Third and last act and all that rot.

I just signed a contract with a publishing company.  Unfortunately not for CodeSlingers, the Musical but who knows, maybe someday those wild and crazy slingers will tap dance their way across a Broadway stage.  DSC09894

Anyway if you’re at all interested in my adventure in publishing, check out my new blog http://www.jttwissel.com  (At heart I’ve always been a Twissel).

Apparently you cannot sell books these days unless you’re an expert at blogging, twittering, pininterest, flickr, facebook, twellow, tweetbeep etc., etc.  Trust me, there’s an endless (and growing) list of social networking must-knows.   I don’t honestly know how writers get a chance to write.  (maybe that’s the point.  Weed out the bad writers by making them too busy learning to tweet!)

Rufus the One Eyed

Read all about me!

Hope 2013 is good to you.  Feel free to tweet me at:  @jttwissel or you can use that prehistoric mode of communication known as email: janmwiz@gmail.com.

Love to all of you.  You’ll always be in my heart.

Jan

Dear Blogsters:  I was about to announce the end of the blog (there are only two more scenes to Code Slingers!)  when Joel asked:

“Did you tell the story about the initiation?”

“What initiation?”

“Whenever there was a new guy in the maintenance department at SROC, we made him go out for donuts.”

“So…”

“We told him we only wanted the donuts from R Donuts on South Federal Highway.  They were the best.”

“Well, that doesn’t seem like much of an initiation.”

“Yeah, but what we didn’t tell him was…”

The Sun Sentinel, November 27, 1985

FORT LAUDERDALE — There was little fuss on the outside and no tops on the waitresses on the inside as R Donuts opened this morning to a handful of customers on South Federal Highway.

Owner Andy Emery opened the front door on the city`s first topless donut shop a little after 6 a.m. There was only one customer in a crowd of 14 waiting for the controversial establishment to open; the other 13 were news reporters and camera crews.

Did you remember to tip?

Code Slingers the Musical
Act 3, Scene 1

Setting: Outside Sol’s office. Sol is talking to Alma and Krista Bell Bell.

SOL

They’ve asked for my head,
And now they’ve got it,
But, where ever I go, I will google you,
To bring you by my side, you’ll see!
This isn’t the end
Nor is it the beginning
Of our camaraderie!

ALMA and KRISTA BELL BELL to I Will Follow Him

We will google you,
Google you where ever you may go…etc.etc.

ENTER: Sawyer Banks  (the lover with the brain)

SAWYER

Alma says you have a bone to pick with me.

SOL

I did but it doesn’t matter now.

SAWYER

I been thinking, boss,
I’ve been here four months now…

SOL

Oh yeah?

SAWYER

And no one codes better than me, you’d agree.

SOL, sarcastically:

I would?

SAWYER, not getting the joke:

So, I need a title, not just a raise.
Yes, something very fitting like,
VP of Advanced Intelligent Thinking!
My group was responsible, after all,
for the Bailout Bank project.

SOL, aside to ALMA

A bloody f**king disaster!

[to SAWYER]

Sure.  What the f**k!
Titles are meaningless anyway.
Alma, take a memo.
I, Sol Malineaux, being of sound mind and endless fury,
Do name Sawyer Banks, VP of Advanced Intelligent Thinking.
Now, you’d better take this memo over to HR…

EXiT: Sawyer full of himself.  After he leaves they all start to laugh!

ALMA

Wait till he finds out Sol resigned,
The title means nothing,
Nothing at all.

A nerd who thinks a title
Will make him look more manly
To all the silly women
Who are simply eye candy,
Is really just a titled nerd
And there is nothing more absurd,
More absurd, more absurd
Than an over titled nerd!

ENTER: The CodeSlingers

MARCO, noting their merriment

What did we miss?   We need to hear something funny.

JP

We badly, badly need to hear something funny.

KRISTA BELL BELL

Sol has just named Sawyer Banks VP of Advanced – what was it, Alma?

ALMA:

Advanced Intelligent Thinking!

JP, laughing out loud:

Excellent.  We need some Intelligent Thinkers!

MARCO

Hey, if he gets to be a Vice President, so do I!

SOL

Hell yes!  Why not?
Alma, take a memo.
I, Sol Malineaux hereby appoint
Marco Tate VP of… what do you want to be VP Marco?

MARCO

Humm… I know!  Garbled Corporate Visions!
My corporate vision generator,
Randomly spits lines,
From quarterly meetings,
and other acts divine,
into a meaningless string of drivel.

It is a must-have software program,
For VPs on the rise,
Who need to know how to speak,
as vaguely as can be,
to customers, stockholders and folks like you and me.

