Weighing In

I am overweight. Of all the members of my household, my bathroom scale is the most aware of this fact. It is aware of it, because I frequently hoist my girth upon it and ask it a simple question.

"Have I lost some of me?"
"No. You seem to have found more of you."

Apparently over the years it has begun to see a pattern. If I go up. I get on it again, just to be sure.

"Are you positive?"
"I just went pee..."
"Did you pee for 4 minutes straight?"
"Then you didn't lose anything."
"What if I take off my socks"
"Seriously. Your socks?"
"I just shaved. Did I lose weight?"
"Please go away."

I suppose that could get to someone. Even a inanimate object someone that was purchased on sale with a deep discount coupon. Not only were we unwilling to pay full price for this thing but then I give it nothing but garbage everyday. I'm sure it was ready to crack under the strain. Heavy metaphors acknowledged and intended.

This morning I got on the scale to begin the usual number dance. I get on, then get off to zero out the number and try to trick the scale into believing a near weightless straw man just mounted it's apparatus.


I then mount again, now knowing that I will get an accurate reading of my 'real' weight and not a fable predicated by this obviously biased balance. Somehow the scale knows it's me. Then something staggering happened. A number flashed on the screen that almost gave me a heart attack.

I was shown a figure I hadn't seen since my first year in college. It was the only time in my adult life that I ever felt comfortable with my weight. I looked just like everyone else. I wore a medium sized Nike warm up outfit and didn't look like a banana ready to burst at the seams. I washed my jeans every two days, because I disliked the baggy feeling they got in the waist. I recall that weight quite well, and I'm pretty sure I wasn't there this morning. It was a bold move by the scale, and I did not buy it.

I headed out to the living room to see Patricia.

"I think we need a new scale."
"I just lost 56.2 lbs"

She was so excited she ran to the bathroom to see how much flattery the scale would bestow on her.

"I didn't lose anything. I agree. Pitch it."

A Marketing Tale

I've been working in IT for over 15 years now and in the corporate environment since 1998. In that time, most places I've been at have not wanted for much in the way of computers. All in all the computers were always up to date and reasonably fast. Certainly adequate for whatever task was needed of them. Irregardless of this effort, nothing was ever good enough for the sheer vanity that was the Marketing department.

Aloft in the golden tower and miles away from the inferior wielders of the physical world. Marketing did not concern itself with the petty fumbling of Operations, Quality Assurance or Intellectual Properties. No, they dealt on a higher plane. A plane lacking in foresight, understanding or reality. In IT we considered marketing as the only place you could find someone willing to demonstrate their golf swing on request and the last bastion of civilization comfortable in embroidered polo shirts.

Move along to the day when Marketing got word of the newest thing. The 19" monitor. You remember, the big old CRT kind that took you and two co-workers to relocate it a quarter inch to the left. These were the big gloat in my pre 2k office world. As an IT support tech, I hated them. I hated them because I had to lug them around to everyone who was "special" enough for this "prestigious" update.

Keep in mind, the corporate world isn't about fair. These bulking hulks of Trinitron monitor delight weren't for the needy, no sir. Screw you R&D and the technical writing staff! Those 15 inch monitors are more than enough for updating detailed CAD drawings! No, these were for those departments that could shell out the dough for them. As the way of most bleeding edge tech, the first spoils always seemed to end up in Marketing.

Ah yes, Marketing. Loaded with budget and lacking in clue. They already had an office popcorn machine and soda station. As far as the monitors go, they had no more use for them then the screaming fast BMW M3's that littered our business parking lot. But these monitors were an office status symbol and thus deemed an "intangible benefit" by the head of the Sales Division. This woman was 20 years past her prime, with deep dyed flame red hair and a penchant for forest green pant suits. We often referred to her as the "Evil Wrinkled Leprechaun" of Sales. When she wasn't cackling on the phone or scaring away clients with her unwelcome advances she was bringing pain to IT.

"We ordered dozens of those giant monitors for the whole division. We simply must have the big ones as the others are practically unusable!"
"Seriously? What does Marketing need with 19 inch monitors"
"Well. For E-mail of course"
"You know the native resolution is higher on these than the 17's"
"Obviously, and higher is better!"

That meant hours of us techs walking back and forth from the lowest level of building "A" to the highest level of Building "C" with 800lb monitors on our shoulders.

"Peter? Is that you? Where's your head man..."
"Yea... Should have been here 20 minutes ago when I was trying to push the elevator button with my feet."

