On The Grid

I love this article simply because of the headline:

How Your Brain Is Like Manhattan

The Good Man and I have long debates about cities set on a grid. The very town where I grew up, Albuquerque, has a beautiful easy to navigate grid. I always figured it was due to the city’s start as a military town that roads are well organized into either north/south or east/west.

So simple. Easy. Really tough to get lost.

I gripe about the Bay Area and these roads that are all angled off to Joneses, changing directions midway and stopping suddenly. For example, there is an exit off of 101 where you have to choose the north or south bound exit. However…the road actually runs east west.

Combine this with California’s lack of mile markers and only sporadic use of street signs and I can go from zero to bonkers in about three seconds.

One of the many reasons I love Manhattan is that it’s set up on a grid. Navigating makes sense! A hayseed like me had zero trouble in the big city knowing where to go and how to get there. I never, not once, got lost while in Manhattan. And if I’m not worried about how to get there, then I relax and enjoy the journey.

The Good Man, on the other hand, has a brain that’s a lot more fluid than mine. Where I’ll draw a straight line, he’ll make expressionist art. He don’t need no stinking grid roads, he has a powerful innate sense of direction and an even stronger sense of joie de vivre when it comes to getting lost. He sees getting lost as a fun adventure. I see it as a teeth gritting bit of fear and misery.

Meanwhile both my brain and my road preferences tend to be a little more like the gorgeous city of Manhattan.

Image from Grush Hour.

$2 and a Moment

Yeah, ok. I caved to the masses.

I’m quite suggestible you know.

I come from a family that enjoys trips to Vegas and the occasional Indian casino. My family loves to gamble (responsibly) and I do too.

So today I threw two one dollar bills into the toilet and bought Mega Millions tickets.

Every news outlet, radio talk show, and coworker is talking about the half billion potential payoff.

Yesterday on All Things Considered, they had some whiz bang mathematician guy who chastised all of us in describing the impossible odds.

I think that’s when I decided to throw my hard won dollars in the ring.

I know the odds are ridiculous. I know it’s a waste of money. I know, I know.

But for a moment, a little moment, it’s fun to think about what if?

I think the concept of what if is a powerful one.

There are those in the ranks of woo-woo and esoteric who would say that what if is a good thing. It’s an order placed to the universe.

I think what if gives you a chance to see what you can accomplish.

When you pull out a road map, you look at where you are today. You look at where you want to go (what if) and then you map the highways, byways and dirt roads that it will take to get there.

Do you get lost sometimes? Sure.

Take a wrong road because it looks interesting? Of course.

Run out of gas? Absolutely.

And then, sometimes, with a little luck and a little diligence, you arrive at your destination.

So for me, the what if daydreaming is simply me being the cartographer of my life.

What if’ing about half a billion dollars might be ridiculous to some. To me, it’s a nice way to end a crazy busy day at work. My mind is too tired to parse this spreadsheet in front of me. Instead I’ll gaze out the window and daydream. For just a few moments.

And then, because it’s the last work day of the month, I’ll collect my regular paycheck, pay my rent and then go home to The Good Man (my odds of finding him were pretty sparse too, but I must have drawn that map pretty gosh darn well).

So ok. That’s worth at least $2

This week’s Theme Thursday is: moment.

Old Technology Gets a New Boost

Somewhere back in the early 2000’s, right around the time that Apple came out with video chat, the use of desktop video conferencing took off. Or, I should say, tried to take off.

I was commanded by my leadership at the time to procure a camera (laptops didn’t come equipped with cameras like they do now) and to begin having meetings in video form.

And I did. For a while.

It was a new toy and we all played with it and then, we got bored. Suddenly no one was logged in. Cameras were quietly disconnected and stowed in a drawer. And we went back to the usual phone call, chat or email way of communicating.

Fast forward to this week. My new leadership has commanded that I procure a camera (because our company security demands that the one on my laptop be disabled) and sign up for a brand spanking new desktop video conferencing service.

Per the long winded training I was required to complete, using this “new” technology will promote productivity (oh really? When we’re wasting precious minutes in meetings fiddling with cameras and asking “can you see me ok?”), enhances cost savings (because I just spent $100 of the company’s money to buy the “approved” camera) and reduces carbon emissions (except when I’m taking antibiotics).

The Good Man and I have been debating why video conferencing doesn’t catch on. While it’s nice to see the other person in a conversation, it’s not natural. Everyone just feels a little awkward.

