Diary of a Network Geek

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


Goals Not Resoultions

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Bavarian Death Cake of Love,Life Goals,Personal,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Pig which is late at night or 11:20 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

I’m not much for making impossible to keep, blue-sky new year’s resolutions.

I do set goals, though.
Okay, so, sometimes I set pretty unreasonable goals, too, but still, in my mind, goals are something that’s achievable and that I can work toward.  New Year’s Resolutions, on the other hand, are something that drunk people vow with all their alcohol soaked might that they will absolutely do in the new year.  Of course, those never last beyond January if the drunken reveler even remembers them the next morning.  One of my goals is to lose weight and get “fitter”.  I have a specific weight and definition of fit, so it’s a specific, measurable goal.  And, aside from a bit of backsliding during the holidays, I’m well on my way to that.

Part of achieving my goals has led me to read Men’s Health Magazine and sign up for their online updates, too.  In one of those, they linked to an article about setting Fourteen Things To Make To Be A Better Man in the New Year.  Don’t let that title give you the idea you’re off the hook, either, ladies.  Those suggested goals all pretty well work for you, too!  But, seriously, take a look at them and then come back.  No, really.  Go ahead, I’ll wait for you.

Great.  Now, here’s the thing.  I’ve missed out on the first one because Warren Zevon is already dead.  I’m reading his biobraphy, I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead; The Dirty Life and Times of Warren Zevon, by his ex-wife, Crystal Zevon.  It’s the closest I’ll come to seeing him live.  But, some of the rest of those, I can do.  So can you.
Number three on that list is something I’ve been meaning to do for a long time now.  See the thing is, I hardly ever take a real vacation.  I never go anywhere.  Not this year.  This year, hook or crook, I’m going to go to another city and have some kind of adventure.  And, I’m going to take my camera to record it.  All of it.
Number five hits me where I live.  That’d be on-line for those of you just catching up.  But, you know, once upon  a time, I wanted to be a writer and express myself, and the broad spectrum of emotions a human being can experience with words.  So, this year, I’m going to do my best to cut out using emoticons and those damn chatroom abbreviations, like “LOL”.  It makes me feel cheap every time I resort to it, so, I’m going stop trying to be cool and just not do it.  And that goes double for the use, and over use of the word “dude” in my spoken communications. Hmph!
And, since I’m cleaning up my communications, I should finally get around to cleaning up my house.  I mean, really cleaning it.  Getting all the piles of books up onto shelves and getting the junk gone.  Maybe even getting rid of those lingering pieces of furnature from my former life, finally.  And, yes, I have an alterior motive with that.  My house has gotten way too “man-cave”, so I feel the need to make it more friendly to the opposite sex.  Catch more flies with honey, right?  Well, you get the idea.
Along those lines, since the public perception here is that I’m too negative, I’m going to go out of my way to pay people compliments.  Not just people I like, or women I want to meet, either.  Everybody.  I expect that will be a real challenge some days, but at least one a day seems like a good goal.
Another one I like from that list is to leave ten minutes earlier for everything.  It feels like I’ve been barely on time for months now and I want to change that.  I used to be early for everything and it made me feel more confident.  So, starting in the morning, I plan to leave earlier for everything.

One goal I want to add which isn’t on that list is to write more.  I have been writing more at my other site.  You remember me writing about that?  The Super Secret Creative Project of Doom?  Yeah, well, it’s not what I want it to be yet, but I finally figured a bad start was better than no start at all.  I’m not alone in this goal, incidentally.  A wonderful gal and even better writer I know, via our blogs only, from New York, Amanda Berlin, has in mind to set herself a similar goal.
I’m not sure how to set this one, myself.  My father taught me to set measurable goals because it’s easier to track your progress.  Last year, my creative goal was to complete the Flickr 365 Days project, which I did.  This year, my goal is writing, but I’m not sure what the best way to set that goal is.  Suggestions?  (Check out Amanda’s post on the subject to get some ideas.)

And, finally, quite possibly my most important goal this year is to get more sleep!  So, with that I’ll sign off.
What are your goals for the year?  Discuss in the comments, but in the morning.

Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"If it falls to your lot to be a dishwasher, wash like Michaelangelo painted pictures, like Shakespeare wrote poetry, like Beethoven composed music... wash so well that all the host of heaven and earth will have to pause and say, 'There lived a great dishwasher who did his job well.'"
   --Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.


More Tests!?

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Deep Thoughts,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 9:14 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a New Moon

Right, well, I suppose I owe my regular and faithful readers an update.

First off, the doctors tell me that I’m not going to die from cancer before I pay my bill.  No, seriously, the tests all came back clear.  Now, there was some more to this one, if you recall, than just the cancer check.  They noticed some time ago that I have an irregularity of some kind on or around my adrenal gland.  So, there was an extra visit Monday to have a chat with an endocrinologist about what that all meant, if anything.

As far as we can tell, the blood work is all pretty normal and, since the alleged abnormality was pretty well unchanged for the past two years, the verdict is that it’s not a problem at all.  But, since they like be thourough, and I still have pretty good insurance that keeps paying out, I’ve got one more test to go through.  It seems they want to test whether or not my adrenal gland is functioning correctly.  To do that, they want me to take a pill around midnight that will flood my system with artificial cortisone.  That should keep my adrenal gland from making the naturally occurring amount over night.  Then, the next morning, I have to get to a testing center between seven and eight so they can take my blood and test the levels.  Now, the nice doctor told me that this was mainly a double-check and almost a formality, but, when it comes to cancer, and my life, you just can’t be too careful.

In fact, the only really bad news I got this time around is that I was wrong about how often I’m going to be scanned over the next three years or so.  See, I thought I was about to get on the annual scan plan, but apparently that was wishful thinking.  For at least the next three years, I’m going to have to get CT scans every six months.  I have to tell you, that really screws up my plans both financially and personally when it comes to spending my vacation time.  And, frankly, I was hoping to get a few less radioactive enemas!

Of course, all things considered, these are some pretty high-class, champagne problems.  I mean, I’ve got a job, so I can pay for all these tests, or at least the parts that insurance doesn’t cover.  And, frankly, I have mostly everything I need in the way of neccessities, like clothing, shelter and the like.  I even have enough disposable income to run this site, and several others, for the fun of it.  Not to mention the other fun toys I have, like the laptop I’m typing this on and my camera and my iPhone and other totally extraneous things that many people I grew up with think of as a bare minimum standard of living.  But, then, I was always the poor kid in a rich neighborhood who always sort of wondered at the opulence that so many of my peers seemed to enjoy.
Most importantly, of course, I’m alive.

Yeah, let’s stop here for a moment, in the middle of the most commercial season of the year and consider that for a second.  People say that they’re “lucky to be alive” or that they’re thankful “just to be alive and healthy”, but I wonder how many really get what it means to almost not have that?
You see, years before I caught a mild case of near-fatal lymphoma, one of my favorite musicians died from cancer.  As he was slowly being eaten away by that hideous disease, he was frantically trying to record one last CD.  A legacy for his fans and his family.  Along the way, he did an interview with David Letterman who asked him what this process had taught him.  That artist, Warren Zevon, replied, “I know just how much to enjoy every sandwich”.

So, here’s what I hope you take away from my blog and my ranty little bouts with medical testing; enjoy every sandwich, because you never know which one will be your last.

Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"The whole purpose of religion is to facilitate love and compassion, patience, tolerance, humility, forgiveness."
   --Dalai Lama


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!


Cancer’s Lessons

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Personal,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:50 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

Through a circuitous route, I stumbled across an article by Tony Snow, a speech writer and media consultant for President George H. W. Bush.

Mr. Snow died on July 12, 2008, after fighting cancer, twice. Before he passed away, however, he wrote this article for Christianity Today, titled Cancer’s Unexpected Blessings. Go, read the article, then, if you can stomach some more, come back and I’ll share with you some of my thoughts on slow-dancing with death for the better part of a year.

