Ups and Downs of Working Remotely

  • Downside: “F— this, I’m goin home” doesn’t have the same impact when you’re ACTUALLY AT HOME.
  • Downside: You lose some ability to discern what’s acceptable to wear in public. (Dirty workout gear? 5-day old jeans?)
  • Upside: No one can see you working.
  • Downside: No one can see you working.
  • Downside: For those with office-dwelling co-workers, getting free food notices makes you feel left out.
  • Downside: Office co-worker drive-bys replaced by family member drive-bys.
  • Downside: Office co-worker drive-bys replaced by instance message and phone call swarms from the same co-workers.
  • Upside: Better coffee
  • Downside: You have to pay for your own coffee
  • Upside: Internet connection is as good as you want it to be.
  • Downside: The network administrator/IT person who screwed up your network/computer is probably you.
  • Upside: More lax office pet policy.
  • Downside: Office pets apparently need food, water, and potty breaks.
  • Downside: You start talking to the office pets.


Better Interview Questions and Tests

Big tech companies are famous for their esoteric questions and other tech shops put developers through basic, but challenging, coding tests where they’re asked to write a routine to find the palindromes in a text and sort them by length in n log n time or something like that.

I have a better idea. For programmers and system administrators of UNIX-like systems, I propose the following tests (to be performed without consulting a man page):

  • Successfully create a symbolic link to a file.
  • Create a tar file for a set of files and extract it to a predetermined directory in one attempt.
  • Open a file in either emacs or vi, navigate to the bottom of the page, and exit without temporarily (or permanently) modifying the file.
  • Remove the third field in every row from a csv file without using perl or ruby.  If they opt for awk or sed, assess whether you want someone who sees things as awk or sed problems.
  • Name their current programming font.
  • Name a unix shell that’s not bash.
  • Name the package manager that you’re most familiar with.

The Degrees of Happy Birthday

Inspired by:

There are varying degrees of actually caring to greet someone “Happy Birthday”, from lowest to highest:

  1. Facebook: Liking birthday celebrant’s “Thanks for all the birthday wishes”
  2. Facebook: Liking someone else’s birthday greeting.
  3. Facebook wall post: “HBD”
  4. Facebook wall post: “Happy B-day” or other partial abbreviation.
  5. Facebook wall post: “Happy Birthday” (bonus for exclamation points)
  6. Facebook status on your own page: “Happy Birthday {mention person’s name}” (or Twitter public mention)
  7. Text message.
  8. Sending an actual physical card.
  9. Calling the person in real life.

(Numbers 7-9 may vary in order depending on the introverted nature of the person performing the greeting.)

HGTV drinking game

Take a drink any time you hear the following while watching any home network/reality show:

  • Jack and Jill bathrooms
  • double vanity
  • stainless steel
  • open concept
  • “We like to entertain”
  • gourmet kitchen
  • tall ceilings
  • “we’re pregnant”
  • Complete shock that major overhaul renovation turned up major issues with the house.
  • granite
    • two drinks for “wanting to rip out dated/ugly granite”
  • People scoffing at an “old” house less than half their own age.
  • travertine
  • appeal to the designer’s or contractor’s expertise when asked to do the impossible within time and/or budget
  • yoga studio/hockey rink or any large single-purpose area
  • engineered hardwood
  • [state you’re in] room

“Shit Happens” from a Social Media Perspective

In the style of the Shit Happens list:


  • I am mayor of this toilet.


  • That Mexican food hit me wrong. (Someone who is keen on maintaining their “personal brand”)
  • I need to shit. (Everyone else)


  • The inside joke type:  “The Nope strikes again.” [where your inside crowd nickname for a Mexican place goes in the bold italics.]
    • 3 people “Like” this shit.
  • The vague, but obvious reference:  “Glade Floral Scent rocks.”
  • No apologies: “I Shit”


  • Whoa…  somebody didn’t flush their shit.  Hey, everybody, check this shit out!


  • Post your toilet and have random people shit in it.


  • You:  This shit is awesome.  Others:  I’m going to bury your shit.


  • Excellent at making sure I flush my shit.


  • Why is there corn in my shit?

