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A root vegetable is so-called because the part that is commonly eaten is the geophyte, which grows under the surface, although technically speaking it is often not the root of the plant. There are two main types of plant root systems:

  • Taproot systems
  • Fibrous root systems
Taproot systems consist of one large thick root with few side branches, whereas fibrous-rooted plants have many finer roots branching out in a big subterranean bad hairstyle.
"Root vegetables" of are of the former type, having one large edible root, for instance carrots. If you pull up a dandelion by the roots, you will see that it looks much like a scrawny, wiry carrot or parsnip (though I would imagine they taste disgusting).

Other root vegetables are actually such entities as bulbs and tubers. The bulbs are mainly (solely?) members of the onion family, and the large majority of root vegetables are tubers. A tuber is a swollen part of the stem, and is where the plant stores its energy. The stem of the plant protrudes from the top of the tuber, and the root protrudes from the bottom. Hence the tuber is not actually the root. Examples of tuber vegetables are turnips, and of course, potatoes.

Such plants as carrots, with taproot systems, may be said to have tuberous roots, the word tuber coming from the word tumere, to swell.

A root vegetable is a System Administrator (i.e.: root) who really does not have the intelligence and/or skill necessary to do his job (i.e.: he has the brains of a vegetable). The root vegetable is usually found in a small company that lacks the resources to hire a proper IT professional. An advanced Root Vegetable will often come to believe that he has awesome computer skills. After all, he has solved problems so tricky that it took weeks to find the unplugged cable.

A Story

names changed to protect the guilty

In about 1997, I was in need of a summer job and the company my father worked for was in need of a website. Rather than higher a proper pro, they decided to pay me to put some HTML around existing catalog copy.

The company had 4 major divisions, each with a Vice-President or Division Manager in charge. The DM of the second smallest Division was a guy we will call Dave (the smallest was run directly by the President and lost money). Dave was also in charge of the computer network. How that had come to pass, I never found out. Now Dave was a nice guy, but he was 50-something and not well versed in computers.

Several of the other employees were far more competent. However the engineers were busy engineering, the other VPs an DMs were busy selling, and I was building a website. Dave should have been selling, but he was to busy fighting computer problems to make the time.

Some of his hijinks include

  • He configured the network to store applications on the servers. This made everything slower, so he upgraded the OS on every computer. This disabled everything for days. When he got it working he noticed that the applications were stored on the workstations again, so configured the network to store them on the server...
  • When the server hard drive was filling up, he 'solved' the problem by arbitrarily deleting all data files older than a certain date (critical info was lost).
  • He also insisted that everyone reduce the number of contacts stored in their address book to save space.
  • He had trouble configuring Microsoft Exchange Server to work with Microsoft Outlook (don't even ask...)
  • He told me that the computer with Internet access could not be on the network because a computer could not have both a network card and a modem.

I could go on but I think you see the point. The real frustrating part was that the Bosses thought that he was doing fine and supported his decisions. No one else had an Admin password. And he liked his power.


vuo says re root vegetable : I'll tell another story. in the highschool I went to, there was a dedicated "computer technician", as Petteri Järvinen you could get. he had configured a roaming profile - homedir is downloaded each time to the computer where you log in. now, browser cache was at default setting, 100 MB, and stored in the profile! now, this isn't the best part. I went to say to him that he'd correct the problem. he said he had been considering using a script to delete the cache at logout, but he hadn't found a good template for this script from the Internet... (*bangs head to a wall*)

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