Diary of a Network Geek

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


Weekend Update and a Little Health Thrown In

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Bavarian Death Cake of Love,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,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 Dog which is in the evening time or 9:58 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

It was an interesting weekend.

So, Friday morning, I get to work within seconds of C. We park in different rows, but make it to the door about at the same time. I notice that her hands are full, so I wait a little longer than I normally would to hold the door for her.
“Wow, you’re wearing jeans for a change. It’s nice to see. You look good in jeans,” she tells me. Now, I’m not vain or concieted, but when I worked at the Front Desk, the black girls all complimented me on my ass. I may not have a lot going for me, but I do know I have a better than average ass for a white boy. I’m pretty sure that’s what she really meant.
“Um, I wear jeans every Friday, C. and have since you worked here.”
“Oh, I guess I never noticed before…”
Well, no shit. Who notices the quiet, polite, professional guy who looks you in the eye not the nipple? Who notices the guy that puts you on the prayer list at church because you’re obviously having trouble with the guy you’re dating and just can’t figure out that you should leave him, be alone and figure out who you really are instead of running from the tragic death of a high-school sweetheart? Apparently, not C. Go figure. Just call me Rodney Skinner. After work, I took my favorite, flirty strawberry-blonde out shopping and for Jack-in-the-Box 99ยข tacos. She might be a bitch, but she’s a cheap date. Hey, I’m talking about Hilda, my dog! C. has artificially enhanced red hair, unless I miss my guess.

So, then Saturday night after church, W. the former mechanic who now works with me and, in fact, is responsible for me having my current job, and K., J.’s former fiance, and I go out to sushi at Koto’s. W. and I have known her for quite awhile and I encouraged him to talk to her via e-mail, because I know she’s been a bit lonely and feeling a little out of the social scene at church. After she and J. broke it off, she got engaged again and that didn’t work out either, though for totally different reasons. She’s a very nice woman who invited me into her home the first Thanksgiving I was alone, the week after the Queen of the Damned left. In any case, they cooked up a dinner out, pre-planned, so that she wouldn’t feel suddenly trapped while everyone else got together and went out.
K. is on the Prayer Team with me at church. Actually, she invited me to join back when she and J. were still together. While we were waiting for everyone else to get together for our group prayer, she and I got pressed into service serving communion, which I had never done at this church before. I swear, when we got up to do it and found our place, J. and L. were staring and whispering about it. It may have been my imagination, but I swear I saw her look right at us then lean over to him and say… Well, something.
After church, we hung around a bit, while W. went and got a table at Koto’s. Apparently he knew the place quite well. Also, he speaks very fluent Japanese, which I’d forgotten. I think he might have been showing off for K., but I’m not sure. Either way, it was great sushi and rock bottom prices and I cannot reccomend it enough. We had a nice dinner, even though I was coughing pretty badly. And, my eyes were bigger than my stomache, so I ended up bringing home a bit of sushi for Hilda. Yes, my amazingly spoiled dog eats sushi, thank you very much!

Sunday, I did nothing and loved it.
This morning, though, W. tells me that K. “likes” me. Now, as a former fiance of perhaps my best friend, she’s automatically off-limits, but I have to admit, I am attracted to her. Still, he’s the second guy who’s seen us interact and said that. I’m starting to wonder if it’s not true. But, I really need it to not be true, and I told him so. His response?
“Well, at least she likes you a lot more than she likes me.”
Oh, God, help me!

Now, for the health update…
Got my chest x-ray this afternoon and got a call from the doctor about 6:00PM. Apparently, the x-ray showed no improvement, or not enough for the imaging center’s liking, so tomorrow morning, after I go see the phlebotomist, so they can check on my anemia, I’ll be off to get a CT scan. Apparently, it’s pretty gruesome.
And, I’m taking this very seriously now, because last night, I listened to a guy share at a men’s support group meeting I attend, about his inoperable cancer. The symptoms that he described going to see the doctor for? The exact same symptoms I ignored for months. Now, I don’t think I have cancer, but I do have a history of it in my family, on both sides, so that scared the shit out of me. No more screwing around, I promise, folks. Uncle Jim is taking it all very, very seriously now. Whatever the doctor says I need to do, I do.

