January 11, 2008: Surprising Rain

I forgot to mention yesterday that I got a chance to work on the laptop of one of the guys who works in the building that I live in. He recently bought it used for his kids but it didn’t come with the Windows install disk and had a questionable install of the OS on the computer already. It is a fully legal copy with the installation code and certificate of authenticity and since it just happened to be a commercial HP machine I just happened to have the correct restoration media so I offered to fix it for him.

This is an important tip for anyone considering buying a used computer with Windows on it. You really must reinstall Windows the instant that you receive the machine. You simply have to assume that whatever operating system is already on there is tainted and is worse than if you knew it was full of spyware and viruses.

Using a used computer’s default OS install is the technical equivalent to picking up a dirty penny off of a city sidewalk and putting it in your mouth and sucking on it without even wiping it off first. Or, for those who read SGL frequently, analogous to sucking on Kevin’s apartment keys.

I’ve been dreading today. It is the first Friday after the winter freeze and that means that it is going to be insanely busy. Might as well get it over with.

The weather was great when I headed into the office this morning. The idea that the weather might turn against me later in the day never even occurred to me.

I start on the late side on Fridays because we have to work so late but that probably was a bad idea today although I needed a little break before entering the mayhem of the office. From the moment I got it was just a madhouse of deployments and configuration changes and new server builds and more.

Kevin and I had planned to do lunch today at one which meant that I would leave the office around twelve thirty or just a little later. We were doing well until an emergency conference call kept me in the office until after one thirty. Then, when I headed outside, I discovered that there was an all out thunderstorm in progress.

I ran up Wall Street as quickly as I could to get to the red line subway station (lines 2 & 3 – the Wall St. Station) but was completely drenched by the time that I got there. It was totally dark outside from all of the rain. Luckily it wasn’t all that cold just completely wet. I have no jacket, hat or umbrella today not thinking that this was a possibility when I left the apartment. I didn’t even realize that it was raining until I stepped into the lobby at 111 Wall.

I got on the subway and thought that I could ride up to Canal St. and switch to the 1 Line to Houston but that didn’t work. I got stuck riding up to 14th and then taking the 1 back south to Houston. Not the end of the world, but a few minutes lost on the trip there.

I met Kevin on Houston and we walked to a sandwich shop that he knew in the West Village. We didn’t have a lot of time because of how late it was. We ate our healthy village sandwiches and hung out for about forty-five minutes. We were both having very busy, and very wet, days. We did get a chance to discuss, just a little bit, the plans for the Dungeons and Dragons game that is scheduled for tomorrow afternoon.

The rain was lighter on the walk back and we were already so wet that the additional rain hardly mattered anyway. This time I figured out to make the transfer from the 1 to the 3 line at Chambers and not Canal and that got me back pretty quickly. One thing that I do find surprising is that using the NY Subway to go to and from the West Village to Downtown costs $4 but going from Newark through Jersey City to Manhattan and back is just $3.

I got back to the office and already tons of people were beating down my proverbial door to get to me. I really need people to understand that sometimes I need to be able to take lunch. This was my only lunch break taken all week and people just don’t respect it. Everyone expects be to be solidly available from seven in the morning until seven at night without breaks or without having conference calls or working on other projects. I get pulled in too many different directions.

My afternoon was completely insane. At almost no point did I get a chance to work on anything that didn’t involve being an active participant in a conference call at the same time. As a system administrator that is a very bad idea. It leads to mistakes. But I am just overbooked to the point that I can’t take care of all request when the business insists that they overlap to such a great degree. I really need an assistant.

Yesterday I finished reading Bill Bryson’s “I’m a Stranger Here Myself: Notes on Returning to America After Twenty Years Away” and today I started reading Dick Teresi’s “Lost Discoveries: The Ancient Roots of Modern Science – From Babylonians to the Maya“.

One thing that I find surprising, in a way, listening to Bill Bryson talk about returning to America in 2000 is just how much his writing (in pre-9/11 America) comes off now sounding like a prediction. He discusses the inane and clearly superficial security practices of the American airport system and how they do so much to make honest travelers work very hard to get on a plane when someone attempting to hijack one could easily bypass the security measures.

This book was published in June, 2000 just thirteen months before the World Trade Center was hit by hijacked planes. Listening to this book in post-9/11 American gives you an eerie feeling. It really highlights just how aware we all were of the likelihood of bad things happening and how little the government did to do anything about it while doing a lot to appear to be doing something about it. A book like this records as evidence that it was obvious that the attempts at security were fake and that the government was just cutting corners – which is exactly how we all feel about the security now.

(Note to my UK readers, “I’m a Stranger Here Myself” is titled “Notes from a Big Country” in UK publication.)

I was stuck in the office tonight until after seven forty in the evening. I also found out today that I am the backup “on call” system admin this weekend. Which, in reality, isn’t too bad since we aren’t traveling anywhere and will be home all weekend anyway. Next week I am on the early shift meaning that I need to be into the office around six thirty in the morning. At least the trains are empty around that time.

As I leave work tonight I am already up to a sixty hour week with two more days to go in which I will surely be doing some amount of work. What a long week it has been. This is rather a lot of work with homework to do as well.

I arrived home and found that Ryan and Linnea had already arrived for dinner.  Dominica cooked a spaghetti fritatta and had had it in the oven for a while keeping it warm until I arrived home.  It was really late – maybe even after eight thirty – when I arrived home.  We ate dinner and hung out for a little while but not too long.  Linnea was just in this afternoon from Europe and has a six hour time lag that she is fighting through.  So they went home around ten thirty.

Kevin was thinking of coming up for a beer but wasn’t able to come up until after eleven.  Dominica and I had decided that we were simply too exhausted to be able to stay up and actually went to bed just after Ryan and Linnea left.  So it was an early night for all.

Tomorrow is the first meeting of our regular Dungeons & Dragons group.  We will be finishing rolling up characters and getting the beginnings of the game in place.  Not much is expected to happen but we will at least get the ball rolling.  Ramona and Winni are coming over after laser tag around four in the afternoon.  I plan to spend the morning preparing for the game as I have had no time all week to work on getting ready.  Everyone else is planning to come a little earlier to get ready.  For the most part it is supposed to be a relaxing weekend for us which we need.

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