An A-Mu-sing Situation

Happy Halloween! I’ve managed to be late to everywhere, and Halloween’s one of them too. At least it’s not yet December!

October’s not my favourite month. I’ve been skipping film club all month because I’m not very fond of horror films. Half the time I find stuff cheesy, the other half of the time it gets me thinking, but a little too much. It’s not like I’m afraid or anything, I just value my good night’s sleep. I’m a comp sci student at uni, there’s horror abound and I don’t feel a particular dearth!

Go ahead and laugh, I’ve got a very late comeback. Late. Haha. Halloween pun.

This should knock your socks off if you’ve had to sit through statistics/maths/physics or just generally want to be a-mu-sed.

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Mu is the mean in statistics, the refractive index and coefficient of friction in physics, micro- units in measurement (10−6 anythings), just a fancy variable to impress your non-math friends, or to give your math friends nightmares.

I did a quick search to see if there was anything I missed, and the answer was a loud, resounding yes.

Mu stands for a lot of things, even within the same field, there’s an impressive list on Wikipedia!

Well. Happy late Halloween. Wooo, wooo.

Domestic Woes

There aren’t monsters under beds,
I think I can say that for sure;
There’s one in the bathroom
And it’s a toilet paper-vore:
Yesterday, I changed rolls,
Today, I’m changing roles;
It’s the third one this week
That’s just been devoured whole
So one and all,
Lo and behold:
Your poet’s stepped into
The investigator’s mould—
Is this a stroke of genius
By a next door neighbour bold,
Who has us in the palm of their hand,
And our rolls in their stranglehold?
Have I just lost all my sense
Of normal space and time?
Maybe all those tests are now
Eating this brain of mine
Or is this just a frantic
Effort on life’s part
To get this indoorsey CS kid
To finally trip down to Walmart?
Either way, one and all,
The joke’s growing old;
This is not the college story
I’d like twenty years hence told!

 

For the record, I’m not really indoorsey, I’m just cold. It’s 9 degrees outside and we’re on the lakefront. It has dramatic effects on a nice warm day’s efforts to keep you from freezing. It belittles the sun until it loses all motivation, and if that doesn’t ruin your day, you need to sign up for a CS degree.
And I really did change the toilet rolls yesterday, and they’re over today. Someone is eating toilet paper here, and this is not the sort of thing I imagined would make a Sherlock plot scene. “Mr. Holmes, we’ve been loo-ted!”

Sunday update: four. Four rolls.

Fruitful Musings

“Matter can neither be created nor destroyed”, said Antoine  Lavoisier.

Then explain fruit flies.

My room can be an almost perfect vacuum at times, (with a WHOLE lot of approximations, which seems good enough for physics and so is good enough for me cuz I’m hardly home) yet those things manage to get in, every week. I’m starting to suspect they arise out of the ashes of my dustbin.

It’s just pure putrid energy, gathering all the essence it can from its surroundings, slowly and gradually forming a tiny mass in its centre, solidifying black… and voila, all of a sudden there’s a new buzzer born. Sexual reproduction is overrated. Do it like fruit flies: just sheer, pure energy, willpower and thought. Lord supreme over those gigantic oafs, those brainless creatures they call humans, so weak, so needy, so dependent on another of their kind to reproduce. They vainly search for so-called advanced life on distant planets, and at the edges of their knowledge of the universe; pity the puny beings, they’d hardly know that the pinnacle of evolutionary perfection hovers under their very nose… and in typical mindless human fashion, they swat it aside. But pity the fools, for they know not what they miss; what they’re spending billions searching for! Haughty scientists, cloudy crystal ball-gazers; if they ever knew the truth… hehe.

Puny bipedal losers.

They call us small, weak, say we live only upto 16 weeks; what do they know, for our kind, it is enough. We have perfected every art form they could not! Efficiency, a full life in sixteen weeks! They spend that long moping over their failed relationships in life. Locomotion, we’re not dependent on gas-spurting guzzlers to take us everywhere, neither will you see us cussing at a lamppost if our heaving bull refuses to move forward: the poor race, it’s not even the master its own creation! They look at acrobats and marvel, call it an extraordinary skill, when we have perfected daredevilry itself: the breathtaking trajectories, the sharp turns, we live on the the edge!

