Sunday, January 31, 2010

The only jewelry I want for Valentine's Day

Yes, it's that time of year again. The time when the Hallmark mafia takes over the airwaves and attempts to make me feel inadequate because I don't have that special someone to buy me a bunch of cheap crap. Thanks, but if I want a bunch of cheap crap, I'll go buy it myself. Then at least I'll get the cheap crap that I want.

Anyhow, really, the only point of this post is to point out that the best song to drive to is Golden Earring's "Twilight Zone". From the minute that base line comes on, I've got the radio up as high as it will go (which actually isn't all that high in my car with the original factory speakers). If I could find a version that lasted a full hour, I would no longer have to worry about finding a good radio station during my commute...

Friday, January 29, 2010

Can you swear like a veterinarian?

One of the things you learn in vet school is to logically consider all the possibilities given the symptoms, and then come up with the most likely cause. Most students are taught the DAMNIT-V scheme (Degenerative/developmental, Anomalous/allergic/autoimmune, Metabolic/mechanical, Neoplastic/neurologic/nutritional, Idiopathic/inflammatory/immune/infectious, Traumatic/toxic, Vascular), so it's not uncommon to find that written on half the white boards in the teaching hospital. (The other half have pager numbers and some version of a hormone feedback loop.)

One of the surgery residents during my internship used to occasionally get frustrated and say "Damnit!" in her Swedish accent when something didn't go as planned. (She was the one I was with during the heart-base tumor biopsy, and we all know how that went.) Anyhow, about halfway through the year I started adding "V" every time she said "Dammit". By the end of the year she couldn't swear without laughing.

I was thinking about this as I was driving home, because I think my elderly dog is on her second round through the DAMNIT-V scheme. The latest problem is old dog vestibular disease. True to form, twenty-four hours after onset, she has almost no symptoms aside from a mild head tilt. So that's good.

But about everything else that's happened this week: Damnit-V!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

You never get another chance to make a first impression...

Friday evening we celebrated Rvan's 40th birthday with a surprise party (organized by his very pregnant wife who had quite a lot of energy for someone who looks ready to explode at any moment -- in a lovely glowing way, of course!). I learned a couple of things:
  • It's hard to hold a surprise party at 7pm without making it look a little odd when people who normally come in late and leave late all of the sudden start leaving at 6:30. Especially since the birthday boy was trying to hand off everything because he has to go on a business trip next week.
  • My coworker Ngoc was telling me about when she was in college (in Vietnam) and she met one of the guys in her class. Her first thought was "whoever this guy marries is going to be miserable". They have now been married for over two decades, and their oldest child is in college. She claims her first impression was wrong.

The other funny story about Ngoc involves Rvan. They were hired at about the same time, and Ngoc was very grateful that Rvan helped her with so many things, not just work-related stuff, but things having to do with American culture. At some point Rvan made a joke that married women in America don't wear high heels. Unbeknownst to Rvan, Ngoc took him seriously, and was terribly embarrassed that she had been wearing heels. She switched over to wearing flats, and it wasn't until years later that I cleared up that misconception. (Of course, I've never seen her wear anything with a heel in the decade since then, so maybe it wasn't such a huge sacrifice on her part.) It's a good thing Ngoc doesn't hold grudges.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Bloody Marvelous!

I gave blood today, and it was a good feeling.

Oh yeah, sure, there's the whole "saving a life" thing, which I suppose is pretty important.

And they check your cholesterol, which I suppose might be helpful.

But the best part, the really, really great part, is that a pint of blood is the equivalent of 650 calories. (Jeff found it on some medical website, and it was on the internet so it must be true.)

I celebrated by eating four Oreos, a bag of jalapeno kettle chips, and a few pretzels.

I wish I could give blood every day.

Oh, and they graded our applications. I got an A-. That overachieving bastard Jeff got an A+.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Let there be light!

Okay, I've finally ordered the LED upgrade for my nano-reef tank. Sadly, I couldn't just order something pre-installed, so it will involve wire cutting, thermal pasting, crimping, and other such nonsense that I haven't done in almost twenty years.

The good news is that I also ordered another hood for the tank, so I have some time to get this all working without worrying about a) starving the coral of light because I can't get it working and b) having one of the cats end up in the tank because the lid is off.

One might think that the cats would be smart enough not to jump on top of the aquarium when the top is not down. If one thinks that, one does not live with my cats. I had the top lifted, with the lights shining in my face as I pulled algae off the powerhead last week. Spike stared intently from the counter a few feet away. Just when I thought he was smarter than I'd previously thought, he tried to jump on the top of the tank.

I caught him when he only had one leg and part of his face in the water. It's probably just as well I don't have any fish in there...

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Oh, the Inanity!

So there's this project at work... It's got a reputation, shall we say.

Last month the technical lead turned in his resignation, so I was told to quickly wrap up the project I was working on and start documenting all of the undocumented knowledge on the new project. This was followed by a week of frustration during which I was heard to wail "Does anything on this project work?" Eric laughed at that, but now that I've dragged him along with me, he's not laughing so hard.

