Surprise me

Pet peeve. I don’t like knowing more than a few hours in advance what I’ll be eating later. I’m not sure why and don’t have time to analyze the thought now. But I feel this very strongly.

Cool and Collected

A woman I occasionally work with is leaving her position. She is out on the West Coast, so we have mostly interacted via IM. We have been on phone calls, and, as she reminded me, we once “met” over telepresence (which I will make a common noun). We were IMing earlier, likely for the last time.

Her: I always wish I could talk like you, so cool and collected.
Me: Hahaha.

But that was nice.

Making Fast Money on the Internet

Yeah, I’d like someone to set up a site like this for me, too:

I have a website in my country and want to sell all of the amazon products without my clients knowing I buy them from the project would consist on taking the whole amazon product database and uploading those products in my website. The idea is to show almost every product sold by in our website and be able to update it monthly. We need prices, weight, name, description and as many fields as possible.

I stumbled upon this freelance request while trying to figure out Amazon’s EC2 services. This is, on one hand, comical, and on the other hand, brilliant.

Gosh, I wish I had some programming skills. For the record, I do not. I’d learn something…but there’s just so much…and there are thousands of people who already know everything better than I ever will.

Oh, I’m just full of ideas. I’ve got this one idea…

Undisclosed Location

Undisclosed Location 2011.02.04
While Anderson Cooper reports from an undisclosed location so that Egyptians don’t beat him up again, I blog from an undisclosed location because I needed to get away from home. It is difficult to explain why I couldn’t get sufficient rest at home. I suppose I tried to explain the other day. I suppose there’s no need to be so mysterious. I’m at a local hotel. It’s not a very nice hotel. But it’s free of distractions, other than the distraction of my own mind, which simply doesn’t know how to slow down and heal.

I present the mug above because it’s the reality of what I deal with. I could shave, and that will improve things a tad, and maybe I can get a haircut. But only plastic surgery and an unethical dermatologist can fix the rest.

No, seriously, I’m not accepting arguments on this. (Blog comments are off; FB comments I can’t stop. But I’m writing this as a monologue. I’m really not fishing for feedback). I look at my image, and I think, “Aw, shit, this is hopeless.”

There are lots of thoughts swimming around my head related to what comes next. I barely had started my new job before I had this surgery. I’ll presumably be back there within a couple of weeks, and life will mainly consist of juggling that and dialysis. And there will still be several significant voids to fill.

One move I’ve made that may result in some fulfillment has been the purchase of an SLR camera. I’ve thought about taking photography seriously for a long time. In order to really do that, I’ve needed to invest in a better photographic instrument. It’s caused me some anxiety to take the plunge on the purchase. It falls into a broad category of “things I should really consider getting” that include a fence for my dog, attic insulation, a bike, and a new mattress. It’s taken me several days to even open the box. I’ve done that now, and the result is in the super-graphic image above. My goal with this hobby is actually to capture some of the beauty in this world. I will work my way up.

It may seem ironic that I leave my house for rest, but I’m still up at 2:03am. I’ll be asleep soon.

I’ve got a follow-up appointment with my surgeon tomorrow morning. I treat it as a necessary exercise and not a helpful milestone in my recovery. I imagine I’ll first meet with the interns I came to resent. They’ll comment on how well my incisions have healed. They will have no way of evaluating the internal damage and just tell me how this will all take a little more time. And then a few hours later, I’ll go to dialysis, where I’ll just hope, as always, to leave with most of my blood intact and limited episodes of hot flashes and cold sweats. (I think I need to start researching where the post-dialysis hot flashes come from, since no one else will). At least I will follow dialysis by going home to a location that will not have a dog desperate for a walk and cats desperate for food. Whatever I choose to make/bring back for dinner can make a mess that I don’t need to care about. If I sweat through all of my cheaps and covers, I don’t have to care about living with the same bedding the next day.

Perhaps tomorrow I will open two weeks of mail that have piled up. My dear Aunt J sent me a card, and she deserves a reply, but I haven’t gone through my mail yet. Too stressful to do that at home. I will do that here, in my undisclosed location.

An addendum to tonight’s raw, comment-discouraging blog post:

You have successfully renewed the domain for 2 year(s).
The new expire date is 2013-02-06.

I did contemplate not re-upping. There are lots of good reasons why this site is a bad idea for my time and my internet persona. But I couldn’t come up with a satisfactory alternate plan. I saved something like ten euros by opting for two years instead of one. So it will be another two years before I contemplate the purpose and value of this enterprise again.

