Diary of a Network Geek

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


Medical Proceedures

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,Personal Archive — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Horse which is around lunchtime or 12:17 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

I’ve learned more about medical procedures in the past week than I have in the past 38 years.

I have been poked and probed and punctured and scaned so many times in the past several weeks that I think they can build a full-scale replica of me. I’ve lost count of how many times they’ve taken blood from me. The worst was the bone marrow biopsy they did on both hips.
Now, you have to understand, I have a really high tolerance for pain. I mean, really high. I passed several kidney stones before hitting the nine millimeter stone that took me down and I’m told that passing kidney stones is comparable to childbirth. So, when I tell you that the bone marrow biopsy hurt, you can count on the fact that it HURT. Oddly, it wasn’t when they punched the hole into the back of my pelvis, but when they stuck the flexible needle into the bone and drew out the liquid bone marrow that hurt. And, the worst part was that, after doing it on one side, I had to just grit my teeth and know they were going to do it again on the other side. That part was the worst. Knowing how it was going to feel and just having to lay still while they did it. Blech!

The rest of this whole process, though, hasn’t been that bad. Chemo has been easier for me than I would have expected. It turns out that my father, who had colon cancer several years ago, also had virtually no effects of chemotherapy. Must be that hardy, Mid-Western stock that we’re so proud of, eh? Naturally, I’m tired. Apparently, the chemo attacking my body does that. So, too, the whole being stuck in the hospital.  Now, that may change a bit as things go on, but, so far, it’s been okay.
There’s more to say, naturally, but, frankly, I’m tired and the angle that I’m working at with my laptop is rather inconvenient and uncomfortable, so I’m done with my update today.  When I get home, I’ll write more.


Holy < Expletive Deleted > !

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Bavarian Death Cake of Love,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,Personal,Personal Archive,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dog which is in the evening time or 8:37 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous


Well, I got quite a surprise this morning. I opened my mail and there was a note from “G_______ @ aol . com”. That girl I knew in college. I think it’s best if I edit myself and not let loose with what I really said, for a change, but I was quite rather stunned. It’d been so long since I sent her the e-mail that I thought I’d never hear from her. I figured that the e-mail address was wrong or that she’d decided she didn’t want to hear from me or… Well, it doesn’t really matter what I thought, since she e-mailed back.

“What a surprise. Of course I remember you.”
That was how she started the very brief note she sent me. It’s been almost 20 years since we last communicated. How do you summarize that much time? “Of course” she remembers me, she writes. “Of course”, as if that one semester should automatically mean as much to her as it did to me. How silly of me to think that 20 years might have erased me from her memory. Honestly? I cannot tell you how relieved I am that she does, in fact, remember me. So…

So, now, what the hell do I say?
Anyone have any advice for your Uncle Jim?

Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"The spirit , the will to win, and the will to excel are the things that endure. These qualities are so much more important than the events that occur."
   --Vince Lombardi


‘Tis The Season…

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Deep Thoughts,Hoffman's Home for Wayward Boys,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Personal Archive,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Rooster which is in the early evening or 6:33 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

For making an ass of myself, apparently.
You know, I don’t mind doing this when I do it on purpose, but, when I do it accidentally, well, that’s irritating. You might not see this via the blog, but I’m actually a ver polite person. I think courtesy and manners are the social “glue” that keeps communities together and functioning. So, when I’m unintentionally rude or insulting or hurtful, it bothers me. On those occasions that I purposely slight someone, something else is at work and I rarely feel any shame a precious little guilt at having done so.

However in the past several days, I’ve been an Internet boor. Quite unintentionally, of course, but, still… The incident that got my attention and “woke me up”, so to speak, was a response to a post on another blog. Someone commented about said post and I penned a comment expressing a difference of opinion. Apparently, I worded my position in such a way that the previous commentor took offence or felt attacked, because he responded with, well, a bit of aggression. I read his responding comment and thought Yeah, whatver, pal. Look if you have to act that way to make yourself feel like your schwantz is longer than mine, knock yourself out. I hope it satisfies your reptillian hind-brain you unevolved primative. And, since he’d used the word “Tough” in his reply, I also thought Tough? Look, you panty-waist, I’ve had moral dilemmas tougher than you.
It was then that a little voice, not unlike the Whos singing in Whoville, said to me Hey, slick, this is that opportunity for change your smarmy butt is always waxing poetic about. Remember that, bright boy? NOW is the time! NOW is your chance! And, so, instead of getting uglier, I responded with an apologetic comment. I hope he read it and all is well.

