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Nerds vs. Jocks: Stuck in the Middle


I am a nerd. I am also a sports fan.  Most of the time these worlds are at odds.  But being privy to both worlds, I see they have more in common that many realize.

Let’s talk about obsession.  For both the NERD and the SPORTS FAN have passions about what they love.  Some nerds can quote to you every appearance of the Black Suit Spider-Man in every comic book since 1986.  There are sports fans who can tell you how many players have ran for the most yards in the rain.  Neither piece of information is that important and 99% of the world will live a happy life without ever knowing.  To the nerd and sports fan, they are badges of honor. SACRED KNOWLEDGE.  These are known as STATS. Whether it is how much armor class a bugbear has or how many yards a player threw for, it’s all useless knowledge.  If the world ends tomorrow, no one will care.

I would be remiss to not mention dressing up.  Is there really any difference between a dude dressed as Wolverine versus a guy in a dressed up in Michigan Wolverine attire?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Each would be accepted by their mutual cliques and on the other hand shunned by each other.

Dungeons & Dragons.  A game long associated with virgin nerds.  Mostly made up of males, they meet each week to pretend to be a mighty warrior or wizard and do battle with enemies based on stats.  They spend hundreds of dollars on the game, meticulously writing down and recorded each outcome.  Keeping track of hit points. When they can’t meet together in person they engage in ONLINE games over the internet.  The game is the same, pretending to be something or someone they are not. When they do get together there is soda, beer, chips, wings and pizza.

Fantasy Football.  A game long associate with married, under sexed males.  Every week they compete with each other based on stats.  They spend hundreds of dollars on the game, meticulously writing down, researching, and recording each outcome.  Keeping track of points.  When they can’t meet in person, they engage in online fantasy football websites.  When they do get together there is soda, beer, chips, wings and pizza.

Oddly enough, neither can see the similarities.

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Independence Day


Happy Independence Day.  We celebrate this day as the birthday of our nation.  The day thirteen colonies from Great Britain said enough is enough and declared their independence.

On that day, an idea of freedom became the greatest country in the history of mankind.  I say this knowing that it smacks of “American Arrogance”, something that is for some reason looked down upon today. But the words are true.  There is no other place in the world that  affords you the freedom and opportunities that the United States does.

We are not perfect.  We have made horrible mistakes over our brief existence.  We will continue to do so. But where others see these mistakes as proof we are heading toward     ruin, I see how we have overcome the mistakes and made ourselves a better nation.  One that inspires and encourages a person to better themselves rather than let the excuse of history be their crutch.

You may hate the way things are going. You may not. You may hate the current President, or the last one. But we live in a country that guarantees by law that will change. And change by the will of the people. No matter how bad you think it is or how crappy you think you have it, the possibility of a better day is always there.

So I ask that today, you forget about all the things that make you angry about this nation, and remember that for all it’s flaws, there is no better place in the world to live.  Take fifteen minutes out of your day and read the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights. Let those documents remind you of all the good this country has to offer, and will continue to do so. Put aside your dislike for the current government, or don’t dwell on how much you feel the last one ruined the country.  We are still here, and you have just as much a chance today that you had yesterday to make things better.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon


Transformers: Dark of the Moon I have read several reviews of TF:DOTM that say it is the best of the three. After seeing the film I am not sure what they are talking about or what they expected. I can tell you what I expected. I expected a movie about Tranformers.

Here is SHIA. You see a lot of him in the film.

What I got instead was a movie about college graduate trying to get his first job, and realizing its not as easy as he thinks. That is LITERALLY the first hour of this film. The second hour is Michael Bay showing us military porn and explosions. With the occasional robot thrown in to make bigger explosions. I bet Optimus Priime MAYBE has 15 mins of screen time in 2.5 hours. Megatron has a bit in the beginning, and at the end. LESS than 15 mins of screen time. The rest of the film is dedicated to Sam finding out that life sucks and government bullshit.

This is Optimus Prime. You dont see a lot of him in this film.

The plot, that that of any Bay film, is inconsequential to what he wants to actually film. The Decepticons are bad guys, the Autobots are good guys, and our government puts more faith in the Decepticons good will than the Autobots, who saved the fucking world twice now.

