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Lessons Forgotten

1. Recently I gave a talk at Ignite Seattle on "How to Be Funny." For the most part the talk went well, although I had technical difficulties. To be clever, I had put an animated GIF on one of the slides. This somehow caused Powerpoint to get "stuck" showing that slide while (in its head) still advancing the remaining slides on schedule.

So by the time I realized the slideshow was stuck and asked them to "advance" it manually, it was actually several slides ahead, which ruined the punchline of one of my jokes and made it so I had to get them to manually rewind by several slides.

(This never happened when I was practicing the talk.)

While I was dying on stage, I was suddenly struck with the realization that this had happened to me before and that I should have known the rule "NEVER USE AN ANIMATED GIF IN POWERPOINT." I have no idea when this happened to me before, but I'm pretty sure that it did and that I forgot about it until it bit me.

2. Every month Ganga signs us up for a 5K race at Magnuson Park. This Saturday she wasn't feeling well enough to run, so I gave her my keys so she could sit in the car and listen to the radio. Because she is not particularly good with cars, I warned her to make sure to turn the key to "accessory" and not "run."

I finished the race and returned to the car and tried to start it. It failed to start, and all the gauges started vibrating like crazy. I iPhoned these symptoms and found nothing. I looked under the hood and found all sorts of weird crap on the battery terminals. Thanks to a faulty prior, I assumed these symptoms (the vibrating gauges and the battery crud) represented some sort of fried electrical system thanks to a key in the "run" position.

So, I called my insurance company to see if I was covered for a tow (I was) and then we waited an hour for the tow truck to arrive. When the driver got there, he asked me if I'd tried to jumpstart the car. No, I told him, since I'd assumed something was deeply wrong with the electrical system. He thought it was worth trying, and in fact it worked. The battery crud, he suggested, was just normal battery crud that could be dissolved with some Coca-Cola. This turned out to be the case, although I'm still anticipating some sort of bad consequences from pouring Coca-Cola under the hood.

While I was driving home and reprogramming the radio and kicking myself (for I have jumper cables in my trunk and could have gotten a jump at any time instead of calling for a tow truck if I hadn't fixated on an incorrect diagnosis), I remembered that my old blue car had also had a problem with battery crud, and that jumpstarting always worked on that car.

In my defense, the old blue car always "tried" to start and never exhibited the strange "vibrating gauge" behavior. (And then its transmission failed and then its timing belt broke and then I got rid of it.)

I still have no idea why the car worked just fine in the morning and then went completely haywire an hour later. Perhaps it will remain forever a mystery.

3. I wonder what other important lessons I've forgotten.

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