Friday, February 29, 2008


Holy crap!

I'm usually busy enough, but I just checked my iCal calendar and it looks like the post for Friday will be quite delayed. Sorry about that.

You can see for yourself I'm pretty slammed, though:



I'll post when I can. 

Thursday, February 28, 2008

For Jane

A graphical representation of the last time U2 was cool:




I talked about the Productivity Consultant we had here a couple of weeks ago, the one who looked at our broken processes for part of a morning and then left when her own tears of blood began to stain her shirt.

This week she has been back, but she brought help. All week I've been sitting next to a Technical Resource from her company. The guy is extremely good at what he does, technically. The place the whole company misses target is in the non-technical parts. They both ask questions but are uninterested in anything beyond the direct answers to these questions. Suggestions by my peers are ignored almost on principle, but I'm learning a lot about what a Productivity Consultant does.

Yesterday the technical guy asked why we could only do one thing at a time on a server and I told him that more than one thing on one of these old servers makes them grind to a halt in the best case. For our main build machine it can freak out and reboot resulting in a Disk Check at restart which takes over 24 hours to complete, not that we've ever let it complete.

A few hours later, he came back with the idea that this company needed to buy more servers, newer servers, with some parts covered by some form (any form) of warranty.

"Really?" was all the response I could muster. Of course they need new hardware here. Some of the production systems are still proud to be Y2K ready.

"Yes," he answered,"More and newer servers would let you do more builds."

"I know," I saw the communication error I had made,"When I said 'really' I wasn't doubting that your suggestion was a good one. My 'really' was just based in surprise that your first impulse was to throw hardware at the problem. If we didn't have six breaks to fix at a time, even the crappy old servers could probably handle it."

I didn't get the impression that many technical people ever balk at buying new equipment when he suggested it. Again, he was right. Our servers are for the most part unsupportable crap and disaster will strike at any moment. . . . But we can throw hardware at problems all day and our process will be as broken as ever.

"What do you see as the biggest problem then?" My window! Let me show you it!

"Look!" I pointed at the latest build request in my mail client,"This is what a build request looks like. There are no details unless you go the calendar entry and open the Word Doc, like this."

I started to open it, but it took a minute because of the 30 other build requests I had open at the time.

"Okay, here it is." Two glorious pages, mostly blank.

"We have the client name, right here," I pointed, "What build server hosts that working directory?"

"How would I know?" he seemed more wary, like it was a trick question or something.

"I'd look that up, cross reference with our repository information. There is none, so I'll start powering on machines until I find the right one and then turning off the incorrect ones as I go.

"Next, I create a new folder with the client name and today's date . . . Because that is all the information I have.

"I pull these issue numbers, 17555, 17658, 17241 and 15373 and do a search on this sub-folder of my Inbox for the check-in emails relating to them. I drag these emails into my new folder, except for 15373, which pre-dates the creation of my Inbox. I'll grab that data from the log on the repository server.

"I take these emails and copy the file locations into a text document, then go to the build servers and actually do my job.

"After this, I take my text document  and send it to someone named David and he adds these 'Release Notes' to the corporate Wiki site where no one ever sees it again.

"Later, the person that requested the build comes over to my desk to ask if a certain issue number was included and I reverse the steps to determine that. Then they ask for the purpose of the patch, which confuses me because if they don't know why did they request it?"

He was silent for a moment.

"That is a broad process issue," he explained,"A fundamental break-down of good business and technical process."

"Exactly." I thought we might be getting somewhere. Then . . .

"That is outside the scope of this project."

"Outside the scope? What the hell is in the scope? Adding servers we requested before I started here in November?"

"I think I can justify that purchase if you can document it."

I think I can justify stealing office supplies.

If there were any office supplies worth stealing.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

We Survived


I have to admit I'm surprised to have made it to work this morning. With over seven thousand Starbucks closing last night for a training event lasting a few hours, I fully expected all vital services to shut down, a feeble attempt at martial law to be tossed out there and abandoned, and then the complete and total breakdown of our society from the national infrastructure to remembering to tip. Those with access to Starbucks at grocery stores and airports would live in glorious domed cities of productivity and cooperation, while those of us outside would spend the rest of our brief lives fighting off wave after wave of the staggering decaffeinated damned, hungry for the residual coffee lining our livers.

I figured three hours without 7100 Starbucks could do that, no problem.

We made coffee at home and nailed plywood over the windows in the house. I know, now that the coffee zombie threat seems to have moved down from Threat Level: Mocha to Threat Level: Latte, we should take down the plywood. But isn't there a hurricane season coming up? I should leave it in place.

And I'll never truly feel safe until we all live in a culture of freedom and equality and Threat Level: Vanilla Bean No-Whip Frappuccino.

Side note/Social commentary: My spell check recognized "frappuccino". That's not a word! Why does my spell check think its a word?! Does anyone think it is a word?

I briefly scanned some of the intarwebz this morning, looking for reports of rioting and looting. There were a couple of people interviewed who seemed annoyed or surprised that Starbucks was closed. Apparently having all the major news outlets plus Fox News report on the store closings every 15 minutes and in constantly updated web articles for days in advance was unable to pull people away from whatever the hell Lindsay Lohan is doing and these people were still caught off-guard.

These people should be eaten by coffee zombies, for the good of our species as a whole.

But did it happen? According to published reports, no.

Hang on a sec while I adjust my tinfoil hat. Most people don't construct one to cover the ears, but covering the ears is vital in tinfoil hat technology.

Sure, last night seemed pretty quiet to most of us. But I know without Starbucks everyone in our house blacked out around 7pm CST. We made it a very respectable 90 minutes, though I haven't determined if that is an official record.

I was asleep for over eleven hours, and my alarm clock failed to wake me until the cellphone in the other room hit its highest alarm volume setting. Material Girl ramps up in volume until I get up to turn it off or one of the cats tries to kill me for it. There is no better song to prompt a person out of bed than Material Girl, yet it still almost failed.

What about those people who are still asleep in their homes?

I'd imagine that there is some kind of emergency response plan in place where government espresso trucks go door-to-door pulling people out of hibernation, but I think the people of New Orleans imagined that the Government knew what to do there if it rained a lot.

So my advice is this: Call everyone in your cellphone contacts directory to make sure they are up and moving around. You should offer to meet them for coffee, as the possibility will get them moving around well enough. Whether or not you actually show up to meet them for coffee is your call to make, but I think your good deed is done either way. Unless you are thirsty.

So very thirsty.

So very unbelievably thirsty.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

There Should Be Some Secrets


I suppose some married couples share everything. For important stuff, there is no question that this is just good communication. For other stuff, less pleasant stuff, a little mystery is probably for the best.

If I want to drink the last of the coffee cooled to room temperature but still in the pot from hours ago while leaning over the sink, I try to have the decency to make sure I'm alone in the kitchen before letting my caffeine addiction unleash its terrible wrath on my good sense.

For over a decade, Shana and I have established a pretty well-defined system for our finances.

She balances the checkbook and mutters about how I never write anything down, and I feel bad about never writing anything down.

She pays the bills and property taxes and Home Owners Association fees and places the paperwork in a location in the house which is a mystery to me.

And every February, I do my part.

Generally, I request the documents and then Shana and Gwynyth leave the house while I go about doing our taxes. I never realized how vital this bit of mystery was until this past weekend, when we did without it.

