Friday, February 27, 2009

Confession

Next weekend Watchmen is finally being released in theatres.
I have no interest in seeing it.
Sorry about that.
I know I should. I have a keen awareness of my responsibilities in all areas geeky and I know, fundamentally, that I should technically already be paying homeless people to wait in line for tickets on my behalf.
But I can't muster up any enthusiasm for this movie.
It isn't that I haven't tried. I loved the graphic novel. It was fresh and groundbreaking and cutting-edge in 1986. So was Top Gun, a movie now remembered mostly for the homoerotic beach volleyball scene which appeared out of nowhere.
As comics go, Watchmen was widely accepted as art -- A work which to this day is a defensive geek's go-to answer to literary snobs who claim that comics are only for children.
But as a movie, I don't think it can translate well.
You can look at photos of every piece of art in the Louvre, but since photography was not the original medium something is lost in the middle.
In the case of a comic published for a readers living in a time when Cagney and Lacey was on the air (when TV itself was "on the air" for that matter), I think the loss will be context. The story itself may be too large for film.
Since I can be reasonably sure any review will start with "The special effects were good." and later end with, "but the special effects were good", I'll just wait for Netflix to offer to send it to me.
This makes me a little sad and I feel more than a little lost.
A major comic book film is being released and I'm not going.
The whole thing may just be my reaction at Hollywood's ongoing assault on my childhood.
Are there no original ideas left?
Gore Verbinski is remaking Clue for some reason! It's too soon to remake any movie which originally had Tim Curry in it.
And the same article mentions "Monopoly", "Candyland" and "Ouija" all being flung from board game to film with no regard to how any of us feel about it.
The Neverending Story is being re-imagined even though both sequels (yes, there were two) made less and less money.
Total Recall is getting a do-over, too. Total Recall would best be forgotten. To be fair, they could revisit it in two ways will would make me not shriek in outrage.
First, they could leave the film as it is mostly, reworking the special effects with CGI and creating an "Enhanced Director's Cut" or something. CGI could to wonders for the Governor of California pulling a large object out of his nose and . . . You know . . . The scene with the mutant lady.
Or they could go back to Philip K. Dick's original 1966 story "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale" which was the basis for the film, loosely. So loosely, in fact, that the protagonist doesn't ever actually go to Mars. They changed it so much that the short story became a screenplay which became a novelization by Piers Anthony which was released a year before the film itself.
Just tell the story like the author did. The budget would be tiny and anyone but Keanu Reeves could pull off the lead.
Or, someone needs to create a kick ass screenplay about fighting robots in the far future made out of junked cars by space rednecks.
Again, anyone but Keanu Reeves for the lead.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Not Improving My Image

I had an over-sized, traditional laptop bag. It held my laptop with a couple of inches to spare on either side, plus the power supply, my cellular card, half a dozen pens, some printed documentation, sugar-free gum, a couple of spare hard drives, assorted cables (USB, ethernet, firewire) an LED book light, wireless mouse and adapter and, sometimes, my lunch.
There was a lot going for that bag as far as utility.
On the other hand, it was massive.
I could hardly get it down the cubicle row without bumping it somewhere. And it weighed a lot, even empty.
I've been looking for a replacement for well over a year, but I hadn't found the right bag.
There were some which looked awesome and lacked some function I needed and there were plenty which provided the proper space for my stuff yet were at best a lateral move in terms of fashion.
Then I found a backpack from Built NY.
In addition to being waterproof, the thing looks to have been built to save the electronics no matter what grim fate befalls their carrier.
There is the main laptop pocket which my Mac just squeezes into, a side pocket which holds a few small items (like the power supply) and a tiny pocket on one of the straps which holds my cellular card and (if I bend it) a pack of gum.
It weighs next to nothing and stretches to hold whatever I cram into it and the wide straps don't make my shirts wrinkle.
The thing which most drew me to this case, however, is that it was offered as one of the final big prizes from MyCokeRewards and that made the price (in this case free) worth the risk.
I could not get the army green pictured above, but preferred black anyway.
What I did not realize until I crammed my laptop into the thing before taking it in to work for the first time is that it doesn't look like a laptop bag at all.
The low-profile, matte black, utilitarian backpack looks like nothing so much as a bullet-proof vest.
Even empty and piled on the floor of my cubicle it seems to leak a sinister energy.
I've had two separate managers stop by to ask me how I'm doing while nervously glancing at the bag.
Co-workers who previously inquired if my old laptop bag was bulky enough have been almost ominously silent with regard to this bag.
The strap across the chest which is meant to connect the shoulder straps in front for ergonomic purposes even looks like some kind of holster mount just hanging there.

