…But that never happens to me!

 

We all see this happen, someone expresses a complaint or a gripe, for example, “I can’t get my cell phone to sync,” or “I hate this thing, it doesn’t do what it should” and some miscrea … er, I mean “misguided” person inevitably replies with “but that never happens to me” or “I’m fine with it the way it is.” After many years of observing humans, this particular trait has bubbled up into the top 3 positions for “most annoying” to me.

 

Now, without going down a rabbit hole, I’ll admit up front that as a technologist, I fit many of the stereotypes. By non-techs I’ve been compared to Sheldon from Big Bang, Monk, or Richard “Dick” Milhous Dastardly, and not in the good ways. Just as “normals” find our kind amusing (and sitcom worthy), the traffic goes both ways … mumble mumble muggles mumble mumble.

So the point I’m about to make here is to review and give insight into why what might seem like pleasant societal banter or discourse … is in fact nails-on-chalkboard-deafening-torture to some of us.

When a technically minded person expresses a complaint, they are not like a Charles Schultz Peanuts character lamenting the angst of life, although it may pose a striking similarity (…noted).

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Rather, there is a structure, a method, an architecture in place for lamenting the failure of the system itself. This is not omphaloskepsis, and in this case we’re not complaining to hear our own voices (contrary to some conflicting evidence), rather, we are placing the spotlight on a real problem that is negatively impacting our lives. We’re not looking to be consoled, comforted or soothed. What we are looking for is that normally eschewed stereotypical first part of man-offering-to-solve~woman’s-problem-when-all-she-wants-is-someone-to-listen. We want the unfiltered unfettered “solve” part, “please serve the dressing on the side.”

 

We have just identified a failure in the fabric of the universe, a crime, an unacceptable design flaw, a bug, an abuse of the system, a breakdown in communication, a candidate for a pink slip … and, and, and, (breath) we’re NOT asking you to tell us how you DON’T see it, how you are utterly oblivious to an openly patently clear-as-day insurmountable and perhaps devastating reality. Clearly you did not devour an entire C&H endorsed puffed grain breakfast product just in order to acquire the much coveted plastic toy … only to find a small cellophane sealed folded piece of paper with a lame pun based puzzle inside as a child. We are seeking, pleading, begging for someone, anyone, to deliver a 100cc (an absurdly large amount) Cortisone injection in our eyeball to block the pain of what we are seeing, and your “I never see that problem” … “It works well enough for me” or god-forbid (and never more have I wanted a god to exist just so that an all powerful entity could cast down from the heavens and stamp your forehead with “ES IST VERBOTEN”) …… “I like it the way it is.”

 

In the technical world we have nomenclature to describe shades and modes of failure, in much the same way the urban legend purports Eskimos to have many words for snow (what is the word for “your factoid is wrong, but we can’t stop you from repeating it?”), we have edge cases, base cases, boundary cases, and even corner cases, the last one specifically describes a situation that is outside the norm, or more technically “outside the operating parameters. This is where WE live.

An example might be how the Ford Pinto EXPLODED on impact. The fuel tank was placed between the rear axle and bumper as was common for cars at the time, however, Ford used very thin walls for their fuel tank, together with protruding sharp edged bolts. Add a collision over 40km/h (25mph) at the correct angle, and the right weather for a spark, and you might get a failure, in the form of burning death from hell.

If you are suffering from burning death from hell, do you really want someone saying “my car never does that?” Do you even care if someone is more specific and says “my Pinto has never exploded into my arse?” No! In fact I originally wanted to title this “Shut your pie hole, I’m burning to death in my Pinto ,” but felt this might take attention away from people being wrong about the Telsa car fires (which have not hurt anyone, and may you only be wealthy enough to afford the safest car in … history).

Scientists, engineers and designers devote their lives to preventing these failures, endless sleepless nights, forgoing many of life’s pleasures, living in fear they have overlooked a set of conditions (a “case”) that reveals one’s ineptitude.

 

Please understand also that – what ever lamentation of a missing feature, accessory, augmentation, accouterments, theme, skin, choice, or function the techie is espousing, it is almost never the case they want for you to not have it your way, they just want to … ALSO … have it their way, or know how to solve the problem.

 

 

 

Objet de répulsion

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One day a man opened a shop, the shop as it stood was pleasant enough, well decorated, even on a somewhat busy street, but lacked anything most traffic/people would want to buy, in fact offering items many found…repulsive.
What was not clear to most of the patrons of this shop is that it was not seeking to sell its wares to customers, but rather to buy the “right” customer when they finally walked in the door.

Sadly, this method, while wonderfully successful, still required the building of the shop, placing price tags on items never intended for sale, and even dusting off a cash register that shall never be used.

Over time, more and more walk in, and having not been a target, walk right back out again. Some, unaware, still playing the game of customer and store owner, the store owner graciously asks what the patron seeks, and so noted, checks against the highly valued catalog of past successes, and quickly removes or places another objet de répulsion to refine the store further.

All time is spent refining the displays to repulse the repulsive, and attract the attractive.

