My Understanding of the Executive Branch
Commence Being Nauseated

The First Sentence Makes No Sense, But Stick With Me

You know that feeling you get when the mechanics of whatever it is you spend most of your time doing begin to leak into the rest of your life and color your peception of your normal behaviors and thoughts before you have a chance to consciously correct them?  Like, when you play so much of a video game that instead of thinking "I'm tired," you instead see in your head a blinking red energy bar?  Or, when you're talking to someone and you say something totally stupid and your first instinct is "Control Z, Control Z," and it takes you a full second to realize that you can not apply "Undo" to human conversation? 

And you know how that usually makes you feel a little bit crazy?

Well, I have actually found it extraordinarily useful of late.  As some of you know, I spend a fair amount of time at work making documents look pretty, and a lot of the time that involves breaking up large amounts of text by creating charts and graphics.  As a result, my mind has gradually become trained to automatically take my thoughts and put them into pictorial form without my even asking.  Now, as I stand at the mall deciding whether to buy a new pair of shoes, my decision-making process is made much easier because something like this will pop into my brain:

Figure 1.1. Current proportions of work-appropriate shoe wardrobe.


"Oh," I'll think.  "Maybe I shouldn't buy these shoes, because I have so many pumps already."  Or, "Wow!  I don't even have a category for wedges!  This purchase is definitely merited."

Cool, right?  It's made me so much more efficient.  Like, I have a really small bladder and it is not unusual for me to wake up more than once a night to have to go to the bathroom.  It's really annoying, especially on those nights when I get myself SO comfortable and warm in my blankets and then I suddenly feel a stirring in my bladder and think, "Shit.  Should I get up and go now, and get it over with, and have to get all comfortable again, probably only to have to go again a little bit later?  Or should I just hold off for a while, but have the comfortablness of my comfort be slightly compromised by the niggling little knowledge that eventually I will have to get up?"

I used to agonize over this dilemma, until one night when my brain drew me a diagram.  (I'm not making this up.  I don't have to tell you that, do I?)

Figure 1.2. The LMNOP Principle of Bathroom Break Decision-Making.


Suddenly, it was clear.  The amount of exertion required to get out of bed is a constant.  It's never going to change.  However, the level of discomfort I feel as a factor of my need to pee is a very dynamic function.  I just have to find that point where my desire to stay in bed and be comfortable no longer exceeds my level of bladder comfort, and get up when I reach this point.

This has eliminated a lot of second-guessing and doubt during the middle-of-the night hours where critical thought capabilities are pretty fuzzy.  Now, I simply wake up and gauge my need to pee against my new, standardized metric.  If the lines of the graph haven't intersected, I roll over and go back to sleep.  If they have, I get up.

The human brain is an amazing thing.  Don't y'all kids never forget it.

(Also, I like how after I made these graphs and saved them as lowish-quality JPGs the text got a litttttle blurry and now they have the accidental but great effect of looking slightly like they came from a mid-1990s textbook.)



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Matt Price

Man, that is a useful graph.

By the way, I don't think "niggling" is a word. And if it is, you almost definitely shouldn't use it.


You've got to be kidding me about "niggling." Get over your own insecurities about racial issues, buy a Merriam-Webster's, and get back to me.

Matt Price

Yeah, its pretty clear that I WAS kidding you. But I will report back to you when I get over my insecurities about racial issues Matt.


There is a Battle of the Matts going on here in my very own comments section!

Matt Price

Yeah right!

daniel via kelly

actually your graph is wrong bc i mean you can't just - hang on... - because there's a critical above a medium and there's a high above a medium. your y axis is out of whack. if it was IN whack, there would be two points of intersection.

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