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Iguana, Default


Random Ravings Of A Tech Support Iguana

Or, how I learned to stop worrying, and love the suitcase nuke.

A hello, a dusting off, some random thoughts.
Iguana, Default
Well, it seems I've once again managed to fail posting on this thing for, uhm, over a year. I've never quite gotten the hang of being the blogging type, I guess. My day to day life isn't -that- interesting, and when I'm working on a project, I tend to get too involved in -doing- it to talk about it. I read a lot of books, but then tend to talk about them directly with the people I talk to about such things. I have TV and movies I enjoy, but likewise, I tend to just chatter with friends and acquaintances about them. I tend not to vent about complex or controversial subjects like politics or religion here; many of these things are subjective, and it's far too easy to get into a heated 'You're wrong!' 'No, you're wrong!' argument about something that doesn't have right or wrong answers, and just leaves everyone feeling hurt. Those that know me, already know I welcome intelligent conversation on both sides of such issues, but the anonymity and impersonalness of this sort of blog environment makes it too easy, whether on purpose or in the heat of the moment, to be closed-minded and mean spirited, a criticism I apply to my own reactions as much as those of commenters.
That being said, I still cling to this thing, mostly, I suppose, just to follow friends. Perhaps a little bit because I occasionally manage to have something to say, and perhaps in the hope that I can figure out what sort of things I want to say on a more regular basis. Some of that energy gets siphoned off to twitter, which I'm slowly warming up to, and may serve as a viable outlet for those brief 'flash in the pan' thoughts that always seemed a bit trite to make a journal entry for. Some of it also pours into Facebook, which is where I tend to present my 'RL' face to the internet, to those who are trusted to see it. Still, perhaps I can find a place for this in my communications; some bits of valuable insight or project progress I can share with the readers out there, things they might find humourous, or applicable to their own lives.
A lot of the archival content of this journal is a window into earlier versions of me. Sometimes emotional, sometimes illogical, often stream-of-conciousness. Regularly immature enough for me to facepalm at, but still, me.

So, who am I, these days? I'm a 30-something midwesterner (USian) who's an iguana on the internet. I work in the Network Operations Center of a large-ish ISP, where I monitor networks, servers, and telecomm circuits. I've worked in the IT industry for 11+ years, though I have a background in biology, a degree I still hope to finish someday when I can play all my cards right. With computers, my specialty is hardware, I've been tinkering with building and modifying PCs since the late 80's. I love to read and learn; you'll regularly find me engrossed in a diverse array of texts, from the latest sci-fi and spy novels, religious and philosophical texts, to books on networks, particle physics, and biochemistry. Aside from reading, being an iguana, and technology, the other hobbies that I dabble in include collecting wristwatches, studying communist propaganda, researching the relationships of conglomerate corporations, listening to music, writing, and working on cars. I drive a ten-year old Subaru. I have a bad habit of collecting things. I'm a Buddhist, of a sort. I tend to be left-leaning in my politics, but think that voting along party lines is for suckers. My favorite author is William Gibson, though my favorite novel, Zeitgeist, is by his protege Bruce Sterling. My favorite movie is Buckaroo Banzai, with Lord Of War a not-too-distant second. My favorite musician is Thomas Dolby. I adore Thai and Japanese cuisine. Bad grammar and spelling drive me nuts, though I'm sure I've made an error or two myself in this post. I split the ownership of a house with my mother, and I'm helping my younger brother out where I can while he finishes his writing degree. I try to be concious of how my actions effect the world around me; I recycle, I install fluorescent bulbs, I look for products with less packaging. I'm always aware that I could do much more. I'm introverted to the point of feeling rather anxious in large crowds, but I'm also friendly, talkative, and easy to get along with.

So that's a snapshot of me, now. I'm not sure where I'm going from here, but the journey is the point. If I figure out what else to say here, you'll hear more from me, otherwise, I'll see everyone in another year or so. ;)

Book Review: Anathem
Iguana, Default
Book Review 
Title: Anathem
Author:Neal Stephenson
Publisher:William Morrow (c)2008
Genre: Science Fiction 
Turq's rating: 4 out of 4 corner-chewings 
Favorite quote: "I'd have become a Deolater and gone on a pilgrimage of any length to find a magic bath that would wash away the mess I'd just made."

Summary and Detailed Review behind the cut. Some minor plot details may be discussed.Collapse )

Five things meme.
I asked audiwulf to tag me for this one, so here are the five things he asked me about, behind this cut tag:
5 ThingsCollapse )

Leave a comment on this post, and I will give you 5 subjects/things I associate you with, and/or ask you 5 questions. Then, post this in your LJ, and expand on the subjects given.

