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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Primary Colors

We had Lauren Monday night. That's wonderful! Her parents have been really generous lately about letting us spend time with her.

She's in second grade now, and what was not so wonderful was her homework. It was a reading-timing test. (As in, time her for a minute to determine how much of this essay she can read.)

The essay was the problem. It was all about how Red, Yellow and Blue are the primary colors. "They're called the primary colors because you can make any color with them."

It's simply not true. It's not even close to true. The primary colors are Cyan, Magenta and Yellow. Mixing pigments of those pure colors, you can make any other color in the visible spectrum. In fact, you can even make red (magenta and yellow) and blue (magenta and cyan), which are not actually primary colors.

You can't make magenta or cyan with those fake primary colors. No mixture of red, blue or yellow will give you either magenta or cyan, because magenta and cyan are actually both primary colors. You can't really make a pure green because green is actually cyan and yellow, not blue and yellow.

It is possible to cheat a little with crayons (and perhaps ONLY with crayons), because you're not really mixing the colors so much as layering them, so the top color becomes dominant. You still can't make magenta or cyan.

The funny thing is that even people in the printing/prepress business get confused about this. Everybody in the business knows the the 4-color printing process uses CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow and black inks), yet many still think of red and blue as primary colors, because that's what they were taught in primary school.

I don't mean to claim this is a big deal, but it's an example of the kind of thing that gets under my skin. Kids are taught one thing that's absolutely untrue, and then anybody who ends up in a line of work or hobby that requires an understanding must be RETAUGHT the very most basic points because they've been misled their whole lives.

Incidentally, the same is true about the Bible. People are told what it says and means by other people who are just repeating what still other people have told them. When teaching someone, a huge amount of time has to be devoted to easing the student over and through those misconceptions which aren't their fault at all.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Air Fares, Wealthy Members and Generosity

(There's a point to this, but you have to read the whole thing to get it!)

I was reading a tech article and actually noticed an ad. (That's almost bizarre enough to merit a mention!) The ad was for Emirates Air. Specifically for, "First class private cabins between JFK and Milan." The ad's photo implied extreme comfort and luxury.

Note that I am NOT in the market for tickets to Milan. Or anywhere else.

Just out of curiosity, I clicked the ad and eventually figured out how to search for the fares for these first class flights.

Now I should point out that Emirates Air actually has a decent reputation, from what I've heard on NPR. They have budget seats.

These aren't them.

Emirates rates

The highest and lowest rates are highlighted, both near the middle of the table.

Who would ever, EVER, pay that kind of money for two people to fly anywhere on someone else's plane and schedule?

The high rate is so high that the lowest rate almost seems reasonable until you think about it in the absolute sense.

But, I suppose if you're a billionaire and your private jet is in the shop or you have family going multiple directions, $44,000 (boggle...) is just money.

After all, a man with $1,000,000,000 in the bank looks at $44,000 the same way a man with $10,000 looks at $0.44.

Yeah, that's right. Forty-four cents to the man with ten thousand dollars is forty-four thousand dollars to the man with a billion dollars.

OK, so I went to the extreme by bringing in Billionaires. There are plenty of them around these days (over 1,600), but there are a lot more ten-millionaires (over a million). So how does someone with $10,000,000 in the bank see a $44,000 airfare? The same way a man with $10,000 sees a $44.00 airfare.

This brings me, in my own round about way, to something I've been thinking about quite a bit lately. I often hear people talk about how generous this-or-that rich member of their church or ecclesia has been. It's clear that there is some gratitude there, but also that a bit of pedestal building has happened. That rich person has been elevated in someone's mind because of the generous donations made to the church.

How do those generous donations compare to the person's resources, though? If you had $10,000 in the bank, would you only donate 44 cents to your worthy causes and charities?

I'm trying to make a point without being blunt or sounding accusatory, so let me finish with a quote from a much wiser man than myself:

And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing.

And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury:

For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Replying to Email

Daring Fireball (John Gruber) has been talking about email reply styles, lately, and now lots of other people are, too. (Including me!)

