This week’s tale of woe is from Layton

JuI 1 17:01 1991 la.storia Page 1

So, Tuesday I get this invitation to attend an authorized inventory reduction sale (PR jargon calls it “an event” ) at my local Ford dealership, which I promptly trash, of course, because (don’t you know) I’ve GOT a good American car.

Well, read on and weep and laugh, Prince Myshkin.

So I leave the office Wednesday evening to go home (my angelic scheme is to work at home Thursday).

So, okay, I go to start my car which is parked on the 5th floor of the City Garage. And all I get is an O-shit insidious click-clicking noise from deep within the dark and infinitely mysterious bowels of the dash (why don’t the damn Owner’s Manuals ever index this phenomena under “click-clicking noise”?), and my high-tech robotic seat belts are going into a kind of rhythmic spasm/epileptic dance around my humble shoulders and head (Dave Aragon is probably still chuckling over this part….. ). So I turn off the ignition and the click-clicking noise continues from somewhere inside the prosaic heart of the dash. So I leap out of my car in case meltdown is imminent. After about 10 minutes the click-clicking noise stops and the car sits there as innocent-looking and red as a newborn baby’s butt. This time, when I turn it over, the car is as silent as a grave.

So I wander back to the office for help. J would love to help, don’t you know, but she has a hot date.

So Wayne comes to my rescue. Wayne conceives the brilliant plan of pushing the car down a floor-at-a-time and jump-starting it on the momentum from the ramp in-between floors. After about two floors of this, Wayne and I decide “Fuck this. ”

So we try to jump-start it from Wayne’s car battery– nada/ nunca, niente-basta!

So Wayne wishes me weII, tells me he loves me dearly, and drives off for home and a beer. So I wander back to the office and phone Allstate. WeIl, they’re just tickled pink to be able to help me, as sweet as pecan pie about it, just delighted….. and delightful. So I give them more information about myself than the IRS has on me. And then, suddenly, the girl sing-song says:

“Why, honey chile, don’t you know, our tow trucks won’t fit in THAT garage.”

So I phone my sister in Vacaville and she agrees to come and get me (after all, I’m going to work at home Thursday, remember?). So I go to Sedona’s for a beer. So then, there I am, forlornly standing on University Avenue waiting for my sister and desperately trying not to look like a bag person or someone who would be fun to mug. And my sister drives right by me. Luckily, when University dead-ends aL the campus, she U-turns around and begins to come back down University, and so I’m able to flag her. She tells me that the same thing happened to my other sister’s car, and that it was that her battery was bone dry. Sounded good to me.

So we decide to get some distilled water and try jump-starting my car again. So we go to 7-11, but they don’t sell distilled water. So we go to Kragen’s, and they don’t sell distilled water. So we go to Thrifty’s Jr., and they’re closed. So, finally, at Fred’s Market, I buy some distilled water. so we go back to the city garage and, by now, the garage attendant is beginning to eye me rather suspiciously. Go figure.

So we pop the hood on my car/ and there it is, in letters big enough to frame: DO NOT ADD WATER TO THIS BATTERY. (I’ve been toying with the idea of buying a gun, and I swear, if I had already had it I would have shot the car then and then!

So my sister gives me a ride home.  So the first thing I do is dig out of the garbage (fortunately, I hadn’t taken the garbage downto my Dad’s house for disposal yet) the taco-bell-sauce-splattered and stained invitiation to attend the authorized inventory reduction “event” at my local Ford dealership (which I now think I may go to – my will is being bent).  Anyway, so yesterday I worked at home (CCC and MIS stuff).  And today my brother gave me a ride into work and replaced the battery in my car.  It starts quicker ‘n ugliness on an ape now.  That’s it.  As Ed from the Bartles & James commercials would say,  “Thanks you for your support.”

P.S.  Is is any wonder I get a ticket for jaywalking?

This week a few vignettes from Craig (father of Rachel)

May 13 10:10 1992   getwet

This weekend I took Rachel and a friend to Great America.  We went on a log-down-a-waterfall ride.  The log holds five people, single file, so they put a young (eighteenish?) couple in front of me; the woman in front, then the guy, then me.  She kept leaning back to kiss him while he fondled her breasts, all a few inches from my twitching beard.  They exchanged first names (!) between liplocks.  After the log plunged down the waterfall and stopped, the young woman turned to me and asked:

“Did you get wet?”

Sep 3 14:58 1991  rachel.pork

Rachel:  I don’t want to eat veal because they kill a baby cow.