Training yesterday was everything I expected it to be.
I was a little late to the morning session since I was still working the issue from the day before, so I had to grab a seat up front.
Also, there was no coffee.
And the whole morning session was devoted to things which I picked up on the mean technological streets starting almost a decade ago.
The fact that these circumstances followed a World of Warcraft raid which lasted until midnight the night before made staying awake the accomplishment of the day. Not that I accomplished it, just that I assume it was the thing which may have been expected of me.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Training

I'm in training all day today. I'm not sure exactly what I'm being trained to do, but lunch is provided so I'm pretty cool with it.
All day yesterday was spent on the phone with Microsoft, pointing out the way their various technical articles conflicted with reality and in some cases the rules of grammar and punctuation.
They were, as one might expect, reluctant to admit to either charge.
Additionally, I had another career milestone moment in which I dropped off a separate conference call by saying, "I have to cut this short. It looks like I have to walk up the hill to the tower building and kick (other conference call participant's name deleted)'s ass."
By the time I'd arrived, the other participant's opinion on the matter in question had changed, so I missed the opportunity to add physical assault of a co-worker to my resume/police record.
Sometimes the promise of physical violence is enough to end workplace discord. I occasionally long for the moment when application of violence is required.
If anything interesting happens in training, I will definitely be surprised enough to blog about it.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Wiki-something

I use Wikipedia all the time.
In fact, it is entirely possible that sometime in the very near future I will have mentally off-shored most of my knowledge to this online repository of information.
My daughter has a project due on The Stamp Act, so I visited the relevant Wikipedia entry in order to refresh my memory. Since I haven't really looked at the Revolutionary War in years, I'm comfortable that the summary provided by Wikipedia will get me through this.
After the project is turned in, I can forget everything about The Stamp Act again to concentrate my mental powers on the day-to-day needs of life -- Like "What night is Lost on?" and "When was the last time the Litter Robot got some human attention focused on the repository chamber?"
Sometimes, however, Wikipedia fails me. Take this entry for example. That's not even readable. And this entry on Access e-Gov might cause a person's head to explode (citation needed).
I have decided, in light of this type of entry, that Wikipedia is hard. So hard, in fact, that the stress of potentially happening across on of these head-exploding articles had me looking for a safer source of online facts and pseudo-facts.
Fortunately for all of us, Wikipedia is way ahead of the game here. They have anticipated my need by giving us all a different site for knowledge.
Simple. The articles at simple.wikipedia.org have never caused anyone's head to explode (citation needed).
It isn't complete. There is no page for The Stamp Act. Instead, it offers this page on the Revolutionary War.
There are some good bits of information crammed up in that article.

"The American Revolutionary War was a war fought between Great Britain and the 13 British colonies in America. The war took place from 1775 to 1783. The American Army (Army of the colonies), led by Chuck Norris, defeated the armies of the Imperial Empire. The colonies became independent."

I learned something already. Following the handy link to "war" turns up this awesome bit:

"War is contrasted with peace, which some people define as the absence of war."

That's nice. I can totally see that on a bumper sticker on a car I'd key.
The part about Chuck Norris is pretty enlightening, too. I've long marveled at the ability of our colonists to defeat the organized might of Great Britain and now it just seems so much more the probably outcome.
I had to follow the link to Chuck Norris.

"He was in the television series Walker, Texas Ranger, and the 2004 movie Dodgeball."

That's it? What about his role in The American Revolutionary War? I guess there is still some work to be done on some articles.
The one on cats is pretty complete:

"After licking their fur, cats sometimes get hairballs. This is pronounced like 'marbles' with an 'h'."

"A young cat is called a kitten."

"In this masterpiece, a lonely cat, Grizabella, needs some motivation. All the cats in the junkyard try to make her feel better, the Rum Tum Tugger hires Magical Mr. Mistoffelees to do the job."

Also, Chuck Norris.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Muzjiks

Mu·zhik also mou·jik or mu·jik or mu·zji - n. A Russian peasant. Worth 79 points in Scrabble if you happen to end up with the proper tiles. Whenever I play, I always end up with at least three of the same tile and an "o". I have no idea why that is.
Muzjiks was not the Official Scrabble Word of the Day on Sunday, though. Oh, no.
The word of the day from Sunday is right here:
Sometimes online dictionaries can be great. Writing a script which pulls a random word, generates an image out of little wooden letter tiles and then puts it on a webpage on a Sunday afternoon with no human interference is possibly the greatest thing ever.
Some poor webpage admin probably got in quite a bit of trouble over this little oversight. I'm sure it wasn't made any better by the giggling, but what are you going to do?

