Monday, March 31, 2008

In Which I Present My Case


So IT people work late at night and odd hours. This is a fact. Our work is vital and the fewer people who notice we are doing it the better.

Also, things break in the middle of the night and whenever they want so we stay on call all the time.

However, it is important to my religious beliefs and personal emotional well-being that I not be scheduled to work between sundown on Friday and sundown on Saturday. Notice please that I did not say I would not work, just that I not be scheduled to work. Scheduling implies that there was a choice of times and the worst possible was selected for me. If something breaks on Friday night, I'm there. I just ask that my preferences for off-hours work be taken into consideration when possible.

So the compromise my manager has come to with this is that I work all weekend every weekend. If my time reporting (which is stupid for salaried employees anyway) comes in at under sixty hours a flurry of emails is issued requesting my help on other projects.

To top this off, the three day weekend surrounding Purim and Easter I spent pouring through poorly worked-over code, trying to create functionality in a holy miracle of my own on the Saturday I've started to call "The Saturday of Our Blessed Mother of .NET Functionality Message Board Trolling".

During the midst of this, my manager called my cell phone to request that I update the status of this project before sundown on Friday since he would be unable to answer his phone on the Sabbath.

"Hey!" I answered,"That's great because I'll be unable to dial a phone during the same period of time!"

I was ignored.

Then last Friday afternoon he called me again after I'd spent most of the week off-site and away from the application build machines to tell me that I needed to be available to build something else over the weekend again.

"You know my VPN isn't working since the last update and no one supports it on my Mac anyway so I'll have to drive into the office to do those builds, right?" I asked.

"That's fine."

Oh good. I'd hate for that to have pissed him off.

"I'll just let them know to give you fifteen minutes lead time to get to the office."

Sweet. Fifteen minutes for fifteen miles. In Houston. Along the worst stretch of highway in the western world.

You may recall the episode in January when I did not answer a phone call which was never placed. If not, please read this bit.  

To sum up, I was told that if I didn't answer my cell phone and respond "instantly" at any time of the day or night I was not doing my job. The fact that it is my cell phone is irrelevant. I gave them the number for the purposes of a phone interview so they can plaster it over the intranet site if they like. And my wife's. And my home number. And they wanted my personal email address so I had to set up a dummy account to not check ever which was also a hassle.

Either way, the notification email to the developers went out and read:

"Garrick will be the primary contact for any CvX build requests this weekend. He will have to drive into the office to do the builds, so there will be a delay between request and the start of the build. Please give Garrick some lead time so he can respond.

I’ve asked James to be Garrick’s backup. I’ve not spoken with him, but left him a voice message.

Tertiary backup is Kishore.

Thanks, Vasanth.


PS. Just a reminder, my cell phone # is a private # which I don’t use for business purposes. Any calls to the cell phone may or may not be answered."

The guy gets to work two hours after me, leaves half an hour before I do and almost always says "Hey, do this thing before you go. It came in before lunch so they are probably looking for it" on his way out the door.

To be brief, I have to keep reminding myself that there is no "Crazed Loner Gunman" in T-E-A-M. Still, I find myself constantly wishing that blood stains did not violate the corporate dress code.

I've been mentally composing my resignation letter (bomb) and am having major difficulties keeping it PG-13.

If it turns out good, I'll be sure to post it here.

I'm not overreacting am I? What would "the normals" do in this case? I have no frame of reference for that.

Also, someone has been stealing my Diet Coke out of the refrigerator so I've been keeping them stashed behind my computer and drinking them warm!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Inedible Hyenas


Awwww! Look at that little guy! Too adorable for words, in my opinion.

Anyway, the place is filled with them. Gruesome claws, slavering fangs, cute round ears, the works.

I won't be posting a regular weekday post until I'm out of the downtown data center and able to access these interwebs again, or until I escape these snarling beasts. Whichever comes first.

At the moment, smart money is on my getting away from the pack while they sleep through a tunnel I've been burrowing into the tangle of cables under the raised data center floor. Please don't let them know. They can smell fear and it smells a lot like Cat-5 ethernet cable to begin with.

I've got some awesome stuff to post up in here as I wrap up this sad stage of my career. I believe I've discovered the new standard for asshat manager, but I'll post my evidence and ask beg someone to come up with better.

Hyenas, hiatus, whatever. I'm around and will be posting more regularly soon.

Pinky swear.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

I Don't Want to Work at HP


"Soporte" does not translate directly to "Support" in a technical sense. It can have meanings about propping up or holding in place, but in this context it is much closer to translating to "Tolerate". This marketing image may be more honest than HP intended.

Anyway, the local HP office apparently freaked out recently and demanded that a bunch of different agencies find someone immediately to fix some of their broken . . . something. I don't know.

These recruiters have then been calling me and going into some speech about "an exciting opportunity at a leading computer manufacturer in the Houston area".

But I don't want to work at HP. I've got a list of places I won't go to work. The list has grown over time, but once a company makes that list there is no getting off it.  

Long, long ago, I worked there. It was so long ago it wasn't HP at the time, it was Compaq. HP still produces Compaq-branded computers, but that acquisition merger was all about picking up the "Proliant" name for servers.

HP, pre-Compaq, made a decent server with very little market share, and the name "Compaq Proliant" was associated already with a good server that was already in most of the data centers in the US. That re-branding into "HP Proliant" has kept the HP server unit afloat.

Probably afloat in black printer ink ($2,701.52 per gallon, by the way) but afloat no less. Also, human blood is $1,514.79 per gallon, so it may be more economical to print out emails using human blood.

I like to put little budget tips for geeks in here every once in a while.

Anyway, I worked in a building in the center of the complex with a great manager and a fun group of technicians. I don't remember what we did, exactly. I think it involved web pages.

The work itself was unimportant, since most of my time there (exactly one week) was spent discussing who had just been fired laid-off and listening to my manager plan his annual team cook-out.

On Friday of my first and last week there, the entire floor was "invited" to lunch with the business planning committee. It was delightful. They had transformed a common conference room into a common conference room with Subway sandwiches in it and a laptop connected to a projector thrilled us all with an exciting display of the shooting stars screen saver.

I know. But this was long ago, as I said, and people still used that screen saver because it looked "like hyperspace". At the time, we were still reeling as a people from the inexplicable popularity nosedive Hootie and the Blowfish had taken, so we grabbed our amusement where we could find it.

This meeting lunch was my first in-person experience with an official corporate cheerleader. He scared me more than a little, to be honest.

