Diary of a Network Geek

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


Manly Pursuits

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Life Goals,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 5:40 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous


Originally uploaded by Network Geek

Or, how the Network Geek plans to look good naked.

It may not always seem like it, but I’m a goal oriented guy. Anything I’ve ever done that’s been worth doing has been to accomplish a goal, some goal, any goal. So, what keeps me motivated to keep working out? What else? Sex. I want to look good, naked. Not just okay. Not just better than unappetizing. I want to look good.
Like most men, my problem is my gut. I’ll never look like a Men’s Health cover model and I may never have a tight “six-pack” like they do, but I sure as hell can look better than I do right now. Sure, I’ve lost twenty-five pounds in the past several months, but I also gained several back eating Thanksgiving left-overs. But, I’m not so old yet that I can’t improve myself physically. At least, I’d like to think, even as I get ready to turn forty in just a few short days, that I might still not send someone running from the bedroom screaming in terror.

Right, now if that image hasn’t scarred you for life, read on for an update on my exercise plan. I’ve been hitting the heavy bag for a bit now. After someone who’s in such amazing shape it makes me embarrassed to even admit to them that I’m working out at all asked how things were going with that, I added a three minute round before my brisk, just-under-two-mile walk, in addition to the three minute round I’d box with my inanimate opponent.
Saturday, I bought a nine pound medicine ball. There were a surprising number of choices and weights. Twelve was the heaviest they had, but I went with the leather clad nine pounder from Everlast. It looked good and felt good and it reminded me of old boxing movies. Movies with training sequences set in dark, dank, gray, old gyms filled with torn canvas bags patched with rolls of cloth tape and, yes, worn, leather medicine balls that the boxers threw to and at each other.

Medicine balls put me in mind of Hemingway and his rough-and-tumble heroes, who became mine. They remind me of the fitness craze that swept the Thirties, before we all started using giant weights and steroids or more legal supplements like creatine. But, the funny thing is, the fitness gurus and rediscovering the humble medicine ball. Men’s Health, for instance, has been running work outs that include medicine balls for quite some time. In fact, it seems to me that quite a few of their abdominal workouts in the past several months have either included or centered around the simple, relatively inexpensive, medicine ball. In particular, there’s the The Ultimate Medicine Ball Workout, as developed and used by the University of North Carolina Tar Heels. Go look at it. It looks easy, doesn’t it? Trust me, it’s not.

It takes work to get and keep in shape. I’m not willing to make it a full-time job just yet, but I am willing to put a little more into it than I have been. There is a reason they call it “working out”, I suppose, and if I want the result then I’ve got to do the work. Modern exercise science hasn’t changed that, either.
Good thing I have a goal to reach for, I guess.


Thanksgiving Day Chalk Talk

Filed under: Art,By Bread Alone,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Fun,music,News and Current Events,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:58 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent


Originally uploaded by Network Geek

I should give you all a little update on the barely controlled chaos that was Thanksgiving Day at my house.

First of all, the turkey done on the grill turned out wonderfully well, much to the surprise of many, if not most, of my guests. And, yes, to be perfectly honest, I was a little concerned myself. Thankfully, we all worried needlessly, because it was great.

Secondly, I had to use trickery, threats and bribery to get rid of all the pie! I mean, I was sort of under the impression that several people were coming after the main meal for a bit of pie, but that turned out to be code for “don’t think we’re going to make it”. Sadly, however, I planned for their arrival, being the slightly cynical optimist that I am, and encouraged everyone to bring pie if they were at a loss for something to contribute. I had at least seven pies there, I think. Roughly one-half of a pie per person. Slight over-kill. So, you know, it ran rather like most of my plans, such as they are. But, I always say, I’d rather have too much than too little, so there you are.