There was no post on Friday because we are still doing our self-assessment thing at work.
We had over a hundred machines to scan Friday night and the process as defined by regulation is a little time-consuming. You would thing processes created by the Federal Government would be super-streamlined models of efficiency, but this one seems to have slipped through the cracks or been designed by Canadians.
Basically, there is a team of Government types which creates a standard test which is run against a computer. When it finishes the scan, it displays results in a neat little graph.
There are "Passed" and "Failed" and "Not Applicable" results and results which are returned "Unknown".
The "Unknown" answers come from either things which are too new for the scan to validate them or they are just unable to be discovered automatically. These are things like door locks and corporate policies.
However, "Unknown" (while the legitimate result of the scan) is an unacceptable answer. So someone has to evaluate each Unknown and mark it "Passed" or "Failed" or "Not Applicable". Once all the answers reflect reality, the scan results have to be saved to a location on the netork for later review.
The truly sad part is that a very simple script can put the correct answers in place and save the results, making it possible to automate the entire process.
However, that isn't allowed.
I have a theory that automation is forbidden specifically because it enhances efficiency and thus violates some secret Federal policy, but I can't find anyone to confirm or deny this.
Let's not forget that a Federal order explaining the price of cabbage once took 26,911 words. I've never seen an entire receipt from a grocery store come anywhere near that, cabbage or not.
These are the same people which dictate our scanning procedures.
Thomas Edison said, "There is far more danger in public monopoly than in private monopoly, for when the government goes into business, it can always shift its losses to the taxpayers. Government never makes ends meet -- and that is the first requirement of business."
I think we can all agree Scrabble is a lot more fun than Monopoly anyway.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Story TIme

We had an "Emergency" meeting yesterday about some file association issues certain users were seeing. Since we had experienced a similar issue before which had been corrected through Group Policy, it was the perfect time for me to share a story I picked up in an email forward.

The amazing story, as shared by me in a 2pm meeting yesterday:

In 1986, Peter Davies was on holiday in Kenya after graduating from Northwestern University. On a hike through the bush, he came across a young bull elephant standing with one leg raised in the air. The elephant seemed distressed, so Peter approached it very carefully.
He got down on one knee, inspected the elephants foot, and found a large piece of wood deeply embedded in it. As carefully and as gently as he could, Peter worked the wood out with his knife, after which the elephant gingerly put down its foot. The elephant turned to face the man, and with a rather curious look on its face, stared at him for several tense moments. Peter stood frozen, thinking of nothing else but being trampled. Eventually the elephant trumpeted loudly, turned, and walked away. Peter never forgot that elephant or the events of that day.
Twenty years later, Peter was walking through the Chicago Zoo with his teenaged son. As they approached the elephant enclosure, one of the creatures turned and walked over to near where Peter and his son Cameron were standing. The large bull elephant stared at Peter, lifted its front foot off the ground, then put it down. The elephant did that several times, then trumpeted loudly, all the while staring at the man. Remembering the encounter in 1986, Peter could not help wondering if this was the same elephant.
Peter summoned up his courage, climbed over the railing, and made his way into the enclosure. He walked right up to the elephant and stared back in wonder. The elephant trumpeted again, wrapped its trunk around one of Peter legs and slammed him against the railing, killing him instantly.
Probably wasn’t the same freaking elephant.

So, while the file association issues seemed the same, in this case they were related to something entirely different and, most importantly, not my fault.
I hope this story has touched all of you as profoundly as it touched me.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

