Thursday, November 30, 2006

A little candy for the masses:

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As I've mentioned before, Thursday is free doughnut morning. I don't participate because sugar would probably send me into horrible abdominal cramps followed by a coma, but I appreciate the gesture. I especially appreciate it 24 hours after the sign up drive for my company's "On The Move" promotion for a healthy workplace.
Yesterday one of the conference rooms was converted into a place to fill out the forms to participate. They were also handing out fruit snacks and juice. I decided I could agree to twenty minutes of activity a day for the month of January. I probably do that much walking to the break room for Diet Cokes.
So a little after 8am I wheeled myself over to the sign up room in my desk chair. I explained that while I was into the whole activity thing, and I wanted the free T-Shirt, I didn't see the point in actually standing up.
After I filled out the form and scooted back towards my cube, I reflected that it might have been funnier if the HR people organizing the event actually knew me. Or if I'd told them it was a joke before I wheeled off. Or if I'd licked the fruit snacks and left them stuck to the white board in a semi-obscene arrangement.
Hmmmm . . . . I wonder if there are any fruit snacks left.
Anyway, January may feature me being active for 20 minutes a day while possibly participating in International World Creation Month, or IntWoCreMo, in which I may attempt to write 50,000 words about the Beaters universe for use in future stories, role playing games, comic books, movie deals and action figure lines. Also, Beaters: The Musical still needs some attention, but I can work that out using my iPod and BlackBerry while I wheel myself backwards around our subdivision in my desk chair.
I'm all about the productivity.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Hey everybody,

This is a special evening update. I found out Wired Magazine is taking suggestions for the Top Ten Sexiest Geeks. A person doesn't even have to register to nominate someone.

Do the right thing. You know. Like you do.

I'm off to pick my outfit for the swimsuit competition.

Thanks,

G

An Open Letter to the Person That Gets to Work Ten Minutes Before Me

I don't want to seem confrontational. That said, what the hell is wrong with you?
What kind of inconsiderate ass leaves two empty coffee pots with brown tops and one freshly brewed pot with the orange "Decaf" top?
Sure, at first I thought you had made regular coffee in the decaf pot. It's early. Maybe you brewed in the dark with some kind of 1337 ninja coffee skills.
But I pulled the wastebasket out of the niche and looked. Sitting on top of the pile, mocking me, sat your empty bag of decaf.
You suck more than any person I've ever even heard about.
I mean, it is 6:30 in the freaking morning, you stink hole.
Okay. Maybe I overreacted a bit. The cursing and spinning and flailing could be classified, loosely, as melodramatic. Perhaps.
But would it have killed you to make a pot of actual coffee while you were wasting hot water on your own "warms you on the inside and tastes mostly like real coffee" swill? I'd hope so.
You see, some of us have work to do. Some of us need coffee first thing in the morning to repress our murderous urges. Some of us hate you and all that you stand for as no human being in the history of time has been hated. Some of us wish we knew what you drive, you piece of human slime.
Look, with all due respect, if you are so freaking peppy in the morning that you don't need caffeine maybe you could put on a pot for the rest of us before brewing your own, you vile, horrible, evil, twisted, sick asshat. Decaf is obviously not an emergency, after all.
Again, I don't want to seem confrontational. But you suck. A lot. Someone has to call attention to it. To let you know. To make things better. To start the healing.
Ha! As if healing is possible without coffee!
You'd know if you drank it, but you don't. You selfishly brew decaf at 6:30 in the morning. A gift to share with your co-workers? Whatever.
I know your game, you non-stop suck festival. I'm onto you. You did that on purpose to decrease the productivity of those around you to make yourself look useful. I've got news for you, suck wad. It isn't going to work. No one has a use for someone who brews decaf at 6:30.
Are you unhappy at home? Mom and Dad never buy you a puppy? Disenfranchised by the last election and transformed into a sociopathic malcontent driven by the need to spread your unique blend of misery and wasted Columbian Roast? What is your problem? Did I wrong you somehow?
Your putrid hate crime will not go unanswered, loser.
Decaf is not inherently evil, but making it in an office before 2:30pm is just plain mean.
I've taken the rest of the decaf to my cubicle and stashed it under my desk. I'll return it in the afternoons as I leave the building, a few bags at a time until your hatred stops.
If you report me, I can be very convincing about my hatred of decaf and will show shock and horror that it is anywhere near me, even all bagged up. I can also trace that report back to you, and through the parking database I can determine what you drive. I'm not threatening. I'm just saying. Data flows through my system like decaf flows through yours, you stinking pile of garbage.
By this time the coffee for the rest of us has finished brewing, so I'll cut this short. I'm watching you, Decaf Boy. You don't want to find yourself between me and coffee in the morning.

