Windows IT Pro: Minds in Motion

One of my co-workers has his subscription to Windows IT Pro magazine delivered to his work address, so every month or so I leaf through the magazine, ignoring all the articles and useful content and skipping right to the back page, which features “Ctrl-Alt-Del”, a collection of strange error messages and other IT-related humor that shows just how backwards and bizarre the field can be.

Yesterday, I noticed that the November issue was sitting on our shared table, but instead of picking it up and flipping to the back page I just stared at the cover for a long minute; something wasn’t quite right, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. The feature story is “2007 IT Innovators Put Their Ideas To Work”, and the accompanying graphic, a stylized cranial x-ray, reveals the symbolic gears of innovation, presumably turning away inside the head of one those innovators. 1Failing to find a suitable image of this cover on line, even on the magazine’s own website, I dutifully borrowed the magazine so I could scan it and provide the accompanying visual aid, which … Continue reading

It’s a very appropriate image but for one tiny detail. The three gears in the illustration, meshed as they so clearly are, will never turn. Two gears together would turn just fine, one clockwise and another counter-clockwise (or, if you prefer, anti-clockwise). A third gear would also turn just fine, provided it only meshed with one of the other two; but meshing with two gears turning (or trying to turn) in opposite directions creates a forever-frozen mechanism.

Is this an unintended metaphor for the lack of real innovation in the Windows IT world? I’ll leave that for others to debate, but the irony is rather delicious. Perhaps the December 2007 issue of Windows IT Pro will feature their November 2007 cover in the “Ctrl-Alt-Del” column.

1 Failing to find a suitable image of this cover on line, even on the magazine’s own website, I dutifully borrowed the magazine so I could scan it and provide the accompanying visual aid, which you can click to enlarge for full effect. You’re welcome.

Foodstuff: On the Matter of Pie (Part the Second)

How Not To Grow A Beard: Day 20
Yesterday’s discourse on the virtue of pie was a bit of a bait and switch, and for that I apologize. My original intent was to extol the virtue of several pies that—though they cannot compete in any realistic sense with the culinary perfection of a properly-prepared pumpkin pie—I enjoy a great deal. Unfortunately, I ran out of time.

The first hurdle faced when engaging in a serious discussion of pie is one of classification. While I touched on the distinction between dessert and non-dessert pies yesterday, the problem of classification is incredibly complex, even if we limit ourselves to only dessert pies.

At first blush, it seems a simple matter to separate pies into three categories: fruit, berry and custard. However, this immediately leads to questions as to how pumpkin pie is classified, as it is both a fruit and a custard pie. We have also entirely failed to take into account cream pies, such as those originating in Boston, but the introduction of a fourth category leads to even further confusion as the proper classification of the banana cream pie becomes an issue. Confusion abounds and we’ve yet to touch on the pseudo-pies, those whose crusts are filled with pudding or mousse.

Allowing for hybrid pies goes a long way toward making more precise classification possible (e.g. strawberry-rhubarb is both a berry and a fruit pieSort of.), but berry enthusiasts will undoubtedly claim the strawberry contributes more to the flavor, texture, and overall enjoyment of the pie. That anyone who would make such a claim is clearly batshit crazy is completely irrelevant to the discussion, but does paint a fairly accurate portrait of the average berry pie fanatic.

Unfortunately, even in the example above, there is room for argument. Rhubarb is not a fruit; it is only classified as such because of how it is eaten. Now before the vegetable contingent pipes up on the matter, let me say this: rhubarb isn’t a vegetable, either, so shut your pie holes. Rhubarb is an herb.

Let me repeat that: rhubarb is an herb. We haven’t even gotten to sweet potato pieRoot vegetables? Do we really need to go there? yet and already we’ve got to take herbs into consideration. It boggles the mind.

So far we’ve got fruit, berryYes, I realize that berries are technically fruits. But not all fruits are berries, so they’re different, okay? Let it go, will ya? This is hard enough without you nitpicking every damn thing I say., vegetable, herb, custard, cream, pudding and mousse.

And nut. Damn pecans.

Am I forgetting any?

Foodstuff: On the Matter of Pie

How Not To Grow A Beard: Day 19
I have been asked (and very politely, I might add) to expound upon the matter of pie and the relative worth of different varieties of the same. This dialog (and I name it so for it is my fervent hope that everyone who reads this will comment with their own pie preferences and philosophies) is not one to be undertaken lightly, nor would it be wise to begin an intercourse on the topic without first establishing some manner of boundaries and limitations to which the conversation ought be restricted. It is therefore in the interest of clear, cordial and civilized discussion that I shall declare the following:

For the purposes of this discussion, “pizza” and “chicken pot” are not to be considered proper varieties of pie. Only those pies containing some manner of fruit, berry, sweet and/or tart vegetable (e.g., rhubarb), custard or pudding filling shall be deemed “true pie”.I reserve the right to include additional pies should the fancy strike me. So there.

On to the matter at hand…

OMG Pumpkin Pie is teh BEST PIE EVAR!!!1!~

Thank you.

How Not To Grow A Beard: Day 18

I rolled out of bed at a few minutes before eleven this morning, despite hitting the sack at just a few minutes after midnight. Kyle and I had a little breakfast, then watched Blue’s Clues and Jack’s Big Music Show. After a bit of reading and rough-housing, Laura came home, Kyle had a late lunch and I headed over to record a Stories of the 3rd Wave segment at Erie Vista Studios.

Now I’m back at home watching The Backyardigans: Super Secret Super Spy with Kyle while Laura cleans her office in preparation for potential houseguests on Thanksgiving (which really crept up on me this year).

Tomorrow after work I’ll head over to Planet Retcon Studio 4 to record Volcanicast, which will complete my podcasting obligations for the week.

