Too much of a good thing?

TV exec on Arrow: “Y’know what, kids really like this archery thing. Let’s add more archers to the show.”
TV exec on Flash: “Y’know what, kids really like this speedster thing. Lets add more speedsters to the show.”
TV exec on Supergirl: “Y’know what, kids really like this Super thing. Let’s add more Supers to the show.”
Can someone please fire this guy already?

Crank it!

I had an epiphany this morning at work as I waited and waited for a simple query to return some intelligible answer from the server: what if network priority was dynamic, and could be set by a hardware device on each computer. And what if that device was a crank handle that generated electricity as you turned it?

Kind of like this, which is a cool product I found when doing an image search.

Kind of like this, which is a cool product I found when doing an image search.

Not to power the computer, though, but rather to express a very simple emotion: urgency.

As you turn the crank a simple current is generated and measured. The more current generated, the higher your priority on the network. If you don’t turn it at all you could be stuck sitting for minutes waiting for your query to return from the server. If you turn it quickly, your priority gets higher and you get your answers more quickly.

I can see benefits and detriments to this idea.

First, the benefits:

1) You get some physical exercise at work. Heck, if you hook it up to a treadmill or bicycle pedals you could get a full workout.

2) You get to relieve some stress at work. Working out is the best way to relieve stress. Well, other than sex, but I think HR would be more comfortable with exercise.

3) You could communicate a sense of URGENCY to the system. If you needed something NOW you could physically push for the results to come faster. This would have the beneficial effect of both allowing you to vent your stressful moment productively at the same time as providing priority to those people who clearly need it the most.

Now, the downsides:



1) Work is already exhausting on bad days. Making you physically work for priority as well as having to politically jockey for it would just add to the exhaustion.

2) The smell. Gyms smell bad for a reason. Now add that gym smell into enclosed cubicles with half the people wearing polyester and not nearly enough deodorant.

3) The upper crust would starting assigning people “crank duty” to make sure their spreadsheets come out sooner than your TPS reports. It starts to evoke the image of Egyptian slaves.

But, still, if only there were some way to automate priority to those urgently need it.

Just filling in space

I’m at a loss for words as to what to write right now. I can mention the movies I’ve seen recently, even talk about the books I’m reading, but is that what people want to read? Probably not. That’s not what I want to read. What I want to read are some self help articles that will simply and articulately lay out instructions for me to have a good and meaningful life. The few I stumble across on the internet are either so simplistic as to be able to be rendered down to a haiku:

Do no harm to others
Find out what you want to do
Go do that. And Cats.

Or they’re so insanely complex that you need a degree in sociology just to understand the instructions. (Of course I mean sociology. Sociologically based instructions / tests are the only ones you’re going to find shared online for free. Truly intelligent psychiatric tests cost. By the minute.)

Much better if I were to make my own list of instructions on how to have a good and fulfilling life. The only problem with doing that is people will then throw your own words back in your face when you’re having a bad day, and when you’re having a bad day the last thing you need is your own ray of sunshine blown back up your ass.

So if you’re going to provide some life lessons on your blog make sure they’re life lessons that you can listen to on a really bad day and not want to instantly punch the person parroting them back to you. (Oh look, I guess that’s lesson zero)

Lesson 1: Look, sometimes you just need that brownie, okay? Or that small plate of fish fingers. Or that plate of cactus cut fries. Yes, they’re full of fat and carbs. Yes, they’re going to cost you on your diet or just wind up on your thighs, but some shitty days just need that little sugar injected, fat fried lump of tongue joy. If you’re going to suffer a shitty day it might as well fucking taste good.

PS> There was some scientist who proved you can lose weight eating nothing but twinkies. He didn’t get many, and he only lost ten pounds, but he did it. Salads are good. Lean meat is good. But ultimately it comes down to calories in versus calories expended. Including twinkies. Just realize that that one twinkie is going to mean you’re going to have to give up that chicken breast and garden salad for today. Oh darn.

