Because I Don't Wanna

I developed a little application several years ago that allows the receptionists to track all our correspondence in a database.  It ties the scanned image to the data entered in the database.

One of the users recently asked me to make some changes to the forms I had set up for data entry.  Our conversation went like this:

User:  I'd really like to avoid having to switch back and forth between the keyboard and the mouse when finishing one record and creating the next record.

Me:  Good idea; I can do that.  *Clicky.  Clickyclick.  Tappitytaptap.*  There, done!  Now all you have to do is hit Tab twice to get to the new record.

User:  Thanks, but I don't wanna do that.  I'll have to look down at my keyboard to make sure I hit the Tab key, and that takes as long as just using the mouse.

Me:  No, it doesn't.  You use the Tab key all the time.  Just tap it twice, and you're good to go.  If you still don't want to do that, then you'll have to use the mouse.

User:  Well, it's such a bother.  I don't like either option.

Me:'re saying you don't want to use the keyboard or the mouse?

User:  Yeah, I guess so.

Me:  Then I'll need to work another method of input.  Let's about telekinesis?  No?  A joystick?  No?  How about just doing your job, is that an option?


Secret Office Signals

I'm going to be honest.  If you work with me, then it's likely you annoy me sometimes.

If you come to my desk, and I have my headphones in and I'm deep in thought writing some VB for a new database front end, then now is not the time to spend twenty minutes telling me every detail of your sinus infection.

I sit by the front door and have a weird social complex where I refuse to interrupt anyone for fear of being rude.  Coincidentally, our receptionist Kay has this same complex.  So we've worked out a secret signal system.

If one of us has been trapped for more than a few minutes, the other glances over to see if the Secret Office Signal (SOS) is being given.  The sign has a few varieties - you can rub your head, tug on your ear, etc.

If you get the sign, then it's your responsibility to save your buddy.  You may have to get creative with your assistance.  Since your counterpart can't interrupt The Yapper, you have to do it for them by creating a diversion.

This can mean paging your buddy over the intercom, creating a fictional computer malfunction, staging a heart attack, etc.  Whatever it takes.

You have to be careful not to get the signals mixed up, though.  One time Kay tugged on her ear after brushing her shoulder, and I stole second by mistake.


Secret Computer Fairy Dust

Special Needs User (SNU) Can you help me sync my email to my iPhone?

Me:  No.

SNU:  Can you help me sync my calendar to my iPhone?


  Why not?

  Corporate blocks it.  They don't support iPhones.


I don't know.

  Do you know why they block it?

Me:   No.

SNU:  So there's no workaround?

Me:  No.

SNU:  What did you do for the partners?

The partners got different phones since they couldn't use their iPhones.

SNU:  So you just hooked them up with some secret fix that you can't tell me?

Me:  What?  No, I just told you...yes, that's exactly what I did.  I have secret computer fairy dust, and I only share it with management.


Stuff Popping Around In My Head, Part 3

Christmas Decorations - I leave my lights, tree, etc. up for a week or two after Christmas is over.  I'll tell you it's because I'm being festive for New Year's as well, but really I'm just lazy.

Reversible Belts - Have you seen these things?  Oh man, they'll change your life!  Yes, I'm easily amazed and amused.

Santa - This year, we watched the old Fred Astaire claymation movie, "Santa Clause is Coming to Town".  I had never seen it before.  Now I will never see it again, and will probably start throwing things at mall Santas.

It's a story about a grown man who sneaks into another town and stalks their children.  He entices them into sitting on his lap and, in exchange for a kiss, gives them toys.  No, this is not an embellishment - there's even a singalong song - "the cost is a kiss, be prepared to pay".  The mayor throws him in jail.  He escapes, and starts sneaking into the children's homes at night.

If you perpetuate the Santa story to your own kids, just remember you're encouraging your kids to take bribes from creepy escaped convicts, like ice cream truck drivers.  It's a well-known fact that ice cream truck drivers work for Santa.  They steal children and take them to the North Pole, where they become elves.

Basketball - I hadn't shot hoops in 12 years or so, and was never very good to begin with.  So of course I decided playing with a buddy would be a great idea last week.  I've never air-balled so much in my life.  Also, why can I run on the elliptical machine at the gym for a half hour with no problems, but can hardly play a 10-point pickup game of basketball without needing an oxygen tank?


Office Coffee Etiquette

You're tired.  You're running late.  You throw your stuff down at your desk, grab your coffee mug and head to the break room.

You add some Splenda and non-dairy cream to your cup, and move in to the coffee pot.  If yours is like ours, it's a vacuum-sealed thermos.  You position your mug below the spout and use your last bit of energy pushing down the handle.


Your heart sinks as you realize you're the last schmuck to the coffee party.

I hate empty coffee pots.  The disappointment, the shattered hopes and dreams.  Coffee pots are meant to be full of joy, promise, and coffee.

Here's a few ground rules on the office morning coffee routine:

1.  If you take the last cup, make another pot.  No exceptions.  I don't care how busy you are.  If you leave me an empty pot, you're a jerk.
1a.  Exception - if you made the original pot yourself, you've fulfilled your coffee duty for the morning.
1b.  I know I said no exceptions, but I did this earlier today, so I had to add the exception to keep myself from being a jerk.  Hey, I was busy.

2.  If you're making a fresh pot, empty and rinse the pot before brewing.  I thought this would go without saying, but you should meet some of my coworkers.  Nasty people.
2a.  Okay, this may have been me again.  I'm sorry.

3.  If you start brewing a pot, don't walk away in impatience.  You'll forget, and we'll be left with fresh cold coffee.  Sit it out and put the thermos lid back on when you're done.  We'll thank you later by not throwing staplers at you.
3a.  I know, I know.  I'm the worst one at this.  Guilty, Your Honor.

4.  If you're getting a cup for yourself, bring one for Kay as well.  Kay is our receptionist.  She's an angel, and she deserves it.
4a.  Guilty again.

Did I miss anything?


What About the Christmas Carolers?

Our pastor recently told us we shouldn't worry about the commercialization of Christmas.  He said we should instead worry about maintaining old traditions and creating our own, as long as those traditions help to convey the true reason for Christmas, Jesus Christ.

This is all well and good, but what should I to do about the Christmas Carolers?

I haven't seen any in years, but you probably remember them - the random group of intrepid vocalists who brave the cold to spread the Christmas cheer - right to your front door.

I don't know about you, but this makes for an awkward situation if I'm answering the door.  What am I supposed to do?  What exactly is expected of me in this situation?

The doorbell rings, and standing on my porch are several shivering sopranos.  Their smiles are frozen in place; their eyes are gleaming with hope and excitement.

I have several options at this point, and I don't care for any of them (the options, not the carolers...necessarily):

I can ignore them.  Never answer the door, and stare at them out the peephole until they wander away in the snow.  I'll watch the news a few days later to see if they've been found.

I can answer the door, and watch uncomfortably from the doorway.  I don't know how long this will take.  How many songs will they sing?  Should I clap?  While I'm standing there, all the cold air will come inside, and I might have to cut the warblers short to run back to the fireplace and warm up with a hot toddy.  Don't make me choose between being rude and being warm!

I can answer the door, and step out onto the porch with the group so I can close the door behind me.  While this leaves my house warmer, it leaves me colder.  Plus, it adds another level of social awkwardness - what do I do while I'm out there?  Do I join in?  This might ruin the evening for everyone.  The carolers might run away in fear.  Of course, if they're singing 'Fa-la-la-la-la', while they're still running, this could be amusing.  I could have my wife secretly filming from the living room...

If I don't join in while I'm outside listening politely, what do I do when they're finished?  Do we all stand around and smile until I retreat back inside?  Do they shuffle away quietly, and later I'll wonder if they were really even there?  Do I tip them?  Do I tip in cash or cookies?  What kinds of cookies are acceptable?  Do they have to be Christmas cookies?  Is caroling the Christmas equivalent of trick-or-treating?

Hmmm...I wonder if my wife made cookies?



Home Aloan

I've griped about the home loan industry before, but today I'm going to up the ante:

I'll tell you about the worst home loan officer in the world.

This is a deep, dark secret of mine.  I'm not proud of it.  I wish I could take it back, but I can't.

I used to be a loan officer.

The worst one in the world, in fact.

