Wednesday, October 28, 2009

My other baby

Seven years, one month and fourteen days after I came home from the Beaufort Toyota dealership with her, she's finally mine - the title arrived in the mail today. There was no great rejoicing at paying off the loan, mostly because I won't be saving any money as I have substituted one stupid-big monthly payment with another in the form of Macias' day care. Still, even though in reality she's been mine from the beginning, it does feel good to officially call her my own. She has gotten me out of more scrapes than I can even remember (though the time she went 90-degrees sideways in less than a second to avoid a head-on from a Ryder moving truck that had crossed into my lane stands out) and is now charged with keeping my son safe every morning as well. Despite it being difficult (to say the least) getting the car seat in and out, there is still no ride I'd rather have.

I mean, I might trade her in for the Batmobile, but that's about it.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Macias....still cute.


Always happy after his bottle...


Watching the game while checking his Twitter feed...


Possibly too much stimulation from his Posiden's Adventure activity mat...


Camouflage baby is camouflaged....


Well yes, he does have some big shoes to fill thank you...


Aww Mom....


The mirror is a window to the soul...and drool...

Friday, October 23, 2009

The seven types of people you meet during a network meltdown at a Newspaper

It's the one thing that keeps IT folk awake at night - the total collapse of the network. Hard drives die, you have a backup. End user does something stupid, you can easily fix while possibly making them feel bad about themselves. Server crashes - who cares? The clone you made last month will have it back up in an hour tops. But when it's the network, all bets are off.

Now I'm no Network admin, but spend enough time around one and you can't help but pick up lots of knowledge. I can ping, traceroute and ssh till I'm blue in the face, but when the network goes down my role becomes the gopher for the real network gurus. Anyway, I mention this because about once every 18 months or so, our internal network will get totally FUBAR'd and we have to sneakernet our way to getting the paper out. Yesterday was just such an occurrence, as something went horribly, horribly wrong at around Noon and all of the sudden every user was without a network connection. The details are unimportant, and we did eventually get going again at about 7PM, but as I've now lived through three or four of these near-disasters during my time at the Packet I find that no matter the circumstances, I always see the same people. The names and faces may change, but when their precious Facebook e-mail is taken away from them the people are the same…

Type 1 - The freaked-out Copy Editor
After first taking a pot-shot at you for not being more communicative about the situation (even when you a) have no idea what the situation is and b) they wouldn't understand it if you told them anyway) the freaked out Copy Editor springs into action, making plans about early deadlines and writing things down that always include a "Stet" where they probably didn't need one.

Type 2 - The laid-back Sports Editor
He knows there's trouble, but he also knows you're doing your best and only needs enough information to know if he can get his pages out. He may even ask if there's anything he can do to help which makes you stop and say "Damn those Sports guys are cool!"...

Type 3 - The completely-oblivious Ad Rep
The network is down so they can't e-mail you to "ask" if they can turn in their late ads, and of course your phone system is all VOIP so they can't call you either. Nothing left to do then but to come up to your office in groups of two or three and give you the same three excuses ("I wasn't in yesterday" or "the client said they couldn't get a hold of me" or "I forgot to write up the ad") that you've heard one million times and stopped buying 999,992 times ago. Then, neither realizing nor caring that because of their late ad once you get done fixing the network problem you will have to re-dummy a section you did yesterday, they have the nerve to tell you to "Have a great day!"….

Type 4 - The snarky Entertainment section Editor
Though I've only known two of them in my time at the Packet, their reactions to network meltdowns were the same - they both come to your desk to say only half-jokingly "What have you done?"...you see as the "Internet" person in their field of vision, you and you alone are responsible for their sudden lack of access to social media, and if they could get away with bashing your skull in with a baseball bat they would.

Type 5 - The Investigative Reporter
Always ready to uncover the next Watergate, the intrepid Investigative Reporter lurks in the shadows, hoping to overhear a juicy quote from IT like "it will be back up in ten minutes" or "it's completely hosed and I have no idea how we're going to get a paper out" that they can then run with. They don't actually talk to you, because they don't actually talk to any of their co-workers who isn't also a Investigative Reporter, but you know they're there - ready to pounce.

