Serving Sizes are Silly

I’ve been paying close attention to the serving sizes listed on food packaging. This started because I stepped on the scale and found that I had reached my peak weight. I was skinny until I turned 40. Since then, my weight has been steadily creeping upward. When the scale read 184 pounds, I decided enough was enough. I started working out again. Kelly pointed out that better nutrition would help more, and she is almost always right about these things. So I’ve been paying attention to serving sizes.

I’ve decided that serving sizes are patently ridiculous. Does anyone actually follow these recommendation? If so, how? Half the time the serving sizes are listed in fractions of a cup, or in tablespoons. Sometimes a serving size is listed in ounces. Do you measure these out each time you prepare your food?

I like a good peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch. So I looked at the serving size for bread. It turns out, for the bread we buy, the serving size is one slice. Forget that a sandwich usually consists of two slices of bread.

Serving size of bread

The serving size for peanut butter is two tablespoons, which works well with one slice of bread, since two tablespoons wouldn’t cover two slices. The serving size for jelly is half an ounce. Why is the serving size for peanut butter measure in tablespoons, and the serving size for jelly measured in ounces? If I made a peanut butter and jelly sandwich based on these serving sizes, I’d have a slice of bread with a thin skim of peanut butter covered by half an ounce of jelly—whatever that is. I wouldn’t be able to put it in a sandwich bag without making a mess.

Who determines the serving size? Does each manufacturer have a nutritionist who carefully evaluates the ingredients in the product and comes up with the serving size? You would think that bigger serving sizes would be in the interest of the manufacturer; they would sell more products that way. But that doesn’t seem to be the case. I checked the pantry for serving sizes of thing that were in there. Here is some of what I found:

  • Honey Nut Cheerios: 3/4 cup. How are you supposed to measure this? Do you eyeball it in a cup? Or do you fill a half cup and quarter cup and dump them into the bowl? That’s too much effort for me.
  • Nilla Wafers: 8 wafers. Will I go to nutrition jail if I accidentally count out 9?
  • Red Roasted Pepper soup: 1 cup
  • Penne pasta: 2 oz., or about 1/6th of a box. Neither of these measurements are helpful.
  • One tomato: unknown. There is no serving size information that I could find on the tomato in my refrigerator.
One tomato
What is the serving size of a tomato?

It seems to me that the best way to make serving sizes work is to make them convenient. Package the food in serving sizes, this way, I don’t have to take the time to measure it out myself. And for goodness sake, make the serving sizes rational. No one I know eats a sandwich with just one piece of bread.

Too Many Awards

It is award season somewhere. I was reminded that the Nebula Awards are open for nominations. Writers are encouraged to post a list of their award-eligible works so that others know what they can be nominated for. I prefer not to do this.

I was the Nebula Award Commissioner for the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America several years ago, and the experience turned me off to awards. To be fair, I was lukewarm to awards to begin with. What turned me off was the overt campaigning that took place—and the effect that the campaigning had on the results. Campaigning happens, of course, and there is no rule that I am aware of that dissuades this practice, but it isn’t something that sits well with me.

My own take—and I apply this standard only to myself—is that if my writing isn’t good enough to gain the attention of readers without my having to remind them of it during award season, then my work isn’t worth a nomination. I need to write a better, more memorable story next time.

I’ve received two awards in my life. One was an “Outstanding Achievement” award from the Granada Hills Chamber of Commerce. I was in sixth grade. I’m not sure for what specific achievement I’d been outstanding, and I am even less certain how the Granada Hills Chamber of Commerce found about it. The award confused me more than it pleased me.

Eighteen years later, in 2002, I was a recipient of my company’s “President’s Award.” It is among the highest awards offered by the company, and I was absolutely stunned when I found out. I was also very pleased. It seems to me, however, that too many awards would go to my head, and it is probably a good thing that I’ve only received two so far.