Then after all the work was finally done they realized, much like the sport suspension mode in their beloved BMW, they had no use for these things.

"They take up the WHOLE desk!"
"I know. They're freaking heavy too..."
"Well. Sheesh. This isn't going to work."
"We've already given your 17" monitors to the Engineering department. They're thrilled."
"Crap. Well can you at least make the icons bigger? I can't see anything on this monster..."

Marketing. The corporate engine where all wasted work originates. Everyone else is just an imitator or a mid level IT manager hoping to hitch a ride to a higher rung of brainless dwelling on the corporate ladder.

Intimidating Servers

When I first got into computers I was 14 or so. The man who helped us get it all plugged in said something interesting to me.

"After doing this for as many years as I have" David Smith mused, "I've come to the conclusion that all computers have personalities."

As he was 40 and I was 14 I did what all folks my age do. I dismissed the old man of being senile, and set about using my computer to play BASIC games and make me gobs of money.

Now, as a 33 year old computer administrator with no more BAISC games that interest me and slightly shy of my gobs of money, I find myself agreeing with David and wishing I had paid his advice more heed at the time.

Computers have personalities... It's true. Ignoring these personalities will only make your job harder as a computer administrator.

Windows Vista PC's are like IT managers. They think they know better than you, even when they don't.

"Access restricted: See your network administrator"
"I just want to open my E-mail..."
"Sorry, when we devised the acceptable use policy it was decided that e-mail wasn't a critical application."

Mac's are like Beverly Hills residents busy overpaying for peripherals and software upgrades.

"Have you tried the new Leopard darling?! It's wonderful and finally utilizes all my BEST features!"
"Sounds good. How much is it?"
"Four times the going rate! It's a must have this season."

But servers are the worst. There is something inherent that comes with knowing you are relied upon to maintain a business network that makes them self important. This responsibly breeds a sort of arrogance that can only be described as "The Office IT Guy". That's right our beloved servers have taken a que from our own cynicism and general distaste for the users. They are a dark reflection of us, their geeky keepers. For months they'll be chugging along working tirelessly and then one day, for no good reason, all work stops.

"Why did you stop serving files?"
"I'm busy, torrenting some Dr. Who episodes"
"What?! You can't do that, you've got spreadsheets to host!"
"It's on my list. I'll check into it, probably just a loose wire in the server room..."

Solution? I go Jack Bauer on them. It's the only thing I can think of. I'll bring an innocent server down and start taking out parts. I do this on the floor of the server room so all the other boxes can see.

"What's he doing to XEON?"
"He was working fine!"
"SWEET MERCY! Is that his HBA!"
"That's not hot swappable you MANIAC! What's wrong with you!"
"There's no way he'll get him running again, you're not even grounded!

Just for good measure I'll leave parts scattered on tables with the server chassis opened up and cables hanging loose like some horrific technical autopsy. I find, for me, the process has been quite effective. Sometimes though, on particularly suborn machines even more pressure is required to bring them back into obedient servitude.

"I'm Windows 2008 R2. You can't possibly know what rouge services I might be running by perusing the task manager. I could be doing ANYTHING I want with my 16 cores..."

In these times I bring in the consultant. Not because the man knows more than me. No actually quite the opposite. The last time we had a hardware consultant in to swap out a RAID controller card he grounded out the mother board. Then to make matters worse, during the mother board replacement he ended up wiping all the data from both RAID sets. This man is a full fledged mobster in the eyes of my servers.

"No not Wes. Look look, Net Logon is up again. IT'S UP AGAIN!!! Please tell him to put his tools away"

Sure it might not be considered best practice but for ultimate reliability and five nines or better? Intimidating servers is the way to go.

Death by Whiteboard

There is a white board in my office and it is killing me slowly. It’s not really the white board. I would hate to falsely blame the poor thing. In all honestly it spends most of it time looking rather bleak. It’s hanging on to the wall like an unbiased office sentinel. Taking no sides and having no opinions. It's just perched there, empty yet hopeful. Staring at me, begging me to write something meaningful on it. Just some small thought to validate its existence.

Of course I do end up writing something on it. Some overly exciting geek game plan. Like how to get all our logs to spit back some benign report "REQUIRED IMMEDIATELY" by the managers. This thing that someone is convinced that they need, but no one knows why. They just want a report with pretty graphs in their e-mail, so they can forward that e-mail it to someone else and say "FYI".

