Your leaking thatched hut during the restoration of a pre-Enlightenment state.


Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


decay & ruin
Biosphere II
dead malls
Irving housing

got that wrong

appropriate tech
Arduino μcontrollers
Backwoods Home
Fractal antenna

fun social media stuff

(nobody does!)

Like my brownhouse:
   back in school
Sunday, March 7 1999
Things were better this morning between Kim and me. I felt less pressure and more overall confidence with my ability to get things done.
At noon there was to be a SQL lesson given by the new guy Marty at work. It was a work thing, true, but it was educational, so I decided to go. I do hope to learn SQL at some point after all. Meanwhile Kim had an appointment to give a massage a half dozen blocks away in southern Ocean Beach. This, she claimed at first, was the reason she needed the car today (and thus I'd have to bike five miles to my SQL lecture). She could see the ridiculous nature of the situation when I pointed it out to her in this way and we ended up with a compromise; I dropped her off at her southern Ocean Beach appointment with the understanding that I could use the car and she would walk home. The day had started out dreary and cold but by now it had blossomed into yet another cheerful sunny Sunday, so I wasn't really putting Kim through that much pain and suffering.

Things are always hopping at work, even on a Sunday. The Grand Pooh Bah was there, as were a few members of the sales staff, one of whom, Katie, had just been fired and was cleaning out her desk. When the ax drops around that place, it drops suddenly. Lucky for a non-asskisser such as me, my work is very much in demand. Sales people, by contrast, are a dime a dozen.
Marty's SQL lecture focused mostly on the theory underlying how SQL goes about its business. All the introductory books I've read have told me not to worry how SQL answers database queries; just leave that up to SQL. But during the course of this lecture, without even knowing SQL yet, I learned the mechanisms underlying SQL as well as how the SQL database is physically structured. Still, all was not perfection. The ambiance of the lecture left much to be desired.
Chief among the troubles plaguing the ambiance was the palpable tension between Kevin the DBA and Eric the Developer. They're both good friends of mine but it's clear the two have some issues to work out with one another. I first got a sense of today's tension when Eric announced to me that yesterday he'd met the woman of his dreams. Evidently Kevin had heard this proclamation a dozen times already today, and, thoroughly disgusted, he simply couldn't take it any more. Rolling his eyes, he said, "Let me know when you're done so I can stick a fork in you!"
Then, throughout the lecture, it would be safe to say Eric that was insufferable. He knows a lot of stuff about databases and such, but he tends to be a show-off with his knowledge, saying things mostly, it seems, to impress people with his brilliance. In today's case, surely Eric's grandstanding was exacerbated by the fact that the Grand Pooh Bah himself audited the first half of the lecture. Eric was being that guy back in college whom you always hated, you know, the one who sat in the front row during lectures and tied the class in knots with his brilliant insights and not-especially-gentle corrections whenever the professor ran astray of the facts.
Eric's rhetorical style wasn't really any big deal to me, but for Kevin it was a serious bummer. Kevin, you see, didn't really want to be there. He'd been required to attend the class, yet the material being covered wasn't new for him. He saw Eric's interaction with Marty the lecturer as an obstruction. The sun was sinking and the day was dwindling away. Sigh...
We were supposed to get free pizza some time during the lecture, but it came very late and lecture was over by the time it arrived. For some reason technical people don't seem to like vegetables on their pizza. I'll have to assert myself more next time there's free pizza.
After the lecture, Kevin saw me as a possible solution to a dull dreary afternoon, so he sort invited himself to come hang out at my place later on. I agreed, although I suppose I would have preferred to resume the hermit-like existence I most prefer. As we were planning to leave, he suddenly got yanked back to take care of yet another database crisis, so I headed out on my own. I was going to Fry's Electronics and he told me to stop back by on the way back to Ocean Beach.
Fry's Electronics was a Kafkaesque nightmare. Again I stood in the return line, this time to make good the faulty memory DIMM from last week. The line was a lot longer than it had been a week before, and it was moving much more slowly. There were only a couple of guys doing the return business, and none of them seemed to be working with much enthusiasm or efficiency. I suspect they were counting on the fact that most people would flee the line before progressing all the way to the front. Indeed, I found myself progressing at the rate of about 15 feet per hour. But when I accepted the offer to exchange my defective DIMM for another of the same type, I was able to leapfrog ahead of the others. A technician tested the DIMM and established that it was in fact defective, and came back with another. But you know what? I got home and tested the new DIMM and found it was 8 Megs of RAM, not 64. Believe it or not, I actually have to go back to Fry's again. I really don't think their "guaranteed lowest prices" are worth this sort of torture.
