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Archives for December 2012

The Stereotypical New Year’s Resolution Post

She slimed meI’ve jumped into the stereotypical slop of the new year. I have it hanging all over me, like the coagulating goop from a Nickolodeon game show. So while I’m sitting here reveling in my ooey-gooey goodness, I figured I better write out what I hope to do with ¬†myself in 2013.

These goals are largely to help me motivate myself against the reigning monotony of everyday work-life. Before I go any further, I had a moment this morning after reading a damn, fine passage in “Boy’s Life” (on break at work, of course), where I saw myself growing old behind these cubicle walls. It’s not exactly a revelation, but more of a fact at this point. We need money to survive and I do love my job. So, if I’m going to be sitting enclosed by gray fabric walls for the next couple decades, I might as well have fun doing what I love outside of work, and also step up my game while behind those crushing gray plates.

Goal number one: Write more. As a personal hobby, writing has become less and less a part of my life in the past five years. That changed a bit in 2012, as you’ll notice from the blog, but I want to write a bit more seriously. And, I’ve given up on the novel for the time being. I’m called to the short story form, and that’s OK. I’m not in it for money, prestige, or fame, so the short story vehicle works for me and my voice. I’ll stick to it and write more often.

Goal number two: Exercise. As I mentioned, I have the newness of 2013 coating me right now. I’m feeling newborn alive, screaming and wailing against the very things that oppress me. That and I’m fat. I went to the gym two years ago and cut 20 pounds. I’ve re-upped my subscription to a gym closer to home and cheaper by $10 a month. It’s on. Going to start on the 1st. Goal is to workout three times a week.

Goal number three: Quit smoking. Some of you may not know this, but I’ve struggled with smoking for the better part of the last five years. I’ve quit numerous times, only to return to the dark habit out of fear, loathing, you name it. 2013 is going to be different. I shall quit the thundersticks once and for all. Boom.

Goal number four: Read more novels. I did decent this year. Che and I stripped television out of our lives like a deadbeat tenant who was behind six months on rent. I only watch the occasional television show nowadays, clocking less than five hours a week in front of the glowing god. In it’s place, I’ve read a few books this year. I really want to step it up. I’m going to try for 36 books this year. I’ll be doing the Goodread’s challenge, so you can check up on that goal if you so desire.

Learn a programming language, you damn ape!

Learn a programming language, you damn ape!

Goal number five: Learn a programming language (python or PHP). I don’t have to be expert status on this by 2014, but workable understanding would be good.

Goal number six: Enjoy my family and nature. Last year we took our first family camping trip. We headed to Lake Shelbyville and had a heck of a time, save for the nasty lake virus Aleah brought home. This year I would like to camp in Tennessee for a weekend, a few state parks, and just have a good time with my wife and daughter.

American Gods, A Review

American Gods

Neil Gaimon’s American Gods

I finished reading American Gods. The book by Neil Gaimon has garnered a fair bit of hype since it was first published in 2001. It’s won the hearts of fantasy readers and could be a bit of a genre-breaking book too, as its gained much attention from mainstream readers.

There are spoilers in the coming paragraphs…don’t read them if you don’t want the plot ruined for you.

The story begins by introducing us to Shadow, a prisoner closing in on completing a three year stint for what turns out to be a robbery gone wrong. Shadow is a big man, an imposing figure. He’s also got a love of his life, Laura, waiting for him on the outside, and a decent job from a good friend. But then something terrible happens, Shadow is called into the Warden’s office and told his wife has been killed in a car crash. This occurs days before he was to be released and reunited with her. He’s¬†devastated. As a result of her death, the prison lets him go early.

After his release and on his way to attend the funeral of his beloved wife, a man by the name of Wednesday tries to employ him, and this where the book takes off. Wednesday wants an errand boy, a driver, and someone to give his eulogy should he die. What he doesn’t tell Shadow is that he’s an old god, one of the greats, and his latest quest is to save the old gods from extinction.

The story gets a bit weird here. Shadow ends up joining up with Wednesday and meeting a whole cast of characters, old gods, new gods, and some fickle characters in between. It’s a romp in a fantastical realm, where old gods once conquered the hearts and souls of men, but now fight for their survival.

The story pits the old gods against their modern counterparts. The new gods of the internet and public relations have no interest in keeping Thor or his historical brothers in the world. They’re working against them to try to stamp out their existence.

The book does a great job pulling together all these mythical characters and breathing quality, non-cardboard cutout lives to them. The book sheds light on how we worship new technology, just as our ancestors worshiped their mythical sky creatures.

My favorite part of the book came by way of asides to the main narrative. These after-chapter jaunts into a god’s singular creation seemed to be the best written part of the books. We see a brother and sister sold into slavery in Africa, travel to Barbados and the US respectively, and transform into god’s among their people there, leading a revolution in Barbados and healing family in the US tale. There are other asides throughout the novel too.

I’ve not read any other Gaimon, and American Gods is a good ten years old. But I think it’s worth a read if you’re at all intrigued by the old gods.

How to check which version of Ubuntu server you’re running

I ran into this issue today. I wanted to see the Ubuntu version on my VM. The -uname -a command showed the machine name, but not the distribution info. So I found reference to a file in the /etc/ folder. Try reading the content of this file if you need the distribution version info: