Friday, November 30, 2007

Things I Need Right Freaking Now


1. Sugar-Free Gingerbread syrup. I don't say it to make my coffee order sound longer and more important. I say it because actual sugar causes me stomach cramps and a bad mood you would not believe.

2. A new cellular telephone to replace the one which will no longer charge and prompts me to check my SIM. I checked my SIM, which for me means I pulled out the little card and cleaned it with a lotion-free tissue. That didn't help. Also, the whole process made me feel like a tool. My phone no longer makes or receives calls. It is less useful than ever and my high score on Motorola Pinball may be forever lost to history.

3. I need the guy who sits behind me to stop telling Jew jokes. Rather, I need for him to tell one I haven't heard so I can then explain that all of those jokes have their basis in the propaganda of post World War I Germany. It would be different , I suppose, if he knew that I am Jewish, but the assumption has been made that everyone will find these attempts at humor amusing. I will not be attending his Christmas party no matter how pretty the invitation may be.

4. Blue Diamond brand "Jalapeno Smokehouse" almonds, which are slightly more addictive than crack, in my opinion.

5. I need my MacBook Pro to show up so I can see how long I can last without installing a Microsoft OS through Parallels or Boot Camp.

6. Shorter waits for Battleground slots in World of Warcraft. Well, that is the solution to my actual need to pwn n00bz for a few hours to make myself feel better in general. And the Horde should play a little defense, damn it.

7. To get together IRL with some friends for the angry flinging of dice. It has been far, far too long.

8. I need for the Coke Rewards people to actually put something up there that is worth (if not the actual points) at least going through the Points Redemption Process -- Something I can cash in 4,500 points on and put this sad chapter of my life to bed forever. Or they could start putting points on Pibb Zero, which may be the finest soft drink ever crafted by the hands of mortals.

9. "Automating The Upgrade Process" needs to involve more "Automating" and less "Processing". Holy crap! I've never worked with such a tangled mess of code. Someone needs some type of award whenever the program does anything without the server physically catching on fire.

10. The DeathAdder.

11. A place from which my DeathAdder can deal out death. Through addition, maybe. I don't know, really. I'm just guessing based on the name. Math kills. I've been saying it for years.

12. One of those little smugness-generating Apple stickers for the back glass of the Geek-Mobile. Smugness-generating? Maybe not, but it serves as a warning to the rest of the planet that the car is Smug-enabled. I'm all about disclosure.

13. I need some time to catch up on the 3,000 or so hours of television I've downloaded and ignored up until now.

14. I need for someone at this company (a company which makes 100% of its money from the sale of software developed here) to match my concern level about the state of our Microsoft licensing. If our product were stolen, I'm sure someone here would be pretty pissed about it. Also, when I am acting as the ethical bedrock and moral compass for any random group of people, alarm bells should be going off somewhere. Loud bells. And strobe lights. And possibly some kind of automated flag-waving robot army.


Snap your mandibles once to say you understand

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Naming Conventions


When a server is built, it needs a name. Generally, I.T. organizations have a standard naming convention to excise creativity from this process.

Most often, the format goes something like (Shortened Company Name)(Location)(Purpose)(Number).

There are extremes, of course. One company I worked for used the machine's service tag to accelerate and simplify warranty support and slow down and complicate internal identification.

Another company used the Standard format for user-accessible servers and the model names of motorcycles for everything else.

At our house, most machines are named after fictional fantasy locations -- Most often those drawn from Massively-Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games. That has worked well, mostly, except that someone at Comcast uses the same naming convention for some of their routers so (unless I run my own DNS) my MP3 collection tends to get lost from time to time.

This organization uses the names of planets. No numbers, no purpose, no useful identification, no nothing but the names of planets.

In addition to confusing the new hires, this particular naming convention limits the possible machine names to just a few different possibilities. In fact, I've already heard horror stories about when they needed to recently decommission Pluto.

But anyway, the point is this:

We needed a new system and all the planet names were taken. So we used "Miranda".

"O, wonder! How many goodly creatures are there here! How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world, That has such people in't!"

It is a quiet and peaceful server. Just ignore the Reavers, please.



Even my henchmen think I'm crazy . . .

Wednesday, November 28, 2007



In a stunning reversal of everything I know about Best Practices in Corporate I.T., I've been requested to set up an Instant Messenger account -- And to actually use the thing.

Part of this stems from the fact that when I was hired this company was completely out of phones. Or extensions. Or both. I don't know/care because I'm not the phone guy.

Also, apparently instant messages are the preferred communication tactic by those who share my office space.

This is weird for me. Our team at Reliant used MSN Messenger for pretty much everything, but I started to fear being connected when the trend developed of sending embarrassing pop-up messages to whoever had their laptop hooked up to a projector for a presentation.

I'm not going to say who started that tradition, but I will say that to this very day he gets a warm feeling from remembering the time he sent a message to a co-worker who read (along with a conference room full of suits) that his "intimate" rash was probably normal and that there was little to be concerned about as long as he stopped actually sleeping in leather underwear.

Such a warm feeling indeed.

As a side effect of this new policy, I'm forever more reachable by those who want to complain about my latest post here at Pr3++yG33kyTh1ng. Feel free to add me to a "Buddy List" and ship me complaints, threats, half-baked theories on the purpose of life or (most importantly) Coke Reward Points.

