Putting Out the Vibe Random observations from my day-to-day life

May 17, 2016

Is it legal to wait in the intersection at a green light?

Filed under: Colorado,Maps,Random Observations — Tags: — Matthew @ 4:19 pm

Drivers in Colorado are notoriously bad. Not FIB bad but still poor nonetheless. Although this is my opinion, it’s also supported by un-citable anecdotes from our midwestern friends who are CO transplants. You may be thinking to yourself, “self: how is this possible in a state with winter weather and roads that rise to 14,130 feet?” My theories:

  1. The Colorado Front Range doesn’t receive perpetual winters the way that other states do. Large snow storms often melt within 24 hours because of fluctuating winter temperatures which frequently exceed 50 degrees. Sure, CO drivers experience winter conditions when driving to the mountains but these are elective winter conditions (I can choose to drive into winter conditions for a six hour ski trip and then return to 50 degrees in Denver). Contrast this with the conditions in which I took my drivers test – a blizzard with single digit temperatures near Milwaukee – and it becomes pretty clear that people from states like WI grow up practicing winter driving.
  2. CO has become such a transient state that we now have a melting pot of all different kinds of bad drivers (California, Texas, New York, etc.). We commonly discuss that no one is actually from Colorado and meeting “natives” is like seeing a white rhino.

With all of this in mind, I’ve noticed an interesting trend in Colorado:  When turning left at a green light, many drivers don’t enter the intersection and instead wait behind the white stop line. The result at congested intersections is that once the light turns red, no one gets to turn. Rather, if cars wait past the stop line they can safely turn once the light turns yellow. Have you ever waited for several cycles of a light behind a (California license plate) driver who won’t edge their car into the center of the intersection? Growing up I would have found this ridiculous but in Colorado, it seems to be frequent (especially when I’m rushing home from work to catch tip off a badger basketball game). This is caused by each state defining their own traffic laws and as a result, many of Colorado’s transplant residents don’t know how to turn left. Interestingly, based on the CO Traffic Code MTC 604, it is legal in Colorado to wait in an intersection (as long as you’re not hindering traffic flow) and then proceed to turn once oncoming traffic has stopped. I set out to understand which states are ruining this interpretation of the law and my results are shown below.

Legal to wait in center of intersection? States
Legal to wait in center of intersection 28
Legal – but only for one vehicle at a time to be in center of intersection 1
Illegal – must wait behind stop line 11
? (unable to find reference to law) 10

Left Turn Map


State Legality?  
Alabama Legal to wait in center of intersection source
Alaska Legal to wait in center of intersection source
Arizona Legal to wait in center of intersection source
Arkansas Illegal – must wait behind stop line source
California Illegal – must wait behind stop line source
Colorado Legal to wait in center of intersection source
Connecticut Illegal – must wait behind stop line source
Delaware Legal to wait in center of intersection source
Florida Legal to wait in center of intersection source
Georgia Illegal – must wait behind stop line source
Hawaii Legal to wait in center of intersection source
Idaho Illegal – must wait behind stop line source
Illinois Legal to wait in center of intersection source
Indiana Legal – but only for one vehicle at a time to be in center of intersection source
Iowa Legal to wait in center of intersection source
Kansas Legal to wait in center of intersection source
Kentucky Legal to wait in center of intersection source
Louisiana Legal to wait in center of intersection source
Maine Legal to wait in center of intersection source
Maryland Legal to wait in center of intersection source
Massachusetts Illegal – must wait behind stop line source
Michigan Legal to wait in center of intersection source
Minnesota Illegal – must wait behind stop line source
Mississippi Legal to wait in center of intersection source
Missouri Legal to wait in center of intersection source
Montana Legal to wait in center of intersection source
Nebraska ?  
Nevada Legal to wait in center of intersection source
New Hampshire ?  
New Jersey ?  
New Mexico Illegal – must wait behind stop line source
New York Legal to wait in center of intersection source
North Carolina Legal to wait in center of intersection source
North Dakota Legal to wait in center of intersection source
Ohio Illegal – must wait behind stop line source
Oklahoma Illegal – must wait behind stop line source
Oregon Illegal – must wait behind stop line source
Pennsylvania ?  
Rhode Island ?  
South Carolina Legal to wait in center of intersection source
South Dakota ?  
Tennessee Legal to wait in center of intersection source
Texas Legal to wait in center of intersection source
Utah Legal to wait in center of intersection source
Vermont ?  
Virginia ?  
Washington Legal to wait in center of intersection source
West Virginia ?  
Wisconsin Legal to wait in center of intersection source
Wyoming ?  

