View Full Version : StUpId but Funny Work Stories
10-15-2004, 06:58 PM
I have no idea why I wrote this up.
For some reason I was thinking about my days at the Lazy B (Boeing), and remember some mildy funny stories.
* Our Vax 8800 (http://vt100.net/timeline/1986-1.html) (serial number 1, we snagged it from a "secret" project) was about 3 maybe 4 refridgerators in size, with a 9 track tape drive attached which was another refridgerator in size. Well, it needed adjustment, the vacuum system wasn't working right, and the tapes wouldn't load (it sucked the tape out of the reel and had little holes all up and down where it pulled the tape out, it was much faster to write that way, less tension on the tape). Anyway, my "normal" DEC person (guy) wasn't available to adjust the tape drive, so they sent the resident expert.
This expert was a petite blonde gal wearing a denium dress just above the knee. She was a knockout. Whew. I was talking with her as she was working on the tape drive, standing behind her in our computer room. Our computer room was locked and only a few people had the combo, and there was a big window probably 5x8 that looked into the room. Well, I was leaning against our 42" color plotter (story on that follows), which was against that window, and the tape drive faced that in front of me (I was facing away from the window).
So, I am standing there chatting with her and she turned around and bent over looking at the tape drive. I hear a tapping on the window behind me. I look over, and one of the guys in the office is motioning for me to move out of the way so he can look at the gal. I do so.
As I do this, I am still talking with her, and I say "One of the guys wanted me to move out of the way so he could check you out."
She looked over her shoulder and the guy was looking in, with both of his hands on the window, face nearly against the glass and he turned this bright red color and ran off.
She didn't even say anything, it was so funny. After a while, he stopped back at the window when she wasn't looking and pointed his finger at me, and mouthed that he was going to get me! Well, she finished the work, and I said goodbye, but I didn't leave the room. I wasn't stupid, he didn't have the combo. He finally gave up though.
* Same guy I embarrased above and a group of us where getting lunch somewhere, pizza I guess, and he was chatting about sky diving and made a wild gesture waving his arms back over his head to describe how he fell out of the plane. Well, the waitress was just showing up with the drinks and he smacked the tray and dumped all of the pitchers all over her, she was drenched.
* 42" Colors plotter. This thing was a beast. A nightmare and I was told in no uncertain terms how to handle the toner. The toner was liquid and you had to refill from bottles and it was a pain and could be very annoying. If you got any of it on your hands or on your clothes you DID NOT use water to get it off, it just would set the stuff in for a long time. Anyway, I got this story related to me by somebody that tells it better then I remember (Jeff Rahm, great name funny guy), about how one of his co-workers was going to replace the toner and it was at the end of the day.
Well, the next morning they came in, and the entire room was covered in toner. Hand prints all over the printer, on the wall, foot prints leading to and from the printer and finally out of the room. You begin to wonder what poeple are thinking, or if they think at all.
* Vax 8800 memory upgrade. So, we were all set to upgrade our 8800 to 1 megabyte of memory. A momentious occasion. To do this, the DEC guy was actually working on the machine as it was running! Amazing that. Well, he had the tray of components pulled out of the machine (on rails it just pulled out of hte machine) and had it over a table with tools on it. I was watching, as normal, and he was just reaching inside to do something really delicate and there was a LOUD BUZZING! He yanked his hand out and dropped his head down. "Are you okay, did you get shocked?" I asked. No, his pager had gone off and it was set to vibrate and it was sitting on the table next to him.
* I used to work late, changing tapes for the backup (in that lovely 9 track tape drive), and each tape would take about 9-10 minutes to write. Well, between that time I would fall asleep for a few minutes, it was that boring a job (or play Rogue). Anyway, I get up to walk back to change a tape, and I fell asleep on the way. I crashed into the door head first. I don't know if this is good or bad, but I didn't feel any pain, and when I got off the floor I just went and change the tape.
* I used to come in at all odd hours because I couldn't sleep, or just didn't have anything better to do then work. So, I stroll into the lab at 2am and I hear a BANG! I jump a little, look over and there is somebody holding their head, getting up from under the table. Seems one of the engineers was waiting for a compile to finish (all the stores are from when I was at the ASIC design center) and had an alarm clock set and was sleeping under the table, and I scared him when I walked in and he got up and smashed his head on the table.
* A cute chinese gal I worked with was named Pam. She was a straight A student just graduated from MIT. Brilliant, and funny. She was a real go-getter and I liked her a lot. So, I dubbed her Pamzilla, and it stuck. She hated it, and kept telling me it was the wrong country!
* I was pulling up tile (carpet covered raised floor tile) in the computer lab (Mentor Graphics on Apollo workstations) to run cables. Well, I slammed the final tile down, right on my finger. Well, I pulled it out of the way quickly, and I thought "Wow, that was lucky, I didn't OWWWW!" It caught the fingernail alright. I was writhing on the floor for a good 10 minutes. I thought I was going to lose the fingernail, but it came back eventually. That was painful.
Out of ASIC design but still in Boeing.
* We had a chinese guy as one of the Apollo administrators, and he just didn't speak english that well so when I listened to him, I had about a 1 second lag in understanding what he was saying. Well, one word I just couldn't get, he kept saying appalow and I just didn't get it. It took me a full 5 minutes to realize he was saying Apollo, the machines we worked on all of the time. He also got annoyed with me because I couldn't say his name properly, so I gave up and just used his last name (or however it is done), he was fine with that. I could swear I was saying it correctly, but the look on his face made me realize I was mangling it. Poor guy, I was probably saying some nasty word or something.
* I worked out in the buildings where they put the planes together in Everett. The machines were Sun IPC's and they were used to pull up diagrams and pictures to help with construction. Well we had reporting tools that told us when a machine was down. Out in section 41 (nose) there was a machine not responding. I went out there, and there was nobody around the machine, but it wasn't working. Well, there were ramps at different levels around the nose (of the 777 by the way, the first one built) and so as I was sitting there, trying to figure out what was wrong with the machine, somebody just below me started up their tig welder. CRACK CRACK CRAK, the screen jumped around and the computer flipped out and crashed. That one stayed off for a while.
