Memories of Ginko Biloba

eating right for your type book coverWhen you are 30-something and renting a room from an ex-girlfriend because her townhome is way closer to the client site than where you live and that ex is into the latest health trends you tend to adopt a few habits which stick with you. Oh no, not the physical exercise trends, more the what to eat and what supplements to take trends. Exercise, well, that’s a lot like work.

One of the first things she and another ex got me into was eating right for your type. I did a quick search and there seem to be dozens of spin-offs of this now. I’m pretty certain this particular book cover wasn’t the one we read. Yes, I heard all of the medical professionals emptying their colons on it. For a few years, possibly 4, I mostly followed the diet for my type. I had more energy and my allergies weren’t so bad. While I didn’t mind giving up pork in general, living in the Midwest and not eating bacon is simply un-American. There is no more traditional farm breakfast than bacon & eggs with shredded hash browns and toast.

While this isn’t a scientific study, my allergies did go back to being what they had been and my energy level dropped. Obviously, not enough to make me go back on that food plan, however, the next time I’m going to be way far away on a contract I might take it up again. Will need to snag a copy of the book though. The other major stumbling block was sausage pizza. There are fewer forms of torture more despised at The Hague than denying a person Monical’s thin crust sausage pizza. Even when I’m gone for a year I have to make at least one trip home for that. Every other pizza in every other state simply sucks and as a traveling consultant I’ve had most of it.

Having said all of that, I was somewhat gladdened when I discovered American Flatbread at Kroger. For a frozen pizza, the one with mushrooms is pretty good. Sadly, it costs about as much as getting a freshly prepared one from Monical’s. I bring it up because it makes the not eating pork thing a bit more bearable.

The other thing this ex got me into was taking Ginko Bilobo along with my daily Centrum vitamin. (The Centrum vitamin was all me.) This is something I kept up off and on until this week. By off and on I don’t mean I took months/years off. I mean I would run out and wait until I did my next major stock up grocery run to get more. So, never more than a month without it.

I had two main incentives starting that supplement:

  1. I had a grand parent going through Dementia.
  2. Since I was young I had a horrible time remembering people’s names, especially if I had to utter them aloud.

The name-brain-fart thing has been with me since before high school. I distinctly remember the yearbook signing at school and a girl wanted me to sign hers. Now, I need to set the stage here. There were 52 kids in my class. We had all been together since the fifth grade. Suffice it to say, we had more than met. I turned to a friend sitting beside me and asked “What’s her name?” and she heard me. She thought I was just being obnoxious, but it was that name-brain-fart-thing.

I have run into people I worked with at past client sites, sat and chatted with them, sometimes for hours. We talk about all of the trials and tribulations of the project and our favorite nicknames for some of our coworkers. At the end of it there is always someone with me who asks “Who was that?” and I have to respond “I honestly can’t tell you. Everything you heard is everything I know.”

Faces, voices and nicknames seem permanently etched in my brain. I can hear someone’s voice from 30 or more years ago and almost instantly know who they were to me and what we did together. What their name was almost always escapes me.

Don’t get me started with those tricks. Repeat their name back to them while shaking their hand. Rhyme their name in your head, etc. Been there, done that. Simply wasted my time.

So, after roughly two decades of taking Ginko Biloba from just about every major manufacturer I can share my experience. You might have guessed, that name issue is still there without improvement. I wrote this book:

The Minimum You Need to Know to Be an OpenVMS Application Developer

The Minimum You Need to Know to Be an Application Developer

because I noticed I was forgetting some of the deep, dark lore. I put every trick I could remember or had old notes on in there so I would have one place to look when I needed it. I guess that is why Dr. Dobb’s put it on their incredibly short list of books for all software developers no matter what platform they work on and why most OpenVMS developers keep a copy on their desk.

Most of my other geek books result from needing to have a single and reliable place to store all of the knowledge in case I forget. Thankfully others find them useful enough to purchase. Few people understand just how much goes into creating a properly edited and tested geek book. That big book was an unpaid year followed by many thousands of dollars of professional editing before it got anywhere near my funding an actual print run.

Yeah, I know. You’re used to the worthless shit Amazon sells. Unedited blog posts people hurled up there as an eBook hoping to sell millions. These geek books aren’t that.

Oh, I should probably explain the word “most.”

The above book came to life quite differently. I needed to use xBaseJ for a project I was doing in Java. This OpenSource project like most OpenSource projects had less than zero documentation, just a scant few bare minimum example programs. I had no alternative but to teach myself how to use the library so, I gathered all of my notes, wrote the book and contributed it back to the OpenSource project. Now when people pull that library down from, they at least have a good tutorial and some documentation.

No, this isn’t just a shameless plug for my geek books. Writing those was mostly recording things I already knew in a manner others would find pleasant to read. Other than the Ruminations chapter at the end of each book, there was no requirement for creativity. Well, no large requirement.

Recently I’ve been writing two different books. “Twenty of Two – The Infamous They” which has been dribbling out here in its unedited form as well as  “The Phallus of AGILE and Other Ruminations” which is a series of stories and essays along the lines of Edward Yourdon and others who came before me in the field. Both of these works require a significant amount of creativity.

I got back into “Twenty of Two” the last time I ran out of Ginko and the work seemed to flow from my fingers. Lately you may have noticed updates have not been coming. Two days ago I ran out of Ginko again. Yesterday words for both books flowed. I wrote somewhere between 2-5K words for the AGILE book (I didn’t write down the starting point, just kept going until I broke for lunch) then I wrote several thousand, well, more than 8 pages, for “Twenty of Two.” Even though I was tired when I woke up this morning and felt compelled to write this post, already a few more pages of material for “Twenty of Two” have appeared in the back of my mind.

After roughly two decades of taking Ginko Biloba made by all of the big names in supplements, my memory isn’t any better and my creativity obviously goes to shit when I’m on it. Just a few days off and my mind is back to racing with ideas like it did when I was young.

From now on I will avoid Ginko Biloba like the plague.




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