One of Those...

I was once told that I seem to have nothing but nightmares, but I don't agree. I've had good dreams, and I consider most of my dreams to be more neutral, neither good nor bad. So many of my neutral dreams, however, may be considered by others to be bad, but that's getting away from the topic on my mind today. Yesterday I had a dream that perhaps wouldn't seem to bad, but to me was terrible and managed to find a place in the back of my mind to burrow.

In my dream, I was visiting a family that is close to me. But more specifically I was visiting a woman that I love. When I arrived, however, the woman ignored me. This alone didn't bother me so much. My first thought was that she was busy and I would catch up to her after catching up with the others. Sadly, that ended up not being the case.

After talking to everyone in the family, I stepped into another room to speak to the woman. Unfortunately, she continued to ignore me and as I tried to get her attention. After a while another man walked up, took her hand, and just walked off with her. The whole thing was both confusing and disheartening.

Even after I awoke, I still felt the heartbreak from those events that never happened. It's horrible the way that our minds can play tricks on us and how those tricks can affect our emotions. Especially since all it does is remind me how I feel about someone who lives on the other side of the world from me these days.
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Working in a tech support position has plenty of ups and downs. Sometimes it's difficult to tell which is which. For example, right now it's that time of the summer where most of the people I support have gone off on vacation. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? There are some who would look at these days in wonder and awe. They would rejoice in the way the work tempo has slowed down. There are others who take the opportunity to complain about how boring it is when the phone only rings once and it's an issue easily solved in under a minute. I have to admit that I'm a closer to the former type of person than the latter.

I'm taking advantage of the slow down, of how it seems like I'm one of only a small handful of people here. I'm using the additional free time as an excuse to get up from my desk and take a walk around the complex, if not just to get the heart pumping a little more than otherwise. I'm also using it to get back into writing, which is a difficult thing these days. The internet offers far too many distractions that will leave you wondering where the hours have gone. As such, having time at a place where half the internet is blocked from access already can be useful so long as I can remember the ideas that come to me while I'm out hiking.

On the subject of hiking, I will not be participating in those wonderful Nijmegen Marches this year as I have in the past. Not that I'm not up for it, but that the registration this year filled up insanely fast. In previous years I have been able to get a slot as late as a couple of week after registration opened. This year, however, I tried to sign up on the same day as it opened and all the US slots were already filled. I'm not sure if this was due to cutting the number of slots available for the country or it's popularity among US personnel increased that much, but my suspicions lie with the former.

Photuris Lucicrescens

There is something of a rant that has been itching at the back of my mind for a while now. It is time to start writing it down and perhaps it will even coalesce into a meaningful statement of some sort.

I should start this off by saying that I enjoyed the series Firefly when it was on. It was a wonderful show that I supported an watched every week for the few months that it was on. I was happy when they made a movie out of it and gladly went to the theatre to see it. All that being said, I'm okay with the fact that it's over and not coming back. Don't get me wrong, I was sad when it was cancelled and I was sad when it was announced that there would not be a second movie, but these things happen.

What bothers me is that people are still on the internet demanding that everyone needs to drop what they're doing and bring the show back. This is, of course, just not possible. Everyone involved has moved on. Many have other shows and movies that have their own fanbase that would be injured if they were just cancelled in order to bring a single series back. Not to mention that showrunner Joss Whedon is busy running the Marvel universe. It's time to admit that the show isn't coming back no matter how much its fans want it to. How do we know it's time? Simple, there have been more years since it was cancelled than there were episodes that aired.

Another item that comes to mind is the fact that if as many people supported the show when it was on as say they do now, it never would have been shut down so early. Yes, it sat in that Friday evening time slot that typically has low ratings, but that's not what really killed it. A show's success is measured by its ratings. While the method of taking ratings has changed in recent years, in 2002 it was still a sample of what people were watching as it aired. When I would talk to people and recommend the show I would commonly get the response that they would wait for it to come out on video. Information like this getting out is a big deal for TV series. Networks don't make money from shows, they make money from advertisements. When a sponsor finds out that people aren't watching their ads (ie not watching the show when the ads play) they don't want the ad space any more. Thus, the series is cancelled and replaced by something that can be used to sell ad space, making the network its money.

