Bob's Basement

Just a short, simple blog for Bob to share his thoughts.

Work/Life Balance

Some people I know should read this... not that I'm naming any names, of course. Winking smile

for_dummies_work_life_balance

Posted: Nov 03 2015, 15:45 by bob | Comments (0)
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Political Changes

Here's your election thought of the day from the good folks at www.despair.com...

Change

Posted: Nov 03 2015, 15:24 by bob | Comments (0)
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The Italian Job VIII

My friend and fellow cycling enthusiast Keith shared the following security camera footage from the good folks at Woodinville Bicycle which captures the hilarious antics of a would-be thief attempting to steal a bicycle... I think we have a future Darwin Award recipient in the making.

http://youtu.be/pWdXl0DK3Ao

Posted: Nov 02 2015, 10:58 by bob | Comments (0)
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Code Monkey Save World

OK – I have to make a shameless admission: I really like Jonathan Coulton's music. Jonathan's style is sort of like modern-day-Internet-geek-cyber-folk-pop, as if that's a real genre.

Anyway, years ago he wrote a song called "Code Monkey," which became something of an Internet hit. (Hey, I'd call over one million downloads a hit.) If you're curious about the song, you can browse to http://youtu.be/MNl3fTods9c in order to see it with the lyrics.

Code_monkey

That being said, fans of "Code Monkey" might not be aware that Jonathan teamed up with Greg Pak and a few additional artists, and together they converted "Code Monkey" and several of Jonathan's other songs (like "Skullcrusher Mountain," "Re: Your Brains," etc.) into a weird little graphic novel.

codemonkey

Truth be told, I'm not a graphic novel kind of guy, but I love the song - so I ordered a copy through Greg Pak's online shop.

My signed copy of the graphic novel just arrived, and it was a great read; it was fun to see the characters from so many of Jonathan's songs brought to life, even if it was just for a hundred pages or so.

EPSON MFP image

For those of you who are familiar with the song, you're probably wondering to yourself, "Does Code Monkey finally tell his manager to write that @#$% login page himself and win the heart of Matilde, the girl of his dreams?"

Well, you'll just have to order the book and find that out for yourself.


(FYI – The graphic novel was a Kickstarter project in 2013 which was fully-funded in just 12 hours; it eventually reached $340,270 of it's original $39,000 goal.)

Posted: Jan 26 2015, 23:55 by Bob | Comments (0)
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All Spiders Must Die

One of my cousins posted the following chart to Facebook, and I think that most people would tend to agree with it:

all-spiders-must-die

Growing up in Arizona, I learned a simple rule for dealing with spiders: kill them all. Seriously. They all must die.

My philosophy for dealing with spiders was formed when we moved into a house on the northeast side of Tucson in 1978. At the time, our house was on the outskirts of the city, with little more than desert beyond our neighborhood. As a result, we had lots of creepy, crawly things roaming about. Between toxic spiders, toxic scorpions, toxic millipedes, toxic lizards, etc., we adopted an easy-to-remember motto for what was poisonous and what wasn’t: “If it crawls, it kills.” With that in mind, we generally killed anything that resembled an insect.

However, the worst of our lot was: an infestation of Black Widow spiders. I make no exaggeration – our house had hundreds of Black Widow spiders crawling about. As a paperboy, that meant checking very carefully when I exited the front door of our house around 5am every morning, because there were almost always 3 to 5 Black Widows hanging from webs in front of our door. If I didn't survey the area with due diligence, that meant that I would be wearing those Black Widows.

black-widow

At first I used Raid or some other insect killer to dispatch my arachnid antagonists, but I eventually decided to use a can of Lysol and a lighter to create a miniature flamethrower. (Note: Do not try that at home.) Just in case you were wondering, Black Widows simply melt when you attack them with a flamethrower. (Which I found savagely gratifying.)


Jumping ahead a couple of decades, my wife and I moved to Seattle, Washington, where we purchased a house on a hill which backed up to a small forest. Part-way down the hill on our property was a small storage shed. We didn’t need it for storage, so we decided to give the shed to our young son as a club house. With that in mind, one misty Seattle morning my son and I headed down the hill to the shed to clean it up for him.

Exterior06

As we pushed open the door, the musty odor from years of neglect and rotting debris was strong enough to force a hasty retreat from the average explorer. But we were determined, so we soldiered on. As we were cleaning out some of the accumulated rubbish from the shed, I noticed that the aging edifice had a drop ceiling, which was odd. Since it looked like the shed had been wired for electricity at one point, I decided to remove the ceiling panels and see what lurked behind them.

As I removed the first ceiling panel, I made a startling discovery: spiders. Millions of them. All shapes, sizes, and species. Some were crawling around, but most seemed to train all eight of their eyes on me as if to say, “Well, biped boy? What are you going to do about it?”

spider-in-web

As I continued to examine the situation, one alarming fact became painfully clear: our storage shed was obviously the breeding ground for every spider in the Pacific Northwest. Recalling my years of childhood training, my immediate thought was – they all must die.