His Vaseline-coated smile was seemingly endless, though my team was split over whether this was a standard pep talk or a catered "pack up your stuff and leave" speech. We all knew that HP would be buying the company at any moment, so tensions were high. It was not a good sign that all of the sandwiches were turkey or chicken.

As he moused over and de-activated the screensaver, we were shown a standard Power Point header page with the date on it and giant text reading "STATUS".

He launched into a talk about how great Compaq's web sales were in the previous quarter and paged to a graph of multiple vertical lines. The graph was labeled "Web Sales Growth". The bar on the far left, broken in the middle because it didn't fit on the page, was marked "Dell". Next to that, half height and not in need of a break to fit on the page was "Compaq". After that, the bars became smaller and smaller. "Gateway". "E-Machines". "IBM". "Toshiba". And on and on.

"As you can see," he raved,"Our sales were ahead of estimates last quarter and we are on target to beat projections for next quarter as well."


He pressed on,"So if everyone keeps up the good work, Compaq will remain a market leader."

Silence again.

"Keep in mind, these figures are for growth, an indication of future marketability and long-term job satisfaction for everyone."

I thought, for a second, I heard crickets.

Then someone behind me asked the cheerleader what the tiny bar on the far right said, because the bar was so small it required a smaller font. And that bar was small. Like a tiny line of dark blue, which made reading the text even harder.

The poor guy made a show of looking and not squinting and for the briefest instant his smile fell before he answered:

"It says 'HP'".

Instantly, the silence was replaced with wailing and cursing and the still air was split with (and I'm not kidding here) with flying turkey and chicken Subway sandwiches in every direction. No one was spared. No mercy was asked, and none was offered. Every person in the room was both a food-flinging weapon and a target.

I thank God every day someone decided against the hot meatball subs.

I managed to make it into the hallway with only a tiny bit of mayo on my shirt and I went back to my desk, gathered my belongings, and called my recruiter on the way out to let them know that I would not be back.        

So, these past couple of weeks when I get calls offering half of market rate to work at HP I have no hesitation in telling them that I am in no way interested in working for HP. And offering an extra couple of dollars an hour is not worth the time for either of us.

The calls have been frequent enough that I'm answering them at my desk in front of people.

But between the thought of blue screens of death and "Hit F1 to continue" endless boot loops and the possibility that I could get more mayo on my shirt, I'm not willing to take the chance.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

I Hate Downtown


About 3pm on Monday I was informed that I'd be working off-site on Tuesday. Downtown. Enjoy the commute. Have fun paying to park in a pigeon-choked, pot hole-filled lot. Don't bring your lunch, over pay at one of the health code-skirting, yuppie-crammed stink boxes they have down there.

Or something like that.

And so I went. And I did my job. And I didn't complain. And I contributed to the economy.

And as a manager snagged me on the way out the door to ask me another time what it was I'd been doing all day, he interrupted himself to ask,"Why are you looking at me with that look of contempt and hatred?"

And I suspect that though he was kidding, he had to make a conscious effort to be kidding.

Because I hate going downtown.

And I hate balancing the checkbook.

And I hate not quitting my job.

Stuff I'm not good at I hate due to personal policy.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Role Reversals


I've spoken several times about the natural order of things in our household. Shana and I each have natural gifts and weaknesses and we each tend to gravitate towards responsibilities where we can each contribute the most to the good of the family.

In the case of this impending move to South Carolina (Columbia, for the record. Its the Capitol! Did you know that? I think we may have at one point, but who keeps track of these things past 5th grade quiz day?) we have moved towards our opposite roles.

Shana is insanely pretty (no pun intended) and almost phobic about speaking on the phone. So in this case, while I sit around and look pretty, she is contacting movers and negotiating our best cross-country rate.

The initial contact is by email or web form, but then they call. And call and call.

Shana does not answer, so I've been having some fun with fielding the calls.

"Shana can't come to the phone right now but this is her husband, can I take a message?"

"Sure. This is whatever-whatever moving company and I wanted to speak with her about her estimate regarding a move to South Carolina. I can be reached at (lalalalala-series of numbers I don't write down because I know Shana has them already, probably in a labeled manilla folder, alphabetized by mood.)."

"Okay, I'll let her know -- Wait! Did you say move to South Carolina? She's moving?!?"

The response on the other end is so freaking hysterical I can't even describe it! 

One other bit of news:

Jane and Ted can has blog. zOMG teh blog iz teh funny!

May it be frequently updated and continue the current trend of awesomeness, srsly.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Today is Purim.

Arguably, it is one of the most festive days in the Jewish calendar. We dress up, make a lot of noise, eat food which should by rights kill us, and celebrate the story of Queen Esther.

For anyone unfamiliar with the story, it can be summed up like this:
Mordechai, a Jew living in Persia, saves the kings life, but the king forgets about it and moves on . . . kinging . . . I guess, though spell check thinks that may not be a word.

Stupid spell check.

The king's wife gets busy and ignores a royal decree and loses her position as queen, so the king marries Esther (who is Mordechai's cousin). Then the evil prince (not related to any of the players in this story mentioned so far but a prince anyway for some reason understood only by Royals, most likely) Haman gets all upset with the Jews living in Persia and decides to have them killed and take their stuff.

You know. Like people do.

Esther is a Jew, but somehow this hasn't come up in discussions with her husband the king. Again, I assume he is just preoccupied with kinging things in kingly fashion, as kings are known to king.

See? "Kinging" is totally a word.

The king agrees to go along with Prince Haman's plot until Esther approaches the king and, through the sheer power of her stunning physical attractiveness, convinces him to not kill the Jews and give their stuff to Haman but instead to kill Haman and give his stuff to the Jews.
There are a couple of parts of the story which are particularly meaningful to me.

First, were I to use the power of my own physical prettiness to my advantage more often, perhaps I too could prevent evil in the world.

Note to self: Work it.

Second, the killing is bad but they also talk a lot about the transfer of ownership and moving of stuff, which then makes me think of our own upcoming move and then panic quite a bit. Hyperventilation is not pretty. Must. . . Regain . . . Control . . .


We celebrate this holiday by reading the story of Esther, eating cookies shaped like the bad guy's hat, and (according to law) drinking until we no longer know Mordechai from Haman, or good from evil, or the bed from the floor, or which side of my pants is the front.

You know. Like you do.

As such, I embrace Purim and any other day dedicated to the power of Pretty. Like the season premiere of America's Next Top Model, Extreme Makeover, What Not to Wear and anytime anyone purchases the DVD boxed set of Season One and Two of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.
I'm on a special email notification list for that last one.

