Diary of a Network Geek

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


Hurricane Preparedness

Filed under: Calamity, Cataclysm, and Catastrophe,Dog and Pony Shows,News and Current Events,Red Herrings,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

Hurricane season started on Monday, June First. Are you ready?

Here in Texas, hurricane season is kind of a big deal.  Or, at least, it is to this kid from the Heartland.  Of course, most of the time, we have plenty of time to prepare because you see these things coming from a long, long way off.  Still, it’s better to be prepared early rather than competing with everyone for bottled water, bread and canned food.

So far, since I’ve been in…
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Dog Rescue

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Deep Thoughts,Dog and Pony Shows,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 5:51 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

No, I don’t have a dog that needs to be rescued.

In fact, my precious Hilda is rescue dog. Though, all I think I really rescued her from was being spoiled by someone else. She’s so sweet that I’m sure someone would have snatched her up if we hadn’t. But, there are lots of dogs who need to be adopted. Some are, however, more problematic than others. At H.O.P.E., the rescue where I’m a member, we have lots of foster dogs of all kinds. But, even we have special needs dogs, in particular breeds that have been systematically mistreated or that have particularly rough backgrounds and need extra care and attention. Still, the dedicated volunteers do find homes for them, even if they have to go to very special owners.

Some dogs, though, have even more special needs than that. Do you remember Michael Vick? He was that first-round draft pick from the NFL that started an illegal dog breeding and fighting camp. I hesitate to call it that, but I’m not sure what else to call a rough collection of shacks out in the woods where he abused dogs for his own amusement and the entertainment of his friends. He was, thankfully, convicted and sent to jail. He was also forced to pay restitution which went toward the care and rehabilitation of the dogs. Did you ever wonder what happened to those dogs? Well, Sports Illustrated has the story of what happened to Michael Vick’s dogs.

It’s a pretty powerful story, but it ends pretty well, I think.
Oh, and if you read this all the way through and aren’t moved in some way, aren’t touched by the results? Then, I think you have no soul and I cannot possibly love you or even fully trust you. I’m sure that won’t be a problem for the vast majority of my readers, but, well, I’m just saying.

One last thing. Be safe tonight, ringing in the new year. Be careful and watch out for all those people who won’t be. If you haven’t come up with a New Year’s Resolution yet, there’s still time to hit my New Year’s Resolution Generator and let it do the picking for you.
Hope your new year starts off safe and wonderful!

Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"Sometimes a winner is just a dreamer who never gave up."


What a Gas!

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Calamity, Cataclysm, and Catastrophe,Dog and Pony Shows,Fun,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,Personal,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Pig which is late at night or 11:09 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

My house almost blew up tonight.

No, really.
As I write this, I’m waiting for a serviceman from Centerpoint Energy to come out and turn my gas back on. Apparently, shortly after I left for church this evening a neighbor smelled gas by my house. They called emergency services in Jersey Village, where I live. When the emergency services got out, they could smell gas, so they turned off my power and got Centerpoint out. Centerpoint repaired the leak, or so it seems. Actually, the first thing the serviceman is going to check is to make sure the leak isn’t a leak any more. Then, assuming all is well, he’ll turn the gas on and I can light all my pilots and so on. That’s why the gas was turned off when I got home. Naturally, they couldn’t find me, since I’d gone to church, so they couldn’t turn anything on until they knew I could light all the pilots again. Otherwise, my house would have filled with gas, hit something electric and, well, let’s just say I was irritated with the whole thing until I got the lights back on and figured out what almost happened. Thank God!

I guess my little efforts and building up a little good karma in the short term paid off today.
See, I helped two people with computer things today. This morning, I started reformating and reinstalling my friend J.’s wife, L’s, laptop. She’d been having problems with it and I looked at it several times, but I couldn’t find anything obviously wrong. So, rather than spend any more time on it, I backed up her files and started reinstalling it. Of course, that got interrupted by my power being out, but, still, I’m sure I’ll get it done pretty quick now while I wait for Centerpoint to turn my gas back on.