A cup low,

G

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Since Pr3++yG33kyTh1ng has become my place to confess things, I've got another one:

It is physically impossible for me to care less that Paris Hilton is hanging out with Britney Spears. Believe me. I've tried. Hard. No way for me to care less.
It's almost like the "concerned" area of my brain turns off completely on encountering another stupid "news" article about it. Isn't there a freaking war on somewhere?
So what if she dumped K-Fed via text message? Who hasn't dumped their loser wannabe rapper man-whore via text message? The news there is that Britney can work her cell phone.
Who am I kidding? She had an assistant do it. Even then, who hasn't had their assistant dump their loser wannabe rapper man-whore via text message?

U R l4M3. G3+ 0u+. k33p teh tr@1l3r, L053r.

Alright. /confession

Now that I've typed all that out, I have to wonder if putting that many Google hot words in a post will increase my page hits.
One can only hope.

Yesterday I found out what happens when a person drops a Dell USB keyboard onto a tile floor from about nipple high. I'm always learning.
Apparently, the impact doesn't break the connection. The keyboard, if still plugged in, will continue to send data to the server. At least the Num Lock key still lights the LED.
You just have to really know your keyboard layout because the keys fly off in all kinds of awesome directions. The space bar bounced off my left shin and I think I was hit in the junk with the "Windows" key, which is almost poetic. At least I thought it was as I tried to look cool curling up into the fetal position and pretending to gather the full set of Alt and Ctrl keys that had skittered under the server rack. Come to think of it, server rack was never more aptly defined.
I'm going to steal a new keyboard today. I'll give the old one back to the Help Desk with a ziplock bag of loose keys and a Post-It note reading "Keyboard Broken - Problem Unknown".
I'll keep that "Windows" key, though. We have a history.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Whoa! Consumerism hangover!
I've been through denial: "There isn't anything worth buying."
And anger: "Sold out! You only had ten? What the hell is wrong with you?"
Followed by the bargaining stage: "I'll never open my wallet while surfing a hot online sale again! I swear!"
Lapsing into depression: "This stuff is going to show up and I'm not even sure where to put it. Next week, it will all be hopelessly outdated."
I'm still waiting for acceptance, which I imagine will be something along the lines of: "I spent too much. Fine. I'll do it again next year after living with out of date stuff for fifty one weeks. It is the circle of life."
We did attend a parade in downtown Houston on Thursday morning. Simple math breaks down like this: Crowds + Clowns + Kicking over empty beer bottles on the street + Parking downtown in the maze of one-way streets = Not Airwolf. But the floats and balloons were neat.
I did not understand the Latino gang group of participants with their Scarface outfits and bouncing hydraulically modified low riders, but on reflection they may have just merged in ahead of Santa. I know I would have. Who likes driving behind old people?
The NaNoWriMo book is complete. It will need a book two before it is publishable, but I'm already working through the ideas for that one. I may edit book one during December, or concentrate on holiday stuff until the first of the year.
At work I'm still in the flaming middle of a disaster recovery build out. I'm hoping to have my current task list trimmed down to a manageable level by the end of the week so that I can start next month with room to breathe.
Or not. I work well under pressure. I sleep well under cats.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Happy Black Friday! Holy Crap!

Ok. My alarm went off at 4am and I paid attention to it like an idiot.
I stumbled out the door at 4:10, Destination: CompUSA, America's Technology Super Store!
CompUSA was scheduled to open at 5am, with some deals I don't remember up for grabs to whoever can elbow the most people out of the way.
At 4:30 - long before the sun graced the parking lot - the line stretched over a hundred people down the sidewalk and out towards the side street.
I had no coffee. None. And the light at Starbucks was not shining with its normally comforting glow.
I looked around at the other stupid people in line with me. Were the deals really that good?
They seemed so on Thursday night, but I couldn't remember them at all standing in line behind the Hindu woman and in front of the guy with the baby wrapped in a towel on his shoulder in the cold, dark parking lot.
Someone important came down the line. I could tell he was important by the CompUSA name tag and the hint of a goatee.
He asked me, as he'd asked everyone else, if I was there for the 32" HDTV. I'm not kidding, I made him ask me three times before I processed the question and answered with an "I don't remember".
He told me they didn't have any.
I asked him why he'd offered if they didn't have any.
He told me he hadn't offered and was in a hurry because the store was about to open. Then he pressed a rain check into my hand and continued down the line, lowering his voice to not wake the towel baby.
I left the line, staring lasers at the Starbucks that had so cruelly abandoned me.
I decided to hit Office Depot, where a digital camera/photo printer bundle would be placed on the loss leader altar at 6am, possibly with a goat.
Again, the line stretched around the block at store opening -55 minutes. There were people at the front of the line who seemed to have slept there - blanket and everything.
I made an attempt to pay more attention to the people around me in this line. Some were very chipper for being in a line in the dark at 5:05am. I think they were coked up. Or maybe they found a 24 hour Starbucks.
The guy in front of me wasn't sure if he was in the line for Office Depot or Conn's and asked to see a sale ad. Then he asked random people if certain bits were good deals.
The sight of someone more confused and ready to fling money wildly both encouraged me and saddened me. In the end, I drove away from that parking lot at store opening -30 minutes and didn't look back.
I crawled back into bed before the sun came up, but that didn't stick either.
Within half an hour, I was all over the internet, cross referencing specials versus product reviews adding and deleting crap from my shopping cart and plotting a trip to . . . the mall.
At the mall, I gazed lovingly at the Nintendo Wii and asked the people at EB Games to cough up a Playstation 3 from the back for me. They hate me now.
We stood for a long time under a net waiting for a balloon drop where we scored a t-shirt and a $10 gift card to Banana Republic. While we had all been mostly crushed, we also agreed it was worth it.
We had horrible seafood for lunch and then visited Target and Best Buy. Both were sold out of most of the awesome stuff.
We no longer cared.
I placed a final order online when we got home and passed out, drooling into my keyboard.
I've done my bit for the economy. It will have to take care of itself until next year.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

