InkBlot's Journal

I'm not sure what this is, it's just here...

Vacation Time!

Just got back from our big vacation this year.  This year, we took part in our first ever JoCo Cruise Crazy.

The cruise was on Royal Carribean’s Freedom of the Seas. We left Orlando, went down to a private island in the Bahamas, then on to St. Thomas, St. Maarten, and finally back home. On top of that, a large portion of us were part of a small convention called JoCo Cruise Crazy. It’s small, about 1100 people (out of the 4k on the boat), and had sci/fi fantasy authors like John Scalzi and Patrick Rothfuss, musicians like Jonathan Coulton and Paul & Storm, and actors like Wil Wheaton and Paul F. Thompkins.
We flew out to Orlando on Friday, stayed overnight to head out to our ship on Saturday.  We were sailing on “Freedom of the Seas”, notable for NOT being the “Anthem of the Seas”, which just seems to be having a really horrible year. That one had a January cruise canceled after a bad storm, and when we showed up for our cruise we heard they just got benched again for norovirus.  Again, glad it wasn’t us.

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Quick note…

Well, I seem to have had a site crash. Not sure what happened, exactly…I was able to back up my database and with some work I’ve restored my posts. Unfortunately, I haven’t restored any comments – as I suspect that’s where whatever horked my site is hiding. Sorry, folks…

In Other, Other News…

Well, hello there!

Yup, been awhile since I’ve posted.   I’ve been living up to that XKCD comic once again. Trying to catch you up all in one go might be a bit much (or it might not, I’m not sure I’m that interesting), so I’ll just try to throw some tidbits at you as we go along.

One thing I’m particularly tickled over is that little chart to the right.   If you view this post on my own site, you’ll see I’ve added a weight-loss tracker to my page.   Back in September, Cindy and I both hit a point where we were just…fed-up 1)no pun intended with our general health and the feeling that almost everything else in our lives seemed to come before that one most simple, precious thing.

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References   [ + ]

1. no pun intended

In my ears…

…right now, is an Alaskan artist named Marian Call.   Pop open her site in a new browser window, tab, origami chicken or whatever, then keep reading this.

So, “geek chic”…frankly, worries me.   Perhaps it’s because for so long now, geeks have been the subculture to defy direct scrutiny.   At first, no one understood us and tended to leave us alone.   These days, there’s more of us than you’d think…yet we still try to avoid notice, because, well…it might scare some of you to realize you’ve already joined us.

Which is why whenever I see anything marketed to geeks, I tend to get suspicious.   We don’t tend to do that very much.   Not on purpose.   Thankfully, Marian hasn’t…in fact, as you poke around her website, look for a track called, “I’ll Still be a Geek After Nobody Thinks it’s Chic.”   Long title, but sums up what I’m trying to get at here pretty darn well:   it can be tricky to separate “geeks advising geeks on cool, geeky stuff” versus “marketers trying to subvert geeks”.   This is the former, not the latter.

So where did I learn about the lovely Ms. Call?   Well, it’s getting a bit fuzzy…because for awhile, I hadn’t, and then it seemed like everyone was talking about here.   Somehow, it all revolves around something called W00tstock.   After an appearance on their tour, lots of the geeks I follow on Twitter keep talking about her.

What else do you need to know?

  • Vanilla, her debut album, contains lots of goodness.
  • Got to Fly was commissioned by Quantum Mechanix, and is largely dedicated to the Firefly universe of Joss Whedon.   Do you need to know and love Firefly to like this album?   No!   Really, only one song I can think of might seem strange if you don’t know Firefly.   Although, if you know me and don’t like Firefly, I’ll probably pity you.
  • She’s on tour right now, though sadly not near Texas.

So give her a listen, and sometime soon I’ll try and remember to tell you about more W00tstock alum, like Paul & Storm, Molly Lewis, and Jonathon Coulton 1)Who may not have appeared at a W00tstock yet, but it’s only a matter of time….

References   [ + ]

1. Who may not have appeared at a W00tstock yet, but it’s only a matter of time…

In other news…

This past year, some big things have happened for me.   First, I changed jobs…sort of.     I still work in the same company, but I’ve moved from being a Technical Trainer with the Tech Support department, to being a ‘System Engineer’ in the Release Management 1)Yes, this is an ITIL term. team.   This means I help shepherd software from the developers out to all the servers and workstations in our little world.

It’s a marked change for me…for about 20 years now 2)ouch…now I feel old, I’ve worked in some form of tech support.   Even up to the last 8 years as a trainer.   I wasn’t always on the front lines, but I was always there, fighting to make Windows PCs work for users who’d rather be doing something other than fighting with their PCs.   Now, I’m doing a variety of things: installing services and daemons on UNIX servers, packaging and deploying windows software, and on and on.

I’ve been working so hard to reach a point where I felt like I was accomplishing something on more than just a person-by-person basis.   In Training, I felt I was going to reach that point…but I didn’t.   Lots of reasons, and I might do a post-mortem some time, but not now.   Suffice it to say, I need to grow.   I needed a change.   My new job is fantastic.   I feel like I’m barely keeping my head above water some days, but on others I do feel occasional bursts of brilliance.