On The Graceful Receiving Of Gifts

I try to be grateful when someone gives me something. This is generally pretty easy, that sincere feeling of appreciation, especially when the gift is something that I've wanted.
However, sometimes my natural tendencies toward paranoia rise up and I begin to seek out the motivation for the gift.
I suspect traps often where there are none to be found, but I'd rather move cautiously through the jungle of Corporate America than find myself unexpectedly at the bottom of some spike-lined pit.
Since I started this job, I've wanted the ability to control our own fate through our network.
The idea that separate groups control different facets of our environment irks me.
There has always been plenty of stuff I could control, but since I couldn't control everything it always felt like leaving part of our network integrity to chance.
However, I got an email yesterday afternoon from the team which manages the Active Directory infrastructure for our whole company suggesting that we break off our servers, groups and users and manage them ourselves. It went as far as to say that we should lock them out.
I'm all about that, but I wanted to know why there was such a sudden policy shift.
As it turns out, last week some of our security groups were deleted by the Active Directory team during a standard clean-up.
They didn't know what the groups were for, they didn't ask, and we had users unable to connect for a few hours while everything was made right again.
So while total control of our network destiny is something that I want, making a decision based on this error and many, many others like it is just wrong.
And I said so in a meeting this morning.
When they proposed, in person, that they be allowed to wash their hands of the problems in the environment they essentially built, I found myself unable to smile and nod and appreciate the gift.
"That's fine," I said,"My email inbox is constantly full. My replies are frequently abrasive, abusive and (according to some sources) illegal to read aloud in polite company in South Carolina. I'm going to turn over rights to my mailbox to your team. If anything personal turns up, let me know and I'll review it. Otherwise, the responsibility for everything coming in or going out of my mail client is now officially yours."
When this was met with laughter, I continued:
"I'm a terrible driver. Here are the keys to my car. I'll let you know when I need to be driven home this afternoon."
There was unconfortable silence I filled with:
"I'm horrible at personal interaction. Here is the password to my Facebook profile. Please keep everyone I know constantly updated with how things are with me. Don't expect me to waste my time providing you with these updates, but I will be extremely angry if you get anything wrong."
Taken to an extreme, their proposal was clearly illuminated as an attempt at dodging responsibility.
Illumination is another gift which is rarely appreciated.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Like A Tuesday . . .

. . . Made entirely out of six Mondays all stitched together into one unholy mother of a Tuesday.
We've gone into "pre-audit" mode at work with the intention of lessening the stress of the audit itself. While the idea is noble, the workload is oppressive.
And, like every effort in a workplace like this one, there is a constant need to engage other groups to assist with various tasks related to their areas of expertise.
This process is annoying.
Actually, someone driving 25 in a 40 mile-an-hour zone is "annoying". The guy with 35 items in the 10-items-or-less lane is "annoying". Someone scraping a chalkboard clean with sharpened stakes of bamboo is "annoying".
The process of getting people to simply do their freaking jobs is like rolling a boulder uphill all day. A boulder which is on fire. And the hill is covered in ants.
I would expect a little push-back, sure.
Like when someone asks me to do something I'm going to completely make sure the task is mine to do. If I just did it, and the responsibility for the activity belonged to someone else, suddenly it belongs to me. Then the next request for me to repeat the task might start to carry the weight of history until eventually the scales tip and my role expands.
Also, I hate it when people ask me to do stuff, so it is only natural for me to push them off in other (sometimes random) directions in their quest to get something done.
But that's me.
It is totally different when I'm acting in the "requester" capacity.
At those times, I just need something done.
I need a firewall port opened or closed, for instance.
I don't do firewall stuff.
I don't have the password.
I don't want the password.
I just want to call the firewall person and have my request processed.
I don't want to put in a Change Request Ticket, have my simple freaking request passed to Engineering for assessment, get vague and noncommittal emails in response, have to reply with a solid block of question marks, and then get a call at home at 8pm to discuss it only to have the Engineering guy say "Oh, yeah, that does sound like a good idea -- Only I don't make that change and I don't know who does".
I want my port opened or closed.
I want my network traffic to be able to get where I expect it to get.
I just want stuff to freaking work, you know?
Sometimes I have to assume that Karma is working against me. If that is the case, and Karma is indeed making an example of me, I'm comforted by the philosophy which tells us that Karma - precisely for treating me so horribly/justly - will, in the end, get what's coming for it, too.
Take that, Karma.
Eventually, Karma will be drowning its sorrows in alcohol in a darkened room, gently rocking back and forth and slowly curling into the fetal position before blacking out.
Or some less sad activity, possibly.