* Another machine wasn't responding, so I went out there, and there was again nobody around and the machine was sitting by itself. No machinery around it, no people next to it, it was just alone on a table with nothing even 10' away from it. WTF? So, I popped the box open and noticed a fine coating of metal filings inside, but I still didn't know where they were coming from, and normally we put filters on the inlets of the machine in really messy areas. Well, still, nothing close by. Then, I looked up. A crane carrying parts moved right over the top of the machine, with metal particles dropping down. Neat. It got a filter.
* I was adding memory to all of the Sun IPC's and adding locks, because people in the facility were opening up the boxes and stealing the memory. But not all of it, just enough to make it so they didn't work anymore. Took me a while to figure out the memory was missing too, because they were booting, but the software wasn't running correctly. Anyway, so I was doing this and needed a part over at another section of the facility. One column away, but columns were 100 yards apart here. So, I left my tools, that I had just gotten as a gift, at the machine and walked away. When I came back the tools were gone, and I yelled, 'WHO THE FUCK STOLE MY TOOLS!" Everybody in ear shot turned around. I was pissed. But, as they say on the floor, if you leave your tools unlocked it is your fault it got stolen. Although that seems logical to assholes, it makes no sense to me.
* I got hold of a parking pass given out by the guards at the gate and made forgeries so I could park closer, instead of parking about 20 yards from where I worked and walking a mile around the fences to get into the office. No shit, just like Homer Simpson.
Okay, you can all be bored by my stories now.
10-15-2004, 07:41 PM
10-15-2004, 08:29 PM
My coworker Jim was an older gentleman that was completely ham-handed when it came to computers. I was responsible for creating most of the spreadsheets for our operation. I had to make them what I called "Jim-proof" rather than fool proof. But, like a fool, Jim was ingenious, no matter how "Jim-proof" the spreadsheet was, he could find a way to screw it up. I don't remember how many times I ended up coming in on a day off to fix the damn thing because I couldn't walk him through it over the phone. It wasn't that I didn't know the spreadsheet well enough, it was Jim couldn't follow instructions regarding computers. Jim was out of date when they switched from fountain pens to ballpoint.
Jim also used to have a problem with sending gas flow setpoints. He had come from another pipeline control where all setpoints were entered in mmcfd (million cubic feet per day), but ours were in mcfd (thousand cubic feet per day). He was constantly sending a 63 instead of 63000 setpoint causing meters to pretty much shut off, sometimes knocking off compressors or processing plants in the process. I built, for Jim, a SCADA screen with a popup that would say "Are you sure you want to send XX setpoint" with YES and CANCEL buttons. He'd still screw it up sometimes. You cannot make anything Jim proof.
This makes me seem like a smart guy, right? Not hardly. After 5 years, they merged his former control center with ours, making us run our pipeline and half of theirs. So, half of our flow setpoints were in mmcfd and the other half were in mcf. A recipe for disaster, right? You bet. The most common error was to enter the mcf setpoint into the mmcfd, which it would reject as being outside the limits, too many digits. But, every once in a great while, someone would send the mmcfd setpoint to the system that used mcf.
The most common location for this was a very large gas processing plant, producing enough natural gas to supply a city of a million people. Well, one day, a setpoint change was required at this location when I was on duty. When I hit SEND, I realized what I had done as soon as I clicked on the button, and immediately followed it with the correct setpoint. Too late. I checked the logs, only 11 seconds had elapsed between my two setpoints, but, the plant went down, downstream compression went down. The smart guy got stuck in the same trap. Damn. We fixed it after that.
See, you only thought Scotty was boring.
Well, I'm amused. Thanks for posting.
As I recall funny stories I may post them too ...
10-19-2004, 06:15 PM
Funny shit Scotty!
Back in the days when I was a radio engineer, the small station I worked at made me earn my keep by running St. Louis Cardinal games on the weekends and some weeknights. I remember one Sunday evening I was running the game and suddenly was extremely sleepy. I laid my head down on my hands, you know just for a few minutes. What seemed like a few minutes later, I jerked my head up (ouch) and groggily got my bearings. I looked at the log and realized I had missed several commercial breaks and had slept for a solid hour! Of course I had drooled on my hands and had an incredibly stiff neck. I don't think either listener complained either.
Love the other stories, keep 'em coming!
10-19-2004, 06:58 PM
10-20-2004, 05:16 AM
Larry F., a supervisor of mine early in my plant operations career set me straight about sleeping on the job. He told me the very first night I worked on his shift that he understood the difficulties of shift work and that if I fell asleep while studying the plant diagrams or procedures he would understand, he'd wake me up but he would understand. However, if I were to make a bed, I'd be fired on the spot. That has stuck with me ever since, I have never slept on the job, ever. Thanks Larry F.
I started a new job at a small gas plant in Wyoming in December 1981. After only a couple months of attempting to run the poorly designed and low bidder built plant, management decided to shut the place down and rebuild part of it. They left us on shift, three operators and a foreman on 8 hour rotating shifts. Sleeping on the job became rampant, former police sergeant Tom had a foam mattress he stowed in the ceiling above the locker room, former janitor Larry Y. would make a bed out of a box of rags, and the foreman, Casey, a former road grader operator, would either sleep in the plant truck parked in the shadow of the water tank or with his feet up on his desk in the foreman's office. The other shifts were just as bad This habit continued even after the plant was up and running. Often I was the only person awake, whether on my own shift or working overtime onto another shift.
Tom, who went back to being a cop, was replaced by Tyler, a 19 year old local (I called them farmboys). Tyler would sleep on every shift, it didn't matter, but nights were the worst. Tyler had a side business as a farrier, which would keep him up during the day most days shoeing horses for ranchers throughout the valley. Tyler would often fall asleep sitting at the control board. We had a table behind the control board work area, which would serve as a headrest for Tyler when he would lean back in the desk chair, his mouth wide open and snoring loudly.