In years past, I've set up in the office upstairs with the papers fanned out around me. I've used the dining room table and semi-orderly piles. I've sprawled on the floor with a single stack of documents and an internet connection, me against the IRS. In each case, I had several hours of seclusion in which to do my work.

I never really realized how important the mystery was until it was gone.

This year I placed the laptop across my knees and splayed out the paperwork in bed. This year it was cold and crappy and Shana decided to balance the checkbook while I worked. . . . Right there. In the same room.

This year she saw the process in its entirety, not just the printout at the end.

She watched as I frantically typed in our information. God help her, she was there for my questions.

"What did we pay in property taxes?" . . . "No, don't break it down I need the total." . . . "What? Are you freaking serious?" . . . "For what?"

She was there as I cursed like a drunken dockworker with Tourette Syndrome and then cackled (Cackled!) as though I'd created new life in some eerie mountaintop laboratory.

At one point, when there was an error in form 2441 which could not be corrected (Could not be corrected?), the software advised me to delete form 2441 completely. I developed a stutter. The profanity wanted to come out, and it haltingly did, but this inability to vocalize my wrath resulted in a sub-human scream of pain and fury as I repeatedly completed the grim work of the IRS by slamming my face into the nightstand.

"Is Daddy okay?" came a frightened voice from the landing.

"I . . . think so, Sweetie," Shana was moving towards the kitchen for coffee at that point. Medicinal. "He's just doing our taxes."

"What do they want from me?!?" I was degenerating into a sobbing snotty mess.

There was real concern in Shana's voice as she asked if I was okay.

"There is no form for this! They want this information but they won't freaking take it!"

She passed the mug into my shaking hand and coffee went all over the checkbook register. Precious coffee.

"They have our money already! They've had it all year! Why do they have to make the task of proving they can keep it so hard?!? And why, since they have our money, do I have to do this paperwork at all?!?" The cat had long since fled her spot on my shins for another spot, less warm but probably not as loud and pathetic.

With a final click on "Submit" (A web term never more accurate than when paying one's taxes), it was finished.

I could breathe.

The stutter faded away.

I began to get back my use of civilized language.

"I had to correct our Daycare issue, since Gwynyth was never in Daycare, by deleting her from the family. I suspect she will be back next year."

"Is it like this every year?" Shana looked at me with a mixture of pity and genuine sorrow at the thought of my having done this ever in the past, let alone every year for our whole relationship.

"No," I answered honestly,"This year was pretty mild, actually. And I toned down my reaction because I didn't want to freak you out."

I think next year they may leave the house, because a little mystery can bring people closer sometimes.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Weekend Activities

Oscar party plug[1]

I knew it would be an odd weekend when I asked Shana what time we were supposed to be there on Sunday and she replied with,"What are you talking about?"

She asks that a lot, to be honest. More often it is because I've said something bizarre and out of place than it is that she happened to not be paying attention. I've come to view "What are you talking about?" as a sign of love -- Or at the very least non-aggressive pseudo-interest. And true geeks view love and non-aggressive pseudo-interest as virtually identical, anyway.

"The Academy Awards are Sunday night," I prompted as though that should explain everything.



"What are you talking about?" Ah, sweet music.

"There is bound to be a completely kick-ass Academy Awards party down the street. Are we not invited?" The feeling was like a cold fist around my heart.

"I haven't heard anything, but they have been busy lately," she was able to put the matter behind her. In fact, I think it stayed behind her the whole time, so there was less effort in that than may have been implied.

I, too, put it behind me. If "put it behind me" can be defined as "brooded about it as though the entire social order of the subdivision was crashing down around me".

What was going on?

Our neighbors are good neighbors, wonderful people, awesome parents.

They care for our cats when we leave town.

They alternate school bus duties with Shana.

Their lawn is amazing and they go to the trouble of putting up those huge inflatable yard decorations for even the most minor of holidays.

But if our gay neighbors weren't throwing a giant, costumed, movie trivia-infused Academy Awards party . . . What the hell was going on?

I began to imagine that they were having a party and that we weren't invited. Probably because of something I did.

I say "imagine" because the house looked pretty quiet when I walked down to the mailbox. On a Sunday. Several times.

And it looked like they weren't even watching the Academy Awards when I caught a glimpse of the TV screen. From the roof of their garage. Where I was probably trying to rescue a kitten or something.

It was like the whole natural order was somehow just off. The night birds sounded odd. Sometimes, as I crouched behind the shrubs trying simultaneously to peer inside and determine if the lemurs on the television were part of an Animal Planet program or just some car insurance commercial and not get mud or mulch on my pants, they sounded normal. Other times, they seemed to shriek like the souls of the damned.

My whole exercise, the multiple trips down the street, the obsessive counting of cars in driveways, the inadvertent kicking over of the potted plant, all of it, was my simple attempt to determine just how altered a state our suburban lives have entered.

My intentions were good, and I tried explaining that as best I could to the (I believe but it was dark) miniature roses as I kicked the debris behind a bush as quietly as possible.

And in the end, what did I learn from this experience? How did I grow as a person?

I learned that again the snooty "Academy" snubbed movies involving giant fighting robots for the Best Picture category.

And as for personal growth . . . I'm better at climbing drain pipes.

Like a ninja.

Friday, February 22, 2008

An Interesting Kind-of Offer


And we head back to irritating the Microsoft Windows set . . .

So I've said that Mac OS X is intuitive and a good deal prettier than the face Microsoft has long shown the world, even in their latest version, Vista, which is generally noted at the end of software reviews with something along the lines of,"Even with all the flaws and annoyances in mind, Vista is pretty."

I've noted this publicly on enough places on the internet that I have apparently attracted a bit of attention. Not that I shy away from attention. Ever. Its just an unintended side-effect in this case.

I said that the Remote Desktop Client for OS X, produced by Microsoft, is better in many ways than the client they issue with Vista, in terms of ease of access and unobtrusiveness and just generally solid Mac-ishness.

I've also noted, sometimes in ALL CAPS, that Microsoft Office for Mac is the only office product I would ever ever ever use, since the interface is nice and Mac-looking and better laid out than the Office 2007 crap strewn all over my work PC hard drive. And Google Apps completely meets my needs for that, regardless of OS. Or location. Or anything.

Anyway, a PM through one of these same message boards claiming to be someone from Microsoft wants me to consult on possible changes to the Office for Mac interface for future releases.

They are looking to take the current look and feel of the Mac-friendly interface and, um . . . you know . . . "crap it up" I guess. So that Windows users who switch to Mac will be more comfortable with a transition which includes Microsoft Office for Mac.

It makes sense, in a way.

In a really weird way.

If they throw money, I'll do it. 

We here at the Pr3++yG33kyTh1ng internet Advisory Council and Buffalo Chicken Quality Control Headquarters don't crap up anything for free. That's just our policy.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

All About the Sophie Taeuber-Arps


When I started working here, I was given two weeks training covering about 5% of the vital functions of the job before the guy who sits next to me was shuttled out of the country for extended on-site support.

While he was gone, I had about two hours of time when we were both in the office to bog him down with questions about where various files were hidden and what made two identical tasks look completely different when they involve different clients.

He's back now, and the pile of receipts on his desk was intimidating to me, even though I have nothing to do with his expenses.

