These Ancient Eyes: Personal Assistant

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

I have a personal assistant. It isn’t a person, and I don’t pay it (personally), but without it I have proven time and time again that my less-than-stellar memory will cause me to be unaccountably less productive.

I woke up this morning at eight am, after having gone to bed at…oh…five thirty this morning. (No, don’t worry, it’s ok. I slept until four pm the previous day, so it balances out.) I was groggy, but there was work to do. The problem was, other than my immediately noticing that it was raining and considering how that would impact what I needed to do today, I had absolutely no memory of what it was I’d gotten up this early to accomplish. Then, at 8:05 on the dot, my personal assistant said, “beep?” I looked at it, wondering if perhaps it knew what I needed to accomplish today. And, sure enough, laid out in plain English on the home screen of my Android phone, it said, “Mail package early morning.”

That was it! That was why I was up so early today. I had a package for work that needed to be boxed up and shipped out as soon as possible. Happy that I now knew what I was doing, I boxed up the shipment, stuck the pre-printed shipping label on it, and headed for the door.

“Beep?” said my personal assistant (I think I might need to name it soon). A quick glance at my phone showed that I was about to forget something vital –my daily pills. You see, I’m anemic. This means I have a deficiency of iron in my body –be it from diet, my weight, or what, I can’t deny that when I don’t take my iron pill every day (preferably exactly 24 hours apart, because as I’ve learned, an overlap of iron suppliments makes me feel just as exhausted as if I hadn’t taken it at all, and I can lose several hours to the feeling of leaden limbs and a sluggish mind), I have no energy and barely any ability to function. In fact, breathing seems to take up an insane amount of effort and concentration. And for someone who enjoys accomplishing many things throughout the day, that simply will NOT do.

So, in response to my assistant’s question, I headed into the kitchen and took my pills. Iron is only one of many suppliments I take every day to keep my body in functional (I won’t say “tip top,” as I’m rather far from the top right now, unless it’s of weight charts. 😛 ) and productive condition. It’s also Monday, meaning that I needed to refill my seven day pill container (makes remembering what I’m taking so much easier if I don’t have to hunt for the pills) and set things up for the rest of the week. I was very happy while doing this –several times in the last few weeks I’d been careless with my pills and lost several days worth of productive time to exhaustion and a mind that felt like it was stuck in molasses –and it IS January.

Having taken my suppliments, I once again grabbed the box and headed for the back door. “Beep?” said my personal assistant. I checked it. Oh! Right! I was going to the post office –I should grab my Netflix disk, too, while I’m at it. Thank you again, personal assistant! I grabbed it, fumbled with my umbrella, the heavy box, the Netflix envelope, and my purse, and headed out to my car. Other than having to rescue the Netflix envelope from a puddle along the way (oops), and having to vault over another puddle in order to get into my car without submerging my leg up to my ankle in mud, the morning went well and my assistant didn’t page me again.

Until this afternoon.

I had just come home from working out (started a new regimen today, hoping it does me good), and gotten settled at my desk. A series of questioning beeps sounded while I was concentrating on doing art commissions, and I stared at where my phone laid in front of me. What could have POSSIBLY gotten my assistant so worked up? A quick check made my eyes go wide –overdue notification. I had never put my laundry away two days ago. Oh, and while I was at it, didn’t I know that I should do the dishes? Oh, and what about the recycling bin? It should go out to the collection bin before it overflows onto the kitchen floor, don’t you think? By the time you’re done with all that the cats should probably be fed.

I’d like to say I sprang into action and flew through those chores with the greatest of ease, but I really can’t. See, I’d just worked out. There was absolutely nothing “easy” about the way I was feeling. However, the laundry was already overdue, and the red flag on my assistant’s screen spurred me into action with a feeling of urgency akin to hearing the “Red Alert” klaxon in Star Trek. The laundry must be put away! The fate of the universe may hinge on it! Well, not really, but it’s funny the things geeks tell themselves mentally in order to spur motion when all they want is to relax at their desks.

I got up, headed through the kitchen to the laundry room, but was stopped by the small pile of dishes by the sink. That was on my assistant’s list, too, and here I am in front of it…I’ll just do it now! So I washed, dried, and put away the dishes. Then I cleaned the counters (widely acknowledged in this household as part of the “doing the dishes” chore, for multiple reasons –not the least of which being that when we don’t do that, we have ant invasions. Lost a battalion of cookies to them last week, it was a horrible tragedy). I finished with that and finally moved on to the laundry room, retrieving my laundry that had been patiently waiting in the dryer since Saturday evening (thank goodness I don’t treat my pets like I treat my clothes).

Clothes folded and put away, I returned the baskets to the laundry room, and started to leave the kitchen. This time, it wasn’t my personal assistant who reminded me of what intended action I had forgotten, but an insistant, “Meeerrroooww?” from the orange tabby who had been following me on my multiple trips through and to the kitchen, hoping that at any point I would stop and feed him. How he knew I was returning to my desk having forgotten to do so and that this was the perfect time to insist I do it NOW, I have no idea. Ziggy isn’t the smartest cat, but when it comes to food, he’s an Einstein (even if he seems to think that everything is some different kind of chicken). I looked at the clock –it was fifteen minutes to when they were technically supposed to get dinner, but I was in here NOW, and as sore as I was, I knew I wouldn’t want to come back in fifteen minutes to do something I could do now. So I fed the cats, washed the spoon I used, recycled the can, and THEN headed to my desk.

I sat down, happily pulled out my assistant, and began checking off the things I’d accomplished to avoid any further Red Alerts. However, when I finished, one thing was still staring me in the face.

“Blog –Due 3 Days Ago”

I stared at it, wondering how I’d missed that in the flurry of things going on, then dutifully opened up Word and began to type. Where would I be without my assistant? Well, not here, for one thing. This wouldn’t have been written. 😛 So here’s hoping that in the future, my assistant will help keep me on track and we won’t miss too many more blogs.

On that note, soon my new series, Inside Animal Emotions, will start being posted. I’m trying to get many of the posts written before I start the series so that they can be updated simply and cleanly on post days. Yes, this blog is still on a Friday schedule. No, that hasn’t changed. And no, I probably won’t stop being spastic any time soon. You’ll thank me for it later.

Note: My personal assistant consists of the Android Apps:

1. Alarm Clock Plus (for general “wake up” alarms as well as other random ones for specific things)

2. Tasks N Todos Pro (a widget on my home screen that syncs to my Google Tasks and allows me to easily check off chores and other items as they’re completed, as well as see the next upcoming 3 items on the task list)

3. KeepTrack Pro (a program that allows you to set up multiple yes/no questions as well as creating graphs from the data it collected so you can look at something and have a good idea of how long you’ve been consistant, among other things).