The only thing that I didn’t like was that some of my favorite people weren’t able to make it. I know that they mostly had other family places to be that were more, um, appropriate for them to attend. But, well, I’ll just flat out say it, I’m jealous and petty and selfish and I wanted these people to be near me making me happy. It’s who I am. I missed them being there, even though the crowd I did have was wonderful, as the pictures of the event show. And, we did, I think, have a wonderful time. I know I had a far better Thanksgiving than I’ve had in years.

Some of you may recall me hunting about for music and finding some. Well, the music was quite well received, though my final playlist had to work around several corrupted files and a noticeable lack of several artists. I was actually quite surprised to see who showed interest in the music and who was interested in my art, too. I mean, the art I own, not the art I fumble around making. My Mark Flood was, predictably, quite popular and the topic of much conversation.

So, all in all, even with a few things noticeably lacking, it was a very good day. In fact, it may just inspire me to keep the house clean and start those mythical monthly movie nights.
Well, I guess, we’ll see about that.


Lunch with Mark Flood, Famous Artist

Filed under: Art,Bavarian Death Cake of Love,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Life Goals,Life, the Universe, and Everything,NaNoWriMo,Personal,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Pig which is in the late evening or 10:00 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent


Originally uploaded by Network Geek

I had lunch with my very-soon-to-be-very-famous artist friend Mark Flood today.

This month was National Novel Writing Month, but you notice that this is the first I’ve mentioned it. Notice, too, that I haven’t mentioned even a thought of participating this year. There’s a reason. Actually, there are a number of reasons, but most of them don’t matter much. Two, really, pushed me toward not bothering to try, though. First, November is the worst possible month to try and write a large volume of text on any subject, really. I mean, even if I hadn’t hosting Thanksgiving, I’d still have a lot of social obligations, not to mention the fact that I usually get snowed under with work in November, too. But, also, really, it’s been so long since I’ve written fiction regularly that going from zero to fifty in a month, well, let’s just say that fifty thousand words takes some working up to.

But, there are other things, too.
I’ve always wanted to be an artist. I have no talent drawing or painting, so, you know, art, at that point, becomes a bit of a challenge. That was probably about when I got interested in photography. I guess it seemed like an easier way to make something beautiful. Well, and there were more likely to be gorgeous women involved, too. Naturally, that’s always been right up there in importance with art. Women and art, almost the same to me, really. But, women are almost as much of a mystery as darkroom technique, so photography fell by the wayside, too. Not so much women, though, I probably should have chosen to do things in the other order based on how things worked out later. Hindsight is 20-20, right?
In any case, along the way, there was always writing. I always had writing. Until, one fine day, I grew up. I embraced the fact that I was a professional network plumber. I owned the idea that what I was really good at was making networks and servers run, talk to each other and do tricks. In short, as the title says, I am a network geek. And, that particularly lucrative pursuit slowly replaced my writing time.

Now, I’m not crying, okay? I mean, it paid the bills and it paid a lot of bills toward a pretty comfortable lifestyle, so I’m not knocking it. But, I do miss that dream of being an artist, or writer, or at least a photographer. Well, the more time I spend with Mark, soaking up the bits and pieces of his artist’s life, the more I hunger for that old dream, that time before I was a network geek when I was just a guy trying to pay the bills while I wrote. In a way, I’ve come full circle. Back to art and women. Well, full circle in that I desire both, but have neither. And, yeah, it seems like there’s a story in there somewhere.
Part of my problem with writing is that I’ve got it in my head that I should be writing science-fiction or fantasy, but when it comes out it comes out something entirely different. I’ve never set a story in the far future, or even the near future. Only once or twice, a couple truly horrible attempts, did I set something in the past, or a fantasy past where the rules were significantly different from now. I’m not sure what that all means, except, of course, my choices of subject matter seem to limit my output. I suppose the obvious answer is to write a different kind of story, but, then, obvious answers have never been my forte. I suppose that explains a lot of my problems with women, too.

