Friday, December 24, 2010

A short Christmas ITG giggle

This is a conversation I had with my missus the other day, she was proudly showing me the powerpoint presentation she had been working on for a meeting in the office. I asked,

     "Are you going to use a projector in the office to present this?"

     "No, to do that I'd need to move it onto another computer, I'm just going to print off a heap of copies because I don't know how to put a USB on it"

Then I get into trouble for laughing at her!

Merry Christmas, The ITG

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

First week back at work

After the fire incident I ended up taking a week off and then working from home this following week. (I'm actually back in the office for the first time today... w00t) I've spoken about being able to work from home before, I consider myself very lucky that I can do this. If you consider how many occupations can actually work from home nearly full time without their work suffering you'll probably find its a minority. My boss is good to me though and is probably a little more flexible than he could be if he wasn't as happy with my work. I heard a quote in a show on TV the other day, where a successful businessman was talking about his life, that stuck with me. He said "I've been pretty lucky, but I've found the harder I worked the luckier I got." 'nuff said.

So, Today I bring you two "I can't believe they did that!" stories from the last couple of weeks. The first one takes place on the Wednesday after the fire. My face was still very swollen and the skin on it was mostly black. My lips were huge and whenever I tried to talk the skin on and around them cracked which made it very difficult to communicate. I had battled through changing my voicemail message to say that I was off sick and unable to take calls, I went on to say that for urgent matters they would need to contact another member of the IT department, but if they left a message I would get back to them the following week.

So my phone rings, I know the number ... it's one of our remote offices. I let it go through to voicemail and the person leaves no message. No more than 30 seconds later it rings again, same number. I work under the assumption that the person heard my greeting and decided not to leave a message but then changed their mind, so I let it go through to voicemail again. No message. 30 seconds later it rings again, now I'm getting annoyed. The person on the other end of the phone has now twice heard that I am off work sick and has decided that whatever problem they are having is soooo important that I need to tend to it in my ill state. I angrily answer the phone ready to give this person a spray and then realise how hard that is when you can't talk very fast. She leaped into her problem (a pretty minor problem at that) and went on to say that she could not contact any other members of the IT team.

You might be wondering why she would repeatedly try to call me as opposed to one of the other guys. Well it goes back to what I was saying earlier about hard work. People in my company have come to rely on the fact that I get things done. I've had people message me to say "Hi, I saw you allocated my IT form to you, thanks for that!" ... and better still, "Hi, I see my form has been allocated to someone else, is there any chance you could do it". I'm by no means the most talented person in our team, there are at least a couple of people here who I would put above me in a 'technical' ladder. People who in a disaster I would prefer on the job than me, but we all have our strengths and our weaknesses. My strength is that I'm a people person, the non-tech staff feel they can easily talk and relate to me, they are confident the job is getting done as I speak a language they understand and on top of that, I nearly never take a job and don't do it, which unfortunately can't be said about everyone in my team.

In the back of my mind I knew that is why she was calling me over and over, she started the conversation with "I know you're off sick ... but... " This made me more angry, at this point I was still clinging on to some hope that she hadn't heard my message. I explained to her that 4 days earlier I was burnt in a fire. i had no use of my left hand, I could not walk and my face was swollen making it hard for me to speak, which she could hear by the way I was talking. As opposed so saying "oh I'm sorry, I thought you had a cold, I'll let you go" she continued to rant about her IT issue. I had that 5 second moment where I thought about hanging up on her but true to ITG form I sorted out her issue. I shouldn't have but I did. See, sometimes I'm Dennis Leary but sometimes I'm a nice guy...

The second 'I can't believe they did that' moment came last Friday night. It was our office Christmas party and it was the first time I had seen everyone since the fire. The only obvious signs from the fact I was burnt by then was a few marks on my face, a shaved head and a bright red hand... my foot was still pretty bad but without taking off my shoe they wouldn't know. Everyone seemed to be having a good time and by 10pm I was well and truly on the road to being drunk. One of the managers came up (he had called me about this a couple of days earlier) and handed me his mobile phone.

     "Hi ITG, sorry about this but my phone has stopped receiving emails, are you able to have a look and fix it for me?"

My reaction wouldn't have let on that I was annoyed, I was seeing three phones when he handed it to me. 20 minutes, and a beer later, despite my best efforts I just couldn't find the setting I was looking for. I handed it back to him and said,

     "sorry mate, I'm just too drunk to do this, can I look next week"

He was ok about that and gave me the phone today, took me 35 seconds to fix it.  I just wonder why he thought the Christmas party when I was well beyond half cut was the best time for me to do a little bit of IT support. I guess at the end of the day some just look at the IT people as the lowly support staff who are there at everyones beck and call. /TheITG sighs...

