I love Hallowe’en.
Archive for October, 2008
Not surprisingly, a lot of flow tips I hear are related to driving. It makes perfect sense – driving is an activity almost always done in concert with others, and the stakes are high.
Let’s consolidate a few of these tips into a single post. Remember, flow is about everybody getting what they want. In the context of driving this usually means each driver arriving where hu is going, efficiently and intact:
Speed – Observe the speed of traffic and determine what speed you are going to hold in relationship to it. If highway traffic is going 80 and you’re only comfortable doing 65, stay to the right or center lanes to the extent that these lanes allow you to hold your chosen speed. Choosing a speed and holding it encourages concentration, and makes your vehicle more predictable to others. Conversely, if traffic is going 60, trying to go 80 is a danger to yourself and others. Nothing gives you the right to put the unconsenting in harm’s way.
Passing – Regardless of your chosen speed, the passing lane is for passing cars, not time. Pass quickly and decisively, then get the hell out of the left lane. People who camp in the left lane because it’s more convenient (on account of not having to deal with merging traffic) are selfish assholes. For those who say, “If I’m in the left lane doing 75 in a 65, that’s plenty fast for anyone,” feel free to fuck right off. You’re not a cop and we’re not your responsibility. If you still feel compelled to inflict this duty, bear in mind that you’re breaking the law doing it, which is fine if you’re willing to deal with the consequences, but odd if you are misguidedly encouraging others to obey it.
Merging – If you’re in the lane that merging traffic is trying to merge into, try to get out of it. If you can’t get out of the lane, hold your speed. The person merging into traffic is responsible for adjusting hus speed to find an opening. If you’re the one merging, for the love of God, don’t stop in the acceleration lane unless it’s absolutely necessary. You’ll have a hugely easier time merging into traffic if you’re going approximately the same speed as everyone else, and you won’t crap up those behind you.
Right of Way – Promoting flow does not necessarily mean being nice. Right of way promotes flow in that it gives everyone a common set of rules to know who gets to go first. I witnessed an ugly accident a couple of years ago caused by someone being nice (breaking with the right of way to do so). Yes, the person who took the invitation was ultimately responsible, but the “nice” person who waved him through created the situation and drove away moments later unscathed.
Obviously, letting someone in when traffic is crawling out of a stadium at one mile per hour is different. Otherwise, please learn the right of way rules (especially for less frequent stuff like four-way stops) and stick to them. Apparently they do this quaint little thing in Boston where oncoming traffic yields to the first person in line to turn left at a common green. That just makes me not want to go to Boston.
Awareness – Get in the habit of taking frequent “snapshots” of the traffic behind and beside you, even when you are not contemplating changing anything. Ideally, in an emergency situation you should be able to change lanes and/or brake hard without first having to look around.
Intersections – This one is pure flow. On roads with which you are familiar, identify intersections that do not have dedicated right-turn lanes, but get a lot of traffic wanting to turn right. If you’re going straight, stay out of the right lane so as to keep it free for those turning right on red. It costs you virtually nothing, while potentially allowing several people to get where they’re going that much quicker.
I frequently use the gender-neutral pronoun “hu” on this blog, and in regular speech and correspondence. The word’s creator is an old friend of mine and (in all its simplicity) I set up hupronoun.org for him. Periodically I scan the site’s web logs to look at the volume of traffic, and see what search strings people use to find the site. One unfortunate (but hilarious) discovery I made is that people find the site because they search on “pron” instead of “porn”. In some cases it might actually be an innocent typo, but “pron” (“pr0n”, actually) is Leetspeak for “pornography”, and was conceived to circumvent content filters (previously).
FTW, here are some of my recent favorite search strings from hupronoun.org:
- female pron
- gymnastics pron
- beautiful pron
- to young for pron
- flexible pron
- folk pron
- older women pron
- pron jobs for male
I scan my own web logs, too, because I find it fascinating to learn how people found me, and to speculate on what they actually were looking for. It’s also interesting to view in aggregate the span of subject matter I’ve covered over the years. Some of my favorite search strings from the last year:
- perfect shower temperature
- sociopath carnegie win friends and influence people
- how to handle post-consumption tampons
- cloaca (a surprising number of hits)
- how much does a 150-pound person weigh under the metric system
- midget porn
Happy memories all.
This was waiting for me when I got to the salt mines this morning:
I hate being predictable…
Okay, so I’m going to get this out of my system in one throw. While I have no intention of turning this blog into an Andy Rooney-esque, pedantic rant about word misuse, I nevertheless have bile to purge:
“Disinterested” means “a neutral party.” It’s a legal term and, like many legal terms, it sounds fancy, so those putting on airs seem drawn to it like a Senator to an airport lavatory. “Uninterested” by comparison, means, um, not interested. As in, “I am uninterested in watching the video of your colonoscopy, Bob.”
“Presently” means “in the immediate future,” as in, “Lady Funbody will be down presently, sir. May I take your hat?” It does not mean “now”, as in, “Thank you, but it’s presently covering my erection.”
“Actionable”. Another legal term. It means “affording grounds for legal action.” This one pains me particularly, since it has been assimilated into corporate-speak (meaning that I have to listen to it every day) and twisted to mean “realistic to execute,” as in, “Our strategy to enhance shareholder value has actionable objectives.” If you worked for Enron then it’s applicable. Otherwise, just stop.
“Begging the question”. This term describes a specific logical fallacy (in Latin, petitio principii). Unless you’re using it in that context, just say “inviting the question” instead. I recommend practicing this in front a mirror, reinforced with head slaps, for as long as necessary.
“Imply” versus “infer”. To imply is to suggest indirectly. To infer is to form a conclusion. However, the transposition of these terms is frequently hilarious, so feel free to continue.
“Literally”. Come on. We all know what “literally” means. So when you say, “I was literally slaughtered in that meeting,” I can only infer (see what I did there?) that you are a tease.
To respond preemptively to the useless argument that language evolves, and therefore if the majority of a given population uses a word in a particular way then that usage becomes correct – stop. You fail. Language does and should evolve. We require new words to describe new concepts and things. Trotting out this argument to excuse plain ignorance, however, is pure postmodern laziness, and people who do so should be bred for food.
Here’s a dandy little scheme to make the world a better place, you sons of bitches:
When trying to reach someone at multiple numbers (work, home, cell), only leave a message on the last number you try. Think about it, it wastes the least time of both parties involved, and gets the job done just fine.
My brain hurts a little when I get a message along the lines of:
Hi, it’s Bob. I wanted to blah blah blah blahdeblah blah blah. I’m going to try you on your cell.”
WTF, Bob? If you actually get me on my cell, then you will have blown 90 seconds of your time leaving a message, and 90 seconds of my time retrieving it. And for what? I have no idea where your sombrero is.
Hi, it’s Bob. My time is apparently worthless, and yours is an externality, so I’ll be leaving duplicates of this message on each of your numbers. Okay, bye.
I recently wrote a post on flow – when interacting with other people, making a conscious effort to make things flow better for everyone. While individual instances of flow-promoting or flow-impeding behavior may seem trivial, in aggregate they can have a powerful effect on one’s day. As the title of this post suggests, I intend to make this a series. Got a flow tip? Send it in and, providing it doesn’t suck, I will shamelessly steal and publish it as my own.
I wonder if opening a checking account with them increases future risk of heavier forms of investing…
Stay classy, Slashdotters.