I was in college at the time, and had no idea what I was doing.  I would make cold calls to folks with 10% interest rates, and get hung up on while telling them about the 5% rate I wanted to refinance them into.  I could literally free up enough money for these folks to buy another house, yet I couldn't close the deal.  To me, no meant no.

My boss, Dave, was the exact opposite.  He would say, "They don't mean no.  They mean not right now.  Big difference."  Dave was the ultimate schmoozer.

He asked for a phone number off my list of rejections.  He dialed it while on speaker phone so I could watch the master.  He got a guy in a grocery store, pushing his screaming kids down the cereal aisle*.

Three minutes later, my boss had completed the application with him and arranged a follow-up appointment.  This guy was good.

I was so bad at this job, that I just started fixing the other loan officers' computers instead of making cold calls.  This was short-lived however, because my pay was 100% commission-based.  I lasted three whole months before I threw in the towel.

I did close one loan, though.

I love my in-laws!

* He was probably pushing them in a cart.  Either way, they deserved to be pushed - they were obnoxious.

What Your Network Administrator Really Means

You may have noticed you don't always understand what your Network Administrator tells you.

You'll ask a question, and the response will be confusing and full of jargon.  I've started a handy little reference to help you decipher what your resident geek is really saying.


When your Network Administrator says:  I've analyzed our disk space availability and through proactive deduplication efforts have reduced storage overhead by 20%.

He means:  I finally deleted those old log files.

When your Network Administrator says:  Reboot, and I'll be over to check out your problem in a minute.

He means:  I'm hoping a reboot fixes that problem, because I have no idea and I really have to go to the bathroom.

When your Network Administrator says:  The phone in the server room doesn't work, so just take a message for me if anyone calls.

He means:
  I unplugged the phone in the server room, which is where I'm heading because it's quieter in there.

When your Network Administrator says:  I'll be working from home today.

He means:  I got tired of wearing clothes.

When your Network Administrator says:  That's a complex issue.  Let me go back to my desk and review my documentation on that topic.

He means:  I'm gonna go have a chat with my buddy Google.


Know any more of your Network Administrator's secrets?  Add to this cheat sheet in the comments!

Mr. Newman

My parents are out of town.  You know what that means:  I get to play with my very best friend, Mr. Newman.

As far as dogs go, I guess he's a good dog.  He comes when he's called and doesn't eat the neighbors, although he did pee on my friend one time.

He's calming down in his old age.  He's still neurotic, but slightly less so.

He's easily excited by everything - birds, people, plants, life - everything excites Mr. Newman.

I stop by my folks' house on my way to work.  I open the gate to the backyard.  I start the counting in my head.


I've never gotten to 3.  I hear his collar jingling a moment before the first bark.  I know what's going through his head as he rounds the corner of the house:  "Oh boy!  This is it!  Someone is finally trespassing in MY YARD!"

This lasts only a split second as he recognizes me and diverts from Attack Mode into Jumping On Ricky Mode.  "Oh boy!  It's That Guy!  The odd one the Nice People made!  HE'S HEEERE!"

Then a switch goes off in Mr. Newman's head.  If That Guy is here, and the Nice People haven't fed him yet (all day long - can you believe it?  It's almost 7:30 in the morning), this might be his only chance.  He starts to jump on me, yipping urgently.  If he doesn't get help from me, then what will he do?  Who will help him?

"Oh no!  Today might be it!  Today might be THE DAY I DON'T GET FED!  I knew this day would come!  Someone has kidnapped the Nice People, and I'M NOT GOING TO GET FED!"

I ignore him and walk the shed, where my dad keeps the dog grub.  Newman jumps on me the whole way.  I talk to him calmly, trying to reason with him.

"Down, Newman.  Newman, get down.  I'm getting you some food.  Just relax, buddy.  Get back.  Down, Newman.  Get down."

"Here!  Over here!  The Nice People keep the food over here!  Quick!"

"Decaf, Newman, decaf."

Why Badgers Make Lousy Servers

Today's delicacy is a guest post from Christopher Adams, who blogs at Ramblings of a Christian Geek.

I recently purchased some shrink wrap for my windows to help save on energy costs at home, which got me to thinking about what all I've done this year to save energy in the server rack at work.

First off, we've all thought at one point or another that badgers would make a great cost-saving alternative to large servers dedicated to a single task.  Badgers may not be great multitaskers, but when you put a single straightforward request in front of them we can all agree they will accomplish the task very efficiently and with a touch of class that can only be described as a koala in a deerstalker serving drinks at a dinner party.  When putting a badger in your server rack, you are first tempted to put the battery backups at the bottom so the rack doesn't tip, but this is a rookie mistake.  Badgers, despite how little you may feed or water them, will eventually need to relieve themselves and post-badger-processed water always flows down and ruins whatever electrical components it gets on.  (and if you are one of those ferret lovers, don't try telling me ferret waste is any less harmful, there are too many whitepapers and newspaper liners that claim otherwise)

Another difficult decision is where to plug the Cat6 in.  There are few receptacles large enough for an RJ-45 jack, and the badger won't be too happy with either being used for data transfer. (small hint: prune juice will provide better throughput)

As you can see, it is very problematic using a badger just to save a couple of bucks on the electric bill, and you are still limited to one task per badger (and nothing is worse than trying to run multiple badgers in the same rack!).  So I've had to come up with an alternative.  That's where virtualization comes in. Virtualization is like storing photos of badgers rather than actual badgers.  When you look at them over the network, you can't tell the difference between a virtual machine and a real server being peed on by a badger.  I use a $4,000 dual quad-core Xeon server with 48GB of RAM plugged into a $10,000 storage array with 16TB of usable RAID 6 that is currently running about 25 servers.  If I had to buy 25 servers with a similar amount of storage, it would cost me over $100,000 to accomplish the same feat, and most servers would be running at 10% CPU most of the day, and would only serve overheat your badgers causing them to return jumbo frames all over your gear.

The awesome thing is I could add another $4,000 host server and run another 25 servers on it too!  That's over $200,000 worth of servers for less than $20,000.  In fact, I could throw another $2,000 into RAM alone to make sure Exchange and SQL server are happy while running along side several other less-demanding virtual servers on the same hardware and STILL stay under 75% CPU/RAM usage.

I can't imagine choosing badgers or dedicated servers over a virtual environment.  Both are guaranteed to just poop all over your annual budgets without feeling the least bit guilty.  Only virtualization will both save you money and cuddle up with you in the server room without biting.

Willfully Ignorant and Obnoxious Christians

I have several relatives that insist on sending me every piece of 'Christian' propaganda garbage they can find on the Internet.

And to these loved ones, I want to say:

No, your emails of lies have not convinced me our new President is the anti-Christ.

No, your emails of lies have not convinced me to sign a petition so Jesus won't be portrayed as homosexual in a new movie.

No, I will not forward your cute, non-Scriptural, warm-fuzzy-filled email on to 16 people in the next 8 minutes to prove I love God. No, not even if you include the animated puppies and angels and size 72 pink flashing text.

No, our world will not be turned upside down by the removal of "In God We Trust" from the quarter.

No, you are not doing the world a favor or fulfilling the Great Commission by forwarding these alarmist and mostly false messages to all your AOL contacts.

My usual method of dealing with these stupid yet dangerous annoyances is to reply with a link to Snopes that sheds light on the lie. This doesn't always work.

One family member responded to my clarification by saying, "Oh well, I still forward things that will get someone to talk to God because that is never bad."

So even when you're wrong, you're right? This brings Proverbs 26:5 to my mind.

As for the lies, read Proverbs 12:22. While you're at it, check out Exodus 20:16.

The mindset of sounding the alarm and spreading the word regardless of logic or reason or fact is foreign to me. Christians who partake in and propagate these scams are why nonbelievers are justified when they look at us and think, "I do not want to be like that."

Think about it: are you doing more harm than good by forwarding that email? Proverbs 14:15 says you should at least have a coherent thought about it before passing it on.

A good start to spreading God's Word is to stop spreading substitutes.

So here's a test: I didn't link any of the Scripture I referenced above to the source. Did you check up on me? If you did, you're one of the few.

The delete button should now be your friend.

Go, and send no more.


Do As I Say...

I hate it when users aren't prepared.  They bring me dead computers, and each one apparently contains the next great American novel and all existing baby pictures of their loved ones.

