Five on Friday: SysAdminDay

It is officially the last Friday in July, so you know what that means!

You do know what that means, right?

Well, maybe not – considering the number of gifts, lunch invitations, cards, cakes and thank-you’s I have received so far today… (Zero, in case you’re wondering. I got zero. Same as last year. And the year before that. Not that I’m complaining or anything.)

Today is Systems Administrator Appreciation Day! Or SysAdminDay for short, because you know us geeks – we like to abbreviate!


SysAdminDay
So in honor of the day – today’s FoF goes out to the SysAdmins around the world, because we are the often unrecognized heroes! (At least in our own minds we are!)

Superman Statue: Metropolis, IL


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May the 4th be with You

For those of you who are unaware, May the Fourth is one of two annual dates referred to by geeks around the world as “Star Wars Day.”

May 25 receives the designation because it is the anniversary of the day that the first Star Wars movie was released in 1977. It is also referred to as Geek Pride Day.

May 4 is honored just because of its similarity to the iconic phrase “May the Force be with you” – one of only a few lines spoken by a variety of characters in every single Star Wars movie. To which the proper response is, “and also with you.” (Hey – I am Methodist, what do you expect?).

Inspired by a Tumblr site called Nerd Bucket List, I felt this was an appropriate day to fly my geek flag high and create for myself a Geek Bucket List. I had to separate it into two distinct categories since some are possible and some, simply, are not. But that doesn’t mean I want them any less!

Realistic:

The first two items on my list are both events that I would like to attend: the San Diego Comic-Con and Star Wars Celebration.

  1. Comic-Con may have started out as a convention for the comic book industry, but it has grown to be so much more. It is the largest convention of its kind in the US and drew over 130,000 attendees last year including thousands of celebrities, comic book artists, movie makers – not to mention all of the cosplayers!
  2. Star Wars Celebration is basically just a huge convention to celebrate all things Star Wars. (Appropriate name, don’t you think?) Unfortunately it does not happen annually, but is usually held as a result of another Star Wars event. The last one was held in 2010 to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Empire Strikes Back. I am not sure when or where the next one will be, but I know I want to be there.

Here are a few other events or places I would like to see:

  1. I want to attend a Jonathan Coulton / Paul & Storm concert. They are both geek-music superstars. Seeing them separately would be awesome – but to see them together would be an all-out nun-fight!
  2. I want to attend a reading by David Sedaris. If you are unfamiliar with what this is, it is a little hard to explain the appeal. It’s not a concert, it’s not a comedy show, it’s just David… reading and telling stories… and I really want to witness it.
  3. Cleveland Ohio. I know that sounds silly, but I want to go the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and eat at Iron Chef Michael Symon’s restaurant Lolita.
  4. Cooperstown. I am a baseball geek too.
  5. Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination is a travelling exhibit that primarily visits Science museums around the country. It features props and costumes from the movies but mostly focuses on the science and technology seen throughout the franchise. And it just looks like a lot of fun.

The next few are people I would like to meet:

  1. I want to hang out with and possibly even make a craft with Bonnie Burton. Bonnie is an author, journalist, content developer for Lucas Online, staff writer for Star Wars.com and Star Wars Insider magazine, maintainer of the Official Star Wars Blog, and just seems like a very cool person. Not to mention the fact that she is the wife of R2-D2!
  2. George Lucas. No explanation needed, right? Ideally I would like to meet him under the circumstances in the “Unrealistic” list below – but just meeting him, if only briefly, would suffice.
  3. If I played RPG video games like World of Warcraft, I would want to be in a guild with Felicia Day. Felicia has been involved in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, the SyFy original movie Red: Werewolf Hunter, and the web-series the Guild and the Legend of Neil. She’s cute, smart and funny – a winning combination!

Unrealistic:

  1. I want George Lucas to take me on a personal tour of Skywalker Ranch, as well as the Lucasfilm studios and Industrial Light & Magic.
  2. I have always wanted to take a solid year and travel across North America to visit every Major League baseball stadium.
  3. I would like to own a working R2-D2. (Maybe MythBuster Grant Imahara could help me out with that one.)
If I wanted to waste the day I could easily spend it making this list longer and longer. My geeky desires are expansive if not limitless. But since I do have a job and have to work instead of making my wish list come true, I suppose it’s best if I just sign off.

May the 4th Be With You!

How Does It Work?

I will admit, in my youth I could be pretty sneaky. I was very quiet – a severe introvert – and honestly enjoyed time alone with my own thoughts and imagination. To be honest, it was not hard to hide because my brother was the opposite. He was ADD and (I don’t mean this to be disrespectful) was kind of hard to ignore.