This was also a huge problem a couple of years ago with Almost Human. Left and right I saw nothing but people posting online how they'll just wait for it to come out on DVD. A close second to that comment was people saying they wouldn't bother watching since "it's only going to be cancelled anyway". With so much negative talk online it was the only choice, once again, to cancel it for its lack of ability to sell ad space.

"But wait!", I hear, "Firefly's episodes were played out of order, dooming it from the start!"

Sure, they skipped the pilot and jumped into the main series. That didn't affect much, though. The first episode we saw was all we knew and it acted as a great introduction to the characters. On top of that the show was episodic in nature. Only a couple episodes required having seen the previous ones, and those were kept in the correct order. Nothing was lost by the minor rearrangement. Not to mention, that did not have an effect on whether or not people watched it any more than it has other shows that aired with an altered airing order, like Star Trek. Many episodes were aired in an order different than production and the pilot didn't even air until 1988. That's nearly twenty years after the show ended.

I only say all of this out of love. Love for the people who brought us the show and have moved on to more successful ventures. May they always be successful. And love for the fans. Stay passionate about what you like, especially those things that can use your support today. Let us not allow any other great shows be cancelled before their time!

On the Wall

I recently watched the Mirror, Mirror film series. These movies are unrelated (as far as I know) to the recently Tarsem Singh film about Snow White. You may have seen these in the Sci-Fi/Horror section of your local video rental back in the 90s, but likely took one look at the box art and kept on looking for something better. While I would normally say I watch these so you don't have to, these were a pleasant change from some of the movies I've seen. Let's begin.

First up we have Mirror, Mirror. It was made in the year 1990, during that lull between the Berlin Wall crumbling and TMNT 2 - Secret of the Ooze hitting theatres everywhere. It follows the simple story of a goth teenager and her mother moving to a new town after the death of her father. While wandering through their new house the young woman discovers an old full length mirror that she adores and insists on keeping (to the chagrin of the previous owner). As typically happens to new kids and goths (especially both) our protagonist is not well received in school. The more she is pushed the more upset she becomes until she realizes her new mirror has some sort of power that is great for revenge. This film was clearly made on a budget, but does well considering that. The score wasn't that great, but the writing was decent and the acting was of good quality. It stars Rainbow Harvest (I just love her name!), Karen Black, and William Sanderson. Worth giving a chance if you want to see some supernatural teen drama that isn't The Craft.

On to Mirror, Mirror - Raven Dance. Moving ahead to 1994 where it competed against the likes of Forrest Gump and Pulp Fiction we have this not-quite-as-stellar-as-the-first-one sequel. It follows another young woman, this time being played by the sister from Mr Belvedere, who becomes obsessed with dancing for the mirror that she can see clearly, despite not being able to see anything else. In the meantime she meets Mark Ruffalo in one of his earliest roles. The plot is a little confusing and the director didn't seem to have much direction, but it has some good actors. As well as the aforementioned thespians, we also have Veronica Cartwright as a nun, Sarah Douglas (always a pleasure to see), and William Sanderson in a completely different role than in the last one.

Now we come to Mirror, Mirror - The Voyeur. This one should be avoided. It came to us in 1995, the year of Batman's shame and James Bond's comeback. This one is disjointed to the point that I can only assume the director was given two half-scripts and told to make a movie. The style of direction changes from scene to scene, there are some good actors, but most would have been able to give better performances if they were allowed to read their lines from notecards. It features Mark Ruffalo in a different role from the last one, and introduces Billy Drago as a man who is cheating on his current wife (who is cheating on him) with the ghost of his dead wife. The mirror now emits purple disco lights, and manipulates drug dealers (maybe?). Makes no sense, and since none of the stories are really related, you can skip it an move on.

Finally, we reach Mirror, Mirror - Reflections in the year 2000. You may have noticed a pattern by now, and this one does not disappoint. Billy Drago shows up, and just in case you were wondering, he does not play the same character as he did in the last one. This one actually resembles the 1988 classic Night of the Demons a bit. A group of teenagers, including the great voice actor Kim Mai Guest, head to a costume party. Once there they find themselves locked in a house with the mirror. It doesn't take long before it starts killing them off, one by one. It's on the cheesy side, and is of the same quality as most direct to video movies of that era. I'd say it's worth watching if you're bored and don't want too much gore.