Of course they don't have a backup.

Their lack of foresight now means I'm expected to go into Emergency Mode.

This is where I stop doing productive things and try to miraculously raise kaput hardware from the dead.

"Why didn't you make a backup?", I ask.

"I meant to!  I just didn't have time."

"That's no excuse!"

These users drive me nuts.  I'm glad I took the day off on Friday.

I'll have all kinds of time on my hands.  I can do anything I want.  I should make that backup I've been intending to do.  That clicking sound from my hard drive probably doesn't mean anything.

Meh, I'll do it over the holidays.


The Globetrotter

If you see me at the airport, you'll probably think I'm a seasoned traveler.

I am.

But that doesn't mean I've gotten used to it.

I can rush through a security line with the best of 'em.  I don't wear shoes with laces, I don't make a scene, and I can stack / unstack a pile of bins like a champion Sport Stacker.

I can recite the Safety Speech in my sleep.  I can negotiate hotel rates with ease.

But that doesn't mean I don't have my share of issues.

While I'm in the security line at the airport, my seemingly calm mind is racing.  "What if that guy's a terrorist?  Will they catch him?  What if they think I'm a terrorist?  What will they do to me?  What if I have to go into that glass "timeout" box for some one-on-one quality frisking time, again?"

After this brief moment of anxiety, I get to move on to the plane.  What if I get on the wrong flight?  This is a real concern, as I almost did this once.  I had gotten to the airport early since I was worried about being late.  I was catching the flight home from Kansas City (motto:  "You came! Hey wait a minute, come back!").  I was two feet from handing my boarding pass to the attendant when the guy behind me said, "You ever been to Phoenix?"

"Yes", I replied.  "I was born there."

"I bet they'll be glad to see you again."

I was so early, I was boarding the wrong flight!

Assuming I get to where I'm going, I then get to experience the joy that is renting a car.  I don't care which company it is, they all have the same goal:  Charge you a lot while confusing and scaring you.  You'll reserve your car online by clicking on the "Cheap as stealing dirt!!!" link.  You'll feel a bit adventurous and give yourself an upgrade from the PT Cruiser to any other car in the world.  Then you show up at the rental place.  You ask for your reserved car at the agreed upon price.

"I'm sorry", comes the reply.  "We don't have that model available.  We only have PT Cruisers."

"I was promised another car.  Really, any other car."

"Nope, sorry.  Oh, wait - we do have another car.  Let me double check...yes, we have one other car available."

"Great, I'll take it.  What a relief!  The last time I was in a PT Cruiser, I thought the designers had a personal vendetta against me.  Nothing was where it was supposed to be.  The window controls were under the radio, and the analog clock was in the back seat.  I think the trunk was on the roof and the engine was on vacation."

"I understand, sir.  So you will be taking the other available model?"

"Yes, of course.  Wait a minute, you're smirking...what's the other model?"

"A van, sir.  An ancient, beat-up van with no windows."

"Like the kind kidnappers use?"

"Exactly!  Oh, one other thing.  The price has doubled since we're giving you an upgraded model."

So off I go in my kidnapper van... a city that may or may be the same one I intended to visit.


And a Cartridge In a Pear Tree

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me - a cartridge in a pear tree.

On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me - two Macbook Airs, and a cartridge in a pear tree.

On the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me - three iPods, two Macbook Airs, and a cartridge in a pear tree.

On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me - four SD cards, three iPods, two Macbook Airs, and a cartridge in a pear tree.

On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me - five server racks, four SD cards, three iPods, two Macbook Airs, and a cartridge in a pear tree.

On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me - six Nintendo Wiis, five server racks, four SD cards, three iPods, two Macbook Airs, and a cartridge in a pear tree.

On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me - seven Audible books, six Nintendo Wiis, five server racks, four SD cards, three iPods, two Macbook Airs, and a cartridge in a pear tree.

On the eighth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me - eight fiber lines, seven Audible books, six Nintendo Wiis, five server racks, four SD cards, three iPods, two Macbook Airs, and a cartridge in a pear tree.

On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me - nine KVMs, eight fiber lines, seven Audible books, six Nintendo Wiis, five server racks, four SD cards, three iPods, two Macbook Airs, and a cartridge in a pear tree.

On the tenth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me - ten satellite phones, nine KVMs, eight fiber lines, seven Audible books, six Nintendo Wiis, five server racks, four SD cards, three iPods, two Macbook Airs, and a cartridge in a pear tree.

On the eleventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me - eleven French presses, ten satellite phones, nine KVMs, eight fiber lines, seven Audible books, six Nintendo Wiis, five server racks, four SD cards, three iPods, two Macbook Airs, and a cartridge in a pear tree.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me - twelve Android phones, eleven French presses, ten satellite phones, nine KVMs, eight fiber lines, seven Audible books, six Nintendo Wiis, five server racks, four SD cards, three iPods, two Macbook Airs, and a cartridge in a pear tree.

Boy, I hope the stores are open the day after Christmas - I have some returns!

Christmas Grapes

On the 23rd, we went to our favorite Chinese food restaurant, Hua Chang.

We were glad to see the restaurant wasn't empty that night, as it usually is.  A group of high schoolers was having a great time laughing it up with the owner's wife when I walked in to pick up our order.

She looked up at me excitedly and hustled over.  In addition to our regular hometown hero greeting, Mrs. Chang (I assume that's her name) threw in some almond cookies for free.  She tossed them into the bag, handed it to me, and told me, "You wait."  Then she disappeared into the kitchen.

I stood in the entryway for a bit, shuffling my feet and wondering what I'd done wrong.

Mrs. Chang returned with one hand behind her back and a huge smile on her face.

With a flourish, she produced a box of grapes.  "For the happy Christmas!" she exclaimed.

I gave her a hug.

Happy Christmas, indeed.

What If?

Every day it seems I read another impossible-to-imagine headline.

"NY Governor Delays Payments to Conserve Cash"

"Real Estate Broker Swindles Investors Out of $98M, Seeks Bankruptcy Protection"

"President Signs Health Care Bill, Approving $1.2T Additional Debt"

Apparently you can just do whatever you want these days.  If you can dream it, you can do it.

I've always heard of this mythical "American Dream".  So I got to wondering - what if I could do this?

The New York Times might run these headlines:

"Ricky Delays Mortgage Payments to Conserve Cash"

Mortgage company applauds conservation tactic, says efforts at increasing green responsibilities are noteworthy.

"Ricky Prints His Own Money"

Declares "There really oughta be a $25 bill with Lou Gherig on it."

"Ricky Signs Health Care Bill, Approving $1.2T Additional Debt"

Says, "Whatever.  I don't have to pay for it.  Some other schmuck will."

What impossible headlines would you write?

The Tale of Ye Olde Faithful

This is a guest post from my mom. Why? Because she's awesome, that's why.

Oh, and I won the bet.

Do you remember going to Twisters and ordering soft ice cream? They used to have it, you know, but they don’t anymore. I think I know why, and I think it has to do with my husband, Charlie. Here is his story.

One day a few years ago Charlie and I were eating at Twisters with our three teenage sons, Ricky, Robby, and Joseph. We had finished eating and were having such a good time that we decided to get dessert as well. Soon we each were licking a soft ice cream cone. We were getting more and more merry, laughing, and enjoying each other’s company.

As usual, the boys were cracking jokes right and left. The butt of most of their jokes was Charlie and his lack of hair.

The banter was fast and furious around the table, and sounded somewhat like this:

“Hey, Dad took off his hat. Give me my sunglasses.”

“Yeah, Dad, it looks like you ate one too many hard boiled eggs.”

Charlie tried to defend himself.

“There are only so many beautiful heads in this world. The rest have to be covered with hair.”

“I’m not bald. I just have a very wide part.”

“Well, Dad, at least you don’t have the problem of finding hair in the sink.”

“You boys make fun, but you just wait. You know what they say, “Hair today, gone tomorrow.’”

By this time everyone had gotten so silly, that we were laughing at anything anyone said. While this was going on, Charlie choked on his ice cream. He tried to talk, but no sound came out. He signaled with his hands, but the boys just thought this was all the more hilarious and provoked him to laugh further.

Charlie again tried to speak, but he was simply laughing too hard.