See also:

Snow Portmanteau

The following are ways of expressing the snow hysteria (especially on Twitter):

  • snOMG
  • snowmageddon
  • snoWTF
  • ohsnowudidnt
  • snoverkill
  • snowicane
  • snopacalypse


  • Some other snow portmanteau may be found on A Daily Portmanteau: Snowmenclature, including:  snovice, snowhere, snowonder, snowbegone, snowmad, state of snomergency, snoway, snovacaine, snoxious, snowbotomy, snooky, snowcreation, snaction…
  • From TSNONami – tSNOnami, SNOzilla, SNOlycrap, SNOtards, SNOverated, SNOverreaction, SNOverestimated, SNOthingsgonnahappen, SNOba_fett, SNObalWarming, SNOblivion, SNOproblem, SNOwayinhell, SNOtoriousBIG, SNOf__kyourself, SNOflakes, SNOcoholics, SNOtography, SNOtos.

Coffee personalities of the cubicle dweller

HARIO Hand Grinder on Amazon

“Who moved my coffee” – Scurries in and out of the break room every five minutes to see if coffee has been made yet.  Moves quickly to avoid being identified as someone who has seen the empty coffee pots and yet not made a pot of coffee.  Related to The person with a phobia of making coffee.

The person with a phobia of making coffee – Leaves 2+ nearly empty pots on active burners after getting coffee, before 9am.  If the coffee maker is already in such a state, will discreetly duck into the bathroom or wait 5 minutes for someone else to make a pot or two.  Sometimes will turn off the burners or pull the filter basket out to “save energy” or hint that someone needs to make coffee.

The busy bee coffee maker – The opposite of the “phobia” person.  Feels compelled to always ensure that all pots are full of fresh coffee.  Will occasionally dump out a 1/2 pot that looks “old” to make this happen.

The dependent decaf drinker – As any dependent coffee drinker, drags self to the coffee maker, desperate for that morning boost, and grabs the DECAF pot.

The cheery decaf drinker – Acts about as cheery as someone who’s had a quad shot of espresso for the first time and walks up for a refill of decaf.

The half and half drinker – Probably uses coffee as an excuse for his half and half habit.  Frozen coffee drinks at major chain stores are usually darker.

The burn off drinker – will drink the mostly evaporated sludge at the bottom of the pot. Sources are unclear whether this is a preference or laziness.

The “save energy because it’s after 10am” coffee drinker – Sometimes this is a cover for a phobia of making coffee.  Other times, this is a reincarnation of your parents or grandparents who chased you around the house turning off everything you turned on.
The 3pm coffee maker – Sometimes gets offended that a bulk of the office population stops drinking coffee after lunch and grumbles about having to make coffee.  Other times, it’s a simple conditioned response from years of drinking coffee at coffee houses after 9 pm.

The tea drinker – Sends coffee drinkers in a panic when lining up for the last cup of coffee, only to use the hot water spout to make tea.

The oatmeal eater who uses a coffee mug – Same effect as the tea drinker, although the motivation seems a little more sinister.

The overpowering flavored coffee brewer – Brews coffee that taints the flavor of every pot brewed the remainder of the day, as well as tainting the air in 5,000 square feet of office space.

Inspired by Ben Thomas’ suggestions:

The procedural purist – Scolds anyone who takes from the pot early or uses the hot water tap on the coffee maker while coffee is brewing.

The accidental barista – Knows that a coffee house would brew at at least twice the coffee-to-water ratio that the pre-measured packs imply, and thusly, uses two packs of coffee per brew.

Some additional late additions

The soup mug coffee drinker – Drinks coffee out of a coffee mug [see Campbell’s Soup Mug].  While this serving size is no different than the 16-20 oz coffee tumbler, the clear advantage to this soup mug is the larger exposed surface area to aid in rapid cooling [as opposed to a tumbler which might be expected to keep the coffee warm for a longer period before the coffee is consumed].

The soda drinker – avoids the coffee area altogether, but sometimes stashes a cold soda in the refrigerator, and therefore, has to navigate the herd of people waiting for the coffee.  Shakes head in amazement at such a dependency on a nasty brown liquid whilst scampering off with own artificially colored/flavored/carbonated water.

