An Architecture Home Companion

Mable Loos

Aunt Mable moved to Lake Architectless with her husband Thomas or Uncle Tom as we called him. She made the best chocolate chip cookies in the world. My friends and I used to stop by their house on the way home from school. She always had milk and cookies for us fresh and warm from the oven.

Mable was also the town’s piano teacher so her house was a frequent destination in the hours after school and Saturday’s. The sounds of chopsticks flowing out the windows and doors to greet the world as Mable gentle corrected the fingering and finger position of her students.

She was a small woman, no more than 5 foot tall. In all the years I knew her I never saw her frown or heard her yell at anyone. I am sure she did, I just never saw it. Thomas was her life, and in fact she was the only person who always called him Thomas.

I was eight years old when she died. It is a day I will never forget. The rain was falling around us as we stood next to the grave. We put roses on the headstone and watched as my father gentle led Thomas away from the grave. He would have stood there for the rest of his life had my father let him.



An Architecture Home Companion

Thomas Loos

Thomas, or Tom or Tommy he went by a lot of names over the years. Tommy kind of lost its luster as he got older. Thomas was his Uncle’s name and he always felt odd when people called him that. Tom was the name he used most often and was the one I knew him by. In fact I knew him mostly as Uncle Tom.

Uncle Tom was a great guy. He used to come to our baseball games and was my dad’s best friend.

He moved to Lake Architectless around the same time as my parents. He and his new wife planned to live the small town life. Buy a small house, have a small family to live out the American dream in the small town of Lake Architectless. Aunt Mable as we called her when we were little made the best cookies on earth. One day while walking home from the store she fell over. Within a week she was dead and a big piece of Uncle Tom went with her.

Sure he was still the same great guy he had always been. But now there was edge of sadness in his voice. He still smiled at jokes, but no longer laughed out loud. He still came to the house on Sunday’s to watch Colts games and was always there when you needed to talk to an adult.

But things were never the same.



An Architecture Home Companion

Mayor Reginald Toldhead

Elected Mayor roughly 11 months ago Reggie as he liked to be called represented an interesting mix of old and new Lake Architectless. His family, the ToldHeads were one of the first families to arrive after the founder built our city.

He was the youngest of eight children who never married. His life was running the fabric and networking store near the square. His father, Robert Toldhead owned the feedstore at the edge of town but the two had a falling out roughly 5 years ago and seldom spoke to each other. Rumor was that during the election father didn’t vote for son for Mayor.

There had been Wither’s and Toldhead’s as mayors since Switches McGee left town. Reggie was the 6th member of the Toldhead family to serve as mayor and some say he is/was the best ever.

In school Reggie was an average student more interested in watching the snow fall in the winter and the leaves fall in the fall than in paying attention to what the teacher was saying. But he had a way with words. Some say he was the greatest orator from Indiana since Abraham Lincoln abruptly left for Illinois (a fact that many old timers were still frustrated about).

A short man who was always afraid of shadows Mayor Toldhead actually installed bright as day lights all around the town square so that he could walk from his store, to his office as the mayor and then to his house without ever being in the dark.



An Architect Home Companion

John Thomas Redding

John Thomas Redding wasn’t born in Lake Architectless. His was a more romantic story. He met a girl at Ball State University in Northern Indiana. They fell deeply in love, and then her parents got sick. John being a good guy moved with the girl to where she could take care of her parents.

Over the years John moved up the chain in the city eventually becoming the data center manager. Along the way to the top he also fathered two sons. One, John Jr, being me the other was my brother but he isn’t featured in this story because well he was annoying.

John was a tall man. He walked astride the world like someone with a purpose. His smile was legendary my mother used to say he could smile away rain. When I was young I remember my dad smiling all the time but as he grew older he grew sadder. The politics of data center management ate at him. I remember him saying to my mother when he thought my brother and I were asleep:

“It’s stupid Jenny. They want everything and they want it 24/7. They expect me to have a data center that can support 100 servers and yet keep the air temperature at 68 degrees. It just can’t happen. The technology for cooling won’t handle it.”

I never heard what my mother said.

My dad played catch with us in the back yard on summer days. Throwing popups and grounders and teach us to lead with our mitts not our faces. In all fairness both my brother and I led with our faces a couple of times resulting in crying and bleeding. But it was all part of “the catch.” He took us to the fourth of July Fire-Work (the town was both concerned about safety and cost so they only bought one fire work to launch) and the annual Church picnic. He is a great dad.

An Architecture Home Companion

It should be noted before we introduce today’s townie that we had a transcription error in the first few stories. The actual town name is not Lake No Architecture, its actually Lake Architectless.


We are having trouble reading the scrawled and somewhat illegible writing and therefore may have made a mistake again on the name. Our apologies…

The Lake Architectless Transcription team.


Peter McNeal

Every town in the world has it characters. That person who sits in front of the general store and tells stories about the way things used to be. Lake Architectless was no different, oh well maybe we were a little different in that our old guy sitting at the country store was a recent high school graduate, class of 09 to be exact. But he was the town character.

He made his way into the world the usual way, down the birth canal and into the hands of the town’s dentist/doctor. His mother said he started talking right after he got his butt smacked and took in that first solid breadth of air.

And he started telling stories almost right away. I can remember the first time I saw him, he was probably 10 years old at the time, standing on the corner telling the stories of Lake Architectless. The stories were amazing, stories of the great blizzard, Alabaster and the 32 home generators, the great freeze and hundreds of others. Standing there on corner telling the world about the world we lived in. The stories were funny too.

He became the oral history of our little town. He even knew the story about why everyone was allowed to have a stop sign in front of their house, which very few people would ever talk about.



