Archive for the 'geekery' Category

Opposites attract (or “That’s a heck of a way to run a railroad…”)

Saturday, June 18th, 2016
Opposites attract (or "That's a heck of a way to run a railroad...")

Saturday – 18 June 2016
I’ve often said that Sara is something of a saint for putting up with a lot of my geeky habits, be they gaming, trains, comics… or anything in between. That said, there have been more and more signs that she’s getting to be geeky by osmosis – he occasionally makes comics- and/or science fiction-related comments that would, previously, be more attributable to me. Here is a prime example from earlier today (along with a bit of backstory):

Backstory

I have a model railroad. It’s O Gauge, which I may or may not have gotten into because it “happens” to be the same scale as HeroClix. (Lucky coincidence…?) When we bought our house, it had about 1/3 of the basement was unfinished; with the help of a few friends and my father-in-law, I’ve built a train room. The fact that the room has also become my office and gaming room is a lucky coincidence/fringe benefit. No, I don’t call it a “man cave,” because I quite frankly abhor that term. I usually just call it “the train room,” or “my room,” or “The Toy Box.” But I digress. The room was finished about two years ago, give or take a couple months. Details have kind of slipped away. I finally built a train table and put up an actual working layout about a year ago. I finished the train table (added another 3′ section) and redid the trains on it.

One of the things that I realized is that I can pretty much have what I want on my layout, like a “Conjunction Junction.” (What’s your function?) Other things that might wind up on the layout might include a “Petticoat Junction” and/or a Botany Bay, if I create a seaport area…

Something that I recently decided is that I wanted to build a small version of Stark Tower/Avengers Tower and put it on the layout.

Stark Tower

Stark Tower

I have to admit that I was pretty amused and enthused about the possibility of actually putting my Quinjet on the landing pad, as well.

picture (c) Figures.com

picture (c) Figures.com

Once I got under way, I realized something in practical application that hadn’t occurred to me in the theory phase: At the size I wanted to do the tower, it would require at least three linear feet – and about 3-4 square feet – of space on the layout for the building’s base. That’s a problem, as my table is 11′-6″ long. That’s a LOT of real estate. So, I started rethinking the idea.

Today, I came up with a great alternative: The Baxter Building – home of the Fantastic Four.

Baxter_Building_001

picture (c) Marvel

This was great on a number of levels:

  • It’s still a rather iconic comics building.
  • It has a MUCH smaller footprint.
  • I have Fantastic Four ‘Clix who could be on the roof, preparing to take on the latest threat… as a train rolled past the building.

I even considered the prospect of doing the 4 Freedoms Plaza incarnation of the building…

End of backstory.

While we were out running errands today, I mentioned to Sara the conundrum I’d been having about what building to put on the layout, after realizing that Stark Tower would have to wait until I decide to either move my office out of the train room or we move to a place where I have a lot more room for a layout. I also mentioned the Baxter Building idea. She listened and, without missing a beat, said:

“You could just do Titans Tower.”

It was like a shaft of light shone down from the heavens. For a moment. Just as quickly as the words had formed in her head and crossed her lips, her face contorted into the classic “I can’t believe I just said that…” expression, as she realized that her nascent geekiness had bubbled to the surface and erupted like Vesuvius reborn.

And, yes, I reveled in that moment and the look.

But, I also decided that Titans Tower will be the new addition to the train table.  (Good thing I have some extra Titans lying around.)

Namaste.

“Hello, my name is…”

Friday, June 17th, 2016
"Hello, my name is..."

Friday – 17 June 2016

Last night, while running some errands, I picked up a couple of “squishy balls” for #TeamDiVa2016.

Balls, spikes and all...

Balls, spikes and all…

The girls “found” them in the car this morning, on the way to school. Apparently, they named them on the way to school:

  • Vanessa named hers (purple) “Fluffy,”
  • Diana named hers “Fluffy Puffy.”

As you might imagine, the names have gone through a number of permutations since this morning.

Kids. Go figure.