He has spent over a day entering line-by-line the smudged data from these crumpled bits of paper before dutifully flattening them out and photocopying each one, in order by date, to make the job easier on whatever corporate accountant gets them.

But then he was back at it again yesterday, the same piles of receipts, a whiteboard displaying a calendar with Post-It notes (documentation format of choice around here) and the Yahoo page for currency conversion.

Rather than pay him back in the exchange rate of today, they asked him to pull up historical records for the date and time of purchase to best match the currency rate at the time the money was spent.

This process was, I'm sure, tedious and pointless from the point of view of the guy who just wants to get paid back for meals while he was out of town for the company for a month.

Accounting offices just want to be sure the company isn't getting ripped off, I'm also sure, but this seems like an undue burden to place on a valued company asset who may well decide to decline the next trip on the grounds that the return paperwork was too annoying.

As I watched him toggle data in the Yahoo currency conversion screen, altering the dates and amounts, copying and pasting the results back into his email client, I wondered if there wasn't a software product out there to do just this.

It would poll world markets constantly to keep amounts in line with a baseline and track changes in currency value over time. Transactions made at any point along the timeline constantly created would be given in relation to the currency in the local area rather than the remote one, easing timely payment of amounts due.

I started to contemplate the potential market for such a program before I came to a startling realization:

Our company makes one product, and that currency conversion function is one of the most marketed features of it.

So I decided the potential market must not be so great if the accountants at the company that produces it don't bother to use it.

Friends, if I made this stuff up it wouldn't be half as imaginative.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Mid-Week Updates


Okay, I have responsibilities at work. I understand that. There are things which need to be done and part of what I do in exchange for currency (American currency, but I'll take what I can get) is these things. Fair enough.

The crappy part of 90% of these things is that I don't do them alone. This isn't to say that I mind the company so much. I do mind relying on other people to complete everything on time.

When a project is 100% mine and I know I'll be uninterrupted I can tell people when I'll be complete.

When I have to rely on unknown server hardware seven time zones away from here across an ocean and during their dead of night with no support, there may be delays I have no control over.

When I need to troubleshoot an application in one of these environments, if I'm not allowed to make the users stop using it my options are limited while my expected productivity is not.

I like to set expectations as soon as a new project is dumped on me. I'd like to be able to say "this will be complete in X hours", but I rarely am. Instead I generally say something like,"If the network is working between here and Geneva and the servers on that end are out of their maintenance cycle and the users have all logged off properly or at least stopped working and the code which was compiled in India was actually accurately QA tested and nothing else happens between the time you walk away from this desk and the time I'm finished, this will take me about 15 minutes."

If I stopped there, a non-technical person will assume 15 minutes is an actual estimate. No stopping there, my friends.

"The last time we did this same thing I couldn't log in because they deleted or moved our maintenance accounts and no one was around to read my emails about it. Then when I finally got logged in half a dozen people were using the application and insisted that my work on a single function couldn't be impacted if no one using it actually called that function and could I please be careful not to jostle the data because there was some big deal going down over there, even though the function they were using and the function that was in need of a fix use the exact same system files. Their technician asked me, literally, to both replace the file and to leave it in place. Here, I printed the email. Further, once I'd figured out a way to at least make it look like I'd tried to do that, I found out that they closed the firewall port which lets me access the fixed file on our network from theirs. I had to literally hack the file into their network. By the time I was actually finished, the guy responsible for testing the fix had gone home and I didn't hear anything about it for over a month.

"So if everything goes as smoothly as last time, and I have no indication that it won't, I should be able to squeeze that 15 minutes of work into the next six weeks. If nothing else happens between now and then."

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Why Do I Do It?


I'm sure you have noticed if you've been visiting here for a while -- If a job is crappy, I leave.

If death can claim any of us at any moment, why stay in a miserable situation which just ups the chance that when it claims me I won't be having a good time just then?

Sometimes I stay in a miserable job for intangibles like "Team Spirit" and "Loyalty" and "Continuing to Live Indoors Through Having Money to Pay the Mortgage".

Last night I figured out why (having worked 2 days of a 3-Day weekend) I'm still here early in the morning, checking my email and trying to make the installation manual match the parts in the bag, so to speak.


I don't drink. Actually, I don't drink often. More accurately, I don't drink often so when I do I don't drink well.

I never remember anything after the third beer and if I manage to wake up and not be surprised by my location I find it a relief -- Until I move my head at all.

Steve, the IT guy at my current job, brews beer. I don't know much about the actual process involved in brewing. I know that there is a shortage of hops due to some environmental issues somewhere and Steve is stockpiling the stuff to maintain his ability to make more beer. I know there is quite a bit of math involved in the process. He has to calculate the strain of yeast and the exact sugar content of the solution. The beer he gave me has a couple of additional steps.

First, the initial boil contains coffee. Steve said this part isn't for flavor -- it just adds caffeine.

More coffee, better coffee, is added near the end for more caffeine and flavor.

Also, he re-hydrates a vanilla bean in bourbon and adds that in.

Totaled out, the beer finishes at 9% alcohol. And when I opened the bottle I could smell the coffee and the vanilla.

Shana and I shared a bottle last night. The bourbon is only noticeable on the exhale, which in my case was marked with a sound not unlike "Wu-fa-fa-fa-huh", though it was a pleasant feeling "Wu-fa-fa-fa-huh". Since I usually get sleepy when I drink beer and caffeine has no stimulant effect on me other than just keeping my organs working, I was surprised to glance at the clock later and see that it was 1:30am.

For the first time ever, I was actually saddened to hear the high-pitched clink of an empty bottle hitting the table. Sure, I've been annoyed by the sound before, displeased at the thought of having to fetch another, angry enough to smash the bottle and brandish the jagged neck at the people making fun of my inability to play pool, but never genuinely sad. 

This morning he said he is brewing another batch soon, so I should get back to work now.

Before I do, I've posted a link to Steve's blog in the Links . . . um . . . Link . . . on the right side of the page.

Also, Shana's and my friend Thag has started a new project where he is coding his own blog and just getting to the part where he can unleash his emotions through it onto the interwebz. I think it will be fun to watch and I intend to waste as much time as possible doing so.


Monday, February 18, 2008

"Most Awesome" is not always "Best"


Since Gwynyth and I are hanging out together for President's Day, it was natural for her to ask me who I felt the "Most Awesome" President was.

I immediately answered "Theodore Roosevelt". No question about it, really.

"What made him a good President?" she continued, completely ruining the possibility of a simple answer.

"Well, he hated corrupt big business and they called him the 'Trust Buster' for breaking up these giant shady deals." Of course, even I find that pretty boring and I'm not an eight-year-old girl.

"He, um, cared about the environment," I was reaching. He did care about the environment. He cared enough to keep a live lion and a bear in the White House.

"He ended some war between Japan and Russia." Lame.

The topic changed over to the real ingredients of chicken nuggets and I was free to contemplate the difference between "Most Awesome" and "Best".

Theodore Roosevelt was an asthmatic kid from a high-income New York City family. Rather than give into his frailty and play D&D in the basement, he took up boxing and became a champion pugilist, in a sense beating the asthma into submission.

He resigned as Secretary of the Navy because the job wasn't violent enough to found the Rough Riders, a group made up of Native Americans, cowboys from his days in the Dakotas, and some of his country club friends from New York. He supported the war with Spain enough to ride horseback to Cuba from Long Island himself.

