Archive for May, 2006


I’m being mildly productive today which is a nice change of pace from my complete lack of productivity yesterday. In honor of Mexico defeating the French at Puebla in 1862, I’ve made a banana pudding and I’m off to eat it with some grilled meat this evening. The Mexico bit moreso enters with the dozen lemons and limes that will accompany a bunch of tequila into my belly with the pudding and meat.

I”ve been trying to find a reference to a study I remember seeing in the TEX documentation which covered reader comprehension as a function of line length. It tried to support with science the old newspapermen’s addage that lines should not be more than 10-15 words. It is supposedly why newspapers and TEX documents are frequently columnated. It made the case that people process information by lines as they are reading and if the line is too long the brain gets confused trying to hold the whole thing. All they did was give people reading selections columnated to different lengths and compared their comprehension. I can’t find the study, but I did find some interesting figures from Colin Wheildon’s Type & Layout:

  • Switching from full justified text to ragged right drops the percentage of readers with good comprehension of the contents from 67% to 38%
  • Switching from serif to sans serif body type drops good comprehension from 67% to 12%
  • Any text color but black drastically reduces comprehension — to 51% for a dark color, 29% for a medium color, and 10% for a bright color
  • Black text on colored tints of 10% or less works fine. On darker tints, comprehension drops rapidly

“A computer lets you make more mistakes faster than any invention in human history — with the possible exceptions of handguns and tequila.”

– Mitch Radcliffe

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The lesson for today, boys and girls, is about women and why not to irritate them…

Our story begins a week ago when Leah from Senegal was in town. Leah and I had a brief series of trysts back during my Africa days which were only really remarkable in the damage they did to my psyche in ending. I’ve received some abuse from women during my times, but generally no more than I’ve deserved. This was the first time that I’d been pretty much unabashedly nice to a person and had them treat me poorly. After failing to find my solace in heavy drinking, running dope and getting put in jail, I generally came to terms with the whole ordeal and went on my way a bit more jaded, but not permanently damaged.

I wasn’t trying to avoid her, but when I found out that Audrey was having a dinner party and that I would get to play adult, I was a bit relieved. Well, dinner was lovely and I really enjoyed sitting around discovering that my friends are not only fun, but smart to boot. It’s difficult to actually talk to people when hanging out in a bar (or hammered), so our conversations ranging from childhood anecdotes to politics to development to entertainment was a refreshing change.

Round about 1am I started getting messages from Marc and Kathleen prompting me to come take part in their more licentious festivities. Marc somehow thought that emphasizing Leah’s stunning condition would prompt me to make an appearance. After the fourth message going on at length about her hotness I responded inquiring as to how her amazing attractiveness was going to cheer me any. Perhaps if she’d grown obscenely obese or gotten knocked up, this I’d want to see. Hot though? This is no reason to celebrate.

More importantly as he went on about her hotness I realized that I felt quite the opposite. I didn’t feel especially pretty either physically, mentally or emotionally. It was in this moment of realization that I resolved to be a grown-up and do something about it.

I mean, I’m employed and reasonably well paid. I’ve put on seven or eight pounds since returning to the States, but I’ve hardly ballooned out of control. I’ve been staying up too late, but I’ve generally been making it to work before noon and I almost never fall asleep at my desk. That is to say, I’m not a wreck, I’m just not what I feel I could be.

So, self-improvement… I figured I’d start out reasonably and started listing potential activities. Here’s what I came up with:

  • Meditate 20min/day
  • 3 sets of 25 curls @ 30lbs
  • In bed by 11pm on weeknights
  • No alcohol
  • No processed sugar
  • Arrive at MPP by 9am and leave by 6:30pm
  • 200 sit-ups and 50 push-ups 3 times/week
  • No eating out
  • Only fruits and vegetables for snacks
  • No profanity
  • No masturbation
  • Journal 3 times/week

Now discipline is easy to break without either a strong constitution (which I am trying to develop) or some outside consequences. Since I’ve not got the constitution down I decided to recruit some consequences. My consequences are named McKenzie who took the list and picked the three she would most like to see me do and, just to entertain me, the three she
thought I’d probably pick. For mine she added a new one:

  • No computer outside of work

That is mostly just because I have a tendency to start screwing around on the computer and not get off until I pass out on the keyboard around 3am.

Anyhow, from those, I ended up with:

  • Meditate 20min/day
  • Arrive at MPP by 9am and leave by 6:30pm
  • 200 sit-ups and 50 push-ups 3 times/week

Any failure to be disciplined would require a penance. The penance will be decided by McKenzie and there are three criteria:

  1. It can’t go against my moral code. Given how loose my moral code is, this pretty much bars most murders and selling children on the black market (unless they’re really annoying)
  2. It can’t cost more that $20
  3. It can’t require more than an hour of time

Herein lies our lesson on a woman irritated. At the end of week one I’ve had three failings. Twice I stayed out too late and missed the sitting. My attempt to do push-ups was successful, but left me unable to lift my arms higher than my shoulders for three days. So McK had some leverage. This is something I likely should have considered before taunting her about not letting her read my friends only entries.

My old penance? Buy a chocolate bar and pay her the remaining $19 for the privilege of orally pleasuring her while feeding it to her. The revised penance? Wearing a “subtle layer of make-up” and fire engine red nail polish to my weekly 15¢ wings and pool night with the gang from the RIM. Dammit all.

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