- Turq.

speed, drugs, pills
This bit of dialog from 'Ghostbusters' pretty much sums up what the inside of my head feels like right now:

Dr. Egon Spengler: It would be bad.
Dr. Peter Venkman: I'm a little fuzzy on the whole "good/bad" thing here. What do you mean, "bad"?
Dr. Egon Spengler: Try to imagine all life as you know it stopping instantaneously and every molecule in your body exploding at the speed of light.

Gods I hate insomnia.

So, 2009...
luggage, operation, gangster
So, here it is, March 2009. As usual, I've continued my trend of updating my journal extremely sporadically. I've been told though, that some of you out there do check up on it, and wish I would post more to keep people informed about what's going on with me. So... what's going on with me?

On the mundane side, work continues as usual. I've gotten pretty burned out on the whole 3-on/3-off 12 hour shift days; the disadvantages totally overshadow the advantages at this point. I have no time to do anything but work on workdays, and I feel like I never get enough done on my days off. This feeling, of course, is certainly not unique to me, nor unique to people who work my schedule. I've read similar gripes from many friends (like reveille_d ), so I know we're united in wishing the days were longer! That being said, I really am tired of my current schedule, and I'd really like a change. Give me 5 8-hour days, or (my dream schedule for full-time work. I've done it before and it's awesome) give me 4 10-hour days. Hell, at this point, give me an alternating 4-on 3-off 3-on 4-off 12 hour schedule, at -least- my days off would be the same every week (save the floating day, of course).
For now, though, with the economy the way it is, I'm happy to -have- a job, especially one that pays vaguely decently, has built-in at work downtime, and consists at least partially of things I enjoy doing. So I won't whine too much.

If not before this, I will definitly be changing my schedule in 1.5 to 2 years; I've talked many times before, over the years, about going back to school. Looking at my current financial status, mentality, and so on, I've decided I'm -very- ready to go back. I'd go back right now if I could. However, I realize that's not quite practical. What -is- practical is going back once my brother, ketsuki, graduates. I have no problem working full-time and taking classes too, it just wouldn't be feasible with my current schedule. So, a few months before my brother's actually set to graduate, assuming my present employment situation hasn't changed, I'll inform my employer I intend to go back to college, and will request that they work with me to find a scheduling solution. They should, I've been with the company for ~6 years, and I've been a very flexible employee. If they're not reasonable, though, I'll be looking for a new job then. I'll start out with the local community college, as that'll be cheaper, then I'll likely finish off at Lindenwood University, as it's a few blocks from the house. I'm going to finish my biology degree, and probably minor in something along the lines of criminology or sociology.

I've been doing a lot more cooking lately, especially with mom. The whole family needs to start eating healthier, especially her with her diabetes; so we've been learning new reasonably heathy recipies. We bought a new steaming pot, and have been steaming lots of fresh vegetables. I can never eat canned green beans again after steaming fresh ones. I've tinkered with stir-frying, I even found that stir-frying ramen noodles works awesomely. I usually add some vegetables, and make a curry sauce for them.

I'm absolutely sick of winter; I've completely decided that I could live somewhere warmer someday. For now, I am making it a personal mission to not take this spring and summer for granted. I want to do more -outside-. More walking, more bicycling, more gardening, more sitting on the porch, more outdoor photography, -more-. After this upcoming payday, I'm going to make one last effort to repair my bicycle (I got it from a friend, and all of the bolts and such have corroded to the point of structural failure), barring that, I'll go pick up a cheap cycle for now.

My mom and Carlos found a digital camera lying on the side of the road; it's banged up pretty good, and had no identifying marks (or pictures in memory). I've checked around, and nobody's reported it missing, so I'm going to repair it. It appears to function fine, other than a cracked LCD screen. Tomorrow, I'll test it and make sure it still focuses properly, then on payday, I'm going to order a replacement LCD. When it gets here, I'll make a journal post of the repair process, as it should be fairly interesting.

The city of St. Charles renegotiated the trash-pickup contract this year, and now we have single-sort recycling!!! This makes me really happy. We'll continue to recycle our aluminum cans seperately, as we make a little bit of money every year doing that, but now we can recycle paper, plastic, glass, and steel food cans too. We've had the ~44 gallon single-sort bin since February, and we've managed to fill it by every trash pickup. Just think, all that crap was previously going into a landfill. While I'm going to continue making efforts to Reduce and Reuse, it's still a great step to be able to recycle more, too!

