Look Who’s Talkin’

It has definitely been a busy month, and it looks like June isn’t shaping up to be much calmer.

I was out of town all last week. The company I work for sent me (and a couple hundred of the people that do my job in other business units around the world) to Phoenix Arizona for an IT Conference.

Information Technology is a bit of a thankless job. We are kind of like morticians or oncologists; the only time we are recognized is when something is wrong. When things seem to be running smoothly they ask, “what does he do anyway?” instead of, “thank you.”

And God forbid I change or upgrade anything!

It seems similar to being a goalie. The other players on the field can mess up and miss their shots through the entire game, make one single goal and they’re instantly heralded as the hero. A goalie can block everything thrown at him but let one single shot slip by and they’re labeled a failure.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my job. I enjoy what I do and will continue to learn and improve so that I can do it better and more efficiently. But would it kill you to throw a little gratitude my way occasionally? Luckily for me I work for a large decentralized conglomerate who recognizes the importance of IT, and they also know that as a result of that kind of corporate structure, the best resource any single one of us has… is each other. If I have a specific issue that I don’t know how to solve – I can turn to the “hive-mind” and chances are good that someone else has already dealt with it and can point me in the direction to solve it.

That is why tech support message boards or on-line forums are often quicker and more reliable than actually trying to contact a tech support person.

Unfortunately, it was in Phoenix. I had never been to Phoenix before. I had never been that far west. So this was my first trip to the desert – the Valley of the Sun. Everyone kept warning me that it was a “dry heat”. As it turned out though, it was at least 15 degrees cooler than average… and it rained… in the desert. Fun.

So anyway – that’s what I was doing last week.

This week I am working; but after the holiday on Monday, I will work one whole day before attending another conference in Northern Illinois as a representative of my church for the rest of the week and part of the weekend. Out of three weeks I will have worked a total of six days – and none of it because of vacation.

Eventually I will get to take some time off for a vacation that doesn’t involve being stuck in a giant windowless conference room… Eventually.

Oh yeah – and since it is Friday – let me post a Five on Friday list that I made a few weeks ago and never posted.

A few days ago the incredible Bob Dylan turned 70 years old. In honor of one of the world’s finest and most influential singer/songwriters I have assembled a playlist of five of my favorite Bob Dylan songs covered by other artists.

Nearly every singer or band in every genre of popular music has covered Dylan at one time or another; George Harrison, the White Stripes, U2, Emmylou Harris… the list is limitless. Here are some of my favorites:


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Have a fantastic holiday weekend, everyone!

Five on Friday: Water Water Everywhere

I live in Southern Illinois. It’s a great rural area framed by the natural beauty of the Shawnee National Forest and three large rivers; the Wabash, the Ohio, and the Mighty Mississippi. Unfortunately, we have been in the news lately for all of the wrong reasons. Our area, our homes, our businesses, and our neighbors are being threatened by floods. It is amazing how quickly the water can rise, but how slowly it goes back down.

Water has reached heights all around our region that haven’t been seen in any of our lifetimes. Earlier this week Governor Quinn declared it a disaster area which opens it up for aide, state resources, and other forms of help.

The people here are great though. Many have taken off work to help sandbag and move residents to safety. People putting their backs into it to help their neighbors is what community is all about. And I applaud the men & women who have volunteered.

At any rate – I know it’s silly, but I chose three songs about “floods” and a pair of tunes both titled “Down By The Water”. I hope you enjoy the selections – and if you are the praying kind, say one for our neighbors in Southern Illinois and the other areas affected by the high waters.

 


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(My thanks to Joe Jenkins & Beau Dodson for posting the above pictures on facebook)

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!