Casey and I came up with a plan. We filled a squirt bottle from the lab full of warm water. Casey crept up on hands and knees with the water bottle beside Tyler on one side, with me standing on the other side of him. Casey squirted the water into Tyler's open mouth, waking him suddenly. Right as Tyler woke, I, standing right beside his face, zipped my pants up, letting him draw his own conclusion about what just happened. Tyler was mad as a wet hen, threatening to kick our asses and invoking the wrath of gods and devils. He got over it by the next day and we all have laughed about it since.
Another Tyler sleeping story:
This gas plant treated raw sour gas with diglycol-amine (DGA), which absorbed the CO2 (carbon dioxide, 20% and H2S (hydrogen sulfide, 13%). 1000 ppm (parts per million) H2S will kill you in one breath, our gas had 130,000 ppm. The gas would come from the wells into the inlet separator building, where liquids produced would drop out. Normally, there is no gas leaking out of the vessels and piping, but it is always a risk. We carried 5-minute escape air packs just for such eventualities.
One night, I opened the west door of the inlet separator building finding Tyler lying on the floor asleep, his legs crossed with feet right by the door. I grabbed him around the ankles and dragged him out of the building, bumping him on the ground, the building was about 10" above the grade. He started trying to twist around and kick his way free of my hold, so I kept dragging him as fast as I could. I dragged him halfway across the plant, across dirt, gravel, and concrete, until he stopped kicking.
When he finally gave it up, I let go of his legs. He was laying there cursing me between gasps. I leaned over his face and told him between my own gasps for air (plant elevation was over 7000 ft) that for all I knew he had passed out due to poisonous gas and I was just trying to save his life. I scolded him, saying that I didn't ever want to catch him sleeping in the inlet separator building again. If he wanted to sleep, there were safer places to do it.
Tyler and I have been fast friends ever since, still keeping in touch several times a year despite being separated by 19 years and over a thousand miles.
10-20-2004, 04:56 PM
Oh, more huh?
Sexist but funny stories?
ASIC design, Boeing:
* There was a, for lack of a better word, strikingly beautiful woman that worked in the office. She couldn't have weighed over 95lbs wet (she was short too, probably under 5') and she always wore very prim and proper attire (business suits, long dresses etc). Except one day, she came in wearing jeans. Well, this was quite a change. At the end of the day, a few of the guys, me and her were talking and she mentioned she was concerned that she wasn't wearing professional enough clothes. "Is it okay that I wear jeans? Is that okay?" She repeated herself a lot, and I confirmed that it was fine, and everybody agreed. So, then she left the area, and was walking away from us, all of the eyes glued to her swaying posterior, and I quietly said, "Rose, you can wear jeans any time you like" which nearly caused uproarious laughter except that she was only about 20 feet away, so there were a few red faces. I am so bad.
First Boeing job, first permanent job -
* When I first started at Boeing, I was ripping paper off of printers (11x17 green and white, I can still rip the paper to this day using a pen and a specific motion). Yes, that was my job, and I was very good at it. Although being good at ripping and delivering reports wasn't on my list of things that were important, I just did the job well. So, after about 6 months, and a plethora of ERT's (Employee Request for Transfer) I got to the point that if you changed the way I did the "run" to deliver the reports, I would forget to do that extra thing. I would end up with a bag containing an important report still in my hand when I got back to the data center. I knew I must leave.
** I used to use an electric, um, car to deliver the reports. It was a little flatbed thing with a cab on it and a bunch of batteries, with an electric motor running the rear wheels via belts. It wasn't a big vehicle. I used to go as fast as I could, flooring the "gas" and squealing the belts until they hooked up and you actually went forward. Not good on the belts, but we had "automotive" that would fix it for us.
* In this electric thing, one time I took a corner a bit too fast and nearly tipped over, luckily I was able to put my feet out (yes, it was tipping me towards the ground I took a right hand turn a bit quick) and push it back up. The guard at the station (they hard guards at each entrance and exit to parking areas and some buildings, not all of them, but a lot) just about bust a gut. I thought I did pretty good not killing myself. I did have to pick up all of the reports and plots off of the ground that fell off the back.
* One time, going through one of the guard gates, I stopped and refused to go through (just being funny), so the guard pulled his gun out and pointed it (down towards the ground, not at me) and sternly looked at me and motioned me through with the gun! Get through the gate or I will shoot you! I scampered the little vehicle though, not wanting to test if the theory posited by one of the guards that there was only one bullet rotated around between guards was true.
** The electric vehicle was in the shop (it wasn't me, I think), and they gave us a little gas powered three wheel thingy to drive instead. Well, this was a "three on the tree" manual, and I had never driven something like that before. But, I picked it up quickly, and had a hell of a good time with it. It had MUCH more power then the electric barge and I could slam though the gears in my best F1 imitation.
* There was one delivery that required driving across a busy street (in Renton WA, right next to where Fry's is now :D ), and a long section across the street was a wide sidewalk, about 1/4 mile before you got to the gate (the other side before getting to the street to cross was inside the gate, so you had to wind around people). So, it was a perfect way to test how fast you could go. A few of us would line up after crossing the street, look at each other, and then RACE down that 1/4 mile section as fast as we could. I kept getting my butt kicked by another 3 wheeler and I was pretty annoyed. So, I took a look at the engine and I realized they had a restricter on the throttle. Well, that came right off! Lo and behold I was able to trounce the other guy in our 1/4 mile run! Hah, he never figured it out. From the street traffic, I think I was able to do about 35MPH in that thing. Pretty fast if you have ever been in one of those.
* There was a gal in the building across the street, very pretty, and her last name was Darling! So, I would come into the office when delivering reports and of course do the classic "Here is your report, Darling". I had to stop doing that when I found out her dad worked in the same area and heard me saying that. Of course, he had a license plate on his car that said "Darling".
