The weathercasters on all the news networks, and the Weather Channel, are all starting to irritate me. One guy on the Weather Channel started out saying that a “large number” of people in the Houston area *may* lose power and in the space of an hour had changed his story to “more than a million people in Houston *will* lose power”! What a crock of shit! Okay, look, if things are as bad as they look, a lot of people can expect to lose power for at least a couple hours, sure, but these “journalists” are trying to make it sound like we can be certain that everyone in Houston is going to be without power for weeks! C’mon!
Oh, yeah, and one guy on regular news was so clueless about what was going on that he admitted to having to e-mail someone to find out just what “storm surge” was and why it mattered! This mouth-breathing drooler is who I’m relying on for weather news that could save my life? I think I’ll take my chances with just plain old common sense, I think.

Well, I’ll have more later and things get more interesting.

Storm Alert! Hurricane Ike Part One

Filed under: Calamity, Cataclysm, and Catastrophe,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,Personal,Review,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Snake which is just before lunchtime or 11:44 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous


StormAlert

Originally uploaded by Network Geek

Okay, so if somehow you haven’t been watching the news, or just don’t care about Texas, there’s a storm in the Gulf headed our way.

There are a bunch of computer models, but they’re all pointing toward Galveston and Houston. It really looks like this is going to hit us dead on this time. Oh, sure, they said the same thing about Rita a couple of years ago, but, well, let’s face it I’m just not lucky enough to miss this one, too. I mean, sure, I got out of an ugly marriage clean and I beat cancer, but I don’t think even I’m lucky enough to dodge two hurricanes pointed directly at Houston.

So, I spent the morning cleaning out my yard and cleaning off my porch. I filled the fountain, so I’d have flushing water. (I’ll show a picture of my fountain later, probably.) Then, I filled two collapsable water containers, that total five gallons together. And, I filled a five gallon SunShower, as well as my percolating coffee pot and my regular coffee maker and a tea kettle and an 18 quart pot. I’ll fill a few more containers later this evening, just in case. Last year, I kind of freaked out about having enough drinking water, so this year, I’m making sure I’m okay. Oh, and I have a hand-pump Katadyn water filter, too! So, if worse comes to worse, I can drink water from my ponds.
I’ve checked my batteries in my lantern and made sure I know were my candles all are, not to mention lighters and matches. I’ve cranked my Freeplay radio/flashlight, to make sure it has a charge. And, I have a spare battery fully charged for my camera. So, as long as I have an Internet connection, I’ll keep posting. After that, I’ll keep taking pictures to upload later.
I’ve got a load of laundry in right now and I’ll run the dishwasher after dinner, so I’ll have clean clothes and the maximum amount of clean dishes, too. I’m debating about going out and getting my tank totally topped off, as I didn’t have a chance to do that yesterday. See, I was a loyal employee and did everything I could to make sure our systems were good for the storm. You’d think I’d learn better by now, right?

Okay, the thing that drives me nuts about this Hurricane Ike coverage on the Weather Channel is that these guys are really, really hyping this all the way up to justify their own existence. I get that, but I wonder if they feel bad at all about making people panic? Do they really think they’re doing such a public service with that?

Well, since it’s before noon and the high winds aren’t supposed to start in my area until something like 7:00pm, I think I’m going to run over to my friend’s apartment and get their new DSL working for them. They don’t have cable and I’d hate for them to be cut off from communications about any storm danger or anything. Also, it’ll give me something to do. And, while I’m out if I see a gas station with gas, I might swing in and top off.

Stay tuned, readers! More pictures and posts later!

9/11/2008

News Flash: Sky Falling!

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Calamity, Cataclysm, and Catastrophe,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Horse which is around lunchtime or 1:27 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

Or, if you prefer, the end of the world is nigh!

So, yeah, there’s a hurricane of respectable size and intensity named Ike headed my general direction.  As per usual, I will not run like a rat deserting a sinking ship, but will, instead, bravely blog my way through what will no doubt prove to be far less than the crazy weather people are predicting.  Oh, I’m sure it won’t be “good” and we will probably lose power for a couple hours, maybe more, but I doubt that it will be as bad as the people who make their living scaring the public with tales of Mother Nature gone wrong are making it sound.

Long time readers will recall that I stayed when Rita was supposed to wipe the greater Houston area off the face of the Earth, too.  And, I blogged then, too.  Not much to report then, and I doubt there will be much to report this time, either.  Oh, one important difference is that I have a good digital camera, so I’ll have pictures this time.  In fact, I may just have a picture for every post this time around.  Or not, as the mood strikes me.

In any case, if you’re in the area, be safe.  Otherwise, I’ll do my best to keep everyone updated!


Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"In times like the present, men should utter nothing for which they would not willingly be responsible through time and eternity."
   --Abraham Lincoln


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