Monday, November 28, 2005

Frightening moment

Due to the nature of my job and the fact that I have family overseas, I have been on an airplane more times that I can remember. It takes quite a bit to make me nervous on a plane, I consider turbulence an opportunity for a cheap massage (think of the beds that vibrate when you throw a quarter in). Last night as my flight landed at LaGuardia I had a moment of ‘holy crap – what was that?’ however. When we ‘touched down’, there were many frightened passengers and a few perplexed frequent flyers. Those of us who fly a lot knew we were going to be fine, but were not sure what the pilot was smoking up in that cockpit. The plane hit the runway like a brick, sending a really loud bang and a nice shockwave through the cabin. I know sometimes the weather can cause weirdness, but an apology from the cockpit would have been nice. Thanks Air Canada. You never seem to fail me in somehow making my flight a shitty experience.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

A week in Canada

Today I am flying back to New York after spending a week up in Canada. I was doing some MCMS training up here last week, so I got a chance to spend some time with friends that I still have here. The weather decided to remind me that I was in the great white north by dumping a whole lot of snow on us over the last few days. Most of my winter clothes are on their way across the Atlantic right now, so I didn't spend a whole lot of time outside. I was happy to see a lot of my friends before I move across the ocean. A few of them have said they'll come visit, but I'll believe that when I see it. Perhaps they'll surprise me.

Five days left before my flight to Amsterdam. I've got a few loose ends to tie up, but overall I think all is in order. As much as I like the idea of moving somewhere else and starting new things, I am growing tired of all the hassle that is involved with it. I am particularly annoyed that I have to close all my bank accounts and open new ones in Europe. I wish there was a truly global bank where I could keep all my finances regardless of where I am living.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Smoke and Die! No?

I did a little reading today about smoking. I smoke about a pack a week, and I wanted to know what that really does to me. We are bombarded with facts about smoking being deadly all the time, but I thought I'd do a little deeper digging. I do have a degree in math after all, and even though I never liked stats, I do understand them.
Well I learned something interesting. I found plenty of articles that were of the type "Smoking = The Devil" (picture Mama from The Waterboy). Those I ignored for obvious reasons. Then I found some articles that had lots of statistics, but none that were very convincing once properly examined. Telling me that x% of the population smokes, and that y people died of lung cancer in the same article does not correlate the two very strongly. Guilty by association doesn't work here. Then I found the data I was looking for. Data that answers the question of "What are my chances of getting lung cancer as a smoker?"
It turns out that a smoker who quits by 30 has a 2% chance of getting lung cancer. That percentage goes up to 16% if they quit by the age of 70. Hold on. With the amount of energy spent on fighting tobacco, I was expecting a lot worse.
Having said this, I know that smoking isn't good for me. I know how much better I feel when I don't smoke for a week. Nevertheless, I think it's time for the governments of the world to re-think all the cash they are putting into anti-smoking campaigns. I think we got the message. We know it's dangerous to smoke. Perhaps it's time to focus on other equally serious dangers of day to day life that the general public doesn't know about. Maybe it's time to leave Phillip Morris alone for a while and go after McDonalds. What's the data on obesity, especially in the US?

Monad

I started playing with Monad the other day, and it's awesome! I'm too lazy to go into detail, plus there are more knowledgeable folks out there who've already done that. All I'll say is that even I, who prefer mouse to keyboard and GUI to command line, am excited about this new command line shell from MS. If you ever have had a need to automate something in Windows, you need to check Monad out. If you ever wish you could run code in a command line, you need to check Monad out. If you ever wished Windows had a shell more like a unix shell, you need to check Monad out.
To my friends up at RIM - you guys will love this (if you haven't discovered it yet).

It's over!

Friday was the last day that I worked on the 'Category 5' or 'Death March' project. As a farewell gift, I got to work to 4am one night and 2am another. I guess that was so I wouldn't forget how much *fun* the project was a few months ago. I'm actually looking forward to going to work again. It's been a while. I'll be doing a small internal project plus some training in the next few weeks, and then off to Holland. The training is in Toronto, so for those of you who are up there - drop me a line!

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Workplace Etiquette

My co-workers and I recently experienced a rather disturbing event. The client the four of us are working for has reserved a few cubicles for us in a typical cube farm. This means that there are numerous other people who work in the same area as us. Since our client is actually in a different city, the people who work around us are not involved in the same project as us, and we therefore don’t know any of them. We’ve said hello a few times, but that’s about it.
The other day, a guy who works directly next to us was having some serious health problems. At first he was coughing excessively. He apologized to the people he was on a conference call with, and explained that he was having an asthma attack. At this point I’m thinking to myself “Why doesn’t this guy go home?” I had asthma a few times as a kid, and I remember that it was no fun. I guess he really needed to stay on that conference call. I let it go and continued to try and figure out what was wrong with our web server. The coughing got worse and worse however, and I was starting to be concerned that this guy wasn’t going to be alright. Then the guy proceeds to grab a plastic bag, and vomit into it, while still sitting at his desk. I don’t ever remember vomiting being part of an asthma attack. After he’s done vomiting into this plastic bag, he un-mutes his phone and continues on with his phone call. The guys on my team and I are all quite disgusted by this, but what can you do? I was hoping the guy would now tell the people on the phone that he’s ill, and that he’s leaving. Nope. He continued to puke into his plastic bag for another hour or so. Our team could no longer take it. I had guys going for walks / coffee / anything to get them out of the area. Finally I asked one of the guys to go and scout out a few empty desks in another area of the office so that we could move the team there. Thanks MS for remote desktop.
The purpose of this post is for all of us to remember that there are limits to ‘playing hurt’. No one should have to put up with some guy puking his guts out in the next cubicle.