I upgraded my PC a few months ago; Work was getting rid of some old server parts, and gave me a like-new Intel 945-chipset motherboard; To that, I added a Core2Duo E4300, a Radeon 3870, a 4GB USB stick for ReadyBoost, and a nice big Antec P160 case. I transplanted over the hard drives, optical drives, and 2GB of DDR2 ram from my previous system. Then I installed (da da dum) Vista ultimate. I took a little advice from kistaro about how to set certain things up, and it's all running beautifully. There have been a lot of gripes about Vista, and many of them are even warranted, but I really don't hate it. On a reasonably modern machine like mine, it seems to run just fine. It's not been at all unstable or buggy, either. I think a combination of that first Service Pack, and running it on proper hardware, goes a long way. Where MS really dropped the ball with Vista was letting Intel strongarm them into claiming systems that aren't -really- Vista capable, are Vista capable.

I've slowly been getting my room back in order. I reorganized both closets, giving me, among other things, room to store the mountain of computer hardware that had been accumulating in front of my bookshelf. Having that put away has been a massive load of stress relief. I can get to my bookshelf, see my books; I no longer feel like a single hobby is dominating my entire space. Whew. Now, if I could just get the cats to be less messy.

The cats, by the way, are all doing well. I appreciate all the condolences everyone sent me when we lost Boo and Salem. I've not had a lot of time to put into my ASPCA charity effort, though it's high on the list of things I'm going to push towards this year.

I've been doing a bit of reading this year. A good friend bought me a copy of Neal Stephenson's "Anathem" for Christmas, and I've been reading it. I'm about a third into it right now, and I've found it a rather enjoyable read. The comparisons and metaphors of the book's universe to our own are interesting, and eye-opening; especially how it addresses the issues of intellectual isolationism, over-commercialism, and other poignant topics. Other than that, I've been reading a bit about Buddhism; While I wouldn't necessarily call myself a Buddhist, there's a lot about the philosophy that jives with my own internal system. I find the ideas of balance, ethical living, the importance of wisdom and asking deep questions to be thought provoking and pleasing. Just reading some of the books has left me feeling calm and peaceful afterwards.

My car's continuing to be a faithful form of transportation. This summer, it will be time for new tires, a bit of paintwork on the hoodscoop, and a thurough cleaning. Before too long, she'll need new sparkplugs; an expensive job at the dealer, and a royal pain in the tail to DIY. I've found a how-to online though, so I may give it ago, as it'd save me ~$250.

I've got some projects in the works for the IguanaNet system; A new Windows server, a new firewall, a few other infrastructure upgrades; I've been neglecting it a lot lately. I'll talk more about them as I do them.

I can't think of anything else to update about right now, so I'm going to wrap this up. As always, if you're curious about something in particular, please feel free to drop me a comment or an e-mail and ask; such prompting will make it far more likely that I won't forget to post. Either way, I will try and post more regularly, though I always say that, and look how it's been working so far!

Oh, I'm probably going to give twitter another go, too. If you want to follow me, I'm turquana. I won't promise to stick with it, but we'll see.

Peace out, for now.

- Turq.

Goodbye 2008!
construction, today, future
2009, may you prove to be kinder, more prosperous, and a bit saner for all of us.

Dude.. wait.. What?
bwuh? huh? what? whut?
I need to make a longer post later, like I swore I would. For now, though, I have to ask. Does anyone else out there find something a tiny bit.. wrong about this:


Channelling energy into something positive.
hard, challenge, difficult
Thanks to those of you who have already experessed your sympathy and well-wishes for my family and I.
With all of the losses of friends and family I've experienced in my life, I've learned that one of the best ways to deal with grief, is to channel it in a positive direction; to use that massive well of energy to try and bring some light into a dark world.
The ASPCA is an organization I've always strongly supported, and have donated to many times in the past. Strong supporters of treating animals well, without being wackjobs like some other organizations. Their adoption drives, shelters, enforcement of animal cruelty laws, and encouragement to spay and neuter one's pets have already made a huge impact in the world.
Through their website, I've created a memorial page to our two absent family members, Boo and Salem; I've set the fairly modest goal of raising $2000US for the ASPCA through the page. Please have a look at the page, and consider making a donation; The money goes directly to the organization, all I get out of it is a little easing to my grief.
You can look at the site here: http://www.aspca.org/goto/boosalem

Whether you decide to donate or not, thank you again for your support.

- Turq.

depression, oxymoron, depressants
I've been pretty heavily neglecting the ol' journal; Life's been busy, and I've been directing my energy other places. Lately, though, I've had some thoughts, and some projects that I thought would be nice to share. Plus, while I often see my life as rather mundane, I realized that there are experiences I have, and problems I solve, that may benefit other people to hear about, or at least provide them a good laugh.
So, I'd been planning on making a post today, what I hadn't planned on was making a depressing post today, but now I find myself needing to do that. If you don't want to read something depressing, you should stop reading now, as there will be no cut-tag for this particular post.

