Anachostic

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This One Time At Summer Camp…

I made a trip to my hometown, the wasteland, this last weekend.  It wasn’t exactly business or pleasure.  I guess it would be considered more business than anything else, though.  My mom now resides in a nursing home.  I don’t think they call them nursing homes anymore.  They’re probably called long-term care facilities.  Cue George Carlin and his anger over the softening of the English language.  But anyway…

I got to see my mom a couple of times.  She doesn’t have a lot of stamina for visits and dismisses visitors with a “I want to take a nap.”  No problem.  I don’t really have much to talk about anyway.  But one thing we talked about got me thinking.

In her new living quarters, they have a pretty set schedule with meals, activities, therapy, etc.  Some things are optional or semi-optional, but a lot isn’t.  When she was complaining about it, I was reminded of my years at summer camp.  I thought, my mom’s at summer camp, for the rest of her life.

My first summer camp was an unpleasant experience.  It was a military camp far from home that ate up six weeks of my summer vacation from school.  I didn’t know anyone there and I was not exactly military material.  Your day was regimented into sessions, of which you were allowed to choose things like Arts and Crafts, Model Rocketry, Basket Weaving, etc.  Then there were others you couldn’t, like Softball and Soccer.  Then there were parades and practice parades, and inspections, and of course, meals.  You always went to meals in formation with your entire division.  What a show.

And in many ways, my mom’s new life is like that.  Some things are optional, or a choice and some you can’t get out of.  You go to meals with the same group and sit at the same table with everyone.  You are going to do therapy.  (They don’t talk about it, but the facility has to perform therapy or they are considered neglectful of their patients and would get fined or shut down.)  There is a gift shop/concession place where you can buy things with money from your account (I had that too in camp).  Other people can put money in your account for you to spend (just like my parents did for me).

So if my mom is unhappy at summer camp, it’s no different than how I felt in the same situation.  Both involved being around strangers you have to become friends with, away from a lot of things that are familiar to you, and made to do things you may not feel like doing.  If you’re an independent spirit like my mom (or me for that matter), it’s a nightmare.

While my mom and I discussed the summer camp concept, I finally admitted to her that I almost got kicked out of that military camp in my last year (the last of four) there.  I had gone “cabin-trashing” with another camper and it isn’t really a surprise we got caught.  We had to spend the time repairing all the damage we caused while all the other campers were at a picnic.  I think we were still fed lunch, I can’t remember.  And it caused me a lot of ill will with my cabin-mates. 

But, the year following that incident, my parents sent me to a different summer camp.  A computer camp that was only two weeks long.  It was a totally different environment than military camp and I would have gladly spent six weeks there.  But it was only a couple of years that I got to go and then I was on my own again.

Unfortunately for my mom, it doesn’t sound like there are other camp opportunities.

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Wasteland Highlights

Two trips to the hometown in one year!  Wow!  I mean, wow.  I actually mean, meh.  No really, blah.  So, to summarize the best/worst highs/lows of the trip, here we go.

Before I even left for the airport, six hours before my flight, my flight was delayed.  The flight was already a late one at 7:00pm, now it was 7:30.  When I got to the airport, they announced, “your plane will not be arriving until 8:00.”  A very odd way to announce a delay, but that’s what they did.

The TSA experience on the way out wasn’t too bad (oh, just you wait for this one…).  A couple new regulations (aren’t there always?) to deal with.  Everything electronic larger than a cell phone must be taken out and all liquids must be out as well.  Ok, no big deal, a couple of Kindles and shampoo.  I went on with my life.

nerdcat-t-shirt-tn-258x258[1]At my destination, I went to pick up my rental car at the ungodly hour of 11:30.  When I went up to the counter, the agent just stared at me with a big smile on his face.  I said, “Hi, I have a reservation” which seemed to break his trace and he said, “that… is awesome.”  And I understood.  It was my shirt – “Quattro Gato”.  Basically, this image here on the right, colorized and duplicated four times over. The agent asked me if I liked cats, had a cat, what type of cat, etc.  Naturally, cat people are awesome.  And awesome cat people get… Mustangs!  Or at least that’s what he believed.  Me paying for the cheapest rental car, and wearing a cat shirt, means I get upgraded to the sports car category.  I guess I’m ok with that.