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Biggest Issue

Friday night Gwynyth happened across The Clone Wars on Cartoon Network. While I should have been watching it all along, I'll confess that I have not.
The animation is good, seriously. And the idea behind the series is awesome.
The problem has to do with the timeline.
The Clone Wars (the fictional event in the Star Wars galaxy wedged between Star Wars: Attack of the Clones and Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, not the movie and TV series of the same name) is source material for all kinds of gritty war stories.
In the novels and comics, the topics include the increasing manifestation of separate personalities in the clones themselves, terrorism, increasing government control in the name of security and even ecological damage caused by various campaigns.
If the series, as beautifully rendered as it is, would cover topics like these, I would totally watch it.
However, there are other, darker areas of the story to explore and they got way too much screen time on Friday.
Jar Jar Binks.
And the worst part is that since he shows up in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, I know they can't kill him off in some horrible and entertaining way.
Before Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith was released, geeks had a list of things we knew had to happen to make the prequels line up with the original (good) movies.
Anakin had to turn evil and be horribly injured, Luke and Leia had to get born and separated, the Jedi had to be wiped out, and C3Po had to somehow not remember anything about the past three movies.
But we also had things we just wanted to see.
The top of that list was, without question, the horrible death of Jar Jar Binks.
There were geeks who attended Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith just for the chance at seeing that since there was no way the story could surprise us in any other way.
The Clone Wars lacks the possibility of that, and it is a dark and empty place without that glimmer of hope.
I also missed the premiere of Joss Whedon's Dollhouse since Friday night is a crappy, crappy night for TV watching for us.
Fox (the network, not the adorable woodland creature) already started showing the episodes out of sequence, since that worked so well with Firefly.
You know, I suppose there is always the possibility - Since Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith included no Fox TV Executives - That there could one day be a scene where a bunch of them get shoved out of an airlock and fall into a star on The Clone Wars.
Maybe I'll give The Clone Wars another chance after Dollhouse gets inevitably cancelled.

Friday, February 13, 2009

A Couple of Quick Things

First, this afternoon Unix time will hit 1234567890, according to the way geeks universally track these things.
This event may pass without much fanfare unlike the famous Y2K bug which, as we all remember, resulted in failures in the power grid lasting up to six months, planes dropping out of the sky spontaneously, werewolves running wild in the streets and the election of George W Bush through systematic failure of the paper ballot infrastructure of the state of Florida.
Well, at least some of that happened, probably. 2000 is kind of a blur for me and I haven't got time to do any actual research.
What is important about the Unix date of 1234567890 is that the Olmec people of Central America covered it extensively in stone carvings strewn all over the jungle.
According to their religion, at precisely 1234567890, Xyxechotlelian the Blood God will descend from his throne of monkey skulls and spread disease across the land in the form of peanut butter. Or some paste made from some kind of legume, anyway. The Olmecs weren't big into labeling and photo-realism. It must also be noted that some historians interpret the glyphs to mean that we should leave work early. And take the stairs.

In other news, Twitter may actually be hitting the "officially interesting" area of my consciousness. I'm surprised it has taken me this long to care since sharing every single tiny part of my life online has become a necessary ritual for me. Like hand washing and blowing my nose after I eat.
The fun part seems to be reading the posts of strangers. Out of order. And only the ones with certain key words.
If you'd like to try it, this site displays Twitter messages with profanity in them in real time, tracks the usage of particular words, and displays Twitter users according to the frequency of curse-laden tweet.
It's kind of addictive.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Back To School

They sent Gwynyth home last night, having determined that free access to the Disney Channel, snacks and a motorized bed which could be made to lift itself five feet in the air with the repeated press of a button were doing nothing to motivate the healing process.
Ah, medical science!
This really makes me want to set up shop in a van parked on the side of the road with a set of hypodermic needles, some spring water, and a giant homemade sign which reads "BOW-TOCKS".
To be fair, stuff happens everyday which makes me want to do that.
Anyway, Gwynyth has a bunch of new asthma medications and some stuff for an upper respiratory somethingsomething.
And she was able to return to school with a note from the hospital and some type of blood/oxygen probe she swiped on her way out with no machinery to interpret the data.
I only managed to get away with some kind of collapsible blue plastic vomit-catching device, its partner having been used following Gwynyth's fifth breathing treatment without food to dilute the effect.
In other news, parenthood can be kind of a mixed bag at times. A mixed bag with horrifying contents.
Most importantly, she feels better.
In work-related news, I got a report on current vulnerabilities in my servers which must be addressed immediately.
There were thousands of lines in the spreadsheet and a note in the email telling me everything had to be done immediately.
Except that several new servers were marked to be decommissioned. And several other servers, some which had been turned off for months, were flagged to be corrected.
There were items which were noted as having issues which had been removed from the scan as acceptable risks. Almost all of these had, in reality, been corrected already.
However, the presence of the Terminal Services component, on which the sole purpose of these servers rests, was labeled as a finding instead of a business risk.
In short, I have seldom seen as much complete fiction crammed into a single Microsoft spreadsheet.
It looks like I will be spending the next few days just trying to figure out what is valid.
Some of the listed scan times on this data pre-date my employment here, so a lot of stuff I've done hasn't, apparently, been noted.
This makes me sad and more than a little ill.
It is a very fortunate thing that I just happen to have a blue plastic vomit-catcher.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Status

So, after a couple of days of being excessively sniffly and increasingly coughy, we ended up taking Gwynyth to the emergency room yesterday afternoon because she was having trouble breathing.
We were there for several hours.
They admitted Gwynyth late last night and she and Shana are still at the hospital, with hopes of getting out on Thursday.
They have done a number of breathing treatments and administered some junk through an IV Gwynyth won't stop playing with.
She feels better, but still makes a lot of noise when she breathes.
Apparently, the Children's Hospital has an extensive Art Room, so I'm not sure Gwynyth will want to come home and get back to school anyway, although we (the cats and I) miss her terribly.