JP:

Excellent!  Here’s to Garbled Corporate Visions!

SOL to ALMA:

Marco Tate – VP of Garbled Corporate Visions.
Write it down, Alma.
And make sure you get the title … just right!
You know how some VPs can be!

ALMA

Oh yes, indeedee.
Leave his title off a memo or misspell his name,
A VP will scream and yell and drive you insane!
Will I heat your coffee? Yes sirree,
I’ll heat it up to two hundred and three!
Will I get your laundry? Yes sirree,
You can find it hanging on yonder tree!

SOL

That’s our sweet-faced Alma,
As dainty as can be,
Virtuous and saintly as
A person can be.

Don’t her ask to clean a whiteboard
Or to move your car,
She’s put you in your place,
No matter who you are.

THE CODE SLINGERS:

Dainty Alma?

SOL:

Some admins have more clout,
Then a CEO
If you don’t treat them right,
They’ll tell you where to go!

And that’s our little Alma,
As dainty as can be,
Virtuous and saintly
As a person can be.

SOL

Fare-thee-well, Slingers.  I’ll be riding into the sunset now.  Make sure to run those vermin out town!

EXIT SOL

CODE SLINGERS

No more Sol, no Sol at all
No more calls before dawn,
No more red-eyes to Taiwan,
No more fingers to the bone
Those days are gone.

Today’s blog is from D. Brown, currently in Santa Fe, New Mexico which he claims is “following an all too familiar cultural evolution. Discovery by artists and bohemians, influx of the bourgeoisie followed by the merchandising of the brand, (the City Different). Ah well it’s usually sunny and a lot of people still think it’s in Mexico anyway.”

He calls his entry:

“Memoirs of the Golden Age”

A Day in the Life
Setting:  Somewhere in the Netherlands circa 1992-1995)

1. Breakfast 

The Engineer was not usually awake early enough for the regular coffee rolls, ham, and cheese set and I (for some reason, now forgotten) was designated to drive him to work from the hotel. He had no credit cards, hence no rental car, his expenses being taken care of by bundles of cash, carried by senior staff and delivered in plain envelopes. His preparations for the working day were to wander off into the woods behind the hotel and smoke a huge joint. Thus fortified, he was better able to deal with matters as they arose.

2. Lunch

Site cafeteria. Such was the pace of work (based on time and materials) that it was a relief when someone would announce: “Must be time for lunch.” After lunch, the Dutchman who had been incessantly reminded of the strict California no-smoking policy lit up. The Americans all objected.

“It’s my country now,” he replied with a grin.

3. Dinner 

Many and varied meals with wine (at up to $200 a bottle) were routinely charged to expense reports and everyone would offer their cards simultaneously to the confusion of the wait staff.  After dinner, if a particularly naive Manager was on site, the Engineer would suggest going for coffee at a convenient local coffee shop. He would then ask for the menu and select  either skunk or perhaps B52 plus jumbo rolling papers, and then proceed to roll up an enormous joint and smoke it as the Manager gazed on in horror.

“Its legal,” he explained, which of course, it was. The Manager made a rapid exit.

Le week end

Usually there was no requirement to work Saturday or Sunday due to strict European labor laws. Hence, one was free to sightsee. One Saturday I was the designated driver and, along with a MikeW and the Engineer, we set off to explore Flanders. As a result of a navigation problem I attributed to some magnetic anomaly, we ended up in St Nicolas rather than Bruges. Ironically, St Nicolas was the home of Mercator (of the projection). The Engineer, being of a certain religious persuasion, set off determined to find a suitable brand of church. I encountered him later as he stood gazing in astonishment as a veritable swarm of people dressed in various animal costumes poured out of the gothic pile on the main square.

“Must be Baptists'” he declared.

For people like Jan: The Mercator projection is a cylindrical map projection presented by the Flemish geographer and cartographer GerardusMercator, in 1569. It became the standard map projection for nautical purposes because of its ability to represent lines of constant course, known as rhumb lines or loxodromes, as straight segments.

The Acceptance Test

It was the morning of the Great Day when the proof of concept, defined the day before, would be revealed. The serious Dutch Suits were all present, up to, and including, their CEO. The  senior TFS staff and the responsible Engineer were standing around with little or no concern. Then the moment came for the system to be turned on, the moment when dozens of machines and computers could synchronize, scanning, storing, processing and printing. The moment came and passed. What could be the problem? Suddenly the computers could not talk to each other. Was there some crucial information stuck back in Berkeley, broken links dead servers -who knew?  Was this a real test or had the man behind the curtain gone to sleep? Consternation brewed as the Suits became increasingly restless. The Engineer typed furiously at a couple of keyboards. His manager started to ask pointed questions. The TFS senior management now were looking more worried. The pressure was mounting.