Okay, can't remember more now.
10-20-2004, 09:34 PM
At the plant in Wyoming, during that plant reconstruction time we had a lot of time on our hands. One night we decided it would be fun to fill balloons with acetylene and throw them on a fire. We often built a bonfire out of the scrap pallets and so forth. The balloons full of acetylene would explode with a loud pop and a puff of black smoke would rise. Casey decided it would work even better if we added oxygen to the mix. That was cool, the explosions were much much louder, echoing off the surrounding hills. Then, I, in a flash of utter brilliance, decided that if a balloon full of oxy-acetylene was good then a trashbag full of it would be better.
Realizing the explosion would be larger, I figured placing it directly on the fire would be dangerous, so I found a discarded 20 foot gauging stick. These sticks were used to determine how much product was in the condensate production tanks, they were discarded when you could no longer read the feet and inches on them. Anyway, I inflated the 33 gallon garbage bag with oxygen and acetylene mixed and tied it to the stick. Then with stick fully extended, I lowered it to the fire. The explosion knocked me right on my ass and completely extinguished the bonfire, ala Red Adair and oilwell fires. I couldn't hear a damn thing for several minutes. Man, that was stupid.
Then there was the kite. Wyoming is very windy anyway, so I figured flying a large kite would be cool. Using a pair of those gauging sticks and an old plastic tarp, I built a kite that was about 10 ft by 20 ft, with about a thirty foot tail made of rags, using a 1/4" nylon rope for a string. I enlisted Tyler's help in launching said kite. No sooner than he lifted it up, a gust of wind caught the thing and lifted me right off the ground, the kite and I sailing along across the plant yard, me bouncing off the ground occasionally. I let go probably about six feet off the ground, the kite was last seen sailing off to the north. I'm glad I let go before it dragged me across the razor wire.
Edit: Maybe these should be in the shameful confessions thread.
10-20-2004, 10:18 PM
This is a great thread. I read every single story on it. You guys aren't boring. But maybe that's because I'm a geek.
My COBOL lecturer once recounted what a hard drive crash was like back in the day when he worked for a large bank. Apparently the old drives were large and heavy enough to be dangerous when they broke down. Despite being contained in a fairly heavy case, a disk coming apart could send thick shards of metal flying through the casing at dangerous velocities.
So there was a serious drill they had to do in cases of impending hard drive failure. If they heard the characteristic whine of a hard drive about to come apart everyone hit the floor and someone crawled over and hit an red button so the emergency response team could rush over, presumably decked out in body armour, to shut everything down and deal with the dangerous drive. It tickled me when he told us that. There was actually a time when a computer crash could be hazardous to your health.
Back in late 1999 I was working on a (terrible) Y2K project with a bunch of Indian programmers. One of the VPs from their subcontracting company (which is a division of the giant Tata Corporation) came over to see how things were going.
The Zulu company driver, having had the importance of the VP strongly impressed on him, asked them what a suitable term of respect would be. They told him to call the VP banchod.
So this guy went out to the airport and picked up the VP, saying "Yes, Banchod", "No, Banchod" the whole time and wondering why the guy looked particularly unnerved. The reason was that he couldn't believe his ears.
When the driver dropped him off at his hotel he apparently finally came to the concluson that he was hearing right and asked the driver who taught him that word. Luckily for the developers' he was a very good natured old man with a sense of humour and they only got a friendly reprimand when he took us out for drinks.
Banchod is Hindi slang for "Sisterfucker"
10-20-2004, 10:58 PM
Farren reminded me of something.
* Remember those 5x8 windows looking in the computer room(s). Well, our neighboring department had the same thing, just one door over. I was walking past this one day, and I looked over and couldn't see a darn thing in their computer room. I mean, the lights were on (as far as I could tell), but all I could see was a brownish-redish color on the window.
It turned out, that one of the disk packs (like farren was commenting on, but obviously not as violent, I never heard of it being that bad, but the cases they were kept in had high strength steel enclosures) had basically had a head crash, but the heads didn't give up, they kept on contacting the platters and disintegrated them into a fine powder that got thrown throughout the computer room. Ooops, that was a big cleanup.
* I was having an intermittent crash on one of the machines in the office, one of the engineers machines that he used for compiles kept crashing at night, and we couldn't find a reason. It ran fine all day, crunching away, but at night would crash with nothing running on it, or compiles going. I thought it was some cron job (scheduler program) that was causing it. But, I could never figure it out. Then, one day I decided to stay late and watch the machine, because it was just bugging the crap out of me.
Guess what? The urban legend is true. I had a cleaning person come around and unplug the computer to run the vacuum cleaner. Problem solved, urban legend started.
10-21-2004, 03:44 AM
* I can be quite the swear monger, especially when dealing with MicroSquish ;), but anyway at this office, we had cubicles of 4 people, pretty big, I would say 16x12, and we were discussing swearing in the workplace, and one of the women pipes up and says "You can get written up for swearing." Very serious on her part, and I said, "Fuck, really?"
Little did I know that _I_ was the one that was written up for language problem (I am so clueless sometimes).
Renton, delivery boy:
* When I was delivering reports, one of the places was an office building, 10 or so floors and I had to deliver on each floor. Well, that required a lot of elevator use (except down, I would carry the little dolly empty down the stairs), and one time, I crammed in with a bunch of suits. One of them asked what happens when you pull the "stop" button, so I said "I don't know, lets find out" and I pulled it and the elevator stopped and the alarm went off. Everybody was laughing and having fun, so I pushed the button back in. LIttle did I know, Allan Mulally (http://www.boeing.com/companyoffices/aboutus/execprofiles/mulally.html) was in the elevator.
Renton, 777 project, FlyThrough software.
