Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Bad Peppers

I’ve got really bad allergies. Anyone who knows me knows this. Usually my affliction means that my nose runs at inopportune moments. What’s worse than a runny nose? One that should be running but won’t. Why is this bad? Because it means you can’t breathe, and it eventually leads to a sinus infection.

There are a lot of great ways to deal with congestion. Decongestants, for example. What if those don’t help? Well, exercise helps. What if you’re really lazy, or otherwise occupied? Well…then I heartily recommend spicy food.

In my quest for natural decongestants, I’ve tried many different spicy foods. I consider myself a connoisseur of strongly opined cuisine. We were dining out the other evening when I realized that we had habanero  butter at the table. I asked the waitress if they made it in the kitchen. When she said “yes”, I asked for diced habaneros with dinner. They were good, although somewhat disappointing.

A couple of days later, Aimee brought a pair of habaneros home from the grocery store. Based on my previous experience, I diced them up and dropped them into my taco dinner. No big surprises. They were spicy, flavorful, but not overpowering. Perhaps they were a bit disappointing as wicked peppers go.

My experience this evening led me to believe that 1) our local restaurant buys their habaneros from our local grocery store and 2) our local grocery store got a batch of bad peppers.

This evening I asked, once again, for diced habaneros with dinner. This time, however, the hotness was excruciating. Although my nose is no longer stuffed up, I can also not feel the roof of my mouth. After careful examination in the mirror, I’m quite certain that I still have a tongue…even though I’m unable to move it. In complete seriousness, my eyes started running down my cheeks because the food was so incredibly hot. For the first time in our eleven year relationship, Aimee finished dinner before I did. When the waitress came to ask Aimee if she wanted more water, I choked out an emphatic “yess!”

Monday, September 6, 2010

Things That Fly

   Building a Model Rocket I have always loved things that fly. They are magical, defiant. The other day, Evelyn asked if she could fly my model airplane. Unfortunately, I don’t even know how to fly my model airplane. I assured her that we could do one better. We would build a rocket and fly that instead.

Building and flying a model rocket is the ultimate participative building activity that a parent can do with their child. I was excited to share the wonder of flying a rocket with Evelyn. After we selected our rocket, we sat down to assemble it together. Evelyn did a great job holding parts on, even though she didn’t want to get glue on her fingers.

Early this morning sheBuilding a Model Rocket was already eager to fly the rocket, but we both had plans already. It was evening before we both made it home again. Aimee called to warn me that Evelyn was set on flying her rocket and would not be deterred. We packed up the car and headed to the local soccer field.

Surprisingly, our rocket is the best one that I’ve ever seen. PerhapsBuilding a Model Rocket it’s the awesome color. Maybe it’s because Evelyn wore a matching dress. Even though she wasn’t too keen on the noise, she managed to help fly the rocket three times in a row. For the record, I don’t think I have ever had a rocket fly three times. Certainly never on the same day!Building a Model Rocket

Friday, September 3, 2010

What I.T. Does

It's really easy to focus on the nuts and bolts of what I.T. does and completely disregard its role as a way of codifying institutional knowledge. We recently had an issue at the office with a check run. There are a lot of reasons why this particular event took place, but what's daunting is the expense of fixing it. In less than ten minutes, we created a problem which will cost several thousands of dollars to fix.

We like to automate processes in our I.T. department. Part of the reason is that we don't like doing mundane things over and over. The reason is that we invariably fail. In this case, we can try to absolve ourselves of guilt by pointing out that someone else didn't follow procedure. The problem, though, is that we routinely automate things because we hate trying to follow strict procedures. We aren't good at it.

There is a disconnect here. Technology is really good at doing things fast, and precisely. It also, however, helps us codify business rules. "When do we run check cycles?" Check the job scheduler.

"How do we run check cycles?" Read the comments in the code you found in the job scheduler. The bonus is that the rule is now written down. Codified. The employee who had the responsibility for remembering to write this code is now free to do other things. The person who used to run the job is off the hook for remembering teh very specific rules for running the job. Everybody wins.

Alien Life Exists on Earth

I've got conclusive proof. They live on my block. For $14,000 in cash (while the $8000 tax credit was available. Do the math.). You can imagine the shape the house was in at that price. I knew we were in for a wild ride when they didn't bother with major renovations (I mean installing walls) before they moved in.

Part of the reason I'm sure they are aliens is that they are immune to the sounds and behaviors that any human simply cannot tolerate. First example, I can routinely hear their children yelling in a way reminiscent of horror movies. Through two sets of closed windows. And it's not because the parents are beating them; that's how they play.

Second evidence is their dog. Which barks all day and all night, indoors and out. Any red-blooded human would have disappeared this dog weeks ago. Every time we go over to complain about the dog, it mysteriously ends up inside through the back door despite a notable lack of humanoid presence at the front door. Question: How can their super-sensitive alien hearing detect that we're coming over, when they are deluged with noise non-stop?

I can't really figure them out. They seem nice enough, but I have a really difficult time reconciling their overt niceness with their incongruous, complete disregard for people living nearby. Maybe I should chalk this up to punishment for all the nights we partied loudly until the wee hours when the previous neighbors had a house full of young children.

That's probably fair.