Suddenly the Engineer exploded: “F**K off. I can fix it.”

The Suits drifted off muttering. Somehow, our critical host files had been changed earlier that day. Fingers were pointed, blame was assigned. The Engineer left the site never to return.

The Explorer
Setting:  A clearing bank, Oslo Norway, 1993 

It was a quiet afternoon cold and gray but inside it was warm and the usual gaggle of programmers quietly slept under the work tables, exhausted from their efforts the night before. Money and time were running low.  Added to which, one of their number had never showed, remaining ensconced in the SAS hotel for the duration suffering from jet lag.

Suddenly, security called from the main entrance to announce the unexpected arrival of a TFS staffer. Perhaps it’s the replacement for the jet-lagged programmer, they theorized. One of the site maintenance staff was assigned to deal with the situation. He telephoned back. It was the same programmer who’d exhibited unstable behavior following a recent concert for their departing and popular Chief Science Officer.

“What does he want?” asked the site manager.

“Shelter for a while.  He is on his way to Mt Everest and thinks this is the base camp.”

A heated discussion followed. Ingvar went downstairs to offer him some money, but he had left already.

We never did find out if he reached his Mt Everest.

Wayne: "I won't even read his email unless I get a story." Joel: "Me neither."

Admins had to go through all sorts of gyrations to get a programmer’s attention.  I once sent out an email that had the subject line “Sex” just to get people to open an email about a mandatory department meeting.  It worked.  One programmer wrote back “Was it as good for you as for me?  Now I need a cigarette.”  Another threatened to sue me for sexual harassment!

The tech writers had a much more creative approach.  They told stories.

______________

Jul 1 17:47 1991  Page1  layton.ccc.story

Joel wouldn’t even read this unless he knew he was going to get a story.  But first… In light of yesterday’s meeting, I thought it might be helpful to redistribute the CCC Design Documentation Checklist.  Asterisked files are placeholders; unasterisked files actually have some writing or drawing in ’em.  Look, I really don’t feel like going over placeholder files, the design doc template, the tgif template, the readme files, etc., etc., etc. again.  Instead, I’ll tell a story the Italians like to tell (and as told here by Luigi Barzini in “Memories of Mistresses”)…..

The story is told of a Milanese manufacturer who had a stormy time with his wife when she discovered he ran about with a girl who could almost have been his granddaughter.  A violent scene almost broke out at La Scala, on a gala evening a year or so ago when the wife save her rival in a box, splendidly dressed in ermines and covered with diamonds.  The husband pleaded, “Don’t be stuffy, darling.  Everybody in my position has a mistress.  Even my partner.  Do you want to see his girl?  She is sitting two boxes beyond mine…”  The wife pointed her mother of pearl binoculars at this other woman and looked at her for one long minute.  Then she turned to her husband:  “What a choice!  Vulgar, dressed in bad taste, loaded with cheap jewelry, and not pretty at all…”  And she added with pride, “Ours is so much better.”

So, I’ll redistribute the checklist, and good luck…

...greatest invention since hot knives and butter...
- leo v.

Next chance I get: The ballad of Sweet Faced Alma (some admins have more clout than a CEO!)

Let's get all our ducks lined up so we can kill them with one stone.
-- shiloh 

The following email was undoubtedly the result of a complaint.  Too many instances of the word “fuck” used in emails, in the halls and conference rooms.  This was before the phases “hostile workplace” and “sexual harassment” became a part of corporate lexicons. I have no idea who wrote it although I could venture a few guesses.

CodeSlingers the Musical
Act 2, Scene 4

Setting:  Rows of empty cubes.  Enter the Venture Capitalists

VC 1:
Where is everyone?

VC 2:
They went a bike ride.

VC 3
Unbelievable!

The CodeSlingers enter, see the VCs and hide behind a giant clapboard.

"They've got a good plan in place so there's no need to fear. Just trust in the system! Trust in the system and it will soon be clear... as mud!"

VC 1:
But for our plan to work…
We need just one thing…
The cooperation of the Code Slingers.

VC 2:
Oh, they’ll come through,
What’s not to like?
A second house,
a brand new spouse,
a fancy set of wheels.

And what do they have to do?
Sign and take the money.
Sign and walk away.
Sign and never work another day.

VC 3:
But when they find out…

VC 2:
Find out what?

VC 3:
What we plan to do with the others.

VC 1:
But we’re offering jobs to the redundants.

