Friday, June 30, 2006

Thursday's trauma was brought to us by the letter "L" and the number "420".
I started getting calls from the "account care" team at about noon. On our internal customer profiles website, the contacts for (account name starting with "L", but deleted from this post to comply with non-disclosure agreement) are missing.
I went to the page and looked and yes, the contacts were missing.
The "account care" team emailed again to let me know that the contacts for all the accounts starting with "L" were missing.
I checked this, too.
Then I got my third email, mostly in all caps, about the information being missing from all accounts, not just "L" accounts.
Since the web site itself belongs to someone else -- someone at lunch -- I decided to go to lunch, too.
As I passed a co-worker's office I heard, "Dude! You have to help me!"
Slowly curling into a fetal position while frantically typing commands was (co-worker's name deleted to comply with non-disclosure agreement). "I think I broke the customer profiles website."
A machine error is different than a technician error. Machines get repaired. Technicians get fired.
I told him everything would be alright and I went back to work on the problem. By this time, the website had shut itself down completely.
While I restored basic operations, the co-worker told me he had unleashed a spider on the site to copy (not remove) the data.
After some questions on my part, it was revealed that the spider had not been tested on a non-production server. Also, the copy of the program used was pirated. It need not be stated (though I will clarify just in case) that the tech in question would fail a drug test.
After a quick (less than an hour, start to finish) restore from back up, the site was back to normal.
Since I still hadn't had lunch, I left. When I got back, the same co-worker flagged me out of the hall to show me what the goal had been.
He pulled up a command prompt and typed. He asked me for a server name so I gave him the mail server name for (company name deleted to comply with non-disclosure agreement). He completed the command, hit 'enter', and (after a brief pause) the contact information from the profiles website was displayed. I guess it is for people who don't have the website up already. Even though it is a link away from the homepage everyone is assigned through group policy.
I smiled and nodded and walked back to my desk. As I started to sit down I heard a technician place his call on hold and announce, "Mail just died for (company name deleted to comply with non-disclosure agreement) and they have no idea what is going on. Is anyone working on it?"
I spat Coke Zero and dashed back out to let the guy know. Then I laughed a lot.
Plans for today include unsubscribing to emails and skipping out as soon as possible.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

There is fire alarm testing this morning before the normal people get here. This is SCREAMING high-pitched extremely loud noise and strobe lights. Before coffee.
This does not bode well for productivity, but I should finish posting this before the noise stops. If I turn my head slightly, the sound warbles in my head.
Strangely, most of the alarm output devices are within ten feet of my desk.
There was a bit more trauma yesterday about the paper balls and when they should be thrown at each other. We have windows on three sides and customers can look in pretty much any time. As long as they don't tap the glass. We hate that.
At the moment the "compromise" being embraced by the technical side is to throw glue sticks instead of paper balls, but I'm not sure that is really in line with the spirit of the request from sales, even if it does follow the letter.
I'm not in favor of the glue stick compromise because it sounds too much like we are concerned about the demands of the sales staff and not just being ourselves.
Also, glue sticks hurt. I've got a weird crescent-shaped bruise I noticed this morning that exactly matches the size of the cap of a glue stick.
Another civil uprising is developing involving the on-call rotation for (company name deleted to comply with non-disclosure agreement) downtown. The way it works, the four people who got stuck with the on-call rotation have a week off, then a week on, then a week as back up, then a week off again. We get paid more for being primary than back up, and nothing for the two weeks off.
No one has an issue with that, but the way it is structured is if the on-call person is called downtown a third time in a week he gets a bonus. As a result, the customer has been calling the on-call person twice a week for six hours at a time, since they don't pay extra for having the on-call person there longer.
One of the on-call people refuses to go until this is corrected. Since I'm his back up and have to go for him, I would draw his on-call primary pay. It isn't a good deal. He's right about that.
After paying for parking and losing that much middle of the night sleep it is hardly worth it.
He suggested that if I go, I'm a scab. I'm not sure that is accurate, since he hasn't organized a formal protest. Either way, my reaction was a sudden and almost instinctive, "I ain't no scab!" I don't even use the word "ain't", I just channeled a turn of the century coal miner or something.
I don't know how that is going to play out. There isn't anyone else to do it, so they can't really replace the on-call people. We agreed to the deal not knowing how the customer would work it but I'm not sure what can really be done.
Plans for today include completing some inane paperwork, then working a while for the Paper Ball Liberation Front and filling up the petition I created for End On-call Abuse Now. I've also posted a note inside the Men's Room door that thanks the reader for participating in our "sit in".

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Tuesday night was all about a hunt for the undead.
Shana, Joe and Adrian were up for potentially wasting an evening visiting spooky places, so we started out expedition around 10pm.
I outlined our plans:
First, we would visit the haunted bridge behind out subdivision. This visit was brief, as the bridge is on a blind curve on a pretty busy road. I don't think anyone got a creepy feeling.
We may have captured orbs on film, but I have not reviewed the footage gathered.
My gut feeling? No orbs on the spooky old haunted bridge behind our subdivision.
After that adventure, we headed towards Patterson Road, the reported location of two haunted bridges near an old Civil War battlefield and the old Addicks settlement, now submerged under the Addicks reservoir.
A police officer kicked us out of the park we attempted to drive through on the way. I think they must develop a sixth sense for hooliganism. Undeterred, we turned off the four lane Eldridge Parkway for the bumpy old two lane Patterson Road.
We stopped on the Langham Creek bridge and listened. We scanned the woods for the skittering dead. We waited until we saw headlights. The headlights of the damned? No. A minivan.
Paranormal investigators had about the same experience on that bridge but the Bear Creek bridge was pretty spooky for them. We shot passed it and let the minivan get around us on the narrow, shoulderless road.
On the way back we were better able to pause on the more haunted bridge, but again headlights chased us away before anything definitively creepy happened.
We drove up to Clay Road and back down Highway 6 to the old road that leads to Cullen Park. The goal was to visit a cemetery that is closed to the public. The most recent grave is about a century old and the site is surrounded by a barbed wire topped cyclone fence. The point is the headstones are reported to glow, most likely because of the mineral content but possibly due to the restless dead.
The cemetery is maintained by the Army Corps of Engineers as the family no longer uses the place. The dead are lonely.
The road towards the park was definitely creepier than Patterson. I stopped at one point and backed up to look at an armadillo scurrying through the underbrush. I think we all agreed that he was cute and probably scurrying away from ghost orbs we could not see with the naked eye.
We passed the little airport that specializes in restored older planes and discovered the park road was gated off and plainly marked "Closed". What kind of public park closes before midnight? Is this why I pay taxes?
I turned around to head home and was immediately proclaimed a coward by my co-ghost hunters. OMG!
After some discussion, it was decided that Shana would drop us off near the gate and the three of us would walk in, visit the graves, and walk out. We could call Shana on the cell phone if there was an emergency or if we needed bail or whatever.
We hopped out, I turned on the camera and we entered the darkened park.
Joe repeatedly heard footsteps pacing us and spotted a homeless person in the public restroom near the parking lot. We didn't go anywhere near that area.
In fairness, we assumed he was homeless. He may have been a wilderness enthusiast or even fellow law-breaking ghost hunter.
We turned off the paved road and marched into the woods along a narrow walking path. It was so dark I almost missed the cemetery. We trudged off the path and walked over to the fence.
Nothing. No glow, no zombies, no "I'd have gotten away with it if it weren't for you meddling kids," nothing. I'm not even sure there was enough light for the camera to pick up anything.
On the bright side, none of us were eaten by the hungry dead. Also, Shana picked us up as she promised.
By this time, it was almost midnight. We may visit the spooky old hospital later, but that trip is a lot more involved and that location is dangerous due to the living occupants (mostly drug users and fugitives) so precautions will need to be taken.
Either way, I needed sleep. I've been having trouble self-editing lately.
Yesterday afternoon a salesperson walked into the NOCC and said, "You guys need to stop throwing paper balls at each other! We are having a client meeting next door and he can see things flying around in here!"
Without thinking I said, "We don't tell you how to do your job."
When I realized she wasn't laughing I added, "these paper balls aren't going to throw themselves, you know."
Yeah, so being well-rested is important. Lack of sleep spoils my aim and I already throw like an I.T. worker.
Plans for today include coffee and trying to figure out a broken computer thingy.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Monday I skipped out on work. It was pretty cool.
We finished the stuff we needed to do pretty early and grabbed coffee and kicked around until we could get into a movie.
Sunday night my lovely spouse and I attended a birthday gathering for a co-worker.
There were some weird workplace revelations for me, but the last sober people just seem to become everybody's priest or therapist eventually. It is the stage just past "sudden best friend".
There was an age difference at this party. We were about six years older than the next youngest person and about fifteen years younger than the next oldest. We were a bit of a thirty-something island.
Here is some stuff I learned from the collected experiences of my co-workers:

1. The drunk tank is not as cool now as it was a couple of years ago.
2. People with pure bred dogs tend to have a lot of things depicting that breed of dog.
3. Stoner math = 1 bag of chips is never enough.
4. I learned that our Director of IT is actually afraid of me and that's why he never talks to me.
5. There is a reason why I'm still employed even without an official on-the-books-type function.

I'll explain the last two in detail.
Things are cyclical in any company. Initiatives are born and they die pretty quickly only to be renamed and reborn another day. Sometimes the same people are attached to these "Zombie Projects" and sometimes "new blood" is needed.
At my company, one of these is "Product Definitions". See, we (and by "we" I mean our awesome sales team) offer a few different services.
People can have space and metered power, for example. That's basically real estate for computer hardware. We house it and protect it but if it breaks we won't know (or care unless you give us more money).
After that, we sell something called "Level 1". Level one is . . . um . . . well . . . we keep track of whether or not the server is powered on . . . and we might fix it . . . . kind of depends, I guess.
Ok, but "Level 3" we do "everything"! What's everything? Well, we monitor and fix and notify. Did you need other stuff? Yeah, we can do that, too. I'll just let the guys in the NOCC know they'll need to (insert freaking crazy impossible crap here) and as soon as you move your stuff in, your problems are all ours.
We sold one customer "Level 4" but no one knows what that is other than "more expensive" than "Level 3".
"Level 2" does not exist as far as I know. But it might. In fact, if someone is interested I can almost guarantee we would sell it.
So the products are in major need of definitions. However, if sales are bad it is because we don't have good definitions. If sales are good, who needs definitions? Why limit ourselves?
The first time I got dragged into a definitions meeting I asked questions. A lot of questions.
Some that I remember were:

"If we sell someone 'Level 3' and they bring in broken crap, do we fix it for free?"
"What if their stuff does specific junk and it isn't documented? Are we responsible if they don't tell us?"
"If they carry a server in and it breaks on the way in do we get blamed?"
"Do they provide the installation media?"
"When we are creating the documentation they didn't provide, if something breaks can we call them to find out what it did before we try to fix it?"
"Is there any solid guideline for anything?"

That meeting was declared a bust and the project was tabled -- for a while.
When I started this job it was non-stop firefighting. Junk broke and we had no triage standards or procedures so everything just got fixed when it got fixed. We were understaffed and completely blamed for everything. It was an awful time and right in the middle of it our Director called a meeting. He went around the room, yelling at people about schedules and paperwork and how everyone needs to assist the sales team and then he turned to me.
"How does the Windows team prioritize work?"
I considered it for a moment and then replied,"If I've got thirty things to do, and I'm going to get yelled at for the twenty-nine that don't get fixed, then I'll work on the one that is interesting. Not boring me is the sole criteria I work with for establishing what gets done first."
He had no response and I've thought for months that he was too angry to reply.
It turns out he had no idea if I was kidding. And I wasn't.
Since then he avoids me because he never knows how to take me. How awesome is that?
This is part of the reason I'm still employed, I guess. The main reason seems to be that I'm a "morale booster" when things really suck. My smart-assed comments have reduced turn over and improved productivity.
Honestly. That's not at all made up.
I guess it is a bit like a slacker super power, but snarkier.
Now I must find a way to use my powers for evil.

That is my project for Tuesday. And maybe someone will be brave enough to go ghost hunting after dark. So far, no takers.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Game night was awesome, as always.
Our 'Werewolf: The Forsaken' chronicle barrels onward.
Following last week's nasty fight at the cathedral, the survivors were left to pick up and start over.
Last night was all about establishing territory all over again and building back a chain of authority.
Nothing can kill a campaign quite as completely as long drawn-out political discussion, but Darrell kept things moving fast enough for everyone to be involved.
Also, I grilled.
I challenged everyone to a late-night ghost hunt later this week and I'm waiting to see who backs out. I've been digging at websites to find spooky semi-local spots.
Ghost hunting seems like a logical (and inexpensive) night time thing to do.
It turns out the road right behind our subdivision has a history of spookiness.
Also, we are only a few miles from a creepy bridge.
We may even make it over to an old hospital if we are feeling brave or drunk.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

I just posted this on my Reef Message Board:

"Public apology -

Hey everybody,

I was scheduled to be a stop on the tour today, but yesterday I got back from a short trip to find all three circulation pumps and my return pump dead.
The tank looks really pretty nasty and there was a lot of splashing and flooding while I tried to get everything going again last night.
The return pump is also making a loud sucking noise which is depressing from wherever I am in the house.

Until last night, the tank was too boring to comment much on. I think the water quality is still pretty good (I tested last night but not yet today) and while I expect a small spike, I doubt any lasting damage was done.
The timing was just really the worst possible and I apologize for messing up the tour today.



There is a LOT of gunk that can get stirred up in a healthy reef tank.
Shana and I are still trying to figure out what to do with ourselves. I was voted down on the crime spree plan.
Boredom has set in.
Last night I woke up at about three and the cat who normally sleeps next to me was silent. Since she normally snores (deviated septum) I reached over to verify that she was breathing. I couldn't feel her ribs moving and she was cold to the touch.
Of course, I freaked out and shook her, which she did not appreciate. The annoyed look I got was much better than her being dead.
Her fur was just cold because she was sleeping right under the ceiling fan.
I know. This story probably belonged in the cat blog, but since it involved me being scared of the dark and death I decided to put it here.
There may be a game tonight, but no one has responded to me about it.

