To tell the truth

People who read the stories on my web site often times ask if I tell the truth when I write. What seems like a simple and fair question on the surface can easily turn into a nebulous concept where the notions of right and wrong become more intertwined than the drunken bodies at the local Fraternities Saturday night “Beer and Twister” celebration. Questions such as “Is one the atomic weight of Hydrogen?”, “Does a box of Hamburger Helper come with one of those cartoon gloves with the face on the palm?” and “Honey, did you go out drinking last night only to wake up naked in the back seat of a Mexican crossdresser’s car AGAIN?” can quite easily answered with the responses of “Yes,” “No,” or “HELLO! Isn’t it perfectly obvious that I’m still wearing my left sock?”

Unfortunately, the very nature of the Cosmos doesn’t always provide clear cut answers. Take for example the value of Pi. Defined to be the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter, this simple mathematical concept has puzzled mankind since the beginning of time. Even with all of the world’s fancy computers and glamorous mathematicians working on the case, we will never know its exact value. No matter how accurately the value of Pi is calculated, there will always more digits at the end that have not been taken into consideration. It’s one of the most simple and elegant concepts of Euclidean Geometry, and yet we are forced to spend the rest of our lives agonizing over the beauty of their round supple perfection that teases us– forever out of reach.

Which brings me to my next topic: Britney Spears. As I write this I’m watching her televised concert on HBO. At the moment she is performing “I Love Rock and Roll” (originally recorded by Joan Jett and the Black Hearts) while seductively dancing around with a half dozen young dancers wearing revealing shiny spandex outfits on a small platform suspended thirty feet in the air off the main stage. There are so many ways to end this paragraph that I’ll let you, the reader, make up your own punch line or pick one of the following.

A) Of course that whole setup was stolen from Cher’s act in the mid 1980’s.
B) I heard they had to edit out the post show interview when Joan Jett drove to the arena and kicked Britney’s ass.
C) If her boobs really are fake, they sure stood up to the intense heat generated by the stage lights quite nicely.

So while a lot of people categorize Miss Spears as a fake, the truth is that she has some musical talent, a moderate amount of skill in moving her body in synch with the music, and an amazing ability to draw attention away from her deficiencies and focus the spotlight on her assets. Writing stories is remarkably similar– except in all honesty I generally forgo the silver sequin covered sports bra in favor of a baggy drab colored T-shirt. I’m not going to deny it brings out the curves of my upper body, but when I’m sitting at my desk for hours at a time it chafes me like there is no tomorrow.

To explain this concept using a different analogy, people realize that working in a cubical in an office isn’t a whole lot of fun most of the time. At my last job I worked in a cubical and gave customers highly specialized technical advice. Which, by any objective measurement is less interesting than watching paint dry. Given this information, I tend to stay away from the mundane aspects of what I did and focus on the relatively sparse but unusual events that I experienced. I’ve included two “real” things that happened at work to illustrate this point.

Example 1:

I was talking to a customer on the phone today at work. He seems like a nice enough fellow, but after conversing with him for a few minutes I realized that he was trying to pass an uninitialized character pointer object to a function. And he wonders why the compilier was producing a memory stack overflow error. I mean, really—he might as well have been trying to create a multithreading process without any shared memory mutex mechanisms.

Example 2:

I’m not sure how, but one of the customers I was helping had this uncanny ability to call me exactly one minute after I left my desk to go to the bathroom or stop by the kitchen to get another beverage. To make matters worse, he didn’t have the ability to receive incoming phone calls. Finally, the situation got to the point where my manager came into my cubical with a solution. She grabbed a roll of duct tape and quickly wrapped it around my chest and the back of the chair three or four times to ensure I would not leave the vicinity of my telephone until the customer called back. While her plan did work, I think she went a little too far with the idea when she came back to my desk an hour later with a catheter tube.

The first example isn’t funny at all because memory management in C++ programming IS NO LAUGHING MATTER! The second example is funny because it actually happened. Of course so did the first one—which is the whole point. It’s pretty easy to take ordinary events and make them look more exciting than they actually are. Just ask Britney.