Then the other senior technical person turned in his resignation. So we had a two for one going away lunch.

Somehow after a month I've become the person who knows the most about this half of the project. I have a team of people who are trying to work outside their comfort zones. Sometimes I think it's like trying to coordinate a water ballet with a bunch of amputees weighted with barbells. I keep telling them to point their toes and glide, and they keep drowning. It's possible that I'm not very good at giving directions...

Anyhow, here's the new design for the team t-shirt (compliments of Jeff):

Jeff also thinks it's really funny to keep asking "Has anyone quit yet today?"

Just wait. Eric's already been sucked in. It could happen to you too...

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Would you like cheese with that?

Dear manufacturers:

Yes, I suppose I should write you all individually, but I suspect this will be just as effective. (Top men!) So, if you all could just pass this around between yourselves, I’d be obliged.

Apple: You know I love you. Really. You make things for me and you market them to me. I am your audience and I have rewarded you for that. I love my computer, and if you could make a keyboard that would withstand a little Chai latte on it, I would spend even more money on that. I’m on my third iPod. I buy television series from you rather than paying for cable and watching commercials. But Apple, why does your iTunes store suck so badly? It’s slow, it’s hard to find things, and it doesn’t remember what I like. It’s almost (dare I say it) like a Microsoft product. You’re better than that. Call me.

Makers of jeans: I realize it’s not really your fault that my jeans don’t always fit. But now that I am shifting my excess weight onto Mischa Barton (holy cow, have you guys seen pictures of her lately?) who quite honestly has needed a few extra pounds for quite some time, I need to wear a belt occasionally. Would it kill you to put two (or even, gasp, three) belt loops on the back of the jeans? When there’s just one in the middle of the back and the nearest ones are on the front side of my body, the belt goes up over the jeans and that’s just not comfortable. Add a buck onto the price and pay your subsistence-wage worker an extra five cents. Really. Don’t make me break out the sewing machine.

Black & Decker (part 1): Your wide-mouth giant size food processor makes great hummus (without garlic). (15 ounces of garbanzo beans just don’t fit into the mini food processor, and I made a big mess to prove it.) But does it really need to have seven pieces to take apart and clean? Worse, all seven pieces have to be aligned correctly to make it work. And if you keep pushing the start button when you think you’ve got them all aligned but don’t really, when you do manage to twist and turn everything properly, it comes on by itself. This thing is borderline dangerous. But again, it does make great hummus.

Black & Decker (part 2): I’ve used your Lawn Hog mower for almost eight years now. It’s not the mower’s fault my lawn looks terrible – that’s because I don’t water consistently and it’s never really recovered from all the trenches dug to put in the sprinklers. I’ve run the mower over rocks, branches, dirt, and pretty much everything else that got in the way, and it’s worked great. The only thing that doesn’t is the mechanism to turn it on. You have to pull that thing against the handle, jam it sideways, and keep it wedged there while you traverse the valleys and hills of my lawn. It’s giving me carpal tunnel syndrome. I’ve taken it apart twice and glued on extra pieces, but that really hasn’t solved the problem. It's things like this that make people buy other brands, and it could probably be corrected without much effort on your part.

Okay, I'm done whining, but if anyone has anything else, feel free to add it in the comments. I'm sure it will be given the attention it deserves.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Curse of the Drinking Classes *

Today was the last day of my own personal Mardi Gras before I start eating better (or at least less) tomorrow. Yes, I did finish off all the Christmas cookies. You didn't seriously expect me to throw them out, did you?

Things noted during the vacation:
  • I had the ultimate airbed experience. That's when you blow up the airbed, go right to sleep, then wake up sometime in the middle of the night when the inevitable slow leak progresses to the point that you are lying on the ground. Two nights in a row. (The third night was with a new airbed. I'm not convinced it didn't leak as well, but at least it leaked more slowly.)
  • Jojo the Enforcer came out in favor of polygamy. When pressed on this point, she admitted that she really just wants other people to do the housework and watch the kids.
  • Poor Rigo, Jojo's husband, is not in favor of polygamy. I get the feeling that Jojo is as much as he can handle. There's a reason he's almost always referred to as "Poor Rigo" in our family.
  • After reading my Christmas blog, Rigo (allegedly) told JoJo that I had too much time on my hands. I'd try to be offended, but after spending three days with their kids, I see his point.
  • Tips for flying: never sit near a small child with the stomach flu. For that kindly stranger with the hand sanitizer who gave up his aisle seat on the flight from Detroit to LA: Sorry the kid puked on you. That's what you get for being such a nice guy.
  • My twelve year old niece is now officially taller than I am. And thinner and blonder. And I think my brother might own a gun, so all you adult males should just keep on walking. She's twelve.
* Too much work, and no vacation,
Deserves at least a small libation.
So hail! my friends, and raise your glasses,
Work's the curse of the drinking classes.
~Oscar Wilde