There is also an AMERICA FUCK YEAH! scene in which the Autobots take out an Iranian Nuclear facility. TAKE THAT TERRORISTS! (mind yo the scene is less than a minute and is quickly forgotten)

Honestly I am not even going to waste anymore time writing this. It’s more of the same. I had hope that maybe this time Bay would realize he is making a Transformers movie. Sadly this is not that film. Wait for the home release this fall if you have to see it. Don’t waste money on movie tickets. This movie, along with Green Lantern, is the MUST RENT MOVIE OF THE YEAR!

I made this for THE RAPTURE


Chuck Norris is Jesus, Rapture Ranger

THE MIGHTY THOR


THOR!

I never thought I would see this movie get made.  As a life long member of the Merry Marvel Marching Society, there are just certain characters that seem to be destined for the second tier.  In the public eye, Thor was still the norse God of Thunder.

Not that Thor was second tier in the Marvel Universe.  Not at all.  He was one of the heavy hitters.  Whenever a crisis faced the Earth, Thor was always right there, fighting along side Captain America, Iron Man, and the Hulk.  He was a founding member of the Avengers.  He was always a big deal.  But he never grabbed the attention of Spiderman or the Fantastic Four.  And it’s a shame because growing up, Thor was a close to Shakepeare as most of us nerds got.  The stories were epic and the characters were majestic.  There was love, betrayal, and war.  Not to mention he is a God.  Whether fighting frost giants in Asgard, or battling the Wrecking Crew on Midgard (Earth), Thor was a God.

And I am happy to say the film gets all that.

This is not the Norse myth of Thor.  This is the Marvel version.  Stan Lee had already created the HULK, but he wanted to go beyond that.

How do you make someone stronger than the strongest person? It finally came to me: Don’t make him human — make him a god. I decided readers were already pretty familiar with the Greek and Roman gods. It might be fun to delve into the old Norse legends… Besides, I pictured Norse gods looking like Vikings of old, with the flowing beards, horned helmets, and battle clubs.  …Journey into Mystery needed a shot in the arm, so I picked Thor … to headline the book. After writing an outline depicting the story and the characters I had in mind, I asked my brother, Larry, to write the script because I didn’t have time. …and it was only natural for me to assign the penciling to Jack Kirby…: -Stan Lee

So the Norse Myth got the Marvel treatment.  Thor became a super hero.  He was an arrogant cuss, so his father Odin (essentially the Norse Zeus) banishes him to Earth to learn humility.  He  is turned into the mortal Dr. Donald Blake, with no memory of who he is.  When the time was right, he discovers who he is, and Thor is reborn.  During his time on Earth, he grows fond of humans and decides to stay and become our protector.

The movie hits all these points, although the origin is modified to make sense.  The film opens with a cocky Thor attends a ceremony in which Odin is to declare him his successor to the throne. Thor’s brother Loki, the God of Mischief, is loyal to his brother, but has always been jealous.  Thor is a viking warrior, Loki is not.  Thor is always in the spotlight.

During the ceremony, a group of frost giants break into Odin’s vault.  Thor is consumed with wanting to get revenge, against his father’s will.  He and his companions sneak out, and take the battle to the frost giants, rekindling an ancient war.  When Oind finds out that Thor’s actiions have put both Asgard and the other realms ( including Earth ) in danger, he banishes Thor to Earth along with his hammer.

Now lets talk about the hammer.  Mjonir.  Thor and his hammer are peas in pod.  The hammer is a powerful mystical weapon that only Thor can wield. He can cast thunder and lighting with it, he can throw it for miles, and it always comes back to him.  He can create powerful vortexes when he spins it.  And when he throws it and holds on, he flies.  When Odin banishes Thor to Earth, he also sends the hammer, but this time, he puts a stipulation on it.  “Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor”. Basically no one can use it until they prove themselves worthy of Odin.  Odin’s idea is that his son must earn back his god hood.

This means, no one can lift the hammer, not even Thor, until he stops being a cocky ass.  Thor arrives on Earth, knowing who he is, but a mortal.

He is found by Jane Foster and her friends.  She is an astrophysicist studying atmospheric anomalies and Thor lands in her lap.  The movie plays up the fish out of water angle, and Chris Helmsworth, the actor who plays Thor has fun with it.  Despite being a mortal, he was a god just a few minutes ago, and he acts like such.  

