Friday, June 29, 2007

Last night Shana and I attended a pre-screening of Death at a Funeral. Frank Oz directed it and, since he was Yoda, we thought it would be good.
Also, Alan Tudyk from the still mourned Firefly was in it. Oh, Firefly. We hardly knew you.
A moment of silence, please.
Someday, I swear Fox will pay a terrible price for the heartless murder of that series. Someday, that network's fear of smart TV will undo them. When it does I'll be there, boxed set in hand, ready to beat the executives about the heads, necks and groins with it until they admit to their evil deeds.
But anyway.
Death at a Funeral was extremely funny. At times, the humor was so mean it was almost uncomfortable, and of course that makes it even more funny.
We were able to see it last night because Gwynyth went to spend some time with her grandfather and cousins a little farther north. She left yesterday. The movie with adult themes, drug use and near-constant profanity was a nice distraction, but we miss her already.
And the cats are quite stressed out that she isn't around.
In other news, the Roomba people have accelerated the timeline for the eventual fall of mankind.
I, for one, welcome our new robot overlords.
I'm just really sad I didn't pick up a Roomba and duct tape a Tazer to it myself.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

My cellphone is busted.
It was only a matter of time, really.
A person can only drop a piece of electronics on the concrete floor so many times before functionality starts to decline and it no longer holds a charge like it should.
At the same time, the contract with AT&T Mobile (used to be Cingular), our time in the sun with the carrier, is drawing to a close next month.
It is unfortunate.
I will miss the tiny keypad and fuzzy picture and video capabilities.
I'll miss the integrated web browser, though we haven't carried a data plan since we purchased the phones to begin with.
There a newer phones now, and I'm cheered more than a little by various technological advances.
I'm just not sure which cool new phone impresses me the most. Replacing my venerable Motorola is a big job.
Seriously, $600 is a lot of money for a phone, even admittedly for the most awesome phone in the history of humankind -- including the original Alexander Graham Bell phone (which did not have data or media capabilities at all).
Thanks, Apple.
Now what am I supposed to do?
"Favors" for tips in the Men's Room at the Olive Garden?

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Every good Wednesday morning should start off with a brush with the law.
So. There I was, driving to work, minding my own business, enjoying the flow of traffic along I-10. It was moving pretty briskly at first. That was odd, because normally I spend my commute imagining I'm riding in the most boring parade in history, smiling and waving at the cars around me and wishing I hadn't thrown my last strand of beads already.
As I-10 began to merge onto 610, all progress stopped. I sat behind a Ford Explorer which kept flashing through the reverse lights as the driver kept putting it in and out of Park. Side note: I freaking hate that guy.
At this point in my commute, the road really only offers two choices. I can continue to 610 South and ride 6-7 minutes to the parking garage at work or I could take 610 North and ride into a completely unknown adventure through a part of town where the view of the $350,000 townhouses is obstructed by homeless people and illegal day workers.
I watched the blue flashy lights on the motorcycles in front of the Ford Explorer and waited. I didn't want to go north.
Then, one of Houston's finest wandered up to my car and said simply, "An hour."
"Excuse me?" The sentence fragment had taken me off guard. I thought to correct him, but decided I'd been Tazered enough for one lifetime.
"It'll be about an hour. You can wait or you can find another way."
"What happened?" I asked, stalling before committing myself to a trek into the unknown North.
"Cement," was his simple reply.
There were tons of cement everywhere. I had made the observation to myself some time before that most of the Interstate structure seemed to have been formed from the stuff. Pre-coffee, I was still confused.
"Really? Cement?"
"It'll be an hour this way, unless you want to drive through wet cement." He was obviously ready to move to the car behind me.
"Yeah. Not so much. It's never as much fun as it looks like on TV. Like that time Sheriff Coltrane ended up in it after crashing through that barricade and scattering those ducks and the brim of his hat broke off and came down over his face." I babble when I'm forced to deviate from my planned course.
"That was Enos," he clarified.
"I'll just go north now," I offered.
"Good idea."

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

This year we are skipping the big family vacation.
Sadly (very, very sadly) skipping the big family vacation is a tradition going on ten straight years. Fuel prices and general expenses make it impossible this year, even though I have vacation time to burn.
Sometimes when work gets to be a little too much, I configure various vacation packages on Expedia or some other site, add them to the shopping cart, and then log out and get back to whatever work needs to be done.
I just read through that last paragraph. I need a drink.
Yesterday, through a bizarre and unrepeatable series of hyperlink jaunts, I ended up at the site for British Airways.
Like just about every airline, they offer an incentive-laden free membership. On a whim, (hoping to see Scotland at some point before I die) I decided to sign up.
Then, the most awesome thing happened.
You know those web forms where the first blank (labelled "title") is a drop down containing the possibilities "Mr.", "Mrs.", "Ms.", and "Dr."? This one goes into considerably more choices.
I have to admit, getting a confirmation email addressed "My Lord" really perked me up for some reason.
I'm going to close this meeting of the readers of Pr3++yG33kyTh1ng with an "action item".
Go to the registration page and sign up, then share your new title in the comments section. I'm curious not only what people would choose, but if it as amusing to anyone else as it was to me.


