Diary of a Network Geek

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


Christmas Day 2020

Filed under: Deep Thoughts,Marginalia and Notes from the Editor,News and Current Events,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

Normally, I’d share a silly link, but not today.

Today, it’s Christmas. The day that Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus, also known as Yeshua ben Yeshua, Lamb of God, and Light of the World. We live in strange times, filled with consumerism and fear of the future. Locked in our homes because of a global pandemic, we haven’t been able to celebrate this season the way we might like. Family has been distant for most of us, one way or another, and our usual gatherings, either at religious services or for holiday meals, have been severely curtailed.
My wife and I often celebrate the season quietly anyway, so it hasn’t been as big a burden on us, really. For that, I am thankful. But, this year, more than ever, I think we all need to consider what people from time immemorial have celebrated at this time of year. The actual birth of Jesus most likely happened in the Spring, closer to when we celebrate Easter. But, the early church leaders were very clever and some of the best marketers that history has ever known. They chose to connect the birth of Christ with the far older and more pagan festival connected with the Winter Solstice. That day, which was actually Monday, December 21st this year, is the longest night, and shortest day, of the year. But, it marked the day that a little more light was about to be let into the world, because, the next day was a little longer and each day after that is a little longer too, until the Summer Solstice when the cycle repeats. What’s important though, I think, is that we all are celebrating that this holiday commemorates the continual rebirth of light, joy, and possibilities into the world.
That hope is something that I think we can all use more of this year. So, go, enjoy your families, and spread that hope and light as far as you can carry it in the coming year. It may not be easy, but I think the results will be worth it!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words!


Burning Daylight

Filed under: Art,Fun,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 Crescent

There’s only so many hours in a day.

And, only so many of them are lit by the biggest nuclear reactor in our solar system; the Sun.
Not too many weeks ago, we passed the Summer Solstice which is the day of the year that has the most sunlight hours. For the next six months, or so, each day has less and less light until we get to the Winter Solstice and that process reverses. In Houston, a lot of those hours are too hot to really enjoy, but I still like to know how many I have left in a day. Now, I don’t have to wonder, or fumble with an app on my phone. Instead, I can go to Sunshine.fyi and see, in real time, just how much of my visible day is left. Also, there’s a link to add it as a Chrome app, but that link seems to be broken at the time of writing this post. Hopefully, the creator will fix it.
So, save the page and watch your time!
And, most of all, get out there before the Sun is gone for the day!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words!


Gingerbread Houses, Extreme Edition

Filed under: Art,Deep Thoughts,Fun,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:32 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

No, I did not make gingerbread houses for Christmas.

In fact, I hardly decorate at all for Christmas.  For me, the holiday is about the feeling.  It’s about the rebirth of light into the world, both figuratively and in reality.  I mean, really, based on historical events described in the Gospels, [amazon_link id=”0380813815″ target=”_blank” ]Joshua be Joshua[/amazon_link], or Jesus of Nazareth, as most folks know him, would have been born in the Spring.  The reason we celebrate Christmas in Winter was to bring in the Pagans who were already celebrating the rebirth of light in the world via the Winter Solstice.  The early church fathers figured that if we synced up our holidays, they’d get more converts.
And, hey, I’m not knocking the marketing strategy!  But, I also don’t feel so compelled to put up a Pagan-inspired “Christmas Tree” or wreath or, really, any other materialistic decorations.

But, for those of you who do decorate, go check out the amazing gingerbread houses at Mental Floss and then, for God’s sake, step up your game!

And, most of all, have a very Merry Christmas!  Cherish all the gifts you’ve received all year long and celebrate the rebirth of light and hope into the world tonight.


Late Arrival

Filed under: Deep Thoughts,Fun,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Pig which is late at night or 11:25 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a First Quarter Moon

The Christmas Spirit arrived sort of late for me this year.

So, yeah, I haven’t put up any decorations or anything.  Why?  Well, I just wasn’t feeling it this year.  I mean, I was all alone and I’m pretty much officially middle-aged now and, damn it all, I don’t even have any kids who are all mad at me because I’m not with their mother any more, or anything.  All of which translates to me feeling sorry for myself, right?  And, frankly, that just doesn’t make for a great holiday spirit.  Also?  It makes me a miserable bastard to be around.  Yeah, I know it and I own it.  It is, as they say, what it is.

So, what changed?  Hell if I know.  Monday was the Winter Solstice.  For those of you who don’t know, that means it was the shortest day of the year.  It had the fewest hours of daylight of any day of the year and was celebrated by the Pagans.  But, what they celebrated was the return of light to the world, because every day after the Winter Solstice was longer, filled with increasingly more light.
Maybe that’s what it was.  The increase of light in my heart.
I’m not sure what it is, really, but it is a change, even though I didn’t put up decorations.  I did go and do some last minute Christmas shopping yesterday, though.

I started out looking for a few simple things.
For one, I planned to hit Half-Price Books and get couple cheap, “token” gifts, so there’s something to unwrap, and a gift certificate for two-and-a-half of my favorite readers.  And, I’m sure the little half will grow up into a full-fledged reader.  The gift certificate is the real gift, though, I’d hoped to get a list of books from each of them to facilitate a low-pressure “to-read” stack for my favorite newest parents.
The next was a combo stop, a “two for one”.  Also at a bookstore, but this was a full-price shop to get a couple of Moleskines; a journal and a sketchbook, for two different people.  Also, since I was actually in a Barnes and Noble who had a music section, I thought I’d get the latest Dolly Parton CD and Snoop Dogg’s latest, too.  And, yes, they were both for the same person.  Unfortunately, for some reason, Barnes and Noble stopped carrying Snoop Dogg, which meant another stop somewhere.

