Saturday, February 28, 2015

Filters and stuff

I like to think about the world in different ways. That terrifies some people, but that's their problem. 

Lately, I've been musing about filters. 

There's many different ways to use the word. In one sense, much of what I've been doing at work the last several years has been using SQL to filter out various bits of data for various purposes. Thursday it started with a set 3850 or so pressure vessels. Then I started filtering out those with certain issues, ones I knew about. This makes it easier to find other things, often new things that hadn't existed before, but sometimes things I just hadn't noticed. Sometimes I fix them in source, and sometimes I keep moving because the fix isn't possible. The filter functionality in excel is a wonderful thing. Pity it is so slow, and doesn't really deal with more than 10,000 records at once. 

Our brains filter information all the time. We decide what to think about, and what to ignore. For many years I've had a reliable filter on advertising. Print advertising. My eyes would slide past it, looking for what I wanted to see. In case you were wondering about my opinion on advertising, I think most of it's loathsome, and the industry as a whole is comparable to politicians and lawyers. Sure, there are some exceptional bits of advertising that do much to redeem the industry, but these come along about once a year.

But then the internet happened, and those despicable popup adds. The browser fixes them for a while, then the advertising industry breaks the browsers again. 

I've been struggling with Facebook and even Twitter. I'm still pissed at Facebook. It puts things on my timeline just because one of my friends liked something. Bah! And it doesn't tell me about things that some of my friends actually say. It's simple, if I'm friends with someone, I want to see what they say, not what they think of someone else's post, someone I can't see. Even Twitter is getting a bit unpredictable. I wish there was a way to filter out people's retweets from what they say for themselves. 

So much information. Such a low signal to noise ratio. I still might bail on the whole darned thing.

I discovered today that I need to revise my workflow for paying bills. It used to be the only place I reliably saw email was on the home computer. That's where my mail lived. I liked to stack up my paper bills, and pay them toward the end of the month. I'd figure out how much was needed, and shuffle around the money electronically. Best invention since sliced bread!

But then I started getting email on my phone and iPad. Linda is often on that computer now, and I'm often on my laptop, away from the desk. I don't see the paper bills as much. And there's another thing, not all of them are paper now, and I have to look up an email to find out how much I owe. You see where this is going.

Today I realized that some of the bills were due yesterday. Oops. Part of the problem is that I've been overloaded at work lately, and I'm not thinking about much at home. Plus we broke our routine on Thursday, and that didn't help. 

I know perfectly well there are bills to pay toward the end of the month. But as Sherlock Holmes said, "Depend upon it there comes a time when for every addition of knowledge you forget something that you knew before. It is of the highest importance, therefore, not to have useless facts elbowing out the useful ones."

It's even worse, the useless ones don't have to elbow out the useful ones. They merely need be between you and it. Obscuring it. If you think of your brain as a giant sieve, catching what you want, and letting the rest go, it works, as long as there is room for the rest to flow through. But when the filter gets clogged, it doesn't work anymore.

Lately, my brain has been feeling clogged. It's hard to find things I know, or knew. It's harder to process current stuff. I lose paperwork. It's not gone; it's not like the cats have started eating paper, or carrying it off and hiding it. No, I just forget where I put it.

For example. Last time I serviced the car they told me the tire tread was getting low, and they would need to be replaced soon. Fair enough. I don't have even the faintest idea how long they've been on the car, or what their milage is. It's been a long time, and a long distance.

I almost by accident discovered Costco will charge me $660 plus tax to install the tires. I don't know if that includes alignment, but suspect not. I got a couple of other prices from local places, then remembered that the dealership had given me a quote. That meant I needed to find the paperwork. It only took about a half hour of puttering about organizing other paperwork that needed to be done, so it wasn't a total waste.

The desired paperwork was found by accident, in a place where I had not realized I'd put it, but once I found it, I recreated the chain of events. I still don't remember any of it, but that's fine. Which reminds me that tax time is coming up, and there will be more paperwork to sort. It seems that is happening quicker and quicker. Sigh.

Back to filters. They said the paperless world would be easier. Bah! And BAH again! Maybe it is, and I haven't updated myself to take advantage. Somehow my filters are still working at work, at least I think so. In a few weeks I'll find out if my supervisor thinks that, but I digress. It's at home they seem to be failing. 

Looking for an object of some kind. It doesn't matter if it's a photo I want to be on my laptop so I can put it on my blog, or an estimate of how much it costs to replace tires. Maybe it's a tool I want. Heaven help me if I should have urgent need for a half inch chisel. I know I own one, and might own two, but I don't have the first idea where it might be. There are days I seriously contemplate the work involved in attaching an RFID chip to every single object in the house, right down to my socks and underwear, and itemizing it in a database. 

Part of it is being buried in information. On Thursday we walked through the Home and Garden show. I conservatively estimate there were a bazillion booths, and we walked past them all. Think of what we were subjecting ourselves to! Looking at every booth and deciding if we have any interest in them. Navigating around other people walking erratic courses. Looking to see if we know those people so we could say hi. Which happened!

I was getting pretty tired at the end. Not so much physically tired, but mentally. It's hard work ignoring people you don't want to talk to, when they are actively trying to gain your attention. I admit to feeling a little sorry for some of those people. They sit there, and nobody talks to them. Or what might be worse, they put themselves out and nobody talks to them. I hope they didn't choose to be there.

Swam on Wednesday, after saying hi to Katie. No specific workouts, though I tried to keep up to her and lasted only 50 m. A bit of fast, and bit of slow, and into the hot tub after. Massage was all about finding even more muscles that hurt. Yoga was total fail. Breathing hurt. Bailed out of workouts Thursday (though the H&G show was a workout of a kind) Friday, and today. At least I did some stretching and core yesterday and today. That's one advantage about not being on a schedule; technically, you aren't breaking it or missing a workout if you skip a day.

Mostly sat and vegged today, letting my filters empty, and unwanted stuff evaporate from my brain. Racked and stabilized the Riesling and the Nebbiolo. They smell wonderful! Still working on my various novels, amazed at what I find in there.

The orange-y photo a couple days ago was a frosted up window shot at dawn. I'd give you a link, but blogger is being pissy. Look in this blog

Looking forward to a swim tomorrow.

And here's the surprise photo of the day. I really like how this turned out.


  1. So a followup comment. I'm feeling much less clogged now. While that sounds like the start of a laxative commercial, it's actually a statement of what a quiet day will do.

    I found it very amusing and appropriate that I was watching the episode of Elementary where Holmes was talking to Watson about what should be kept in your brain, shortly after writing this blog post.

  2. I totally agree about social media in general. I really want two streams too: 1. Stuff people actually write themselves about what they are up to and what they think. I would like to see this first. 2. Retweets, re-shares, inspirational quotes, cat videos, likes, sponsored ads etc. I would like to see this if I have time. Unfortunately 95% of what I sift through seems to fall into this category so I'm less attentive and miss some real gems. Way more noise than signal.

    Do you wait until a bill is due to pay it so that you earn interest on your money until the last possible second (like someone who pays the bills in our house)? If you miss deadlines because you are busy, have you considered automating bill payments so they just come out of your account on the due date? Or sticky notes. I am a sticky note queen: pink and orange flowers, green and red apples, all kinds of colours.

    We are buried in information. It is like trying to drink through a firehose. Filters and funnels help. So does opting out and prioritizing. You seem to do this well so you already know that. When all else fails, racking wine and brushing cats, going for a run, bike or swim are all reasonable options too. :)

    Is the photo oxidized oak chips from your white wine?


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