WP_20171015_13_42_02_ProI got my car in the lot.  There are SO many goddamn buttons on the console and steering wheel.  What the fuck.  I don’t touch anything.  I try to get GPS directions out of the airport to a familiar highway (I always take the wrong route), but my phone has no signal.  Finally, I get a weak signal and a route.  I leave the airport and immediately get in the wrong lane and miss the proper exit.  GPS simply changes the route, without even scolding me with “ROUTE RECALCULATION!”.  Not sure exactly how much time I lost in that, but I made it to the motel and fell into bed at 1:30am.

I thought I had everything planned out well for this trip, which meant little to no personal time for me.  In the end, I had way too much personal time because my brother kept bailing on our plans.  So I saw and did everything I could think of.  That’s a very short list in a very small town.  And I ended up sitting in my upgraded rental, parked downtown for extended periods of time.

Everything’s closed in the wasteland.  The mall lost Sears and JCPenney anchor stores, leaving only The Bon Ton.  I asked a couple people I visited, “where do you buy clothing?”  The only options were KMart, WalMart, and the Bon Ton.  One said Amazon, the other said the outlets (a 45 min drive).  How can you live like that?

After only two days, I was ready to get back home.  My outbound flight was at 3:30, a time where you either get to the airport super-early, or risk being late.  I chose the former, since there was nothing else to do.  I got to the airport, returned the car, and chilled in the airport lobby for an extended time, reading.

When I got up to get some lunch, I found out all the food was behind security, so I guess I’m going through security now.  I was ready.  I remembered the changed regulations, even though none of the agents were making announcements about it.  Ha!  I was ahead of the game.  I put my laptop and kindle and shampoo in a tray and confirmed with the agent that was right.  He said the laptop had to go in a tray by itself.  Fine.  Anything else?  Shoes.  Oh crap.  How did I forget that?  Shoes on the conveyor.  Then over to the scanner.

I got chided last time about doing a body-building pose when they told me to lift my arms, so I kept it simple.  I got out and the guard stepped in front of me.  “Anything in your pockets?”  I patted my pockets.  Oh fuck.  My phone.  I usually put my watch and phone in my carryon while I’m in line.  I forgot.  I pulled out my phone and handed it to him.

“Anything else?”  I patted again.  I had my handkerchief, which I didn’t think was any big deal, my passport, which I sometimes have in my hand when I get scanned, and oh crap, coin change.  I pull the change out sheepishly and hand it to him.  “Anything else?”  Ok, I’m stressing now.  My passport?  He takes that too.  “Anything else.”  Uh, a handkerchief?  He has everything now.  He calls for a bowl from the other agents and sends everything off to get scanned.

“So, you want me to go through again?” I ask.  The agent replies in a very annoyed tone, “No.  Since you had so many things in your pockets, you’re going to have to be patted down.”  Ohhhh FUCK.  The agent then goes into a very long and detailed description of all the different ways he’s going to feel me up.  I’m somewhat in shock, so I don’t hear much of it.  He asks if I want a private room or just do it here.  I said here is fine, as if I give any sort of a shit right now.

I have to take off my belt (which should have come off earlier, I guess), and hold it.  Not much to say.  I got groped plenty around my balls and swiped and rubbed.  That might be bad, but hey, they gotta do their job.  But here’s the stupid thing.  They wiped my hands with some sort of device that probably was checking for explosive residue or similar.  Now, if I was a “t-word”, would I have been so stupid to leave my pockets full going through the scanner?  Bad guys are smarter than that.  I’m just an idiot, and you’re checking me for residue?

