NOTES FROM THE FIELD: Happy as a pig in . . .

I told myself that I would never intentionally smear mud on myself, no matter how good it made me feel, but I caved in last week when Randi forced me to go to the spa. There is something soothing about being encased in cool, wet earth.

At least that's the story I told Randi. The spa really did nothing to change my "attitude", as she suggested it might do. Instead, it was just a great place to relax, unwind, and spend some quality time with my brown-eyed, blond-haired beauty.

Being brutally whacked on the back by some guy named Hans really didn't do too much for me. But as they say, different strokes for different folks.

Strokes on the back were not the focus of PeopleSoft's annual conference for its consulting division.

A source informs me that, although the conference was the usual mixture of fun and work, the new management, which came over from EDS, didn't want to lose any regularly billed hours.

So management told the consultants they had to make up for the Thursday and Friday they attended the conference by working, and billing, an additional 16 hours. Nice move for a company called PeopleSoft.

Wireless mogul Craig McCaw has been busy recently, first unsuccessfully trying to buy satellite communications company Iridium. Now he seems to have his sights set on Orbcomm Global LP.

My spies caught McCaw at the company's Virginia headquarters and confirmed that he left a bona fide offer on the table to purchase the company, or at least part of it.

Several third parties with ownership in the company have been reportedly looking to unload their shares, including Teleglobe, which owns 50 per cent.

One of the more interesting concepts I heard making the rounds at JavaOne a couple of weeks ago was a Java-enabled alarm clock. Apparently the clock would have a set time to wake a person up, but before reaching that time it would log on to the Internet to do some research.

After checking the weather, traffic, and any other predefined settings, it would let the user sleep in an extra 10 to 15 minutes if everything looked clear. If not, then it would be normal wake-up time.

Although I haven't heard of anyone ready to produce such a thing, I can think of millions of Silicon Valley residents who might be interested.

Although the spa didn't have the profound effect on me that Randi was hoping for, I did come away with a renewed sense of who I am.

All that time relaxing really let me chisel away some walls and get down to one basic question: am I a pig or just an average guy who just happens to print his thoughts in a national column?In spite of the e-mail messages I keep getting saying how rude, misogynistic, and disrespectful I am, Randi assures me I'm not a complete jerk. "Bobby, don't be so hard on yourself," she purred. "You're just a guy."Robert X. Cringely is a regular contributor to ARN's sister publication Infoworld