Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Resolutions

I'm not about to share my resolutions for 2010 with you, internet.
I've seen your capacity to mock a person's stunning failures. Hell, I've frequently participated in mocking a failure, myself. You'll be getting no such ammunition from me.
What I will do is analyze my resolutions from last year and compare them with the results so far. I do still have a day or so to finish up everything.
I was going to lose some weight. My fast food diet from my initial solo move to South Carolina had me seriously considering purchasing the domain name PrettyPlusGeekyThing.com.
Status: Done
I'm going to hold off on that domain name purchase for a while.
I intended to reduce my gaming time and spend more time reading.
Status: Also done
I canceled World of Warcraft (holy crap I miss it sometimes like digital crack) and tear through whole series of paperbacks at a rate which has me combing multiple bookstores every week to keep up.
I was going to learn the guitar.
Status: Incomplete
I made it through about fifteen minutes of the "How to Play the Guitar" DVD before becoming frustrated beyond capacity at the entire tuning process. However, I want to stress that I still have about a day to make it through Stairway to Heaven before I put a check mark in the "FAIL" column.
Unfortunately, Stairway to Heaven is about eighteen hours long.
Making the house (which I pretty much bought just for the location) habitable was also on the list.
Status: A nice try. I actually have a check box for that. Effort is key.
We painted. We painted several times, actually, and then hired people to paint correctly.
We moved furniture around. We worked on the decaying deck. We relocated Gwynyth to the guest suite and set up an office and studio in other rooms. We replaced appliances and bought about a million candles. We added cabinet space to the kitchen.
Overall, the net effect is not unpleasant.
I have not yet found a local retailer for a solid gold toilet, and South Carolina has really squirrelly laws about sales taxes on out-of-state everythings, so the gold spray paint is going to just have to learn to stick better to ceramic for now.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

2009 . . .

Well, what did we expect, anyway?
Looking back, 2009 was everything our first year since 1993 as a culture without Zima should have been.
However, looking back is about the only comfortable vantage on 2009, so bear with me for a post while I do that.
As cold winds ushered in a bleary start to 2009, I was enjoying month seven of a five month long contract in South Carolina.
That math is what we consultant-types like to call "Contractor Math". While I've honestly never had a use for any of the Algebra 2 information (of which 71% helped me graduate High School, to be fair), contractor math is a representation of the real numbers behind imagined results. It is a way of loosely encapsulating the actions required to fulfill a need, real or imagined, which can only be satisfied by hiring extra people.
These types of projects often have definite end-dates but nebulous results. To further complicate the math, often one of the first jobs assigned to the newly-hired consultant is defining the end result of the effort.
During the course of the project itself, more and more responsibilities are handed over to the temporary consultant, who watches his contract end date come and go like any other day.
Eventually, either boredom or greener pastures prevent the consultant to from accepting a full-time position.
That really is the story for 2009, and in fact the story of the entire aughts decade.
I've been riding the consultant wave for over ten years from place to place, solving problems, uncovering bigger problems, pointing and laughing at unsolvable problems, and splashing off to the next desk with a paper sign with my name on it.
In the spring of this year, having decided to paint the house to our liking and settle in to allow Gwynyth to finish school in the decent system we'd found for her, everything went to hell at work.
Hours were cut for everyone, leaving all the consultants, to whom hours are the only source of income, in a precarious situation.
No overtime? No reason to work through lunch?
Coupled with our lousy contract health insurance, I had little choice to but to seek employment elsewhere.
Then summer happened, early July specifically.
I'm not going to detail a lot of that, but summer sucked.
I consider it a bit like an emotional disemboweling followed by recovery process hindered by the regular application of rock salt to the wound.
In spite of this, I am recovering, and was able to apply for work again with a reasonable chance of making it through a phone interview without crying by September.
So I started the consultant math over again at a new place at the end of that month.
I've gone from one of the largest health insurance providers to one of the largest banks in the country, but from my view both places (and all places) make the widgets which drive our national economy.
And pay my mortgage in exchange.
I'm ready to put 2009 behind me, to learn and to grow and to move on.
2010 will be better.
2010 will be better.
2010 will be better.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Treasured Memories

Basically, the Alvin and the Chipmunks franchise has been re-imagined. Like they rebooted Batman from nippled-batsuits to Christian Bale killing ninjas and we all get to pretend the bad things never happened.
Except we are talking about chipmunks.
And not talking about the chipmunks that were, in favor of only believing the new, canon, CGI chipmunks that are is, I am certain, comfortable.
I'll confess I haven't seen the newer version.
This is good for any number of reasons better documented by film critics, but bad because it dredges up the old series for me without a new vision to cover it back up again.
I may have to see it.
There was a Saturday morning cartoon in the 80s. I remember it in flashes, like a nightmare.
Correct me if I'm wrong in this:
The chipmunks themselves are basically the Jonas Brothers but, you know, rodents.
They make a ton of money for their record label in the days before music piracy and have been assigned a "handler". David Seville, this poor bastard, has to look out for their well-being between concerts and studio sessions where they cover pop hits of the era in shrill squeeky fashion.
In the 80s cartoon, Dave was softened, nicer, more concerned with the chipmunk's development and emotional well-being.
Also, there was a rival band of girl chipmunks who were basically the regular chipmunks in drag.
There is very little obvious sexual dimorphism in rodentia. So little, in fact, that the addition of lipstick is about all it takes to completely swap gender.
Anyway, while 80s Dave was concerned with life-lessons and (I assume) making sure the chipmunks eat enough fiber to keep their ever-growing incisors from jacking up their singing voices, he sometimes became exasperated with his charges.
He would yell.
This pales in comparison to the original version from the late 50s and early 60s, where Dave yelled a lot more.
And it isn't like Alvin was just a child. He was a child and a wild animal with no real reason to know anything about human society and the rules being thrust upon him and his musically-gifted siblings.
I remember, as a child, considering the very real possibility that Dave was abusive. And I assumed he drank, though I can't seem to come up with any concrete evidence of that.
These are the impressions I was left with of the whole David Seville/Alvin relationship.
I'm hoping they cleaned that up a lot before flinging it at another group of children.

I guess, most of all, what I'm trying to say is that during an average workday, I'm not thinking about actual work 100% of the time.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Pretty Geeky Gift Guide

As a people, geeks are not easy to shop for.
We are individuals, sure, but one of the defining qualities of geekhood is a factor of obsession.
In this facet, it doesn't matter if the individual is actively working in technology, accounting, or professionally teaching martial arts - His or her obsession unites the individual into geekdom. We embrace the obsessed individual, and we silently weep for those who have to buy them gifts.
I want to help, because another identifying factor in being a geek is a fundamental inability to express ourselves.
For years, I've watched my family labor over this obstacle. There are tons of geeky options out there to confuse the gift-giver. You will have to, at some point, identify your strain of geek. This is key to selecting a proper gift. You wouldn't want to give a replica TARDIS USB hub to someone who isn't a Dr. Who fan. Unfortunately, this will mean you'll need to let down your carefully constructed audio filters for a couple of minutes until you hear a common thread. Once you've identified them, I've got you covered:

Star Wars Geek:
The "Impossible Shot" t-shirt is made of a blend of cotton and win. It features a classic image, an almost inside joke, and absolutely no reference to the newer trilogy.
You absolutely cannot go wrong with a Boba Fett Hoodie. You'll know if your geek has one already, because you will never have seen him not wearing it.
Tauntaun sleeping bag. No description can do that justice.
Fanboys is a movie which can probably only fully be enjoyed by Star Wars nerds, though there is some bleed-over enjoyment for Trek people.

