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September 13, 2007

A scratch monkey

A really old one, but worth retelling.

THE UNTIMELY DEMISE OF MABEL THE MONKEY, a cautionary tale

The following, modulo a couple of inserted commas and capitalization changes for readability, is the exact text of a famous USENET message. (NOTE: PM means "preventive maintenance" and MOUNT is used as in "mount
a tape"; that is, to load a tape onto a drive.)

Date: Wed 3 Sep 86 16:46:31-EDT
From: "Art Evans"
Subject: Always Mount a Scratch Monkey
To: Risks@CSL.SRI.COM

My friend Bud used to be the intercept man at a computer vendor for calls when an irate customer called. Seems one day Bud was sitting at his desk when the phone rang.

Bud: Hello.
Voice: YOU KILLED MABEL!!
B: Excuse me?
V: YOU KILLED MABEL!!

This went on for a couple of minutes and Bud was getting nowhere, so he decided to alter his approach to the customer.

B: HOW DID I KILL MABEL?
V: YOU PM'ED MY MACHINE!!

Well, to avoid making a long story even longer, I will abbreviate what had happened. The customer was a Biologist at the University of Blah-de-blah, and he had one of our computers that controlled gas mixtures that Mabel (the monkey) breathed. Now, Mabel was not your ordinary monkey. The University had spent years teaching Mabel to swim, and they were studying the effects that different gas mixtures had on her physiology. It turns out that the repair folks had just gotten a new Calibrated Power Supply (used to calibrate analog equipment), and at their first opportunity decided to calibrate the D/A converters in that computer. This changed some of the gas mixtures and poor Mabel was asphyxiated. Well, Bud then called the branch manager for the repair folks:

Manager: Hello
B: This is Bud, I heard you did a PM at the University of Blah-de-blah.
M: Yes, we really performed a complete PM. What can I do for you?
B: Can you swim?

The moral is, of course, that you should always mount a scratch monkey.

Posted by joke du jour at September 13, 2007 07:30 PM

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