VC 2:
Jobs in Pocatello, Idaho!
At a smidgen of their pay,
No healthcare or 401K,
And might I point out…
Jobs that don’t exist!
At a company,
That doesn’t exist.
Jobs, to which, you better hope and pray,
they’ll say Nah!

They exit and the CodeSlingers emerge.

Rambler:
I have no illusions of sainthood,
But this I know,
Friends will suffer,
When we go.
Unless they accept a bogus offer
In the frozen north,
They’ll leave here with nothing,
What’s that worth?
Sure I’d like to spend all my time,
On the beaches of Mazatlan,
Enjoying endless sunsets,
No time sheets to submit,
No endless, useless meetings.
But they’d be left with nothing
And what’s that worth?

Tex Annie bursts upon the scene followed by her pack of obvious admirers all shedding
bike gear.

TexAnnie:
Hey Slingers.  Back from the site? We must have passed SAT?

JP, sighing:
Elbow to elbow with Sol,
We got no sleep at all…

TexAnnie:
Yeah! The system’s been accepted!
Bonuses are coming soon…

Woodruff:
Not to be the voice of doom,
But you forget, my dear,
Our future’s quite unclear.
Some of us they’ll decide to keep,
The rest, thrown upon a heap

Lonely Site Engineer, on his knees praying:
Oh please, Mr. VCs
I’m on my knees
I’ve worked here seven years
Known heartbreak – a bad performance review!  [the others moan]
And many tears,
It would only be kindly,
Not to treat me blindly
And give me what I need…
A great big severance package,
A week’s pay for every year!
Cobra coverage and my pension indeed,
Is not too much to ask for
It’s only what I need.

Employees singing together:
A great big severance package,
A week’s pay for every year!
Cobra coverage and pensions indeed,
Is not too much to ask for,
It’s only what we need!
Oh, wouldn’t it be lovely
Wouldn’t it be grand,
Oh, I’m very sure that it’s
Part of their big plan.

JP to Rambler:
We should tell them…

Rambler:
Not yet.  I have a plan that will take care of both them, and us.

 

Doc = the more literary branch of forum.

______________________________

DISCLAIMER: Any resemblance to actual persons or events in the
following is completely and utterly unintentional.
Code Slingers the Musical
Act 2, Scene 3

Abandon the Expendable

Setting:   The conference room.  The employees are mulling about, confused and frightened.  Pictures of the Venture Capitalists flash on a screen against the back wall.  Bulleted list are posted on the other walls: The Dos and Don’ts of Change,  Re-engineer your job to fit the Organization’s Goals.

Snobahl:

As you have just been told,
the company has been sold.
Which will mean….er…. some changes,

From your friendly, caring HR department...

I know you have a lot of questions,
which I cannot answer now,
But we have a handy website, With lots of Q and A
Ask us any questions,
We’ll respond without delay!
We’ve got a good team in place,
So there’s no need for fear,
Just trust in the system,
Trust in the system!
And it will be soon be clear,

Woodruff, a shy tech writer:

Where am I on your list,
Of the company’s worst and best?
Will I get an offer,
Or shown the door,
To join the ever growing ranks of the poor?
Underneath the bridges,
Trolling the street,
Wrapped in smelly blankets
Even in the heat.

Calling up old colleagues,
Begging for a chance,
Borrowing from mom and dad,
Just to keep the ranch.

Will I get an offer,
Or shown the door,
To join the ever growing ranks,
Of the poor.

Snobahl:

We’ve got a good team in place
So there’s no reason to fear.
Keep your eye on ball,
Your shoulder to the wheel,
It’s business as usual!
No matter how you feel!

The powerpoint screen goes blank.  Snobahl exits the stage.

Employees muttering repeatedly:

Will we get an offer,
Or shown the door,
To join the ever growing ranks,
Of the poor.

Woodruff runs to his desk and begins madly typing. TexAnnie, a tall athletic blond rips the bulleted lists from the walls and tears them to shreds:

TexAnnie:

This is complete corporate bullshit!
Read this garbage:

Don’t Fail to Abandon the Expendable…
Do re-engineer your job to fit the organization’s goals…

They’re about to f**king lay us all off and they feeding us this bull!

Woodruff:

TexAnnie gets her man!

Their grammar is appalling.
‘Don’t Fail to Abandon to the Expendable.’
The Expendable…wait a minute … Is that me?

TexAnnie:

Don’t think about it.
Hey!  I know what we need!
A bike ride!  Yes sirree..

Woodruff:  

I must look busy now, Annie, go away!
I’ve got so much to do.|
So much, so much – how can I do it all
in a day?

