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Archive for July, 2020

That’s Bullshit: Made-up Words Edition

Good morning, and happy mid-July. I don’t really know how we got here, but all my calendars say the same thing, so I guess it’s true. Quick personal goals update: Creative output is as low as it has been – been busy enough that my one outlet (this here blog) hasn’t been utilized as much as I’d like. The beard game is holding steady. After my one big trim, I’ve been doing little ones every so often to keep it full but not all crazy scraggly. And as for exercise, I’ve changed things up a little. I mentioned that my knee was starting to hurt, and I knew all the running was the cause. Thankfully, one of my employees is also a personal trainer for a second job. She suggested I do some high-intensity interval training and gave me a schedule:

  • 10 pushups
  • 10 squats
  • 20 jumping jacks
  • 20 crunches

And she said to do as many rounds as possible in 8 minutes, then move up to 10, and eventually get to 12-15. I did 7 rounds in 8 minutes my first time and was surprised that it was only “really tough” and not “I-want-to-die tough.” I got up to 8 in 8 minutes, then did a week of 10 rounds in 10 minutes. This week I moved into 12 in 12 minutes, and it’s a doozy. But the crazy thing is that means I’m doing 120 pushups, 120 squats, 240 jumping jacks, and 240 crunches in just 12 minutes. Doesn’t seem possible, but I’ve checked my math a few times. I feel really accomplished exercise-wise after kicking my own ass for a really small window of time. (I’m still running in place/around the kitchen island for 1 mile to warm up before that.) Maybe next week I’ll try out 15 minutes, but I’m not going any higher than that. I still get to 250 pushups over the course of the day, but it’s a lot easier when I hit 120 before 6am. The moral of the story is that I went from doing 25 pushups a few times throughout the day to a whole bunch of daily exercise in a relatively short time and have seen results, and I wouldn’t have thought it possible. You can too – start small, build, and amaze yourself. You’re home anyway, right? (Wait, did I say “quick personal goals update?” Oops.)

Now onto the reason for the post. As all of you reading this likely know, I enjoy myself some Words With Friends. It’s fun, keeps my brain active, and allows me to interact with some family and friends in a small way. Side note: I started playing against someone who works for me recently and felt bad playing “coq” against her. Just waiting for the message from HR.

My routine is to play against people early in the morning and then maybe not again all day, because I would never stop otherwise. There are also weekly challenges against computer players that I do somewhat mindlessly, and these are fun but have one frustrating aspect: computers know all possible words, including made-the-fuck-up ones.

My homey Rockabye and I have started taking and sharing screenshot of the most egregious “computer words.” Part of me doesn’t want to share them here because my parents can start playing them against me, but honestly the words are such nonsense that I’d still never think to look at my letters and put them in these orders. For example, the computer played “dbx” against one of us. (Ooh, a red squiggly line, you say? I agree – not a fucking word. Merriam Webster’s site agrees. What about “dzo,” you ask? Well, it earns a red squiggly line but was found on ye olde m-w.com. It says that’s “a hybrid between the yak and the domestic cow.” I think I speak for all of us when I say, “Ahem…go fuck yourself.” Why would it be “dzo” and not, oh, anything with any of the letters of “yak” instead. “Yow” or even “cak” I’d be ok with, but dzo is bullshit.

Fear not, I have some ire left for more. “Fiqh” isn’t in the online dictionary, but the computer got 18 points for it. You know the word “zebec,” right? It’s defined as, “The word you’ve entered isn’t in the dictionary” but is worth 32 points. (Oddly enough, no red squiggle on that one. Weird.) I’ve got 4 more recent ones to share, starting with “pht.” Nope, not the sound you make when someone does something ridiculous like playing a word like “pht” against you, and not in the dictionary either. “Jezail” is a real word apparently (despite the squiggle), defined as, “a long heavy Afghan rifle.” Totally something I could’ve made up in a game, but then I would’ve talked myself out of it because it was too specific. Three adjectives? I probably would’ve stuck with, “a type of rifle first used in Afghanistan.”

“Jebel” is a word, with the unsatisfying definition of “variant spelling of ‘djebel.'” Thanks for that. And lastly, the computer got 34 bullshit points against me by playing “slojds.” I’m going to guess it’s Nordic with that J, but let’s see…variant of “sloid” or “sloyd”…which is “a system of manual training developed from a Swedish system and designed for training in the use of tools and materials but emphasizing training in wood carving as a means to this end.” Ok, so 100% gibberish with “training” thrown in there three times for good measure, got it.