The Viscount Garrick of Pr3++yG33kyTh1ng

Monday, June 25, 2007

Happy Monday, everybody!
Between the Datacenter shutdown Saturday afternoon and the Datacenter start-up on Sunday morning, it is almost as if the weekend never annoyed me at all with the customary feelings of "not being at work" and "relaxation" that I often mitigate through chemical means.
Needless to say, I'm totally on board with the whole "back to the cubicle, monkey" Monday tradition and I don't want to beat anyone at all to death with a loosely coiled CAT-5 cable.
On Sunday we attended the Awards Banquet for Gwynyth's swim team, since the season officially ended on Saturday.
I've got a question. I'm not a real big sports-type person, but what does "Awards Banquet" mean to you?
I was picturing more the slacks-and-button-down-shirt, room-full-of-people-eating-and-getting-up-to-make-short-acceptance-speeches, projected-PowerPoint-slideshow-with-a-pattern-of-pictures-following-the-format-three-serious-sports-pictures-then-one-goofy-swim-kid-picture-then-two-more-serious-sports-pictures-then-a-picture-of-the-crossing-guard-or-official-who-died-or-got-arrested-or-re-entered-rehab-mid-season-then-three-more-serious-sports-pictures-then-repeat kind of thing. You know. Like they do.
What we got was a mosquito-infested cook-out between the pool and the playground complete with flip-flops and styrofoam plates and an hour of speeches by the parents about how awesome some of the parents are and how much the rest of the parents need to do more. You know. Like they do.
After that, I'd been instructed by my manager to take my family to dinner in compensation for "Lost June Weekend '07". You are probably thinking the same thing I thought when presented with the possibility of dinner out on someone else's tab. "Now we can try that All-You-Can-Eat-Waffles place because waffles are awesome!"
Shana and Gwynyth had different ideas, so we went to one of those Japanese Hibachi places where they cook the food right in front of you and flip around the bladed utensils all ninja-like.
As I've said before, while I consider myself a manly-type man, I don't like to get stuff (especially goo) on me. And I don't like it to the point that the thought makes me hyperventilate a little bit.
What I learned last night was that even a completely uncoordinated I.T. geek can catch a piece of chicken flung across the restaurant in his mouth when the alternative is getting chicken juice on his face. Fear changes a man. Adrenaline sharpens the reflexes.
Gwynyth was impressed (She chose to bat the chicken away from her face, which was a perfectly reasonable response given that someone had just flung the chicken at her.) and noted what I believe she interpreted as "calm" following the chicken catch in her admittedly generally spastic father.
She did not correctly identify it as a paralysis brought on by my body's fear chemicals purging themselves and resetting my flight or fight or catch chicken response cortex. And for that, I'm grateful for hibachi mood lighting.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Some time ago (If my career were broken down along the same timeline as our total global history, we are talking about the time long after the Earth cooled, yet before the last mastodon was chased into a crevasse.) I was asked during a job interview if I minded wearing a cellphone for the purposes of being on-call.
I remember laughing and then confessing (I'm always honest in interviews) that I've worn something for that purpose for so long that sometimes I feel a vibration even when there is no ring -- Or even when I've left my phone in the car.
The interviewers laughed, too (it was a conference call) and first one and then the other admitted the same weird thing.
Then I saw this article and I started to realize how widespread this type of thing is.
I learned a while back to watch for signs of "vibroglaze" in people I'm speaking with. That happens when a silent cellphone goes off in their pocket, their head tilts gently to the left, and they nod at me (no longer listening) while they check the caller ID. This is even more amusing when they get a call in the middle of something they are saying, because even unanswered calls draw enough attention away to derail the train of thought.
"What was I saying?"
"You were saying that I need a raise."
"No. No I'm sure that wasn't it."
But "Phantom Vibration Syndrome"? That sounds like an actual disorder! And one that I clearly have!
This weekend will be entirely devoured by a city-mandated electrical test of our building. It should take them several hours with the power off to . . . . Check the power thingy. Yeah, I don't know what they are doing. But I know that power will be off here from 6pm Saturday until 6am Sunday, which means a few hours before the lights go out we need to be up here gracefully powering down the servers in the specific order that makes them not wake up confused. Side note: I wish sometimes I could wake up not confused, but the question "Why is this stupid cat eating my hair?" spurs even more confusion. Maybe a timed coffee IV drip set to start an hour before my alarm goes off?
Then Sunday at crazy early o'clock, we all have to come back to the office to coax the datacenter back to life.
The bright side is that my phone should be totally silent while the servers are in their city-imposed hibernation. I'll probably still feel it vibrate.