So there you have it, the Mirror, Mirror series. Some are good, some are bad, this does not sway me from the opinion that movies with the word Voyeur in the title aren't worth watching, nor does it sway me from the belief that there is nothing wrong with reusing actors. Thank you and good night interwebiverse!

Ah, Microsoft...

For those of you out there who work in the IT field, you know how much fun Microsoft can make our lives. SharePoint in particular is a wonderful tool that can be used for so many varied purposes. It is the sort of thing that is relatively easy to learn and incredibly versatile.

When it's working, that is.

Where I work right now, SharePoint is where we do most of our day-to-day business. This morning, however, all that came to a screeching halt. Not because we've been directed to stop using it or anything like that. This happened because for whatever reason, which we are working on tracking down, it has come to the conclusion that no one has authorization to do things like: read information, create information, edit anything... Basically all we can do right now is see that information exists, and if that's not good enough we need to contact our administrators.

Of course, since I am the administrator and I have all the same problems mentioned above, I have the fun task of contacting MS support for help solving what I'm sure will end up being a simple fix to an overwhelming problem. And if any of you have spent much time talking with tech support, you know exactly how frustrating that can get.

"You should talk to your admins if there is an issue with permission levels." I am told immediately after explaining all the details, to include reading verbatim the messages that appear on my screen as I try to create a file.

"I am the admin," I remind him, "and it's about permissions. I can confirm that everyone still has the exact same permissions that they did fourteen hours ago when it was working."

The next few minutes involve explanations that are clearly going over the head of someone whose job is merely to answer phones, not questions. Eventually, I am given handed over to another person or two and a consensus is made that a database issue may lie at the root of all this. Now it's just a matter of waiting for the database section to start answering their phones. I'd like to believe their lack of communications is due to them being hard at work on the problem, but more likely they've simply not come into work yet.

Under the Dome

I enjoyed the first season of Under the Dome, but the opening to the second season feels like the writers just don't care.

Small plot holes are something you'll find anywhere if you look hard enough. I don't mind those. I can even ignore wacky scientific inaccuracies for the sake of an interesting story. But this episode leaps well beyond that.

The first thing that confused me was that they somehow determined that the center of the dome is now in the school. This wouldn't bother me except that one of the bigger points of the first season was finding the egg in the center of the dome, which back then was the middle of the woods. Does this mean the dome is moving? Unlikely, or one of the kids would have mentioned it.

Second, is the antenna. Maybe it's just because I know how radios work, but when they feel the need to "convert" the radio antenna so it can emit electromagnetic waves I couldn't stop laughing. That's what antennas are designed to do in the first place, that's how radios send signals.

I really want to enjoy the show. It had a great start and Stephen King has been saying he wants it to be his Game of Thrones with regards to how involved GRR Martin is involved with his show, but it's going to have to do a lot better than this week's outing.


After looking at the various site on which to order a computer (eg Dell, HP, etc) and still not finding anything that meets my needs and budget at the same time, I have decided it's time to just build my own.

this will be my first time building a computer from parts. I have made many an update, replaced faulty hardware, and played around with swapping bits between machines, but now I am purchasing all new pieces and will be converting them into one glorious whole. Like Voltron... or something.

It took a bit of digging, but I was able to find all the pieces I want. A hulking Cooler Master Storm Trooper case. Standing two feet tall, it has tons of space for drives of all sorts. This will be surrounding an MSI Z89 xPower motherboard. With a dozen sata ports and a built in graphics processor that already supports a 4k monitor, it also boasts an excellent onboard diagnostics system. Within this board shall sit the new Intel i7 4790k. A wonderful chipset that will be giving me over 4GHz of quad-core destruction.

Of course, what would be the point of being able to support 4k if I don't also have a 4k monitor? I can see none, so the Samsung U28D590D now has a place on my desk. With a resolution of 3840x2160, the monitor can not only offer a 4k image with a 1ms response time, but can also offer split screen between multiple HDMI sources.