Happy Holidays to all 308 million people in America except for Laurinda Swank

Laurinda Swank is the Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of my former bank, First Internet Bank, aka First Internet Bank of Indiana. FIB served me well for seven years, until their customer service took an acute turn south in the past year or so. I was already going to dump my account with them. At one point, through one of my own frequent accounting errors, I was left with a -$15 balance.

I had decided to set up direct-transfer capabilities from my credit union account. In hindsight, this was not necessary because I had this link established going out of FIB. But I set this up anyway, unaware that, in addition to the customary test deposit, a test withdrawal would be made. So, my FIB account received a 27-cent deposit, as well as a 22-cent withdrawal. I was charged the usual $30 NSF fee for the withdrawal. And now my FIB balance was -$45.

I had had way too many of these $30 NSF fees over the years. Occasionally, FIB customer support would refund one when the random transaction processing order or their lack of an immediate deposit method as an online bank was to blame, but this was probably around 10% of the time. FIB still made a killing from these NSF fees from me over the years. I was leaving them, in part, because of a last-straw with increasing poor service.

This $30 fee for a 22-cent test ACH withdrawal was the most ridiculous thing I had ever seen. Independent of any other activity, surely a reasonable agent of FIB would recognize this absurdity and give me a refund of the fee. No dice. Twice.

I submitted a complaint via the Better Business Bureau of Indianapolis. That went to one Laurinda Swank. Ms. Swank icily stated that I had received fee reversals in the past, and I would not receive one in this case.

I think I could have responded, but I wanted to focus on getting my numerous bill-payments and automatic withdrawals out of FIB. This is an arduous task that I would only recommend doing roughly once a decade.

So, back to Ms. Laurinda Swank. I will not judge this creature of the universe. But I take her decision against my interests personally, and I would like to go on record in wishing her a mildly unpleasant holiday season. Maybe a flat-tire in the driveway before she’s supposed to be somewhere, like a nephew’s piano recital.

In addition to Ms. Swank, I would also like to wish a mildly unpleasant holiday to Nancy Grace. She’s on the television set above me, and Swift Justice deserves swift cancellation.

On a related note, Maury Christmas, everybody!

A very Maury Christmas

Fun with Google Books Data Part 1

My contribution to the global knowledge base, thanks to Google’s Ngram Book Viewer, which has, as a source, 500 billion words from 5 million books published over the past several centuries…

The use of “donut” as an alternative spelling to “doughnut” evolved over the course of the 20th century:

The arrival of “dialysis” and “chemotherapy” in the 1960s and 70s:

When does “coffee” overtake “tea”? (around 1966)

When did “pizza” overtake “dumplings”? (around 1971)

Looks like “premarital sex” was pretty taboo prior to 1930:

As the 21st century approached, “hookers” finally became almost as popular as “mermaids”:

I’ll continue playing, but this list is long enough for now…

August 5 rapid blogging: job

I’m having one of those weeks when I feel like anything productive or positive I’ve done in recent memory is completely moot.

Two issues have come up that are being completely overblown. One involves communication process. One is technical.

Regarding the first one, I forgot to switch an oncall pager to my teammate before leaving town for the weekend. The pager forwards to my phone. I happened to walk into a swimming pool with my phone in my pocket. That last detail, in itself, has really, really sucked for me personally in the past week. As for work, I missed an important call, never having gotten a good enough internet connection to get the right phone number to switch the pager to or letting coworkers know my predicament. I spent half my mini-vacation worried sick about how to reach people.

This week, rather than chalk it all up to me having done something stupid, it has been proposed that entire processes be overhauled. There was nothing wrong with the processes. I walked into a pool with my cell phone.

As for the second issue, a few times a year, I take it quite personally that some conclusion I’ve come to is questioned and torn apart, or my analysis is completely ignored in the first place. This is happening again, and again it is a demoralizing feeling to have worked with this same stupid product for 13 years and not have management trust me when I come to a conclusion. Let’s ask the vendor to make triply sure, even though I know our environment ten times better than the vendor, and the vendor only knows the product slightly better than I do.

Alas, I meant to do rapid blogging…

I really have been trying to like my job lately…it’s so difficult, though, when you are constantly reminded just how indifferent the-powers-that-be are to fact that they actually have a valuable resource if they bothered to look. Of course, that’s a double-edged sword. People realize that a guy working on the app has 13 years of experience, and they may ask, “Why does our app suck so much then?” The short answer from me would be that I haven’t been able to convince TBTB to do anythng useful with the app. I’m constantly working on b*s items that barely matter because approval is needed for any significant.