A few notes:

  • I’ll caution you that I performed this research on a state-by-state basis and many states blend safety recommendations into their traffic codes (laws). Therefore, it’s very possible that I have mistakes above so please let me know if anything needs updating.
  • Although I thoroughly searched, some states (Wyoming, West Virginia, Virginia, Vermont, South Dakota, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New Hampshire, and Nebraska) don’t seem to take a stand on the legality of turning left at all and I couldn’t find citable sources (please let me know if you find differently for your state)
  • Some areas have city or county ordinances which contradict the state law relating to waiting in the center of an intersection. Austin, Texas has been promoting a well-publicized “Don’t Block the Box” campaign which, as far as I can tell, contradicts this article from the Texas State Troopers.
  • Many states across the country are implementing flashing yellow turn arrows instead of solid green lights because research shows that drivers will use more caution when turning and may be less likely to mistakenly assume that they have the right-of way over oncoming traffic.

October 7, 2013

Why do i get so tired flying every week?

Every time I fly (which over the last three years has been nearly twice a week), I get tired.  Not debilitatingly tired but enough that I just feel ‘off’ and less productive.  Many people would simply chalk this up to jet lag but the reality over the past three years is that I’ve found that this happens to me even if my flight spans only a single timezone or even within the same timezone.  Also, the rule of thumb that it takes one day to recover for every hour of time difference that you fly seems ridiculous.  If this were the case, it would take me the entire work week to recover from my Monday morning flight across the country (in reality, I’m probably productive by Tuesday) or the entire duration of my trip to Europe to recover.  Evidently this can be true for people with extremely rigid sleep schedules (also not me).  So here’s what I’m chalking my weekly flight fatigue up to…

1.  Dehydration

A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2007 found that air cabins pressurized to 8,000 feet lower oxygen in the blood, making passengers feel uncomfortable and dehydrated (source).  Cabins are also very low in humidity, typically ranging between 10-20%.  This is much lower than a comfortable typical indoor humidity of 30-65% and even the lowest humidity cities in the US average around 30%.  Low humidity increases the risk of catching a respiratory virus, such as a cold since the moisture in the air keeps your airways moist so the lining can help trap germs trying to enter your body.

  • Solution:  Obviously, hydrating but it doesn’t help that drinks in airports cost more than a Qdoba burrito and bubblers (yes, bubblers) are hard to come by.  I didn’t realize this until I had traveled for a while but flight attendants will bring you additional water even if their big beverage show is over.  Don’t be afraid to be “that guy” and order a water AND an orange juice or even ask for additional water after the beverage road show.  It’s probably worth the extra trips to the gross plane bathroom even if you’re in a window seat and the guy next to you thinks you have a growing problem.  I’ve also been told to avoid caffeine and alcohol while flying but I’ve decided that I like coffee and Jack & Gingers too much.