Speaking of Trekkers:
A classic replica phaser is always going to be appreciated. Easy to wrap, difficult to identify, endlessly amusing due to the lights and sounds it produces.
If you are more concerned with pleasant sounds, I must recommend Brent Spiner's CD. It's unfortunately a collectible now, but your geek will be amazed to hear Commander Data's Zing Went The Strings Of My Heart, I promise.

Firefly Fans/Joss Whedon acolytes:
Your browncoat set would absolutely love a custom-built replica Serenity. They've had their favorite show jerked out from under them after 13 episodes. They deserve this.
Or you can give them a few extra episodes with a graphic novel.
Just be careful with your geek. They've been hurt before and are likely to be a touch emotionally fragile.

Architecture Nerds:
Wow. Anyone buying for these people has been screwed for a while, huh?
Luckily, Lego has you covered this year. Lego Guggenheim? I think so, yes.

Battlestar Gallactica:
How about a vintage-style propaganda poster? Or, if you'd rather a more containable, less displayable gift, consider Marion Call's Firefly/BSG tribute CD.

Dungeons and Dragons Geeks:
You can't go far wrong with a dark t-shirt, honestly. A nice set of chrome dice would also rock, loudly, and late into the night. An Order of the Stick graphic novel is another solid choice. The one in the link contains strips never seen online.

Zombie Geeks:
Monster Island is a great read, as is World War Z. If you are willing to participate, the Zombies game is fun, for serious.

If you are stumped for identification, or your geek is particularly afflicted with a wide variety of obsessions, consider an elephant-squid messenger bag, a t-shirt crossing genres spectacularly, or one that detects WiFi signals.
The choices are out there. Don't stress.
Another defining characteristic we share is that geeks are going to appreciate your effort in this. The big thrill will definitely be that you took the time to listen, even for a few seconds, while we blathered about something completely meaningless to most.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Meaning of the Season


GeoTagged, [N35.05142, E80.96487]

Hopefully by this time most of the food is gone, the games are over, the conversations with family are all past that awkward "Mom, I'm going to Clown College" announcement phase, and we can all get down to business.
For me and mine, traditionally this business involves waking early to push some elderly people down in order to save a couple of bucks at Target.
Wait.
I mean we have special family time together to reflect on all of our various blessings.
Whatever line you find yourselves in for bargain electronics on Black Friday, try to keep something in mind:
You know that music they play in all these stores? The same crappy Christmas music that has been so annoying for the past couple of weeks?
The age-old standards which, after three notes hit that tender area at the base of the spine and send pain shooting out to the extremities, prompting a primal purchase or fight response in bipeds?
The people working in these stores have been hearing it for hours every day. They will continue to do so for the next few weeks. To them, these songs have entwined themselves around their inner ears, compressed, impacted, and their cheery notes register as a dirge.
Be kind.
They got up earlier than you did and their punishment is unending.
Good luck to you, my retail laboring friends. December too shall pass.

Monday, November 23, 2009

On New Moon

We (I) felt it important that we (we) take Gwynyth to see New Moon on opening weekend.
While the thought of being surrounded by swooning tweens does not in any way appeal to me, (in fact summoning flashbacks of seeing Titanic in the theatre with Shana, not expecting DiCaprio's heartthrob status to have such a profound and loud impact on the young girls in every other seat in the packed theatre) it is like a rite of passage for Gwynyth. And if Gwynyth will be swooning over anyone in any movie, I'm going to be right freaking there with the cold bottle of ice water at the ready.
I have read all four books. I have also read The Host, a completely unrelated novel about the fall of mankind to an advanced alien society, written from the point of view of a member of that advanced alien society.
Certainly, it can be argued that the major plot lines of the Twilight novels at best set unreasonable and/or dangerous precedents for young girls. It could also be argued that the main character, Bella, is almost unbelievably clueless most of the time.
What can't be argued is that Meyers tells a pretty damn compelling (and best-selling) story which appeals to people in a lot of different age groups. And, to be fair, loose ends are generally tied to major plot points later in the story, weaving the whole into a cohesive and (damn it) well-crafted story about growing up which happens to also involve vampires and werewolves.
New Moon follows the plot of the book pretty faithfully, which means that it plays out pretty much like an extended Abercrombie and Fitch commercial. With fight scenes.
The CGI is passable, but only because that isn't what the movie is about.
Bella's human friends seem to openly mock her, and the concept of the plot itself, which provides some relief from all the angst.
At one point, while walking out of a monster movie, Bella's friend Angela (EDIT: Actually, it was Jessica. Thank you, E to the H in the comments) announces that people say zombie movies have deeper meanings about consumerism, but that they are, in fact, just dumb. I prefer to believe that Angela is there to speak to us, to grant us her wisdom from beyond the screen, and to endow us with the permission to just go with it.
Okay, Angela.
When I looked to the other seats in the theatre, I tried to see the potential in that swooning, giggling mob.
Sure, the shirtless werewolves were swoon-worthy. There were several grown women in the audience who actually cried out at the glory that is the abs of a seventeen-year-old.
But most of the geeks I visit with have nothing but disdain for the whole Twilight phenomenon.
I'm not saying they should read the books. If they wanted to, they would.
I'm not even suggesting they NetFlix the films or buy the special edition Barbies.
What I am saying is that the same crowd, for as long as I can remember, has always said that there aren't enough girls into the same geeky things we are into.
Not enough girls play Dungeons and Dragons and not enough girls are into computer gaming and not enough girls read fantasy novels and know comic books.
But here was a film about vampires and werewolves which made more money opening than The Dark Knight made. And girls drove those ticket sales.
Please, please, my nerdy friends, do not wail about the lack of girls into fantasy in one breath and say "Twilight sucks" with the next.
Make no mistake. Twilight is a gateway drug, my friends.
Someday, perhaps in a year or two, your local comic book store may have to install a ladies restroom.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Speculative Fiction

Sometimes I happen to catch the beginning of what's cool. Since I don't have the luxury of cable TV to keep me up-to-date about these things, I prefer to think I am just gifted with Divine Knowledge of the Awesome from time to time.

