Life, the Universe, and Everything may be unavailable Monday evening

Thursday I received this e-mail at work.  It was part of a giant distribution list, so I don’t know exactly who the sender is, but it was clearly something everyone needed to be informed about.  The e-mail is reproduced here in its entirety.

Device42 Maintenance
Monday, June 5th
5:00PM – 7:00PM PDT

Device42 will undergo maintenance from 5 PM – 7 PM PDT

When: 5.00PM PDT
Where: Device42
Impact: Device42 might be offline intermittently.

If I knew more about this (or, in fact, ANYTHING about this), I might be concerned.

Get a load of this

A snippet of conversation overheard at work the other day:

Man 1: Do you know where the loading dock is in this building?  I need to pick up a delivery.

Man 2: I think it’s on the first floor…

Disclaimer For the Future: If you are reading this in 2030, deliveries used to be made in wheeled vehicles called “trucks”, which required a ground-level access point to unload cargo.  There was still stuff that didn’t arrive by drone.

Time passenger

(Disclaimer: The following story is not a dream.  At least not for me.  You may be dreaming that you’re reading it, but that’s not my problem.)

Friday morning, I woke up late.  I had been home the previous day partly scrambling to prepare for a possible emergency trip that I didn’t end up having to make, and partly waiting to find out if I was going to need to make it.  As a result, the day was pretty much a blur.  I had trouble getting to sleep, so as I often do, I went downstairs and slept on the couch.  (Disclaimer: For some reason, I sleep better on my couch than I do in my bed.  I suspect that if I were married, I’d end up picking a lot of fights with my wife, just to get a good night’s sleep.)

Anyway, I apparently slept through my alarm.  I only woke up about 15 minutes later than usual, so there was no panic.  I got up, showered, got dressed, checked my e-mail, read the news online, and finally headed off to work, much as I do every Friday.  Traffic was light, but that’s because I go to work after rush hour is over.

So I got to work, turned into the parking lot, and it was empty.  Maybe three or four cars, total.  Since I come in late, the parking lot is usually full, so this was unexpected.  Where was everybody?

My first thought was that there was some sort of site-wide meeting that I was missing.  (Being out the previous day, I had not checked my work e-mail.)  But that didn’t make sense.  No manager, from the first line to the CEO, commands that kind of attention.  In fact, the farther up the chain you go, the sparser the attendance at “all-hands” meetings.

Having discarded that, my next thought was that the power was out, and everyone had either been sent home or decided to work from home.  As I approached the building, I saw lights on inside, and the badge reader on the front door worked, so it wasn’t an electrical issue.  Maybe they’ve evacuated the building for other reasons…

As I entered, I was hit by the smell of paint fumes.  Ah, maybe they’re painting the building, and sent everyone home?  I called up to one of the painters and asked if the building was closed, but his reaction indicated that I was not speaking a language he understood.  So I continued inside.

At the elevators, I met a man shouting orders into a walkie-talkie in English.  I asked him if the building was closed.  He said no.  I told him I thought maybe it was because of the painting, but he said they were only painting the stairwells.

I rode the elevator up to the floor where I work.  It was completely deserted.  This wasn’t a total surprise.  A lot of the guys in my department work from home on Fridays, so the office can have a ghost town vibe.  But the entire floor was deserted.  I was hoping there would be some lone survivor who would be able to tell me with his dying breath what had happened to everyone.  No such luck.

By this time, I had exhausted all the boring, reasonable answers, and was moving into the bonus round, where I get to come up with ideas that are more interesting than real life.

  • Radiation leak
  • Warp bubble where everyone had disappeared but me
  • Temporal shift where I was slightly out of sync with the rest of the universe

I briefly considered that maybe my company had decided to celebrate MLK day on Friday instead of Monday, but that was crazy talk.

Finally, I decided to give up.  As I started to leave, I texted my old manager (who is now my second-line manager): Why is the building empty?  Did I miss an e-mail?

I was driving past all the other empty buildings on campus when I got a call from my manager.  I pulled into the empty parking lot of another of the buildings and answered the phone.  The conversation went like this:

Me: I just got to the office, and the place is a ghost town?  Did they make an announcement yesterday that I missed?

Her: John, today is Saturday.

Me: What??

I was in the office all of 15 minutes on Friday before my sister’s text.  For the rest of that day, I had no context clues about what day it was.  Friday night I went to bed thinking I had to get up for work the next morning.  Saturday morning I didn’t turn on the TV, never looked at my watch or cell phone, never read the date on any of my e-mail, didn’t talk to anyone, and listened to satellite radio on the way to work.

At no time did I ever doubt that today was Friday.