On the way back to Ocean Beach, I felt positively resentful of the fact that I'd promised to stop back by the office. It meant that I had to exit the interstate, wait at a few lights, wasting precious free time, just to fulfill a social obligation into which I'd been coerced.
After I got home and found my 64 Meg DIMM was but a bait and switch 8 Meg DIMM, I was in terrible mood. Then, in the course of testing the fucker in several different configurations, I thought I destroyed a couple of perfectly good SIMMs after putting them in backwards. I fell into serious despair. How was I going to be able to face Kevin while in this sort of a funk? But then it turned out that my good SIMMs were working after all. Suddenly I felt better than I had all day.
These days, Kevin has been getting around on shiny new Honda Motorcycle. It definitely makes certain people at work nervous that the DBA is risking his life in this way, but for Kevin it's an indulgence he feels he deserves during his scant free time. Kevin rolled up just as Kim was getting back from getting a massage. She was with her friend Stephanie, the girl who used to give lap dances at the Deja Vu strip club in Point Loma. The other day, Kim put in a good word for Stephanie, who is herself a massage therapist, and now Stephanie works with Kim at the Victoria Rose. There'll be no more humiliating lap dances for her.
Kevin and I bought some beer down at the Appletree and then we hung out with Kim and Stephanie, talking about all sorts of things, mostly centered around work. Kevin and I, you see, would often get distracted by a work-related subject and then we'd catch ourselves and apologize, soliciting a work-related story from Kim and Stephanie. Stephanie didn't tell any tales from her career as a stripper at Deja Vu, but she had plenty of stories to tell about working at a Subway. She said that for a time, most of her friends worked at various Subways and they often fell into the rut of talking about work to the consternation of all non-Subway people in their midst. An example: "Did you see the lettuce today? It's awfully hard to put that slimy stuff in someone's sandwich when they're watching you!" Then, of course, there's much to say about the the constant exploitation by managers, the unsafe job of being a girl closing a Subway alone at night in a bad neighborhood, and the joys of happily taking a poo when things get kind of slow.
Kevin was the one who told me about Katie, the girl in sales who was got fired at our workplace. He didn't really know the specifics, but he'd been the one who'd had to revoke her network privileges. "That's the part of my job I really don't like," he said. The whole thing had sort of ruined his day. What was surreal about the firing was that Katie had come to work yesterday, Saturday, thinking everything was cool, and that's when the bomb had been dropped. Then today, a car load of people had shown up at Kevin's house to get the key to the office. One of those people had been Katie and another had been the Director of Sales (the guy who was actually firing her), along with a few others from sales. Strangely, they were all happy and laughing, as if they were headed out to a party. But what they were actually off to do was see to it that Katie cleaned out her desk and departed in a straightforward manner. It was like someone partying on his way to the gallows. I haven't heard such creepy surreal workplace story since the one about the crazy faux Chaplain my father told from the days of his service in World War II.
We finished up the beer and Kim suggested we go get dinner down at a nice little Mexican place down on Newport. Our waitress couldn't speak any English, but she spoke her Spanish so slowly and with such good enunciation that everyone knew exactly what she was talking about. Sangria, margaritas, enchiladas. We ended up well-fed and drunk. I think we left a 30% tip too.
The night ended with some drunken pot smoking over in Joe's Apartment. His old girlfriend Jeannette was there, and, as usual, was being super-nice in a super-quiet kind of way. Everybody thinks Jeannette is cool.

The story that my Dad tells features a large group of soldiers standing at attention to be reviewed. A "chaplain," dressed in appropriate chaplain garb, is being escorted by two guards up and down the row of troops and he's blessing them. But my Dad knew that "chaplain," and he was just a regular private. He'd gone crazy and, among other things, insisted that he was a Chaplain. The guards evidently decided to humour him with a review before shipping him home on a section eight discharge.

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