Last evening, I was watching an edition of BBC World News and as they went to field reporters in many far flung countries, it became quite clear that they were using Skype or something similar to do these televised reports. No more camera and a camera operator.

As I watched these reporters, I began to realize why video conferencing is awkward. No one knows what to do with their eyes. Instead of face to face, eye to eye conversations, you get a lot of shifty eyes, and shifty eyes make for uncomfortable conversations.

The most natural fix for this is to look the camera square in the eye.

However, that’s natural for the people on the other end, for the speaker, it feels weird to speak to a lens. You are inclined to look at the screen to see the person you are talking to. That’s how humans communicate.

So you get this instead:

And then, of course, there are the multitaskers. Not only are they not looking in the eye of the camera, but they are also not looking at the screen where the other image is located.

It’s something like this:

And this:

And this:


Well, whether I think this is a good idea or not, I’ve been commanded to video conference, both in my one to one sessions with my boss and in our staff meetings.

And so I will.

This, however, severely limits my ability to wake up fifteen minutes before my 8am staff meetings, shamble down the hall, fire up my home machine and take the meeting on the phone with frazzled hair, still in my nightgown, while eating breakfast.

Damn you UK-based Boss Man! : shakes fists toward London :

(I’m reminded of an episode of the Jetsons where Judy had a videophone mask for those very bad hair days. I need that.)

Image is a screen grab from a YouTube clip of the Jetsons


Thinking About Spring

Reblog from March 25, 2010, but just as applicable from where I sit today.

Ah, Spring

In the spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.

– Alfred Lord Tennyson

Yes, yes, it’s inevitable that the famous Tennyson quote will be trotted out when the weather turns warm. Especially after the winter we’ve had.

But is that true? Does a young man’s fancy lightly turn to thoughts of love?

Is it love? Or more like “damn, baby, it’s been a long cold winter.”

And if young men turn to thoughts of love, what about the thoughts of young ladies?

Well, I may not be young and I’m no lady, so what do my thoughts lightly turn to?

Well. Those cute little strappy sandals. You know the ones, with the heel, not too high, but high enough to make my legs look nice?

Oh, and if I’m wearing those, then I totally need a mani-pedi.

*ahem* Excuse me. Totally girled out there for a minute. Bringing it back to center….

My thoughts lightly turn to…

Margaritas on the patio of my favorite restaurant while nomming guacamole and hearing light mariachi music in the background.

Iced tea. Preferably made by the sun.

Liberating my legs from the tyranny of pants. (oops, better shave ’em. It *has* been a long winter!)

Apricots ripening in the side yard.

Farmer’s Markets with all of the rest of the produce that arrives with spring including nectarines, peaches and artichokes.

Daffodils on the dining room table. Followed by tulips. Followed by a cacophony of all the flowers of Spring and Summer.

Achoo! Sneezes. Because god knows all those fabulous flowers bring not so fabulous pollen.

Longer days and fabulous sunsets.

Riding my bike! (getting it tuned up today!)

Stepping outside and turning my face to the sun like an over ripened sunflower because oh-my-am-I happy to have that big fireball back in the sky where it’s visible. My vitamin D-cell batteries are running low!

Photo from: Kimberly Clark‘s Flickr photo stream.

Waiting — (The Oversharing Edition)

So, yeah, this is going to be a less than politically correct post.

Turn away if that sort of thing bothers you.

You see, I’m sitting here…waiting.

I have a little infection, minor really (absolutely nothing to worry about), and my doctor prescribed me a “short course” of antibiotics.

Quick and easy.


The pharmacist, when handing me the script said “So…this can cause diarrhea. Take it with food. You can take a probiotic if you wish, that might help. It doesn’t happen to everyone.”

So I said “ok.” Shrugged. Walked away.

Then I read the fact sheet that comes with the script.

It must have used the D word 82 times in three pages.

And the bottle. When I took my second pill this morning, I saw on the bottle it has, in large letters “may cause” and the D word.

So. Um. Even if I’m not the sort of person this might happen to, I think all the warnings have certainly auto-suggested my brain (and body) that this is inevitable.

No way to avoid it.

No hope.

Right now, outside my window, dark, angry storm clouds are rolling in.

And in my tummy, after three doses, so far calm seas.

But can I escape this fate? Can I just have a nice “short course” of antibiotics, have no issues and call it a day?

Is that even possible?

If you see me go running by, you’ll know the answer.

Until then. I just have to wait and see.

Image from Demotivational Blog