Over 4,000 of those things are slowly doing absolutely nothing in my Coke Rewards account. I have to go #1 almost all the time.

So. Yahoo IM contact information is currently crammed up in my profile on the right, though I never ever check the Yahoo email -- Like even less frequently than I check my MySpace messages, if you can believe that. You should add me to your Yahoo Messenger anyway.

Go ahead. You know you want to.

In other news, my work computer came with Office 2007. I've ranted a bit in the past about the state of the Microsoft Office suite and about useless features and terminal application bloat. However, I had not had the opportunity to try the latest version until yesterday.

I'm not too proud to admit when I'm wrong about something.

That won't be necessary this time.

Holy crap, Office 2007 is the worst ever. Whatever team put this thing together should all be gathered together again when the final release version is added to the International Computing Museum's "Full of Fail" wing and made to promise never to write another program under pain of removing either their thumbs or their space bars -- Depending on how militant the mob is feeling at the time.

But wait! To their credit, there is one useful feature in Office 2007. Incoming IM's are now blocked when someone is running a Power Point presentation. This feature alone uses over 400MB of system memory -- And it is worth every byte.


Attention Whore of Hiltonian Proportions

Tuesday, November 27, 2007



You've seen the media representation of technology. Data travels flawlessly on spinning arcs of light, every surface is either chrome or neon, the full-time hackers who work on the systems have bad hair and completely coordinated "techno-goth" outfits and $900 Kenneth Cole laptop bags.

These places exist. Seriously they do.

But one must temper this knowledge with the awareness that for every high-tech awesome place, there are 5,000 little firms chugging along just keeping their code compliant and up-to-date with the latest operating system.

And so, I'm officially a "Code Monkey". My previous experience is all in working around the limitations coded into the programs by others, but now I get the chance to input limitations of my very own!

When I interviewed, I was asked if I had scripting knowledge. I replied that my experience was limited to cases where someone approaches me and says,"Hey! My code is busted! Fix it!"

And I generally can figure it out given a few minutes and access to Google. As for writing my own, I said I frequently find scripts on the interwebz and steal borrow and modify them.

Apparently, there are a lot of people who do just that and make whole careers out of it!

So there are no servers to work on here. Those are all on the East Coast somewhere I'm not concerned about.

User support is a hemisphere away from me, physically now as well as emotionally as it always has been.

Diet Coke is $.25 by the can on the honor system.

And most importantly, this morning I found a handy Starbucks where they made me a venti breve latte with sugar-free gingerbread syrup!

Of course, there are adjustments to be made.

As a people, developers are not a "Morning Folk". We do not expect them to arrive before 10am and we do not look directly at them until they return from lunch. I learned that yesterday while I dodged a stapler.

I'm faster than I look.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Well, This is I.T.


Okay, everybody! Coffee break's over! Back on your heads!

I've had two weeks to reflect on life, I.T., what cats do all day, and World of Warcraft. This has been beneficial time for me to reset emotionally and become ready to start something new. I've also enjoyed good coffee.

The whole process has been tolerable because I've been paid to do it.

There are a lot of things which become tolerable when someone is paying you to do them.

On Monday morning, I'm going to do another one.

I've accepted a job at a software company doing [insert technobabble everyone would skim anyway] and at 9am sharp I officially rejoin the in-the-trenches ranks of the over-utilized and under-appreciated nerd set. And that's okay. It's my thing. It's whatever the hell it is that I do.

At this job, I'll drive less getting there and back. There is no hardware work. As far as I can tell, there are no users to work with.

How weird is that?

I will continue to collect stories and spit them back up here for your information/amusement/State's Evidence -- I just have no idea (much like with these last two weeks) what time of day the posts will come up.

Visits to Pr3++yG33kyTh1ng will be like a glorious adventure. Think of it as a treasure hunt! Will there be some new gem posted this time or the same tired old crap that was posted yesterday? Some insightful observation or the same old mean-spirited ranting and personal attacks that just manage to skirt the libel laws of 49 states (Up yours, Idaho!)?

If we are lucky, the answer will continue to be "all of the above".

Saturday, November 24, 2007

I May Keep Live Writer



For the past decade or so, we've made most of our cash as a family from supporting Microsoft server-related support. While this doesn't mean that I've never gotten a call from someone who returned from lunch to find all of her work missing, the email she had been writing all morning gone, her Internet Explorer favorites overwritten with weird stuff and her desktop background replaced with a picture of some strange man (As it turns out, she sat down in the wrong cubicle), it does mean that I've been regularly away from the user community puttering away behind the scenes making Microsoft's server products function as well as (if not better than) they promised on the flash presentation some Executive downloaded.

Like ten freaking years, almost.

The whole time I've embraced the upgrade process from 95 to 98, from 98 to 98d, from 98d to Windows 2000 to XP to Vista on our computers at home. I've felt it was the proper thing to do to thank Microsoft for creating software with such weird glitches it requires a full-time support staff of surly, user-hating, science fiction-watching pasty people.

Bill Gates gets a "Thank You" e-card from me every year, and I don't see that tradition stopping anytime soon.

