Apr 26, 2017

The making of a meme: jukmifgguggh

Someday, people will ask one another "What was Google's hit count when you first searched for jukmifgguggh?" As as a with-it guy, I found out when Google reported 278 results. When I started writing this, it was reporting more than a thousand. Bing reports only two. Poor, sad Bing searchers. An internet meme is born, and they know nothing about it.

The definitive story of jukmifgguggh is yet to be written. It awaits a serious historian who will interview the people who participated in the series of events that began on April 26, 2017. A day which will one day be known as jukmifgguggh day.

Events were triggered at about 8AM Eastern time, when u/pheonixs1234 wrote this post on Reddit's ShowerThoughts subreddit. "Google could be lying about how many search results it gives, [sic] noone's going to actually check that far"

A couple of hours late u/Sufyries responds:
"Challenge accepted: it's true. "jukmifgguggh" did not hold any result and it didn;t"

Within an hour u/Guest_1337 someone else says:
"Not true, I googled the exact same phrase and got one result" 

That one result is the prior post.

By the time I learn about jukmifgguggh Google rerports 278 results, There's a subreddit devoted to jukmifgguggh. It's named r/jukmifgguggh.It's got a few hundred sibscribers.

Bing still gives no results.

I go away for a while, return to writing this post, and Google's got more than 1200 results. Bing is up to two.

I edit what I had written, put in links to user accounts and subredits and Google is up to 1500 hits, including several YouTube videos, several explaining how to pronounce it:

And there's an entry in the Urban dictionary and even a few YouTube documentaries.

And now we're up to 1400 hits. And this post will raise the count by at least a couple.

Happy jukmifgguggh day, everyone!.

Update: jukmifgguggh day +1 11:00 EDT. Google: 5,520 results, not yet including this post.

Bing wakes up: 1,500 results

Making misteaks

Over the weekend I started reading a book called "Present Perfect" about perfectionism. Not because I'm a perfectionist. Because I'm not. Don't believe me? Go back and read some of my earlier posts and you'll see. A perfectionist wouldn't post anything unless it was perfect, right?

(Or is it "unless it were perfect?" See, I'm not going to even go and look that one up. That's how much of a non-perfectionist I am.)

Anyway, I've gone back and read some of the stuff that I've written, and every time I do, I find that they are full of misteaks. Which I don't always correct. Well, actually I do correct them, but the point is: misteaks. So I'm definitely not a perfectionist. And the book does not apply to me.


If a perfectionist found a misteak in one of his posts wouldn't he assume that there might be other misteaks and then go back and read each post until he was satisfired that he'd fixed every misteak? I would if I were a perfectionist. But I'm not. The very fact that I don't go back and read every post after discovering several with errors proves that I am not a perfectionist.

I've gone back and read stuff that I wrote, and it is always painful. I don't mean to say that I don't think I'm a good writer. When I reread things that I've written, I'm generally pleazed despite floors. I know that that I'll find misteaks, because I'm not a perfectionist. And I know it's better to have written something, despite possible misteaks than to have written nothing at all.

But still, it's horrible going back and seeing all the misteaks that I've made. Who wants to have their face rubbed into clear evidence of their sloppy work, their inattention to detail and...wait? Does that sound a little like the voice of a perfectionist to you? It sounds that way to me, too. But that's got to be a misteak because I am definitely not a perfectionist.

Want more proof? Take email. When I write an email, I don't try to write something perfect. I mean it's just fucking email, so I write it and I send it. Of course, I spell check it. But that's it. I spell check it. And then read it over to make sure it's clear. That's not being a perfectionist, is it?

And if I find that I need to fix a few words that doesn't make me a perfectionist,does it?. You can always make something clearer if you choose a better word. And there's often a better word. But spending time looking for better words doesn't make me a perfectionist.

I almost always find that I can make my email clearer if I rearrange a few sentences. That's true for even an email that's three sentences long. Order often makes a difference. So I often reorder sentences. Does that make me a perfectionist? Of course not.

Yes, so I read and reward and rearrange just about every email that I write. And while I'm doing the rearranging I'll often find ways to make the email better by adding more detail and tightening up what I've already written. Is that perfectionism? No. It's just good manners. It's consideration for whoever is going to read it. By putting in a little extra time on the writing end, I can save them some time on the reading end.

And if I've cited a fact--and many emails have facts in them--I try to do the responsible thing. Say if the email that I'm writing refers to an earlier, different email conversation. Then, of course, I'll search my archives to make sure that I didn't misrepresent that conversation. Is that perfectionism? No, it's just diligence. Or responsibility.