I also ran my great, big mouth about some things about which I knew precious little this past week and weekend and found out later how deeply I’d stepped in it. Again, unintentionally, but still, to me, that’s worse than being very deliberate about it. The fact that I was a big buttinski, even though I was trying to make someone feel better, was just plain rude and I’m sorry about it. (Okay, there’s actually more than one person who falls under this particular umbrella apology thanks to my rectocranial inversion issue this weekend, so, please, everybody who feels even slightly miffed, just assume I’m talking about you, okay?)

And, finally, I’ve been a little passive-aggressive with Doc, my new roommate. Sorry, about that, Doc. We’ll talk.
I won’t go into details on the blog, but, suffice it to say that my ex-wife taught me some tricks that I’d just as soon unlearn. I mean, I hope to be married again, one day, or at least live in sin with someone other than Doc, so it’d be best to weed out these annoying little personal habits now, before I meet that Special Someone. Passive-aggressive behavior is never pretty, so I’d really like to nip this bad habit in the bud before it blossoms into really annoying habits. In other words, ladies, I’d like to change the most annoying things about myself before some poor, well-meaning girl feels compelled to try and “fix me”. Sounds like a plan, neh? Any suggestions that y’all have observed, in me or others, are welcome. (Think my ex-wife will comment?) Hmm, maybe a new poll….

So, some Advice from your Uncle Jim, think twice before saying whatever’s on your mind, then keep your yap shut anyway. Mostly, people already know and don’t need to hear it. Mostly.

Oh, an a quick clarification… I’ve had some folks ask about my “sordid past” and no, it did NOT involve drugs, or even alchohol, though, I might remind you that I don’t drink like a girl. And, I have never taken illegal drugs. I’m freaky enough without them!

Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"The man who makes no mistakes does not usually make anything."
   --William Conner Magee


Married Habits

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Dog and Pony Shows,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Personal Archive — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Rooster which is in the early evening or 6:24 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Full Moon

I’m not married.
But, I still have many of my old, married habits. I come straight home after work and don’t socialize with people from the office. Of course, most of them are married and head home to their families, like I used to do. And, when I get home, I hurry about doing my nightly routine of making dinner, setting up the coffee for the next day, and wolfing dinner down so I can… What?

There’s no one I’ve rushed home to see. Oh, there’s Hilda, of course, but she’d be happy to see me any time I went away and came home. That uncomplicated, unconditional love is one of the things that make dogs so popular. But, that’s not enough. I want someone to talk to. I can talk to Hilda, but if she starts answering me in complete sentences, I’ll have to pay my therapist a bigger premium every week! Oddly, my ex-wife often didn’t listen to me, either, but, of course, I didn’t know that at the time. Foolishly, I thought she was contemplating what I’d been babbling about and not just plotting her escape.
I tell myself that I rush home for that silly, brown dog that adores me so, who won’t eat until I’m safely home at the end of the day. And, when that’s not enough, I tell myself that it’s the money I don’t have that keeps me home. But, neither are true. Or, at least, they’re not excuse enough. Honestly, I got into the habit of not talking to women when I was married. Even mentioning a woman from work more than once in a week would draw fire, though it was expected that I would simply ignore or forgive the reverse. So, it got to be habit to just not notice the opposite sex.
I know I’ll never find someone being quiet and bookish at home, but I live in terror of the idea that I’ll find someone just like my ex-wife. In my saner moments, I know that won’t happen, because, not only is she, thankfully, unique in all the world, but I’ve changed. I’m a little more suspicious now, a little less willing to let small things slide. Maybe that, too, is why I’m alone. There are just so many opportunities to find silent fault and turn them into excuses for why it’s not even worth asking someone out.
You girls have it easy, let me tell you! Just sit and look pretty or bookish or whatever and veto the “rejects” as we shuffle past. (“No, too short. No, too poor. No, too sensitive. No, not sensitive enough!”) Though, in college, I had the startling opportunity to be on the other end of that. Asked out in an Ethics class, oddly enough. By a Senior Psychology student who found the odd, plain Sophomore Pre-Business Major too interesting to pass by. I wonder what she’s up to tonight?
So, I’m trying to break out of the old habits. I flirt inexpertly with ladies on-line, and in line at the store, or even at church. I’ve been cooking again, instead of eating those deadly delicious Marie Calander Pot Pies. Last week Friday, it was fish. This week Friday, it’s Chicken Marsala. Maybe Chicken Garam Marsala. And, I’ve invited a friend over for dinner. It’s not a date, even though he’s gay, since I’m straight. Just dinner.
And a step closer to changed habits.