2.  Poor Air Quality

In addition to the low humidity on planes described above, the overall quality of air on planes isn’t ideal.  Surprisingly, this is less a result of recycled air but more likely the cause of being in extreme proximity of already sick people.  Cabin air on planes is completely refreshed 20 times per hour (compared with just 12 times per hour in an office building) (source), only about 50% of the air in the cabin is likely to be recycled, and the oxygen level on aircraft remains pretty constant (source).  Also, most aircraft air is circulated through hospital-grade HEPA filters, which remove 99.97 percent of bacteria, as well as the airborne particles that viruses use for transport (unfortunately, many regional jets lack these filters).  Additionally, cabins are divided into separate ventilation sections about every seven rows of seats (source).  There have been reports of infections (including TB) being transmitted during flights but there is disagreement whether this is due to the the very fine filters not working or simply because the victim is seated close to someone with an infectious disease (source).  This is most likely due to either close proximity to a sick person or a result of the poorer air quality circulated through the cabin at the gate (air circulation is greatly reduced when the engines aren’t on).

  • Solution:  I suppose you could ask to be moved if the person next to you shares that they are ridiculously sick but on a full plane this isn’t realistic.  Otherwise, hope you have an immune system of steel and get a flu shot.

3.  Dozing off while taxiing on the runway

Something about the comfortable (sometimes) seat, the constant subtle vibration, and the ambient white noise always causes me to fall asleep while planes are taxiing.  Evidently, I’m not alone but few discuss this phenomenon in a scientific way.  It does make sense, however, since the brain naturally craves sensory input (people in sensory deprivation tanks hallucinate) and constant white noise, gives the brain a tonic signal that dampens its own internal systems (source).  I suppose the reasons that the low vibrations of taxiing cause me to sleep are also similar.  The problem, however, is that short naps for me are a crapshoot – sometimes refreshing me and sometimes making me more tired.  On a plane, I often don’t reach the 10-15 minutes required for a refreshing “power nap” and as a result just wake up more tired than when I started.

4.  Nutrition

Have you ever tried to eat healthy in an airport?  It will cost you twice as much as shopping at Whole Foods.  As a result, I always eat garbage while traveling and I believe this compounds my fatigue on my travel days.

  • Solution: Pay more for healthier food if you can afford it.  Otherwise, keep eating double cheeseburgers from McDonald’s and enjoy the 10-15 minutes of happiness.

5.  Jet Lag

I just got back from a vacation to Europe where I experienced many of the classic jet lag symptoms (especially insomnia on my second night there due to circadian rhythm disruption).  Although it’s on a much smaller scale, I suppose this does affect my shorter weekly flights.


Trying to fit a normal life in to the three days that I’m actually home on the weekends probably doesn’t help the issue.  Over each weekend, I typically relax my sleep schedule so by Monday morning, even if I weren’t flying, I would likely feel a mini jet lag due to slight changes in my circadian rhythms (aka a case of the Mondays).

Let me know your thoughts and if any of you have any that I should add.

November 11, 2010

A not so original Halloween

I really thought I was on to something.  Something big.  Something that would rival the great Halloween of 2007 – David Bowie from The Labyrinth (which recently yielded 793 hits from procrastinators on October 29).  I even felt like I was doing Halloween right this year and not just going through the motions.  I taught Liam about the Great Pumpkin, carved a sweet Top Gun pumpkin in honor of the recent Top Gun 2 announcement, and we even had a The League style “Adult Halloween.”  Although I liked Dustin’s idea – to go as BP, spilling everyone’s drink, apologize profusely, but wait a few months to clean it up – I thought my idea was better.  My big idea: a Chilean Miner.  Slightly culturally insensitive, but I figured enough time had passed and who doesn’t love a good Chilean Miner Soap Opera.  So I went on Amazon and picked up the needed supplies (i.e. a hard hat and a Chile 2010 World Cup t-shirt).

Hard Hat on Amazon

The cheapest hard hat Amazon had to offer

Customers who bought this item also bought

Should have been a clear sign that my costume was in no way original

It turns out the Amazon was on to something – everyone in the world went as a Chilean Miner this year.  Nonetheless, I did my best:

Chilean Miner

August 24, 2010

Girl Scout Cookie Geography: A brownie civil war!