So, twice in one week I find myself not intoxicated enough to adequately participate in the festivities.

In between those days I found myself not intoxicated enough to adequately participate at my job, so the feeling is becoming too familiar.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

I Can Has Start Date?


This morning I put a call in to the headhunter and requested an extension on the proposed start date.

The client wanted me onsite on the seventh and (as much as I would completely love flinging myself out the door here as soon as possible never to return) I just don't see a way to make it happen that quickly.

This puts me at the back end of a hiring cycle that is exactly two weeks long and pushes my start date (by corporate policy) to the 21st of April.

Of course, this lets me deliver my speech to the future workforce of America on the 12th and attend a book signing on the 11th. Either start date would cause me to miss both Shana's and Gwynyth's birthdays, but I get to be a little closer the longer I stay around.

This also means that the corporate headquarters of Pr3++yG33kyTh1ng Worldwide Amalgamated is relocating eastward. Our former offices and industrial testing facilities will be put on the market as soon as we can clean former disgruntled users out of the crawlspaces and find a home for the fish in the executive aquarium.

Anybody want a grouper? She's precious! Eats frozen shrimp out of your hand! In the future, I will only buy fish which keep kosher.

The total downside of the delay is that I have to maintain some semblance of concern about my current job until I can give notice. This was already starting to stretch my formidable acting prowess to its limits and I've had to peel the label off a bottle of Visine to pretend the eye drops are a prescription to reduce my "uncontrollable and involuntary eye rolling".

Anyway, I'm supposed to find out today if I can start the 21st or if it is the 7th or nothing. 

There were a number of considerations which went into this decision.

First, it is a challenging and state-of-the art installation.

I will be part of a team again instead of a lone geek faced with a wall of users.

There is little-to-no interaction with the "Where-is-my-'any'-key?" set.

I will have a well-defined set of responsibilities all within the original (kick ass) job description.

The Houston Interstate 10 construction process may not be finished in my lifetime and the commute to the new workplace is a calm half hour from anywhere local -- if traffic is backed up.

Hourly money plus benefits means they can ask me to work odd hours all they want and I'll pack a lunch and smile about it. Time and a half, my friends. Time and a half.





Finally, and perhaps most importantly, my World of Warcraft server is on the east coast so server time will match real time for me at long last.

There is a lot of work to be done in packing up the headquarters for transportation to our new-and-improved location.

Apparently, the old-and-busted headquarters in suburban Houston will need to be fixed up a bit for sale. We will finally get to make all the upgrades we have been planning since we moved in years ago -- Just in time for someone to take advantage of the housing slump to lowball us on the asking price and enjoy all our hard work.

And by "our hard work" I mean "Shana's hard work" because I'm fleeing the state.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

We Have a New Record


<== This picture has nothing to do with the content of this post. But look at it! How could I not post that?

Yesterday I skipped out for lunch at 11:50 because I was expecting a grueling technical phone interview with a CIO and a department head at noon.

At precisely noon, the phone rang and I answered. Words were exchanged, questions asked and answered, and the call ended with the promise that the potential employer would follow up within a couple of days.

When I closed my phone, it informed me that the call had lasted nine minutes.

Nine minutes? What the hell kind of technical interview lasts nine minutes? 

I replayed it in my head trying to figure out what I had done wrong. I used my time-tested interview techniques. I generally avoided profanity and announcing a preemptive hatred of the user base, while being as honest and open as possible.

Them: "What do you think makes you a good candidate for an Information Security role?"

Me: "Well, in addition to being able to mitigate liability for the company through my certifications, I'm a complete paranoid. Are you recording this?"

Them: "Why are you interested in coming to work for (company name deleted to comply with non-disclosure agreement)?"

Me: "I wasn't, specifically. I hadn't considered it until the headhunter called me. But my family likes the area and I checked your local pollen count against ours and you came out the clear winner."

Them: "In your opinion, what is the most difficult step in securing a server against data theft or loss?"

Me: "Getting the users to stop bothering me about restoring access to data they don't need but used to be able to access."

Them: "Your resume lists a lot of jobs over the past few years. Why?"

Me: "I've spent the past few years looking for a place that comes in under my maximum threshold for 'suck' and sometimes it takes a while to identify."

Them: "Tell me about your last dedicated security role and why you left it."

Me: "Process, while important, choked that place to complete stagnation. I left because they wanted a consultant to sign off on sending financial and human resources information over the internet in clear text and they picked me to do it. I refused and walked out the same day."

Them: "What type of business was (former employer's name deleted to comply with non-disclosure agreement)? What industry?"

Me: "I'm not sure. I always assumed they made widgets or something. It had no bearing on my day-to-day work, so I never gave it much thought."

See? Nothing weird there, yet the interview was over and I was left to wait with a lot of lunch to burn.

I picked up some Coke Zero. I wandered around Half Price Books. The headhunter called to ask how it went and I told her there was no threat of a restraining order but the interview had ended at the nine minute mark.

Her: "That's not good."

Me: "I had stuff to do anyway."

Her: "I would expect to hear back by the end of the week either way."

Me. "K"

When I got back to my desk, there was an offer waiting. 

The interview time to beat, ladies and gentlemen, is nine minutes. Difficulty: You must mention at least one allergen.


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Why I Fear Off Time


Look at that! Americans are second only to the Dutch in not taking time off! And second only to the French in annoying the natives when we do take time off, though that is on a second chart (not pictured).

I'm not sure why that is for the rest of the 31%, so I won't presume to speak for everyone. What I know is this: When I get a job offer I actually giggle when vacation time is mentioned because I know they could offer 52 weeks of the stuff and still never put resources in place for a person to take a longer-than-average lunch.

I've heard people discussing vacations and there are phrases that come up with regularity, but I think my definitions are different.

"Have a good time! Work will always be here when you get back so don't worry about it!"

I wonder what the "normals" interpret this to mean. Could it be assurance of job security and source of income? Sincere well-wishes and the implied promise that one's responsibilities will be met during a time of absence?

To most of the people I know in I.T., "Work will always be here when you get back" means that time off will be followed by an hour-for-hour frenzy where everything must be done at least twice because it wasn't done once while they were away from their desks.

This, in turn, could be interpreted as an indication of necessity -- Another assurance to the I.T. staff that they are needed. The work doesn't do itself. "This place falls apart without me."

And it may. Hell, it probably does. But that return-to-the-office frenzy generally covers it all back up, quietly returning the I.T. machine to its regular state of unobtrusiveness. Management becomes complacent. "If no one missed the I.T. guy while he was out, why do we pay him all of 7% less than market rate?"