All’s Quiet

Filed under: Deep Thoughts,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,Personal,Personal Archive,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dog which is in the evening time or 8:00 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Full Moon

on the Netgeek front…
Mainly because I’ve been packing my ex-wife’s stuff up. It’s amazing to me how much stuff one four-bedroom house can hold! I’ve gotten about one to one-and-a-half rooms done, but I have the upstairs bathroom and the Christmas stuff to sort through, not to mention my step-daughter’s room (ex-step-daughter? Hmm…) and all the kitchen stuff. Oh, and all those damned teapots. 30+ teapots that have to be packed with care so they can survive the trip to where she lives now. Fun. Anyway, if you notice a lack of posts for the next month or so, that’s why. I’m packing up the moldy remains of that dead part of my life. On the upside, though, when I get it all done, I can start on the new chapter of my life without the deadweight!
Well, off to work again, packing…



Missing Friends

Filed under: Deep Thoughts,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Personal Archive — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Rooster which is in the early evening or 7:51 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

I’ve been holding this post back.
Mainly because I know certain people read my site and might possibly interpret this post as talking to them. It’s like a conspiracy theorist, though, the more I deny it, the more proof they seem to find that I am, in fact, doing it. So, rather than get caught up in it, I’ll just say it.
I found out last night that a friend, an acquaintance really, passed away this week. It doesn’t come as a surprise, actually, Reid had AIDS and the past few months he’d started to go down-hill. He’d been in the hospital for a couple of weeks and I knew he wasn’t doing well.
I feel guilty, though, because I’d lost touch with him. Three and a-half years ago, when I first started going to one of the support groups that I attend, he was leading the group. He could see I was in deep emotional pain and that catty old queen held this breeder’s hand and listened to me pour out my troubles through teary snot bubbles and told me it would be okay. He was a good man, and he’ll be missed. I’m glad I knew him.
See you on the other side, Reid.


Happy Birthday!

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Fun,News and Current Events,Personal,Personal Archive — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dragon which is in the early morning or 9:19 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a New Moon

I’m 36 today.

I share a birthday with Frank “Chairman of the Board” Sinatra, Bob Barker, Gustave Flaubert, author of Madame Bovary, Edvard Munch, painter of The Scream, and Wells Fargo founder, Henry Wells. Not to mention, Mike Pinder of the Moody Blues, Tim Hauser of Manhattan Transfer, Dickey Betts of the Allman Bros, jazz musician Grover Washington Jr, Karl Edward Wagner who is the author of Bloodstone and Night Winds, and former mayor of New York City, Ed Koch.
Also, it was on this day in 1897 that “The Katzenjammer Kids” made its debut in the New York Journal. The comic strip was created by Rudolph Dirks and featured such novelties as the dialogue balloon, the multi-panel story, and a regular cast of characters. It was on this day, in 1901, that Italian physicist and radio pioneer Guglielmo Marconi succeeds in sending the first radio transmission across the Atlantic Ocean. This is also the day, in 1915, that the first all-metal aircraft (a Junkers J.1) was test flown at Dessau, Germany.
But, that’s not all! My birthday is also when, in 1925, Arthur Heinman coins term “motel”, and opened Motel Inn in San Luis Obispo, California. On this day, in 1964, shooting started for the “Star Trek” pilot, The Cage (which was later reused in Menagerie). In 1965, no doubt in anticipation of my birthday, Gale Sayers of the Chicago Bears scored 6 touchdowns, which ties the NFL record.
A year before I was born, in 1967, the US launched Pioneer 8 into solar orbit. And, on the actual day of my birth, in 1968, the US performed its first nuclear test at the Nevada Test Site. So, obviously, my birthday was, indeed, earth-shattering.

