Sneeze timing

Earlier tonight I was walking towards someone on the sidewalk. I felt a sneeze brewing, and tried to suppress or at least delay it. As I got closer to her, I realized that the sneeze would likely be timed so that it would occur exactly at the time we passed each other. I didn’t want this to happen, but I also thought that it would be funny if it did. I was then trying to stop myself both from sneezing and laughing. And of course, just as we were next to each other, despite my best efforts, the sneeze escaped.

I wonder what it looked like from her perspective: A wide-eyed guy walked towards her with a look of urgent concern, sneezed right next to her, and then burst out laughing as he continued on his way, alone and into the darkness.

Voting

If you have a question about voting, don’t hesitate to contact whichever department handles elections where you live. In my experience (in the USA), they’re helpful. If you don’t know where to get started, try searching for your state name and “elections” and you’ll probably find the right site. Look for a .gov, go to that, and click on anything that says “contact.”

You can find many answers to questions like “How do I register” or “Where do I vote?” with a quick search, but maybe your situation is a little complicated. Maybe you’re a student and your license says you still live at your parents’ house, but you’re now living in a different place close to your school. If you hit a wall in your research and aren’t sure what you can do, don’t give up. Just ask.

In one local election, I had received my ballot by mail. I didn’t plan on voting, so I didn’t send it in. I think I shredded it. On Election Day, I wanted to vote. I called the voter hotline. They answered right away and were super-friendly. I asked if I could vote, and they explained that yes, as long as I was registered to vote, I could go to any polling location and request a provisional ballot. As this was in California, I was also able to see if my ballot was counted after it was confirmed that I did not cast my ballot by mail.

In a national election, I knew that I was going to be moving to a different state before Election Day but after the new state’s registration deadline. I did some searching, but wasn’t quite sure how I could vote. I emailed the elections division of my current state and explained my situation. They replied noting that under 52 USC § 10502 I had the right to vote for the offices of President and Vice President, and guided me through the process of obtaining an absentee ballot. At one point, I contacted the wrong office and they simply brought the right person into the conversation, so don’t worry if you don’t know exactly who to contact.

Cat person

I like dogs, but I’m a cat person.

Sometimes when you learn the meaning of a term, it can be very disappointing. I remember when I was a kid, we were going to meet one of my mom’s friends, and she described him as a “cat person.” We got there, and I was like, wait, so you just like cats? Dude, that’s a cat-liker. A cat person’s a different story. Why does Steven never go in the pool? Oh, he’s a cat person.
– Demetri Martin

Here’s a broad generalization: Dogs prioritize food and fun. Cats prioritize comfort. They seem to be on a constant mission to be as comfortable as possible. What’s the best blanket to sit on? Which surfaces retain the most heat in the winter, and are coolest in the summer? In which location are people most likely to leave you alone?

I can totally understand that. I like comfortable clothes. I pay for extra legroom. I stopped going to a dry cleaner because they asked me a confusing question (“Do you want these to be dry cleaned?”) once. I like to do things that I know I’m good at. I try to optimize my life to be as comfortable as possible.


I seek comfort. Others seek discomfort. I think it’s just a personality difference, and it’s on a spectrum, just like how some people are more introverted and others are more extroverted. They have different defaults.

I know people who will say things like “I like to push myself” and “I want to go outside of my comfort zone.” My gut reaction? Why would you want to be uncomfortable?! 🙂 I can totally understand what they mean, but I also know that it’s not my personal preference.

Some seem to have an obsession with discomfort. Some even like to see others get uncomfortable. Some like to see me get uncomfortable. Wysz doesn’t like weird foods? Let’s see what we can make him try! He looks comfortable sitting at the table at a wedding? Invite him to the dance floor. He says he doesn’t want to dance? Drag him. He’s never had a massage? TOUCH HIM!

I wrote this on my couch, which is used only by me but has three blankets.