I’ll give you more as I know more.

Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"The weakness of men is their facade of strength; the strength of women is their facade of weakness."
   --Warren Farrell


Modern Love: A Survival Guide

Filed under: Bavarian Death Cake of Love,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Linux,Novell,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Pig which is late at night or 11:50 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

So, I spent my evening at the River Oaks Borders Books trying to pick up women.
It did not go well at all. Oh, it started well enough. I wandered around the store and found several books and magazines, but not much in the way of women, or at least, what seemed like single women. I mean, it went like sort of like this in my head:
Oh, she’s interesting…. And with her boyfriend or husband. Nice.
Oh, that one looks nice…. And she’s here with her mother! Doh! Say her mother’s not bad…. And there’s her husband. Great.

So I walked upstairs to the coffee shop and that’s when things took a terrible turn for the worse, if you can imagine that.
“I’ll have a medium of the Italian Roast and, um, a slice of that Bavarian Chocolate Cheesecake.”
“Ah, the cake of death.”
“‘Scuse me?”
“Oh, it’s just that it tastes like genocide.” Then the little, pseudo-beatnik laughed like I should get the joke.
“Not exactly the best way to sell this stuff, you know?” And, I laughed, because, well, c’mon. Genocide? I know it’s Bavarian and all, but, uh, that’s just ridiculous.
“Hey, we make it right here!”
“Yeah, dude, that’s not helping any.” Things did not improve from here.
So, I sat down with my little slice of Bavarian genocide and a steaming cup of Italian Fascism to browse my books and magazines to try and weed out what to buy and what to leave on the table for beatnik boy to clean up. Petty, I know, but, hey, I quit smoking last week, so, cut me some slack. One that went instantly into the Keep pile was The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Dating and Sex. And, yes, the irony of finding that while totally failing at picking up women was not lost on me. I’m sure God was laughing when I picked it up. At least, someone was laughing. About the time I finished my death cake, an interesting lady was walking around the music section. At first, I thought she was someone I was familiar with from the blogoshpere. And, trust me on this, that’s a very, very good thing. As Cartman would say, “Hella hottie”. So, she wanders through and I keep an eye out for her to go introduce myself and, well, wing it. Honestly, it’s just now that I realized I had no where to go after “Hi, my name is Jim and…” Anyway, she starts to head down stairs and I start the same direction, right up until the point that she catches my eye, gets that panicked look and hurries away toward the far end of the store. Yeah, so… At this point, I’ve suddenly become a stalker if I follow her, so I head to the checkout line with my stuff and ask for the book I special ordered, Novell Open Enterprise Server Administrator’s Handbook, SUSE LINUX Edition. (Hey, look at the title of the blog, folks. This is what I do!) Only the girl can’t find it and asks the guy for help. He looks at me and says, “Oh, here this is him. I know his name. He’s a regular and special orders books from us all the time.” First I’m a stalker, now I’m a serial special orderer to the point that the staff know me by freaking NAME. Yeah, the book store is going to be a great place to meet women. Sure, right, great idea.
Right about this time I get the urge to turn around, you know, like someone is looking at me or something. Sure enough, there she is the girl I was going to introduce myself to is back there looking right at me, almost staring, while I checkout. Perfect. Wonderful. Shoot me now, please. Thanks.
So, then I’m driving home up 610 to 290 and listening to Brian Setzer Orchestra, The Ultimate Collection: Recorded Live, which is actually pretty hopping and has me driving a little fast. Of course, the Italian roast helped, too. And, I’m accelerating through traffic and it’s a little close, but I’m all hopped up on disappointment, chocolate and better than average coffee, so I put my V-8 engine with the police transmission on it to the test and slip through a tight gap in traffic. Now, considering some of the things that happened earlier in the week, you’d think I’d be driving more carefully, not less, but, no, that’s just not me.
Oh, and I should mention that work was, well, a little frustrating today, too. So, yeah, a little built up stress, just like the old days.