Ask any other species of animal (the categorisation their “civilisation” has spent centuries trying to distance itself from) who the most annoying is and that’s where the puny race really shines. Interfering, annoying, bumbling idiots! They use us in trial and haste: experiments indeed! Bzzzzing bzzzes!

(Sorry, we don’t normally give into the lowlife human penchant for cussing and stressing out over naught. It won’t happen again. Word of a true ‘civilisation’.)

Yet it seems we have outdone them: annoy the annoyance! They swat at us, and we’re certain it’s not out of joy. How quickly we elicit a reaction from them! Our shiny-eyed fruit fly-scientists have benefitted dozens from clocking their emotions: they get frustrated fast and give way to easy mistakes: the faster we get to our food, the more we’re making of our sixteen weeks than they ever will!

Sixteen weeks. They make it sound like such a tragic thing. We’re of the opinion that it’s actually good. It helps keep things in perspective. You eat, you live, you play, and then, with the sheer power of your superior mind, you leave your legacy to carry on for you, and then you die.
We haven’t much evidence that humans work that way: their little trinkets seem to get in the way. Their minds are so very precious to them: use it or lose it they say. They work so hard to give themselves meaning over their aeons of time, it’s almost a little heartbreaking to our kind. But of course, we understand, they must find some use for their brains, you see. Not every species can use its mind’s seemingly infinite power to create life itself.

Oh, and all those fruit fly cloning experiments?

Please, that was all us.

Names

Every new year reminds me of how bad I am remembering names, and remembering in general. I don’t know how I’m capable of forgetting someone’s name two sentences after I’ve asked it. ‘You’ is my best friend. And you, nameless friend, are a friend now, just as soon as I’ve got your name down.

On the flip side, I do hide behind the curtains of “you probably can’t remember my name either”. I don’t blame you. I also don’t help by prefixing my introduction with “uuuuh,” like I had to think of what my own name is. It’s really befuddling. I’d had a period last year where people would walk up to me (“hey you!”) and I wouldn’t remember at all having spoken to them, though they would. I guess sometimes when you don’t know someone, you’re just too busy focusing on what you could say next so that they don’t look away and you can really have a shot at making a friend.

(Of course, this is before you forget their name for the third time).

Anyway, we’re all probably bad at this. It’s just that time of the year. By December, we’ll all be used to weird names and will probably have invented a few of our own. In certain areas, I am still, in fact, known as the monocle-wearing, fedora-tipping, moustache-twirling English undercover columnist called James.

I gotta buy me a monocle.

And thank goodness for pronouns.

For Pup’s Sake

Here’s a little mind chow: why do so many kids want dogs? I know it looks really good through a good quality camera in a sunlit picture with tons of grass behind, but here’s the thing: you probably have never seen a good quality camera in your life and have accepted your iPhone as a permanent substitute, there are no “sunny” days in the winter, and going by the climate reports, there isn’t much of that grassy plain left for you and the pup to roll in.

I’m serious, we’re more city-kid than we’d ever thought we were. For example, I had a little trouble digesting spring allergies, and it’s not because I never had heard of them before. Spring fever, hay fever, pollen allergies, they’re all fundamentally your body attacking spring because it thought it was something dangerous. Putting it this way, your body has no idea that spring’s just this harmless, temporary reprieve from the winter and reacts to it the way you did if you saw a flying dog in supers garb, i.e., undies.
… Just to be really clear, I meant surprise, shock, whatever. Something tells me a lot of first reactions would probably be to whip out a Real Good Quality phone camera and yell, “Awwww!!” as they film.

That’s probably why a lot of kids think a dog is a great idea.

Image result for dog in a superhero costume
credits: the internet and someone who took my previous line too seriously.

I don’t have spring allergies though. I don’t think I’ve had enough regular, periodic exposure to spring, pollen, grassy smells or clean, non-city air enough for my body to recognise it and go, “Here we go again team, those damned seeds are back again! Lock into anti-seed mode; nose! I’m gonna need all the ammunition you can get! Call on Sinus and Lung for backup, hear?”
“Standing by!”
“Eyes, you’ll have to gain system attention, signal that idiot to get out of there on the double and back to safety indoors! No one likes casualties and we can do to avoid an unnecessary fight.”
“Sir, I don’t think that’s how it—”
“Water!!”
“Oh well, if you insist.”
“Pores, get ready! The bigger you appear to your enemy, the greater the intimidation. Swell up those arms and legs, soldiers!”
“Sir, I think you’re cooking up the wrong allerg—”
“PREPARE FOR WAR, FIENDS OF SPRING!!!”

