Diary of a Network Geek

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

3/16/2018

SXSW 2018 Music Stars

Filed under: Art,Fun,music,News and Current Events — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a New Moon

As picked by National Public Radio.

When I was in college, a good friend of mine who happened to be a jazz musician and a dual English and History major, told me I was “tragically unhip”. Sadly, he was not wrong. I’ve spent no small amount of time since then trying to shake that reputation, mostly without success. But, along the way, I somehow managed to rub up against a little bit of cool. And, I’ve allowed myself to explore those who are the opposite of “tragically unhip”, namely indie musicians. My musical tastes were curtailed a bit when I was married the first time, but after the divorce, I started to expand my musical horizons again. Aided by the internet and a great music-blog culture, I’ve found lots of really good, enjoyable, and obscure music. Enough to impress my wife with my eclectic and voracious tastes, though maybe not enough to impress my now professional saxophone-playing friend.
In any case, I’m always on the look-out for new music and new musicians. Now that I live in Texas, I’ve got a much more heightened awareness of South By South West (aka SXSW), which is happening this week. It’s become so much more, but SXSW started as a music festival. And lots of new music still finds its start there. Since I’m old now, and too busy to actually attend SXSW this year, I just went to NPR’s SXSW 2018 coverage page and started listening to music. It’s all free to stream, and if you hit the Austin 100: A SXSW Mixtape sub-page, you can download their 100 song picks from the festival for your listening pleasure. Totally worth the small effort, I assure you. Especially if you’re looking for the “next big thing” in music.

Enjoy the tunes, and your weekend!

This post first appeared at my personal blog, Use Your Words.

12/12/2017

The Traditional Birthday Post

Filed under: About The Author — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:30 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

So, today marks yet another lap around the Sun for me.

Honestly, I don’t hang a lot on birthdays, especially my own. I mean, for the most part, they’re just another day. Another marker of many in my life and, frankly, a rather arbitrary one at that. I’m more impressed with the fact that I’m still married, healthy, and just $5,000 away from being entirely out of consumer debt than that I’m turning 49 today. Seriously, though, the fact that I’ve made it this far is actually sort of an accomplishment, I think. There are many who haven’t, and, God knows, I’ve had my share of brushes with death, but, even that’s not altogether unusual, really. In fact, according to the actuarial tables, I should expect about another 30 years, or more if I’m particularly lucky. Which is a good thing because, in spite of being statistically middle-aged, I come from an unusually long-lived family and I have many, many things yet to accomplish.

It’s been a mostly good year, really. My wife and I refinanced the house, letting us fix it up and clear the majority of our credit card debt. I also moved from being an over-paid contractor always in danger of being out of work to being the best bargain in IT Infrastructure Management for a company five minutes from my house. Even in Houston, that’s a hard commute to beat. And, of course, for a brief while, my other blog, Diary of a Network Geek was on the first page of Google search results for the search term “network geek”. It’s always fun when that happens. I’ve read a lot of good books, though I’ve been mostly too busy to review them like I used to do. I’ve had as low-stress a year as I think I’m capable of having, frankly. Of course, the Zen meditation helps with that. I’ve done that for over four years now.
And, then there’s the fact that I’m still married to Sharon. My blushing bride does tend to make every year a little sweeter for me. I’d like to think that we’re finally easing into that place where we know each other well enough to truly start enjoying the other’s company. There’s also the possibility that I’ve finally started to mellow with age. At least, that’s her theory.

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, who is the author of Madame Bovary, the painter 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.
Also, I think it’s interesting to note that on this day in 1896 Marconi first demoed radio and, again on this day, in 1901 made his first Trans-Atlantic transmission. (Though, of course, all right-thinking people know that Tesla was really responsible for those first advances in radio.)

So, I really have no idea what the coming year will bring, but I’m looking forward to it. We’ve talked about maybe selling our house and moving into something smaller, that we can retire into and maintain easier. Then again, we know this house doesn’t flood, so we may just stay. Either way, I’ll just keep on going, because, at this point I don’t know what else I’d do, frankly. And, it doesn’t matter, so long as Sharon and I do it together, or at least near each other. (Yes, that was a parallel play joke. Deal with it.)

All in all, life is going along okay and I’m sure it’ll be good coming year.

This post originally appeared at Use Your Words.

12/12/2016

Another Year Older, And …

Filed under: About The Author,Deep Thoughts,Marginalia and Notes from the Editor,News and Current Events — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

… hopefully wiser. But, who’s to say, really?

I don’t think it’s an accident that my birthday fell on a Monday this year, because, I’ll tell you, it’s felt a little bit like a year of Mondays!
Still, I’ve survived another lap around the Sun, and that’s something to celebrate, especially considering how close I’ve come to not making it this far. But, now that I have made it through cancer and a lot of my own foolishness, the actuarial tables indicate I can still expect quite a few more years of misadventures. In fact, if I’m reading the most recent Social Security actuarial table for my sex and birth year, I can expect to live until I’m somewhere between 70 and 107, which is fine with me! Actually, I come from fairly long-lived stock so I have a pretty good reason to believe I’ll be at the higher end of that range, which is also good, since there are still so many things yet to be done with my life.