The other person I did a little mitzvah for was Alison over at Inspired Work of Self-Indulgence.
She was having a little trouble with Comcast and their network. More specifically, it seemed to me she was having a problem with the assigned DNS servers. As any good network geek knows, an Internet connection with out DNS isn’t very useful. She had a connection, sure, but she couldn’t get anywhere. Comcast had been out multiple times trying to fix things. They’d even changed out her cable modem, which seemed to be connected fine when I looked at it. But, her wireless gateway was picking up the normal, default DNS servers from Comcast’s autoconfiguration. I reset the wireless router to the factory default and tweaked the settings a bit. The part that I think mattered the most was adding additional DNS servers from outside Comcast’s network. So now, if the main DNS server goes down or stops working, the backup servers should still find what she’s looking for.
Though, if the problem comes back, it occurred to me on the way home from church that it might be her laptop turning off her wireless connection in a power-save mode, so I might have to check that. (If she’s reading this, that’s a hint!) In any case, it was nice to at long last finally get to meet her. We’ve exchanged e-mail and comments and read each other’s blog posts for quite literally years now. She even sent me cookies when I was in the hospital getting chemotherapy that first time! But today was the first time actually meeting. Hopefully, now that she’s seen I’m completely harmless, it won’t be the last time.
Oh, and I got to meet Piedmont and his new pet human, er, owner. Both were sweet, too. And, of course, I got to meet Cheyenne, Alison’s chocolate lab. She’s as cute in person as in the pictures Alison takes of her and as spoiled, too! She has almost as much tummy as my own Hilda!

So, in spite of almost coming home to a smoking hole in the ground where my house used to be, it turned out to be quite a good day indeed! Stay warm, y’all, and make sure to check your gas!

Update: Apparently, my sins still out-weigh my good deeds, since the guy from Centerpoint Energy never showed up. I stayed up waiting for him until 4:00am, then went to bed, mumbling about liars in the night. I wish it were the first time.
I’m half tempted to turn it on myself and to hell with them. But, better safe than sorry, so I’ll just mumble quiet, Lovecraftian curses on them and try to be on about my day until the next lying serviceman arrives.

Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"As human beings, we all want to be happy and free from misery. We have learned that the key to happiness is inner peace. The greatest obstacles to inner peace are disturbing emotions such as anger and attachment, fear and suspicion, while love and compassion, a sense of universal responsibility, are the sources of peace and happiness."
   --Dalai Lama


No Bad Publicity

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Dog and Pony Shows,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Pig which is late at night or 11:39 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

I am not nice.

So, I’m kind of, well, not a nice person sometimes. I have been known to be self-serving, arrogant, overly pleased with my own intelligence and, on occasion, too willing to take the proverbial low road. I did that today.

I follow a lot of blogs via an RSS reader. When one that’s ostensibly about science-fiction and fantasy fiction and publishing, run, in fact, by people in that business, popped up with a odd-looking picture of Alan Greenspan, I had to see what was going on. They were making fun of him based on a bad picture. Then, in the comments particularly, people were blaming him for the current economic crisis, as if a single man could have caused such a thing. Perhaps it made them feel more intelligent or better in some way to belittle a man so far above their tiny, little world by making fun of a bad picture. I’m not clear, really, because I’m not a knee-jerk Liberal. Some would say that I’m a bit of a knee-jerk Conservative, but, really, I’m not. I am, however, a bit of a prick. You see, I suggested that a dissenting view would be good. And I rather rudely offered one. Why? Well, outside of the obvious, I thought it might be fun to kick over that particular ant-hill. And, I’ll bet my website stats for the day spike.

Yeah, that’s all I really was after. So, I feel mildly ashamed of myself for using such tactics to draw clicks. I wanted to see if it worked better than putting “free porn” in a title. We’ll see, I guess.
Also, now that I’ve thoroughly irritated anyone who followed my links over from that site, I sort of feel like I should expound on the topic a bit. You see, it wasn’t those damn Republicans that got us into this with their deregulation. Nor was it those unholy Democrats who got us into this what with their trying to help the poor buy homes they couldn’t afford. No, gentle readers, we can’t blame anyone but ourselves. We did this. You and me. We did it through greed and over spending money that we don’t have. We did through a culture of “give me mine now” and not worrying about consequences. We did it when we allowed bad managers of failing companies to collect huge bonuses for doing terrible jobs and making things worse then still relying on their Golden Parachutes. Greed did this. Our greed. And, if not our greed directly, then our greed tacitly.