Many awards seem like popularity contests to me. They remind me of baseball’s All-Star Game. In baseball there are methodologically sound ways of constructing two opposing teams of the best players using performance statistics. However, the word “Star” in “All-Star” implies popularity, not performance.

Unlike baseball, there are no objective measurements of “best” for art. “Best” is in the eye of the beholder. When people don’t agree that award winners are the best, they go create their own subjective awards, which leads to the proliferation of awards we have today.

Awards should be hard to get. When I see people campaigning for an award, whether it is a Nebula, the baseball All-Stars, or the Oscars, I’m reminded of a child begging his parents for a toy he really wants. If the parents give in just because the child wants the toy, it cheapen the toy somehow. If, on the other hand, the child works hard, and earns the toy, it is the best thing ever.

I wish more awards were like that.

Map Reading is a Dying Art

In a little over a week we’ll start our annual drive down to Florida for the holidays. This will be our fifth year driving to Florida, and I look forward to it every year. Around this time, I pull out a roadmap and study it to familiarize myself with the places we will pass through or around. For the last two years, I have used my Essential Geography of the United States of America map for this purpose.

As I pour over the map, I always think the same thing: wouldn’t it be nice if this year, instead of depending upon the GPS, I brought along a good set of roadmaps, and made the drive using good old-fashioned pilotage? As soon as I think of it, I am swept up by the romance of the idea—but it never happens. The technology contained in our car and our phones makes it too easy to farm out the navigation to the computers.

The GPS in our car, today, makes navigation effortless. We don’t even have to push any buttons. We can speak to it. It not only gives us route information, and tells us when we need to change course, but it incorporates realtime traffic into the mix, will route us around delays, will give us updates on our estimated time of arrival. The GPS will even tell us where gas stations and restaurants are located and direct us to them. And, of course, if we get lost, or detour, the GPS will route us back on course.

Modern navigation systems in our cars have the advantage of freeing up a portion of our mind when we drive. Still, I miss the romance of road maps. I remember driving from New York to Maine for the first time, many years ago. My grandfather was going with me. I bought a map of New England from a gas station, and spent the evening carefully plotting our course. I calculated our travel time, factoring in stops, and came up with an estimated time of arrival. It took me more than an hour. But, it turned out, we arrived within 10 minutes of my estimate.

GPS limits your field of vision on the map. You can’t see beyond the edge of the screen, and so you might not know that there are interesting places to visit beyond those borders. What’s worse is the technology has dumbed down my knowledge of the area I live in. I don’t take spontaneous shortcuts the way I used to because I’m not familiar with the roads. I don’t study maps because the GPS handle that for me.

The thrill to pilotage is the achievement of using a map to get you to where you are going. But it is a lost art. And as cars get smarter, I imagine that piloting will become as lost an art as pilotage.

So Long, FitBit

On Sunday, I decided I no longer needed my FitBit. The decision has nothing to do with the quality of the product. I have been mostly happy with the three FitBit devices I’ve used since early 2012. My only complaint about the product is the weak bands that came with the FitBit Flex. It seemed I had to replace those bands more often than I should have over the course of the 3+ years I used the device.

I started using a FitBit not long after reading Stephen Wolfram’s essay on “The Personal Analytics of My Life” back on March 8, 2012. It is possible I went out and bought my first FitBit device that same day. I wrote about personal analytics a few days later. I was fascinated by what information and insights could be gained out of simple things like steps counts. That data has served me well.

I have two reasons for saying goodbye to my FitBit:

1. I have learned as much as I can from five years of step data. That isn’t to say that there aren’t insights I could gain by continued use, but they are diminishing returns in terms of usefulness and impact on my daily life. I know how much I walk in a day; I know how many flights of stairs I tend to climb; I have an idea of my resting heart rate. What more I could learn doesn’t seem as potentially useful as things I have already learned.