Beyond that are the simple things like a power supply, a huge-capacity yet still feather-light solid state drive, and a handful of optical drives.

Now I just have to wait for everything to arrive in the mail so I can start the construction!
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Hamma Time

Walking and Walking

This weekend I decided to go for a short hike. The only problem was that my idea of a short hike was a little longer than most people would think.

After spending my Saturday morning sleeping in, I threw twenty-five pounds of weight into a backpack and set off on my journey. It started out as taking a simple eight-mile loop that I like to run, but I quickly started taking detours and the end result was a thirteen mile trek through a few parts of town.

The walk itself wasn't bad, but I always underestimate what the extra weight feels like after the first several miles. I also learned very quickly about how helpful all the extra little straps and buckles on a ruck sack are. Shoulder straps are fine for a small amount of weight, but the chest strap that connects the shoulder straps to each other takes a decent amount of strain off. Then the waist band also helps redistribute the weight to a more manageable center of balance.

In the end, I was still a little sore around my joints. Hips and ankles were the worst, but by the end of the day all was happy again. I have a few more weekends of practicing like this before I head out to the Nijmegen Marches, a yearly event wherein I will be going two hundred kilometers (125 miles) over the course of four days. This time I will not allow myself to succumb to injury before completion of the course.

(no subject)

Today was a tiring day, I was ready to go home by lunch time.

The whole thing centered on 'the Board'. Last week my supervisor nominated me as the US Joint Enlisted Member of the Quarter. This sounds great, but then I got the study material. It was about twenty pages of semi-related material that I would have to be able to answer questions about while I stood there. It ended up not being too bad, but having never done this before, I didn't know if they were going to ask simple questions or look for things to trip me up. In the end I did fine. It was still quite nerve-wracking. That's how I am for a lot of things, though. The moment I'm standing in front of people and need to talk to them, whether it's a speech or briefing, or something like this, my pulse races and I can feel my blood pressure rise.

It's the opposite of being on stage. When I'm acting, I get to ignore the audience and just stay in character with no belief that anything exists beyond the fourth wall. But when I'm forced to admit there's an audience, I freak out inside and it takes a lot of willpower to keep my bearing. Keep it I did, though. I even did well enough that the board felt the need to name me the winner.

It still tuckered me out, though. After that I'm just ready to go home and take a nap.

The best part is that I've got leave all next week. Just one more day and I get to sleep in and do some travelling!
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The Year is One Fifth Gone

What do you mean it's already March? What, March is halfway over, too?!?

This is pure insanity.

So, back in October I resolved to myself that I was going to get back in the habit of posting. This is something I resolve to do rather often, but something tends to get in the way. Rather, I tend to let something get in the way.

Here's what happened this time.

In November/December I was off at the USAF NCO Academy in Kaiserslautern, Germany. I had planned on giving updates from there, but the school ended up eating way more of my time than I had expected. To give you an idea, my typical day was waking up at 0600, showering/dressing, breakfast, class until 1700, then homework until it was time to sleep. The average week involved three papers, a speech, tons of reading, and about five pages of homework due, then I was also working on a video presentation which ended up taking a bite out of my free time. Overall, the class was great, and I ended up getting to hang out with friends from high school (on the other side of the planet) but I'm glad to have graduated so I don't have to go through all of that again.

January is where I have no excuse, though. I got back to work and my normal routine and even though I have LJ set as one of my homepages, I still never actually got around to posting anything. So much has been going on, too. More so in the world than in my personal life, but when you work at NATO, anything that goes on in the world will affect you. So, I watched the US steal winter from everyone else. For the first time in decades I didn't see snow or freezing temperatures or anything, this winter it never got below the mid 30s over here. I do so miss the snow, even if nobody has the ability to drive in it. There has also been everything going on in the Ukraine, I watched so much happen and saw it play out in a way that seemed orchestrated for months leading into the riots and responses. I was actually amazed at how long it was until US news started reporting on it.

In any case, I should probably wrap this up. The post has grown a bit and I don't want to bore all of my new readers so soon after my return. I hope all of you dear audience members are doing well. If you're in the US, I'm sorry about that hour, but we'll be losing ours in a few weeks, too.
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