Mister Eclectic (howeird) wrote,
Mister Eclectic

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Arghhh!!! IV

I had typed an entry and was all done with it when I had to open a VPN connection and check something on the customer's server. That apparently severed the link with LJ, and when I hit the Save button, it didn't. Whoosh, gone.

Which is probably good news for you, because this won't be as long the second time.

The day started well. I had another of those wonderful waffles for breakfast, went onsite at about 8:30, and fixed a bunch of little things which had been broken. But the system was still not working, and the guy configuring the set-top boxes was not making any progress either.

At lunchtime, I went to a place the manager recommended called the Starboard, a popular deli on Main Ave, but it was too popular that day, a long line out the door and no empty tables. So I walked two blocks down, to the other end of Main, across the street, and found Hamburger Heaven. Yes, it is even more tacky than it sounds.

Imagine a small town cafe, the kind where old folks go for coffee & donuts and read the paper. That's the front of the place. Now imagine the back room of a seedy bar, 2-person booths and shaded lamps hanging from the ceiling above each table. That's up the ramp to your left. It's the smoking section. Now imagine a 50's diner, complete with a colorful Zenith-style radio at each table built to look like the front grill of a Cadillac. A full-size mural of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper hand-drawn by a gifted amateur on the otherwise white wall. That's the back, non-smoking section where I sat.

The waitress said the special was meatballs. Not spaghetti & meatballs. Not a meatball sandwich. Just meatballs. I asked her what's good, and she said the beef sandwich. Okay, I'll try that. What she brought me was a large elliptical plate with a sandwich cut diagonally in half, a scoop of mashed potatoes in between. The sandwich was two pieces of Wonderbread packed with strips of brisket, all covered in a dark brown thick gravy-like substance. It was delicious. The brisket was superb, and this actually was my favorite meal in my grade school cafeteria. I passed on the apple pie, I was full.

Back to the site, I described my meal to the manager and he got some serious chuckles out of it. Nice guy, which makes it very hard to not be able to do anything to fix this screwed-up installation. At 4 pm the person in charge of the network side of things has arranged a conference call for all the 30 or so players to chat about where we are and what needs to be done. He called it because he thought his company's work was complete. Far from it. But he was gracious about it, and kept on the track that the customer needs to have this thing fixed. The customer being the nice guy site manager.

What resulted from the meeting was a complete change in the network configuration for my boxes, which made me mighty angry because I should have been told about this a week before I came here. The person making the suggestion was my own company's engineer, the one who promised me all this would be working Wednesday when I walked on site.

By the time we were done, it was time to lock up, and the manager reminded me we had a dinner date, he had reservations for us at a steak place in Mason City, the big town just east of here. He wanted to make sure I had a good Iowa steak before I left.

At 6:30 he arrived at the hotel in a Hawaiian shirt, and we rode out in his pickup. His other car is a classic red Harley which looks new, but is maybe 30 years old. On our way we stopped at the Harley store and picked up his Father's Day present from his wife - a windshield for the bike.

We drove most of the way through town, hung a left toward the cement plants, and found the only non-residence in the neighborhood. Pete's is a Greek place which specializes in steak and chops and other American food. There's a photo of Pete on the place mats, he must have been 102 years old when they took it. We went upstairs to have a drink and wait for our table, which was ready right at 7. We both ordered the rib eye. I had the small Greek salad, which was pretty good except I don't know what a pickle and a jalapeno pepper were doing in it. Wonderful feta cheese. The steaks arrived and they were huge. And floating in an inch of butter and fat. There was some very fresh baguette bread to soak that up with. The steak was great. Didn't even need steak sauce.

We had a good chat about everything except work, turns out he's one of the few people in Iowa who has been against the war from the start. He pointed out that we do have a draft - the reservists who have been called up for far beyond the two weekends a year they thought they were signing up for. I have to agree. And it's the worst kind of draft because it takes productive people out of the economy and gets them injured or killed, makes more widows and orphans and divorces than when 19-year-olds are drafted. Far more.

Back at the hotel, it dawned on me that this was my last night in Clear Lake, and I had not yet been to the Dairy Queen down the block. So I went, thinking chocolate-dipped cone. But when I got there, it seemed to me there was no excuse for this diversion from my Food Plan, so I looked for something more healthy. Something with fruit. Pineapple, strawberry, and a whole banana. Yes, a banana split was a lot more healthy than a chocolate dipped soft cone. So that's what I had.

During lunch I had finished reading A Wrinkle in Time, and over the banana split I started in on the essay after the end of the book. The 2005 edition has what is billed as an explanation of the science behind the story. It's actually just a piece of fluff for kids saying "look! science is always progressing! Maybe some day we will figure out how to do this stuff". It also completely ignored the heavy-handed Jesus God Is Love message which L'Engle slam-dunks into the tale at every opportunity. I was wondering why I, voracious reader of juvenile sci-fi, managed to miss this series, which came out when I was about 12. The Jesus message is probably what kept it off the reading list at the heavily Jewish-populated grade school I went to. I suspect if we'd moved to Seattle a few years sooner, I would have been exposed to this. My jr-sr high school had a grand total of 3 Jews when we arrived. And nobody on the faculty really knew what Judaism was or that we didn't celebrate Jesus things.

But I ramble.

Got back to the hotel, wrote my LJ posting, then saw I had email asking me to log into the site servers and make some changes. And that's it for Thursday.


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