Here is a list of things which are stopping soon:

1. My user account control settings will never again be called into question.

2. If I go to a website and download a program, I will never again be asked if I'd like to download it and then again if I'd like to run it and then again if I'm sure I'd like to run it.

3. Software I purchase will no longer hobble itself if for any reason it can't access a massive database somewhere in Redmond which I have no control over.

4. "Ultimate" features I pay extra for will not have to be disabled because they slam the processor for 40% utilization while I just . . . Check . . . My freaking . . . . Webmail.

5. My totally up-to-date, much-heralded web browser will not just shut itself own in the middle of an article and toss an error message up to block my finishing the read before hitting the damn "Okay" button. You know what? It's not "Okay". It pisses me off. At least tell me why in the event log. If the OS knows enough to toss an error it should jot it down in the event log. Why else even have an event log?

6. I've got my own anti-virus. I said I'll take care of it. Windows Security Center should take my word on it, set some registry flag and leave me the hell alone about it.

7. My "Next Generation" operating system will not serve up fewer frames per second on better hardware than my old reliable one on hardware a couple of years old.

You know how I know all these problems will be going away soon?

I got the shipment notification this afternoon for my Mac.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Unfortunate Outbursts


I think it is probably safe to say that fairly regularly people drink a little and say things they may not have fully thought out.

If you need documentation, I recommend visiting any random Facebook profile.

Sometimes an outburst happens between courses at Thanksgiving, apparently.

We spent most of yesterday at our friend's house, latching onto their family gratefully for companionship and (among other things) awesome sweet potatoes.

We played Outburst a few times, boys against girls as nature intended. This has paid off for me in the past, like the time we had to name the Commandments and the Rabbi was on my team so I could pretty much take a little nap until the timer ran out.

Yesterday we got "Characters From the Bible" as our Outburst topic, and I was able to draw upon my WASPy upbringing to fill in names from the New Testament. Sadly, my ability to think on my feet (numbed by a combination of turkey and wine) all too quickly degenerated into "Sneezy, Grumpy and Doc" territory, but I sensed that the effort was appreciated. Of course, my low tolerance for alcohol makes me feel like a lot of my behavior is appreciated . . . And then I get another call from the DA's office.

Anyway, the point is this: When playing Outburst, "Nachos" is never a wrong answer. Carry that secret to victory, friends.

Today is Black Friday. I've kept my year old promise to myself so far, only venturing far enough outside to check the weather. I'm planning to avoid all non-food-related stores and shopping destinations until mid-January. All purchases for everything that won't melt during shipping can (and should) be made online. And the economy is crappy enough that shipping is cheap. Go Team Horribly Expensive Oil! I can have a whole bathroom full of towels delivered for a nickel!

You know. If I knew someone who needed a whole bathroom full of towels.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Sick in a Number of Ways


< This one. This is the cat which is sick.

Her third eyelid, which normally eclipses her left eye when she is extremely happy, had been exhibiting bliss for a solid three days or so, so we decided that I should drag her up to the clinic for an exam. This duty fell to me, since I got nothing better to do, right? Actually, right.

Here are some things which I did not know about cats:

1. Sometimes the eyes just do that. Of course, there are a host of horrible illnesses which can cause it, but in the absence of those -- it just happens.

2. Cats do not enjoy having UV reactive dye squirted in their eyes for diagnostic purposes. That seems obvious, and given a moment to consider it I'm sure I would have guessed it. However, neither I nor the cat were given that moment of quiet reflection so it goes into the "stuff I didn't know" pile. For the record, it looks awesome!

3. The sweetest cat is transformed into a snarling, hissing monster when having her temperature taken. Again, if I'd known the mechanics of this procedure I could have probably made that logical leap. These are not things I think about.

4. Cats like little enclosed places to use as a lair from which to launch attacks on unsuspecting passers by. Little enclosed places do not include pet carriers, though those things seem to me to be positively made for that kind of activity.

5. Cats have . . . special glands  . . . which need to be . . . expressed from time to time. Your veterinarian will be happy to show you how to do it at home if you don't want to bring your cat in to have it done.

This isn't as much about cats as it is about life in general, but I'm adding it to the list:

6. When your veterinarian offers to show you how to do this procedure, screaming in terror and then attempting to hide under the exam table while sobbing "No, please. No, please. No please," earns you no Good Pet Owner Points with anyone. Except your cat, who watches you bemusedly from behind her third eyelid which is extended for no good reason.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Tragedy Strikes!


Last night as I was composing my blog post, my daughter was in the bath.

"Mom!" she yelled. I've long since learned to ignore everything that goes on the the bathroom if I'm not in it.

"Please cut my hair!" she yelled again.

I thought surely Shana would brush off this request, deflect, distract. It was already dangerously close to my daughter's bedtime.

However, attentive mother that she is, Shana instead picked up scissors and went to work.

At the first "Hold still" I started to blog more furiously. I knew my time was limited. I knew that eventually something would interfere with (at the very latest) my first cursory pre-post proofread.


Rubber ducks were in the bath with my daughter. As is their custom when they share a bath with her, they were bobbing around, chasing each other and debating the finer points of fashion.

"Oops. Garrick!"

I hit the "Publish" button and walked in to find my daughter crying hysterically and my wife holding a huge length of hair, her face composed into an almost eerie calm.

"Find an open salon. Now."

