TechPublishing Now MS Certified

TechPublishing Now MS Certified
Professor Robert McMillen, MBA Microsoft Certified Trainer and Solutions Expert

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Great Firewall of the United States of America

Yea, I said it. We need it.

The great firewall in our country would be nothing like the one in China, and here's why. The fundamental difference between our government and Communism in practice is that the government works for us in the US ,and in China the people tend to work for the government (i.e. see what's happening in Hong Kong right now).

We need a firewall that encompasses our country. If you come to this country by land, sea, or air, you need to register yourself, or your entity. It is highly regulated and many are turned away. The internet is that one exception.

If I was appointed by the president to be the internet czar, I would implement such a protection badly needed by our people, our companies and our government resources. We would not only register wired, wireless, and satellite connections in and out of our country, but we would also give a new entity the ability to block traffic that is found to be malicious. This new entity would be made of of both corporate and government staff in an attempt to provide a check and balance against abuse by either party.

We don't want censorship. We want and deserve protection. When malicious activity is detected, and there are many ways to do this, the traffic would be blocked from entering our country the same way a terrorist would hopefully be turned away at our borders. The source would be found out and arrested overseas. If it was a government sponsored event, then sanctions would be put on that government until the activity stops and reparations are made.

The malicious actors would then attempt to setup shop here in our country to avoid the firewall. This is actually already happening anyway because so many foreign IP addresses are being blocked by corporate and government firewalls. Unfortunately, due to the lack of sophistication by many IT employees and a lack of solid programming by many manufacturers, this attempt is failing. This can be seen by the hacks into POS systems at Target, Home Depot, Neiman Marcus, Michael's, and dozens more affecting just about every citizen in our country in one way or another. We deserve better.

We would then put the same type of firewall in all 50 states and it would be monitored and blocked by an interstate commerce group that would be similar to the federal level. If states decide an intrastate entity is also important they can choose to enact that as well.

At this point the government is not working in a concerted effort with businesses to protect our data resources. This has led to millions of bank accounts emptied and credit cards compromised. This needs to change and Homeland Security needs to start working with businesses to protect us. If they say they are already doing this then they need to be replaced by people who have real capability. If they are not doing this, as I suspect, then more money needs to be poured into this area before our next war.

The next war with a country who has any type of sophistication is going to be partially fought on a cyber basis. If we can cripple the enemy in this way we can keep communication and electronics from working effectively shutting down their financial system, government, and military. The same can be done to us. Over a terabyte data is stolen each year from the department of defense, and that's only the data we know about.

It's time for some real protection and it can be done without censorship if it is properly implemented by our brightest technical minds, and not appointees who have no real IT skills.


Saturday, September 27, 2014

Another weekend working on servers

When I got up today I thought it was going to be the first day in a long time I didn't have to work on a server, but I was wrong. A new emergency took to helping a customer restore some services. That's ok, since it is my job, but some day I will get that day off.

I had planned on testing out my cool new wireless device for my Nikon camera that also does movies. I was able to spend some time on it though.
 After doing an unboxing video and uploading to You Tube (, I plugged the receiver into the camera and setup one of the lapel wireless microphones. This is the device:
Neewer® Dual Channel Camera Mount 2.4GHz Wireless Clip-on Lavalier Microphone System Mic with 2 Transmitters and 1 Receiver Set for 7D, 60D, 600D/Rebe
I started the microphone and then the receiver. It didn't work and it was hard finding directions even online. I eventually figured out you need to start the receiver first and then the microphone and I was able to hear the sound. I found I could travel more than 20' and still get good sound. The sound wasn't great though as it was kind of tinny.

I was able to clean it up using Camtasia's utility to take out background noise, but I look forward to spending more time with it to try to get the best sound quality. The cost was around $200 from Amazon.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Microsoft Certified Trainer

I was perusing my Microsoft certification transcript a week or so ago and wondering if I should go for anything beyond the MCSE in servers and infrastructure.

I accidentally came upon a link about the Microsoft Certified Master (MCM) program being retired. I had wondered what was going to replace it. It turns out nothing will replace it. Of all the certified IT people in the world only a few hundred became MCM certified.