In addition to the "normal" stresses an I.T. person feels pretty constantly there is the added stress of the certainty that in every second of the day, waking and sleeping, there is someone overseas willing to do his or her job if not as well, at least cheaper. And when an I.T. worker is examined based on finances only, outsourcing starts to look like a viable option.

"Work will always be here when you get back" -- To a person in I.T., that phrase comes with no reassurance that they will not be replaced by someone cheaper or (someday) some kind of robot or (as is possible for a number of people I have worked with in the past) a few lines of code and a trained pigeon pecking an "Enter" key coated in honey and sunflower seeds. In fact, the pigeon would be a good deal tidier than most of the I.T. people I know.

This is further complicated by an I.T. management structure based on anything other than technical ability -- And I have never seen a management hierarchy based on technical ability -- where time-off is granted by people unable to cover for the person who is out of the office.

If the manager even knows what the I.T. guy does day-to-day those duties are never smoothly transitioned temporarily to someone else on the team. They are either done poorly or not at all and they pile up quickly and cast a looming shadow over a vacation.  

"Work will always be here when you get back but your job may not be" is generally the unspoken farewell at the end of every workday for the I.T. set. Limiting the incidence of that thought is why so few of us take vacations anymore.

The whole process results in irritability and probably increased workplace violence, though my attempts to get grants toward researching this formally have (to date) been blocked in committee.

Aw, crap. Now my Tuesday post is all depressing due to rant-related issues and it wasn't supposed to be.

The point is this: I took yesterday off and had a good time. I'm catching up today, but I'm taking my time about it.

What the I.T. person needs to keep in mind in order to stay sane is that while they may be replaceable, so is every employer on the planet. And in most cases it is far easier for the employee to replace the employer if the employee decides that the employer is no longer pulling its weight.

And lets watch that attitude. 

Monday, March 17, 2008

Not Drunk Enough


I don't believe I'm going to be able to make it in to work today. It just wouldn't be right. I need to be available at home to help the Irish celebrate today. Post-Glacial Ireland never had snakes, but every year people not even from there celebrate this guy for driving them off by drinking heavily and wearing offensive shirts. How do I get a gig like that?

Anyway, no drive into the city for me. And since I'm not driving . . . I'm loading my coffee with four kinds of liquor. Go, Ireland!


Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night paralyzed by the grim thought that I'm getting used to living in the suburbs. I like to pretend that I'm not living here by choice but as part of the Witness Protection Program or something, but even that self-induced delusion is starting to be harder and harder to mentally keep in place.

We planted crepe myrtles along the fence in the backyard. I resisted for a couple of years and then someone showed me the Harris County regulation requiring that every home have at least a dozen of them. They seem hardy enough to put up with the complete lack of care which I supply, and we have entered into an uneasy truce where I stay out of their personal space and they just do their thing.

Last year I started to notice some new growth from the fence at the back of the yard. Some viney thing was growing up from the fence and climbing all over the crepe myrtles in the corner. I'm okay with nature, but as the season progressed I began to resent our neighbor and his demon vine. I know that it isn't good for our trees and the plant (whatever it is) is coating their fence and whatever is just on that side of it. I say that because I suspect the demon vine has eaten it. And their dog has been silent lately. Anyway.

From the back door of our house I've watched the progress of this ugly dark green plant and I've plotted. A few cuts late at night with a saw would sever the woody tendrils coming over the fence and free our trees. I also knew that I would need to strategically cut it off our crepe myrtles so that they won't die. Sadly, this plan has stayed in the "seething conspiracy" stage for almost a full year. My execution has been delayed by my overpowering feelings of love for all life and apathy.  

On Saturday, I was resolved to "take care of it". The vine had grown over the fence and completely covered the plants on our side of it. It was out of hand and ugly and destructive and if my neighbor didn't like my killing it they should take some action to keep it on their side of the fence.

Hedge clippers in hand, I approached the thing. Up close, it was far worse that I'd thought. The vines were thick and knotty and wrapped completely around most of the branches on our trees. At least I could identify them easily to know which ones to cut.

My eyes traced the vines from our tree to where they crossed the fence and I stepped over to cut our way to freedom. Stepping closer revealed even more of this vine, crouched like a predatory animal behind our fig tree.

Again, I silently cursed our neighbor and his lax yard work. These are the stresses people suffer in the suburbs. Don't mock.

I traced more vines, thicker vines, through the unruly tangle back there. A few strategic cuts would kill the whole thing on our side of the fence and I could clean it up after the thing dried.

The vine itself came over the fence in at least six separate places before sprawling downward and across to our trees. The vines that headed down the fence crossed each other a number of times and then disappeared into the ground on our side of the fence. Oddly, they seemed to thicken down there, too.

Honestly, it took me a second to process.

I checked again, but the plant was definitely rooted on our side of the fence, and far enough on our side that it doesn't come from some runner or something. Yep. Ours.

Our plant is choking our trees, crushing the neighbor's fence, and probably ate their dog.

On the other hand, up close the plant is kind of pretty.

I decided to leave it alone for another season. 

Friday, March 14, 2008

A New Experiment

Hello, internet!

Earlier this week there was an issue at work. Some software patch wasn't patching what it was supposed to patch or something -- I'll admit I stop paying attention almost immediately.

But there I was, early in the morning with some developer leaning over my desk talking about issue numbers and missing subdirectories or something.

I had not had coffee, so while we were staring at the same screen (mine) it took a while for me to mentally condense what the guy was saying into "there have been new changes to the old patch, please produce a new version." I added the "please" part, too, because my internal tirade translation algorithm adds politeness.

Our "process" includes an initial build request form which is filled out by the Project Manager with full issue number details. I requested one of these.

The developer looked stricken. The Project Manager would not be in the office for a few hours and he really needed to test the busted functionality under a fresh patch.

Against my better judgement, I agreed to build the latest version of the broken modules and reconcile the paperwork after the Project Manager showed up.

The developer stood there as I checked the files out of the code repository. The screen filled with lines of scrolling text and I made the comment that a lot of changes had been made.

He wandered off and I built the patch and made it available to him.

Is anyone surprised that it was screwed up? If so, I suggest reading any of the posts archived on here. That feeling of surprise should soon be replaced with wry amusement or perhaps a feeling of smug superiority.

Anyway, the Project Manager and the developer were both standing over my shoulder, questioning my methods (which are, with admittedly millions of environmental variables the same every freaking time) and trying to determine where I had somehow screwed everything up and potentially caused to company to lose trillions of dollars or something. Again, I confess that my attention was wandering quite a bit. I started to scroll through my "Cute Kitties" iPhoto folder.

