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:
" Reasonable men adapt themselves to their environment; unreasonable men try to adapt their environment to themselves. Thus all progress is the result of the efforts of unreasonable men."
   --George Berbard Shaw


So, This Was Thanksgiving…

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Bavarian Death Cake of Love,By Bread Alone,Deep Thoughts,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Pig which is late at night or 11:36 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

So, another Thanksgiving has come and almost gone.

Another holiday.  Another celebration, though not what I’d planned, not what I’d expected.  Good, though.  Better.
Today, instead of the big Thanksgiving dinner I’d been imagining all year long, I had a much quieter, more intimate dinner.  It was better, really.  Tomorrow, I’ll have my big celebration.  Not with the family I was born into, but the family I’ve chosen, the family that I’ve gathered and that has chosen to gather around me.  Today, though, was a different celebration all together.  Rather than distract myself from a bitter anniversary with lots to do and a big crowd, filled with noise, I spent the afternoon and evening with three very dear people.  A friend who saw me through the confirmation of my diagnosis with cancer three years ago.  Who stayed with me when I was checked into the hospital unexpectedly, making sure I was settled, forever earning her a soft spot in my mother’s heart.  And her son, a young man I don’t know too well, but who’s quite something in his own right.  And another friend, who is hard to pin down.  One of the things I enjoy about her, actually, is that just when you think you have her figured out, she reveals some new facet, some new twist that shows you really haven’t figured her out at all.  She’s the riddle to which there is no answer.  And, surely, my readers know by now just how much I love those virtually impossible to solve puzzles, especially when they come in human form.

As always seems to happen during events like this, someone shares a secret with me.  Something intimate and private and not known to the greater mass of people.  I don’t know if it was the tryptophan or sugar-high of the Goode Company pecan pie or some weird vibe I give off, but, well, there it is.  And, outside of mentioning how amazed I am that such a diverse variety of people find me worthy of being trusted with such very intimate details of their lives, I do my best to keep those personal secrets.  In truth, I am honored to be trusted so, since I know so very well how I was not always so trustworthy.  It’s hard for me to remember that these people never knew me in that life, that they have only known me as I am today, not how I was when I was so deeply and painfully enmeshed with my ex-wife and that life we led together.

I’m proud of the fact that I made it through the entire day with out telling the story.  The story of how she left the Sunday before Thanksgiving.  How we’d had a discussion, a somewhat one-sided discussion, about how I knew she’d been cheating on me for months.  I stated it as a fact I knew, though, in truth, I only had circumstantial evidence and a feeling.  Of course, that doesn’t change the fact that I was right.
So, while I was in the shower, without any additional warning, she gathered up her daughter and a couple of suitcases, jumped into the only working car we had and left.  There was no note, no voice-mail.  I had to call her.  Since she didn’t answer her cell-phone, I had to call her parent’s house to find out where she was and find out what was really happening.  I knew, of course, but it was as if my mind refused to understand it, refused to take it all in.  I imagine it was a kind of shock, like what amputees feel when they wake up and find a limb has gone missing.
A week later, she was in Phoenix, Arizona with her lover, who’s become her fourth husband.  And, I’d gotten into her e-mail, where I read everything they’d been e-mailing back and forth for six months or more.  I read every last detail of what she’d told him about me.  Every lie and half-truth, spun to serve her particular purpose.  Worse still was seeing every intimate detail I’d ever shared with her, every embarrassing secret, every fear, every vulnerability vomited out and mocked to paint me as a particular sort of person, to color me through a very much not-rose-tinted lens as something small, dark and twisted.  Something I very much feared I really was and, in my worst moments, believe I still am or can become.

But, today, I was reminded that I am not that man.  Neither the man I was nor the man she tried to make me.  To be honest, I’m not entirely sure who or what I am today, this year, this moment, but I most certainly know what I am not.  I am not the man who was an empty, hollow shell when she left.  Nor am I the fool who was suicidal at the thought that of being left and getting a divorce.  Perhaps most importantly, I am not the man who was ready to stay married to a woman who obviously had grown to hate him nor am I the man who hated himself so much that he felt drawn to someone who never loved him and only wanted, well, wanted something from him.
No, today, people who didn’t even know me five years ago embraced me as part of the family that they chose to be with on this holiday.  They reminded me that I do have integrity and that I am worthy of trust.  That I’m safe.  Safe enough to be truly intimate with in the most important way possible.