2. I no longer need the training wheels. I have changed my habits accordingly. I wasn’t much of a walker when I first got my FitBit. In the five years since, I have put close to 17 million steps—close to 8,000 miles. My habits have solidified. I walked every day, sometimes more than once a day. I no longer need a device to encourage my walking. Moreover, I no longer need the data the device provides to prove to myself that I am walking.

This insight was similar to the one that struck me when I finally ended my 825-consecutive-day writing streak. Over the course of those 825 days, I’d taught myself how to write every day, even when I didn’t feel like writing, even when the circumstances of the day acted against me. I no longer needed the streak to do the writing. I’d learned everything I needed to learn.

The thing I will miss is the silent alarm my FitBit provided. But it was nice to wake up this morning with the decision firmly in my mind, and take off my FitBit, knowing that it had served its purpose well.

Reprint Request Policy

I sometimes get requests to reprint a post that I have written on my blog. Here is my reprint request policy.

1. If you would like to reprint a post I have written, and are not prepared to pay for the reprint, the answer is no. While, I have done this a few times in the past, I no longer grant reprint requests “for exposure.”

2. If you would still like to reprint a post I have written, you can reach out to me at jamie [at] Let me where you’d like to reprint the post, and we can work out a reasonable reprint rate. I am not looking to get rich selling reprints. But as a freelance writer, I expect to be paid for my writing.

Dreaming You Missed Your Final Exam

Not long ago, I had one of those dreams where I was back in college, and, having enrolled in a class, suddenly realized that the final exam day had arrived, and I’d failed to attend any of the lecture, or do any of the homework. You know the dream. It is, it seems, a very common one. I used to have this dream much more often in the years immediately after graduating from college. I never had the dream before, or during college.

It seems amazing to me that the brain has evolved in such a way that lots and lots of people have very similar versions of this dream, and it got me thinking: what did people dream about a few generations back when going to college wasn’t as common as it is today? Then, too, not everyone goes to college today, either by choice or circumstance. Do these people have similar dreams? Did Abraham Lincoln have these types of dreams? Did Da Vinci?

Along the same lines, I occasionally have a dream where I find myself at the airport, taking a plane up for some reason or another. It has been a long time since I have flown, but I manage to get the plane up in the air and safely on its way, before realizing with sudden horror, that I neglected to contact air traffic control.

I sometimes dream of getting into an elevator, which then gets stuck, either very high up in a building, or somewhere deep in the basement.

Much more rare, is the dream I have where I’ve somehow managed to lose a tooth or two. Has this dream always plagued people? I’ll bet George Washington had this dream quite often.

Before airplanes and elevators existed, how did these dreams manifest themselves?

On the whole, I don’t recall my dreams as much as I used to. It seems to me that when I turned 40, my recall of dreams plummeted. There were long periods of time—months at a stretch—when I couldn’t recall a single dream. Recently, I’ve been going through a patch of very vivid dreams.

If I had the choice, I’d choose to sleep without remembering any of my dreams at all. Sleep, for me, is a time to recuperate from the day. I generally fall asleep quickly, and I’d prefer my sleep to be sound, and interrupted by movies playing in my head, especially ones that raise my anxiety level. I have enough anxiety during my waking hours. I don’t need it when I sleep.

Dreams may serve some biological purpose, like aiding in the transfer of short-term memory to long-term storage, but I think they cause more trouble than they are worse. My kids occasionally worry at bedtime that they will have a bad dream. “No you won’t,” I tell them, but I really don’t know that for sure, and I have no way of controlling their dreams, and assuring they won’t have bad ones.

Philip K. Dick asked if androids dreamed of electric sheep. Even that would be preferable to dreaming that you were complete unprepared for your final exam.

Things I Start But Never Finish

I attribute half of the stress I carry on my shoulders to things that I start but never finish. Knowing that I have lots of unfinished things weighs heavily on me. Being unable to finish something bothers me more than being unable to start something.

I thought I’d list some of the things I can never seem to finish here so that you know what I am talking about.