I didn't question. Google pulled through. I called:

"Can you make room for a haircut in," I looked at my watch,"20 minutes. It's an emergency."

"Let me check," Hold music. Hold music. Hold music.

"Is the hair cut for you?"

"It's for my daughter. There was some unpleasantness. There is a lot of crying. I need 300cc's of haircut, stat!"

"Sure. Bring her in."

So we ran to the car and drove, Gwynyth sobbing and Shana still exhibiting her eerie calm.

"Don't worry, Sweetie. They'll fix it," I said followed by a quieter,"I hope."

And we arrived at the salon (without the aid of flashing lights on the roof of the car which I thought might have helped) and they dashed in while I, with plans of my own, went to Target in the same shopping center.

I strolled the toy aisles, selecting one of a series of dolls Gwynyth likes and that (I was fairly certain) she didn't already own. I bought that and a Diet Coke Plus and left the store to find out what, if anything, had been done about the hair accident.

You know what? It looks good!

The toy was just a bonus. She did come through with quite a nice,"Thanks Dad!"

To which I replied,"I'm glad you didn't have that one. I picked it but, since your mom has the job she technically paid for it."


I continued,"So what I'm saying is, I bought it and your mom paid for it."

"Thanks, Dad . . . and Mom! Awesome, Dad!"

Yes. Yes I am.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Seems to be a Trend with Me


And my new guild tried to finish the damn instance we'd been running all week with the last two fights, right? Both require the players to work together like a well-oiled machine -- And yet we couldn't pull together 10 people and even using people from outside the guild we'd never met left me standing outside the dungeon for over an hour.

The trauma didn't end there. We died a few times and the blame started flying when, in truth, the fault was all with guild leadership for not fielding a decent, solid 10 person group.

So, on the last total party kill, I ran back in to retrieve my corpse, teleported to the inn, left the raid group and did something like this:

/guildchat "Hey! Everybody! Look over there!"



It felt really, really good, too.

So I'm guildless. And I didn't think in advance about how my slight chance of seeing something new and awesome just evaporated to no chance at all, but I'm fine.

And oddly not having a strict raid schedule freed up more time than quitting my job did.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Male Bonding

Friday night my friend Todd's family was out of town. In a burst of urgent geekishness, he invited his brother Brian and I to my first ever adult sleepover party -- in which World of Warcraft would be played, cigars would be smoked, and cola would be consumed in quantities fit to send an uneasy shudder through the carbonated water industry.

I brought Doritos and a sleeping bag. I knew there were plenty of actual beds, but the sleeping bag made the whole thing seem more official.

This party was not without support, either. Todd's wife Sabrina left us all gifts on the gaming (formerly dining) table:


Too bad the manufacturer misspelled "Awesome And Manly Gamer Guys", eh? But it is the thought that counts.

Anyway, pictured above (from left to right) are me and Brian and Todd. So much pretty, so little overall time to pwn some dungeons.

Thanks, Sabrina.

So we played until 4am on Saturday, woke up around four hours later and played for another eight hours or so. It was, to be honest, beyond uber.

Note to self: Spend more time unemployed.

Reply from self: Consider it done, dork!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

A Moment of Silence, plz kthxbye!1!


If you have a child in my daughter's elementary school we should totally get together for a play date you can drive over there any day and have lunch with your kid! Not mine, yours. Mine is busy.

I visited her for lunch today.

(Oh, hey. For those of you keeping score on the job finding process, I had a phone interview yesterday. Haven't heard back. Not sure I want to.)

Anyway, I figured it would be awesome to drive through McDonald's, pick up a "chicken" nugget Happy Meal, and deliver it to her during her lunch break. Note: "Chicken" is in quotes because I think they are something like 40% sawdust. I read an article once. I'll never make that mistake again.

So, my daughter's class tromped in from the playground and she headed over to sit right in front of the Happy Meal. I'm glad it wasn't "just there before I sat down" as I told her or that would have been gross.

The kids were pretty excited about "free ice cream" from the cafeteria, but Gwynyth took special care to inform them multiple times that the label on the little containers clearly stated "Low Fat Frozen Yogurt". I don't think they cared, though.

So we were having a decent conversation. I judged the other parents in absentia by the contents of the lunches they had sent. Snack bags of pre-packaged marshmallows? Multiple Twinkies snack cakes? Warm, individually-packaged chocolate chip pudding? No wonder these third graders are all deranged.

I met Gwynyth's teacher, as well. I hadn't had a chance to do that and I wanted to make as good an impression as possible in my jeans, Gwar t-shirt and flannel (Note: 100% imported Italian flannel) overshirt, but then I noticed a veritable forest of raised hands around me. I raised mine as well, not wanting to look like a trouble-maker, though Gwynyth tried quietly to assure me that my participation in this ritual (the synchronized arm posturing with one of the teachers at the head of another table) was not typically required (or, indeed, welcomed) by visiting adults.

This teacher announced in a Tylenol-slurred drone,"The third grade is being awfully loud, so we will be starting Silent Lunch early."

"Silent Lunch"? What the hell is "Silent Lunch"?

When I was little, the adults were happy when nothing caught on fire at lunch. Boisterous conversation was never treated like a threat to National Security.

