Article 88 of rec.humor.funny:
Path: santra!tut!draken!kth!mcvax!uunet!attcan!looking!funny-request
From: obrien@aero.UUCP
Newsgroups: rec.humor.funny
Subject: VAXen, my children, just don't belong some places
Keywords: long, funny
Message-ID: <2844@looking.UUCP>
Date: 1 Mar 89 11:30:05 GMT
Sender: funny@looking.UUCP
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Approved: funny@looking.UUCP

(	I've never heard of the "WAR_STORIES" notefile; if you want to get
back to the original author you'll have to go through "".
I'm enclosing everything just as it reached me.)

Mike O'Brien
The Aerospace Corporation
Subj:	Just extracted this from the WAR_STORIES notefile. Long but amusing.

           VAXen, my children, just don't belong some places. In
           my business, I am frequently called by small sites
           and startups having VAX problems. So when a friend of
           mine in an Extremely Large Financial Institution
           (ELFI) called me one day to ask for help, I was
           intrigued because this outfit is a really major VAX
           user - they have several large herds of VAXen - and
           plenty of sharp VAXherds to take care of them.
           So I went to see what sort of an ELFI mess they had
           gotten into.  It seems they had shoved a small 750
           with two RA60's running a single application, PC
           style, into a data center with two IBM 3090's and
           just about all the rest of the disk drives in the
           world. The computer room was so big it had three
           street addresses. The operators had only IBM
           experience and, to quote my friend,  they were having
           "a little trouble adjusting to the VAX", were a bit
           hostile towards it and probably needed some help with
           system management. Hmmm, Hostility... Sigh.
           Well, I thought it was pretty ridiculous for an
           outfit with all that VAX muscle elsewhere to isolate
           a dinky old 750 in their Big Blue Country, and said
           so bluntly. But my friend patiently explained that
           although small, it was an "extremely sensitive and
           confidential application."  It seems that the 750 had
           originally been properly clustered with the rest of a
           herd and in the care of one of their best VAXherds.
           But the trouble started when the Chief User went to
           visit his computer and its VAXherd.
           He came away visibly disturbed and immediately
           complained to the ELFI's Director of Data Processing
           that, "There are some very strange people in there
           with the computers." Now since this user person was
           the Comptroller of this Extremely Large Financial
           Institution, the 750 had been promptly hustled over
           to the IBM data center which the Comptroller said,
           "was a more suitable place."  The people there wore
           shirts and ties and didn't wear head bands or cowboy
           So my friend introduced me to the Comptroller, who
           turned out to be five feet tall, 85 and a former
           gnome of Zurich.  He had a young apprentice gnome who
           was about 65. The two gnomes interviewed me in
           whispers for about an hour before they decided my
           modes of dress and speech were suitable for managing
           their system and I got the assignment.
           There was some confusion, understandably, when I
           explained that I would immediately establish a
           procedure for nightly backups. The senior gnome
           seemed to think I was going to put the computer in
           reverse, but the apprentice's son had an IBM PC and
           he quickly whispered that "backup" meant making a
           copy of a program borrowed from a friend and why was
           I doing that? Sigh.
           I was shortly introduced to the manager of the IBM
           data center, who greeted me with joy and anything but
           hostility. And the operators really weren't hostile -
           it just seemed that way.  It's like the driver of a
           Mack 18 wheeler, with a condo behind the cab, who was
           doing 75 when he ran over a moped doing it's best to
           get away at 45.  He explained sadly, "I really warn't
           mad at mopeds but to keep from runnin' over that'n,
           I'da had to slow down or change lanes!"
           Now the only operation they had figured out how to do
           on the 750 was reboot it.  This was their universal
           cure for any and all problems.  After all it works on
           a PC, why not a VAX?  Was there a difference?  Sigh.
           But I smiled and said, "No sweat, I'll train you.
           The first command you learn is HELP" and proceeded to
           type it in on the console terminal.  So the data
           center manager, the shift supervisor and the eight
           day operators watched the LA100 buzz out the usual
           introductory text.  When it finished they turned to
           me with expectant faces and I said in an avuncular
           manner, "This is your most important command!"
           The shift supervisor stepped forward and studied the
           text for about a minute. He then turned with a very
           puzzled expression on his face and asked, "What do
           you use it for?" Sigh.
           Well, I tried everything.  I trained and I put the
           doc set on shelves by the 750 and I wrote a special
           40 page doc set and then a four page doc set. I
           designed all kinds of command files to make complex
           operations into simple foreign commands and I taped a
           list of these simplified commands to the top of the
           VAX. The most successful move was adding my home
           phone number.
           The cheat sheets taped on the top of the CPU cabinet
           needed continual maintenance, however. It seems the
           VAX was in the quietest part of the data center, over
           behind the scratch tape racks. The operators ate
           lunch on the CPU cabinet and the sheets quickly
           became coated with pizza drippings, etc.
           But still the most used solution to hangups was a
           reboot and I gradually got things organized so that
           during the day when the gnomes were using the system,
           the operators didn't have to touch it. This smoothed
           things out a lot.
           Meanwhile, the data center was getting new TV
           security cameras, a halon gas fire extinguisher
           system and an immortal power source. The data center
           manager apologized because the VAX had not been
           foreseen in the plan and so could not be connected to
           immortal power.  The VAX and I felt a little rejected
           but I made sure that booting on power recovery was
           working right.  At least it would get going again
           quickly when power came back.
           Anyway, as a consolation prize, the data center
           manager said he would have one of the security
           cameras adjusted to cover the VAX.  I thought to
           myself, "Great, now we can have 24 hour video tapes