I was thinking about all this after lunch with Mark today, because of a tribute article I read about Bob Carlos Clarke. He was a photographer and he took a lot of provocative photos, but he also had a number of famous friends, most that he met through his photography, many of whom he used as subjects for his work. Of course, he also took a lot of pictures of very attractive women, which has been, naturally, a dream of mine since, well, since about the beginning of puberty. So, yeah, portraits and black-and-white pictures and lights and lenses and art and famous friends and women and all that has been swirling in my head. Somehow, the photography is easier for me than the writing right now, so I pursue that.
I have no illusions about “making it big” or ever even selling my work, to be honest, but when I watch Mark, I see the obsession with getting the message right, with having to produce his work and I recognize that with my own obsessiveness around photos. I can only imagine what I must seem like to an observer while I’m setting a shot. And, of course, when I show someone a shot, there are almost always at least a dozen more that are slightly different that I discard.

Look, I don’t know what it all means. In the words of some poor slob in some movie that I can’t remember, we’re all just delivering pizzas. Or in my case, I’m just unclogging network plumbing. I love art, but I’m just doing a job like everyone else.
And, some days, that’s just not good enough anymore.


Argh! More Time!

Filed under: Adventures with iPods,By Bread Alone,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Fun,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 Dragon which is in the early morning or 8:32 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

I’m so behind, I think I’m catching up to myself!

Thanksgiving fast approaches and my house is mostly clean. Now, by “mostly clean” I think it’s important to understand what I mean. I mean that I’ve vacuumed for the first time in two years. I mean, my bathroom is so clean that a woman might actually feel safe using it! Hey, what do you want from me? It’s been two years since I’ve been in a relationship and half that time I was in the hospital slow dancing with death, so, there really hasn’t been any point in having the place clean. Now, there is, so, well, it is. Well, mostly. My office still needs work and the bedroom can always use more cleaning and the upstairs… Well, the less said about the upstairs, the better right now.

The important thing, though, is that my kitchen is clean. And, just barely in time to start baking pies tonight. Yes, pies, as in plural. With so many people coming over after their main Thanksgiving plans, I figured a few extra pies can’t hurt. I might try to get to bed early, too. If the pies don’t take too long. See, I’ve been up until the wee hours for the past several nights in a row getting ready. So, I’m getting a little short on sleep. And, I still need to whip up a playlist for background music. After all, all the running around I did Sunday to get it and rip it won’t do me any good if I can’t get it playing!
Of course, I’ll probably end up staying up late again tonight then trying to catch a nap after I start the turkey in the morning. It just seems like I’ve totally under-estimated my time on just about everything this year. It’s just taken so much longer than I expected to get everything done. Witness the fact that this post is popping up here so late! I normally have Wednesday’s post queued up Tuesday evening before I go to bed, so this is amazingly late for me. It’s also why this post probably seems a little disjointed. Of course, that may be the lack of time and sleep, too.

Oh, and for those of you who love “food porn”, know that I’ll be taking pictures of people and food tomorrow. Naturally, I’ll post the pictures to my Flickr account, so keep an eye out if you’re interested. But, if you are going to be making your own “food porn” this holiday, here is a link to some Food Photography Tips and Techniques. Enjoy and have a happy and safe Thanksgiving!


New Music for the Network Geek

Filed under: Bavarian Death Cake of Love,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,music,Personal,Red Herrings,Review — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:41 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

Hey, remember how I was looking for new music some weeks ago?

Well, I found some.
So, I’m pretty much always looking for new music these days. And, I’ve fully embraced the fact that I’m tragically unhip. So, where does that leave me? Well, it leaves me totally open to other people’s suggestions. So, that’s what I sought and that’s what I found. (In fact, while you’re reading this, you can use my SeeqPod searches to preview some of the music I ended up buying.) Well, obviously, I put up a post and a poll about your suggestions, gentle readers. Then, earlier this month, I sent out the call to the same special group of ladies who helped me pick out my most successful pair of shoes which got the best reaction from my favorite member of my target market. When the answer came back from them, I shuffled that in with the wisdom of the crowd here at Diary of a Network Geek and came up with a list. Here it is:

French Kicks – One Time Bells
Snow Patrol – A Hundred Million Suns
Franz Ferdinand – Franz Ferdinand
The Ting Tings- We Started Nothing
The Flaming Lips – Maxi-Single – She Don’t Use Jelly
Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend
Tokyo Police Club- Elephant Shell
Spoon – Double CD – Soft Effects and Telephono

So, that’s what I got today, in a hurry, at the last minute, to blend in with some of my older stuff, like Elvis Costello and Frank Sinatra and Warren Zevon and Miles Davis and the like, to make a nice mix. Why? Well, because I’m going to have those people over for Thanksgiving and several of them will be people I want to, um, make a good impression on, if you take my meaning. Yeah, this poor, unhip network geek is trying to impress a girl a little bit. And, barring that, I wouldn’t mind impressing a couple of the guys. Different reasons, naturally, but, still, one’s as good as the other, right?

Okay, not really. But, in any case, I just wanted to have some nice, young, hip background music for this little party. Possibly, even music for more parties in the future, too, I might add. Sure, it’s been a lot of work getting ready, and a bit more work before I’m done, but I love entertaining. I love having people over for virtually any reason. And, yes, it’s been the perfect antidote to the poisonous memories from four years ago at this time of year. Instead of feeling depressed and down, I’m feeling up, positive and excited about the upcoming holiday. New memories, happy memories, ready to be made and, I think, this music will help make it better, more memorable and new and fresh, for me.
I’m not quite sure how many people will be coming, but a number of people will be coming after going to their family Thanksgiving celebration, just to hang out and maybe have a slice of pie. Fresh music, new friends, and pie. Sounds like a pretty damn good start to me!


Thanksgiving Recipes

Filed under: By Bread Alone,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Hoffman's Home for Wayward Boys,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Personal,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:57 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Full Moon

Now is the time, gentle readers, to help your Uncle Jim out.

So, Thanksgiving is at my house this year. Maybe this will be the start of a new tradition, who knows? In any case, this year, I’m bringing the joy of the season to my house. Only, now, I have a small problem. Outside of making the turkey, which is frightening enough, I don’t have any simple, traditional, passed-down-from-grandma recipes that are easy enough for me to do. So, give me yours.

No, seriously. Look, I’ve invited a lot of people and, while I’ve gotten some polite refusals from some of them, many more have either said yes, or are waiting until the last minute to confirm. What’s more is that I’ve told several of them not to worry about bringing anything, lest that hold them back from coming. All of which means, I have an unknown number of people coming, some of whom aren’t bringing anything and may show up at the last minute. And, now, I sort of feel obliged to, you know, feed them and stuff. Except, I’m a fairly inept cook. Truly. So, I need your help. Kat has already sent me a brilliant and easy corn pudding recipe, which I’ll share in just a minute, but I need more. I especially need a good, simple, but interesting stuffing recipe. Most of you have my e-mail, so if you want to share privately, you can, otherwise, just leave them in the comments. At some point, I’ll collect them all and share them, and let you know which ones I actually try.

So, while you ponder that, here’s Kat’s Best-Friend’s Cousin’s Corn Pudding:
Fold in this order: 1 can drained corn, 1 can creamed corn, 1 stick melted butter, 8 oz. sour cream, 1 box jiffy corn mix. Bake at 325 for an hour to an hour and a half (should be the consistency of pudding in the middle). You can also add shredded cheese and jalapeno if you like.

Now, Kat knows me well, so she’s got a handle on the “keep is simple for the kitchen dunce” vibe that I need. Let that be your model and your guide.
Help me cook to fill stomachs, hearts and souls with warmth and joy.
But, keep it simple.


The Perfect Antidote

Filed under: By Bread Alone,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 5:12 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a First Quarter Moon

So, I’ve come up with the perfect antidote to my holiday blues.