Craig:  Why not become a vegetarian? They don’t eat any meat.

Rachel:  You mean they don’t even eat bacon?  Who cares about pigs?  They’re fat and ugly.

Craig:  You may be fat and ugly some day.

Rachel:  They have weird noses.

Craig:  You may have a weird nose some day.

Rachel:  They’re PINK!

Apr 22 10:56  1992   thanks

It is with profound gratitude that I acknowledge the overwhelming response to my plea for contact on e-mail yesterday.

J offered a poignant coming-of-age vignette in which she reminisces about her expulsion from an entertainment establishment for transgressing the strict social mores of the late sixties.  Her “mermaid-dancing” must have indeed been a sight to behold, although she professes “I don’t remember much except that I wasn’t ashamed one bit.”  We believe you, J.

Carol, continuing her ouvre of contact sports cum ecdysiasm, chose to add the new dimension of the telephone medium to her “bodice ripper” piece.  The stark immediacy (“Whoops, I just lost another button!”) in this performance was experientially stunning – one could almost see and feel the rich tableau she described.  A real tour de force, Carol

Carla, in one of the more introspective pieces, included two of my personal favorite themes, petroleum-based fabrics and miscegenation.  Her touching solicitation of my approval (“How’s this, Craig”) brought a tear to my eye.

Once again, thank you all very much, and keep up the grand work.

Next week –   Layton and Wayne’s Excellent Adventure

John and I and Jared – we sat down and computed that f***ing number ‘till hell won’t come home. – vic 

The first time I witnessed Vic’s mastery of the F-Word I froze.  I’d certainly heard and used the word before but never as adverb, adjective, noun, verb and modifier simultaneously.  He noted my blank stare and asked what was wrong.

It was my Pillsbury Dough Boy moment.   I don’t know where it came from but out of my mouth slipped:  “My father told me that a gentlemen never swears in front of a lady.”

He looked at me as if to say “Who does this f**king idiot think she is?  The mother-f**king queen of f**king England?”  But thereafter he escorted anyone he wanted to have a “discussion” with past my desk and into the conference room without saying a word.  Then he’d close the door and all hell would break lose.

He also had an endearing tendency to mix metaphors.  But he wasn’t the only one.  Mixing up metaphors and garbling corporate slogans was one of many games TFSers played.


More from Good-bye to Vic…

From jeff (Yo Eddy)

This is Vic story from the ECCB history books. Site – SROC (Fort Lauderdale American Express headquarters)

A group of us were working away on an early rendition of the ECCB system – sometime after the pilot system, perhaps in the middle of Phase 1 work.  Vic rolls into the site late in the day after flying from some other site where he was doing some negotiations.  We worked until 7 pm when we figured it was time for a dinner break.  Vic said something like:

“Not just yet, let’s finish up this last batch of stuff.”

This continued until 11:30 pm when we managed to drag Vic out for dinner somewhere in Fort Lauderdale.

(Jeff’s note:  Bob Up was not with us so we did not go to the Fuddruckers for Bob’s famous hamburger salad things)

I recall JPL, Jake, myself and maybe Aaron or Mike Cher (always had a TRCU weenie on site) enjoying (yeah, right) dinner with Vic.  At the end of dinner Vic started to ask us where were we all staying.  We said the Embassy Suites by the ocean (about 12 miles from the site) to which Vic told all we should move to his hotel which was about one mile from site since we would waste less time getting from hotel to site.

Next Vic asked what we were going to be working on the rest of the evening as it was only 1 am.   (He’d scheduled a 9 am meeting with our ECCB clients.)

At this point the main topic of conversation was how much sleep each of us needed to remain functional.  Vic stated that four hours of quality sleep was all anyone ever needed.

I don’t think Vic ever sleeps that much. Unless you consider sitting in your room on your phone sleeping.

Needless to say, Vic talked everyone into returning to the site.  We all gave up arguing about the need for rest/sleep.  I don’t recall who made it to the 9 am meeting; the rest of us were all in a daze.

Don’t count your chickens before they come home to roast. – JPL

From dave (Ice E.R.): Mark G came by asking if I could do a Vic imitation.  I cannot.  I doubt anyone can sustain such a thing for long.  But I did point him to Shiloh, whose collection of mixed metaphors contains many uttered by VIc.

I recall when Michael and I were doing the CLU software for Amex.  A CLU send images to and from the other site by an optical-fiber network.  In fact, there are actually three networks between a pair of CLUs, all in use at once to get the required throughput.  One of the challenges was to get the three transmitting processes to work simultaneously without getting in each other’s way.