* I was commissioned to make sure that during a meeting of the head honchos that a machine used for a demo would not have problems. I had to stand outside the room and wait (outside the room meant OUTSIDE, 100 feet away because I wouldn't wear a suit and tie). Frank Shrontz and Phil Condit were in this meeting (I saw their little name tags on the table, poor people don't even know where to sit down). Anyway, during a "preview" of the meeting, where an engineer was doing his speech to the assistants to the big-wigs, one of them stopped him and said that the term "Flight Deck" was too techincal and he should use "Cock Pit" instead. Lets see, Frank Scrontz was running a company that MADE AIRPLANES AND FLIGHT DECK WAS TOO TECHNICAL! Holy fuck, kill me now.
10-21-2004, 06:03 AM
Back when I lived in Wyoming (a year or two before Warrenly's war stories commenced), my dad owned a Sub sandwich shop called the Hungry hero in Rawlins (armpit of the world). The only dangerous job was prepping the food, because our slicer would go well into your fingers before you even noticed your hand was where it shouldn't be. I remember having about 2 dozen scars from the knives alone for the first few months, which was only a problem when Dad asked me to grab a handful of pickles out of the buckets and put them in the working trays. But, I, unlike several of my prep colleagues never actually had to go to the hospital over the damn meat slicer. We had several people lose the tips of their fingers, but one girl really managed to lose a serious quantity of her finger one night. Thing is we never found it....
When I had a newspaper route, my Dad used to drive me in his truck after work, took about 10 minutes that way and then we'd head over to the grocery store or what not. But I remember there was this chihuahua that used to chase the car growling and barking with the greatest malice I ever saw in such a small little bugger. One day out of curiosity I dropped a Sunday newspaper in its path as it chased the truck. It must have weighed at least 3 times as much as the glorified little rat, but the little bugger hit it on a full charge, lifted it up and started shaking it back and forth with its head. Man, it was impressive. For just a moment there I was actually a little bit afraid.
When I was working with the Navajo Judicial Branch on a study of youth gangs in the area, I went out to a small segment of the reservation near Albuquerque. It was essentially where the scouts that Kit Carson and all his predecessers (quiet Liv, I know I mispelled that one) ended up. There was one road in, 2 cops, 2 prosecutors, and a judge would cycle through once a week. The gang members absolutely ruled the place; it was amazing. A Probabtion Officer showed me the home of the guy they were all afraid of, and told me the guy was probably hiding inside. He said he had the authority to go in, but I said not to, that i would come back later and ask for an interview. I did about a month later, and found the guy working on a truck and hanging out with about a dozen other gang members, most of whom were pretty hardcore. I ended up paying the guy (an "OG," as they say) for a series of interviews over the course of about 2 days, and on the second day he asked me to give him a ride to the probation office. We headed over about half an hour late for his appointment, and as we did this he told me the story about how his brother had just tried to gouge his (the brother's) girlfriend's eye out with a screwdriver a couple nights before and other such wonderful bed-time stories, and he told me that he had arranged an interview in about an hour.
So, we get to the probation office, and I wait outside, they both ask me in, saying it's okay. Cool. Now the thing is the OG was on probation for shooting up the only local convenience store (post office and gas station) in town. The owner used his own gun to arrest the whole lot of them after I guess they had unloaded their own guns on the place. Anyway, during the course of the discussion, the probation officer asks the OG if he has any of the restitution money he was ordered to pay. He says yeah, and gets out a large bill. The probation officer tells him; "now you know we only take cashier's checks and money orders." The OG sys "oh yeah, I forgot" and puts it back in his pocket. The Probation Officer asks him to get the proper currency and come back after the appointment, and the OG agrees. Why is this funny? There is only one place in town where he can get either a cashier's check or a money order. And of course it's perfectly obvious to all 3 of us that although they are planning the payment, it will NOT happen, not today anyway. Next the PO asks about progress in finding a job, and the OG says it's hard to do, ...yadyadayada, he hasn't got a job. Then he asks the PO if he has any ideas, and there really just aren't any in town, except it seems the convenience store that the OG shot up to begin with. I figure it ends there, but sure enough, the OG asks the PO if he has asked the owner of the store about the job (I had SUCH a hard time keeping a straight face at this point), and the PO says the answer was not just no, but Hell no. We leave with about 15 minutes until the next interview, and I ask if he wants me to take him to get the cashier's check instead of going to the interview.
10-21-2004, 06:15 AM
Two more stories from the fuckin gang study:
I once had to ask this question to another OG, sitting in a crack house with a row of empty 40s on the table beside us, and a guy outside busting up all the other empties from the night before:
"Does drinking alcohol play an important role in your gang?"
Mind you the methodological assumptions of the study presupposed that I would ask this question with a straight face, just as I did eveyone else.
Second, toward the end of the study, the Court Solicitor told me he was on his way to Washington with the Navajo Nation Chief Justice to testify before a Congressional Committee, because he heard there was a bill before them to deal with gangs in Indian country. So, he asks me to fill him in on some things very briefly, and I do. A week or so later I read an article from the New York Times (I think that was it) which has the navajo Nation Department of Justice telling Congress about Navajo gangs, and it's all my words. Now there are two things wrong with this:
1) As one liners, my statements sounded really stupid, and I was completely embarrassed to have been the original author of each of them. I had assumed the information would be used, but put in word more carefully when there was time to think about specific wording, but no, whoever made the report quoted me word for word when I had so clearly NOT thought thought about the prcise wording, and now it all looked perfectly idiotic to me. I was really relieved to know that they had been attributed to someone else. But that leads to a second problem.
2) The quotes were attributed to the NN Department of Justice, not the Judicial Branch. In other words, the article presented our study and its results as coming from the police department, and we had been promising gang members for over a year that we weren't connected with the police in any way. the boss - fucking idiot - declined to request a correction from the newspaper, and I and my coworker got to wonder for a bit whether or not we were about to be killed, him more than me of course, but just the same...
10-21-2004, 06:44 AM
The newspaper route story made me think of one of my own.
