Thursday, March 31, 2011


As you probably know, I drive an older car. Old enough, in fact, that it has a few mildly intractable problems, such as the fuel gauge, which only works intermittently. It's seemingly random, but today I finally figured out the pattern. It had seemed to correlate with cabin temperature, but not during summer; when it was warm in spring, the gauge would work, but for summer it wouldn't. This puzzled me until I finally figured out the human factor.

You see, my car has working air conditioning. This pushes cold air through the ventilation ducts. The fuel gauge is on the extreme left of the instrument cluster, right next to the vent duct leading to the outermost vent on that side.

So, I have a dodgy connection somewhere in there, which sometimes expands enough from heat to make a good connection, and can be cooled to the point of not making the connection by the air conditioning cooling the ventilation ductwork. I'm inordinately satisfied with myself for figuring that one out.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A little about being me.

For some reason, probably to do with the world we live in having been built by extroverts for extroverts, I feel a little ashamed to admit that I am a fairly pronounced introvert. Introversion tends not to be understood by extroverts, but I see a bunch of misconceptions. Let me address some of them.

First: introverts don't dislike socializing. What's different is that we find it drains our energy, rather than increasing it as it does for extroverts. I have friends, I enjoy spending time with them, but it tires me. I put up with that effect because I have good friends whose company I enjoy.

Second: as I implied, introverts can and do make friends. In fact, I would guess that I am closer to my friends than I would be were I an extrovert. Because I find company tiring, I have to be sure of someone before I'll commit to spending time with them.

Third: introverts need time alone. Just as extroverts become depressed and unhappy without time spent with others, introverts deprived of time to be alone will rapidly lose their ability to operate as people. For both sides, though, a balance is necessary; however, dragging me to a place full of people to cheer me up will generally have the opposite effect.

As an introvert, I don't always follow society's unspoken assumptions. I'm polite and friendly, but I generally won't initiate conversation. Please, bear in mind that it's not because I don't like you. It's because I genuinely don't need the extra stimulation and human contact over and above what I already have, with my board game group weekly, my knitting group weekly, my roleplaying group weekly, and my hiking group as often as we can manage it. See what I mean about introversion not being the same thing as not liking people?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Making me want marketing

I tend to dislike advertising. No, scratch that, I tend to despise it with the flames of a million suns. On occasion, however, it can happen that I desire it. For instance, one publisher I rather like the stable of is Orbit. They publish, among others, Iain M. Banks, K. J. Parker, and Joe Abercrombie. The last two are the two authors who have earned automatic buys from me; I will buy anything they've written, based on the sheer quality of their previous work. Only one other author has ever enjoyed that status with me, although I've since demoted him: Terry Pratchett. Orbit have recently started doing a podcast; their format is roughly half an hour to an hour of conversation between a regular host and an author, so far (in the two episodes released to date) one with a new title either just out or coming soon. I only caught the first episode because Joe Abercrombie mentioned it (he being one of those authors who keeps a blog, interacts with readers, and generally keeps his fans informed of what's going on and what they can expect soon, in contrast to the rather secretive authors who toil in obscurity and on occasion release a book) and the fact that he was going to be on it. There was an iTunes link, so I pointed iTunes thereat (since I own an iPod, I do have a use for iTunes now) and it cheerfully slurped down a rather interesting interview with the chap, who sounded roughly as I'd imagined, and as though I'd greatly enjoy a beer with him. Since the first episode had proven interesting, I didn't bother to delete the feed from my trawl (the joys of a thousand gigabyte hard disk; I currently am not remembering to delete anything, because it's not as though I'm short on space), and today a second episode arrived featuring an author, Jesse Bullington, who I hadn't heard of, but for whatever reason discussing similar themes such as swearing in fantasy fiction, whether gruesome descriptions of injury are justified, and so on. I shall very probably be looking for this chap's work next time I'm in a bookstore; the descriptions which came up in the discussion made them sound very much like something I'd enjoy.

And so, I have been successfully advertised to. I've been given more information on a thing I already liked, which enticed me to stick around and obtain information on something I didn't yet know that I liked. That, ladies and gentlemen, is what you need to do to market things successfully. Let people know about what they don't yet know that they like. You don't achieve that by giving them earworms, attempting to cave their skulls in with excessive volume, or causing seizures with flashing lights; you do it by treating them as intelligent beings who enjoy interesting information.