What I haven't yet seen mentioned is that "top posters" are notorious for only replying to one part — possibly even just one line or sentence — in a longer email. Many times over the years I have written a long-ish message to a client, explaining how I would do something (and for how much), only to receive back a copy of my entire message with a question at the top like, "How would that part work, exactly?" or "Could you send me a sketch of how you think that part would look?"

See, I've sent a message with twelve paragraphs explaining the overall flow of an application, and the question I get back could refer to almost any of it.

Even better (worse) is that my original message probably included a few questions which have gone completely unanswered.

That, to me, is the biggest benefit of the inline-reply style. You have to pay attention to what you're doing! You start your reply by quoting the entire message. As you go through the original message, you delete the stuff which needs no reply and which isn't needed for context, and then insert your own comments immediately after the relevant parts that remain. Since most email programs show different levels of quoting in different colors, it's very easy to follow the conversation.

Recently someone sent me a "breath of fresh air." It was another software developer, and we've been talking about me helping him out with the next version of his (only) application. Our conversation has stretched out over three months, but we're both sticklers for the inline-reply style so reading back through these email messages is just wonderful. Trying to have a conversation like this with a "top-poster" (someone who always quotes everything that came before, and only puts replies at the top) would be awkward, if not impossible.

Unfortunately, some email clients make inline-replying a little difficult. Gmail, MobileMail (Apple's Mail on the iPhone), and Outlook/Entourage are all good (bad) examples. They can all make very "pretty" email with bolds, colors, fonts, links and pictures, but those things are secondary (or tertiary) to good communication. At the opposite end of the spectrum are apps like Mailsmith, which *can't* create fancy-schmancy bold/colored/linked/imaged messages, but which provide tools to make inline-replying even easier than it is already. (There are other apps like that, but Mailsmith is the one I use. Claris Emailer was another great example of this type of app, back in its day.)

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


I have enough trouble with lousy grammar, so I really didn't need to see this:

Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo

... especially as it is a grammatically correct sentence. That's just crazy talk.

Monday, May 7, 2007

The Picker of English Nits

The crazy overuse of the word "get" is still bugging me, though having reread this old conversation on that topic was thrilling. We once conversed most intelligently here on Truer Words!

Months ago I told Brian Andresen that a new corruption of English was bothering me, and then he started to hear it and I'm pleased to report that, for a time, it bothered him almost as much as it did me.

Which corruption is that? Rather than just state it, I'll offer a hint. The clue is here. Try and find it by rereading this message very carefully. I'll give a gold star to the first person to describe it.

Even NPR, that bastion of Good English, has committed this faux pas on a regular basis in the last half year.

Yes, Greg, I know that you believe there is no such thing as Good or Proper English. That may or may not be true, but the definition of Poor or Improper English is (In My Opinion) when choice of phrasing is senseless.

Maybe I'm an old-fogey-conservative-English-professor type, but (again, IMO) not all Improper English should become accepted just because it's common.

Done Waiting

Corinne brought Lauren to the doctor's office for her two month checkup.

The appointment was at 10:40, and they arrived on time.

They waited a long time to be brought back to the examination room. At Noon, after Lauren had been screaming for a half hour because the nurse had undressed her (to weigh her) and left her that way, after being "spat up on" (vomited on) profusely because Lauren was so worked up, after cleaing up two more puddles of puke on the examining table... after all that and nothing else becuase the doctor hadn't been in yet and there were still other patients ahead of them (based on the numbers they'd hung on the doors), Corinne gave up. She dressed the baby, told the receptionist that she was done waiting and "yes, I'll call to reschedule," and left.

Good for her. Lauren is healthy (the spitting up is normal, don't worry), and at least we have her weight: 10 pounds 13 ounces (up from 6 pounds 15 at birth, two months ago).

The doctor's office called twice in the last week to remind us that Lauren's appointment was today. That was nice of them, but it should have been the other way around.

The worst is that Corinne and Lauren missed much of Ravi's fourth birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese.

The source of the problem here is the state insurance for children (called, "Husky" or something like that). The doctors don't make much profit from it, so they double or triple book (schedule two or three patients per doctor at the same time). It's a known problem that has been written about in the newspapers. Apparently nothing is being done to correct it, although many of the pediatricians in the area don't even accept "Husky" appointments anymore.

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