Movies

I watch a lot of content online, but it tends to be podcasts and TV shows rather than traditional movies. It’s so easy to watch a series, and picking a movie can be a bit of work. Recently, while watching a movie and remembering how much I enjoy the experience, (I think it was Good Morning, Vietnam), I decided that I should watch more movies. I took the stress out of it by reminding myself that I like almost any movie, so I could just pick anything. Now, I’ll look for a movie title anywhere, whether it’s from a recommendation system, searching for an actor, or remembering a VHS cover that I saw on the shelves of Blockbuster as a kid. Once I’ve found the title, I try to watch the movie without learning anything more about it. I don’t watch the trailer, I don’t read reviews, and I don’t even look at the genre. It’s so fun to start watching the movie having no idea what to expect. I’ll start watching and not know if it’s going to be a drama, or if the characters will end up going to space or back in time.

A couple of weeks ago, I was listening to music, and I really liked one of the songs. I looked to see what was playing, and it was the soundtrack for Moon. I didn’t recognize the movie, but I decided to watch it that Friday based on the soundtrack alone. It was a pretty cool movie, and I’m glad I didn’t know anything about it beforehand, because I think that made the story more interesting and helped to prevent me from guessing what was going to happen next. I later had a vague memory of seeing the trailer when it had come out, but I didn’t realize that until after watching the movie.

What should I watch next?

Homejoy

I like having a clean apartment, but I also don’t have a lot of time to clean it. For a while, I’ve been meaning to try Homejoy, and I finally got around to it last week.

Booking

Booking an appointment was easy. It’s cashless, it’s via a website, and I’m good at the Internet. The availability was somewhat limited, and I didn’t want to put it off for too long, so I ended up booking a 7 AM appointment on a weekday. That allowed me to be around to let the cleaner in without disrupting my work schedule while also leaving the apartment and my schedule all to myself during the weekend. Of course, 7 AM is quite a challenge for me, but I tend not to think of that too much when planning something for Future Wysz.

Before the appointment, I removed any clutter so that everything would be where I like it, and the cleaner could spend her time cleaning and not moving stuff around. I also took down and put away my Dropcam. I figured that if I left it out, I’d want to tell the cleaner about it, and I decided that it was just easier to remove it than to have that conversation while still acclimating to consciousness.

The appointment

At 7:03, I got a text from the cleaner, Maria, letting me know that she was going to be about 20 minutes late and asking if I could wait. I guess that 7 AM isn’t just early for me. At 7:20, she arrived. She was very honest about it; she had received a new phone from Homejoy and hadn’t set the alarm on it. I of course didn’t mind at all; I was not in a rush to be anywhere. She was super nice, professional, and ready to go right away, only asking me where to take the trash to. I was glad that she didn’t ask any hard questions, and my only notes to her were a reminder not to wash my cast iron skillet (though she already knew that from a note I left when booking) and that there was bottled water in the refrigerator.*

Since my apartment is a small space, I thought it would be awkward to stick around. My first plan was to sit on the patio area outside of my apartment and work within range of my own WiFi. I abandoned that quickly when I found out that all of the cushions were wet. My next stop was a Starbucks. I would be one of those people who worked from a coffee shop! New experience! When I arrived, there was a long empty table as well as a small two-person table. I initially wanted to go for the small table, but because of the way it was oriented, I would be facing people no matter which side I sat on, and I thought that would be awkward. So, I picked a spot at one end of the long empty table, with a wall on one side of me. I thought I would be safe, but shortly after I settled in, I realized that airport rules apply in coffee shops as well: If you spot Wysz, you must sit unnecessarily close to him no matter how many empty seats are available. Someone sat directly across from me. He started to pull out a laptop or tablet or something (maybe a Surface?) so I realized that his stay wasn’t going to be brief. I looked behind me, and the small table that I had passed on earlier had become occupied. I avoided eye contact and just focused on my laptop screen. I continued to work and enjoy my bagel and coffee. The stranger’s wife arrived later and sat next to him. Fortunately they were both busy reading and didn’t talk much. Unfortunately, he sipped his coffee too loudly for my liking someone else was talking loudly on the phone. I guess I’m not really fit for the coffee crowd. All I kept wondering was “Who are you people and don’t you have anywhere that you need to be?!”

