In which I interview myself (Part 4 of 2)

Previous entries:

In which I interview myself (Part 1 of 2)
In which I interview myself (Part 2 of 2)
In which I interview myself (Part 3 of 2)

When last we left me way back in 2016 the world was a different place. Now it’s way better.

Haha, just kidding.

Anyway, Part 3 ended with the promise that I would “quiz myself about dating, writing, running and ugly feet.” Let’s get on with it, with my doppelgänger, again known as Dopple, asking the questions.

Dopple: Has it really been five years since the last part of this interview?

Me: According to the calendar, yes.

Dopple: How time flies.

Me: I’ve learned that time is not linear. It’s elastic and that elastic gets flabby and loose as you get older.

Dopple: Sounds deep? What does it mean?

Me: It passes a lot faster, the taut snap of the elastic isn’t there anymore, so it flies by, like a bungee jumper who has about 20 extra feet of cord tied to his ankles and bonks his head on the bottom of the river instead of dangling tantalizingly above it.

Dopple: Sounds painful.

Me: Accurate.

Dopple: So let’s go to the topics that were originally going to be discussed before getting into all the crazy changes of the last five years.

Me: Lay them on me, baby.

Dopple: Don’t call me baby.

Me: Sorry. Carry on.

Dopple: First up: Tell me about dating.

Me: What would you like to know? I don’t date anymore.

Dopple: Tell me about some of your best dating experiences.

Me: [long pause]

Dopple: [awkward silence stretches out]

Me: Well.

Dopple: Surely there were some good dating experiences?

Me: Let’s come back to this question. Maybe in Part 5.

Dopple: There’s going to be a Part 5?

Me: Who knows what the future holds for us?

Dopple. OK, let’s move on to writing.

Me: [extremely long pause]

Dopple: Are you still there? Hello?

Me: Writing in Part 5.

Dopple: This is going to be a short interview…

Me: Sometimes succinct is good.

Dopple: How about running, then? You still run.

Me: Technically, I still run, but there have been…issues.

Dopple: What sort of issues? Amputation? Unnatural hair growth on your feet?

Me: Well, part of it is I got a bit lazy.

Dopple: Bad.

Me: Agreed.

Dopple: For shame.

Me: Okay, that’s enough.

Dopple: Sorry. Continue.

Me: But really, it was just my left foot being weird and stupid. If there was a movie about my left foot called, let’s say, “My Left Foot” people would find it frustrating and dumb. They’d ask for a refund. They would not attend the sequel, “My Right Foot.” I would not win an Oscar.

Dopple: What’s up with the left foot?

Me: First, I have this weird issue with the ball of my foot where it gets really sore after a lot of walking or running. I mostly solved this by getting a custom orthotic made. It kind of amazes me how well it works. But my left foot still just feels…off. Not physically detached, but different. Like the bones don’t quite connect correctly. Maybe they’re too big or too small, or it’s really a clever alien symbiont posing as the bones. But whatever it is, it still causes my left foot to feel not quite right. No pun intended.

Dopple: Pretty sure that pun was at least partly intended.

Me: Fair. The other big thing happened in July 2020. I had just started summer vacation and decided to do a walk around Burnaby Lake. The total round trip is about 18 km. I was heading back, probably around the 16 km mark, when my left foot suddenly began to hurt. Just spontaneously, with no warning at all. I found it very odd. I still do. I made the sad decision to skip running during vacation to allow my foot to recover from this sudden phantom injury caused by just existing and breathing. Gradually over time the pain lessened and I eventually resumed running, but I never moved beyond 5K runs. Then in December the injury returned, like an unwanted sequel.

Dopple: Like Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull?

Me: Exactly. Speaking of, did you know they are shooting a fifth movie? Harrison Ford is 150 years old now. Maybe the whole movie will be him digging up things in his backyard garden and thinking they’re priceless treasures because he’s lost his mind after making the last movie. And speaking of, The Rise of Skywalker was the worst sequel that sort of had Harrison Ford in it.

Dopple: But back to your foot.

