Some not-entirely-random items for the waning days (which around here, generally, mean "one more ice storm to go") of winter:

Once again, the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue is upon us, and I'm beginning to think that the magazine is running out of ideas. It's not that I'm weary of scantily-clad women in vaguely-exotic locations, exactly, but it's a formula rapidly slipping past "stale" on the way to "petrified", and there is no gimmick this year as spiffy as the painted-on suits from 1999, or as deliriously absurd as the 3D photography from 2000. Props, though, to the smartass who decided that this year's "Red Hot in Latin America" theme should include a shoot in Spanish Harlem.

Earlier this week, traffic on our T1 line at work ground to a halt, and a call to our service provider elicited the news that fiber was down all over the city, and that they were working on the problem. We couldn't do anything about it ourselves, obviously, so we shrugged and went back to work, hoping that when service was back to normal, our mail server would be overloaded by snarly letters from whiny dillweeds who (1) couldn't get into our Web site and (2) didn't get an answer to their first email within the two hours they were accustomed to expect. (The Industry, alas, is almost entirely overrun with such people, and what's more, we hardly ever answer anything within two hours when things are working properly; an automated response system is not in the cards, perhaps because management fears, quite reasonably I think, that these nimrods would reply to it.) When I got home, I dialed up a dial-up — there isn't much else you can do with one, really — and got response times that bordered on acceptable, something that hadn't been happening lately. Maybe fiber really wasn't down everywhere. The word got out a few days later: fiber hadn't been down anywhere. What had happened, apparently, was a calculated denial-of-service attack by some snot-nosed brat whose aspirations apparently extend only to someday becoming a whiny dillweed, an assault which caught the ISP quite unprepared. This was followed by a period, not of finding and fixing holes in their server security, but of finding someone other than themselves to blame for the presence of those holes. Is this any way to run a railroad? Well, Amtrak, maybe.

It's been a while since I broke down and wept during a song, something especially inadvisable while driving on the Broadway Extension through Oklahoma City, but "New Favorite", the title track to the 2001 album by Alison Krauss and Union Station, left me tearful yet somehow wistful, perhaps bringing too close to the surface the memory of discovering that I wasn't ever going to be anybody's favorite, yet simultaneously giving me just enough strength to submerge it again. For a while, anyway.

The Vent

23 February 2002

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 Copyright © 2002 by Charles G. Hill