I'll post more when I know more.
Plz excuse the lack of funny in this entry.

Some of you have been excusing the lack of funny for years, so feel free to help the new people.

-G

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Zombie Problem Log Invasion: Day Three

There are always more of them. I've never seen so many.
Must not think about how tired I am. My backless business casual clogs seem to weigh thirty pounds a piece.
I duck behind a cubicle wall and listen as the Customer Advocate shuffles past, moaning about printing issues.
I suppose his day isn't going any better than mine is. He just stopped caring once he was overwhelmed.
Not gonna happen to me.
No way.
I adjust the weight of my manager across my shoulders, evenly distributed so as not to spoil my balance, check the process and documentation on the combat shotgun and peer out into the hallway.
There are so many. I think they know I'm here.
One between me and the door.
BLAM!
I head for the stairwell. As usual, the one working elevator is so slow I suspect it is fueled with whale oil.
I try to get my mind off the weight of my manager. Think of something else.
So heavy.
Could this whole situation have been avoided?
We tested. The users had the new environment for three months.
How were we supposed to know they weren't using it? They'd been 'testing' the old stuff they'd been using for years.
Of course that worked like they expected.
-- Holy crap! One's seen me!
BLAM!
BLAM!
But then we turned the old stuff off. And this happened.
The stairwell is packed with them.
I think the last of the living left hours ago. Like I should have.
Remember my training. According to Article eleven, sub-paragraph four, line three of the Employee Respectful Workplace Handbook, with the remains of our command structure draped across my shoulder, I'm on my own here.
I need to get to the front of the building, first floor.
Ground floor only opens into the back and the woods are teeming with the living dead.
Maybe if I cut through Accounting.
The hallway is a mess.
Someone pulled a vent out of the ceiling and now duct work and wiring are hanging like entrails.
Did someone pull that down trying to escape? Or trying to feed on the living?
There is no time for analysis.
So tired.
Another.
BLAM!
My manager shifts a little and I dare to think he may be coming around, soon he may be able to support himself.
"We're almost out, boss," I say,"I'm gonna get us o-OW!"
He bit me!
BLAM!
Too late for him.
I begin to realize how alone I am here.
And the door is still a long way off.
Two by the Coke machine.
They see me.
BLAM!
BLAM!
The gunfire is bringing more of them.
I'm so tired.
I glance around a corner, looks like about four of them clustered around the Security desk.
No.
Be thorough.
I look again.
Six.
There are two by the couch obscured by the ficus. If I'd missed those, it would've been over.
Okay.
Remember orientation. We covered all of this and I'm ready for it.
Think about getting out.
My wife's hair smells nice.
I have to make it home.
Running out of time.
I step around the corner, firing.
BLAM!
Got him!
BLAM!
BLAM!
Hours of playing Unreal Tournament has honed real skills, apparently.
BLAM!
He was a fast one. Two to go.
They lurch forward.
I've got you, you miserable undead monsters.
BLAM!
Ha! I'm going to make it!
They thought they could stop me! Me!
Your inability to print means nothing to me. Nothing!
One is left.
This guy is between me and freedom.
I almost feel sorry for him.
Click!

Friday, February 06, 2009

The Natural World Around Us

I'll go ahead and apologize for the content of this post.
It is disturbing and in poor taste.
If you'd like to come back at a later time or a more civil post, feel free to do so now.