Meanwhile, back in Asgard, Loki starts his plan.  When Odin falls into the Odinsleep ( a year long nap that he must take to keep his power) Loki takes over.  Loki, it turns out, really is a bad guy.  So with Thor out of the picture, and Odin out of the picture, he makes a power grab.

Meanwhile on Earth, SHEILD has found the hammer and seals the area around it off.  Convinced he only needs his hammer, Thor breaks in, and finds he can’t lift his beloved weapon.  Of course, no one else can either.  The scientists of SHIELD are baffled.

Long story short, Loki makes his move on the humans, Thor sacrifices himself to save them, and thus is deemed worthy.

The thing is, as crazy as all this sounds…it works.  The movie is really enjoyable. Funny when it needs to be, but most of the time, epic.  Think Lord of the Rings, but with superheroes.  The story sells itself, because it makes you care.  Without being full of itself, the movie sets up the mythical story of Thor and grounds it in out world.

The great thing about reading Marvel comics, was the Universe.  Everything happened in the same place, and the characters would make references to other events in other books.  When you read an issue of Spiderman, you knew that a few blocks away, Daredevil was fighting some bad guys.  And maybe the Fantastic Four was 5 blocks down in the Baxter Building.  And thank ODIN, Marvel is doing the same thing with these movies.  They have set Thor in the same universe as Iron Man, and the upcoming Captain America movie.  The same SHIELD agent from the Iron Man films is in this film, as is Samuel L Jackson as Nick Fury, the leader of SHIELD.  And for a Marvel fan, seeing this, and knowing it’s building to an Avengers film, it is more than exciting.

But the key to Thor, is that it is a film that will appeal to those who have never heard of Thor.  Taken by itself, it’s a fantastic fantasy film set in the modern day.  *NOTE…as I write this, Led Zepplin’s IMMIGRANT SONG just came on the radio…indeed the Gods of Asgard are there*

So go see Thor.  It is worth it. It’s fun, and you won’t be disappointed.  Unless you really hate movies, or fiction for that matter.  In that case, rent a documentary on Norse myth.

Tron Legacy


Tron legacy is a fun film. however i feel like it wont be enjoyed by many. Much like the first film, there are those who will consume it and love it, and those who say…wtf?

I am not going to rehash the plot. It is a direct sequel to the 1982 film. And in my opinion it helps tremendously to have seen the original recently. From major plot points to subtle nods to the original, this is in no way a stand alone film. While they do fill in how Kevin Flynn came to be who he is, they do not reference his time in the digitized world of Tron from the first movie.

Overall, the film tells the story of how we have become a more digitized society. Kevin Flynn is obsessed with this fact and has devoted his whole life to bringing the real world and the computer world more in sync. In fact he does jet that, and then disappears for 20 years leaving a 7 year old son behind to inherit the now multi billion dollar Encom. In Kevin Flynn’s absence, however, Encom went from being like Unix to being like Microsoft. His son, now grown has become sort of a cyber batman, dismantling Encom’s new big business reputation from the inside.

Long story short son of Flynn gets zapped into the digital world, and finds a totalitarian world lead by Clu, who looks like his father. It seems Kevin Flynn has been trapped in the digital world by the rebellious Clu. Flynn and his son decided to team up to defeat Clu and get back home.

Visually, the movie is astounding. The look of the computer world has just the perfect balance of real world and alien environment. The familiar is “tronitized” enough to remind you that you aren’t at home. A very dark world with cool blue tones, interrupted by the occasional red, orange, and greens.

Much has been said about the soundtrack by Daft Punk. It is incredible. Even without being the soundtrack for a motion picture it would still be one of their best albums. My only complaint is that they did not use the original theme from Tron. But that is being petty and the opinion of a old Tron fan.

Many people will have a difficult time getting this movie. Tech jargon is bantered about liberally and some of the pokes at Microsoft and the world of computers will be missed by many. Once inside the digital world, the action goes on steroids, and then dies rather abruptly for a large chunk of the middle of the film. However, if you are like me, then you were willing to sit through the pathos to get to the resolution of the finish.

I have only two real beefs with the movie. First, was Jeff Bridges. It seemed like he had a hard time finding the character of Flynn after 30 years. I can understand that, but it felt like in some parts he was playing more like “the Dude” from The Big Lewboski than Kevin Flynn.