I can understand why Microsoft would not want to put any more effort into it. I did notice some references to an MCT. I had looked into being a certified trainer years ago but I didn't have the experience needed. Since then I have become an instructor at a couple of colleges, and along with my MCSE, I found out I could qualify.

I applied and found out that it would cost $1,000 for the first year and $800 after that. I would also have to prove that I did train people on an annual basis. The cost went up from $400 per year but I can get some cool benefits for getting the certification. It also add legitimacy to my You Tube channel

I had to have my supervisor at one of the colleges vouch for me. After promising him lunch at a fancy restaurant (kidding) he filled out the letter.

A few days later and I am now certified as a Microsoft trainer. I really look forward to seeing all  the great materials I will get to assist me in training my students.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

IBM support the same as jumbo shrimp?

I had quite the week with IBM support. We buy and sell a lot of IBM servers and SAN (storage) devices.
A year ago we bought a v3700 SAN and had a question about how long it would take to format a RAID 5 partition. We called IBM support and they said we didn't have the right support agreement for us to talk to them.
What? It was brand new.

This time when we bought one of the new 2.5" drive units we made sure we had both the hardware and software support so we could ask questions.

Last Friday I went to set up the new device. It's all web based configuration now. No more Storage Manager.
I had a book of directions and videos that came with the device built into the web browser. Very slick and it should make setting it up very easy.

The first thing I noticed was that, although I had ten drives, I could only use five at a time to configure a RAID 5 volume.

If I made a RAID 6 volume I could use all ten drives, but it makes the last drive a spare. I wanted to use RAID 5, but oh well.

Although the device comes with the ability to connect using both ISCSI and SAS, I decided I wanted to go with ISCSI so I had the flexibility of more easily adding more servers to have access to future partitions without adding SAS cards or running out of ports.

I have configured many of these devices so it wasn't unfamiliar to me to run through the setup steps using the USB method or creating an answer file and plugging it into the v3700 USB port to upload the config. This is actually a fairly nice way to set it up without needing a management cable as the older units needed when you couldn't connect to them using the manager software.

The problem was that the ISCSI ports always showed up as offline even though I could ping the server IPs and the SAN IPs in both directions.

I decided I would call IBM since we had paid $4k for the required 24/7 4 hour response package.
I soon received a call back after opening the ticket from the level 1 technician located in some foreign country. I have no problem with this if they are knowledgeable, and I can understand them clearly.
The tech went over the settings with me and we did make some changes but it didn't make any difference. He then questioned my ability to set up one of these devices.

At 5PM my time he stopped returning my calls in between checking the logs I uploaded to him. I didn't hear from him again until Tuesday morning.
By this time I was irate and he said he would escalate to level 2. By Tuesday afternoon I still had not received a call so I called them back and demanded someone onsite to come and fix this.
IBM support said they would have someone out before 5 PM. 

That time came and went, and no technician. He did contact me and said he would be out 24 hours later, and then told me he wouldn't know how to fix it even if he did come out because he just swaps out bad parts.

He did say he would call me again Wednesday AM. That call never happened.

More irate phone calls by me got a call finally from a level 2 tech who questioned my ability to even configure one of these devices and said he was East coast time and he wanted to go home rather than speak with me. He asked if we could talk the next day and we didn't have the right support package but he would do me a favor and speak with me then. Of course we did have the right package, but IBM never registered it.
Today I decided to shut myself off from the rest of the office and see if I could just fix it myself.
After about 3 hours of combing websites and Red Books from IBM I finally had the answer. The directions were wrong.

Instead of inputting the IP address into the ISCSI port box, I needed to put the ISCSI ID (iqn number) into it. This was contrary to the video, the way I have done it in the past, and the printed instructions that came with the device, but I tried it and it worked.
I finally had my ISCSI storage connecting to my servers.
IBM called again later that today to see if I was happy with their support and one of my staff told them "no", and that I had to fix it myself. They then sent me an email and asked me how I did it.

They wanted to update their bad instructions.
I told them I would have to charge them for my time since I paid them $4K for support, which I never adequately received after 7 days.