With that purpose in mind, I headed down to my local Home Depot to pick up some spider killer. Much to my amazement, the Home Depot does not keep spider-killing chemicals in stock in Washington state. I could not locate any, so I asked a salesperson, who was quick to remark, "We don't kill spiders in Washington; we like them. They eat the other bugs."

This answer was unacceptable to me, so I resolved to make do with the best that I could find: I bought a case of industrial-strength fumigation bombs and I brought those home. I placed the first bomb on the floor in the center of the storage shed, pressed the release button, then I hastily exited the building and closed the door. On the next day, I repeated this process. On the following day I examined the carnage: as I removed the remaining ceiling panels, the corpses of millions of dead spiders spilled past me and littered the floor of the shed.

After sweeping up the remnants of my fallen foes, I checked behind the walls to make sure that no spiders were hiding behind the drywall and planning their counter-offensive. I found no spiders, but I discovered that the shed was infested with black mold, so I was forced to inform my son that the shed was off limits for health reasons.

Throughout my years in the Seattle area, I continued to deploy a fumigation bomb every year, and by the time we moved away I seldom saw any spiders near our house. I guess they learned their lesson. Or perhaps they simply relocated to a more spider-friendly house down the street. Either way, I was happy to never see them.


My wife and I moved back to Arizona this past year, and the former owners of our new house failed to take care of the property. As a result, I saw a few spiders loitering about the place when we moved in. This is obviously an undesirable situation, so I headed down to my local Home Depot, where I was thrilled to see dozens of different products which proudly displayed their ability to kill any species of spider.

As I was reading the labels and making my choice, a salesperson asked if I needed any assistance. I replied no, but I felt obliged to share the attitudes of his Home Depot colleagues in Washington state. We both laughed out loud with incredulity that anyone would actually try to save their spiders. Once I had selected my weapon of choice, I brought home my new-found arsenal and proceeded to dispatch my eight-legged tormentors to the arachnid abyss.

Posted: Nov 14 2014, 11:39 by Bob | Comments (0)
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Drum Circles and Conference Calls Do Not Mix

Earlier today our organization participated in a unique "Team Building" exercise: our organization hosted a Drum Circle, wherein a motivational speaker walked various members of our organization through a set of various polyrhythms with the intended goal of creating music as a "team." The idea seems plausible enough on paper, and I am fairly certain that if I was participating in-person I might have received something of value from the experience.

However, I work remotely, as do several dozen of my coworkers. Instead of hearing music and a motivational speaker, those of us who could not attend in-person heard nothing but noise. Lots and lots of noise. The entire experience was reduced to hours of mind-numbing cacophony for anyone attending the meeting via the conference call, and my only takeaway was that I had lost several hours of my life.

Shortly after the meeting had ended I put together the following animation to show my coworkers what the meeting was like for remote attendees:

Attending a Drum Circle Remotely.

With that in mind, please take my advice: take a look at https://binged.it/2s4KbLd for companies who offer team building exercises such as this, and avoid them as much as possible if you value your remote employees.

Posted: Jul 21 2014, 15:02 by bob | Comments (0)
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A Short Ride on a Hot Summer Day

I thought that I would take a quick 9-mile ride today in the 100F+ afternoon temperatures just to see what that was like. (Spoiler alert - this was a dumb idea.) My friend Keith had done a similar ride several years earlier on the hottest day in Seattle history, and even though he admitted in hindsight that it probably was a bad plan, sometimes experience is the best teacher - so this is a lesson that I had to learn for myself.

It is a measured 4.5 miles from my doorstep to the guard shack at the Saguaro National Park, which makes it a fairly easy 9-mile ride roundtrip on a good day, (with the option of adding an additional 8 miles if you ride through the park itself). There is only 250 feet of elevation change from my house to the park, so I can generally average about 15mph without too much effort.

I use CycloMeter on my Windows Phone to track my rides, and it uses the Windows Phone "Zira" text-to-speech voice to announce each mile that I have travelled, every 10 minutes that I have been riding, and every 100 calories that I have burned.

With that in mind, here is the conversation that ensued between my Windows Phone and me during today's ride:

  • Leaving the house:
    • Me: Hmm... it's a little warm. What's the temperature?
    • Me: [Looks at the Weather Channel app.]
    • Me: 101 degrees, not too bad.
  • At the 0.5-mile mark:
    • Me: Let's just casually glide between these speed bumps and the curb, shall we? No sense beating up the bike.
  • At the 1.0-mile mark:
    • Zira: You've ridden 1 mile.
    • Me: Yeah, yeah. I'm aware of that - I know right where I am.
  • At the 1.7-mile mark:
    • Me: OK - quick break at the Houghton Road stoplight. Time to hydrate.
  • At the 2.0-mile mark:
    • Me: There's the road that marks off 2 miles from my house.
    • Zira: You've ridden 2 miles.
    • Me: Um, yeah - didn't I just say that?
  • At the 2.5-mile mark:
    • Zira: You've burned 100 calories.
    • Me: Cool. Is it me, or is it getting warmer?
  • At the 3.0-mile mark:
    • Me: This was a dumb idea. I hate this hill.
    • Zira: You've ridden 3 miles.
    • Me: I must remember that this big hill with the turn is the 3-mile mark.
    • Me: (Didn't I tell myself that the last time I rode this way?)
  • At the 4.0-mile mark:
    • Me: This was a really dumb idea. It's pretty hot out here. How much Gatorade do I have left? Where am I?
    • Zira: You've ridden 4 miles.
    • Me: Oh, that's where I am. This was a really dumb idea.
  • At the 4.5-mile mark:
    • Me: OK - I'm at the guard shack; time to turn around. Should I stop to refill my water bottle? Nah, takes too long.
    • My Evil Subconscious: Hey, as long as I'm here, should I enter the park and add the 8-mile desert ride onto this?
    • My Good Subconscious: I hate you. Shut up.
  • At the 5.0-mile mark:
    • Zira: You've ridden 5 miles.
    • Me: It's really hot; did I mention that already? This was such a dumb idea.
    • Zira: You've burned 200 calories.
    • Me: Well, that takes care of lunch.
  • At the 6.0-mile mark:
    • Zira: You've ridden 6 miles.
    • Me: I'm almost out of Gatorade; I should have filled up with water at the park entrance. I'm such an idiot.
  • At the 6.7-mile mark:
    • Me: I should be at the 7-mile mark!!! What's up with this stupid GPS??? There's the stupid road that's 2 miles from my house!!!
    • Zira: (Silence.)
    • Me: Oh wait, wrong road; there's the correct road up ahead. This was a dumb idea.
  • At the 7.0-mile mark:
    • Zira: You've ridden 7 miles.
    • Me: Shut up. No one likes a smarty-pants. Why is it so hot?
  • At the 7.3-mile mark:
    • Me: Must catch the stoplight at Houghton Road...
    • Me: Must catch the stoplight at Houghton Road...
    • Me: Must catch the stoplight at Houghton Road...
    • Me: Caught it.
  • At the 7.5-mile mark:
    • Zira: You've burned 300 calories.
    • Me: By the time I get home, I will have burned off breakfast and lunch. How's my blood sugar? Is it crashing yet? Perhaps I should have eaten more?
  • At the 8.0-mile mark:
    • Zira: You've ridden 8 miles.
    • Me: Why does my Gatorade taste like I boiled it? Maybe a black water bottle was a bad idea.
  • At the 8.5-mile mark:
    • Me: Who put these stupid speed bumps here???
  • At the 8.9-mile mark:
    • Me: I'm right by the house!!! Why doesn't this stupid GPS say 9 miles???
    • My OCD Subconscious: You have to ride through the neighborhood to pick up the extra 0.1 miles and make it an even 9.0 miles.
    • My Hindsight Subconscious: You actually fell for that? You're an idiot.
  • At the 9.0-mile mark:
    • Zira: You've ridden 9 miles.
    • Me: I'm done!!! Throw bike in garage... Grab water bottle from fridge... Pour ice water in my hair and drink the rest... Jump in shower... Why is this tap water so warm??? I haven't even turned on the hot water!!!

That's pretty much how the whole ride went down. Just in case you were wondering, the starting and ending temperatures for the ride were both 101 degrees.

Did I mention at any point that this was a dumb idea?

Posted: Jun 12 2014, 17:58 by Bob | Comments (0)
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Brain Teaser Spoiler Alert

I keep seeing people repost this annoying little image to their Facebook pages with a question that asks "How many squares do you see?":

00

First of all, I find these kinds of brain teasers annoying, and the fact that this image shows up every few months or so is only adding to my pre-existing dislike for this particular distraction. What's more annoying, however, is watching the debate that inevitably unfolds with regard to how many squares are displayed.

With that in mind, I will ruin this for future generations by stating that it contains 40 squares, and I created the following animation which shows where that number comes from:

40

With that in mind, please make the madness stop and just say "no" to posting useless brain teasers.

Posted: Mar 28 2014, 11:42 by Bob | Comments (0)
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The Book of Squirrels

(Note: I found this on my computer, which I had posted to our refrigerator several years ago when my wife and I were going out of town for a few days and I wanted my son, Peter, to remember to put out food for the squirrels while my wife and I were away.)

BookOfSquirrels

Bob 21:15 - The lord of the house said to Peter Joshua, "Peter, do you love me more than these?" "Yes, Dad," he said, "you know that I love you." Bob said, "Feed my squirrels."

Bob 21:16 - Again the lord of the house said, "Peter, son of Robert, do you love me?" He answered, "Yes, Dad, you know that I love you." Bob said, "Take care of my squirrels."

Bob 21:17 - The third time he said to him, "Peter, son of Robert, do you love me?" Peter was hurt because his dad asked him the third time, "Do you love me?" He said, "Dad, you know many things; you know that I love you." Bob said, "Feed my squirrels."

(Note: If you don't get the reference, I'm not explaining it to you.)

Posted: Feb 27 2014, 11:34 by Bob | Comments (0)
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Every Gene Pool has a Shallow End

So I watched this video…

And that inspired me to create this image…

GOPRO

Enough said. Smile

Posted: Feb 17 2014, 23:24 by Bob | Comments (0)
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