Thursday, June 18, 2009

It always comes down to the squirrels. (What Kind Of Person, 1)

Are you a presser or a holder?

Have you noticed, as the ever-more-digital era we live in progresses, that more and more digitalyl-numbered items have two ways of setting them?

Before I get to that, let me just say that I sweated out for a few minutes how to describe the kind of numbering I'm talking about: Like a digital clock, only not a clock. Our stove, for example, has a temperature gauge that is set... um... digitally, meaning that it's not a thermometer like I'm used to, not a gauge at all, but simply some lit-up numbers that go up and down when you press arrows next to it.

Like this:

Not this:
Words failed me, so I had to go to pictures. The reason that words failed me is this: all numbers are digital.

It's stupid, therefore, to say I have a digital temperature gauge because unless the temperature is spelled out (eighty-one degrees) it's of course digital. So when I was trying to figure out how to describe my stove's temperature gauge, I had to pause and think because saying it was digitally-numbered, or even just digital, felt redundant.

Anyway, we have a digital stove, not an old-fashioned one, and it's set by pressing up and down arrows. So is the timer on our coffee maker and a variety of other things in our household.

And there are two ways to advance those numbers. I can make the stove temperature get hotter by pressing the button, over and over, with each press advancing the temperature by 5 degrees. Or I can hold the button down and it will do it on its own.

That discovery the other day led me to first spend time trying to decide which was faster: pressing it over and over or holding it down? If I wanted to set the stove at 450, would I be better off pressing or holding it?

I discovered that the length of time was the same: it didn't matter whether I pressed the button repeatedly or held the button down, I got to 450 at the same time.

Then I thought which was more efficient -- and decided that holding the button down was more efficient, because it takes more energy to press the button over and over, extending and retracting my finger minimally, than it does to simply maintain a steady pressure on the button.

But psychologically, it felt faster to keep pushing the button down, even though timing proved that it wasn't faster -- because I felt like I was controlling it, not the stove.

So after all that, when I finally settled down to cook dinner, I decided that I'd continue to press the button repeatedly, since I liked the feeling of being in control and it seemed faster. (Plus, it's more exercise... that counts as exercise in my world, now.)

And then I thought that the world could be divided up into two groups of people: people like me, who would rather keep pressing that button knowing that's not affecting anything, and people like... well, other people who would rather just press-and-hold.

Pressers, I conjecture, want to control the outcome of things and are go-getters, the movers and shakers of the world. We are the people who are constantly trying to shape or change our surroundings.

Holders, then, are the opposite: Passive. Going with the flow. Seeking the path of least resistance. It's the holders who are going to be first to go when the squirrels take over. Pressers will fight to the bitter end.

So which type of person are you?

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