A wild ASAP Deadline appeared! in the Tall Grass at work today, which meant I was going to be staying at the office later than usual. At 5:00 pm, the last of my coworkers warned me (just prior to leaving) that the budget pizza joint a couple doors down was throwing some sort of block party with a live band, and that there was a decent group of sketchy-looking bikers already gathering in the parking lot.

I feared for my sanity (programming with unwanted loud ambient music isn’t really enjoyable), but was fortunate enough to finish up prior to the party really getting going.

Later this evening I was at a west coast swing dance, and was describing my brush with “almost having to murder a band and a bunch of bikers” to Jacki. Her first question was what I would do with the bodies. (I hadn’t thought things out that far.) She then suggested that I use the budget pizza joint to sell mystery-meat pizzas to hungry college students.

Holy. crap.

Thinking back on it, in 2005 I didn’t know anything about unix servers or Ruby on Rails. I could barely get PostgreSQL running to support my work program, and writing SQL was a slow and painful process. Back then I still looked at the command line with skepticism (my Mac roots run deep).

Now I’m comfortable with all that junk… while not especially impressive, it’s still nice to look back and see *some* sort of growth.

Ten years

Ten years ago today I released the first version of a program I wrote for my office. I remember going into work that Saturday morning (I didn’t have remote desktop access back then) to fix some last-minute bugs—and I remember leaving for PDX and Japan later that same day. That the thing actually worked while I was gone remains a modern-day miracle to me, given my n00bish programming skills and lack of anything resembling testing.

That program has defined my job for the last decade—and it all came out of a desire to find some reason to use my last shot at an educational discount for database software. (I never did actually buy that copy of FileMaker.)

Roadtripping man annoys his sister with seven hours of lip syncing: Kottke’s description is perfect: “an epic display of top-notch lip syncing and world-class shade throwing.”

Mr. Roboto

Marcus occasionally uses his West Coast Swing technique class to expose us to other types of dance, and last week was one of those occasions. So instead of working on connection or stretch or rolling our feet, we learned a short, simple contemporary dance routine.

The theme? Robots learning to love.

Turns out there’s an uncanny valley for robots, too.

Heart-stopping excitement

Just over five weeks ago I happened to wander home early from work one day. While drooling in front of the internet, as I do, I got a call from my dad: Can you take me to immediate care? I think I have an irregular heartbeat.

Dad is a retired doctor, and doesn’t tend to bother worrying about health issues that aren’t worth worrying about. (If you were to ask my sister or me, he doesn’t worry about some things that he should worry about.)

Immediate Care didn’t seem to take Dad’s concern seriously, and—blaming that their imaging department was going to be closing in the next hour—brushed him off to the Emergency Room. The ER was similarly laid-back, and took their time collecting all of his information. The nurses and ER doctor seemed amused, almost, as Dad described a heaviness hanging around his head during these periods where he couldn’t find his pulse. He also described how he was lying down to take a nap, and then woke up because he felt like he was about to pass out. (Passing out, of course, is your body’s way of making you lie down.)

Amused or not, at least they did listen, and hooked him up to an EKG. Within a minute of being hooked up, the machine blared an alarm: Dad’s heart had stopped. And then, a handful of missed beats later, it started back up again.

I’ve never seen an ER staff switch so quickly from let’s listen to this guy and his theory which is obviously wrong to holy shit this guy is going to drop on us at any moment.

Protip: doctors think that, if your heart stops beating for any length of time, you will pass out. Period. If you haven’t passed out, then your heart hasn’t stopped beating.

Dad got shock paddle stickers stuck on him in a hurry. I’ve never seen him protest anything (in the “oh nonononono” sense) as much as those stickers—later I learned that those things are supposed to hurt like a mother. (I had no idea! Though that does kinda make sense…)

Once the ER was sure that they were as prepared to keep Dad alive as they could be, the gears of the hospitalization process were engaged: we waited a whole lot. (My sister, mom, and aunt got called at this point, too, and arrived before much had happened.)

There’s a whole lot of waiting in a hospital. So damn much waiting. Dad’s heart stopped more times that I could count while we sat in the ER, though he never did lose consciousness.

After meeting with a cardiologist, Dad got a temporary pacemaker placed that evening. (Keep in mind that they put leads down a vein in your neck, into your heart, to do this; Dad had no complaints about that, unlike the shock paddles.) White lines on the EKG monitor denoted when the temporary pacemaker triggered, and you could see his heart stopping ever-more-frequently as the evening progressed.

The permanent pacemaker came the next morning. Dad went home a few days later, and has been (knock on wood) fine ever since.

Only in retrospect did Dad or I ever consider the possibility that he might die. (Marin and Mom weren’t quite as dense.) Part of that is a credit to the ER staff; though it was painfully obvious when they got serious, they never did anything to incite any amount of panic.

Still, this is way too soon for any health emergencies. Watching your parents fall apart is the worst.

Project: Throw the Lance of Longinus at the Moon: great plan, or greatest plan?

I have the soundtrack for tomorrow’s “probable new boss” meeting on my iPod… now all I need to do is somehow get up in the morning.

A coincidence

8:20 am: I leave my house to get my hair cut. A neighbor has an RV-esque trailer attached to their large truck parked nearby, but otherwise all is right in the world.

9:00 am: I return from my haircut. The truck and trailer are gone. The stop sign (including pole) closest to my house now lies on the sidewalk, the street signs attached at the top twisted and bent.

Where do you go (my lovely)

It’s late enough and I’m tired enough that I think a not-timely song reference makes for a good title, so hold on to your butts.

Where do I go, when I neglect this blog for weeks months at a time? I can’t account for my time as well as I ought to be able to, so expect some gaping holes.

I’ve been taking two dance classes—ballroom and west coast swing technique—for the last four terms or so, which takes a good chunk out of my Tuesday and Thursday evenings. After eight or nine years of trying to not forget absolutely everything I know about ballroom dance, it’s been wonderful to actually have some instruction again—to feel like I’m actually making progress, rather than trying to minimize how much progress I lose.

Wednesday night is the traditional night of ballroom dance practice. I get grumpy if I don’t attend.

Starting with the new year (though it wasn’t a resolution or anything</tsun>) I began trying to exercise in earnest again. That’s an hour on most nights when I’m not dancing, and pretty much the only time I watch anime these days. (Sidenote: Though I’ve only seen five-ish episodes, Aldnoah.Zero is seriously good. The last show I enjoyed as much was Chihayafuru.)

I’ve been listening to a mess of podcasts, to the detriment of actually doing things. (I now make a conscious effort to listen only when doing menial tasks…) My favorites of the moment are the Bombcast, Accidental Tech Podcast, 8-4 Play, and IRL Talk. I’m shedding a silent tear that IRL Talk is ending, as Jason and Faith’s banter always brought a smile to my face… I’ll especially miss Jason’s terrible ideas on how to troll people and create awkward situations, even though (fear not, Faith!) I’d never actually enact any of them.

My job has been a constant source of above-average stress for the last couple years, which has extended far beyond the hours I actually put in. Previously that stress was due to performance issues (of the office as a whole, not of me personally); currently it’s from the company being acquired (!). I meet my probably-new boss, who lives in a different state, on Monday. They claim they intend to keep my office open, but I’m deeply suspicious and/or untrusting.

I’ve also had two larger—or, at least, productive—coding projects that I’ve worked on, but I’ll save those for another post at a more reasonable hour. Fear not: I still have more to say about grand jury duty, too.

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