Raven's Home : Sysadmin : A Day in the Life of a BOFH : Going down with the ship

Going down with the ship

Singing Nearer My God to Thee...


Nathan Cuka wrote: We had a clogged storm drain at the bottom of an outside stairwell that would form a nice deep pool whenever it rained hard. Not a big deal, except it was right next to a door leading inside the science building, so the water would drain underneath the door, into the building and head down to the lowest part of physics lab -- the vault where we were constructing a small (4 MV) particle accelerator.

One day, after a particularly torrential rainstorm, all the admins received a page from our Help Desk : "The Help Desk is flooding. We won't be answering the phones for a while."[2] The network guys spent an exciting couple of hours in the raised floor with a wet vac, trying to keep the water from reaching the equipment in the main network closet[0].

We found out later that before the factory was enlarged, the overflow from the roof drains had an emergency escape valve, sensibly located on the exterior of the building. It seems that when they built the addition, they just tiled over the drain that was now located in the middle of the hallway outside the Help Desk. Since there had never actually been enough rain to blow the emergency valve, no one thought anything of it[1].

-- Heather


[0] Located between the Help Desk and a couple hundred servers in the main computer room next door.

[1] Until it blew the tile off and created a geyser in the main hallway.

[2] Then they turned everything off, kicked out the plugs and ran for it.[3]

[3] The room was called the Fishbowl[4]. How prophetic. We suggested they stay in until the room filled up and then make fish faces at the window.

[4] It was a miniscule room RIGHT on the main hallway, featuring a giant picture window. It was like being on display.


Last Modified : Feb. 12, 1999

Heather Garvey / [email protected]