TexAnnie:  

You fool.  Can’t you see?
They’ve already decided.
You’re either in or out.

Woodruff:  

Too busy, too busy, too busy,
Can’t you see?
To give in to any of your frivolity
How can they let go of a lad like me,
Who works so hard and endlessly?

TexAnnie picks up the edge of her skirt and throws it over his head.  Everyone gasps.  He stops typing.  After a few minutes of shocked silence  she removes her skirt from his head.

Woodruff, choking and flushed:

What was that for?

TexAnnie, chuckling:

Hell!  That’s how we quiet skittish horses in Texas!
Throw blankets over their heads.
I guess it works for tech writers too!
Come on Woody, follow me and be free,
At least for an hour or two or three
Don’t spend your day sitting on your rear
For life is short and much too dear.

Follow me to the hills
where we’ll feel the breeze,
as we whiz through the trees.
Follow me and we’ll be free
from all this goddamn, stupid, idiotic … shitterie!


The following is based on all the crazy stories I heard about being at site, especially when things are going wrong.
________

Smile, it's the customer! (what's Mike reaching for?)

Code Slingers
ACT 2  Scene 1
Site Acceptance Testing  

Setting:  The computer facility at Bailout Bank,  1:00 am in the morning. The Lonely Site Engineer is hunched over a lit computer screen – on both sides of the stage in the shadows, are bank employees who can’t work because of the system’s off-line.  Code Slingers JP and Rambler enter cautiously under the glare of the employees.

Rambler to Lonely Site Engineer (LSE) quietly:

How’s it going?
We heard there was a slight problem

LSE:

Well, ahh, ahh

JP good-naturedly:

Don’t give us the ahh-ahhs, 
You cowardly weasel!  Confess!
The system’s a dog!  A dog I say,
it’s all over but the crying!!

LSE with a hang dog expression:

They say we won’t make it,
They say we are doomed,
We’ll never pass SAT
And that is where we’re at.
Site Acceptance Testing,
Is driving us insane,
We’ve been on site forever
But what have we gained?

Our lovers have left us,
Because we’re never there,
The grass is dying,
The gardener doesn’t care!
The customer is yelling,
We don’t know what to do,
But we’ll just keep on trying.
It’s a Code Slinger’s Waterloo.

Bank Employees, grumbling on the side lines:

Code Slingers, bloody Code Slingers,
Think they walk on water,
Making much more money,
Than they really oughtta.
In at 10 and out by 2 each day,
Making more than four times my pay!

Rambler to LSE, trying to ignore the restless bank employees: 

Let’s see the error logs.

No Joel, smile all you want. I'm sleeping in Madonna's bed!

He sits down next to LSE:

The logs will show us what we really need to know,
Fatal errors, timeouts, and endless loops,
Of programs in trouble
because some process poops
The logs never lie.
Though people often do,
A computer really only does,
What you tell it to.

Rambler, JP and LSE (as they read through the logs):

The logs never lie,
Though people often do,
A computer really only does,
What you tell it to.
A computer really only does.

Finally they see something and jump to their feet.

 JP:

I don’t believe it.
We’ve been had.
The slimy, no-good, low down weasels.

Rambler:

Unbelievable,
Wait till Sol finds out.

LSE:

Sol?  He’s here?

Rambler:

Yup, smooth-talking the VPs,
But that’s about to change…

Sol runs into the room:

I’m here to help, boys!!

Rambler:

Speaking of the devil

Sol:

I promised Mueller we’d have the system up by five!
So scoot over there Rambler,
we’ll work elbow to f**ing elbow through the night,
until we get the bloody thing just right!
Just like we did before,
In the golden days of yore.

Rambler and JP groaning:

The golden days of yore?
No sleep,
No food,
No fresh air,
No SEX!
Those golden days of yore?

Sol, ignoring them:  

So, what have we learned boys?

Rambler:

Remember the un-interruptible power supply,
the one Mueller promised would protect the system.

JP:

In case of earthquake,
in case of fire.

Rambler: 

In case of….lightening,
Or  alien sighting?

Sol pauses to grasp their meaning:

No…

Rambler:

A complete lost of power to all the servers.
Probably a lightening strike.

Sol:

Motherf**king cheap sons of bitches lied to me!
Get Mueller on the phone.
Meanwhile, Rambler, what’s the plan?

Rambler:

Check all the hard drives,
replace those that fried.
Start the servers up again,
and hope God is on our side.

LSE:

All the servers?

JP:
Every last one.
Elbow to elbow with Sol,
There’ll be no sleep at all.
Just like it was before,
In the fun-filled days of yore.

Next week:  The Tech Writers make their debut!