No one stopped reading.
No surprise there.
You people are twisted.
The men's room on my floor at work is being cleaned pretty constantly. As a result, I frequently have to seek out other places or resort to using an empty Pepsi bottle in my cubicle.
I've recently discovered the men's room on the ground floor near the cafeteria.
It isn't particularly special. There are a couple of stalls and a few urinals. There is a sink with water which is hot if not high-pressure, and there are always enough paper towels.
The weird thing seems to be the temperature.
Right now it is in the thirties outside.
Due to some long-lasting malfunction with the ventilation system or thermostat or something, this particular men's room is always warm. Balmy, even.
Like high-eighties or low-nineties warm.
It is quite pleasant and nap inducing, to be honest.
There are, however, unanticipated side effects of this unnatural warmth.
There is a colony of flies which dwells in this restroom.
They are small and slow-moving and look like nothing so much as the player ship from Yar's Revenge (pictured above, in white).
They have opaque wings and cling to the walls and mirror for hours at a time without moving (judging, non-scientifically I admit) on visual survey conducted over several visits.
These are not flies which are drawn to this room by some paranormal force, this is a viable breeding colony of insects with a population which cyclically waxes and wanes.
This morning I noticed an abundance of the little black things.
Since I was alone in the restroom I took the opportunity to kick open the stall doors and flush each toilet in turn.
With each flush, no fewer than five flies were dislodged from under the rim to swirl and vanish.
Part of me wants to know what these things are.
A larger, more visceral part, is afraid to Google it. I fear that I will discover that they are the carriers of some rare tropical disease.
I fear even more (and this fear is the one that keeps me from Google for long periods of time) that Google searching for them will educate me about some bizarre internet fetish.
So.
That is the story of the weirdness in one of the men's rooms at work.
Thank you for sparing me the necessity of talking about it over dinner with my family.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Unrewarding

I haven't mentioned it in a while, but I've been adding to the total MyCokeRewards points in my account even after the holy-crap-my-kidneys-hate-me-PlayStation-Art-Project of '06.
Some of you have been sending me codes, and I appreciate it.
Between my own addiction and that of others, I've been entering the maximum 10 codes per day and have a substantial stockpile.
While waiting for something awesome to turn up as a reward, I've collected . . . Um . . This is a little embarrassing . . .
I've collected (input, not counting the codes yet to enter which are in boxes and bags stashed various places) 10,136 Coke Reward Points.
I bought a Playstation 2 one time for 850 points.
Anyway, according to an email I got earlier this week, the daily code entry limit is being lifted on the 16th of this month. I was happy about this, thinking I could burn through the giant bag of unentered caps in a weekend. Or two.
But then I read that they are replacing the 10 daily code limit with a 120 point weekly limit.
So. Caps are 3 points, 12-packs are 10.
Theoretically, I could enter 10 12-pack codes a day for a weekly total of 700 points.
I could also enter 70 caps for a total of 210 points.
But now, with the "code limit" lifted, I'm screwed.
This is a bad sign for the program. When they start limiting redemption you have to wonder if the whole process is being phased out.
The email continued to say that all rewards over 2000 points would be going away in favor of smaller rewards people could get faster.
In other words, anyone who hasn't cashed in their . . . let's just say . . . 10,000 or so points is just going to have to cash those in on crappy junk prizes in volume and get on with their life.
For some of us, this life will include replacing Coca-Cola products with Pepsi.
Pepsi float? Okay.
Can of Pepsi Max right out of the fridge? You bet.
Rum 'n Pepsi? Whatever.
I can live with the end of this program. And not being brand-limited is going to be liberating.
I'm a little depressed about this though, to be honest.
And my liver hurts.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Not Natural

This was another one of those surprisingly cold mornings. I opened the door, stepped out, and closed it behind me before I actually noticed - possibly because the nerves in my face (unprotected by beard, as they are) were flash frozen like a box of Birdseye green beans with lightly toasted almonds.
Unfortunately, the feeling started to return by the time I got to the car. That sucked a lot.
The thermometer in the car displayed "LOL".
When I walked into the office, I confronted one of the locals from under my inadequate knit cap with a friendly, "What the hell, man?"
"Cold enough for ya?"
There is no response to "Cold enough for you?" which does not involve profanity, though I tried several different variations.
Twenty degrees.
With a wind chill in the single digits.
No. Freaking. Way.

Yesterday it was determined that we had been getting incomplete security scan data for about the last ten months.
As a result, our total findings shot up from 2 to over 200.
While we aren't individually being thrown under the blame bus, it still looks really crappy.
It also turns out that (even though this new and horrible data has already been delivered to senior management) some things are just wrong.
One particular "missing" patch in the new scan relates to a product not even installed on our servers.
Submitting this as a false positive, while entirely justified, will take about three hundred pages of detailed documentation across the server environment.
Knowing this, it has been established that just replacing the files turning up in the scan, even though they are not in any real way vulnerable, is the most effective use of our time. That whole process can be automated to take about ten minutes.
Further, submitting false positive documentation does nothing but let us wave the "You Are Wrong" flag and is not a good use of company time at all.
Sometimes the right thing to do is just to make the finding, even the false finding, just go away.
Anyway, this post will be a little short today.
I'm sure you've figured out I have about 300 pages of documentation to write.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Financial Crisis

