Cursed by aging

So, one of my resolutions was to cut back on one of my favorite things in the world, Coke. It is my vice, yes, but it is so good. Well, I don’t think I’m going to have much of a choice at this point. Let me explain.

Last spring (I can’t seem to pinpoint exactly when), I started experiencing serious headaches. Like not just passing things, but ones that made me hurt getting up from a chair. Thinking they were just diet-related, or exercise-related, or even environment-related (on a trip to Colorado), I fought through it a bit before seeking some medical attention. When they didn’t go away by themselves, I went to see my normal doctor, an ENT, and even a neurologist. Lots of tests, two MRI’s (a third one ordered), and two pairs of reading glasses later, we finally found a preventative medicine that seems to work pretty well.

Yay, right? Pretty good outcome, if not a bit lengthy.


I started noticing about 10 days ago that my drinks were tasting funny. Not all drinks. Not water. Not coffee. Not even cocktails. No, only carbonated drinks. Most especially, my beloved Cokes. They don’t taste like the nectar from the gods like I’m used to. No, no. Now, they just taste like a syrupy mess.

And it’s an unbelievable letdown for me. (I was going to say it’s ****ing me off, but I thought I’d try to practice a little restraint 🙂 )



2019 Resolutions

  • Simplify, Simplify, Simplify: In a continued effort to not drive myself crazy trying to do everything, or try to complicate everything, it’s time to really take a step back and evaluate what I should be doing every day with my time and effort. Where am I best deployed? What could I be doing right now to help further X, Y, or Z? More importantly, what should I NOT be doing? Simplify everything. Professionally. Personally. All over.
  • Less Cokes: These things are my vice, I admit it. They are so good. And yet they are so bad for you (and by you, I mean me). I can’t go cold turkey, I know that. But I can cut back. And that’s what I’m going to do.
  • Less Cursing: It’s interesting, we’ve been working on image at work. I’ve cleaned my act up a lot over the past couple of years. I will say that cursing is the last vestige of college that still exists in my repertoire. In an effort to do my part, I will make the attempt. But it also starts at home. I can’t succeed by simply removing that notion at work. It’s got to become part of my routine. And it can only help at home as well.
  • More Writing: I miss writing. Back to the first resolution above, I’ve been so busy at being busy. And I’ve let writing slip. Renewed commitment. Starting here and now. Boom. Done.

What’s with the four digit numbers in a square thing?

Ironically, the very same road I drive down to take Brian and Lucas to school has a large, brick mailbox that has its 4-digit street address arranged in a square pattern. I would have commented on it to Brian himself, but it’s going the other way away from the school. So, no one’s in the car with me when I pass it. (Of course, that didn’t stop me from commenting on it to no one in particular.)

This mailbox’s numeric address is supposed to be 1624. But that’s not obvious, nor is it easy to decipher. The numbers are stacked like this:

1 6

2 4

So, is that 1624 or 1264 or 1246? I have no idea in the quick second I glance at it. Now, I know it because of context clues, like the house before and the house after it. But isn’t the entire purpose of the number on the mailbox to make it easier to find the house in question quickly?

I even noticed this at Starbucks recently. This is a picture from the coffee Caroline got on Saturday morning:

I’m assuming it’s supposed to be 1971 because 1791 or 1719 wouldn’t make much sense. But I don’t know that right off hand. The only context clue I have is that I’m pretty sure Starbucks was not around in 1791 or 1719. In fact, Washington state wasn’t even Washington state back then (that happened in 1889, if you were wondering).

But why make this difficult? To be cutesy? To be designer-y? To me, it just makes the user experience that much more difficult. And that defeats the purpose. Boo 😦

Does the “right” family = political aptitude?

When I take Brian and his friend Lucas to school in the morning, we drive by a very large political yard sign for a Republican candidate for the Georgia House of Representatives named Matt Bentley. In and of itself, this is not that unusual. There are signs on most every yard on this particular road. And yes, the vast majority of them are for Republicans of some sort. It’s certainly the neighborhood for it.

What was remarkable about this one was the blatant use of the image on the sign. The picture is of the aforementioned Matt Bentley and his wife and infant baby girl. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the picture. In fact, it’s a very good picture, and one they probably proudly hang in their own living room. But there’s something about the picture being used how it’s being used.

In what way does the idea that he has a wife and baby girl translate to his possible success in the Georgia House? The little baby is cute and the wife is attractive. Ok, I’ll give you that. But even that is not what the actual picture is about. It’s meant to play off of the “family” nature of this particular man. The “family values” vote is what’s being targeted here, I’m sure.

But, is that qualification enough? What are his motivations? What’s his platform? What does he believe in?

(Oh there they are, hidden in the darkness of the black couch: “Lower taxes”, “Less government”, and “More Jobs”. Really checking off the Republican talking points on that one, huh?)

Does anyone care about those things? Or is it simply because he’s a “family man”? Or could it be because they’re a white family? A heterosexual family? Man, woman, and child = healthy living, right? I mean, where’s the dog? The white picket fence?

(Oh wait, I just saw the dog’s head. Now it’s complete.)

