Happy System Administrator Appreciation Day!

Today's the day to honor the most vital, yet least appreciated member of any modern organization: the sys admin

It's the last Friday in July, and that can only mean one thing. Time to call in sick and go waterskiing? No. That other one thing.

Yes, that's right, it's International System Administrators Appreciation Day. You have 24 hours to show the love to those hardworking geeks that keep the lights on, the network running, and your email, well, if not exactly spam-free then less spammy than it could be.

[ Also on InfoWorld.com: Find out what makes these IT specialists tick in Paul Venezia's blog post "Nine traits of the veteran Unix admin." | For a humorous take on the tech industry's shenanigans, subscribe to Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter and follow Cringely on Twitter. ]

And if you don't? Well, don't come crying to me if you show up to work next week and find all the network passwords have been translated into Klingon.

Sys Admin Appreciation Day (or SAAD for short) was created as a lark 12 years ago by Ted Kekatos, a sys admin (natch) for a software company. He figured that if secretaries had their own day, geeks should have one too.

From there, it blossomed. SAAD now has its own website and Wikipedia entry. The are celebrations IRL (in real life) set up for Los Angeles, New York, and Columbus, Ohio. According to Kekatos, it's a big event in Russia -- kind of like Burning Man meets DefCon. There are even music videos dedicated to it.

How should you celebrate the geeks who make much if not all of your work life possible?

First, I'd avoid the hugging. As much as they might appreciate it (maybe a little too much), you don't want to be wandering anywhere near sexual harassment territory. Instead, lunch would be a good start -- or a gift.

Novelty retailer Think Geek has set up a special Gifts for Sys Admins section where you can buy your favorite admin a bag of caffeinated popcorn or a "The world is coming to an end, please log off" bumper sticker. (Sadly, none of these items contains unicorn meat.)

Too cheap to even get a gift? Blue Mountain has created a special e-greeting card just for the geeks in your life.

The fact is, sys admins don't often get the respect they deserve. We talk a lot about the bad things that can happen when sys admins go rogue, but rarely talk about all the good things they do.

Make today an exception -- especially if you ever want to see your data again.

Just kidding.

What's the greatest thing a sys admin has done for you? Post your thoughts below or email me: cringe@infoworld.com.

This article, "Happy System Administrator Appreciation Day!," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the crazy twists and turns of the tech industry with Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Field blog, and subscribe to Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter.