Diary of a Network Geek

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


Cthulhu Sex-Ed

Filed under: Art,Fun,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Movies,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:29 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

I can think of nothing more appropriate for a Friday the Thirteenth post.

Are you a fan of H.P. Lovecraft?
When I was in Junior High, I found H.P. Lovecraft and read him all the way through High School and even college.  But, because I found him when most people are getting sex ed for the first time, when our bodies are going through enormous, almost supernatural changes, I found this short film, via Boing Boing, called “Late Bloomer” quite funny.  Be warned, it may not be entirely safe for work, depending on your workplace and their standards, but it’s worth watching!

So, happy Friday the 13th!  Enjoy the video and have a very lucky day!


Bear Wisdom

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Art,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 Rat which is in the wee hours or 1:24 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

I’ve seen extreme bravery from the least likely of people. Life is about the moments when it has all gone wrong. That’s when we define ourselves.

-Bear Grylls, adventurer and start of the Discovery Channel series Man vs. Wild

I wish I had fewer opportunities to define myself.

I like to blame my melancholy on an existensial crisis brought on by a near brush with death served up thanks to a bit of cancer.  But, the truth is, every moment is an opportunity for everything to go wrong, for redefining ourselves.
I’ll be honest, ladies and gents, for the last loyal few of you who put up with the empty, impersonal posts, life does seem empty, void and without any real meaning.  I do my work well, mostly, and try to be a good friend, though I know I often fall far short of that humble mark.  But, the work is impersonal, and any schmuck could do my job.  The moment that I stop putting in that extra effort, I can and will be replaced.  I’m the kind of guy who you can call while he’s on vacation, who can’t say “no” when an acquaintance needs help with their computer.  But, what difference does that make?  I mean, outside of my utility, what difference do I make?  To anyone?

I’m sure my friends and I would disagree greatly in regards to what my weak points, my character defects, are, but, I’ll tell you, there’s more wrong with me than a simple inferiority complex.  As a dear friend casually pointed out Sunday night, I look to all the wrong people for validation.  Yes, I’m talking about women.  No, not just one, but, well, virtually any woman.  I don’t know why, but it’s not even the few who do tell me that I’m worth more than my simple skills, that I have value beyond my utility.  As someone at work said, if I can’t be handsome at least I can be handy.  But, beyond a few very common skills with a computer, things that anyone with Google could manage, I don’t even have much use in the world.
No, what I hear are the other voices.  I hear the girl from Junior High who laughs at my first fumbling attempts at snickering socialization.  A lesson learned too well.  I hear my ex-wife’s bitter barbs, still working their poison into me.  Worse, I hear the silent voices.  I hear the women who don’t even say anything, who’s voices I imagine saying aloud all the worst things I’ve ever thought about myself.  They’re the worst.  When someone silently turns away, or glares, or doesn’t notice me at all.  The opposite of love isn’t hate, it’s indifference.

So, there I am, an un-confident shell of a former self I don’t think I ever was, wanting to be different, but no knowing how to go about it.
I’ve a friend who’s a professional artist with whom I have lunch virtually every Monday.  We’ve been talking about art a lot, and photography.  My photography, actually.  His unfortunately accurate assessment of my work is that it lacks passion.  He quite rightly described me as being afraid, afraid of following that passion.  Also, he sussed out that I had in my head some notion of doing the photography “right”, that I was very concerned about doing it that mysterious “right” way.  And, those two things were what was holding me back.  If I could just let go of those things, then the crisis of my internal life would be freed.  Maybe.  And, yes, these two subjects, three subjects really, are all tied together.

So, there is the crux of things.
I know at some deep level that I am at a crisis point.  It would be hard for me to picture my life having gone much more wrong than it has.  Forty and divorced and, as much as I love kids, not a one to be found on Father’s Day.  Deeply in debt, with more on the way, thank you again, cancer, you bitch.  It may not be the way that Bear means in his sound bite, but life has gone wrong here, trust me.  Maybe I’m wrong, but I think art could save me.  I think that getting through that semi-mythical block would free my entire life.  But, here’s the thing…  The passion that’s missing from my work, is women.  Complicated, confusing, confounding, captivating women.  Women who mean so much, too much, to the tattered, hollow shell of my ego.  To approach them for inclusion in the work, I have to be indifferent to their constant rejection, but, you know, I’m not.  And, would I have so much energy around these mysterious, magical creatures if I were entirely fearless around them?  Doubtful.

So, what to do, what to do.
Perhaps nothing.  Perhaps a few more therapeutic lunches with my artist friend.  Perhaps, cancer survival aside, this existential crisis point may be a turning point.  If I’m lucky, I’ll find a bit of courage and surprise myself.
If I’m lucky.

Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"A man is not old until regrets take the place of dreams."
   --John Barrymore


Feels Like Junior High

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Bavarian Death Cake of Love,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:46 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

Some things never change.