Friday, June 23, 2006

So Gwynyth is completely leaving town today and we are pretty sad about it.
She is going to stay with her grandfather for a week or so. Actually, we are pretty fuzzy on the return date.
Shana hasn't been apart from her for this long since they were physically connected, so there is a little anxiety there. Also, we haven't had a lot of evenings where we don't need to drag Gwynyth to the tattoo parlour with us or make it home early to let the sitter know that she can go home and that whatever happened is probably pretty normal for our kid.
Suddenly, we have evenings as a playground.
It is a given that we will be attending Micron's House Warming Party. It shouldn't matter that we have no idea who in the hell "Micron" is. His new place is close to us, kind of. Plus, we don't have to worry about that skank Leanna showing up. Don't you just hate her? I know Micron and I have a "No Leanna" policy.
Seriously, I think pool may be played at some point. As we've covered, I suck at pool but alcohol helps. We may attend some movies with cursing that start after it gets dark. Maybe even scary non-princess-centric movies.
We need to do something. One of the TVs in the NOCC was playing a commercial for a lawnmower and I was really impressed. I went to the website and ordered a catalog, people. I don't think I've ever felt older.
We need to break into the community pool at midnight and then steal someone's lawn goose.
We must go shopping at Super Target at 1:30am and laugh when the store detective starts shadowing us.
We can light a huge fire in the fire pit and dance around it like ancient druids (no offense to any currently practicing druids and I'm sorry about the nerf to your Dungeons and Dragons class) while grilling food, drinking wine, and singing Irish pub songs.
But what do we do tomorrow night?
Oh yeah. This Saturday night may be game night . . . So it is pretty much a repeat of the steps outlined above, but with dice and not getting up.
I'm still slogging through Crisis on Infinite Earths. I'm at the point where I'm really just ready for the anti-matter to go ahead and destroy everything just to stop the whining.
I'm also reading a game novel which I can't get into and the House of M X-Men storyline which I got in electronic format.
I believe that learning is a life-long progress. Right now, I'm just learning about meta-humans and mutants.
Plans for today include work, meetings and avoiding work and meetings followed by sending my daughter off for vacation and the steps detailed above.
Plus drinking, probably.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Some things are too convenient.
I'm all about communication. In addition to this space on the internet, I regularly use email (a few addresses), our phone (Voice Over IP. Long distance was meant to be free.), message boards, smoke signals from the back yard, two different instant messenger programs (in case of the failure of one of them) and, as a last resort, a cellphone.
I'm still uncomfortable using the cellphone for extended conversations. I'm concerned about being lumped in with "those people."
You know the ones . . . chatting away obliviously in a crowded restaurant, ignoring the people nearby or even at their own table.
I prefer to keep things at the "I'm (somewhere), I'll be (somewhere else) in (whatever period of time) and can work on/talk to whatever/whoever then. Bye!" kind of level, and there are places where I can't or won't answer, either.
If I'm walking to my car, I don't answer usually since I'll soon be juggling car keys and an MP3 player and entering traffic. Just starting my car makes a weird series of beeps and tones and loud music or podcasts that prompts "Is this not a good time?" questions.
I imagine it sounds like I'm averting some time of international incident in the background. I might be, if it is a very tiny unimportant kind of international incident involving the latest news about a science fiction TV show cancelled years ago.
I don't answer if I'm having an in-person discussion, unless I think it is someone looking for directions to where the discussion is taking place.
I also won't answer if the cellphone is "too far" or if I'm in the middle of a long email, online article, or blog post.
Sometimes I'm also too annoyed by my own ringtone to answer.
These are all bad, since I rarely get voicemail and it is always undated when it finally turns up.
I will answer during meetings, even if I know it is a telemarketer. I can fake a concerned look and walk out. That may be the best use for a cellphone, really.
Here is what I don't get:
Why does everyone not have these basic guidelines? Does every call need to be answered? How important are these people that I have to stop talking on elevators because they are having trouble hearing on their cell?
I'm not comfortable with the social standard being set in favor of these people. Naturally, the instinct seems to be to lapse into silence when in the company of someone involved in a cellphone conversation, or at least speak in the hushed tones of a library, church or nursing home.
Of course, this silence leaves a person with nothing to listen to but someone else's cellphone conversation. These people should make it interesting for the rest of us. I want to hear, "So I stashed the money in an abandoned building at . . . " or "I found out about this awesome free ninja school where you can major in assassination and minor in piracy. Here is the number . . . " or even "Cut the red wire, but don't bump the black one or . . . Hello?"
This morning I had the experience of being forced to listen to half of a conversation about our new product line and about how our technical staff could accomplish half a dozen impossible things a week at no additional cost and about how much the "relationship" meant to this particular salesperson.
I heard the lies and was still societally forced to remain silent. While he couldn't see me from where he was sitting, I made gagging faces in silence and silently stomped around in frustration, waving my arms like a lunatic while this guy closed his deal smoothly and solidly.
Then, before he could finish his call, I flushed every urinal in the men's room and slammed the door on my way out.
Today, justice felt swirly.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

I've been having fun with Instant Messenger at work. I'll share my joy here, step by step:

1. Start (or better yet wait for you victim to start) an IM converstation about something work-related. "Is there fresh coffee?" or "Can you print? I think the copier is hosed." are good places to start.

2. Leave your chat window open. You can close it with MSN Messenger, but I like to leave it open as a reminder to finish this project. I tend to drift.

3. Wait a few hours. Seriously, it works better if the other party has time to forget your earlier chat.

4. Resume the chat, though about something else --
a. So I keep stabbing him, but he is still making this weird wheezy noise, you know? So I drove over him again until he quit.
b. We are running out of crawlspace and I think the neighbors are starting to smell stuff.
c. we will see if the asshat is still laughing next time he starts his car, right?
d. I ate part of it but finger bones freak me out
e. i've got half a batch in my trunk but the tub had some kind of soap scum crap and it tastes like lilacs
f. I think it is infected. Normal human skin doesn't smell like that. Living human skin.
g. I'd never been that messed up at work before but I hate that customer so they deserve to have a drunk moving their data
h. so he doesn't take paypal for that because the feds are watching his account
i. what are you going to do with part of a puppy? do you still have the rest?