OK, this will most likely be my last post before Christmas so I'd like to take this opportunity to wish you all a great Christmas (if that's your thing) and a nice break for those of you who are getting one. I'm actually working straight through .. worst case scenario I should get some nice stories for the blog!

I'd also like the take the chance to thank people who have been reading, this blog has been running under 4 months and the other day i passed by 1000 page views. I really didn't expect people to read it. I hope you're enjoying it and for first time visitors, if you do enjoy my stories I'd love for you to keep coming back.

Cheers, The ITG.

Saturday, December 18, 2010


Hi All,

Quick update to let everyone know I'm doing fine, mostly healed and things are getting back to normal after the fire. Even put in a week of work (from home) and had one or two stories come from it that will make their way into a post soon.

Wanted to let everyone know that The ITG is now on twitter:

It will probably only be used to alert people of new posts but if i get some followers i might start using it to pop up little gems from my day to day work that aren't substantial enough to make for a proper blog post.

Cheers, The ITG.

Friday, December 10, 2010

A picture is worth 1062 words

Hi All, i know i said I'd get back to posting about IT related stuff soon but seeing as i haven't been working this week i don't have a lot to report. I thought I'd give you an update on my condition and bring you an incredible picture of a man on fire that i didn't know existed until yesterday.

Those of you who read my blog will know that i was burnt last week trying to start a fire with petrol. It's been a week of ups and downs. Mostly ups when the drugs kick in and then downs when they start to wear off and i have to wait until I'm able to take some more again. My face turned black, then the black skin peeled to leave some very red skin exposed. After nearly a week this new skin is starting to look a little more normal (normal being a relative term). I'm still "stop and stare" but not so much "mummy, is that man dying?"

My hand unfortunately seems to be going backwards, it's very ugly. Skin peeling off, big blisters, i cant bend my fingers. It's mostly bandaged and Ive been going to the doctors every 2 days to change the dressing, which mainly involves rubbing it down with antiseptic and then cutting away the dead skin... it's about as much fun as it sounds.

There is also my foot. In the hospital on the weekend they told me "Burns can take up to 72 hours to declare themselves" which i thought was a bit of an odd term, you think if something burns you then you'd know about it. They discharged me saying that my foot was fine. True to the term though my foot decided it'd wait a day or two and then declare the hell out of itself by going bright red, i had a blister on it when i went to bed last night about the size of an Oreo cookie. It actually burst early this morning while i was sleeping. I'm typing this while i wait for the drugs to kick back in so i can go to bed.

I'm going back to the burns ward for a follow up appointment in the next couple of days so hopefully its all good news and by the end of next week i will be good to go (for my offices Christmas Party!) One of the great things about being an ITG is that you are able to work from home where needed, which is what i plan to do next week. Only about 10% of my company is located at the office where i work so for the other 90% they don't know if I'm at home, in a cafe or sitting at my desk. This has actually lead to me accruing quite a lot of sick leave over the years and although I've used a few this week i think I'll still have around 2.5 months owing.

OK... down to the good stuff, as i said earlier i didn't know until the other day but my mate that was there the other night was taking a picture as i lit the fire. This is a transcript of our conversation:

<mate> i have a pic, like just after the fireball
<mate> i havent shown anyone
<ITG> oh really
<ITG> send it !
<mate> because i didnt think it was right
<mate> your hair is on fire
     he sends me the pic
<ITG> thats awesome
<ITG> i was secretly hoping you'd filmed it
<mate> yeah, me too
<ITG> how big was the fireball ?
<mate> seriously
<mate> massive
<mate> you were fully engulfed
<mate> waaay over your head

So, here is the pic. Its a bit difficult to make out at first but once you realise what you're looking at i think it's quite amazing. You can see the fire being sucked back towards the chiminea as it searches for oxygen post fireball. You can see the fire from the vapour that is all over the floor (where the pavers im stanging on are burning). You can also see the fire lapping at my right leg and foot, which goes some way towards explaining the blister that popped last night. Also, true to my mates word if you look closely you can see my hair is on fire. Feel free to share this pic with whoever you want i just can't stop looking at it!

It needs to be viewed in full size to fully appreciated (click on the picture or here to get a better look). Keep in mind that not one bit of fuel landed or splashed outside of the fireplace so all of fire you see there (apart from the bit inside the chiminea) is just burning vapour. For those of you with a keen eye, don't worry ... my bike was fine :)

Finally, even though i haven't been working this week I've still had occasion for users to piss me off, I'll post something early next week about that.