Then amid our laughing, we noticed something odd begin to happen. The ice cream started coming out of Charlie’s nose. This of course made us practically roll on the floor. The boys continued making their wise cracks, but I was a little worried. The ice cream kept coming and coming. It was like the soft ice cream machine.

We looked up and saw several of the Twisters’ employees standing to the side and observing. They weren’t talking, just watching. Soon the ice cream coming from Charlie’s nose was like a volcano! It just kept coming.

I said, “Guys! Dad’s in trouble here.”

They stopped laughing, and it seemed the entire restaurant got quiet and went in slow motion. With the calm, Charlie was able to quit laughing and gain some control. How could he keep his dignity after this? We got up and left the restaurant, all somewhat embarrassed.

When we got home that night, Charlie didn’t feel well. He had a tingling sensation throughout his legs and arms. He and I both thought it was perhaps because he had been without oxygen for so long.

It was many months before Charlie felt comfortable enough to darken the door of Twisters again. We pointed out to him that fast food restaurants have a high turnover rate in employees and that probably no one would be there who would remember him. The day finally came when he was willing to go.

As we studied the menu, we noticed that there was no longer any soft serve ice cream. We asked the waitress about it. She said she didn’t know anything about it, just that the Twisters Corporation had discontinued offering it at all their restaurants a short time before.

We thought with lawsuits so prevalent nowadays that Charlie’s ordeal must have had something to do with it. But all turned out fine in the long run. As Charlie says, “A good man always comes out a-head on top.”

Missing Me, Part 2

If you're the IT guy, you know how hard it is to take a vacation.  Your users need you, and they have the hardest time coping with your absence.

I asked Kay, our receptionist, to attend to the blog while I was gone.


IT has been gone for way too long.

Partner B to Partner A:  Is Ricky back today?

Partner A:  No, not until next Monday.

Partner B:  What?  He was out all last week.

Partner A:  No, he wasn't.

They continue on with their conversation as they head out the door to Starbucks.

An accountant, on his way through with his coffee, asks, "When is Ricky back?"

"Next Monday", I reply.

Accountant:  "J.C. @!!*&!!!"

Me:  "Are you having computer problems?"

Accountant:  "No,  I just miss him"

Missing Me, Part 1

If you're the IT guy, you know how hard it is to take a vacation.  Your users need you, and they have the hardest time coping with your absence.

I asked Kay, our receptionist, to attend to the blog while I was gone.


Ricky, our IT guy, has gone to Hawaii. Can you believe he would actually leave us for more than a day? 

Let me tell you, it is not a pretty scene when IT is missing. I heard his backup has volunteered for a dreaded traveling assignment – effective immediately.

One of our esteemed accountants was just standing at Ricky's desk, looking sad.

"What's wrong?" I ask.

"My computer isn't working," he replies.

"Can I help?"

His face went from sad to 'you've got to be kidding' as he walked away shaking his head.

But the worst one, another accountant who wears glasses, is standing by Ricky's desk muttering to himself, "It's gone. He took it with him."

"Took what?" I ask.

"His cloth for cleaning his glasses, he always has it laying here" (he desperately points to a particular spot on Ricky's desk).

"You could use a Kleen and Dri. Works for the computer screens," I offer as a solution.

He looks at me with that 'you've got to be kidding' look and walks away shaking his head.

People come in the door, turn and look at Ricky's empty desk, make a funny noise and leave.  What is with that?

He's only been gone for 6 hours!

11 days to go.


I'm Sorry

I got this idea from the very funny blog of Bryan Allain.  The inspiring (or guilty) blog post is entitled "It's (Not) Too Late to Apologize".  Read Bryan's stuff for two weeks, and you'll be hooked.

I owe you an apology.

You may not remember what I did, or even remember me at all, but if anything below rings a bell, then you know who you are...and probably how mad you were!  Some of these apologies are more heartfelt than others.  If you've ever seen the movie Simon Birch, you'll know how sincere an "I'm sorry" can be.  Run the end of that clip through your head as you read these confessions.

Age 14 - Dear Old Lady With the Funny Hat Who Was Driving Near Public School Bus #108,
     I'm sorry I gave you that heart attack.  You see, I had to throw that Red Devil firecracker somewhere.  The bus driver was on to me, and I had to get rid of the last one.  Especially since it was lit.  I'm sure you understand.
     In my defense, you did overreact.  There was no reason to go swerving all over the road and onto the curb simply because the Devil flew in your open window, landed on your dash, and exploded next to your face.  Completely uncalled for.

Age 10 - Dear Younger Brother Robby,
     I'm sorry I stole your prized Joe Carter baseball cards.  I needed cash, and since you were more responsible with your money than I was, I knew you had some.  But we all know stealing cash is wrong, so I stole your Joe Carter cards instead.
     You might have forgiven me for that, right up until when I sold them back to you.
     I'm even more sorry now that I've grown up, matured...and realized you're six inches taller than me.

Age 7 - Dear Mrs. Thompson and the Rest of My Entire Second Grade Class,
     I'm sorry I got so angry with you.  I was livid when you stole my cash, my hard-earned dough!  I was seven years old, and I had scrimped and saved seven whole dollars.
     Yes, I shouldn't have left my wallet in my coat pocket.  Yes, I shouldn't have left my coat hanging on the peg by the classroom door.  But do these mistakes give you the right to steal my cash out of it?
     That's why I told Mrs. Thompson what you did.  That's why she kept the entire class in from recess.  That's why she called the school counselor and had him come in and lecture everyone about honesty.  That's why he had everyone line up outside the classroom and then enter one at a time.  He was giving you a chance to come clean without facing the consequences, and you didn't take it.  You kept my money for yourself, and I don't know why.
     I'm forgiving you because Jesus told me to.  And I'm sorry I didn't do it sooner.
     Oh, and I'm also sorry I didn't tell anyone when I remembered I had spent the cash that morning on baseball cards.  It didn't seem to be the right time to bring it up.

So, what are you sorry for?  Come clean!

User Wrangling

I'm not an IT Nazi, although I did replace one.

The previous admin would demand sacrifices before descending from on high to assist the lowly users.  She demanded Starbucks from me one time in exchange for walking down a flight of stairs to make my computer work so I could do my job.

Since I'm not a Nazi, I don't mind when my users occasionally take the initiative.

Take yesterday, for instance.  One of the users was moving desks and decided to move her computer by herself.  Not a problem...usually.

The fun started when she came upstairs to my desk, madder than a wet hen.  Her Internet connection no longer worked.  She insisted it had been working, and she had taken care to connect everything back up in the same manner she had dismantled it.

We went down to her desk to survey the situation.  I took one glance at her laptop and stopped the snort and chuckle from escaping my poker face.

Me:  Out of curiosity, why did you come up to my desk to get me, instead of just calling?

User:  My phone doesn't work, either!  Nothing is working - all your stupid equipment is broken!

Me:  Yes, I noticed.

User:  How?  You haven't looked at my phone yet.  I was going to let you fix the laptop before asking you about my phone.

Me:  Oh, they're related.

*I unplug the phone cord from the laptop and put it back in the phone.  I grab the unplugged network cable and plug it into the laptop with a satisfying *Click*.

User:  Oh.  Well, I could have done that!

Fun With Accountants

Accountants can be fun, when they're not busy being boring.

It's surprisingly easy to egg them on.

Take this exchange from earlier today.  I was at the coffee maker with an unsuspecting accountant.  We had two choices - make our coffee quietly and then head back to our desks, or have some fun at the accountant's expense.  Guess which one we chose today?

Accountant:  I can't believe it's snowing today!

Me:  Yup.  Hey, I wonder how much this coffee costs per cup?

Accountant:  Well, it depends on which style you brew.  If one person is going to have one cup, then it's cheaper to use the single cup brewer.  However, if three or more people are going to have a cup, then it's cheaper to brew a whole pot.

Me:  What about the time value of money considering the declining depreciation expense of the ROI amount allocated in the budget?  Did you consider that?

Accountant:  What?  No!  You don't use that approach when calculating the cost of one-off expenditures!  You only factor those variables in when depreciating fixed assets in accordance with GAAP guidelines.

Me:  Yes, until they updated their guidance documents two years ago.

Accountant:  This changes everything!

*Runs off to recalculate his life*

Innocent Bystander:  Do you have any idea what you were saying?

Me:  Not a clue, but that sure is good coffee.

What I'm Thankful For

It's that time of year again.  The leaves have turned color, and the temperature is dropping.

This prompts us to remember the warmth and fun of summer, and regret we took it for granted and spent it at the office.

To protect against repeating this failure, we take a long weekend to think about all we've been blessed with, and give thanks.  We stuff ourselves silly and stare in a stupor at the football game on our big screens.  Then we sleep it off and go max out the credit cards, buying every shiny bit of stupid we can get our chubby fingers on.

I want this year to be different.  I want to remember what I'm thankful for and dwell on it a bit.

So here it is:

What I'm Thankful For:

Friends and family - We've all had a tough year, it seems.  No one was exempt this time around.  But while it was a rocky road, the journey has been worth it.  We've all banded together.  We've helped each other through, and we're all closer for it.  Thank you.

The Internet - Ahh, The Internet.  What would we do without it?  Actually drive to the store?  Talk to the bank teller?  Write letters?  Rent videos?  No thanks!  Umm, I mean...thanks!

Cars - Faster than horses and cleaner, too.  I'm glad my generation got to skip that whole "pick up horse poop" bit.  Thank you.

Chips and Salsa - Thank you, Pace.  You make the evening lull between getting off work and eating dinner that much better.  You may be thick, but you are also chunky.  Thank you.

My Server Room - It's hot in there.  It's packed to the ceiling with old junk.  It has the Linux Box From Hell.  But you know what?  It's quiet.  There are no users in there.  Thank you!

Grace - The wages of sin are death, and I'm a sinner.  I'm helpless to do anything about my eternal condition on my own.  Heck, I can't even drive to the mall without my GPS.  God made Heaven, and then set the price of admission at "being perfect".  Sounded like a bum deal and a place for elitists until I realized no one else can get in, either.  But wait - God just paid my admission and invited me in!  Why?  He's holy, I'm not, and He loves me.  Thank You!

Baseball - I know I'm the only one left who loves it, but I don't care.  All the guys at work complain that it's 'slow'.  But they're accountants and golfers, so who are they to talk?  Don't worry, Baseball - I appreciate you.  Thanks.

Christmas - I know, it's Thanksgiving and I'm jumping the gun.  I'll agree with you that the stores put Christmas stuff out way too early.  I'll agree with you my neighbors shouldn't have decked out their homes in lights two whole weeks ago.  But what I'm not telling you is my dirty little secret:  I've been listening to Christmas music in my car since June and can't wait until Black Friday when I can go nuts with all things Christmas, guilt free.  Thank you, Christmas!

So, what are YOU thankful for?

Happy Thanksgiving!

Exposed: What Every Christian Should Know About Pornography

Addiction: "The devotion or surrendering of oneself to something habitually or obsessively; persistent compulsive use of a substance known by the user to be harmful" - Merriam Webster Dictionary

Our culture is addicted to pornography.

Did you know: 53% of Christian men consume pornography? 33% of women consume pornography? 47% of Christians say pornography is a major problem in their home? With stats like these, how could you not know?

Let's dig deeper:

53% of pastors have visited porn sites in the past year. 4 in 10 looked at pornography today. This shows pornographic addiction can seep its way into any home, even in the Christian community. This means that, statistically, if you get even a small group of fellow Christians together, porn is an issue for at least one person you know.  It may even be you.

Pornography is the sin we don't talk about.  We hide it, we sweep it under the rug. 30% of afflicted Christians have never talked to anyone about their addiction. Pornography is prevalent, damaging, and yet often overlooked. Many people are afraid to admit they have a sinful addiction of any kind, especially when they believe they are alone in their struggle. Awareness is key.

Brian Mc Ginness wasn't a pastor, but he was addicted to pornography.  He tried to fight it, but soon it was "taking over" his life.  "I would find ways to arrange my schedule to view porn", he says.

At a church event, Brian witnessed another man telling his own story of pornography addiction.  Brian could relate, and sought help after the event.  He even came clean to his wife.  "I was done with this controlling my life."  Brian now works for XXXChurch, an online community helping men and women break the chains of pornographic addiction.

XXXChurch has resources for everyone.  The site is broken down into categories (teens, parents, men, women, couples and pastors). Available resources include books, videos, and programs, all designed to deal directly with pornographic addiction.

XXXChurch also has a program called X3 Watch. X3 Watch is accountability software that sends reports to your accountability partners and lets them know if you have visited any questionable sites. Additionally, the site features a 30 day program called X3 Pure that is an online class, complete with videos and filtering software.

Remember, God looks at the heart.  He defines adultery as looking lustfully (Matthew 5:27-28).  It's not a harmless habit, it's a destructive sin.

The Bible says "If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness."

So let's start being honest about pornography.

If you or someone you know wants help breaking the cycle of pornographic addiction, please talk to your pastor or go to

Special thanks to my gorgeous wife Jana, who helped me write this.

Thanks also to Brian Mc Ginness of XXXChurch, who answered all my questions without hesitation.  His openness and honesty in shedding light on this topic is greatly appreciated.

Freelance IT Consulting

If you've been doing IT for a while, you know what it means to be an IT consultant.  At least one of the FREElance variety.

You have to be up on every option known to man.  You have to be a mind reader.  And above all, you have to work for free, often without so much as a 'Thank you!'

It goes like this:

Friend, family member or coworker:  Can I ask you a personal question?

You:  Sorry, I'm taken.

Friend, family member or coworker:  What?

You:  Never mind.  Sure, shoot.

Friend, family member or coworker:  I'm looking for a new computer, but I don't know what to get.

You:  Well, what are you looking to be able to do with it?

Friend, family member or coworker:  I want to watch kitty videos and read sewing blogs.  I want to have a big screen like my neighbor does.

You:  Is that all you're wanting to do with it?  Sounds like you're looking for a basic desktop.  What's your budget?

Friend, family member or coworker:  $18.  And I want the Microsoft Windows Word and Internet Powerpoint Presenter.

You:  Do you mean Office?  That's extra.  It doesn't come with Office or the monitor.

Friend, family member or coworker:
  Why not?  My neighbor says all his software is free.  He downloads it over the Limewire.  Oh, and I want to use it on my couch during "Biggest Loser" commercials.

  Ok, then you'll need a laptop or a netbook.  Those come with the monitor.

Friend, family member or coworker:  Can you tell me the difference between a laptop and a netbook?

You:  Sure.  Laptops are heavier duty.  They'll have a better processor and an optical drive.  They're less likely to come with a stripped down OS, so there's no artificial software restrictions like in 7 Starter, where you can't run more than three concurrent apps.  Netbooks are meant for light use and traveling.  They're a good choice as long as you aren't under the illusion they're a laptop replacement.

Friend, family member or coworker:  Uh-huh.  So do they come in pink?  I want the cutest one they have!

You:  *Sigh*  Have you been to the Apple store?  I hear their computers are sooo cuuuute!

Stuff Popping Around In My Head, Part 2

Putt-Putt - Miniature golf is a lot harder than you remember it being when you were a kid.

Bureaucracy - It used to be spelled "insanity", but then it went through committee approval.

Business Cards - I'll be dead before I hand all these out.  I should go down to local deli and dump 'em all in the jar.  Free lunch guaranteed!

Urgent Email - You can slap that red exclamation on every one of your emails, and it still won't be an emergency.  Truly urgent emails are called "phone calls".

Water Heaters - Betcha you took yours for granted this morning, didn't you?

Electricity - I'll never understand how the same electricity that will kill me will simply charge my little iPod.  I know I'm a wimp, but I kinda thought I was tougher than my iPod.

Sharing a Bathroom With My Wife - The stuff in our bathroom can be sorted into three basic categories:  Her Stuff, My Stuff, and Our Stuff.  The distribution of stuff into these categories is approximately:  Her Stuff - 74.86%.  My Stuff - 12.29%.  Our Stuff - 12.85%*.  I feel like I should start paying her rent.

Slip-On Shoes
- I'll never go back.  I haven't laced a single pair of my shoes in approximately 8 years.  When I have kids, I'm not teaching them to tie their shoes.  I'm going to hand them a pair of awesome slip-ons and say, "Have at it.  I just saved you 6 months of your entire life.  You're welcome."

Mowing the Lawn - Shouldn't we put high-powered lasers on the top of the sprinkler heads to keep the lawn at just the perfect height?  Go on, tell me you haven't thought of this one too!