Everyone knows about the Rough Riders and the Battle of San Juan Hill. Some people even know that when the horses became tired, the Rough Riders dismounted and ran up the hill on foot.

What most people don't know is that Theodore Roosevelt got off his exhausted steed, threw the beast over his shoulder and carried it up the hill by himself. He paused at the top to beat the defenders to death with his own tired horse.

Theodore Roosevelt became President when McKinley was assassinated. When word of the attack reached him, he decided to continue his camping trip rather than head back to town to watch McKinley die, though I understand the decision was a tough one for Roosevelt because both options were so completely manly.

He was elected in 1904 after serving the remainder of McKinley's term, most likely because the American people knew if he was not elected he would spend the rest of his days hunting down those that voted against him like a giant mustached killing machine.

While he was in office, Roosevelt got a letter from a cavalryman which complained about how they were forced to ride 25 miles a day.

Twenty-five miles is a long way on a horse. Rather than fixing the policy though, Roosevelt got on his own horse and rode one hundred miles a day at the age of fifty-one.

His only official act in response was to declare the author of the letter "unworthy of facial hair" which was then branded off him according to the military tradition of the time.

When he campaigned to be re-elected, some guy with a total death wish shot Roosevelt at a rally. After subduing his attacker ("subdue" in this case being "choke to death with his own entrails") Roosevelt delivered his speech with an undressed, oozing bullet hole in his chest. The words of the speech are unimportant. The message was "vote for me, I can't be killed".

This guy strolled around the White House with a gun strapped to his hip! That war between Japan and Russia? Both sides agreed to a truce to avoid having to fight Roosevelt -- By himself! And they awarded him the Nobel Prize for Peace for scaring the crap out of two whole countries!

If he were to run for office today, he'd be elected in a landslide because the only thing even a little more frightening than Theodore Roosevelt is an undead Theodore Roosevelt.

Panama Canal, Regulation of Industry, beginning the Wildlife Preserve program, getting Lincoln put on the penny, inviting the first black man to dine at the White House, creating the slogan for Maxwell House coffee, appointing the first Jewish Cabinet Secretary -- All of it pales in comparison to his willingness, nay eagerness, to do violence on others just because he liked it.

"Best President"? Maybe.

"Most Awesome President?" No freaking doubt.

And chicken nuggets are mostly corn and beaks. And probably lighter fluid.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Art History

My friend Todd was recently in Jerusalem.

As if I didn't already want to go enough, he sent me an awesome picture of some authentic Israeli street art. The proud tradition of embellishment of public and private buildings and streets goes back as far as there are historical records.

There are examples of Jewish art throughout the Middle East, of course, but also in communities all across Europe and America from documented immigrant populations, in the most remote African wilderness and (according to some) even in the American West scattered among more typical Native American artworks.

But to see even a digital image (iPhone-captured) of Israeli artwork from the modern streets of Jerusalem fills me with what can only be described as awe.

And I confess I feel closer than ever to the Jewish community.

I'm posting it here because it must be shared. May it bring you the same feeling of unity it brings me.


Friday, February 15, 2008

This Post is Late Because . . .


Thursday we had a "Productivity Consultant" in to determine if we had issues with our day-to-day procedures which make our jobs harder than they need to be.

I prepped for this meeting quite a bit. I determined (having been here a stunning 2 months) what our "pain points" are. I documented examples with email and IM details and actual, environment crashing, disasters.

I also came up with a six point plan to fix it all, but that part of my presentation was crammed into the last ten minutes of the meeting and dismissed immediately.

Today, the same Productivity Consultant was back, this time to watch over my shoulder during an average Friday to see what the "real" problems are.

I took the opportunity as a chance to pretend to train someone else in what I do, acting as if she were going to pick up my task at any time so I could go home.

When she didn't write fast enough, I went back and repeated.

When the code to be built was not checked in correctly, I did an hour of detective work trying to find it.

I clicked six windows for each and every task and copied and pasted every single freaking thing multiple times.

I did not embellish my daily tasks at all.

Three times impossible or irrational requests came in and I either met the requirements or spent more time emailing evidence of my effort to all the involved parties.

When asked about documentation, I replied honestly that there was none other than my own Post-It notes.

When asked if there was a better set of tools to use to build these programs, I explained that the ones we have are barely getting us by day-to-day and that we have no time to look for other tools. More importantly, the programming language we have 80% of the code based in is no longer supported, even by fringe nerd groups.

The most common task has over fifty intricate steps with countless environmental variables.

I kicked off a lengthy checkout and glanced over to see the consultant shaking her head slowly, her face frozen in the shocked and horrified look I have only in recent days managed to replace on my own face with one of resigned apathy.

"I'm going to take a lunch and . . . process . . . some of this," she said.

"I know there isn't a lot of room for improvement," I said in my most encouraging voice,"but I'm sure you can come up with a few areas which could use a touch up."

She made a noise, like choking, and wiped spittle from her face.

"Are you kidding? This is the most f!#^*d up system I've ever seen! And I've done work for the government!"

"Yes," I answered,"I'm kidding."

She took a long lunch and I continued to pick through piles of code, noting errors and compiling crap I know will need to be compiled again.

When she returned, she saw me working the same stupid issues (transposed issue numbers in the request, invalid file locations, code completely missing from the working directory and step after manual step) and she said,"I've made a few calls about this situation. We are stumped. Can we go over your recommendations from yesterday in better detail?"

"Hell yes, we can. In fact, I emailed my presentation to the email address on your business card while you were at lunch."

My apathetic look is still in place, though. I need to keep my skills sharp.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Question Always Starts The Same . . .


. . . "I don't want to offend you . . . "

And I know the end of the question, after a decade.

". . . but Shana is really cool and very pretty and you . . . "

Yeah, not so much. Got it.

I married waaaaaay up. I know.

In public, no one assumes we are together because I'm obviously such a total geek and Shana is a completely cool and smart and fun and extremely attractive woman.

The question, boiled down, is a combination of a delicate inquiry about the size of my bank account and her immigration status.

I'm no longer offended. I'm extremely lucky she chooses to spend time with me and I know that.

What I will do is answer the question which should be asked:

"What did you, you total geek, do in order to captivate the heart of this vibrant awesome woman?"

The answer, friends, is simple. Hopefully my geeky single guy friends will gain a bit of insight into the reality of it all and use these words to aid their own path to happiness.

First of all, expensive jewelry and lavish dinners. A lot of both, actually. And flowers. Acres of flowers. Especially ultra-rare rainforest ones extinct in the wild.

Long chick flick marathons where I watch intently and don't murmur a word to interrupt.

Moonlit walks along the beach where I listen to her concerns about her day and whisper sweet assurances.

An intuitive knowledge of her moods which allows me to tailor my level of play to her own level of tolerance, sometimes just stopping to hold her in an embrace that makes her feel enclosed but not contained.

Ah, crap.

Who am I kidding?

Hypnosis and hallucinogens.


The Chuck Norris of Romance

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

I Don't Care


Fact -- F. Scott Fitzgerald did more to damage American literature than a tornado in the Library of Congress.

Fact -- F. Scott Fitzgerald has (assisted by union-driven educators) fostered a hatred of reading in this country since 1925, the results of which are seen in our reliance on foreign Blu-Ray DVD players and love of American Idol.