The coffee punter – sees an empty pot, sets it on top of the coffee maker to say, “Hey, someone needs to make coffee.”  Walks off.

The absent-minded coffee maker – sees an empty pot on the second burner and a half-full pot on the brewing burner, makes a fresh pot of coffee with the half-full pot underneath. Everything near the coffee maker ends up with a permanent coffee coloring and/or smell.

Types of Meetings

Meeting before the meeting – A select group of people, usually from the same team, decide what the “correct outcome” of the main meeting is supposed to be. When the main meeting comes, the co-conspirators stick to their guns about what must be done.

Meeting after the meeting – Often, the people who were run over by the pre-meeting decision will have a meeting afterward to discuss what just hit them. Especially true when the main meeting involved a large vendor.

Meeting just to make sure we keep having this meeting – An agenda-less meeting that occurs during the only available weekly time slot on the calendars of all participants, so everyone shows up and fakes it through the meeting aimlessly until the time is up.

The mutually ignored meeting – Sometimes coincides with the “meeting just to make sure we keep having this meeting.”  Usually, however, this meeting has a more organized structure.  Everyone participates in the meeting by speaking in turn, yet no one actually hears anything that the other participants are saying.  Often coincides with the “project status meeting”.

Pep Rally Meeting – These meetings are supposed to replicate the glory days of the tech boom, complete with an enthusiastic leader leading the cheering.  These can be fun if the overall culture of the company fits.  They can also be the source of YouTube videos.

Sub-Meeting – A complete side discussion that starts by distracting major participants in the main meeting, and eventually overtakes the main meeting purpose, either by acoustics or by importance.

“Party” Meeting – This may be a special occasion to recognize a milestone birthday, anniversary, retirement, etc., and is often characterized by a lot of standing around in odd clusters of people.  People from each of these clusters take turns migrating to the focus of the party to say a good word, and then drift back to their clusters or to their desks.  Social aptitude generally determines how long a person has to wait to for a turn.

Project “status” meeting – A regular project “update” meeting where everyone gives an “everything’s okay” status, regardless of what part of the project is crashing and burning.

Virtual Meeting – A remote meeting that everyone dials into and immediately mutes, proceeding to spent their time more productively, such as by watching Sportscenter or playing ping-pong.

Meeting to teach someone how to run a meeting – This is generally a status-type meeting where a less-experienced team member learns how to start a meeting, stick to an agenda, and write down and assign “action items”.

Murphy’s Laws for EMS

The First Law of EMS:

All emergency calls will wait until you begin to eat, without regard to the time.

Corollary 1: Fewer accidents would occur if EMS personnel would never eat.

Corollary 2: Always order food “to go”.

The Law of Time:

1. There is absolutely no relationship between the time at which you are supposed to get off shift and the time at which you will get off shift.

2. Given the following equation: T + 1 Minute = Relief Time, “T” will always be the time of the last call of your shift. E.g., If you are supposed to get off shift at 08:00, your last run will come in at 07:59. (Or if you have early relief coming in you will see you relief sitting at the first stop light from the station, waving!)

The Law of Gravity:

Any instrument, when dropped, will always come to rest in the least accessible place possible.

The Law of Time Versus Distance:

The distance of the call from the Hospital increases as the time to shift change decreases.

Corollary 1: The shortest distance between the station and the scene is under construction.

The Rule of Random Syncronicity:

Emergency calls will randomly come in all at once.

The Law of Respiratory Arrest:

All patients who are vomiting and must be intubated will have just completed a large meal of Barbecue and Onions, Garlic Pizza, and Pickled Herring, all of which was washed down with at least three cans of beer.

The Basic Principle for Dispatchers:

Assume that all field personnel are idiots until their actions prove your assumption.

The Basic Principle for Field Personnel:

Assume that all dispatchers are idiots until their actions prove your assumption.

The Axiom of Late Night Runs:

If you respond to any motor vehicle accident call after Midnight and do not find a drunk on the scene, keep looking: somebody is still missing.

The Law of Options:

Any patient, when given the option of either going to jail or going to the hospital by a police officer, will always be inside the ambulance before you are.

