You’re Killin’ me, Walgreens

I woke up this morning with something drilling into one of my sinuses on the left side. A constant, persistent, needle. I knew right away that it would be a day of sneezing and nose-blowing. This kind of thing happens, and eventually we all move on.

At work, I quickly exhausted the already-depleted box of tissues on my desk and grabbed one of those little travel-packs of tissues that happened to be at the ready.

After a tremendous honk I took a breath and it was as if the irritant up there inside my head had been given a hand grenade. I grabbed another tissue and honked again, and realized…

The fuckin’ tissues were scented!

Not just any scent, but some chemical smell designed perfectly to crawl up my nose and destroy me from the inside. Trojan Tissues.

I can’t walk into Hallmark stores. I usually avoid the detergent aisle in grocery stores. The terrible, terrible, perfumes make my entire face hurt. So maybe I’m an outlier for this. But the last thing I want to press against my face when my sinuses are angry is some goddam perfume rag.

I checked the packaging, figuring I was probably using some hoity-toity brand that believes that terrible smell is a value add. Nope. Walgreens. There was copy on the plastic wrapping about how lucky my nose was to experience the Totally Awesome Tissue.

I beg to differ.

They Know Too Much

Tonight I was surprised when I saw a banner ad with the name of my employer in it. Had the robot that created the ad known the significance of that name, it would not have bothered. But I loaded a Web page, and the Google-backed ad placement service provided personal data to the adbot, and there it was.

WTF? Then I realized I was using Chrome. I don’t normally. This eye-opening invasion is in fact what most people experience every day.

From a legal standpoint, I should be able to demand that Google delete all their profile information about me. But in fact I can only demand they delete the information directly related to my google accounts. Somehow, despite the depth of this profile, they cannot find a way for me to establish its ownership. Fuckers.

On Second Thought…

Depicted: a car driving up the vertical glass side of a skyscraper.

The fine print: Professional driver on closed course. Do not attempt.

You know what I say? Give it a shot, bunky. Drive up the side of a building.

1

A Few are Making a Stand

A few days ago I was reading an article by Bill Barnwell over at ESPN. Barnwell writes long, data-driven articles about sports (mostly football), and he has the ability to make what is often very dry subject material interesting. In this case, he caught my attention for something that wasn’t there.

This article was something like Blah Blah Blah NFL’s 10 Worst Teams. What he said about each team doesn’t matter for this episode; what matters is the list itself.

10. Denver Broncos
9. Detroit Lions
8. Buffalo Bills
7. Oakland Raiders
6. Washington
5. New York Giants
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
3. Cincinnati Bengals
2. Miami Dolphins
1. Arizona Cardinals

Don’t see it? Look at number 6 again.

When I noticed that, I dared hope for a moment that ESPN had decided as a powerful media company to simply not use an offensive racial slur on their site.

Nope. The r-word is still all over the place. But at least Bill Barnwell has made the choice to never utter it. If enough of his colleagues do as well, maybe something will change.

For Some Large Values of Two

Spanish, apparently, is a more honest language.

2

Ah, Marketing

Science: As far as we can tell, the gasoline you choose has no effect on your mileage.

Chevron: No gasoline has been shown to give better mileage than Chevron!

1

It’s Funny Because it’s Painful

I just heard an ad that said “millions of Americans can’t be wrong.”

1

The Privilege of Choice

One of my fellow code warriors at work is considering moving south from her little place in Oakland. Up there, she has a small home in an interesting neighborhood. “Interesting” is code for diverse, but I don’t think it’s offensive code. Fellow code warrior has young children, and when she moves she doesn’t want to lose the ethnic diversity of her current place.

I applaud that. I’m behind it all the way, fizzing with my enthusiasm for the idea. But I can’t help but remember that WE (affluent white people) are choosing to live with THEM (everyone else, especially non-native English speakers). THEY don’t have a symmetric choice to live with US.

Still, raising OUR kids with THEM, maybe the kids won’t notice the caps, or even the ‘them’, and just get on with life.

2

What Have We Become?

Today on the radio I heard an ad from McDonalds. It went like this: slow down from your hectic life and take a few minutes to wolf down a breakfast at our fast food chain.

To emphasize, we have the flag bearer of food with speed realizing that people aren’t slowing down enough to eat their breakfasts. So now they’re saying, “Hey, slow down, bud! Cut twelve minutes out of your day to have a McGriddle!”

The Guy on the Corner

I grew up in a small town, but one of my first visits to a large city carries with it an enduring memory. A man, skinny and bedraggled, on a street corner, shouting obscenities into his hat. I was just a kid back then, and didn’t understand the tragedy that man represented. I was just perplexed. I learned, somehow, later, to be afraid of people like that — maybe the reaction of the people around me that day informed that fear. Which is awful.

Yesterday, walking down the street in San Jose, there was another man standing on a corner shouting into the air, a stream of profanity. I just assumed he was on the phone.

3

Two Things I Learned Today

  1. MapQuest still exists!
  2. MapQuest really sucks.

I learned the former when using the Web site to report for jury duty in Santa Clara County. Links to the locations of the courthouses take you to MapQuest.

For a brief explanation of the latter, MapQuest is overrun with intrusive advertising, and the “get directions to a place” feature does not include public transportation.

My next post is likely to be observations on the Wheels of Justice. Oh boy!

1

Quick Question

Should I be peeing into drinking water?

Um…

Apparently Motor Trend has announced its 2019 Truck of the Year.

1

Ah, Irony

In an article at I Fucking Love Science, about strange references in hundreds of scientific publications to a paper that doesn’t exist, is this sentence:

Nevertheless, it seems that the phantom reference is a symptom of wider problems within academic science publishing, such as low-quality control, careless editing, and – the real bugbear – predatory journals.

The article’s actually pretty interesting, and worth the thirty seconds it would take you to read it. But man. Low-quality control, in a sentence about low-quality editing. If you’re ever going to be really, really careful about a sentence you write, it should be the one critical of others’ editorial standards.

2

Doorknobs and the Speed of Light

This afternoon I opened a door in the house to find a dog waiting anxiously for me on the other side. It took my mind to an old comic by Gary Larson, in which lab-coated dogs are studying diagrams of doorknobs, marked up with vectors and other sciencey-looking things.

Knowing how it could change the lives of canines everywhere, the dog scientists struggled diligently to understand the Doorknob Principle

I wondered if somewhere in a dimension far away yet right here, there might be a similar comic pinned to a tetricle (a four-dimensional cubicle) featuring humans and the speed of light.