If you’re like me, you grew up in the wonderful and comforting land of Caramel DeLites, Peanut Butter Sandwiches, Shortbreads, and Peanut Butter Patties.  However, when I attended the University of Minnesota for my freshman year of college, my Girl Scout Cookie world came crashing down around me.  When trying to purchase Caramel DeLites from some Twin Cities Brownie saleswomen, I was shocked to see that they didn’t sell my favorite cookie.  Upon closer inspection I realized that they did sell what seemed to me to be a generic knock of off, entitled “Samoas.”  It turns out Samoas and Caramel DeLites are the exact same cookie but are merely the different names that the two licensed bakers of Girl Scout Cookies, ABC Bakers and Little Brownie Bakers, have for them.  It seems Little Brownie Bakers has been making Girl Scout Cookies since the early 1980s and ABC Bakers has been making them since 1939.  I suppose that in  forcing the two companies to compete for the nation’s girl scout cookie sales, the Girl Scouts of America has actually managed keep the price of cookies down by forcing economic competition.

However, this system also undoubtedly causes strife for Girl Scout Cookie lovers across the nation.  This is because there is actually very little consistency throughout states or even counties in some instances, whether Little Brownie Bakers or ABC Bakers have been selected as the baker of choice (it is up to the Girl Scout leadership in that region of the country).  So if you find yourself in Buffalo County in Western Wisconsin, be careful how your order your Caramelly Coconut treat.  Much like families were torn apart during the Civil War, it seems Buffalo County has it own Girl Scout struggles between the north and south of the county.  Also, what’s up with Osceola County in northwest Iowa being the only county in the whole state that purchased from Little Brownie Bakers because they are actually a part of Southwest Minnesota’s Girl Scout Leadership?  Either way, that is whack and they must really be in love with Samoas (and not Caramel DeLites).  Thin Mints may be Thin Mints across the board, but here is a summary of the confusing cookie names.

ABC Bakers Little Brownie Bakers
Caramel DeLites Samoas
Peanut Butter Sandwiches Do-Si-Dos
Shortbreads Trefoils
Peanut Butter Patties Tagalongs

So I did some research – a lot of it actually – and created the following map of how Girl Scout Cookies break down throughout the Midwest.  I highlighted the WI, MN, and UP counties in white but then grew a little lazy as I researched the baker of choice throughout the rest of the map.  If you zoom in you can still make out the other county lines though.

Girl Scout Cookie Map

Girl Scout Cookie Map

View Minnesota and Wisconsin Map Only





March 19, 2010

Chickens: the new dogs

Filed under: Madison,Random Observations — Tags: , , — Matthew @ 5:07 pm

Today started off on a less than ideal note when I did terribly on my midterm (not yet confirmed) and on my way home was greeted with a parking ticket (the lame 48 hours in the same spot kind).  Historically, the opening round of the NCAA tournament is an enjoyable one for me, so I knew drastic measures must be taken to improve my mood.  Fortunately, my day started to improve after I blew off the rest of my afternoon to run the arboretum and enjoy the March heat wave/Seasonal Affective cure we’ve been having lately.  My day improved further when, at the end of my run, I passed a chicken just hanging out on someone’s front lawn.  It caught me by surprise to say the least.  I did remember that two of my friends actually built a chicken coop in the backyard of their Madison house, however.  After some research, I discovered the sites thecitychicken.com (which has a page entitled, Chicken Laws) and http://www.madcitychickens.com.  It turns out that section 28.08(2)(b)8.j of the Madison Zoning Code states:

j. Keeping of up to four (4) chickens on a lot with up to four dwelling units, provided that:
     i. No person shall keep any rooster.
     ii. No person shall slaughter any chickens.
     iii. The chickens shall be provided with a covered enclosure and must be kept in the covered enclosure or a fenced enclosure at all times.
     iv. No enclosure shall be located closer than twenty-five (25) feet to any residential structure on an adjacent lot.
     v. The owner, operator, or tenant obtains a license under Sec. 9.52, MGO.
     vi. The applicant for a license notifies all residents within two hundred (200) feet of the lot.
     vii. Not more than fifty percent (50%) of the residents notified in vi. above object within fourteen (14) days of notification.

