25 January 2005

Work-Related Vent Post

Well, right now it feels a bit like that eery, haunting calm that follows a devastating hurricane...you look around and see the ravaged landscape, but birds being to chirp again and the wind only rustles softly.

OK, I'm getting a bit dramatic. I have a Gollum-ish relationship with computers ("he both hates and loves the Ring, as he hates and loves himself"). They are my bread and butter, they are my only marketable hobby/skill (people aren't bashing down my door for my guitar designing, gun collecting, and drink reviewing). All yesterday and most of today as thousands of dollars and potentially more hung in the balance I've worked like mad, and now that I've resolved most of the emergencies I sink back into the warm coccoon of quietude that populates most of my days. Most of it arises of working with cheap, old, and unreliable tools. Old operating systems (98, 95, NT4), really old software, and ancient, dust-encrusted hardware. Sure, if it still works, why replace it, but the question is, how much work does it/will it require to continue making it work? Work is time and time is money! It's all right though, mgmt is coming around and I'm getting a delightful new rack of server-oriented goodies. Oh Frabjous Day, Calloo, Callay!

But yeah, I had to extract a corrupt mdb file from an old computer, and then hack into it (unfortunately none of my computers have the requisite program, Microsoft Access, so I had to use a really poor shareware MDB viewer). But I made it work and saved the company time, money, and headache. And I am comically proud of my little achievement, which is why I am on here strutting around with such braggadocio. Yes, my minions! Bow to your unflappable, unstoppable, inimitable Computer Nerd Commandant! Huh-hoy.

Yes, I'm asking for it...a corrupt disk on the server or something. Well, that would be perfectly ironic and kismet or fate or whatever they call it...but for the fact that THAT VERY THING HAPPENED YESTERDAY TOO. These computers had been behaving themselves so nicely. The server is running NT and it's over 5 years old...running continuously for that long. The old girl is getting on in years.

Enough DorkSpeak. Well, enough of that kind of DorkSpeak anyway.

I'd like a nice chopper simulation. A serious one with good physics. I grew up on Gunship and Gunship II, Janes Longbow, and Comanche 1, 2, and 3. To tell you the truth, after playing Comanche 4 I realize how poor the physics are. Maybe the new choppers are that "fly-by-wire" but the collective was totally unrealistic. But anyway, I'm a huge fan of the Battlefield series (1942, Vietnam) and with the advent of BF Vietnam I was at first quite disgruntled by a difficult and hard to control flight system for the choppers. It is really strange...its somewhat "arcade-y" in that there are very few controls and you can't look around in the cockpit or control much, but the flight mechanics I found to be a lot more realistic...the aircraft seems to have heft and weight, and it takes some skill to fly it well...skill I have started to develop. Nothing like popping over the hills, scooting through canyons, hugging the terrain...ahh yeah. I only wish I had broadband so I would be stuck raining fire down on the stupid CPU bots in single-player mode. But I digress...it would be nice to have a nice chopper sim that had the detail of earlier sims with the challenging and entertaining flight physics of BFV. Maybe I should just get Microsoft Flight Simulator and putz around in a civilian chopper...but buzzing the skies over metro areas like a traffic reporter is not nearly so much fun as zipping in and out of rugged jungle terrain in pursuit of an enemy convoy.

Bear in mind, this was a childhood dream of mine. I dreamed of one day piloting an RAH-66 Comanche for the US Army. The slow, gnawing recognition that my horrifically bad eyesight would dash any chance of entering flight school of any kind was needless to say a rather bitter pill. It was about that time that I consoled myself with a change of plans...I started preparations to apply at Annapolis. Army pilot? Maybe not. Sub skipper? A bit more possible.

NEEDLESS TO SAY....I didn't end up cruising the deeps of the ocean hunting commies either. I'm quite fortunate that I haven't had to serve in such a capacity, to be honest. So many things I would have missed out on, and given my physical lack of fitness I have to be honest...I'm probably of much more use to the country, the economy, and the people of the world in general in front of a keyboard and not charging into combat with a rifle. But should Uncle Sam call, I'll be here. Over the past few years I've been quite torn on the issue of military service. The old side of me (that in my late teen years had fallen asleep) yearns to don the uniform and serve. The new side of me wants to move on, spend my free time with the love of my life, and eventually raise a family. Not that the two are incompatible at all, but service would seperate us to some extent, and service in a combat zone, especially, is something that I look at with new eyes, now. I was once ready to go in and pay any price necessary...and while I remain that today, it is with reluctance. Not for myself (for those who have hope, death is only the entryway to everlasting peace and glory) but for, again, the love of my life, to whom I would be unspeakably loathe to deal such loss. And besides, our country would be in a much worse state if I would be of more value to it as a rifleman than as a computer technician. I know my gifts...and long distance marching is not one of them unfortunately. Is this all a copout and excuse? I don't think so, but I don't know, I'm just trying to do some honest reflection. I realize what a useless Army lieutenant I would have been. Soft-spoken, unassertive, rather shy...entirely incapable of rallying a platoon of my peers to charge "into the jaws of death, into the mouth of Hell". I have a poetic appreciation for the gallantry of men in combat...something that has been lost in the post-Vietnam era, and has often been misinterpreted as a love of war itself.

As a child I attempted to memorize the (above referenced) Tennyson poem The Charge of the Light Brigade. "Theirs not to make reply, theirs not to question why, theirs but to do and die." The same inspiration I felt then wells up now. Call it foolishness, call it machismo, call it what you will, but I see and have always seen an amazing virtue and admirable courage in the men that fight for us, and though now my path has taken me elsewhere in one of life's merciful and gracious turns, I once aspired to follow that path. In the sixth grade I pored through "The Art of War in the Western World" not to be confused with the much shorter and less practical "Art of War" by Sun Tzu, which I have also read. I now own that book...it is a masterful, if somewhat unknown, analysis of war and tactics. My understanding of tactics in particular was strongly shaped by the book in particular...the idea of heavy infantry/light infantry/heavy cavalry/light cavalry is as relevant today as it was 2000 years ago.

OK enough ranting...

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