5. Pause

6. Type "Sorry, wrong chat window. Please disregard."

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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

For some reason, I chose to take the high road yesterday.
First, I sent a private email to the offending asshat pointing out that the work was complete and even done to the bizarre and undocumented standards expected.
Five hours later, I get the response, "My bad."
I replied again, snarkily pointing out that he may have forgotten to cc: the entire stupid company with the correction.
It was probably an honest mistake. Like yesterday, when I tried to use his credentials to access the CEO's personal files over and over and over until his account locked.
Ah, yes. The high road can be a rewarding place.
I spent the rest of the work day doing whatever it is that I do and answering calls from clients about how high the water is near their servers.
"It looks like the sparking is evaporating most of it before it gets anything too wet."
I'm reading some DC Comics from the 80's in the evenings.
I secured a hard copy of "Crisis on Infinite Earths" which is the first multi-title comic event to have a lasting effect on the comic universe.
Prior to that, each issue (or at least storyline) was engineered with a Gilligan's Island-esque sense of progress.
No matter what the Skipper does to maintain order, no matter what the Professor invents with old boat parts and fruit, no matter who wins the talent show or what celebrity is visiting the island -- The next episode starts with the castaways in the exact same situation.
We can blame Gilligan all we want, but in the end he is a convenient scape goat the writers lazily go to as a Deus Ex Machina week after week to really keep the plot moving nowhere tangible.
So "Crisis on Infinite Earths" was an attempt by DC Comics to simplify.
In 1985, partially to celebrate the 50th anniversary for DC Comics, it was decided that there was too much going on at once in too many places.
There were different versions of characters on multiple versions of Earth in what was previously explained as different universes. In some, Superman is a bad guy. In a few, he sets himself up as a dictator. Lex Luthor is the #1 hero in one Earth, and is married to Lois Lane.
I have not seen a Lex Luthor with hair. That would be too weird.
Anyway, anti-matter boils through the multiverse, cleaning house. Characters die with their worlds and a unified version is presented to the fans.
This dramatically clears up continuity issues and provides an out for anyone caught in an argument about canon in a comic book store.
Don't mock the fear until you've been in one of those arguments.
They can now be mostly avoided by saying, "Was that before Crisis on Infinite Earths or after?"
Oddly, this even works with discussion about Marvel characters, who would never be impacted by a DC Comics event:
"Was that before Crisis on Infinite Earths or after?"
"Um, Spider-Man has nothing to do with CoIE, dude."
"Hey! Is that a girl looking at the gaming stuff?" -- Followed by a speedy exit while they comb the games section.
Also credited with revitalizing DC Comics (and the industry by extension) was Frank Miller's Batman: The Dark Knight Returns.
This comic was an instant classic, and I remember it from the original run in 1985.
It works better for me now, and I think I know why.
The story follows a grey-haired Bruce Wayne as he comes out of retirement and hits the streets again to fight crime (really nasty future-type crime) in a gritty, post-modern Gotham City.
While it focuses more on the psychosis that leads a billionaire to break the law and fight crime vigilante-style than the regular storyline, it also deals with the effects of aging on martial arts skills and technological advances that might compensate.
The story is dated in places. The President is obviously an addled Ronald Reagan and (while Batman is involved very little) news stories cover increased tensions with the Soviet Union.
However, there is a scene where urban chaos follows a passenger jet crashing into a skyscraper which actually gave me chills on this reading.
I think the story speaks to me now because of where I am.
I've been reading Batman since I could read. He has always been 29.
After a while, as the age gap closes between Batman and reader, another gap develops.
It is weird reading Batman now that I am older than he is.
I like to see the character progress and deal with aging. He should be, damn it. The rest of us are!
For four issues, Batman becomes mortal in a way that he doesn't even when he gets completely beaten up by Bane or gassed by the Joker.
Of course, it also helps that he still beats the crap out of the bad guys and an iconic good guy, too.
Plans for today include trying to stay dry while making snarky comments to asshats.

Monday, June 19, 2006

So anyway, this morning I got an email (addressed to everyone in the company) that calls me out for not turning in a couple of reports I had due last week.
The email fails to mention that the schedule these reports are due on is based on tidal cycles and the phase of the moon, as well as a random date generator based on the season and the whims of the cheese gods (a legitimate religion, if that's what you are into).
It also fails to mention that the only way to find out if the reports are due in any given week is to access a manager's home directory (using legitimate permissions, social engineering or zero-day exploits) to read a constantly changing spreadsheet that tracks these things.
That's all just fine. Those are the rules as established by management. It is not my place to improve them, or even to care. I looked it up.
What bothers me most about this email is that I did send in those reports last week. Both of them. At a total of over 300 pages, neatly PDF'd, spell-checked and foot noted.
So why would I even jump through the insane amount of hoops built upstairs by crazy people? If one three line email to the company can effectively undo my work, why would I bother doing it?
Now, it is possible the email was sent because my bonus structure may or may not be tied to these reports. If I didn't do them, the company saved money in the exact amount of my (to date theoretical) bonus.
Then again maybe he never got the reports. I copied the other people in his group when I emailed them. I also sent him a link to where I had put other copies on the network for easy access outside of my email. Since he never responded, maybe neither email was delivered.
Note: there is nothing lodged in the outbound mail queue. But maybe it is so lodged it is invisible.
Most likely the issue is that the guy is an asshat.
As a result, plans for today include violent responses to emails and locking accounts in quantities that can only be described as "biblical".
After that, it looks like a co-worker has stashed 7+ gigs of electronic comic books on the network drive which need to be burned to CD and "archived" at my place. I may check them for quality today. A lot.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

So less than a month to reach the goal and Coke will take eight to ten weeks to get me my Playstation?
In this case, the journey may be better than the destination.
Special thanks go to Joe and Adrian for each pitching in points entered this morning, my lovely spouse Shana for bringing back points from her visit with family and Andrew for flinging me the final three points that completed the project.
I appreciate everyone who contributed. My kidneys also really appreciate it.
As I slowly dehydrated over the past month, I reflected on why I would do this to myself.
Someone said (it escapes me who said it, but my brain is seriously powdery-dry) that anything that isn't related to survival or reproduction is art.
By that definition of art, my drinking way more Diet Coke than is healthy could not qualify more.
My Diet Coke "Art Project" complete, we can now get back to geekery in earnest. And I can drink coffee and water again. Mmmmmm . . . Water.
CokeRewards progress - 854/850 -

CokeRewards progress - 4 points -

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Friday, June 16, 2006

CokeRewards progress - 775/850 - I drank a bunch of Diet Coke and Joe kicked over some points. My kidneys feel . . . I don't know . . . Crunchy?
There is no game this weekend. On the extremely bright side, my family is coming back.
This should pretty much end a very ugly chapter in my life.
I spent Friday night with Season One of the new Battlestar Gallactica. Geek time is good time.
I'm really thirsty.
CokeRewards progress - 731/850 - I have to end this soon. I'm thirsty all the time. I've got cotton-mouth worse than any time I've woken up after a night of drinking with my face in the carpet. Diet Coke is a non-fluid for me at this point. Zero calories but far from healthy, my friends.
I just want a drink of water, but I know that drinking anything not Diet Coke just prolongs this nightmare.
Adrian kicked in points yesterday in a fit of awesomeness.