They haven't emailed me back.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Mail server disaster

We had an interesting issue with a mail server yesterday. After about 16 hours we finally got it going again but I have never seen one like this before.
At about 2PM, Outlook showed up as disconnected. I logged into the domain controller and noticed that the domain controller with all the master roles was missing the global catalog. You can check this by looking at the event logs and seeing that there is no sysvol or netlogon share on a global catalog DC. This was a 2008 server but there was also a 2012 R2 server. 
Neither realized they were domain controllers anymore since the GCs were missing from both servers. The 2012 said it was having trouble replicating with the GC on the 2008 server.
The 2008 server said it was having a jrnl wrapper problem. This can be typically fixed by changing the wrapper registry key and restarting FRS.
In this case it didn't work.
When I went to restore from backup I discovered more troubling news. The 2012 server showed good backups but the option in Backup Exec 2012 to restore was grayed out.
The reason for this could have been many so I just turned to the 2008 restore. At first I couldn't find the system state to do the restore but in BU Exec 2012 they just moved it to a new location under the disaster recovery area.
I found the backed up state from the night before and attempted to restore from the BU Exec server after booting the 2008 server into Directory Services Restore Mode (DSRM).
When you log into DSRM you have to use the password used when setting up the server as a domain controller. If you didn't write it down then you have to go through more agony to reset it. Fortunately, we had this recorded so I logged into the server using this password created years before. This is a different password than the domain administrator password.
Here comes the catch 22. When I tried to run the restore it said you cannot use the domain administrator user and password while logged in with the DSRM account while in that mode. I can't restore the system state while logged into normal mode because it won't properly overwrite the files and I can't restore it when in DSRM mode because it can't reach the domain anymore.
All the while this is going on the mail server needs a valid domain controller to work with a global catalog server. Otherwise the services just shut down. Now, no email and no domain.
The next thing to do was to get that system state restored so all of this would start working again.
I tried restoring the system state to the local backup server and just copy it over to the 2008 server where I would use WBAdmin.exe to restore the state. The redirected restore worked and I copied it over to the 2008 server. The problem was when trying to use the command to restore it on the 2008 server it said no backup was there to restore. I also tried to use Windows Server backup and it said the same thing even though there was 28 GBs of system state data right there.
I looked at the event errors in Windows and BU Exec and found that the problem was that the restore mode user wasn't a member of the Backup Operators group. I had to restart the 2008 server into normal mode to add a new user I just created to that group. I decided to call the user backupadmin.
I added the new local user to the domain group and rebooted back into DSRM to attempt the restore again.
It now failed again with a new error that said the new user needs to have the "log on as a batch" right. That would be no problem. I rebooted the 2008 server back into normal mode and opened the local security policy. I found the right under the computer configuration, policies, user rights area but the option to change it was grayed out because it was a domain controller. That was awesome because this server thought it wasn't a DC any more. 
I then went into the Group Policy Manager and found the right again after running a group policy results wizard to locate it. It is in the security area under computer configuration in the default domain controller's policy. It was grayed out there as well. It was about 1AM and this had started about 2PM the previous day.
I decided that Microsoft might have the answer to this problem so I opened a ticket. They said they would get back to me in 2 hours. My brain was fried so after doing a little more research I ate a bunch of M&Ms, popped open a diet Coke, and started to play some Call Of Duty and watch some Netflix. At 3AM Microsoft calls and I spill my guts out like a tornado survivor. The engineer thinks about it for a second and says he's the wrong guy for this and says another engineer will call me back in another 2 hours. 
It was 3:30AM and I decided I would give it one more crack after doing more research. I found a command line tool in the Windows 2003 tool kit called NTRights. Yes that's right, 2003. I did some research on whether or not it would work on 2008 and most people said it would so I installed the tools on the 2008 server. These are all command line tools so I opened up a command line and tried to follow the directions of another engineer who fixed an issue similar to this years ago.
He said to type: ntrights +r SeBatchLogon -u machinename\username
I did an ntrights /? and found no switch that matched up to this. I tried the command and it failed.
After doing more research I found I needed to add the word "right" to the SE command and I typed this:
ntrights +r SeBatchLogonRight -u machinename\username
I wasn't sure if I was seeing it correctly but it said it took it. I stood there dumbfounded for a second. The mind plays tricks at 4AM.
I then went to the backup server and ran the restore once again and it started to restore. I waited around a while and noticed that it would take around 4 hours at this speed. I decided to go home. 
I asked my business partner Scott to come in and reboot the 2008 DC around 9AM. He came in and rebooted and everything, including email, all came back up. Yay!
On my cell phone during my few hours of sleep I noticed Microsoft engineer #2 called and left a message around 6AM to help me with the problem.
I didn't call him back but I sent him an email saying it was fixed.
Now time for more sleep.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Hanging with the Real Ghostbusters and their Amazing Gadgets