When I was 16 I was an Amarillo Daily News carrier with a motor route, about 120 papers over 15 miles, about half were put in newspaper tubes on the resident's mailbox posts, the other half was in one subdivision, delivered on the porches or on the hooks under their doorside mailboxes. I would get up at 04:00 AM to roll the papers. It would take me roughly a half hour to roll the papers and a little over an hour to make all the deliveries, longer on Sundays. My usual route home took me past the Spudnut shop, I think spudnuts are doughnuts made with potato flour. I would often stop and pick up a dozen spudnuts on Saturdays or Sundays to take home for my family.
During that time I had to be at the high school band hall at 07:00 AM for early band practice. I was also in the orchestra for the annual musical production, Hello Dolly that year, practices for which were in the evenings, usually getting out at 9:00 or 10:00 PM, no problem. Then, when the production went on for paying audiences, there were daily evening performances all week, then two performances on Saturday night, followed by the wrap party. I didn't get home until about 1:00 AM. I got up at 03:30, rolled the papers, made all my deliveries. I stopped at the Spudnut shop and got my usual baker's dozen, 13.
Between the Spudnut shop and home were about a half dozen traffic lights and the Round-The-Clock cafe. I made my way down the serpentine Main Street with no problem. I went past the Round-The-Clock. A police car pulled out from the cafe and flipped its lights on. I pulled over. The cop came up to my car and asked me what my problem was. I told him I didn't know why he had pulled me over. He said "Son, you ran a red light and then stopped at that green light." I said "Really? I must be really tired." adding "You want a donut?" motioning toward the Spudnut sack on the seat. He smiled and said, "Maybe next time. You go home and get some rest. Be careful." Man, that was the good old days. These days it would've been a ticket almost for sure. Revenue, man, it's all about revenue now.
Good old days? That's when gasoline was 25 cents a gallon. Sounds good, doesn't it? My car at the time, a 1955 Pontiac Chieftan, got 8 mpg, probably fairly typical of the day. I could fill it up for less than five bucks. Unfortunately, the paper route only paid about $60 a month. It took $30 worth of gasoline just to drive the route, let alone anything else I did. It was a money losing proposition that I was glad to see go away so I could get that good job that paid $1 an hour.
My eldest daughter had a paper route in Utah for the Salt Lake Tribune. She would make her deliveries Monday through Saturday using the red Radio Flyer wagon to haul the papers. The Sunday paper was too big, so we would get up with her, help her roll the papers and then take her around in the car, the trunk completely full of newspapers.
Sometimes, my wife would drive and the daughter and I would both throw the papers on their porches or driveways, whichever the customer wanted. One morning, at one house that had a fenced front yard, I tossed the newspaper onto what I thought was a wadded up blanket on the porch. It wasn't a wadded up blanket, it was a Sharpei. Did you know Sharpeis hiss angrily when startled? Scared the shit out of me.
Can you see why I might have mistaken it for a wadded up blanket?
10-21-2004, 09:08 AM
Actually, I maintain that that IS a wadded up blanket.
10-21-2004, 04:24 PM
-Boeing, 777 project, Everett:
* We were supposed to use the 5S's when doing our job (I had to look this up, so laugh now and realize what is going to be funny, I was supposed to know this 15 years ago: sorting, simplifying, sweeping, standardizing, and self-discipline). Of course, being a sys-admin, sweeping seemed rather stupid, and sweeping was the only one I remember of the 5S's. Now, we were FORCED to use this process IF we understood what it was. So, when my boss came around and asked about using the 5S'ing in our job, I would always answer "I am sorry, I just don't understand." Thus, I never did 5S'ing at all. And really, I never did know because I just looked it up!
* Along the lines of 5S'ing, we were supposed to keep track of everything we did in a logging system. So, at the end of the day, we were supposed to input into this crappy system all of these different codes and an explaination (down to 15 minute intervals) of what we did for the day. Boeing never did know exactly what sys-admins did and needed this information. I guess. Anyway, I was doing this and it was taking me 45 minutes a day just to input this crap, and I wanted to know how the data was being used. So, I started inputing swear words in the descriptions, figuring they would get pissed off and talk to me about it. Never heard anything.
This process was especially hard for me because I got calls from every other sys-admin all day long (remember pagers? I had 35-40 pages a day) and remembering and writing down everything I did was just a total waste of my time. If they wanted to know what I did, why didn't the managers follow me for a day and figure it out? (plus, since we were Sun users, the interface for the tool sucked because it was made for PC's and they had a cool little tool, ours was all manual, like having to put a code number in for a process instead of having a pull-down menu with the description).
Anyway, so what I figured out was that the program we had ftp'ed (file transfer) over the network to the server and logged in with our account. Well, I wrote some scripts that randomized a bunch of different input for the system, with various swear words and projects and a bunch of bullshit and had it input via cron every day (again, cron is a scheduler used on UNIX, you can pick a time to run something). So, I never had to use that again (oh, they would bug you if you didn't input anything, they knew when you put something in the system, but obviously never read it).
* Just before the release of cyberslice.com, in fact a month before, we were working on the project something like 20 hours per day. It was one hell of a month, and one of the biggest projects was the IVR (Interactive Voice Response, it would basically call up the pizza joint and speak the order automagically) system. We had contracted out the software portion for the SCO unix PC based machines using Dialogic cards (Diallogic cards that could talk on T1 lines to make phone calls for you, a T1 is 24 phone lines).
So, this software from a 3rd party to dial the numbers was down to the wire getting done, and we were not getting good help, plus, the Diallogic card would not talk to the T1 properly, and I couldn't get good help from Diallogic or the people doing the software. They all said it should work. So, I buckled down and started following the C code for the calling routine. Now, I know little about C code, but I started reading this, and it was total shit. I found the errors in the code (the most glaring was an array that just wasn't defined large enough and would crash after the first attempted call). I fixed that, but of course things weren't calling properly still.