And if I can verify a fact on the web then I'll check Wikipedia or some other reliable source to make sure that I haven't said something that's wrong. I think that the amount of ignorance and misinformation that's circulating is a growing social problem and I don't want to compound that problem by adding my own ignorance and misunderstanding to what's already there. So I always look things up, sometimes checking multiple sources. And I always include a link so that if whoever reads my email is similarly motivated they can just click the link. And then I'm done.

Unless the information is complex and merely scanning a reference seems irresponsible. In that case, I'll carefully read each reference to make sure that I understand and I believe their main argument. And--of course--if there are competing points of view that might be credible--or that my reader might consider credible--then I _must_ do at least a _little_ research to make sure that I am not being unreasonably one-sided. That's not perfectionism. it's fairness.

Of course, since everything in the universe is connected to everything else, researching any single fact leads, logically, to investigating the entire universe.  That's not practical, of course. A perfectionist might not see that, but I do. So I set limits. I realize that any limits that I set must be arbitrary. And I don't want to be considered an arbitrary person. But I also don't want to spend the rest of my life replying to a single email, so I've got to make an arbitrary decision to cut off research at a certain point. If I were a perfectionist (which I am not) I couldn't make that decision, and I'd keep researching forever. The fact that I can stop researching some unimportant bit of information, incidental to the email that I'm writing, in as little as ten or twenty minutes is clear evidence that I'm not a perfectionist.

To further prove that I'm not a perfectionist I just checked the list of blog posts that Blogger keeps. I've written a couple of hundred posts since I started writing. If I was or were really a perfectionist, I would still be working on the first post because I'm sure it's not perfect.I've posted a couple of hundred posts (actually, 232--I checked because it's important to be accurate) so I'm well past the first.

I do have about hundred posts that I started and never finished. So some might argue that my perfectionism (which does not exist) got in the way of finishing them. They were good but they weren't good enough. (Actually, it's 111 posts. Including this one.)


(The not-good-enough is the enemy of the good? That's not right. Let me take a minute and look it up. Right. It's "The perfect is the enemy of the good." Now who said that? Oh, yes, Voltaire. Well, Voltaire wouldn't have said that. He would have said something in French. Ahh, here it is: "Le mieux est l'ennemi du bien,." Wait a minute. I know a _little_ French. And "perfect" would be "parfait." "Le mieux" would be something like "The better." That's right, isn't it? I better check Google Translate because, you know, I don't want to make a misteak here. Yep. That's it.)

So clearly, I'm not a perfectionist. If I were, I'd be reading the complete works of Voltaire, right now, in the original French to be sure that I wasn't misrepresenting Voltaire. But I'm not. I'm not a perfectionist. I'm just a guy who spends a lot of time trying to avoid misteaks.

Anyway, it's so far been an interesting book. It seems that it could help a person who is a perfectionist. Even someone like me, who is not a perfectionist, might get something out of it.

Now, excuse me, but I've got a three line email that I've been working on for a couple of hours, and I really want to get it out.

Apr 10, 2017

Boston Hotel Evaluation (Redux)

Note: a recent G+ post by one of the reviewed Hoteliers sent me back to LiveJournal where I found, and updated this post. Including Wingdings. Yay.

Boston Hotel Evaluation
In order to keep our readers fully apprised of the relative merits of hotels in the Boston Hotel scene, we decided to travel to Boston to see how some of our favorite hotels were doing and to update our report. 

OK. That’s not exactly accurate. More exactly, we found ourselves stranded in Boston without a hotel. So we had to check out the hotels, like it or not. And then we found ourselves with two hours to spare when our flight was canceled, so we decided to write this report. 

And to be perfectly candid, we felt pompous and important doing it, so we decided to refer to ourselves as ‘we’ and ‘us.’ Sounds so much better than ‘I’ and ‘me,’ don’t you think?

I do.

The Boston Airport Hilton Hotel
One of the finest hotels in the Boston area, the Boston Airport Hilton Hotel did not have a room for us at 11:30 at night when we called.
Rating: Accommodations: ☺︎☺︎☺︎☺︎☺︎ Food: ☺︎☺︎☺︎☺︎☺︎ Courtesy: ⚐︎ (not sure what this symbol means). Overall rating: ☠︎

The Boston Airport Embassy Suites Hotel
Rivaling the Boston Airport Hilton Hotel for not having a room for us at 11:30 at night when we called, the Boston Airport Embassy Suites Hotel also sucks.
Rating: Accommodations: 👎︎👎︎👎︎👎︎👎︎ Food: 👎︎👎︎👎︎👎︎👎︎👎︎ Courtesy: ☹︎ (They were nice, but fuck ‘em. They don’t deserve a good rating. Overall rating: 💣︎

The Boston Airport Homeless Shelter and Fleabag Hotel
This hotel actually does not exist, but if it did, they probably wouldn’t have rooms for us either, the malicious uncharitable bastards.