Last night I had an incredible experience. I went to go interview the team at NW Paranormal and Occult Research team as they investigated a haunting at my friends Heather and Brad’s house. I really wanted to see the technology behind the research. What I didn’t expect to happen was to become part of the story. Here is a link to the You Tube video when you're ready: 

The team was very professional. I met Gavin, Todd, Kathy and Jocelyn. You can check out their bios at When we watch ghost shows on TV you never really know if anything is faked so I really wanted to see up close and personal what they were doing. I was able to video record and inspect the equipment before we got started. There was lots of high tech gear.

Some of the more interesting pieces were an ovilus and a flashlight. The ovilus can be purchased online for a few hundred dollars, and they allow the spirits to communicate in English and other languages with the researcher. The science behind it is difficult to say here, but many people can download a less sophisticated version on their smartphone for free so I was familiar with the technology.

The flashlight was interesting because it was just a regular Magnum flashlight that can be purchased from any hardware store. Todd set one up in the room with me where he unscrewed the light just enough so it could be turned on or off by a spirit that may be interested in doing so. He demonstrated it for me by just touching it so it would go on or off, and then stepped back to talk to the spirit. He jumped around a little to show it can’t go on by any vibrations. It had to be turned on by some sort of touch. The spirit did not disappoint. I have it on video. It freaked me out.

The special cameras were also very cool and they captured great video, even in pitch dark. They also captured any type of motion. One of the things that really gave credence to the team’s principled nature was when something appeared to be paranormal they would try to debunk it. If they couldn’t, then they started to believe it may be the spirit of the house talking to them. I go into greater detail on this later.

After meeting the team, and checking the equipment, Heather and Brad took the dogs with them to their trailer for the night. The team said they needed to be there without the homeowners to make sure nothing was being faked and to not interfere with any potential spiritual activity. All equipment was loaded with fresh batteries I saw Gavin take out of the original package. They turned out the lights around the house around 10:30 as the paranormal team started their investigation.
Heather and Brad have a two story house and paranormal activity has been reported on both levels. We started by going upstairs to a living room area they jokingly referred to as the “party room”. Gavin stayed downstairs to monitor the activity from the cameras setup around the house. The kitchen table was now ghost central. Also, Gavin says the ghosts just don’t like him and tend to clam up whenever he came around in previous investigations.
The rest of us all sat in the party room with several pieces of equipment in the center of the room. There was the previously mentioned ovilus, and also a small device with a green light on it. If the ghost passes by it is supposed to light up a bright green light. They also had a special meter that measured electric field activity. Jocelyn had previously walked around the house to do a pre measurement to avoid any false positives. The weirdest thing I saw with this device was that the fish tank lit up. Other things like the microwave and some outlets understandably lit up. While it lay on the floor with the other devices we waited to see what the spirits had in mind.

I have to say I was more than a skeptic starting out in this adventure. When nothing much happened with any of the devices after several minutes I suggested I leave the room in case my skepticism was the cause of a very quiet paranormal experience. A quick check showed the batteries in all devices went dead after less than a half hour. They should have lasted all night and then some. Batteries were then replaced and we waited again. Nothing happened even when I left the room. We all decided to move to the study. (This sounds kind of like a ghost buster game of Clue doesn't it?)

