Thursday, August 2, 2012

Search and Self

One day at work, I happened to notice that the Google search box in my browser had stored a list of all my recent searches, and I could actually pull it down and see them all at once! I realized my Google search history gives a pretty accurate view into what I value and what I think about, since whenever a thought pops into my head, my first response is usually to search on it. I thought it would be kind of fun to document, officially, all the very eclectic things I think about on the job. Being the dedicated worker that I am, I laboriously typed out the entire 95-item list (if any of you know where to access your Firefox search history in readable format, now's no longer the time to speak up!) and set about bringing it to order.

In case you were wondering what I do at the office all day (or at least the parts of it when I'm Googling), read on!

Of my last 95 searches at work, I am proud to say that most of them (er, 52) were work-related—and therefore mostly boring. Eighteen of them were related to troubleshooting our website (and therefore extremely boring), but among the work-related searches, a few of them stood out as slightly amusing.
  • Doctorate vs. Doctoral - Yes, even as a Web developer, I'm still fixated on the intricacies of English. I was trying to find out which word I should use to categorize the degree programs offered by my college. Turns out the two words are basically synonyms, and either one is acceptable.
  • Windows Desktop Folder Gone - I highlight this query in particular, although there were several similar ones, just to illustrate that, no matter where I go or what computer I use, there are always 101 things wrong with my computer. Since starting my job, I've dealt with the user desktop folder disappearing (and a whole barrage of error messages related to that), being unable to install an antivirus program, having Windows Task Scheduler repeatedly conk out and have to be recreated, and, well, if there were other problems, I'd rather not think about them. Sigh. I spend far too much of my working time trying to get my computer working.
  • And now for my personal favorite: Platypus - This search occurred when I was seized with the sudden need to identify this strange-looking creature, which was one of many photos in the "Animals Pack" I was using as filler fluff for our demo website.
    After searching for "platypus," I realized that's definitely what it was not, but I still am not sure what it is! (I think it's a penguin.)
My non-work-related searches are much more diverse.
  •  At least a few of them could be classified as work-related as well, such as altitude sickness (which I was investigating as a possible cause of my illness while in Denver for work) and great web design, which I have to do both at home and at work (although I think this search was inspired by a personal project). 
  • Several of them were for the greater cause of blogging, especially clause vs phrase (for a grammar post that is so convoluted I'm not sure I'm ever going to publish it) horseshoe crabs and wall (a simile to be used in an allusion that was, as the search revealed, too obscure to publish) "Painter pants," an apparent misnomer I'd been using for wide-leg pants, and standing side crunch, which is the only searched term that actually made it into a post. 
  • A few searches were for the greater cause of fashion, such as convert 84 cm to inches, which I had to do when determining whether a certain article of clothing I wanted to buy would fit me. I concluded it would, and consequently, you will probably see it on The Unfashionista sooner or later.
  • The last are a few single-word searches, most of which were simply to verify a definition:
    • geometrician - Yes, it is a real word (even though my spell check says otherwise), and some day I will use it in a really brilliant joke. (You know you're never going to make it as a comedian when you have to plan your jokes months or years in advance.)
    • petulant and vagary - Don't know why I was looking up these words, and I still don't remember what vagary means! I guessed it might be some sort of synonym for "vagueness," but I don't think it was. My memory on this matter in general is a little vague.
    • Once upon a time, I knew my heart couldn't rest unless it could find out why people sometimes call Buffalo Wild Wings "BW3's," even though there are only two W's in Buffalo Wild Wings. Turns out, according to their corporate website, that they used to be called Buffalo Wild Wings and Weck—and a Google search for "weck" naturally ensued. It's some kind of roll with seeds on it. Like a kaiser roll, but with a funnier name.
    • "The -  Another classic case of typing in the wrong text box. Enough said.
    • Tucks - I brought sewing supplies into work one day, to hang up my giant stuffed giraffe (because naturally no office is complete without a giant stuffed giraffe), and while looking at the little round green case that holds my needles, which I inherited from my mom and probably her mom before her, I began to wonder what the "Tucks® carrying case" label on it represented. By searching Google, I learned I'm carrying around my needles in a hemorrhoid wipes package! I turned it face down on my desk after that.
This concludes my Google Search History lesson. I hope it has given you great insight into my life, and life of mind. What does your search history say about you?


Geoff said...

This is a stellar blog idea. Absolutely stellar.

I don't have the guts to do the same for obvious reasons.

Anonymous said...

George Olsen worked in the same office as Tricia. They decided to get some lunch at the same restaurant. So G. O. met Trish an they ate at Taco Bell.

You're welcome...:-)

PS. Written on my office PC on my last day in said office. Retirement begins today, Yay. Hooray. This Ray. That vaguely resembles a Peter Frampton lyric...