Those little guys are adorable!

I remembered the wall of new code from earlier and asked about potential changes other developers may have made to the same data. After some discussion and a meeting, it was discovered that indeed some other developers (multiple!) had made changes to the same code for other issues and checked the changes back into the repository without testing. Or spell checking. Or any reasonable reliable faith in a higher power. And those changes, the ones after the changes by the guy who was spending enough time in my personal space to start paying rent, had busted everything.

However, I built them into the patch, so (after another meeting and some time spent yelling) it was decided that I would delete the new build, check out the changes only up to the ones made by the early morning developer and build the patch again.

So, to summarize what was probably a very long and annoying story only once punctuated by the thought of adorable kittens, I did someone a favor and was punished with additional work and multiple meetings.

Never again.

From this moment on, I'm ignoring every email not sent by a Project Manager with a detailed and complete official build request form. In fact, I've configured a rule on my inbox that makes even looking at emails from anyone else a total chore.

And the issue of people wandering up and requesting work in person?

I'm hoping that posting this sign over my desk may reduce the chances of that:


Feel free to make a copy and post it in your own work area.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Criminal Acts


Election news has me pretty occupied at the moment. I read everything political I can find and stress and flail and rant. I should stop looking, but I can't.

Our elected officials should be held to a higher standard than the people who voted for them, especially when they spent all kinds of money telling the voters that they are better and should be given a position of power.

In a sense, they asked for it and can expect people to dig around and uncover all the secrets and immediately blog about them.

The first headline I read about the current Governor Spitzer story the headline was something like "New York Governor Involved in Prostitution Ring". Before this story I couldn't have told you who Eliot Spitzer was or who the Governor of New York was even if the questions were asked back to back.

But I clicked through to the article thinking that "Involved in a Prostitution Ring" meant "Involved" and not "Visited". I guess, by definition, it is right. He gave them (reportedly) a lot of money in exchange for goods or services, so there was a financial relationship which can then be thesaurus'd into "Involved With" -- But I was expecting more!

From the headline I wanted him to be in charge of a high-priced call girl agency! I wanted him to be misappropriating state funds for . . . I don't know . . . Hooker training or something. I expected, based on "Involved with", to see an elected official at the heart of some seedy underworld empire which (documents would later show) used a portion of its enormous financial power to have a puppet Governor elected who, in turn, would somehow harness the power of whatever the hell a Super Delegate is to pull the moon out of orbit. Or run a brothel. You know. Whatever.

I expected to see a movie about it within six months on Lifetime where Judith Light plays his wife and we learn about his abusive father in "This Season's Most Heartwarming Story of Redemption and Forgiveness" or something and then another movie in ten years where the writer skimmed the Wikipedia entry and decided the prostitutes were employed by the Governor as part of some Shadow Government and were used to spy on foreign officials -- "But what happens when they uncover a terrible secret about one of our own?"

My expectations may not be typical.

Regardless, my official stance on this is that he was wrong and a total skank, yet not as wrong as I'd hoped he would be.

Crimes committed by our elected officials should never be the boring day-to-day crimes committed by average people. They have power and need to use it to amuse us if they aren't going to make meaningful improvements in policy.

But sometimes the crimes do meet my ever-fluctuating criteria for awesome. I'm posting a link and the text of the article below, but let me say that District Attorney Ray Sumrow of Rockwall County, Texas is my current favorite District Attorney in the whole world.

The guy used an untracked office supply fund to build an amazing gaming machine at his desk. Apparently, it is a pretty sweet machine, too. At least according to Prosecutors and Rod Gregg (the FBI's subject matter expert on uber-leet gaming - Frag Control Division). It has gaming-quality video and audio, dual drives (probably RAID 0 for maximum performance) and UV reactive cables. In short, District Attorney Ray Sumrow is awesome. 

The question he needs to answer for the people of the State of Texas is this:

What game? Ooooo! It's World of Warcraft, isn't it? It is! What faction? Hell, yeah! Go Horde! The Alliance is a bunch n00bs, am I right? Hell yes I'm right!

Also, when Ray Sumrow later runs for higher office, he has not only secured my vote but probably the votes of people with enough knowledge and free time to hack the hell out of voting machines.

Oh, the crime!

Rockwall County District Attorney Ray Sumrow used server for personal items, expert says

Rockwall County: At trial, prosecutors allege office funds bought computer

12:00 AM CDT on Tuesday, March 11, 2008

By ELIZABETH LANGTON / The Dallas Morning News

A computer that Rockwall County District Attorney Ray Sumrow says he built as a backup server for his office contained documents related to eBay sales, personal e-mails and a cheat sheet for a computer game, an FBI computer expert testified Monday morning.

Rod Gregg, an FBI senior forensic examiner, said 80 percent of the content he found on the computer appeared to be personal rather than work-related.

Mr. Sumrow is being tried in Dallas on charges of forgery, theft and records tampering. As part of the case, prosecutors allege that he used office funds to buy the computer for personal use.

"I would not configure a backup computer in that way," Mr. Gregg said.

"When I saw that, I did not think of anything related to a government agency," he said.

The computer – equipped with two hard drives, seven fans, high-end video and audio cards, a wireless Internet connection and cables

that glow under ultraviolet light – is designed for playing video games, prosecutors say.

Alan Timberlake, assistant director of information technology for Rockwall County, called the computer "gimmicky" and more suited to a college dorm room than an office.

Defense attorney James Wheeler said Mr. Sumrow built the computer from parts he purchased on sale.

Mr. Sumrow paid for the parts with a check drawn on the district attorney's "fee fund," which contains fees collected from hot-check writers.

Under state law, the district attorney can spend the money on office expenses such as supplies, equipment and employee salaries.

Prosecutors allege that Mr. Sumrow used it as a "personal slush fund." He bought computer equipment for his own use and to resell for personal profit, among other illegal expenditures, they have said.

Mr. Wheeler has repeatedly stated that the district attorney has sole discretion over how to spend the fund.

Testimony will resume today and is expected to last through at least midweek.

Mr. Sumrow could face two more trials related to the alleged misuse of money dedicated to operating his office.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Hide them?


There is one thing you can know for sure about software developers and that is that they are pretty much always looking for new hardware to run their code on. This is especially true of poorly-funded software developers.

At work we have been tasked with creating a new environment to use as a demo site for a potential customer. The initial instruction from management was that we were to plan the whole network out right, make sure it was fast and dependable, and ensure that at no point is the software to be limited by the hardware.

