Mar 29 2007

Bar Sinister

‘Nae and I at Bar Sinister in LA


Mar 28 2007

Shove your Pronoun up It

Whenever I get a request to fix something (inevitably computer-related), at work or otherwise, I all-too-frequently get the request in the form of “It doesn’t work.”

Well, gee, thanks. That gives me a lot to go on. How about cluing me in to what “it” is? Or what you were doing, or trying to do? Perhaps describing what the process you were going through? How about giving me some context? Obviously, you were expecting something to happen, that didn’t, or perhaps something completely different happened. I need this information to help you. Help me to help you.

Can you imagine going into your doctor, and saying “It doesn’t work. Can you fix it?” Can you imagine him or her responding, without even looking at you, “Well, you tore your rotator cuff, so I’m going prescribe Naproxen and send you to this physical therapist.” Hell no. But if the doctor did, would you even trust the diagnosis? So why do you assume that I know what the hell those pronouns are referring to?

Imagine sitting at home, relaxing and reading a book. The phone rings, and your friend is on the other end asking for help. They quickly present their issue to you in one sentence: (Followed immediately by “Can you fix it?”)

Painter Friend: “The house won’t paint.”

Doctor Friend: “The wound won’t heal.”

Photographer Friend: “The picture won’t take.”

Mechanic Friend: “The car won’t move.”

Accountant Friend: “The numbers won’t balance.”

Clerical Friend: “The folders won’t file.”

Farmer Friend: “The crops won’t grow.”

Pilot Friend: “The plane won’t fly.”

Construction Friend: “The building won’t stand.”

Professor Friend: “The class won’t teach.”

Seem over-simplified and contrived? Not really. That’s exactly the perspective us “computer people” have when you ask us to fix something that “doesn’t work.” So, next time you me to fix your computer, give me some context. Think about your profession, and what sort of background you’d need to solve a problem, and find the analogous information.

I’ll be much more inclined to help you.

Update: Erin had a very good point:
P.S. You sound kind of impatient. Lots of people go to the doctor saying, “I don’t feel good”, which has no content, but then the doctor gets them to be more specific. That’s just how conversation works, sometimes.

I agree – that’s how conversation should work. But it happens so frequently, with respect to computer problems, that a follow-up “what seems to be the problem” only produces mutations on “it doesn’t work,” without further elucidation. It’s the preponderance of those cases that rub me the wrong way.

And yes, I do feel a bit impatient right now. I need a good vacation. :)

Mar 21 2007


Another example of the security theater.

Today I called a company that manages some stocks that I’d forgotten I hadn’t transferred to my broker. I wanted to request the history of purchases and dividend reinvestments prior to transferring, since they’ll drop all that info as soon as I initiate the transfer. The converstation went something like this:

CSR: “Hello, this is [CSR], how may I help you?”

Me: “Yes, I wanted a history of reinvestments for my account.”

CSR: “Ok, can I have your investor ID number?”

Me: “Is that my Account Key Number? That’s all I have from my last statement.”

CSR: “No, I can’t do anything with the Account Key. We manage for several companies, and that’s specific to a particular company, so I can’t index you account portfolio with that number.”

Me: “Well, that’s all I have.”

CSR: “If you give me you name and address, I can search for your account, and if you pass additional security screening questions, we can continue.”

Me: “Ok, my name is [Name] and my address is [Address].”

CSR: “Ok, thanks. Now, as I said before, in order to service any requests regarding you account, I need to ask you a series of security questions. This data has been gathered via a selection of public databases, and you must answer all the multiple choice questions correctly. Do I have your permission to continue?”

Me: “Wait a second. The security questions are asking data that comes from publicly accessible databases? And it’s multiple choice?”

CSR: “Yes. Do I have your permission to continue?”

Me: “Um, doesn’t that seem a little silly? I mean, anyone can gather this data on me, right? So if they want to get into my account with you, all they have to do is look through all my public data, and they can asnwer these questions, right? How is that security?”

CSR: “I don’t create the policies here, sir. Would you like to continue?”

Me: “Uh, yeah, I guess. I mean, I guess I better get this info before someone that’s not me convinces you that they are me. I know you don’t make the policies, but I know all your calls are recorded, so I just wanted to ‘archive’ how ridiculous this is. Let’s continue.”

I’m glad I’ll be transferring my stocks soon.

Mar 20 2007

Naked Burrito Night

Bartender Betty met up with her man, Lush Lou last Sunday. Now, Lou may not be a lush – I’m not sure – but he had certainly had a full day of Sunday drinking going on. And, he had a friend that was drunk enough to continue buying rounds for the celebratory group. In short order, Lou can barely remain standing, and Betty puts an end to the evening for Lou.

On the stumble home, Lou grumbles a request for food.

“Babe, I’m not going to carry you to the taco stand and back, so why don’t I talk you home, and then I’ll run out and get a burrito for you.”

Betty’s a pretty cool chick, if you ask me.

Lou grunts in acknowledgment, and they proceed home. He face plants on the couch, fully clothed, while she walks the few blocks to the taco shop and picks up a burrito for each of them. When she returns home, Lou is still face-down on the couch.

“Yo, babe, I’ve got food.”

Lou jumps up, slurs something that may have include the words “awesome” and “burrito.” He stumble into his bedroom, reappears moments later in just his boxers, and plops down on the couch, munching away. Betty’s completely non-plussed.

“Uh, what the fuck? Is this Naked Burrito Night or something?” Lou doesn’t seem to notice; he just keeps on eating.

