After hitting a dead end on a new Top Story, I decided to try this instead. For your edification, here are my Wonderland Classics. When you finish reading them, you'll know why I am invariably amazed, amused, and inspired by my regular sojourns in Wonderland. They lay heaping helpings of scribbler inspiration at my feet, plus they pay for the honor of feeding my inner scribbler beast. That's why Wonderland is near and dear to my heart.
'Wonderland', in this context, is one of my clients. It's a small 'high tech' firm whose managers are - when it comes to certain kinds of equipment - 'challenged'. How challenged? You can decided for yourself, based on these classic - I swear they're true - adventures.
Classic Episode 1
When they checked the company's voice mail on a Monday (March 15, 2010) several of the firm's managers were perplexed by the machine's introductory words on the first message: "Friday, two-seventeen".
For the next two days they tried to analyze/troubleshoot the voicemail technology to determine why it affixed a date - February 17 - on a message that was received in mid-March.
On the third day, the crisis was resolved, after a free ranging rational adult arrived on the scene. After listening patiently, the free ranging rational adult explained the obvious to them: "Two-seventeen is the TIME, not the date."
Classic Episode 2
With their first crisis resolved, the same Einsteins aimed the free ranging rational adult at their next crisis, a 'broken' FAX machine.
"It just stopped. No matter how many times I pushed the button, it wouldn't print my second incoming page." One of them caterwauled.
"It's an important message, and we've lost two days trying to recover it." Another manager complained.
Glancing at the FAX machine, the free ranging rational adult asked, "Did you try replacing the black cartridge?"
"Why?" The third manager asked, glaring at the machine.
Pointing to the FAX's blinking status window, the free ranging rational adult replied, "Because this says 'change black cartridge'."
"Oh." One of them replied. "But, what about all the FAXes we lost while it was broken?"
"It saves them in memory until it can print them out for you." The free ranging rational adult explained, while installing a new black cartridge.
Demonstrating heroism, above, and beyond, the call of duty, the free ranging rational adult resisted the urge to smirk and/or gloat, when the 'missing', 'lost', second page emerged from the 'BROKEN' FAX machine.
Classic Episode 3
I wasn't shocked when I got a frantic call from Wonderland reporting that 'The Big Guy' was having trouble sending E-Mail. It's a regular occurrence in Wonderland. For example, last week, he rushed up to me telling me that he couldn't send his e-mail which needed to go out, before he left on his business trip.
"I'll take a look." I told him, knowing, that, as usual, his Outlook Express outgoing mail queue had a message it couldn't handle. The fun fact about Outlook Express is that it won't send any newer messages, until it gets rid of the oldest one. Anyway, I cleared the message - it was too big for our e-mail hosting service - and was, once again, given 'hero for a picosecond' status.
This week, the problem was more serious, since nobody - including the Resident Rational Adult - could send any mail. They were in crisis mode and needed me to motor all the way across town - at least an hour, given the traffic - to fix it. Unwilling to go there, I told them I'd 'check into it' and get back to them.
Instead of getting in my ride, I got on my computer, cybersurfed to Earthlink, then accessed the support site, where they list known outages. The e-mail problem was easy to find, since it was the only outage on the list: a key mail server ate itself and they were working on it. Users could 'get 'er done' using Web Mail, but that wouldn't help 'The Big Guy', who isn't up to speed on that feature.
I looked at the estimated repair time, and concluded that it would be fixed before I could drive across town. What to do?
I called the Resident Rational Adult and said, "I found the problem. I think I can fix it from here."
"You're the best." She replied, telling me what I already knew.
I monitored the status on the Earthlink outage page and, as expected, they had their server off the critical list within the hour. Did I have the balls to take the credit for the fix? You better believe it, Sparky.
I called the Resident Rational Adult and told her. "It's fixed. Go ahead and try it."
"AWESOME! You're my hero." She exclaimed. "How did you do it?"
"It's a trade secret." I replied, trying to sound conspiratorial.
Don't ask, don't tell isn't only for GLAAD BAAGs. It's a good policy for certain consulting Test Engineers, too. I'm just sayin'.
Classic Episode 4
One of the irrational adults running my client, Wonderland, is the poster punk for 'Miser'. Since he pinches his pennies so hard he makes Honest Abe bleed, I'll call him 'Pincher' to protect the name of the guilty. I know what you're thinking and you're wrong. Pincher isn't cheap out of necessity. He's cheap because he's hard-wired for it.
There is, needless to say, a serious down side to Pincher's aversion to spending money. How serious? I'll let you be the judge. Before we get to the fun stuff, I need to bring you up to speed on one of Pincher's prime directives:
* Never hire a trained professional, when you can hire someone who is relentlessly clueless for a fraction of the price.
The unwritten corollary for the foregoing Pincher mantra is this: when hiring the relentlessly clueless to wrangle something primal like electricity or plumbing, Pincher himself supplies the technical expertise. In all honesty, Pincher isn't a complete novice in such matters, but he is, bless his miserly heart, dangerously enthusiastic. Is that as thrilling as it sounds? You better believe it, Sparky.