The worst we ever got was a "Pick up that Razzle wrapper, young man!" or a resigned,"I've told you before to leave the football outside. Now look what you've done. The impact has loosened the tape holding Garrick's glasses together and he won't stop crying."

Whoa. Flashed back a second there. Weird.

Anyway: Silent Lunch.

These kids have to sit and eat without speaking. I was a little put out, to be honest, and whispered questions to the kids around me,"How silent? Can we clap? Stomp? Whisper? Chew enthusiastically?"

"No. No. No. No." "And no."

Then I started to freak out a little. One little boy dropped a plastic fork to the floor and I stood up and pointed to get his attention before rasping a threatening,"Listen here, you clumsy little punk. I'm not going to detention for you or anybody!"

Then I reported him, though I don't know what if anything was done about it.

And then, some 10 silent minutes later, Gwynyth marched silently back to class.

School Cafeteria just got added to my ever-expanding list of un-fun places to work. Or just be.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Teh Intervues


So yesterday afternoon I had another interview. Different company, different job.

When I was escorted through the biometrically-locked door, I was confronted simultaneously by the total absence of office fixtures and the overwhelming smell of mildew.

"We had some flooding a while back," I was told,"Things are still a bit of a mess."

I sat down to a technical interview. I learned the expectations and I knew without question that I could meet them. I politely and thoroughly answered their evaluation questions and then began to ask my own. I learned that priorities are pretty much set by what is on fire and by what can stand to burn the longest. I learned that three weeks ago the management structure was issued walking papers and that 60% of the technical staff had followed them -- Voluntarily. Most importantly, I learned that the sales division has no technical training and regularly sells products that are not a part of the standard product line and that, very often, are technically impossible to deliver without borrowing some kind of alien technology from Area 51.

Afterwards, I was walked to the manager's office and we began to discuss the role and the day-to-day work being done.

Mid-way through, something broke and he had to call some people to get a fix going. I sat for a while staring around the office while he called and typed and emailed and called to make sure that the email had been delivered.

When the crisis had been successfully passed to the appropriate parties, we started the interview process anew. Again, I politely answered questions and asked my own again to confirm my views.

On the way out, I saw a former co-worker who (unbeknownst to me) had been working at this place since April. I greeted him with an enthusiastic embrace and we realized that discussing old times would do nothing to help either of our careers and I left.

Within ten minutes, the recruiter called me with an offer. In an attempt to be nice, I told him I'd think about it. To be fair, I did think about it. Just not very long.

When I declined the offer there was a brief discussion of raising it and how much it would take but I cut that off early. In short, a trauma factory would need a special budget to buy ink to print the commas on the checks I would require.

But I wish them luck.

Oh, and while I can't disclose the name of the crazy place, I can tell you that you have nothing to worry about unless you use a bank which transfers money electronically or if you ever use a credit or debit card. If you do, I suggest a full-on freaking panic.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007



Okay, so I've had to clarify this a few times by email and the phone.

Yesterday I put in my two weeks notice and then notified the Columbus people that I would not be taking their job offer. I know that sounds messed up, but if the offer was good enough to make me consider going but not good enough for me to take, my staying in my current position isn't doing anyone any good.

However, as generally happens in I.T., it was decided that I should be away from the building before lunch, never to return. It is fortunate that I didn't volunteer to bring a side dish for the Thanksgiving luncheon or they would be so screwed.

Anyway, I was actually offered lunch on my way out but declined because I had scheduled an interview at noon already and know I have limited time to secure gainful employment. Though it was tempting because burritos rule!

I'm hoping to be able to survive for a while on the residuals from my technical documentation and spreadsheet work. I've read up a little on the writers strike; I know my demands are reasonable.

This is the part of an I.T. job-cycle where the Technology Lifer flings himself into the unknown with the grim certainty that while he will miss his former co-workers, just about anywhere he lands will probably be better for his career.

Plus, two weeks at home beats two weeks at work.

Monday, November 12, 2007

What was I thinking?


Holy crap!

Did you guys know that Columbus is 100% named after euro-trash? How could I even consider living there? How could anyone?

Also, we spoke to a real estate agent here and apparently selling our house right now would actually cost us money -- Like most of the value of the house plus probably whatever we can find in the coin area of the consoles of both cars -- And I'm not about losing money due to market conditions.

I am about losing money due to frivolous decisions and half-baked schemes, which is why I put in my "Official" official two-weeks notice this morning just before I sent an email declining the job in Columbus.

Go, Team Directionless!

Plans for today include drinking, but later. Unless I can get a designated driver.

I've got to make some calls.

Saturday, November 10, 2007



Again, I braved the perils of air travel to meet my life-long goal of a trip to Skokie, Illinois.

So, I woke up at 5am, crawled into my car, and drove as fast as possible to the airport to catch a 7:15am flight.

I used the e-ticket machine to print boarding passes for that flight and the return, but grumbled about the lateness of the return trip the whole time.

After a day of adventure in Skokie, I returned to the airport and (boarding pass in hand) got in line to hopefully swap it for one on an earlier flight.

When the person in the line in front of me finished checking his bags, I walked up to take his place at the counter.

"Were you in line?" the lady asked.

"Yes," I smiled my most charming smile, "I just need . . . "

"Please return to the line and wait to be called."

I did so. When I turned around, she waved me over and we both pretended that that had never happened.