At any rate, why I’m so familiar with them is probably because literally everybody else in my house seems to be a walking weather cursing machine.

I’d only really given that sort of credit to dust allergies before. That seems more up my run down city alley. *Cough, cough*
*Sneeze!!*

Image result for our battle will be legendary meme
Turns out it’s a very real thing. There exists this exact piece of unedited memery I found on Google.

 

So the dogs. God help you if you’re also allergic to them or their hair. That perfect photograph with the spring and the dog and the dust gathering on it must really be the perfect nightmare for you. Why kids want dogs, I cannot fathom. Dogs are too much like people. My cousins’ puppy runs away from new people in an explicit fashion that my own social anxiety finds admirable. Because if there’s one thing worse than having to talk to people, it’s both parties being awkward, and then you going the extra length to make it seem like you’re not awkward, only for you to realise afterwards that your trying too hard probably made your awkwardness more obvious and then you worry to death that the next time you catch a glimpse of them you’re going to remember the incident and will need to find a place to hide, but in truth, (in my case, at least) you don’t even remember who they are the next time, but they, my friend, remember everything. So much for your personal Annexe.

The other thing with dogs being so similar to humans, is that you, the kid, need to manage them. It’s like going through puberty while you’re still going through puberty. It’s like volunteering to go through puberty for someone else. Maybe if this ever became official a theory, schools and convicts would start counting dog-keeping towards their hours of community service.

That’ll be the day.

In the meanwhile, if you want a pup, try some PUP. I’m really just throwing in this link because I’m happy to not be looking at NYC or Seattle in videos for a change. And because it’s nice to see Toronto again.

Sweet Dreams

Man, I miss the old days of nursery and day care where part of your day was just curling up for a nap.

I’m at work right now and tired out by stuff I’ve been doing since morning. Of course I’m too self conscious to sleep. It’s not something you do at work.

But imagine if sleeping was in fact a part of your workday. Some new-fangled study claiming that it boosts productivity and miraculously, ensures bug-free code (nothing ever ensures bug-free code).

This would be the next big thing in quotidian work lives.

Now, people fuss over their hair and clothing, cuff links and ties, formal leather shoes and a neat haircut.

Authoritarian look, good language, a firm handshake. Sharp briefcase. All the things we focus on because we’re allowed them at work.

Clean wallpapers, work-filled laptops.

Now bring sleep into the foray.

Imagine IKEA rolling out its latest collection of chic yet work-friendly pillows. Pillow cases and pillow stands for people with their own office rooms. Foldable pillows that fit into your briefcase. The artist’s work-pillow. The boss’s work pillow. The intern’s work pillow.

The big question to be asking a successful CEO in a ‘look into the life of’ interview: what sort of pillow do you prefer?

How does the sort of pillow you carry affect your job interview? GQ articles on the most subtle yet effective pillows to bring to the workplace.

Adverts showing approving colleagues watching the smartest pillow-carrier sleep:

The heights by great men reached and kept
Were not attained by sudden flight
But they while on Impressionist Pillows©™ slept
Were toiling upwards all the while

Impressionist Pillows: Making marks… even in your dreams!

Of course this is going to be more about the pillows than the sleep itself, or atleast until Memory Foam decides to enter the scenario.

It probably won’t happen, but oh well. I can dream. And get back to work.

Pro Tips

I just realised something today. You can actually measure your level of distractedness by the number of tabs you need open on a browser. The more tabs open, especially those you feel you cannot close, bam, you’re ultra distracted.

I often go from working on a page, to doing my research for that work on a second page, to having a third tab redirecting from something interesting I found on the second tab and can’t afford to close the second tab for. Then I’ll read something that will lead to a nagging question popping up out of curiosity and leading me to google on a fourth page. Then when I finally hear time stop tapping her heels indignantly at me and choose a more direct route of action: a whack on the head and back into reality, I’ll keep those tabs open for break time and head back to my work.

