The Leaving-for-Work Song, Improved

Most of us who grew up in these United States are familiar with the song, “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes”.

The Official Sweetie of MR&HBI and I have a version of the song we sing when I’m on my way out the door to go to work:

Keys, wallet, badge and phone (badge and phone),
Keys, wallet, badge and phone (badge and phone),
Lunch and computer and sunglasses and hat,
Keys, wallet, badge and phone! (badge and phone)

Rather than do the calisthenics of the original tune, I pat each pocket or gesture to the location of each item. It’s a good system for the memory-impaired. After a recent bike commute, as I changed into my work clothes at the office, the song was modified slightly:

Keys, wallet, badge and phone (and underwear),
Keys, wallet, badge and phone (and underwear),
Lunch and computer and sunglasses and hat,
Keys, wallet, badge and phone! (and underweeeeeeaaaar)

Jazz hands are optional for the last phrase.

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Help Wanted

Anybody know a kickass Web engineer looking for work? I’m happy to discuss specific technologies and whatnot with anyone who might be interested.

I’m back!

Well, more or less. The months-long grind at work is over, culminating with a swift kick to the professional groin as I missed my deadline despite working every waking hour (after a while I enforced a five-hours-of-sleep rule) for a couple of months, and even before that at least ten hours a day, weekends included, since January.

My apologies to those I’ve snubbed in the last while, especially those passing birthday wishes my direction. What I had planned as a glorious celebration of my half-century on this planet turned out to be a really shitty day.

I’ve taken a little time off from work since then, to get my feet under me, to get my health habits restored, and to generally feel human again. I still dream about the project, and find myself lying in the early mornings going through the solutions to some of the pending tasks on a project that no longer exists. It was so very close to being so very very cool.

The last few days I’ve managed to get a little bit of creative juice flowing, and perhaps soon I’ll be ready to write that retrospective on the last fifty years. April 2th (rhymes with ‘tooth’) has come and gone, but still deserves some observation. In the meantime I’ve got The Monster Within, which by God I’m going to see in book form this year if I have to publish it myself.

Next week I might be ready for human interaction again, so those I’ve been ignoring should be hearing from me soon. Thanks for your patience!

Parking Postits

I’d like to have a set of post-it-style notes printed up, with a variety of messages for a variety of parking situations. Some of the messages might include:

  • By what definition could this vehicle possibly be considered a compact?
  • This is a nice car! It would be a shame if it was damaged because you never learned to park. Just sayin’.
  • One slot per car, asshole.
  • I don’t care if the Amazon Kindle team is packed into way too small a space. That doesn’t mean you can use our parking garage.

The last one is fairly specific; and honestly if I were in charge I’d cut a deal with Amazon and lease them bottom level of our garage. The others, though, I think you can appreciate.

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It’s Beer-Blogging Thursday, Dammit!

I try to set aside an evening each week to go to a bar, relax, and write up a couple of blog episodes. Thing is, I’ve been completely crushed at work (it’s the end of the fiscal year, and I work in the finance department). Finding time to sleep has been a challenge for a couple of stretches lately.

Yesterday my team released not one, but two software tools. A big day! One of those tools is perennially caught in the confusion of fiscal-year shifts, and so today was about last-minute fixes.

Still, I got out of work at a reasonable time, and drove through unreasonable traffic to reach one of my chosen beer-blogging havens. (They’re playing AmeriFootball on a Thursday. Huh.) Anyway, I carved out some space and set up the ol’ bloggin’ box… and proceeded to extend the custom-search feature in one of my work projects. It’s an elegant solution to a problem that had been haunting me, so it’s by no means time wasted.

But holy heck, here I am, at a time I’ve designated for doing pretty much anything but work, and I’m doing work. My head is completely over on the analytical side of my cranium, to the point that I’ve been dreaming about database queries. I’ve gotta unshackle the creative neurons, the ones that never fire the same way twice. Get out the heart-shock paddles! I need to reset my brain!

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My New Cube

Welp, it’s official, I’m a salaried employee of Apple. It’s not that big a change from being a contractor; I’ll be doing the same work as before.

While I was traveling my department moved to a new building, so when I got to my new cube for the first time, this is what I saw:

Balloons!

And yes, I do get a discount on stuff, and yes, they assume I’ll be buying for friends and family as well. So if you need a Mac system or an iPod (no iPads at this time), let me know.

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Working With a Screen-Toucher

Yes, It’s true. One of the people I work with touches his computer monitor with his fingers. I never suspected that a place like Apple could harbor such people.

Today we were in a meeting discussing our project. He’s doing the database stuff; I’m concentrating on the presentation layer (see my previous rants about HTML). We were sitting side-by-side, each with his laptop open. On his screen was a dump of the data structure he was sending over to my code. “Here is the list of …”

Actually, I’m not sure what he said after that. I was staring in horror at the end of his finger, where it was pressed firmly against the surface of his screen. “Data list value array,” my co-worker said. I heard none of it. Here’s what I was thinking: Fingerprints. Photons baffled and confused. Acidic oils burning through the surface. Pixels, suffocating, twisting in agony. His screen was covered in fingerprints, the oils from countless screen-touchings built up into a layer that my eyes could no longer focus past.

“Will that work?” he asked.

“Um…” I replied. I wondered what it was that he was talking about. I wondered how he could work when his screen was—

His hand shot out, left index finger extended, directly at my screen. My lovely, lovely, screen, only three weeks out of the box — pristine, innocent of the bruising touch of errant digits. Nooooooooooo!

Perhaps it was my sharp intake of breath that interrupted the course of his rampaging digit. Perhaps he’s already aware that while touching one’s own screen is one thing, touching the screen of another is quite something else. The tip of his finger stopped just above the surface of my virgin monitor and hovered there, twitching, as he described something about something. There was a corner of my mind sending up a flare that perhaps the actual words that my co-worker spoke might be important. The signal was lost among the klaxons and Emergency Broadcast System alerts that demanded that every neuron be devoted to ongoing analysis of the motion of The Finger. The Homeland Security lobe of my brain was altering the threat level meter a dozen times per second, adjusting duct tape and adrenaline with every minute vibration of the chemical-weapon-bearing heathen on the doorstep. The threat level never dipped below ‘orange’.

After two draining seconds the threat receded. My screen, even now, does not understand the horror that nearly came to pass. (Or does it? My laptop shares an intimate network with thousands of others. Perhaps there are legends and stories that pass between them. Perhaps those other computers smile to themselves at the excited puppylike banter of my computer — “Wow! I’m running MySQL server!” — while the grizzled veterans roll their eyes. Meanwhile, the old-timers quietly admire the stoicism of my co-worker’s laptop. “Someone did that to me, I’d just kernel panic,” the headless X-serve in its air-conditioned enclosure says.)

Meanwhile, my co-worker thinks he’s told me stuff. I was sitting right there and looking where he pointed, so I must have been paying attention. I’m reasonably confident that he was speaking, I think I would have noticed if his voice stopped. Probably. He isn’t talking now, however, so he must be waiting for me to say something.

“I’ll be working on that next,” I say. “Can you send me a summary in an email?”

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