1. Growing a beard. A couple of time a years I get the idea to start growing a beard, only to give up around the two-week mark. Once, I made it three weeks. At three weeks, I stepped into the shower certain I had finally made it over the hump. When I stepped out of the shower, I was clean-shaven. Go figure.

2. Cleaning my desk. I start to clean my desk at least once a week. By “clean” I mean moving something from this side of the desk to that side. Or perhaps, getting rid of a few of the drink containers that have accumulated.  It seems like each time I come back to my desk, it is still cluttered. What’s that old saw: “If a cluttered desk is the sign of a cluttered mind, what’s the sign of an empty desk?”

3. Clever comments on Facebook and Twitter. I am the wittiest person on social media, and no one knows it. That’s because I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve started typing in a clever reply to something I saw on Facebook or Twitter, only to stop before clicking the “Post” button. Usually, whatever I’ve decided to write is extraordinarily clever, but I hear myself saying, “You don’t need to prove how clever you are,” and I delete it before posting it. You’re welcome.

4. Cujo by Stephen King. I am a Stephen King fan, as anyone who reads this blog regularly almost certainly knows. But the one book I’ve started, and never been able to finish is Cujo. I just can’t get into it. Once a year, I give it a try, and once a year, I give up after 80 pages or so.

5. Angry email messages. A few times a year I will write a scathing email message, and then not send it. It is supposed to make me feel better, but it rarely works. What was far more effective for me, back in the days before everyone had email, was to write an angry letter, fold the letter into an envelope, and stick a stamp on it. Then I’d shred the letter, envelope, stamp and all. Back then a stamp cost 34 cents. Best money I’ve ever spent on therapy.

6. Mid-season baseball games. When April rolls around, I get so excited about the upcoming baseball season I can barely contain myself. I squeeze in as many baseball games on television as time will permit. But then, there is a lull that lasts for about 100 games. Mid-season, I’ll put on a game that seems like it will be interesting, but I rarely make it past the 4th inning.

7. My Vacation in the Golden Age. I started writing my Vacation in the Golden Age posts in 2011, I think. I completed 40 issues, and then paused for more than four years. I couldn’t finish the 41st issue. I finally finished it, not to long ago, and tried to resume my Vacation. I started reading the 42nd issue—and I haven’t been able to finish that one either.

8. My to-do list. More often than not, I don’t get through everything that’s on my to-do list on a given day. This has become striking more apparent since I started using Todoist. I start each day with the intention of completing everything on the list, and end it with items staring back at me, unfinished. They get moved to the next day, and the cycle repeats itself.

9. Revisions to old stories. I’ve got half a dozen old stories for which I wrote a first draft, but never finished a second draft. I started the second draft, but I lost enthusiasm and set the story aside. I assume this means that the story is no-good, or that I am not yet skilled enough as a writer to handle it properly. Still, it irks me to have those unfinished drafts hanging around, reminding me that even with something I enjoy, I can’t always finish what I start.

I have a 10th example, but I don’t have time to finish this post right now. Kelly and the kids have just returned home, and it’s already past the Little Miss’s normal bath time. Lunches have to be made, and the evening chores need to be done. And there are still 3 items on my to-do list that I probably won’t have time to finish either. So example number ten will have to wait. I’ll finish this later.

The Ghosts of “White Christmas” Past

One of the things I most look forward to about Christmas is sitting down with Kelly in my in-laws large family room on Christmas Eve and watching White Christmas. If I had to pick a favorite movie, that would be it. I never tire of the movie, though I watch it sparingly, and usually only around Christmastime.

As much as I love watching the movie, I am struck by the knowledge that the people who seem so alive and vibrant on the screen are almost all dead today. The movie was released in 1954, making it 62 years old. Watching the movie, I can’t help but think of the passage of time. Last night, I decided to look up the 8 actors who had what I consider to be significant roles in the picture. Here is what I learned.