The problem was that many of my toys – especially electronic things like cassette players – were always in danger of being broken beyond repair. See, I liked to take things apart. I liked to try to make things do stuff that they weren’t necessarily designed to do. And other times I tried to fix them while actually tearing them up worse. I liked to dissect machines and see why they worked the way they did. It proved to be hours upon hours of constructive fun for me – and a source of aggravation for my parents who didn’t understand why my things were always broken.

Occasionally I would even branch out beyond the things that were mine and take apart my brother’s things, dad’s tools, or random electronics lying around the house. I remember specifically splicing some wires of an old CB radio together and plugging them into the wall in my bedroom, which quickly filled the room with rancid smelling smoke. Not exactly the outcome I was looking for – but kind of cool just the same.

Thanks to Nickelodeon’s Mr. Wizard I also made a hotdog cooker out of two forks and an old extension cord cut in half. It worked too! Maybe it was a little bit dangerous (DUH!) but it was awesome.

Brokenness was just part of my life. A part of my life that I accepted – even embraced. And as I have gotten older I have come to realize that it is part of everyone’s life. We are not perfect beings. We are all tragically and profoundly flawed and broken.

We love and we hate.

We laugh and we cry.

We sin and we repent.

But unlike me – who rarely fixed anything or got it back in working order – God is a capable and skilled repairman. He can take the shards of our broken lives and piece them back together in the most beautiful and glorious way, no matter how well He knows that we will probably just shatter them into a million pieces again eventually.

God’s grace makes us whole again and gives us hope. And sometimes He even plugs our bare wires directly into the power source, and allows us to boldly shine His light into the darkness of the world around us. As bizarre as it may sound – I am thankful for the time I have spent broken. Because without my brokenness, I would never have known the healing, restoring power of God’s love.

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” [Psalm 147:3]

Rrruuuuhhhh…

How would you kill a zombie?

That was one of the regular questions of the podcast/interview portion of Len Peralta’s Geek-A-Week art project, which I have mentioned on this blog before. But to my surprise, no one answered the way I would. There were plenty of shotguns & machetes, even a few generic answers like “kill the brain, kill the zombie”. But the thing is; I don’t like guns, so I would probably not be very good with one.  And I certainly don’t want to get close enough to use a machete or an axe. So I would probably be more likely to set booby traps so that I could effectively kill them from a distance. Obviously the head has to be removed, so that would have to be taken into consideration. Plus it would be nice for it to have the capacity to kill multiple zombies in a single shot, but having an engineering background; I don’t think it would be a problem.

And after years of watching roadrunner cartoons – I have lots of great trap ideas that I would hopefully not get trapped in or decapitated by myself.

The whole zombie fascination seems to be a geek-thing right now for some reason. ThinkGeek.com even has a whole section devoted to all things zombie. And I like zombies too. Though to just say that I like horror movies is a bit of an over-statement. I specifically like monster movies; zombies, werewolves, large non-descript alien creatures – all kinds of monsters.

I suppose that comes from my childhood. When you think about it, most of the movies that had the biggest impact on me featured monsters, even if they weren’t necessarily monster movies. Star Wars had some great monsters; wampas, the rancor, hutts, space slugs and the sarlacc just to name a few. Then there was Clash of the Titans; Medusa, the Kraken, giant scorpions. And don’t forget King Kong (specifically the 1976 Jessica Lange version) or Jaws.

It has even affected the way I watch movies today. I honestly get excited when I hear about upcoming made-for-SyFy monster movies like Sharktopus, or Dinocroc vs. Supergator. I really do!

Right now I am engrossed in both the Walking Dead television series and the graphic novels. And while it stays true to George Romero’s original ideas about zombies, the story is a fresh take on the genre because it is much deeper than just monster fighting. In fact, the case could be made that the title is a reference not to the zombies, but to the still-living characters just trying to postpone their inevitable deaths. It is definitely more about how the characters survive – physically, mentally, and emotionally – under unbelievable duress than it is about the zombies.

So why am I thinking and writing about zombies?

I don’t know.

I guess I just have them on the brain.

(pun intended)

Geek Out

July 13th is Embrace Your Inner Geekness Day

In recent years there has been an onslaught of new geeky holidays. There is the very specific System Administrator Appreciation Day (the last Friday in July), the not-just-reserved-for-geeks-but-still-pretty-geeky Talk Like a Pirate Day (September 19), and for the math-nerds in the house there is Pi Day (March 14, or 3.14 – the first three digits of Pi).