We needed a new game.
Our Dot Com Edition Monopoly was fun, sure, and buying websites which no longer exist for millions and millions of Monopoly dollars sounds awesome.
After a while, though, the I.T. guy playing Dot Com Monopoly can get a little despondent. Things aren't like they were.
I've got to buy my own espresso at work, now.
Espresso, which is necessary for my productivity and sanity, is no longer covered by my employers.
The problems are different with regular Monopoly.
Our daughter spends her first trip around the board buying up every property and then running out of cash.
Her attempts to write $5000 on Post-It notes were cute once, but over time it has de-valued our legitimate Monopoly money.
I tried telling her that this is how our country got into its current dire financial situation. "It's only a game" and "calm down" and "stop taking it so seriously" will only soothe me for so long.
When the Community Chest says you have to pay $200 and you only have $11 there is a serious problem which cannot be ignored.
I tried to illustrate this a little better by going around the cul-de-sac borrowing the neighbor's Monopoly money.
It isn't ours, but it is legitimate currency.
I explained to Gwynyth that the neighbors were like China (who are saving our asses, in my opinion, even though they possibly cheat at the Olympics) and that we'd only need to return their money and the money from another couple of dozen Monopoly sets in order to work ourselves out of this financial shell game she'd started.
And I docked her allowance.
But the situation was extreme, and I was The Bank.
In order to teach Gwynyth about inflation and frugality, it was necessary to halt all $200 pay-outs for passing Go and raise rents on Board Walk, Park Place, and Kentucky Avenue and increase the fares on all railroads by 25% with proceeds going to replenish the waning funds available for players to purchase houses and hotels in an attempt to revitalize the Monopoly economy.
For some reason, this made things less fun for the rest of the family.
Shana suggested that we just hand out some more cash from the bank and resume play. The suggestion, in front of our child, that we redistribute wealth, was enough to make me almost too nauseous to repossess the titles to Oriental and Marvin Gardens. But the auction of those properties provided just the financial shot in the arm the game needed, in my opinion.
Anyway, the point is, I picked up a copy of ZOMBIES!!!
Nothing can cheer up a financially devastated populace like a good, solid, end-of-the-world, horror board game.
Gwynyth will be old enough to play it in three years.
Until then, I guess I have to just get used to her little pewter scottie dog urinating all over our economy.

Monday, February 02, 2009

I So Shaved

Manuary ended with an extremely long shave at approximately 12:07am EST, February 1st.
I feel SO much better!
Not that many people even noticed my attempt at facial hair in anything but a clinical way.
"Seriously? Your cheeks don't grow hair at all? Ever?"
"You last shaved in December? Holy crap!"
The important thing is that it is over and Frank raised a ton of money for cancer research . . . Even though he shaved early "accidentally" and left me to muscle through the rest of the month with only my lip stubble to keep me company.
Of course, this means Pr3++yG33kyTh1ng needs a new focus.
By oh-so-appropriate request, I give you the first post of "Fab-ruary!":

Men's skin is different than women's skin. It must be cared for differently.
Studies show that male skin produces an average of 15% more oil than female skin. Also, the pores are larger.
This means deep cleaning is necessary.
We here at the Pr3++yG33kyTh1ng Worldwide Blogging and Skin Care Laboratories Amalgamated Unlimited Headquarters recommend a natural scrub with a gentle glycerin-based soap.
Look for the soap with the fewest additives. Heavy perfumes are not what you are looking for here. We will deal with scents in a later post (hint: think essential oil).
Work up a good lather and use this time to stretch the skin gently.
Since we men spend a good deal of time engaged in manly activities, our skin loses elasticity early.
For an additional moisturizing treatment, follow up the cleansing with some vitamin E. Rub it in tiny circles under around the eyes to reduce the onset of the symptoms of aging.
On that subject, the Pr3++yG33kyTh1ng Employee Procedure Manual strictly limits time spent in the sun to no longer than the time it takes to walk from the car to Bath and Body Works to reduce the possibility of sun damage.
Finally, eat right (foods rich in vitamins C and E) and avoid excessive consumption of alcohol without adequate hydration.
I hope you've enjoyed our first excursion into Fab-ruary.
In the comments, please let the rest of the readers know what your favorite hair care commercial was during last night's exciting baseball match!

Stay fabulous, internetz!