Lesson 2: Sometimes it just feels good to haul off and punch the fucker. Yes, his argument was full of holes you could have driven a bus through. Yes, everybody was already shaking their heads at how stupid he sounded. But some people simply need that neurological readjustment, and that can only be achieved by clocking someone’s reset button hard enough to force them into a hard reboot. Just make sure you either have a good alibi or witnesses who’ll stand by you and swear he swung first. Oh, and make sure your lawyer is better than his.

(No, of course I’m not ACTUALLY promoting violence. Violence never solved anything. Except, y’know, wars and stuff.)

Lesson 3: Finding out what you want to do with your life is going to involve you trying a whole lot of things. Nobody ever figured out what they wanted to do simply by thinking about it. Oh sure, there have been plenty of people who have thought “I’d love to be a dentist!” and have pursued that interest from day one. But not one of them actually found out whether they really wanted to be a dentist until they spent at least one day with their hands wrist deep in someone’s filthy, diseased mouth. If you’re in that mouth so deep you can feel colon and find yourself thinking “Man, I LOVE this!”, congratulations you really did want to be a dentist. Until then you’re just hoping it all works out.

Try stuff. Poke at things. Find out what makes them tick. Sniff it, step in it, and see how it feels.

This one is going to be thrown back in my face some day. I just know it.

Lesson 4: Half the time you’re feeling hungry for that snickers bar/butter tart/brownie/bag of chips what you’re actually feeling is either dehydration or boredom. This one needs to be thrown in my face a few times, and I know it. I just walked here past a Kentucky Fried Chicken place and actually had to talk myself out of going in. I don’t mean a mental struggle where the angel and demon fight it out in your imagination, but rather talking to myself OUT LOUD while people walked past me. Sometimes you have to back your arguments up with a little public humiliation to get them to sink in. Telling yourself, out loud, that “you’re not ACTUALLY hungry! You just finished dinner a little while ago, and you KNOW you’re going to feel ill after you finish that greasy mess”, while people stare at you or cross the street to get away from you, is sometimes the only way you can stop yourself from giving in to the wrong impulses.

That being said, I walked past there on my way to the coffee shop with the deliberate intent of having one single butter tart. And I’ve achieved that. See lesson one above.

Lesson 5: Listen to what your doctor has to say. If it makes sense to you, follow his instructions. If what he says isn’t making any sense to you then ASK QUESTIONS. Look, the doctor is human. He could be wrong. If he seems to be ignoring some symptoms that you think are important then DON’T LET HIM. Of all the people in the world who know things about your body NOBODY knows it better than you do. If something just AIN’T RIGHT then YOU have every right to let that be known to those who are paid to help you. If one won’t listen, talk to another, and another, and another. Don’t just accept what they say at face value and keep all those doubts to yourself. No, speak up, and ASK. Make sure you understand what they’re telling you and then ask “Okay, and after that?”

That being said…

When a doctor has provided you with a reasonable prognosis and has come up with a system of treatment… COMMIT to it. Make sure you do everything to the letter. If it doesn’t work, LET THEM KNOW. If it does work? LET THEM KNOW! Keep talking and pay attention.

And all that being said… I seriously have to wonder at what point you have to just hold up your hand and say “Just a minute. I’m taking 18 different medications every day. Is each and every single one of these truly necessary, or is there some overall lifestyle change I could be making to get rid of a few of these?”

This is all from my own personal experience and is heavily biased by that. Take what you like from it. I’m just throwing words down to fill in space at this point. I promise when I have something more meaningful to say I’ll let you know.

Mmmm… buttertart.

Interpreting what you asked

“To change things up a bit you could try asking simple questions of people instead of merely resorting to the usual ‘Hi. How are you.'”

“What kinds of questions?”

“Well, how about this one: name five things in your fridge.”

“Hm, okay, I think I’ll call the orange juice Fred, the yogurt Susan, the blackberries Bob…”

“Joel, no, that’s…”

The blueberries will be Wallace and the cream cheese will be…”


“Crap, I just dropped Wallace… Now he’s everywhere… Hang on a second…”

“You’re impossible, you know that?”

