Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The Absence Of God Will Bring You Comfort 

Last week’s training course went OK. It’s a bit of a confidence booster actually, to stand in front of a group of people and teach them stuff. Even though I’m not a Unix guru by any stretch of the imagination, so long as your students don’t know that, where’s the harm in allowing them to think that you’re, like, really great?

Me: What is the syntax to perform a global replace within vi?
Students: Erm…
Me: :1,$ s/text_to_be_replaced/new_text/g
Students: That’s beautiful!
Me: Well, it’s pretty obvious when you think about it.
Students: May we touch you?

And you stand there beaming like a cheap plastic Buddha with a forty watt bulb shining out of your arse, and with a bit of luck, they’ll have learned something that might be useful one day.

Me: You’ve had to invoke disaster recovery on your AIX system. Your mksysb restored successfully but Oracle won’t start. What should you check first?
Students: *Isn’t he dreamy?*
Me: Check that your Asynchronous I/O device is Available. It’s usually Defined after a system restore.
Students: *Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my God!*
Me: Just something to watch out for.
Students: ***Sigh!***

There was an entertaining Indian guy on the course. Fancied himself as a bit of a wheeler dealer. Very aspirational. Talked about money a lot. And he just would not shut up about how great it was being Indian.
As somebody who knows bugger all about what it means to be an Indian living in Britain, I found what he had to say very interesting at first, but gosh, it wore a little thin as the week went on.
A lovely man and all that - he took us all out to a members only (ie. Indians only) club for a meal one night and it was great - but all I could think about was “Blogging Gold! New Made Up Character Alert: I could take the piss out of this guy for months!”

“OK. So a thousand people came to your Dad’s funeral?” I said during coffee break one morning. “That’s pretty incredible. Really. But what comfort can you take from that when you know they’re only there because they have to be? They’ll have a black spot against their names if they don’t show up.”
“It’s to show respect,” he said. “It’s how it works.”
“But that spoils it for the people who genuinely want to pay their respects. They can’t all have loved him. Some people were there because the potential social cost of not turning up was too great. They were motivated by self-interest. They might find themselves cut out.”

He took it in good heart. He was very persistent. Another few days and he would probably have had me - “OK, OK, I give in. Where do I sign? I want to become an Indian.

And I also learned a new 3LA (three letter acronym), though I sort of wish that I hadn’t.
“Hindu parents don’t mind who their children marry,” he said. “But they prefer them not to be BMWs - blacks, muslims or whites.”
“Hmmm,” I said. I’m really not sure how I feel about that.

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