1. Bing Crosby, b. 1903, d. 1977. Bing is one of my favorite entertainers. I know more Bing Crosby songs by heart than I do from any other performer. I’ve sung those songs to all three of my kids in place of lullabies when they were babies. Bing lived another 23 years after White Christmas appeared. He died from a heart attack in Spain, after finishing a round of golf with friends.

2. Danny Kaye, b. 1911, d. 1987. Kaye’s comic gag (holding his injured arm when he wants Crosby to do something for him) has become a long-standing joke between me and one of my friends at work. In meetings, inevitably, one of us will hold our arms in pain when we are trying to convince the other to do something our way. Kaye lived another 33 years after White Christmas.

3. Rosemary Clooney, b. 1928, d. 2002. In the DVD version of White Christmas, Rosemary Clooney provides the commentary track. She had a long career after White Christmas, including a memorable guest appearance on E. R.. She lived another 48 years after the movie was released.

4. Vera-Ellen Westmeier Rohe, b. 1921, d.1981. Vera-Ellen, who played Clooney’s sister in White Christmas withdrew from public life in the early 1960s after losing a daughter to SIDS. She was 60-year-old when she died in 1981, 27 years after White Christmas was released.

5. Dean Jagger, b. 1903, d. 1991. I always found it amusing that, although Jagger played the old, retired General Waverly, he was actually a few months younger than Bing Crosby. His film career stretched from 1929 to 1987. He was well into his 80s when he died in 1991, 37 years after White Christmas was released.

6. Mary Wickes, b. 1910, d. 1995. Mary Wickes, the gossipy innkeeper, was another actress with a long career after White Christmas, including films like Postcards from the Edge, and Sister Act. She died in 1995, 41 years after White Christmas was released.

7. Johnny Grant, b. 1923, d. 2008. Grant, who played Ed Harrison in White Christmas seemed familiar to me. When I looked him up, I realized why. He was the honorary mayor of Hollywood. He was 84-year-old when he died, some 54 years after the release of White Christmas.

8. Anne Whitfield, b. 1938. Last, but not least, is Anne Whitfield, who played General Waverly’s granddaughter, Susan, in White Christmas. When I watch an old movie, I am particularly curious what the life of the children in the movie was like. How did they grow up? What happened to them? Well, I’m pleased to end this macabre parade on a happy note. Anne Whitfield is still alive as of this writing. Young Susan Waverly, who wasn’t more than 16 when the movie was released, is now 78 years old. She has the dubious honor of winning this little contest.

Maybe, by writing this piece, I’ve gotten it out of my system. I’m hopeful that when I sit down to watch the movie on Christmas Eve, I will no longer wonder if everyone I am seeing is still with us today. Instead, I’ll try to enjoy the picture. Bing Crosby would be 113 years old this year. Like they sing in the movie, “We’ll follow the old man wherever he wants to go…” I’d follow him back to Pine Tree, Vermont anytime.

How Many Posts Are Too Many?

Yesterday, I published three blog posts in the space of a few hours. It got me thinking about what the optimal number of posts are on a given day. I go through phases of writing and right now, I am on one of my manic phases, writing a lot of posts. There is nothing wrong with that, except that I feel compelled to publish the post right away. I should probably hold some of these back for days when I am not so prolific, but the posts burn a hole in my drafts folder, and I relent.

On days when I publish multiple posts, no one post performs as well as on days when I have just a single post. I haven’t explored the data for this in any detail it is just intuitive. In November, I published 41 posts. I published a post on every day of the month, and that means that I averaged 1-1/3rd posts per day. On average my posts were just shy of 500 words each.

Blog word count
A look a the monthly word counts of posts on my blog over the last 11+ years.

Since November 2005, I’ve published 6,105 posts. That’s a time span over just over 4,000 days, and it means that on average, I published 1.5 posts per day. I wonder how this corresponds to the traffic I see on the blog? Would I see more traffic if I published just 1 post per day on average? It seems counterintuitive. Popular blogs seem to be publishing frantically. You’d think all of those posts would compete with one another.