So after I spend an hour or two brainstorming this worthless project on my white board, I leave it there. I leave it for weeks at a time. I don't do this because I'm lazy, but because I cannot erase it. I have a white board eraser, but it doesn't work. So it sits there, on my wall for three or four weeks at a time. Every day I come in, sit down and stare at a board full of wasted work and poorly executed diagramming.

"Remember when you needed me to do that pointless job? Was this blue tetrahedral suppose to be a server or a turtle? I can't tell"

This makes me very unhappy. I hate poorly executed diagramming

What to do? Many of you are thinking, "Fool. You're doing it wrong."

You know who you are. Self important white board experts. Look people, I’ve used plenty of white boards and I’ve never seen this. It's not difficult. Pointy color things write on the board, blocky gray thing erases board. Maybe I have neglected it too much. Maybe I don't show it enough attention and this is some sort of dirty protest.

"NO! I will not be clean. I like your cluttered thought process, and enjoy taunting you with wasted man hours! Don't touch me with the fluffy gray block!!"

That must be it, some desperate and pitiful call for help. Please love me, fill me with your thoughts! Or maybe it’s malevolent and suffering appeals to it. I suffer greatly when I am not in control. The white board must have found out somehow. That actually fits better and I'd rather have passive aggressive office paraphernalia then a emotionally deficient one. You don't have to care as much. In addition it makes my next move seem less calloused.

So, since I cannot have rebellious office equipment I strike back with the only weapon I have. Noxious board cleaner. This can take ten years of caked on dust off the butt of a yak. One downside. It makes me high.

I’m not sure I can relay to you the effect this has on me. I find myself smiling for no reason. I cannot get upset, stressed, or even out of my chair. I stumble to the phone and tell callers my favorite color. Really bad corporate mojo there.

"Server guy is high again. What do we do?"
"It'll pass. I hope he doesn't have to go to the bathroom and black out in the hall again..."

Whoa! This is a serious drug. I hate it and love it. It easily kills dry erase marks, mountain lions and cancer. This stuff is potent. It gets the job done. I’m frequently torn after we have a meeting in my office. Should I leave the board dirty, or do I clean it? Do I want to be happy or do I want to be dead? Sometimes immediate happiness is all that matters.

[spritz] [spritz]

"Boss... We need more white board cleaner..."

Who is following me?

I seem to have a line of folks behind me now...I best think up something funny to say.

Don't fret. I got some geekdom in the works. :)


Think I'm bored of the Luke Skywalker idea. It was fun, but not as fun as I hoped...

Now what?

Anything you guys want to see more of?

Secret Diary of Luke Skywalker Pt.3

Dear Diary:
Apparently Bothans are like sheep people. It's kinda hard to feel bad about sheep people dying...

Secret Diary of Luke Skywalker Pt.2

Dear Diary:
That crazy snow monster came out of nowhere. He completely blindsided me. What's the freaking point of having Jedi reflexes if a giant tusked, snarling snow monster can catch me unaware. I should have been able to smell him at least two hundred yards away. I'm wondering if I'm ever going to become a Jedi. It's really hard to write hanging upside down...

Dear Diary:
I'm freezing! Looking back, I think it would have been smarter to kill the snow monster and I stay in his warm cave. Hello! I'm the one with the glowing kill stick! Stupid Luke, really stupid. I saw the old hermit in my hallucinations again. He didn't seem to care I was dying. I think my brain is trying to kill me. It's really hard to write with Tauntaun guts all over me...

Dear Diary:
The Hot chick kissed me. I think we've really got something.

Dear Diary:
I can't believe I got stuck with Dax as my navigator. Hello! Aren't I the hero of the republic? The destroyer of the the Death Star? This guy wouldn't know a tow cable control if it got in bed with him!! Oh, right. I should say, if it had gotten in bed with him. Luckily after I crashed, right before the walker smashed him and the ship to bits, I got my lucky grappler out of harms way.

Dear Diary:
So my hallucinations sent me to Dagobah. A slimy rotten snake pit. My ship is stuck in the swamp, R2 is covering muck and a stupid old frog just stole my lamp and licked my last protein stick. Yea. Thanks Ben, I didn't know how much you hated me...

Dear Diary:
So, the withered old frog man I insulted turns out to be the Jedi master I was suppose to find. He was more than a little put out with me. What are the chances....