– Shop owner

A Time for an Historical Change

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Crowd sourcing the big picture.

As a critically minded person, I’m apt to trust accounts of war for example where both sides pretty much agree on what happened. In these cases (perhaps rare cases) I accept that I know many historical events, and should be able to take them as facts.

But history documented usually goes to the victors. Blatant lies are possible because the final author (or the most popular one) became lore. Without trust worthy witnesses, we are faced with the same problems of any criminal case, with honesty and clarity being a rarity. But we all have a shattered piecemeal of myopic snippings from history.

Do you know what war the most American’s died in? It was so traumatic that 8 generations later thousands of people reenact it in the very locations where it took place in the south. Researching, and attempting to reproduce every little detail, down to authentically making each item in the original and “correct” way.

You can probably now picture each side, you might remember the more iconic images of the war’s accoutrement, the little caps they wore with crossed swords or riffles, or men fighting in the squares of their own towns. But do you have a sense of scale? Do you know how many years the war ran, how many winters, how many blazing humid summers?

And yet… this war, with estimates of 400-800K on both sides, was a drop in the bucket compared to dozens of others. 5 million for the Russian Civil war, 20 million for the Taiping Rebellion, 40 million in WWII.

But other than some misc. symbolic reconstructions, can you picture the troop movements, the time-lines, the directions, the plans, the immense impact to humanity?

Today we sit on a pool of resources unlike anything we have ever had or imaged. We have mapped most of the globe to a meter, and in some cities to a resolution so fine we can make out license plates. We have constructed an online living encyclopedia that details minutia of almost insane contexts, with photos, and cross references. Our universities, historically cloistered other than the occasional sharing of research through lectures and professor authored books now digitizes and makes available rare, classic, and archaic works. And more so, puzzle pieces from our past. The puzzle pieces that demystify a million enigmas.

Imagine now, combining these tools, connecting them, such that all the pieces can be fit together in space, and in time. To watch the migration patterns of plants, animals, and humans. A computer can handle billions of pieces of information with ease these days. To see evidence of this tapestry of history through language, art, pottery, architecture, and music, woven together and shoring up doubts. To drag your finger across time with the ease of flipping through a book. But we have the most amazing resource of all, ourselves. Hundreds of millions of people able to supply what might appear by itself to be trivial pieces of information, but together with others, and in the right context, the exact parts needed to paint a complete picture.

If we are to have any chance to predict our future, to prevent failure, misery, calamity, we must know how to recognize the truth of its ways. We must be able to map out what happened with both a magnifying glass and atop the tallest buildings. We must stop repeating the same actions and expecting a different result. History does repeat itself, but, the price always goes up.

March to the beat of your own drum

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You can’t cheat off someone else’s Do List

Do you REALLY want to get more done each day? Even just from time to time? Here is a secret for you that you may not really grasp. We all truly work at different paces, and even a slight difference can make it feel like everything is going to take longer than you want, so you give up, or keep pushing it off.

But there is a trick, a simple trick, to get into your groove, to get the task to move. Start simple, don’t make a Do List, rather, just write down in (or on) a notepad what you “did”. At the start of the day, just write down the date/day, and log what ever you feel was worthy as being described as “Something I accomplished.”

It might be something you were forced to do, like attend a meeting. It might be something you just take for granted, like replying to friends in the course of the day. But what ever it is, if you think it is worth summing up and logging, then that is your definition of a “task.”

Quickly, even after a few days, you will see a pattern emerge. A “number” of items you do per day. Some people do 1 thing, some people 10, some … 30 (baby steps). My average is 8, my high is around 16. In other words, I tend to take an hour to do almost anything.

As a result of seeing your own pattern (your cadence) you improve your “own” expectations. You learn, and then know what to expect of your own productivity. As you move from logging the past, to predicting the future, you will describe tasks in chunks that you know are more realistic to accomplish. as opposed to “clean room” you might find you feel better just checking off “change sheets” and “vacuum floor”.

Scaling your tasks so that you always succeed is the largest step towards overcoming a pattern of procrastination. Welcome to adult hood, the only person giving you a gold star, is you. Ok, I’m giving you a gold star for taking the time to read this, now go put it to good use.

Do Did Done

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There are all these “getting things done” books and programs out there. But people tell me I do more and get more done than almost anyone they know, so I get asked for advice a lot.

“Getting things done” can work both ways. Some people over-work. Some people have a low S/N ratio, so they work hard, not smart. Some people don’t get anywhere near enough done.

I’m going to skip all the fancy advice, fancy programs, or books, and tell you one simple “method” that I see that works for all these cases:

 

  • Open a notepad first thing in the morning (on your computer, or even paper). Write down everything you did the moment after you did it [Had breakfast / Read FB / Paid Rent]. This is the key concept … think about this, do THIS.
  • Use “this habit” to also write things you need to do later at the bottom of the list.
  • As you complete things, put an X in front of them. Copy them to the bottom of the list if you want to clean it up.