Other trends I miss completely. Mostly, I remain unbothered by these things. I don't dress trendy. I've had the same haircut for years. I can avoid conversations about popular TV shows since I've been doing that about sports forever.
I do feel bad missing out on the important things, the things I should know, the life's blood of the geek community. When I miss the new awesome there, I feel helplessly clueless. A noob. An outsider to the outsiders. Like a person with a job shopping at a comic book store.
I picked up Wizard's First Rule by Terry Goodkind within the past few months. I enjoyed the hell out of it and gave it to a friend before starting on the other twenty-odd books in the series. I'd missed out on the release of a severely geeky book by decades, the start of a series, and read it entirely before realizing that the second season of the TV show based on it just started. Damn.
I follow Jim Butcher on Twitter. He is an author who tweets late at night about how long he has been writing and how awesome the book will be, and I liked him enough to pick up the first book in his Dresden Files series.
How did I miss the gritty pulp fiction detective series where the main character is a wizard?
A whole series of books!
And it was already made into a TV series on SyFy and canceled.
Is there no geek mailing list I can join? Where is the "Hey, Geek! Read this!" newsletter?
It isn't like our kind strikes up conversations in book stores, you know. Any discussion in a comic book store invariably becomes a debate about pre- vs post-crisis Batman and whether Wolverine could kill Superman.
For the record: It would be a draw.
Tired of missing out on stuff, I picked up a new Star Wars novel and just started reading it. Death Troopers is the story of the crew and inmates of an Imperial prison barge who happen upon a derelict Star Destroyer filled with dead, yet still animate, Stormtroopers. Stormtrooper zombies, if you will. And I, for one, will.
Now, for those millions and millions of people who only know the Star Wars story told in the trilogy, it may seem odd. Even to those who admit to having seen six theatrically released Star Wars films may call it a sacrilege. For those eleven-hundred dedicated fans who happened to see six live action films and The Clone Wars CG movie, it would be quite a stretch to wedge zombies into Star Wars mythology.
Even for the 200 or so who have seen seven films, bought the DVDs, read the comics, read the novels and celebrated with custom body art, Stormtrooper zombies chasing convicts through the darkened corridors of a Star Destroyer with not a single Jedi in sight might seem. . . . oh I don't know. . . . not freaking Star Wars at all.
But I don't think anyone would hesitate to call it awesome. How can it not be?

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Megashark Vs Giant Octopus

Sent Nov 7, 2009 9:42:39 PM To Shana
Come watch megashark and ultraoctopus with me

Received Nov 7, 2009 9:44:15 PM From Shana
Are you freaking joking?

Sent Nov 7, 2009 9:44:16 PM To Shana
Because listen: megashark vs superoctopus

Received Nov 7, 2009 9:45:19 PM From Shana
You said you were putting your phone on the charger and never came back. I don't need this shit. (Image of a winky face)

Sent Nov 7, 2009 9:45:46 PM To Shana
I said I'd be in here charging my phone

Sent Nov 7, 2009 9:46:00 PM To Shana
Jane wants you to see this nature film

Sent Nov 7, 2009 9:46:09 PM To Shana
About the ocean

Sent Nov 7, 2009 9:46:33 PM To Shana
Shana, I watched the preview

Received Nov 7, 2009 9:46:46 PM From Shana
So?

Sent Nov 7, 2009 9:46:56 PM To Shana
Shana, megashark bites a plane. In flight.

Sent Nov 7, 2009 9:47:31 PM To Shana
I'm not playing around. Megashark fucking bites a plane.

Sent Nov 7, 2009 9:47:46 PM To Shana
Come in here and watch this instant queue style

Sent Nov 7, 2009 9:49:33 PM To Shana
Did you see my text about the plane and what megashark does?

Received Nov 7, 2009 9:49:46 PM From Shana
That is dumber than Heidi Klum.

Sent Nov 7, 2009 9:49:56 PM To Shana
Because I'm not sure why you aren't in here

Received Nov 7, 2009 9:50:05 PM From Shana
Garrick, this worries me.

Sent Nov 7, 2009 9:50:22 PM To Shana
We live miles from the ocean

Received Nov 7, 2009 9:50:23 PM From Shana
I don't want to see it and I'm not coming in.

Sent Nov 7, 2009 9:50:32 PM To Shana
And rarely fly

Sent Nov 7, 2009 9:50:40 PM To Shana
In a plane

Received Nov 7, 2009 9:50:40 PM From Shana
As a matter of fact, I'm going outside.

Sent Nov 7, 2009 9:50:53 PM To Shana
Which megashark totally would bite

Received Nov 7, 2009 9:50:56 PM From Shana
Then I might sleep on the couch.

Sent Nov 7, 2009 9:51:05 PM To Shana
(Image of a squid)

Sent Nov 7, 2009 9:51:17 PM To Shana
(Image of a fish)

Received Nov 7, 2009 9:51:19 PM From Shana
You can't make me watch bad films.

Sent Nov 7, 2009 9:51:26 PM To Shana
(Images of a wave, a fish, a plane, and an octopus)

Received Nov 7, 2009 9:51:30 PM From Shana
I won't enjoy it.

Received Nov 7, 2009 9:51:40 PM From Shana
I'll just resent you.

Sent Nov 7, 2009 9:52:02 PM To Shana
(Images of a heart, a wave, a fish, a plane, and an octopus, plus another heart)

Received Nov 7, 2009 9:52:05 PM From Shana
Resenting you.... Starting.....now.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

10/15

The official government story says there was no boy in that balloon. But a growing number of Americans are demanding the truth about what really happened on 10/15.

If you accept the CIA’s version of events, the whole incident was merely a misunderstanding. A joke, really. The kid was in the attic all along and everybody got worked up over nothing. After all, what parent hasn't created a fake media frenzy by pretending they have an endangered child, right? Well, I know what I felt was real. The terror and confusion of that terrible afternoon were too vivid to be wished away by the Big Lie Machine and its profusion of Smaller But Still Pretty Good Sized Lie Machines.

Just look at the facts. As I saw on the spare computer I keep in my taxidermy studio, the “balloon” in question spiralled lazily through the crisp autumn sky, its silver foil glistening in the Colorado air. But I’ve watched enough Road Runner cartoons to know how a balloon behaves when punctured in flight, especially in the American West. A real balloon would’ve either zig-zagged quickly and crazily around, slamming into various rock outcroppings along the way, or simply fallen straight down like an anvil. So that begs the following question: This so-called “balloon” wasn’t even a balloon at all, was it?

Now, let’s look at the landing. The world saw – or thought they saw – the “balloon” bump gently to Earth in a freshly plowed dirt field. It looked realistic enough to me, thanks to NASA’s experienced team of special-effects experts. But I bet I could find a Professor of Balloon Physics (let’s call him Dr. Herschel McGee of College Academy University State Tech) who would say that such a landing could only be executed by a trained balloon pilot. Why is the so-called “scientific” world so terrified of what Dr. McGee has to say?

Also, that field looked suspiciously flat to me. Have we forgotten that Colorado is known as the Rocky Mountain State? I guess whoever mocked up this hoax missed that day in 6th-grade geography class.