Edit: Look!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Here's a problem:
The Department of Homeland Security is in charge of protecting us from cyber-terrorists.
In a report released recently, senior officials in that agency acknowledged 800 computer break-ins in the past two years (over one per day, by my admittedly shaky math) including virus outbreaks, compromised systems, stolen laptops containing unknown data, and stolen passwords -- On their own internal computers.
This is a sore spot for me, because I know why they get hacked like n00bz.
The reason is simple -- They are n00bz.
I almost (almost) accepted a position (badge, gun, car and caseload) with the FBI cyber-crimes division. However, I could not afford to.
Government salaried computer jobs like these pay half (or a little less than half) of the current (depressed) private sector I.T. rate. For us, the desire to live indoors outweighed my desire to crack hippie skulls, though I'm still bitter about it.
If the government is serious about stopping cyber crime, they have to offer incentives to get qualified people to do the work.
This is not intended as a slight on the men and women who work hard for the DHS. This is a request that someone send them some help.
Eight-Hundred times in two years, someone maliciously compromised the computer systems of the people responsible for protecting ours.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

I'm a big fan of the free market.
This is what prompts people to save toys from my childhood in the original packaging, wrapped in acid-free, museum-quality acrylic until I "Buy it Now" for less than the retail cost from 1982.
There is an unfortunate darker side. In this YouTube video, there is an address to a group of hiring managers about how to get around the legislation that protects American I.T. workers.
In my favorite part, the attorney speaking talks about the federal requirement to hire qualified U.S. citizens first by saying, "Our goal is clearly not to find a qualified and interested U.S. worker and that, in a sense, sounds funny, but it's what we are trying to do here."
Now, I suppose there are several ways this could be taken. Except that there aren't.
This is an organized attempt to hire (through manipulation of the law) cheaper workers from overseas at the clear cost of jobs for American citizens.
And it depresses me a great deal. People work very hard over a number of years to gain the qualifications they have, and now someone is trying to undercut them to save a few dollars.

On a side note, this is the second time I've written this post. The first time Blogger ate it through an authentication error. Maybe I should find an off-shore subcontractor to write something funny about that.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

It isn't really hard, in spite of the impression it gives.
Hours not spent working are simply spent in amassing great heaping piles of "geek cred", which can then be exchanged for goods and services.
No, wait, that's something else. "Geek cred" just gives me something to write about.
I play games. Not just World of Warcraft (though that seems to occupy quite a bit of "life space" on the spinning hard drive of my free time at the moment) but actual pencil and paper, old school Dungeons and Dragons (and I've actually developed opinions about the rules and their effectiveness in comparison with the earlier editions like some giant multi-threaded database of possibilities broken into 20 distinct dice-based opportunities for awesome) and I blog (which is like writing but instead of a notebook I use a web server shared by thousands of other users to convey thoughts and ideas, not unlike a Web 2.0 message board where all my posts are, by default, in bold).
Sometimes I even translate these concepts into computer terms with the idea that this process somehow communicates better than if I had not. Secretly, I doubt that it does.
It seems lately that the laws of the universe which govern our interactions with those around us no longer apply, or at least no longer apply in the same way.
Some of my co-workers play World of Warcraft.
Some of my co-workers have lives.
When we wander as a mixed group down to the cafeteria on the ninth floor, we usually talk about the game. Those of us who play, anyway.
Those that don't aren't excluded on purpose, but talk of Mobs, DPS, ub3r gankage and Barrens Chat seem to exclude naturally those who choose to not play.
And they slowly physically fall back to the rear of the geek pack, and you can tell when they stop even trying to talk to us when their eyes glaze over.
According to the natural order, the people that don't play World of Warcraft can (and probably should) beat the hell out of the rest of us and take our lunch money.
It feels wrong when geeks in large numbers somehow manage to exclude the people who by rights should be making us do their homework.

Monday, June 18, 2007

There was another swim meet Saturday, and this was our last for the season.
We had to get up at 5:30am, and while this is something I regularly do on a weekday there is something powerfully wrong about doing it on a Saturday.
It was so wrong, in fact, that I fell asleep under the team tarp, sprawled across the pavement like I'd been dropped there from somewhere really high up.
Shana had the decency to lift my head and place Gwynyth's robe under it. I didn't need it to help me sleep, obviously, but I suspect it made me look less drunk to the other parents, almost as though my nap were planned out.
Sunday we watched commercials all morning. We saw advertisements for Dodge, Dos Equis, 7-11 (Slurpee), Washington Mutual, Starbucks, Coca Cola and Home Depot. While this isn't anything that can be avoided in modern life, I appreciated the marketing people wrapping these ads in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. At one point, Reed Richards confirms that the Fantasticar does, as Johnny Storm suspects, have a hemi in it.
If I were kidding, that would have been an awesome joke.
And the chorus for every geek-reviewed comic book movie shall be sung now (join in, you all know it by now):