The initial plan to do just that was rejected and the budget halved, so I dropped out of the planning portion of the project to sit back and watch.

Anyway, in the end seventeen servers were ordered for the whole project, and over the past couple of days they have been arriving by the pallet, wheeled in the front door of the office and through the main area to the server room in the back.

I've spoken before about Dell server boxes and their general hugeness. These are no different, eighteen inches by twenty-four inches by four feet or so for the smaller ones and around 100 pounds a piece.

My friend who is in I.T. (while I, technically, at the moment am not) called in a status report on the progress to management in Connecticut. Then he got even more instruction about them.

"Don't let the developers see the servers showing up or they'll want to use them."

My friend explained that the servers have been coming in through the only door to the office and have been wheeled back through the work area to the server room.

"Why didn't you hide them?" was the ridiculous next question.

The only answer possible was given as,"Hide them with what? My d*#%?"

"No, not your d*#%. Throw a jacket over them or something!"

The mental image this provided made my laugh, but not in an amused way. It was more the bitter laugh of one who has grown to expect Management-types to make demands first and consider the blatant physical laws which govern our whole reality as an afterthought.

I recommended that we spread the rumor that each enormous box contained an 8gb Microsoft Zune media player and an abundance of bubble wrap before I remembered the other thing  you can know for sure about software developers . . . They are compelled to pop bubble wrap like few other "grown up" job-having people. They are drawn to it, to the very concept of the possibility of it, like moths to a flaming dual-core processor. Welcome to the social, indeed.

They will eventually find out about the new servers, so my friend is rushing to get them all built and patched and smuggled one by one to a secure yet undisclosed off-site location. Part of the initial plan included off-site hosting, as our in-office redundant power will run for about 30 seconds given the current power load and about 5 seconds with an additional 17 servers.

Of course, having spent the time to research and interview potential hosts, my friend told me last week that Management has decided that we are not to wait for the off-site location to be ready. The environment is to be completely built and configured here and then moved.

Again, my laughter was bitter and rueful. This post will put my verbal prediction in writing: Once built, these servers will never be moved. The developers sit too close to allow the downtime to drive the servers across town and Management has the incentive to not pay for the off-site hosting at all if, after all, "everything is running fine where it is, isn't it?"

There is a small comfort in knowing, beyond doubt, what to expect of the people I work with.

Someday I'd like to be somewhere where I can expect reasonable things from them. Or good things. Or sane, rational things.

I'm probably in the wrong line of work.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Issues with my Bag


The past couple of weeks I've been suffering with sack-related discomfort.

I'm sure it happens to a lot of people and I'm trying to be brave about the whole thing. Stoic. A rock. My pain is my own and my silence is my refuge, so to speak.

But I've been trying to find a solution online, because the intarwebz is where solutions are produced, documented and pirated.

My bag is a large Targa affair at the moment, sized for a much larger laptop than I carry. Lately I've decided that perhaps it is a desktop bag more than a laptop bag, designed for moving whole workstations across country along with my lunch, MP3 player, portable hard drive, some CDs and sometimes a spare alarm clock. Really.

It is a giant, over the shoulder, padded rectangle. The times I've dropped it have never resulted in damage to electronic equipment, so there is no doubt that my bag is doing its job. However, it hangs over the sides of my personal area way too much. I bump stuff with my bag everywhere I go.

Last week I climbed into my car first thing in the morning and my bag bumped the steering wheel, honking the horn in a sealed garage and nearly killing my weakened pre-coffee self.

So I started looking for something a little more efficient. The messenger-style bags like the one I have are okay, but unless I lift the strap over my head and wear it across my chest my bag makes me walk funny -- like lopsided -- and I fear that wearing my bag across my chest makes me look like I think I'm on Animal Planet hunting some small furry creature to wrestle in place in front of a camera between ads for Jenny Craig and the Porsche Cayenne. I know I'm not that guy. And everyone within sight of me knows I'm not that guy. But I fear that they don't know that I know that I'm not that guy, so I'm sure you can understand my stress.

I began my bag research at, and found some very nice stuff there. The problem is the wild variation in the consumer reviews. While one bag is appreciated by certain users, others seem personally offended by the sight of the same bag. I haven't found a single bag with 100% favorable reviews. It would seem that a person's bag is almost too personal to openly discuss, though I've brought mine up on elevators lately quite a bit to find out what other people think.

There is nothing definitely wrong with my bag, but the consensus is that it is simply too large and bulky to be doing the job required of it. 

Google searches were all but useless here, as "bag" is apparently a fairly popular ad word and all the links are sponsored. Likewise crawling message boards for un-endorsed bag talk is not only unproductive but in some cases quite frightening.

Essentially, I need a new bag. Smaller than my current bag but still big enough to hold my laptop, power supply, a couple of bagels and . . . hang on . . . about 30 Diet Coke caps at any time. Extra pockets are bonus points, but I need a bag that hangs ergonomically and yet doesn't look like I'm dragging my bag into the woods to document nature or whatever.

I found one I like at REI, but I totally fear that it embodies all that is outdoorsy about bags and (while no doubt comfortable) I fear being mistaken for someone who would not physically lock up on the pavement when getting too far from a Starbucks like those shopping carts with the sensors when someone pushes them past the yellow line. 

This is one of those minor things regular people with normal thought processes talk about casually and then solve on a whim with a trip to any store. It also qualifies as one of those minor things which is gradually consuming more and more of my emotional well-being until eventually I will collapse into a useless puddle of panic, so I'd appreciate any suggestions you might have. Not about therapy, so much. More about my bag.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Lost Sleep Can Never Be Replaced


So we (except the freaks in Arizona) collectively lost an hour over the weekend.

I can do without an hour, no problem. A single hour is replaced during my half-asleep commute between home and work. But like everything else (Diet Coke, Star Wars action figures, old computer parts and cats for example) I've got issues stopping with one of anything.

I end up thinking "I feel fine" and "I'm not so old that missing a single stupid hour of sleep will make me feel like I've been dragged behind a horse" and "I see this as a personal challenge to my masculinity so I will do something extra stupid and man-like to compensate".

On Saturday night Gwynyth had a friend sleep over. And when I use the term "sleep over" I'm not referring to an activity either girl seems to have participated in. I stayed up with them longer than I'm normally awake, yet they lulled me into a false sense of security before getting up in the night to do whatever it is little girls do late at night in the near-absolute silence of a darkened house. I think it involved the Disney channel.

Both were miserable in the morning on Sunday and I mocked them for their poor choice as only a parent can mock.