We humans spend a lot of time worrying about death. Perhaps not on an individual basis, but in the aggregate, we spend a lot of time trying to avoid death, to hide from it, to deny it. When I was diagnosed with cancer almost two years ago, I could no longer hide from it or feel myself into thinking that it was a long way off. It could be tomorrow, next week, months from now, or years, but I’m going to die. In fact, we all are, sooner or later. I’ve heard it said that death is the one thing we all have in common. None of use make it out of here alive.
So, what does that mean? On a practical level, what does it mean to know that I’m going to die? It means that every moment is borrowed time. Every experience, no matter how painful or uncomfortable, is an opportunity to learn something, about myself, about my world or about my God. Frankly, it’s hard to put into words. I think that only someone who’s been close to death really gets it deep down in the bones where words don’t quite reach. Because, you see, when I was there, when I was right close to taking my last breath, I was convinced that it wasn’t quite time yet. Only later, when I’d had a chance to think about it did I truly understand how close I’d come to being gone. When I was there, when the Angel of Death had me in that cold, bony bear-hug, it was the farthest thing from my mind. Then, all I could think about was living. All I could think about was seeing people I missed, doing things that I wanted to do. Maybe trying to correct a few of the mistakes I’d made along the way and, hopefully, God willing, have time enough to take another shot at some of those things and do ’em right this time around.
Naturally, when I was first diagnosed, I was quite upset. I felt cheated, like God owed me so many more years of life and taking that away from me was unfair. That, however, didn’t last nearly as long as I would have thought.

In another article on MSN, I read “Learning you have cancer and going through treatment can dramatically affect a person’s life. Cancer can be isolating, and depression affects up to 38 percent of cancer patients.” My thought when I read that was, “No shit”. Who can understand something like this? How can you explain it? A fellow cancer survivor, and a good friend of mine, talked about going to the doctor after getting diagnosed to “…see how badly my body had betrayed me.” And, that, as much as anything, sums up that weird feeling of loss and surprise and gut-checking impact when the diagnosis is made, then confirmed. It knocks you off your emotional feet, stalls your motivational momentum, and kicks you in your spiritual nut-sack. Suddenly, every uncomfortable moment becomes more precious than any commodity you’ve ever owned. You find yourself suddenly willing to trade any possession, no matter how precious, for a just a few more minutes in the embrace of an old friend, or the bed of an old lover. Some, like me, may find themselves longing to know the mind of God, but without the big rush to look Him in the eye to ask the questions.
It’s funny, when I think of it now, how many times I’ve contemplated killing myself over the years. Well, it’s funny in light of how many radioactive enemas I’ve had, and how much personal dignity I’ve traded, all in the effort to squeeze a few more minutes out of this drab, pre-processed world of ours. Not too many years before my diagnosis, I was at one of those points. It’d been a rough year, or two or three, and I thought I was done, finally. But, God had a few lessons left to teach me, a few things for me, perhaps, to teach someone else, so I’m still here, flailing about for words to express the unexpressible.

In the end, what cancer taught me was something I thought I’d learned from that old poet, Warren Zevon, several years before, when he was dying of cancer. It was a quote, from his last live TV appearance on the David Letterman Show that appeared on the VH1 retrospective, which I watched again while I wrote the last bit of this post. After long last, I finally understand just how much to enjoy every sandwich.

Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"All our dreams can come true - if we have the courage to pursue them."
   --Walt Disney


New Music Resources

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Art,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Fun,Red Herrings,Review — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Snake which is just before lunchtime or 11:14 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

Yeah, I know this is later than normal, but I gave you two things on Tuesday, so I figure we’re even.

Well, as you know I’ve been searching for new music. At least, music that’s new to me, because, you know, I was told that Snow Patrol is, well, mainstream and old hat and whatever other cliche you want to squeeze in here. So, I put a poll up over in the sidebar and hoped for the best. Now, for those of you who don’t know me in life, you might be a little surprised by how eclectic and varied my choices in music can be. For instance, in my car right now, I have Warren Zevon’s last CD, a Frank Sinatra collection, Snow Patrol, Bowling For Soup, Green Day, Sheryl Crow, Cherry Poppin’ Daddies, Rob Zombie and Nina Simone, just to name a few. In fact, I went from listening to Rob Zombie to Sheryl Crow in an afternoon. So, my point is, I’m pretty open. I usually say I don’t listen to Rap or Country, but, honestly? If someone presents something interesting enough, I’ll try it. Seriously.