Do I think we should force those skeevy bastards who mismanaged funds while knowing that they were screwing the economy eventually to cough up their balloon payments? Yes. I’d love to let those companies that knowingly mismanaged their credit twist in the wind, the same way many Americans have been left to suffer after being lured in by those empty assurances of endless credit. Oh, and I’m not any better. Sure, I kept my mortgage smaller than I was approved for when I got my house. And, when my mortgage broker and my ex-wife were both pushing to convince me to buy more house, it wasn’t easy, I can assure you. But, by then, my credit was already bad, though I have no one to blame but myself.
The problem is if we don’t do something to bail these bastards out, we’ll have something worse than the Great Depression. I’d love to do nothing and ride it out, letting market forces correct this mess, but I don’t want to have to eat my dog. I don’t care if it’s a delicacy in Korea, she’s too happy to see me when I get home to eat. So, we’ll be forced to do something. And, so will the world, because their economic situation is tied to ours now, not to mention they’ve had their own spending issues. I also find it interesting that they have a slightly different view of Mr. Greenspan than those little minds who were making fun of his bad picture.

I find it equally interesting that several people tried to say I was trying to look smart in those comments. I wasn’t. I was, however, trying to point out that they weren’t half as smart as Mr. Greenspan. Certainly, none of them seemed to have any ideas on how to solve our current situation. They were content to ridicule someone who, frankly, did more to even things out during previous economic hardship than anyone else and, quite possibly, managed to hold off this current situation for far longer than we deserved. He did, after all, retire in 2006, after seeing us through another crash in 1987 as well as the Internet boom and bust a few years later. It’s only now, two years after he’s retired, that things have gotten bad. And, four years ago he did try to warn us, didn’t he? At least, that’s how it looks to me in one of his speeches from the Federal Reserve back in 2004. Others seem to agree with that position.

But, what do I know? I mean, I’m just a computer geek with a Marketing degree. Mostly, no matter who wins this next election, my life’s not going to change much. I know some people disagree, but, frankly, the Republicans and the Democrats always seem to do the same thing to me. It’s just that one group wants to sneak up from behind me and the other wants to look me in the eye while they do it. Neither group is all that admirable and the end result is the same, no matter what method they use.
The most important thing, though, is to at least try. Try to see who voted for what and look at who your local officials are who voted in ways you didn’t like. Then, when you do vote, don’t vote for them again. Try someone new. I’m tired of the old song and dance routine. I’m ready for a new number and a new show. How about you?


[ Information Redacted ]

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Dog and Pony Shows,Garden of Unearthly Delights,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Sheep which is in the early afternoon or 2:56 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous


Originally uploaded by Network Geek

I deleted a post on my blog this morning for the first time in a long, long time.

Usually, I have an editing process for posts that may accidentally cross the border into Too Much Information Land or sound to bitter or too angry or too whatever. But, last night, I came home from church and dinner and had a wild hair to find a bunch of music via SeeqPod and run it in a loop while I hammered away furiously at the keys. Angry music. Angry music the like of which I haven’t listened to in a long, long time.

I felt a little hopeless and helpless and, well, angry. So, I dialed up a little Rob Zombie and Rammstein and Lords of Acid and Fu Manchu and then I used the “Discover” function on SeeqPod to find other stuff like that. Old thoughts and old memories just washed over me when it started playing and looping. I just wanted to jump up from the keyboard and rip into the heavy bag out in the garage. But, I didn’t, I just kept typing and typing and typing. Normally, I’d let that kind of thing sit over night and look at it again in the morning. Last night, though, I just hit the Publish button and walked away, exhausted, in the small hours of the night.

This morning, I reread a little of that post and then deleted it.
TMI, “sharing violation”, rant. Whatever you want to call it, that’s what I’d typed. It’s also why I deleted it. No one needs to read that. Not even me. It was good to write it out and get it out of my head, but it really shouldn’t have been out for public consumption. So, I deleted it.

If you’re still reading, you may be wondering what that has to do with the picture here. Bear with me.
So, this morning, I got up and threw on some shorts and a shirt and a hat to take the dog for a brisk walk before I got a shower. See, I want to get back into shape. Yes, back into shape. You see, more than ten years ago now, I was, to put it mildly, in far, far better shape than I am today. I did hundreds of push-ups and sit-ups every morning, five days a week. And, I hit the heavy bag. And, I worked with dumbbells. I was, in short, in good shape. I was lean and I filled out a suit jacket pretty damn well, thank you very much. Now, after a bad marriage, a couple of job changes, some other heart-ache, and a slight case of cancer, I’m fat and lazy. I don’t like it. Ergo, there’s only one thing to do about it; change it.