Dear Diary:
"There is no why." What the hell is that suppose to mean? Talking backwards makes you wise? Stupid frog. "Never his mind on where he was, what he was doing.." Whatever. Just what I need more of in my life, an eight hundred year old pontificating reptile backpack! I found a viper in my bed roll last night. Seriously creepy. Thanks again Ben!

Dear Diary:
The Righteous Jedi Frog refused to teach me Darth Vaders choke trick. Some virtuous dribble about the path to the Dark Side or something. Like floating rocks are going to be a big help to me in the middle of a battle. It's hard to write when you're pouting.

Dear Diary:
Ben and Yoda say not to leave Dagobah and save my friends. They claimed to have over eight hundred years of experience in the ways Force and the fact that I've only been at this for a couple of weeks or so. I bet he's regretting he didn't teach me that choke trick now...

Dear Diary:
So... Ben and Yoda might have known what they were talking about. Turns out I wasn't much help. Han is table top on his way to Tatoonie, C3PO hasn't shut up about the fact that he's in pieces and Dog boy tried to strangle Lano. Good Times. Oh right. And diary, funny thing happened while I was trying to kill Vader. Turns out he's my long lost father. Seriously. It was a less than happy reunion. He cut off my hand and then asked me to join him. "Oh yeah, well I wasn't till you mangled my appendage, but now I'm totally convinced!!" What a day. At least I've got Leia, and we seem to have a real good thing going.

Secret Diary of Luke Skywalker Pt.1

Dear Diary:
Uncle Owen is a Correllian piss ant! Seriously, this is the last straw! If he pulls that "one more season" crap on me again I'm going to flip out. Big help Anut Beru is... Biggs and the other guys all have power converters for their landspeeders. I'm sick and tired of moisture vaporators. Oh diary...I wish Uncle Owen would just drop over dead.

Dear Diary:
So I'm stuck talking to the stupid protocol droid all day. Like I care how many stinking Jawas can fit inside a sandcrawler. I'm this close to blasting his head off "I'm C3PO and I've been aboard an rebel cruiser for the past 20 years but I can't tell you one thing interesting about about it! But If you want to know the statistical improbability of finding a driod in the desert I can spit that out in a second!!" If I ever find out what slug rat build this wreck I'd give him what for...maybe with the business end of my rifle.

Dear Diary:
We just met a broken down old hermit. R2 showed him a picture of a hot chick, he gave me a light up stick and tried to convert me to his crazy religion. I like him.

Dear Diary:
Remember when I said Uncle Owen was a Correllian piss ant? Turns out the StormTroppers thought so too. I put on a good show for the hermit man, and now we're on on our way to Anchorhead. Maybe I'll get to use my light stick...

Dear Diary:
In only a hour or two, I've completely changed my outlook on the world. I'm now a crazed zealot in a new religious order. It's amazing how persuasive an old man can be. I hope he didn't use that mind trick on me. Naw...

Dear Diary:
We met a smug talking smuggler and walking dog man. I'm already acting rude and superior to him about my newfound faith. Ben seems pleased by my progress. I hope we don't have to swear celibacy or any crazy thing like that...

Dear Diary:
I don't have a lot of time and much has happened. Long story short, Han, Dog boy and I found the hot chick. Ben was killed, and Robot man got his light stick. I was so mad I started screaming and almost blew our get away. Luckily I started to hallucinate and we escaped. Too bad about the Hermit man, I really wanted his light stick...

Dear Diary:
I feel bad for Dog boy, everyone just pretends to understand him. I'd want to rip peoples arms out if they all ignored me too. One thing about Wookies I have learned, you never want to use the restroom right after them. I still smell horrible. Han can't stop laughing and suggested I incinerate my clothes... I'm hoping the Stormtroopers come after him next.

Dear Diary:
I'm feeling a little guilty for lying to Wedge. I have no idea what a womp rat is and just said it to get attention. Hopefully he doesn't go up in a flaming ball of fire like Uncle Owen. I might just start running out of friends.

Dear Diary:
We won. Thanks to my hallucinations I made a lucky shot that blew up the sphere ship. I saved the day only after most of my comrades died horrific meaningless deaths. You've never heard so much screaming. Thankfully there seems to be a lot more people than ships here on the rebel base and no one seems too upset about the casualties. All in all a pretty good couple of days. I think I'm going to like this new life...

I Resolve...

Welcome to 2011.

I hereby resolve to be less stupid.

Yep, that about covers it.