It’s been a hell of a year. I can’t wait to see what I’m doing next year at this time! I hope you all are right there with me.


Elisabeth Kubler-Ross is dead

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,Personal,Personal Archive — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:30 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

Actually, this happened more than a week ago.

She passed away on August 24, according to her website. I heard about it via a blog just yesterday. If you’re not familiar with her, she’s the one responsible for the Five Stages of Death and Dying. She was an interesting character who contributed quite a bit to the psychological community, even though she developed a bit of an odd reputation at the end there.
I present this as a “Personal” entry because my father worked with her. Most folks don’t know about it, but the “legwork”, so to speak, for her book On Death Dying was done through a hospital chaplaincy program. A lot of her work involved administering surveys and questionaires to hospital chaplains who were working with people that were in the process of grieving. My father was one of the people who helped make that happen. One of the two, in fact. As memory serves, he was working for the AMA in a religious capacity. Something to do with morality and ethics in medicine, as well as the religious components contained therein. In any case, it’s one of those personal anecdotes that my father has collected over the years. I hope I’ll have a few one day.

(Well, I already do. Sometime I’ll have to write about how I met the #4 boss in the Chicago “Family”. Or, Milton Erickson, for that matter. And, even how I exchanged e-mail with the inventor of ping, Mike Muuss.)


End of an Era

Filed under: Career Archive,Certification,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Geek Work,Linux,News and Current Events,Novell,Personal,Personal Archive — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Horse which is around lunchtime or 12:32 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

I’m sorry I missed a “fun” link yesterday.

Yesterday was my last day at Loomis, Fargo & Company. It was a bitter-sweet day, I have to admit. I’m glad to be moving on to something that I think will be a much, much better job for me, but I’m really going to miss a lot of the people I used to work with there. It’s sort of ironic, really, that I’m going to miss this place, because when I started, I never planned on staying very long. I always saw this as a place-holder, or stepping-stone, to somewhere else on my way to a better job. It was just something to pay the mortgage while I waited for the market to recover. Well, the market still hasn’t quite recovered, but it’s getting better and I’ve spent about 18 months treading water.
Okay, that’s not quite true. I did learn a lot more about Linux and I got my CompTIA Linux+ certification. I also updated my CNE (Certified Novell Engineer) to version 6.x. I haven’t quite completed my CompTIA Security+ certification, but that’s been mainly due to the upheaval of changing jobs. After I settle in, I’ll start working on that again and bang it out. It is, after all, a single test that will certify me for life. And, of course, I also learned more about Unix in general and the Veritas backup program on Sun Solaris in particular. All of which has been very, very cool.
But, one of the things I was “promised” was that I would be working on more Windows 2000 servers. The plan was to be replacing all the 35+ Novell servers with Win2K servers at all the branches. Well, that never happened due to budgeting problems and a CIO that didn’t understand why remote sites needed servers. (Yeah, I know, I can’t believe it either!) So, what that meant was I did a lot of backup administration and played nursemaid to a bunch of old, cranky Novell Netware servers. Not a great “resume builder”, is it? Well, I didn’t think it was a great use of my CNE either. So, when the rumors of outsourcing started, I started paying closer attention to the job-list e-mails that I got. And, well, the rest is history.
So, I found myself another job, but I also managed to place a friend of mine from the “old days” at Harbor at this position. He’d been out of work for 15 months. It was a pain that I knew all too well and I was very happy to help out a fellow CNE who was down on his luck. Also, this guy used to report to me so I knew he could do the job. It was a really good fit. And, in 90 days, I get a kickback from the recruiter, so it’s all good!

I’m really going to miss working with a great bunch of people, but I really look forward to meeting some new friends and working in a new, challenging environment that will really use my skills.


Mr. Indestructable does Windows 2000

Filed under: Career Archive,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Geek Work,Personal,Personal Archive — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dog which is in the evening time or 9:07 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Full Moon

Yeah, I know Win2k.