So, this was Thanksgiving.  And, this year, though the anniversary that I can’t seem to escape hit me harder this year than it has in several years, I was reminded just how much I have to be thankful for today.
I am thankful for my family, both the one I was born into and the one that has chosen each other.  I am thankful to be employed and reasonably solvent.  I’m thankful that I have a far deeper spirituality today than I did even five years ago.  I’m thankful that I have both the inspiration and means to be artistic, in my way, and have a hobby that I can pursue with as much relish and intensity as I care to put into it.  Most of all, and this has not always been true, I am thankful this year to simply be alive.

Tomorrow, I will have an unknown number of people over throughout the afternoon and evening, for a bit of fellowship and food.  Even though my house is not quite in the shape I’d like it before having people over, I still look forward to seeing everyone who makes it by, for however long they can be here.  I look forward to the celebration of who we are and our friendships.  Though I often feel very alone this time of year, being separated from my biological family and not in a relationship, tomorrow I will celebrate the amazing number and variety of friends who share my life today.  My life looks very different today than I expected it to, and, more importantly, than it did five years ago, but it’s good life, filled with good people, each of whom I treasure for who they are.

So, I hope you had a happy Thanksgiving this year.  I know I did, and I know why I’m thankful.

Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"When I look into the future, it's so bright it burns my eyes."
   --Oprah Winfrey


All My Exes Have Left Texas

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Bavarian Death Cake of Love,By Bread Alone,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Personal,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:47 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

It sounds corny, like a line from a Country song, but it’s true.

If I were a superstitious man, I’d be a little worried about the fact that my last two relationships have driven women from the state.  Thankfully, I’m not.  Actually, in a way, it’s convenient.  After all, I never have to worry about accidentally bumping into one of them while I’m out and about.  That’s comforting, in a strange way.
But, I was more or less friendly with the most recent one after the breakup.  Obviously, I’m not talking about the Queen of the Damned here.  And, no, it’s not that I miss the home-made, from scratch, mind you, apple pie.  Oh, I do miss it, but that’s not the point!  With that one, I’d sort of hoped I could finally have one ex-girlfriend that I actually was on speaking terms with and not some kind of blood feud.  (And, yes, I was talking about the Queen of the Damned there, in case she’s reading this.)

So, if you’re reading this, sweet, adorable, Super-Fancy-Dog-Cookie-Business-Owner-Girl-Who-Baked-Me-That-Wonderful-Apple-Pie, know that when I sent that friend request on Facebook, it wasn’t with the hope of a booty-call.  No, it wasn’t even in hopes of getting an other delicious pie out of you.  Rather, it was about having one person who had been in a relationship with me that didn’t spit and curse me under her breath when she heard my name now that it’s over.  It was about a little hope for me as a human-being, that maybe, just maybe, someone, somewhere has a fond memory or two of me.
(Okay, it also may have been a little about the pie.  But, c’mon, that was fantastic pie and it had stars and big bits of raw sugar all over the top of it!)

And, if any of my other exes find me through this blog post, just assume I miss you terribly, too, and I’d send you a friend request on Facebook if I knew you were there.
You can trust me on that.

Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"I love deadlines. I especially love the whooshing sound they make as they fly by."
   --Douglas Adams


Grant James Fordham

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Bavarian Death Cake of Love,Deep Thoughts,Life Goals,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:44 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent


Originally uploaded by Network Geek

A funny thing happened on the way to the rest of my life.

Yesterday morning at 12:58am, my best friend and his wife gave birth to a son. Rumor has it that she did most of the work. I served merely as a pre-marital counselor and general life-coach to the male half of the dynamic duo who created the angel you see in the picture which accompanies this post. However, in the future, I expect I’ll be babysitting, possibly the odd stint of spilling the secrets to life that the little guy’s father might be reluctant to disclose.

I have no idea where they came up with Grant’s first name, but he got his middle name from me. Yeah, I know, right? It sounds all crazy, but his father told me that his middle name was, in fact, after me. I’m pretty sure I started saying stupid things right about then and, let me assure you, not just because it was 1:30 in the morning and I’d been up so late it was early. I have a slightly hard time with precisely what motivated that, but I don’t think I’ve ever been more flattered or honored.
I hope they don’t think it’s going to keep me from spoiling this kid rotten, though, because, if anything, it’s going to make it that much easier to justify in my head.