Corollary 1: Any patient who chooses to go to jail instead of the hospital has probably been in my rig in the past.

The First Rule of Equipment:

Any piece of Life-saving Equipment will never malfunction or fail until you need it to save a life, or the salesman leaves.

The Other Rules of Equipment:

Interchangeable parts don’t

Leak proof seals will

Self-starters won’t.

The First Law of Ambulance Operation:

No matter how fast you drive the ambulance when responding to a call, it will never be fast enough, until you pass a police cruiser, at which point it will be entirely too fast. Unless you are responding to an “officer down” call then it is physically impossible to be traveling fast enough!

EMS Bathroom Rules:

If a call is received between 0500 and 0700, the location of the call will always be in a bathroom.

If you have just gone to the bathroom, no call will be received.

If you have not just gone to the bathroom, you will soon regret it.

The probability of receiving a run increases proportionally to the time elapsed since last going to the bathroom.

General Principles Concerning Dispatchers:

Given the opportunity, any dispatcher will be only too happy to tell you where to go, regardless of whether or not (s)he actually knows where that may be.

Corollary 1: The existence or non-existence of any given location is of only minor importance to a dispatcher

Corollary 2: Any street designated as a cross-street” by a dispatcher probably isn’t.

Corollary 3: If a street name can be mispronounced, a dispatcher will mispronounce it.

Corollary 4: If a street name cannot be mispronounced, a dispatcher will mispronounce it anyway.

Corollary 5: A dispatcher will always refer to a given location in the most obscure manner as possible. E.g., “Stumpy Brown’s Cabbage Field” is now covered by a shopping center.

The Law of Triage:

In any accident, the degree of injury suffered by a patient is inversely proportional to the amount and volume of agonized screaming produced by that patient.

The Gross Injury Law:

Any injury, the sight of which makes you want to puke, should immediately be covered by 4×4’s and kerlix.

The Supervisor Equation:

Given the equation: X +Y = Q (Q = Quality of Care, X = the care that you render, Y = the assistance supplied by any supervisor).

If you can eliminate Y from the equation, the Quality of Care will improve by X�.

Corollary 1: Generally, Field Supervisors have no business in the Field.

Corollary 2: The level of technical competence is inversely proportional to the level of management.

Corollary 3: Technology is dominated by those who manage what they do not understand.

The Law of Protocol Language:

The simplest Protocol Directive will be worded in the most obscure and complicated manner possible. Speeds, for example, will be expressed as “Furlongs per Fortnight” and flow rates as “Hogsheads per Hour”.

Corollary 1: If you don’t understand it, it must be intuitively obvious.

Corollary 2: If you can understand it, you probably don’t.

The Law of EMS Educators:

Those who can’t do, teach.

The Law of EMS Evaluators:

Those who can’t do or teach, evaluate.

The Law of Light:

As the seriousness of any given injury increases, the availability of light to examine that injury decreases.

The Law of Space:

The amount of space which is needed to work on a patient varies inversely with the amount of space which is available to work on that patient.

EMS Relativity:

The number of distraught and uncooperative relatives surrounding any given patient varies exponentially with the seriousness of the patient’s illness or injury.

The Theory of Weight:

The weight of the patient that you are about to transport increases exponentially by the number of floors which must be ascended to reach the patient and the number of floors which must be descended while carrying the patient.

Corollary 1: Very heavy patients tend to gravitate toward locations which are furthest from mean sea level.

Corollary 2: If the patient is heavy, the elevator is broken, and the lights in the stairwell are out.

The Laws of Non-Transport:

A Life-or-Death situation will immediately be created by driving away from the home of patient who has just thrown you out of their house.

The seriousness of this situation will increase as the date of your trial approaches.

By the time your ex-patient reaches the witness stand, the Jury will wonder how a patient in such terrible condition could have possibly walked to the door and greeted you with a large suitcase in each hand.

The First Rule of Bystanders

Any bystander who offers you help will give you none.

The Second Rule of Bystanders:

Always assume that any Physician found at the scene of an emergency is a Gynecologist, until proven otherwise. (Unless the emergency is obstetrical in nature, then the bystander will be a Dermatologist.)

