Thursday, May 26, 2005

Lunchtime conversation.

(Edited. Note this conversation is from 2005.)

With my coworkers. We're having a conversation about bonds and stocks.

Jordan: [explaining how raising interest rates depreciates the bond market]

Kevin: I'm very risk-averse.

Jordan: Would you ever lend someone money? Say they'd pay you interest. But there's a chance they could go bankrupt.

Nadim: Say I needed money.

Kevin: Well, I would lend you money, Nadim, because we're friends. But not for financial reasons. It'd be because helping my friends makes me happy, and that's the purpose of life -- happiness.

Jordan: [shocked that conversation has suddenly become so philosophical]

me: [delightedthat conversation has suddenly become so philosophical] But is happiness really the metric that you're trying to monetize? Let's say you could be ignorant and happy. Most people wouldn't choose that. They'd rather have more knowledge, even if it makes them less happy. So what is that elusive metric that we're really optimizing? ... Let's say you love someone, and then they die. You'll be really sad, but many people would prefer that to not having known the person, even if they would've been happier that way.

Kevin: You were happy before they died, so the integral over all time is still positive.

me: But maybe not as positive as if you'd spent that time doing something else that made you happier.

[more discussion]

me: I'm happy we're discussing this. I think about this once a month or so, and I can never come up with the metric. It would make life so much easier, if you had one metric to optimize for.

Jordan: When slashdot introduced the karma rating, all the users began madly to try to make that number go up. So I can imagine if people had a life rating, they'd all work on making that number as high as possible.

Kevin: Instead of PageRank, we'll have LifeRank.

Nadim: [solemnly] I know what my metric is. It's money.

me: [laughing]

Nadim: No, I'm serious.

Jordan: [to me] So all that time you spent considering the metric and debating what it is, he already has it figured out!

Kevin: [laughing] And he doesn't even need to calculate it himself! Someone else computes it for him!

me: [to Nadim] But you don't go around buying fancy cars or clothes!

Nadim: I don't spend the money. I'm a miser. You know DuckTales? I identify with that character, who's-it, Scrooge MacDuck.

Friday, May 13, 2005


me: Tom, who wears the pants in your relationship?

Tom: She does. She has the pants and the belt.

Peter: Oh no! At least get the belt back.

Tom: Why, to hold up my non-existent pants?

Saturday, May 07, 2005


I started to prune my roses today. Peter kept me company, working outside on the black wrought table and chair, while I was pruning.

Halfway through pruning, with a heap of discarded branches at my feet, I decided that I would use Google to actually read about pruning, as opposed to just going by the seat of my pants and cutting off branches that got in the way or were shaped too strangely.

"bring the remaining canes to at least half height being certain to
make your cuts above an outward facing bud on the canes"

What are canes? And the buds are at the ends of the branches, so how can I cut above them?!

"Make your cuts at a 45-degree angle"

A little too late!

"Most rose pruning is done in the spring, with the blooming of the
forsythia as a signal to get moving."

Hm, what if all the other plants you have other than rose bushes are weeds??

Then I read this wonderful article that began:

by Nanette Londeree, Consulting Rosarian
There seems to be a lot of mystery surrounding rose pruning, as well as lots of
"rules" to follow in order to do it correctly. If I have learned anything over the
last decade of pruning hundreds of roses, it is that roses are very forgiving. If
you cut too high, too low, at an inward facing bud rather than an outward facing
one, in the long run, it really will not make a lot of difference. If the resulting
growth does not grow in the fashion or direction you desire, cut it again to correct
it. Once you realize that there is not too much one can do wrong, it makes the whole
job much easier.

The whole job is indeed much easier! Thank you "Nanette Londeree"! (That's an odd name. Though she would probably think my name is odd as well.)

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Funny moments of my job.

Today we get a report that this email:

> Date: May 3, 2005 5:03 PM
> Subject: Running late
> Be there for the meeting as soon as I can.

triggers the following Gmail ad:

> Pain During Intercourse? - - Get a Customized
> Discussion Guide. Summary of Symptoms & More - Free!

I laughed out loud 4 times over this.