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Aaron N. Tubbs

Dragon chaser.

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Yesterday was full of fail. I managed to cap it off by arguing with my grandmother about abortion, one of those conversations I should really know better than to have. It all started with her saying “So let me ask you…” and I cut her off with “You don’t want to hear my answer, let’s not have this conversation.” She countered with “I didn’t even ask you a question, but why don’t you…”

“I just don’t think this is a conversation we should have, Grandma.”

“Well, that’s fine. I just can’t imagine you voting for somebody who endorses killing babies.” She got me after that, but then she knew what she’s doing. The core of her argument revolved around “not having it both ways:” (this is entering into English syntactic decisions that I’m not sure I pulled off correctly) I can’t have one opinion about abortion, but vote in a different way. Said differently, I can’t have an opinion for myself that’s distinct of my opinion for how things should work for other people. Her phrasing suggested its origin was from some talking head, and confirmed again that my grandmother is a one-issue voter.

After that was pleading that I’d come back to the church and that my brother would find the church.

She’s such a smart woman, and it’s great to see her brain is still there as her body fails, but these sorts of conversations are depressing to me when they’re what occupies what little time we have left.

Things sucked after going to sleep, which didn’t come easy. I had a dream that I had to swipe to unlock my phone and enter a phone number in order to wake up. It felt like it took several hours. After having discussed the Tetris Effect with a coworker earlier in the day, this was deeply disturbing. After managing to wake up, I found all sorts of black beetle bug things crawling around my bathroom. Eww.

I went to the dentist yesterday, where I discovered that there’s a procedure where they stick a probe between your tooth and gums, and, more or less, see how far the probe goes; this is used to gauge how much your damage your gums have sustained, and helps detect something or other. I’ll get back to this in a second.

I had some cavities in the past, they were the result not of poor dental hygiene, but rather seals that I’d received as a child. The seals were meant to ward off cavities, but they lost their seal and worked as bacterial havens, in fact fostering ideal conditions for cavities to grow.

So, I’ve managed to screw myself again, with what I thought was good dental hygiene: I’m brushing too much. Or, rather, my technique is flawed. This is one of those things that is depressing to find out 27 years into my life, after having caused irreparable damage to my gums. Apparently brushing is supposed to be little gentle circles with no pressure, bristles mostly on the teeth, with just a slight overhang to stimulate the gums. My technique involved back and forth brushing along the sides of the teeth, and this is a big no-no. In order to stave off even more damage, they strongly recommended I procure an electric toothbrush. These turn out to be somewhat expensive, but faced with the alternative of doing more damage to my gums, I’m not going to challenge the recommendation too much.

So, one of the cool things about the toothbrush is the way it charges. There are no electrical contacts on the base or the charger; both are stated as waterproof and bathroom-safe. I’m not sure how this works. My best guess is some sort of induction coil in the handle that picks up a field generated by the base (if the lazyweb has a good explanation, I’d love to hear it), but I’m living in the space age when something inside of sealed plastic can receive a battery charge.

I’m tired of the fact that when I buy things from Target (or anywhere else) that were Made in China, but I can’t see them until I get home, they’re invariably flawed. This time it was a folding buffet table (having gotten interested in high-end board games, I’m afraid I’m discovering many of them require more table space than exists; see some of the images from Twilight Imperium on BGG for illustration). The table surface is malformed on one corner, and it doesn’t mate firmly with the other half, even after having sliced a big chunk of it off. This happened to me the other day with a folding chair (the welding was flawed and a support sheared off as soon as I opened it), and happens to me all the time with textile products, electronics, etc.

Don’t get me wrong, I realize that if I want something of quality, buying something Made in China at Target is not the correct approach. On the other hand, where am I supposed to purchase a high-end plastic folding banquet table? It’s not like they sell these at Ethan Allen. I thought Target was the place you go for junk stuff that’s a tier above what you would buy at Wal-Mart.

Anyhow, I’ll conclude with this: The Back Story portion of the October 08 IEEE Spectrum features an article that has a quote from a soldier. I’ll quote directly:

Arriving at the tactical operations center of one EOD team he had been assigned to, he noticed a whiteboard in the room and, in one corner of it, a terse message heralding his arrival: “Today’s forecast: sucking up to a reporter. Talking s—t when people are not around.”

This frustrates me:

  1. Everybody knows that s—t is a standin for shit.
  2. Nobody reads over the s—t abbreviation and just says “bad stuff” in their head.
  3. One’s opinion of the writer does not (should not, anyhow) change because they directly quoted a person or thing they encountered. Reality is not always kind or gentle.

I don’t get it. I understand that we bleep dirty words on public television, and that Wal-Mart and the radio cuts out the dirty words in music; I think this is silly and most times the people that are intended to be shielded from these figure it out anyway. That said, I don’t understand when this sort of thing is done in a professional publication that is supposed to be of high quality. Who are they protecting, and why bother when the protection is so utterly ineffective?