Me: Yes, my stupid foot. It started hurting again big time in December, to the point where I actually avoided walking outside, like anywhere. It was bad. I was sad. I felt had. My doctor asked me to describe the symptoms and said I had plantar fasciitis. I looked it up later and the symptoms matched perfectly. The best part about this is it’s an incredibly slowly healing injury, so it lingers on for centuries. My next of kin will inherit it. If I had any, that is. It doesn’t hurt anymore now, but I can still feel it, if you know what I mean. I’m now doing 7K walks and run roughly half the time. I’m building back to doing a 5K again. Sometime this summer if my left foot doesn’t spontaneously explode or something.

Dopple: How is your right foot?

Me: Happy as a clam. Well, how happy are clams, anyway? When I go to the beach I see thousands of empty clam shells, which suggests a brutal and unhappy life for clams. So let’s just say my right foot is fine, always has been.

Dopple: Moving on, yet staying somewhat on the same topic, tell me about your “ugly feet”?

Me: Have you seen those idiotic nail fungus TV commercials?

Dopple: Where the medical professional in the white lab coat seems to suddenly be in someone’s living room, like he can teleport in straight from his office?

Me: Yes, those ones. Well, that’s what I have. Not the teleporting doctor, but nail fungus. I’ve had it for years and had basically written off my feet ever looking handsome again.

Dopple: How sad and horrible.

Me: I know, right? Imagine if I’d had a foot fetish. I would never take off my shoes (which probably contributes to nail fungus). Anyway, my doctor gave me a topical cream to use, which helped, but worked very slowly. But then we switched to pills and they’ve been working much better.

Dopple: That’s good!

Me: But the pills might destroy my liver.

Dopple: That’s bad.

Me: But so far they haven’t.

Dopple: That’s good!

Me: But they still might. I need to get my blood tested again when the current prescription ends. Still, my toe nails look pretty close to normal now. I can take off my socks in public and people will not run away in horror.

Dopple: Have you done that?

Me: It’s more a theory to be tested.

Dopple: Let’s talk about some of the other things that have happened since 2016.

Me: [whiny voice] Do we have to?

Dopple: Strictly speaking, no. We could go back to your dating adventures.

Me: Fine, fine. I’ll talk about what’s happened since 2016.

Dopple: What’s changed the most?

Me: I’ve gone from hair to hairs.

Dopple: That is tragic. Do you invest in hats?

Me: I have enough caps to form a line to the moon.

Dopple: Good, good. Anything else?

Me: I came to realize that IT work is crushing my soul. Maybe my left foot, too, for all I know. In fact, I started to realize this in 2016, but it never really gained clarity until late last year.

Dopple: What are you doing to prevent further soul-crushing?

Me: I have some ideas, but nothing I would talk about publicly–yet.

Dopple: Aw, not even a hint?

Me: Okay, one hint: It does not involve my left foot.

Dopple: That hint stinks.

Me: Talk to the foot.

Dopple: I think I’ll pass. So it’s safe to assume that you don’t see yourself staying in IT long term?

Me: Correct. I would rather do many other things instead, some of them actively unpleasant.

Dopple: I see. Well, maybe we can revisit this in the future.

Me: Revisiting it in the past would be tricky.

Dopple: Speaking of, do you believe in time travel?

Me: Not really. I mean, if people could do it, wouldn’t we already know? Unless they’re very, very sneaky about it. But humans suck at being sneaky about that kind of stuff.

Dopple: About time travel?

Me: About big, reality-altering things.

Dopple: What about the thousands of people that kept mum on while working on The Manhattan Project, when the U.S. secretly built the first atomic bomb?

Me: Sure, start using logic and valid examples, why don’t you?

Dopple: Sorry.

Me: No problem. I expect nothing less of me.

Dopple: What else has happened?

Me: Nothing comes to mind.

Dopple: COVID-19?

Me: COVID whatnow?

Dopple: [stares]

Me: Look, since it literally affected the entire planet, I can’t really speak to it as some unique experience. Except maybe uniquely horrible. To me. And probably others. But it does have some upsides. Working from home is nice. I can get up from my desk and grab a snack from the fridge. I can start laundry. I never have to be concerned about a co-worker interrupting me by coming to my cubicle and blocking me from escaping. I don’t have to pay for overpriced cafeteria food. I don’t need to ride transit. I haven’t had a cold or the flu in 15 months! My home computer is way nicer than my work one. The air in my condo is nice, not the horrific toxic poison soup that squirts through the HVAC system in the office.

Dopple: What are some downsides?