Becoming less of a Borg

My friend Tanya and I used to talk back and forth about how much we liked the concept of “going borg”, getting cybernetic implants to improve our bodies, give us physical advantages.

I went a little bit Borg last month as I had a PICC installed in my arm and a intravenous pump hung from my shoulder. The PICC is essentially a plastic tube inserted into my arm that extended deep into my body, all the way into my chest. It allowed the intravenous pump to inject the antibiotics deep into my system and allowed the doctors to pull blood samples without having to dig around under my skin with needles.

Apparently I have a physiology that is well suited to Not Bleeding. Any time any of the nurses tried to set up an IV or draw blood all of my veins would retreat into my body and hide. While this is good for avoiding damage in the regular world in the medical world it meant dozens of nurses would spend hours, literally hours, digging around with needles just under the top layer of skin trying to connect with an elusive vein. It was agony and would have qualified as torture if the people hurting me weren’t trying to hard to save my life.

In all honesty I was quite relieved to get the PICC installed. It meant no more needles of any kind. But once the intravenous antibiotics were no longer necessary and the blood samples no longer required the PICC was just a direct line to my chest and a serious risk of infection. I wanted it gone.

Well I got my wish last Wednesday when the clinic finally decided the infection was definitely gone and I didn’t even need the oral antibiotics anymore. So they set about removing the PICC.

Inserting the PICC was a surgical procedure that took about half an hour. It involved the surgeon using sonic imaging tools to guide the insertion through my arm, around the shoulder, and into my chest. It was nerve wracking.

Dianne and I were joking that taking the PICC out might be considerably simpler, perhaps just a quick yank. As the nurses set up their supplies Dianne jokingly suggested it might be akin to pulling the rip chord on a hot wheels racer. The nurses didn’t comment. Instead they busied themselves with making sure they had all the supplies necessary.

The one nurse then sat down beside me and asked for my arm. She carefully removed the bandage over the PICC line and spent several seconds cleaning the area around my PICC line, making sure it was as sterile as possible. All this while the nurses were debating between each other on how long the PICC line in my arm should be expected to be. They had no information on whether it was the full 53 centimeters or if it had been cut down.

The nurse then asked me to take a deep breath in, and then instructed me to let it out slowly. As I did so she pulled the PICC line out of my arm in one smooth motion, like that of someone pulling the rip cord on a hot wheels racer.

Many seconds later Dianne realized I hadn’t resumed breathing and quickly told me to breath in again.

The Caution Pirates

I have this sign on my door that my good friend Mike Dargie made for my housewarming. It’s a diamond shaped traffic caution sign that shows a stick figure man being blasted in half by some sphere apparently ramming through him at considerable speed. Beneath this is the caption “Caution Pirates”.

Now I understand the sign is meant to be read as “Caution! Pirates!” as in “Look out, there might be pirates and they might cut you in half with their cannon balls!” But my over-thinking brain can’t help but notice the lack of punctuation and read the sign straight up as it’s presented.

Which gives me images of pirates roaming the open road stealing cautionary signs and promoting confusion. I have an image of a ship hold full of “school zone” signs and “falling rock” sign and “warning: flying deer” signs. Their treasure chests bulge with hard hats and brightly colored traffic vests.

Why would they be pirates of caution? Because they’re sick of living in a namby-pamby, pampered and over protected world. They get surly at the “warning: contents hot” label on their coffee cups. They don’t brandish swords or pistols, but instead run everywhere with scissors held firmly in their hands. Pointy end UP.

They talk children into playing in the street and racing down the icy side of the hill. The actively encourage children to lick frozen poles and pet stray dogs.

Why don’t we ever see the Caution Pirates in our lives. Well, the answer is obvious: They’re all dead. They played too close to the edge of the cliff, they went climbing without protective gear, and they all wound up in the emergency ward with unclean underpants.

Their mothers are all very, very embarrassed.

But I think there would be a very good movie in it.