Okay, so right now, you maybe asking yourself why in God’s name I’d be buying Dolly Parton and Snoop Dogg for the same person I’d be getting a journal for and, honestly, you’d be right to ask those questions.  She’s a little unusual, but in a good way.  She doesn’t fit a standard mold by any means, but she’s been having a sort of rough go of it lately.  Part of that included getting ripped off a couple of weeks ago.  And the weasels stole pretty much everything electronic or music related and that means that her entire, unusually diverse, music collection got lifted, too.  So, I decided to play Santa Claus and, hopefully, repair a little bit of the damage the world did to her this year before it’s too late.
Hell, it’s complicated.

So, the Moleskine sketchbook needed something more, namely, some colored pencils.  See, my Santa Claus duties are limited only by my meager budget!  So, from the bookstores I was off to Hobby Lobby to hunt up a set of colored pencils.  This person has stiffled their art instincts.  That almost physically hurts me to think of someone else cutting themselves off from their more creative urges because life circustances make it easier to set that down that face that particular demon.  So, for that one, the super nice sketchbook and a set of pencils and those big, rectangular acrylic crayons all in a pretty nice tin.  I put that all together with a note beneath the wrapping paper telling her to “MAKE TIME for art”.  I hope she takes the hint.

But, if you were paying attention, I had more things to get.
So, amidst the craziness that passes for last-minute Christmas shopping, I decided to brave the wilds of Target to get that Snoop Dogg CD.  But, it wasn’t as bad as I would have thought.  Of course, it probably helped that I was on a mission and just had the one thing to get, but it was pretty much in, right to the music department for the last copy of “Malice In Wonderland”, then right back out again.
Really, Target wasn’t the worst of it.  That, surprisingly enough to me, was Barnes and Noble.  Of course, I cheated there by checking out at the Music counter and bypassing the huge line up front.  Besides, I’m hoping that surprise of getting these very contradictory things from me, because, you know, I’d listened to what she was saying, will make the small effort of the extra trip worthwhile.  I mean, that is the point right?

When I was a kid, I was told that it wasn’t the gift so much but the giving and the idea.  Having something that was meaningful mattered more than what it really was.  But, this season in particular, that the whole commercialism aspect of this holiday really got to me.  I don’t know, it just seemed so bad this year.  Maybe it’s that I find myself struggling with my spirituality that I find the crass commercialism even more, uh, crass.  So, no one was more surprised than I to find msyelf suddenly motivated to spread a little joy.  Joy that extended all the way to a year’s worth of Flickr Professional for yet another friend, incidentally.
I hope it lasts until Christmas Day, at least.

Well, while you wait to see just how jaded I really am, you can track Santa on NORAD and hope that he brings you something good.  Oh, and they added a new feature this year!  Now, you can get updates to your cellphone for just where Santa is!  How cool is that?


Holiday Blues

Filed under: Deep Thoughts,Fun,Life, the Universe, and Everything,PERL,Personal,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dragon which is in the early morning or 9:58 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

I’m actually not so blue.
The other day when I was at my head-shrink, he asked how things were going and how I felt. I told him that I felt better than I have in a long time, which is very true. He was a little dissapointed because he’s doing something on TV about holiday depression and, well, I just wasn’t going to be giving him any material to work with this year. Actually, we had a laugh about that.
Oh, sure, at times I get a little down because it would be nice to have someone “special” during the holidays, but, mainly, I feel pretty good being single. As I told him, at least I’m not married to someone who consistantly makes my life miserable at the holidays anymore! Though, I have to admit, in the past, before I suffered through that, I always hoped to have someone with whom to share my joy of this season. Girls get to say things like “Always a bridesmaid and never a bride” and give a sad, little laugh, but men don’t have any cute quips to toss out about that. When we’re single, though all our friends seem to be in relationships, we’re just, well, single.
In any case, even though I won’t be decorating this year at all, the holidays just aren’t depressing to me. I think everyone around me expects me to be all doom and gloom, because of how my ex-wife left me last year about this time. Actually, she took the only working car, grabbed her daughter and ran while I was in the shower. No note, no phone message, no nothing. Just cut and ran. That was a little hard to deal with, last year. And, yes, last year was terrible for me. I contemplated suicide more than one, but, in the end, I didn’t “play solitare with a pearl-handled deck”, as Mr. Zevon would say, because that would have meant she won. I couldn’t have that, now could I? And, maybe that’s why this year seems so effortless in comparison. What could be worse than that? Losing all my hopes and dreams in one afternoon, right before two family oriented events. Everything is up from there.
And, to me, that’s what this season is all about. Change. Rebirth. All Fall the days have been getting shorter, the nights and darkness lasting longer, and it is this season, at the Winter Solstice, that the hours of light start to overtake the hours of darkness again. Literally a rebirth of light in the world. (This year, the solstice falls on December 21, by the way.) In fact, it’s no accident that the early Christians chose that time of year to celebrate the birth of Christ. After all, the pagans they were trying to convert were already celebrating the rebirth of light, so, why not capitalize on that? Regardless of why or how it happened that way, this season has been about rebirth and renewal for me more than any other.
Every year, I get a new chance. A fresh start. Every year, I get a little hope that things can change. That I can change for the better.

I know this year has been tough on some of my readers. There’s been loss and heart-ache and pain of all flavors. That can happen at any time of year, of course, but it seems to sting worse during this season, for whatever reason. With that, and two very special readers in mind, I whipped together a fun, little PERL-based web-app that I’d like to share with you all. It’s the New Year’s Resolution Generator. And, if mention of tequila and kissing strangers comes up more frequently that you might expect, all I can say is, I’m single and an eternal optimist!

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