Me: Shopping with a mask is unpleasant. Shopping is something I generally find unpleasant, but it’s worse with a mask. I have also been disappointed at how many people have rejected science, safety and reason in exchange for pretending a global pandemic isn’t actually happening. But we do seem to be finally nearing the end of it and a return to something normal-like.

Dopple: You got your first vaccine shot.

Me: Yes, and my second one is a few weeks from now.

Dopple: How did the first one go?

Me: I haven’t had a shot in years (I always rolled the dice and skipped flu shots. And almost always got the flu. Kids, learn from me and don’t be dumb!) so I built it up as some terrifyingly painful experience. When I took my seat at the vaccination clinic, I started to ask the woman tending to me what it would feel like and she jabbed me with the needle, I said, “Ow” and it was over. So a lot of build-up for basically nothing. I did feel pretty fatigued over the next few days, but it beats being dead, as they say.

Dopple: We are starting to run late. Shall we pick this up in Part 5?

Me: I’ll be here.

Dopple: And you’ll discuss dating?

Me: I may discuss dates.

Dopple: Are you referring to the fruit?

Me: Perhaps.

Dopple: [ohyou.gif]

Stay tuned for Part 5 in which dating may be discussed, along with writing, drawing, programming and other stuff that ends with -ing.

Thus endeth the parade of anything I can think of, May 2021 edition

This is the 11th post I’ve made today, which may be a record. And with #11 I have officially hit 31 posts for the month, keeping to my “one post per day” rule intact, which is actually more like a “post the equivalent number of times to match one-post-per-day for the month in question” rule. Which has worked out so far, so why change now?

I could go for a Sausage and Egg McMuffin right now.

Unearned Flippant Observations

John Gruber said something I found kind of dumb on Daring Fireball today in a story about how UFO sightings are almost certainly not aliens:

It makes no sense that an alien civilization with the technology for faster-than-light space travel would lack the ability to remain hidden from us, if they so chose. (Same argument goes 100× for any claims that alien ships ever crashed on Earth.)

As the linked New York Times story notes, the thought is that if super-advanced aliens are trying to sneak around our skies, they’re doing a really poor job of it.

This is such a facile take–even if you absolutely do not believe in alien life–that I’m a bit surprised Gruber went public with it. There’s a few problems with it:

  • It adopts a human-centric point of view, assuming that aliens would act like humans, when we have no idea of what they would act like (or look like, or anything else about them)
  • It assumes that the aliens are constantly inadvertently revealing themselves in a non-conclusive sort of way and that this has to be blundering of unimaginable proportions, therefore it can’t be aliens because they would be way smarter than that–but completely ignores the possibility that if it was aliens, the behavior is almost certainly deliberate. That is, they want people to see UFOs, but not to actually do anything that erases all doubt that they are real and aliens have been here for however long. The likeliest reason for this would be to acclimate humanity to the presence of other intelligent life, especially life that might be superior to ours in important ways, like technology. Knowing that super smart aliens have been observing us for decades or longer as some kind of planetary science experiment would leave a lot of people feeling grossly inadequate, or angry or scared. It would literally change our world and rewrite our history. So maybe the aliens (if they exist) would try a go-slow approach, getting us used to the idea before confirming that they are, in fact, real.
  • Also, the whole “Why wouldn’t they just land on the White House lawn” bit is stupid on several levels:
    • America is not the world and allegedly super smart aliens would probably know that
    • Revealing themselves in such a gross (not to mention trite) display would cause about the worst possible reaction
    • Republicans would blame Democrats somehow

Anyway, I think UFOs are probably a bunch of different things–everything from meteorites to planes to, yes, weather balloons, but I also think there is enough evidence to suggest some are perhaps not of this world, or at least not of this world as we know it. Are they aliens? Curious humans from another dimension? I have no idea. But I suspect that we’ll have some kind of answer in the next ten years.

And it will not be revealed on the White House lawn.

