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!