In any case, I wasn’t satisfied with the responses I was getting on my poll (vote early, vote often!), so I started doing more research. I got a book called The Pocket DJ. It’s been around a little while, but I figured it would still lead me places I hadn’t been. Also, there’s this writing exercise where you build a playlist for your various characters, to try and get inside their heads and feel how they feel through music. I sort of figured that I could go in the other direction and pick playlists from the book then build the character from that. You know, getting twice the use of the book by cranking my musical IQ up a few points and getting some writing exercises at the same time. I’ll get back to you on both.

Either way, though, there was a section in the back of the book that listed a bunch of music blogs. So, naturally, I sat down not too long ago and started chasing links. Some didn’t interest me and some had either moved or shutdown or shutdown just as I found them. At least one blogger announced that she was shutting down her blog to become a full-time music journalist not more than a week after I bookmarked it! Of the ones that survived, though, I’ve got three for you.
First, there’s Sixeyes MP3 Blog, with regular posts and free MP3s in every post! Yea! They’re mostly indy stuff, but kind of all over the place, too.
Then there’s Fluxblog! with almost daily posts and, again, free MP3s in every post, sometimes podcasts with music, too. Yea free! I mean, seriously, you can fill your entire iPod with free MP3s of popular and new music from this blog alone!
Finally, there’s Stereogum with many, many posts, at least one daily, lots of performers from overseas and many posts with videos or MP3s. Yea regularity! Oh, my middle-age is showing! Seriously, these folks love music and it shows in sheer volume of posts, if not the intensity of each review.

Also, a friend, Marc Garvin of Pulling Strings, the great Houston-based public radio show about classical guitar and similar stringed instruments (Correction!  Marc e-mailed me and said the show features “the sounds of “Picked, plucked and strummed” (sometimes “banged, bashed and hammered”) instruments.”  So, you know, it’s even better than what I said.) suggested some of these very cool and different performers when he caught wind of my search for something new to add to my rotation. Even though these links are all about the music, they’re brought to you via YouTube.
Jake Shimabukuro on the Ukulele. This is definitely worth looking at and listening to. He does things with a ukulele that have to be heard, and seen, to be believed!
Kaki King playing the guitar in such a way as to get percussion. Okay, the video is a little strange and disjointed, but I really like this sound. It’s kind of the latest version of a performer singing with their instrument. Open mike night taken to a super-high professional level, you know?
Joscho Stephan, also playing the guitar. This is a more Country, or Appalachian, sound to me than I’d have expected from Marc, seeing as he’s a Classical guy, but, I have to admit, it’s got a certain energy to it that really works!  (Update!  Marc told me that “Joscho is a “gypsy jazz” guitarist in the style of Django Reinhardt.” So, that should make it more clear to those of you who are more musically well-versed than I.  And, by that I mean, everyone in the world.)

Finally, if you want to find any of the music that’s been mentioned here, or elsewhere on my blog, I suggest trying SeeqPod, the playable search engine. I’ve mentioned it before, but it bears repeating in this context. One of the great features here is the “Discover” feature that lets you discover songs that SeeqPod thinks are close to what you’ve been searching for in style. Sometimes some really interesting stuff comes up in that.

So, there you have it. As promised, more than one new resource for new music.
Also, for those interested, yes, I did buy the newest Snow Patrol CD, but don’t let that stop you from voting in the poll because I’ll be buying more music eventually.
Oh, yeah, one more thing… Don’t forget that next week I’ll be doing a guest post on someone else’s blog. I’ll have an announcement the day it’s supposed to go live on that site.

Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"When the only tool in your toolbox is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail."


Book Soundtracks

Filed under: Adventures with iPods,Art,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Fiction,Fun,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Snake which is just before lunchtime or 11:17 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

Music to read by…

So, as I’ve been cleaning up the massive pile of magazines that I accumulated over the past five or six years, I’ve been cutting out interesting articles. One of the more interesting articles, to me at least, was one in Wired magazine about soundtracks to accompany books. The article itself was called Books with a Backbeat and you can read it online if you follow the link. But, this got me thinking about music and books.