Last night Joe dragged over his Playstation 2. I've played on one a total of about 20 minutes in my life, so it helps to keep the goal in sight.
We played Gauntlet until almost 11. "Blue Jester needs sleep badly."
I've got a question . . .
Excluding any readers who may have worked at Enron, how often do your co-workers call in "arrested"?
Yesterday marked the third time I've seen since November - a different employee each time.
Is "bail" a traditional benefit? Should I concentrate on the 401k and dental or explore bail if it is part of the package?
Ok. That's three questions, but they kind of flowed together. Asking extra questions isn't illegal. The people I work with are apparently experts on the workings of the penal code.
Side note: "Penal code" is more fun to say than type. While writing this, I said it out loud several times to make up for it. Also, it gets funnier the more you say it.
I'm sketchy on the details, but the work phone rang and I answered it to hear, "You have received a collect phone call from the Harris County Jail from (soft click) Hey man, this is (co-worker name deleted). Answer the phone. (soft click) To refuse the call, hang up now."
He wanted to talk to my manager, who left soon after the call.
Also yesterday featured new issues of "52" and "Marvel Civil War".
The latest issue of "Marvel Civil War" is a landmark comic.
I was asked yesterday who is on the side of registration and who opposes. Almost everyone is involved in the conflict, but some of the key supporters of disclosing identities are Spider Man, Iron Man, Mr. Fantastic, Thing, Bishop, Colossus, Wasp and Wonder Man. The opposition includes Captain America, Nick Fury, Cable, She-Hulk, Wolverine, Cloak and Dagger and maybe The Invisible Woman and The Human Torch.
Today, my plans are to do as little as possible to retain employment . . . well, maybe a little less.
I also stocked up on (shudder) Diet Coke on my way in, so I'll be drinking that.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

CokeRewards progress - 654/850 - With less than 200 points to go, I got a scare Wednesday when the Playstation2 became listed as "Out of Stock" on the CokeRewards website.
Fortunately, it returned to "In Stock" status sometime between my third and fourth complaint emails. Leslea kicked in more points, due largely to awesomeness.

First, if you missed it, The Order of the Stick (link on the right) featured the word "asshat" yesterday. There may have been other words in the comic. Other less awesome words.

In the afternoon I went home to discover that (in what is possibly the most romantic gesture ever in the history of gesturing) Shana had adjusted the Netflix account to have The Evil Dead and Army of Darkness delivered on the same day.
My evening filled with zombie goodness, I settled in to drink Diet Coke and watch.
Who doesn't like zombie-centric splatterfests? That's what I'd like to know.
Whatever one's opinion about low-budget cheesy violence horror comedies, these are pretty much required viewing.
Yesterday I promised the latest work-related trauma story. Here goes:

You may recall that I was shackled with the Microsoft license audit.
As the on-site consultation (turn your head to the left and cough) was ending, it became apparent that our expired Official Microsoft Certified Partner Agreement licenses were actually about 90% of our problem.
I sent an email to my manager suggesting we renew it. It wasn't the first time I'd suggested it, but it was the first time when the alternative was six figures of license fees.
"Make it happen" was the response from his Blackberry.
Here is where it gets awesome:

I don't do purchasing. I'm not officially authorized to spend money. I don't have a corporate card or company account of any kind.
So I put it on my Visa.
My "Disney" Visa, to be specific. With purchase points, I might get tickets to Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest for the family. w00+!
I filled out the paperwork, got the proper signatures and should get reimbursed before the bill comes in.
Two days later I get an email that there are two boxes in shipping and receiving for me. Since I never get anything, and suspected this was just customer computer hardware I'd rather not install, I ignored it.
Eventually, the boxes were moved to my desk.
They were addressed to me. And they were from Microsoft.
Upon opening them, I discovered our new licenses and the install media. For everything. And binders, which I began to fill and organize. Some choice bits may have fallen into my laptop bag. I know the "Official Microsoft Partner" plaques did. Those are freaking nice!
In the end, I had a binder full of licenses and six binders full of software. Big binders. Like those CD folders people have in their cars? But bigger.
I also had a banner - brilliant white with "Microsoft Certified Partner" emblazoned across it in blue under two bright brass grommets for wall mounting.
Entirely unable to resist temptation I threw the banner over my back, tied the grommets around my neck, scooped up all seven binders and threw open the Control Center doors shouting,"I am Software Man! I come bearing gifts! Let us no longer live as pirates but as free men! Come out of the darkness, my friends! Join me, Software Man in the light of legitimacy!"

And that is the story of how I dressed up like a superhero and saved the company.

Plans for today include Diet Coke and lots of it.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

CokeRewards progress - 617/850 - For anyone keeping score at home, that means I drank 200 ounces of Diet Coke on Tuesday.
Sadly, I also had a few cans when I got home from work.

Sometimes I like to watch bad movies. Other times I like to give bad movies a second chance. On purpose.
Tuesday night I decided to verify my memory and validate or refute the opinion of every nerd on the planet.
It has been said that an infinite number of monkeys, given an infinite amount of time, could randomly type the complete works of William Shakespeare.
If this is true, then The Matrix 3: Revolutions is a five monkey 15 minute job.
"Hey! Plot holes can be glossed over! These people are just here for the fight sequences! If the cast changes are too obvious, we'll pretend we meant to do that!"
Any movie review that starts with, "the special effects were great" and ends with "but the special effects were great" is probably a crap movie. For some reason, I prefer cheap crap movies.
In its defense, it is only 129 minutes.
After subjecting myself to that, I headed for health food with my friends. Coffee late at night is awesome. Especially when work starts at six a.m. the following morning.
We talked about politics and world events. We talked about work and relationships. We talked about comic books and Saturday morning cartoons from the 80's.
A semi-extensive search this morning leaves me with no factual reason for the cancellation of the Dungeons and Dragons cartoon - just a bunch of conspiracy theories. I suppose blaming the Illuminati helps some people put a label on the inexplicable. In the end, I guess "why?" is an unimportant question. At least you can read the script for the final, never produced episode here. After that, don't dig too deeply. I suspect the episode is cursed.
I got home a little after midnight, drank some vodka and got all weepy listening to Sting.
Just a quick public response to an email I got and an apology/explanation:
In short, I'm trying to write about stuff that I find (and I hope others find) funny or at least interesting. At the moment, work is neither of those things.
As weird/amusing/important stuff happens, I'll share.
For instance, last week I literally dressed like a superhero and saved everyone from the Microsoft goons. It was a good time, and you can expect the full story this week sometime.
It beats blogging about the cats, right?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

CokeRewards progress - 587/850 - I also got my first Coke reward points via text message! Thank you, Leslea.