An Architecture Home Companion

Just out of town lives a man who many people in the town of Lake No Architecture credit with saving the town, all the computers and Lefty McDougals horse Bob. It was during the great blizzard of 1979 that Alabaster Wayins came to town. He arrived like most people do in a car that broke down. Alabaster was luckier than some whose cars would break down at the edge of town, and would then have to be pushed (stopped) pushed (stopped) through the myriad of stop signs to get to the Lucky Aces garage and Casino. Alabaster’s car broke down in front of the Casino part of the building right as the snow began to fall.

You could tell as the snow fell that it wasn’t going to be a normal snow. Grass, normally pushing through the early snow to show itself between the clumps of white laid down and went to sleep the snow pressing it down into the ground. It was heavy snow with flakes the size of Frisbees. Mrs. Coltin let us out of school early that day. Even the code factory on the edge of town let the workers out early so my dad and I got home that day at the same time.

The snow was so heavy that the power lines began to bow. Snow carrying them relentlessly to the ground. As they reached the ground they snapped, flying back into the air with the force of a body held down and released. With them any connection to the national power grid was lost. Computers like most electronics don’t like a sudden loss of power and everyone in the town rallied around the then still working town billing system. But no one knew if you could create a replaceable plug and play power grid with 32 home generators.

That’s when Alabaster stepped in. They say you can measure a man not by a how far up the doorstop he can stand, rather how large his actions are. The doorstop reference came from my mother who for some reason measured everyone who came into our house against the doorstop. I suspect it was her fear that the low ceilings in our house would reach out and grab someone and hurt them but let’s save that for another day and another story.

Alabaster built a system on the fly that linked 30 generators together with two as hot spares (so we could refill the gas tanks over time) a system that kept the town’s computers running through the worst storm of the century.

For that the town gave Alabaster the old McEwen place on the edge of town. Old Man McEwen having left town rather abruptly during a rather messy scandal involving the head cheerleader and a new member of the Lake NO Architecture Community. Alabaster has been living off his fame at the edge of town ever since.


The Architect Home Companion

The people of Lake No Architecture (for more on this series please see my other blog as well

John Withers or old man withers as we called him when I was a youngster came to Lake No Architecture a broken man. His dream of building a AI system that could automatically pack your suitcase for a trip based on a couple of questions it would ask you prior to the packing. He had a prototype and the rumor when he came to town was that big travel companies had killed the dream.

He came to town in the early days of spring when the flowers were blooming and the air was filled as is always the case with spring, with hope. He took over the old five and dime store and opened our first and only engineering store. His dream was to sell people the solutions they needed without all the planning and process that stifled his dream (the auto-packing suitcase).

Shortly after arriving he took a wife, the lovely daughter of now long gone Mayor Switches. They had two sons William and Roger both of whom went on to long and distinguished careers including 3 terms as mayor Lake No Architecture between the two., Many people wondered why Old Man Withers didn’t run for mayor as he was asked a number of times over the years but he always said “ain’t no politician, I just sell ready made solutions.”

His store focused on building and selling solutions without all that pattern, process and other planning requirements. we spent many a summer’s day there (Old Man Withers refused to allow students in his store during the school year – he didn’t want to distract them from their education by letting them play with shiny new solutions when they had some of the older lesser solutions at school).


An architecture home companion

(see also my other blog for more

The first mayor/founder of Lake No Architecture was a man known as Switches McGee. The name Switches according to town historian Dos Smith came from the original Alteris computer that Switches learned to build solutions on. In fact until the on off button broke off, in the off position Switches used his Alteris 1 as the billing system he used that system for the town’s billing system. But Switches was long gone by then, the wanderlust of exploration and the promise of free copies of DOS 3.0 drew him to Seattle Washington and other places out west.

Switches was legendary though, displaying his switch based programming skills with nightly exhibitions of his Alteris system. The guys who sat outside the general store (police station and town hall) said he could move those buttons so fast that at times it was as if those fingers were blurred into one giant finger (the traditional number one leveraged at sporting events).

He was an interesting man. Having chosen not to take a wife his vision of the town was a place where everyone could live regardless of their personal choices in technology. It was to be a utopia, architect free with no visions and grandiose dreams of upgrades. Lake No Architecture was to be the place where solutions could be built in less time, with less training and no one talking about how good the next version would be.

Then one night Switches just left town, heading for the free copies of DOS and the great wanderlust of travel. They kept his Alteris for him, should he ever decide to return just by the picture of Bill Gates in the General Store (police station and town hall).


Traveling a few unmanaged thoughts

  • Why does it take longer to get home then to get there?
  • When does life get easier?
  • If a plane has 60 seats and 21 are empty why is there a guy sitting next to me?
  • Even though they are cutting costs, United still has decent food.
  • The red carpet club is a joy. Whomever invented it is a genius.
  • I’ve noticed airlines have cut out food service on shorter flights (less than an hour) but they still stock the plane with food? I understand the cost cutting but really is that necessary to actually keep the food on the plane?

Its a long way to understanding from wherever

you are.

I guess I am not there yet.


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On the last train to Nashville

I did a talk this week about migrations. A lot of what fails in your average migration has to do with the maturity of the IT org and their ability to react correctly to an ever changing environment.

But then I started thinking about migrations and what they really mean.

  • Moving all the stuff from one place to another
  • Aligning functionality so that the business doesn’t really lose something critical
  • White glove professionals helping top level people move

What is an actual migration though?

I’ve done a few over the years. Get me a rollback plan. Prepare the onsite people for the migration, plan plan plan, communicate communicate communicate, test test test are the cute chats I’ve used over the years.

But what is a migration?



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