Here is Part 2 of the tale, wherein I am offered a free vacation in Club Fed.

When last I wrote, I was booted out the front door of my establishment of employment for the unpardonable sin of trying to be funny on alt.slack. This was Monday, May 13. I had no idea what to do next, but my much calmer and more intelligent wife had ideas almost immediately. First was to call an old friend I had worked for in my NASA contracting days to see if he knew of anyone hiring.

I called him the next morning and before I could even explain my situation, he was telling me about the problems he was having staffing certain tasks and how they needed more people with my knowledge base. ?!? Anyone else see the Hand of Dobbs?!? "well," I said, " I'm unemployed right now and would love to get back into aerospace."
"Are you serious?" he shot back. "I'll have an application waiting for you at the lobby after lunch. Get it back to me as quick as you can." By Dobbs, It had happened at JUST the right time. Six months earlier or later and I'd still be looking. Dobbs saw to it that I got shit-canned at JUST THE RIGHT TIME. Within 24 hours of being booted, I had a position offered to me. MY, my, but I'm good. I was happy, I was praising Dobbs. Until Thursday when the Feds showed up.

I had turned in the application, the offer from the company was a forgone conclusion, and I was using my days off to finally clean the house up some. When the bell rang I opened the door to stare into two unsmiling men with wallets opened and badges gleaming.

"Mr. Testa?"
"uh, ya."
"do you know why we're here?"
"uh, I don't have a clue."
"Do you recognize this?" (pulls out faxed copy of the pivotal post) "Holy Cow."
"Who is Dynasor?"

This accounting was relayed to me by my wife, as I apparently went into some kind of Yeti protective psychic state wherein I mumbled a lot and don't remember a damn thing. What I finally understood from them is that my ethical and patriotic former employers sent my post to an undisclosed third party, who I'm assuming was their Internet provider, NeoSoft, who then sent it to the Secret Service with no mention of the context in which it was posted. The agents were dispatched to my house after someone in Washington saw it and decided that "Dynasor" was probably a code name for Dole. That's right. Like I'd publish plans for a real assassination to a public forum and just change one word.

To their credit, I must say that the two agents who visited me were really cool about the whole thing after I explained what Dynasor really was and the context of the newsgroup. No charges, and they were almost apologetic about having to investigate it. Said one of the agents: "We don't get many that turn out like this. It's nice to talk to someone sane and normal. Most of the calls we get are people who hear voices coming out of light sockets." It was funny hearing that, after 15 minutes of explaining the nature of both this newsgroup and the Church, while fighting off the heebee-jeebees.

Also, I learned that the Feds really don't know what's out here. They don't monitor newsgroups like everyone fears: these guys had no clue about newsgroups or Internet. They told me they monitor anything that goes to the email sites, but not Usenet. So, all those 'bot-bait lines appear to be for nought. These guys never heard of us.

Of course, no-one leaves an encounter with the feds without a paper trail, so I'm probably on a list somewhere. Oh well. They got in their car and left, and I went into the house and wished I hadn't given up heroin AND crack in the same week. I'd like to say I laughed it off, but I'm afraid I'm too much the chickenshit to do so. This really fucked up that which it APPEARED that Dobbs had given me. That bastard then rubbed it in by telling the Human Resources lackeys to take THREE DAMN WEEKS to make me an offer on a job that I could have started at RIGHT AWAY. I hope he's happy, 'cause I got enough Ulcer Points out of this that Stang ought to have it rather easy for the next 2 months, assuming that ulcers are conserved.

Also, my stepson brought his girlfriend to meet us that weekend. I'm sure we made a great impression with my getting canned and the Feds knocking. She can't say we're dull, that's fer sure.

"But wait!" I hear you saying. You promised us a happy ending replete with Nensletic Slack Bestowment! Yes kiddies, I did. And here it is.

Two years ago I left NASA contracting because the industry was unstable, I didn't like the tasks I was doing and their were almost no chances of for several years. The future looked bleak, so I left. Now, with the intercession of Dobbs, I have come back to work with the SAME PEOPLE I had enjoyed working with before, Got a big promotion and a 23% raise thanks to my sojourn through a higher paying industry. AND I'm working on a MUCH better set of tasks than before. So to sum up:

I fucked up on a simple thing a shoulda known better about, and as a result of my stupidity I got a job back in the industry I love, with a salary I couldn't have made if I had stayed, at a task I wouldn't have been able to get if I'd stayed. I believe this qualifies under Nenslo's Rules for the Slack of the Stupid.

Oh, and what IS my new job? I'm going to be testing and helping to guide the development of a new Artificial Vision system to guide the Space Shuttle robotic arm in assembling the space station, among other things. Beats the shit out of fixing disk drives and replacing memory SIMMS.

I've also learned a few things about Slack and the Con: NASA is and always will be a CON establishment. But I get a huge amount of Slack by being a part of it. The trick is to remember that and not let the inevitable bullshit blind me to the fact that I get TONS of Slack from this work. How many people wish they could sit in at mission control during a shuttle flight? I'VE DONE IT! How many would like to just MEET an astronaut, let alone go to their baby shower? I'VE DONE BOTH! Shit, I've done a lot here. And the Slack I get is incredible. As long as I don't fool myself into thinking that NASA is something it isn't. It will always be a wasteful government sink, with hangers-on and feudal budget wars. I lose slack ONLY WHEN I FORGET THAT. As long as I remember, I keep a positive Slack Suck going my way. Now bring me my robots.

Space Robotics Engineer

Andy Testa (KoX - SP4) Acid's like a woman: a good one will eat right through your pants.
Dobbs/Xenu '96! -Mel Gibson

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