But here’s the most damning piece of evidence. Remember when everybody crowded around the fallen “balloon”, and a nation waited breathlessly to see if the boy would emerge okay, only to be told that there was nobody inside? Thanks to the simple fact that I have paused and rewound the footage of the original broadcast hundreds of times and watched the whole scene in hi-def frame-by-frame QuickTime magic while making my tribute music video, I was able to see that, on the contrary, there were actually hundreds of children being briskly spirited away from the crash site into an underground passageway located directly under the so-called “balloon”. Skeptical? Come over and watch it. Or buy yourself a copy of Hot Air: Puncturing The 10/15 Conspiracy, my fearless, eye-opening DVD documentary that will forever change the way you view fearless, eye-opening DVD documentaries.

They say there was no kid in that “balloon”; I say there were hundreds of kids. They say the kid was actually hiding at home in his attic; I say the kids were led down into the bowels of the Earth to toil in the FBI’s underground LSD mines. Examine the evidence on a neutral, objective DVD documentary and you can only reach one conclusion. And no, wiseguy, that conclusion is not that I need to go back on my meds. Whatever my lying fraud of a doctor says, I feel just fine this way.


Edit: Hello, Internet.

I've reviewed the comments which are queued for moderated posting. This post seems to have struck a nerve with certain online communities.

It may be best, for the sake of all parties involved, if we keep this stuff to ourselves for now, okay? I mean, no sense tipping off the lizard people in the black helicopters, amirite?

The truth is out there, friends.

Way, way out there.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

I Have Become Carver . . .

. . . Destroyer of Gourds.

I light a candle in each one for you.

Every Halloween, it is the same.
I wait for the black of night to fall. I make my way to the Old Murphy pumpkin patch just outside of town. Once inside the fences, I look out over the field, admiring the crop.
It is then that I reveal the blades inside my bag. One by one, I remove each of the terrible implements from their wooden display block, admiring their fine stainless steel and full-tang construction that not only offer me confidence, but comfort for the awful task at hand.
And then my dark work begins.
The pulp and the seeds spray and splatter. The ease at which the flesh of each pumpkin separates under the edge of my steely friends causes a manic grin to crawl across my face. And as I carve and slice my way through the madness, I think of you, killed by that truck of pumpkins so many years ago. That horrible horn, the squishity-squish-squish of that awful murder under the pulpy mass of the Orange Menace, they haunt me still. Only this yearly ritualized squash-icide can halt that horrid scene from playing in the theater of my mind night after night.
It ends when every last gourd in the field has felt my wrath. There, among the muck and the slime of the patch, I sit among the carved pumpkins, all glaring at me with your face, tears streaming down my pulp-stained cheeks. Their maddening song has been silenced.
I then gather my tools and return home, satiated for another year.
Now, we are at the end of another October. The horrible yearning for pumpkiny death begins anew.
I hope you can hear the screams of the Cucurbita, and that they please you as much as I.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Next Batman



Also, if you ever feel the need to start a fight on the internet, posting the image above will do it no matter the audience.
Since Gwynyth has been enjoying our Superhero movie collection again recently, I've been giving them a lot of thought.
Well, not Daredevil. But the other ones.
The Dark Knight was a fairly perfect Batman movie, and making a good Batman movie without churning up all the muck and history of the source material is pretty much impossible.
One also has to consider the prospect of making a movie which will sell action figures, which means both kids and geeks must be interested.
And we can't forget the Batman's arch nemesis is short an actor now, so future movies will need to do without the Joker attempting to communicate his crazy to Batman's crazy.
Plus, Christian Bale is off ruining other franchises at the moment.

Isn't there a Machinist 2 in pre-production somewhere?
What I thought I wanted at first was a return to the very early days of Batman, where he wasn't trying to save the whole city. He was just stopping bank robberies and beating up pimps.
This concept lends itself more to a return to Batman on television.
Or maybe not, on closer review.
Adam West is a busy guy.
So I started to think about a Batman TV series without Batman. It's been done, after all.
But Birds of Prey was bogged down by having someone besides Batman fight Batman's enemies. Also, the ratings sucked. What a Batman show without Batman needs is solid freaking ratings.
Back in the pre-Robin days, Batman was always swinging into crime scenes, punching bad guys, and swinging off. Sometimes a good punching was all a classic thug needed to clean up his act.
The other thing the good old Batman would do is hand out business cards to the less hardcore criminals who responded to the punching (or even just the threat of a punching) especially well.
These business cards could apparently be redeemed at Wayne Industries for one (1) career change and meaningful employment, signed Bruce Wayne.
He gave cards out to muggers, shoplifters, and hookers mostly, but it would be awesome if they were also given to people who were crazy beneath the level diagnosable in a quick swing-punch-lifechangecard kind of way.
And that is the basis of the best possible Batman-free Batman TV show.
Wayne Enterprises Human Resources.
You've got Gotham City as a backdrop, Batman swinging and punching and leaving, and the poor slobs at Waynetech placing the ex-criminals into cubicles and assigning tasks.
Think of it like a highly-rated office comedy, but with serial killers and hookers.
So The Office, meets Dexter, meets Desperate Housewives.
It is the perfect storm of can't-miss televised awesome.
Also, the Mad Hatter could totally work in the Mail Room.

I've been working from home a lot, lately, though I hear there is a desk somewhere which actually has a nameplate. And the nameplate actually has my name.
But I haven't tracked down the building yet. Maybe Thursday?
Anyway, major stuff is going down this week as we ramp up for Saturday.
My costume is mostly ready.
A pumpkin is sweating nervously on the kitchen floor.
And I've put up a fake Sex Offender sign in the yard to deter trick-or-treaters (the neighbors will thank me later for lower property taxes). I don't hand out candy. Halloween isn't about tooth decay and childhood obesity.
Halloween is about acting like an idiot and freaking out the normals.

Except somehow less like my job.

Monday, October 26, 2009

In Memorium

Let us take a moment to pay our respects to a fallen giant.
Long before your favorite Parent Teacher Organization configured the RSS feed on their blog to keep you up to date on the meetings you would rather skip, before you were forced to abandon whole email addresses to purge an Instant Messenger contact list, and before your mom started following you on Twitter, a service existed and was embraced by the semi-technical.
GeoCities allowed anyone to make a website, and people did.
Almost 28 Million users were active per month in 2002, which isn't bad considering Yahoo had purchased the service in 1999 for a mere $4 billion. In 2002, that was a substantial percentage of total Internet traffic.
And without the brave features pioneered by GeoCities, I have no doubt that the current face of social networking would be a bleak and desolate place, devoid of embedded music files, tiled backgrounds, and spinning animated images.
In the course of allowing everyone to design their own webpage for free, GeoCities also amassed what is arguably the largest collection of awful color combinations and "Under Construction" images with little working guys, all backed up nightly and served up to meet the high-traffic demands of the day.
GeoCities bravely told the growing throng of internet users,"Come here, you! There is room for whatever the hell it is you think looks good right here on our servers!"

