March 2000

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March 24, 2000:  Well, talk about busy, eh?  Hehehs, it's been a while since I've updated the journal, so it's time to play catch up.  

On Friday March 10, my friend Justin came out to visit me for 9 days here in CA.  It was his spring break and instead of spending it in dreariness of winter in New England, he came out to CA to get some sun.  We spent a very busy 9 days together.  Our adventures took up up to the Marin Headlands a couple of times, to many find restaurants, to Half Moon Bay (great day at the beach!), to Stinson Beach (another great time at the beach), to San Francisco, to Palo Alto... hehehe, ok, we covered a lot of territory together.  I wasn't able to take any time off from work, so most of our travel was confined to the two weekends, but we certainly made the best of it.  We had a really intense and good time together and come to find out, that we'll probably see a bit more of each other this fall, as he's been accepted to San Jose State!  He (and I) are both very psyched that he'll get the chance to leave the East coast and come out here for a bit.

Last week I did get pretty sick for two days.  Came down with a nasty case of the 24 hour flu combined with strep throat.  Dang it, I haven't had that since I was 15 or so.... well, thankfully, I was quickly on some penicillin and that knocked it right out of my system.  I now am back to 100% and feeling great!

This week was really busy at work.  We had a couple people out sick and at training.  That combined with some contractors cutting our T-1 lines on Wednesday really sucked, but Quintus got through it.  Hehehe, I even got to be at the right place at the right time to help out during that disaster.  He's a write up by the Director of IT on what happend.  I got a very nice note from the VP of Operations (CC'd to the entire executive team) thanking me for the help:

"The Day the Cabling Died…

By now, most everyone is aware of Wednesday's cable cut incident that left parts of Quintus without data service, internet service, and phone and voicemail service. The impact of this disaster (yes, disaster is a strong word, but does fit the impact we felt) could have spanned more than a day if it weren't for the efforts of many Quintus employees and even some of our business partners.

When problems were first reported, IT personnel began to scramble. One path was directly to the main communication closet servicing the Fremont #1 building. This closet is a shared facility. There is another business moving into the adjacent space and it was their workers who cut the cables. Upon surveying this communications closet, the magnitude was felt. There was no question that this was the cause of the problems. Worse yet, it was clear the IT Support Desk would soon be receiving a huge volume of phone calls, emails, cell phone calls, and pages. Like a symphony, phones rang and pagers sang.

It was clear that a team needed to be assembled to do some triage, some surgery, and a lot of communication. 

A meeting was called. A contingent of employees met to share in disbelief what had happened and to map a plan. One part of the plan: inform the primary US locations what had happened. A communications team was formed with representation from Chicago, Acton, Austin, and Fremont. The purpose of the team was to immediately communicate the disaster through the respective locations.

The communication plan also consisted of contacting those 3rd parties who would be needed to restore our telecommunication services. This included 2 bell companies servicing our Fremont location, two internet service providers, our frame relay provider, the cabling contractor we often call upon to run cabling projects in the Fremont location, and a telecommunications consultant we use of some telecom projects. These 3rd parties were immediately contacted and priority 1 service tickets were opened. Within a short period of time, these 3rd parties arrived.

In parallel with executing the communication plan, problem resolution began. The solution to the problem was fairly obvious: start splicing wires. Lots of them. Different color wires. Wires terminating on punch panels, terminating in NUIs (teleco term for a black box) wires terminating nowhere. 

Here's where things get real interesting. 

Gary Kimrey, the IT Network Administrator, offered to come into work to help. Gary was at his wife's side as she waited to give birth to their 2nd child. She hadn't broken water yet, so Gary felt he could afford to leave for a short bit of time. Once he arrived, he offered to assume lead splicer duty. He ran into the communications room and began the task. Scott Penziner offered to be his assistant. They both tackled their task with enthusiasm and vigor. Gary periodically reminded Scott that the wires do carry a little voltage, so be careful. Scott seemed to understand this, although every now and then you'd see him quiver and hear him shriek. But he braved the occasional jolt and maintained his focus.

On regular intervals, the communications team would meet (conference call) to discuss status and re-evaluate recovery time. At first, expectations were being set that the impact could probably be felt for days. As the team continued to work, expectations were upgraded: the situation would be resolved by first thing Thursday morning. And upgraded again: by midnight. And in the end: all services were restored by 5PM. 

This was truly an adventure. A great example of teamwork, of dedication, of resolve. It was also an opportunity to test some of the procedures prepared in preparation for Y2K. I swore to never (ever) make further references to Y2K, but I will make this one exception because it seems appropriate.

Congratulations to all those who shared in this adventure."

and a fun adventure it was :-)

Let's see, this weekend, I'm taking it nice and easy.  Only plans are to attend an Oscar party at Rob and Susan's on Sunday afternoon, which I'm really looking forward to.

On Monday, Becky is coming out to San Jose for work and I'm totally psyched I'm going to get to see here.  We're planning on dinner Monday night.  I really miss her (and Lisa) and am looking forward to this chance to do some catching up.

