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November 22nd, 2007

Working With Death

It's interesting working with death.  I'm living with my sister until I find a place here and she's a Hospice nurse.  One day she had to swing by the hospital to tell a patient's family that admitting their father would not be covered by Medicare, and I joked with her that a 'dark cloud of death' followed her into the place.  Her name tag includes a subtle mark of death that is masked in pink peace:


Imagine seeing a nurse walk through the hospital corridors, notice that symbol on her scrubs, and watch her fade away behind a closing door.  There's only two reasons for her visit: 1) the person behind that door has 6 months left, or 2) the family behind the door just lost their loved one. 

Last night my sister was called in to "pronounce" a comatose patient, which is their vernacular for verifying the state of death, and she said something that could only be mistaken as crude to his family.  She charged upstairs in a rush to change back into her scrubs and said, "Well at least he died today; tomorrow is Thanksgiving."  Now, there's some truth in that statement.  How would you remember Christmas if your father died on that day?  And, on the flip side, I'd rather enjoy having my sister at our Thanksgiving lunch that visiting someone else's family.

I wonder why my sister chose this job.  She's worked at cushier places, like a doctor's office, an ICU, ... but she actually went after Hospice.  It's interesting ... especially when her brother is fascinated by death. :)

Reflections on Repitition

Finally I get a day off to reflect on work.  There are several conclusions and goals that I've made generally and technically, and these came only after a myriad of ToDo lists that I've offloaded to my Palm and Outlook. 

The most important conclusion is that I'm relatively better at keeping appointments and finishing projects when I can use a system other than my brain to input tasks, set reminders, keep notes, etc.  I joked with my boss that it's like a processor; I'm frequently interrupted by customers or servers, so something else needs to manage my time.  In techie speak, I was talking about a scheduler.  Sadly he didn't take that analogy kindly; it seemed like he thought I was being arrogant by comparing myself to "brain". 

Actually I think people don't need to be bothered with all this temporal crap.  We spend too much time thinking about time.   Examples include trying to remember grocery lists by brute repetition, like self-talk, or keeping ToDo lists in our brains with mnemonics.  *ugh*  Total waste of brain power.  Instead we could be using our brains to create things, analyze stuff, solve problems, -- I mean, that's where you get to enjoy working.  The latter isn't just abstract fluff.  There are many feelings wrapped up in the temporal crap.  Most people, including myself, get pissed off when they're stood up.  At the same time, I'm not necessarily impressed by someone who remembers everything they went to get at the grocery store.  It's far more impressing to solve a problem after the solution was due.  :)

My secret, self-destructive motto at work goes something like, "If I'm really good, I can automate my position into oblivion."  Serious.  Everyone's daily tasklist at work could be converted into a program and ran by a computer somewhere.  That realization makes people either 1) shove a fist down your throat (to feign job security) or 2) resign themselves to boredom at work.  To some extent everyone should be able to program so they can wipe these repetitive tasks off their plates.  That was the idea behind Roddenberry's LCARS.  It's science fiction but  when anyone can write a macro that automatically responds to email, then we can actually move on to the juicy stuff.

I'm getting there via cmd, perl, bash, and vbscript.