American readers of Pr3++yG33kyTh1ng know that we have a tradition in this country.
Every year, we spend at least 364 days as completely ungrateful asses, making snarky comments about everything, hating everyone we come into contact with, and slowly poisoning our fellow man with sarcasm and bitterness. Or maybe that is just me.
Either way, we have a day specifically to put aside most of that and think about things that make us happy. What are we thankful for?
Some people respond with "family". Okay. I can see that. I suppose it really depends on the family, person to person. I can imagine that some people are thankful that family lives far away.
Others would answer with some intangible like "Freedom" or "Justice". They may list a reason, but I've generally dozed off from the turkey by that point. Or tuned out with the theme to Airwolf running through my head. Again.
There are joke responses to the question like "I'm thankful I'm not at work right now" and "I'm thankful there is still another slice of pumpkin pie because I haven't yet actually split open". I'm not thankful for these attempts at humor.
I like to carefully consider the things I'm thankful for right now, today. You know, because yesterday and tomorrow are both gratitude-free zones on my calendar that stretch to meet each other on the other side of the year.
Right now . . . I'm thankful that PC sales are predicted to completely tank at the end of the year thanks to Microsoft botching the release of Vista for the holidays prompting everyone to hold off on new computer purchases until they can get Vista pre-installed. Fear-driven PC discounts are completely Airwolf, especially with my own machine freezing up and making weird, unnatural non-PC noises right now.
I'm thankful that AMD and Intel have both purchased a graphics chip company in the last couple of months, further depressing the costs.
At the moment, I'm thankful that Black Friday is shaping up to be a sleep-in and log-on event tomorrow as opposed to the traditional wake-up-at-4am-and-hustle-through-the-crowd-in-the-cold-and-dark kind of thing.
Finally, I'm thankful for my black wool British commando sweater with the action patches on the shoulders and chest. Even the people around me in their cargo shorts and flip-flops seem to suspect that I could kill them a dozen ways with a deck of playing cards. They would be right about that playing card thing. I'll detail the methods in a future post.