“Don’t Panic.”

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016
"Don't Panic."

Wednesday – 25 May 2016
Today is Towel Day.

“…it has great practical value – you can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapours; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a mini raft down the slow heavy river Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or to avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (a mindboggingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can’t see it, it can’t see you – daft as a bush, but very, very ravenous); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.”

 

Stray Toasters

  • I visited my brother and his kids a couple of weeks ago. Despite the fact that we’re (only) 6 hrs apart, by car, and that neither of us really considers that a long drive, it’s only the second time we’ve visited in two years. Still, I had a great time. He and the kids are doing well.
  • DC Rebirth. I have many thoughts about this… soft-boot?
    REBIRTH-splash-small
  • I have my second Raspberry Pi. I’m contemplating setting it up as a media machine for TeamDiva2011…
  • The season finales of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and The Flash have left me with many questions.
    • I’m still pushing for The CW to call their 4-part crossover “Crisis,” in some manner or other.

Namaste.

“Somebody wake up Hicks.”

Tuesday, April 26th, 2016
"Somebody wake up Hicks."

Tuesday – 26 April 2016
Today is apparently #AliensDay.

They mostly come out at night. Mostly.

They mostly come out at night. Mostly.

As such, this post is hereby dedicated to one of the heroes of that movie: Carter J. Burke Master Sergeant Al Apone.

A man and his cigar...

A man and his cigar…

Apone was a member of the United States Colonial Marine Corps, part of 2nd Battalion Bravo Team. He was the senior non-commissioned officer with the combat unit deployed to LV-426 aboard the USS Sulaco in 2179, to investigate the sudden loss of contact with the colony of Hadley’s Hope. He subsequently perished as a result of the Xenomorph infestation at the colony.

He was probably best known for saying:

All right, sweethearts, what are you waiting for? Breakfast in bed? Another glorious day in the Corps! A day in the Marine Corps is like a day on the farm. Every meal’s a banquet! Every paycheck a fortune! Every formation a parade! I LOVE the Corps!

Knock it off, Hudson!

Alright sweethearts, you heard the man and you know the drill. Assholes and elbows! Hudson, come here! Come *here*!

WHAT ARE YOU? HUDSON! Get on the ready line, Marines, get some today! Get on the ready line! Move it out! Move it out, goddammit! Get hot! One, two, three, four! Get out, get out, get out! Move it out, move it out, move it out! Move it out, move it out, move it out! One, two, three, four, five, six, seven! Aaarrrrr, absolutely badassess! Let’s pack ’em in! Get in there!

Sgt. Apone was also the (partial) basis for another ass-kicking sergeant: HALO’s Sergeant Major Avery Junior Johnson.

Ones and Zeroes

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2016
Ones and Zeroes

Tuesday – 22 March 2016
I’ve worked in IT, in some capacity or other, for almost 15 years. I enjoy it; I’m even nominally good at it. Today, however, I had to call my ability in this field into question.

A little over a month ago, I was tasked with spinning up a new server for an application that we’re going to vet and possibly put into service. And I did. And promptly went on my merry way with other tasks and projects. This morning, I had to come back to that server and do some additional configuration. I attempted to remotely access the machine. No go.

Huh.

Undaunted, I considered that I’d possibly built the machine in a different site. So, I tried to connect using that sites code. Still no go, Flight.

What the…?

At this point, I started getting “a little” concerned. I was sure that I’d built the machine, but not being able to connect to it or even ping it caused some alarm.

 

I logged into the local virtual machine cluster to look for the machine. There it was, big as day and twice as bright. It was on, so that negated the “Did I remember to turn the bloody thing on” question. I opened its vm console, logged onto the server, and validated that it was working properly. It was. I tried pinging the server from other machines. Pings out, no ping replies returned. I pinged the other machines from the server. Pings out, ping replies returned.

The last time this happened – last week, actually – I had neglected to turn off a server’s firewall, preventing it from responding to any external contact.