"But the special effects were good . . . "

And they fixed that whole Dr.-Doom-made-of-metal thing that has bothered me since last time.
Really. Since the last movie came out, I've lost sleep over that fallacy. Dr. Doom wears a metal mask, but he is not actually made of metal. I felt the first Fantastic Four writers glanced at a few comics and then concentrated on ways to get Jessica Alba naked.
Of course, that strategy worked from a financial standpoint, I must admit.
There was some discussion as we were leaving about how Johnny Storm's hair bothered me with its texture-free frizziness. My friend Joe rightly pointed out that any product The Human Torch used on his hair would ignite Michael Jackson style at the first "Flame On!" and probably not be worth the effort.
Yes, Galactus and the Silver Surfer and Dr. Doom all showed up and the Earth was almost destroyed -- And I was briefly distracted from the product placement by The Human Torch's bad hair.

"But the special effects were good . . . "

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Sometimes the fear of death makes a person appreciate the little things in life.
Other times, the fear of dying to protect a terabyte of the CEO's joke emails from the mid-nineties in the event of a category five hurricane makes one update his or her Monster profile.
Previously, I just listed my certifications up there.
This is my new description:

Hi! If you click through to see what I've done, I'm sure you'll agree I'm pretty awesome. If you don't offer me a job (With a load of money. Seriously, like "having to change out print cartridges just to cover the commas in the check" kind of money) I might end up working for one of your competitors. I don't forget a slight, either. Proactively, I've developed a hatred for the users at your company/office/cartel as I've psychologically lumped them all into a massive grouping of "clue-free proto-humans". You shouldn't put up with their crap, and believe me I'm not about to either! I'm very thorough. If there is a problem with the way things are done at your company (and there always is) you can count on me to bitch about it both loudly and often until it goes away. I've become adept at skirting local libel laws and carry a long list of friends on which to turn state's evidence.
I have no (officially diagnosed) communicable diseases and (given proper coffee) rarely feel what my psychiatrist and I term "stabby" anymore.
Also, in the interest of disclosure, there are warrants for me in several states for kiting checks. Not this one, though! LOL!

See? Brief and to the point. It also carries key words hiring managers search for like "proactive", "adept" and "load of money". By closing with the exclamation "LOL" I build instant familiarity and establish rapport.
If (when) this company is washed out into the gulf, I'm sure to have my pick of places to go next.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Casual Jeans Friday. It is this simple joy that makes the other less casual days worth the effort.
It seems the cats decided I needed an early jump on it, because they were doing that weird yowling growl thing at each other where they threaten to fight to the death but neither will commit to actual physical confrontation. That noise will continue until someone chases one or the other away and moves the one who didn't run away into another room so that she can't be tracked down and growled at again immediately.
This is the process. I think they like it.
I also think they need to let people sleep or kill each other ninja-style in absolute silence.
Today we have our "Hurricane Preparedness" meeting for I.T. only. The meeting is being held in a little room where we used to store spare hardware instead of an actual conference room. In effect, this meeting is "off the grid", untraceable, and by next week will "never have happened".
I'm sure the news we will be getting will be disturbing, but no matter how horrific it is, it will be nothing compared to some of the stuff I've been hearing from the question and answer portion of the user meetings.

"Why do we need bottled water? It always looks like there is plenty of water on the news."

"Late summer is our busy time, can't they just move hurricane season up a few months?"

"If the building blows over, how will I be able to open a Help Desk ticket when printing screws up again?"

This is probably why we aren't invited to meetings with the general population. I've been quietly taking apart old and broken SCSI hard drives and slowly sharpening the disks into a deadly array of Ninja Spinning Death Crescents (Patent Pending). There is only so much practice a person can get hurling them into the fiberboard cubicle walls and the newly scarred sheet rock hidden behind server boxes.
We all know eventually these weapons of doom will be turned against the users (the initial 'L' is silent and invisible) in a whirling frenzied acrobatic dance of death.
I commend management on giving us separate meetings to delay this as long as possible.