Oh, and thanks for reading. Seriously.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Casual jeans Wednesday! Totally Airwolf!
I'm hoping to finish "Experiment: NaNoWriMo" over the weekend so I can convert the file to a PDF and ceremonially delete it like one of those Buddhist sand drawings. Attachment is bad.
Then I'll figure out what to do with my back up copy.
I've been combing through the ads for Black Friday. That is probably our second favorite holiday, still far behind Halloween.
Some of the ads were "leaked" weeks ago online and some are just being published. I plan to pick up a paper tomorrow to find out if there is, in reality, anything worth waking up at 4am on a Friday when I don't have to go to work.
I could stand in line at Best Buy or Staples or Fry's for nerd gear. Toy's R Us looks completely l4m3 this time around but we've done well there before.
I'll avoid the mall like it is on fire until February. Well, unless there is a zombie attack. In that case, a mall decorated for the holidays would be an awesome place to make a final stand. Of course, a zombie infestation means fewer people, so the mall could work out on a couple of levels.
And I could find out what that "chicken" stuff really is at the "cajun" place in the food court. I suspect lemur.
I wandered into a few electronics stores last weekend with my credit card out to calmly ask for a Playstation 3. It is good to make people laugh.
If they had actually had one in stock I'd have sold that thing on Ebay through my Blackberry before I even finished loading it into the car.
Confession time: I'm a geek.
As a result, even though I haven't yet finished playing with my Playstation 2 (Go, Team Coke Rewards Points My Kidneys Hate Me!) I've been examining the pros and cons for the XBox 360, the Playstation 3 and the Nintendo Wii.
In the category "most fun to say", we have a clear wiinner.
The XBox 360 is completely WiFi and internet enabled and connected to the corporation that, indirectly, pays my mortgage. There are a lot of games out already and some feature killing other players with rocket launchers. I hate the idea of loading a virtual wallet with real money to pay to unlock game features in a game I've already purchased, but that is a growing trend.
The graphics are, as in all three consoles, completely Airwolf.
The Nintendo Wii has a neat controller, but I'm afraid if it strays too far from the joystick on my old Atari 2600 I'll freak out. My thumb muscles would rebel. I don't want an ergonomic experience. I want to pause the game and walk downstairs for a Coke Zero and have my thumbs throb angrily. I want my fingers too numb to pop open the can so I have to take it to Shana and hold it out pathetically so she can roll her eyes, open the can, hand it to me and get back to plotting her escape.
The Playstation 3 has had the worst launch ever. They sold out everywhere too fast and have cut their expected delivery numbers in half for the rest of the year. While the system is quite awesome, it is $600.
No way would I pay $600 for a game console. Now, if I needed to drink, say, 8,500 points worth of Diet Coke . . .
Already the "Next Gen Game Console War of 2006" has a clear winner. I can announce it with total certainty based on launch numbers for the first week of PS3 and Wii sales.
The winner is . . . IBM.
IBM makes the processors for all three consoles so whichever system a person buys, even if they buy all three, IBM gets paid.
I'll be quietly 3d accelerating myself through a paperback probably. It's all about working the thumbs.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

As you probably know, Sunday Peter Jackson announced that he would not be directing The Hobbit from MGM/New Line.
Of course, nerds everywhere have completely (and justifiably) freaked right out.
Can The Hobbit even exist without Peter Jackson? Would I go see it with some hack directing?
Probably. But I could maybe resist until the DVD comes out since I read the book about twenty times. And we own the cartoon version.
Sunday night Shana and I watched Peter Jackson's best work, Brain Dead (Dead Alive).
Admit it. It has been too long since you viewed this gem from the early nineties.
While some of the dialog is a bit goofy, I blame that on the all Australian cast. The special effects are . . . not Lord of the Rings quality perhaps, but there are some similarities. For instance:

Sumatran Rat Monkey
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Gollum
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Also, I think Faramir could have completely cleaned up against all those orcs if he had carried a lawnmower.
Zombie metabolism is a bit weird in Jackson's vision. I would assume that, being dead, zombies would have an extremely slow metabolic rate. I think that's why the zombie baby is so surprising.
However, no matter how much they eat, I suppose there is always room for brains. I think more studies need to be done into the science of zombie digestion and reproduction. Just not by me.
I've got a soft spot for zombies, but as long as I avoid spicy food and kick boxing it doesn't give me too much trouble.