I looked at the firewall settings; it was turned off. Good. I checked its IP address. I was able to ping it from other machines. Okay, that narrowed down the range of possible problems, but it raised another question. The server properties showed that it was joined to the domain, so it should (operative word) have been registered properly in DNS. I prepared to remove the system from the domain and re-add it when I saw what the problem was.

I had mistyped the computer’s name when setting it. I hadn’t caught the error because I kept looking at the correctly-typed name in its VM console window.

...

I renamed the computer, removed it from and re-added it to the domain, and in probably the least-surprising thing I’ve encountered today: It appeared to pings and remote calls.

Super. Genius.

“I’m (a) super… thanks for asking!” (Part IV)

Friday, March 18th, 2016
"I'm (a) super... thanks for asking!" (Part IV)

Friday – 19 March 2016
Fourth performance. Still having an amazing time.

Our AD, Jennifer, emailed me and told me that the gentleman for whom I’d been subbing in one portion of Act II would not be able to return to the show. She also asked if I’d mind continuing in that role for the next/last two shows. I told her that I would be happy to do so but, since I wasn’t walking out with my original group and not getting to carry the axe that I was supposed to have as a prop…

Eye of Horus standard and axe...

Eye of Horus standard and axe…

 

My axe... that I haven't gotten to wield since our last rehearsal.

My axe… that I haven’t gotten to wield since our last rehearsal.

…that I wanted a commemorative axe to take home. (Hey, it worked for Samuel L. Jackson and his lightsaber, so why not ask?)

She totally hooked me up.

My new axe - IT GLOWS IN THE DARK!

My new axe – IT GLOWS IN THE DARK!

So, I proceeded as a standard bearer for one entrance and returned to my group of Captains for the other two entrances.

We also received our Aida t-shirts tonight:

Front

Front

 

Back

Back

One other thing of which we were informed: Tonight’s show was sold out! That’s always a good thing.

There’s only one more show – Sunday matinee – so if you’re interested in seeing this amazing production, I’d suggest getting tickets soon.

Namaste.

Happy Green Lantern Day! (Or, you know… St. Patrick’s Day)

Thursday, March 17th, 2016
Happy Green Lantern Day! (Or, you know... St. Patrick's Day)

Thursday – 17 March 2016
Not only is today #NoBadNewsThursday…
…it’s also Green Lantern Day!

John Stewart (art by Neal Adams)

John Stewart (art by Neal Adams)

 

Hal Jordan

Hal Jordan

 

Green Lantern Corps

The Green Lantern Corps

Or, as some people would say: St. Patrick’s Day.  (I’m fine with sharing the day.)

St. Patrick (image via Wikipedia)

St. Patrick (image via Wikipedia)

Have a green day!

I’m (a) super… thanks for asking! (Part III)

Sunday, March 13th, 2016
I'm (a) super… thanks for asking! (Part III)

Saturday – 12 March 2016
(Some of this was written during my group’s break in the opera, some was written after.)

To liberate (in the name of the people!) a few words from The Muppet Show…

It’s time to put on makeup!
It’s time to light the lights!
It’s time to get things started
At [Utah Opera] tonight!

It is opening night for Utah Opera‘s Aida. I found out – as I was getting my costume on –  that I’m going to be filling in for another role for a couple of nights. No pressure. (LIES!) We did a rough walkthrough of my changes partway through my getting dressed. Different cues, entrances and exits. Yeah, no pressure. We did, however, head down to the stage, so that I could find my marks… five minutes before curtain.

Captain

Captain

 

Captains: Thomas, Richard, David, me, and Cayman

Captains: Thomas, Richard, David, me, and Cayman

They just called us for our first walk-on. I’ll finish writing this after I’ve either rocked it or embarrassed my ancestors, family, progeny, and myself.

::: heading up to stage :::

::: back from stage :::

Nailed it.

For my second and third walk-ons, I rejoined the other Captains for our regularly-scheduled roles. (Nailed those.) Then, there was a lot of waiting in the Green Room for Act III, in which we had no part. Fortunately, the others waiting for their calls helped keep the mood light and fun. Then came the curtain call. And then, my first opera as a supernumerary was over.