My joke response when asked “How’s it going?” is to say, “Not bad for a Monday!” regardless of the day, because most weekdays are pretty much the same.

I rest my case.

A cookie for my thoughts

I had a particularly challenging code bug to work on today.  As is often the case, I blamed it on elves.

Not the kind of elves you’re thinking of.  These are not those kinds of elves.  The elves I’m talking about are more like gremlins, the weird little creatures that damage WWII fighters and freak out William Shatner if you feed them after midnight.  Only with software.

You’re thinking of one of the other kinds of elves.  There are three main kinds of elves: elves that bake cookies, elves that make toys for Christmas, and elves that fight orcs. 

Unfortunately, that got me thinking.  What if there were a kind of elf that makes Christmas cookies for orcs?  (Disclaimer: Yes, I actually thought this.)

So naturally, my next thought was, “What kind of cookies would elves make for orcs?”  (Disclaimer: There is nothing natural about this thought.  Even I can tell that.)

The obvious answer is, of course, orcerdoodles.

Unless you have coconut handy.  Then you can make orcaroons.

But if you don’t have time to bake, you can always buy Orceos.

Or, if you’re on a budget, Uruk-haidrox.

Author’s note: I have needed to get this out of my head all day.  The only way I know to do that is to transfer it to you.  I regret the inconvenience.  To misquote TV spokesagent Samuel L. Fury, “What’s in your imagination?”

Author’s other note: The above post contains numerous stereotypes that might be offensive to the Elvish-American community.  I don’t care.  They keep messing up my code.  If they don’t like it, they can go back to their hollow trees at the North Pole of Middle-Earth.

One in a row

Today at work I got an e-mail inviting me to “the first in a series of lunch sessions on Concurrency”.  I will not be attending.  It seems to me that if they were really serious about Concurrency, all the sessions would happen at the same time.

Yes, we have no dry ice

The building I work in is being closed for the long weekend while they install new air conditioning units for the labs.  We have been told for weeks that the power would be off this weekend, and that if we wanted to work on Friday (not a holiday), we should either work from home or go to one of the other buildings on the campus.

We have refrigerators in all the break rooms in our building, so that people can bring their lunches to work.  On the first Friday of every month (coincidentally tomorrow) the refrigerators are cleaned, and anything left inside is thrown out.  So the problem of leaving stuff in the refrigerator over the long weekend pretty much solves itself.

Yesterday, as a reminder, they put up signs at all the elevators and stairwells reminding us of the power outage.  But they included a warning in bright red letters:

This will affect the refrigerators!

This is a helpful warning, as many highly educated computer professionals might not be aware that refrigerators run on electricity, or that electrical appliances are affected by the lack of electricity.  Perhaps our refrigerator is wireless.  Or maybe it runs on telepathy.  (Think cold thoughts, everyone!)

Curiously, none of the warning signs appear on or near the refrigerator.  Maybe it doesn’t know what’s coming…

Sit down and grow up!

Yesterday I was in a meeting on the floor below mine.  As I was leaving, I noticed a sign someone had printed out and posted near the elevators:

Please Be Mature

Do not take others office chairs

Over the last 24 hours, I’ve been trying to think of a time in my life where I stole chairs because of a lack of maturity.  I have younger siblings, whose raison d’etre is to torment and be tormented.  I can’t remember a time where I went into a room, found my chair to be missing, and responded, “Oh, grow up!”  Besides, without chairs, where would the truly juvenile among us put Whoopie Cushions?

As I’ve observed before, engineers are a curious breed.  My best guess is that there is a giant, undeclared game of musical chairs going on downstairs, and every time the music starts, HR takes one chair out of the building.  At the end of the quarter, whoever is still standing gets laid off.  (Note: I would support this policy.  If you can’t figure out how to stay seated, you’re probably not smart enough to work here.)

I am reminded of the words of two great writers.  In 1st Corinthians, Paul wrote “When I was young, I thought as a child, I spoke as a child, I reasoned as a child.  When I became a man, I quit stealing the other apostle’s chairs.  Especially Peter’s, which is made of fine Corinthian leather.”  (Disclaimer: I’m not near a Bible right now, so I’m quoting from memory.)  And Rudyard Kipling once wrote, “If you can keep your chair when those around you are losing theirs and blaming you, um… you’re a better man than I, Gunga Din!”  (Disclaimer: I’m not near the works of Rudyard Kipling either, but I’m pretty sure there were some nice chairs on his ruby yacht.)

Editor’s Note: Since this is happening on the floor below my cubicle, I would like to say that I am above this sort of thing.  But I’m not going to, because that would be an unthinkably bad pun, and you, the reader, deserve better..  You’re welcome.