I pass with flying colors, gather my shit and get the fuck out of there.  The experience ruined my day completely.  I tried to eat lunch but ate very little.  I wasn’t upset or scarred or anything.  Just mad at myself that I was so focused on the details I totally forgot the basics.

The flight back was much less fun than the flight up.  Much more turbulence and many more passengers.  Two very large women in my row.  Idiot children in front of me, and a baby across the aisle.

But I did make it home safe and my cat was thrilled to see me.  That’s enough travel for a while, I think.

(Poop) Time And Tide Wait For No Man

Inspired by AK’s post, I thought it would be interesting to provide a perspective from the stall on the other side of the wall.  It’s not all fun and games in our world either.  While we may be outnumbered by the females, there’s enough of us to cause problems for each other.  The problems are exacerbated by the infrastructure at hand.

So here’s the general problem.  We have two stalls, one of which is the handicapped suite.  You can tell by the visible shoes/feet that the “lowrider” stall is occupied, but there is no way to know if the suite is in use unless you test the door.  This is because the door is always closed regardless of being latched or not.  Now I consider myself a courteous gentleman.  If I must test the door, I stand at a distance and lightly test the handle with a single finger.  Today, I had two goddamn hulks trying to rip the door off the hinges to get to me.  And I am considerate when I’m inside the suite, too.  I bob my leg to jingle my belt buckle.  Sometimes I clear my throat.  Surely hearing something from inside would indicate occupancy?  No!  Hulk shit now!  RATTLE RATTLE.

As is my nature, the problem-solver, I set my brain to work on how this can be remedied.  There is no existing way to indicate occupancy, but there is an existing way to indicate vacancy.  I employ this method religiously for everyone else’s benefit.  The other knuckledraggers here are slow to adopt it, because I think they don’t understand.

The method I employ is to slide the locking latch shut as I leave.  The closed latch is stopped by the door frame when the door is closed, leaving the door slightly propped open.  You can visually see that the door is open and the stall is available.  It’s easy and costs nothing.  All it requires is adoption.  And so I began planning a campaign to promote this concept to my less-considerate cohorts.  I would post some PSA-type flyers in the stall to remind others to prop the door when they leave.  I needed some clever ideas, clever slogans.  On my first brainstorming, I came up with the following:

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With such a marketing campaign, how could I fail?  Well, you only fail if you try.  I did not go through with the propping campaign.  Instead, I started thinking of even more clever ideas.

What if there was a plexiglass “flag” that you could slide onto the latch mechanism from inside?  The flag would extend outside the stall.  That would indicate occupancy, which is more valuable than indicating vacancy.  Because, despite the compelling arguments posted within the stall, you still have to kind of assume that someone may not comply and you have to test the door anyway.  And if that’s the case, then door propping is not 100% reliable and might as well not even be attempted.  (You have to love black and white viewpoints.)

Another early consideration I had was putting a spring lever inside the latch, which would hold the door slightly ajar when unlatched but wouldn’t interfere with closing and latching the door.  I even did the research into what type of metal would be needed and how to form it into a spring lever that wouldn’t simply wear out.  A torch was required to heat treat the metal, so I reluctantly back-burnered that idea. (ha!)

Now, the obvious solution to this is to update the infrastructure.  It would be as simple as buying a latch that has an open/closed indicator on the outside.  You know, like on airplanes.  But even though we seem to get new toilet paper and paper towel dispensers on a bi-annual basis, we can’t upgrade the door latches.

Time will tell if any of these things actually happens.  Until then, I’ll be jingling in the suite.  Keep your ears open.

Resume Retardation 2

A continuation of an older post, Resume Retardation, this is the resume that inspired my “English, Motherfucker…” post.  Again, this is an application for a software development position.  The applicant is an MBA and a Microsoft Certified Professional.  The latter should mean that he knows how to use correct technical terminology, and the former should mean he knows how to use English.  Like the previous example, the resume and the work history shows the level of quality you can expect.  Get it done; move on; disregard consequences. 