When it comes his relentlessly clueless hired guns, Pincher has an impressive collection of them, but lately, his goto guy is a dude named Chico. I wouldn't call Chico 'relentlessly clueless'. I would, on the other hand, say that Chico knows just enough to be dangerous about a wide variety of Mr. Fixit tasks. Pincher could care less about that, because Chico's primary claim to fame for Pincher is 'works cheap'.
Now that we have all the players identified, it's time to get down to business.
For the past two weeks, Pincher and his goto guy, Chico, have been working on a pesky plumbing issue at Pincher's home. It started as a simple problem - a leaky pipe - but, after more than a week of Pincher's inspirational expertise, and Chico's 'works cheap' magic, this dynamic duo managed to seriously f**k things up. How seriously? Very:
* The toilets no longer flush.
* There is poop floating in the bathtub.
* As for the laundry room, you really don't want to know what happened, when they tried to run a load through the washer.
How did they manage all this in such a short period of time? I don't know, but along the way they ripped open walls, dug holes in the floor, crossed several pipes, and created a gap in the plumbing that neither Chico or Pincher knows how to close.
Today, after nearly two weeks of unrelenting, amateur plumber, fun, the novelty of toilets that won't flush and bathtubs filled with poop has worn off. Humbled, to say the least, Pincher swallowed his pride and summoned a trained, plumbing professional.
Has he learned his lesson, after turning a relatively inexpensive plumbing fix into a very costly plumbing nightmare? I doubt it.
Wonderland, The Saga Continues
[When I'm visiting Wonderland I do more than play consulting engineer. Much too often, I'm asked to handle incoming calls for them. Why, because Chiquita - their official phone monkey - isn't as proficient in English as that task, being the receptionist, requires.
When she has a language breakdown, she usually asks me to find out what's on the caller's agenda.]
* V. J. Steve
I had a close encounter with V. J. "Steve", while I was at Wonderland - a customer site - today. My client - that legendary computer wrangler, The Big Guy - was out of the building and asked me to pick up the phone for him, because he was expecting an important call.
When the phone rang, I, foolishly, picked it up and got mouse-trapped into one of those phone surveys. I could tell by his tattletale accent that I was talking to V.J. Steve - real name - Ramalamadingdong - and he was a veritable pit bull, when it came to keeping me on the phone. I accidentally hung up on him once, when I meant to put him on hold, but he called me back. In fact, he called me back TWICE.
V. J. Steve shrugged it off, when I explained that I'm an independent contractor, not an employee of Wonderland. He shrugged it off, when I told him that I didn't have the information he needed. He was determined to fritter away 30 minutes (minimum) of my life and he wouldn't be denied.
I hope he enjoyed the answers I gave him, because, other than a rough estimate about the number of P.C. s at Wonderland, nothing I said was an on-going element of Objective Reality.
I know you're out there V. J. Steve. I'm going to track your miserable ass down and kick you in the nuts so hard, your whole family will feel it.
* Worlds Apart
While toiling away at Wonderland, I got a call from a vendor whom I've known for years. After a relatively brief exchange of technology-related pleasantries, the yammering veered off into politics.
He got it rolling, when he noted how much more civilized his Arizona outpost of capitalism is than his primary capitalistic outpost in Mexifornia.
Him: "When it comes to taxes and regulations, Arizonia seems like another country."
Me: "Which country? Mexico?"
Him: "That too. Why is California so fucked up?"
Me: "A Jackass Party legislature. A Jackass Party governor. Plus, a critical mass of chad punching Moonbats who keep them in control."
Him: "That explains it. Arizona seems to have avoided that problem. I only remember one really bad governor - a woman named Napolitano - but she's long gone. I have no idea where she went."
Me: "She's the head of DHS."
Him: "Oh my god."
Me: "You'd know this stuff, if you read my scribblings at the Politically Incorrect Gazette. WWW DOT P I G A Z E T T E DOT COM."
Welcome to the PIGdom, Dave.
* Life in the Fast Lane
I was plying my trade [consulting Test Engineer] at Wonderland when my phone rang. It was Chiquita and she needed my assistance with an incoming call. I'm her 'go to' choice, when her faltering English isn't up to the challenge.
I answered the call and blundered into the fast lane of Progtard Politics.
Eager and ernest, the caller identified herself as Tiffany and explained that she was calling from far off Massachusetts on behalf of some Progtard activist group. [I think it was Progressive Change Campaign.] Since Wonderland is in a notoriously lefty metropolis in a VERY lefty state, Tiffany made the rash assumption that I would be sympathetic to her cause.
Wrong, but I let her yammer about the corporate Demoncrats who lost the 2014 election. I listened to her trot out all those sad stories of tykes who aren't getting supper, and assorted other egregiously emotional Progtard pleas. I listened to her entire pitch, waiting for the punchline.
Eventually, she cut to the chase. The whole sob story was a pitch for a donation to Fauxcahontis - Senator Elizabeth Warren. For 'as little as $150' I could help the Jackass Party plunge America much farther into the Progtard abyss.
I'd heard enough, so I told her, "I wouldn't give your Jackass Party a penny if my life depended on it."
She asked "Why?"
"Because you Progtards inflicted that Dumbo-eared Kenyan Marxist on us to help you finish destroying this nation. Enough is enough." I replied, before hanging up.
I don't get to Wonderland as often as I did in bygone days, so I'll give them a tip of my hat and simply say, "thank you"..