It’s been a strange year career-wise. I got laid off in February and started working a contract in March, where I’ve worked ever since. In theory, they may eventually hire me on full-time, and there’s even been talk about that, but not a lot of movement in that direction. Still, it’s pretty good income and enough to cover our expenses and COBRA payments, so, for now, it’s okay. Still, if they don’t bring me on full-time sooner rather than later, I may end up having to find something more permanent. You may recall that last year, I got myself a an annual subscription to Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom, with the idea that I’d improve my photography. So far, that hasn’t happened much. I have done more photos for my wife’s business website, The Organizing Decorator, but I haven’t really done anything for me. This coming year, I plan on changing that. My blushing bride has said that she’d like to have more of my photography to frame and hang around the house, so, thanks to my big drive crash a couple of years ago, that means I have to get my butt off the couch and out photographing things. My favorites have been animals, especially at the Houston Zoo, but I also have some ideas for still life and abstract work, too. I’ve been really inspired by one of my photography heroes, Syl Arena, and his color field photography. They’re really amazing and emotional works and something I’d love to emulate in my own, primative way.

You may recall that last year I mentioned starting the Five Minute Journal. I did it with their pre-printed journal for six months, then, when I filled that, I continued in my own, plain journal. (I used Peter Pauper Essentials Large Notebook. They look like a Moleskine, but they’re much less expensive.)
And, I also started the Five Year Journal, too. Yes, it’s by Samuel Pepys, the most famous diarist of all, but I don’t really think anyone will be interested in my personal diary. Still, Pepys probably thought the same thing. In any case, that’s been going strong for almost a year now and I don’t think I’ll be stopping any time soon. The Five Minute Journal really has, I think, put me in a more positive frame of mind.
This year, my birthday gift to my self was a rowing machine and an inversion table. I hope to start two new health habits that make the coming years a little easier and more enjoyable. I think it will be worth it. Everyone I know who has one, swears by their inversion table and says that it will help my back. And, according to an article or two I read, a rowing machine is supposed to be about the best full-body workout I can get on a machine. I guess we’ll see! I’ll tell you this, though, I haven’t regretted any of the birthday gifts I’ve gotten myself in the past, and I’m pretty sure this one is going to be okay, too.

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, who is the author of Madame Bovary, the painter 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 personality. I can only hope to do the same, one day.
Also, I think it’s interesting to note that on this day in 1896 Marconi first demoed radio and, again on this day, in 1901 made his first Trans-Atlantic transmission. (Though, of course, all right-thinking people know that Tesla was really responsible for those first advances in radio.)
And I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that the computer mouse made its debut just four days before my birth! How crazy is that? The mouse, which makes graphic interfaces so practical and easy to use, is actually four days older than I am!

So, there you have it. Another lap around the Sun completed with a little more joy this year than last. That’s a trend I think I can pretty heartily endorse. I have some work cut out for myself this coming year, with some plans to improve my professional growth by way of computer security certifications, so check back next year to see how that went. Also, in addition to the photography, which you’ll be able to keep up with at my Flickr photostream, I plan to write on the blog a bit more, too. Maybe just once a month more, but still, more. We’ll see how that turns out.

So, all in all, I’m doing pretty good for a forty-eight-year-old cancer survivor who’s on his second marriage and has a mortgage. Life is pretty sweet and I’m looking forward to the coming year and years! I hope you all will be with me for quite a few more!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words.

12/12/2015

It’s My Birthday

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Life Goals,News and Current Events,Personal,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Snake which is just before lunchtime or 11:25 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Yeah, it’s my birthday again.

I’ve survived another lap around the Sun, mostly in spite of myself and due to the grace of God.  I almost didn’t bother with a birthday post, because I mostly think of my birthday as just another day, but, it’s sort of gotten to be a tradition with me to make this post every year, so, here I am.  Honestly, it seems kind of impossible to me that I’ve survived this long, but, according to the…
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Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"The greatest use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it."
   --William James

12/12/2014

Another Lap Around The Sun

Filed under: 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 12:00 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

I’m not sure where I picked up that particular turn of phrase.

Well, it’s my birthday again. I almost didn’t bother with a birthday post, since I had a post earlier in the day, but, it’s sort of gotten to be a tradition with me, so, here I am.  Honestly, it seems kind of impossible to me that I’ve survived this long, but, according to the actuarial tables, I can still expect about another 30-odd years of life. Which is a…
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12/12/2013

Another Year Older…

Filed under: Personal,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:53 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

..And deeper in debt!

So, it’s my birthday again. It seems like they just keep coming, like an on-rushing train in that proverbial tunnel where the light isn’t quite what we think it will be when it arrives. Honestly, it seems kind of impossible to me that I’m still chugging along, but, according to the actuarial tables, I should expect about another 30-odd years of life. Which is a good thing because, in spite of being statistically middle-aged, I come from…
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12/12/2012

Another Birthday

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Life Goals,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Personal,Red Herrings — 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 Waning Crescent

So, today marks another lap around the Sun for me.