So if you’re a Madison resident and have ridiculous amounts of free time, why not raise your own chickens?  Actually, I can think of a few reasons why not…

November 17, 2009

My current totem pole

A friend of mine, who also happens to be the Assistant Dean of the College of Engineering, brought this cartoon from www.phdcomics.com to my attention on facebook the other day.

The main thing that’s surprising to me is not that Football coaches make over a million dollars, but rather the gross overestimate of Grad Student salaries.  If I made $17,784 right now, I’d be living a lavish life of Qdoba, Spotted Cow, and Tostitos hint of lime chips, instead of El Monterey frozen burritos, PBR, and “badger” chips.  Nonetheless, the graph got me curious.  Here’s my current totem poll at UW-Madison (from the WSJ UW-Madison Salary Database):

  • $91,870 – my band director (who I’ve learned more from than most of my professors)
  • $103,000 – my supervisor
  • $141,707 – my supervisor’s supervisor
  • $164,933 – my department chair
  • $244,525 – college of engineering dean
  • $400,000 – Brett Bielema (bachelor’s degree in marketing)
  • $600,000 – Barry Alvarez

September 11, 2009

Why Charter sucks and the last week in August was one of the best of my life

The Real Charter BundleFriday, August 28 was truly a momentous day which I will forever remember for accomplishing one of my life’s greatest feats.  I’m actually not talking about finishing UW Marching Band Reg Week – which is the most physically demanding tryout week I have ever had to endure (much harder in fact than varsity football two-a-days).  I was happy that the days of six hour rehearsals and conditioning in the middle of August were over and regular rehearsal schedules would begin.  My much greater accomplishment, however, was managing to free myself of Madison’s own axis of evil, the Fourth Reich – Charter Communications.  Here are my own opinions why Charter is a terrible company and as I found, I’m evidently not alone.

  1. Calling their customer service requires reading minds better than even Miss Cleo is capable.  Figuring out what I needed to say to their automated voice recognition software to actually talk to a human being took me 15 minutes.
  2. I received junk mail about the charter bundle seven days a week – sometimes more than one letter a day – because Charter never removed past customers from my college address.  On more than one occasion I even threw away a bill because I thought it was more junk mail.  A company that knows anything about marketing should realize that convincing college students that they need a Landline would be an incredible accomplishment.
  3. Figuring out what all of the charges, sub-charges, and sub-sub-charges on a bill actually mean is more confusing than computer science.  I had no idea what I was actually paying for and costs continually increased from month to month without Charter informing me.  Disputing these charges requires an hour long phone call (see #1) or threatening to switch to Direct TV.
  4. Question: How hard is it to remove someone from an account?  Answer: Three phone calls and an eventual “required” trip to an actual Charter office.  This is something that should be easily done over the phone or the interweb.  Instead, we were told by two Charter employees that all I had to do was call and provide my SSN.  When I did that, the customer service “expert” told me that “no one would have told me that it was possible over the phone” and “sir, I’ve been working for Charter for 14 years, I think I know how to remove someone from an account.”  I think the only thing worse than being a Charter customer would probably be working 14 miserable years for the company…

What if I lived my life like Charter runs their business?

  • When people owe me money, provide them with a list of chargeable sub-items which they do not understand.  For example, if I bought someone a beer at a bar, I would probably charge them for an intoxication fee, a money handling fee, a non-local beer fee (if it was an Anheuser Busch product), a pint glass renters fee, hangover insurance, and even a falangy fee (made up).
  • Schedule appointments with people stating that I will arrive between 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM.
  • Constantly tell people how much money they could be saving if they bought two things that they don’t need and one that they actually do.
  • Perform with mediocrity at both work and school, treat others as if they are indebted to me for the mediocre work, and then when I’m asked about it, provide people with a recording stating that my work isn’t actually mediocre.