There’s an old “trick” that’s been given a modern twist, thanks to the iPod. In the old days, it was making a “mix tape” that your proto-character might listen to or give to someone. Now, of course, it’s all about play-lists on the character’s MP3 player of choice, which, usually, is an iPod. I’ve been thinking about this lately as I’ve been laying the ground work for my first attempt at NaNoWriMo. One of the ways people manage to get their word quota for that is by shutting out the rest of the world with music. Naturally, I’ve been ripping CDs and loading them onto my massive, 4 Gig Nano in preparation for drowning out the world. (Yes, for the inquiring minds that made the leap, Snow Patrol is on there.) But, I’ve been considering what the music I have selected will do to my writing. So, I’ve been looking at that article online again.

I’ve been trying to imagine what the sound track to my ur-novel will be like. Lots of Top 40 Pop? Rob Zombie for the fight scenes? Will that Paul Van Dyk that just came up in my random shuffle show up in a dance club? Will it drive my characters to a rave? (Do raves even still exist?) Will Bowling for Soup or Spoon be the love theme? Or will that be Sting or the Doors or, even, Warren Zevon? How is that all going to come together?
So, as I contemplate this conundrum, I’ve been looking at Albums to Books and seeing what some of my favorite books have been associated with by other fans. At least, I might find some new music out of the deal.

Oh, one other thing… One reason I haven’t used my iPod more is that I hate the earbuds that come with it. Sure, the sound is good, but I always feel like they’re about to fall out of my ears. Yesterday, I found these great Altec Lansing Clip-On Headphones at a local computer store. If you, like me, hate the default earbuds, try these babies. They stay put and the sound is as good or better than the iPod standard earbuds. I highly recommend them!
And, for all you fellow aspiring writers out there, or any artist really, what do you listen to when you create?


Counting Down

Filed under: Bavarian Death Cake of Love,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Fun,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Personal,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Horse which is around lunchtime or 1:32 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

I’m starting to get a little nervous here.
Tomorrow night I will go on the first date I’ve been on in over ten years. I know, it’s like riding a bicycle, right? Funny thing about that, when I was learning to ride a bike, I wiped out once and took a handlebar to the gut. I don’t know how long I rolled around on the sidewalk gasping for air before someone helped me out. I hope that’s not how tomorrow night goes.
Per instructions, I have purged the car of all metal music of any kind. I will add the dulcet tones of Sting, in abundance, but also have Bowling for Soup, Spoon, Elvis Costello, Warren Zevon, and Frank Sinatra, among others. And, before you critisize me about Blue Eyes, she said she likes Frankie. I won’t put it in myself, but it will be available for her if she so chooses. Tomorrow, I’ll go get my hair cut and the car cleaned inside and out. I’ve already got directions to her place ready.
So, that just leaves what I’m going to wear… We agreed to keep it casual, but she texted me telling me that she was getting a manicure. *gulp* So, I was thinking black jeans, a white button-down shirt and my black cowboy boots, freshly polished, since she’s taller than I am and they give me a good two inches of height. Not that I care personally, but I know some women get uncomfortable with that stuff. On the other hand, maybe just a nice golf shirt and regular jeans. But the black jeans fit so well…
Oh, and do you buy flowers for a first date? Or bring something other than yourself?
Right, obsessive-complusive disorder in action. So, suggestions?


Javacrucian Chant

Filed under: Deep Thoughts,Fun,Hoffman's Home for Wayward Boys,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Horse which is around lunchtime or 1:51 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

It is by Caffeina alone
that I set my mind in motion.
By the Beans of Java,
my thoughts aquire speed.
The hands aquire the shakes,
the shakes become a warning.
It is by Caffeina alone
that I set my mind in motion…

– Javacrucian chant, attributed to Isaac Bonewits

Seatrax Crane with Logo
Well, the past three days, this has been my mantra. Between adjusting my life to a new roommate and that freakish bout of insomnia Saturday night, caffeine, especially in the form of caffeinated mints, has been my constant companion. I used to live on three-and-a-half or four hours of sleep a night for months at a time, but that starts to draw me pretty thin after a bit. Maybe my slight irrationality this weekend was, in part, attributable to that lack of sleep. You know, my motto used to be, as Warren Zevon would sing, “there’ll be time enough to sleep when I’m dead”. I used to really get into this mode of thinking that I have only so many hours of life in this world and a lot to get done so sleep was the first thing to get cut. More waking hours equal more time to accomplish goals. But, I never seemed to get those goals accomplished…
Well, then, when the caffeine shakes wear off tonight, I’ll finally get some sleep. Everything else can wait. I have time. Or, if I don’t, it won’t matter anyway.
But, only after I spend the rest of the day with Gimp editing pictures. Again. If you Photoshop pictures with Photoshop, am I Gimping pictures with Gimp? You can see an example of what I’ve been doing to the right, there. Have I mentioned how hard this is when you have the caffeine shakes?


