Plus It’ll Heighten The Effect When The “Bad” Isn’t So Bad, And The “Good” Isn’t So Good

March 17, 2023

This is an odd one, but bear with me.

Recently I started working on a proof of concept for a story idea I had. (Because in many ways being a writer is like being an alcoholic, even when you say you’re done you’re never that far from your next one.) To greatly oversimplify it, it’s a sort of dual timelines story that follows what happens (good and bad) after a critical event that could easily have gone either way. (Just take my word for it that’s it’s more original sounding in practice.)

Yesterday I showed this proof to L’s Mother, and she got a little sad because I started with the “good” timeline (“Good . . . bad . . . time will tell.”), so she found the “bad” timeline especially depressing.

This reminded me of when I read that the original design for Civilization II had “Dark Ages” where the game became significantly harder for a time, but play testers found that unsatisfying; so they retooled the idea into “Golden Ages” where things got easier for a time. Essentially the same basic effect on gameplay, but one approach was simply more enjoyable.

So that’s why the “bad” timeline now comes first.

Confidence It Is Then

March 16, 2023

Whenever I’m told, “Nothing is going to go wrong,” I always wonder if that’s delusion or confidence talking.

Only once have I had it clarified with the additional phrase of, “but if something does go wrong, I’ll make it right.”

And I Still Don’t Know

March 15, 2023

Yesterday Mom told me that she’d been instructed to not pick up anything over five pounds for a couple of weeks while she heals. “That’s like a cup of coffee,” she grumbled.

“What kind of coffee are you drinking, Mom?!” I just had to ask.

It Really Should Be Uncommon Courtesy At Worst, Not RARE!

March 14, 2023

Legends to the contrary aside, “common” courtesy has never really been that common, but even so I find it disheartening when a simple gesture is met with amazement.

Case in point, recently I had rented a storage facility for a few months, and when I was done with it, I walked into the facility’s office and said, “Okay, I think I’m done. The unit is empty, has been swept, and the lock is off and in my car. Do I need to do anything else?”

There was a moment of stunned silence before the manager responded, “Oh, you absolute diamond!”

Now I’m Dizzy, Thanks!

March 13, 2023

My friend: Okay, so you know how the Earth is rotating at a high rate of speed, and that means we are all moving along with it. Then factor in how the Earth is orbiting the Sun at an even higher rate of speed, and that we’re also moving at that speed along with it at the same time. Now keep in mind that our solar system is rotating along with our galaxy at an even higher rate of speed, and even if we stop there that leaves of us moving at high speeds in three different directions at once even when we’re sitting still . . . but it’s probably not a good idea to tune into that concept.

Me: *promptly tunes into that concept*

Minding Language (Part Three)

March 10, 2023

I owe this insight (as I do many others) to L’s Mother.

I had marked a particular date on the house calendar with a red “X” so there was no ambiguity, and the next time I looked it had been changed to a green checkmark.

“Why?” I asked her.

“It seemed overly negative to me,” she replied.

“It’s a deadline,” I retorted. Privately I was thinking, “And it was just an X to mark the spot, and it was red so it was visible! How is that negative?”

She smiled slightly. “It’s a checkpoint, not a deadline.”

Suddenly my irritation at the “pointless” change faded as I saw her point. Any grade-schooler in this and many other countries can tell you that a red “X” isn’t a good thing to see on your paper, and upon reflection I realized that at the time I did mean it as a negative. I meant it as, “past this point things get bad,” and that was a way to look at it.

It just wasn’t the best and most correct way.

Minding Language (Part Two)

March 9, 2023

So put bluntly, I’ve always been a “consequences” kind of guy in the “actions have consequences” sense. I never saw this as a negative, per se, just a fact of life to be aware of, but let’s be honest. Can you think of one instance when the word “consequences” made you feel all warm and fuzzy inside?

If you can, good for you, but I can’t. Now that I’m thinking about it, the image the word brings up for me is someone angrily snarling, “CONSEQUENCES!” Now if that’s the meaning you’re trying to convey, then “consequences” is the correct word. Personally though, when I’m speaking in a more neutral sense, I’ve decided to use the word “results” from now on.

I’ve already found that this has the same essential meaning and also stresses me out less.

Minding Language (Part One)

March 8, 2023

I’ve referenced the importance of language enough times before that I don’t feel the need to include any links here; suffice it to say that your word choice conveys huge amounts of meaning to what you’re saying. (Okay, one link because it’s fun.) Sometimes this is obvious (e.g., the difference between sincerely calling someone “revered elder” as opposed to calling them an “old fart”), and sometimes it’s complicated by the differing points of view of both the speaker and the listener (e.g., “It’s nice to meet you, sir,” can be intended as showing respect, and interpreted as a crushing reminder that one is no longer young).

(No, I’ve never personally experienced that particular crushing reminder because I’ve never denied my age; I’ve only denied that it mattered . . . provided that the other person’s age likewise doesn’t matter. If you’re confused by this concept, please consult your local constabulary.)

In Fact, I Use It More Today Than I Did In College

March 7, 2023

Please allow me to introduce myself; I’m Switzerland.

– A phrase I picked up in college and that I still use today

Just Something To Keep In Mind

March 6, 2023

Just because you can already hear the laugh track in your head as you’re getting ready to say your line, before you say the line out loud, do keep in mind how cruel audience laughter can be. They may be laughing because you are about to make a horrible mistake!