Truthfully, I don’t believe Charter will be around long and hopefully filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on March 28, 2009 will speed up the process.  Much like AOL in the 90s, who once owned a large share of the internet market (cancelling an account with AOL literally took four hours – I remember doing it because my Dad didn’t have time), new players will come along, providing better customer service and a better product.  For example, AT&T has started providing cable and internet in Madison at a cheaper rate and seems like a much better option.

Update 1-8-10:  If you recall, at the end of August I thought that I had achieved freedom from the Charter slave driver when my roommate and I completed paperwork to completely remove me from our account and transfer it to his name at his new address.  However, Charter’s head hunter traveled north and found me, enjoying my new stress free lifestyle.  When I returned from Christmas break in New Berlin on the 26th, I was greeted by a notice from a collection agency (I didn’t realize that Scrooge was still stubbornly working on Christmas day).  I was flabbergasted by this collection notice for a number of reasons:

  1. We filled out paperwork to completely remove me from the account back in August.
  2. I haven’t ever lived at the address where the service is actually used, but Charter still sent it to my current address.
  3. Charter only seems to send me notices when shit has really hit the fan (i.e. the account is delinquent on a payment) but never sends monthly statements or anything else (giving me a false sense of Charter freedom).

So we had little choice but to visit Charter (becoming one of my favorite ways to spend an afternoon) because the only phone number listed for the local Charter Communications location was “1-888-get-charter” and I didn’t have 45 minutes to kill until I could actually speak with a human being.  We turned in my roommate’s digital box and paid the remaining balance.  So in theory, this time, my life really should be Charter-free.  Some Q&A from my enjoyable visit to Charter’s office:

Q:  Why is my name still on the account?  We filled out paperwork to remove me at the end of August.
A:  Your paperwork must have never been processed.

Q:  Can you provide me with documentation that my name (or at least my SSN) has been removed from the account today?
A:  We can’t do that.

Q:  What should I do when I receive a second notice from the collection agency?  (I assumed that Charter would not resolve this issue any time soon and that my credit score would continue to suffer for no reason).
A:  You could come back in to our office if you really want, but customers typically receive a notice or two after the balance has been paid.

July 7, 2009

You know what really grinds my e-mail gears?

Today I received an e-mail that was both flagged with a high importance red exclamation point and requested that I send a read receipt.  However, it turns out that the e-mail was neither “highly important” nor required urgent reading.  There are definitely a lot of e-mail manners that are violated on the interweb everyday.  Here are just a few that bother me (in what I believe to be order of severity).

Violation 8:  Assuming the person goes by a shortened name
Maybe I’m partial to this because everyone assumes that my name is “Matt” no matter how much I try to use Matthew – especially in a professional setting.  However, I try to stick to what’s listed in a digital signature unless someone offers a less formal name at the end of their message.

Violation 7: Using “Hey” in the salutation line
This one is largely personal preference, and was something that I had never thought about until I did a co-op with GE Healthcare.  The reality of starting an e-mail with “Hey ____,” is that it’s very informal.  When I e-mail my brother or someone who I go to the Karaoke Kidd at one in the morning with, it’s probably ok.  For anyone else in a professional setting, especially a superior, it’s probably inappropriate.

Violation 6:  E-mailing a co-worker sitting next door
My dad always told me growing up to never do something over the phone which can be done just as easily (and probably more effectively) in person.  I believe this is also true about my own “e-mail generation.”  I don’t want to work in an office where face-to-face conversations are a thing of the past and when I have entire work days of only staring at my computer monitor, I’m much more fatigued than after a day of meetings with human interaction.  Receiving an e-mail from someone who sits 10 feet away asking me a yes or no question is just ridiculous.

