Friday, September 26, 2014

Six of one, half-dozen of the other

It took me 2 years, last time, to come up with a bloggable list of things I like, but this time I've done it in 6 months! There are only 6 items in this list, but I've balanced it out with 6 things I dislike, so you should have a nice reading experience that runs the gamut of human emotion! Starting with anger.

Things that annoy me

  1. Soup spoons

    Call me microcephalic, but I have a hard time fitting soup spoons into my mouth. I'm sure I could do it if I wanted, but it seems an unreasonable effort to contort my mouth so weirdly just to fit some vessel of liquid into it. I don't even like liquid foods! When restaurants only provide me with a soup spoon, my level of life satisfaction goes down, just a little bit, never to be recovered. Thanks, restaurants.
  2. Microwave timers being left paused

    This is one of the hazards of living and working with other humans. Inevitably, one of them will cook something in the communal microwave and then remove it with a few seconds left on the timer. Seriously, people, you cannot wait 7 more seconds for your food to finish cooking? It's really that hard to push the cancel button after you close the door? You have to leave it set on 7 seconds indefinitely, to, at best, confound me when want to cook something and waste a few precious moments of my time...or, at worst, completely hide the microwave clock I'd really like to be able to use to tell me what time it is!
  3. Winter

    In my last list of peeves, I complained about opening the window in winter, and this won't be the first post in which I've mentioned my distaste for cold weather, but in case you weren't certain, I'll lay it out for you: I hate winter. And it keeps coming back every year!
  4. Faucets on a timer

    In some public bathrooms, there is something I like to call the Faucet of Doom. This amazing feat of technology puts the faucet on some kind of spring-loaded delay, so that the water only runs for an arbitrary amount of time before shutting off automatically! As you well know, people can't be trusted to turn the faucet off after they are done with it, so this is the perfect way to conserve water. It is also the perfect way to drive them mad when the water invariably turns off while they are midway through rinsing their hands.
  5. Microsoft Excel not reading my mind

    In the same ironic way that Autocorrect on your phone keyboard continually makes your life harder instead of easier, Microsoft Excel easily brings you to the same level of irritation with just one simple trick! When you type data into a cell and then drag the corner to fill the adjacent cells, Excel guesses whether you want to paste the same value in every cell or "fill series," automatically incrementing the value in each cell by 1. Somehow, Excel always guesses wrong.
  6. Web page advertisements that play sound

    And, finishing off this list of negativity, here's an annoyance that I'm sure everyone who's ever browsed the web in their office can understand. You're minding your own business, trying to read an innocuous article, when suddenly you hear some simpering mom talking about how awesome Wal-Mart is. Really loudly. She is an advertisement, and even if you can find which browser tab is playing the ad, chances are you can't turn off the sound. Or if you do, it will start right back up again the moment the next ad autoloads. This, in my humble web developer's opinion, is usability at its worst. If you must present ads on your site that are videos, do it when the user is already going to watch a video—not by interrupting her while she's trying to quietly read something. That's the fastest way to get me to exit a website immediately.
Now let's turn that frown upside-down and take a look at the things that make me happy (this half of the list actually filled up first, meaning I must be learning the elusive habit of optimism! Or at least I can hope so...)

Things that joy me

(Yeah, yeah, yeah, joy's not a verb, but it makes for a nice rhyming structure in my headings)
  1. Skunk cabbage

    Eastern Skunk Cabbage along brook in sprintime
    Photo courtesy of Williamwaterway
    You would not think that something with "skunk" in its name would make it to the top of someone's happy list (even one like this one which is in no particular order), but skunk cabbage does mine. This big ol' smelly leafy weed is one of the first plants to pop up in swampy areas when the weather starts getting warm. Although its preferred habitat is another strike against it in many people's books, its role as a harbinger of spring is, for me, a huge asset. After all, you only need to read up a few paragraphs to be reminded how much I hate winter.
  2. Being able to breathe through my nose

    Having spent the majority of my childhood with a chronically stuffy nose, I have a hearty appreciation for the gift of nasal breathing. While my nose is a lot better behaved these days, every once in a while, a head cold—or the weather, or some cruel alignment of the stars—will turn it into a congested mass of misery. This makes me curse the day I was born, feel strongly that oxymetazoline HCl is chemistry's greatest gift to humanity, and reaffirm that I really love being able to breathe through my nose.
  3. In-browser developer tools

    When I first started building websites, I used WYSIWYG tools such as the much-renowned (that's sarcasm) AOL Press and Netscape Composer, and my designs were so simple that I never needed to analyze how they worked. Then, gradually, I learned about the magic that is CSS, I started working on complex sites with so many layers of styles (cough — Drupal)  that it would take days reading through styles to figure out why a certain element was blue, and I discovered in-browser design tools. Thanks to Firebug and the developer tools that now come standard with every browser, I can solve problems while looking at my actual site. It sounds simple, but boy, would I be lost without it!
    Oh, and these helpful little workhorses aren't just for the web developers among us; they can be for anyone who wants to take control of their browsing experience. Have you ever gone to a site and been prevented from interacting with it because some stupid popup asking for your email takes up the whole screen? Well, you can use your developer tools to delete that popup from the HTML, so you can actually see the site and decide whether it's worth giving them your email.
  4. Self-threading sewing machines

    In a similar "thread," if I may be so obvious with my puns, technology has come a long way since the invention of the sewing machine. My newest machine threads itself, with but a little assistance from me, which is infinitely delightful when I consider how much time I used to spend licking my thread and poking it at the needle in the hopes of getting it through the hole. The new system isn't perfect, sometimes requiring a few tries before the microscopic hook engages the thread, but I'm grateful for it nonetheless.
  5. Driving up a bridge into the sky

    The closest thing to ascending to heaven while one is still alive is probably driving up onto a bridge. What a glorious sight, to look up and see nothing but sky ahead of you! I get really excited about this every time. I don't have any photos of this, because I'm usually busy driving when I see it, but here's a picture someone else took:
  6. Degreaser

    If you haven't noticed, the predominant theme in this particular happy list is things that make my life easier, so I'm rounding it off with a cleaning product. For years, I struggled with  hideous messes on the backsplash of the stove, ghastly streaks all over my toaster oven, and black smears of countless fingerprints on my doorframes and light switches. Nothing would remove them. Until I finally capitulated to common sense (and not to my "all-natural homemade everything" policy) and bought some degreaser. Now I can remove the aforementioned hideous messes in a few swipes of a rag. Wow. Would someone like to use me in a degreaser commercial? I'll do it for free!