The study had a roll top desk, a hopefully fake stuffed dog (which comes into play later), and lots of fishing gear and other sportsman types of items. Brad and Heather are big hunters and outdoors people. There are floating deer heads and skins around the house attached to the walls. Earlier I suggested that the spirits of the animals may be haunting them. Brad said they were yummy.

While the team and I sat around the study we tried again to communicate and nothing was happening. I was starting to think I may have been right about my doubts. Then the batteries in our flashlights went dead. We went downstairs and replaced them once again.

We moved to their son Carl’s room. Carl had jokingly left his bed stuffed with clothes to make it look like a body was there. We all had a good laugh but when the lights went out and Jocelyn sat on the bed she had quite a jolt when she found that Carl had also left a fake arm hanging on the back side of the bed.

Todd and I decided to be in the room alone while Jocelyn and Kathy went to another bedroom where the foreign exchange student Inga has been staying. Todd set up the flashlight and the ovilus. He set the light to just the right sensitivity where you could touch and it and it would go on and off, but you could not make it go on with any type of vibration. Todd started to ask the spirit questions as though he were just as sentient as he and I were and standing in the room next to us. He thought this was perfectly normal. I did not. Todd and the other team members are genuine in their belief about the paranormal. They have had too many experiences to be doubters like me.

Heather and Brad told me before they left they suspected that the ghost was a teenage boy who died on their property years before they bought it. The parents were apparently into drugs and some bad men came to either collect a debt or settle a score. They lit the trailer on fire and the teenage boy died. They believe he moved into their house to be with a family. Brad and Heather gave specific instructions to not try to remove any spirits that might be found. They just wanted to know more about them. That was not a problem as it turned out.

While in Carl’s room, Todd asked questions like “Who are you?” and “Did you die here?”  The ovilus started chattering nonstop with words like fire, flames, fight and recounted the horrible demise and torture of the person that is now this spirit in single frustrating words spoken through the ovilus. Todd then asked the ghost to turn on the flashlight to show he was here. The light went on…. (Hair on back of neck standing up.) He then asked if he could turn the light off. The light went off. There was no other camera in the room except mine and I did catch this all on video.  

That could have been a fluke right? When Todd asked the ghost to do it again and again, the ghost did just that. Three times the light went on and off on command. Todd was on the bed. I was standing just a few feet away and the flashlight on the dresser went on and off multiple times without any corporeal being in the room performing that action.

Kathy and Jocelyn had no idea of what was happening and they walked into the room just after this event.  The spirit stopped communicating on any of our devices immediately. After comparing notes, the ladies said nothing was happening for them, but for Todd and I it was a ghostly experience. We again decided to split up. Todd and I went into the daughter’s room. After a short try we saw nothing was happening so we parked in the kid’s bathroom. Nothing much was happening there either but we decided to snap a few photos. Todd’s photos didn't have a lot to look at but mine did. I was using my night vision setting on my Nikon D5100 camera that takes both video and still pictures.

My three photos showed a lit up orb by my elbow and the subsequent photos showed the orb moving to several locations. My camera had no flash. When we saw the photos later I decided to go back in the bathroom and duplicate the pictures and there was no orb. It was just dark.

We then took a break for some Red Bull, Diet Coke, and protein bars. It was just after midnight and we were ravenous. Todd mentioned that during these investigations the team tends to get very thirsty and dehydrated despite just sitting around talking to the spirits for hours. This seemed rather odd but he said it was a recurring theme.

After we were tanked up again we decided to have the ladies continue upstairs while Todd and I went downstairs. The master bedroom was on the first floor just off the kitchen. When Todd and I went into the master it was all lit up with green laser dots. Todd explained this technology was used to capture spirits passing as shadows. It makes it much easier to see that they are here with us and they have had good experience with this in previous research. They didn't that night however. We sat and waited in a green hazy silence for several minutes. The ovilus was mostly quiet. It doesn't always say things that are coherent. Lead investigator Kathy said that sometimes the spirit doesn't have enough energy to constantly come into the physical realm and it may sound sort of like a stuttering person that can’t quite get all the words out until their energy builds back up.
No success in the master. It was time for another break. Shortly afterwards I had a chance to sit with Kathy and Jocelyn for a little while after Todd and Gavin went upstairs to try to duplicate our earlier success. I started asking questions about how they feel when they think a ghost is nearby. Kathy was more technical. She seemed to know when a spirit was close when the gadgets start to perk up and talk about things that create a coherent structure. It’s also exciting when it jives with the homeowners or other witnesses. She sometimes felt a presence but she didn’t really rely on that.