Man, I could use a smoke. Oh, right, I gave that up. Well, at least I still have the good Scotch. ‘Scuse me while I go self-medicate a bit and catch some sleep. I know it’s been more than ten years since I did this stuff, but, man, getting that first date sure seems hard these days. I think I’ll pour me a double.



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 Snake which is just before lunchtime or 11:50 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

A how-to guide.
Remember how I wrote that there’s a trick to that yakuza ritual of cutting off a finger? Well, the trick’s not saki. No amount of alchohol fixes that. You need a couple of things for the yakuza ritual. A very sharp knife, white silk, a presentation box, and an iron soul.
In the old days, when warriors relied on their swords and loyalty to their clan, the severing of a finger was more than symbolic, more than a gesture of apology. It was about grip. Gripping a sword. Fewer fingers meant a weaker grip. A weaker grip meant that one’s ability with a sword was diminished and reliance on one’s clan for protection became more important. The oyabun, father-figure/leader, grew in importance because he protected the weakened warrior. The individual who had erred became more dependant on his group, and less likely to err again. That is what took courage. Not the cutting. Cutting yourself is easy, but reliance on others, now, that’s hard.
In modern times, the symbolism took greater significance. The determination to show proper respect and symbolic reliance on one’s clan, one’s group, one’s gang, was the real test. And, in some ways, that’s the trick. That has to matter more than the pain. More than the loss. More than the fear. Who among us has that in abundance? Not I. The rest of the trick is about blood-flow. You see, the silk serves two purposes. First, it is used to dress and present the severed finger joint. The goal is to cut the finger, prepare and present it to the boss, asking forgiveness in the politest way, all without passing out. The second, and in many ways more important, use of the silk is to cut off the flow of blood to the finger-joint about to be severed. Why? Well, it deadens the pain and the blood loss is one of the ways a person might pass out.
The rest of the trick, of course, is being willing. Being willing to cut a part of one’s self away to more closely bond to the group. Cutting for the sake of cutting has no point, but, cutting with a higher purpose… Well, I have tattoos, and would love to get the half-suit tattoo like the yakuza traditionally wear, but am I willing?
Mostly, no. Not anymore. I have been. I maybe again. But, not today. Today, all I’m willing to do is bind the wounds of others. As so many have done before. For me. I can heal you easier than I can heal myself. More’s the pity. Now, the trick, for me, is what was left for the apologetic yakuza soldier after the cutting ritual. Strengthening the bond. I’m ready.
Are you?

Uncle Jim’s Advice for the day? Only cut when you’re willing to bond stronger afterwards. Otherwise, there’s no point in the ritual.

Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"The man who makes no mistakes does not usually make anything."
   --William Conner Magee



Being All Arty

Filed under: Art,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Fun,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Linux,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Horse which is around lunchtime or 12:41 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

