The World According to Nick
My take on Software, Technology, Politics, and anything else I feel like talking about.
Tuesday, January 24, 2006

War Stories 

Matt's tales of woe from work have reminded me of some of my favorite tales of doing grunt IT work at MSOE when I was a student there. I worked two summers in the Technical Support Center, and got whored out to all the other departments when the other IT repair center was overloaded. One of the worst experiences started with this conversation:

Boss: Nick, I just got a call from the Architectural Engineering office.
Me: What now?
Boss: They think a rat died in the printer. You need to go over and check it out.
Me: Something died in the printer? Shouldn't they call animal control or something?
Boss: You need to go check it out first.
Me: Great... what did I ever do to you?

So with that... and a hardy laugh from the rest of the staff, I headed on over to the other building where the AE office was. When I got there, they had turned the printer off, but it still reeked in there. I can fully understand why they thought something died in it, because that's the first thing that came to mind. In fact, when I started opening up the printer, I had a pair of gloves on because I expected to pull a rat out. What I discovered instead were some areas that looked shorted, and later found out that someone had in fact spilled something on the printer and "forgot" to mention it. The smell was actually heated Bakelite that was used as part of the base of one of the boards, or the surrounding casing (I'm not sure which).

One of the interesting side notes on Bakelite, is that it's turned out to be quite the collectible of late. If you do an eBay search for it, you'll see all sorts of jewelry and other trinkets that were made with it in the 70's. My Uncle, who gets paid to buy and sell on eBay actually dealt with it for a while. He told me later that the way you're supposed to tell if an item is authentic Bakelite is to put it in the oven, or boil it for a short time, and see if it smells. It's that distinctive.


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Name: Nick
Home: Wauwatosa, WI, United States

I'm a Software Consultant in the Milwaukee area. Among various geeky pursuits, I'm also an amateur triathlete, and enjoy rock climbing. I also like to think I'm a political pundit.

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