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Silence in meetings Thu, Apr 29, 2021
One of the consequences of pandemic-induced remote work has been the removal of visual body language from group phone calls.  When there are 10-15 people on a call, it's hard for the leader to keep track of individual people, so there's a lot of communications checks like "Is my mic working?", "Does that make sense?", etc.  One of the weirder examples from my experience was when this one coworker would say something like "I'll move onto the next section unless there are any objections" and after hearing nothing for a few seconds, would say "I'll take your silence as consent."  Thankfully we've moved on in recent weeks to the much less rape-y, "I'll take your silence as concurrence." #business

Torque Wed, Apr 28, 2021
Torque is probably my favorite physics concept because it's so simple and appears in all kinds of places.  Torque is a measure of force times distance.  You can generate more torque by applying the same force at a greater distance from a rotation point.  It's the reason why wrenches tighten things better than screw drivers.  It's the reason why those little Allen keys are double-sided -- one side is for quickly screwing something in; the other side is for tightening.  It's the reason you do bicep curls by holding a dumbbell in your hand and not on your forearm.  It's the reason why, when my ax gets stuck in a piece of wood, I grip it as far away from the ax head as possible to get it unstuck.  It's the reason why branch-cutting shears have really long handles.  It's the reason why lug nut wrenches are sometimes double-sided (double the torque) or have really long handles. 

When in doubt, use a longer lever. #science

Back to work Fri, Apr 02, 2021
I have a sneaking suspicion all these work-from-home promises we've heard over the past year will suddenly vanish once the world opens back up.  At first it was a bunch of technology companies that went fully remote for the foreseeable future.  But even regular corporate-type jobs were on board with supporting remote work.  I've heard lots of ideas about how future work will go:  Maybe fully remote, maybe every other day, maybe alternating weeks.  As a remote-capable worker, it's been refreshing to hear people realize how much work can be done without being in an office.  And despite the drawbacks (of which there are quite a few), I was a fan of teleworking before we were forced to do it. 

But I just have an inkling that once enough people have been vaccinated and the infection rates have gone down, there will be a sort of boiling-over anger from bosses and managers who've been holding back their opinions of the drawbacks of telework, and there will be a rapid push to re-normalize working at work.  And the collective PTSD of the teleworkforce will be like gasoline on a fire.  Once back at the office, working from home will feel like going back to quarantine times, which obviously no one wants.  So I think within the next year or less, we'll be fully back to the way we were, for better or worse. #business

Tiers of music fandom Thu, Apr 01, 2021
There are 6 tiers of music fandom: 

1.  Never heard of them.
2.  Never heard of them.  Oh wait, they sing that?  I like that song.
3.  I like 2 or 3 songs by them.
4.  I love that one album.
5.  I like several of their albums, but none of the old/new stuff.
6.  I can recognize every single song from every one of their albums by only hearing the first three notes.

Work but not work Thu, Apr 01, 2021
It's surprising how much of my "job" isn't really my "job".  Like my job consists mostly of writing code, analyzing data, drawing conclusions, and documenting results.  But other things I do during working hours are things like: 

- Wait for computer to boot
- Wait for mandatory software updates to finish
- Wait while virus scan bogs down 70% of my computing resources
- Spend 45 minutes burning a CD with 30,000 files containing software I need to do my job
- Try to find a way around network firewall to access information needed to do my job
- Take mandatory training
- Walk to other buildings, wait to be let in
- Wait for the network and/or electricity to come back on

There are "job" tasks and there are "meta job" tasks.  Work about work, but not actually work. #business

Possible design Thu, Mar 25, 2021
Several years ago, one of my coworkers discovered some software that let you design a graphical user interface fairly easily.  He was used to writing code with simple command line interfaces that were unattractive but functional.  So he kind of went to town designing menus and buttons and whatnot.  The weirdest, and worst, design decision he made was to include a popup dialog box when you tried to exit the program.  The dialog box simply asked, "Are you sure?"  I remember asking him why he included that, and it generally had something to do with seeing a similar function in another piece of software. 

I often find myself confused or bewildered by some sort of designed object, and I have to remember that there's a good chance a feature or function was designed by someone, possibly an intelligent technical person with no design experience, with little to no input from an end-user, simply because it was possible.

Data and minutes Wed, Mar 24, 2021
I used to work with this guy who was an electrical engineer.  He was the office GPS expert.  He knew about satellites, data transfer, ephemeris -- all the stuff an expert is supposed to know.  It was 2007, and another coworker got the brand new iPhone.  I was asking the iPhone guy how he liked it, etc., and the GPS guy said, "How does the data connection work?  Does it use minutes?"  This was in the time when you paid for a certain amount of cellular minutes each month.  Separate data connections had been around for at least a little while, and I really felt like, of all people, this GPS guy should've known better.  "Does it use minutes?"  Like, that's not even how any of it works.  It's literally two separate radios. 

I still know the GPS guy and I still think he's smart.  But damn, people have some weird blind spots.

Magic pill Fri, Mar 19, 2021
I've always been sort of looking for a magic pill of sorts -- not a pill per se or even a medication -- something that will solve a bunch of my problems and generally make me feel better.  I don't have many really specific problems; it's more of an ambiguous "feeling".  People recommend things like drinking more water, or getting better sleep.  Or maybe it's a specific diet, or a type of physical activity.  Maybe it's drugs and alcohol, or the lack of drugs and alcohol.  It just always seems like people are able to find magical cures for themselves.  "I started running 5 miles per day; I've never felt better in my life."  "I switched to a vegetarian diet, and I've never felt more energized."  I've tried a whole bunch of different things.  Like seriously, my life and my body are an ongoing series of scientific experiments.  It just seems like, at the end of every experiment, I'm left with a pretty bland conclusion:  Yeah, that wasn't it; that didn't change anything; I still feel the same.  I'm starting to come around to the idea that maybe there's no such thing as a magic pill.

Vegetarians and fish Fri, Mar 19, 2021
I find it odd that some vegetarians eat fish.  Aside from the whole "is fish meat?" question (hint:  how is it not?), fish has to be the least compelling meat to eat.  Maybe it's because I didn't grow up in a fishing area, but when I think to myself, "What's a nice big tasty thing I can eat for dinner?" I never land on fish as the answer.  I like eating fish, but it's certainly not my go-to for meat.  So if a person's diet is devoid of animal products, I just can't fathom why fish would be the lone exception.  It doesn't provide any sort of nutrient that you already aren't getting from plants, and it's really not that good. #food

3099 Mon, Feb 22, 2021
A placenta is essentially an external battery pack for the fetus before it develops its own internal power generator.

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