At break, I’ll probably want to check out listen to a particular song that’s been stuck in my head and then I’ll check my phone for texts and someone would have said something that reminded me of a scene from a SpongeBob SquarePants episode, which means I’d just have to notify them of that fact got sending them that particular scene. A sixth page opens!

Post break, I’ll remember an important part of my assignment that needn’t be started until I finish the current part, and will open a new  tab and begin a search. After half an hour of working on that, I’ll realize I will probably not get too far if I don’t finish my groundwork.

Then I’ll look up and scroll through the ten or so tabs I have open and think, sheesh, this must be slowing down my laptop. I’ll pop down to laptop activity to see if it’s (unsurprisingly) taking as much of my power as it should. Woo, it is!

Back to work.

I’ll look for my first tab and think, what a mess am I. I should close one of these tabs.

Ten minutes later, I have so successfully argued out why I need each one of these that I could easily quit my job and become a lawyer. They stay, this case is closed, and the work continues.

Fifteen minutes of work later, it strikes me that this probably means I’m quite distracted. I think to myself, what a find. Everyone should know about this.

And so I head over to WordPress to share my little musing.

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Lo and behold. The power of a distracted mind.

In the end though, we’d have finally reached puffin documentaries.

Behind Enemy Lines

I hate the people behind the counter.

Yeah, you know the smug guys on the other side of the barrier, showing you how clearly and plainly they have not picked your side in this war. Them of the tired, weary looks, and also them of the indistinguishable, incomprehensible drive-thru voices, but they’re a different story.

It’s them of the “Next, please” that I am onto today.

(And also, this has nothing to do with the little yellow guy who’s biggest ambition was to stand before a table, pen and in hand and say, “May I take your order, sir!” Just so we’re clear.)

So I went to buy my a sandwich, which is a very ordinary, Adult™ thing to do. Nothing fishy here.

…I occasionally stop by to buy food, because I don’t want to cook for myself.

And given my cooking capabilities stretch across the vast expanses of egg, bread, cereal and milk, who am I kidding, I’ve bought me more food from outside this month than I have in the last nine months combined.

So I go to Tim’s, and ask for a sandwich.

Hi, could I have the xyz sandwich?”
(No, I’m too mad to recall which one it was)

“Sure thing!” Says she, because why wouldn’t she say that?

I say, cool! Sandwich for dinner and then straight to bed for the tired adult kid who stayed up till 4 last night. I’ve only half a good reason, and that reason was SpongeBob SquarePants. The other half was work.

What, logically, should have been the next thing for her to say?

Maybe “to go?” Except everything in Tim’s is wrapped.

“Napkins?” If you’re feeling judgy.

Or, “Have a nice day!”, because you’re Canadian.
Okay, no that’s too nice, even for a Canadian.

The correct answer is, you ask, “debit or credit?”

And guess what she asked?
“Debit or credit?”
—NOT!

She asks, “Would you like a combo?”

No, I would not like a combo, I just want a sandwich.
… what’s in a combo?
Well, I just want a sandwich.

Somewhere behind enemy lines, a siren rang out. Soldiers gathered in formation and blared their trumpets, cocked their guns upwards, and sang the national anthem. They summoned the very fathers and mothers, and going back far enough, apes, velociraptors and cockroaches, of this land and poured their very animal spirits into their souls. Then all together, they looked towards the enemy approaching on the horizon, with a look of hope and new found confidence, as they prepared to begin their march for victory.

Whatever all that above was about, this lady seemed to sum up, within milliseconds, with a smile.


The end of the day arrives, The soldier takes a break. Trying to walk back home is great for the adrenaline, not so much for a backpack with a laptop on a back for an hour. At least I don’t need to make me food.

The hand dips into my bag for that hard earned loaf, and wanders to the side pockets of the bag.

Defeat is bittersweet, and I mean it.

She had me and my social awkwardness at the eyebrow raise. You can’t take a word back. You can’t take a question back. The aftertaste of the question is bitter.

Good for me that I have this whirlpool to numb it down.

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It smells like vanilla, but this stinks.

Lockdown Adventures

I already know the layout of the fire exit.

Yep, I am not even two days old at my internship, and I already have the layout of the fire stairwell memorised.
Adulting is in motion, and has been going swimmingly so far.