Most all of the offenses are missing words, which would suggest editing work done without proper proofing afterwards.

“Managed project management with regards the business logic and conditions, also managed a team of .net developers.” – This needs to be “with regard to business logic…”, missing a word and using an improper phrase style.

“…designing a new system for importing jobs from concept to deployment, 2-month development effort.” – The trailing fragment phrase could be fixed by leading in with “which was a …” or even “a …”.

“Managed website traffic to generate up to 4x more then when I started.” – Then/than is a pretty simple rule to understand.  This is Facebook-level dumb.  Somewhat better than YouTube-level dumb, but still.  Also, not grammatically, the question lingers, “4 times more what?”

“At the time that I started they had only a couple of schools involved, over the course of three years the project grew from a simply website to a .Net Solution with over 200+ schools we were collecting leads for.“ – What an awkward sentence.  Much more help needed than simply fixing the “simply” to “simple”.

Along with developing different methods of posting formats to the online entities.” – Not a full sentence.  At all.  I mean, this is not a full sentence at all.  It doesn’t even have the literary effect my snarky response does.

There’s more to this resume, but I grow bored.  When you hit this many errors, there’s not much you can try to salvage.  How are people content with this presentation of their professional self?  Is it simply a “get ‘er done” mentality or do people really believe that they don’t have time to invest in quality?

In my geographic location, it seems the software market is always hot.  But I’m starting to get a better impression of the dynamics of this market.  I’m seeing candidates who have had the same past employers.  I think it’s the same losers cycling through all the employers in the area and those employers are constantly dismissing and replacing them, giving the impression of a hot job market, when really it’s just the churning of lameness.

The CubeRoof

At work, some time ago, we had contractors doing a build-out of new offices right beside our cube farm.  This got me thinking, why can’t we all have offices?  Along with this consideration, I am always hearing from the vampires in my group about how horrible the lighting is.  Everyone wants the light to be cut to 50% or less.  I’m not in that group.  I like light.  I brainstormed a new product idea to help us all.

Why does a company build cubicles and not not all offices?  Some reasons could be:

  • Cheaper
  • Layout flexibility
  • Increased communication, for better or worse
  • Increased oversight

Why do employees want offices and dislike cubicles?

  • Increased privacy
  • More environmental control (light/temperature/décor)
  • Sense of ownership

So what’s the difference between a cube and an office?

  • Door
  • Walls to the ceiling
  • Windows or lack of windows
  • Basically, enclosure. 

So let’s completely forget about convincing management to let their subordinates shut themselves behind a door.  I walk a tight line between being controlling and liberal, and with the co-workers I have, allowing a closed door is simply an invitation to sleep all day.

So if we can’t have doors, we can create enclosure by raising the walls to the ceiling.  This, however, would create serious issues with lighting, temperature, and airflow.  So, my idea is to lower the ceiling to the cube: CubeRoof.

The biggest design point of CubeRoof would be the modular, minimal pieces involved in the system.  Taking cues from both IKEA and ClosetMaid, the CubeRoof system would be cheap and easy.

The first element of any roof is the truss.  The truss is comprised of three straight elements and three angles.  To simplify the system, there are a small number of extendable aluminum beams, similar to “cargo bars”, in varying maximum lengths.  This comprise the angles of the truss and the support beams between them.  Then, there are adjustable angle brackets that connect the beams.  The adjustability allows any peak or pitch of the roof.  The angle brackets have a lip for attachment to the top of the cubicle wall, and a post to accept another beam to connect trusses.

Finally, the roof material is simple nylon fabric sheets connected to the trusses and to each other with Velcro.  Having different lengths, widths, and colors provides for an endless combination of roof styles.  Light color fabrics for diffused light, dark colors for light blocking.  Inset screens for ventilation and panels for adjustable “skylights.”  Aftermarket and customizing possibilities could be large.

