bathrooms and postage and chairs, oh my!
written 2000-01-20 04:14:24

Hello my little apple dumplings.

Gotta play a little bit of catch up here for the last few days.

First, in case anyone is going to New York (hah), the website for free
tickets to LinuxWorld is, not like I had previously said.

Secondly, this mailing list stuff is now addressed to myself, and the
other 48 (!!!) of you are being blind-carbon-copied. This will prevent
"spamming" and also clean up y'all's email headers. Thanks, Erik, for the
suggestion. Also, anyone you want to recieve this email, please send me
the address and I'll add it to the list. Comments also welcome. Yadda
yadda yadda.

I saw "The 13th Warrior" last night. We watch a lot of movies around
here. We also have a pirated copy of the full South Park movie on the
network at Loki. Good stuff.

Got my next project as incentive to finish off the Heroes III map editor
(which is progressing nicely, btw), but I'm not legally allowed to
discuss it. Really. Let's just say it will ROCK to have my name on the
credits of this game. And Greg will crap himself.  :)

C++ on Linux is still WAY lagging behind Windows. In case anyone cares.

Anyhow, what I really wanted to talk about are my bosses. Basically,
there's Sam, who spends half his day looking over my shoulder
(litterally, since if I swing my arm to the right, I'll hit the back of
his chair) to make sure I'm being productive, which is fine since that's
partially his job, and Scott, who owns Loki.

Both are cool guys...but Sam tends to irk me a little bit. He's one of
those guys that NEVER reacts the way you expect him tell him a
joke and he doesn't laugh, even for politeness's sake. You know the
type. After a terse conversation with Sam, you tend to walk away with the
distinct impression that you are a shithead. It's very disabling.

Take that stereotype a step further for Sam...just when you think he has
no sense of humor, he'll crack up at something small you say. So overall,
any time spent with him actually burns calories; you spend every
conscious second that you are in the same room with him trying to gauge
his reactions. He spends 90% of the workday sitting about 1.5 feet away
from me.

Which is why I spend the other ten percent of the time hiding. I need to
relax for at least five minutes out of every hour, which is why I
installed Xwrits.

I mentioned this before. Here's what Xwrits does. Basically, you run this
program, and after you type on your keyboard for fifty-five minutes
without a noticable break, a little window with a sore looking wrist pops
up. You click on it, and the wrist slumps over like it's resting. After
five minutes, the wrist (and attached hand) point valiantly forward, and
you can start typing again. If you try to type during those five minutes,
the wrist (and attached fingers) make an obscene gesture at you. I
personally find a lot of strength in that.

None the less, pleading carpal tunnel prevention in the software industry
is always a good excuse to jagoff for five minutes out of every hour. I
have recently been spending this time exploring the five-minute radius
around Loki headquarters. Currently I've found not much of interest on
foot. Except today.

Every Wednesday across from Loki there's a "Farmer's market", where a
bunch of (surprise) farmers drive up in trucks, set up tables, and peddle
their wares.

It's a lot like a flea market for produce. It's kinda cool. The highlight
for today's market was some homemade salsa that Andy (our QA
guy) scored...dear LORD, my mouth is still burning from that death brew
hours later. I guess the name "Lava dip" should have tipped me off to
this, but I'm now a few tastebuds wiser.

Sam looks and sounds a lot like that hippie teacher from Beavis and

Scott Draeker, on the other hand, looks a little like Chris Farley with a
good beard and a pulse...nonetheless, he's a great guy. I wanted to
demonstrate the man's compassion to you all.

First, remember Stephane? The french dude who drives like a maniac? He
finally got a car of his own. A little red number...two door coupe. A
potential chick-magnet, although probably not enough of one to cancel out
the fanny-pack.

At any rate, with some amount of pomp and circumstance, he returned the
key to Scott's car. Which he's been driving since he came to work for
Loki. Give or take, that's about FIVE MONTHS that car has been on loan to
him. I would say that's generous of Scott, but that was before I made the
connection of why Scott's always looking for a ride home everyday...Scott
gave up not just A car for Stephane to drive, but HIS car. I find that
impressive. This is in addition to the fact that everyone that works for
Loki has lived in the guy's house for some amount of time or another.

I -am- telling you this for a reason. First, I need to tell you about my
chair. I don't have one. Well, I do, but it's not very comfortable, and
it squeaks a lot. A chair that squeaks profusely for several hours wears
on everyone's nerves sooner than later. Apparently Loki employees get
taken to some furniture store and bring back a chair of their choosing
eventually...they haven't gotten to this point with me yet (in fact, it's
occurred to me that I never even signed an employment agreement, so
TECHNICALLY I'm not under a noncompete or NDA... hhm. More on this some
other time.), so whatever was laying about became the point I place my
butt upon.

The other day I see Scott wheeling a cart around. I ask him what he's
doing and he tells me he's bringing some chairs up to the new upstairs
offices. I'm like, "great...does this mean -I'm- getting a chair soon?"

I don't mean to sound catty, but c'mon, the upstairs lawyers just aren't
likely to remain planted in front of a monitor for twelve hours a
day. Their need for high-quality ass-platforms just isn't as great as
mine. I think I should get dibs on the furniture. I know, I'm whining.

Anyhow, later that day, Scott comes into Sam, Stephane and my office, to
inform us of TurboLinux's (a Japanese company) recent venture capital.