Travis "Shoebox" Nelsen dropped a line.  He's doing well and is looking forward to getting back to the States.  He wrote "I'll be outta here in mid-June and reporting to Pope AFB, North Carolina, where  we'll be spending the next few years.  In August I'll be heading to Keesler AFB, Mississippi for three months for training in my new job, Computer Systems Operations.  Exactly what that entails, I'm not completely sure, but at least I won't be working in other peoples shit for a living anymore.  hehe!!"  Ahh, plumber humor :-)  It'll be great to have him back 'home'.

and so, in a tiny nutshell, that's what's up!  Catch ya in a bit.  ~Penz

March 7, 2000:  Had a good weekend.  On Friday, I went to the movies and saw Pitch Black.  A pretty good 'dark' sci-fi thriller.  I kinda liked it because the good guys didn't all survive!  On Saturday, I woke up and did a little gardening out back.  I've got a 4x20 stretch of earth that is off my patio.  I figured I'd do something with it, so after tearing up the soil, adding 2 big bags of steer manure (mmmm, smelled so nice!), I planted 2 small Jasmine plants, 2 ferns, rosemary, basil, orgegano and a couple of perenials.  They look pretty good and have survived the first few days :-)  Later on that morning, Vince came over and we went up to San Francisco in the late am and met Chris Word for breakfast.  We went to Savours, down in the Noe Valley area.  Mmm, good eating there and had a fun time visitng.  Later on that afternoon, we came back, had some dinner and then went to see American Beauty.  Wow, good flick... definitely, touched, but good.  After the movie, Vince too off, and I crashed.

The next morning it was off to Atherton, where I met Rob and Susan and we headed off to church.  Afterwards, it was off to the Left Bank for our traidional brunch.  And then, around 3:00, I was in a plane headed towards Austin, TX where I spent the next two days working for Quintus out of our office there.  I had a great time hanging our with the new support manager there.  Lannie and I both share a passion for eating and cooking good food, so he shared with me some excellent places to go.  The first was Sam's off of 12th street in Austin.  Located in 'the ghetto', this little shack put out the tastiest ribs and brisket I've ever had. Mmmmmm, damn good!  That night, we were off to Gumbo's, also in Austin.  I had a cup of gumbo to start (it was quite tasty and thick, though I like my rue a little darker) and then had the blackened catfish covered in crawfish ettoufe.  Mmmmm, mmmm, good!  For lunch, the next day, we went to Pappadeaux, where we started wtih more gumbo (very good!) and then I had the fried platter which included stuffed shrimp, shrimp, oysters, catfish and crab.  Damn, we did some good eating!  I can't wait to go back :-)  Hahahah, plus we got a good amount of work done, so it was a productive trip all around.

Well, I'm just settling in, and am reading a sweet email I got from Heather Johnson, an awesome friend of mine from back in NH who is married to another great person, Dana.  Seems like they've got another 'spud in the oven' who will be due this summer!  Hahah, looks like I'm gonna have to plan a trip back to see the little one.  God, the miracle of children, and I can't think of a better mother for those kids than Heather.

Well, that's about it for now.  Hope all is well in your part of the world :-)  Penz

March 1, 2000:  Had a great weekend, as I was up in Seattle, WA visiting Scot "Slap" Servis and Adam "Skinny Daug" Arnold.  It was very cool!  My trip began with a 2 hour delay at SJC Airport where I met Dawn, who is a new member of the team at the Bonny Doon Vineyard.  She was really nice and it was a pleasure hanging out and talking with her while we waited for our plane.

I arrived in Seattle, at 12:30 Sat. morning where I was greeted by Scot, Adam and Katie.  After exchanging numerous hugs and friendly insults <grin> we were off to Scot and Katie's house.  We didn't get to bed until about 4:00 am, but the conversation was well worth it.  Later on that day, after eating a very tasty breakfast prepared by Katie, we headed up into the surround area to view some of the natural beauty of the land.  Well, let's just say it's gorgeous up there, and I'll have the film back next week, so maybe some pictures will make it up here soon :-)  That night, we went to dinner at The Keg, just outside of Seattle, and had some killer steaks.  That night, we didn't get to bed until 3:00 am.  On Sunday, after much bitching from Adam, I finally cooked breakfast and then we went for a walk down by the lake.  By 1:30, we were off to the airport where Adam departed at 3:00 and I at 6:30 (after a bit of a delay).   It was a killer weekend, as it was the first time the three of us had been together just to hang out, in quite a long time.  I really miss not having these two brothers of mine a bit closer, but time has proven, that we're destined to be friends for a lifetime :-)

This week has flown by.  I bought a couch today (yeah!) which will be delivered next Thursday.  I'm psyched!  This Sunday I fly to Austin, TX and will spend a couple days there on site at Quintus.  On Thursday, Justin arrives for a 10 day visit.  He'll be spending his spring break in CA!   Hahaha, it's gotta be warmer here than in NH :-)

And that, in a tiny nutshell, is what's up!

>:-)  ~Penz


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