"Whatever your technical ability, design certification or taste, we've got a place for you." And people came, making GeoCites the third most visited domain in 1999, right after AOL and Yahoo.

Apparently, 1999 was an extremely dark time for the internet.
15MB of free storage online was a pretty sweet deal in 1999, though. You could cram dozens of images into that.
Fortunately, InternetArchaeology.org is stepping up to save what it can for posterity.
My daughter has grown up in an Adobe Flash world. It is comforting to know that she will still be able to visit an animated Gif in an online museum in the event some school project requires it.
AOL and Yahoo, huh?
It's amazing anyone stayed online at all.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Job Responsibilities

When I was told I'd be working with a "special needs" business unit, I assumed the definition was the standard.
I expected that sometimes they would blow up their equipment.
From experience, I thought they would overwrite vital data with crap and then fling blame.
I entertained the possibility that written instructions should, perhaps, be read in reverse for the purposes of functionality.
All of these things I have seen.
What I had not seen, and did not expect, was that they would not be nice about it.
I've worked with difficult people. If elaboration is needed I suggest hitting and archived post at random and running with it.
I am not what one would describe as "thick skinned", and I tend to take a lot of stuff personally which maybe I should not.
At the same time, repeated where-the-hell-are-you-i-needed-this-thing-done-twenty-minutes-ago instant messages while I'm on the phone with my manager are not the key to wringing a response from me.
In fact, since I was on the phone with my manager specifically about how obnoxious they were, I felt it was a more valid use of my time, overall.
The key in this case is the proper re-direction of fault. Geek Fu is less about technical ability than it is about using a user's mass and momentum against them.
"Why don't you answer your desk phone?" when I don't actually have a desk was not a question I could answer in any way except, "Given that I've gotten so little documentation from your developers I'd prefer all contact from you to be written and not verbal so that I can create my own documentation by copying and pasting."
Of course, it also helps to find the place in their code where a file is sought in half a dozen non-existent locations in the half second before the server blue screened.
I'm still quite often driving 90 miles to work and 90 miles home.
I also have not located a place in my part of South Carolina which has decent coffee before 6am.
This is the price of having a job in finance, I suppose.
Or, perhaps in a past life I burned down an orphanage and karma has chosen to catch up with me here, in the southeastern United States.
Stupid karma. There's nothing to do here north of Orlando.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

More Updates

First off, if you've recently purchased the Veggie Tales Bob & Larry Cookie Cutter, be extremely careful when you frost the actual cookies. It can make all the difference between a wonderful birthday party and a restraining order.
Also, it should be noted that 'poking' someone on Facebook is considered a legal violation of those restraining orders. Some judges have absolutely no sense of humor.
Most judges, actually. I blog this in order that these lessons can be learned here instead of in court. Here is much less expensive, even for the paid subscribers.
If you aren't following me on Twitter, you may be missing out on whatever random crap I encounter in the course of a normal day. Sure, there is a sidebar over there with the last half dozen or so, but since Miley Cyrus quit, no one has anything better to do than listen to whatever inane stuff I can squeeze into 140 characters. I'm totally followable @PrettyGeeky, as featured on io9 for my brave stance on our latest noble military efforts.
Perhaps most importantly, Internet, I've learned a few more important facts about working in this building in downtown Charlotte.
The Coke machine (Coke Zero, for the win!) happily accepts my bank card, $1.25 at a time in exchange for ice cold 20oz drinks which fly at me through an elaborate soda roller coaster and robotic arm. The whole process makes me giggle and clap my hands, each and every time. This disturbs the normals. I love disturbing the normals.
Also, the building's sliding glass access doors open slowly from the outside following a badge swipe but very quickly from the inside in reaction to motion. It is too fast to kick them from that direction. So far.
Lastly, if the people who share the break room refrigerator on the 12th floor don't start packing some decent lunches I'm going to stab someone. For serious.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Pumpkin Flavored Awesome

The new job is certainly interesting.
I've been made responsible for a high-demand business group. This means a couple of things.
It means that all aspects of the functionality of their varied applications are flung to me first for resolution.
It also means that they users are a whiny bunch of asshats who have gotten the idea that they are entitled to some measure of attention.
Strangely enough, I've held this exact job in the past.
The key isn't solving the various application issues. A few can almost certainly be knocked out pretty easily.
It also isn't getting the users to send valid information about their errors instead of "some application on server 11 blew up" so that a baseline can be established including valid activity parameters, though that would be nice as well.
The absolute must-do in this type of role is to reset the user expectations, first to the limitations of modern computing ("No, the server cannot do your laundry while it calculates your spreadsheet adjustments if you never, ever let us schedule it for a reboot") and second, most importantly, in the responsiveness of their assigned consultant ("Oh, it did 'it' again, did it? Awesome. Please send me the data I requested the last time 'it' happened, in addition to the same data for this occurrence, and I'll see about getting you a better diagnosis than 'it crapped out' this time. Once I get back from lunch, probably.").
The tightrope to walk here is in not ever sending a response to them that is more vague than the request they flung at me. As long as I have a use for the data I demand, there is no reason for it to not be provided.
This is my core skill set. People-hacking.
The other great thing is that I laid all this out in the interview, so no one on my side of the technical fence should be at all surprised by any of it.
The drive from Columbia it Charlotte and back to Columbia every day sucks quite a bit. It is easily my least favorite part.
Hopefully, the house will be on the market soon and we can begin our final drive to Charlotte.
I can endure until then. Some days I work from home. Today, for example.
Today I was productive without pants until about 10:30am, when I needed something out of the car and it was cold and rainy.
After that, the pants seem to have quelled the earlier productivity, though the correlation wasn't made until after lunch, when I'd again dressed the part of working from home.
Why did I take my pants off after lunch? Because I'm a professional and there is a certain standard I like to acknowledge and subsequently ignore.
Pumpkin-flavored everything makes all of this infinitely easier. It's like falling off a log onto a large orange gourd, given the proper no-sugar-added enhancements.