Fact -- F. Scott Fitzgerald admitted that The Great Gatsby was an attempt at making literature an artistic statement.

Fact -- If you have to state that your book is art, it probably isn't.


I am outraged! I just found out that The Great Gatsby is still being assigned as required reading in school! Can you believe that?

Why would this still be as assignment? Sure, when I was in school there were far fewer books from which to choose. There were whole groups of people in the town where I grew up who only acknowledged The King James Bible and The Great Gatsby so my public high school kind of had no choice.  

Modern schools have dozens of books they can use. Because I suffered through The Great Gatsby, students today shouldn't have to. The cycle of hatred should have ended years ago. Until I heard last night that people were still having to slog through this piece of crap, I'd assumed schools had put that dark chapter behind them and moved on to books with a point.

Disclaimer -- I've been told numerous times that I just "don't understand" The Great Gatsby or that I'm "putting modern literary sensibilities into an analysis of a great historical piece" or that I'm "an idiot". The inescapable truth is this: The Great Gatsby is an awful book.  

I had to read The Great Gatsby in high school. The kindness was that I read it my junior year when I was still too young to drop out of school and move out of my parent's house to wander the world in search of a decent book. Instead, I endured. To its credit, The Great Gatsby made me stronger. Years later I would tell myself while struggling through a 48-hour non-stop project that if I could remain awake for that book, I could put off sleep forever for anything even mildly interesting. The Great Gatsby showed me the limits of human endurance and the ultimate pain of the human existence, but not through the masterful storytelling and compelling characters. The continued publication of this vile work and the infliction of this same book on children illustrates the depravity inherent in our public (state-funded) school systems.  

Anyway, I bought a copy at the age of 16 and read it. My report on the book was unflattering and poorly received by my English teacher who may or may not have had some kind of weird man-crush on Nick Carraway. Who could find Nick Carraway attractive? Nick Carraway dated a woman golfer in the 1920's, a relationship obviously based on a need to maintain the appearance of heterosexuality in a less-tolerant time.

But I kept my angrily marked up report tucked into my battered copy of The Great Gatsby and took it off to college with me to place on a shelf in the hopes that having an "American Classic" in my dorm would make me look cooler. You have to remember that a D&D playing Drama Club Officer had only so much cool to work with in the first place.

Our first assignment in American Literature 101 was The Great Gatsby. My copy wasn't good enough. I had to buy it in paperback again from the college bookstore for $25.95. In fairness, my old high school copy looked to have been read a hundred times, though the condition of the book was in reality related to the number of times I'd thrown it into walls and smashed my face into it to keep myself awake.

So, a new shiny copy of The Great Gatsby and a new college-level analysis to be written, I read it again. I thought maybe my mind had matured and that I'd glean some meaning from the pages and my report on the book would reflect this new understanding.

Again, my report was unflattering. But we are supposed to do our own thinking in college, right? The Emperor is wearing an orange-mesh thong! Can't anyone see that?


F-, maybe.

And the note on top questioned whether I'd understood the book at all.

I understand this: The Great Gatsby is still in print. More horrifying, people buy 300,000 copies every year. Think of the trees! The Great Gatsby is a modern ecological tragedy, not the Great American Novel. 

Because I heard that some people are still being forced to read it, I'll go through it again here. These answers never worked for me at any level of education, but things may be different now.


Spoiler Alert:


Wash Dies.


The character of Nick Carraway is an almost openly declared proxy for Fitzgerald, who wanted desperately to hang out with the cool people but always felt like he was from some small town in the Midwest and hopelessly outclassed. In desperation, Nick Carraway latches on people who have no value, while Fitzgerald wrote a book with even less.

Daisy and Tom are twisted. Daisy is Nick's second cousin or something vague and distant and Tom is wealthy and if he had a job other than "Former College Football Player" it left mercifully little impact on my long-term memory.

There is a guy down the street (next door?) named Gatsby who has a lot of money and no job at all, so people assume he is a criminal. Gatsby throws awesome 1920's theme parties where people dress like flappers and drive old cars and cram themselves into phonebooths or something, not knowing that this all only became cool after the 20's when everyone started doing it to be Retro.

Also, Gatsby's cufflinks are made out of human molars, which illustrates that he:

A. Has no regard for human life, seeing people as property

B. Got into the most bad-assed bar fight ever and kept his opponent's teeth as a warning to others

C. Needs fashion help to avert a coming Emo-emergency

D. Has the worst Dentist ever

E. All of the above

Gatsby wants Daisy and Daisy is bored with Tom and there is an affair and there is stilted confrontation in multiple driveways and then Daisy runs over a lady who it turns out was sleeping with Tom and Tom tells her husband that Gatsby did it and wears human teeth and eats babies and the husband goes to Gatsby's pool and kills Gatsby in revenge.

Throughout this whole chain of events, I did not care one bit about any of the characters. Around page 40 if the characters had just starting swelling up and bursting like boils I would have reacted the same way as I did to the whole infidelity/murder thing.

I'm not unsympathetic. I develop attachments to fictional characters and get upset when bad things happen to them. I'm fully capable of empathy.

The Great Gatsby offers no opportunity for empathy because it is an awful book. Fitzgerald manages to cram a Lifetime Channel Judith Light Movie Marathon worth of distilled, liquid boring into less than 200 pages.

The Great Gatsby, in two readings, left me forever literarily gimped, unable to read any book which does not feature either dragons or laser swords for the fear that I will have to endure another 1920's party segment where I violently do not give a damn.

The overriding theme present in the book is wanting to belong, as Nick does with Gatsby's crowd and Gatsby does with the established wealthy families, though neither is ultimately able to cross over in any way but superficially. Status and material excess are the goals, but the newly rich wear pink suits and that makes them look dumb, while the established old money families have better taste but are emotionally dead inside -- Not unlike the reader around page 95.

There is symbolism, sure. The trail of ash and the giant all-seeing eyes and the green light, but their only meaning is to keep the reader awake thinking about that while he drags his own ash-encrusted eyes over page after page of this most horrible book.

It is my hope that someday schools will decide to assign something with more value that The Great Gatsby to young readers.

I recommend cereal boxes and anything crammed under my wiper blade when I leave the mall.

"He had come a long way to this blue lawn, and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it."

Shut up, F. Scott. I didn't care then and I don't care now. Gatsby is dead, we can all get on with our lives.    

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Who Controls Kamchatka, Controls the World


Outside of board games, risk sucks. But while we are on the subject I always like to take Australia first when I play. I get steady (if meager) reinforcements and there is only one way in to Australia to defend from enemies.

More importantly, I like to imagine my forces conquering all of Asia while mounted on the backs of giant, genetically-enhanced marsupials.

Oddly, I like to imagine the same thing pretty often even years after the last time I actually played Risk. I wonder if there is a medication for that.

I sure hope not.

Anyway, as I promised here on the pages of Pr3++yG33kyTh1ng, "screw this job, I'm leaving".

I also let my co-workers know that if things improve before I find another job, I'll stay. We all know the chances of that . . .

Anyway, I've been invited to a last-stage interview at the corporate headquarters of an IT agency. The location for the interview is Washington D.C.

The catch is that if I go I purchase my own ticket, pay my own parking and tolls and buy my own lunch.