Violation 5: Replying without my original message thread
I send and receive a lot of e-mails every day (sometimes during the school year as many as 150) and I have four different e-mail accounts IMAPed to my MS Outlook program.  Therefore, when I receive an e-mail response without my original message or an action item that I need to take care of with no thread history to provide background, it’s confusing and can be very time consuming for me to figure out what the person is talking about.

Violation 4: Accidental “Reply to all”
Check out the following thread, compliments of my classmate Scott:

—–Original Message—–
From: “Scott”
Sent: Wednesday, March 04, 2009 7:48 PM
To: “Matthew”
Subject: Re: RE: ISyE undergrad funding and valuable practical/project experience opportunity

I apparently sent this to the whole IE undergrad

—– Original Message —–
From: “Matthew”
Date: Wednesday, March 4, 2009 2:09 pm
Subject: RE: ISyE undergrad funding and valuable practical/project experience opportunity
To: “Scott”

Did you intend to send this to me?

—–Original Message—–
From: “Scott”
Sent: Wednesday, March 04, 2009 12:08 PM
To: “Raj”
Cc: ieundergrad@engr.wisc.edu; “Roger”
Subject: Re: ISyE undergrad funding and valuable practical/project experience opportunity

I have a play I need to go to for acting at 730 and can work whenever that ends.

—– Original Message —–
From: “Raj”
Date: Tuesday, March 3, 2009 7:46 pm
Subject: ISyE undergrad funding and valuable practical/project experience opportunity
To: ieundergrad@engr.wisc.edu
Cc: “Raj”, “Roger”

ISyE Undergrad Student Assistants

Starting Summer 2009 and subsequent semesters (15 – 20 hours per week)


Oops…  Although, I appreciated that my friend Scott wanted to let me know that he was going to a play that night, I’m sure the rest of my department’s undergraduate mailing list wasn’t as interested.  The professor, “Raj” (who happens to be my boss) he was e-mailing about the job offer and “Roger” (who happens to be my supervisor) were probably just as disinterested.

Violation 3: Angry e-mails
Tone is never portrayed well in an e-mail and in my experience sending someone an e-mail while in a heated mood almost always does more damage than good (especially in destroying future communication barriers and trust).  Using an e-mail in which caps lock is used to “yell” at someone is also insulting.  My biggest problem with this, however, is that a co-worker wouldn’t have the decency to talk to me face-to-face about a conflict, but rather finds it necessary to e-mail you and rub it in by copying a few of your co-workers or supervisors.  This is also known as “copying up” and one of the most ridiculous experiences I had with it came after I missed a church music rehearsal and the director decided to reprimand me with an e-mail in which our parish priest was copied.

Violation 2: Unnecessary flagging with “high importance”
An e-mail which is flagged as “highly important” (the red exclamation point) gets subconsciously sifted to my “highly unimportant” e-mail folder.  E-mail importance is in the eye of the beholder and I’ll decide which messages in my inbox make the list.

Violation 1: Read receipts
To me the single most insulting e-mail habit is sending a read receipt with a message and it causes me to instantly lose interest (or maybe respect for the sender) for whatever the e-mail was about.  To me, this informs the recipient, “I don’t think you’re responsible enough to respond to my e-mail in a timely manner so I’m going to make you feel guilty and let me know how soon you’ll take care of the issue.”  This is especially annoying when you are a part time research assistant and you check e-mail at all hours of the day.  This option can also be turned off (at the risk of your untrustworthy coworkers thinking you never read their e-mails).  The only thing worse than an e-mail with a read receipt is one that contains both a read receipt and a “high importance” flag.

…and please don’t send facebook messages which contain any importance whatsoever, unless it has to do with going to the Karaoke Kidd…

April 21, 2009

Doing my part

Filed under: Random Observations — Tags: , , , — Matthew @ 10:21 pm

Just so we’re clear, I became incredibly green tonight while drinking franzia.  Yes Franzia.  It turns out that Franzia is conveniently created with three of the biggest environmental buzz terms out there – “Less CO2 emissions,” “Less packaging waste,” and even a “smaller carbon footprint.”  I’m not sure what “Less wine waste” means, but they do that too.  That’s what happens when you drink franzia in a cup, instead of directly out of the sack I suppose.