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:
"To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing."
   --Elbert Hubbard


Sleep Deprivation

Filed under: Deep Thoughts,Dog and Pony Shows,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Rooster which is in the early evening or 7:05 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

I’m tired.
I’m tired in that special way that brings mild hallucinations and, eventually, psychosis. Normally, when I get tired like this, I see small, dark shapes that the edge of my vision and get all jumpy and twitchy. Oddly enough, though, I never saw the shadows at the edge of my vision until I got to Houston. I think it’s a latent fear of giant cockroaches, which, incidentally, exist against the laws of God and nature, that leaks out when I get very tired. At least, I have a good reason for it this time around. Not staying up late to watch Adult Swim on Cartoon Network or almost anything on the SciFi Channel.
Starting last week, I’ve been trying to not allow myself to drift off back into a light nap before working out in the morning. I’ve also been trying to get to bed before 11:00pm, but that’s been less successful. Of course, my schedule hasn’t helped much. Thursday, I was at therapy and didn’t get home until almost 8:00pm, so, by the time I ate, checked e-mail and played with the poor, neglected puppy, it was suddenly late. Friday, I went to a men’s support group and met with someone afterward for coffee. Again, it was after 10:30pm when I finally got home and later after checking e-mail and playing with the dog. Then, it was up early on Saturday to go to another support group in the morning and home again to, uh, try and clean my house. And, to try and find all the things that my ex-wife wants me to ship to her. (I’m still trying to find the christening gown and cap. I know I’ve seen it in the house sometime and somewhere, but I can’t seem to find the damn thing!) Then, at about 4:00pm, it was off to the prayer meeting before church. Home again about 7:30pm, fully charged spiritually, and, after watching appropriate levels of cartoons, off to bed by 11:30pm, or so. Sunday, it was “Work In The Yard Day”. I cleaned the pond filters and did a minor repair on the slightly damaged roof of the carport. I also washed the car for the first time in weeks and worked for several hours on someone’s computer for them. So many folks had problems after Rita came and went with no effect to us that I can only imagine what it would have been like had she hit. Anyway, I didn’t manage to completely fix their problem, but I got them into better shape than they were. Now, it’s up to RoadRunner to replace the cable modem that I think is bad. After that, it was home again for a quick bite, and play with the dog, then off to another men’s group. That got me back home around 9:30pm, or so, and, somehow I got into bed around 11:00pm. I must have read a lot. Oh, and there was some ironing in there somewhere.
Monday, was a full day at the office and phone call after phone call after I got home. Again, it was almost 10:30pm before my time became my own again. Last night, it was a prayer group meeting after work, and a quick stop at the store, which got me home at about 9:45pm. So, check e-mail and play with dog and suddenly it’s 11:30pm again! But, the meeting was good, so it was worth it.
I do believe now, that I am a member of the Super Secret Inner Circle of the Prayer Team. I know the secret handshake, the password and have been through the Grand Ceremony, which I can only tell you involved a delicious artichoke dip followed by a very tasty shrimp casserole. There are benefits of membership! The upshot, however, of all this activity is that I’m exhausted and a bit edgy. And, now, I’m thinking I should add a category for the prayer team or Mercy Street at least…
Also, I noticed a pattern with that e-mail habit and playing with the dog. Hmm, I wonder if I could get an au pair girl to help with the dog? Maybe a nice girl from Denmark or Switzerland….
Sorry, I digressed a bit. So, all this means that I’m tired, in a kind of spiritually satisfying way, and I’ve managed to do my entire workout of pushups, situps and hand weights every morning this week, so far. Unfortunately, it also means that those of you who were waiting for pictures of me and my rakish goatee will have to wait. I’m off to bed early tonight and tomorrow is therapy and … Well, and then the cycle repeats itself with some minor variations. Aw, what the heck, as Warren Zevon sang, there’ll be time enough to sleep when I’m dead.

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