Today, we had to have our two oldest cats put down. While I put on a brave face for such losses, they really tear me up inside. For me, losing pets is as hard as losing anyone else I love. Pets may not be human, but they are people. In some ways, they're far better people than we manage to be. They love us unconditionally; all they want is for us to be happy, and to love them back. Boo, the oldest, had hyperthyroidism, and caught an upper respiratory infection; his age, coupled with his pre-existing condition (which we didn't know about before), rendered him unable to fight off the illness. Salem, his son, had a birthday yesterday. He started retaining fluid, and likely had a failing heart. After discussing both their conditions with the vetrinarian, the decision was made, not lightly, to end both of their pain; in both cases, any treatment would have prolonged their lives only by weeks or maybe a month, and they would have suffered for it.

I remember when Boo was small enough for me to hold in the palm of my hand, watching him grow up.. I remember when Salem was born, when he nearly died hanging himself from the spring inside an old chair.. He was always a little dopey after that, it was endearing. Boo, as he got older, developed this sort of disgruntled old man personality; I joked that he was a reincarnated vietnam vet suffering from occasional war flashbacks, and I loved him for it. Even though we have four other cats, the house felt very empty today when I left for work.

As an agnostic, sort of lost and confused about my own spirituality, I have more questions than answers. But, I believe they, like all living beings, have souls. I like to think that they're together now, perhaps somewhere with all the other people we've loved and lost. Perhaps, as Buddhists believe, they'll be reincarnated. Or perhaps they've achieved enlightenment, and are one with all things. Their bodies will be buried together; wherever their souls do go, may fate keep them together so they are not alone in their journey.

It's very hard for me to not be crushingly depressed, but that's truly not what either of them would want; as I said earlier, pets love us, and they want us to be happy. So, I'll try to dry my eyes, and remember all the joy they brought into my life. If you pray, whatever religion you might be, please pray for me, for them, and for my family, especially my little brother, Ketsuki. If you drink, raise your glass for a moment to two of my best friends. If you have pets, give them a hug; For that matter, if you love anyone, give them a hug and tell them.

I've had other losses, some which have cut deeper, and I know I'll have others, since that is the way of things, I just need to grieve quietly for a few days, but I'll be okay, so don't fret over me too much.
My life hasn't been all bad or depressing things of late, and I have had some thoughts and projects to talk about, so look for considerably less depressing posts from me soon.

For now, I leave you with the last words of Gautama Buddha:
"All composite things pass away. Strive for your own liberation with diligence."

- Turq

Foooood Meme
fight, crab, battle, crab battle, snafu
Yoinked from llyander.

1. Are you a vegetarian? Vegan?
No, mostly out of laziness. I like meat, but I could do without it, too. My brother, ketsuki is though.

2. What's your favorite food?
Hell.. I don't know. Probably something Thai.

3. White bread or whole wheat?
Generally whole wheat, preferably honey wheat. I also like rye, and sourdough.

4. What's for breakfast?
Depends on what you mean by breakfast. I work at night, so my first meal of the day most days is around 7pm. It's usually a TV dinner, or a burger and fries, or a sandwich.

5. You're making a Dagwood sandwich. What's in it?
I like a big sandwich, but that's a bit silly.

6. What's on your pizza?
Barbecued chicken, pineapple, bacon, onions. With barbecue sauce instead of tomato sauce. (oh, and cheese, of course!)

7. Coffee, tea, milk, or soda?
Soda = Life. The others I drink in smaller quantities.

8. Dark, milk, or white chocolate?

9. Teetotal, beer, wine, or hard liquor?
I consume ethanol roughly once every six months.

10. Does cilantro taste like citrus, or like soap?

11. Is chorizo the greatest thing ever or is it totally disgusting?
It's pretty nice.

12. Do you use garlic like a vegetable or like a spice?

13. Onions: raw, cooked, or not at all?
Raw, cooked.

14. Does broccoli taste sweet or bitter?
Depends on the cooking method and variety.

15. How do you feel about fish?
I like fish, if prepared well.

16. How about sushi?
I've never run up a triple digit sushi bill. I swear. Really. *shifty eyes*

17. Fave ethnic cuisine?
Thai. :9

18. What's your favorite fruit?
Mango. o/~ Mang-o, mang-o, mang-o.. o/~ Mangoooo

19. Cheese - thumbs up or thumbs down?
Thumbs up, 99% of the time. Havarti is my favorite.

20. Finally, favorite dessert?
Cheesecake. Or Thai sweet sticky rice with mango.