I’m having Thanksgiving at my house this year.
Here’s a copy of what I sent out to some of my usual suspects:

“Okay, so J. was supposed to do this, but, I want to make sure you all get invites before someone else snatches you all away.
As you all should know by now, the traditional J&L Married-Name Thanksgiving (formerly the traditional J&L Not Married Thanksgiving) has made a break for freedom and is going to be at my house this year. I told J. to invite all the people he’d normally invite, but he’s still working out his issues with his guest list and the fact that I’m insisting that it’s really okay for him to invite his entire family. So, I’m not going to wait for him.

Y’all come to my house for Thanksgiving.
I’ll have turkey and maybe something more, so if you want anything else, bring it! Especially if there’s something that makes Thanksgiving happen for you, bring that. Also, if there’s someone, or even several someones, that make the holiday happen for you, bring them, whether they’re family or not. If you can think of anyone I missed on this list, too, that seems like fun, forward this on to them. If you can, please, give me a count at least a couple of days before so I can plan to have enough turkey and whatever so no one goes away hungry. Oh, and if you have folding chairs, bring them, too.

I’m warning you now, even though I’m cleaning, my house will be a wreck. I’m a total bachelor and it shows. The only woman that’s seen the inside of my house in six months or more is my dog, so you’ve been warned.

Hope you all can make it, even though I know you may have other plans, family, or some other lame excuse to blow me off.


P.S. So you can find the place, here’s a map”

Then, because I left part out, I sent this:

“Right, so, for those of you not attuned to my psychic abilities to broadcast thoughts, I thought I’d actually mention when to come for dinner this time. I was figuring on 2:30pm being ‘Turkey Time’, but don’t hesitate to come over early to escape your family, if you feel so moved. By the same token, I’m sure there will be plenty of food, so come by later than you think you should if you have obligations you can’t duck but still want to bask in the warm glow of knowing your house is cleaner than mine.”

And, yes, I am cleaning and yes, my house will still be a wreck, but at least it’ll be good enough that I won’t be too embarrassed to have people over.  Besides, most of them know what my past couple of years have been like so they know why cleaning is pretty low on my priority list.  And, frankly, anyone who doesn’t like it can hit the bricks!

I’m actually planning to do a turkey in the oven and a ham on the grill and, possibly, either some beer bread or sweet potato pie.  My beer bread is always a hit and I have a recipe for sweet potato pie that uses canned sweet potatoes that I’ve been meaning to try.  Who knows, maybe I’ll impress someone with my domestic skills.  My ex-wife did always say that I’d make someone a wonderful wife one day.  Maybe someone will show up, one way or another, who needs a little extra tender loving care, just like I did the year my ex-wife left.  That’s really why I’m doing this.  Because the holidays can be rough and someone helped me through the roughest of holiday seasons, so maybe now, I can return the favor.


Last Year’s Movies

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Fun,News and Current Events,Personal,Review — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:30 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

…And the first of this year, in review.

Last Year's Movies

First, there was the Simpson’s Movie. That was part of the Saddest Bachelor Party ever. Half of us didn’t drink, half of us were gay, and I wasn’t quite done with chemotherapy treatments. No alcohol, no strippers, and I looked like a walking corpse. Hell, I felt like a walking corpse.
I’ve never been a huge Simpsons fan, to be honest, though I love Futurama. We went at the request of the groom, J. I bought dinner at my new, favorite Thai restaurant and I bought J.’s ticket. The movie was hilarious. Everything that was ever good about the Simpsons crammed into one movie. At one point, Homer is trying to catch up to his family and save Springfield. He’s using a dog-sled to do so and driving the dogs hard. They run away in the night and Homer whines “Why does everything I whip run away?” I verbally sympathized. We missed the next five minutes of the film while we laughed. But, really, if you missed this one, rent it. It was good, even if you’re not a fan.

