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Flashback: June 14, 2002

Assuming all went well, I should be back from Australia by now. But I expect to be utterly exhausted and not up for blogging, so I figured I’d run one last blast from the blogging past.

In June of 2002, I was working as a computer tech for the Michigan Department of Transportation. This could be … frustrating, at times.

Oh, and the story I was working on, “No Worries, Partner,” eventually sold to the anthology Modern Magic.


June 14, 2002 “Casting ‘Cure Xerox Printer’”

Working on: “No Worries, Partner”

Today’s Word Count: 969

Why Life is Not Like a Role-Playing Game:

Game Master (GM): When you try to print out your document, you find that the color printer is jammed.  What do you do?
Random Computer User from 4th Floor (RCU): I open up the printer to see if I can find the paper.
GM: (Makes a few dice rolls)  You see a bit of white trapped among the ink cartridges and the fuser.  I’d like to remind you that you don’t have the Repair Printer skill.
RCU: I’ll use my intelligence statistic.  I grab the fuser and yank it out.
GM: (Rolls the dice)  You burn yourself.
RCU: I try again.
GM: (Rolls his/her eyes)  You sustain two points of damage, but you finally get the fuser out.
RCU: I yank the paper out.
GM: (Makes another die roll)  It tears, leaving an inaccessible strip of paper jammed in the fuser.  You also notice that there’s two more sheets of paper jammed in the printer, one on the right side, and one beneath the ink cartridges.
RCU: Can I cast “Summon Computer Technician”?
GM: Make your spellcasting roll.

So why is life not like a role-playing game?  Simple.  In your average RPG, the Computer Technician, once summoned to see the mess made by RCU, would have cast fireball on the printer and transformed the user into a toad.  Or maybe I’ve got that backwards.  Nonetheless, I instead managed to restrain myself, and after a half-hour of work, the printer was functional again.  Consider it the real-life version of a Healing spell.

I also did a bit more work on the story.  (Though, to be honest, writing the snippit above was more fun!)  I had my characters deal with the ghost and move on to the dead guitarist.  I’m still trying to get a feel for my protagonist’s character… he’s overworked and overstressed, but I need more.  Same for the secondary, Rhian.  Neither one is really fleshed out just yet, and it makes it harder for me to figure out where the story should go.

Still, it’s progress.  Two big scenes down, and who knows how much to go.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.


( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 14th, 2014 03:57 pm (UTC)
I wrote a short story once about a college student with the ability to faith-heal computer equipment. (It's very retro now, since everyone's using a Mac Plus: http://www.naomikritzer.com/stories/brothermac.shtml )
Jun. 14th, 2014 03:57 pm (UTC)
Also, I am very amused at the entire concept of a Summon Computer Tech spell.
Jun. 14th, 2014 04:49 pm (UTC)
In our department it's Summon the Secretary. I then gently nudge the paper out of its hiding place. Yanking never works. :-) Slender hands are also an advantage.
Jun. 14th, 2014 06:32 pm (UTC)
Oh, wow. I remember when that story came out in Planet Relish!
Jun. 14th, 2014 05:45 pm (UTC)
I can easily picture that story going in a Conbook, getting the start of acclaim it deserves, and selling in an expanded version.
Jun. 14th, 2014 06:27 pm (UTC)
Oh that printer story strikes chords, now think what it's like doing tech support somewhere the average education level of the staff is a whisker below PhD with the corresponding overwhelming narrow focus (but of course a PhD knows best They're Educated) and lack of common-sense.
Jun. 16th, 2014 02:36 pm (UTC)
I used to work in tech support at computer science school. Professors of CS Theory were our least favorite calls.
Jun. 14th, 2014 06:54 pm (UTC)
I used to work on a Xerox 3600, and the guy helping me didnt wait until I had finished putting the paper hopper back together and turned the damn thing on..

Jun. 16th, 2014 12:47 pm (UTC)
I'm giggling all the way to the work copier, which occasionally provokes in me a similar desire to meddle. (I should instead remember the old proverb, "Do not meddle in the affairs of copiers, for they are subtle and filled with toner, which is impossible to clean from your person before the boss arrives to inquire why the copier is displaying an OUT OF TONER warning.")

May I quote part of this post over on metaquotes? I'd like to see that group rejuvenated ...

Edited at 2014-06-16 12:47 pm (UTC)
Jun. 16th, 2014 12:48 pm (UTC)
Sure, thank you!
Jun. 17th, 2014 01:25 pm (UTC)
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )


Jim C. Hines

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