After the show, was the cast party at Squatter’s Pub. It was a nice – if a bit cozy – gathering. It was nice getting to have a more relaxed social interaction with members of the cast and crew.

me, with Garnett Bruce (director)

With Garnett Bruce (director)

 

Roy Dawson (Guard), Derrick Parker (Ramfis), and me

With Roy Dawson (Guard) and  Derrick Parker (Ramfis)

 

With Jennifer Cheek (Aida) and Roy Dawson (Guard)

With Jennifer Check (Aida) and Roy Dawson (Guard)

 

With Jonathan (Guard/Carrier) - no, we really didn't coordinate outfits intentionally.

With Jonathan (Guard/Carrier) – no, we didn’t intentionally coordinate outfits.

On the whole, this process has been amazing. As I’ve mentioned many times before, it’s been great to be part of the production. Thank you to SaraRules!, Michelle Peterson, and Christopher McBeth for suggesting that I jump into it! Thank you also to Garnett Bruce, our director, for making my – and many others’ – first supernumerary role a fun and inviting experience. Thanks also stage management, cast and crew for providing an opportunity to check something off my bucket list that I never even knew was on it! (Two things, actually, but let’s not quibble over minutiae.)

One show down, four to go…

…but for now, bed.

Namaste.

“I’m (a) super… thanks for asking!”

Friday, March 4th, 2016
"I'm (a) super... thanks for asking!"

Friday – 04 March 2016
A couple of weeks ago, I posted on Twitter and Facebook that I’m going to be a supernumerary in an opera – Utah Opera‘s production of

uoAida

Aida (for performance details, click the image)

(And, no, the irony of being one of a handful of Black performers in an opera set in Egypt being performed in Utah has most definitely not eluded me. In fact, it amuses the Hell out of me.)

We’ve been in rehearsals this week (and part of last week, as well). So far, it’s just been staging and timing, without our costumes. And, for the record, there are going to be a LOT of bodies on the stage. And a LOT of moving parts. I was warned that being part of the production, even “just” as a super, was a totally different experience. It’s true. Seeing how it is all coming together to present this show has been very enlightening, especially for someone who hasn’t done anything on-stage since grade school. But, I digress…

In a Facebook post, I wondered how similar/dissimilar my costume would be from that of my former City of Heroes/current DC Universe Online character, Nefer-Tem…

Nefer-Tem

Nefer-Tem (City of Heroes)

 

Still super... re-suited

Nefer-Tem (DCUO)

Yesterday, I went in for my costume fitting. I’m in a headdress, tunic, cuirass, beaded necklace, belt, sandals, and a shenti. (For those who aren’t familiar with the term “shenti,” let me break it down for you: “man-skirt.” (Oddly enough, I knew the term “shenti” because of some research I did while playing City of Heroes. Yeah, yeah, I know… “Nerd.”) The headdress was close enough to make my inner fiend smile; what made it laugh was remembering a secondary costume that I did for Nefer-Tem:

nefer-tem_costume3_001

Nefer-Tem: Alternate costume (The kilt was the closest I could get to a shenti. Go figure.)

Just add the tunic and swap out sandals for the wrapped boots and you’re pretty much looking at my costume for Aida. Yes, I do have pictures of the actual costume; no, I’m not posting them before the performance… mainly because I’m not sure if we’re allowed to show them prior to opening night. #sorrynotsorry

For those interested in attending the production, click here for ticketing information.

“He’s not concerned with yesterday, he knows constant change is here to stay…”

Thursday, February 25th, 2016
"He's not concerned with yesterday, he knows constant change is here to stay..."

Thursday – 25 February 2016
Another fine day in the valley…

Long story, short version: Stuff. Things. Adventure.

The slightly less-abridged version is: I woke up a little early and did a short workout with dumbbells and a Swiss ball this morning. I went to work , dealt with the usual things, dealt with one not-so-usual-anymore thing, and even wound up having a coworker decide to have “Neal Day” and wear a suit in my honor.