Rating: Accommodations:  Food: 👎︎👎︎👎︎👎︎👎︎👎︎ Courtesy: 👎︎👎︎👎︎👎︎👎︎👎︎👎︎👎︎👎︎👎︎👎︎👎︎👎︎👎︎👎︎👎︎👎︎ Overall rating: ☠︎☠︎☠︎☠︎☠︎☠︎☠︎☠︎☠︎☠︎

The Hotel LyssaKon
The Hotel LyssaKon is the new upgraded version of the Hotel Beaner. Under new management, the Hotel has been extensively remodeled, primarily due to being in an entirely different building, but also due to having been extensively remodeled. 

The Hotel AlyssaKon appears much, much larger than the Beaner, partially due to a brighter color palette and partly due to better use of space and mainly due to its larger size. If possible, one should make a point of staying in the Penthouse Suite on the third floor, with its newly renovated window. Unfortunately, the Hotel AlyssaKon’s switchboard shuts down sometime before 11:30, so we don’t know if they had a room for us at 11:30 at night when we called. Probably they didn’t. 

But maybe they did. Who knows? While their switchboard kept me from staying there, my earlier visit was excellent in every respect.
Rating: Switchboard: 👎︎👎︎👎︎👎︎ Accommodations: ☺︎☺︎☺︎☺︎☺︎ Food: ☺︎☺︎☺︎☺︎☺︎☺︎ Courtesy: ☺︎☺︎☺︎☺︎☺︎☺︎ Over-all rating: ☺︎☺︎☺︎☺︎☺︎☺︎

The Hotel MiraJohn is located 527 miles from Logan airport when you are tired, and 46 miles when you are not. Their personalized door-to-door airport shuttle service makes the trip to Logan in 12.5 minutes at 5:00 in the morning at 120 miles an hour, but the trip from Logan may be longer as it is all uphill. 

I was tired; the MiraJohn was 527 miles away, uphill; I didn’t believe the new wormhole technology was operational so I didn’t even check the switchboard. However, my last visit to the MiraJohn showed it to be one of the best hotels in the suburban Boston area. It just needs to move closer when I’m tired.
Rating: Distance from airport: ☺︎☺︎☺︎☺︎ Speed driving: ☺︎☺︎☺︎ Accommodations: ☺︎☺︎☺︎☺︎☺︎☺︎ Food: ☺︎☺︎☺︎☺︎☺︎☺︎☺︎☺︎ Courtesy: ☺︎☺︎☺︎☺︎☺︎☺︎☺︎☺︎ Overall rating: ☺︎☺︎☺︎☺︎☺︎☺︎

The Hotel Dayo
The 24-hour switchboard at the Hotel Dayo told me that they had no rooms left, but unlike the Hilton and Embassy Suites, the Hotel Dayo never leaves a traveler stranded. They offered me a futon in the hotel, something that the Hilton—with its much larger lobby—could easily have done. And they didn’t charge a premium. Of course, I accepted. 

I rented a Volvo from Hertz which was handily equipped with a Never-Lost GPS system which kept me from getting lost when a police cruiser blocked the second section of the Ted Williams Tunnel and sent me on a tour of the surface streets of god-knows-where in Boston circling and circling and twisting and turning, but never quite lost until I finally ended up on the Mass Pike.

On the way to the Dayo I stopped at their highly recommended “Restaurant Store 24” for an excellent midnight dinner: their signature Krispy Kreme chocolate glazed cream filled donuts served with a bottle of Sobe Liz Bliz. Replete, I continued to the hotel. My accommodations were everything that the Hilton and Embassy Suites had failed to provide. Namely, they existed.

Rating: Accommodations: ☺︎☺︎☺︎☺︎☺︎☺︎ Food: ☺︎☺︎☺︎☺︎☺︎☺︎ Courtesy: ☺︎☺︎☺︎☺︎☺︎☺︎ Overall rating: ☺︎☺︎☺︎☺︎☺︎☺︎

Summary (or as we say, these days TL;DR): The Hilton sucks. The Embassy Suites sucks. The MiraJohn, AlyssaKon and the Dayo all rock.

Update: Since this review was written, the Hotel Dayo moved to Boston, then, following a management change, the beautiful Hotel DandD (also known as DW2 has opened in San Francisco. I've been there. It rocks.

Apr 1, 2017

Getting things done, redux

Years ago I read David Allen’s book “Getting Things Done” (GTD). It made sense, and for a while I used it, and I got things done. That was nice.
Then, for reasons, I stopped using it. And then I tried again and stopped, again, for reasons. I haven’t used it for many, many years, also for reasons. And now I’m working my way into using it, or something like it, again, because I really want to get stuff done, and I am going to have to deal with the reasons. After a week it’s working, but the reasons are starting to creep in, and I’m going to do something about them.