We had the software people come up and work for two days on the system and couldn't get it working. They finally said it was a bad Diallogic card and we should get it replaced. Well, I did that and it still didn't work (IIRC the Diallogic cards were like $6000) So, I called up the T1 vendor and pleaded with them to please sit with me on the phone as I dialed up this program. Well, after an hour on the line, and changing the setting on the Diallogic card, it worked! TWO HOURS BEFORE LAUNCH OF THE SITE!
Talk about relief. The only problem beyond that was when people made an order I had to manually take that order and punch it into the system (well, transfer the order file to the IVR system and then start the IVR software).
10-21-2004, 09:17 PM
ATL - Bothell (Advanced Technology Laboratories, owned by Philips now, they made medical equipment/ultrasound stuff)
* We had this nasty process of downloading the software configuration to the HDI 3000's (ultrasound machines) and it could take up to an hour to get this process done ( as a side note, the machines were all configured exactly the same way in terms of hardware, but the software limited what you could do, so you could get a "cheaper" machine with less options, but they were all the same).
This process was a mire of configuration files, NFS copying, database access and then writing to the HDI. It was worthless, and caused a lot of delays in shipping because it was one of the last things that happened before it went out the door.
One of the people that had originally designed the "download" left the company. Two days later the system broke and nobody knew how to fix it. So, in comes that gal that knows the most about the system, looking to me to help her fix it. I basically have no clue as to what to do as I had only been working there about 4 months and it wasn't even part of my job (I still don't know why they came to me, I think there was nobody else in the office, I get in early).
Well, this is a "BIG DEAL" and so I called the person who left to figure out how to fix it, the gal was sitting to my right on my desk as I talked to him. Vaguely I remember my boss showing up behind me and saying something, but I was busy. So, I chat with this guy, very nicely and got all of the information I needed to fix the problem, but I was not amused with his attitude and was basically thinking he was an idiot. So, when ending the conversation I said, "Hey, thanks for the help I really appreciate it.", immediately after hanging up I said, "Fucking moron", and laughter burst out behind me, I turned around cautiously.
My boss, his boss, and the boss of the entire division were standing in my cube (or right outside). Oops.
Along with the help of the gal that knew more of the processes, we worked and got the configuration download to take less than 5 minutes, by chopping out 3 or 4 layers of bullshit and just downloading nearly directly from the database to the HDI (the person building the machine and then programming it, would input the configuration into the database, and then click a button to download to the machine, the machine itself ran a small Linux core that could talk on the network, pretty slick).
10-22-2004, 04:14 AM
Boeing, 7x7 (777 before it was 777) project, Bellevue WA.
* We were working on using HP/UX servers to stand in the place of PC file servers (kinda like Samba (http://www.samba.org) ), which was about a 50 to 1 replacement at the time. To do this, we had to have transitional "stuff" (read scripts) to allow the PC support people to do things, such as add printers, delete stuff, backup the system etc.
I actually started doing the scripts (korn shell scripts) to help out the PC support people on my own time. It became a project from what I had started. I spent a month writing these scripts (I think there were something like 15 different scripts to do various tasks, one was a restricted shell that only let you do what I had programed into it, reinventing the wheel I guess :) .
Now, one of the other projects was releasing these UNIX for PC file servers, and setting up other HP/UX servers to do different tasks (Database servers, application servers etc) all with a remote tool from HP. It was a big project with a lot of servers and they needed people who knew little about the UNIX side to administer the machine.
Now, the software from HP that was supposed to allow you to control the machines from a central location was a beta piece of software (I didn't know this at the time) and they only had a few tools.
A PhD had convinced management that this was the way to go. He had squelched my idea for the ability to set up the machine with just a one page set of instructions that anybody could do. You could just attach the machine to the network, turn it on, type in a server and it would pull up a menu of what you wanted the machine to do (app server, db server etc) and install everything you needed. This was shot down, even though I had most of it already done, and thought I could get it done with two weeks worth of work.
A short time after that, I left the company for ATL. I talked with one of the gals I used to work with, and Mr. PhD was still pushing the beta software from HP, but he wasn't only just pushing that, but was pushing it with all of the scripts I had written, as his own. The bastard (it wasn't the first time somebody profited from my ideas, Boeing was a sesspool).
* Same PhD called a meeting. It was supposed to be about what we were going to do for the next few weeks, important project stuff (most of it I mentioned above). I never took notes in meetings, but everybody else did (I should have). This meeting is going on and on, and Mr. PhD is talking and talking and I have no fucking clue what he is talking about. None, I was lost. I was looking around and everybody was furiously writing notes down and I was feeling pretty stupid, I just had no idea what was going on. 45 minutes of this and all of the sudden I figured it out, or thought I did.
I interrupted and said, "So, what you are saying is that we need to do X, then Y, then Z?", and he said "Yes", and EVERYBODY in the room went "Ohhh" and wrote that down. Lets see, he talked for 45 minutes and I summarized what he was talking about in about 30 seconds. He could have sent a fucking email. I couldn't have hated this guy more, especially after learning what he did with my scripts.
I realized that what he did with management was just talk over them, and they would just agree to what he said because he had a PhD. They didn't understand that he was an idiot.
10-22-2004, 11:15 AM
Back when they still allowed smoking in the workplace there were several near chain smokers in our workgroup. One of these guys was a divorced man, who had an overactive social life, not usually getting much sleep during the day. Craig had four daughters by three different ex-wives, a pregnant shack-up girlfriend and several others on the string. He would often fall asleep at his workstation.
One night I was working with Craig. When he fell asleep with an unlit cigarette in his hand I snuck over and lit the cigarette with his own lighter. The cigarette smoldered until it was burning his fingers, waking him with a start, causing his drop the lit cigarette, which rolled out of sight under the computer console. I feigned surprise at his reaction, he bought it, thinking he had lit up himself but had forgotten. I told him that's what he gets for falling asleep with a cigarette in his hand. He denied even being asleep. Uh-huh.