Monday, September 21, 2009

How I Spent My Unintentional Late Summer Vacation

This is a picture of the work I've been doing on the deck.
It's pretty hard work, actually.
Going from that uniform brown to the realistic gray weathered look takes an insane amount of detail work.
Fortunately, I've got time.
When last we discussed my job in South Carolina, I mentioned that they had decided to stop paying for overtime. Not the time-and-a-half bit, but any hours over 40.
In order to make that work, I was spreading hours out across the week in sprinkles, driving home for breaks, working odd hours in the middle of the night and weekends, and still putting in an average of 50 hours.
So, last Monday I re-activated my online resume and braved the crap economy.
Friday I had an interview and offer. The economy isn't as crappy as we'd heard, I guess.
The non-paying crappy hours job featured $800 a month in insurance premiums, plus about $1000 in prescription costs and then some junk they just don't seem to cover, such as illness or well visits. That, in addition to my pay cap, has left us in a pretty dire financial situation.
It looks like the new job pays a bit more an hour, has $400 insurance, and (supposedly) covers medication with something called a "co-pay" or some nonsense I don't understand.
I put in notice at work and was not escorted from the building with a taser pressed to my kidney, a career first for me.
After consulting my new headhunter, I was told I could start work today. I set my exit date accordingly.
Then, computer stuff broke at the new job.
The new job can't make an access card for me until the 30th, so I have 10 unpaid days off, which will do very little good for our current financial state.
The other interesting complication (and the reason I've been weathering the deck) is that the job is 70 miles away in Charlotte, North Carolina. I'll be commuting until we unload this broken-down, outdated, poorly-designed money pit and officially move there.
Um.
Does anyone want to buy a house in Columbia, South Carolina? It's . . . uh . . . Charming.
And the deck looks fan-freaking-tastic.
So this week I'm getting the house ready to go back on the market. I'm hoping the location (seven minutes from the largest employer in the state) will make it leave our possession very quickly.
And that is my update for the 21st of September.
Everything is fine here. No problems.

Why?

What have you heard?

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Technology


GeoTagged, [N34.09296, E80.87153]

I just got an "are we there yet?" text from the backseat.
Compared to the standard voice-driven communication method, it may have actually been more grating.
I kept my response to the standard. "Yes. Hop out."
Of course, I Tweeted it at her, and her phone won't pass along a Tweet, so she'll have to wait until we get home.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Breaking

Local blogger kills useless muse. Film at eleven.

I'm working on a real post.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

So, Internet

You thought I'd be gone for good, didn't you? Sure, I've spent the last six weeks trying to wrap my feelings around what happened between us, to come to terms with your absolute failure to meet my needs. Internet, we have a lot of history. Your dank recesses were my music-filled sanctuary, your auction sites my source for amusing odds and ends, your reference sites my out-of-body information storage facility.
But your stunning betrayal caught me off guard, Internet. I've come to terms with it. As much as I depend on you, you aren't to be trusted with my feelings. So, I've carted them off and attempted to squish them with a heady cocktail of denial and alcohol. And rage. Yes, warm, comfortable anger has been my armor, absence from you my shield.
I no longer play World of Warcraft. Webinara has been handed off to a friend and I have no need to carry on her exploits. I no longer contribute to discussions regarding my hobbies or career. This post is the most we have spoken in a month and a half, Internet. I wish I could say I've missed you, but my feelings for you have forever changed. You left me hollow, Internet. You will never again be granted the power to do that.
It is my own fault. I let down my guard, granted you the access to my emotional well-being. Your password no longer works.
I'm tougher than you expected, Internet. I'm tougher than I expected. I'm going to be okay whether you like it or not.
I'll resume sharing my feelings here as soon as I feel up to it.
Heheh. I said "feel up".
Maturity and respect, Internet. That's what separates us.
To my human readers, sorry I've been gone so long without a word of explanation. Let me just say that the Internet made a terrible mistake and I'm trying to forgive.
Thanks for all the emails. I'm pretty sure I've responded to them all, but please let me know if I still owe you a cryptic response.

Uncomfortably long hugs,

G

Thursday, July 02, 2009

New Phone

It looks like I can totally blog from this phone. Technology doesn't always suck.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

In Which Nature Begins To Get All Up In My Business

Yesterday afternoon I found a bat clinging to the brick outside the back door at work. Adorable. Probably rabid, but adorable.



The urge to poke nature with one's finger is difficult to overcome at times like these.
I immediately called a co-worker who was at his desk at the time. I wanted to keep my eye on that bat, and leading my co-worker down to personally look at a bat only to find it gone would be disappointing and crazy-seeming.

"Look! A bat!"

"You called me on the company cellphone for this? Sweet!"

"Should I poke it? I was thinking about poking it."

"Hang on before you poke it. I'm going to get a picture with my cellphone."

"What if poking it startles it? It could fly away."

"Would that be so bad?"

"Sunlight kills them. Turns them to dust and stuff. I think I saw that on Animal Planet."

"I'm pretty sure that isn't bats."

"You're right. That's I.T. people."

[laughter]

[fist-bump]

"I'm poking it. I sent Shana a picture and she wants me to get this bat for her."

"Okay. Go."

"One more picture, in case they need it for identification at animal control or in the emergency room."


After that, the conversation became mostly shrieking and "It's in my hair! It's in my hair!"

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Hobbit Movie

After the crazy success of the latest Transformers movie, I've decided Michael Bay should just make all movies from now on. For the good of the economy.
Towards that end, I've gone ahead and created the story board for Michael Bay's The Hobbit.
My contacts in LA are pretty limited. Actually, I just know Pam and Andrew, to be completely honest.
This is fine, though. Since 'The Hobbit' has been long overdue for an update anyway, recasting the dwarves as professional dancers just makes sense. Finding a picture of Andrew on a motorcycle sealed the deal.
I hope you enjoy it.
I also hope Pam and Andrew don't kill me.

Click for larger images:




Monday, June 29, 2009

Deadlines and Delays

As you have seen me nearly constantly complain, the expectations placed on geeks in the corporate environment are ever-changing.
I see it kind of like one of those awesome Japanese game shows.
There are requirements put on the contestants at the beginning of the show. Then, as the good TV progresses, the people that made those initial requirements ramp up the difficulty by adding restrictions and conflicting requirements to the original ones.
The whole time, some guy is screaming at you in a language you don't understand and the crowd in the studio audience seems almost frothy with hunger for your failure.
At the end, if you are lucky, you get dunked into pudding and are able to make your mortgage.
This weekend, the hard-and-fast, OMG-do-it deadline for the latest Microsoft patches arrived. The people who tested the patches and pronounced them "fine" on Thursday decided on Friday afternoon that they were possibly "not fine". There was no evidence that a problem had turned up, but just in case they went to upper-upper management and forced a delay. They wanted the weekend without reboots.
Upper-upper management granted the delay. Later today upper-upper management will wonder why vulnerabilities are still showing up on our scans. I promise, they will.
Since powerful government types will expect the patches to be in place by Thursday, we get to force them all into place Tuesday and Wednesday night.
We are required to be at our desks a certain amount of time every day. We are limited to working eight hours per day. The patches must and yet cannot be deployed immediately. After hours is acceptable once the restriction lifts, but after hours for who? We have users in Hawaii.
Drive this riding lawn mower over this giant log suspended over a pit filled with grape jelly within the next 45 seconds or we will release the bees.
What's that? We already released the bees?
While you drive across, gather up the bees and place them in this sock. Points will be deducted for lost or injured bees.
Hang on, let me finish dusting you with this pollen.
Go!
Wait!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Last Night's Depressing News