Next was Dragon Wars. This was a Korean import staring mainly unknown American actors, or B-movie actors that should have retired years ago. The best thing I can say about it is…
“Dragons! With rocket launchers on their shoulders!” It was our catch phrase for the evening. Don’t bother even renting this one unless you want to reenact Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Then, I went to see American Gangster with J. and L. just after Thanksgiving.
This was very, very good. It was so hyper-real that it was almost unbelievable. But, it’s pretty well all true. This is the story of the Black Mafia in Harlem in the Sixties and Seventies. It’s all about gangs, criminals, heroin, and the mob. Again, very real, very violent and very good. Another one to rent if you missed it in the theater.

After that, though, we started picking up speed.
Midway through December, I saw the disappointment of the year, the Golden Compass. After the massive build-up and comparisons to C.S. Lewis and the Chronicles of Narnia, I had high expectations for this film. I was betrayed.
The entire movie was rushed and it felt like huge sections of plot had been left out leaving indecipherable gaps. The only thing that saved me, frankly, was having talked to a friend who read the books about the premise of the first book, on which this movie was based. The CG was very good, but not good enough to distract me from the butchered plot and lack of real sparkle in the film despite some brilliant actors. To say that it was a huge disappointment is, at best, an understatement. If you haven’t seen it, but feel compelled, I’d wait to rent it.

On Christmas Day, I went with my mysterious artist friend, for whom I’m doing some creative work, to see No Country for Old Men. If you haven’t seen this yet, skip work this afternoon and go see it. Yes, it is that good. I hope to see it again while it’s still in the theaters and I almost never see a movie more than once in the theater. That is how good I think this movie is.
First of all, it stars two of my favorite actors, Tommy Lee Jones and Josh Brolin. Yes, Josh Brolin, son of James Brolin and husband of Diane Lane. Very, very under-rated actor, in my opinion. Also, I didn’t realize that this was a Coen Brothers’ movie until I was there with Mark. So, by the time I sat down in the theater, I had pretty high expectations. They were exceeded.
Now, true to their form, this is a violent film. And, a very realistically violent film. I’ve seen a lot of wounds, on myself and others, fresh and not quite so, and the effects in this film are very, very good and the most realistic I’ve seen outside of… Well, actually, they’re the best I’ve seen anywhere. Period. So, if you have a weak stomach, don’t plan on eating Italian after seeing this one. However, if you’re up for a bit of the old ultraviolence, then this movie is for you.
The story follows Brolin’s character, who finds a drug deal gone very wrong in the Texas scrub while hunting. He hunts around until he finds the money from the deal and takes it. The rest of the movie is about the consequences of that decision and that act. Brilliant work.
If you see no other movie in the next twelve months, see No Country for Old Men.

Now, to wrap things up, I started my year with I Am Legend.
The weakest thing about this movie was the CG. Based on a book, which I’m currently reading, by Richard Matheson, this is the story of biology gone wrong. Will Smith plays an Army doctor who is the only survivor in New York City after a plague sweeps the world. The plague, which is the side-effect of a reengineered virus meant to cure cancer, kills most people and transforms the rest into Dark Seekers, zombie-vampire-like creatures that feast on living flesh and hide from the day-light. A classic monster movie. From what I’ve read so far, the movie is only vaguely similar to the book. In fact, it’s more like the Charlton Heston version of this movie, The Omega Man. (Apparently, this was also a remake of an even earlier version of the story staring Vincent Price called The Last Man On Earth, but I haven’t seen this version. Yet.)
As far as the movie goes, it’s worth seeing. I won’t spoil anything, but it does end on an up-beat. I do recommend that you see this with a friend, though, not alone like I did. At least, not if you’re feeling depressed or lonely. This is a very, very lonely film and Smith gets that feeling of hopelessness and futility across to the audience very well. If they’d spent just a little more on the CG, this would have been a truly great film. As it is, if not for Will Smith’s fame, I doubt it would have done well.
Of course, I might have enjoyed the film more if not for two of my fellow audience members that intruded on the experience. The first was an older gentleman that kept asking his much younger companion, daughter I assume, what was happening. When he asked where all the people were in the opening scene, I almost asked him if he knew what movie he’d come to see. The next time he asked a similar question, I had to bite my tongue to keep from snapping back at him that if he’d just shut up and watch the movie, the plot might answer his damn question! The other audience disturbance was the non-English-speaking family that brought a toddler into the movie 3/4 of the way through. You know, right before the horde of monsters stormed the hero’s stronghold. Perfect timing to scar the kid for life.
Other than that, though, it was an enjoyable experience.