Betty shrugs, strips down to her underwear, and plops down on the couch beside him. They dig in to their burritos.

Of course, this is when the roommate wanders into the living room.

Apparently, the moment was a bit awkward for Betty, but Lou didn’t seem to mind.

Mar 16 2007

Physics Quote of the Day

Mar 16 2007

Spring Break

You can tell we’re nearing the apex of spring break throughout the nation when the bars of SD are filled with oodles of young kids that remain standing and vocal despite being smack in the depths of a blackout. Considering I don’t go out on Friday nights, due to Saturday morning training, I hopped down to the local pub (after training) to grab some food and watch the debauchery.

I ran into some people I had met a few weeks ago who were also eating at the bar. While talking to one them, I feel some sort of strange feeling behind my head. As I turn, I see a girl behind suddenly bring her hand down while she and her friend stifle simultaneous laughs. They immediately apologize, while still trying not to laugh, and tell me that they’re nurses that had been sent to some sort of new-age healing seminar where patients were supposed to respond to some sort of “energy transfer” that occurs without physical contact. Apparently, I “felt” this, and turned, and they were quite amazed. (I think I probably just felt the air move.)

It was apparent that one of the girls was absolutely hammered. She also couldn’t keep her hands off me, running them over my jacket and head. She has me do a little spin, apparently so she could check out my ass.

“Um, I should tell you, I have a girlfriend.”

She waves me off, and I resume talking to my friends at the bar. A few minutes later, I feel a hand on my jacket again, pulling me back to her.

“What’s up?”

“Where are you from?”

“Originally? Phoenix. But I’ve lived here for quite a while now.”

“Phoenix? What are you doing here?”

“I went to school here, and now I work here.”

“So you’re on vacation?”

“Um, no, I live here. I finished school a while ago, if that’s what you mean. I don’t get spring breaks anymore.”

“You live here? Awesome!” A clumsy high-five ensues, after which she keep hold of my hand and starts caressing my fingers.

“Um, I should tell you, I have a girlfriend.”

She looks shocked that I would lead her on in such a manner, waves me off again, and I resume my conversation with my friends at the bar – the topic of which is now this drunk girl behind me.

Variations on the above happen a few more times, where she ignores me for a few minutes, then pulls me over to her, we have a short disjointed conversation wherein she answers questions I didn’t ask because she so drunk. (E.g., “So you’re a pediatric nurse? How old are the kids you work with?” “Oh, I’ve been doing it for a few years.” “Fascinating.”) Inevitably, it ends with too much physical contact, I repeat that I have a girlfriend, she looks shocked as if I hadn’t disclosed it before, asks what my name is again, then waves me off. After the fifth or so time I’ve told her I’m taken, she says, “Well, we can work something out” and begins to grind her butt into my crotch.

Normally, I think this would be a great way to end a Thursday night (if she wasn’t so drunk, she’d actually be cute), but considering she’s beyond drunk and I’m not allowed to do that, I disengage and note that should really hang out with my friends at the bar.

Over semi-whispered voices, we all watch the girl work her magic on every boy that passes and discuss her tactics: grabbing asses, having them pull up their shirts, etc. Withing five minutes she’s found another prospect, and they’re sucking face in the middle of the bar.

I look at my friends and note, “You know, that guys thinks he’s got it made. He’s going to buy her another drink or two and then they’ll tab out and grab a taxi back to his place. But I’d bet dollars to donuts that she passes out cold in the cab ride, and he’ll be stuck with the cab fare, an unconscious chick, and wishing he had a shopping cart so he could drop her off at home, Animal House style.”

They laugh, and nod in agreement.

Postscript: She had her sober-ish friend watching over the proceedings, so I wasn’t too worried about “un-gentlemanly behavior” on the guy’s part. Otherwise, I might volunteer to drive her home just for her own safety. Honestly. She was that far gone.

Mar 14 2007


March 14th is a wonderful day.

It is National Potato Chip Day.

It is also Pi Day.

But most importantly, it’s Steak and BJ day.

So get out there and celebrate.

Mar 13 2007

Car Stolen

I was hanging out with some old friends last night, we ended up trotting down memory lane for bit, relating old stories. When brought up Rich, one of the old doormen, I asked, “Rich? The guy who stole Nae’s car?”

My friend wasn’t talking about that Rich, but I did derail her enough to tell an abbreviated story of Nae’s car theft. Of course, everyone in the industry in SD knew the story, but didn’t know that the victim was now my girlfriend. Hearty laughs and some joking about the fundamental interconnectness of all things ensues.

Until I summarised, about to move on to a new topic, with this positively world class spoonerism:

“Yeah, so that’s my girlfriend, the one who got her star colon.”

That’s when everyone paused, including myself, and then burst out laughing until I was crying.

Mar 12 2007

There are no 3 ounce bottles!

Because of the TSA’s assinine new rules, I’ve been looking for 3 ounce plastic bottles to keep sunscreen, DEET, and shampoo in so I don’t have to check my bag. (Yes, the rules are assinine: you can have as many 3 ounce bottles of liquids and gells as you can fit in a 1 quart bag – why not just limit to a quart of liquid total? Why make me divide it up? What is the difference of 3 three ounce bottles of sunscreen – a.k.a. “potentially explosive substance” – and one bottle of nine ounces? Retards.)

I figured it wouldn’t be hard to find – but after checking target, CVS, and innumerable online sources – it appears that bottle manufacturers really only make 2 and 4 ounce bottles. Lame.