Monday, November 23, 2009

Writing in parallel

As I was writing my return address on an envelope right now, I realized toward the end that I was reading it aloud in my head while writing it... but it wasn't synchronized.  I was thinking "Redmond, Wa..." right as I finished writing my zip code.  It was weird.

You'd think that would be distracting, not being in sync, sort of like when people start yelling out numbers when you're trying to concentrate on counting something.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Performance hall

I had a dream last night that seemed like it could be made into a depressing movie.  In fact, it seems pretty likely that a movie with a similar plot exists, and even possible that I've seen it and forgotten.  But anyway...

The dream centered on an elderly woman who was taking care of her husband with Alzheimer's as best she could.  She helped him remember peoples' names, assisted him with medication, took him out to do things, and the like.  She struggled to pay the expenses, but managed to get by.  She was the only thing keeping him out of a nursing home.  Their kids continually tried to get them to accept help, but she wanted the two of them to live by themselves, and her persistent care made that possible, she felt.  Her husband was less convinced, and agreed with their children.

One evening she had gone to a performance hall of some sort to see a show, and her husband was being more stubborn than usual.  He kept telling her that they shouldn't be there, and that he wanted to go home.  The woman was becoming increasingly agitated by this and yelled at her husband to stop making a scene.  A couple minutes later, the woman had a seizure.

When she came to, the people in the dream changed.  Her husband wasn't her husband at all; it was her son, helping her up.  They hadn't been seeing a performance; she had been at home alone, and her children were there, trying to move her to a facility where she could receive care around the clock.  She was very confused, and angrily asked for her husband, and her children kept telling her that he wasn't there, and hadn't been for a long time.  She hadn't been caring for her husband, or even herself—her children had been taking care of her, but didn't comprehend what was happening due to her own senility, and in her imagination, she had still been in control.  That's the depressing twist.  I woke up shortly after that revelation.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Howdy howdy

I greeted someone from my building (not native to this country) yesterday with the phrase "howdy howdy."  He looked at me quizzically and asked me what that meant.  I paused, and it occurred to me that moment how absurd that was—I had essentially said "how do you do how do you do," and even a single "how do you do" is already archaic enough.  After the pause I just said, "er... hello hello."  He replied with a slightly confused "Uh, hi."


Whenever I eat a salad I feel like I'm starving immediately.  It doesn't seem to matter what I put on it—even if I've got a half pound of meat on there (and I always do), something about a salad is just extremely unfulfilling.  I've never been able to figure out what it is.  If I have pasta with half a pound of meat I'll feel full.  If I replace that pasta with the same amount of spinach and vegetables I'll feel like I haven't eaten anything.

I'm thinking that it's one of a few things.  Perhaps it's a psychological barrier, and when I'm eating a salad I'm so disappointed in my meal that those feelings override whatever signals come from my stomach to tell me that there's actually a lot of food down there.  Or, maybe it's just the temperature.  I hate cold meals, and maybe my body has just decided to ignore things that are cold.

It could also just be that my salads are too healthy or something, and my body isn't fooled.  I generally use fat-free dressing and lean meat, and while there's plenty of protein in there, maybe the lack of fat and carbohydrates is making me still feel empty.  (If you're going to put those things on a salad, I just don't really see what the point is.  You might as well eat food that isn't absolutely horrible.)

But all I know is that I just finished a massive salad that probably weighed more than 12 ounces including half a pound of meat a few minutes ago, and I feel about as hungry as if I hadn't eaten a thing all day.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Home bugs

The longer I stay on the homeowner's association board of directors, the more I feel that we need what would essentially be a bug-tracking database. We get reports of various issues that need to be resolved, and we talk about them every month, but we often don't have the history nearby and handy (so we have to rely on our memories of details), we often don't have all of the supporting documentation, and it's mostly just an unfocused mess that we make the best of. The president keeps an agenda of the things we need to talk about each month, at least, and without that we'd be totally lost.

I mean, we get by, and we don't exactly need anything fancy for 16 houses and condos and 1 rental unit, but it would make meetings and HOA stuff go much more smoothly. We could have a bug tracking database on a server somewhere, and we could scan bids and documents and store them with the bugs, and accumulate all of our emails and decisions there. It'd be a searchable set of records. Seeing as I work on that very product, it is kind of silly how long it took me to realize that SharePoint would actually be nearly perfect for something like this. I don't need integration with Visual Studio or source control or other sorts of things that software bug tracking systems use. I just need a fairly simple list with issues that can be assigned to people and can be marked "resolved" or "in progress." I could get it running pretty quickly. Probably for free on Office Live.

And then I'd use it for a month or two and it would languish and we'd forget about it. It would be a lot of work for one person to keep track of all those things, and that's exactly how many people would agree to keep things in there instead of their heads or scattered paper documents. Two of us on the board are technologically savvy, one is competent, and the other two can barely read their email. Realistically, we would not be collaborating. It would be one person trying to keep track of every document and thought and decision and bid. We actually have a guy doing that already, but in a technology-free way with stacks of papers and hand-written notes. If that guy ever decides to leave the board and we actually have to do all that crap ourselves, I'll definitely have to look into setting up a bug tracking website for our HOA.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Shoulderpads protect the shoulders

Just as fair warning, if you wear football shoulderpads on Halloween, you should be prepared to be punched... quite a bit. This includes being punched by people who simply do not realize that shoulderpads protect the shoulders and not the stomach.

Hot guy I don't know: (excitedly watching other people punching me in the shoulders) Can I punch you?
Me: Sure, just watch out: there's a little metal piece h—
Hot guy I don't know: (punches me in the stomach)

Luckily, my six years of childhood karate training adequately prepared me for this moment, as I had instinctively instantly reacted by tightening my muscles. I came out unharmed, just very surprised that (1) I had just been punched fairly hard in the stomach and (2) despite this I felt completely fine.

I declined hot guy's apologetic offer to let me punch him back. He was a UPS driver, and it's probably best to stay on a UPS driver's good side; otherwise, he could decide to start requiring signatures on delivery or something equally horrifying. (Had I only been thinking more quickly, I would have instead requested a staged photo to go along with this amusing anecdote.)

Monday, November 2, 2009

The least popular candy

Every year, parents bring their kids to the office to go door-to-door trick-or-treating.  This is basically the laziest form of trick-or-treating possible that still qualifies to use the name.  (Anything lazier would simply be "taking candy.")  The kids walk the least distance possible down the hallway from chair to chair, picking up candy and then moving to the next one.  Some of them stop to say "trick or treat" or "happy Halloween" (mostly only if their parents make them), and about two-thirds of the "what do you say?" nudges from parents are met with blank stares and followed up with nervous smiles on the part of the parents (that sort of say "I raised this ungrateful child!") instead of "thank you."

Almost my entire tray of candy was eliminated, but a few "choice" pieces of the least popular candy remained.  I was amused at what was left.

Hershey's Special Dark6
3 Musketeers3
Mr. Goodbar2
Hershey's Milk Chocolate1
Hershey's Kiss1
Loose, Unwrapped Skittle (?!)1

I'm actually surprised that Butterfinger and 3 Musketeers were left over.  Those seemed pretty popular when I was a kid. None of the Snickers, Milky Way, Starburst, Skittles, Baby Ruth, Kit Kat, or Blow Pops remained.