July 2007

A few years ago I read the first half of the first Harry Potter book and kind of felt enh about it and upon setting it down halfway through simply never returned. Since then I’ve come to learn that basically everyone I know has read and loves these books. It’s not that I disliked it or that I thought it was silly – seriously, no casting stones from my Princess House mansion on the silly tip – it just didn’t grab me and shake me around the same way as The Golden Compass or Uglies or, I dunno, Terry Pratchett.

Now that the series is over I have come to realize that to some degree I am missing the boat on a massively experienced, shared cultural phenomenon.

Somewhere in our house, between us, The Boyf and I have several but not all of the books. I’ve watched the first movie and remember it fairly well though I don’t really recall the particulars of the climax. Do I have to reread it? Should I? Is it vital? I’m pretty sure we have the second book someplace around here and even if we don’t I can lay hands directly on Azkaban (or however it’s spelled) and start there if need be. Given that I have an idea of what happened in the second book – though largely from the Sluggy Freelance parody of it – do I need to read that one?

Basically, here’s the deal: friends and strangers, lovers of HP, is the first book skippable? Second? Or am I cutting myself off at the knees by skipping any one of them?

I spent the better part of yesterday and a chunk of this morning helping a customer whose firewall had, well, died. OK, it hadn’t died but it was hanging on by a thread. Months ago it had crashed and when it came back up that same day it was missing 90% of its configuration. All it had left were its IP addresses and one outbound “allow any” rule and these – sparse as they are when summed as a whole firewall config – were enough to let them get back out to the internet. The client, being very kind but completely and utterly non-technical, had no idea of the situation they were in. Rather than have us investigate they simply reported that everything was fine and dandy and asked that we close our ticket. Oops.

Fast-forward to yesterday morning and I find out the firewall isn’t logging to us. I log in to check it out and it’s like opening the door to a room kept empty for a decade, all dust and must and sheets draped over the furniture. I spent hours getting this sincerely very kind person’s firewall rebuilt and everything working again but throughout, every time I would ask him for some needed piece of information about his network, he would have to stumble through another apology and tell me he simply didn’t know how the network was laid out.

In describing it to Deadblob this morning on the MOO I said the following:

You say, “He’s not a dick, he’s not mean, he’s not unhappy, he’s not unaware of his own ignorance. He is dismally aware of his own ignorance and feels genuinely bad about it. He’s so nice it makes it *worse*.”

Deadblob replied with sympathy, referring to the client as “a trapped bear cub.” I went on:

You say, “Exactly.”
You say, “It’s like watching a baby fall into a trash compactor.”
You say, “And it has a smile on its face.”

After a pause:

Deadblob says, “Wow, that is somewhat graphic.”
You say, “I’m sort of proud of that.”
You say, “And sort of not.”

Later I shared that image with my boss’ boss. He paused and looked away, then back at me to say, “Wow. That’s a very graphic image.”

I confess that I am now glowing with some sort of pride.

I’m sitting on the front porch. It’s unspeakably beautiful today and it’s not outrageously hot. The neighborhood kids had an Independence Day parade featuring a fire truck from the station down the street. I saw a lot of bicycles and (straggling) parents with strollers and a lot of red, white and blue streamers. The fire truck wholly activated the Kid center of my brain. Fire truck? With the big horns that go GRONK! and everything? Wicked awesome.

Then, I kid you not, a bird landed on one corner of my laptop’s screen.

It’s a lovely day.