If I'm offered the job, the recruiter will reimburse up to $500. If I'm not offered the job, they reimburse $250. If I'm offered the job and the terms suck and I turn it down, I'm not reimbursed anything and have burned a vacation day I'd really have rather used for a vacation.

A last-minute ticket to D.C. costs ~$500. And I won't be in town long enough to even visit the Smithsonian.

How crappy is that?

In my opinion, pretty crappy.

If they decide not to open the new office they are planning, I'm out $250. If they decide to open it and offer me less money and a refrigerator box to live in, I'm out $500.

Also (and this is no small consideration) if I can't fly back from Chicago without being strip searched in a plexiglass box at airport security, what are my chances of making it back from D.C. with my pants at all?

I like my pants. I'm not going.

So, my current job has some extra time to sort out this process. And by "sort out" I mean "fabricate from thin air by changing the very material of time and space and create a new reality where all things are possible and perpetual motion powers the machinery which produces living unicorns to do our bidding".

Because that would be just awesome enough to work, in my opinion.

Especially if the unicorns endlessly run in front of giant rainbows like the ones emblazoned on my Dream Van.

*Brief pause while I imagine commanding my marsupial-powered minions from within my Dream Van*

Okay. Moving on.

Today I made my first willing political contribution to a specific candidate. A contribution of actual money, earned by me and exchanged for an intangible.

It feels weird. I'm the guy that pencils in his own "Piss Off" checkbox next to the "Would you like to contribute $1 to the Presidential Campaign Fund?" part of the tax form and scrawls a giant "X" in red Crayola in there.

Note: Scrawling things on the tax form in red Crayola does not exempt one from potential audit. Trust me on this.

It is, however, a total hoot.  

Monday, February 11, 2008

No Space (Possibly)


I got an invitation to join Facebook. I accepted immediately and set up my profile.

Then I went about removing myself from MySpace. I know I could leave it up. My MySpace profile could remain in place forever, a museum display of the mid-nineties in suburban geekery, untouched by the account owner, its only visitors Legitimate Nigerian State Banking Officials and Bored Cam Girls.

But leaving it in place implies that there is no other social networking site containing my information, or at least that there is some loyalty to MySpace.

Also, I wanted to see how hard it is to quit.

So I logged in and hunted down my 'Account Settings' area. There was a Delete Account button. That's pretty handy, so I just pressed that.

Of course I got a confirmation "Are you sure you want to delete your MySpace account?" dialog box.

"I'm here, aren't I?"


"All your profile settings will be lost and you will need to completely rebuild your friends list if you decide to join again. Are you sure?"


"A confirmation email has been sent to the registered email address."

So I waited for the email to arrive.

And when it did it contained a link to the super-special Account Deletion page. There was another button there to confirm that I was leaving MySpace forever and another dire warning about how difficult starting over would be.

Click. Click. Click. Click freaking click.

And then I was told that my account might be deleted in 24 to 48 hours. "Might be", because I'm not sure there is a process in place on the back end for that to actually happen.

The point is this: If you've added me to your MySpace friends list, you "might be" missing one friend in 24 to 48 hours. As MySpace tracks friends, anyway. This whole process in no way effects my actual real-life affection level for anyone, no matter what MySpace seems to believe.

And I'm on Facebook now, so email me if you'd like to be added to my . . . "Faces" list, I guess?

I'm not sure how not having MySpace will impact my life, overall. Even though my profile was set to private I always had concerns that potential employers would find a MySpace page for me and assume the worst, especially since the profile was private. It seemed to be intentionally hiding something I don't want strangers to know, and the imagination would easily manufacture things in my profile far worse than anything actually there.

The project for this week is to document some drunken escapades for Facebook. My public Facebook profile will be filled with incriminating material of my own choosing. I'm not about surprises.

If I load my Facebook profile with some mild antics then any potential employer will expect that these are the limits of my depravity. They will assume intimate knowledge of my life before an offer is extended. I should say "I'm not about surprises when I'm the one being surprised", because that is more accurate.

Not that my Facebook profile will ever be an exercise in accuracy.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Some Updates


I hate The sick truth that several recruiters placed me at jobs based on a resume I have posted there does little to improve my overall opinion of that non-stop suck-fest. There are few websites more choked by advertising. Every modification requires a click through a dedicated advertising page offering some kind of online college degree or a mortgage solution. Long ago I flagged everything arriving in my Inbox from as spam. If a recruiter doesn't care enough to send a real email rather than click the "Contact This Desperate Job-Seeker" button, I don't want to hear from them. Most of those are unrequested interview times for automotive sales positions just flung towards me based on my zipcode.


Anybody want to buy a Ford?

Yeah, me either.

Wow. I preemptively suck at car sales. I'll go ahead and cross that off my "What I Want To Be When I Grow Up" list.

I'm still dutifully inputting Coke Reward Points. As of yesterday, I was close to 5,500 of those little guys. They added a few things to the site, like a rocker-style gaming chair with dedicated speakers and an iPod pocket (Three Thousand Something Points). They also added a sweepstakes to win a Nintendo Wii, 3 points per entry, no more than 10 entries per day. In short, I could enter the maximum number of times every day until the drawing is held and come up with nothing except fewer amassed total points. I'll need those in case Coke Reward Points are the currency in the New World Order and not (as I have long suspected) Taco Bell sauce packets.

I could buy a Wii. I can find one online conveniently bundled with half a dozen games I can tell I'd hate for three times the MSRP.


The system is $250. I'll buy one for $250 or not at all.

A friend sent me a tip on a real-life hack of a retailer's Wii shipment schedule and the location and times when the units are allocated. There is a pre-dawn drive, some loading dock action, and the smug self-confidence of paying exactly retail for something -- All things I'm completely into.

I've just been working every time the secret time has rolled around and have been unable to exploit it. 

This constant work thing has me feeling (as one would expect) "Stabby". In fact, I crafted a sign using photocopy paper and dry erase marker which features the words "Today I Feel" in bold text across the paper and "Stabby" on a Post-It note, as though it changes. I've added obvious staples to hold "Stabby" in place, though. The sign hangs over my desk with a little image of a grinning skull and off-set eyes which seem to follow people as they move around. Brightens up the place a bit. Some people use live plants or little Zen gardens. Some people are wimps.

Anyway, people need time off. Not just time away from the office, but time when they do not expect to have Home Time shattered by a call at any second with dire consequences if they are not able to get connected to the work network within 3 minutes to begin fixing something at any hour of the day or night.


I can't use the charger for my phone in it's usual location because I might not hear it vibrate. I can't turn on the ringer because it might wake my family with an awesome MIDI ringtone of "Material Girl".

I have to use the USB charger at work and at home and keep my phone in my lap while I charge it in the car because I've missed the vibrating phone in the passenger's seat and have had to wade through voicemail. I hate wading through voicemail.

This shouldn't come off as a complete bummer post on a Friday. It isn't.

The truth is, I'm not at all bad at managing crappy work environments -- at least on an emotional level.

Mounting pressures are met with creative profanity and a minimum of twitching now, through long years of practice. I worry for the sanity of anyone willingly considering a career in IT, but I also welcome the company.

Sometimes the requested status update must be delivered honestly as "We're completely screwed", but as long as I can leave that feeling (and some expired yogurt) at work I know I'll be just fine.   