I sort of have a funny relationship with other people’s babies these days.
You see, there was a time that I was a de facto father. I was on the lease-to-own program with my ex-wife’s kid. But, I did hope to one day make my own replacement from scratch. Unfortunately, one of the quirky side-effects of my chemotherapy was sterility. Now, I’ll grant you that the strangely optimistic oncologist who broke that news to me also allowed that, as I was “young”, I might eventually recover enough from that to be a viable agent of reproductive biology. Of course, that would generally require a partner, which I’m currently lacking, but that actually seems like the least of my problems with that whole process.
In any case, all those things have led me to, well, to get a little funny around other people’s kids, especially the freshly decanted ones.

Most of the people I hang with these days don’t know me as a father. I was one, though, and, I’d like to think, a pretty good one, in spite of how things seem to have worked out. I suspect they thought I was somewhat terrified of breaking the adorable, little monster, and, I suppose I was. I generally have started with kids after they were verbal and learning to stumble around their surroundings like a veteran drunk. Though, I do have to admit, I was gratified when someone asked if Uncle Jim wanted to hold Grant today and my friend replied immediately, without any hesitation or visible trepidation whatsoever, that “of course he would!”, which was, of course, quite true.

I’ll have you know Grant drifted off to sleep in my arms as I cooed to him in a very manly and macho fashion. In fact, I would not be surprised one bit if we set a precedent with that, since the men in my family do have the most oddly soothing voices, especially when we slide gently into middle age.
Apparently, the women in the room all decided that I was quite adorable with little Grant James. That may be something I use later, by the way. I’m not above volunteering to take my namesake for a walk in the park or a ride in the car as an excuse to troll for available women. For that kind of bait, I’d even change diapers. Really.

You can expect to see and hear more about Grant James Fordham as the years go by and we get to know him.
I don’t know how you all feel about all that, but I’m looking forward to it.

Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"Why not go out on a limb? Isn't that where the fruit is?"
   --Frank Scully


Flickering Fantasies

Filed under: Art,Bavarian Death Cake of Love,Deep Thoughts,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Movies,News and Current Events,Personal,Review — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Rat which is in the wee hours or 12:53 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous


Originally uploaded by Network Geek

I love movies.

I saw Public Enemies and The Proposal this weekend. The best part of Public Enemies, I’m afraid was the bits of Chicago architecture and the fight that broke out in the theater which required security.

Now, in spite of the critics panning it, I enjoyed The Proposal. Of course, that’s because I am a great, girly, romantic at heart. You see, The Proposal was a romantic comedy and well worth enduring the hawk-like stares of the angry women who could not seem to get their men to go with them to see it. Also, it was quite funny. Not a movie filled with surprises or twists and turns, but very satisfying in that it gave you just what you went in looking to find; namely, romance and comedy.

I saw another romantic comedy that was a little heavier on romance on DVD from Netflix, as well, this weekend called Lucky Seven. That was even sappier than The Proposal. It was about a young woman who’s mother dies when she’s young and gives her a time-line that has her marrying the seventh man with whom she has a long-term relationship. She thinks she’s found her “lucky seven”, but he’s number six, so she quickly finds a replacement six, with whom she promptly falls in love.

Now, you might wonder what these movies all have in common. You might wonder why I find movies, especially romantic comedies when I’m single, appealing. Well, the answer is surprisingly simple and straight-forward. They are all fantasies in which I indulge myself when things are going in ways other than how I’d wish.
Perhaps unrealistically, I think of myself as a mostly practical man. A trait I come by honestly from my parents and their parents before them. It’s not the only trait which seems to run through our family, however. On my mother’s side, my grandfather was quite an accomplished painter and my mother, his daughter, inherited that artistic talent from him. On my father’s side, well, they had the more practical talent of story telling and facility with language. All modesty aside, I do believe I inherited more than a fair portion of that. Though I am in many ways quite shy, I do seem to have my father’s ability to perform in front of a crowd. I know, as he would say, how to work a room. But, I never really followed through on most of those creative talents.

I’ve always wanted to draw, and never really seemed to find the time to work on it enough for anything to come of it. My writing has likewise been replaced by more immediately lucrative pursuits. Paying bills took precedence over “indulging” in my artistic leanings. Photography has been the most artistic thing I’ve done, outside of this blog, in more years than I care to count. And, some days, that seems to go better than others.
But, that latent, dreamy quality of escape that I found once in writing and occasionally still find in photography, comes to a full head in movies. Especially when things are going in ways other than how I might wish. I imagine, I’m not the only one seeking escape in movies these days, what with the economy going the way it has been. I remember the stories my paternal grandmother and my father told me about people going to the movies during the Great Depression. In fact, movies and the long gone Biograph Theater in Chicago figure prominently in Public Enemies, which is the story of John Dillinger. My grandmother was there shortly after he was shot, as it turns out, and provided me with one of the most vivid mental images of my childhood when she described people soaking up his blood with their handkerchiefs to sell later as souvenirs.
I don’t know what drives anyone else to go see movies, but I can tell you that the momentary fantasy and escape is one of the biggest attractions for me. Even a bad movie can provide a few moments of fantastic denial of my personal reality. A minute or two not thinking about I have bills to pay and work to do or how big my empty house is with no one to fill it but me and my dog.

