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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.

Machines doing work Mon, Feb 22, 2021
I'm a big fan of letting machines do the work.  More than once, someone at work has asked, "But won't that take a lot of time to run all those calculations?"  Yeah, but it's a computer; it doesn't feel pain or get tired.  I'm not the one doing the work; the computer is. 

It's similar with lawn equipment.  I spent over 30 years of my life living in the northeast and shoveling snow.  Then I bought a snow blower, and despite it being kind of expensive, and despite only using it a handful of times per year (or a few dozen or none at all), it's probably the best purchase I've ever made.  And whether it snows a few inches or a few feet, it's pretty much the same for me.  The machine does the work; I don't.  That said, I've never used a lawn machine without breaking a sweat, and I don't know why that is, but I guess that's a topic for another time.

Cancelled project Fri, Jan 22, 2021
My project at work got sort of cancelled last week.  I say "sort of" because it's not technically cancelled, it's more like they're gonna stop funding it in a few months, which is a more wordy way of saying it's cancelled.  I shouldn't feel bad about it because this sort of thing happens all the time, largely due to the industry I work in and the whims of powerful people in authority.  And honestly it's not a huge deal; I still have a job, I'll be paid regardless.  But I've been having trouble coming to terms with it, and here's why: 
  1. There was no communication about it from management.  I heard second or third-hand:  My coworker on the project CC'd me on an email to our shared boss asking about other funded projects.
  2. The funding shortfall was known about four months ago, and based on accounting math it was determined that this date in the future (last week) would be when things got real.  I had no idea about any of this, not that it would've made everything better, but still.
  3. I'm having trouble finding an appropriate person or group to direct my anger at, and that makes me more angry.  My project managers aren't really to blame, since they've been trying to get more funding.  The people above them aren't really to blame either, because they've been on our side the whole time.
  4. There's talk of the program getting more funding in the near future, or maybe in several months from now.  But I feel like it's too late for that.  The cat's out of the bag.  We've started closeout activities.  We've joined other programs that had funding and needed personnel.  It's like breaking up a relationship and expecting the other person to wait around for you while you work some things out.  Fuck you; we're done.
  5. This was a pretty good team of people who had been working closely together for over a year.  It took a lot of effort to assemble the team and convince their management it was important.  You can't just reassemble the same team at the drop of a hat.  It might take weeks or months, or not happen at all, because people are now funded full-time by other projects.
  6. I'm an engineer, and I work with all engineers, and we're pretty emotionless people in general.  It's normal for me to think of humans as cogs; remove one, replace with another.  But that's just not even remotely how things work, definitely in engineering, and probably in pretty much every other area of life.  People are unique and have unique qualities and abilities.  Even two people with the same education and same job title and same work experience can have vastly different strengths and talents.  It's unfortunately true that you can't simply replace one person with another person.  So those team dynamics and skill balance are now thrown out the window.
Possibly the worst part of this (aside from learning about it through hearsay) is that there was no plan for what to do in the present moment, in addition to there being no communication about anything.  So we were all sort of left in the lurch as managers tried to figure out what to do with the remaining funding and time.  It's very disengaging. #business

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