Monday, November 20, 2006

A wrote a little over the weekend and edited a little more. I know that editing is for December, but there were some things that needed to be fixed for the sake of continuity that held up my progress/word count.
I was not at work on Friday because I got to attend an event at Gwynyth's school. We brought her lunch, because that was what the cool kids were doing, and arrived about twenty minutes before her lunch period.
Jack-in-the-Box should never, ever, be eaten cold. It could also be said more directly that Jack-in-the-Box should never be eaten, but there is a little something I like to call the Ultimate Breakfast Sandwich which skews everything in favor of about a billion grams of trans fat wedged into a grease-soaked croissant. That is truth in advertising.
I imagine that for a heart patient, that food item could very well be the "ultimate" breakfast sandwich.
It could also cause enough nausea that one would never desire a breakfast sandwich again, which is what happened to me about six years ago.
Sausage, bacon, ham, processed American cheese and scrambled eggs between two pieces of bread so soaked with oil they turned gelatinous and almost transparent forever scared me away from any breakfast fast food offering.
But anyway.
We checked Gwynyth out of school early (since that was another thing the cool kids were doing) and went to look at a house. The looming threat of rezoning into a crappy school has us considering an emergency move within the greater Houston area even though we had promised ourselves we would need to leave the state before we'd pack up our stuff and move it again.
The house we went to see was beautiful, but had sat empty for too long, by my math almost three years minimum, and had started to decay in neighbor vexing ways.
The wood around the roof had rotted leaving gaping holes which were probably crammed full of bats, the front door glass had broken and been Krazy Glued back together and there was a football-sized chunk of concrete in the side yard from where the foundation had cracked in a nasty way.
Also, I doubt it was haunted in any kind of cool way.
If I'm going to upsize our mortgage, I want a ghost. The coolness factor alone would be worth it, plus I could sell our story to the Sci-fi Network or the Discovery Channel every October.
And a pool would be nice. Maybe a haunted pool.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Must . . . finish . . . novel.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Green Warrior Needs Coffee Badly!
Green Warrior Needs Coffee Badly!
Last night the server room hit a balmy 95 degrees. The processors of today completely hate that and occasionally decide to power down the servers where they reside.
That is less than optimal, so I may spend part of Saturday up here moving a couple of server racks and re-routing cables. I hate both of those things. I particularly hate those things on a Saturday morning, but I.T. people keep Shoemaker's Elves style hours, so I'm used to it.
Last night I took a break from NaNoWriMo to read a few electronic comics and play around with some new software. I think I needed the break, since I got to a point in the book where a character asked a question and I couldn't think of an answer for it. Of course, some books involve unanswerable questions of philosophy like "Why are we here?" or "What does it all mean?" or the impossible to answer "If a treant falls in an MMORPG and you have your sound card disabled, does it make a sound?" but this is far from one of those brainy thinking-style books -- and the question was "What do we do now?"
Yay, break!
I spent a little time thinking about exactly why I'm writing this thing. First, what is the point? Nothing quantifiable I can think of besides trying something new and "winning" NaNoWriMo, which is awesome. But why this book, this story, and why now?
I'm still working on that. I've got some ideas, but they need refinement.
What I do know, is that the X-Men graphic novel God Loves, Man Kills is about as close to comic book art as the world has ever known, in addition to being the basis for the movie X2. As part of my Wednesday night NaNoWriMo break I read it again after literally decades passed since my last reading and it still holds up. Also, Nightcrawler is awesome. I know that, too.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Last night I broke 40,000 words towards my NaNoWriMo 2006 goal.
When I say "broke" I mean beat, misused, bent, wedged, abused and emotionally shattered 40,000 of those little guys. Since it is "speculative fiction", and based on a future USA, I took our proud tradition of hybridizing words by slapping stuff together and accelerated it a few centuries to combine things that shouldn't be combined and redefine other things that should mean something into techno-babble that probably does not.
My plot line turned against me. I had no choice. Southerners use a lot of off-the-record, unofficial contractions. I have to make up those lost words somehow.
At work I've been regressing a bit and have mostly closed in the entrance to my cubicle with a shoddily-constructed fort made out of stacked Dell server boxes.
Fire hazard? Maybe. Hella fun? Oh, yeah.
Unfortunately, this has resulted in a lot of thrown paper balls and airplanes. I know from experience that it is only a matter of time before an arms race develops with people throwing larger and progressively more pointy things until someone loses an eye.
This is why I.T. people should wear safety goggles. Well, that and the "cool factor" safety goggles add.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

37,906 words so far in Project: NaNoWriMo.
And the plot thickens, my friends, just not for the novel.
No, the novel's plot is watery and lukewarm, steadfastly refusing to gel into anything meaningful or indeed interesting.
The plot thickens at work.
I'll add information for anyone local, but it doesn't really matter.
Ok. My building is a 33 story job at the corner of Highway 59 and Buffalo Speedway. It is a shiny mirrored building that takes up twice as much real estate at ground level than the office floor plans actually use.
The highway facing side contains offices straight up from the 9th floor to the 33rd, but the side away from the highway, and everything below the ninth floor, is parking garage. This parking garage is one of those comprised of alternating slants which give each level two entrances and exits and always manage confuse my delicate sense of direction to fling me out at the ground level on a street that surprises me.
On the 9th floor is an overpriced deli with pretty good food that overlooks the roof of the parking garage.
But wait.
On the roof of the parking garage is a garden. A few years ago I worked at the building next door on the 11th floor and I used to sneak over to a window to look out at this garden.
I'd see the people contentedly strolling through the flowering bushes and walking through the grass, shoes tossed over one shoulder.
At the end of last week they announced a change to the garden area.
They have added a putting green.
I walked out there yesterday, expecting a long line of club-wielding executive types queued up for one dinky hole, but there are about eight different greens and no waiting.
Immediately, I wanted to "accidentally" confuse "putting green" with "driving range" because from the ninth floor over two major roads -- that's just comedy gold, my friends.
Anyway, the hot golf action is free, lending more credence to my belief that somewhere in the building there is a furnace I'll where I'll eventually be asked to work a shift or two.
I'm still building server magic and will be for a while.
Tonight, I plan to write like the wind. But less substantially.