June 25, 2009 we suffered the loss of a national treasure. I was notified by text message and noted absolutely no coverage in the press. I will honor him in the only way I can, with a poorly researched post on Pr3++yG33kyTh1ng.
Best known for his acting ability in 1996's break out hit Space Jam, Michael Jordan never found the widespread validation he so richly deserved from Hollywood. He was left to work out the rest of his career doing commercials.
Before that, he was signed to play minor league baseball in 1994. He had a brief professional baseball career for the Birmingham Barons, a Chicago White Sox farm team, batting .202 with 3 HR, 51 RBI, 30 SB, and 11 errors. He also appeared for the Scottsdale Scorpions in the 1994 Arizona Fall League.
Before that he worked for Nike. I can't recall specifically what he did but I assume he made shoes or something.
Since I couldn't find any mention of his death, let alone the cause, I am left to guess that he was slain by ninjas seeking to increase their honor or space aliens attempting to prevent their destruction as prophesied in Space Jam.
Either way, one doesn't go from being a simple cobbler to playing minor league baseball without racking up a ton of enemies.
Sadly, it was only a matter of time.
Let us remember Jordan as he would want us to remember him -- Pitching MCI and playing golf for the love of the game.
Goodnight, sweet prince. You will always be #32 in our hearts.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Our Governor

By now, most of us are aware that South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford was not, in fact, hiking earlier this week. Unless that's what the kids are calling it these days.
This type of event serves to remind us that we are all fallible. That even our highest elected officials are subject to the same flaws and insecurities that plague the unelected masses.
This man, who famously carried live pigs into the Senate chamber as a protest about pork-barrel spending makes mistakes like anyone can.
His wife, though, is nothing like my wife.
If she were, he might have run off to Argentina to meet his girlfriend, but he would never have returned.
A wiser man would have just stayed in South America. A quick Google search has taught me that Argentina is the world's third largest producer of sunflower seeds. The right thing to do, if Mark Sanford's wife is anything like mine, is to just start planting some sunflower seeds and lay low, take on an assumed name, and start over.
I know that all his stuff is still in the Governor's Mansion, but if Mrs. Sanford is anything like my wife there isn't much left that can't be bought back off Ebay (good luck getting that shipped to Argentina) or picked up off the Governor's Lawn (after the flames have been stamped out, of course).
According to the published story, Mrs. Sanford has been aware of this situation for five months.
After five months of wearing a cup and guarding my neck at every moment of every day, I'd be ready to flee the continent for good.
Some people have said that returning and admitting wrong-doing is the right thing to do, but in this case, the "right thing" flew out the window months ago at least.
There is nothing to be gained by returning to South Carolina. Trust me, I live here. The food isn't great, no good concerts ever come here and you can't buy booze after 7pm EST.
Argentina has a whole musical about it.
Flee, Mr. Sanford!
Harvest sunflower seeds and refer to yourself as "Marco".
He should be removed from office for exhibition of such poor planning if nothing else.
What kind of cover story is "taking a hike along the Appalachian Trail", anyway?
The best thing would be for him to see that as a self-fulfilling prophecy, throw some canned goods into a bandana on a stick and wander off into the woods.
History will tell us whether his return home was brave or stupid.
I just know if it was me, they'd finally put the question to rest when my remains were found several hundred years later and identified using dental records.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

New Look

You can see my new glasses in my profile picture.
I specifically requested something "more nerdy" than my last pair of small round frames.
I also wanted some with cable temples since the part that wraps around my ears keeps them from falling off when I look down. This is key, since I spend most of my waking time not paying attention.
I did not anticipate the reaction this change would cause in those around me.
Overall, it has been positive.
Sure, my daughter screamed in horror for fifteen minutes or so until Shana made her stop. You'd think she had found a spider.
My co-workers have been harder to quiet.
Though it has been a couple of weeks, gazes meeting my own are still bewildered. Everyone looks like they are trying to place my face with one they know.
To date, the reconciliation images pinned to the outside of my cubicle include Conan O'Brien (not the Conan I was going for, to be honest, but okay), Clark Kent, and Noah -- the cheerleader's dad from Heroes.
There is also a picture of Steve from Blue's Clues but that is left from the day I wore a striped shirt.
But the odd looks continue.
"You look like someone", is something that I hear (no joke) six times a day.
"Brad Pitt, I know, I get that a lot," is my stock response.
"No," their heads shake slowly as they continue to stare,"that's not it."
I think it is.
Or Arthur Curry, mild-mannered alter ego of Aquaman, Sovereign of the Seven Seas.
Functionally, the glasses keep my eyes from burning after hours of reading documentation on computer monitors.
Fashionably, they are a distraction, a mystery wrapped in an enigma smothered in delicious smoked cheddar which is stunning -- not in the sense that one refers to an attractive person as "stunning", but in the sense that people stop and stare at me like I'm a familiar stranger, unable to finish thoughts and incapable of not changing the subject to what celebrity I resemble.
I would expect that strapping something new to a face would cause the face to look different, but these glasses have been more like strapping a stun gun to my face and headbutting my way around the office.
Which is undeniably awesome.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Conflicts

During the actual project, things worked differently.
When a server was out of compliance, I fixed it. I worked odd hours and flung patches and settings and generally did things.
Now that the project is complete, our day-to-day activities are being forced into the framework of a procedure. Previously, this procedure was something I'd heard about from time to time. Whispers in darkened hallways spoke of paper trails and action items. They sent shivers along my spine, but passed quickly, dispelled by coffee.
When the process of putting our work into these procedures began, I was content to watch in silence. I hoped (in hindsight, foolishly) that my job would be the same except that I would need to supply back-dated paperwork about everything anyone noticed.
I have been more wrong, but not often.
After the official kick-off meeting celebrating our successful conversion to procedure, I found out that I was in charge of it. This is the penance for not paying attention, internets. Responsibility.
And with great responsibility comes great pain.
I got notified that some of the servers in my care needed a software update.
According to process, I told an analyst that a patch was required. I picked a date for completion (at random, to be honest) and waited.
Someone found testers. Some of these testers were pissed that I requested a patch. They said it would break the application they built and that they wouldn't allow it.
Now.
I'm responsible, right?
These people use my servers for their crappy application which a patch might break.
According to process, now I have to fill out a ton of extra paperwork about how we will not be deploying the required update since it will break someone else's crappy application.
And my "bad" numbers go up and stay up.
I have to attend extra meetings and submit to auditor interviews and waste a ton of time justifying their issue since we have their software on my server.
That is the procedure.
The procedure is not telling the developer that he has until my randomly selected original completion date to get his bug-riddled, unsupportable, ancient and slow application off my servers or that I would enjoy breaking them with my patch, apparently.
Action items for today include wedging a line entry for "threats" into our procedure documentation.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Long Weekend

With my family away for the weekend for a Girl Scouts trip to Savannah, Georgia, I had a plan.
I was going to see Transformers 2.
You know what? It isn't out until Wednesday.
My desire to see robots punching each other was salved with a viewing of Terminator Salvation. The ointment is imperfect, and it's cooling relief temporary, but we work with what we've got.
When I got home, I decided another viewing of the first Transformers was in order. What if I'd forgotten a key plot point? To be honest, I wasn't sure there had been any.
This is far from a criticism. Movies where robots fight each other really only have a plot to move the action between scenes of robots fighting each other.
In case you don't feel like watching it again yourself, I'm publishing some helpful reminder emails from the Help Desk at the Department of Defense to catch us all back up:

June 15, 2006
From: Jburkley@dod.gov
To: all_users@sector7.dod.gov
Subject: Introduction

Hello everyone,

My name is Josh and I'm looking forward to working with you. I just transferred in so I'm sending this quick email to assure you that I'll be here to make your computing experience here a good one.
Also, please remember to leave your workstations powered on at night so that they can download approved software updates.