Pencils - Are we still making these things?  Why?

*   "Our Stuff" is really just another name for "Mostly Her Stuff".

The Garbage Man

Note:  I wrote this in high school, and it still amuses me.

Do you like your job?  Chances are, you don't.

It seems to me most people don't think highly of their employment situation. Of all the available jobs, the one most people would rather have is "a different one". There's always something folks gripe about: The hours are long, the pay is low, the boss is a tyrant...blah, blah, blah. Little do people know that the best job is not just one more step up the corporate ladder.

What is the worst job you can think of? I used to think that being a garbage man would be the worst. On a cold December morning, he had to get up early while everyone else slept in. He had to drive a stinky truck around a well-to-do neighborhood and throw away snobby people's waste. The snobs themselves would watch disdainfully from a second-story window with a cup of hot chocolate. The poor slave would glance up enviously as the marshmallows in the steaming mug peered over the rim at him mockingly. Then the onlooker would hastily shut the shades and go sit by the fireplace to read the paper.

Then, when he got home, things didn't get any better. He could not wash off the smell of rotting fruit and baby diapers. He was lonely. He turned on some Garth Brooks and watched a rerun of an old sitcom. What were his plans for the weekend? He'd probably rent a cheap movie and watch it with his goldfish. I did not envy the garbage man.

Now, of course, I do. He has it so easy now. Thanks to mechanization, he just sits on his bum and moves levers. He doesn't have to deal with overbearing bosses. His job description reads something like this:

1. Dump Trash.

His evaluations go like this:

Boss: What have you done lately?

Garbage Man: Dumped some trash.

Boss: Keep up the good work.

He's never late for work, either, because he never has to take a shower. He doesn't need to take a shower because he doesn't get stinky and dirty. He does everything sitting in his heated truck with a Country Apple scented air freshener.

He comes home, meets his wife at the door, and sweeps her off her feet with a kiss. Then he takes her to the Olive Garden.  After, they go to the opera. Then they return home to sit on the back porch and gaze at the stars.

Yes, I envy the garbage man. He has the best job.

And he never has to take a shower!

Mrs. Jones

I used to be in Bible Club in middle school.  I was even the president of the club one year.  I was a model student and a goodie-two-shoes to boot.  Every Wednesday, I'd stay after school and read my Bible with five or six others.  If we were feeling a bit rowdy, we'd listen to D.C. Talk.

Then came my eighth grade year.  I decided I was going to get in trouble and not care.  I became too cool for my former Christian friends.  I went against everything I had been taught and believed in.

Enter Mrs. Jones, my English teacher.  She was a quiet, polite and mild-mannered lady.  She always wore her long salt-and-pepper hair pulled straight back in a simple pony tail.  Colorful business suits and too much lipstick.

She quickly became my target.

I loved to act up in class and make the other kids laugh.  Having a pushover for an English teacher only encouraged me.

I'd cause scenes daily - throwing things, making comments, pulling pranks.  I thought I had her figured out.  I was full of myself and didn't mind the occasional reprimand she meted out.

There was one thing I didn't count on.

Mrs. Jones was a Christian.  She was the new sponsor of the Bible Club, which met every Wednesday after school.

Partway through the year, her choice of punishments changed a bit.  Rather than assign extra homework or sending me to chat with the principal, she'd make me stay after school for detention.

I thought this was great.  It's far easier to sit and stare at a wall for a bit than to write a paper.  I was winning.

I started to notice a pattern, though.  The majority of my detentions were awarded on Wednesdays.  It's hard to sit in the same room with your former Christian friends and not feel awkward.  I'd sit on the other side of the room and ignore them, then bolt for the door the second the required amount of time had elapsed.

Soon, I was in detention each and every Wednesday.  I quickly learned to behave.  This did nothing to relax the relentless Bible studies, though.  Mrs. Jones gave me detention whether I deserved it or not!

Each week, everyone in the study politely asked me to join them.  Each week, I sullenly declined.

Mrs. Jones was winning.

I stayed after one non-Wednesday to have it out with Mrs. Jones.

"I know what you're doing," I accused.  "Why are you forcing me to come to the Bible studies?"

"I know you," she responded.

"What do you mean?"  I retorted.  "You know nothing about me!"

"I know you used to go to the Bible Club.  I know your friends have been praying for you all year.  I know they miss you.  I know this childish behavior you antagonize me with isn't who you really are.  I know you miss them and want to join them again, but feel like you've ruined your chance.  Take it from me, they'd love to have you back.  The real you, that is."

Mrs. Jones won.

Thanks, Mrs. Jones.

Selling My Niece

I pride myself on being a good uncle.

My nieces are always excited to see me.  I roughhouse with them and read their favorite books to them, over and over.

A couple weeks ago, I blew it big time.

We were teaching my six-year-old niece how to haggle at a neighborhood garage sale.  She's been practicing her addition and was very proud of herself for adding up the cost of the items she was considering buying.

She had picked up two items, one for $.50 and one for $.25.

"How much do you offer the lady, Adelle?", I asked her.

She scrunched up her face while she added the two figures in her head.

"$.75!", she exclaimed proudly.

"Nope", my dad told her.  "Offer her $.50 for both items and see what she says."

Confused, Adelle timidly approached the couple holding the garage sale.  They were an older couple, and they had been watching us with amusement while we instructed my niece.

"I'll give you $.50 for both of these."

The lady had obviously been waiting for a chance to have some fun with my niece.  "I don't think so, honey.  We already marked everything down from yesterday."  Then the couple leaned gleefully forward in their chairs, anticipating what my niece would do next.

Adelle turned to us with wide, panicked eyes and whispered, "She said no.  The lady said no.  What do I do now?"

The gentleman prodded her along, saying "You should learn to barter!"

"What's that?"

At this point, I decided to jump in and help out.  I had been standing off to the side with my youngest niece, age four.  Her name is Carly, and I'm her favorite uncle.

I patted Carly on the head, and told Adelle, "That means you should throw in your sister."

The couple laughed, and the lady said, "We'll take her!"

Carly melted.  She believed me, and was horrified at her new future with the strangers down the street.  I've never seen so many tears from such little eyes.

I had to carry her home and rock her in The Big Chair for nearly an hour, but it was worth it.

Adelle got both items at the bargain price of $.60.

Of Mouse and Man

Some users are more clueless than others.  They're the recurring callers; the ones who are always stymied by the simplest of error messages.

When you help them, they're not always with the program.

Here's a classic example...


Special User:  How do I open a file?

Me:  Double-click it.

Special User:  I did, and nothing happened.  Come look.

Me:  Ok, show me.

Special User:  *Right clicks on a file twice*  See?  Just that silly pop-up menu.

Me:  Double-click with the left mouse button.

Special User:  *Right clicks on the file twice*  Still doesn't work!

Me:  The other button.

Special User:  *Right clicks on the file twice*  Nope!

Me:  Your other left mouse button.  There's only two.  Use the one on the left.  The one closest to your keyboard.

Special User:  *Right clicks on the file twice*  Why won't this work?  I'm doing it right!

Me:  Yes, you're doing it with the right mouse button, which is incorrect.  Try this one.  *Touches the correct button*

Special User:  *Right clicks on the file twice*  I hate computers!

Me:  No, you don't.  Try this one.  *Touches it again*

Special User:  Oh, the left one!  *Left clicks on the file twice*  Ok, you fixed it!

Me:  Glad to help!  *Walks away mumbling* *Right eye twitches*

Lying Jeans

I have a love/hate relationship with my jeans.

It's just that I can't trust them.  They tell me lies.

We're allowed to wear jeans to work on Fridays.  On Fridays, I stumble into the closet, and groggily look for what to wear.

The Jeans know it's their day, and they're excited.  They've been planning this all week.  My Dockers are in a crumpled pile on the floor, having been beaten up once again by The Jeans.

As I reach for them, The Jeans start making me promises.

"You made the right choice, Boss!  We're more fun than your usual business casual.  We've got a heckuva day planned for you - a heckuva day!  We're gonna leave work early today.  We're gonna go on a hike.  We're gonna play baseball and eat cookies!  We're even throwing a party later - we invited all your friends!"

I've learned the hard way, though - they're lying.

I get to work and the boss calls a meeting.  The Jeans howl in disappointment.

