Three Signs, Zero Agreement

Tuesday, January 18th, 2022

This is a sign I recently saw in CVS, next to the pharmacy counter:

A sign reading “COVID-19 vaccine now available for eligible people. By appointment only. No walk-ins.”

It clearly states that COVID-19 vaccines are available, but only by appointment. OK.

On the counter of the pharmacy itself, I saw this:

Due to high demand for vaccines, appointments are recommended.

Things are getting less strict, with appointments now recommended but not required.

Finally, directly above the pharmacy, I saw this sign:

A sign indicating this area is for “Vaccine walk-ins”

Now I don’t know what to believe!

Delightfully Toasty on Their Cat Butts 

Monday, January 17th, 2022

If your internet service cuts out, and you’re using a Starlink satellite dish, you may wish to check for cats.

The World’s Most Fascinating Album 

Friday, January 14th, 2022

Back in 2015, hip hop all-stars Wu-Tang Clan sold a one-of-a-kind album called “Once Upon a Time in Shaolin”. Rather than being mass produced, only a single copy of the album was made. It wound up in the hands of despised pharma-bro Martin Shkreli, who was soon thereafter arrested for fraud. As a result, the album was impounded by the US government. Years later, in the middle of 2021, it was sold to cover Shkreli’s debt to the government. Now, thanks to a Freedom of Information Act request, Vice has pictures and information about that deal.

Vice’s article bemoans the physical scars the album has acquired in the past seven years, as well as the fact that the new owners won’t be able to spread the music widely. Me, however, I don’t worry about the physical appearance of this strange artifact. Neither do I bemoan the fact that the public may not hear this music for decades to come. That’s because I have entered the Shaolin temple of my mind. One does not need to hear “Once Upon a Time in Shaolin” to appreciate it, and all that has unfolded around it.

You Have to Wait a Bit

Thursday, January 13th, 2022

Earlier today, I went for a five mile run. I’m doing a goofy winter challenge, where I have to run outside every day in January, so this was the thirteenth day in a row I did this. That run finished up at 9:17 AM. One single, solitary minute later, I got this notification on my Apple Watch:

A message reading “7-Workout Week: Get in a workout today and it will be a 7-Workout Week. Don't let up Paul!”

Apple’s week runs Monday to Sunday, meaning I have three full days to get in a single workout and thus hit their desired “7-Workout Week”. Obviously, my daily run alone will get me to the prescribed number. Further, simple math will tell you that in addition to my runs, I’ve already done a couple other workouts this week. My average number of workouts per day this week is 1.5. Given all that, this encouragement seems needless by all accounts.

But even if some encouragement were warranted, why offer it when I have literally just completed a workout? Work on your timing, Watch. Also, your writing. I already “got in a workout” today. Pester me tomorrow, or better yet, not at all.

Previously in asinine Apple Watch encouragement: Take a Day Off, Coach

New Year, New Fear 

Wednesday, January 12th, 2022

It’s a brand-new year, and I’ve got a brand new fear: Being in a persistent vegetative state, yet fully aware of the outside world:

By 2016, more than 1,000 patients around the world had been scanned using variations on the brain-imaging technique we had developed, and an independent scientific review concluded that between 20 and 25 per cent of them were like Carol and Scott; conscious and aware, despite their outward appearance, trapped in their immobile bodies, listening silently to every conversation at their bedside, and every decision that had ever been made on their behalf.

Dr. Adrian Owen, who pioneered this research, is now fighting for imaging that can help these patients gain a voice.

Completely Stupid Switches

Tuesday, January 11th, 2022

Recently, while trying to turn off some email announcements, I came upon this usability nightmare:

Wow.

I don’t have any issue with a switch over a more traditional checkbox. In fact, many of the apps my company makes use switches to good effect. A well-designed switch looks very nice and is just as obvious and usable as a checkbox. Further, having color on a switch helps a great deal with ensuring the current state is understood, and this interface even has that. I immediately knew that announcements were on.

However, because this isn’t a proper switch, the color ultimately detracts from the usability. My eye was drawn to the item I couldn’t click to turn off. Meanwhile, the control I wanted to enable was grayed out, dimming it from my perception.

The above video is a reenactment of pretty much exactly what I went through. I saw that the “Enable Announcements” option was on. I tried to click it off, and that failed. Thinking perhaps I had misclicked, I then clicked a couple times, which amusingly led to it being highlighted. I finally paused, focused on the controls, and clicked “Disable Announcements”. I then played around with the control, shaking my head and muttering all the while.

What’s really breathtaking about this is that someone custom-crafted it. It’s a whole bunch of custom CSS, to wind up with…this. It’s awful, and I hope to never run into it elsewhere.

Some People Call Them the Space Cannibals 

Monday, January 10th, 2022

In dire circumstances, humans will usually resort to cannibalism. Still, we’re not really supposed to talk about it. If we are going to talk about it, more precise language would be best. “Space colonists would likely turn to cannibalism in desperation”, rather than “Space colonists will likely resort to cannibalism for funsies”.

Don’t Romanticize Needless Death 

Friday, January 7th, 2022

When I read the headline “‘One Couldn’t Live Without the Other’: Married High School Sweethearts With COVID Die on Same Day”, I imagined a sad but touching story. I envisioned an elderly couple, together for decades and decades, passing away at the end of a long and happy life. Unfortunately, this isn’t that.

Alvaro, 44, and Sylvia Fernandez, 42, of Loma Linda, had been together since high school. The parents of four children died Dec. 19, just hours apart.

A headline like “40-Something Parents Die of Preventable Causes, Leave 4 Children Orphaned” wouldn’t make anyone feel good, but it would more accurately convey the gravity of the story, and of our global pandemic.

Ask Your Local Trucker for a Snack 

Thursday, January 6th, 2022

Earlier this week, as a result of an unexpectedly strong snow storm and inadequate work by local officials, traffic on Interstate 95 in Virginia came to a halt for an entire day. Trucker Michele Rusher gave a fascinating interview about her job, and the experience being stuck.

In Poor Taste 

Wednesday, January 5th, 2022

Recently, the official, verified Twitter account for Pabst Blue Ribbon beer began tweeting about “eating ass”, and I just can’t stop laughing. Surely some 20-something with poor judgement got fired over this, but at least they’ve got a story for the rest of their life.