Vince, another coworker bought some cigarette loads (http://www.fireworks.com/fireworks_gallery/photo.asp?pid=457) at a novelty store. Craig used to bring two packs of cigarettes to work in his Igloo Playmate lunchbox and another in his pocket. I said he had a bad habit, three packs a day. One day he left his open cigarette pack out on the desk when he went to the restroom. Vince pulled some out and inserted several loads, carefully placing the pack right where Craig left it.
After smoking a few normal, non-tampered with cigarettes, one exploded within a minute of lighting it. Tom, our supervisor, Vince, and I all laughed. He called us fuckers. He pulled another one out of the pack, lit it up. It exploded too. We laughed. He called us all motherfuckers. He dumped the cigarettes out until he was at the last one in the pack. It exploded when he lit it. He called us motherfucking cocksuckers, went to the lunchroom and pulled out a new pack of smokes.
Craig came back into the control room, unwrapped the new pack, pulled a cigarette out, lit her up and took a deep draw on it. Sure enough, bang, it exploded. We laughed. Craig laughed too, but still called us cocksucking motherfucking assholes. Vince revealed that he had pulled Craig's cigarettes out of his lunchbox, slit the wrapper on the bottom with a razorblade, loaded several cigarettes, and put a piece of tape on it to seal it back up.
Steve's wife wanted him to cut back on smoking so she made him buy the Carlton Lights, low tar and nicotine cigarettes. Carlton's achieved this miracle of science by putting air holes in the filter so that every draw of the cigarette you got extra air with your smoke. Steve used to put tape around the filters on all his cigarettes, then draw deep on them. Those cigarettes, with holes covered, would burn up like a lit fuse, he could smoke one in about 20 seconds.
Oddly enough, Philip Morris (http://www.philipmorrisusa.com/health_issues/low_tar_cigarettes.asp) specifically warns about blocking the air holes.
Speaking of smoking...
One morning on our way into the plant in Wyoming, we came upon one of our blue company trucks on its side in the snow in the ditch. We found Stan, the field operator, laughing as we pulled up. We asked what happened. He said he was rolling a doobie while steering with his knee and lost control. Stupid pothead confessed right in front of a foreman. I don't know why he needed to roll another one, the ashtray was full of already rolled joints. Stupid.
Speaking of steering with your knee...
Delvin, another field operator, was driving with Wade his coworker on the passenger side. They were making their way up Sage Creek Mountain to a gas well on the mountainside. It was a sunny day during spring thaw so the road was very muddy. Delvin was lighting his cigarette while holding a Dr Pepper in the other hand, steering with his knee. Stan Jr... I mean, Wade, was rolling a joint at the time of the accident. Delvin lost control of the truck, it went off the road and rolled down the mountainside. It rolled at least three times. He didn't lose his cigarette or spill a drop of Dr Pepper. It was amazing. There were tools scattered all over the mountainside and all he could say was that he didn't spill a drop or lose his cigarette. Stupid.
10-23-2004, 04:24 AM
ATL Bothell, WA
* I met my wife at ATL (okay, my soon-to-be-wife, okay, it took two years) and I was staying at her place, which was much closer to work than where I lived (probably less than 10 miles, where my house was 25 miles away). Even though we never hid the fact that we were seeing each other, nobody seemed to pay much attention. I mean, we would come in to work together, go to lunch and leave at the same time. Wow, were they clueless.
One night, there was a problem at work, and the night operator gave Bev a page, so she called back but couldn't fix the problem. Then, they paged me, so I called back, from Bev's phone. The night operator figured it out pretty quickly, but it so happened that my boss was there, but didn't notice where the calls were coming from. So, I left and drove into work, it being close and all.
I show up, and my boss goes "How in the heck did you get here so quickly, I didn't want you to drive all that way?", and I said "Well, when you have a car that will go 140...", and the night operator started laughing.
Boeing 7x7 project:
* I left very detailed instructions for one of the other sys-admins on exactly how to do something. I specifically said, "Don't skip any one of these instructions, if you do, it will screw everything up." I really didn't think it was much of an issue and forgot about it.
I come in to work early (as usual) and I check out the servers and one in another building isn't responding. It is an important server and I didn't know what was wrong. I go over there, and the entire operating system is gone, vanished, nothing. I rebuild the thing, and reconfigured it in about 3 hours, right when the machine is needed for production. I got it up and running just when requests came in to use the machine. Holy crap.
So, I get back to my normal office, and I went to the gal who is supposed to watch that machine, but she isn't in. She called in sick. It was then i realized that she hadn't followed my instructions, and skipped the most important step. But, instead of admitting she made a mistake and, maybe, you know, calling me, she just left the machine screwed up and crashed, leaving me with the mess.
* I was upgrading a machine, a critical production machine, to a new level of the O/S. I was a little nervous but not too bad. Just as above, I do the wrong thing and totally hose the entire system. Not just a little bit, but so screwed I had to install everything from scratch, O/S, software, data from backup, everything (I screwed up an array, besides the O/S partition, because I had to extend a partition for the new O/S, and it wasn't something you just did without knowing exactly what you were doing...which I did, but when you hit return and wish you hadn't with a typo...).
There I was, the initial panic almost set in, then it set in, and I panicked, then I got angry, then I said why me, then I accepted it, all in about 5 minutes. :) Then, the low-level panic that all system administrators know set in, the one that makes you forget to eat, forget to drink anything and forbid yourself from going to the bathroom until your bladder feels like it will burn a hole in your pants.
I worked fast, got the backup tapes called in from off-site (because I had to do a full restore of the data with incremental backups, this was one of the times I actually had backups, and the ability to call 24/7 to get tapes back). I rushed and reinstalled the O/S, then got the application data loaded, then waited for the backup tapes to show up. This took a few hours, then loading the backups, full first then incrementals took about 4 hours, then I had to test all of the software and make sure everything looked normal.
All in all, I stayed all night to fix the problem, and when people walked in in the morning, I hadn't left my desk.
I never said anything, nobody knew, the secrets we have as miracle workers that we don't even admit to.
I think wade-w probably knows, he knows, oh yes, he knows.
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