Two hours later, I leave the meeting with a pile of work.  The Jeans fight to take me to my car.  It's quite the struggle.  The call of duty wins.

I work for a couple hours, and then head to lunch.  The Jeans talk me into taking a long lunch with the guys.  It's Friday, after all.

"Now you're talking, Boss!  We won't go back to work, we'll go to a movie!  Don't pull in here at the office, keep going.  C'mon, you know you want to.  The Boss won't care!"

My mobile rings.  It's the Boss.  He has a deliverable going out today, and it's all hands on deck until it's done.  I pull in to the office, much to The Jeans' dismay.

The deliverable goes out, but not before we run into some technical glitches.

"C'mon, Boss.  Let's leave now.  Take your wife out on a date - she deserves it!  We've already called Hot Skirt, and she's in!"

We spend Friday night rebooting servers and backing up databases.

Stuff Popping Around In My Head, Part 1

Payday candy bars - Diet or no diet, I'm going for it!  I could be on my deathbed, with a doctor standing right next to me.  He could say to me, "Mr. Anderson, if you eat another Payday candy bar, you will die a horrible, painful death."  I would nod my head solemnly and reply, "Where do you want me to throw this wrapper?"  I am defenseless in all things Payday.

Full disk encryption - Why just make one file inaccessible, when you can ruin the whole drive?

Airplanes - Magic, pure magic.  They keep the magic in that black box.

Hand Sanitizer - Do the people who bottle hand sanitizer wear gloves?

Screwdrivers - Why aren't they all magnetic tipped?  Can we go ahead and make that a standard feature?

Hawaii - Does it ever feel lonely out there in the middle of the ocean?

Professional certifications - I finally got one, and it's turning out to be like I expected - nobody cares.

Network wiring diagrams - Lots of work, very little payoff.  Don't wanna do it...where's a junior staffer?  Aha - You there!  Come here for a minute.  Bwahahaha!  What?  No, I always laugh like that.

The Muppets - I'm sure they're quite a trip if you're high.

Paper clips - I've had the same box since I started working here 7 years ago.  It might disintegrate before I run out of clips.  I hide my change for the vending machine in it.

Bowling - Did you know it's a contact sport?  I didn't either, until last time I went and tackled myself crossing that slippery line.  I got airborne as I continued down the lane.  There's no dignity left after that, trust me.  Not after falling that hard on your arse!

HP tech support - I've actually gotten a real, live human being to talk with me.  I have this person's direct line.  I hope my wife doesn't mind, because I'm about to start stalking this lady.  She is the last helpful person at HP, and I'm not letting go for anything!

Kleenex - The tissues in my Kleenex box here at work have changed colors halfway through the box.  Did they start packing it on White Day and finish it on Yellow Day?

Diet Dr. Pepper - An open can stays carbonated for days...when you forget about it and leave it on your desk at work behind your laptop.

Seriously, it's like a pinball machine in here.

I, Robot

It's pretty hectic at work right now.  We're in the process of decommissioning one network and building another one.

Due to the timing of things, we're actually without a network at the moment.  This was dictated by contract requirements, not poor planning.

We informed the users a week ahead of time.  We instructed them to ensure all files were saved to the server prior to the deadline so we could make the necessary backups.

As the Network Administrator, I maintain the backups.

Next time, I'll be smarter.  I'll think ahead.

This simple mistake has cost me my humanity.  I've crossed the line between man and machine.  I have sacrificed myself and filled a void no man was meant to fill.

I have become The Server.

User:  I need a database!

Me:  Request accepted.  Bring me a flash drive.

User:  I had you grab the wrong one!  Now I need a different database, two spreadsheets and fourteen scanned images.

Me:  Authentication successful.  Transaction completed.

User:  Ok, I edited one of the spreadsheets, the database and six images.  Here's the flash drive so you can replace the copies in your backups.

Me:  Data overwrite?

User:  Yes.

Me:  Confirmed.  Overwrite successful.  Verification completed.

User:  Great, thanks.  I need to print four of these images.

Me:  Documents submitted to local print queue.

User:  Oh, and the database, too.

Me:  Print database failed.  Permission denied.  Abort, retry, fail?

User:  Retry.

Me:  I'm sorry, Dave.  I'm afraid I can't do that.

Risky Business

My mom had quite the incident a few months ago.  She fell down some stairs at work and broke her leg.

She immediately knew it was broken because:

A.  She heard it snap.

B.  She felt it snap.

C.  She saw the bone pushing her skin out where it snapped.

Now, my mom is very intelligent, but she's no doctor.  Aware of this shortcoming, her coworkers immediately called an ambulance to escort my mom to someone who was.

At the hospital, the nurses must not have known what to do.  They tried putting Mom in a room and closing the door.  This did not fix her leg, even after several hours.

Next, they x-rayed her leg.  This did not fix it, either.

After several hours, they decided drastic measures were necessary.  They called in a doctor.

He reviewed the x-rays.  He asked Mom to describe what happened.  He looked at her leg.

"Your leg is broken", he said.  We were all amazed.

They admitted Mom to the hospital for a few days.  She had surgery.  The doctor used plates and screws to put the bone back together, kinda like a gruesome Erector set.

Then they put an wristband on her.  It was yellow, with bright red letters.

"FALL RISK", it read, in all caps.

"Now they tell me", sighed my mom.

The Leech

I love conferences.

If you're a vendor and you have a conference, I'll attend.  It doesn't really matter what the conference is about, as long as The Boss approves my request.

There is one catch:  You'll have to pony up with some freebies.

I'll sit through your presentation, pretend to read your brochures and white papers, and schmooze with your sales team.  In exchange, you'll load me up with free software, pens, shirts, light-up key chains and hopefully a hat.  I'm a sucker for hats.  It's a good system we have.

If all you've got at your stand is brochures and badge clips, we're going to have to cut it short.  But if you have a whole grab bag full of goodies, we can talk all day.  I definitely make time for grab bags.

Don't take this confession of my true motives personally.  I do my best to be polite, and it's not like you're being honest either.  We have conversations like this:

Vendor:  ...and our cutting edge technology will help you leverage your throughput via comparative analysis of the blah-de-blah...

Me:  That's incredible!  We'll definitely keep you in mind for our ongoing project procurement plans.  Would you happen to have a business card?

If we were both being honest, the conversation would go downhill rather quickly:

Vendor:  I'm just gonna let you read the brochure.  I'm tired of repeating the same old spiel over and over.  I know you're not listening to me and you're only interested in the grab bag anyway.

Me:  True.  Mind if I grab two?  I could lie and say it's for my co-worker, but the truth is I use your t-shirts for changing my oil, and I go through 'em pretty fast.

Vendor:  Sure.  The sooner I hand this junk out, the sooner I can go home.

Me:  Wanna do me a favor?  Help me create a diversion for the dude at the booth behind you.  He's got hats.

If you know of any conferences coming to town, please let me know.

Why Men Will Not Go Shopping

There are many differences between men and women, such as shopping.

A man will not 'shop'.  It is dull, pointless, and the root of all evil.  The more time spent in stores is just that:  more time spent.  Time is money, which manages to get spent, too.  A woman, however, finds this nefarious activity absolutely spellbinding.  To them, it's great:  Go spend someone else's money on clothes you will wear only in the dressing room.  This is the only chance they will have to wear them, because the $100 'must-have' outfit will be out of style by the time she gets home.  She will (again) have 'nothing to wear'.

This logic boggles a man's mind.  He can wear sixth generation jeans with fourteen holes in each leg for a month before it bothers him.  He does not care how he looks.  He has no idea what the inside of a dressing room looks like.  He spends no time there, yet he is perfectly satisfied with his clothes.  They smell halfway decent and fit fine.

A woman is horrified by this type of lifestyle.  All items owned by her must be new and have several duplicates waiting just in case.  This is why some females walk around with a purse and a backpack.  One is for storage, and the other is for...more storage.  This abundance of storage is needed to contain all the items captured during her latest 'shopping adventure' (oxymoron alert!).

Men have shorter attention spans than women.  If an item doesn't immediately grab their attention, it deservedly loses it.  Shopping serves no practical purpose for men.  We need fast-paced action, such as football.

