So, today, one of my “friends” at work was so kind as to post a Google code search, with my name as a search term, on our internal IRC server (thanks a lot, Jeremy… jerk!). For those not aware, Google now has a specialized search engine that allows one to search through publically available source code (the bits that comprise the blueprint for a piece of software). It’s pretty handy for many things (computing various code metrics, finding interesting code snippets, and so forth). But, as it happens, it’s also a great way to find code authored by specific people. And, in this case, that specific person was me.
Well, this got me thinking: Imagine you’re applying for a job. Further, suppose, in your younger, less experienced years, you made some of your work available online. Perhaps you contributed to some open source project. Or maybe you released something of your own. Well, your potential employer now has a very easy way to find these bits and bobs, and may very well choose to include them as part of your evaluation. Now, that’s fine if all you’ve ever made available online is top-quality code. But for hacks like me, this can be a problem.
Of course, since the advent of the search engine, an employer has always had the option of digging around on the Internet for information about prospective employees, which is why it’s important to be careful about what you post online. But, for those in the tech sector, Google code search means their past work can now be more easily tracked down and evaluated.
And in case you were curious, you can see what Google has to say about me here.
I look outside, and I can’t help but wonder if hell really has frozen over. It’s like the molten core of our planet decided enough was enough and packed it in, taking it’s warm glowing warming glow with it. End result? Desolate, wintry wasteland, complete with bitter wind and endless, hardpacked snow drifts. On the way to the bus, I expect to be chased down by a pack of starving wolves, or perhaps encounter a group of migrating caribou on their way to warmer climes, musing over these crazy humans who aren’t doing the same.
The funny thing is, a small, childlike part of me rather enjoys this brutal, brutal winter weather. Given that the last time we had winter this bad was probably when I was in highschool, or perhaps even earlier, I suspect there’s a strong sense of nostalgia being triggered by these near-blizzard conditions. That part of me wants to grab a toboggan and go sledding in the freshly fallen powder. Or find a freshly-plowed-off outdoor skating rink. Or go home and curl up under the covers with a book, protected from the cold by the heavy blankets.
Apparently bitter, bitter cold brings back warm memories of childhood. How ironic.
As Lenore can attest, I often find myself curious about the various idioms from the English language that we all take for granted. It’s really quite remarkable how many phrases we use day to day without truly understanding their meaning or origin. In this particular case, while I was watching the second intermission of the Buffalo-Carolina hockey game, Darcy Regier, the Buffalo GM, knocked on wood before speaking about the success of his team. We’ve all done this: you knock on wood to ward off bad luck. But have you ever wondered where the heck this expression came from?
The most fascinating thing about this and many other idioms in our culture is that it can become nearly impossible to track down their roots. Over time, they become lone cultural artifacts with no identifiable origin. In the case of the phrase “knock on wood”, the most likely origin is actually in ancient druidic beliefs. In particular, it was once believed that trees, specifically the Red Oak, were inhabited by spirits which could be invoked for protection by performing a ritual involving tapping upon the tree.
Incidentally, it turns out NPR has an episode of On Words covering this exact topic, as well as exploring the phrase “gesundheit” and briefly touching on the roots of the idiom “spitting image” (believe it or not, it’s actually rooted in old traditions of black magic).
So the weather is looking pretty darn fine, right now, and tomorrow, in theory, it’s supposed to be 24 and a mix of sun and cloud. It seems like a great day to take off. And yet… I’m torn.
You see, on a day like today (or perhaps tomorrow), my idea of a perfect afternoon is as follows:
- Load up bike with book and blanket.
- Cycle to grocery store and acquire supplies for sandwiches (ham and swiss preferred), along with fruit and beverage.
- Go to local park, say Hermitage, find a nice tree, and bask.
- Eat lunch.
- Eventually go home.
That’s basically it. Quiet. Peaceful. A good book and some food. This is a perfect day for me.
The trouble is the weather. You see, a couple weeks ago I tried to execute this plan. I took a Friday off in anticipation of good weather, and was quite excited to get out and enjoy it. You can guess what actually happened. Cloudy. Dreary. Warm, but not fantastic. It was really quite a disappointment.
So the question is, do I tempt fate and try it again tomorrow? I really don’t know… I think I should, but I’m afraid of being disappointed again. Stupid Mother Nature… so fickle…
2 of 2