I would estimate one CubeRoof requiring three interconnected trusses, which would be eight straight bars, nine angle connectors, and two properly-sized roof panels.  Of course, I’m not going to build it.  That would be for someone much better than me, if you believe in the power of capitalism.

Double Disappointment Day

Coming back from lunch, I got behind a vehicle that had me shaking my head.  Later on, I thought I should probably write about it.  Not that I had anything poignant to say, but I think I felt challenged to talk about it without being overtly offensive.

So, I’m talking about trucks.  The big full-size trucks that are the truest expression of American life.  You know… I’m not a fan.  I understand their purpose and I know some people need a truck to manifest that purpose.  I don’t think everyone needs one.  I think many people love the image of being a truck owner, which to me is a shame, because I hold truck owners in very low regard.  Why do I?  Well, part of it is what I just mentioned – you don’t need the capabilities of a truck, but you want to portray that you need it and do “truck stuff” all the time.  And part of it is a bully posture – you want to be the biggest thing on the road.  And with that personality, I immediately equate it with low intelligence and lower social… um… capabilities?

I can’t paint everyone with this paintbrush, but we all know people who have a few coats of this on already.  And I’m not below making assumptions based on outward appearances.  There’s little harm in doing so, because people are projecting the image that they want to be seen.  Right?

Back to the story.  So I saw a truck at lunch, and when I wanted to use a picture of it from my dashcam in this post, I was bummed to find out my dashcam only saves about half an hour of video.  By the time I got home, the video was long overwritten. (Mental note, buy a bigger SD card).  So that was the first disappointment.  The second was when I searched the internet for something similar and discovered it is “a thing”.

So, to anti-climatically get to the point, this is what was hanging out in front of me at a long stop light:  a dead deer mural.

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Mine wasn’t that exact one.  But I shouldn’t be surprised, there’s plenty of variations.

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So… I said something earlier about social something.  I grew up in a hunting city in a hunting county in a hunting state.  I get it.  Some people like hunting.  But, coupled with the “look at me” you naturally have with the truck, do you really need to advertise that you want to kill things 365 days a year?  Do you need to foist that desire on some (or many) people who may not share the love of your bloody hobbies? 

And you may really be a hunter.  It’s quite possible.  But let’s be truly honest here.  That mural on the back of your vehicle is a fantasy.  You wish you could bag a buck that big.  It’s a dream.  You may have done it in the past.  Maybe, just maybe.  Not everyone can get a trophy kill.

But that’s not what all truck people fantasize about.  My search for dead deers included other tailgate murals.

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And don’t worry.  There’s plenty of variations on that, too.  Just in case you wanted to be different.

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So maybe this has become a triple disappointment day.

Now I don’t mean to be really sloppy with the paintbrush here, but the paint only seems to be sticking on one type of vehicle.  There’s a certain subset of people out there that have a predilection or even a desire to offend other people.  And the go-to vehicle for those types of people is… the American full-size truck.

Slow Bleed

Do you have a credit card?  I’ll bet you do.  Do you use that credit card at restaurants?  You probably do.  Do you check your receipts against your credit card statement?  Well…  Do you even take your receipt when you leave?

Why go through all that hassle?  When I explain that I log every receipt into MS Money, then download my transactions from my CC company and match them all up, you might be thinking it’s a colossal waste of time.  Maybe you’d relent a little if I explained that I can track spending habits and trends.  I can see that I’ve been spending more on gas.  Are gas prices going up or am I driving more or is my car in need of a major tune up?  I’m spending more on food.  Is it because I’m eating more expensive meals, or is it something a little more sinister?

It could be something more sinister, and you could be subject to it too.  You may never even know it’s happening.  And the culprits are banking on it.  It’s illegal.  It’s fraud.  It’s theft.  Do you want to be on the receiving end of that?  And yet, at the same time, when it happens to you, you might just react with a shrug.  Meh.