Feedly tells me that Lifehacker publishes 177 stories per week. That’s more than one story per hour, for every hour of the week. The Verge publishes 279 stories per week. The Mary Sue publishes 98 stories per week. Feedly tells me that my blog posts, on average, 10 stories per week. Book authors are often warned not to saturate the market with more than one book per year, lest the books compete with one another. That doesn’t seem to be the case with blogging.

I’ve been blogging for a long time now. I think its fair to say that with more than 10 years, 6,000 posts, and 2.2 million words of copy, that I’m something of an expert. But I still feel like I don’t know what I am doing sometimes. And so sometimes I publish three posts in a single day, even when it is not necessarily the best thing to do.

I think of the blog the way I imagine a syndicated columnist thinks about their column: if you have a weekly column, you publish one column per week. For me, it’s a daily column, and I aim for one column per day.

I need to remind myself that I can write as many posts as I want in a day. I just need to have a little self-control when it comes to hitting the Publish button.

A Solution to the Timezone Conversion Problem in Software Development

Anyone who has ever had to write code dealing with timezones and the conversations thereof knows what an impossible mess things become. I am writing some Python code in which I am taking dates/times in UTC and converting them to local time. This sounds like a simple matter of adding or subtracting a certain number of hours from the UTC time. A line of code should take care of it. I have yet to see a single line of code that can perform this operation. StackOverflow has hundreds of posts on this issue, each one more complicated than the last. But after lots and lots of thought, I have come up with a solution that makes the whole problem obsolete.

My solution is simple. Do away with timezones entirely. Make Greenwich Mean Time the standard across the globe. When it is noon in London, it is noon everywhere. That might sound silly, but the fact that I got to bed at 9 pm and wake up at 5 am are completely arbitrary. I got to bed when I feel tired. Often that is when it is dark out. I tend to wake up before the sun rises. So what if that time happens to be called 2 am – 10 am. I am an early lunch-eater. I generally eat around 11 am. In GMT, where I live, that’s 4 pm. So what if I call that time 4 pm when the sun hasn’t even reached its zenith yet?

It makes scheduling meetings easier, too. I do a lot of meeting scheduling because many of the people I work with are in California, which is 3 time zones behind Virginia. I am constantly doing math in my head: “Let’s see, if the meeting is 3 pm here that’s 6 pm in Santa Monica, right? No! Other way around. It’s noon in Santa Monica. Darn it! Everyone will be at lunch!”

It wold be much easier just to say that meeting will be at 3 pm. The sun will be a further west in the sky here at 3 pm than it will be at 3 pm in Santa Monica. But so what? The sun is higher in the sky in Bogotá, Colombia than it is in Arlington, Virginia at noon today, and both cities are in the same timezone.

And while we are at it, let’s just get rid of Daylight Saving Time. It adds a nasty wrinkle to the time conversions that make things more complicated than irregular verbs in an English grammar. Besides, Daylight Saving Time no longer matters when everyone is in the same timezone. There will be people heading to work at 11:30 pm just as the sun is starting to rise. Will altering that time to 12:30 am make a difference under those circumstances?

Sure, it will require some amount of adjustment. A lot of computer programs will have to be rewritten, and I can only imagine the havoc such a change would create for things like airline schedules. But certainly it is worth it for the entire world to change just so that we programmers no longer have to deal with the complicated mess that is timezone conversations.

Don’t you agree?

Writing on Paper

There is something satisfying about writing on paper. It is pleasant to see the pile of double-spaced pages accumulate to one side the desk. I am old enough to remember when typewriters were more common than computers, and I had the opportunity to use a few for practical purposes like writing stories or typing letters. One of my favorite things was pulling a completed page off the roller and setting it onto the stack of accumulating pages. The feeling was as satisfying as crossing an item off a to-do list, and there was something tangible to show for it.