Well, as I’m letting the dog out to relieve herself before we go for our walk, I see these tiny white things on my sad, nasty pond. I get closer, thinking that they’re funny leaves or insects or something and I see that they’re teeny, tiny, little white flowers. Naturally, my walk can wait while I grab the camera and tripod. It took longer to get a decent shot than I thought it would, but, oh, it was worth it to me.
See, to me, these aren’t just little, white flowers. They’re a metaphor for my entire life right now. From the swampy morass of my mind and my slimy past, little, white hope can still bloom. There are no coincidences, truly. And, non-believers may scoff, but some power in the universe was sending me a message in an insignificant, white flower blooming on top of embarrassing slime.

Hope springs eternal.
Thank God.

Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"A bone to the dog is not charity. Charity is bone to the dog, when you are just as hungry as the dog."
   --Jack London


Cheap Workouts

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Dog and Pony Shows,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 5:46 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

I hate going to the gym.

I like working out, though, for the feeling I get afterward. I like feeling strong and healthy and, well, good. Who doesn’t? But, I hate going to the gym because, well, there are people there, um, watching me. Or, at least, that’s how it feels. I’m sure they’re probably more interested in their own workout, but just the possibility that they might be watching me creeps me out.

So, how can I get a good workout without all that gym equipment?
Thankfully, there are lots of ways. One way, according to Men’s Health, is to use a sandbag. It’s cheaper than a medicine ball and my favorite men’s magazine even has a sandbag workout that the professionals use for you. Because, yes, professional football players don’t use fancy weights to strength train.
Now, I haven’t started doing that one, yet, but I do a lot of push-ups and sit-ups. Not quite as many as I used to do before chemotherapy, but, I’m working up to it again. And, barring holidays or other breaks in my schedule, I do that five days a week in the morning before my coffee and my shower. Great way to start the day!
I have also used, and highly recommend, Dynamic Strength by Sifu Harry Wong. He has plenty of isometric exercises in that book to challenge anyone at any fitness level. And, they’re pretty much all based on traditional Chinese martial arts and health movements, so it’s not some modern, new-age crackpot health scam, either.

I do use a small set of dumbbells, which I’ve had for years, but those weren’t expensive either. And, you can substitute plastic milk jugs full of water, if you need some weights. In fact, with the Russian “kettlebell” phenomena from a few years back, I might just try that out myself!
Of course, I need to start walking with the dog again, too. That light aerobic exercise would probably do more for me than anything else I do now. Besides, I’m sure my Hilda would like to re-explore the neighborhood. Then, after I get a little of my “wind” back, I can start hitting the old heavy bag I’ve got in my garage. When I pounded on that for 20+ minutes three times a week, I was in pretty damn fine shape. Well, one day, I will be again.

So, that’s the way I beat the excuse “The gym’s too expensive and I never go anyway!” What’s yours?

Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"Being right too soon is socially unacceptable."
   --Robert A. Heinlein


Still No Power! – Hurricane Ike Part 6

Filed under: Calamity, Cataclysm, and Catastrophe,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Dog and Pony Shows,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 Rooster which is in the early evening or 6:01 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

Well, as of about 1:00pm today, I still had no power.

Of course, a lot of people still don’t have power, but most people out by me have for several days now. Hopefully, I’ll have power soon.
I have a lot of fence debris and tree debris in my backyard that I have to get cut up by next week Thursday. Not sure that I’ll be able to do that since the City of Jersey Village wants all the nails pulled from the fencing. I don’t think they truly understand how difficult that’s going to be to get done in a week. I have a friend coming to help this weekend. I’ll work on it some tonight and tomorrow, at least. So, so glad I did laundry and dishes before this hit. We’re still officially under orders to boil our water, but I’ve been taking quick, warm showers. Thank God I have natural gas in my house!

I’m getting a little tired of eating so much meat, frankly, but it’s what was thawing first and would go bad fastest. Thankfully, yesterday, a guy at work brought in a bunch of ice and Seatrax, my company, lent me a cooler to keep it all in, so I’ve managed to save a lot of my groceries. I used to be able to eat so much more! Ah, well, at least my dog, Hilda, has been enjoying eggs and sausage and more sausage for breakfast the past couple of days. Not to mention the teriyaki salmon “burgers” we had last night. She’s certainly been living well!

Okay, I see my cell phone and my laptop are charged now, so I can go home, but I did want to call your attention to the Twitter “thing” over in the right corner of my blog. Yes, being without blog access for several days got me to breakdown and setup a Twitter account. Now, as long as I have cell access, I can update my blog and let all my non-Texas friends and relatives know how I’m doing, even when hurricanes hit Houston.