As predicted yesterday, I snapped pretty quickly due to boredom.
I've created a spin-off blog to keep everyone up to date on the cats. The cats who are my only source of company while my family is away. How sad. I fear I've become one of those people.
It happens so quickly. At least I've had the decency to split it off into a different page. Your thanks should be in the form of Coke Reward points.
A Playstation 2 would keep a person busy enough to not blog about his cats.
Enough threats.
Joss Whedon is awesome.
Not only did he create and write Firefly, he is currently saving the X-Men.
He is writing for the spin off series 'Astounding X-Men', which oddly enough is the main storyline.
Ok. So Cyclops, Shadowcat, Wolverine, the Beast and Emma Frost (former bad guy) are the roster at the start of the series. Jean Grey is dead (as she is statistically 55% of the time) and most of the other non-students are off on other X teams.
The first storyline centers around a newly developed cure for mutation. It has been done. Done to death, even. But Whedon makes it compelling somehow.
He has a way of covering interaction between characters that is surprising and instantly comfortable.
Wolverine comments on the intimate relationship between Cyclops and Emma Frost: "So tell me . . . Which stage of grieving is this? Denial?" and is promptly blasted onto the front lawn.
Some of the best lines are reserved for Emma Frost herself as she deals with Scott's lingering Jean Grey issues: "The woman was no good for you."
Cyclops: "Attacking her is never gonna --"
Emma Frost: "Right. Right. Base defilement. Jean Grey is a sacred cow. (and a quieter) At least we agree on half of that."
Whedon manages to move the basic mutant/non-mutant issue past the civil rights argument it has always been based on. He modernizes it, but leaves the point the same.
When confronting the doctor who developed the cure, Emma Frost says, "Nothing but noble intentions. Yes. You're a veritable Oppenheimer. What's next? Eliminating the gay gene?"
Dr. Rao: "Homosexuality doesn't represent a threat to human existence."
Emma Frost: "We're clearly watching different televangelists."
In short, Astonishing X-Men = w00+!!
Joe and I caught a 6:45 showing of Silent Hill at the $1.50, scary as hell, cash only cinema.
I never played the associated video game and only knew going into it that there were weird creatures chasing people in the dark. I'm all about weird creatures chasing people in the dark, so it seemed like a pretty sure bet.
So, the creatures were scary. And they did chase people. A lot.
The cinematography was pretty creepy and the scenery alone was enough to give me bad dreams. A lot of the movie gave me that feeling I get on the way up a rollercoaster when I'm thinking, "This is dumb. Why am I here? I hate being scared. This is going to throw me around and shake me and turn me upside down and I'm going to freak out about maybe being one of those people who lose a shoe and close down the ride for fifteen minutes" just before I get dropped off something and actually enjoy the ride. Only there was no ride.
Suspense built and built and built. Scary scary stuff happened. I hated the ending.
The best part had to have been the little girl dancing in the rain of blood -- but that is true in most movies.
If the director was looking to confirm my desire to never visit West Virginia . . . I'd call Silent Hill a success.
Also, it is a lot scarier late at night when I am home alone. At one point about 4:30 this morning, I flinched because of a noise in the kitchen and flung one of the cats into the air to clatter down onto my laptop. I apologized, but I'm pretty sure she went and peed on something I own just to clarify her feelings.
In her place, I'd have done exactly the same thing.
Plans for today include continued awesomeness and a lot of Diet Coke.

Monday, June 12, 2006

CokeRewards progress - 563/850 - So the Playstation 2 is 850 points . . . How many points for a new Coke-branded kidney?

Today is ultra-sad for a few reasons:
First, I'm at work on a Monday. Even the most casual of Casual Jeans Mondays fails to cheer me up at this point.
Secondly, my family is leaving town for a week. This happens from time to time and profound boredom usually takes about 15 minutes to kick in and have me talking to the cats and surfing Ebay for things I can't live without yet don't want to pay insane shipping for.
Mmmmm. . . . Ebay.
Sunday we went to the Library. A week without family = several hundred dollars at Barnes and Noble. Even Borders with their delicious coffee and discount card (membership has rewards) would endanger the mortgage.
The library did not let me down.
I picked up four graphic novels.
On a side note, I love the term "graphic novel". I think my favorite part is the use of the word "graphic". This suggests, to casual coffee shop conversationalists, that the literary work being described is particularly bloody maybe. Or at least that there is crude language. Ah, crude language. . . How I've missed you my %@*#!&* old friend!
The term "graphic novel" somehow matures what is essentially 4-6 comic books bound up in one super comic book into a possibly violent novel. How very "adult".
I picked up the super mature "X-Men - Hellfire and Brimstone" story line. It looked awesome. Wolverine is on the cover.
I also picked up two volumes of the "Ultimate Fantastic Four".
In recent months, Marvel has decided to update everything into an "Ultimate" universe. When you think about it, the Fantastic Four have an insane amount of history. They first showed up in the 60s, so new readers are sometimes a bit uncomfortable picking up issue #546 or whatever of a book for the first time. In order to capture new readers and breathe new life into the old titles, they created the "Ultimate" line for everything.
These are fresh starts, re-imagined for modern times. Reed Richards and Ben Grimm are friends in Middle School in this version, and only 21 when the "event" happens that gives all of them super powers. They get to meet the familiar bad guys all over again. All the baggage is removed from the "Ultimate" universe, while the old familiar universe chugs along, baggage intact.
I also picked up "The Astounding X-Men". This is the tired old Marvel universe, but written by Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly) and a new team of X-Men.
What I've read so far I really like.
Of course, even four graphic novels will run out before the week does. Must . . . stave off . . . reality . . .

Saturday, June 10, 2006

CokeRewards progress - 501/850 - A contribution from Leslea put me over the 500 milestone.
I'm having coffee this morning. No points, but I should be 40% more tolerable.

Friday, June 09, 2006

CokeRewards progress - 477/850 - I'm jittery and only have to pee once every other day, but I can almost taste the Playstation 2. Also, I think I blacked out yesterday for about half an hour.

When I woke up, it was to the second most awesome news I'd heard all week.
Ok. So (company name deleted to comply with non-disclosure agreement) has this huge skyscraper downtown, right?
And they were planning to pull some of their computers and junk back there with the addition of this giant water cooling system they just installed on the roof.
And then they were testing it this morning and it leaked. On the roof. And I've already mentioned that it is giant.
To allow free laughter, I'll preface this with "no one was hurt".
So this leak is major and fast and thorough. And it sends extremely cold water down every elevator shaft until they fill up.
Everyone is evacuated by the stairs and power is shut off for the whole building to allow for a safe clean up.
For the time being, the entire trade floor staff is sharing desk space with me. And parking.
I seriously had to move my car from the front of the building to the back of the building as some kind of management driven gesture of welcome.
Plans for today include more Diet Coke and skipping a couple of meetings to "bond" with my new desk buddies. They will teach me the ins and outs of energy trading and I'll teach them how to delete one another's accounts.
I may also have fire extinguisher training, which I've been made to understand involves actual fires and the suppression of these fires. In real time! In the parking lot!
If I can make it through that without making jokes about the workload and how anyone forced to work with our sales staff should be an expert at fighting fires then I must be coming down with something.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

CokeRewards progress - 456/850 - The convenience store across the street has a 2 for $2 special on 20oz bottles. They tend to be sold out of everything but Diet Coke with Lime.

Yesterday I had actual work to do. At work. It was weird.
After that I dragged my family to the comic book store. Gwynyth needed a new issue of 'Spiderman Loves Mary Jane' and I needed the latest issue of '52'.
I also picked up the second issue of 'Civil War' from Marvel.

Spoilers follow:

Ok. First, Flash beats up Peter Parker. Mary Jane doesn't appreciate that, because Peter seems to care about her audition for the school play. She gets the lead.