You know, no matter how hard I try, it seems there are just some things about me that never change. Take, for instance, my terrible luck with the opposite sex. Okay, not so much “luck” as the results of a range of poor interpersonal skill and bad choices. Frankly, every time something like this happens, it’s just like Junior High. (I think they call that “Middle School” in Texas.)
There was a girl, naturally, who caught my fancy right at that special time when we were all “changing” and discovering all these new feelings about our opposite member. Her name was Julie. Nice gal, cute, popular, the works. Sadly, I was not cute nor popular. Only I hadn’t figured out that mattered yet. I was a late bloomer. So, throwing most of my caution to the wind, I wrote her a note, no doubt expressing my undying love for her with all the eloquence my little seventh-grade writing skills could muster. I think I can sum it up by saying I wrote something equivalent to “I like you. You’re pretty. Do you like me?”

I was subtle in my delivery of said note. No go between for me! Nope, I bravely told her she dropped something and handed her the note. Then, I believe I practically ran in the opposite direction. Then, for what felt like the next six years, Julie and her friends, the popular girls, all pointed and laughed and made me feel… Well, I guess they didn’t make me feel anything, but what I felt was strange, bad, small, and “less than”. It was a feeling that chased me all through the rest of Junior High and High School, too.
It was that feeling that made me feel good enough to help the cheerleader with her physics homework, but not good enough to be her actual date. No, that was reserved for her boyfriend who was too busy with his Advanced Placement Physics to help her figure out basic physics. Honestly, I doubt she even remembers my name today.
But, that’s pretty well how things played out over those years. I was the nice guy that all the girls felt safe around, and I worked at that, but, as a result, none of them really thought of me “that way”. In retrospect, I wonder how many of them thought I was gay. Regardless, that’s just how things were. No, I’m not whining about that “nice guys finish last” malarkey. It’s not that they didn’t like me, but, somehow, in being safe and careful with them, I just got shuffled off into another category where dating wasn’t a possibility.

So, flash forward about twenty years and several relationships, including one failed marriage. You’d expect that I’d have learned something, right? Apparently not. I discovered that I’ve made an ass of myself again, doing the same things that I did in Junior High.
I put myself out there. I was as real and genuine as I know how to be. I wore my heart on my sleeve. And, I even got a little response. Enough, at least, to keep me hooked. Oh, I put her on the prayer list at church. I prayed for her, at her request. I even sent prayers along to her. (Prayer and my relationship with God is actually a very private intimate thing that I don’t share with a lot of people.) I was caring and I listened to her problems. The whole nine yards. But, Monday morning, when I got into work, I found out she’d been to a Super Bowl party with someone else as her date. Her and her kids.
The guy who squealed had no idea that I was the most likely reason why she’d sworn him to secrecy, or I’m sure he wouldn’t have told me.
I’ll tell you true, faithful readers. I felt like a right jackass. I was embarrassed and ashamed. I was damn mad at myself for getting into that position yet again. And worse, for letting it get to me. And, yes, it really burns me up that after more than twenty years, when I do this to myself, I can still hear Julie and her friends laughing at me.

A friend told me, via e-mail, that it was just my turn to go through this. Again. Just like everyone else. And, honestly, I know that. Deep in my heart, I know he’s right. And, yes, I can hear my very own father saying “In a hundred years, who will care?” And, yes, I know that’s true, too.
But none of that makes it sting less today.
And, yes, just like in Junior High, I want to say something, do something, to make her see, make her understand how unfair it is. How I felt deceived. How I would have handled it all differently if I’d just known from the outset that I wasn’t dateable. But, I know, just like in Junior High, that none of that would be of any use anyway.
Okay, I’m done feeling sorry for myself today.
Thank you.

Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"The safe way to double your money is to fold it over and put it in your pocket."
   --Frank Hubbard


Not Worthy?

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Fun,Life, the Universe, and Everything,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Rooster which is in the early evening or 6:41 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

So, who’s worthy of your coveted link section on your blog?
Today, instead of working like a fevered dog, I read blogs. Lots of them. In fact, I left comments on quite a few, too. Some of these blogs, I’ve been reading for months, and some, I just started reading recently. Some of these fine folks have links to my website, but not everyone and there is no direct correllation between length of time I’ve been reading and commenting on their blogs and whether or not I have a link.
That made me think about who I link to, and why. The answers are not good. There’s little ryhme and less reason to why I link to folks on that sidebar menu. Sometimes, it’s because they have useful professional information. Sometimes, it’s because they’re funny. Or, because their writing really touched me in some way or another. Sadly, sometimes, it’s little more than a very limited popularity contest. If I like you, you get a link. Sometimes, I just like people, even though I may not agree with them or be a part of their world at all, but, still, I like them, so…
Yeah, I know, it’s so very, very Junior High of me, but, well, so be it.
So, why do you all link to other people’s blogs? And, more importantly, why do you not link to others?