Did I mention that the proximity of Thanksgiving caught me off guard this year? I obviously have a lot to be thankful for and I’ll get to that a little later this week. Right now I’m realizing that we’re hosting the big meal and could have up to fifteen people at the International House of Johnson in just a few days. Yikes.

Ah, but there will be pie. Pumpkin pie. I will fight a legion of ninja turkeys for a piece of pumpkin pie, if need be.

How Not To Grow a Beard: Week Three, Day Three

Today’s HoNoToGroABeMo photo is a little late. I usually try to take the picture between about 5 and 7 o’clock so it still kinda-sorta fits with Evo Terra‘s “5 o’clock shadow” meme. However, Laura and I were at a party this evening and I took precisely zero photos while I was there.

This shot was taken by the light of the end table lamp at about 11:15pm, shortly after we retrieved Kyle from Laura’s mother’s house. Kyle was originally supposed to stay at grandma’s tonight, but we stopped there on the way home to check on him; he was sleeping, but apparently heard me because he woke up just as we were leaving and we had to go back and get him. He’s sleeping upstairs, Laura’s watching CSI and I’m fulfilling my blogging/beard growing responsibilities for the day.

The party? Yeah, we had a good time. There was pie.

Non sequitur: Marconi plays the mamba, listen to the radio…

Laura asked me to pick up some dinner on the way home from work this evening so I decided it was time for the baconating. I was listening to Nuketown Radioactive when I got to Wendy’s, but the iTransFM blocks the cupholders in the MVoD, so I turned KJToonz off and switched on the radio, flipping through the stations and—because the guy at the window rudely interrupted my station surfing by asking for my order—stopping on 104.1, also known as Q104.

I ordered my Baconator combo with a Sprite and Laura’s Big Bacon Classic combo with large fries and a Diet Coke, pulled through, paid with my MasterCard, grabbed the food and headed home, stealing a few fries out of the bag as I drove. Wendy’s is about two miles from the International House of Johnson and there are six traffic lights on the way, but I only had to stop at two of them.

As I backed the MVoD into the driveway, I realized that I hadn’t heard a single song since turning on the radio. I’m estimating somewhere between seven and ten solid minutes of advertisement between the time I turned my iPod off and the time I pulled into the driveway at the International House of Johnson.

And that’s why I don’t listen to the radio anymore.

The Sword of Damocles

The Sword of Damocles fell at work today. I was not beneath it, but an unfortunate number of people I know (and an even more unfortunate number I don’t know) were.

To say that productivity was low in the aftermath would, I think, be a gross understatement. We were all stunned beyond belief, and spent much of the day wondering if maybe, just maybe, our names were on “The List”, too, and any minute now someone would notice the oversight and take steps to correct it. Every time a manager walked by, the first instinct was to hide; the second, to run, and though I’m sure their intention was to be helpful and reassuring and to answer any questions, the hovering did little to ease anyone’s discomfort.

As I left the building late this evening, I almost…almost turned around to make sure my badge would still open the door.

And Now For Something Completely Different…

I think I’m going to take a page from Chris Miller‘s book come December and just unplug. I’m going to follow all the NaNonsense with 30 days of radio silence: no blogging, no Twitter, no forums or Skype or instant messaging, no Facebook or MySpace or Jaiku or any of the other Internet time sucks that eat away my life a few minutes here and a few minutes there. One post on December first to report on my successes and failures of the past thirty days and then nothing until January of 2008.

Before I go to bed on December first, I’m going to turn off commenting on the blog, put the forum in maintenance mode and disappear for a while. I’m pretty sure the Internet will be here when I get back.

In the meantime, I invite you to enjoy all of the blog posts, beard photos and novel updates that are on the way in the latter half of November.

NeMoBloFoGroToJoDoKoKoMo: Day Eleventy-Three

How Not To Grow A Beard Month: Day13
The beard grows itself. If there’s anything to take comfort in, it is that the beard grows itself. Novels need time and energy and focus and words, words, words. Blogs need much of the same thing. But the beard…ah, the only thing the beard needs me to do is keep on breathing, and some labor under the false impression that the beard will keep growing even after I’ve stopped doing that.

I consume: food and drink and air. And so the beard continues to grow. I don’t worry about whether the beard is growing when I look at the phone on my desk and see that I’ve been at work for ten hours and have no idea how soon I’ll leave. Whatever else happens, the beard is growing.

Oh, and my dad’s beard is growing, too. I got an e-mail from him last night. The photo he attached showed the progress of his own beard, shot through with silver. He shaved on the third, but hasn’t done so since. We are united in our cause, and our beards will grow.

Whatever else happens, our beards will grow.

NaNoWriMo 2007: Day 12 – Our situation has not improved.

Today has thrown me for a bit of a loop. I was supposed to be working off-site all week: that has changed. I was supposed to have lunch with my soon-to-be-ex-boss: that didn’t happen. Things that were fine when I left the office in the middle of last week (I took two days off for Con on the Cob) are all sorts of not fine now. Needless to say, I didn’t get any writing done while I was scarfing down the two double cheeseburgers I picked up on the way back to the office from where I thought I’d be working all week.

Now I need to dash off to record this week’s Volcanicast at the PlanetRetcon remote studio, also known as Bob’s house. Speaking of upheaval, Wesley is out this week and possibly the following week and when we record on the 25th it’ll be at the new PlanetRetcon studio, also known as Wesley’s new apartment.

Given the status of things at work, I doubt very much I’ll be writing tomorrow at lunch time unless I find a dark corner and write longhand. There’s another write-in tomorrow at Morley Library, but will Laura kill me if I go out again? She might. She just might.

Gotta get this boat underway again somehow. Trouble is, the thing feels like an oil tanker and I’m standing on the poop deck with a broken paddle.