'52' continues to depress. The series is set in the year the Superheroes stop heroing suddenly.
Buddy Baker, possibly better known as Animal Man (able to mimic the abilities of any animal and, in fact, draw power from the animal kingdom itself - tangent: The Animal Man comic is best known for the way his stories are told. The character frequently breaks the fourth wall and addresses the audience. He even speaks specifically to the writer of his comic, whom he sees as a god. Also, the comic is frequently used as a place to encourage vegetarianism and animal rights. He was also one of the first characters to sport a jacket as part of his official costume, answering the question of where a superhero keeps the car keys.) is missing. His wife is seen taking down the "Welcome Home" banner from the front of their suburban home because one of the neighbors has accused her of being in denial. Buddy Baker has been missing for over a month.
Ellen Baker hasn't given up hope, she just plans to be less vocal about it.
The next scene is in an emergency trauma hospital set up specifically for super heroes. Due to a teleporter error (the same error that lost Animal Man) Hawk Girl is 25 feet tall and in a coma and several other characters are either missing vital parts or disturbingly merged with other heroes. Eight legs only works on mutant spider creatures and that is more of a Marvel comics thing.
There is discussion of treatment options.
Finally, we see Animal Man, Starfire and Adam Strange stranded on an alien planet. Animal Man announces that they need to find a way off soon because they are being stalked by a strange creature in the jungle.
I should have read that comic after 'Civil War'. That is pretty disturbing and depressing, but not like 'Civil War'.
'Civil War' features a lot more freedom vs. security arguments from both hero camps. Spider Man gives a heartfelt interview for a newspaper writer where he talks about the danger the legislation creates for his family. He leaves, advising her to attend the Iron Man press conference in the morning.
Too bad she works for The Daily Bugle, where J. Jonah Jameson has ordered that every story about the issue slant pro-registration. The quote, "We aren't expecting a Pulitzer but I know what sells papers," is used and there is discussion about how circulation is falling due to online news outlets. Weird.
Elsewhere, Speedball shows back up. He lands, flaming, in a corn field 500 miles from the site of the explosion that was thought to have killed him. He is unconscious, and doctors believe his weird kinetic powers burned themselves out protecting him. He is arrested when he wakes up and it seems like that is supposed to be a surprise.
The last scene has Iron Man at a press conference. He shows off his older remote controlled suits and says they were used to allow Iron Man to be in two places at once and further conceal his identity. He says anytime his mask was removed before it was always explained away somehow.
He then removes his helmet in front of snapping cameras and madly scribbling reporters and says, "Hello, my name is Tony Stark and I'm an alcoholic." He is. They did a major plotline about it. At one point he drank too much to hero.
Then he says, "I'm also Iron Man."
Originally created as an anti-communist superhero, Iron Man is now the main hero pushing for federalizing and identifying all super beings.
I also read a promotional Battlestar Gallactica comic, but I don't see the point. I guess seeing the TV show might help.
Plans for today include a company 401k meeting and updating my resume on Monster.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

CokeRewards progress - 438/850 - The vending machine at jury duty was loaded with 20oz bottles and Michelle (who is @w3s0m3) donated 10 points so I'm over half way!
Also, I'm starting to fear that my sudden lower back pain is related to kidney damage and not extreme sports.
Jury duty was approximately 40% more awesome than I was lead to believe. First, I paid $11 for parking, then walked a block and a half to sit in a huge auditorium for about an hour. Eight tax-payer purchased televisions cycled through a PowerPoint presentation outlining the reasons why I might be able to skip out. Since I'm a resident of Harris county and between the ages of 18 and 70, I was told I could pretty much just get comfortable. I was told this in English, Spanish and Vietnamese. Over and over and over.
I filled out the bottom half of my invitation. I dutifully passed it to the right.
Candidates 1343-1554 were called to the left aisle for a line up. This was thirty people. They were pretty quickly marched off. I never saw them again.
Numbers 1556-1638 were identified next and told to sit in the center of the room in the first five rows. I was Juror #1637.
After the last two stragglers (two people who didn't know their numbers were between 1556 and 1638 - my PEERS!?!?!) were added to our clump, everyone else was dismissed.
A uniformed officer of the court (stun gun and everything) announced that the rest of us could watch Foxnews.
Someone in the back asked if we could watch anything else.
The reply? "No."
I read my book. I stretched my legs. I drank a lot of Diet Coke.
I watched Foxnews. Wooo.
The guy with the uniform was getting a Sprite when I got my last Diet Coke. I told him that I felt very qualified to be a juror.
As his hand drifted towards the Tazer I told him that I read a lot of comic books. If there is one thing I know, that thing is justice.
I think he was very impressed.
Either way, I was dismissed at 3pm.
The judicial system is a very ponderous thing.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

CokeRewards progress - 407/850 - I'm on schedule for hitting the halfway point if it weren't for today's jury duty of the beast. Is this much Diet Coke harmful? How about if you mix them with Mentos? That can't be healthy.
Having never had jury duty, I'm pretty excited about it. I found out that I can spend up to 40 hours in jury duty without having to take vacation days, too, so I probably wouldn't instantly recommend the death penalty. Probably.
That, coupled with $15 per day, makes jury duty a place that might be pretty awesome compared to being at work. When I tell people that they shake their heads sadly and I feel the need to repeat, "$15 a day, people."
Yesterday I spent all day opening similar but not identical service tickets with HP which all need to by updated by someone at my office today. Just not by me, I've got jury duty. Plus $15.
This is going to be awesome!
Should I bring the laptop? Does the courthouse have free wireless internet? While I'm there, should I change my last name to McHotwings?
Nothing screams professionalism like "" scrawled proudly across the top of a resume.
The hold up is that Gwynyth is firmly against the change to McHotwings. I had no idea she had an issue with Scottish people.
"LeHotwings" is not up for discussion. That kind of defeats the purpose.

Monday, June 05, 2006

CokeRewards progress - 386/850 -
Eight years ago this morning I called the radio station where Shana was a morning show co-host and asked her to marry me. She agreed, so I went on to request 'Freebird'.
Later that morning, we were married on the air before an estimated audience of thousands - many of whom still owe us a gift.
Since then, Shana has put up with an amazing amount of seriously geeky crap. It has fallen to her to be the cool one, so that as a couple we balance out somewhere more awesome than geeky. As the years pass, this job is harder and harder.
Saturday she commented that with my new issue of The Amazing Spider-Man serving as a geeky 'last straw' she would actually have to be a Ninja Pirate Secret Agent working for the CIA and FBI just to swing us back around to being as cool as the neighbor who sells lawn equipment.
Ahoy, Shana-san of the Crescent Moon. You can tap my phone any day.
Speaking of horribly horribly geeky, I've enrolled in "Discover Dungeons & Dragons" through Barnes and Noble University Online! I'm hoping to maybe pick up something I missed or at least get the nerdiest certificate ever for my wall.
Continued education is important, after all.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

CokeRewards progress - 377/850 - I stole points from Darrell and was given points by Joe, but I still drank a lot of Diet Coke, some of it with lime.

