Thursday, March 24, 2011

Because of the monsoon

My visit to the east coast last week was welcomed by a surge of temperate weather in the region, and even warm sunshine on several days. When I arrived in Manhattan that Friday afternoon, I was actually sweating through my t-shirt as I dragged my [excessive] luggage from Penn station to Grand Central. I had the particular feeling that there were small mammals frolicking in a warm green field somewhere nearby, and indeed there were! Yappy purse dogs and grey squirrels chased each other through Central Park as I explored the glorious open-space.

This morning I walked 300 feet from a bus stop to the front door of my building, and my shoes were gushing water everywhere across the landing.

There's this funny thing that I have realized about government agencies and internal practical problem solving; it is an estranged relationship. Just as I walked into my office and greeted Elisa, every single power outlet on my side of the office despairingly resigned. Maybe it is just their way of striking in response to low maintenance, to wait until the official start of hours and then bail.
"Wait for it... wait for it!.... HE'S ALMOST HERE!....(off)!!"
I dunno. Point is, the computers don't work. And it's really just the computers, the lights and microwave and phones are golden. (if you did not know, land lines have an independent power supply through the phone wires. Cool stuff.) Unfortunately, all of our directories are on the Cloud. So phones are useless. I'm also writing this from my cell phone, cuz it's my only access to the www.

"Why Luke, why don't you just use your one coworker's computer that still works? She had the foresight to take a vacation day, she doesn't need it!" Good call, Common Citizen. How sensible of you! Unfortunately, thats not how we role.

In SF IT's paranoia (for good reasons, mostly), each user requires a unique password. Ok. Each password gets you access to certain authorized servers, files and user preferences. Ok. These authorizations also include a custom link the the City's cloud e-mail system. Ok, and? For whatever reason that I don't know, desktop interfaces are not exclusively cloud portals. When I signed on to my coworkers computer, my login worked, Windows loaded, and absolutely nothing was there. I eventually found our email client and entered my data. OMG THIS IS GOING TO WORK OUT, you might exclaim. But of course, the client does not recognize my login because the IP does not match my registered 'preferences'. My server is missing because it cannot route to another computer asking for authorized access, even though this computer is actually authorized to begin with. And to top it off, I receive an on-screen notice that my account may be compromised and is being locked down until I say otherwise - through my email account. Which just got locked anyway. (For those of you following my escapades for several years now, this lock out is a little familiar.)

"Why Luke, why not just flip the breaker and turn the power back on?" OMG you should have thought of that earlier! But now that I think about it, those breakers are behind a locked door that can only be opened by central maintenance. Who are on lunch. At 10:00am. And btw they're booked all day "because of the monsoon".

Oddly enough, my office has several crowbars. We got them in preparation for the impending earthquake that will supposedly disable all infrastructure and level medium buildings lacking retrofits. So we think, we could just pry the door open and pay the $30 to replace the handle. It would certainly outweigh lost production. But then we remember, we work for the government in a public building, and we could pretty easily be charged with defacing and destroying public property. On top of that, we would probably have to report to 10 local commissions about employee conduct. So instead, we stare at the door and wait.

So let's recap; no access to servers, no access to email, IT refuses to authorize my Droid on our client and says it's impossible (even though most of my superiors have it....), and we don't have any direct phone numbers because we only MOSTLY digitalized our bureaucracy. Nice.

I also decided to use this time to go get coffee for the office. But nature wanted to have some more fun, so by the time I got back with the tray of Tribute Blends from 1000ft up Market St, I was drenched in coffee from the wind, otherwise soaked through and through, and the otherwise convenient and Eco-friendly recycled cardboard cup holder had thoroughly dissolved in my hands.

On the upside, I now have time to read through all of my grad school responses :) yay!

1 comment:

  1. Luke. Your calling is writing. Your political career and adventures surrounding it is your muse.
    Enjoyed this immensely.