Franzia going green

Franzia going green

April 15, 2009

UW-Madison Socio-Academic Campus Zones

After ballroom dance class today, I was on my way back to the Engineering campus and ran into my roommate, Lee, who asked, “what are you doing over here?” – a very valid question actually, since I haven’t been required to go to the east side of campus for a legitimate, academic reason since sophomore year. He, although an engineer himself, was actually on his way back from Art History. The truth is, the non-engineering areas of campus do have a completely different disposition and when I venture to the east for either choir or ballroom dance, it’s like visiting an unexplored, foreign world. Without further adieu, I am proud to present my most recent result of procrastinating both work and school – The UW-Madison Socio-Academic Map: My take on how our campus actually breaks down.

Figure 1 - UW-Madison Socio Academic Map

Figure 1 - UW-Madison Socio-Academic Map

Nerd-Land:  Home of the College of Engineering, Computer Sciences, and Wendt Library, Nerd-Land is the dwelling place of some of the most socially inept students on campus.  In traversing the halls of Engineering, one might witness 10 people surrounding a single game of chess, an intense conversation comparing notes on respective W.O.W. (World of Warcraft) characters, or even over hear numerous jokes about μ (“mu” – the coefficient of both static and kinetic friction), all in only a few minutes.  Spend too much time in Nerd-Land and your standards for the opposite sex will drop dramatically (until an eye opening journey to the east brings you back to your senses)

Nerd-Limbo:  I believe students who spend much of their day in the orange zone to be in Nerd-Limbo – still interested in a practical, technical education but capable of holding a conversation about something other than what they got on yesterday’s Thermo Exam.  The hard sciences (not meaning difficult, but the opposite of soft), such as Physics, Chemistry, Biochem, Genetics, and also Math and Stats* find their home in Nerd-Limbo.  People who are regulars in this area of campus may even have interests that lie outside of academics.
*Grainger Hall (School of Business) appears in purple above because it is considered an overlap of the orange and blue zones.

Liberal Arts-Ville:  Venture too far to the east and your existing schemas of what is a normal classroom environment will be greatly challenged.  Students studying Social Sciences, Music, Dance, Languages, and also all of the students on College Life who represent the entire demographic of our student body so well, attend class here (as needed).  College Library also falls within this zone.  Expected attire in Liberal Arts-Ville requires that all students “try” before class (sweat pants strongly discouraged).  As a result, this is where many of the campus’ best looking people, who seem to only emerge nocturnally at the bars on Friday and Saturday, spend their weekdays.
The location of the Psychology building seems to be an anomaly, surrounded by both Nerd-Limbo and Nerd-Land.

Places I only go to drink beer:  A couple times a week I migrate from my familiar world to another familiar world (think Oregon Trail, except no one has ever died of dysentery out at the bars).  Unfortunately, since I live on Lathrop St. (lower left corner of the above map), traveling from my classes and/or house requires navigating through unfamiliar territory, which is commonly avoided via taking cabs.

Coastie-Island:  Also known as “frat row,” Langdon Street is as unfamiliar to me as the internet is to my Grandma.  Hundreds of girls wearing gaucho pants, ugg boots, north faces, and huge sunglasses (regardless of the weather or current sun intensity) and guys with fohawks, popped collars, and probably tribal armband tattoos dwell in this region.§♦
§Coastie Island slightly overlaps with the Places I only go to drink beer only because of the less than ideal location of the State Sider Apartments.
The recently constructed Lucky Apartments, located in between Liberal Arts-Ville and Places I only go to drink beer is an unfortunate contradiction of my Socio-Academic Theory.

Disclaimer:  This post is merely satire.  There are clearly exceptions to the immense stereotypes that I cast here. I realize that very hard working and motivated people exist in all academic areas of campus.





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