As a bit of variety for our readers, I’ve decided to throw together a periodic humor piece inspired by Simon Travaglia BOFH. It’s not exactly an angry rant… but it is Friday — you deserve a few laughs. For those new to the HoS series, the first episode is here.

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The Advisor is pretty pissed about what happened to Li and seems to think that I was at fault in the matter, even if, to the trained observer (and the university police, for that matter), it appeared to be nothing more than an unfortunate accident. Despite spending the evening in university hospital, Li seems not so particularly worse for wear and is “excited about getting back to work.” This means that my offensive did not have the desired effect — instilling fear in Li. That must be rectified, but first I need to switch to defense mode. I must protect the server.

As the only guy in the group who does any computing beyond the “Excel” level, I use about 95% of the non-idle cycles on the server (yeah, ok, that counts BitTorrent), so protecting the server from idiots like Li is high on my priority list. As any decent admin knows, physical access is root access (or in Li’s case, break-memory-in-half access). Ergo, I need to come up with a better place of stashing the server than in the lab so Li and his ilk keep their bloody hands off. Seeing as I don’t really have an office — Javier, the first year and I work in the lab — there’s no obvious place to put it. The thought of leaving it in Amy and Sasha’s office makes me shudder… the prospect of putting in some spadework with Amy is overshadowed by the prospect of having to interact with Sasha at all. I will need another plan.

After finishing off a few rounds of Xevil against the first year and the condensed matter guys down the hall who’s advisor is gone all week, I grab my coat and head out to McSweeney’s for department happy hour. On the way out, I see the Jimmy the janitor and invite him along. Despite the fact that he’s on the clock, he joins us. I like this man’s work ethic. A few hours (and more than a few stouts) later, I’m sitting with Jimmy and Javier and discussing the server problem.

“… and you see, after the memory chip problem, I need to put the server somewhere more secure.”

“What about the department server room?” says Jimmy offers.

Javier and I laugh heartily. “Uh, No.” The departmental web site has been rooted 3 times in the last six months (OK, one of those times was me and Javier), so I wouldn’t trust those guys further than I could throw them (which, given their computer-user physiques isn’t very far).

Jimmy responds, “Well I suppose I could keep it in one of the janitorial closets.”

“Well, I don’t know. I mean, what about moisture?”

“I’ve got the perfect dry space in one of them. And nobody has access but me.”

“And if I need to get to the machine?”

“Come by any time I’m on shift and it’s yours.”

“Well, I’d need to see the facility,” I note.

“Not a problem,” smiles Jimmy.

Now Jimmy is probably about 50 with the libido of a 18 year old. Even the normally oblivious female grad students notice his naughty leer and make it a point to avoid him. Even given his Dirty Old Man status, I’ve made it a point to shout Jimmy a few beers — in the large, heartless bureaucracy that is the university, a janitor is one of the best friends you can possibly have.

After happy hour ends, I head back with Jimmy to inspect his proposed server site… in the basement. I wonder for a moment whether or not I’ve just stepped into a slasher flick when Jimmy opens the door to the room. Needless to say, I’m impressed. Ecce love nest.

Jimmy’s “closet” is almost as large as the lab, and it’s equipped with a large flat panel TV (so that’s where the screen from conference room 234 went), a mini-fridge, a fully stocked bar, the complete collection of the works of Ron Jeremy and a bed that’s so gaudily decorated it looks like it came from a motel with hourly rates. I whirl around to face Jimmy.

“Uh, man, if you’re a thinking that I’m…”

“I’m not a fuckin’ queer, you moron,” Jimmy retorts, “This is for the ladies.”

I ponder in disgust as to what kind of “ladies” would find their way here. Swallowing my doubts, I ask, “Where do you think I can put the server?” Jimmy responds by pointing to a nice area in the corner, near a powerpoint where I could easily place the machine and have it completely undisturbed.

“Well that will do quite nicely. What’s the catch?”

“Come again.”

“I know I was buying drinks, but if there’s an off chance I might be interrupting your escapades, this is going to cost me a lot more.”

Jimmy smiles and says, “Son, you definitely have your head on straight. I’ll tell you what I want. The department just installed a satellite HDTV feed up on the roof, and I’ve heard they have all the special channels. You’re going to get me a feed.”

I shudder to think exactly how many porno channels that thing will carry. But it’s either give the man his porn or have Li’s hands all over my server… an easy choice, but a tough job. I’ll need to tap the line, run cable all the way to the basement and do all of this without anyone noticing or caring. I pause for a moment.

“For that much work, I want a key. I won’t use the bed, I promise.”

“Done.”

After a quick trip to city hall in the morning, the next afternoon Jimmy and I are inspecting the dish — it’s a pretty nice system. I can only begin to dream about watching the Super Bowl in HD in one of the conference rooms. I jar myself back to reality by realizing that snow has started falling. Quickly I pull out the laser range-finder and find that the dish is precisely 465 feet from the west wall. Looking over the blueprints for the building (thank you Mr. Mayor!), I trace my finger across them to find out exactly where the feed will drop. A chill comes over me as my finger settles on the office of the professor known as the “Columbian Slave Driver.”

Gulp. This is going to be much harder than I thought.

(to be continued…)

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