Thanks,

Josh

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

June 28, 2006
From: Jburkley@dod.gov
To: all_users@sector7.dod.gov
Subject: Information

Hey guys,

I'm getting a lot of questions about this so I figured I'd just drop an email.
If you are getting messages about your email box being full, please drag some old email to a USB flash drive to free up space.
Note: Moving messages to your 'Trash' folder doesn't free space unless you also empty the 'Trash' folder.

Thanks,

Josh

```````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````

June 28, 2006
From: Jburkley@dod.gov
To: all_users@sector7.dod.gov
Subject: Retraction

All,

I've just been informed that USB drives are a security risk. Do not bring them into this ultra-secure location.
I just assumed they were okay, since there is a pretty easy way to turn off USB ports on the computers and that hasn't been done. These decisions aren't made by me.
Anyway, consult the mail retention policy in your department handbook.

Thanks,

Josh

```````````````````````````````````

July 1, 2006
From: Jburkley@dod.gov
To: Human_Resources@sector7.dod.gov
Subject: Issue

Judith,

A lot of users are requisitioning multiple cellphones, like two and three a week.
Getting all these set up in the system is taking up a lot of my time.
Can you draft a memo instructing everyone to please not hand their phones to Agent Simmons? He takes them apart in some weird way, maybe adds parts or something?
It's pretty messed up.
Could you maybe also ask him to quit doing that?

Thanks,

Josh

````````````````````````````````````

July 3, 2006
From: Jburkley@dod.gov
To: all_users@sector7.dod.gov
Subject: Equipment Control

Guys,

I've got a lot going on right now, but there is no such thing as an audio computer virus.
If it is a regular virus, just run the virus scanner (you can find it near your system clock) and you should be all set.
The sound is not going to 'hack' anything. That is impossible.
However, DoD regulations forbid the storing of audio files on our equipment, so please remove all MP3s by the end of the week.

Thanks,

Josh

``````````````````````````````````````````````````````````

July 3, 2006
From: Jburkley@dod.gov
To: all_users@sector7.dod.gov
Subject: Concerns

All,

The main entrance to the facility is closed at this time due to the incident. Please continue to submit your ticket requests through our remote access solution.

Thanks,

Josh

`````````````````````````````````````````````````

July 3, 2006
From: Jburkley@dod.gov
To: Human_Resources@sector7.dod.gov
Subject: Unpatched systems

Judith,

I've been complaining since I started about the lack of software security updates on that big man-shaped computer downstairs.
If I get written up over this I'm going to be severely pissed.
The Secretary of Defense uses a Mac. I'm not patching that either.

Thanks,

Josh

Friday, June 19, 2009

Never Let HP "Fix" A Mac

Wednesday night I tried to change the settings on my HP Photo Printer. I needed to connect it through USB instead of over the network shared by a Windows machine.
The printer software refused my request.
In fact, it refused my request so hard that it demanded a re-install of itself.
No big deal, right?
Printer software gets swapped out all the time.
Except this printer software encountered an error. It was unable to install due to a permissions issue.
Now, there was no permissions issue. The software was running as me, and I'm allowed to do whatever.
Sometimes the permissions database gets a little stale though, and running a clean up and verification is something you just do on a Mac.
However, the HP software attempted to do it instead.
A few hours later, I found myself purchasing a new hard drive and downloading a beta copy of Snow Leopard, having lost my original install media in the move.
Yesterday afternoon I discovered that Snow Leopard doesn't fit on a DVD, so I went back out to buy an 8GB flash drive.
After booting from that, I was able to install an operating system on the new hard drive.
But wait!
Possibly due to the OS upgrade, my AT&T Aircard would only work without the software required to use it. So not at all, really.
By 8pm, I had committed to another 2 years of wireless internet in order to purchase a new AT&T aircard.
And then we got sandwiches, because that seemed the thing to do.
The important thing is this: I have my computer back.
Also, Snow Leopard (even in beta) is awesome. Unless you have an Option GT Ultra Express internet card, in which case it sucks a little until you replace that.
I missed you, internets.
I'm so happy to see you.
Let's never be apart again, okay?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I Thought I Had Enough Cash

Since Shana has been working later in the afternoons, a lot of things I never had to deal with have become my responsibility.
In most cases, that means that a lot of stuff isn't getting done at all, but I've managed to step up in a few key areas.
Gwynyth has made it home from summer camp every day.
The house has not burned down or suffered a plumbing catastrophe I had anything to do with (though the washing machine may be leaking - I'm honestly afraid to look).
And Tuesday we went to the farmer's market as Shana did every Tuesday last summer.
Gwynyth had been before and she had a list of things we needed.

1. Milk - One Gallon, "Happy Cow"
2. Gooey Butter Cake - As many pieces as she can stack on her arm

There were stalls everywhere with people selling all kinds of stuff, but Gwynyth stuck to the agenda.
Until we saw the blackberries. Man, those were huge. They were like mutated blackberry professional baseball players fused together into an unholy abomination of juicy awesomeness.
And Shana was out of peaches, which the market conveniently offered.
Someone was selling lemon pound cake. Gwynyth wasn't going to just let that go by.
Somewhere she had acquired a bag of some kind. This bag began to swell with baked goods.
By the time we arrived at the milk, I was scraping the last of my vending machine Diet Coke stash from the bottom of my pocket under the cellphones in order to finance it.
Amazingly, without knowing how she managed it, I ended up carrying the stuff to the car. I mean, one minute I was digging another quarter out of my pants and trying to not drop some peaches and a cellphone on the ground and the next I was carrying a gallon of milk, two bags of fruit, about eleven pounds of sugary baked goods and (I think) flavored honey to the car.
It all happened so fast.
I think next week I'm just giving Gwynyth forty bucks and the keys to the car.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Our Ongoing Efforts

We have only a few weeks left to fix every single issue the assessors turned up during the audit. If a single finding remains, our entire business model will collapse under a flood of "unable-to-do-business" paperwork and associated fines.
Jobs are on the line at the largest employer in the state. The price of failure for my friends and co-workers is the total ability to make their mortgage payments, which would snowball in our delicate financial environment into a plunging value for real estate across the region and a corresponding drop in the revenues generated for our schools, jeopardizing the educational future of a generation.
As you might expect, we are bored almost out of of minds.