Monday, November 13, 2006

I'm 35,669 words so far into NaNoWriMo 2006.
True to the formula, my plot took an odd and accidental turn in week two.
We took a break from frenzied typing to see Disney's Monsters Inc. On Ice last night.
In a completely unrelated incident, I decided late last night to make faster than light travel possible in my novel through harnessing the power of screaming children. No idea why I thought of it. I also added an alien race of one-eyed green spherical aliens. And they skate. Seems appropriate for some reason.
In another plot development, in the future cotton candy costs $10 and strange cultists wander around trying to sell programs for $15. Creepy!
Plans for today include cramming some operating systems on some new servers and building an exact replica of our current production environment. The end result?
Double the support incidents with no user advantage.
At least until we ship the whole mess to Phoenix. Or Philadelphia. Some place that starts with a Ph-.
Phuket, maybe?
I fell asleep in the meeting. Novelling makes me sleepy.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Friday, November 10, 2006

29,558 words, but I was trapped at work until after 10pm last night waiting for most of the time.
Take that, Maryland!
As a consequence of my getting home after 11 (there was an emergency, kind of, too geeky to get into) and still getting up at 5:30am to be back to work for the debriefing meeting, I doubt my ability to even hit 30,000 today.
I'll give it a shot anyway and here is why:
Late last night I started finding really weird typos in the stuff I'd just written. Transposed letters, random words from the conversation around me, parts of a to-do list for this weekend . . . All seamlessly integrated into the plot!
Of course, I haven't read it this morning. It is entirely possible I've destroyed everything of value and will need to restore my novel from before my exhaustion enhanced writing frenzy.
Lucky for me the thing is backed up about six different places in different versions and formats.
Must . . . Protect . . . Data.
Plans for today include a bunch of meetings and (hopefully) leaving early.
Something insane and amusing happened yesterday. I remember laughing about it and deciding that I would relate the tale in this post today.
I no longer remember the incident. If it comes back after coffee, I'll probably post again. It was awesome, I remember that much.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

25,000 and something words. Depends on who counts it, but everyone agrees that it is over 25,000.
I have a more important announcement, though. Whoever chose "2 Months" in the pool for when I snap at my new job can go ahead and claim the prize. Congratulations.
I had chosen "2 Days," personally.
Yesterday I went into my boss's office and asked for the 17th off to attend an event at Gwynyth's school.
We've got a lot going on right now. In addition to normal breaking I.T. stuff, I've got this whole Citrix thing and a full Disaster Recovery implementation, which now has to take into account rabid bats. Additionally, my "Paperless Office" initiative is picking up steam.
Anyway, my boss said not only could I take the day, but that it was important that I take the day.
He called me around the desk and showed me pictures on his laptop of his son's birthday party from over the weekend. He pulled out an album and showed me pictures of all his kids and grandchildren.
He said, "Work will always be here. Go and enjoy your family. Your daughter is growing up every day."
And I snapped.
"Ok," I said, "Thank you." And I stood there.
And I told him about my last job, and how communication seemed to be a violation of some unwritten corporate policy and how time off, though earned, was resented and fear and doubt and misery were the primary motivators and asshats roamed the Earth in great, drooling herds.
Fortunately, we were interrupted by my boss's boss, who came in, said, "Good morning" to both of us and then leaned over the desk to peer at the screen of the laptop.
"Are those personal pictures on a company laptop?" he asked.
"Yes," my boss replied, as ever, sounding just like the cat from Shrek 2, "It is a go cart track, but they have bumper cars, too."
And then the I.T. Director talked about high-performance go-carts and how we should book the place for an I.T. Team Building exercise.
He asked what I thought and I told him I was probably too competitive for it to be much fun for anyone racing me and he said, "Me too!"
So, of course I returned with the obligatory, "You need to bring it, old man!"
Which was met with uncomfortable silence.
Before I left the room I asked where the baby furnace was. My boss neither confirmed nor denied the existence of the baby furnace.
So, again, congratulations to whoever chose "2 Months" in the pool. Buy yourself something pretty.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

"Big Roy's eyes were shot through with thick veins that looked for all the world like giant red snakes chasing after his tiny, rodent-like black pupils."

--Beaters, Chapter 20

A NaNoWriMo book
22,906 words in my increasingly frustrating NaNoWriMo novel so far, though the word count through NaNoWriMo, MS Word and Google Docs are all at least 100 words off from one another.
I'm about to have to call for a hand re-count. What, is Google Docs powered by Diebold?
Speaking of miscounts, I voted yesterday. Shana and Gwynyth waited for me to get home before we all stood in line in an elementary school.
"Does everyone have to vote?" Gwynyth asked us.
"No, but everyone should."
"Why do you vote?" she continued.
"Your mom and I like to complain about politics. A lot. And if we skip voting then we can't complain for a year."
I'm not sure that sold the concept to her, so I told her to crouch on the floor and continue her homework.
Mild political spoilers follow:
Yesterday was the first day I consciously and purposely flushed my ballot down the two party system. This was the first election since I turned 18 where I didn't vote for a single Republican.
To compensate, I didn't vote for any Democrats, either.
I scrolled right past anyone running un-opposed and voted independent everywhere I could.
Why do I have to vote for the lesser of two evils? A person should be able to vote for the good. Or, if they want, the greater of two evils.
Also, writing a name in on the automated polling machine was non-intuitive, so I either voted for the low-budget candidate or not at all.
At least I voted, so my right to complain is secure for another year.
What voting did not accomplish was progress on my novel. I didn't want to be that guy standing in the voting line typing away on my laptop and muttering curses.
I chose to be the guy standing in line, tapping his foot and muttering curses.
22,906 words, everybody. Can the story support the full 50,000? I don't know.
I've chosen to structure the story around Joseph Campbell's Monomyth, which is the theory that all great mythic tales share the same core elements.
Star Wars was written using the same template plus ripped off Samurai movies. And laser swords.
It always comes back around to laser swords.
All things do.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