If I didn’t somewhat enjoy capturing these bullshit words, I’d stop playing against the computer all together, but alas, I do. I’ll try to share more from time to time when they come up. Please feel free to send me any similar ones you see if you play against the computer too so we can commiserate. In the meantime, I’m going to start studying up on slojd so I can sloid other people in the art of sloyd.

Getting my own verb

Good morning, homepeople. I have a couple of quick updates on my quarantine goals I set out a while ago:

  1. Exercising is going well, but I may need to change things up. The 250 pushups spread throughout the day is great and delivering results. I’ve even switched to doing 50 at a time instead of 25 sometimes and noticed that getting easier, which is something I never expected. I might need to alter the running around the island though because my left knee has started to hurt and it might be too high-impact. I’ll see if our old elliptical machine still works, and if so, I may switch to doing that for 30-45 minutes a morning instead.
  2. Creativity isn’t super high. Aside from not writing here as much as I would like, I still haven’t touched any of the side projects I’d ideally be making progress on. Even worse, I came up with a couple more ideas that I probably won’t get to. I suppose working full-time while being a father and husband (who uses morning free time to exercise) doesn’t allow much room for other activities unless I want to get even less sleep.
  3. The beard: I’ve trimmed it, but it’s still much longer than I used to keep it, and I think it’ll remain at about this length. I did finally get a haircut as well, which was completely necessary since it was quite a mess of curls and waves that was threatening to become a Tom Hanks 80s-style mullet. Not a good look for anyone.

I told some people at work a story earlier this week and thought I could share it here as well. You see, I have a bit of a reputation at work as someone who is a wee bit picky about writing, tone, and word choice. I can’t help it; I care about those things a lot, and when I see it done sub-optimally, I have a hard time leaving it alone. I admit that I’m tough in this regard, and if someone wants me to review something before it goes out, I will have edits – even if it’s something I’ve looked at before and already edited. As it turns out, my team has a term for this: Peterizing. They apparently use the verb “to Peterize” with some regularity. For example, “We need to tell the whole site about this, so let’s write something up, get it Peterized, then send it out tomorrow morning.” I’d like to think that the term means “to enhance in a teachable way,” but it’s probably more like “to scrutinize but we have to let him because he’s the boss.”

It’s used in a good-natured way, but I wanted to let them know that I’ve been in their position before. Two jobs ago, I was the face of the company to many of our clients and in charge of communicating with them. My boss, the company’s owner, was very particular about how things were written and wanted to see drafts of certain types of emails before I sent them out (i.e. big project updates, kickoffs/introductions, etc.). The routine was as follows: I’d write something up, print it out, hand it to him, and brace myself as he grabbed a pen. He’d start going to work and mutter along the way things like, “Don’t need this,” “we don’t think, we know,” “don’t tell them that next step yet,” etc. I always got something back with a bunch of scribbles, but I also felt like he was actually making the writing better.

Then one day, I started writing another email for him to look at and I stopped myself. “How would he write this?” I asked myself. And then I did my best to channel my boss and basically ghost write the email for him. I remember typing something, realizing he’d probably cross it out, and deleting it. When I was done, I printed it out, handed it to him, and braced myself as he grabbed his pen. He held it above the paper as he read, poised to write, but then he didn’t. Instead he looked up after a minute, handed me the unmarked sheet of paper and said, “Here you go. Best thing you’ve ever written.” I didn’t agree with that – that honor still goes to the gloomy poetry I wrote as a 15 year old – but I learned my lesson: write to your audience, and use the feedback you get to improve your process.

So I told my team that story and explained that I would love nothing more to say the same thing to them, and I’ll keep highlighting what I’m changing and why to help them along the way. (For example, one guy is crazy for clauses at the beginning of sentences. I shit you not, he once wrote something that started with, “Unfortunately, at this time, due to unforeseen circumstances, it’s possible that there may have been a slight chance…” I couldn’t take it, crossed all of it out and wrote, “Just say the thing.” I may be a monster.)

That’s it – nothing earth-shattering or even funny today, but I wanted to post something and had a story to tell (about a story I told, incidentally). Have a wonderful 4th of July, and take care.