Sometimes, when you’re in a comfortable little groove, you forget how exciting and thrilling leaving that groove and striking out in a new direction can be.

References   [ + ]

1. Yes, this is an ITIL term.
2. ouch…now I feel old

What time is it?

Good lord, it’s August already!?   Well, to be honest, I’ve been a bit of a hermit this year on purpose.   The outside world’s been a scary place, and it feels like I can’t turn on the internet (yep, “the news” has become passe’) without seeing all sorts of hate spewing forth.

I just started typing some examples but realized:   1) I can’t make them funny, even in a sarcastic manner, because it’s just that bad.   And 2) I don’t want to run the risk of that sort of thing getting crawled by a search engine.   All I know is,

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Dear Interwebs Designers

Please stop with the “slideshows” already. I realize you feel you’re doing me a favor not forcing me to scroll up and down long pages of text, by making me click your dhtml icons to flip through content. You even try to appease me with little thumbnails of the “slides” that I might skip around your content at my leisure.

Here’s the deal. On my mouse, and indeed most computer mice produced in the last 10 years, I have a scroll wheel. This little wheel allows me to scroll up and down web pages incredibly fast, without regard to where on the page my little mouse pointer might be.

Your slideshow, on the other hand, requires me to find the tiny buttons you’ve set out, click and wait for new content to load, and be mindful of the really clever gits among you who think I’m too lazy to do that much, and so advance their slideshows automatically to some arbitrary timer!

Remember that click wheel? Well, in most modern web-browser, it’s not just a wheel – it’s a button. A magic button which opens links in new tabs or windows. So in my daily browsing, I don’t usually open one web page or web link at a time – I open several. Then I browse through each one in my own arbitrary way, opening new tabs however my whims might dictate.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, I like your content and I appreciate when you deliver it in a clean, efficient manner with a hint of style. I don’t appreciate it when your stylistic impulses take over, and you feel the need to force feed me your content with a mallet.   Please stop.

Especially with the timers.   Half the time, I don’t even remember why I opened that tab, since it’s usually moved on from “Cheerleaders of the National Curling League” or whatever, to “Tree Frogs of Out Mongolia” or something silly like that, and I’m left feeling morally ambiguous towards a bunch of amphibians.   Which reminds me.   Hey, YouTube!   Every other video site has learned not to start downloading/playing web videos until that page becomes the active window (i.e., someone’s looking at it?), when will you?

Feeling snowed in

Well, hello there! It’s been awhile since we chatted. So, what’s new? Over here, it’s snow.

North Texas has been hit with record snow fall this weekend. More than 12″ in some places, we recorded 11″ on our back porch. This is more snow than has ever fallen in Texas in my lifetime.

I should have made a snowman. Or a snow-dalek. But, instead the missus and I hid indoors and watched the snow fall outside with mugs of hot cocoa in our hands. Oh, and we watched with great interest as the tree in our front yard got lower and lower to the ground. Three major limbs snapped under the weight of the snow – a 20 year old Oak.

Fortunately, that was the only damage we suffered. We also managed not to lose power or Internet the whole weekend, where many in North Texas were not so lucky. The news says over 200,000 homes and businesses were without power, and as of today only 50,000 have had it restored. Yikes! Let’s hope everyone is warm again soon. And that this is the end of the snowfall this year.

Another post for apologies…

I need to keep up my XKCD quotient (see last entry).   Anyhoo, it occurred to me I ought to let anyone still following me know I’ve survived another year.   It’s January, and this bear would very much like to go back to hibernating, thank you.   I often have a dribble of vacation time left at the end of each year (which I must use, per my company’s particular vacation policy), and 2009 was no different.   Without deliberately planning it out, I managed two full weeks off around Christmas and New Year’s.

This week finds me back at work, settling into my old routine.   I won’t deny, like many I succumb to New Year’s reflections, although it’s been some time since I actually tried making a resolution.   I deeply resent the guilt I feel as December turns to January, and I think of everything I didn’t do over the last year.   I feel bad enough about this stuff on a regular basis, I’ll be damned if I’m going to feel extra guilt just because the last digits on my calendar changed too.

But then, I suppose that’s what we’re doing with our calendars…marking time as our lives go along, noting where we are and want to be.   If I take each day as it comes, and ignore the things in my life I desperately wish to change, maybe I need that extra jolt at New Year’s to make me focus.

So at the risk of being hypocritical (for I have little faith in myself, which is why I normally avoid this), I am actually looking at the new year and figuring out goals for myself.   Things I wish to do, things I wish to change, dare I say it: I’m looking for the resolve within myself to be better.

No, I probably shouldn’t say that, it sounds pretentious.   Still, it’s what I’m doing.   If I’m feeling really brave, I might even post some of it here and hold it out for the world to see.

Until then, take care of yourselves and be good to one another.   I’ll be here.

I’ve been exposed!

XKCD: SuperlativeOver at XKCD, a recent comic describes me a bit too accurately.   Take a peek, and substitute Spanish for French, and either books or video games for dreams.

Oddly, I don’t discuss my own dreams that much.   Few stay with me beyond waking.   But I do love good stories, and in addition to a good book, I love a video game that tells a real story.

Which reminds me, I hope Assassin’s Creed II is out soon…

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