When it was time for a break, I decided to go for a change of scenery and headed to one of the indoor common areas in my apartment complex. As it was a weekday morning, I had the place to myself. It was great.

mountains

lounge

Maria texted me when she was finished, and asked me if I was satisfied with how everything looked. I was happy, and she was on her way. Everything was arranged neatly on my counters, the shower was the cleanest that it’s ever been since I moved in, and a couple of days later I realized that she might have even set my oven clock!

Room for improvement

Before my first appointment, I received an email newsletter from Homejoy. A weekly newsletter. I did not recall signing up for a newsletter. I would not have intentionally signed up for a newsletter, and remember, I’m good at the Internet. This practice really bugs me. I don’t even opt for email receipts at brick-and-mortar retailers anymore because these days a single purchase is taken as permission to “engage” with me forever. It’s disappointing to see a forward-looking startup use such a non-consumer-focused marketing tactic.

I unsubscribed, but that didn’t stop the email annoyances. I rated my cleaner immediately after the appointment, and 10 hours later I got an email asking me to provide feedback by answering two questions. Weird. I thought maybe it was something other than the rating. I clicked on the link and was just taken to a page containing information about my appointment. There were no questions regarding my appointment.

The next day, I got yet another email asking me to leave a Yelp review. This one didn’t even have an unsubscribe option, but I emailed customer service and they said they unsubscribed me. What annoyed me the most about this email was that it asks for a Yelp review of Homejoy, but it’s written in a way that makes you think you’re helping the cleaner. Since cleaners are assigned by Homejoy and not chosen by the customer as far as I can tell, unless the cleaner is doing business outside of Homejoy, mentioning them by name in a Yelp review isn’t going to do much for that individual, and I don’t even know if Maria (whose last name I am intentionally omitting from this review) would want me to identify her online.

Update on December 22nd, 2014: Today I received an SMS reminding me that I hadn’t scheduled an appointment in a while. I personally don’t like SMS to be used for this purpose. It feels really spammy to me, and I’ve asked to be removed from their promotional SMSs. Some people like it.

Aside from the annoying marketing, the other suggestion I’d like to make to Homejoy is that they move to a tip-free model. To be clear, I do tip when it’s customary, but that doesn’t mean that I like it. I’d rather they just raise the prices and wages appropriately. The site suggested 20% for a good job, so that’s what I did, right when I booked, before I even knew who was going to be doing the work. I’ll explain my position on tipping more in a later post.

I’ll likely use Homejoy again soon, once I decide what recurring appointment time will be best for me.

* It’s totally not relevant to this post, but I feel like I need to point out that I don’t generally buy bottled water. I think it was free from a hotel.

Healthcare transparency

I feel uninformed and helpless when it comes to medical services. I guess I feel the same way about other things too, like getting work done on my car, but in that case I’m usually just risking paying too much money. I don’t mean to say that I think I’ve ever been taken advantage of from a mechanic or anyone else, but I don’t like not knowing.

I first started to feel uncomfortable about the way medical services are set up when I would go to the optometrist. Even though everyone was very nice and I didn’t doubt their medical competency, it also felt like I was getting a lot of sales pitches. Get a picture taken of your eyes for only $25! Get all sorts of fancy coatings on your lenses! Special glasses for computers! It’s a store. The same place, and often the same person, that examines the health of my eyes and provides medical advice also sells products to solve vision issues. It makes me really uncomfortable, and it’s one of those things that feels like it should be illegal. I would prefer to be evaluated by someone who gets paid the same amount for their medical opinion, regardless of whether their advice is to buy something or not.

There’s an interesting TED talk by Leana Wen (with a sensational title that I think is unfair to apply to all doctors) which talks about the idea of doctors being voluntarily more transparent about what their biases and conflicts of interest might be.

The end goal for me is to get the best advice, and I think that transparency is one tool that could help us to get there even before it’s illegal for my eye doctor to profit from selling me glasses instead of referring me to a laser eye surgeon or Warby Parker.