Suited

Changing the work dress code, one coworker at a time…

Sara pinged me in the late afternoon to ask if I’d mind picking up Team DiVa, as she had to work late. That also put me in (nominal) charge of figuring out what to do for dinner. I delegated that responsibility to the little ladies. We wound up going to McDonald’s. It wasn’t a total loss, though, as they asked if we could eat there, so they could play in the PlaySpace. (An easy way to make my kids happy? Bet.)

After dinner, we arrived at home a couple minutes before Sara. Sometime between her getting a bite to eat and giving the girls a bath, I fell asleep. Quickly and rather deeply asleep. I missed bath time, but I was up for pre-bedtime prep.

The little ones are now asleep. I have read comics. And, I do believe that there is a nominal amount of gaming in the evening’s future. Selah.

Stray Toasters

And, with that, it’s time to figure out what game to play…

Namaste.

Thursday Night Something-or-other

Thursday, February 11th, 2016
Thursday Night Something-or-other

Thursday – 11 February 2016
Today was supposed to be #NoBadNewsThursday. It started that way. About a hour-and-a-half into it, however… not so much. One of the servers at work decided to try a new trick:

  • It was powered on.
  • It could see – and transmit to – the network.
  • NOTHING on the network could see it or any of the traffic it generated.

And, to make things even more interesting: This was tied to a production (as in “manufacturing”) system. So, it was “kind of” important.

To quote Dr. Sam Beckett: “Oh, boy…”

I – and a couple of network engineers – troubleshot it for about an hour before we came to the inescapable conclusion that it was not a network problem. Digging into things a little further, I saw that it was pending a reboot. That didn’t solve things. Next up: Check its updates queue. There were a few sitting there that needed to be run. So I let ’em fly. Reboot 2: Electric Boogaloo. Nothing. Well, that’s not entirely true. It started rolling back the updates. (That’s usually not a good sign.) I checked update error messages when it came back up and saw that they failed because the hard disk was full. As in “Zero. Bytes. Free.” There was a good bit of cursing on my part, to be honest. Then it was a dive into the storage array and VM systems to make space appear. Then present it to the server. That all worked. Then I tried the updates again. Lo and behold, they all went through with no problems. (There may or may not have been a few “Amens” and “Thank yous” that went up at this point.) And, almost automagically, networking traffic all worked again. I verified with one of the network guys and an end user that all was right with the world again… and it was. Selah.

Part of getting through the day included being taken to lunch by networking vendors. It was not only a good change of pace, but it brought my day back from the Precipice of Doom.

After work, I picked up Team DiVa from daycare. Home. Dinner and dessert. They even got in almost 20 minutes of Disney Infinity playtime before it was time to start bedtime prep. Selah.

Carve Away the Stone
I’ve made halting steps at getting back to the gym. Last night, I considered going… then I opted out, because it was damned cold outside. I did, however, still manage to get in a bit of a workout, courtesy of my dumbbells, Swiss ball, and a couple of suggestions from YouTube. Was it quite the same workout I would have gotten at the gym, no. But, I wasn’t just sitting on my duff doing nothing, either. I’ll call that a win.

Stray Toasters

Alright, that’s it for now. I think I’m going to catch up on a show or two before calling it a night.

Namaste.

Thoughts from a Wednesday morning

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016
Thoughts from a Wednesday morning

Wednesday – 03 February 2016

Drove to Millcreek in the snow
Nine-thirty on a Tuesday night,
Just to hang with the guys at the
Comic shop.
Call it impulsive
Call it compulsive,
Call it insane;
But when there’s trivia
We just can’t
Stop.

It’s a matter of instinct
It’s a matter of conditioning
It’s a matter of fact.

Call us geeks, nerds, or
Savants.
Ask us dates, names, or publishers,
We’ll answer like that
Lost track of time and I
Wound up losing two hours. Again.