Rather than go shopping, a man prefers to 'gift retrieve'.  This bright idea may come as a shock to all the shopping addicts.  Here's how it works:

After an intense football game in the park with his buddies, a man might think to himself, "Hmmm.  I stink worse than my great Aunt Ida does while 'Sweatin' to the Oldies' on a hot day.   Better go buy some soap."  He then heads to the corner store to get some soap.  While he is hunting for the kind that does not make him smell like wild berries, he walks past several kinds that do.  On a wild whim, he grabs one of these for his girlfriend.  She enjoys smelling like wild berries.  He pays for the soaps and then goes home, because he is done.  He will not wander and peruse any further, since there is no need to.  He will find himself extremely proud for two reasons:  He actually bought her something, and her birthday is coming up anyway.  He can honestly say he remembered!

Women can focus on one thing for hours.  If an item is on sale, regardless of what it is, then a woman must study it and compare prices and features.  Then she will be able to make an informed consumer decision, such as which overpriced eyeliner is the smarter buy.

What makes this habit unbearable for men is that we get dragged along for the ride.  Women, if your man says the first outfit you try on is the perfect one, don't assume he's lying.  He's probably telling the you the truth, since he thinks you look great in anything.  However, he is getting an added benefit - you might take him at his word and actually buy it...and then go home.  It may not have happened this easy in the history of your marriage, but he still believes it could happen today...

...until you frown at him and try on the next thirty-two outfits.

Oh, well.  It was worth a try!

Abandon All Hope of a Perfect Wedding

No wedding goes off without a hitch.  At least, not the good ones.

My wife likes to tell people I was late to the wedding, but that's technically not true.  I had five whole minutes to spare.  Here's what really happened...

I'd had my bachelor party the night before.  It was a wild night of poker and pranks.  While it was an absolute blast, we kept it under control.  Or at least until my cousin started throwing up in the back yard.  You just can't eat that much bean dip in one sitting.  The grass always grew greener in that spot, though.

At the party, I'd given my house key to best friend Chris, who was a groomsman in our wedding.

The next day, I locked the house up tight since we were leaving for our honeymoon and wouldn't be back for a week.  I was on my way to the church, with plenty of time to spare, when I realized I'd forgotten a little something:

My tux.

No problem, I thought.  I turned around and headed back to the house to retrieve it...and realized I had no key.


Never one to let my foresight be my downfall, I kept a calm head and did the only sensible thing I could do, given the circumstances:

I punched the back bedroom window as hard as I could, over and over.  While this doesn't let you in through double-paned glass, it does leave nicely colored bruises on your knuckles.

Now I was even more calm.  I told the window what I thought of it ("You're such a pane!"), and began throwing rocks at the glass.  Nothing.  Not even a crack.  I had accidentally bought the strongest glass on the block.

Next, I went door to door looking for a neighbor with an available hammer.

Nobody was home.

As I headed back up my driveway, I noticed something in my car.

The Club.  I had finally found a use for it.  I never put it on my steering wheel, as it was a pain to use.

It was very convenient for smashing glass, though.  We later found shards all the way into the living room, twenty feet away.

I snatched my tux and drove like a madman.

Chris met me in the parking lot of the church.  He helped me get all the shiny wedding bling (button covers, cuff links, doodads) in order, and I was ready - with five minutes to spare.

My folks came to say hello.  My mom pointed out my missing tie.  I had dropped it back at the house.  My dad whipped his off and handed it to me.  I was set.

Jana was smiling as she came down the aisle, classically late.  She was the most beautiful sight I've ever seen in my life.  I almost flew down the stairs to take her hand.

As I grabbed her hand and headed back up the steps, her smile didn't fade, but she did ask me a question through gritted teeth.

"Where is your tie?"

I should have called a locksmith.

Life Lessons

Winners Never Quit

Mom:  What's wrong, Honey?
Me:  My baseball team stinks.  We never win!
Mom:  Well, you're just trying to have fun.
Me:  It's not fun!  I hate losing all the time.  I should just quit.
Mom:  Winners never quit!
Me:  Of course they don't.  I wouldn't quit if I was winning, either.  But if they did quit, then maybe I could win!

Hard Work Builds Character

Dad:  Go pull some weeds.
Me:  Why?
Dad:  It builds character.
Me:  I have character.
Dad:  You need to build some more character.
Me:  My younger brothers should go build some character.  I have enough character!
Dad:  You can never have enough character.  Now go pull weeds before you get a spanking.
Me:  Are you coming with me?
Dad:  Nope!
Me:  But you need to build character!
Dad:  I have enough character.

Don't Take Advantage of Others

Drunk Old Guy in the small town cafe my family was eating lunch in:  Oh, there's the kids!  I see the kids!  God loves the kids!
*Stumbles over to our table*
Drunk Old Guy:  Hi kids!  Do you want somethin' ta eat?  Here's a dolla...a dollar for each of you's!
*My older sister and younger brothers timidly accept the bills.  Mine has already been transferred to a safer spot, hidden under my plate.*
Mom:  All right kids, give the nice gentlemen his money back.
Siblings:  Ok, here you go.
Me:  What money?
*The old guys' friends are helping him to the door*
Mom:  The dollar he gave you.  Give it back.
Me:  I don't think he gave me one.
*Mom points to my plate.  She never fell for my magic tricks, either*
Mom:  Now.
Me:  But he gave it to me!
Mom:  Give.  It.  Back.  Now!
*I grudgingly follow the Drunk Old Guy to the door*
Me:  Here you go, Sir.
Drunk Old Guy:  It's the kids!
Drunk Old Guy's Friend:  Here, take this.  The kid's giving you your dollar back.
Drunk Old Guy:  Such a sweet kid.  Hey everbody!  The kid's givin' me a dolla!

Working Like a Dog

What's worse than bringing your dog to work?

Bringing BOTH your dogs to work!

Especially when they make more noise than a pig going through a woodchipper.

We work in an office.  The same reason you have to wear clothes and refrain from scratching yourself during meetings is the same reason you should not bring your pets to work.  It's not professional, so you don't do it.

And if you have the audacity to bring both your dogs to work, please refrain from placing the yappers on the front desk!

And if you have the lack of brain function to stop yourself from placing them on the front desk, please don't let them eat the flowers and visitor sign-in sheet!

And if you lack the self-control needed to protect our office from your mutts' tiny jaws, then please don't forget your poop baggie!

As your system administrator, I sincerely wish you the best of luck logging in tomorrow.

What happened to your account?

My dog ate it.

Passive-Aggressiveness For Fun and Profit

We have a neighborhood association, although we're not entirely sure what for.

They send out newsletters telling us how much they're going to be doing during the upcoming quarter. We get the same updates the next time around.

There's rules regarding parking in the street, keeping trash out of your yard, and curbing your weeds. If you were to print out all these rules, you'd have to change your profession to "Lumberjack" when you filed your taxes next time around.

None of these rules are enforced, which isn't really a huge issue as most people follow them of their own free will.

My next door neighbor, however, seems to think his side yard is just an uncovered garage. If you'd see it on the Beverly Hillbillies, you'll find it here.

This neighbor is a very nice man, and I'd hate to have any sort of disagreement between us. This is the only issue we've ever had with him. He seems to keep everything forever, just in case, although we were sad when he finally threw out his Christmas tree in late April. It had been the most festive item in his collection.

The latest addition to the side yard garage is a camper shell for a pickup truck. I would just handle this myself and put it on his truck, if he owned one.

However, I am a colossal wuss. I hate confrontation. My mind goes blank and I try to hide behind my wife whenever I'm in a jam. For instance, if you're my waiter and you spit in my food, my most likely course of action would be to apologize to you immediately and run away after leaving a big tip.

A great example of my wussitude was this weekend when my wife and I were running errands. I was waiting in the car, chatting with my brother on the phone. A lady opened her car door into mine, hitting it several times as she was loading her purchases into the back seat. While this was happening, another lady hit me on the other side as she got out of her car! I sat there and smiled at each of them. I didn't even get out of the car to check on the damage.

So what's a wuss to do with a collector of all things unsightly living right next door?

Help him clean up the collection, of course.

I'm thinking of putting it on Cragislist. I'll just post a picture of the camper shell and my neighbor's address. It'll be free to whoever picks it up in the middle of the night.

If this plan works, I'll start charging nominal fees for the other items.

I'll have our neighborhood cleaned up in no time flat!