Jocelyn was much more empathetic. She feels emotions so much that she can sense people’s moods, and that will many times alter her moods to match the others in the room. She also said she could sense mood even in text messaging but that was a little too voodoo for this guy. She felt she could sense the spirits when they were around and that she felt there was more than one spirit in the house. Evidence showed a little later on that she was correct. One of the cats was hiding under the fake stuffed dog in the study. Brad said that the animals sometimes hide when they sense paranormal activity. We were watching the cat under the fake dog on camera while sitting in the kitchen. All of a sudden the entire camera system shut off on its own and the cat ran out of the study, went downstairs, and into Jocelyn’s lap. The camera system was not known for doing this and the cat looked a little shaken.

Within ten minutes Todd and Gavin came back down and Gavin was once again upset to find that spirits just don’t like him, at least in this house. We teased him for a few minutes about this. I was pleasantly surprised by the camaraderie and the easy flow between serious paranormal investigation and casual conversations of people working together. Gavin and Kathy just had a child 9 months ago and you could see their struggle between Red Bulls to keep upbeat while they were obviously beyond exhausted. I remember those days myself with always trying to catch up on sleep between feedings and diaper changes. I certainly did not think I would be capable of that kind of schedule during baby days but Gavin said they only do about 15-20 of these per year. The real work comes through poring over the hours of video after that night. Gavin then said the hardest thing is trying not to blink because that’s when you miss the good stuff.

We split up again. Gavin at Ghost Central, the ladies upstairs, and Todd and I went to the living room. The ghost came to life, but not the same ghost. Almost immediately after turning on the ovilus the chatter began. Todd asked some of the same questions as he did upstairs but this time we got completely different answers. We got “fierce, fight, hunter, scout, private, deserved it, hatchet, Larry, Tyler” (there is a Tyler Washington nearby, but it could also be his name), over and over again for more than 30 minutes. We were sitting in total darkness with the exception of a faint burning from the fireplace and the ambient light from the porch coming through the window. I could barely make out Todd’s outline as we sat across from each other on the leather sofas.

At one point we started to see a round light that looked like an orb just below the ceiling. It flashed by from left to right over and over. To Todd’s credit he did try to find a physical reason for it. Todd asked about the light to me and the ovilus said “light”. Todd then said are you the light on the wall and the ovilus said “fake”. It was as though the spirit was trying to tell us that it wasn't him. We both got up and walked (stumbled) around the room and found that it was the hanging wind chimes blowing in a circle and reflecting back from the porch.  We then turned off the porch light.

It was around 2AM and I was getting sleepy despite all the paranormal activity. I started the close my eyes. It was even darker than before with the porch light off and my last caffeinated beverage was wearing off. Todd was unaware of my nodding off until the ghost had a message for me. The ovilus jolted me when it said “wake up”. I was then quite awake.

The ladies also took the chance when they heard the ovilus to join us, but this ghost had no problem with women being present. He kept talking and it gave me the impression that we were speaking with a man out of breath trying to recount how they were slaughtered in an ambush. The words and the questions also appeared that not only was this a different ghost from the one upstairs, but this ghost was likely from a different time.

We estimated that it was around 1850 during the local Indian (Native American) wars. At one point Kathy asked if he had a fight with a Native American, and it went silent. We then realized that this spirit may not be aware of that term so we asked if they had a fight with an Indian and the Ovilus said “correct”. I was furiously trying to look up Indian wars on Google on my Lumia phone. I found lots of references to small wars at that time, but when I said out loud to the group that I didn't think a small skirmish like that would make any kind of newspapers or history books the ovilus once again said “correct”. Todd then asked if he and his partner got in a fight with an Indian and that he and the Indian died. Once again the spirit answered with “correct”. Outside there was a howling. At first it sounded like a coyote but then it was followed by the sound of what was clearly a human in a blood curdling scream. The dogs in the trailer with Heather and Brad went crazy. After that it went quiet and we needed another break.

