Saturday, April 14, 2012

Just Like Old Times...

I used to work for Verizon (technically Digex, at the time) as a UNIX engineer (glorified systems administrator, to be honest). One of the most annoying things I had to deal with was getting customer call about problems with their host, doing diagnostics, determining that there was a networking issue, calling our NetOps folks to see what might be going on (usually after telling them what was fucked up on their side), then, minutes later having everything "magically working again, asking "what'd you change" and being told "nothing: everything's still the same".

Really? I called you with a problem. I told you what the problem was. I listened to you type for a few seconds and then things suddenly started working, but you made no changes on your side to cause things to suddenly start working again? Ok: sounds legit.

I'd thought I'd gotten away from that, given that I last worked for Verizon in May of 2004. Apparently, even though I've gone on to bigger and better, networking at Verizon is still the same.

Today, I was killing time, waiting for my wife to fill a prescription at the local Walgreens. Not wanting to participate in the slow death that is sitting at the pharmacy counter, I opted to sit out in my car and listen to Last.FM and mess around on Google Plus.

All was going well until the music stopped. I flipped back to Last.FM from Plus and found that I couldn't get the music to restart. Kept getting "insufficient content" errors. I flipped back to my profile page and noticed that the app couldn't load my user profile. At first, I figured "Last.FM must be having server problems."

So, I flipped back to Plus to bitch about it. I noticed that it was taking hitting "post" multiple times in order for a post or a comment to actually get posted without a "can't post at this time" error message popping up.

After about 20 minutes of this nonsense, I dialed *611 to see if VZW might be having issues. The friendly CSR representative took my information, checked her systems and informed me that she wasn't seeing any issues. She suggested that, after I got off the call with her, I should take my battery out for about thirty seconds and then restart my phone - that that should clear up any phone-caused issues.

Um. Yeah. Sounds legit.

At any rate, I opted to not pull my battery out. However, in about half the time that it would have taken to have followed her instructions and for my phone to finish rebooting, I had full, uninterrupted network connectivity back. Last.FM was happy and I had tunes again.

I'm almost certain that were I to have re-dialed *611 and asked "what'd you guys have to do to fix things," I would get the usual Verizon NetOps answer of "nothing. We didn't change anything".

Humor in Strange Places

Earlier today (14:00 on Friday the 13th, to be exact), I had a double root canal procedure performed. Prior to the procedure, I was, to say the least, "anxiety-ridden". I mean, jus the name of the procedure is anxiety-inducing. "Root canal".

I mean, I'd always heard horror stories, but never really knew what it was. Something about the name made it sound like they bored into the roots of your teeth through your gums. To be honest, what they actually do isn't much better: the drill into your teeth through the top an obliterate your nerves. Even knowing that, ultimately, there'd be no nerves left to feel pain, I definitely went into the procedure with a feeling of dread. It being scheduled for a Friday the thirteenth didn't help those feelings at all - though, I guess the scheduling seemed "apt" (for lack of a better word). So, I brought a 0.5mg Xanax pill with me to help keep myself from climbing the walls.

Now, I don't know whether it was the Xanax, my underlying (probabaly "twisted" sense of humor) or that the procedure went exceptionally well. Whatever it was, it wasn't the horror show I was expecting.

To be honest, as I sat there in the chair, with a rubber block between my left-side molars, mouth utterly-numbed and a rubber-dam stretched across my mouth like a workman's tarp, I really mostly felt like a carpentry project. Or, maybe I felt like a prop in a BDSM scene? Whatever. The situation isn't one that I'd volunteer for, but it wasn't the horror-show I was expecting.

Before the novocaine and fixing of the rubber components, I'd taken my Xanax. The doctor was nice enough to have his assistant crush it to a fine powder so that I could stuff it under my tongue and get the effects much more quickly than normal. So, by the time the work started to go down, I was fairly relaxed. In fact, I almost nodded off a few times while the procedure was going on. Dunno whether that was simple boredom, the Xanax or a combination of the two.

/me shrugs

At any rate, the situation was such that I was finding many things about it amusing:

  • As they explained the hardware they would be putting in my mouth - in particular the rubber dam - my mind couldn't help but wander back to highschool. My time in highschool was during the peak of the HIV hysteria. I remember the health classes and other materials promulgating the use of rubber dams to make oral sex safe.
  • As the doctor began drilling, and I smelled the smokey scent associated with it, I was reminded of the old Bill Cosby commedy routine that talked about the burning smell, among other things.
  • I notice that the scope he was doing the procedure through was a Carl Zeiss machine. Now, Carl Zeiss has, historically, made some very fine optics. That says, they're an old German company. They were also very popular with the Nazis, for a while. So, it seemed amusingly apt that they would be the purveyors of such fine tortured devices.
  • This led me to thoughts of comedy movie Nazis conducting comical torture sessions.
  • This led me to have amusing images of Nazi uniform-clad BDSM people I've seen over the years
  • This led me to think, "I wonder how many dental professionals practice BDSM in their personal lives"

And so, my mind continued to drift from one amusing thing to another. At several points in the procedure, as I chuckled to myself at the thoughts running through my head and the overall silliness of the situation, the doctor would stop what he was doing. As a good, conscientious doctor, he was concerned that I was in pain.

I wasn't, but with all the hardware in my mouth, I wasn't really in a position to articulate that, "no, I'm just amused by the situation." Probably just as well, he'd probably have thought it might be a good idea to call the guys from the local psych ward to come pick up the wacko that thinks having a root canal is funny.

At the end of it all, the least pleasant part of the procedure was the not being able to talk during it. I mean, with all the things running through my head, I had a real need to make snarky commentary. The fact that I couldn't was rather frustrated.

Now, I'm sitting here and my teeth feel like they've been replaced by shards of broken glass. I went into the bathroom and discovered one more bit of comedy: pulling my lips back far enough to survey the ravaged teeth, I realized my mouth now looks like I'm a carny-worker. Awesome.

No. I'm not writing this while kited on Vicodin. While the doctor was nice enough to write me a script, I'll likely end up not using it. Historically, pain killers don't so much remove my ability to feel pain as make me so dizzy and nauseous that I'm too distracted to fully process the pain. So, the script is sitting with my keys and credit cards, unfilled. Chances are, it will stay that way.