Edit: I'll post a full review later, but for now I can sum up the meeting I just attended with my new realization:

We are all going to die. Sooner, rather than later. But before we all die, we need to secure the data.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

There were about 30 people in the kitchen area for doughnut day.
Not a single one of them thought to make coffee.
Okay. So last night our World of Warcraft guild (Innkeepers, Duskwood server) got a little larger. A long time friend and gaming buddy showed up from nowhere (or another server, which is as close to nowhere as a person can get) and enlisted right away. And that was awesome.
Thanks for hanging out with us, Darrell.
And then this morning, before coffee, there was a meeting request in my email inbox. Since I had no legitimate reason to skip it, I accepted and selected the option to not send a response.
This fills in my calendar, updates their calendar, and simply doesn't send them a copy of their own email stamped "Accepted".
Then, I visited the copy machine to prepare the documents I'd need for this meeting.
While standing there, I discussed the meeting topic with the meeting organizer, confirmed (indirectly, I suppose) that I would be there and went over the direction I wanted the meeting to go, along with the only acceptable outcome (That being noted in my plans for Total Global Domination, Section 4, Articles 11 and 12 -- Though I did not choose to identify them as such during this conversation. Oh ,no. There will be plenty of time for that later.) then gathered my papers (I don't trust the integrated stapler) and made my way back to my lair/desk.
A while later, she came by to find out if I'd be at the meeting.
I was a bit confused, but chalked it up to late coffee.
She said I had not accepted the meeting and I confirmed its place on my calendar. Then she told me she never got my response.
Please keep in mind this whole exchange, from beginning to end, including getting the original email, was about 20 minutes.
I explained that I chose to not send a response, since we had discussed the meeting in person.
It looked like I had slapped her and I began to feel bad about it.
"I thought you knew I'd be there," I said, "I'm the one that wanted the meeting. I just didn't send the response."
"Why not?"
"I accepted," I was trying hard to deflect some of the outrage I could see building in her, "I just didn't send a response. I usually don't. I was trying to help you keep your Inbox tidy."
I think she took personal offense at this, though none was intended.
"Just send the response!"
I frantically edited my meeting options and wasted LAN bandwidth and mailbox space in order to avoid being stabbed with a letter opener.
"Okay." I watched the send/receive lights for a bit and then said, "You should have the response now."
"Great!" She actually seemed relieved, "I'll see you at 10!"
If the other attendees were rabid bears, I'd be looking forward to this meeting more. I have some understanding of rabid bears.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

I don't play console games that much.
It isn't that they aren't awesome or anything, I'm just usually physically closer to a computer and (if I want) I can Alt-Tab to my web browser.
I've put off buying a next generation console for these reasons and for the lack of a compelling game. Until now.
Nintendo has announced a future lightsaber fighting game using the wiimote to its fullest duelling potential. This game, when released, will be a game worth making a stand over.
It helps that the Wii is much cheaper than the PlayStation 3 and XBox 360.
Even poorly executed, the novelty of the concept will make this game a must-have.
I've spent a long time being neutral.
I lost friends in the first console war, and the memories are still painful whenever I visit a Game Stop.
Another painful flashback is triggered by the simple mention of the Star Wars universe in table top role-playing games.
In high school, instead of working on my social skills and alcohol tolerance, I spent many hours with friends slogging through the old first edition rules, based around six-sided dice and a fixed set of personality types and character career paths. It was awful.
In fact, at one point following a Mountain Dew fueled frenzy and subsequent sugar crash, I purposely sent my mid-level "Laconic Scout" into a black hole, hoping he might end up in some Dungeons and Dragons universe where he might stand a shot at having a good time.
He died horribly -- split into his component molecules slowly over a million years -- but I've never regretted that.
In 2000, Wizards of the Coast released a new universal rule set called D20. They wrote it for Dungeons and Dragons and it works there. They also tried to illustrate how universal it was by setting their new Star Wars role-playing game in the same exact rule set.
They finally gave up on that in 2004, since the game books were always better to read than to play.
You don't generally want the rulebook to be more fun than the game.
The new edition specially created for the 30th anniversary is called the "Saga Edition", and it seems to fling a lot more Star Wars into the basic Dungeons and Dragons rules.
In the earlier books, a Jedi could beat anything. This is pretty true to the movies, but doesn't encourage a lot of people to play politicians or smugglers. Apparently, any character has the potential to do something awesome now.
The new edition pulls out a lot of the D&D overhead, too, which leaves room for player creativity.
As someone who frequently runs games, player creativity can be frustrating. It is also what makes a game fun for everyone.
I still need to get our Dungeons and Dragons game going again, but at least Star Wars is there as an option that isn't instantly discarded by hardcore geeks as a poor translation of life in the Star Wars universe.
Those discussions invariably lead to multi-hour discussions of Sarlacc (plural Sarlacci) biology, Imperial rank insignia continuity, what Taun Tauns eat, and ways George Lucas should have killed off Jar Jar Binks. I've been in enough of those debates.
For now.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Someone dropped a "7 Days Free at 24 Hour Fitness" coupon on my desk.
I have no choice but to take offense at this.
Since I wasn't here, no one asked me if I wanted one. It seems to have just been assumed that I needed one, and that is far different.
Sure, I obviously drink a lot of Diet Coke, but thin people drink diet cola too. In fact, if you look at the marketing materials, only thin people drink Diet Coke. Why would the perpetrator of this hate crime not assume I was one of those people?
Worse, what if this mystery health club coupon person actually saw me on one of my baggy shirt days and made the logical leap to a freakish alternate dimension where there is less room for me in a baggy shirt?
I never go to lunch. I take in less than 500 calories a day while I'm at the office -- That is breakfast and a low-sugar health bar for lunch.
There is a guy here who (I swear) eats like 3 cans of Chef Boyardee a day. Well, maybe it is more than one guy. Either way, the microwave is unusable after that, so there aren't a lot of options unless I want to leave the building anyway.
Even when I make the hike downstairs to the cafe on the ninth floor I get a whole wheat turkey wrap. A whole wheat freaking turkey wrap!!!
Who are these people to judge me?
I'm not making a mental list of people who make poor nutritional choices (except for canned pasta, and that is specific to canned pasta) and wear baggy shirts and drink Diet Coke (unless I can get some Coke Reward Points off them somehow) and could possibly use a gym membership.
I'm not categorizing people into groups by "needs a gym membership" or "needs a sandwich".
I don't, in short, attempt to mold anyone into an unrealistic body image based on airbrushed and photoshopped magazine covers because it is none of anybody's business and why can't we just go to work and do our stupid jobs and stop judging each other anyway?
Stop checking me out! I'm not a piece of meat administering your systems and sensuously dancing in my cubicle!
My goal for today is to find out who did this and express my opinion of their hate-filled personal attack.

Edit: It looks like these coupons were on every desk this morning. Some kind of marketing push from the 24 Hour Fitness people. Forget I brought it up.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Okay, everybody.
This post will border on the personal much like Laredos borders on Texas -- That is "with frequent and unenforced overlap".
The disclaimers are as follows:

1. Ladies, the subject matter is delicate and sometimes graphic.
2. Dudes, you may want a stiff drink before reading this. Maybe two.

If you've come here to read about my PvP exploits over the weekend (almost 1,000 Honorable Kills in Alterac Valley -- Take that, Alliance n00bz!!!1!!!) that will have to wait for another day.
On Friday, Shana and Gwynyth and I officially became Jewish.
I know I tossed out the "personal" disclaimer early on, but if you'd like information on our reasons feel free to email me.
The process of conversion was not quick in that we have all been studying and reading and learning and participating for quite some time.
However, the ceremony itself was a well-defined welcome to our new roles in the Jewish community.
There is a trip to the mikveh and some specific prayers for everyone.
For uncircumcised men, that needs to get done. I figured I was all set until the next to last day of our class when I found out about the hatafah dam brit.
You've read this far, the "personal" disclaimer having not chased you off. Go ahead. Follow the link and then come back. It's worth it, and the rest of this will make no sense unless you know.
So, while Shana and Gwynyth went to the mikveh, I met with the mohel.
I had pictured a retired doctor, eyesight failing, with a tremor in his hands. I suppose that fed my anxiety.
Normally, the process involves a quick jab with an izmel (no link provided because you should know after following the link before last) and a tiny drop of blood which is shown to witnesses.
However, I assume I was nervous or something.
There was a jab, but no bleeding. All blood in my body seemed to have travelled up into my face.
The mohel was perplexed, but professional, so he jabbed again.
Still no bleeding. There were holes, but no bleeding.
At the fourth jab, I'm unashamed to admit that I flinched.
After the sixth bloodless jab (I'm still waiting to see if that was a temple record) the mohel went from stabbing to slashing and the blood finally appeared.
Todd (our Rabbi and friend) later claimed that it was the worst one he had ever attended. It was also the worst one I'd ever attended.
After that, I visited the mikveh and managed to drive us back to the temple for the actual ceremony.
And that, my friends, should put to rest any of the rumors that I am not rugged and, indeed, manly. Beneath this attractive Jewish facade beats the heart of a real manly-type man. A real manly-type man who wishes that heart would provide blood on the first jab.
And a real manly-type man who put off going to the restroom until hours later, after dark, when there was no chance he might accidentally see the injury and pass out, even though he had to go really, really bad.