This is something that has happened to me about a half-dozen times, and I used to shrug it off, but not anymore.  What I am talking about is credit card charge modifications, post-sale.  When you go to a restaurant, you are presented with a bill.  You give your credit card and then are presented with a charge slip to fill in a tip, total, and sign.  Then, the tip is added to the original sale amount and the transaction is finalized.  Does this finalization happen in your sight?  No, it does not.  Can you be assured that the tip entered is what you wrote on the paper charge slip?  No, you can not.  Can you verify that the tip entered matches what you wrote?  Only if you keep your receipt.

Shitty employees are getting wise to the fact that many people don’t keep their receipt and even fewer verify the charge later.  So, these assholes simply add a dollar to the tip.  It’s such a small amount that few people would notice it and those that would notice might not be inclined to make a fuss about it.  These dollars add up for them. 

The first couple of times it happened to me, I was annoyed, but didn’t think complaining was worth the hassle.  Then it happened at a place I trusted and the feeling of betrayal compelled me to act.  And now, I’m not ever letting it happen again.  You want to steal a dollar from me, I hope you get fucking fired for theft.  Because I know I’m not your only mark.  Beware the victim mentality.  You might think (and I had moments, too) that your tip was modified because it was an unfair tip amount.  You should have tipped more, and you should feel bad for that.  You should consider the extra amount an education in proper tipping etiquette.  No.  Fuck that.  It is your choice entirely on how much to tip.  No one else has a right to make that choice for you or to demand that you give a different amount.

I just caught another instance today.  A local pizza place that I go to weekly put a dollar on my tip for a dine-in order.  Tipping for dine-in and carry-out orders (and the proliferation of tip begging in general) is for another post, but suffice to say, I don’t tip for counter service.  So, having my transaction differ at all at this establishment is highly suspicious.  And tonight, I will handle it.  Again, it is a major breach of trust for a place I’ve been visiting for over 10 years to do that to me.  It’s infuriating.

You should not let it happen to you.  It’s a major change in habit if you haven’t done it before, but you need to do it.  At a minimum, you can take a picture of your receipt and check it later.  But ideally, you should begin tracking your transactions.  MS Money Sunset Edition can be used without registration and is freely available from Microsoft.  Don’t feel like you have to pay for Quicken every year for the same basic functionality.  Get started now and stop the bleeding.

Let It Be

In the early programming days, back when the language was called BASIC, there was a instruction that has since become deprecated.  That command is called LET.  Because language parsers were simpler back then, there needed to be a way to identify assignment of a value to a variable.  Nowadays, you just say x=1 and assignment is understood.  However, saying x=1 could imply comparison, resulting in a true or false value.  To avoid that ambiguity, in the past, you had to say LET x=1.

I started off with that little history lesson to say that I was listening to a recently purchased CD and a song title was “LET X=X”.  Since I was driving while the song was playing, I couldn’t really make out any of the lyrics, but the title gave me plenty to think about.

A programming statement like that is pretty useless.  It changes nothing.  And that thought is somewhat powerful.  Telling someone “LET X=X” could be saying “Leave things alone.” or “Don’t change a thing.”  Or you could be a bit more philosophical about it, applying a Que Sera Sera viewpoint to it – whatever happens, will happen.

So I looked up the lyrics and to me, they don’t make any sense.  But whatever, that artist rarely makes any sense to me.  But I got my own meaning out of the title, and I think that makes up for any confusion.

Not Getting Sick

I don’t get sick.  The last time I mentioned getting sick was four and a half years ago.  I described it as a “nasty cold”.  In fact, that old post is talking about deviation, and my time for a major deviation was due.

I’ve been to the Sick AF Theme Park and I always manage to get out without going on any rides.  Well, sometimes I end up on some of the kiddie rides like Shit Yo’self or The Dehydrator, and I’ll get on with my life.  The bigger rides always kind of spooked me.  This time, I must’ve gotten lost trying to get out because I ended up in line for the #2 ride in the whole park – IN-FLUUUUU-ENZA EXTREME.  And let me tell you, it’s a long fucking ride. (Since I’m writing this now, I can say that I’m lucky to have not gotten on the #1 ride, Nu-Moan YAAAAAAAA.)