Type 6 - The-sketchy-outside-vendor-guy-who-was-in-your-server-room-before-the-network-imploded-doing-who-knows-what
He's here to work on his company's systems. He's got the key to your server room because that's where his servers are. He obviously knows what he's doing….with his systems. But what if if his systems are interacting somehow with your systems? And what if he makes a seemingly benign change to his systems without realizing that it may impact your systems? Of course when the network has imploded and you go looking for him to ask if there was any chance he might have done something by accident, he gets defensive and tells you, step-by-83-steps what he was doing. I'm not saying you hosed my network dude, I'm just saying it's been running fine for years and YOU are the only out of the ordinary thing going on around here...

Type 7 - The employee who makes a big show of doing nothing because his computer is down
My personal favorite - these are the people who stare at you when you walk into the room, waiting to be told they can get to work. If you don't tell them they can get to work, they will just sit there, talking amongst themselves and eating microwave popcorn. They simply cannot conceive of a universe where they might actually go looking for something else to do that would help out the company until their usual responsibilities return. Take out the trash? Nah. Clean up their messy desk? Nope. Mop their messy floor? Yeah right. They are there to do their job, not to lift one additional finger - and if they had to do more they would EXPECT to be paid for it, despite the fact they knowingly work for an industry that is on death's doorstep.

So there you have it - the seven types of people I always see in some way, shape or form when the network goes down. It's uncanny really. It also makes me kind of want to get out of IT and go sell Apple products for a living. Sigh. Maybe in a few months years.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Friday, October 09, 2009

Sick and tired

No, this isn't a post about my right-wing friends who cheer when America loses and piss and moan when it wins. Instead, it's about me recounting the last 9 days in which I have experienced every typical symptom associated with the Flu. Given that I rarely get sick since I'm so obsessive about germs, my guess is that Macias brought home the first of what will be undoubtedly be many illnesses from his day care. In his case, it doesn't appear to have gotten past the sniffles - in mine, I've had the typical sore throat, runny nose, sinus and chest congestion, cough, headache, fever, aches, pains and muscle weakness. Also, this all started the day I got my first ever flu shot, which I don't blame for the illness because a) it can't make you sick and b) I had the sore throat before the shot, but the illness may have lingered as my immune system was busy dealing with flu shot and forgot about what I already had. In any case, I thought I'd share a few observations about being sick…

1. Being sick sucks - having to work while being sick sucks more. With only two IT people left at work, when one of them is on vacation the other simply has to be there - sure enough, that was the case this week. Having no IT person in the building is simply not an option - this is exactly when the servers will undoubtedly crash and the whole organization will grind to a halt. I've kept my distance from as many people as possible, and to this point do not have appeared to infected anyone else.

2. Over the counter medicine is worthless. Now that I've been forced to take an interest, it turns out that a few years ago someone decided to make a little Meth using Pseudoephedrine, the active ingredient that actually makes NyQuill and Musinex worth a damn. Now you can't get anything with this stuff in it without having to go either behind the counter or get a prescription - but the drug makers are still happy to sell you their Pseudoephedrine-free product, even though it no longer does anything. Musinex, NyQuil, Theraflu and Robotussin will not relieve your symptoms - don't bother with them. You need to get the "D" versions of those products. Allison says it probably works in other people - right, because my body is clearly much, much different than everyone else's and I must be the one with the problem….

3. Speaking of Allison, she is just the best wife ever…when I'm healthy. Poor thing did her best to tolerate my illness this past week, but quotes like "are you ever going to be fun to be around again?" as well as general irritation around me seemed to indicate that her patience for sleeping on the fold-out couch had come to an end. She hasn't been sick (like, sick sick) since moving back to South Carolina from Idaho. When it finally does happen, I plan to take extra special care of her...

4. By far the worst thing about being sick was not being able to be around Mr. Macias. The Friday and Monday when I was really out of it and couldn't take him to school were especially lousy, since he and I always hang out in the mornings after Mommy leaves. I will feel a lot better when he reaches the six month mark and can get vaccinated. On the upside, getting exposed to these things now should help him down the line. Allison went to day care, got sick all the time and now is healthy as a horse - I didn't go to day care, didn't get sick until I was three years old, was constantly sick all through my school years and apparently can't fight off much of anything as an adult :(

5. You'd be amazed how many people said to me something to the effect of "Too bad you don't drink - all you need is three or four glasses of wine, then wrap yourself up in the biggest blanket you can find and you will sweat the flu out in no time". Does this actually work? To me it sounds a lot like the "put soap in the bedsheets to cure leg cramps" thing, but whatevs.

In conclusion, I appear to have survived my latest brush with death (hey, it felt like I was a goner for a while there) but remind me next year to postpone the flu shot unless I'm feeling 100%. For real.