Personally, I am partial to May the Fourth Be With You Day (May 4 obviously) and Geek Pride Day (May 25, the anniversary of the 1977 release of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope) due to my well-documented obsession with the Star Wars franchise. But that’s just me.

There are many others, but according to Al Gore’s internet, today is “Embrace Your Inner Geekness Day”. I can’t seem to find out who started this holiday or from where it emerged, but it is a big enough deal that Best Buy’s Geek Squad is ringing the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange in its honor.

Inner Geekiness?

I’ve always been pretty comfortable putting my Geek right out there for the world to see!

The term “geek” has come a long way. Originally it referred to a carnival performer in a freak show that bit the head off of chickens or bats. Eventually it came to be synonymous with the class nerd, a stereotype personified by Anthony Michael Hall in movies like the Breakfast Club and Sixteen Candles. But it has come to mean “one who is perceived to be overly obsessed with one or more things including those of intellectuality, electronics, etc.” In fact, many people all over the world wear the title of Geek proudly and without shame. This could be an indirect result of very successful geeks like Steve Wozniak and Bill Gates.

According to Time Magazine, the Geek Shall Inherit the Earth – so why wouldn’t we be proud?

So put on your prosthetic Spock ears, wear a cunning hat, buy something useless but awesome at Think Geek, quote Star Wars, do whatever you want that might be perceived as Geeky. You know, act like me for a day!

In the meantime, get inspired by other geeks by checking out artist Len Peralta’s latest project where he challenged himself to make contact with and create a trading card for 52 famous geeks, called Geek-A-Week. He’s only 19 cards into the set and has already designed cards for the likes of Jonathan Coulton, Kevin Smith, Wil Wheaton, John Hodgeman, Brea Grant and Cory Doctorow. They are cooler than a full-on Double Rainbow and über geeky to boot.

Shiny!

May the Fourth Be With You

Nearly everyone that knows me also knows that I am a big fan of the Star Wars franchise.  I was a mere six years old when the first movie was released. Granted, I was too young to understand most of it. All I knew for sure was that it was the first movie that I had ever seen that absolutely blew me away. I instantly fell in love with the whole Star Wars universe. I wanted a lightsaber, a landspeeder, a pair of droids and an old to dude to mentor me and tell me lies so bad I could taste it.

These needs could only be fulfilled with an assortment of plastic dolls… *cough* I mean, “action figures” and whatever other toys and accessories I could talk mom or grandma into buying me. I must’ve been pretty good at it though, because I ended up with a ton of great stuff. My pride and joy was an AT-AT (All Terrain Armored Transport) that was as big as a dog. It wreaked havoc on countless miniature villages and stuffed animals, and was destroyed in a thousand fiery explosions. But it always came back the next day to try it all again. The Empire never gave up!

It was awesome.

Yes, I was a geek before being a geek, for whatever oddball reason, became cool.

George Lucas has been quoted as saying that Star Wars has three distinct generations of fans. The first (which I am obviously a part of) that fell in love with the original trilogy, the second who were captivated by the second trilogy, and the third that the Clone Wars animated series caters to week after week. A fourth generation might have their own piece of the universe too if a rumored second animated series is released for younger fans, based on the Galactic Heroes line of toys.

But for me, that’s part of the magic.

I remember in 1997, when Star Wars was re-released as a Special Edition in theaters on its 20th anniversary, sitting in the back of a theater in Fairview Heights and watching all of the dads bringing their young kids in to see it for the first time. It was a sentimental moment; one generation sharing something that it loved, something that changed it in a significant way, with the next generation. It was a very cool feeling.

Some dads may share a love of baseball or football with their kids. Some may share fishing or hunting. Still others may share… I don’t know… glass blowing or something. But the geeks of my generation got, and continue to get these opportunities to share with their kids a story that happened long ago, in a galaxy far far away.

Hoth Dogs

Okay, I admit it! Not only do I periodically peruse the website Animals With Lightsabers, but recently I also submitted one that I photoshopped myself. (Nerd Alert! Nerd Alert!) And today, it made it on the site!

the battle of Hoth

I borrowed the picture of Apollo and Higgins from a coworker because of how well it lent itself to the subject. (And because it’s a really cute picture!)

Apollo had to be the Sith (non-geek translation: bad guy), because a true Jedi would never sneak up behind their opponent like that.

And besides, their owner says that Higgins always wins anyway.