When we first got it working with one network and showed Vic, he broke into a broad grin and said”

“Hey!  Great work!  You’re done!”

He looked as though he was about to tell the client we were shipping it. So we cleared our throats and said:

“Well, actually we still have to get it working with three.”

“So what?”  Vic said, “If you did it with one, it’s the same thing to do it with three.”

Michael showed Vic a set of juggling balls (Michael juggles, Vic doesn’t) and said:

“Here Vic, if you can throw one ball up and down, it’s just the same thing to do it with three, right?”

“Yeah!  Right!” said Vic but he didn’t try to juggle them.

We’ll just have to burn that bridge when we come to it. – aragon

From michael (Your message will cost the net hundreds if not thousands of dollars to send)

My file of mixed metaphors contain many quotes that aren’t in fact metaphors.  Vic says some fine things but they’re not quite mixed metaphors,  In the course of the ARU proposal he said:

“I have to have a concrete thing.  I can’t get away from concrete.”

You can’t throw rocks and eat them too. – Reinbolt

From: mlw

The first time I met Vic was for an interview for a job.  He made the appointment for 6:30 am.  I managed to get in, needless to say the interview was interesting.  At about 7:30 Vic and I were done. I had interviews with some other people in the company.  Of course, the next one wasn’t for a few hours.  This was only the beginning.

Needless to day, I got the job.

A few months after this, I was assigned the task of putting together this thing that Vic had described to me.  It was the start of my love/hate relationship with the MSU.

We had many phone discussions about the MSU.  It started with the speed.  At first we needed twelve 12k images a second.  Then it was twenty 12k images.  These talks all occurred between the hours of 11 pm and 7 am.  Vic would call me at 11 pm and we would talk until 1 or 2 in the morning and then I would get a phone call at 6 wanting to continue the talk.  Trying to tell Vic that I hadn’t done any more thinking – that I had gone to sleep – was useless.

By this time we had built the MSU that Vic had envisioned and ECCB was starting to really come together.  One night JPL and I were trying to change the network topology.  We were going to back out the changes we were making and wanted to tell VIc.  I happily volunteered to call Vic, hoping I could wake him up.

Vic got on the line:

“Mike, I was waiting for your call!”

Then I knew I would never have the fun of waking Vic up.

A little while after this I happened to notice some graffiti on the third floor bathroom wall.  It read:

“Work = Live, Achievement = Happiness.”

I will really miss Vic and the attitude that nothing is impossible, if you miss enough sleep.

The whole enchilada is in a different ballpark altogether. – shiloh

From naqvi

Jack, Dave T. and I were in Amsterdam for the presentation of our Postbank proposal to about 30 Postbank officers, from the highest to medium ranks .  Vic joined us the night before the presentation and we spent all night discussing the finer points of the presentation.

On the day of the presentation Vic described our system and proposed implementation  in detail for about two and a half hours, satisfactorily answering tons of questions from the audience at the same time.  It was Jack’s turn after VIc to present the project plan.  Vic took his seat but before Jack could start his speech, VIc was not only sleeping, he was snoring like a mighty river.

Jack told the audience that VIc did not have much sleep after his flight, which the audience understood very well.  The customer later told TRW they would love to work with Vic.

You jumped ship just when the gravy train was coming in. -carol clarke-smith

Nothing is impossible, if you miss enough sleep. – mlw

I don’t know what Victor’s exact title was.  He didn’t believe much in titles.  If someone wanted to be a VP, his response was generally “Sure, why the hell not.”  But he was often called the Rainmaker, the Victimizer, Mad Genius, the Man with the Third Eye and so on.

When I first started working for Victor (Sept 1990), Sharon and Evelyn in the HR department decided to have a serious chat with me.  The only person in the whole world who could handle Victor was Mary Alice, they explained, and she was leaving to go on sabbatical.  All the other secretaries had run from the building in tears.  He was a wonderful man, they hastened to point out, but…

I’ll never forget the look on Sharon’s face.  She wanted me to know she was serious and when Sharon wanted you to know she was serious, you got the hint.  I suppose I babbled something to the effect of “he doesn’t seem so bad.”  After all, when I’d spilled a full cup of cappuccino all over his notebook – his Holy Grail – he hadn’t beheaded me (as I deserved) but calmly said: “We’ll have to get you another cappuccino.”


User: jan
Host: ts2
Date: Tue, 1 Sept  12:20:30 PDT 1992
File: <stdin>

Don’t miss the fun and your change (my typo) to say good-bye to Vic.  All staff are invited…

Thursday, Sept 3, 1992
Ballroom – Berkeley Conference Center

Email your memories of Vic and I’ll gather them up for him…

From maycol: How much change will it take?

I cannot help but recall times when Gary B. was the field engineer for RBD and they (the RBD guys) talked about hiding dough-nuts in the transport so that maybe routine maintenance would happen.  The only consolation for going to Dallas was that Rick C was around and he might take time to show you around the museum of modern art.  One day the video rack got fried.  Ilan K. who, in those days, was at work “every night till 2 a.m and not for sex, either,” took the rap.  We all knew better.

Well, we had a big problem at RBD.  Unlike all the other banks, that were happy to use cannon printers for statements to the clients, RBD went with the jillion dollar HP printers we told ‘em they had to have.  Those printer were fast.  They handled (bit-map) images but the key selling point was, they could rotate in 90 degree increments.  RBD needed that rotate stuff; they needed it for statements.  Only, the rotation the HP was willing to provide was limited to text.  Rotate text, no problem.  Rotate image – hey? what?

That was the first time I met Vic.  On site at RBD, explaining to the client that:

“Gee, we really thought that when HP advertised these printers as capable of 90 degree rotations – we thought they meant everything – images, text, everything. But no problem.  We got it covered.  We got this guy, Howe, working on image rotation.”

Only nobody had seen Howe in a couple of weeks.  He had a tendency to disappear.

But it was all OK because kmarx had done exquisite work on batch balancing, and, and, and…

Perception is nine points of the law– vic  

From schip  When Vic was first filling me in on the FedEx project this spring, he was core dumping as I furiously scribbled notes and edged some clarifying questions into the bit stream.  About two hours in, he stopped abruptly and said:

“I’m not overwhelming you with my personality, am I?

After another half hour or so I was able to make an intelligent statement or two about the project.  Vic says:

“That’s it!  Now we’ve got a Vulcan Mind Lock.”

To which all I could reply, “Oh my God…”

Fifteen minutes later he was asleep in his chair.


More later….jan

My name is Jan.  I created this blog-zone to post email strings, vignettes, and assorted stories I saved from my days working at TFS and recently stumbled upon.   I was going to send copies to the guilty parties but then decided it would be cheaper to create  a blog (but I have no idea what I’m doing so please bear with me or click away. Suggested improvements most welcome.)

I’m going to post the email strings as they were writ, minus the sometimes lengthy headers and omitting real names.  (I’m not sure I can be sued for posting something you already wrote….but you never know.)

I’ll supply a little background for each string.  If you have anything to add, well, I’ll publish any post unless it hurts some one, or sadly, their memory.

Background for Smoking ’til the Cowsills come home

Milvia was an old and drafty building.  On the first floor were two groups:  the hardware engineers and the ICR group.  On the third, most of management and the support staff.  The second floor was a hodgepodge of engineers, testers, technical writers and configuration management folks working on a variety of projects.  That floor had a maze-like quality, especially when the projects were ramping up and new hires were stacked like moving boxes in the hall.  The kitchen was in the center.  On the microwave was a sign “Your mother doesn’t work here.  Clean up your own mess!”  From the looks of things, the sign was routinely ignored. Except for the formidable Ginger, there was no support staff on the second floor to keep things in order.  It was the wild, wild west.  And that was where this smoking saga began (or so I remember but I can be corrected).

User: mikef
Host: ts2
Date: Thu 12 Jul 5 09:08:59 PST 1991

Milvia support staff has continued to receive complaints about smoking the building.  As everyone knows, this is a difficult and delicate issue.  On the one hand there are those who are truly sensitive to so-called “secondary smoke”.  They have complained about becoming ill from the smoke which gets into the air through the ventilation system, even when filters are used.

The Milvia support staff cannot and will not act as smoking police.  We cannot be placed in a situation where we are telling anyone what to do or not to do.  On the other hand, it is our responsibility to support all of you and to make your jobs as easy as we can.

We want to find a resolution here in Milvia.  If we don’t, without doubt the powers that be across the street will be asked to get involved.  We are open to any suggestions and we will do what we can to make any seemingly workable solution actually work.

