I think I’ve always been interested in computers. Thinking back to my childhood, I’m pretty sure I inherited it from my father. He had a number of early systems including an Atari and then was an early adopter when Apple first started producing the Macintosh. I also got bitten by the gaming bug early on. The first game I remember playing was Mille Bornes on my Dad’s Apple PowerPC. It was the beginning of a long-standing hobby. My next steps were to card games by Hoyle and Yukon Trail. These were soon supplanted by the Ultimate Doom and Duke Nukem 3D. I then went many years as a console peasant gamer and rekindled my love of computer games in college. Since then I’ve become a HUGE fan of Steam and have a modest game collection of 123 games.

But something else happened along the way: I started to get into not just games but computers themselves. I’ve dabbled with Linux since high school and in college I became fascinated with fluid mechanics and how to model fluid flow using tools like OpenFOAM and ANSYS Fluent. My familiarity with Linux and CFD was a match made in heaven as Linux afforded stability for most CFD software and has the ability to cluster computers easily, meaning that you could set up a Beowulf Cluster to provide the necessary computing power for large CFD problems and the operating system or cluster wouldn’t crash constantly. My interest in CFD quickly spawned a need to learn more about Linux which caused me to install Ubuntu 9.04 on an old laptop and start learning. About a year ago, I kicked into high gear shortly after finding the /r/homelab and /r/homeserver subreddits and discovered amazing things like KVM/QEMU, servers, and self-hosted services like Plex. Ever since, I’ve begun moving towards building a robust, Enterprise-ish network within my home. I say Enterprise-ish because I don’t have the funding to buy brand new, top of the line Enterprise-grade equipment and my network needs to be wifeproof so large rooms full of multiple server racks, with wires strewn throughout the house is a no-go.

But that’s the struggle of most homelabbers and I’m yet another statistic. As I continue my journey learning how to build computer networks, clusters, servers, and utilize them to do things like model the aerodynamics of my car, I’ll write about it and share my lessons learned here on this blog.

On Cartoons

YouTube – Cab Calloway St. James Infirmary by Fleischer

My senior year in high school I signed up for a cinematography class (one of the benefits of growing up in Los Angeles) in order to fulfill a graduation requirement for a fine arts elective (another benefit of going to school in a Liberal state). To make a long story short, due to a clerical error, I ended up in an animation class. Now, I’ve never been a particularly good drawer, cartoonist, or painter; so it was with quite a bit of trepidation that I decided not to switch out of the class. The real deciding factor was the fact that one of my best friends had signed up for the class with me, and I wasn’t going to leave him high and dry. That, and it had a reputation as an easy class, which would allow me to keep my commitment to focus my senior year on friends, football, and fun.

So, there I was on the first day, forced to confront the horrendous disconnect between the copiously-detailed visions in my head and my left hand’s ability to translate them into an image on a sketch pad. I have always been a man of words, even though I spent a good portion of my teenage years running from it. The pictures in my mind are just as vivid as any of Picasso’s or Renoir’s, but my medium is the written word, using adjectives, verbs, nouns, and all the others to paint the perfect portrait. My drawings on the other hand were all childish.

But as nervous as I was, the first day proved that most of the rest of my fellow students had the same approximate level of cartoonist ability as I did. To make matters even better, our teacher was a cartoonist-turned-English teacher who looked as if he had just come back from catching some early morning waves. His long blond hair and laid-back attitude put me at ease.

Anyway, in order to showcase different styles of animation and to educate us on the history of animation, he would pull old cartoons from the vaults and play them for us. These were the true golden standards of cartooning, from back in the Thirties, Forties, and Fifties, when great men like Chuck Jones and Friz Freleng made them.

One of the cartoons he showed one day was the parent of the clip pasted above. It’s from an old Betty Boop reel and features caricatured Cab Calloway singing the Saint James Infirmary Blues. I was captivated from the moment I laid eyes on the screen. Cab’s haunting voice paired with the surreal imagery thrilled me. It inspired me, the tune playing endlessly in my head for the rest of the day.

Since that day, I’ve searched the whole wide world over trying to find the cartoon as it is a personal favorite of mine. Having stumbled across it this evening, I have been in a wash of nostalgia, reminiscing about my high school days.

“But how did you fare in the class?” You, my beloved reader, might ask. Well, I can tell you quite plainly that hours of hard work and diligence honed my drawing abilities. Also, the cartoon cemented Cab Calloway’s version of the Saint James Infirmary Blues on my favorites list in iTunes. So in the end, it all came up spades.

Pure Insanity

I’ve been busy as of late. I had a huge Materials Science project due at the beginning of the week and then a Solid Mechanics test today. Not too bad, but I’ve been a bit under the gun as it were. But I have good news: Spring Furlough is only week away! I’m very much looking forward to that. Anyway, posting has been rather light, and I mean to make up for that during the break.

I will post a light bit of fluff for your viewing pleasure though. It’s of Travis Pastrana skydiving sans parachute. Some might call him stupid, personally, I think it looks like fun. Then again, I am a bit of an adrenaline junkie given my hobbies: football, martial arts, etc. Or maybe I’m just a glutton for punishment. Your call, reading public.I promise I’ll put something substantial up as soon as I figure out what that something substantial is. Have a good weekend.

Presidential Challenge

So, apparently OP-FOR has issued a challenge of sorts for President’s Day. Seeing as how I have free time(I know, I couldn’t believe it either), I thought I would do my best to offer forth my own two cents. The rules for the game are as such: Choose two American presidents, one from the 19th Century and one from the 20th Century. Explain why they are the greatest presidents in United States history. And you mustn’t choose George Washington; the father of our nation being in a class all his own.
My first choice is from the 20th Century. Theodore Roosevelt is by far the best president in the brief history of our nation. Besides old G.W. himself, Teddy was one of the most visionary presidents. He was full of vigor and had style and substance, something lacking in politicians today. He was a driving force behind the building of the Panama Canal; he created the multitude of national parks we all enjoy; he fought corruption tooth and nail; and he believed whole-heartedly in the greatness of the United States and made sure the rest of the world understood the same. Also, few other presidents have the resume of Roosevelt. Having served as the Assistant Secretary of the Navy, New York Police Commissioner, Colonel of the U.S. Volunteer Cavalry, and a deputy sheriff in North Dakota. Theodore Roosevelt was larger than life and is in a league all his own. On occasion I’ve been known to lament the fact that the individuals running for president nowadays are nothing like Theodore Roosevelt, and that we should have another charismatic president in office.
My choice for the best president from the 19th Century is a bit harder to make. As of now, I am leaning towards James Madison. A framer of the Constitution and the Father of the Bill of Rights. He believed in small government and the rights of the people. He also held the nation together during the War of 1812, the first major test of America’s authority on the world stage. He was the Secretary of State under Jefferson and supervised Louisiana Purchase. His record speaks for him, much like Roosevelt.
And for some humor: The 5 Most Bad-Ass Presidents of All Time. If you do not care for rough language, I would not recommend reading said article. Have a pleasant Presidents Day Weekend.

Hump-Day Humor

It’s the middle of the week, and if your week has been anything like mine, you’re ready for the weekend. So, to help get you through, here’s a humorous little video:

Oh, how I wish candles weren’t a prohibited item in Barracks. My room could definitely use a little pigskin smell.