Friday, June 08, 2007

I'm not at work, as today is "Off Day" in my own personal internal caveman-speak.
It bothers me not a little to miss any day at work which begins with the title "Casual Jeans", but I have much more important things to do.
There will be immersion, there will be prayer, and there will be bleeding. I generally try to avoid 33% of those activities, but I'm making an exception.
After all that is complete, it is Bonus Honor Holiday Weekend in the Alterac Valley Battle Ground. I've gathered just shy of the amount of tokens I need to buy my "Epic PvP Armor Set ®", but I'm about 75,000 honor points away from the goal. A character needs both tokens and honor points to get anything. In short, I need all the bonus honor I can scrape up. Given that I can earn 300-400 honor points during a bad match, I'll be slogging through a lot of them. Sure, I could buy some parts of the armor set now, but then I wouldn't match at all and that just won't do. You know how it is.
On the blindingly bright side, I remembered to disable the alarm function on my BlackBerry last night and managed to sleep until 45 minutes after I normally get to work. This, coupled with good coffee, makes for the start of an amazing day.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Hey! It looks like the gypsy attempts to borrow the copper from the AC units were merely a crafty diversion. Gypsy Team Two, it seems, was stealing the uninterruptible power supply from a different building totally. There is much more copper in one of those.
However, the outage on our end was much more brutal and unable to be mitigated by making the fanning motion with the server room door.
Again, I've volunteered to handle stake-out duties in Aberdeen. Though I've made perfectly clear my willingness to "crack some skulls" in the name of improved uptime, I think they may hire a local security firm rather than fly me to Scotland.
In other corporate news, I've been invited to attend Hurricane Preparedness Training. The email invitation specified that it was mandatory.
I got an earlier email instructing me to not sign up for it, though, so I promptly deleted it.
It seems I.T. will have our own, offline, Hurricane Preparedness Training. We will either be given the "real truth" about the whole "plan" or we will just be informed that in the event of a major disaster we are expected to ride out the storm on the 28th floor or go down with the ship.
Either bit of news would distress the regular users to no end. That is why they have their own "Bottled water is located in the blah blah flashlights yadda yadda orderly migration to the DR site" meeting and we get the hard core "It says in your contract you are responsible for the servers, nerds - You think that don't apply when it rains!?!?!?!" meeting.
It is the kind of meeting that makes users cry.
For that reason alone, I love that kind of meeting.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

This evening I'm pulling a second shift.
We have a bit of a crisis here at work relating to the basic laws of physics.
I.T., as a rule, requires a lot of stuff. Not all of this stuff can be used at once. When it is being used, there generally isn't too much trouble. When it isn't, people fight over where it goes.
Since I hired on in September, I've been a part of no less than four incidents where I.T. (or at least my team) has been evicted from the place we were told to store our stuff.
There follows a transitional phase, where the stuff is parked outside my cubicle. The end of this period is signalled by someone telling us to move it again with a specific destination in mind.
And then, they later decide they really need that space for something else so the process repeats itself.
At present, the server-related stuff (all of it being our responsibility and all of it being crazy heavy) sits inside the doorway of the Help Desk storage area.
Tonight, all that changes.
Starting an hour after I normally leave, we will pull it all out of there. Then we will assist the Help Desk in moving their stuff into that space, which will leave the back of the room open.
We will then fill the back of the room with our stuff.
I'm just glad this isn't one of the times the servers have been ordered out of a closet or abandoned conference room to sit in the hall until someone who has no idea how much they weigh asks me, "How long are these going to be here?" I doubt I can make it through answering that question again without cursing.
Of course, I'd rather not make a 14 hour day half comprised of the lifting of heavy things, but I plan to make the most of it by stacking the server boxes with Tetris-like creativity.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Nine years ago today, in a crowded sound booth at a classic rock radio station, Shana and I got married. And it was awesome.
The ceremony itself was fairly devoid of frills. Aside from the beautiful bride, there was nothing at all to look at. I think they figured out that everyone who ever listened to Shana on the air was listening that morning, though none of them thought to send a gift.
I was "between jobs" for a couple of days, so we took off for a weekend in New Orleans after that.
I remember spending that weekend in a state of disbelief. I imagine it is like the feeling one would get winning the lottery without ever buying a ticket, incredibly happy yet undeserving.
I remember it very well, in fact, because I still feel that way.
Happy Anniversary, Shana.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Sunday Gwynyth attended a professional soccer game where she witnessed the Houston Dynamo defeat some other team. We also learned that people are paid to play soccer, apparently. I like to share these little-known facts with you guys.
While she did that with a friend, we went in a completely different direction with another friend.
Our direction included random profanity and a viewing of the film 300 at the cheap theatre.
I know it isn't new, and anyone who wanted to see it already has, but it is based on a comic and therefore I feel compelled to share my views.
Violent? Very. Original? Well, if you liked the graphic novel it was basically the storyboard.
Actually, I was surprised at how many of the things in the movie were actually a lot like the diagnosis for clinical depression. I've made a list of them both below. See if you can tell them apart. Oooo! A game!


a. Man Nipples

b. Incredibly Violent

c. Low Self-Esteem

d. Odd Piercings

e. Change in Sleeping Patterns

f. Oracles and Corrupt Politicians

g. Excessive or Inappropriate Guilt

h. Much less Interest or Pleasure in most Regular Activities

i. Stabbings

j. Weight loss or gain without dieting

k. A Carnival of Killings

l. Recurrent thoughts of death

m. Kneel before Xerxes

n. Largely Homoerotic, yet Uncomfortably Butch

o. Lessened ability to think or concentrate

See? It isn't easy!