Michael, Kris, Carla and Jan

User: carol:  no smoking…no driving your cars to work (it ruins my bike rides)

User: brian:  “Safe sex, Safe environment, Safe Driving, F**k, nothing has ever been accomplished by being safe.”  – Lemmy from “Motorhead”

User: hosler:   As for riding your bike to work, Berkeley has a number of bike paths, and if you wear you state regulated helmet, like you are supposed to…

User: carol:  Thank you, the state, for my regulated bike paths, for my regulation helmet (whatever that has to do with the exhaust fumes I breathe??) and for my regulated life.  it’s a joy.

User: dave:  If auto drivers were more careful not to run over cyclists, then bike paths and the associated regulation wouldn’t be needed; but they’re not careful.  If the area around the printers on the second floor did not smell like shit, and if people were not sickened by that, and if the people causing the problem did not assert a “right” to do so and imply that this is come kind of political issue, then we would not be talking about enforcing the smoking-related regulations now.  As in the case of traffic regulations and so many other things, a few dirt wads can louse things up for everyone.

Under those conditions it seems to be a choice between regulation and lynching.

User: petrov: Shit is not what cigarettes smell like.

User: glp (Raoul – Often Implicated, Never Imitated):  I propose a regulation to ban the expulsion of intestinal gas in public places.  It not only smells very much like shit, but also present a fire hazard if performed near those who smoke.

User: mikew:   am I missing something.  I thought it was now illegal to smoke in berkeley office buildings.  I thought that was why everyone smoked outside.

User: hosler:   you obviously work from home..

User: darryl:   I don’t know how to make everyone happy with their environment.

Berkeley City Ordinance 5713-N.S.:

“….smoking shall be prohibited in the following public areas of our buildings:

  • all lab areas
  • restrooms
  • kitchen areas
  • elevators
  • hallways and corridors

Smoking shall be permitted in closed offices when the office door is closed.  The use of a smoke filter is required in offices where smoking occurs.”

User: joel:  Those who smoke cigars and pipes live longer than those who do not smoke says the Dean (Dr. Dean Edell).  Within those that do not smoke, those who do not breathe second-hand smoke live longer than those who do.

User: lsj   …did you say pipe smokers???

User: carol:  You mean it’s good for me?  I knew there was a reason why I always feel so lively…

User: layton:  Clever people and grocers – they weigh everything.  – Zorba

I’ve noticed an unsettling and disquieting sentiment stealing into the smoking/non-smoking discussion.  The speeches are beginning to lose something of their viciousness and rancor!  What started out as wonderful soap-box oratory (a heart-warming example of dialectical prolepsis) – full of typical Yankee colloquialisms, bravado and guff; linear, causal and dualistic thinking, dilettantish ortho-praxiology and general moral high-handed ness – is in danger of degenerating into a kind of neologistic wimp-fest.  I feel a definite group hug coming on.  C’mon people, don’t have a cow, we can better than that  —- all together now.

So, as usual, I’ll a story.  This is one Garrison Keillor likes to tell in his Lake Wobegon way.

Poor Pete.  Cancer got him.  He always knew it would and in his last years kept a desperate watch for signs of it – the Seven Danger Signs was taped to his bathroom mirror – but without such hope: every day revealed a possible sign, something unusual, a little change of weight, a thickening, a “slight” lump, “some” soreness, a redness of the stool, a sore that was slow to heal (older guys heal slower) – then, that fateful Friday, he felt a definite lump on the back of his head and was dizzy and found blood on his toothbrush.  Lois was off to clean the church and he panicked – jumped in the car in his pants and t-shirt – it was Dr. DeHaven’s day off and beside Dr. DeHaven didn’t believe his cancer theory – so he headed for St. Cloud to a new doctor, and only a panicky man would have passed the semi this way they said he did, on a long right-hand curve going up the hill toward Avon, and there he suddenly met his end and his peace in the grills of a gravel truck

User:  schip:  allus wunted to have me a piece o’ the grand gravel grills

User: carol:   “If the right one don’t getcha, the left one will.

User: mikey:   Remember if things are coming your way, you’re probably in the wrong lane.

User: jeanh:   smoking is great.  i love it…i can blame everything – the nausea, alienation and headaches exhaustion depression, etc. on nicotine.

User: schip:   never in my life abused any drugs.

User: jeanh:   uh huh.  you have only been ‘nice’ to them…uh huh

User joel:  You can also blame any stress you have on smoking.  Six months after quitting smoking, the measured stress level is half what it is while you were smoking.  A smoking study quoted by the Dean.

User craig:  A 17-year-old girlfriend taught me to french-inhale when I was 15.  She was going out with one of the Cowsills.

User: brian:  I didn’t know you were in the Cowsills.

User jeanh:   Brian always perks up at the mention of the COWsills.