In all the years that I’ve been writing on computer—and I’ve been writing on computer for far longer than I ever wrote on a typewriter—I have never found the experience to be quite as satisfying. It is physically easier for me to write on computer than it was on a typewriter. But it just isn’t as satisfying. I miss the accumulation of pages.

Word processors try to make up for this by providing various indications of progress. As I write this post (in Scrivener) there are numbers at the bottom of my window that tell me how many words I’ve written, and how many characters I’ve typed. When I wrote on a typewriter, I never cared about how many words I wrote. Today, word counts are like calorie counts. They are everywhere. But they are not as satisfying as seeing the pages stack up on the desk.

I’ve tried various gimmicks. I can make it look like I am typing on a printed page by changing the layout of my screen, but the pages still don’t accumulate on my desk they did with a typewriter. And besides, you can take WYSIWYG too far. Formatting distracts me from what I am trying to write. I am not trying to layout a newspaper or magazine. I’m writing a story, or a post.

A "page" in my word processor
A “page” in Scrivener. Nice, but it still doesn’t stack up in a neat pile on my desk.

I use the backspace key more on a computer than I did on a typewriter. I was more careful with my typing on the typewriter. After all, I had to pay for the typing paper I used. Too many mistakes, too many do-overs, cost money. Retyping entire pages took time. In some respects, word processors are an improvement over this. But typing forced me to think carefully about what I was writing before I touched the keys. When I typed on a typewriter, I felt more like a craftsman. I was more careful, and tried not to make as many mistakes.

Typewriters keys made a satisfying clicking sound that just can’t be reproduced by computer keyboards. I switched to a mechanical keyboard on my desktop computer at home, but it still doesn’t compare to the click made by the type bars striking paper. You can buy software that emulates the sound on a computer, but to my ears, it sounds about as natural as the lens clicking sound an iPhone camera makes when you snap a photo.

Sometimes, I would write letters on the typewriter. Composing a letter on a typewriter was more satisfying than composing an email on a computer. But then again, that may have nothing to do with the tool being used. Writing a letter is always more satisfying to me than writing an email, even if I typed both on a typewriter. I do far too little of the former, and far too much of the latter.

Still, typing on computer has its advantages. I sometimes wonder that if this was a newspaper column instead of a blog, would I have had the fortitude to bang out more than 6,100 columns on a typewriter? How many stacks of paper would that have added up to? Assuming that the average post here is about 500 words, that comes to something like 25 reams of paper. There are 10 reams in a standard sized paper box. That means this blog would have filled more than 2 boxes full of paper, something over 12,500 double-spaced pages. It is impossible to scroll through this blog and get the same sense of satisfaction that it would be to behold 25 reams of paper stacked up in a corner of the office.

I enjoy writing, and I derive a great deal of pleasure by something as simple as finishing a post. But I still wish I could see those pages accumulating beside me.

No Glasses Today

I left home without my glasses this morning. These days, I need a fairly weak prescription  (Kelly calls it weak) for when I am looking at the computer screen. I have a somewhat stronger prescription for when I am reading. I thought I left my glasses in the car, and duly told Todoist to remind me to check in the morning. When I checked before leaving for the office, the glasses were not in the car. I don’t know where they are.

I had perfect vision until I turned 40. When I went for my eye appointment back then, I bragged about this to my eye doctor. He just shrugged, and said, “Once you hit forty, it will start to get worse quickly. Watch and see.” I think the “watch and see” was his attempt at a pun, but he didn’t laugh, so who knows. And now, he’s retiring so perhaps I’ll never know. But he was right. It’s time for another eye appointment, and I think the doctor is going to tell me that my old “weak” prescription is no longer work for me.

I mention this because it is not as easy to read what’s on the screen without my glasses than it is with my glasses. If there are more typos than usual today, you’ll know that it is not because I am lazy in my proofreading (I am!) but because I can’t actually see the errors clearly.

Come to think of it, I wonder if that excuse would have worked back when I was writing papers in college?