But I knew that my chances of scoring an earlier flight hinged almost entirely on whether this woman liked me or not. So I started off with,"As much as I've enjoyed my time in Chicago, is there any way I could get an earlier flight home?"

"Tired of us already?" I think she was smiling. Could have been a grimace, though.

"Oh, no. I fully intend to purchase a hot dog on my way out and that should just about conclude my business. If I could get on the 5:39pm flight I might be home in time to put my daughter to bed."

"No baggage?" she was no longer looking at me but typing furiously on the hidden screen. I pressed my luck.

"Physical? No. Emotional? Don't get me started!"

No. Reaction. At. All.

"Are you a (insert whatever United calls their frequent flyer program) member?"

I wondered how much it mattered as I replied that I was not.

"Mr. Pass, did you have any issue with security on your trip this morning?"

I recalled the standard shoes-off-everything-metal-in-a-tub routine. "Not especially, no."

"Enjoy your trip through this time," I promise -- She smirked,"I've got you on stand-by for the 5:39pm. If you miss it, come back and we will get you on the 8pm."

And all was well. I stood in the insanely long line. I muttered under my breath with everyone else. I tapped my foot. I checked the time over and over and over.

When I handed my boarding pass and driver's license to the TSA guy at the final pre-metal detector checkpoint, he peered at me an unusually long time, then waved over a woman with a gun.

"Mr. Pass, please proceed to the scanning station. You've been selected for special screening," and he looked almost apologetic.

"Why do I get the feeling that isn't a free movie?"

"Your boarding pass is flagged -- See right here -- SSSS" he pointed, and it was,"That means you are flagged for an extra few checks."

Friends, before Friday night I couldn't tell you the last time I'd been groped in public by two federal employees wearing blue rubber gloves. And I was really happy about that fact. I felt a little weird afterwards, like we should have exchanged phone numbers or something. What, exactly, is the etiquette when someone who is not allowed to accept my health insurance card gropes me?

There are workplaces where jokes are actually forbidden. As much as that system sucks, I no longer recommend trying to insert levity into those workplaces. They hate that. Apparently, they hate that a lot.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Real Estate


Me: Hi! I'm calling to ask a few questions about a property listed as 2748342.

Real Estate Agent: That is a lovely property. It has been completely renovated on the inside. I'm sure you will find it a delightful place for a growing family.

Me: It says here it used to be a convent.

Real Estate Agent: It was originally built in 1924 as a convent, yes. It has quite a rich and colorful history and much of the antique, hand-crafted stained glass is still in place.

Me: Just how rich is that history?

Real Estate Agent: I'm not sure what you mean . . .

Me: Why is it no longer a convent?

Real Estate Agent: I . . . don't know. It doesn't specify.

Me: Was there ever a murder on the premises?

Real Estate Agent: That isn't listed either. I'm sure it would be if anything significant had happened there.

Me: Are you saying you can't tell me definitively that no Nun was ever brutally murdered there? Like maybe even a few hours before Christmas Mass?!? Could it perhaps no longer be a convent because of the taint of evil left by the terrible atrocities committed within?

Real Estate Agent: I don't really see where that is even a reasonable concern . . .

Me: Reasonable?!? What if I step out of the shower and am confronted by some psycho undead Nun?!? How reasonable is that?!? Do the walls drip blood?!? Can you answer that?!?


A few hours later, in World of Warcraft guild chat:

Webinara: So she flat refused to tell me if there had ever been a Nun brutally murdered there and before she hung up on me she said I was making a big deal out of a totally unknown possibility. And she suggested I seek help.

Noobslayer: Really?

Webinara: Yeah. Like it was totally beneath concern.

Noobslayer: But we are talking about a potential spectral Nun situation.

Webinara: Exactly!



This post is not a late Thursday post. It is an early Friday post. I'll be away from my blogger account (again dodging the TSA) most of the day on Friday, but I didn't want a repeat of the whole Monday fiasco. I'm sure we can all agree this is for the best.

I demand credit.

Undercover Work


Many years ago, a kind headhunter helped me land a job at Conoco -- My first ever Corporate I.T. job.

I remember the interview well, as I discussed a few standard topics with the hiring manager before he set down his paperwork, looked me right in the eye and asked,"Are you stoned right now?"

I replied that I was not and he asked me to start work the following week.

After I started, I found out the source of that question:

Apparently, the person who had just been interviewed for the same position moments before had seemed disoriented and bleary and had answered the same question with an honest, "Yes. I just smoked a joint in the parking lot."

By comparison, my interview was stellar. Since then, I've decided "by comparison" is the very best way to shine since the standards are set by others who are often, as it turns out, "on something".

I stayed in touch with that headhunter and over the years we have developed a special relationship. Often clients will post a position and schedule interviews and dismiss candidates who seem totally qualified on paper and then provide no feedback at all, leaving my recruiter friend at a loss.

Then he calls me, tells me he has scheduled a technical phone interview for me and I'm free to be as weird or competent as I like as long as I bring the questions asked back to the recruiter so he can figure out what they really want. A lot of times they ask complicated routing questions on server interviews or deep code-related questions on standard admin postings, so this helps my friend narrow down his own candidate pool. And when he is in town he buys me lunch (no Italian, plz).