I wish I was.
All arty, that is. Alas, I am inhibited by my close association with “The Man” via my degree in Marketing. Still, working to overcome such crippling handicaps is my stock and trade, so I went to an art opening last night. A friend of mine, Mark Flood, and a group of other artists that he did some collage work with, had an opening in the Heights area. Sadly, I cannot remember the name of the gallery where the work was shown. And, I was late. In fact, I was so late the other people I know who were going came and went, so I ended up spending some time with Mark, then was alone for a bit, looking at art and a mulitmedia presentation of the art being created, then poor Mark felt guilty for leaving me alone for so long and hung out with me the last 20-30 minutes I was there. It was, in a word, “interesting”.
I’ve never been to an art opening before. It was a little strange, to me, because it seemed like it was such a social event and had so little to do with the actual art. Also, I have to admit, it was art that I’m not really all that “in to”, either. Modern found-object collage art, for the most part. Still, it was interesting to look at. I much prefer Mark’s other work with lace. *That* absolutely fascinates me. But, I did have a good time people-watching. Seeing human drama unfold still enthralls me. There was some poor girl who was obviously quite upset at something her paramour, who I never connected to her, was doing or not doing. I’ve lost some of my ability to read lips in poor lighting, but I did catch “… but it still sucks. I just sucks!…” and the poor thing looked like she was on the edge of tears at one point. She did seem to recover enough to flirt with someone later, though, so I guess it all worked out. I have to admit, I was sorely tempted to quietly tell her “Darlin’ whoever it is, they just ‘aint worth it. No one should put you in that mood and make that pretty face so troubled and frowny. It’s time for a new horse, darlin’. You rode this one on out and you can’t ride ’em any further, so it’s just time to jump on a new horse.” You’ll be pleased to know that I successfully resisted that temptation.
Still, it did get me thinking about being creative and that longing to be part of a creative subculture reared its ugly head. Again. One day, I’d love for Mark to be introducing me to his friends as “my friend Jim, the writer” instead of just “my friend Jim”. So, I need to work on my writing. And, I need to work on it in an envrionment other than home. That led me to dig out my pile of laptops and sort through everything until I could make a reasonably decent one that ran. Then, of course, I installed Linux on it. Why? Well, why not. I have a copy of RedHat 9.0, the last free version of that particular distro that they released before going to Fedora. It installed like a charm. Easy as pie. Actually, easier, since pie can be a bit challenging sometimes. And, now, since the only drive I had that worked well was a five gigabyte IBM, I ordered a new 40 gig and a 512 meg memory upgrade from Tiger Direct. So, with old parts that I got free and the new hardware that will be coming soon, I’ll end up with a new, to me, laptop for under $200. Not bad. All of which means, ultimately, that I’ll be able to go to coffee houses and write. And emulate some of my heros, like Ernest Hemingway, in the process. Now, all I need is a good laptop bag that’s just as cheap. I was thinking about going with something Army surplus, but I’m not sure.
This is all part of the changes I’m trying to make in my life as I work toward being a person I like more. A person I like being more. Little by little, it’s happening. After God only knows how many years, I’m finally becoming the man I wanted to be when I was a kid.
Life is good.


The Cubes

Filed under: Fun,Geek Work,Life, the Universe, and Everything — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:33 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Personally, I aspire to a cubicle again.
That would mean that I was working at a desk instead of a table in Storage Room B. But, I understand that some folks really resent cubicles. Those cube-farms become a kind of professional purgatory from which escape seems impossible. Or, at least, improbable. Well, if you can’t make fun of your terrible and desperate professional life, what can you make fun of? So, here it is. The ultimate toy for the prisoner of the cubicle: The Cubes.
That link is to Boing Boing, who ran a story on the Cubes earlier in the week. But, if you’d like to get more information directly from the source, cut to the chase and go to CubeFigures.com and if you’re already sold on the idea, you can buy them from Archie McPhee.
(Oh, and yes, there is a “Jim” figure. He’s naughty. Art imitates life!)

Aw, c’mon, it’s Friday, so, you know you’re going to click on it sooner or later anyway.


A Few Changes

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Fun — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dragon which is in the early morning or 9:17 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

for the New Year.

Okay, so I’ve made a few changes to the blog here. First off, you should notice a few changes to the categories. I’ll let you, Faithful Readers, figure out which was what all on your own. Hey, that’s half the fun, right?
So, why the changes? Well, I’ve been reading a lot of blogs lately and, based on that, decided that I needed jazzier, more “fun” category titles. So, in the blink of an electron gun, I have new category titles. I’ll leave it to you to decide if they’re more fun.
Also, I’ve added one: Advice from your Uncle Jim. (That’s me, BTW. My name is Jim, in case you hadn’t caught that already.) Every once in a while, I have some generic advice that I think you might be able to use, like, “When in doubt, talk to your lawyer” and “Don’t cheat on your taxes. The IRS likes to fine idiots who do that and get caught”, and I like to share that with you. So, new categories for the new year.

It’s gonna’ be a bigun’!

Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"Everyone wants to live at the expense of the state. They forget that the state wants to live at the expense of everyone."
   --Frederic Bastiat

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