The Rule of Warning Devices

Any Ambulance, whether it is responding to a call or traveling to a Hospital, with Lights and Siren, will be totally ignored by all motorists, pedestrians, and dogs which may be found in or near the roads along itsroute.

Corollary 1: Ambulance Sirens can cause acute and total, but transient, deafness.

Corollary 2: Ambulance Lights can cause acute and total, but transient, blindness. (Note: This Rule does not apply in California, where all pedestrians and motorists are apparently oblivious to any and all traffic laws.)

The Law of Show and Tell

A virtually infinite number of wide-eyed and inquisitive school-aged children can climb into the back of any Ambulance, and, given the opportunity, invariably will.

Corollary 1: No emergency run will come in until they are all inside the Ambulance and playing with the equipment.

Corollary 2: It will take at least four times as long to get them all out as it took to get them in.

Corollary 3: A vital piece of equipment will be missing.

The Rule of Rookies

The true value of any Rookie, when expressed numerically, will always be a negative number.

The value of this number may be found by simply having the rookie grade his or her ability on a scale from 1 to 10.

Medical skill: 1 = Certified Health Hazard, 10 =Johnny and Roy.

Driving ability: 1 = Obstruction to Navigation, 10 = Mario Andretti.

The true value of the rookie is then found by simply negating the Rookie’s self-assigned value.

Corollary 1: Treat any Rookie assigned to your Unit as you would a Bystander. (See The First Rule of Bystanders, above.)

Corollary 2: We were all rookies once upon a time….


1.  Save all manner of bacon grease. You will be instructed later
how to use  it.

2.  Just because you can drive on snow and ice does not mean we
can.  Just stay home the two days of the year it snows.

3. If you do run your car into a ditch, don’t panic. Four men in
the cab of a four wheel drive with a 12-pack of beer and a tow chain
will be along shortly.  Don’t try to help them. Just stay out of their
This is what they live for.

4. Don’t be surprised to find movie rentals & bait in the same store.

5. Remember: “Y’all” is singular. “All y’all” is plural. “All
y’all’s” is plural possessive.

6. Get used to hearing, “You ain’t from around here, are you?”

7. If you are yelling at the person driving 15 mph in a 55 mph
zone, directly in the middle of the road, remember, many folks
learned to drive on a model of vehicle known as John Deere, and this is
the proper speed and lane position for that vehicle.

8. If you hear a redneck exclaim, “Hey, y’all, watch this!” Stay
out of his way. These are likely the last words he will ever say.

9. Get used to the phrase “It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity”.
And the collateral phrase “You call this hot? Wait’ll August.”

10. There are no delis. Don’t ask.

11. In conversation, never put your hand on a man’s shoulder when
making a point, especially in a bar.

12. Chili does NOT have beans in it.

13. Brisket is not ‘cooked’ in an oven

14. Don’t tell us how you did it up there. Nobody cares.

15. If you think it’s too hot, don’t worry. It’ll cool down-in December.

16. We do TOO have 4 Seasons: December, January, February, and Summer!

17. A Mercedes-Benz is not a status symbol. A Ford F-150 is.

18. If someone tells you “Don’t worry, those peppers aren’t hot”
you can be certain they are.

19. If you fail to heed my warning in #18 above, be sure to have a
bowl of  guacamole handy. Water won’t do it.

20. Rocky Mountain oysters are NOT oysters. Don’t ask.

21. If someone says they’re “fixin” to do something, that doesn’t
mean anything’s broken.

22. Don’t even think of ordering a strawberry daiquiri. What you
really mean to say is ‘Margarita.’

23. If you don’t understand our passion for college and high school
football just keep your mouth shut.

24. The value of a parking space is not determined by the distance
to the door, but the availability of shade.

25. If you see a slower moving vehicle on a two lane road pull onto
the shoulder that is called “courtesy”.

26. BBQ is a food group. It does NOT mean grilling burgers and hot
dogs outdoors.

27. No matter what you’ve seen on TV, line dancing is not a popular
weekend pastime.

28. “Tea” = Iced Tea. There is no other kind.

29. Everything goes better with Ranch dressing.