Thursday, September 13, 2007

Great. Just What We Need...

So right now at work I'm doing what in Engineering are called trade studies. The idea is this: we're designing a system that needs a database. But there are many database products out there--some expensive commercial products with lots of nifty features and comprehensive service packages, some bare-bones open-source products that are free but tricky to use and of dubious reliability, and everything in between. We have selected about six different products, and we are evaluating each of them as carefully as we can to see which is best for our needs.

We have three engineers doing this just for the database trade study. (There are also numerous other trade studies going on, covering every part of the system we're building).

And the work is boring. B-O-R-I-N-G! It amounts to sifting through all kinds of white papers, advertising and promotional materials, product reviews, you name it. The whole exercise tends to breed nihilism and cynicism--after all, one must read through all this advertising material and read between the lines to figure out what their product doesn't do. It tends to undermine faith in one's fellow man--if you do it too long, anyway.

So, our company thoughtfully figured we needed a little something to liven up our days; a little thrill of adventure to keep us sharp, to keep us on our toes as we performed the work that otherwise threatened to numb our brains.

One of the facilities folks sent around this email today to perk us up (heavily redacted by me, of course):

There has been a lot of "hall talk" about snakes in our buildings. Facilities is aware of several sightings, and we'd like to make you aware of what we know.

First, we believe the snakes are entering the building from the outside. There is no reason to believe there are nests or any other ways that would have snakes originating from within. Reptiles entering buildings is a somewhat common occurrence during drought conditions, which we are experiencing this year.

Second, we have confirmed sightings of harmless garter or grass snakes. We do have one reported sighting of a small rattlesnake, which was reported by someone who is familiar with what they look like. We could not confirm this, however.

We are investigating possible ways to deal with this, but in the meantime please report any sightings immediately to either ... or the Security Control Center at .... Please try to keep the snake in sight, but do not approach or attempt to capture it on your own.

There is no reason to expect more than the occasional snake sighting as the inside of the building is not a suitable habitat for them. We don't wish to create a panic either, but we feel it's prudent to make everyone aware of the current situation.

Please feel free to email me with any questions or concerns.

Well, now! That got our attention. Ever tried to do a trade study when you're surrounded by snakes!

So the inside of our building is apparently not a suitable habitat for them. Hmm... It seems that it has recently become not a suitable habitat for us.

We're in part of the building that has weird air circulation. Everytime the AC comes on, it makes weird moaning sounds, as though the tortured spirits of a thousand departed doughnuts are haunting the cubicles. But for some reason, when that sound came today, all we could think of were the snakes. "Oh, no! They're in the air ducts! And they're moaning at us!"

Where's Samuel Jackson when you need him?

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