Meltdowns, databases, and things that go ‘boom!’

We had *such* a meltdown yesterday, the stuff of nightmares. Okay, it totally wasn’t really. An Access database took a shit, and the boss-people looked around, squinted their eyes, brought up fingers of responsibility (and blame)… took careful aim…
And then I wandered by. “Hi” I said, “what’s up?”
So they fired. They opened their maws wide, teeth gleaming, fangs dripping blood, and roared “Fix!”
Identifying the issue was a simple matter, the screen screamed its text at me “I hate you! I hate you! I’ll swallow your soul!” Luckily I had garlic, a cross, and a wooden stake. I dodge bullets all the way down the hall to the server room, a fortified hole where a geek can control the universe or take a quick nap. The server room also happens to house the server, which has attached to it the Almighty Backup Device.
I recited the incantations, waved my arms around mystically and with purpose, popped some smoke, and restored that which was once lost… oh, relief flooding my body, starting deep in my stomach and spreading out to my fingertips, fingertips tapping the keyboard and mouse to check the restored file and ensure that my evening was indeed over, and prove once again that I am the devilishly charming hero I see in the mirror every morning.
No such luck! The file sizes didn’t match! The database wasn’t backed up, because it resided on a workstation, and workstations didn’t fall under the protective umbrella of our extremely large and impressive backup tapes. Sweat broke out on my brow. I started to run.


More bullets flew everywhere, I had to pull a Matrix-style maneuver and slow down time while the boss-men pointed fingers and slung words like knives at all my vulnerable earthling parts. Running up one wall and deftly dodging the dastardly deeds of Those That Are, I took up a defensive position at the workstation in question, the box housing the crapped-out database.
Whoa! You’re asking what this unbelievably important and mission-critical database would be doing on an unprotected, unbacked-up workstation! I know you are! How do I know? Because I have magical, mystical ninja powers, and because I asked the same thing. It’s a good question. We’ll get back to it, in fact. Right now, I’ve got ninja robot killer boss-men to contend with, and it’s a tough business.
So I whipped out my most useful tool, my cell phone, and called someone who cares. Gary, the uber-IT guy. He’s so IT, it’s amazing. I know plenty of people who wish their geek gland was the size of Gary’s. Anyway, a short conversation, lots of chuckling, and many sidelong glances later, and we determined that the database was indeed fucked on several levels.
Slavering maliciously, eyes red and glowing, the boss-men didn’t take the news well. That’s a euphemism, of course.
A euphemism, as defined by Google, is: The expression of an unpleasant or embarrassing notion by a more inoffensive substitute.
I believe the words Gary used, while on the phone, were “Man, I’m glad I’m not there!” Well, yes. This is all very true. I hunkered down in my chair, holding the phone out protectively as if to say “See? See? Gary is on the phone! It will be okay!” Boss-men reared up on their hind-legs, gnashing teeth and scraping at the sky with razor-sharp talons, fixed steely glares upon me and roared “FIX!”
More nervous sweating as we tried technique after technique of geek-fu to accomplish the impossible, to recover the unrecoverable, to reach the necronomicon ex mortis and not die in the graveyard before we get it! Finally, database recovery software was uncovered that could… possibly… work…
Diagnostics claimed 100% recovery… everything looked good on paper. We launched it. Things looked so good… but again, the database defied our efforts to resuscitate it!
Finally, drained, beaten, bruised, and wanting nothing more than to end the pain, the database was shipped to a database recovery service attached to the software. With an 85% recovery rate, the boss-men continued to buck in unbridled angst, but something was something, and it was 8:00 o’clock. They had things to do that didn’t involve swallowing souls.
I dragged my carcass home, a bloody beaten mess, riddled with bullet-holes and bleeding from a thousand cuts, wishing for nothing more than the cool, dark, damp, silent anonymity of death… or sleep… whichever came first.
I do this because I love my job. Databases, however, aren’t my job.

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