Anyway, he scheduled one of those for me last Friday and I promptly forgot about it until they called at 3pm while I was in the car. I talked to them, answered a string of fairly standard questions, laughed about user idiocy and closed the interview as I normally would. I emailed my feedback to the recruiter on Saturday and moved on with my life. In short, I had no idea how they had interviewed seven people and not moved forward with the process if they were all even vaguely qualified.

But they made me an offer based on that interview.

And it is a good offer.

Plus, I may move to Ohio as a result of this offer which scares the hell out of me.

Either way, I just let my current employer know because doing the right thing is important for some reason that is difficult to remember when you create added work for people you like.

Ohio? That's not in Texas at all as far as Google Maps is concerned.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

An Urgent Warning



Our car insurance company sent me a warning yesterday -- A warning that sent chills up and down my extremely pretty spine.

It seems we live in an area with a large deer population, and we are at elevated risk of deer collision. I'm going to post the tips they sent me, then I'm going to tell you why it frightens me almost to the level that clowns frighten me.

Here is the total list with my notes:

Do not swerve to avoid hitting the deer, which could result in loss of control or hitting another vehicle. Swerving is the reason for most deer-related deaths and injuries. (Just hit the bastard. Seriously, you think he'd swerve to miss you? Don't hold your breath.)

In the event of a deer collision, brake firmly and keep the steering wheel straight. Stay in your lane to avoid hitting other vehicles. (No hitting other cars. Got it.)

Do not rely on deer whistles and other deer-deterrent devices. They have not been proven effective. (The only thing that works is a sharpened stake through the heart.)

When driving at night, use your high beams when there is no oncoming traffic. The lights cause deer's eyes to glow, making them more visible. High beams also help you see farther, giving you additional time to react if a deer is on or near the road. (See below)

Deer can suddenly dart across a road when distracted by lights or the sound of a horn. (Never mind that high-beams thing we mentioned earlier. Our intern wrote that.)

Deer often travel in groups. If you see a deer, be prepared for additional deer to follow. (And to hunger for revenge that can only be quenched with human flesh)

•Deer can be found on highways and busy city streets, not just rural roads. (Bold font mine)

Drive cautiously through posted deer-crossing areas. (Drive like a meth-addled long-haul trucker everywhere else.)

Contact your local law enforcement to remove a deer that is lying in the road for the safety of other approaching vehicles. Never approach a deer yourself. (Good luck with that.)

Wear your safety belt at all times. (And, if possible, a helmet.)

Now, gather around dear readers while I share a tale of yesteryear:

Once upon a time, I went to college in a tiny little town in Arkansas. The county was dry -- Like Not-Even-A-Starbucks Dry -- and the nearest movie theatre was forty-five minutes away past the nuclear power plant. It was an odd way to do the college thing.

One night I went for a drive through the downtown area to buy some cola and listen to They Might Be Giants which was stuck in my CD player (though I didn't mind). It was a little after 11pm, and almost everything in town was closed.

As I cruised blissfully along, I had time to note movement outside my driver's side window before a giant deer slammed into the side of my car and tumbled down the asphalt behind me. I paused and noticed that the deer was still slightly moving behind me.

Now, I'm not one to hug trees per se, but a suffering animal is another matter entirely. I drove on to the nearest open gas station to try to call the police or animal control or something. I parked in front of the plate glass window and hopped out, sparing a glance at the caved-in side of my car while running in to ask the clerk to call the authorities.

To his credit, he tried. Animal Control was closed and the police (for reasons which still escape me) are apparently unable to discharge a weapon within the city limits.

About this time, a man in overalls who I had completely overlooked but who had heard my entire story spoke up from the seating area in the back of the store.

"Boy," he started (and I had grown accustomed to being called "boy" by the locals by this time),"See that rifle?" He gestured to the ginormous gun leaning in the corner. "That there is a eighteen hunnerd dollar huntin' rifle. I been hunting deer in these woods all season ain't shot a damn thing. And here you truck your hippie ass up from Texas and kill one with a Jap - An - Ease car?"

I nodded, still staring at the gun, and backed out of the store. "Never make eye contact with the locals!" my brain screamed at me.

I drove back down the road and past the still form of the deer by the side of the road. I watched him in my rear view window, saddened at my inability to help the creature or at least ease its suffering.

Then, to my amazement, the deer stood up. It made the deer equivalent of an obscene gesture and hopped over the nearest fence to vanish into the woods.

It was then that I realized that deer use smashing up our cars as a rite of passage. This was completely glossed over in Bambi but a key plot point in Bambi 2.

Be careful, friends. The deer are out there. And they are angry, vicious creatures with their eyes and antlers set on total global domination.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Questions Answered and Further Research


Yesterday I was entirely too busy catching up on all the fun work I'd missed by being out and Pr3++yG33kyTh1ng suffered terribly for it.

I did get questions about the image I selected from a search of "a bit late" on Google image search. I just thought it was funny at first, but then I had questions of my own. Why did that woman's underwear fall down? Does underwear ever really fall fast enough to not get caught on the way? What is the story there? The subtext? Is that police officer going to help her, arrest her, or take pictures with a camera phone to upload to his Facebook page?