Day 0 – Wed

Getting ready to go to bed and out of nowhere a large sneezing fit hits me.  A little later in bed, a second fit strikes.  This starts my sinuses draining like mad.  They drip into my throat all night.  Ticket for one?  Thank you, climb aboard.

Day 1 – Thurs

At work, the entire place is full of coughing and sneezing.  I guess I got on board just in time.  By the end of the day, my plan for when I get home is: sleep, eat soup, sleep more.  When I do get home, I feel terrible.  A different terrible, a foreboding feeling that something is not right this time.  I check my temperature and it’s 99.6.  Half an hour later it’s 99.9.  I call my boss and take the next day off work.

And here’s the other huge issue with this.  The next day, I am going on a trip to see my mom in her new nursing home digs.  At this point, I’m optimistic I can bounce back enough to make a safe trip.

Throughout the night, my fever continues to climb, broaching 101.  This is all new to me.  I don’t get sick.  Oh, first time rider?  Have fun and enjoy.  You’re going to remember this one.

Day 2 – Fri

Fever is hovering in the 101 range.  Every joint and muscle in my body hurts.  Even sometimes my skin hurts to the touch.  I put on a brave face and go out to infect the world.  I get some Dimetapp and Halls from Walgreens, a small pizza from Hungry Howies, and some Gatorade from Dollar General.  I’m good.  But I’m not.  The smell of the pizza is turning my stomach and one tiny bite was spit right back out.  Big ol waste of money.

Around 5pm, I capitulated and went to the Urgent Care.  The receptionist took my information and commented, “Boy, you haven’t been here in a long time!”  I said, “I know, I don’t get sick, but when I do, I do it with style.”  My time there was short and I wasn’t admitted or anything.  I got an Rx for a flu med, 10 doses over 5 days.  Five days!  I go back home and over the next 36 hours or so, I got to experience all the wonderful twists and turns in this insane devil ride.

For me, being under a constant fever gave my brain license to do whatever it wanted.  And this is what I got.  When I was unconscious, I was in some sort of disaster zone, providing help.  All the rubble was black blocks (there’s more to it, but it’s too weird to describe).  I had a special power that whenever I coughed, I could demolish a partially collapsed building.  When I was more awake, it was kind of the same, except everything was white, not black.  As time went on and my condition improved, so did the disaster.  Then I had to start dealing with situations like “There are reports of water at this other camp, but we can’t tell anyone because they will overwhelm that camp.”

And everyone should be happy that I did not get on the plane.  Everyone except my wallet.  $600, everything nonrefundable.  But I would literally be the grim reaper walking into a nursing home in my condition.  Do something good for once, you dickhead. Don’t kill people.

Day 3 – Sat

My second full day of absolutely nothing.  Probably 22 hours in bed.  Can’t get up.  Can’t eat.  Only sleeping in 1-2 blocks, which involves the inescapable scenario of fixing a disaster scene.  But at some point in the afternoon, I woke up and my fever broke (high score: 103.3).  I recognized this because I was sopping wet.  My clothes were soaked the whole way through and sweat running down my arms.  That’s something that hasn’t happened to me even in my most careless hiking jaunts in the summer heat.  My joint and muscle pain is gone, but something was traded for that relief.  Now I have a pain that feels exactly like someone folding your ear cartilage.  It doesn’t fade in and out, it’s a sharp, piercing pain that makes me convulse.  And it comes along about every 15 seconds.  Minute after minute, hour after hour.  Sometimes it will pause long enough for me to get a small window of sleep, but it is relentless.

With the clearing of my fever, my continuing struggle in the disaster zone literally turned into an empty field.  I think that’s a good thing?  Anyway, good ride so far.  Lots of unexpected surprises.  What else ya got?

