Welcome to the beginning of flu season

What does flu season [1]In North America; your continent may vary. have to do with the web?

The beginning of flu season coincides with “It’s probably nothing, I’m fine, I’ll just work through it” season in offices all over America. And y’all, we’ve got to knock that shit off.

Let me say this nice and loudly for the people in the back:

Get your flu shot now.

Stay home if you are sick.

When you catch the flu, on average, you will infect four other people. (That ranks it as more contagious than Ebola, but thankfully less contagious than the Measles.)

Influenza is contagious in the air for a distance of roughly six feet according to contagion information by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and may be spread on surfaces as well. In a conference room, one uncovered sneeze is probably exposing half the meeting participants [2]If you can’t sneeze into a tissue, cover your cough or sneeze with the inside of your elbow..

If you work in an open office, you’re twice as likely to spread the flu (or twice as likely to get sick) than if you work in a closed office or at home.

When you catch the flu, you become contagious one day before you show symptoms, and continue to spread the disease for 5-7 days after you show symptoms.

If you work at a medium to large office, and you’re contagious, you are almost certainly going to expose someone who’s at high risk of complications from a case of the flu. Just like you probably can’t spot the 10% of the population who have an invisible disability, you probably can’t spot the people in your office who will be most impacted by the flu. They include people with asthma, lung disease, diabetes, neurological conditions, heart, kidney, or liver problems…. none of which you can see by looking around the office.

Let’s say you spread the flu to someone like me. I have fibromyalgia. I’m not at higher risk of life-threatening complications, but my brain fog will probably be worse and it will take longer for me to recover.

My husband has Cystic Fibrosis. The chances are really good I’ll spread the flu to him. Whereas I’ll just feel like crap, his influenza infection will likely lead to bronchitis or possibly pneumonia, will allow the already-present infections in his lungs to build strength (because his immune system will be busy with the flu) and his lungs will be damaged, potentially permanently.  When my husband had the flu as a child, he permanently lost 10% of his lung function.

People like us are everywhere; we both work full-time in open offices. You don’t want the flu, you don’t want flu complications, and you don’t want to be responsible for other people getting flu complications.

Get your flu shot now.

The best way to protect yourself from getting the flu is to get a flu shot[3]Assuming you are healthy enough to get a flu shot and you’re not allergic to it..

If you can’t get the flu shot, then your best way to protect yourself is wash your hands, stay away from sick people, manage your stress, get healthy exercise and sleep, and tell everyone you know to get their flu shot.

Vaccines work, and herd immunity is real. (This comic by Maki Naro explains everything you need to know about vaccines and how they keep you safe.)

You may be wondering, “but isn’t it a little early? It’s only September.” Well, sure, but you want to get the vaccine before the flu hits your neighborhood, not after. The CDC says:

You should get a flu vaccine before flu viruses begins spreading in your community, since it takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against flu. Make plans to get vaccinated early in fall, before flu season begins. CDC recommends that people get a flu vaccine by the end of October, if possible. Getting vaccinated later, however, can still be beneficial and vaccination should continue to be offered throughout the flu season, even into January or later.

If you get the flu shot as early as July, you do risk it “wearing off” by February at the tail end of flu season. However, studies have shown that only a few populations actually benefit from a second shot — and those are generally children under 8 and people who’ve received organ transplants. So you can check with your doctor but that second flu shot probably won’t be of any benefit.

Stay home if you are sick.

If you do come down with the flu — or for that matter, any of the other infections that peak in the winter — please, stay home.

  • This means you.
  • Yes, you.
  • Nobody wants sick people in the office.
    • Not even the ones who are inconvenienced because you’re sick
    • Even if they’re bitching about you being sick
    • Especially not the ones who will get sicker than you got
  • You heal faster when you rest so you’ll hit that deadline you’re worried about faster if you stay home, get well, then go back then if you try to work through it. Brain fog is a real symptom of the flu.
  • It’s your company’s job to have enough staff to take care of things when the flu’s going around, not your responsibility to work because they’re unprepared.
  • You are not lazy, horrible, or a bad person when you stay home to get well.
    • No, seriously, you’re not.
    • The flu also makes mental health conditions like anxiety or depression worse, so if you’re thinking “no really I’m horrible, I should try to work through it” that’s a symptom of the flu. Ignore it.

And yes, I know that despite the fact that we live and work in the 21st century, some employers (especially in the United States) are too stubborn, micro-managing, or stupid to let you work from home. In fact, some have absolutely draconian leave policies, or no sick days at all. These are all reasons to vote and support unions and human-centered economic policies, but that’s another rant for another day and won’t get us through the 2019 flu season unless y’all are much faster at organizing Labor movements than I could possibly be.

So to sum up one more time:

Get your flu shot now.

Stay home if you are sick.

Have a happy and healthy winter season!


1 In North America; your continent may vary.
2 If you can’t sneeze into a tissue, cover your cough or sneeze with the inside of your elbow.
3 Assuming you are healthy enough to get a flu shot and you’re not allergic to it.


Came across this a few days ago:

[The description is in the paragraph below the video]

This is a website’s credit card and CVV code fields. They are coded as number fields, which, ok, I mean credit card numbers are numbers…. but because they’re coded as number fields with no kinds of constraints on them, you can use your mouse / touchpad / finger to scroll up or down including negative numbers.

And while it may be conceivable to scroll up to a 3 digit CVV number if you have 5 minutes to kill, even people with the most severe physical disabilities will find it faster to enter a credit card number using their keyboard analogue than it will be to scroll up to the sixteen digit number that is their credit card number.

It’s not necessarily a big deal if you’re using a standard mouse  because it takes an extra motion to use the scroll wheel. On the other hand, if you’re using a touchpad and your palm accidentally brushes against it, you could end up ticking the number up or down without realizing it. And don’t get me started on Apple’s Magic Mouse.

Here’s another example:

A dialog that indicates a security code has been sent, which provides the user the ability to dial up to the security code number using the up and down arrows. Like someone wants to do that with an eight digit number.
Lest one think this is an isolated event

Number fields are for numbers, but in a very real sense, credit card numbers, CVV codes, and security codes aren’t numbers, they’re a meaningful string of digits similar to a password. It’s a subtle difference, but one that’s really recognizable as soon as the interface allows you to scroll down to -146 as your credit card number.

So when you’re coding a number field, please, ask yourself: is this really a number? Or is it a thing that just happens to use numerical digits to identify itself? If it’s the latter, strongly consider not using the number field.