57 million dollars. Companies go PUBLIC and don't raise 57 million
dollars. As usual, this is not a typo. What would YOU do with 57 million

"Personally, Scott, I'd buy myself a chair."

(pregnant pause.)

"Y'know what, Ryan...I'm gonna shame the fuck out of you," says Scott as
he walks out of the office. That's a direct quote. A moment later he
returns, pushing in front of him the chair from his office.

"Here. You use this until we get you a new one," and as quickly as he
appeared, he was gone again with my old seat.

I call after him as I try my new seat on for size, "ooh, I'm really
shamed now, Scott! Thanks so much!" And I smile and settle into my work
in my comfy new chair.

...and much to my surprise, guilt set in.

So I find myself wheeling this nice chair back into Scott's office, where
he is sitting in the obnoxious, uncomfortable, squeaky chair doing some
work. He sees me in the doorway as I try to explain that he's right, and
I'm a shithead, but he just points back towards my office and says, "no,
you keep it."

Who'd've thought? He shamed the fuck out of me.

The point is the dude's got the biggest heart of just about anyone I've
ever met...and I guess I learned a little something about being spoiled,

Anyhow...what else? Oh, the post office.

I got my first paycheck, for three days work. Checks are cut twice a
month here, so I just happened to stumble into this right at the end of a
pay period.

Since 1-800-WACHOVIA had, earlier that day, declared my bank account
"OVERDRAWN" in that cheery, digitized, pre-recorded voice that makes you
want to throw a brick through the phone line, I was rather pleased to get
some flow. In fact, I even did "The Money Dance" in celebration.

For those uninitiated in the ways, The Money Dance was actually started
by tribal indians when droughts came across the land. It involves you
bouncing from foot to foot while moving your index fingers in a somewhat
Saturday Night Fever, disco style, occasionally pointing at your
paycheck, and singing, "I've got MONEEEEEEEY...I've got MONEEEEEEY."

Slight quantities of retardation, and a mullet, add to the visual
effectiveness of The Money Dance. Accept no substitutes.

Anyhow, I sent the check express mail to Columbia, SC (a "small
town" according to the lady at the post office), where Wachovia will
happily place the funds in your checking account for you. I sent the last
of my actual Charlotte bills by standard mail, in hopes that everything
will make it to its final destination in the correct order.

Coincidentally, a rebate for my laptop showed up the day I left
Charlotte. From Sony headquarters in California. So this means it went
across the country. Carrie's gonna have to mail it back across the
country to me for signing, where I will then have to mail it back across
the country to have it deposited in my account.

Note that Bank of America exists out here AND in Charlotte. I'm just
protesting. I think they launder money for the Illuminati or
something. Little known fact is that Hugh McColl was in fact a
conspirator in the Kennedy assassination. I mean, you didn't hear that
from ME, but it's true. Suffice it to say, I'll use my paycheck for
toilet paper before I send it to Bank of America.

Which reminds me of the bathroom at Loki.

I had mentioned to someone that there's no indoor plumbing at Loki. It's
true. You take a key that is clipped to the hockey stick leaning up
against the wall by the front door, walk out that front door, across the
quad, and use that key to unlock the bathrooms. At least once a day
someone forgets to put the key back, and a small outburst of hysteria
erupts in the office. That's unimportant, but I just wanted to clear up
that we do NOT have an outhouse, we just need to go to a different part
of the building to urinate.

BUT--the damned thing has those stupid automatic lights in it. You know
the type. The friggin' things sense movement and activate, so as you open
the door, the lights turn on. When you leave, after a few minutes of no
movement in the bathroom, the lights turn back out.

So I'm sitting on the toilet the other day, working on some code (isn't
this technology gone horribly awry?), and the stupid lights go
out. There's no sensor in the stall. I know this, for in a brief panic, I
waved my arms around hoping it would trigger the sensor. It did not. I
took a roll of toilet paper and winged it over the stall door, hoping it
would register as movement. It did not. I thought briefly about raging
against the dying of the light, and just continuing on as if nothing had
happened. After about thirty seconds I had thoughts of cockroaches, rats,
and other things that come out in pitch darkness crawling on my ass, and
seeing as I was likely to be eaten by a grue, I decided to wrap up my

...and then I realized I had thrown the only roll of toilet paper out of
the stall as a sensor grenade. And just earlier this day I had parted
with my paycheck.

So imagine me, crawling around in pure darkness, using the laptop screen
as light to find the roll of toilet paper. With my pants down. The stupid
light sensor was around the corner, so even when I humbled myself to
leave the stall, the friggin' lights didn't come back on.

In the future, I will reserve my deeper thinking for less
technologically-inclined bathrooms.

But what I wanted to talk about is the post office. I think Christmas is
actually held on January 19th out here, since the line that started at
the desk litterally went out the front door. Something must have been
going on that day. A holiday or whatnot...everyone had a massive box to
mail. This must be why postal employees shoot their bosses...too much
work all day long. Either that, or Sam works nights at the post office,
and drives the other employees over the edge.

By the way, did you know that dentists have the highest suicide rate of
any profession? It's true. And probably half of them off themselves while
waiting in line at the post office. Man, this place might beat
Jack-in-the-Box for depressing atmosphere. Then again, Jack-in-the-Box
has better commercials; I've never heard the United States Postal System
use the word "lesbian" on television.

Alright, enough typing. Xwrits just triggered, and it's WAY past my


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