Day 4 – Sun

My fever is gone, but I’m still sweaty and temperature sensitive.  My joints and muscles are not sore, but I’m weak.  I haven’t really eaten anything in days.  Looks like I lost about 7 pounds.  I’m still laying around in bed, because I can’t do anything else.  I can’t really sleep because of the constant ear stabbing.  So I decide to listen to some recent CD purchases I hadn’t played yet.  That was a pleasant reprieve.  Then I picked out another song from a different album to play.  It’s a favorite of mine – happy, joyful, and executed exceedingly well.  When the song started playing, for absolutely no good reason, I started crying uncontrollably.  I took a while to compose myself and clear out my sinuses (SO much!), but when I would think of the song again, I would start sobbing again.  And again.  And later on yet, again.  What the fuck is wrong with me?

I reprise my earlier soup extravaganza, which is probably the most I’ve eaten since this started.  I tried a burger for lunch so I could get some protein for some energy.  Just a couple bites.  Pathetic.

Now my sleep patterns are all messed up.  Didn’t get tired until 2 in the morning.  Even then, I only slept in 1-2 hour blocks, like I had been.  I’d either wake up soaked in sweat, or with pain in my chest from sinus drain.  It’s ridiculous.

Day 5 – Mon

Thanks for riding.  I hope you enjoyed it.  No, thank you for letting me get the fuck off the ride without dying.

Now, an attempt to return to normalcy, although I know in reality it will probably be a couple of weeks to get back to the way things were.  Cleaning the sick bedding, cleaning the sick house, realizing I don’t have a lot of energy available to do any of this for extended periods.  I break out in sweats easily.  I tried a small meal at Panera and had to actually take my time and eat.  Like every bite took a few minutes to settle.  And people thought I ate slowly before… oh boy.

What a long-ass post.  Six days wrapped up in a stupid story.  I should have live-blogged the whole event, or maybe death-blogging would be more apropos.  Next time I think I’m dying, I’ll try that.

The Social Security GUID

With the recent Equifax debacle, I froze my credit file at all the places I was able to.  But the news still keeps on coming.  Whenever I read about these events, I think, “Why can’t we just request a new Social Security Number, like we can request a new bank account number?”

Well, for one, there’s not a lot of SSNs available. 1.2 billion at the max, and I’m certain that you can’t have SSNs like 000-00-0000, and there’s probably a few other notable blocks that couldn’t be used, so it’s less than that.  And with people constantly dying and being born, those numbers are always getting used up.  If we were to allow people to request new SSNs easily, we would exhaust the available supply very quickly.

So, if we were to reimagine how our country’s income tracking system could be implemented, we should make sure it’s not going to need an update for a very long time.  And when you think of things that are going to last a long time, I think of 128-bit values – GUIDs.

I understand that the retrofit of a new field in databases around the world to accommodate this new ID value would be nigh impossible, so this is just a thought exercise in what we could want from a national identifier.

Foremost, we would want our ID to be replaceable at will, but we would also need to be able to keep a history of former IDs.  For example, if your ID was stolen or leaked, you would simply request a new one, and the old one would be archived.  The old ID would continue to be valid for existing credit lines and other previously established links, but would no longer be valid as a lookup for new lines of credit or other interests.  Ideally, you would update your old accounts with your new number.  Maybe it would be mandatory to keep your ID up to date within a year of changing it.

Second, your ID should not be able to be guessed or calculated.  There are guidelines for the structure of SSNs that indicate approximate year of issue and state issued in.  With a random GUID, there is no such pattern (although it could be somewhat implemented with the resultant loss of security).  The vastness of a 128-bit space would nearly eliminate guessing.  The length of a GUID also means it would be difficult for people to memorize upon overhearing someone else reciting it.

So, if we were going to do this, do it right, do it big. Go from 10 bits to 128 bits and never think about it again.