Diary of a Network Geek

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

5/1/2020

Time Distortion Under Stress

Filed under: Deep Thoughts,Fun,Marginalia and Notes from the Editor,Personal Care — 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 Waxing Gibbous

Or, does anybody really know what time it is?

I know everyone is talking about this, but I have to constantly remind myself of the day and time. And, yes, I know this is a side effect of being do far out of my normal routine, like everyone else is, that my brain’s sense of time has gone into a kind of psychological freefall. Also, it it may be a side of effect of both the isolation and the stress. I know, for instance, that some of my issues with concentration and memory are almost certainly related to the stress of working from home and the rush I went through to try and get as many people as possible able to work remotely. So, I feel confident that when my work schedule more closely resembles something that’s at least regular, if not “normal” whatever that even means any more, some of those issues will be less. Of course, that sense of time dislocation and general fuzzy-headedness is the reason that I’m writing this at 10:30pm on Thursday night, when I usually write these much earlier in the day and week, queueing them up in time for Friday morning. At least I know that I’m doing the things that will generally help with long-term stress, according to this article on LifeHacker, which is keeping up with my normal, regular sessions of sitting meditation, regular phone calls to distant family, and getting back on my rowing machine, which I’ve neglected for far too long. I should be getting better sleep and trying to be more creatively engaged, but, well, the concentration and memory things make that difficult for me. And, I’ve always had some issues sleeping, more so since having had cancer back in 2007. But, I work at all that, as well as trying to cultivate and maintain a positive mental attitude, which is frustratingly difficult. Though, thanks to this article on Boing Boing about positive thinking, at least I know why I still struggle with it, and, again, I find it comforting that I’m mostly doing the things suggested in the article and video to reinforce positive thinking rather than the negative. It sure is a process though, as the arty types are fond of saying.
And, just a quick note before I share some of the more fun links. COVID-19 is still super serious and the experts all seem to agree that there are more illnesses and, unfortunately, deaths coming from this. I know initially, it looked like it was going to be no more serious than the regular flu, but at the time I write this, the deaths from COVID-19 in roughly two months already have surpassed the number of deaths from the flu in all of the 2017-2018 flu season. And, not only do many people think those deaths are under-reported, even outside of China, but we’re just getting started here. If you’re having a hard time with visualizing how serious this really is, this article from Stat+ has some good visualizations for the potential death toll. That’s not counting, of course, the people who may suffer from long-term health issues after actually recovering from the disease. So, these numbers are why we’re being asked to wear a mask in public. That and the fact that symptoms take up to two weeks to appear and during that time an asymptomatic COVID-19 patient breathing out on someone could be infecting them. In other words, when I wear a mask, it’s as much about protecting those around me as it is protecting myself. Keep that in mind before you rant too much about your civil rights being infringed by a mask. Of course, some of my strong feelings about this may come from the fact that I just recently finished reading The Great Influenza, about the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic. It’s a little terrifying how similar the entire situation is to what we’re facing today. (And, if you’re a glutton for punishment, you can follow the daily stats in the US via Google. Again, the numbers are a little terrifying.)

Okay, now that I’ve got you good and worked up over something or other, here is the gentle, distracting content you actually came here for!
Just to start you off with something mellow, via Boing Boing, Muzak for Airplanes. Believe it or not, this offering from the same people who brought you soothing elevator music dates back to the 60’s and is so chill I can absolutely see it keeping uneasy airline passengers calm. We aren’t flying much these days, but the calm music is pretty nice background sound.
And, while you’re at it, check out Isle of Calm; 6 hours of calm, soothing music from NPR.
One of the ways I generally escape the world is through books. And, regular readers, if I haven’t frightened you away by now, know that I love free or cheap ebooks. It’s how I roll. So, in an effort to encourage more of the world to read, here’s a Lifehacker article/video on where to get free ebooks. And, if you can’t find what you’re looking for there, try one of the sources in this list of free ebook sites from MakeUseOf. Hopefully, between the two of them, you’ll find something to take your mind of all this.

And, for the kids of all ages, there’s NASA at Home, daily offerings from NASA to bring space into your home with books, videos, activities and more. There’s surely something here to enlighten or entertain, all brought to you thanks to your tax dollars, so enjoy it!
For the geeks that need to do something with their hands, there’s Rocky Bergen’s computer papercraft models. All free to download and share. You just need to print them, score and fold them, then glue them to recreate classic computers from paper in your home. Seriously, they’re pretty cool and I may have to try one, just for something different to do.

Finally, something for homeowners that are thinking about all that toilet paper we’re flushing at home, via Boing Boing; the Drain Addict. A YouTube channel of a professional drain cleaner. Trust me when I tell you that if the idea of 450 videos about cleaning out blocked drains doesn’t interest you, you’ve never had a major plumbing problem in your home. It’s weirdly fascinating. (And, if you want to go right to the YouTube channel, it’s here.)

So, there you go. Enjoy! See you next week with… Really, I have no idea. But there’ll be something here.

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words!

8/23/2019

Astronaut Aptitude Test

Filed under: Fun,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:30 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Third Quarter Moon

Could you cut it as an astronaut?

