NOC, NOC

Who’s there?

Har har. I crack myself up, truly.

Another wee hours visit to the NOC to deal with someone’s server, and then again this afternoon to move a couple PDUs and set up a few more servers. This is my life right now: sleep (well, maybe), work work work work work, eat at some point, sleep.

What seem to be the only interruptions are trips  to visit doctors. Two more this month, one of which is back to the neurologist to try botox injections for these terrible headaches/migraines I’ve been having, and for a muscle on the left side of my face that keeps spasming and locking itself down, hard. It’s all very painful, and I hope it works. Certainly my liver would be happier if I wasn’t guzzling (figuratively speaking; it all goes  through the tube) Tylenol and ibuprofen.

The weather here is seriously weird. We’ve had exactly one overnight where we got a freeze, and that just to 30F, although we’ve had two handfuls of days where the highs were only around 60F or so. Now, we’re back in the 80s and the air conditioning keeps coming on now and again – it’s supposed to be in the mid-80s until Friday, an entire week of unseasonably warm temperatures here.

Speaking of temps, I’ve found that thanks to a combination of being sick for years and some of the meds I have to take, when it’s warm outside, I have some issues. I need to get myself acclimated to the heat again, especially because I intend to go back to gardening in 2021.

It appears the Titans went to Baltimore ready to play tonight. It helps that Derrick Henry is a beast and Lamar Jackson is not looking like an MVP tonight.

Just some random thoughts banging around in my head. Now: off to finish all the software installs on the new servers. Until next time, peeps: be well.

Before She Was Helen – review

Solid four stars out of five. Warning: there is discussion of rape and a serial rapist, although not graphic.

Clemmie – or, as her neighbors know her, Helen – lives in a sleepy, sort-of retirement community called Sun City. Her next door neighbor Dom texts her every morning to let her know he’s ok. Except today: no text.

Clemmie has a key to Dom’s place – in case of emergency, and something her friends and neighbors do not know. She heads next door into Dom’s place, calling out for him. She doesn’t find him, but she does find a door in the garage that leads to the other attached villa, presumably owned by neighbors who are rarely seen.

Telling herself that she’s just checking for Dom, she enters the third (very empty, almost unlived-in) villa and sees a glass dragon sculpture that she thinks is so beautiful that she takes a picture and texts it to her nephew.

So begins Before She Was Helen, a character-driven mystery set in a limited community area.

Her text puts into a motion a grand mystery: the creator of the dragon is hunting for money stolen from him and tracks down Clemmie/Helen, Dom is missing, no one knows much of anything about the ghost neighbors, Clemmie’s friend Joyce is kicking out her boyfriend (who has been taking money from her checking account in bits and pieces), and all the other neighbors join in the fun when a body is found in Dom’s golf cart, in his garage.

There’s another story as well: Clemmie’s life before she became Helen, as the title suggests, in the 50s. It involves Clemmie being stalked and raped repeatedly by a man, her becoming pregnant tanks to her rapist, and giving up the child to an adoptive couple. When she moves from place to place, trying to escape him, he always finds where she is living and shows up. At one point, he rapes her roommate when he turns up but doesn’t find Clemmie. The rapist is later found dead. The case went cold in the past, and in the present, Clemmie’s nephew texts her that the case is being reopened, adding another worry to her pile.

The book moves fairly seamlessly between the present and the past, both eras containing complex mysteries to be solved: in the present, who among Clemmie’s neighbors are involved in drugs/dealing, and who killed the young man found in Dom’s garage? In the past, how did Clemmie finally escape, and who killed the stalker/rapist?

While none of the characters are very deeply presented beyond Clemmie, I still found it an enjoyable read and was wondering how all the pieces would be tied together, or indeed, if they could be. Answer: yes, they could be, and were.

As noted, this is a character-driven novel: there are no big action sequences or gory scenes beyond some blood in a knife fight that involves the artist and one of Clemmie’s neighbors. If you are looking or gunfights and foot (or golf cart) chases, you won’t find that here. But if you’re looking for a good read of how one woman reinvented herself and how she manages to get through the webs small town communities can weave, this is the book for you.

Thanks to NetGalley and Poisoned Pen Press for the advance reading copy.

A quarter of cleanup

The first quarter of 2020 is going to be a cleanup quarter. We’ve been busting ass for six months making our changes that are a result of our vendor’s changes, and boy, how I would love to be done with this by the end of Q1.

We’re also rearranging things at the NOC; another batch will be done tomorrow, and then this weekend a biggie (even though it only involves one switch). I can hear it now: the plaintive cries of people wondering what happened because they didn’t read any of the announcements we posted ahead of time.

It’s fine. We’re used to it.

Thus far, my primary exercise in the new year has been hauling servers around and taking inventory – necessary but tedious things. But I know the maxim is: do the hard thing first. This is the hard thing right now, and the sooner it’s done, the sooner we can move along back to our usual, quiet support levels, and the other things we (I) want to do.

