‘twas the Night Before: The Three Little Words

Way back when, when I was young and slightly more foolish than I am today, the three little words that would strike terror into my (and any bachelor’s) heart were “I Love You”.

As I’ve gotten older, the words changed to “On the Web”, as in a place where I would not want to see pictures of last night’s escapades.

I’m older now, with kids (and grands and greats) of my own. While I’m still frisky enough to be (slightly) concerned about “on the web”, my latest most feared words have changed.

Tonight, they are “Some Assembly Required”

Imagine yourself awakened after the little angels have finally laid their heads to rest, visions of sugarplums, and all that. Now, it’s time to creep out into the living room and raid the closets for treasures you’ve spent the year accumulating. I start a big pot of coffee and hope the electric screwdriver is charged.

About an hour into the four-story Barbie Dream Mansion, you realize it’s not going to fit through the door of the room in which you assembled it. You try to convince yourself that this is okay. After all, your daughter LOVES to play in the kitchen. Muttering, you undo a bit here and there and wrestle it out by the tree.

Thirty more minutes pass and you discover the 3/4” screws are too long for a non-poking-through operation involving an outer surface. Damn them for packing the 1” and 3/4” screws in the same package, and you’re back in disassembly mode again. The coffee pot is half full, but it is looking half-empty. During the reconstruction, the cat decides the little wooden dowels are more fun than terrorizing Sushi and Sashimi (the goldfish) and manages to disappear one beneath the refrigerator. You make a note to get him in his next life.

An hour later, I start to think the little darlings have way too many toys, but I forge on.

The Barbie Whatcamacallit is complete, a terrifying blob of pastel pinks, purples and blues .. listing only slightly to port. Fortunately, they provided a “safety strap”, but I’m not sure if I should attach it to this contraption or to Cassie. Set that aside for the daylight hours. On to the Xbox 360.

In the realm of “I meant to run LAN cable”, I decide that setting up the box in offline mode is adequate. After all, there are a few games to get the oldest started: what more could he want?

In a word: Xbox Live. Two words, actually. I’ll be pulling cable tomorrow. That bottle of Yellowtail Shiraz is starting to look too full.

Well, let’s tackle the computers next. I’d like to install a few of the programs I picked up at the company store before the little delights arise, attention spans almost as long as gnats.

AOE III first, as Hunter is totally keen on this one. Connor is currently engaged in Dungeon Siege (and he’ll be busy with the Xbox 360, I’m sure), so I’ll leave his for tomorrow. Today; I mean later today.

My God, where did all these Half-Life 2 files come from? Don’t answer that: I know it’s the Internet. There’s Garry’s Mod, Ralphie’s Mod, Brainbread, Admin Op and a plethora of others that dare not speak their names. Toolbars? How many toolbars does a seven-year-old need? Umm, I guess the answer to that question is: “four”.

Some scraping, some rebooting, some scanning and we’re ready to go. I’m full of anticipation (and wine), and confident there is a feather pillow in my near future.

Gawd. AOE isn’t too happy with my processor speed and is browbeating me for being a cheapskate. There’s a helpful message box suggesting I call the manufacturer: damn it, I’m the manufacturer of this mutt box. Fueled by wine and the knowledge I’ve installed a large video card and big RAM in this system, I sally forth. If it runs slowly, that’s a good thing: he needs to calm down now and again. Let’s wrap a few presents while we wait for CDs to spin. The little monsters should have some things to unwrap, after all.

The cat enjoys Christmas wrap almost as much as the dowels. I think he’s resenting our moving a shoebox that he decided to call his home for a few weeks and is making this displeasure known. Or, it could be that he’s used to being alone at this hour and wants to make the most of my (obviously) pleasant company. It’s late, and if he’s not careful, he’ll find himself tucked into a Christmas present.

Xbox games are delightfully easy to wrap, and look just like books. I bet the boy opens them last.

:: cackle ::

Wireless Xbox controllers and portable whatsises are NOT easy to wrap. I can make them festive with pretty pink bows and call it done. So much for the surprise of the Xbox (I think he knows he’s getting one anyway .. he reads this blog, and I wrote about it a few months ago).

Where is that bottle of port?

With the software installed, I’m not going to bother to wrap the software boxes. Under the tree with pretty pink bows they go.

Ack. I just found the Barbie Nightmare Mansion Furniture Parental Torture Pack. We can’t very well have a doll estate without furniture, can we? The neighbors would surely talk. Maybe this is a Daddy-Cassie project for later today. I’m sensible, she’ll understand. Did you know they refer to port as “fortified wine”? I think I know why, now. Off to bed.

As if. Ten seconds after settling into bed I figure I should take a stab at a few furniture items. Much to my horror, I discover some of the furniture items require batteries. WHY WOULD DOLL MANSION FURNITURE REQUIRE BATTERIES? I’m not sure if the world will ever know. Snap some things together and call it a night. Morning, I mean.

I feel my most feared three little words are changing to “Batteries Not Included”.

About Michael Coates
I am a pragmatic evangelist. The products, services and solutions I write about fulfill real-world expectations and use cases. I stay up-to-date on real products I use and review, and share my thoughts here. I apply the same lens when designing an architecture, product or when writing papers. I am always looking for ways that technology can create or enhance a business opportunity .. not just technology for technology's sake. My CV says: Seasoned technology executive, leveraging years of experience with enterprise and integration architectural patterns, executed with healthy doses of business acumen and pragmatism. That's me. My web site says: Technology innovations provide a myriad of opportunities for businesses. That said, having the "latest and greatest" for its own sake isn't always a recipe for success. Business successes gained through exploiting innovation relies on analysis of how the new features will enhance your business followed by effective implementation. Goals vary far and wide: streamlining operations, improving customer experience, extending brand, and many more. In all cases, you must identify and collect the metrics you can apply to measure your success. Analysis must be holistic and balanced: business and operational needs must be considered when capitalizing on a new technology asset or opportunity.

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