So, here’s to the new year and many great movies to be seen!


Yesterday, Tomorrow, Today

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Horse which is around lunchtime or 1:40 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

I look forward to Christmas.

Thanksgiving has been a hard holiday for me for many years. For years I would get a litany of trangressions recited for me by my ex-wife. All the things that her family allegedly had done or would do at Thanksgiving. Every year, it got a little worse, until… Well, until the end, naturally.

Thursday, I was at my friend J’s house where he and his fiance, L, hosted Thanksgiving. L is exceptionally easy to talk to and, well, she must have asked just the right question to get part of the story of Thanksgiving 2004. You see, that was the year, the Sunday before Thanksgiving, that my ex-wife left. She left while I was in the shower, taking the only working car and her daughter, leaving no note or message of explantion. Just gone. Obviously, I think about that every year now. As the holiday draws closer that other anniversary does, too. But, what caught me a little by surprise was that I’d written down the actual day.

I’ve read from the same daily devotional for several years now. Some time back, I started writing significant things with the year on the day they occurred in this devotional, so that I might be reminded of them each year. On November 21, I have just a single name with the year 2004 written next to it. I know precisely what it means.
I mentioned that to L as I told the story. She commented that, maybe one day, I’d have a different copy of the devotional and write different things in it. But, I told her that I didn’t think I would. I don’t want to forget.  That moment, in part, defines who I am, as do many, many others.  I’m my past as much as I am my present or my future. Who I am today is based on who I was. I’m the choices I made, good and bad. I’m the result of poor planning, worse judgement and pointless struggles, just as I am the result of lucky breaks, hard work and the love and care of those around me.

I’m far from perfect, God knows, but I think I’m a better man than I was five years ago, or even two years ago, because of both the things I got right and the things I got wrong.
And, with every passing year, that feels more and more comfortable.


“You’re Not Her Type.”

Filed under: Deep Thoughts,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Personal,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Rooster which is in the early evening or 7:15 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

