May Randoms

I’ve been sick this week with an annoying, throat-grating cough. I’ve tried various cough remedies and the best treatment I’ve found isn’t the “high tech/high power” stuff I thought it would be.

Also in this update:
I’ll direct you to the funniest legitimate advertisement I’ve ever seen – for the Philips/Norelco “Personal Groomer”.

And lastly, I’ll state something obvious just to get traffic and comments from people who’ve forgotten it.

Cough Remedies

This cough actually woke me up in the middle of the night. My mouth and throat felt on fire. Our collection of medicine around the house gave me just about every option in the pharmacy, but at 3am, I went with the first bottle of syrup I found. Since then, I’ve made mental notes about the other medicines I’ve tried:

  • Nyquil works, but I hate the disconnected-head feeling I get after taking it for 24 hours. The debilitated feeling I ascribe to the cold itself is more from the *quil I’ve been taking. I try to avoid it now. I’d rate it 7/10. It’d get a perfect 10 if it didn’t make me feel lousy.
  • Zicam Cough Mist tastes horrible, but I’d give in an 8/10 score for working overnight. I had my hopes up for it, since I like the Zicam cold swabs for common colds – they cut the duration and severity of the cold and don’t smell or feel funny.
  • Robitussin DM tastes the same to me as Zicam mist (gag), but gets a 6/10 score. The label looks all business – I’d expect it to be the strongest/longest lasting most powerful cough treatment available, but I’m still coughing up nastiness, and it’s only good for 4 hours.
  • Robitussin Children’s Cough & Cold Syrup is my new favorite. Tastes better than anything else and works great for more than 8 hours. My only complaint is that since I weigh at least twice what a 12 year old child does, and double the dose to compensate, and I tend to run out quickly. It’s also a little de-masculinizing to be measuring out my treatment from the childrens’ bottle, but I’ll let my pride suffer a little so my throat doesn’t.

Personal Grooming

The Philips Norelco Bodygroom has the funniest advertisement I’ve ever seen. They could only get away with it on the web. The Ad-agency that pitched it must have a pretty big pair of <bleep>.

Stating the Obvious

Some of the most popular topics on Life Hacker or Digg or are things I’ve already known about for a while, and didn’t consider noteworthy. But it would seem people are driving good traffic and ad revenue merely by stating the obvious, so I thought I’d give it a whack and see what happens.

Prepare for a gratuitous advertisement, and then on to my list of obvious-isms.

  • Velcro is better than shoelaces or buckles on kids’ shoes. My daughter can put her own shoes on when they’re closed via velcro, but someone has to help with buckles, and someone has to do the whole job for her when it involves laces. Get your kids velcro-closing shoes, and it won’t be such a hassle when your toddler kicks them off and you have to put them on for the third time since you got to the mall.
  • If you drive anywhere with kids, plan ahead. We endure an episode of “I don’t feel good…. blaht!” at least once a year, per child.
    • Leather seats clean up better than fabric seats.
    • You really ought to pull over when they’re not feeling well and let them decorate the side of the road or some parking lot, instead of the back of your seat.
    • Keep a comfy change of clothes in the car for each child, as well as a roll of paper towels and a couple garbage bags for cleaning up.
    • You’re not going to clean it all up when or where it happens. Keep a couple towels in the car to lay down over the poor kid’s seat so they don’t have to sit back down in their former lunch.
    • Avoid having to clean up in the first place – teach your kids to deposit their technicolor yawn into a waterproof, disposable container. Wish I could find air-sickness bags for cars.
    • Most important, don’t get angry about it. We run this show like pro’s now when it happens, and avoiding headaches, crying, sobbing and further “outbursts” depends entirely on making your child feel better. That doesn’t happen when you’re visibly upset, impatient or disgusted with them. Your poor kid already doesn’t feel good (hence that nice smell you’re detecting) and your disapproval on the matter’s only going to make it worse. Love your kid most when this happens. Just… don’t hug them too close until they’re cleaned up.
  • Learn to watch for repeating patterns in your work. Economize them. I find at work I frequently produce web pages that have the same formatting of items in them: a table containing rows of: [label] [field to type in].
    Doing several different pages of these over the span of many months can cause each to be a little different, depending on:
    • How much time you have to do it
    • How mindful you are of accessibility or usability at the moment
    • The cool new javascript effect you saw applied somewhere else that you want to start using.

    For easier repeatability and less time required, I’ve devised global functions I can call and just pass in a list of parameters – like the (what the label should say), (the field’s name), (the type of field), (the length of the field), (etc). The function takes care of all the gritty formatting and order of arguments that I never keep consistent when doing them by hand, and enforces a site-wide standard appearance that’s very easy to work with.

  • Comment Your Code. I’m a good programmer, if you define that as “Can figure things out.” But sometimes I’m lazy about commenting – it feels spurious and unnecessary when I’m creating code, to add extra lines that are only stating the obvious – I mean, if you just look at the code, what’s happening is a no-brainer to understand.
    The problem is, while that’s true during the intial coding, it’s never true 7 months from now when a change in some sub-system requires a change in the program logic. I’ve even found that when I comment on the mundane things (e.g. “pull the second value of the dictionary-object out to the ‘id’ variable for faster use later”), I can completely miss the boat on why the well-commented code exists.
    Comments like: “logic: loop over the customer records for display, treat big accounts specially with the ‘fine_focus’ function” help me when I’m re-visiting code way more than the per-block comments that tell me what a block of code does, but not why.
  • Your kids will repeat you. When you hear your 2-year-old say “I flatulated” at home, you’ll cry with laughter. Then she’ll start doing it at church.

Have your own obvious-ism? Add it!