Friday, January 21, 2005
Slow day at work. The office is quiet because people are sick, nothing is really coming in or going out, and I'm happily awaiting results from people testing my Access-based inventory control system.
So I've spent a couple hours browsing the net for stuff that may perhaps be useful. Some of it is, some of it isn't, but most is pretty interesting. Enjoy the links.
A man in Ukraine who hasn't slept for twenty years. Considering how cranky I get if I miss one night's sleep, I don't know how he stays sane. But, then again, people's brains are wired differently. I remember being in college and not really being phased by all-nighters at all; I could even do one without caffeine. But I'm expecting next month's sci-fi movie marathon to do a number on me, especially without Carter (Mikhail, actually) to distract me.
Differences in male and female brain structure. Maybe I should try learning languages, since the science seems to imply women are better at it than men. Or just try to use my pathetic high-school French more often, to see if this brain makes it seem any easier than my old one (I/Martin ditched the class halfway through junior year because it was taking too much time relative to actual interesting classes). I don't feel like math is any harder, though, and I always remember being good at it.
One thing it implies, though, is that my Martin memories and skills had to be seriously rearranged to take up residence in my brain - stuff that was in his frontal lobe is somewhere else in my brain because the nanos and the analysis program on Alexei's laptop judged those regions as similar and surrounded by similar areas. I wonder how bi-directional that mapping is - when Sam got placed back in her old body, how many of her memories and pesonality traits wound up going back to the same place. 100% seems unlikely, given how new memories have been shown to modify old ones. 0% is just as unlikely, since certain parts of the brain are specialized. Of course, it arguably doesn't matter - Sam still feels like the same person, and isn't that what really matters?
From looking at what's linked to me:
Invisible James, a guy in Atlanta who claims to be invisible, and has been that way since birth. It may seem hypocritical for me to scoff at someone else claiming they have a life out of a science-fiction story, but at least I sort of get the science behind what makes me me. An invisible man? C'mon, how does he see if his retinas are invisible? And even if they're invisible but react to light hitting them, how would you focus without light-blocking irises? Would you have a blurry 360-degree field of vision because your head isn't blocking off the rest of the light?
Questions like these are why Maureen gets nervous about watching a movie with me. She actually begged off a free pass once, because she knew that White Noise would drive me nuts even if it didn't suck.
So, happy reading. I'm sure at least Mags will enjoy seeing more cool science stuff than self-involved soapy stuff today.
Thursday, January 20, 2005
Catching up a bit
Blogger spazzed a bit last night, so my post didn't go through. Nothing earth-shattering; the police didn't get called in when I gave "my" mother's maiden name as Blanchard. I didn't do it in person, though - same guy was at the bank's front desk as had been on Tuesday, and "well, now I know my mother's maiden name" sounds a bit suspicious. I pondered dressing differently, pulling out my blonde wig, maybe laying a Maine accent on a little, so that he wouldn't recognize me. But, quite frankly, that sounds like acting, and I get terrible stage fright just thinking about it.
Although, really, it's not like I'm that memorable. Someone who probably has a hundred or so people talk to him on a daily basis would be hard-pressed to remember any specific person from one day to the next, even if she couldn't remember her mother's maiden name. Especially since I'm not quite pretty above the neck, and below there... Well, it was cold out and I was wearing a heavy coat. Heh, I sound conceited, especially when the guy sort of struck me as gay, anyway.
So, did it on the phone. Which means I'll be able to get at my money sometime next week.
And that I don't have to see if I can kick Telly's ass.
Tuesday, January 18, 2005
To all machines everywhere, I apologize
It's best not to mock technology, because technology is everywhere, it is connected via the internet, and is friends with bureaucracy. And though they may not hold a grudge for long, they are swift and cruel in their retribution.
Last night, for instance, I was trying to get a few bucks out of the ATM to see a movie, and it swallows my card, flashing a bunch of pretty colors on the screen. I copy the number on the machine down, and after the other girl in the vestibule getting money says she'll watch it to make sure no-one takes my card, I head for the nearest pay phone across the street. Why this person I've never met is more trustworthy than some random other person I've never who may enter the vestibule, I don't know. But I call, wait through the automated routines, and eventually get to tell someone what happened. She says to come back to the branch tomorrow, see if they've got my card, but they can put a hold on it until then.
Okay, fine. No movie for me, but it's just a minor inconvenience. I go back across the street, the girl there says the machine has apparently rebooted without spitting out my card. Sorry. Oh, well, at least it was one at a branch, and not a free-standing one, so I can get my card back. Just means I've got to call in, say I'll be into work late today since the bank doesn't open until nine.
So, nine A.M. sharp, I go to the bank, and explain to the guy sitting at the desk what happened. Well, he says, they don't actually operate the ATMs that are physically a part of their own office, so my card would already have been destroyed this morning. But, we can issue you a new one right now. What's your name? Your social security number? Your mother's maiden name?
I have no idea what Michelle's mother's maiden name is. It's a useful security check because no-one would need to write it down, but Alexei destroyed any personal information from which I might have been able to glean it during his brief stay in this body in order to keep me from asking too many questions that may lead to useful information. But how do you explain this to some guy at a bank without looking like a complete loon, or try and stall without appearing to be some kind of fraud?
Of course, it's not like walking away makes you look good, either, so I may as well ask some questions. Like, c'mon, I legally changed my name last year, for crying out loud, and you didn't ask me this. Ah, but that was before the merger, and the acquiring bank requires verification on more activities than my old bank did, and there was other legal paperwork to go along with it. But, apparently I (that is to say, Michelle), chose "mother's maiden name" from a list of several possibly identity-verification questions, so saying I didn't know was not an option.
So I left, tail tucked between my legs. This is seriously embarassing. Fortunately, there's a solution; as soon as I get to work, I call Telly's number and leave a message that I need to talk with him. He finally called back an hour or so ago, asked what was up. I said, hey, sorry to be a pain, but could you give me your mother's maiden name? I need it in order to get at the money in the checking account that your sister set up but which I've been using for the past year and a half, since the ATM swallowed my card.
So, he says, you're still playing this game? Yes, except it's not a game, blah blah blah. That's okay, he says, I'll play along... Mom's maiden name is Blanchard... or is it Smith? I tell Telly that this isn't funny, I need to go grocery shopping tomorrow, and the train schedule makes it pretty difficult for me to go to the bank with a check made payable to "cash". They're not open very early or late, and I was already late for work once this week. He says he's not kidding around, although I was really taking it pretty far. Is this for some reality show or something; convince your family you're someone else and win a million dollars? Well, Telly, obviously, if it was, I couldn't exactly tell you without forfeiting the prize money, could I? And you came looking for me, not the other way around.
Fine, he says, it's Blanchard, laughing.
I swear, if he's joking and I get arrested for fraud, I will kick his scrawny ass.