What is GTD

Here’s a short summary of GTD. And below is my own, shorter, explanation of why GTD works, and then why it stopped working for me. But read the other one, too. It’s worthwhile.

Why GTD works

We get things done by using our brains. Our brains have limited CPU cycles and limited RAM. Under normal circumstances, we use a lot of RAM to store lists of things that we want to do or that we have to do. And we use our CPU going over and over and over and over and over the lists, and reminding ourselves what’s on the list. The more stuff we have RAM, the less RAM, and the less CPU to actually do shit.
So the GTD idea is to get that RAM and CPU back by building a system that our brains will trust enough to stop wasting space and cycles. Our brains will only stop if they trust the new system. So GTD is about building a system that our brains will trust.

What must the trusted system do?

  1. It must contain EVERYTHING. If the brain finds anything that isn’t in the system, it stops trusting the system.
  2. It must be reliable. If the brain finds that things that were put into the system and fell through the crack then it stops trusting the system.
  3. It must be efficient. If the system doesn’t do a better job than our brains think that they do, they won’t trust the system. And finally:
  4. It must be easy. If it’s not easy, then WE will stop using it. And if we stop…well, you know, what the brain is going to do.

Getting things organized

Allen proposes a paper-based system. Some people have written software to help. I’ve used both. Whatever way you choose, the—unoptimized— process is something like this:
Step 1: You find everything that you want to do and put it in the system in a list let’s call IN. Everything. That’s short term tasks, like “email Fred” and long-term projects like “learn Chinese.” Everything. You put it all in a big list. Many pages. Do not process. Just list. (For physical tasks, like organizing your desk, you can put everything in a big pile. Then you put “get rid of the pile” in your list.) The first time I did this I literally (and I mean literally) cried. There was so much. Well, previously it had all been in my head.
Step 2: You process the list. Each item gets looked at in order. You don’t sort the list. If an item can be handled in less than two minutes, then you do it, there and then. If not, it gets moved to another list. If it’s a project that you want to be working on, you put it in a list called “Projects.” If it’s a project that you want to do someday, maybe, you put it on a list called “Someday/Maybe.” If’ it’s a task that’s part of a project then you add the project if it’s not there, and put the task with the project. If it’s a task that’s not part of a project, you put it on a list called “Next Actions” If it’s a recurring task, then you put it on a list called Recurring
Step 3: You go through the Projects list and make sure that each project has at least one item on the Next Actions list. If there’s too much on the Projects list, you might move some projects to the Someday list.
Step 4: You go through the recurring list and annotate and move any tasks that need to be done that day to Next Action
Step 5: You go through the Next Actions list, and group tasks of similar kinds, so you don’t spend time context-switching. For example, you put all the phone call tasks together. All the email tasks together. All the tasks that have to be done at home together.
Now you’re ready to actually….

Get things done

You work from the Next Action list. You pick a group and knock off every item in the group— if you can. Which group? The one that best matches the current context. When you finish the list, you switch contexts and pick a new group. When life switches your context—you leave work and go home—or you have a meeting with someone and you have items best done in that context, you switch groups.
When something’s done, you cross it off. If there’s a follow-up, you add it to IN or put it on the appropriate list, if that’s easy to do.

Updating your lists

Whenever you notice something that you MIGHT want to do or have to do, you add something to IN. And periodically you process IN.
Periodically you process things you’ve crossed off. If what you did is part of a project, see what’s next for the project and add more tasks to the Next Action list. If what you did has no follow-up, you just delete it. Or put it in a list of deleted tasks.
Every day you copy items from Recurring to Next Action.
Weekly you do a review. More on that later.

Reasons. Or why I’ve quit in the past

Even though GTD helped me Get Things Done, it also required what seemed to be a lot of Gratuitous Tedious Drudgery. Well, maybe it was Necessary Tedious Drudgery. But it didn’t feel necessary. Or gratuitous, for that matter. But tedious drudgery, no question.
And because there Has To Be A Better WayTM it felt gratuitous.
Anyway, over time my hatred for the drudgery grew until it dwarfed satisfaction about the done’s.

Why I’m not quitting this time

But now I have a solution: “Create a system produces good GTD without bad GTD.”
Maybe I could have done this before—I’m a software guy—but making software was also full of gratuitous tedious drudgery. So I made a few starts, got bogged down, and quit.
But now things are different. The available tools get rid of LOTS of tedium and drudgery,
So on my project list, I’m putting that task.
Create a system produces good GTD without bad GTD.
And under it I’m adding:
Write a blog post describing such a system.
And then I’m moving it to my Next Actions list. Right after my daily routine, the taxes, and the cabinet doors and posting this.