brain database deadlock
Friday, December 15 2000
Today I had one of those hangovers that was so mentally crippling that I feared I might bumble out into the street and be hit by a car. I'm never this stupid when I'm drunk, but it's a common symptom of my hangovers. I remember once when I was driving home from Big Fun with a terrible tequila hangover and I was so out of it that I missed the I-64 exit and just kept heading down US 29 South. Only after the scenery started looking unfamiliar did I correct my mistake. Mind you, this was a route I had driven dozens of times. Today, while waiting for the traffic light at Centinela and Santa Monica Blvd., I was distracted by a crow I was watching dunk a translucent plastic bead in some gutter water (in hopes it was made of sugar and would soften?). Suddenly I heard engines rev in the cars next to me and I just assumed the light had changed and started crossing without even looking. But the light hadn't changed, and I could have easily been killed. I didn't notice my mistake until I was a quarter of the way across Santa Monica Blvd. When I consider the fact that I have to trust my fate to decisions made during future hangovers in my life, it doesn't seem likely that I'll live to a ripe old age.
The rest of the UK team (with the exception of our female CTO, who hadn't been to last night's party) were at least as bad off as me. This was encouraging, since, being from the UK, they're all unapologetically hard-core drinkers.
Still, I managed to get a lot of good work done, even successfully debugging a tricky parameter-passing bug in a content manager repurposing tool. But late in the day we discovered a systemic bug resulting from the accumulation of duplicate records in a table whose primary key I hadn't bothered to set. This should have been caught by the guy actually developing on this database, but he hadn't and, since he was gone and I'm lead developer, it was my mess to fix. This is when the hangover became unbearable. We were supposed to be doing a release tonight and suddenly it felt impossible. So I was afraid. Fear during a hangover is a special kind of torture; I'd never really experienced it before. But the CTO was understanding; she knew I was in no shape to be working on this. In the end I agreed to come in for a few hours on Sunday to untangle the mess.
Later in the evening, while watching a VH1 Behind the Music special about the band Everclear, the hangover's psychological effects sudden began manifesting themselves as a strange form of dementia. I've had this happen before, and it's never pleasant. It's sort of like being on a strong hallucinogen and wondering if you'll ever think normally again. I was thinking about something related to the lead singer guy from Everclear. I had a flattened, emotionless attitude, not seeing any significance or value to his achievements in the face of a pile of evidence to the contrary. Then I'd start thinking about that thought in a meta-sort of way, at which point a sort of database-style dependency would develop between the two thoughts and I'd realize there was no way to complete either. The thoughts were deadlocked in a way that required me to terminate both, forget them forever, and move on to the next thought, at which point this process would repeat itself. I realized I couldn't effectively think about anything. All I could do was sit back and passively experience the show and try hard not to process the information. This feeling lasted for a good fifteen minutes or so and then faded away and I was fine.
Meanwhile John and his sister Maria were on the other couch, continuing with their endless comedy routine. Periodically Maria would say, "I'm so bored!" Finally I said, "Maria, you need to take more drugs."
Maria had been bored at work today and spent hours reading through posts and glossaries over on Vodkatea.com. She must have probed pretty far because she managed to unearth the definition "Dirty Sanchez" from one of my glossaries. John was appalled when she brought it up. "That's nothing I'd ever tell my sister!" he winced. Maria had even been to my company's website. "I was sort of stalking you," she admitted.
After yet more trouble with the bureaucrats in charge, John has quit his teaching job in the Beverly Hills School system. The University of Vermont has offered him a position as Associate Director of something or other, and I'm very concerned that he'll take it. Obviously, if he took that job he'd have to move out. So I've begun a propaganda campaign to keep him, saying things like "You haven't even given LA a chance yet." Besides, he stands a good chance of getting a similar job at UCLA and he can make plenty of money as a private tutor in the meantime.
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