I have the oddest conversations at church.
And, no, this will not explain the cheerleader comment from earlier.
So, I’ve mentioned this cute girl at church that I totally have a crush on, but won’t date, right? The ex-girlfriend of one of my best friends. Well, more like ex-fiance. And, yeah, that is why I haven’t asked her out and don’t plan on it, either. Well, and the other thing.
I met this girl, we’ll call her “K”, through my friend, who we’ll call “J”. When I started coming to church again, she invited me to join the prayer team. After a bit of hesitation, since I really don’t think the average person wants to hear what I pray about, I accepted and joined up. Note that I still haven’t joined the church, since I’m not much of a joiner, but, still, the prayer thing I could handle. Things were all nice and smooth-sailing for most of the year in that area. I got to know some folks at church, got to know K a little better and, eventually, thought of her as a friend in her own right. Then, J and K’s relationship ground down into dust and I was left with a very attractive, artistic, spiritual friend. Naturally, an instant crush developed. A crush that I would not follow up on, because it would be too weird for me and my buddy, J.
Instead, I enjoyed having a female friend who I wouldn’t date, even though my therapist and parents and strangers on the street were encouraging me to ask her out. I talked to her on the phone a couple of times, saw her at church and that was about it. Then, there was a “little incident” that confirmed why I should never ask her out. No, I didn’t hear that she’d definately say “no”. It was something else altogether. K asked me to bring a volunteer sign-up sheet to the prayer meeting before church, because she was going out of town on short notice. Of course, I did it without any real thought to it. That night, I sat with J in church. Afterward, as we were walking out, he asked one of K’s other friends from the prayer team if she’d seen K. Withough thinking, and before this lady could answer, I blurt out that K’s out of town. Oh, my, the look I got from J. Eyes wide in horror, mouth agape in shock. It was as if I’d hit him. I immediately cringe and start explaining at high velocity how I knew where she was and the limits of my knowlege. But, by then, it was too late.
The next night, I saw J and got him aside for a moment of privacy. I told him again how I’d known what was up with K. Then, I admitted that I was attracted to her, but would never ask her out because of how it would affect my relationship with him. Besides, I knew it wouldn’t last and, well, chicks my come and go, but friends you can count on are few and far between, so they come first. Always. He tried to tell me that even if I did ask her out, it would be cool with him, but I knew he was lying. To himself more than to me.
Fast forward a couple weeks and throw in the knowlege that K is seeing someone else from church. This, incidentally, is where it gets really strange. Now, it’s the Saturday after Thanksgiving and J’s entire family is in church with us. I get to meet everyone, some for the second or third time. J and I are sitting in the row behind his family. Don’t ask why, because I don’t know. Anyway, as the band starts playing the “happy-clappy” praise and worship music that starts the service, J asks me if I know where K is tonight. I quickly tell him that I have no idea, holding my hands up in the universal gesture of surrender. He kind of chuckles nervously, knowing that his, well, let’s call it “intensity” has shown again. I shake my head and tell him that’s why I never asked K out. I knew he’d freak about it.
“Yeah,” J says. “I’d have a hard time talking to you after that.”
“Yep, that’s why I didn’t do it.”
“Besides, you’re not K’s type.”
“Yeah, I know. That’s the other reason,” I say, and laugh a little, but inside I’m thinking What do you mean I’m not her type? I could learn to be her type! And, at the same time, my wounded pride is thinking Hey, you’re not her type either, remember, buddy? Besides, she’s not really my type, either. But, I knew he was right, and then, before I could think about it any more, or say something stupid, we both started singing along with the band.

Later, though, I started thinking about that conversation again.
See, I don’t think I am anyone’s “type”. I’m not sure I even want to be a type at all. Hell, I have enough trouble just trying to figure out how to be me. See, when I got involved with the Harpy, my identity got all tangled up in her’s. Who I was became a reflection of who we were. Or, at least, who I thought we were. Turns out, I was wrong about that. I never really knew her at all. (Isn’t that a line from a Phil Collins song?)
So, take a look at me now. There are days I feel like an empty space where a person used to be. Not always, though. Just when it gets really quiet. You know, about two or three in the morning, when it’s so quiet you can hear God breathe. It’s then, when I feel so alone, when even the dog is sleeping in another room, that I see all my flaws magnified. The lens of night blurs my self-image and I loose track of everything except the mistakes and the bad choices. All I hear are the lies about how I’m no good and never will be. And, I start to believe them. In the clear light of day, I know those lies aren’t true, but, alone in the dark, the boogeyman in my soul looms large like a distorted shadow the wall of my psyche.
So, who wants a guy who’s stumbling toward middle-age, has a good job and prospects for more and better, is well read, can cook reasonably well, is kind to animals and adored by small children? Is that a “type”? What type of guy is it who’s stuck somewhere between the clove-cigarette haze of a coffee house and being the “hero in a grey flannel suit“? How about a guy who works with computers but writes a little fiction and poetry on the side? Or makes digital art for fun? Do the tattoos fit in there somewhere? Or the fascination with Japanese culture? Is it the detailed knowlege of criminal history and exploits that unbalance me? Or my collection of foreign language phrasebooks? I don’t know, really. I don’t see myself as all that different or interesting, but my friends tell me otherwise. I try not to judge myself too harshly. I’ve come this far pretty well on my own, as my therapist reminds me. Daddy never got me a job. I’ve always made my own way. That’s got to count for something, right? So, who really is interested enough in me to look closely at the ways I’m broken that I don’t show in this blog?
Who’s type am I?

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