And, today, I know it better than I’d like. This weekend I spent 21 hours moving a Windows 2000 file server/domain controller/IIS server/proxy to a new hard drive. At least I’ll get paid by the hour.
Okay, so you regular readers (you know who you are) know that I’m mainly a Netware/Linux guy. So, what am I doing working on Win2K? Well, times are tough, so Uncle Jim has to work at two jobs. The second job is a realtively small company that I consult for on a strictly after-hours, part-time basis. Most of the time, I don’t put in more than five or six hours a month, which makes it a nice supplement to my primary income. And, frankly, I took the job because I needed the extra experience on Windows 2000 Server and consulting. So, for months they’ve had a 16 Gig drive that has been on the edge of full and last month they finally got a new 70+ Gig drive in. Great, right? Not so much. See, I tried to use Ghost to get it moved over, but Ghost kept failing. It took me a month and about 20 hours to finally figure out that the drive was just way, way, way too fragmented for Ghost to deal with. That meant one thing: the old backup-and-restore method. Ugh.
Okay, so I’m figuring it’s going to be a four or five hour thing, right? Nope. The tape drive isn’t working for some reason and it takes me at least four hours to get that worked out. Then another hour or two for a full backup. Then, an hour or more to get Windows 2000 installed on the new drive and the backup software installed. Another hour to get the tape merged and a restore launched. So, then I reboot and ….. Blam! Error!!
Can you say “Security Account Manager initialization failed”? Does that seem like a problem? You bet it is! The error told me to restart in “Directory Services Restore Mode” to try and fix the problem. Sounds good. But, when I restart, it asks me for the Admin password before repairing and proceeds to tell me that I’m putting in the wrong password. Okay, so I start all over again. Guess what? Same problem.
So, since I still have the old hard drive in original condition, I hook it back up and go searching for an answer. I finally find that I have to do a special backup of the System State with a Microsoft tool, not my backup software (which claimed it was doing a System State backup), boot the new drive into “Directory Services Restore Mode” and do an Authoritative Restore to get the old Active Directory information onto the new Domain Controller. About this time it’s 10:00pm or so and I have hours of work to do. But, since I am, of course, Mr. Indestructable, who’s motto is “I only have so many hours on this planet and a lot to do. I’ll have plenty of time to sleep when I’m dead”, I push on. Better, I figure, to push and get it done than have to come back and waste a second day in this office.
Hours, and several redundant restore jobs, later, I get almost everything back up and running. At this point it’s around 3:00AM and I’ve already changed my watch. What else did I have to do while I was waiting for the restore jobs to finish? Now, as you might imagine, I’m a little fuzzy, so it takes me about another two hours to get all the Internet settings right again and confirm that all the required services are started and will restart at reboot. Finally, I decide I can head for home.
The ride home was, er, interesting. I don’t remember large sections of it and it’s about a 30-40 mintue ride with no traffic. There was only one drunk on the road at 6:00AM, but there was fog and mysterious “things” in the corner of my vision. In other words, I’m too old for this stuff. I was freaking seeing things from the fatigue!
Still, when I got home, I tested the remote connectivity and sent an e-mail off to the developer or their custom database application so that he can verify that everything is running okay. Then, it was off to bed for a couple of hours until the Sun just wouldn’t let me sleep anymore. And, I’ll be back to bed soon.

So, what did I learn from all this? First, always backup your Active Directory with the stupid Windows 2000, built-in backup tool and keep a copy around. Shoot, throw it on tape, too, while you’re at it! Second, if you must have a Domain Controller, have two. They like company. Third, do NOT believe the backup software vendors when they tell you that their product will backup the System State or Active Directory! They’re LYING to you!!
Fourth, I am way too old to play Mr. Indestructable anymore. If these people weren’t so dependant on me to keep them going, I never would have done a 21 hour stint at an office. The kicker is, now, I’m getting resistance to my charges! Yeah, isn’t that something? I bust my ass to save their’s and now they’re not real excited about paying me. Damn this is a thankless business. Of course, I have, as they say in the “family”, made my bones on Windows 2000 and Active Directory. Hell, I have a friend who used to be on the a Lead on the Microsoft Corporate Support team that didn’t think I could pull it off! He was shocked that I managed it at all, much less in 21 hours.

So, once again, we the unwilling, lead by the unknowing, have done the impossible, for the ungrateful.
Crap. I’m going to bed.

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