The other thing I had an issue with was the Tron sub plot. Yes, Tron is very much in this flick, and even ends up playing a MAJOR role in the end. So big in fact, that once the movie is over, you find yourself wondering why the film makers paid so little attention to it. ( I would say more, as I realize this was quite vague, but it’s a fairly big spoiler.)

I really loved the movie. In fact, the farther away I get from seeing it, the more I like it, and the more I want to see it again. I can’t recommend it to everyone. All I can say is, if you love the original, than you will love Tron Legacy. If you saw the trailers and thought it looked cool, you may walk out of the theater disappointed.

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John Adams


I feel an incredible connection to John Adams. It happened when I first watched the mini series on HBO.  Like many in America, John Adams was a stranger to me.  He is mentioned in history class, but he is never held in the same light as Washington and Jefferson.  When you talk about the Founding Fathers, his name is rarely mentioned.  However, when you read the history, you quickly find the man was responsible for most of what this country is. 

And I agree with 99% of everything he says, more than 200 years later. 

Adams was a worker.  He was a committed man.  He was a devoted father and husband.  He was an obsessive reader, and thus very well versed in the history of the world and governments. He was a lawyer, and very familiar with the laws of man.

However, he was also cocky, stubborn and convinced he was always right.  He also has a very bad temper.  He expected everyone to agree with him.  Anyone who knows me well, can see we are alike. 

He was fascinated by human nature.  He constantly was trying to find reason and purpose to the actions of man.  He was able to apply this fascination to his opinions on politics.  For example an entry from his journal in 1756:

" …human nature is more easily wrought upon and governed by promises, and encouragement, and praise, than by punishment, and threatening, and blame.  But we must be cautious and sparing of our praise, lest ut become too familiar and cheap…"

Anyone who studies the current political landscape would call that prophetic.  We now cast our votes based on who makes us feel good, not for who actually do the job we need.  Hope and Change is not always the answer.

He was a very conservative man. He had a strong belief in the family and the role of the mother and father. Again, in a very prophetic entry to his journal in 1778:

"…The vices and examples of the parents cannot be concealed from the children.  How is it possible that children can have any just sense of the sacred obligations of morality and religion, if, from their earliest infancy, they learn that their mothers live in habitual infidelity to their fathers, and their fathers in constant infidelity to their mothers?"

He nor his family every owned a slave, and thought the entire instiition was America’s only glaring fault. 

But, it is his feelings on the role of goverment that I relate the most with. He understood the importance of personal freedom, but also knew enough about human nature that a government is necessary.  And while he has become known for signing into law the Alien and Sedition Acts, the details behind why he did shows he did not do so without much thought and pressure from his cabinet. ( which he inherited from G Washington and was really under the control of A Hamilton, Adams lifelong nemesis).  He knew that the government should stay out of the affairs of the states, but provide for the national defense, and deal with strictly foreign affairs.  The thought of people depending on the government to live would have something he strongly disagreed with.  He thought the greatest form of philanthropy was to give a man a job, and allow him to earn his own way. 

And he died on July 4th, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. 

 I really like the guy.  We sure could use him today.

 

 

 

 

Why I went MAC


Lately, many a fine folk have noticed that on my desk, sits not a Windows PC, but a large gray hunk of metal with a half eaten fruit on it.  Their eyes do not deceive them.  This Windows Colonel broke rank and went to the other side. (clever readers will notice my ingenious play on words in that last sentence)

Long have I been a hater of Macs.  As a Windows admin, its easy.  They don’t play well with my network. the file structure is different, and lets face it, they are far too hip. Besides that, businesses run on Microsoft.   Throwing a MAC into that environment is like doing a shot of tequila after downing several Jagerbombs.  The result is less than enjoyable and you feel sick for quite sometime, along with vowing to NEVER do that again.

But then, something happened.  After perfecting Windows XP, and thus creating their most stable OS in years, they chucked it and brought us VISTA.  Being the geek that I am, I was at first enamored by it.  It was new, it was shiny, and it was not the same.  In fact, it was, as they billed it, an EXPERIENCE.  Like a good Microsoft zombie, I drank the Kool Aid, and started to rave about Vista.  “IT DOES THIS AND THAT” I cried from the rooftops.  I even looked past the blatant attempt to extort users with all the different versions.  There was WINDOWS VISTA HOME, ULTIMATE and even an OBAMA version.  And this was before he was even president.

