My Life as a Geek


This past weekend, I went to an auction sale… you know with an actual auctioneer? This ain’t your papa’s eBay, you’ve got to bid fast and smart, as well as keeping a mental note on what you’ve brought for money. It was a mixed bag of emotions for me, a local internet/gaming cafe had shut it’s doors. First there was some excitement as I was hoping to pick up one of their machines, I still have plans for a media center computer. And then again, there was some sadness, it’s not always good to see a small business fold up. But on the first week they opened, I gave myself a private bet, they would only be open for 1 year. Well, they were open for 2
years. I recognized several faces from the tech crowd in town, familiar nods and waves, I played against them in LAN tournaments or chatted with them about what was their latest escapades with customers. I picked up a couple of copies of Guild Wars for 10 bucks each, as well as a sweet high back leather office chair for 55 bucks. As for the computers, way out of my price range with what I had set aside. I know I mentioned this in an earlier post, but hindsight is 20/20. The last time I went to an actual auction, I was 10 years old, having fun, not realizing that a farmer was selling his life and work away… not his work, his passion. Anyone who can farm for 30 years and not make a profit any year truly does love what he does.

I first got into how computers work when I was 13, back in school there was the Apple II units. The internet was just a dream concept, as bulliten board systems were still the current standard. I worked on 8088 machine, with 2 five and quarter drives, no hard drive, monochrome CGA video… playing Rogue and other Sierra classics like Space Quest, Police Quest, Leisure Suit Larry. Some of you now are smiling and nodding. Take it several years later, after my stint as a radio announcer (future blog), I got back into computers, doing repairs. I picked up on the tips and tricks of working in DOS, and extended my skills, hacking out FAT tables, fixing Windows 95 on Cyrix processor machines. Step it up a few later years, I became an instructor at a now defunct private computer college. Eager minds wanting to know the secrets from one of the original geeks. I gained my MCSE during that time, only to have the certification expire three months after I completed them. I didn’t bother going to the next stage up, as I knew that I couldn’t afford it. And any hands on experience I would gain with the new operating system would far outweigh any online test or piece of paper. Computers and video games, one part of my geek life.

Also this weekend, I found a couple of trade paperbacks of Philip K. Dick that have managed to elude my book hunting skills for a couple of years now. I am giddy and have gotten stares in the book store from my squeals when a new John Varley novel comes out. I smile with a contented irish heart for any of Neil Gaiman’s works. Jim Butcher’s Dresden files is a welcome breath of fresh air and in my opinion is some of the best detective noir out there today… with a healthy dose of magic. Neil Stephenson amazes me with the level of precision and the places his stories push my imagination. Heinlein brings me a bit of nostalgia, read his entire works when I was a teen. Spider Robinson is the only one who can come close to his style of writing. Robert J. Sawyer is one of the best authors out there, bringing back the golden age concepts of sci-fi, what new technology affects todays society. Decent writer? You bet, he has won the Hugo, the Nebula, and the Campbell Memorial award. Just amazing. I do love to read, and get in on average about 500 pages per week. If I miss out on a week, I’ll double or triple it up the next week. This is definitely my heroin, and will be harder to give up, (if I ever do) than smoking.

Roleplaying… okay, for some of you, get your minds out of the gutter… I have my 20 sided dice and my wife does not have a french maid outfit…unfortunately. RP’ing is a lot of fun with the right crowd, as relaxing as a good chat session with a bunch of friends over coffee. For an escape from current reality, it’s the mental refresher for me. For the old school RP’s, Forgotten Realms is a good coming home feel to it. For those of you who want to start out, I’ve been told Deadlands has been very good, anyone who can learn basic poker can play. Haven’t tried it out myself, but it sounds like a lot of fun. Some people say the amount of money put into such games is not worth it. You tell me how much value a smile or a hearty laugh in good company is, and then we can debate about the money.

The small screen, well mine is small. How many guys do you know that would freely admit that? I enjoy a good series, and internally I breathed a sigh of relief once the entire seasons of a show began to come out on DVD. One day I will have a massive screen television with a home theater system, so I can enjoy all of my series I’ve got on DVD. If I can figure out in the first five minutes what is going to happen, I know the writers have not done their job. My wife hates it when I figure out what’s going to happen. Blame it on reading since I was 4 years old, but there are only so many storylines to fall back on. I’ll give a new series maybe one or two episodes, and if it doesn’t entertain me, I’ll go find another series. Fickle? Nope, I just expect a series to follow through what the ad executives hype it up to be. Otherwise, is it false advertising? Wouldn’t it be nice to get a refund for really bad television shows? Eye for an eye so to speak would bring television executives sitting through mindless home movies of relatives that have long passed.

I was sceptical at first at Buffy the television series, then after watching the first two episodes, I was hooked. Branded as a Joss Whedon fan, I still get pissed off thinking about Firefly and Fox cancelling the series. Battlestar Galactica is amazing, and I’ve recommended it to many people who poo-poo’ed any science fiction. They love it, and it brings me a smile when I know they are getting the same kind of joy I’ve found in it. Heroes is fantastic as well, it’s not all about the tights, it’s about the people and how they are dealing with what is happening with them. Good guys and bad guys aren’t exactly precisely defined by their underwear on the outside
and top hats with long curly moustaches. And if you don’t like Doctor Who, well that’s okay, because I don’t like broccoli.

Movies are a whole other ball of wax that I can get into, will save that for a future blog. Other than that, Kurosawa and Samurai films can talk me into just about anything. Just about.

I love a good story, whether I’m playing it on the computer, tabletop, on the small screen, and on the big screen. Does that make me a geek? I hope so, as the stories we tell and listen to transcend time. I’m just happy to experience them.

I’m still here,
Pike

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