I keep thinking about the garden, and growing peppers, and telling myself to just grow some tabascos in buckets. That way, I don’t have an excuse to go hog wild out there, and while we can buy cayenne and paprika powder at the store, my mom is not a fan of the actual Tabasco brand. She says it has a bit of a metallic taste at the end. So, I think I’m going to slow my roll on getting caught up back in the great outdoors and not letting the gardens or myself rest, and just set up a bucket brigade – peppers, versus water.

I do have some bamboo plants I would like to get in the ground this year, though. I could focus on digging some holes and working in some good soil. Maybe that will quench the need to get my hands really dirty in the great outdoors. I got them oh, maybe four months ago? All but one have generated new growth. They grow incredibly fast, which is good, because the house going up on the lot diagonally to us is not just large, but toward the front of the property, and I’d rather not be looking at that when out on my front porch. Every other house in this limited development, including mine, sits back from the road. Not a fan of where they’ve placed it, although I suspect the neighbor to his west (the eastern lot is not yet developed) is even less of one. Who knows, maybe I’ll start a bamboo trend in the neighborhood. It’s clumping bamboo, not spreading, so never fear, dear readers: I am still a good neighbor in that regard. Next up is blocking out the neighbor to my south along that fenceline so I don’t have to look at his heavy timber trucking equipment when I’m out at the bees or in the rear garden.

First things first, though, and that is to get all the tech stuff that needs to be done, done. It’s been a weird six months, but the one good thing is that I had the Big Op a month and a half before that vendor got crazy. If I’d had to deal with this while immediately recovering from that, it would have been a nightmare.

Forward, ho! And until next time, peeps: be well.

Into the Fire (Orphan X)

Into the Fire (Orphan X) by Gregg Hurwitz

A fantastic entry to the Orphan X series.

The Nowhere Man – aka Orphan X, aka Evan Smoak -is having a bit of an existential crisis and is on the outs with Mia, the lovely Assistant DA raising a son alone. But he still picks up the phone when Max Merriweather calls him.

Max’s cousin Grant, an apparent crackerjack forensic accountant, has entrusted Max (who is the schlub of the family) with an envelope to be opened if something happens to him.

It does.

The envelope contains spreadsheets that appear to be the workings of a money laundering organization. And it is, to a certain extent, but it’s also much larger than that.

Evan agrees to help Max, telling himself that this is the last mission. And what a mission it is. After chopping off the head of the operation – or so he thinks – Evan is pulled back in when another head pops up. Then another. And another. Each step he takes is in direct conflict with Mia, for reasons I won’t go into for spoilery reasons.

There are tons of dead bodies along the way, tense moments with Mia, and a bait dog saved from a dogfighting ring Evan gives to Joey, hacker extraordinaire and an able partner for Evan on the back end of things. She also presents some comedic moments as Evan gets drawn more deeply into the giant conspiracy and the higher ups bound to it by the steely woman in charge.

While there are some things IT-related that people who work in IT may roll their eyes at, that isn’t really anything new for this series, and the suspension of disbelief isn’t that difficult to do in favor of everything propelling the story forward.

There’s a surprise at the end that is a true surprise, and one I wasn’t expecting. Assuming the Nowhere Man keeps his boots on, and with the parameters set in place toward the end, but before the surprise, the next book (assuming there is one, and I truly hope there is) should be quite interesting.

Thanks to NetGalley and Minotaur Books for the reading copy.

 

In the wee quiet hours

“Nothing good happens at 3 AM.”

Probably not entirely true, but it seems to be the time – thereabouts – when shit happens in IT.

Case in point: yesterday. I was winding down for the day, somewhere around midnight-ish, dealing with some guy who was dithering on a backup restore after one of his developers apparently hosed something. He ultimately decided against it, as whatever it was got worked out. Shortly thereafter, after about 1:15 in the morning, one of the servers just went offline. Poof!

We’ve seen this from time to time over the years, where the primary NIC (that’s network interface card, for those of you who do not speak Geek)  shuts itself off. There are a variety of fixes, or possible fixes for it, as with anything. Usually, rebooting the thing bring it back online. That depends on the PDU (power distribution unit, AKA, fancy power strip that allows remote reboots) working. We have probably six that need to be replaced, as they are errored out and do not work for anything other than just plain old power – hence the fancy power strip moniker I’ve given them. This, alas, was one of them.

So I had to haul myself to the NOC at 1:30 in the morning, only to get there and find that the errored PDU just shut off the outlet. And only that one outlet. Easy enough to fix by swapping it to another, working PDU. Then the drive home. In bed by 4. Up again by 8. Work work work. It really puts a crimp in your day.

Some days are like that in IT. Just so anyone who thinks it’s all glamorous and files transfer in nanoseconds and no one ever makes a typo and who may think IT is just super cool and easy money doesn’t get any wrong ideas about it all.

That’s it for now. Until next time, peeps: be well.