"That was a pretty horrible decision and now you are tired and sad and I'm not as tired or as sad because I eventually went to sleep instead of staying up to watch That's So Raven. And eat your vegetables or you'll get rickets."

So Sunday night Gwynyth fell asleep pretty early, of course. She had staggered around for most of the day and I just felt bad for her.

I logged in to play World of Warcraft. Since I recently rejoined my old guild, it was nice to be invited along on a 10-person dungeon crawl. We had a great time dashing through the place. And dashing and dashing and dashing. While dashing. We'd kill stuff and laugh and die horribly and laugh harder.

And I looked over at the clock from time to time. That's why I find it odd that I eventually looked over and noticed with genuine surprise that it was about 2am on Monday morning.

Oh, dear.

So the alarm clock went off less than four hours later and I turned it off before the first early morning honking buzz noise was complete.

And then the backup cellphone alarm started playing Material Girl in the other room, ramping up the volume over time. It played the whole song this morning. 

I was not late for work, but I'm still trying to completely regain consciousness.

Staying up until 2:30am was a pretty poor decision on my part, but I at least plan to have some vegetables later to avoid the whole rickets thing.

Speaking of sad nutrition, I've entered over six thousand Diet Coke Reward points and I still have a substantial stockpile to input at the limit of ten codes per day.

I no longer remember what it feels like to not have to pee.

Friday, March 07, 2008



I've ignored the inbox for too long already, so I'm planning to spend a Friday post answering reader mail.

I get a ton of email at this address and it gets overwhelming. Just as with my work inbox, when the volume gets too high I just stop paying attention.

Since I can't answer all of them in a single post, I'll just pick a few at random:

Dear Geek,

Spring new collection available!
Exelent style to make your couple crazy

Swiss Models now!


Dear Allie,





Most popular watches

Rolex Datejusts•Cartier•Hublot•Panerai•Rolex Sports Models•Chanel•Jacob & Co•Patek•Philippe•Alain Silberstein•Chopard•Jaeger•LeCoutrePorsche•Design


Dear Mohamed,

Thanks, but I have a watch. It has Boba Fett on it. I like it very much.




Click here to be enrolled in our online nursing degree!


Online Nursing Degree

Dear Online Nursing Degree,

Hey! My Mom is a nurse! I'll bet she'd have loved to attend school online. I'm sending you her email address so you can talk school with someone like-minded.




Perfect solutions to have it hard as stone! Take a pack of four blue pills!


Dear Max,

I liked The Matrix too, though I disagree with the recent online poll which declared it the Best Sci-fi Movie Ever. The sequels ruined it for me. Also, I can never remember which pill, red or blue, was the one Neo was supposed to take. This inability to keep pill colors straight would have killed me had I attended a State College.





Windows Vista Free Download For Geek! Click here!


Dear Admin,

I like bittorrent for my software download needs, but thank you for offering. Further, I think it only a matter of time before Microsoft is offering Vista as a free download anyway. If they don't alter the marketing to pretend it never happened.


I'm starting to sense a pattern here, and it is a pattern I don't like at all.



Give her some mind-blowing bedroom action!

Where the hell is my spam filter?



Office 2007 Enterprise for $19!

Not worth it.



Enjoy March with our meds . .

They can't all be like this.



Cheap downloadable OEM software . .

As if.



Unable to please your partner?

Holy crap! I've got 1200 messages about my junk! This can't be random. Who put me on a list? Shana?!?



Your friends will be amazed at your thick and strong . .

No! Mental image! Stop it!



Work from home and retire early . .




Upsize your man parts . .




More power and super-size . .



Forget it. I'm going to set up some more aggressive filters and try this again another time.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Announcement Time


I promised an announcement and I will deliver an announcement.

The announcement I intended was one about the opening of our new corporate East Coast headquarters, but it seems the expansion will be postponed for a little while at least.

It isn't like there isn't anything to announce, though. I have loads of announcements around here, and most of them fall more into the "interesting changes in the format of Pr3++yG33kyTh1ng" category than the often emphasized "drunken rant about the coming zombie invasion" one.

Sadly, those are our only two options.

For those of you who turn up here every so often expecting to see text to skim, there is another way to access the cheery and enthusiastic productivity tips which are produced here so elegantly with semi-daily regularity.  As a bonus, the new method is even less labor intensive than slogging through the text manually, risking eyestrain, carpal tunnel, some nasty trackball-based infection, and the chance that some of this text may trigger a workplace firewall alert followed by lengthy sensitivity training (No warranty by Pr3++yG33kyTh1ng is expressed or implied, your mileage may vary depending on road conditions, this geek is in no way a lawyer, use of the materials contained in this blog is defined as "As Is" and application of the ideas contained within may constitute violations of the laws of your community and certainly often do violate the laws which define human decency and allow us to function socially as a species.).

This spring, ladies and gentlemen, Pr3++yG33kyTh1ng is going on tour.

We've put a secret ballot box in the break room at Pr3++yG33kyTh1ng Worldwide Amalgamated Headquarters and have been letting the staff suggest tour titles. So far, the leader seems to be "Pr3++yG33kyTh1ng!" though I'm pretty sure when it comes to live shows an exclamation point at the end denotes that the performance is a Musical. Pam or Andrew should correct me if things have changed since I dropped out of the industry.

Anyway, once the title is selected I'll be cranking out t-shirts and bumper stickers and trying to find an older VW van from which to sell hemp bracelets in the parking lot since quality control dictates that these things be done according to process.

So far, our handlers have settled on one venue and date but I'm certain that they are working on others in an attempt to be inclusive.

Tickets are not available for pre-order at this time, but . . . and this is a secret (published on the interwebz and non-encrypted and therefore about a poor a secret as has ever been) . . . I know a guy who knows a guy at the door, so I could totally get you in probably. 

At 9am on April 12th I'll be speaking to select members of the class of 2010 at Lee College about life in Corporate America with a Presentation titled "Workplace Communication: Technology is a Tool So I Don't Have to Be".

Topics covered will include:



Instant Messenger and Text Communication

Web Conferencing

Live In-Person Meetings

And Passwords and Security Measures a non-I.T. professional employee can perform to make the real I.T. staff like them.

I'm getting the use of a projector and everything!

I'd expect a profanity-laced 90 minutes including Q&A and I've already noticed that one of the documents I'm sharing for example contains the word "Penis", though its inclusion was purely by random chance.

