Thoughts

Since this is better than having a room full of people looking at you like “he’s talking to himself… weird!”

I miss my balcony, damn it!

My idea of an ideal afternoon would be sitting by the window on a recliner on a cool, rainy afternoon, as the Sun goes down, sipping hot chocolate or coffee while staring out at the treeline from my apartment.

Cue the old timey music.

While there was plenty of rain in New York lately, I never got to enjoy any of it while there was still some light outside. Either I was asleep because I came home early in the morning or it’s already night. It’s been a full two weeks since I last set foot on the balcony and I’m starting to suffer from withdrawal symptoms.

Or it could just be gas.

Note to self: Go to work sober

Giving a presentation while on allergy meds is a good way to make people believe you have the linguistic dexterity of a lobotomized gorilla; after it’s been beaten even more senseless with a shovel.

I used to be able to take Benadryl or any other diphenhydramine and go the whole day without it adversely affecting my work. While my copious coffee intake (which I have since severely curtailed) may have helped a bit, I’ve always been able to suppress the extreme drowsiness, mild dizziness and confusion on my own. That is, until Wednesday.

This may also be a sign that I’m just getting older.

Talking to people who, for all intents and purposes, think you’re about to teach them Sanskrit in mime is quite a bit harder when your situational awareness is being slowly garroted and your eyelids suddenly acquire the weight of depleted Uranium.

Also, mime is not art.

Speech is like a bonsai

Cogency and lucidity require careful cultivation and pruning, especially when you don’t have a particularly tech savvy crowd as your audience and you’re giving them a security overview. The biggest problem seems to be that a lot of people still assume their real world common sense doesn’t apply in the virtual when the opposite is true. I have to make them trust their own judgement and I have to make them feel at ease with technology.

This is especially true of phishing scams.

If some random guy on the street hands you a letter saying your bank account will be closed soon and the only way to stop it would be to provide your personal information, would you :

a) Call the bank yourself and verify this.
b) Give him the personal information.
c) Dance a jig.
d) Throw poo at him.

I remember early in school a teacher saying that in most multiple choice questions, you can usually eliminate two of the answers almost immediately. Then you can take your time thinking about the remaining two.

I now carry a spare roll of Angel Soft brand toilet paper in case I meet the random bank guy.

It sure put a smile on me!

The Benadryl is starting to wear off so it’s about time for another dose.

I’m going on vacation on Friday after much prodding by my family. I think it’s well overdue.

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Why can’t you just answer the question?

Instead of going through an explication todo-list that you must finish unless that train of thought gets derailed.

I was on a conference call Saturday when our boss, Mr. Dick Hardass, asked one of my colleagues a seemingly simple question about a deadline. “This couldn’t take more than 5 seconds to answer” we all thought.

Mr. Shakes-like-a Twig — nice fellow, neat hair —  went on to take 2 minutes to say “a week”.

You see, Mr. Twig had to go through how he was examining three months of business intelligence reports to figure out the right algorithms to sort through it all. Then he had to describe our current layout (which we were all familiar with), that he had just moved, that our report templates are “adequate”, that he just had 2 cups of coffee, that we had setup a second database server to mirror the original data (also something we all knew) and that his parents are from Ohio.

Mr. Hardass is a new boss, so we didn’t get a chance to tell him to never ask Mr. Twig for a status report unless it’s by email. He also has the patience of a fruit fly, the attention span of a hummingbird and the temper of a wounded leopard being poked with a stick, while being forced to watch a Dharma and Greg rerun.

And while Mr. Twig, being a nice fellow, isn’t capable of understanding that silence on the other end is often a sign of a boil-over to come.

“I don’t have the bandwidth to deal with all that, I just want to know how we’re doing!”
etc… etc…

Mr. Hardass

The flustered Mr. Twig replied with a wavering voice, “a week”.

Answer the question!

I’ve heard this said to many people who travel down the winding path of explanations, touching all subjects except the point.

The older I get the more I realize that these people are actually answering a long list of questions in their head accumulated through the hours, days, years and even a lifetime. The one they just heard is actually tacked on at the bottom… which they will get to eventually, time be damned.

Moreover, as I get older, I feel that I’m turning into one of these explanation adventurers touring the treacherous waters of societal impatience. It’s not that I want to delay, frustrate or otherwise confuse the listener, but this is more of an external monologue that I go through to build that very important answer. I’m thinking and I desperately want to give an answer you’re happy with as soon as I can compile a program that displays it — to me first — so I can relay it to you.

Comments are necessary in the code of this program so I can keep track of what I’m doing.

Of course, that’s not to say that you should be wasting your time listening to a dissertation on the consistency of yak dung (which is actually different from cow and buffalo dung, but not many people know this) when you just need a two word answer.

Diatribes, while they personally satisfying, don’t really help people like us. A sudden change in facial expression — raised eyebrows and tilted head works — that you’re waiting is usually the most reasonable thing you can do to get us back on track.