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Saturday we attended an "away" swim meet for Gwynyth.
The subdivision that had issued the challenge was quite a fair distance from our normal area and we had to leave home before seven to make the drive. On a Saturday. It hurt a lot.
Anyway, I've been impressed with the stuff done by Gwynyth's team at "home" events. They sell cola for 50 cents a can, candy for about the same amount and burgers, hot dogs and chicken sandwiches hot off a parent-operated grill at a reasonable couple of bucks a piece.
This competing team, though . . . There were just so many of them.
In Gwynyth's 7-8 year old girl's bracket, there are 8 girls on her team. The other team had 40! And one of ours didn't show up!
Okay, but that's not all.
They had sponsors. I mean, Gwynyth's team has a banner for a pool cleaning service and (I think) a Mexican Restaurant down the road, but the other team had Chase Bank, Chick-Fil-A, Home Depot and some investment company.
But the real difference was in the food.
I couldn't figure out the system, first of all. My money (clearly labelled as legal tender for all debts public and private) was foreign to the catering company running the snack (Teriyaki chicken wings and pork short ribs?) area. The cash needed to be exchanged for tickets. These tickets could be traded for food or team-branded merchandise. I assume this was to avoid giving the state sales tax, but I always assume money laundering is the motivation.
I decided to skip it and walk to the car for quarters which can be exchanged through the Coke machine for Diet Coke. I'm familiar with that system. It makes me happy.
As I passed behind the food area, one of the mothers announced that they were running low on rosemary and someone would need to make a run for more.
I'm not kidding. She actually said that.
I know your reaction would be much like mine.
How do people run out of rosemary? And they were going to go on selling stuff as if it still qualified as food? Even while reducing the rosemary usage to make it last until the guy on the golf cart got back with the re-supply?
What do they think we are? Animals?
So anyway, yesterday I got an email from our site admin in Aberdeen.
I was advised that gypsies had taken up residence in one of the branch offices and had been caught near the air conditioner several times, apparently trying to make off with the copper in the unit.
I was further notified that any temperature alarms over the weekend were likely related to their eventual success. That being, the success of the gypsies at stealing the copper out of the air conditioner. Let me say again . . . Gypsies.
The point of this post is that there is a new standard for weirdness in I.T. outage root causes. I must clarify that while this is a new standard, surely the weirdness in general is increasing far faster than the postal rate and I expect zombies riding on robotic dinosaurs to arrive at any moment to devour our mail server, which is unfortunately named MAILBRAIN03 due to an interruption in the effective application of our naming process.

Friday, June 01, 2007

I don't know. For some reason, this device (technically a device caddy) is one of the more manly updates to the pocket protector I've ever seen. Simultaneously, it seems the most dorky in its sad attempt to cash in on tool belt fetishes.
I almost (almost!) think I'm pretty enough to pull it off, but truly making it look cool would require an almost mutant-level amount of pure, distilled, liquid pretty.
It would, to its credit, conceal (or at least distract from) the horror that is pleated pants.
Thursday "the Talk" happened.
"The Talk"is a long-honored tradition among geeks which typically begins with a discussion of a movie, TV show, or book. Typically, the conversation wends its way towards a franchise that may or may not suck when compared to an earlier season/version/storyline.
"The Talk" is the portion that invariably discusses who could beat who in a fight.
Sometimes, there are rules established and qualifying statements like "Without his utility belt" or "In space" or "The fight takes place on the rim of an active volcano", but often these are left out and the conversation remains in the purest form.

Like this:

"The Hulk vs Iron Man"

"The Hulk"

"The Hulk vs Colossus"

"The Hulk"

"The Hulk vs Batman"



"Yeah, Batman fought Superman and won. He could pwn The Hulk"

"Okay. Batman vs Spiderman"




"Professor X vs Batman"

"Professor X, but it would be close"

"The Hulk vs the Starship Enterprise"

"Enterprise A or D?"


"The Hulk"

"No way!"

"Even if The Hulk were floating leverage-free in open space and the Enterprise D had the element of surprise"

"Enterprise A vs the Hulk"

"Enterprise A has Captain Kirk. It wouldn't even be fair for The Hulk. I'd suggest he stay home"

"Doomsday vs Spiderman"


"Doomsday killed Superman!"

"He didn't kill Spiderman"

"True. Wolverine vs Spiderman"


"Come on!"

"Secret Wars #2, my friend. They settled that in the 80s. As I recall, he beat all the X-Men at once and that was before the team sucked"

"Data vs Iron Man"

"Data could reprogram the systems in Iron Man in his sleep. Data FTW"

"Ensign Wesley Crusher vs Storm"


"Superman vs Storm"


"Superman vs The Hulk"


"Your average Jewish person vs The Hulk"

"Your average Jewish person"


"Chosen people, my friend"