Thursday, February 07, 2008



I held off on making a judgement on Heath Ledger's death for a couple of reasons.

First, I liked him. He did good work. He is about to re-define one of the most iconic comic book villains of all time.

Second, his death was weird and I wanted to hear an official report before deciding the sadness level to feel and express. Apparently it was an accidental overdose of several different legitimate prescription drugs. So. Very sad.

Yeah, the whole situation just kind of makes a person sit back and re-examine his life a bit.

How many jousting movies have I starred in? Not as many as Heath Ledger.

How many seriously uncomfortable westerns have I been in? Also not as many as Heath Ledger.

How many movies have I been in where I play a patriot in a country I wasn't even born in? You see where this is going.

I guess the most important thing I've learned from the tragic story of Heath Ledger's death is that I'm not the only one who has ever placed a questionable call to one of the Olsen twins when there is a dead body in the room.

And I'm more than a little comforted by that.

Anyway, my vote for the Joker replacement for the sequel would have to go to our friend Vitaly:


I'm exactly as creeped out by this picture as I believe I'm supposed to be. Which is a lot. Seriously.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

I Did Not Attend . . .

buttepirates  . . . High School in Butte, Montana. However, I'm in total support of their athletic program.

This morning (as I stole a higher-backed office chair for my own enjoyment) I decided to talk a little bit about workplace communication in this morning's post.

Yesterday there was an issue with a miscommunication. I'll go over it and we can figure out together where it went wrong.

1. I got a request to build a program and deploy it to "[Client Name Deleted] Production and Test".

2. I built the requested application and checked my document on the [Client Name Deleted] environment. My document is a tattered photocopy of indeterminate age which was propping up a corner of my monitor stand when I moved into this desk.

3. I went to the original requestor (after sending an email and waiting for long enough to become irritated) and asked for specific server names. She did not know them, but directed me to Instant Message the Project Coordinator.

4. The Project Coordinator supplied the server names for the deployment.

5. I made the change on servers A, B, C, D, E and F. According to process, I overwrote the existing files on all servers to replace them with the new and improved files.

6. I got an email from the Project Coordinator "just making sure" that I had not made the change on servers A, B and C. If I had, it was further hoped that the original files were not overwritten.

7. I shrieked. I had triple-freaking-checked and still broken something and now I had to pay the price of attempting a data recovery on someone else's servers.

8. I recovered the files and went on with my life.

Now, in this case it might seem that the proper channels were followed. I emailed the original requestor. I followed up in person. I asked specific questions of the person that knows. I followed procedure.

My own personal rule would have served me better than process in this case.

Skipping out and getting coffee would have also served me better, but I'll concentrate on my own personal rule for the purposes of this post.

Garrick's Rule of Office Communciation #1 reads as follows:

Always answer a question with another question.

Garrick's Rule of Office Communication #2 reads as follows:

The threat of bodily harm will often preclude further requests.

In the case yesterday, the exchange should have gone like this --


Business Requestor: Hey Garrick, can you make an undocumented change on a really important server we can't specifically identify?

Me: Did you know I can kill a person fourteen different ways with this ballpoint pen without leaving my chair?


See? Much better. It addresses the question and simultaneously imposes limits. It offers no implication of pending activity and establishes a baseline for future interaction.

It also just skirts the law on terroristic threats, as far as I can tell from the Law School Message Boards I've been reviewing.

Please check your local legal definitions before attempting to replicate this method.

See? By saying that, I can't be sued. At least according to those same Message Boards.  


As a final bit of news, I found out last night that my Hannah Montana shirt is considered [Epic] by Nick. Thank you, Nick. You and I are alone in that opinion, probably. That does not make the opinion wrong. 


Tuesday, February 05, 2008

The Biggest Fan


At five feet nine and a quarter inches, I'm pretty sure I was the biggest fan at the Hannah Montana experience last night.

My Dad sent us three tickets, so with Shana out of town Gwynyth and I grabbed a friend and set out for an evening of pure, rocking awesome.

What can really be said about 90 minutes of Hannah Montana magic in glorious Disney 3D?

Let's find out:

There is a scene just after the Jonas Brothers start their set. Hannah is singing her part (We Got the Party (With Us)) and running around the stage. She wears an overcoat and huge sunglasses. She stops singing but continues to run around.

I leaned over to Gwynyth and said, "She's gone backstage to change. That's a body double. Look, they are avoiding close ups of her face. That's not Hannah Montana."

"Dad," she consoled me,"There is no Hannah Montana. Miley Cyrus plays Hannah Montana."

Nice. I feel so simple.

Your Geek-Focused movie review for the Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus Best of Both Worlds 3D Concert must focus on the fact that the 3D itself is possibly the best I've ever seen.

There are also bits of music where the little girl (Miley? Hannah? zOMG!) sings with less processing than she normally gets. The sad part? She has a nice voice. If they'd stop processing it to death she would sound like a person.

Billy Ray Cyrus is a funny man, even without a mullet.

The one downside of the 3D is that at times the angle made things weird. If you've ever seen Hannah Montana sing, you know that one of the things she seems to do a lot is bend at the waist to get her face closer to the audience. Any distortion in her voice from her posture is instantly cleaned up by some computer which could be using processor time to cure diseases, but the bend-at-the-waist thing is wrong in 3D due to the microphone hardware at the small of her back. She bends, the hardware doesn't, and it looks like her rib cage has slid to the side of a second, lower and larger ribcage. Or that aliens are about to burst from her kidneys and run about the arena slaying small children.

It was an experience. I'm glad we went. The girls seemed to have a great time.   

The music is not my style for the most part.

If you haven't heard Hannah Montana music, imagine something pop-sounding, textbook "soul warbles" at the end of syllables, bass parts which are repetitive enough that some kind of machine can pick it up halfway through so the bass player can rush off to snort coke off a hooker during a song and not be missed, hair-flipping chorus parts which are just indecipherable enough to cause earworms which last all day and add in screaming, shrieking little girls amplified in glorious Dolby Surround Sound. For ninety minutes.

If you've imagined it correctly, there should be a tiny trickle of blood coming out of both ears. 


Edit: I've gotten a few questions about the shirt. Inexplicably, the Men's department seemed to be sold out of Hannah Montana shirts, so I needed to content myself with a shirt meant for a larger child.

It went over surprisingly well at the theatre, except for bathroom breaks. I finished up early and then was magically transformed into the creepy guy standing outside the women's restroom in a Hannah Montana shirt. I do not recommend it unless your shame threshold is pretty high.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Struggle for Survival


I knew it would eventually come down to the two of us. I've known it for weeks.

I've seen the signs, strange footprints around the campfire in the morning, broken branches along the back trail, the shattered bones of a recent victim. I'd had no doubt the beast was surely hunting me now, waiting for the opportunity to strike as soon as my resolve weakened. As soon as I chose to sleep somewhere other than the tree tops. As soon as I let my vigilance slip, even just a bit, the beast would be on me -- A mass of tearing claws and ripping fangs intent on ending my time in the jungle in brutal fashion.

Nonetheless, I was taken by surprise. I'd stopped to gather a hand full of coffee beans to chew on, hoping to cover a few more miles before darkness made travel impossible.

The beast pounced from within the bush itself.

I had only a fraction of a second to catch a glimpse of the hate-filled red eyes before I was knocked back, the crushing weight of the beast pinning my chest to the soft, loamy earth.