Cheers, The ITG

P.S. my last post was 1062 words long, hence the Title of this one.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Goodness gracious, great ball of fire

I spent Saturday night in the hospital, after deciding to have some friends over for dinner. To be completely honest i can't believe how one thing lead to another but here is my attempt at explaining it.

A few weeks ago i decided i wanted to have a crack at making a rabbit stew. I love to cook, i genuinely think that if i wasn't in the IT field i would love to be somehow involved in food, maybe working as a chef or owning a small deli, i just seem to enjoy food more when I've cooked it. I caught a part of a Rick Stein show where he was in someones restaurant and they were showing him how to cook a 'rich rabbit stifado', Rick Stein said something along the lines of "i consider myself to be a bit of a connoisseur of rabbit and this is just about the best rabbit I've ever tasted". Unfortunately it was those words that made my ears perk up so the cooking process was long gone. I explained to a mate that i really wanted to try this and we went on the hunt to the recipe. Countless google searches bore no fruit so we started sifting through back catalogs of Rick Stein shows which is where i came across 'Rick Steins Far East Oddosy'. This showed him traveling around the Far East and cooking mostly different Asian seafood dishes. I started getting excited about fish and seafood and was talking about this excitement to my friend when he declared the coming summer as "THE SUMMER OF SEAFOOD".

(as i side note i did find the rabbit recipe on 'Rick Steins Mediterranean Escape'. I cooked it, and it was brilliant... if anyone wants a great recipe for Rich Rabbit Stifado [which is an onion based stew] email me and I'll be happy to pass it along. The story of the rabbit however is no where near as good as the opening of the summer of seafood, so I'll get back to that)

I happened to be at a family gathering a week ago and one of my Uncle's was talking about how he had caught more snapper than he could possibly eat and asked if i wanted one, he didn't need to ask me twice and i was around his house the next day to pick up a beautiful 3-4kg fish. I called up my mate and asked him if he had plans for Saturday as i thought we could kick off the summer of seafood with BBQ'd snapper & beers in the back yard. I was informed that this ticked all his boxes so we booked it in.

Dinner went off without a hitch, fantastic snapper (which i stuffed with onion, garlic, butter, lemon & tomato, then seasoned, wrapped it up with foil and stuck it in the closed bbq, 20 minutes on one side, flipped for a further 10. Made a great white wine sauce, that i also got from a Rick Stein show. After dinner (and a few drinks later) we decided that it was a nice enough night to head into the backyard to continue to drink. Outside i have a cast iron chiminea (like an outdoor fireplace) and it was already filled with wood, I thought it'd be a great idea to get it going, and quickly, so petrol was decided on as the best propellant. I poured petrol in the top then set the can down (right next to it ... this was my second mistake - the first being the decision to use petrol). I recall getting a little bit of petrol on my left hand and saying to my mate.

"you better light it, i got petrol on my hand"

"nah, you'll be right, just light it with your other hand" was his response.

In the hospital burns ward they told me, due to the fact it was a warmish night and the chiminea being cast iron it probably retained some of the afternoons heat, most of the petrol that i poured into the top opening was probably turned into vapour and would have completely surrounded me well before i tried to light it. My mate told me that he lost sight of me for a second or two, i was completely engulfed in flames. I ran around the corner of my house and all i could smell was burnt hair. My hand was still on fire and i managed to get it out quickly. I screamed to my friend that the petrol can was on fire and he managed to extinguish it before an explosion that probably would have lead to my house catching on fire. I ran straight to the shower and stood under the cold water for about 25 minutes.

Long story short... a very painful car ride to our local hospital, an ambulance ride from there to a larger hospital, lots of morphine, burn gel and vomiting, i ended up spending the night in the burns ward in incredible pain but i was very lucky. Doctors called what happened to my face, hand and foot as 'superficial burns' although they felt anything but superficial to me. They expect everything to heal with little to no scaring and no needs for skin grafts.

So what have we learnt here. I'd say mostly stuff i should have already known and most people probably do. Don't try to start a fire with petrol, there is no need for fire on a warm night, don't go near fire when you have petrol on your skin, your judgement is a little impaired after a few drinks and its much harder for an ITG (or anyone for that) to type with just one hand.

I've got a week at home in a bit of pain before i have to go back to the burns ward for a follow up, my left hand is completely bandaged up, It hurts to put weight on my right foot, a bit of my hair is missing (I'll need to shave my head), and my face looks like a patchwork of black and missing skin. I'm a sight!! I expect to make a full recovery and get back to posting IT related stories soon.

I'll keep everyone updated with how I'm doing, thanks so much for reading.

Cheers, The (slightly singed) ITG.