A PI License to Fix PCS!!?!

Filed under: Career Archive,Certification,Dog and Pony Shows,Geek Work,Life Goals,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,The Dark Side — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Horse which is around lunchtime or 12:51 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

So, now I need a Private Investigator’s license to work on PCs?

Yeah, according to articles at ExtremeTech and CW33, a recently passed law in Texas requires that ALL shops which include PC repair technicians have a PI license. Just so you know, a PI License isn’t for an individual, but, rather a business and all the employees would work under that umbrella license. Still, it would mean that at least one person go through the process of licensing, which has the following requirements:

  • three years of investigative experience or a bachelors degree in criminal justice for investigations company license
  • two consecutive years of legally acceptable experience in the guard company business
  • successful completion of a two-hundred-question examination testing ability of the manager applicant to operate the guard company under the provisions of the statute regulating them
  • criminal background check
  • submitting fingerprints to have on file with the FBI
  • ~$500 in registration fees, subscription fees, application fees, and fingerprint fees, payable yearly

(All that is from an article at Citronix Computer Techs. )

Now, it’s important to understand, too, that this is a brand new law, sponsored by a Private Investigation professional organization who are afraid of their profession becoming obsolete. Thankfully, there are also techs who have professional organizations, one of which is challenging the law, at least, according to KVUE.com.

Funny, I’ve always thought about getting a PI license and now I may be forced to do so! On the other hand, the $4000+ fines and possible jail-time are a great excuse for why I can’t help people at work with their private PCs!


Ants, on the march!

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Dog and Pony Shows,Fun,News and Current Events,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Rooster which is in the early evening or 6:10 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

Okay, so this is really a local news item, but I think it’s still noteworthy.

It will come as no surprise to anyone who lives here that Houston has an ant problem. However, what may come as a surprise is just how bad it is and why. According to Wired and Yahoo! News, we’re being over run with the “crazy strawberry ant”, which is much worse than their cute name would imply. Now, the good news is that they kill fire ants, which are a plague of the worst order, but the bad news is these crazy strawberry ants love to foul electronics. Also, they’re resistant to current chemicals that kill them and they have multiple queens in a single nest, making them doubly hard to kill.

Luckily, there is an adorable solution to the entire mess: the South American tamandua. I don’t care if they cost $4500 or more. I want one!


Before Implies An After

Filed under: By Bread Alone,Dog and Pony Shows,Life Goals,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:57 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

At least, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

Tuesday night, I took “before” pictures.
Knowing that the Queen of the Damned will likely read this, I hesitate to mention how heavy I’ve gotten. Let’s just say that I’m the heaviest I remember being, ever, and I’d like to lose forty pounds or so. And, it’s not like I haven’t been meaning to get back in shape after last year’s “little episode”. Chemotherapy takes that weight off great, but it all seems to come back with the hair! And, every pound seemed to bring a buddy!!

In any case, I started planning for this even before treatment ended. I got several books on exercise and I had a new pair of running shoes from before I was diagnosed. Not that I’m allowed to start running at my age, but they’ll give me support for taking the dog on walks.
I’ve had a subscription to Men’s Health for several months now. Believe it or not, in spite of being the male equivalent of Cosmo, there’s really a lot of pretty good health advice in there. Granted, there are lots of articles on women that my, admittedly limited, experience leads me to believe are somewhat suspect, but at least there aren’t any articles on how to achieve orgasm while caulking your windows. (I swear to you I actually saw an article like that in a women’s magazine when I was working as a security guard in college! I would not lie to you about something as important as this!) I’ve even bought several of their cookbooks now, in an attempt to eat better, and healthier. If I can just stop going out with friends so often, I think I’d do better there.
And, of course, all of this is just smoke and mirrors if I can’t get my shit together and actually start working out. Doing anything, really, would be better than I’ve been doing for the past couple of months. Just walking the dog would be a start.

So, that’s why I took the before pictures. I see those guys in Men’s Health all the time, those “before-and-after” guys, those “Bellyoff! Club” guys, and I want to be one of them. I need the “before” clearly in front of me. The last time I lost a bunch of weight, it was because I saw a picture of myself when my ex-wife and I were buying our house. I couldn’t believe I’d gotten so fat! Well, this is the same thing.

Now, I just need to make my “after” happen.

Update:  I discovered this morning that it turns out that I’m not quite at my heaviest ever, but I’d still like to lose thirty-five to forty pounds.

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