20,049 words. I fear that I've hit the 2/5 mark for complete crap speculative fiction.
The parts I like best are the minor story lines and, as a result, I think my book may be pointed at the wrong main characters.
Of course, the self-doubt ninjas continue to pelt me with the razor-sharp throwing stars of second thought, so I have no idea whether I should shift gears and change the focus or continue plugging away in the direction I've been traveling for 20,000+ words.
In short, OMG.
I think I need to see it printed out, but in its rough state the guilt over dead trees would further disable my ability to press on through the end of the book.
To top it off, one of my favorite authors released a book last week, as he does at the end of every October. It is the end of a trilogy, with the previous book having ended in a cliffhanger. I don't have time for that! I've got another 30,000 words to write!

Yesterday I was in a meeting about Disaster Recovery. The meeting ended with a short film about the subject.
The narrator, cast to look the middle manager, said, "This is our crisis response team. Every week we get together to discuss what might happen and how we might address the issue."
Good, right? Makes sense, and his voice over the scene of five or six people sitting around a box of doughnuts was not distracting. However, when he stopped talking the people around the doughnuts started. They took turns like this:
"What happens if our data storage closet is flooded? Do we have back ups stored off-site?"
"What if a fire destroys corporate headquarters? How do we get our people to work?"
"What if an armed band of multinational terrorists compromises one of our manufacturing facilities and the stand off lasts for weeks? How do we get office supplies to our people on the inside?"
I know, that last one sounds like a joke. It is funny enough that if it were a joke I'd claim it. Unfortunately, they really said that.
After swallowing the blood pooling in my mouth from clamping my teeth down on my tongue, I started spewing my own list of calamities:
"What happens if a swarm of rabid bats infests the server room? And the only admins available to do reboots have long hair, which tangles the biting, flapping beasts?"
"Let's say another naked homeless guy runs through the lobby, but this time the sight causes the accounting group to take a sick day en masse? Who cuts our checks?"
"Ok. A herd of angry, sleep-deprived weasels dashes through the cube farm, biting and scratching our employees. Does a standard fire extinguisher deter them? How about if you use it as a primitive weasel-smashing device? Does whacking them with a USB keyboard kill them or just stun them?"
In other news, yesterday I got "promoted" to Disaster Recovery Lead.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Yesterday featured the titanic struggle between me and the tag team of writer's block and self-doubt. My mental image features me in a Godzilla suit getting knocked around by writer's block and self-doubt dressed as Rodan and Mothra. Or maybe Mecha-Godzilla.
Either way, as we smashed through the Tokyo of my novel, frantic, screaming adjectives ran all over everywhere in a blind panic.
I don't blame them. There was much carnage.
I'm starting to fear I've wasted this whole time on a subject that is more short story than novel, but last night I managed to squeeze some more information into the early chapters. It may stretch without breaking, but time and carpal tunnel will tell.
I've been compensating by writing especially terse emails at work. Leaving out the proper names of servers may be a bit confusing for the recipients until December, but we all have to make sacrifices, right?
I'm the only person I know whose book qualifies as "Speculative Fiction", but I'll hit the NaNoWriMo message boards later to see if I can find anyone else who is having some of the same issues I'm feeling related to time lines and technologies.
If not, I'll just talk smack about those losers in Maryland and return to churning prose, seemingly at random.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

16,844 words.

Ouch. My typing hurts.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Friday, November 03, 2006

8,917 words down, 41,0832 to go before December 1st.

Holy crap.

I've noticed that the faster I type and the more often I glance down at the clock in the bottom right corner of my screen the more odd things happen in the story.
I don't know if the plot is poorly thought out and malleable or if the novel is just becoming this weird organic thing.
Either way, my 8,917 words followed me around through sleep and a shower, tugging at my subconscious and self-editing like little demons. The friendly adjectives from yesterday have become mocking, bitter little words -- and there is no good among them.
Whoever finds this journal, please tell my family I love them.
The pains of clunky dialog sap my strength, leech my will to press on and create no small amount of abdominal cramping.