Mr. Bad Example

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dragon which is in the early morning or 9:44 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

“Do as I say, not as I do.”
Boy, I hope all the kids that have ever known me take that to heart. I’m sure not the best example of how to live one’s life. Oh, I do okay these days, but… Well, let’s just say I earned the scars, the tattoos, and that slightly amused look in my eyes when someone is surprised at the other two. And, I’m not even half-way done.
I don’t know what got me thinking of that the other day, but, well, there you are. Maybe it was those damn turkey vultures that knocked my sense of “normal” off the rails. Doesn’t matter I guess. These things just come up sometimes and have to be worked through so they don’t consume me. So, I’ve spent some time thinking and I think it’s time for a bit of honesty. That category “Advice from your Uncle Jim”? That’s all about the things I can’t say to my estranged step-daughter. She’s an amazing kid. Creative and smart and funny and sensitive and cute. (From what I understand, in her Middle School, she’s considered quite the looker.) My ex-wife, her mother, has told her “things” about me. What things and how much of it true, I have no idea. C’mon, I’m no angel, so the truth could be enough, but, still, knowing my ex-wife and the things she told me that later turned out to be “wrong”… Well, let’s just say I admire her ability to write fiction, okay? Anyway, I suspect that, from time to time, that smart, funny, adorable kid is going to check out this blog. I know she used to read it, so I wouldn’t be surprised if she still does, from time to time. When, if, she does, I thought it’d be nice to have a way to sneak a little, tiny bit of my life experience into her head for later use. Never know when some of the crazy things I know might come in handy.
For instance, did you know what when it’s cold outside, if you back into a warm building, like a bar, your glasses won’t fog? Works every time, honest. How about this: saying I love you to your parents is often the scariest thing in the world. Scarier even than saying it to a date. Or, try this on for size: These really are the best times of your life, so keep a journal and, later, when things get tough, look back and remember how good it was today. (Honestly, can anything beat Junior High, as we used to call it up North? Not in my book. It was the most freedom and least pressure I’ve ever had!) And, don’t confuse a religon’s practitioners with the message. Most of the time, the original texts are pretty uplifting, no matter what the goons who claim to follow it actually do.
Anyway, Shorty, if you’re reading this, don’t use me for a role-model. Or your mother, either, for that matter. Neither of us are the best examples of how to live your life. Heck, don’t even use your Dad, though he’s about the best role-model you’ll ever have in your life. Don’t use anybody for a role-model. Don’t try to be or copy anyone else. Just be you. And, when you’re not sure what that is, go do something you love and find out.

Here endeth the lesson.
I wish I could blame all that on being drunk or hung-over, but I never did get to drinking heavy last night.
Anyway, since you’ve been good enough to read this whole post, here’s the Warren Zevon song lyrics that inspired the title, the post, and a fair amount of my misbehaving.

Mr. Bad Example Lyrics

I started as an altar boy, working at the church
Learning all my holy moves, doing some research
Which led me to a cash box, labeled “Children’s Fund”
I’d leave the change, and tuck the bills inside my cummerbund

I got a part-time job at my father’s carpet store
Laying tackless stripping, and housewives by the score
I loaded up their furniture, and took it to Spokane
And auctioned off every last naugahyde divan

I’m very well aquainted with the seven deadly sins
I keep a busy schedule trying to fit them in
I’m proud to be a glutton, and I don’t have time for sloth
I’m greedy, and I’m angry, and I don’t care who I cross

I’m Mr. Bad Example, intruder in the dirt
I like to have a good time, and I don’t care who gets hurt
I’m Mr. Bad Example, take a look at me
I’ll live to be a hundred, and go down in infamy

Of course I went to law school and took a law degree
And counseled all my clients to plead insanity
Then worked in hair replacement, swindling the bald
Where very few are chosen, and fewer still are called

Then on to Monte Carlo to play chemin de fer
I threw away the fortune I made transplanting hair
I put my last few francs down on a prostitute
Who took me up to her room to perform the flag salute

Whereupon I stole her passport and her wig
And headed for the airport and the midnight flight, you dig?
And fourteen hours later I was down in Adelaide
Looking through the want ads sipping Fosters in the shade

I opened up an agency somewhere down the line
To hire aboriginals to work the opal mines
But I attached their wages and took a whopping cut
And whisked away their workman’s comp and pauperized the lot

I’m Mr. Bad Example, intruder in the dirt
I like to have a good time, and I don’t care who gets hurt
I’m Mr. Bad Example, take a look at me
I’ll live to be a hundred and go down in infamy

I bought a first class ticket on Malaysian Air
And landed in Sri Lanka none the worse for wear
I’m thinking of retiring from all my dirty deals
I’ll see you in the next life, wake me up for meals

Written By Warren Zevon & Jorge Calderon
c. 1991, Zevon Music,
administered by Warner-Tamerlane Publishing corp./Googolplex Music BMI

Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"Nobody has ever expected me to be President."
   --Abraham Lincoln

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