I'm taking this opportunity to speak to a group of people who will soon be joining me in this grand adventure in the workforce with absolute realism about the stuff which isn't allowed into textbooks. The publication of these processes and real-life examples would cripple the economy when an entire generation chose after graduation to sell novelty t-shirts on the beach somewhere instead of getting a "real job" and paying off their student loans, but I can take a chance on a select group of students.

Eventually (like when I figure out how to publish a Google Docs presentation through Blogger) I'll make the slides available here purely for giggles.

Hell, there is every chance that within minutes of the close of the presentation grainy cellphone video of the whole thing will turn up on YouTube with amusing editorial asides and captions like "I CAN HAS PRESENTASHUN" and "BITTER GEEK IS ALL OUT OF BITTER" and "GEEK MONSTER HAZ EATED UR SATURDAY - NOM NOM NOM".

At least it would if I were in charge.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

My Polling Place!

Let me show you it!

Well, I could show you it. But taking photos in the polling place is strictly prohibited.

If I did show blatant disregard for the rules, the pictures from our trip to vote in the primaries might look something like this:

Republican side:


Democrat side:


Gwynyth asked why the lines were so long on the Democrat side. I explained that Republicans are efficient and able to process a vast number of voters in a fraction of the time. I'm not sure she believed it either, but in looking at both lines I suspect Tuesday began a lifetime of voting Republican for one little girl who loves her country very, very much.

This touching moment capped a day which was an emotional roller coaster for me. Some events in a person's life just toss ice water onto his or her emotional crotch. The thing so chills a person that he knows nothing will ever be the same.

Tuesday, March 4th, Gary Gygax passed away.

The inventor of Dungeons and Dragons, old-school.

Before TSR screwed him over.

And then Wizards of the Coast absorbed them and crushed their souls.

And then Hasbro pwned them corporate-style and passed the assault onto the customers.

Gygax was a visionary. His need to add words and math to what was essentially playing with little army men on a table prompted a lot of people I know and respect to develop a love of reading, pass advanced math classes and not date until after college when the money started rolling in.

His game allowed us to shed our geeky shells and live in our imaginations, however briefly, as noble knights, bookish wizards and laconic woodsmen. And sometimes the art in the earlier publications had an elf nipple or two in it hidden among the kobolds and orcs.

We will miss you, Mr. Gygax.

I poured forty ounces of funny-shaped dice on the sidewalk Tuesday evening, like the ancient vikings once did for their own dead. Or something.


There is a big-time major announcement on the future of Pr3++yG33kyTh1ng Publications tomorrow, so please feel free to come back and hit the refresh button again and again until the big reveal.

It should be loads of fun for everyone either way.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008



This week my company is hosting representatives from one of our clients. This client is an oil company based in China.

We (the geeks) have been instructed to avoid all contact with these people. Since that lines up with my personal policy of avoiding contact with all people as much as possible, I'm happy to comply with company policy in this case.

I can hear them talking in the conference room where they are entrenched every time I go for coffee, but I have no idea what they are saying.

I hadn't actually seen them until yesterday afternoon when we crossed paths in the men's room.

I still had no idea what they were saying, but I was amused to notice that it seemed they had all gotten off the plane and run directly to The Gap and Banana Republic to buy everything this season had to offer.

As I pondered their immediate yet temporary Americanization, the truth dawned on me.

They did not rush to the Galleria as soon as the plane landed.

More likely, they bought the clothes in China where a lot of it is produced and it probably costs a hell of a lot less.

So who is the fashion copy cat, now?

All this time I've been dressed in traditional modern Chinese clothing and I never once considered my own cultural awareness and fashion globalization.

Of course, I've always been a fan of the Chinese culture. Communists are nothing if not efficient. I read The Good Earth and learned a lot about opium and humoring the elderly from what can be described as the best "feel-good ending" churned out in the 1930s. Jackie Chan does his own stunts. It is a matter of simple rank to judge the qualifications of General Tso's Chicken compared with that of our own "Colonel".

Yet I was still overtaken with a feeling of unity when I came to realize that in spite of our language gap, we are united in a bigger "The" Gap. We all put on our flat-front weekend relaxed fit khakis one leg at a time.

They simply pay less for theirs. Renminbi, "The People's Currency", talks.

When I'm in the men's room I just wish I knew if it were talking about me. 

Monday, March 03, 2008

Vacation Day


Hey! Look!

If you fly from Houston, Texas to Charlotte, North Carolina, this is the plane they put you on.

Well, maybe not that exact plane. There may be older ones in service too.

Anyway, that is the adventure I started on Friday morning.

After a couple of hours in the Charlotte, North Carolina airport (which is lovely, by the way) I started the second leg of my trip.

Orbitz decided that "Washington DC" can be defined as "Baltimore, Maryland" sometimes. This is fair, I suppose, except that that definition stuck a $100 cab ride between me and my destination. My destination was about 20 minutes from Ronald Reagan National Airport, and that airport is where Orbitz decided I should return from.

The whole thing was very confusing, so I printed out a basic map of Washington DC before leaving the house.

Here is the map I chose:


Feel free to use it for your next trip to our nation's capitol. I was especially interested in the dots marked "other".

I had a chance to do a very small amount of sight-seeing, too. I saw the top half of the Washington Monument. It made me giggle a little bit.

I also got the see the train!


This is the train the Senators ride to work every day, I would assume.

The inside smells a lot like urine.

So, my Friday started with a 6:15am check-in at the Houston Airport and ended at 12:15am Saturday when I got back to my car before an hour long drive home from that same airport.

It was possibly the best day off ever.

This morning on my way in to work I went through the drive-through at Starbucks. The lady who took my order was not at the window when I pulled up, and I was relieved as she had been so peppy it was disturbing. My only fear is that my rejection of her blueberry muffin suggestion has resulted in her demise in some way.

More importantly, as I went to pay I unfolded my wallet (nothing goes in my back pocket anymore, ever, and that saved me from what would undoubtedly be debilitating pain following those plane rides) and exposed my World of Warcraft Visa in its home across from my debit card.

The guy who processed the purchase and handed me my coffee noticed and said,"World of Warcraft! Do you play?"

"Yes I do," I answered.

"What server? I ask everyone that."

"I am on Duskwood," I replied,"More importantly, Horde or Alliance?"

"I'm Horde," he answered.

"Me too."

We bumped fists ceremonially through the open windows.

He handed me my coffee with a cheerful, "Way to roll, sir."

Normally, being called "sir" makes me cringe a little, but in this case it did not.

I have over 10,000 Honorable Kills.    

Therefore, I'm due not only a "sir" but technically a salute.


Edit: I just found this. Please click through and know that it is true.