Yo! Dr Love is in the house. (I've always wanted to say that.) Okay, so I'm breaking from convention here and doing something you've never before read in Notes From the Field: relationship advice for techies.
Since my offer last week to be your personal and professional therapist for one week only (it was a special offer), the response has been, well, interesting.
Without further ado and with names hidden to protect the embarrassed, here we go:
"Dear Cringe, my boyfriend and I have been dating for four-and-a-half years and I want to get married. He is lagging behind. We are both in IT. What do you think?"
This, my dear friend, is one of life's biggest questions. Of course, what you are really saying to him is, "I want to be with you forever," a scary proposition for any commitment-shy person.
You have two options. Let him know you're serious, give him another week to think about it, then leave if he's still indecisive. Heck, you've got a life to lead.
Option two: Take the initiative. Who says the guy has to propose? Take him to dinner or something. Learn from my plight and don't take your significant other for granted.
Here's my pick from the office chaos scene:
"I'm lab manager for a wireless startup. The existing IT infrastructure is a shambles, and the IT manager is pretty swamped.
"I'm charged with ordering supplies and gear for the test group. We're short on laptops and wireless cards - kind of a problem. I've had orders in with this [manager] for almost a month, and he has yet to actually do anything with them. I have no purchasing authority myself."
You've really got yourself in a bind here. A lab manager with no purchasing power is like Larry Ellison without his jet plane - no matter how hard you flap your wings, you won't take off.
My advice is this: revenge. Try unscrewing a wheel from his chair when he's gone. Hopefully the result will be spectacular. It might not be practical, but what you need right now is a laugh. I know I sure do.
Phew, that's enough. I'm not sure if this new-found sensitivity suits my street-smart style.
But I've got new respect for "Dear Abby" editors. Don't know how they do it every week.
Back on the job
Just to prove I haven't lost touch, my spies report something's up with America Online. It's been blocking e-mail from direct-list software provider L-Soft International. The reason? www.lsoft.com is on its spammers list. Bad news for any LISTSERV members, good news for privacy-neurotic AOL members.
"Seriously, you need a fellow geek," one reader offered. Other recovery tips included vacations to Hawaii, Sweden, South Africa and the Philippines (where I can easily find a wife, apparently).
I think getting on with life in the energy-starved Valley is the solution. Should I start a counselling hotline? Just call me Dr Cringely.
Got some antipodean gossip? Send it on to firstname.lastname@example.org