Random thoughts on random topics supplied by a bearded man on Discord

  • Speed writing: Every time I try this, I get arrested by the word police for crimes against spelling.
  • Blog vs. vlog: On a blog I don’t have to look beautiful. On a vlog I don’t have to worry about typos. Since I can always wear a wig and glasses and spell pretty good, I’ll call this a draw.
  • The shift to electric vehicles: Where will all those dead batteries go?
  • On the resurgence of board games: I have no one to play with, so they suck, all of them. Yeah. Or maybe I need new post-COVID friends. Time shall tell. (As kids, we totally used the Free Parking “dump all money here” rule in Monopoly. I preferred Mousetrap, though, as it better suited my aesthetic for the zany and impractical. Speaking of impractical, every attempt I ever made at RISK.)
  • Ice cream flavors: I prefer chocolate, with or without peanut butter. Some caramel is acceptable. Vanilla is actually pretty decent, if it’s good vanilla. Neapolitan is perfect for those nights of indecision. Strawberry is fine. Anything with licorice is the darkest evil. Ice cream in a bowl is better than in a cone, but ice cream in a sundae is best of all. A Dairy Queen Oreo cookie Blizzard is yummy and probably 5,000 calories.
  • Toad vs. frog deathmatch: I say toad, because they seem meaner than frogs, somehow. The smart frog will choose to not engage.

The strange sensation of having no ideas

Ideas are generally easy to come by, it’s the execution that’s hard. This is why you generally don’t pay someone for a good idea, because anyone can come up with something decent.

Usually.

But for the past month or so, when I have sat down to write something on this blog, without having something already in mind, I feel this strange sensation, almost like my brain is being slowly suffocated, as if any possible idea is squashed before it can escape.

This is why I often write nothing at all. Because the few feeble ideas–a haiku, for example, yield either nothing (that word again) or results that are so tepid I won’t post them just to spare the bots scraping the site.

I have no grand point here, but I do vaguely hope that articulating this will help. We shall see.

When smart home lighting enters your dreams

Last night I had a brief dream in which I was in bed and awake. It felt late at night or early morning and was still dark. As is often the case in dreams, the room geometry was on the creative side, as I cannot see the kitchen/den area through the bedroom door but in the dream I could.

While looking toward the kitchen area I thought I saw movement and although I can picture what I saw in the dream, I have a hard time describing it. I think it was supposed to be some sort of play on light and shadow that suggested someone moving into the kitchen (away from the bedroom). Next the smart lights in the den winked on, seemingly unprompted. It wasn’t scary, exactly, more unnerving. And I’m pretty sure I had this dream because we do, in fact, have most of the smart lights set to turn on/off at various times of the day and night, so my weary brain decided that maybe they also just do this on their own because they are “smart.”.

And come to think of it, this morning Fleetwood Mac’s “Second Hand News” started blasting from the Echo Shows in the bedroom, prompted by…nothing? I checked the Alex history and could find nothing to suggest why the music would have suddenly started playing when it did. But it’s all part of the charm of a smart home, I guess. At least the timers usually work.

Two perks of the pandemic

Have I talked about this before? I may have, but I am lacking in imagination at the moment so I’m going to talk about this again.

As the title says, there are two perks to the pandemic that I have seen so far. Yes, there may be others, but these are the only ones that seem meaningful in a greater sense.

  1. Work From Home. WFH is awesome. No commute, extra time for sleeping and exercise or doing whatever I want. Being able to step away from the desk and raid your own fridge for a snack. No distracting co-workers coming to your desk. It’s great. I don’t miss the office at all. I guess I am a solo player that also happens to work well with teams.
  2. No illness. It’s ironic that as a pandemic swept the globe I have not had a cold, the flu or anything like that since January 2020. This is pretty much unprecedented, and it’s all due to one little thing: avoiding people. Basically, every time I have gotten sick it’s been someone else’s fault.

If I think of more, I’ll add more later. But really, these are the biggies and I would miss them dearly if I had to go back to an office. So my plan is to somehow arrange to never have to do that again. My plan is in its early stages.

I have moved! (This site)

After 16 years I have moved this site to a new host. The old host provided excellent support but had clearly moved away from webhosting, so it seemed like a good time to pull up stakes and move to a host that was actually focused on webhosting.

From the user’s perspective (both of you), nothing has changed, this is all backend stuff.

The process of moving was very simple, I never even had to post a blinking “Under construction” sign, though I really wanted to, and will do so now:

Gum Gum Person as David Byrne in “Road to Nowhere”

This was requested as an emoji in Discord. A Gum Gum Person “dancing” like David Byrne in the video for “Road to Nowhere”:

Reference from the video:

And why not check out the video while you’re at it? It’s a good song.