Imagine for a second that this family was not a straight, white family with a dog. Imagine if the wife was a husband. Would that family be “suitable” for a sign? What if Mr. Matt Bentley was bald because he had cancer? What if he had tattoos? What if his wife was African American? Muslim? Japanese? Nigerian?

Would that matter?

I understand and firmly believe that it should absolutely not matter. But does it? Given the location of this particular sign and the neighborhood I’m driving in when I pass this sign, I’m guessing it matters a great deal.

And that makes me sad.

P.S. I don’t know Matt Bentley at all, or his family. This is in no way a condemnation of him, personally. This is really a commentary on society and the current social norms, specifically in Georgia.

The Home button

With the release of the new iPhone line tomorrow, Apple will no longer sell a new phone with the (now) iconic home button attached. All three major models will now be FaceID-based, and will feature no button at all on the screen.

Which is interesting, no doubt. I, myself, will finally be joining the “X Club” here soon. Which means I’ll have to get used to navigating without the trusty 11-year old home button. But it made me chuckle as I noticed an interface that I use everyday that will still sport it proudly:

Not exactly sure how (or even if) they’re going to change the UI to accommodate. Then again, there’s no FaceID in CarPlay. At least not yet. So maybe it stays for some time. Just found it ironic as I drove down the road this morning.

A Character Test? Really?!?

I was recently listening to one of my weekly podcasts (Do By Friday, if you were curious), and Max brought up an interesting conundrum that he asked the panel of hosts. It went something like this:

You are interviewing for a job. The CEO of the company invites you to a breakfast in a downtown restaurant to have a chit chat to see what you’re like. Unbeknownst to you, the CEO has asked the waiter to intentionally mess something up in your order. The breakfast is brought out, and you recognize that it is not what and/or how you ordered it. What do you do?

Max went on to say that the point of this scenario is to specifically see how you’d act in the given situation. Do you stop the waiter and say “excuse me, but I think something may be wrong with my breakfast” or do you more boldly say “Please take this back, it’s just wrong”? Are you rude or empathetic? Nice or mean? Haughty or humble?

I asked a friend of mine what she thought and she said it would depend on how messed up it was, how busy the restaurant was, and what her current mood was that would determine her reaction. But overall, she thought it was a shit “test”. “It’s not a good way to judge one’s character” is the way she later phrased it.

I can’t say that I blame her for thinking that. In the podcast, Max went on to say that this is rumored to happen in the big investment firms on Wall Street to test the candidate’s “alpha”-ness. Sigh.

What a dick way to judge someone who’s going to be working for you. I mean, honestly. Is there even a right way to react and/or behave in this scenario? Are you really expecting the candidate to be a dick to the waiter and show their butts in the middle of restaurant to prove that they’re not there to take any crap from some lowly waiter? Is that a sign that you’re looking for?

I’m sorry, but if that’s the person you want me to be, and that’s the way you want me to behave, and that’s considered GOOD, then no thank you. I’ll be looking somewhere else, thank you.

Of Two Minds

I read Ethan Marcotte’s article about Google’s recently announced service / product called Duplex. In it, he lays out the following argument:

Frankly, this technology was designed to deceive humans. That’s not a value judgment, mind: the aim of the product is to act as human-sounding as possible. What’s more, the demos above are impressive because Duplex specifically withholds the fact that it’s not human. The net effect is, for better and for worse, a form of deception. Duplex was elegantly, intentionally designed to deceive. (And given that reality’s on shaky ground as it is, I don’t think this is the most responsible goal.)

I’m of two completely separate minds on this. One the one hand, I completely agree with the doubters thinking. Let’s not mince words here, Google, given its history, stands to be viewed upon with a hefty bit of skepticism when it comes to doing what’s “right”. But let’s say that’s not it. Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt and say Google has every good intention in this particular space. What about others? What about the malicious folk out there? What about the people who are out there to scheme and cheat and rip people off? Isn’t Google giving them, right out of the gate, a tool to aid in their shenanigans?

This ultimately comes back to the old adage of “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should”. I don’t know that we’ve held technology to that standard enough recently. A perfect example of this is the creation and, more importantly, the use of self-driving cars when the tech is not absolutely rock-solid.

Having said all of that, I was reading a tweet last night from someone whose name I have known for a while, but didn’t know a particular fact about. This gentleman stutters. Like me. He viewed this in a completely different light. His idea was that the Duplex “product” could be used in a very nice and productive way by people who have speech disabilities. Like he and I do. It was eye-opening. I think I even re-tweeted it with “Yep, yep, yep, yep, yep, yep, yep, yep, yep, yep, yep, yep, etc.”

Because I can completely see his point. I HATE talking on the phone. It makes me anxious, nervous, and scared. I get over it, and conquer it, but it’s an every-single-situation kind of thing. What if I didn’t have to do that but 40% of the time I do it now? That would help me. Would I like to be 60% less anxious? You’re damn right I would be.

The well-being of global society is still winning in my head, and I will go on record as thinking this might not be the best thing. But it’s not as much of a slam dunk as I would have originally thought.