Back last February toymaker Mattel announced that Barbie1, well-known plastic doll, had broken up with her long-time boyfriend, well-known plastic accessory Ken. Hot on the heels of that news came word that she'd taken up with another doll, Blaine, a plastic surfer dude who hales from Australia. A Mattel spokesperson assured us, with a straight face, that despite everything, Barbie and Ken would remain good friends. When I heard this touching little tale, I had just one reaction:
It must have been a slow news day. I figured the only people who could possibly care about such things were shareholders of Mattel, who were concerned that their big seller was looking a bit long in the tooth, and little girls who suddenly needed some more Barbie junk to strew around the house and trip up the unwary at 2.00am2. Apparently I was wrong, given the outcry in some circles. Girls who actually play with the dolls didn't seem to care much one way or the other, but many collectors — grown woman who appear sensible except for their tendency to own hundreds of Barbie dolls — lamented the shoddy treatment that Ken was being given. Others thought the break-up was long overdue. Ken was such a stiff, they said, and it was high time our gal Babs found someone who was a little looser or who could at least bend at the knee. And there were a few cynics who suggested that Ken had finally come out of the Dream Closet and was off courting GI Joe.
Far be it from me to criticise any older female who decides to take up with a young, blonde surfer (although I hope my own midlife crisis involves a Jaguar, which would probably be more reliable and less prone to breaking down at odd moments), but I say that if Barbie needs a new guy, she should find a real man. In fact, she should get herself a GeekMan!
Yessir, ladies and gentlemen, here is a doll that looks more like the rest of us. Horn-rimmed glasses; skinny physique; pale skin; thinning hair: this doll doesn't spend his time catching the waves. No, indeedy, he works for a living, and if he's like most of the system administrators I know, he works pretty much 24/7/365. He has close, personal relationships with his laptop and his PDA and won't go anywhere without 'em. He gets his 'tan' from the glare of a flat panel monitor and he 'pumps it up' clicking his mouse. He subsists on Coca-Cola and take-out pizza, and he gets his vitamins from cigarettes.
If Barbie had any brains, which she doesn't because her head is hollow — I know because my little brother lobotomised one of my dolls — and even if she did, it probably wouldn't do her much good because her brains would be made of plastic too, and what the heck was I talking about anyway ..? Oh, yeah. If she had any brains, she'd forget about looks and go for smarts. Send Blaine and his boogie-board back to Oz and hook up with GeekMan. Their children won't be the prettiest kids on the block, but they'll be running multi-national corporations from their bedrooms, and when the time comes they'll be able to keep their aging parents in Dream Houses and pink plastic sports cars for the rest of their days. Assuming Barbie and her man could have kids, which they can't, since they're not anatomically correct. My brother verified that as well.
Blessed are they that go in circles, for they shall be known as wheels.
Speaking of geeks, July 30 is System Administrator Appreciation Day. Here's your chance to say thank you to the folks who keep your company's wheels turning. Gifts are appropriate and food is always gratefully accepted (especially if it's not Coca-Cola or pizza). And toys — for some reason most computer programmers I know have toys all over their cubicles. Who knows why.
Here's an idea for an inexpensive gift that's been a hit with the GeekMen in my life. Make a 'candy-gram' with a large piece of white poster board, double-sided tape, a black Magic Marker or similar pen, and assorted candy bars. Write a message of appreciation on the poster board, using the candy bars for some of the words. Some US candy bars that are useful:
- Life Savers
- Milky Way
Sample message: 'Dear ****, You are really a Life Saver. When we Nerds mess up or make some real Whopper of a mistake, you're there to save the day. No Snickers from us, you're a Special guy and worth $100,000 at least. If we searched the Milky Way, we couldn't find a better colleague....' You get the idea. Have everybody sign it and present it to your hard-working system administrator. He or she will appreciate it.
Remember: a happy sysadmin makes for a happy computer network. And when the network is happy, everybody is happy. Well, maybe not Ken.