And then, I started to notice little things.  Like when Vista decided it knew better than I, and went ahead and patched some things.  These things broke.  Vista was notoriously bad with video card drivers.  Then there was the UAC.  The BIG BROTHER of Vista.  It seemed every time I moved my mouse, it was asking me if I wanted to allow that.  This was the answer to all the security issues?

And then there was the boot time. I often work from home in the evenings.  I like to sit outside on my deck with a nice adult beverage, a cigar and work without interruption.  I would get out my laptop, turn it on, and wait. And wait.  At one point I told my 4 year old to go in and get me a bag a chips, when he returned Windows had finally come up.  However, he was now 10.

And don’t get me started about administrating it on a network.  Even the admin login had restrictions.

Around this time, many of my IT peers were telling me to switch to MAC.  At first, I assumed they were aliens disguised as my friends and peers, but they were getting work done.  I was watching Vista load.  So I did it.  I took the plunge with a refurb MACBOOK.  And from the moment I turned it on I was in love.

Why? Because when turned it on, within a few seconds it was ready for input.  And within five minutes of being on a MAC, I was already getting my work done.  Email from the Exchange server? Absolutely.  Remote desktop admin for my Windows Servers.  Free download.  Wireless?  Easy as pie.  Sure there were some bumps, like getting some of my files converted, but that only took a few days.  The bottom line? It just worked.

Unlike a PC, MACS are all made the same.  No crazy drivers. Software and hardware developers don’t have to take in to account a litany of different specs and code to create for the MAC.  There is no configuring.  There are no crazy DLL files for applications to check. Instead of having a bajillion dependancies, you just copy the app to the hard drive.  Everything it needs to run it has.  To uninstall, simply drag it to the trash.

Of course, MACs are not ready for the enterprise level business.  And Apple would be the first to admit that.  They have very publicly stated they don’t want to be in that world. However, they have taken steps to live in that world.  If you know what you are doing and don’t mind having to jump through a hoop or two, you can use a MAC in an enterprise network.  Heck, I manage one.  The only problem is in most cases your system admin has no control over you and therefore cant provide much assistance.

So that’s it.  I am a MAC user now.  If I could I would replace every PC in the office with one.  Of course, if I could I would also have a lightsaber.  Maybe Jobs has the iSaber in the works.

Douchebags


We all know at least one.  A douchebag.  Someone who sucks at life, yet seems to survive. And survive well.  I work with one.  He glides in whenever he fells like it.  Sometimes even sitting in his car on his cell phone ( after he is already late).  He is also is a load cell phone talker, as when he walks around the office ON his cell phone presumably trying to sound important.

He is the type of person who has done EVERYTHING. We actually have a list of things he has claimed to done.  From land owner to EMT.  This guy has done it all. HE EVEN CLAIMS TO HAVE INVENTED THE MICROWAVE.  No shit.

In meetings, his only contribution is what he has DONE.  Never what he can do or will do.  Never what he can help with.  It’s always some anecdotal story about something he did years ago that has some feint relation to what is being discussed.  His usual method of coming off as a big wig goes like this:

“People want flying cars.  If we made flying cars, we would make tons of money”

He then looks at the other departments and asks “so when can you have this done?” Having said this, if someone else ANYWHERE in the world accomplishes this, AT ANY TIME, he takes credit for it.  I suspect this is how the microwave claim came to life.  If the company were to actually do it, after contributing nothing to the project, he would take credit for it as well.

He also Googles himself from time to time.

The truth is, he really is ignorant of everything he claims to be a master of.  This is to my advantage, because being the smart ass I am, I tell him things using fake tech inspired non sensical words, that he inevitably repeats to someone and makes a fool of himself.

He has the uncanny ability to create more work for others. People who care about the company have to pick up his slack, fix his mistakes, and deal with the people who hate him.

There are A LOT of those.

Most of us at the office believe he has incriminating photos of the owners, because they wont fire him.

He also wears cowboy boots.  And I am fairly sure he wears a rug.

Do you work with a douchebag? Are there more?