Actually, I strayed from my outline early on, changed some planned character names and altered the mythology to make it easier to describe.
This is what I love about "speculative fiction":

Cyborg pirates with laser swords

Since those aren't in my book, I'll dwell on the other thing I love about "speculative fiction":

In mythology, there are basic ground rules established which communicate how the world works. Magic always has a price, they say. The hero always denies the call to action at first. Every terrible monster has a weakness.
With speculative fiction (arguably the modern mythology) no matter how fantastic the setting, there still have to be rules.
In Star Wars, hyperdrive technology enables the characters to travel to fantastic locations.
Star Trek uses warp drives and transporters to accomplish the same thing.
The failure of either of these established conventions becomes a plot point that ends up with Han and Leia flying crazy through an asteroid belt and Kirk trapped on a planet with a lizardlike Gorn intent on killing him.
If Luke Skywalker could be beamed out of his fight with Darth Vader, Star Wars would lose something and the audience would notice.
Were Kirk to switch on a lightsaber and hack the Gorn to pieces it would break Star Trek. Arguably the last example could also reform Star Trek into something better and more awesome, but this is just more proof that adding a laser sword to anything makes it at least 40% more awesome.
Holy crap! Adding laser swords is totally Airwolf!
I tried to figure out a way to communicate these rules for my own setting without falling into a canned-sounding sidebar or pulling too long away from the action.
Whether or not I am successful all depends on the behaviour of these awful and numerous little words.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

4,832 words for Day One of NaNoWriMo, people. 4,832 words.
I started the day using a cut-and-paste word counter , but then I discovered that a word count function is built into the Google Online Word Processor.
I also learned early on that descriptive passages are to be embraced and that adjectives are my little friends. Oh, how I love those adjectives.
Look! 50 tools to increase your writing skill!
Yesterday morning a fiber card failed, instantly plunging our corporate office into a connectivity-free zone.
There was no internet, no email, no network shares and no IP phone.
Since I have nothing to do with the communications equipment, I reveled in the freedom.
A weird thing happened as a side-effect of the outage. People talked.
Seriously. They wandered to the other side of the cube wall and just talked.
I spoke with the guy that sits on the back corner of my cube block about digital photography. We discussed brands and models of cameras, memory formats and WiFi cards that drop recently taken photos directly to a network share.
Neither of us uses a digital camera for work at all.
After the part was replaced, everyone shuffled back to their cubicle and silence took over the office again.
Plans for today include refining our monitoring solution and slogging through an application with no support or documentation to make it do something it was never designed to do.
I may also wander over to another cubicle to chat at some point.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Convenience

I'm a creature of habit (and compulsion and addiction). Since I started work, I've made a tradition of wandering over to the drug store in the underground mall a couple of times a week to load up on a few bottles of Coke Zero (300+ Coke Reward Points and nothing to spend them on) for the constant and static check-out price of $6.69.
Monday I wandered over, grabbed my bottles and lugged them to the counter. After I signed the receipt, the clerk told me I'd need to stock up -- Friday would be their last day in business.
I was visibly shaken by this announcement.
The clerk told me the mall was raising his rent and that he couldn't afford it.
They had offered him a smaller space, but he has no way to cram all the convenience into a smaller store.
As a result, this dedicated small business owner is out on the street, and I'm out of a place to buy bottles of Coke Zero for less than $1.50 each. I would hate to have to decide which of us is the most crushed by this.
I thought about the business climate in this tiny mall. There are several fast food places, an independent theatre and an off-branded Starbucks (owned by the hotel, unable to accept the Starbucks card) and people wander in during lunch mostly.
They get no traffic from people who don't work directly above the mall, since it costs to park and there are other, better places to go.
The mall has to make money, but forcing this guy out of business just feels wrong.
Is it his fault mall revenue is down and property taxes are up?
Is he to blame for providing 90% of the non-fast food items office people need from time-to-time which causes him to fill such a large store with goods?
Should the convenience provided by this gentleman and (I assume) his family be sacrificed on the altar of corporate greed?

Meh.

How do I know?

I just know that he'd move more product if he wasn't asking $7.99 for a dusty bottle of Arrid X-tra Dry that expired in 2002.

Last night I manned the fort while my family went out and gathered candy from the neighbors. We feel it is important to have someone home to hand out l3w+ given the large numbers of teenaged trick-or-treaters who stop by -- probably armed with toilet paper and eggs.
I sat by the door, dropping grim reaper bubbles and rubber ducks in the treat bags of costumed visitors and reading comics on the laptop.
I read Batman and Dracula and the Vampirella Halloween Special. It seemed appropriate.
Today NaNoWriMo officially begins. Goodbye, free time. I knew you when.