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Under the Tree

Under the TreeSometimes a man’s just got to take a break from thinking about data centers and there is no better time than the holidays to do it. I love Christmas. Always have, always will. I love the carols, the church services, the decorations, the food and the tree. I’m an artificial tree man myself. Not so much by choice, but of necessity. You never know what the weather is going to be like here in Texas when the big day arrives, and even when you keep your tree stand filled with enough water to constitute a small lake, real trees still drop their needles faster than Lindsey Lohan books legal appointments. Plus pre-lit trees beat the heck out of that “ball of light strand hell” we all know so well. Now as a parent, all the fun is in the giving. Socks and ties aren’t all that exciting. But as a kid, ooh baby, the anticipation used to kill me. Then, once we finally got to rip in, I’d venture that I was in the top 3 in the world in speed unwrapping. Then you got to play with the “stuff”. I can even remember the best gift I ever got, a Big Trak.

Released by Milton Bradley in 1979, the Big Trak was a programmable tank. From its sleek gray plastic molded shell to it’s red LED “laser”, the Big Trak was an eight year old’s vision of the perfect melding of high technology and weaponry. Remember this was still during the Cold War period, and the Big Trak was so revolutionary, and cool, that even the Russians had a version—the Electronika. Naturally, it wasn’t as good as ours—the laser sucked—but I’ll bet a bunch of kids named Sergei and Boris still woke up that year hoping to find one under their trees.

When I say that the Big Trak was a technological wonder, this isn’t the fond memory of some techno-dork. The Big Trak could understand 16 programmable commands—including when to fire the aforementioned laser—to maneuver it’s six wheeled hulk throughout even the most elaborate kitchen to hallway to bedroom and back layout in my neighborhood. Many a mother, arms laden with laundry, proved to be no match when a menacing Big Trak rumbled into their path on the way to the washer. Of course, these early exercises in battlefield operation also lead to the confiscation, and unfortunately, the untimely demise of more than one of these sophisticated “killing machines”—often leaving even the most grizzled pre-pubescent suburban field general in tears.

Girls didn’t seem to get the Big Trak. I know my sister didn’t. One time I launched an assault on her Barbie Dream House. The carnage was horrific. Malibu Barbie was simply no match for 3.6 pounds of fury. One of her doll’s even got her hair caught in the wheels of my thunderous monster and was dragged across the family room floor as she shrieked in horror. Naturally, this brought my dad running down the hall, and even though he banished me, and the Big Trak, to my room to “think about what I had done”, I knew deep down he was proud of me.

Like all of us, I grew up, and new toys and gifts banished the Big Trak to the outer reaches of my closet. I have no idea whatever happened to it—although I’m sure my mother, and probably, my sister, were involved in the determination of its ultimate fate. But I have never forgotten waking up on that Christmas morning and finding it under the tree. I’m sure you probably have your own “Big Trak” Christmas memory you’d like to share. You can tell us about it by sending us a tweet @datacenterfairy or visiting our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/datacenterfairy). And to the Big Trak, Boris, Sergei and I say, “dasvidaniya”.