Honestly, I don’t hang a lot on birthdays, especially my own.  I mean, for the most part, they’re just another day.  Another marker of many in my life and, frankly, a rather arbitrary one at that.  I’m more impressed with the fact that I’ve paid a third of my mortgage than that I’m turning 44 today.  Of course, the fact that I’ve made it this far is actually sort of an…
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12/12/2011

Another Lap

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Rooster which is in the early evening or 6:18 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

So, today marks another lap around the Sun for me.

Honestly, it was more or less just another day today, except that it happened to be the anniversary of the day of my birth.
I had nothing special planned and, as far as I know, angels did not weep audibly with joy to know that I had navigated another year.  Of course, the fact that I’ve made it this far is actually sort of an accomplishment, I think.  There are many who haven’t, and, God knows, I’ve had my share of near misses.  But, it’s not altogether unusual, either.  In fact, according to the actuarial tables, I should expect about another 35 years. *sigh*  Which means I’m officially “middle aged”.  (If any of my younger, female readers are interested in a cheap, empty, meaningless fling, by the way, I’m pretty sure I’m entitled to my mid-life crisis now.  In case you were wondering.)

For the most part, this has been a pretty unremarkable year, which is, actually, good.
No major emotional upheavals, no catastrophic medical drama.  Financially, I could have done better, but, then, I could have done far, far worse, too.  Several sections of my car are new, though the rest is pretty old, but feel that’s balanced by my new camera.  Actually, come to think of it, I may have more invested in camera gear than I do in my car!
Still not dating and still a little heavier than I’d like, but I don’t feel particularly lonely or unhealthy, as the case may be.
So, nothing particularly interesting to cheer about or complain about this year, which suits me just fine.
Of course, I do have a few bits of mischief planned or in the works for the coming year.  So, who knows?  Maybe next year will be more exciting than I can imagine to make up for how relatively smoothly this year has been!

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, who is the author of Madame Bovary, the painter 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.
Also, I think it’s interesting to note that on this day in 1896 Marconi first demoed radio and, again on this day, in 1901 made his first Trans-Atlantic transmission.  (Though, of course, all right-thinking people know that Tesla was really responsible for those first advances in radio.)

So, I don’t know for sure what the coming year will bring, but I hope I’ll be in a different place than I am today.
Which is, of course, more or less what I said last year! But, this year, truly, I have no idea where I’ll end up going or doing.  I have few attachments or real responsibilities to hold me back or down, outside of those in my own head, so the field is pretty much wide open.  I’ve all but given up setting goals out load, on paper or via this blog, but I do have a few things I’d like to accomplish in the coming year, though I’ll be keeping those to myself, for now.  I really don’t know where the coming year will take me, but I’m sure it will be to places, inside and out, that I never would have suspected possible a year ago.
And, for that, I’m very thankful!
(And, yes, I am aware that the world is supposed to end next year, quite possibly on my birthday.  And, wouldn’t it be interesting if it did?!)

12/12/2010

A Tattoo Old Enough To Drink

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Deep Thoughts,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:38 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

My first tattoo is officially old enough to drink today.

I got my first tattoo on my twenty-first birthday, twenty-one years ago, today.  It was Finals Week and I had a final exam the next morning, so I couldn’t do the traditional round of drinking myself unconscious.  Besides, that really wasn’t my style even then.  So, instead, I marked the day my own way.  I’d wanted a tattoo for a long time, longer, in fact, than I could remember.  And, somehow, I’d gotten it in my head that having a tattoo would make me tough, or at least, make me seem tougher.  I’m not sure that it did, especially considering that I hid it from my family for another six months.  Not very manly behavior, is it, being too scared to show off my big, tough, tattoo?

But, that’s who I was, twenty-one years ago.
I was a kid who was getting close to graduation, but didn’t know who he was.  That feeling of not being enough, not knowing enough, not having enough direction, would send me rushing headlong through life at break-neck speed, never slowing down enough to appreciate what I was seeing, or hearing or doing.  It led me to do many things that, in retrospect, I’m not particularly proud of having done.  Choices I would sometimes rahter I had not made.  I don’t regret the tattoo, though, only the original motivation that led me to get it.
I’m not really that man today.

Twenty-one years is a lifetime.
Time enough to change.  Since getting that tattoo, I’ve cheated death, more than once, and I don’t just mean the cancer three years ago.  I’ve faced a number of reversals of fortune, both in my favor and not.  But, I think, more importantly, is that I’ve learned I’m not my circumstances.  Who I am and how I am are both defined by the choices I make.
Today, though, I make much better choices than I did twenty-one years ago.  Not always, but, mostly.

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.
Which is, of course, what I said last year!  But, this year, right now, it feels like things are changing and about to change far more than I thought possible last year.  I don’t know where the coming year will take me, but I’m sure it will be to places, inside and out, that I never would have suspected possible a year ago.
And, for that, I’m very thankful!


Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"Millions saw the apple fall, but Newton was the one who asked why."
   --Bernard Baruch


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