Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Reasons Why I am the Worst Computer Geek Ever

I originally titled this "Why I am the worst nerd ever," but then I realized that I still fit the nerd bill pretty well. I'm interested in academics, I read non-fiction for fun. As a matter of fact, that picture on my sidebar is me at the Fourth of July reading a discrete math textbook. Because nothing says holiday like discrete math. I have a compunction, instilled by my immediate family, to look up answers to questions that are pondered aloud. Adam thinks it's funny that he can go to my house and wonder about the origins of "dead ringer,"* and someone will inevitably get up and look it up on the internet, or in the Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins.

So, all in all, I'm not a bad nerd. Which will definitely surprise many who know me. But I discover time and time again that I'm a bad computer geek. Not to say that computer geeks are all alike. I am one. I just don't adhere to many of the stereotypes.

  1. I don't wear much black. From what I hear, CS majors in college are supposed to wear all black so that it doesn't show when they haven't taken a shower in a long time. I look dead in black. I don't really like looking dead.

  2. I don't/haven't played very many video or computer games. No LAN parties for me. I was into Sierra computer games (Dr. Brain anyone?), but I never played any games with expansion packs or bonus levels that you could only get to by pressing "zoieufa" while the opening was playing.

  3. I'm not really a technophile. There are plenty of computer geeks who also fall in this category, but I still sort of feel that it makes me a bad geek. I don't have an iPhone, I don't know off the top of my head the specs of the computer I'm running (though I could find out quickly enough), I don't have any desire to have an eBook, or whatever the latest-and-greatest is. I like cool tools (see I Love the Library), I appreciate innovation, but I'm not an early adopter.

  4. I'm totally unaware of stinking code repositories. Maybe it's because, while my CS background is fine, my Software Engineering is a little lacking. Maybe it's because I'm just dense. But do yourself a favor, and if you're trying to write some code, go and see if there's a repository for the language you're using (hint: there's code out there for every language I've ever come across).

  5. I have only once ever opened the case of a CPU. And here I am telling my husband that I can install a new hard drive in a computer we inherited, and I "haven't gotten around to it" because, even though it's been sitting in our office since we moved in, and I've gotten several relevant books from various library book sales, I don't know what I'm doing

  6. I'm not really messy, and I'm not really neat. Most of the people that I think "Wow, they're hard core," at least with respect to computers are either fanatically neat or fantastically messy. They may have bags from Wendy's stacked three high beside their computers because they've been working/playing so hard that they haven't really emerged from their caves in ages. Or they may know where every scrap of paper and test program is, file structures in their drawers mirrored by their directory structures. I'm just sort of meh.

I'm sorry if some of the preceding was confusing.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

On Appreciation*

This weekend, Adam and I decided we wanted to go on an outing. What with houseguests and holidays, and upcoming exams and the like, it's been a while since we've done something like that for the weekend. Tossed around some ideas of places we'd like to go (we're compiling a road trip wishlist...if you're within weekend trip distance of Nashville and want to show us around your area, we'd love to hear). Ended up driving down to the Jack Daniel's Distillery in Lynchburg, TN.

Lynchburg is this tiny, tiny town. Their sign says population 361, though the tour guide said they're probably at 450-500 now. And this distillery makes all of the Jack Daniel's sold. All of it.

Now, I'm not a super-huge fan of the alcohols. Adam thinks I was scarred by accidentally drinking my grandfather's martini at the age of 7 (I thought it was my water glass and I took a big sip. Not cool.). But I love me a good factory tour. Seeing how something is made makes me appreciate the labor that goes into a product, from the people actually running the lines, to the people who designed all the machinery and packaging. It makes me realize how many things can go wrong in the process.

Tennessee whiskey is made by mixing corn, barley, rye, and the water from an underground spring (Daniel discovered the spring and decided it made perfect whiskey. Now they say that's because the water has no iron in it). Add some yeast, and let the whole thing ferment for 6 days. They showed us a batch that had been working for 6 hours, and it looked like a witches cauldron a-brewing and a-boiling. And if you got your nose close, and got a whiff of all that carbon dioxide, well, in the words of our tourguide, "that stuff'll untie your shoelaces". This fermented stuff is called brewer's beer. They distill that (boil off the alcohol), and then drip the resulting alcohol through big tunnels of charcoal (made by burning big bundles of sugar maple wood). Then it gets put into handmade barrels and stored for about six years. The changing temperature opens and closes the pores of the wood of the barrel, and the whiskey gets sucked in and forced back out as time goes by. (Can I mention how cool barrel-making is? You can make something to hold liquid with just a bunch of wood, and something to hold the pieces of wood together. I would totally learn to be a cooper.). And that's it. They have tasters who go try the barrels that might be ready since they all age at slightly different rates.

The whole of the valley smells a little bit like a loaf of bread (it's all that yeast and all those grains). And you can almost smell it in the finished product. So I tried it again after we got home (Moore County is a dry county. So they can give their employees a pint once a month, but they can't sell any to the visitors that come through town), and...

I still don't really like it. But I think it's much cooler than I used to.

I think it's a lesson I need to learn in general: how to appreciate things I don't really like. Appreciating all people as God's children, appreciating why people might have opinions different from my own, appreciating attempts to aid that don't necessarily help (whether it's attempts to help me, or attempts to help the world).

*Okay, so it's been a long time since I've posted. I have a couple of draft posts, but I realized before publishing that they were a little whinier than I really wanted to put out there. Plus, I guess I'm still trying to find that balance of being vague enough to protect myself and some of the other people in my life, and being specific enough to make sense to someone other than myself.