Justin du Coeur (jducoeur) wrote,
Justin du Coeur

The Danger of Metaphorical Excess

I left work yesterday in a severe grump -- work had been exceptionally scattershot. I was getting together with ladysprite in the evening, and was thinking on the way home about how I could describe my day in biological metaphors for her. (She being the doctorly sort.) I found myself giggling hysterically after I came up with the following (apt but horrifically stretched) metaphor, so it's worth writing down.

I'm the designated Release Engineer this week. The best way to think of the job of Release Engineer is to imagine a team of Mad Scientists, who are working together to build a better Monster.

Now, the crux of the problem here is that each of these scientists is a specialist. One guy (me) is building most of the brain, but I have to work closely with the guy building the long-term memory. Another is doing the hands, another the feet. Two guys are working together on the torso, one doing the musculature and another the nerves running through it. One is acting as the haberdasher, clothing the thing. And outside the castle are the townspeople. Every day, we loose a new Monster on the townspeople, to see if they are appropriately frightened, and to see how long it takes them to kill it. The task of the Release Engineer is to put an entire Monster together, and try to shove it out the door to scare the townspeople.

Understandably, keeping all of the Monster's pieces fitting together is tricky. Everyone is doing their best, of course. A few times a day, the guy doing the torso muscles will ask me to toss him a new head, which he sticks onto the torso to make sure it fits in the socket. A few people try to build a whole Monster themselves now and then, just to see if it all hangs together, but that's enough work that most people don't bother most of the time.

Yesterday's hell had two parts. First, there was an attempt to teach the Monster how to skip, which involved giving it smaller feet. Which was great, but no one told the haberdasher to make smaller shoes. So when I tried to build my first Monster in the morning, it got up off the table, stepped onto the floor and immediately fell flat on its face, complaining loudly as it did so. Not scary.

The other problem was actually partly my fault. For a while now, the Monster has been able to wave around either its left arm or its right, but not both at once. So I worked with the guy doing the torso nerves so that when I told it to wave its arms, it would wave both of them at once. I thought that that was working as of Monday evening, but it turns out that I was incorrect -- the Monster simply had twitchy nerves, and wasn't really waving either arm when the brain was telling it to; it was just jerking randomly.

So I basically started the day yesterday with a Monster lying on the floor, twitching spasmodically, looking more like a dying goldfish than a properly impressive Creature. It took me all day to get one that could actually walk out the door and look a little intimidating, and I had to build four of the damned things from scratch in order to do it.

Hence the grumpiness. That's far too much work, just to construct something that the townspeople are immediately going to stick pitchforks into.

Fortunately, today's Monster jumped right off the table, ran out the door and began ravaging the countryside. It's always nice see see a job well done...

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