Last month was the 50th anniversary of the Apollo Moon landing, which means that I’m about as old as our modern space program. Or, as I like to think of it, I’m a child of the space age. That seems much more palatable than being almost as old as NASA.
In any case, for the past month or so everyone has been talking about space and the Moon and possibly returning to the Moon on the way to Mars. All that got me thinking about how every kid’s dream was to be an astronaut when I was little. We all thought we’d somehow be able to go to space by now. And, I mean, everyone would be there, as regular as air travel is now, like they were in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Sadly, it takes a little bit more than just booking a ticket to get into space, and I probably wouldn’t have ever been eligible. But, in the spirit of dreams and our hopeful return to the Moon, this week, I’m sharing a link to The Astronaut Test, so you can see if you have “the right stuff” to qualify as an Astronaut Candidate. The questions are drawn from the actual, official NASA Astronaut Candidate requirements and tests.
Why not take the 15 question quiz and dream of the stars while you take a break from work?

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words!

3/23/2012

NASA Models

Filed under: Art,Fun — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:45 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

I love design from the 60’s.

I’m also, oddly enough, a fan of architectural models, too.
There’s something weirdly science-fictional about the conjunction of those two things, too, that I really enjoy.  The kind of retro-future that they were trying to manufacture in the 60’s is just so, well, so quaint.  It’s not that they’re actually what I think the future would look like, but there’s something appealing about them in any case.  Something about clean lines and the long, smooth, “swoopy” feel to so much of the design just makes me long for that future that never was and never can be.  It’s a shame, really, that most of that world never actually existed.
Well, the best of those designs, combined with the possibility of an actual future that, well, actually did happen can be found at this site; NASA’s Most Adorable Model Spaceships.
They really are adorable, and, yes, the very finest that conceptual artists could put together at the height of our national pride and the space race.  They’re fantastic examples of the actual design that, as it turns out, very well may have created our future.

Besides, it’s Friday and if you had something better to do, you wouldn’t be reading my post about twee models of actual spacecraft, so you might as well click that link and look at them!

3/16/2012

Nerdy Day Trips

Filed under: Fun,Life, the Universe, and Everything,On The Road,Red Herrings — 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 a Third Quarter Moon

Time to get out into the server room with the big, blue ceiling!

Spring is springing in my part of the world.  Flowers are in bloom and the weather is quite mellow and pleasant.  And, of course, I spend most of my week trapped in a server room. But, I don’t want to take a lot of time off to go do things, so that means I’m stuck doing things on the weekend.  That doesn’t give me a ton of options, but there are always day trips.  I live in Houston, so there are all kinds of things to do, but, frankly, I’m not all that into most mainstream venues.  I mean, sports bars are okay, but I’m not really into sports.  And, well, once you’ve seen most regular museums, you’ve pretty much seen them all.  So, what’s a professional geek to do on his time off?

That’s where I’m hoping Nerdy Day Trips will help.
So far, there aren’t a lot of trips described for the Houston area yet, but there are more and more getting added all the time.  Oh, they hit the biggies, like NASA and the Battleship Texas, but they also have the National Museum of Funeral History and the Alkek Velodrome, among others.  And, yes, I’ll admit, since most of my “extra” income goes to camera gear these days, I’m mostly thinking of photo opportunities, so the stranger the better, as far as I’m concerned.
So, while the weather is nice, go and take advantage of these strange opportunities.  And, if there are any that you know of which aren’t on the map, especially in the Houston area, please, add them in!

And,hey, try to get out into the world this weekend and away from the computer for a bit, okay?
You’ll thank me later!

2/11/2011

Try Making A Habitable Planet

Filed under: Fun,Garden of Unearthly Delights,Life, the Universe, and Everything — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:36 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

No, really, go ahead and try.

It’s not quite as easy as science-fiction would have you believe.  Honest.  Don’t believe me?  Then head over to Extreme Planet Makeover and try for yourself.
The folks at NASA have brought us a pretty challenging, little game; make a planet habitable.
On the surface, that seems fairly straight-forward, but that’s only because we over-simplify just how miraculous it is that this happened on our own planet.  There’s actually a pretty narrow margin by which life becomes possible and taking an existing planet and forcing it into that margin is way, way harder than fans of science-fiction, like me, generally want to believe it is.
Go ahead and try the game yourself.  I think you’ll find it an eye-opening experience.

We live on a paradoxically robust and delicate world.
This place has existed for millions of years and “modern” humans have existed for just a few hundred thousand years.  This magnificent ball of dirt and rock has seen more kinds of life come and go than we can even imagine.  We tend to think of ourselves and the world as it is right now as “life”, but I firmly believe that life, in some form, will continue on even if we do the unthinkable and foul our own dwelling place to the point that we, as a species, can no longer inhabit it.  The Earth will continue and, I think, life in some form will, as well.
Though, we may no longer be here to see it.

Well, in any case, take a minute and go play the “game” at their site.  You may be surprised at just how big a miracle life on Earth is!  Besides, it’s Friday, so what else are you going to do?

1/7/2011

Start the Year with Hope

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Art,Fun,Life, the Universe, and Everything — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:34 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

I have lots of hope for the new year.

No, seriously, I do!
We, as a race, the human race, are capable of amazing things.  We live in the future.  Our lives are filled with science-fiction, which has always been the language of wonder and hope, even when it’s filled with warnings about where we may go wrong.  But, now, right now, we have people who live, albeit in a limited way, in space.  And that, gentle readers, has always inspired hope in me.
Here’s a link to some beautiful photographs which inspire that hope in me, courtesy of NASA and brought to you via Yahoo: Astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson looks down at Earth.

I hope you have a new year filled with wonder and hope, people.  Truly I do.  Be good to each other this year, okay?


Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"Plenty of people miss their share of happiness, not because they never found it, but because they didn't stop to enjoy it."
   --W. Feather


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