We all went back to the living room for one more session before calling it a night. Then Todd and this whole experience really blew my mind. Todd said “Can you say the name of someone sitting here tonight?” I said to myself “Don’t say Bob. Don’t say Bob. Don’t say Bob.” The ghost spoke through the ovilus and said “Bob”.  Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!! Why did he say Bob?  Now I was not only an observer, I was the observed. I was part of this story and this investigation. I just wanted to see the cool gadgets and report back to my listeners on the radio show. I didn’t want a ghost freaking me out. My wife and kids were at the beach for the weekend. I had to go home to an empty house. I knew I was going to be freaked out going home. Why didn't this ghost just go to the damn light when he had the chance? 

I recalled the cowardly lion in the Wizard of Oz on the way to see the wizard. He kept saying over and over “I do believe in spooks. I do believe in spooks.” I now related to that lion. It was time to go home. Everyone packed up. I stayed to the last possible minute helping them load the car and followed them out of the driveway. We left around 3AM. I thought of just knocking on the trailer and asking if Heather and Brad would let me stay there, but I knew I had to man up and go home. I had hoped the drive would be longer. Maybe I could slow down until it was light out? No such luck. I got home around 4AM but first I stopped at Burger King. I was ravenously hungry. I went home, crawled into bed with the TV on, the fan on, the air filter on high until I finally passed out. Stupid ghosts.

Despite me being scared and freaked out like the cowardly lion I do have to mention that the NW Paranormal and Occult Research Team operates solely on donations. Check out their website and help them out. They want to buy even better gadgets and they might even help you one day. Who you gonna call? 

Monday, February 10, 2014

I just got back from Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. I was there for a Kaspersky partner conference at the Hard Rock Hotel.

My wife talked me into getting a massage so I can relax. Great idea. I go in and after signing the bill and getting handed paperwork I go to the next station around the corner. She says "who are you" and charges and signs me in again. (Heather can work that out later.) I’m in no mood to argue cause I’m gonna relax.

Next some dude says in Spanglish, go into the sauna and hang out for five minutes. Well no one told me about a bathing suit and I’m walking around in my underpants. I go in the sauna and I see 10 other fat white guys with the same look on their face as I do all in their tighty whities.

Next, dude moves me to another room a few minutes later. He says that this is the ice room. I said I don’t want ice thrown on me. Instead of listening he takes a hose and sprays me with cold water and then he throws ice on me. Then he asks if I have any medical conditions. It doesn't matter at this point even if I do. I’m then left to shiver in the ice room for three more minutes.

Dude then takes me to another steam room. This is ok I think, and then he starts covering me in mud. Red mud. I’m red all over caked in mud. He leaves me there for five minutes. He comes in and I’m like “Dude, I’m caked in mud.” Just before I get the word mud out he sprays me in the face with cold water. Now I think I’m being water boarded. This is going great.

Dude then moves me to get the massage. This strangely goes without incident. At the end she has me sign papers but I’m so groggy I have no idea what I just signed. (Heather can help work that out later.)

I’m also now covered in oil. Head to toe. No offer of a shower. Instead massage lady asks if I would like to swim in the pool or the hot tub? Of course not. I’m in my underpants lady. I walk out and see the same ten white guys all with that same look on their face in the hot tub in their underpants.

Now everyone is standing around waiting for a tip. Well, dude certainly isn't getting one, and massage lady may have just gotten signed over my house and our business. Won’t know until I see the bill.
Plus, they all stand around while they watch me give a rating for the service. Nothing anonymous about this. I write "Excellent" because I am too miserable to explain why I am unhappy and I want to go home. I see everyone else on the page did the same thing as me.

Now I have to walk back to my hotel room covered in oil with my clothes on and wearing wet underpants.

I don’t know if I can take any more relaxation.