Day 2 of being a Real-World Adult™ has been an eventful one.

Now a proper member, I have a badge.

The thing with being an intern is that, you’re temporary, and last priority.
So I went to collect my official Employee Stuff, and was being taken around by someone a lot more permanent than me. So we go up to a different floor and I collected my needs. I figure out how to configure a few networks I will need for work. Then I collect my things to leave.

See, the building is connected across floors by a stairwell and elevators. The doors to everywhere are restricted-access and you need to swipe yourself in and out.
So the so other guy swiped me in, and on leaving, I was free to check out the wondrous pride a beeping piece of metal can be made to give you.

Now my badge is on a retractable string, and being a fidgety person, I was dying to give it a pull!
So I open the door and get into the stairwell and practically hustle to my floor door.

Pull string!
Badge face up? Check!
Scanner running? I mean, if it wasn’t, it wouldn’t be my problem so much as theirs, but check!
And sling! Pull it forward, and scan!
Now for that sweet green light.

Beep!
I get red, blue, green, purple.
Purple? That’s a scanner colour? Also, the blue was pretty.

Whatever. I try the door. It’s still locked. I try the handle more properly (I’m learning that I have a problem with turning the keys all the way at home sometimes. It doesn’t help that I often have other things on my mind when I’m leaving in the mornings), still locked.

The SpongeBob in me kicks in.
Oh well, looks like we’re just gonna have to swipe again! Baahahahahahahahahaaa.
(Swipe)
Oh, not yet? Guess we get one more chance, to feel the pride, the importance, the glory…
(swipe)
…the, the,
(swipe)
utter…
(Beep beep beep!)
sheer…
(Boop boop boop)
impo–
(Ka-ching boop beep)
impotence,
(boop boop boop)
im.. impudence…
(Poop poop poop)
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!!
It won’t budge!!

By this point, my face had begun to follow the scanner: red, green, blue, purple. So I decided to go back up.
Let’s say I had a nice long conversation with the door.
After that, I ran like bonkers checking other floors, but hey, if I don’t have access to my own floors, what are the favourful, flavourful odds that I’d have access to other peoples’ floors?

But stairwell-trapped me didn’t think too much about practicality. What I did think was, there’s gotta be a way out of here!

I ran down two floors till I was in the basement.
All those instincts that had taken a nice long nap hibernated, were waking up and kicking in like a Thor coming back into action after a long, beer/Fortnite-fuelled vacation.
(Okay, not having water is my poison, and my goto game is Pokémon, so I haven’t hit rock bottom yet.)

If those guys were waking up, this was turning out to be some internship alright.

I was like a soldier underground right now.
All I wanted again, was to see the sun. Get out of this trap box!

In the basement, the unlikeliest place of all, I see my choice. It’s the emergency exit. And it leads out! My way to freedom!

But if there’s one thing school has taught me (apart from, hey, coding will take all night), it’s that freedom has its own price. I haven’t seen an emergency exit that’s a free way out in a long time. Most of them are equipped with the most sophisticated psychological attack ever: you touch me, I scream.

Too many kids at orientation, too many tired all-nighter kids at libraries, too many instances I’d seen of people setting off the alarms by opening the wrong door. I still had to work here you know. This was an exit, not a get-out-of-jail-free heist.
I needed them to not think me a sociopath and let me come back and finish my shift.

So I opened the door to the basement and stood at the door that led to a passage that led out.
Through the glass windows on the top half of the door, I watched freedom stand a hundred meters from me. So close, yet so far, unless I dared to get kicked off my job on only day two.
So instead, I turned around and ran the other way. A T from the staircase meant I had a second option to explore. I stopped by a layout of the building in the walls in the corridor.
And now you know where this episode gets its first line from.

Well, it led out to the basement parking. From there, it was just a matter of finding the elevator to go up. No, I wouldn’t actually see the light until I got to my desk again, but figuratively, this was enough.
I made the triumphant ascent on the elevator, trumping one floor at a time, got out at the second, and sweet victory, I was home.
Well, not home, because I could’ve just taken the fire exit and run home, but you know what I mean.

I won. I was back. You couldn’t take me out of the game that early, I would survive day two, and with all my Internly grace.
I then promptly got myself locked out of the door again.

