Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Honey, I'm Home!

Wow, what an odessy (did I spell that right?). I have just spent two weeks travelling the US for work. Virginia to New Jersey to Florida to ALL OVER West Virginia to home. I've posted about New Jersey, the only part of Florida I saw was Tampa so most of this post will be West Virginia. But, first, a short paragraph on the Data Center I saw in Tampa.

The Data Center was a very nice facility. They tout it as the "Co-Lo Technology Hotel." It is very close to the internet back-bone - only one hop away. They have excellent physical security, excellent disaster preparedness, good temperature control, a nice set up and good fire watch. But, it had major problems that really scared me. I didn't see the battery room. That is usually a source of pride at a data-center and they talked about it, but didn't show us. There were open panels in the electrical room and cardboard boxes all over the place. The chemical fire suppression system was impressive, but hadn't been checked in three years. The control room had people drinking coffee and an open bottle of water right over-top of some of the machines. All that planning and money will eventually go up in smoke. Too many fire hazaards.

As for West Virginia, again, WOW. Let's do a day by day, just for fun.

Sunday - I drove there. Very hilly and relatively un-eventful. The only thing I noticed was a lack of eateries near all the factories. There were several miles of an industrial area and the only retail place was a gas station. Someone should open a diner.

Monday - I drove to a little out of the way place called Buckhannon. There was some sort of police training session right near the hotel and the place was filled by West Virginia's finest. They all seemed like standard cops, but fit the stereotypes from several places. There was the crusty old donut eater guy, the potbellied tough guy, the young handsome eager guy and a few generic detective types that looked at everyone as a potential criminal.

Tuesday - We did our first training. The clinic was in the middle of nowhere - like everything in WV, apparently. I didn't see any barefoot people, but I did see a sex toy farm (or maybe a WV whorehouse) that was raising sheep. On the way home, it snowed like crazy. I guess any snow storm that high in the mountains is a blizzard. I couldn't see ten feet in front of me. The driving was really nuts. This is the day I discovered the lack of communications available. My cell didn't get a signal, the internet at the hotel was up and down, the land-lines were all down and even the satellite phone in my truck struggled to get a signal. I was really cut off from civilization.

Wednesday - There was a clinic, right on a river that looked like it was about to flood. The lady in charge was a real babe and was very nice and seemed to be in a perpetual good mood. Some guy is lucky - smart, sexy, good job and good attitude. I also noticed the roads a little more today. They have a good driving surface, but they are really winding. The S-Curve signs also don't give you any warning. I was cruising a straight stretch at 55 when I hit a curve that allowed about 30. I think they gave me about 50 feet of warning to slow down. The whole state was like that.

Thursday - Nothing too eventful, but this is when I started to notice the housing. There really are a lot of trailers in WV, but the more disturbing part was the shacks. There would be a one room, one floor, stone block "house" with a satellite dish that was nearly as big as the "home." These things were everywhere. I was shocked that anyone would live in one. The really odd part is that most of them looked brand new. There were also incredible mansions interspersed with these things. It was an odd mixture. The most annoying thing I noticed was the lack of paint. Some of the houses were just standard small homes. They looked okay, nothing fantastic, just a standard generic house that was in desperate need of a paint job. I figured it was probably $100 worth of paint and brushes, but these people just didn't do it. The whole thing was very depressing.

Friday - Another uneventful training day, but a hell of a ride home. It snowed again while I was in the mountains. Three hours of searching for the road and tons of cars that went right off the side. It was snowing hard and fast and accumulating quickly. It was very nerve racking, but once I got out of the mountains it cleared right up.

In conclusion, WV is a beautiful state and a real sportsman's paradise. But, for a lowly IT schlepp like me, it was a nightmare.

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