Saturday night was game night, which featured the triumphant return of Joe who missed the whole rest of the Werewolf campaign due to work or having a life or some junk. Anyway, the game was one big showdown at the cathedral downtown.
My character's attempt to "take the fight to the bad guys" (by attempting to leap from the third floor of a parking garage to the roof of building across the street) ended in a three story fall into the midst of about 20 enemy werewolves and government agents.
At least they couldn't shoot with my character right in the middle.
What they could do was spend the next many, many rounds beating my character in to much deserved unconsciousness.
Since the game was essentially one big combat for multiple real-time hours (it is hard to accurately judge how much was game time and how much was hang out time), the challenge for the storyteller was keeping it interesting. While it sounds like something so action-packed would naturally be exciting, the dice-heavy nature of table top RPG combat can actually kill momentum faster than just about anything.
The problem gets worse as the characters grow in power, too, since more dice and more combat choices start to develop.
Last night great big handfuls of dice thundered across the wooden tabletop long into the night and I don't think anyone was ever bored. Even with my character unconscious I found it interesting.
At the end of the fight, our group was victorious but our goals were still incomplete.
Our next goals are to investigate the (possibly really evil) first born of Mother Luna and rescue a packmate from an evil modern mage.
I think the decision was made to start over the Eberron Dungeons and Dragons campaign when we switch game systems next.
Since everyone needs to start over at first level, there was some discussion (around the leaping flames of a quickly blackening fire pit in the back yard) about dual-weapon wielding character progression.
Here goes:
By starting with Ranger, you maximize first level skill points, so take that for two levels (to get the two-weapon fighting bonus feat and favored enemy).
A level of Swashbuckler at third level nets you decent skills and your Intelligence modifier to damage (with light weapons - it all hinges on light weapons).
Follow that with two levels of Fighter (never, ever take more than two fighter levels. Ok. Maybe four.) for bonus feats and good hit points.
After that, Dervish levels for all ten levels of the prestige class. That's almost cheesy enough by itself, but you still have room for five levels of Tempest somewhere in there before epic levels which totally eliminates dual weapon penalties and all but guarantees anime-level damage against everything.
For flavor purposes, in Eberron this character would be either a Valenar Elf or a Talenta Halfling, which opens your character for Dragonmark feats if you are into that, though the two-weapon fighting chain uses a lot feats.
Whoa. That last bit was geeky even for me.

Friday, June 02, 2006

CokeRewards progress - 308/850 - Wow. Even considering I ripped the codes off 50 points worth of full 12-packs, I still drank a lot of 20oz Colas yesterday. I'm starting to feel like one of those apartame lab rats they killed with Tab a few decades back. What lesson did we take from that unpleasantness? If you only take in fluid in the form of Diet Cola, you will probably die.
The pressure is really on now. I have to get the PlayStation 2 before I die. Or just explode from carbonation overload. Hey, but check this out:

  • You have reached the maximum limit, you can not enter more than 10 valid codes in a day

Yesterday Netflix finally came through, allowing us to watch that cowboy movie people have been talking so much about. It had that guy from Donnie Darko and that guy from A Knight's Tale.
Anyway, there was less talking to imaginary guys in rabbit costumes AND less jousting than I'd hoped.
I liked it, mostly. Hollywood hasn't made a good buddy movie in a long time. The Lethal Weapon series kind of faded away. Turner and Hooch missed out on a much deserved sequel due to studio politics, in spite of the demands of the fan base. Top Gun in '86 was close, I guess.
Plans for today include creating processes, standards and procedures and documenting everything with PDFs full of screenshots. I've decided someone has to do it. Yesterday I did 12 pages on adding a new customer to the portal.
Today I'll do "Changing a Password" and "Adventures in Account Deletion."
After that, there is some patch or something to be applied and I may have a meeting this afternoon if I don't skip it.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

CokeRewards progress - 224/850 - "Ouch! My bladder!"

Wednesday I had a surprising revelation.
The meal replacement bar I had for lunch contained an ingredient called "fish gelatin". Now, I've seen some fish. I've seen live fish and dead fish. I've seen sick fish and healthy fish. Hell, I've seen red fish and I've seen blue fish.
I have never seen one single fish that made me think, "You know what that little guy would be good for? Gelatin!"
What kind of intellectual leap did these health food manufacturers make to decide that "fish gelatin" is the perfect ingredient to wedge between Artificial Color and Sucralose?
"Our test market indicated that people wish we'd put fish gelatin in these. Back to the lab!"
Nowhere on the package does it reference anything but "Vanilla Cream Flavor" and "23 Essential Vitamins". I guess it is too much for me to want to see, "Now with Fish Gelatin!" or "* - 'Other Natural and Artificial Flavors' May Consist of Fish Gelatin."
Either way, I've had stranger lunches, I guess.

The awesome thing that happened was when Shana decided the way to inspire our daughter Gwynyth to read more (and enthusiasticly) is to supply her with comic books!
Holy crap! Why didn't I think of that?
I read a lot. Two or three books at a time, mostly fiction but I tend to have a few technical PDFs I'm digging through at any given time. And lots of game books. The rules aren't going to break themselves, people.
Gwynyth loves the X-Men, the Fantastic Four and Spider-Man. They make comic books about those characters now!
We took her to a comic book store after I got off work and hunted through the stacks for kid appropriate material. That wasn't as easy as I'd hoped it would be, but we ended up with some Jubilee, Shadow Cat and Storm mini-series that were geared for a younger audience.
Already Gwynyth has picked up the word "assassin", so I would classify the experiment a success.
I was hoping to share some of the comics that I had considered most impactful when I was a younger comic book reader.
Most of those titles are gone or re-worked into thin plots stretched thinner over scantily clad female characters. Such is progress, I guess, but more likely just what adolescent boys will buy.
Of course, I took the opportunity to pick up the latest summer comics for myself . . . you know . . . while we were there . . .
I was hoping for more progress on the Marvel Civil War series, but this week was only an issue of The Amazing Spider-Man.
I also picked up the latest issue of '52' from DC.
Here is the run down on that series:
You know how Marvel had the big explosion and the Super Human Registration Act thing?
DC also had a massive event, but it was on a global scale. And Super Boy died.
After the dust settled, Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman (the DC A-List) stop hero-ing.
And they don't come back for a year, in comic book time.
While this year passes, DC puts out a comic called '52' , released once per week. The series tagline is: a world without Superman, Batman or Wonder Woman—but not a world without heroes. What does the DC universe do without the super-powered safety net?
At the same time, the comics for all the major missing heroes are still being printed as part of the "One Year Later" series. Let me tell you, Aquaman is cooler than ever now.
Now that I've geeked all over the page, here is an explanation for anyone still reading:
I know almost no one reading has an active interest in the state of affairs in either the Marvel or DC universe. Very few people of legal age to drink do.
However, if you did manage to muscle your way this far, past all the geeky crap, I'd like to know why. Aside from the fact that I'm very pretty, do you kind of wonder about this stuff?
For me, comic book super heroes were a pretty major part of my childhood. And college-hood.
Lately my trips to the comic book store have been like getting in touch with old friends from way back and finding out how things are going - the good and the bad - and kind of by extension remembering the younger, less bitter geek that was me.
And sometimes, when work really, really sucks, I miss that little guy. And I wonder what he would have thought of me.
Aside from, "I'm intimidated by that guy's stunning good looks! Quick! I have to make a smart-assed comment to compensate!"