My desperate struggles became flailing. My spear had been knocked from my grasp and the stone hunting knife in my boot may as well have been a spirit weapon as I could no more reach past the beast to grasp it than close my hands upon his ghost in a vision in the shaman's hut. Good tea. The medicine man makes good tea.

My hand closed upon a branch, partially buried under my left shoulder. Perhaps it was a root. I know not, nor did it matter as I ripped it from the ground, swinging forward with all my strength, spraying dirt into the beast's face as much as hitting it on the nose to drive it back. I needed room if I were going to fight effectively.

The beast was wary now, circling just out of range of my club. I glanced to where the spear had fallen, but knew if I reached for it the beast would pounce again and I'd be less able to fight back this time.

The beast swiped at my legs with his claws. Those strikes I couldn't beat back I leaped over. Though effective so far, I was tiring fast and the beast seemed to know it.

It padded back and watched me, knowing that it could wait patiently until I made a mistake or tried to flee. I'd be run down in an instant. I'd be mauled like the villagers who had already fallen to the creature. This far from the village, no one would know of my fate for weeks, if ever. And the beast would use that time to hunt them as well.

I lunged forward, bringing the club down in a feint meant to clear a path to my spear. The beast seemed to expect it.

It stepped out of the way and then brought its paw down on the club, wrenching it from my grasp and then leaping to stand directly over my fallen weapon.

I could almost say the beast was smiling at me.

Knowing I had only one recourse, I dove at the beast and began a desperate struggle for my life and the lives of my tribesmen. With bare hands, I ended the reign of the fiercest monster of the wild lands.

My victory was not without cost. To this day, I walk with a limp. I wear it as a badge of honor, though. A sign that the people of this land need no longer live in fear.

I did not, as the rumors suggest, fall while walking across the driveway for no good reason at all.

That would be completely lame and boring. 

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Merger Update

NEW YORK (CNNMopennies[1] -- Pr3++yG33kyTh1ng Corp. made an unsolicited $44.6 billion cash and stock bid for on Friday, a deal that could shake up the competitive and lucrative market for Ben Affleck Fan Forums.

The deal would pay Ben-Fan shareholders $31 a share, which represents a 62% premium from where Ben-Fan stock closed on Thursday.

Shares of Ben-Fan were up 45% in midday trading, while shares of Pr3++yG33kyTh1ng tumbled more than 6%.

Garrick "Pr3++yG33kyTh1ng" Pass, Pr3++yG33kyTh1ng's chief executive, called the move the "next major milestone" for the internet rumor-mongering giant.

"We are totally uber confident this is the right path for Pr3++yG33kyTh1ng and for Ben-Fan," he said, "Only a n00b would decline this offer."

Pr3++yG33kyTh1ng hopes to close the deal by the end of the year. Pass said that Pr3++yG33kyTh1ng has been in "off and on" talks with Ben-Fan for almost 18 minutes and said he called Ben-Fan CEO "BenNBunny" Thursday night to tell him/her the bid was coming.

A Pr3++yG33kyTh1ng/Ben-Fan combination would create a powerful number two player in the online fake news/blasphemy/deranged rant business, which currently commands. It would also be one of the biggest tech deals ever, on par with Hewlett-Packard's $25 billion acquisition of Compaq in 2002.

Pr3++YG33kyTh1ng announced the bid early Friday. In a statement, the company said the offer allows Ben-Fan shareholders (or "Bennies" as they prefer to be called) to elect to receive cash or a fixed number of shares of Pr3++yG33kyTh1ng common stock, with the blog's offer consisting of one-half cash and one-half Pr3++yG33kyTh1ng common stock.

In a statement, Ben-Fan acknowledged receipt of the offer and said its board would evaluate the proposal "carefully and promptly, like Ben Affleck killing that guy with the dryer in Gigli."

Friday, February 01, 2008

I'm Left with No Choice


As my days (frequently beginning at 6am and wrapping up around 9 or 10pm) become more and more filled with work-related asshattery, these posts are getting later and later.

I've gone over the reasonable options. What I've come up with is this:

1. Shut down the blog for a while -- An extended hiatus where I watch my page hits decline and I fade into obscurity like Tom Petty or Paula Abdul, with any attempt at a return to the public eye only resulting in an uncomfortable sadness in any readers who stumble by just hoping to see an exposed nipple on the nationally televised Half Time Show of Pr3++yG33kyTh1ng.

2. Adopt an irregular posting schedule where updates are as frequent but no attempt is made to have fresh content up first thing in the morning. This puts my post time late at night, making my content even less timely and possibly completely non-relevant by the time it is read. Making this a late night blog changes the whole feeling of the blog. My posts will be all tired and crappy, much like their author.

3. Tri-state killing spree. This option intrigues me. As a bonus, this has long been the direction Pr3++yG33kyTh1ng has been headed anyway. Of course, I'm too pretty for prison, so it really isn't a valid option that much after all.

4. Use some of our operating capital to expand our staff. Hmm. This is the preferred method, as all the hard work could be pushed off on someone, by definition, not me. A quick glance at the books sets our budget. Unless our new employee is willing to be paid in sarcasm (the true currency of the internet) the position must be titled "Intern".

Now that that is settled, I'll go about drafting the job listing:


Wanted: Intern/Minion

Experience Level:

Willing to work in exchange for scant praise and whatever snack foods my daughter finds "out of fashion" at the moment, including (but not limited to) Buffalo Style Goldfish Crackers.

Essential Skills:

Must be able to send annoying IM's to the Editor of Pr3++yG33kyTh1ng with prompts to "timely action" regarding updates to the blog. These prompts may include threats, topic ideas, time elapsed since last page update information, and any and all of the current (or archived) threat of legal action.

Must be available to proofread and post blog updates provided by the full-time staff of Pr3++yG33kyTh1ng Smarm Delivery and Cool Ranch Doritos Disposal Incorporated, LLC.

Must have a burning need to provide geek-based content to an audience which is far, far higher up on the Stahlman/Matsuko Coolness Scale than the author.

Must be willing to listen to live rants and delusional paranoid diatribes from the full time staff via cellphone or Skype, at times possibly ghost writing the transcription into something which resembles an attempt at pretending insanity for comedic value.

Must console the Editor in times of low traffic, perhaps with a few comforting words, possibly with a shared viewing of Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and a good, solid cry.

Optional Skills:

Scraping up some absurd stuff off the internets and slapping it into an email to rile up the Editor into some good content.

Ability to take the worst possible first-draft middle school level post and edit it into something resembling an article.

Mad coffee abilities.

And also, perhaps, a love of commas.


We've been over this. In addition to the (implied) snack foods, the lucky intern will have valuable experience to tack onto a resume to get a better job later, perhaps one that pays in actual money (Push for Canadian Looneys -- Not only are they worth more, it is fun to say. Looney. Looooooooney. Heheh.) which can be exchanged for goods and services.

Additionally, our minion will be privy to the process behind the creation of Pr3++yG33kyTh1ng, such as it is, as well as ensuring a place among those few on the ground floor of my eventual assured total global domination.

This information, in the right (wrong) hands could well blossom into a life-long love of self-important internet activities and a Diet Coke addiction greater than the combined total of Diet Coke addictions in a small mid-western town.



Please submit applications to . Surely someone around here will have a chance to go through them.