Last night, I
Went to the gym
Got a midnight workout in
So I
Went to the gym
Got a midnight workout in.

With apologies to Barenaked Ladies, that about sums up last night, after Team DiVa went to bed. What was supposed to be a quick trip to the comic shop and the gym turned into a three-plus-hour excursion. But, I can at least take a modicum of comfort in the fact that I did make it to the gym.

On the other hand, I completely bollocksed my sleep schedule. Oh, well… sacrifices.

Stray Toasters

Tuesday Musings

Tuesday, August 25th, 2015
Tuesday Musings

Tuesday – 25 August 2015
Today is my “Monday,” due to staying home with a sick little girl (and a non-sick one) yesterday. I thought that I might be able to squeeze in a bit of work, but opted to just hang out with them. And, in my humble opinion, that was the best call. We had a fun day. And, last night, we assembled a play castle for them.

The started decorating it last night. And resumed this morning, after breakfast.

Over the weekend, we also took them on their first visits to a trampoline park (for a friend’s birthday) and to the “planet museum,” as they have taken to calling the Clark Planetarium. Both were fairly big hits, although Vanessa was definitely not a fan of the “motion” in the movie – Perfect Little Planet – in the planetarium dome. To be fair, I don’t suffer from motion sickness, but I could easily understand how someone could succumb to it while watching that film.

Stray Toasters

Namaste.

Geek Conversations: Thanos and Ray Lewis

Tuesday, August 4th, 2015
Geek Conversations: Thanos and Ray Lewis

Tuesday – 04 August 2015
So, this just happened:

Keith: Envision, if you will, Thanos doing the Ray Lewis dance.
Me: I can totally see that. Right after winking half of the universe’s population out of existence.
InfinityGauntletSnap

ray-lewis-s-last-dance-o

Keith: WOO!

(Images added for those who don’t get the references.)

Dr. Bill’s Discount Sychaiatry

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015
Dr. Bill's Discount Sychaiatry

Wednesday – 24 June 2015
Another No Bad News Thursday Eve is here. I hope that it finds you well.

I’ve mentioned that I was cast in Dr. Bill’s Discount Sychaiatry as part of the 48 Hour Film Project in a couple of previous posts (1, 2). Last night, there was a “Best of the Fest” award ceremony…

Some of the Dr. Bill's cast and crew with Bill Higgins (center), Director of 48HFP -SLC

Some of the Dr. Bill’s cast and crew with Bill Higgins (center), Director of 48HFP -SLC

… and Dr. Bill’s won the Best Writing Award!

McCord and the Award

McCord and the Award

Congratulations to Andrew Malin and McCord Larsen for writing such a fun – and well-received – script! This is notable as it was the second script that they wrote: They had to scrap the first one after it became apparent that the location they wanted to use was unavailable. All of this on the Friday night they received the genre and criteria… and before rehearsals and shooting started VERY early Saturday morning.

It was interesting to juxtapose the reactions at the screening last week against the ones last night. Last week, there were assorted laughs and chuckles on the right beats, but the reactions last night were bigger. I’m assuming that the reason – or at least part of it – was because last week, our film was being screened with all of the other people in our group, so there was a pretty large personal stake for each crew as to whether their film would make the cut, so to speak. Last night, casts and crews from all three film groups were there and I think that helped alleviate some of the tension. I don’t know. Whatever the reason, it was nice to see hear that people enjoyed it.

I should also note that while there wasn’t an official “Best Comedy” category, Dr. Bill’s was the only comedy shown during the “Best of the Fest” screening… so we’re pretty much claiming the unofficial title of “Best Comedy.” Because we can. Q.E.D.

As I’ve said before, the cast and crew were great to work with and just… fun to be around. I’ve heard from others in the cast that Dr. Bill’s was a really well-oiled machine and that’s why things went as smoothly and quickly as they did. I hope to have the opportunity to work with them again.

And, before I forget, click here to see the finished project: Dr. Bill’s Discount Sychaiatry

And, keep watching after the credits.

Namaste.