As I do not expect to see many more rapid improvements in the economy, I hope that the rest of this Summer’s movies improve. I suspect I won’t be the only one who needs escape from both the Summer’s heat and the pressures it will bring.
So, how about you, gentle readers? Are there any movies you’re looking forward to for escape this Summer? Are there any favorites you like to use for an escape?


Shitty First Dates

Filed under: Bavarian Death Cake of Love,Fun,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Snake which is just before lunchtime or 11:18 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Okay, I should probably save this, but I’m totally not going to.

Let’s not ask why I posted this when I should have been working out on a Sunday morning.  I’ll get to the workout in a minute, after I finish the post.  Let’s also not ask what I was searching on when I found the blog that linked to what I’m about to share.  And, let’s ignore the adult language, because, c’mon, people talk that way and it’s sort of integral to the bit.  But, most of all, let’s just skip right past the part where it’s not my first date we’re talking about.

Just click the link to the funny first date story found on Craigslist Portland.  The funny thing to me is that even after what happened, he still wanted to date her again!  The link, incidentally, loads a graphic on Picasa for you to read and loads in a new window.


My First Geek Gathering

Filed under: Art,Bavarian Death Cake of Love,Career Archive,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Fun,Fun Work,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 Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:05 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

So, Friday I went to my first geek networking event.

Okay, now, to be clear, I mean the first event I’ve ever been to that the point was to get to know other geeks, not work on computer networking. It was the first of what I think will be many. The event is a monthly “Geek Gathering” put on by Jay Lee and Dwight Silverman of TechBytes and the Houston Chronicle. I was convinced to come out this time by Kristie “Suburban Goddess” MacLaughlin. Though, I have to admit, I think she did it simply to get me active on Facebook, since the event was announced there. We’ve followed each other’s blogs for some time now, and exchanged a few e-mails, but never met. And, before any of my regular readers who are often eager for me to get involved with someone, mainly for the jokes that come out of my so-called love life, let me hasten to emphasize that this was not a date! She’s quite happy with her boyfriend and doesn’t need my uncivilized self mucking things up. Just in case anyone was wondering.

Still, she was quite eager to get me out to meet Jay and Dwight and “the gang”. Now, I did meet those folks, but I got caught in ugly traffic, so I got there a bit late and didn’t get to meet everyone I might have liked to know. For instance, I missed meeting the guys who run the Houston-based Japanese animation and manga convention known as ONI-CON. I did meet a couple of very nice journalists who got laid off from the Chronicle, however, who were there networking as well.
Funny thing about that, the networking thing. I’ve never really done it before, and I think it showed. Living alone, my conversational skills have atrophied so as to be almost non-existent! Thankfully, I was surrounded by people who were good at it and gracious. Donna, aka @Cottonwood2009, was very nice and kept my end of the conversation up as well as her own. And, of course, it seemed that everyone was on either Twitter or Facebook or both. I’m on Twitter for the tools I can add to this blog in case of losing my connection to the Internet again during a hurricane, so my family up North will know that I’m still alive. (They worry.) I was on Facebook, but hadn’t really done anything with the account. Since meeting a few folks, most notably Dwight and Jay, my Twitter followers have more than tripled in the space of two days and my Facebook friends have gone from one to eighteen.
And, I got to talk with several people about photography, too. In fact, it seemed like every third person there had a camera in hand. I didn’t take many pictures this time, but you can see the few I did at my Flickr page, under Geek Gatherings. There will be more eventually.

I remember when the on-line world and the “real” world were mostly separate. I’ve blogged for almost nine years now and never actually expected to meet most, if not all, of my readers. But, as the song goes, the times, they are a-changin’ and now, I fear, I’ll be meeting more and more of them. Perhaps I’ll have to start writing better and more relevant things! Good gravy, I may have to start writing technical posts again! What a strange turn of events that would be.
I have to be honest, and in all seriousness, meeting some of my readers makes me, well, a little uncomfortable. It’s bad enough that my readers often think that they know me based on what I write here, but now… Now, having met me in person, I’m afraid that the lines will become even more blurred. And, anyone who’s read my blog for a long time knows how I like my life neatly segmented and clearly defined. Still, what else is there to do? It’s either that or keep talking to the dog and, frankly, I think she’s getting a bit tired of hearing the same jokes over and over.