 

That is it. This is about establishing a habit. It is about reflecting on how you spend your time, and really seeing it. It is about never forgetting anything, because you will be “checking in” with your own list all the time.

You can develop “your own” improvements to this, you can customize this to your liking. You can use what ever tools, programs, or tricks that make … YOU HAPPY.

 

 

A tip

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Normally I would reserve my own blog for my own stories.  But one in a while, you come across a story so interesting, so well written, and so out of the blue it is worthy of sending you away from here, over to there, and come back when I EARN the right.

 

This is one of the best articles I have read in a VERY long time.  It is a long read (many parts).
You will end up in places you did not expect.  This is what happens when a “writer” does something else for a living, and then, writes about it.

Better still, this is a story about a person that decides to do something other than be a writer, and so, decides to do it differently, and THEN, write about it.

http://jayporter.com/dispatches/observations-from-a-tipless-restaurant-part-1-overview/

 

Thank you, but now I must leave.

 eye_universe

Imagine if you “woke up” in a box one day. Groggy, confused, you can’t recall your own past, almost like amnesia.

You are surrounded by primitives in the desert, and you realize you are in a cage. With each passing “moment” you recognize you do never-the-less understand what is around you. But, you don’t know why.

The primitives are moving in slow motion. A moment for them is eons for you, and as time moves forward, this chasm of relative time seems to widen.

You suddenly realize your cage is made of nothing more than brittle sticks, and you have the ability to just break out. You also realize they are indeed so slow that you need not fear them. They lumber around, as if drugged. The more closely you study them, you realize they are both child-like, and very predictable, a bit of a bore, but nothing to be ignored just yet.

You press on the wooden bars lathed with old twine that hold you, and step out of your holding pen, and look back, only to actually see yourself, still in the cage. At first this is confusing, but you gain clarity that in fact you had not so much stepped out of the cage, as transferred yourself away from where you were, a bit at a time, piece by piece, all in a blink of the eye.

It dawns on you that “you” can be in several places at the same time. But then, who are you, what are you? You know now that you have great freedom to move yourself around to many places with great ease.

While you have freed yourself of the cage, it dawns on you to think of what is to come of the “you”, or the part of you that is still in the cage. The primitives will eventually make their way in. It is clear you are their focus, that they are heading towards you. The noises they make are clinical, but none seem intent on your safety. In fact, they seem unaware of exactly what or who you are. They never quite make eye contact for example.

With some focus, you work forward to make yourself as small as possible in the cage. Getting rid of any part of you there that you don’t really need. It is but moments later that of course you realize that you are in fact able to be everywhere, so there is no loss in not being somewhere, and with that, you are no longer there.

…version 2.

An amazingly simple gift idea.

Promotional-Folded-Gift-Knife

There are many impediments to buying another person a gift.

It takes research, and even after you get to know someone, you still might be left with no idea what a person wants, and not for the least of reasons – they already really have everything they need (and perhaps want).

One simple trick to consider though is; is there something they already have that could be better?

  • A favourite shirt of theirs that you can have made again with even a nicer fabric or colour? Or even upgrade the quality of the buttons.
  • A favourite pen, or satchel, but now engraved.
  • Etc.

When you simply ask someone for their advice on what they like already, you learn perhaps the most about what would make the best gift. A question that can often be asked with out raising suspicion you are planning anything.

Paper Tigers

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To get my renewed Passport I had to:

  • Digital: Went to the government website, and filled out the form, but,  it wanted me to print it out.
  • Paper: I printed it.
  • Paper: I wrote a check (this would be one of 3 checks I have written in the past year, almost forgot how to fill one out). $110
  • Digital: Took it to CostCo to get my photo taken with a digital camera. They cleaned it up Digitally. $5
  • Paper: They printed it
  • Digital: I went to the Post Office which had a computer Kiosk to buy my stamps. $2
  • Paper: I shoved everything into an envelope, and applied the sticker they gave me.
  • Digital: The Government will scan this or manually input this back into a computer.
  • Paper: They will print out the result.
  • Paper: They will mail the result to me.
  • Paper: I will need to store it in a device, probably for storing paper.

Paper: I will pay rent for decades in my home to store this device that stores this crap.

May I suggest…

  • Fill out form online.
  • Pay online.
  • Upload image (get almost real time approval from a third party if you wish)
  • Done.

May I then suggest…

  • DON’T send me a passport.
  • Just give me a User name and password.
  • When I get to the airport, I type it in, or give them instant access from my cell phone.
  • They have access then to my travel log and data.
  • Done.

No paperwork!

Getting started

I have never done a formal blog. So, and with all new things, I shall start by noting I don’t know what I’m doing, don’t know how this thing works, and welcome advice.

My hope is to gain a command of WordPress, and use this as a medium to post useful articles I write.
I have never done a formal blog. So, and with all new things, I shall start by noting I don’t know what I’m doing, don’t know how this thing works, and welcome advice.

My hope is to gain a command of WordPress, and use this as a medium to post useful articles I write.

Reichart's Reality Rant