Well, I survived my trip to the sweaty, stinky armpit of the South.
The flight over was fairly uneventful, though it did start out with an ill omen. At the airport there was a helicopter that had a collapsed landing strut that had caused some fairly severe damage to the whirlybird, including bending the blades on the main rotor. Very bad and very expensive. Little turbulence on the flight over in spite of warnings about bad weather. Though, I have to admit, I’d have been more comfortable if my pilot hadn’t been taking short naps along the way. I know we were on autopilot and all, but the idea of crashing over those swamps in East Texas and Louisiana just are not my idea of a good time.
The thing that hit me when we got to New Orleans was the damage still from Katrina. We drove for almost three miles from the little airport where we landed before we started to get to intersections that had working stop lights. Most of the houses that I saw were either empty, or had blue tarps over the roof as an attempt at some temporary repair. I did see some FEMA trailers, but most of them were in a big parking lot where they were totally useless. Apparently, that’s the latest outward sign of a bureaucracy gone terribly wrong. The thing that really got me though was the messages spray painted on the abandoned homes and buildings. Most of it was in some sort of rescue-worker code, but on one house the message was clear: 1 pony DOA, 1 dog DOA.
I spent the entire day Thursday watching data copy. Yep, about as exciting as watching paint dry or grass grow, but people keep interrupting any reading or writing you might be doing to ask what’s going on with the server. (“Uh, the same thing that’s going on when you asked the last fifteen times, you slack-jawed Luddite.”) Then, right when everyone starts to scatter near the end of the day, the data finishes and I can actually start doing real work. A whole hour’s worth of real work before, you guessed it, I copy data back to the new server from the backup drive. Woo. Yea. Oh, the exciting life of a sysadmin on the road.
But, I kept reminding people that I had no rental car and needed a ride to the hotel and/or restaurant, hoping that they wouldn’t abandon me. It went about like this:
“Um, you know, I still don’t have a rental car or anything so, I’ll need a ride to the hotel, right?”
“So, you’re not leaving yet, right?”
“Yeah, hold on a minute.”
“Ah, so, since I don’t have a rental car are you going to be driving me?”
“Wait, I’ve got something better than a rental car for you!”
“I’ve got the shop truck for you!”
“Of course, you’ll have to put gas in it. It’s on ‘E’.”
“Right. Great. Thanks?”
So, yes, I drove the shop pickup truck that they use to make deliveries and, yes, I filled it up. Thankfully, I grew up in the greater Chicagoland area and only had to stare down one guy who looked like he was going to beg for money at the ratty, little gas station I stopped at in the trashed-out neighborhood where the Holiday Inn I was booked in was sadly located. Now, keep in mind, I used to work in the hotel industry. I never worked in Housekeeping, as is evidenced by the current state my house is in, but I did learn what a hotel room is supposed to look like in great detail. This particular Holiday Inn did not meet Hyatt Hotel’s standards. In fact, it didn’t even have the faintest idea what that standard might possibly resemble. Sadly, it was still not the worst place I’d ever spent the night while on the road. After all, the sheets were clean, there was an extra roll of toilet paper, and no used band-aids on the floor. Yes, it can, in fact, get that bad. I did, however, have to plug in every electrical appliance and light. I only had to kill a single cockroach, though, so it all works out. Besides, it was the only room available anywhere close to that part of town.
The next morning, I got down to the nitty-gritty of actually moving the PCs and users to the new server. It went like clockwork. Well, after I got the first few problems worked out and everyone finally had the right security rights. But, freakishly, considering all the things that have gone wrong in the past on these little junkets, I was done by lunchtime. So, I just had to hang around until my plane left at 8:30PM. At least, I managed to slip out for my favorite Southernism, the oyster po’ boy. After that it was just killing time cleaning up little detail things like verifying the backup scheme and updating the anti-virus files, until it was time for the crawfish boil. Now, you might not think that a damn, Yankee carpet-bagger like myself knows what to do with a mess o’ mud bugs, but, surprise, I do. Though, I didn’t eat as many as locals, I did know to suck the head. By then it was getting on toward 6:00pm and I was itching to get to the airport and make sure I had a seat on the plane home. I rode back with the most back-country, redneck sounding guy you ever want to try and listen to, but he was really very bright and, in his own Southern-fried way, quite articulate. In fact, it was everything I could do to keep from imitating his swamp drawl after a bit.
So, I got to the airport, and home, early. My girl got me from the airport and we drove to the far ends of the Earth to get my car from the West Houston Airport where it was not only safe and sound, but looked like it had been washed! Apparently, those stories I’d heard about torrential downpours in Houston while I was away were not exaggerated. By the time we made it back to my house, it was about 11:30PM and Doc had gone to bed, but my Hilda was quite glad to see me. Either that, or she’s learned that Ms. NewGal always brings yummy dog treats with her when she comes.
Oh, while I was away, I also managed to get some reading in, so I finally finished A Better Way to Live and started a trashy novel called Seppuku. I suppose I’ll try to review those when I finally get caught up!
(Oh, and by the way, the boss said I could put down Ms. NewGal’s milage on my expense report, so she’ll get a little something more than the pleasure of my company, which is all she claimed she wanted when she volunteered. Gotta’ love it!)