But, it was good to be out of my comfort zone Friday. It was good to go to a new place and meet new people. And, it was even good to put some faces to names that I’d seen on-line in any number of venues. I may not be very good at this networking thing, as ironic as that seems considering the title of my blog, but I’m going to keep working at it. It’s the one thing that I should have been working at harder all these years. Who knows, maybe I would have had a better series of jobs than I did? Maybe even a better series of girlfriends? Well, maybe not, but a guy can dream! Certainly going forward, if anything happens to me at my current job, I’ll be better off if I have a good, strong, professional network. If you’re in Houston and a geek like me, it would be worth checking out next month.
And, who knows, maybe one of these times I’ll meet the future ex-Mrs. Hoffman?


Happy Al Capone Day

Filed under: Bavarian Death Cake of Love,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Horse which is around lunchtime or 12:19 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

You celebrate it your way and I’ll celebrate it mine.

Most people will be celebrating Saint Valentine’s Day today, but I think of this as Al Capone Day.  It’s not that I’m not a romantic, because, truly, I am.  It’s not that I’m a bitter, cynical, divorced guy who’s spent more holidays alone than with someone, though that is in part true.  It’s not even because I’m a die-hard Chicagoan who’s found himself surrounded by Southerners who don’t really get him.  No, it’s not any of those things.
No, I “celebrate” this day this way because people forget how things really are.  People forget that while the media giants force-feed us a slick, glossy idea of romance today, people are dying, struggling to make their lives work, and just trying to make it through.  There are bigger things than romance going on.  Some good, some bad.

So, today, while most people will buy into the mass-produced saccharine romance of the holiday, I’ll remind people of the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre.  Today, in 1929, on the Near North Side of Chicago, Al Capone and several of his closest friends arranged for a deadly surprise.  They lured several members of rival Bugs Moran’s gang into a local warehouse and garage, supposedly to make a deal for illegal whiskey, where hit-men, disguised as Chicago Police officers staged a fake raid.  They then lined up the rival gang members and gunned them down.  When neighbors saw them leave, taking some of their accomplices out in street clothes, they figured that Chicago’s finest were just on the job.  It was actually quite clever and daring, in a sick sort of way.
I’m sure there are just as many killings going on around the world today as there were then.  Maybe more.  All for about the same reasons.

So, dress it up any way you want, but today is just like any other.  And if you need a special day to celebrate romance in your relationship today…  Well, good luck with that.



Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Bavarian Death Cake of Love,Deep Thoughts,Geek Work,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 5:45 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a New Moon

The only sea without a shore…”

I feel stuck. And, honestly, even as I write that, it feels ungrateful.
It’s not as if I’m in a bad place or anything, but I feel a little stuck. Unable to move forward and equally unable to move back. I suppose part of it is just the time of year. The new year has just rolled by and I feel like I’m in the same place I was last year. That’s not true, of course, but it feels that way. I mean, I’ve got the same job and I’m still not in a long-term, intimate relationship and I’m still not being more productive, really. But, it’s not a bad place to be stuck, either. I have lots of close friends and I got a raise when a lot of people are losing their jobs. And, when I was married, it really wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.

Still, I feel like life is a little, well, empty. I just haven’t added much to my life this past year. Sure, I’ve been exercising more and feel better than I have in a long time, physically. And, I have been trying to be more creative via photography, but, well, I guess it really bothers me that I’ve been a whole year and don’t see much, if any, progress in my life. I’m just sort of treading water. Stuck.

Maybe I just need a couple of projects to work on. Something to work toward that will stretch me and my technical skills at work. Something that will push my creative skills in my private life. And, I keep trying to not think about relationships, since, well, everyone keeps telling me that when I stop looking that’s when I’ll find one. Not that that has ever made any sense to me, frankly, but, well, the way I’ve been doing it hasn’t worked too well, so, certainly I’ve got nothing to lose by not trying at all! Surely, it couldn’t go any worse!

Well, anyway, the past couple weeks, I’ve just been unmotivated to do anything much or write a lot for the blog and, hopefully, this post explains a little about why.

Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"The greatest achievements are those that benefit others."
   --Denis Waitley


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.

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