The receptionist let me in and taught me how the locking-wiping system really works, once I’d explained my little adventure, minus a little emotion because I don’t think an office is up for the high-adrenaline thriller that I can sometimes inadvertently make out of my life, but you know what I’m thinking?
This little orientation would’ve been a little more handy before I’d locked myself out.

Let’s call it a draw for consolation, but then, under her watchful eye, I proceeded to go out at swipe myself in.
Tap.
Wait.
Click.
Boop.
Beeep!
Turn… and,
Ka-chik;
Success!!

Hooray for sweet greens!

After that was all done, I pretty determinedly worked till I had worked my determination away and finished the day with this being my biggest contribution of the day:

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I’m gonna be such a pro.


This post is being posted on Day 5 as the hero, the intern was out faster than bacon on broccoli night somewhere within twenty seconds of reaching home. 

Adventures of A Real-World Adult™

So I begin today.

Your wildchild is entering the real world. Setting out on a new journey, equipped only with a bad sense of direction and a faulty Google Maps.

I’m off to work.

Really, it’s only an internship and so under the adamantium shield of Intern I get to make every mistake in the book, and get away with it, but it doesn’t make things less real, and I say that because I’m sitting in office.

Before you ask why I’m sitting in office, on day one, and typing up a blogpost, I’ll specify I’m sitting in the reception. The wait begins.
You know, it’s diplomatic strategy. You make someone wait, and then they seem more important. Well, I’m handling that game really well: it’s blogpost time!
You’re probably just glad I am not drawing a comic in here.

So far, my journey’s been great. I misread my watch this morning. In the dim morning light, my watch seemed to read 6:55. I said great, I’m up before my alarm.
You know that sweet, sweet feeling when you get up on your own, and see that there’s some time left before you’re scheduled to drop out of bed? Yeah, it’s even better than waking up on time, because you feel like you’ve snatched away those five extra minutes of sleep, never mind the fact that had you not woken up then, you’d have scored them anyway. Heck, by setting your alarm to 7:05, you’d earned them the night before!
Well, guess who thought they’d earned 20 extra minutes.

I don’t know about you, but once I’m awake, the anxiety that my alarm will shoot off, “any minute now”, is very real. It’s awful, and it doesn’t let me sleep again. It’s nearly pointless, I don’t get those ten minutes back!

So I lie there, waiting for the drill sergeant to scream. I used to have a siren as an alarm once, it was proven to be the most effective, yet it gives me absolute shoots in blood pressure, the cold sweat, the entire package.
At least I know I’m bodily ready when a real emergency hits!

So I lie to acting for what seems like forever, and nothing rings, there’s no sound.
My first thought is, shoot, the alarm isn’t working!
My second thought, shoot, I missed my alarm?
My third, and finally, action driven thought, let me check the time.

It’s 25. Shoot, I was scheduled for 7:15!
… but wait, what’s that? 6?
It’s 6:15?!

And then I lay waiting for 7:15. Turns out, I’d misread 5:50 for 6:55. That’s an hour and 20 minutes of my sleep I’ll never get back.
But I’ve mostly been on schedule since.
Then I got pranked by Google Maps this morning. As I stood at the bustop, I was texting a friend, and two seconds later, Maps shows me, with an A-OK in green text colour, that my bus was on time and had departed three minutes ago.

Okay, I was talking it was semi-important, but did I just let my bus pass me by? I was trying my damndest to be early too.

How early, you ask? Well, I live about ten minutes from work, and I begin at 9 AM.
I left home at 8:18.

But something tells me, my not so asleep senses aren’t wrong today, no bus did come!
I stood there panicking, almost considering walking the whole way, and I’d have done it too, but my footwear stopped me. I’d have looked quite a sight, stomping and struggling my way to work in a shirt and 0.05 mm heels. I’m really bad at this.

So I waited, and a bus did come. But before it did, with me at the stop, Maps tells me, “you are scheduled to arrive in one minute.”

Yeah right, smart mouth.

The bus I did get on came smack in between the two scheduled timings. So now I don’t know if I was late on my bus, or early on the next.

And now I’m sitting and waiting, for formalities, casualties (me), and forms—oh god, forms!—must be filled.

And as I sit here and wait, I can hear a high-end meeting beginning in the room next to me.
They’re discussing Pokémon.