It seems like the image of the woman at the parking meter was part of an ad campaign for New And Improved Elastic Underwear, but I think the artist (Art Frahm) continued to paint this type of thing long after the underwear companies stopped paying him. This raises other questions. Most important of these . . . What is Frahm trying to tell us?

Here is another piece:


Little yippy dogs. Is there no evil deed they will shy away from? In this case, the dog seems to have taken the fallen underwear as a sign to dash madly around the woman who was kind enough to take it for a walk and hopelessly tangle her. Little yippy dogs should never be trusted.


The brave woman pictured above seems to know that her underwear has fallen. Does she cower? Does she even reach for them? No. She hurls her groceries to the ground and proudly marches toward that Postal Worker. These were the days before those guys went all "assault rifle", obviously. You go, girl!


Again, a yippy dog makes an appearance, but the threat to this poor woman with failing underwear is obviously that guy with the jack hammer. That guy is so going to lose a toe. To be fair, if you were the guy with the jack hammer and some woman's underwear just fell down in front of you, what would you do? If it were her car keys, you'd pick them up for her. But underwear is not car keys -- Believe me. There have been plenty of early mornings when I've made that mistake with disastrous results. Yes, if this happened near where I was tearing up a street with a jack hammer, I'd probably just  cower under my awesome hat as well.


By this point, I think we can all see one message in all this art. Can we agree that all elastic should be examined with NASA-like checklists before anyone ever leaves the house? This falling underwear seems to have pulled the woman's purse to the floor of a bus along its descent. And now, forever fouled by public transportation floor contact, the coin purse will need to be destroyed.


This has to stop. But before it does, the elevator picture above tells us a different story altogether. If one looks at the position of the woman's feet in relation to each other and to the door of the elevator (Just do your best to ignore the elevator attendant -- There is a reason the government had them all driven into Canada years ago) we can see that failed elastic is the scapegoat in a much weirder incident. This woman has obviously hopped out of the elevator, possibly with her underwear already down. And what elevator lobby is that windy?

Surely that isn't it. Mr. Frahm obviously spent a lot of time on these, time he could have spent making mad overtime cash at his jackhammering/elevator attending jobs. The one thing (aside from underwear failures) these chilling images have in common is that all of these women are carrying fresh celery. Celery = Lost underwear. In addition to being a side order with wings, celery seems to disrupt the properties of the elastic in women's underwear.

For the first time in my life, I intend to buy celery on my way home from work.

Monday, November 05, 2007

So Very Sorry




Dear Internet,

I owe you one blog post.

Your friend,


Friday, November 02, 2007

And Then There Was A Thursday Night



So I was asked to be a member of the Advisory Council for the new Digital Forensics program at Lee College. I responded with a hearty, "Hell Yes".

My responsibilities include course design with the idea being that I, an in-the-trenches Corporate I.T. Guy, would know what a wannabe corporate I.T. drone should know in order to be employable upon graduation.

At last, my chance to head off the n00b syndrome before it happens!

We had our first meeting on Thursday night. It was basically me and a bunch of Education lifers discussing I.T. at a Red Lobster but I came away with some ideas. I will now share these ideas with you guys -- And you don't even have to buy me chicken fingers and Diet Coke (though both are always appreciated).

1. The first course in the program should be an "Intro to" course about digital forensics and security. The students are required to purchase a Lee College USB key in the bookstore. During the course, this key is loaded with encryption software, file restoration programs, anti-virus solutions and basic troubleshooting applications -- All open-source and free. This key (and its associated back ups) will be used until they get their degree and after they enter the workforce, just like I use my open-source loaded key today.

2. The second course is all about the social engineering. I decided the best way for a person to steal information from my current employer would be to show up wearing a Ricoh shirt and claim the HR department called him about a busted printer. The receptionist would give him directions and he could then just stand next to any printer in the building and grab interesting papers as they are produced. There is no patch for human stupidity. Students should know by graduation what to look out for and what to be able to do for fun.

3. We discussed the Gaming department at Lee, which got kicked off last year. Games are big. Good games make money. Addictive games make a ton of money. While none of this has anything to do with Digital Forensics, I did experience a bit of an epiphany:

I'm old enough to be elected President. While I doubt that anyone my age has the sheer capacity for evil to be elected President (these things take time), it is conceivable that someday soon, someone who was born the same year I was born will move his crap into the Oval Office. When that happens, there is a very real possibility that person with his/her finger over "the button" will know, in the very core of his being, how to get 30 lives in Contra. This thought comforts me, and I hope that it comforts you as well.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Official Off-Time: Day Four


This morning, armed only with the certified Apple upgrade disk and the knowledge that I could not right-click, I upgraded Mrs. Pr3++yG33kyTh1ng's Macbook to the latest and most awesome OS.

I had read the instructions beforehand, but they were oddly brief.

Anyway, about 40 minutes later the process was complete with almost no intervention on my behalf.

In fact, other than letting the install program know that the default hard drive was the proper place to put the OS, I did nothing.

Nothing, that is, aside from completing the Sha'tari Skyguard reputation grind to "Exalted" to secure myself an awesome attack power bonus and (when Webinara has the available funds) a semi-awesome Epic Flying Mount -- Which kind of looks like a squid with a saddle.

Also, I vacuumed.

And did some laundry.

This "Off Time" thing . . . Does it always go like this?