           of the operators eating Chinese takeout on the CPU."
           I resolved to get a piece of plastic to cover the
           cheat sheets.
           One day, the apprentice gnome called to whisper that
           the senior was going to give an extremely important
           demonstration. Now I must explain that what the 750
           was really doing was holding our National Debt.  The
           Reagan administration had decided to privatize it and
           had quietly put it out for bid. My Extreme Large
           Financial Institution had won the bid for it and was,
           as ELFI's are wont to do, making an absolute bundle
           on the float.
           On Monday the Comptroller was going to demonstrate to
           the board of directors how he could move a trillion
           dollars from Switzerland to the Bahamas.  The
           apprentice whispered, "Would you please look in on
           our computer? I'm sure everything will be fine, sir,
           but we will feel better if you are present.  I'm sure
           you understand?"  I did.
           Monday morning, I got there about five hours before
           the scheduled demo to check things over. Everything
           was cool. I was chatting with the shift supervisor
           and about to go upstairs to the Comptroller's office.
           Suddenly there was a power failure.
           The emergency lighting came on and the immortal power
           system took over the load of the IBM 3090's.  They
           continued smoothly, but of course the VAX, still on
           city power, died. Everyone smiled and the dead 750
           was no big deal because it was 7 AM and gnomes don't
           work before 10 AM. I began worrying about whether I
           could beg some immortal power from the data center
           manager in case this was a long outage.
           Immortal power in this system comes from storage
           batteries for the first five minutes of an outage.
           Promptly at one minute into the outage we hear the
           gas turbine powered generator in the sub-basement
           under us automatically start up getting ready to take
           the load on the fifth minute.  We all beam at each
           At two minutes into the outage we hear the whine of
           the backup gas turbine generator starting. The 3090's
           and all those disk drives are doing just fine.
           Business as usual. The VAX is dead as a door nail but
           what the hell.
           At precisely five minutes into the outage, just as
           the gas turbine is taking the load, city power comes
           back on and the immortal power source commits
           suicide.  Actually it was a double murder and suicide
           because it took both 3090's with it.
           So now the whole data center was dead, sort of.  The
           fire alarm system had it's own battery backup and was
           still alive. The lead acid storage batteries of the
           immortal power system had been discharging at a
           furious rate keeping all those big blue boxes running
           and there was a significant amount of sulfuric acid
           vapor. Nothing actually caught fire but the smoke
           detectors were convinced it had.
           The fire alarm klaxon went off and the siren warning
           of imminent halon gas release was screaming.  We
           started to panic but the data center manager shouted
           over the din, "Don't worry, the halon system failed
           its acceptance test last week. It's disabled and
           nothing will happen."
           He was half right, the primary halon system indeed
           failed to discharge. But the secondary halon system
           observed that the primary had conked and instantly
           did its duty, which was to deal with Dire Disasters.
           It had twice the capacity and six times the discharge
           Now the ear splitting gas discharge under the raised
           floor was so massive and fast, it blew about half of
           the floor tiles up out of their framework. It came up
           through the floor into a communications rack and blew
           the cover panels off, decking an operator. Looking
           out across that vast computer room, we could see the
           air shimmering as the halon mixed with it.
           We stampeded for exits to the dying whine of 175 IBM
           disks.  As I was escaping I glanced back at the VAX,
           on city power, and noticed the usual flickering of
           the unit select light on its system disk indicating
           it was happily rebooting.
           Twelve firemen with air tanks and axes invaded. There
           were frantic phone calls to the local IBM Field
           Service office because both the live and backup
           3090's were down. About twenty minutes later,
           seventeen IBM CEs arrived with dozens of boxes and,
           so help me, a barrel. It seems they knew what to
           expect when an immortal power source commits murder.
           In the midst of absolute pandemonium, I crept off to
           the gnome office and logged on. After extensive
           checking it was clear that everything was just fine
           with the VAX and I began to calm down. I called the
           data center manager's office to tell him the good
           news. His secretary answered with, "He isn't expected
           to be available for some time.  May I take a
           message?"  I left a slightly smug note to the effect
           that, unlike some other computers, the VAX was intact
           and functioning normally.
           Several hours later, the gnome was whispering his way
           into a demonstration of how to flick a trillion
           dollars from country 2 to country 5.  He was just
           coming to the tricky part, where the money had been
           withdrawn from Switzerland but not yet deposited in
           the Bahamas.  He was proceeding very slowly and the
           directors were spellbound. I decided I had better
           check up on the data center.
           Most of the floor tiles were back in place. IBM had
           resurrected one of the 3090's and was running tests.
           What looked like a bucket brigade was working on the
           other one. The communication rack was still naked and
           a fireman was standing guard over the immortal power
           corpse. Life was returning to normal, but the Big
           Blue Country crew was still pretty shaky.
           Smiling proudly, I headed back toward the triumphant
           VAX behind the tape racks where one of the operators
           was eating a plump jelly bun on the 750 CPU. He saw
           me coming, turned pale and screamed to the shift
           supervisor, "Oh my God, we forgot about the VAX!"
           Then, before I could open my mouth, he rebooted it.
           It was Monday, 19-Oct-1987.  VAXen, my children, just
           don't belong some places.
Edited by Brad Templeton.  MAIL, yes MAIL your jokes to funny@looking.UUCP
Attribute the joke's source if at all possible.  I will reply, mailers willing.
I reply to all submissions, but about 30% of the replies bounce.