What's the point of pages in a booklet that say "This page intentionally left blank"? I’ve seen this so many times in so many different publications, and it has always irked me. Always.

Just thinking about it, right now, I’m feeling irked.

A quick Google search came up with this, which I have deemed as the best answer to my question (via Calvin Sun / TechRepublic.com):
This sentence, when I first saw it in an IBM manual, totally confused me. “What is the point,” I asked myself, “of having this sentence? Of course I can see that the page is blank. What’s more, doesn’t the sentence actually contradict itself, because the page really ISN’T blank anymore?”
Then I thought about it some more, and realized that they had a reason for printing that message: they didn’t want people to think they had “messed up” by forgetting to print material on that page. The material from the previous page DID really end on that page, and the material on the following page DOES really start there. In other words, they were saying, “It’s OK, we know what we’re doing, and we didn’t make a mistake here.”
His point is all about credibility: if people who read your documents see a blank page, they will immediately think “Wow, this company doesn’t even edit their documents to make sure they don’t have blank pages,” or “I hope they didn’t forget to print something and I’m not missing part of the instructions!” Calvin’s point makes sense for including the sentence “This page intentionally left blank.” But what about the fact that they’re including a blank page in the first place?

When someone gives a speech, or when you see a public speaker, he or she might pause every now and then in order to put emphasis on certain phrases or drive home a point. But you never hear, during that pause, a speaker say “This pause is intentionally left silent.” Do people think the speech is over, or the speaker screwed up if he or she pauses for a moment? Probably not, unless he’s a terrible speaker.

You might think that paragraph is inconsistent with my argument; actually, it helps prove my point. Public speakers can pause like this to add effect because they likely have a meaningful message to relay and because they’re controlling the experience. Novelists and writers have a meaningful message to relay, too, but they don’t have as much control over the experience. Once those words are down on paper, it’s up to the reader how slowly or quickly they want the experience of reading them to last, and no amount of blank pages in between is going to make a significant difference. The only thing pages that are “intentionally left blank” will do is confuse and frustrate the reader.

The worst of it is that the places you see this type of thing are standardized tests, operations manuals, technical documents, etc. This is exactly the place where pages like this are most unnecessary. Are you skipping to the next topic? Fine. Start a new page, slap on a large header, and people will get that we’re moving forward. We’ve got a lot of stupid people in this world, to be sure. But I refuse to believe that they’re so stupid as to not understand something as simple as this.

So be a selfish hippie : stop wasting paper, stop wasting my time and stop wasting your money. Don’t print extra blank pages with “This page intentionally left blank” on them. If you don’t, you’re going to start finding your publications and manuals in garbage cans with the handwritten phrase “This bunch of papers intentionally left where it belongs.”

This makes me very sad.

2.01% if you have $10,000 in the bank. Just a short while ago I remember banks offering 5% APY savings accounts with no minimums. I guess that's why they all went belly up.

I'm having a bad driving day.

Really, only a bad half of a day.

(Don't worry, this picture isn't my car. I've never been in an accident while I was driving. Though I have been in a remarkable number of car accidents as a passenger. I don't read much into that, though.)

Anyway, I get off work at 4:30, hop in the car, and start cruising. I'm sitting in traffic, watching some ridiculous driver speeding and whipping around people in a Celica. A Celica! Kids these days... I take a drink out of my water bottle and almost drop it on my lap. Then I start imagining making a scene in a movie where someone driving drops a hot cup of coffee on his lap and swerves around and smashes into the guy next time him. Maybe it's been done before, but it makes me laugh. Either way, I'm not paying much attention to the road.

Next thing I know, a Chipper (CHP - California Highway Patrol) goes by, and I look down and realize I've been speeding (only 5 mph over, but still). So I watch him in the rearview and see him pull over, as though he's going to turn around and come get me. I slow way down, and keep watching him in the rearview as I come to the stop sign.

The guy in front of me goes, and I stop and then go as well, all the while keeping my eye out to make sure I don't have the Fuzz on my ass. Of course, as I'm going through the stop sign, I see one of the other cars at the stop sign and notice that the two teenage bros driving and flipping me off and mouthing (probably shouting, but I couldn't hear them) F-bombs at me. So engaged was I with making sure I didn't get in trouble for driving poorly that I continued to drive poorly.

The rest of the way home went without incident. Oh, except for the fact that I'm sweating in my car when it's 60 degrees outside and I finally realize a mile from my house that I've had the heater on the whole trip.

I'm an excellent driver. I swear.

A glorious paradise on a weekday work day

As soon as I stepped into the room, my eyes were filled with the sights of golfing on astro turf and oversized sports equipment, the splendor of giant playgrounds and rock walls, and tears of joy. I had to restrain myself from kicking off my shoes, running up the nearest ladder and sliding down the closest slide.

This was the beauty (and the torture) of the California Park convention in Santa Clara last week.

As I’ve said before, my new job is interesting and fun at times, but often torturous because I sit all day looking at pictures of kids having a blast on magnificent playgrounds and water slides and don’t get to enjoy any of it myself. Well, that wasn’t quite the case at the CPRS expo.

Though the day started with a two and half hour drive at 6 am down to Santa Clara, it quickly became much more interesting when I arrived at the convention and was greeted by my company’s booth. It was a small gazebo-like area, covered in SofTILE (rubber playground surfacing) and the highest quality turf. It had park benches and trash cans, a few large plastic playground peripherals, and even a giant dragon neck and head that spewed fog out of its nostrils. If we had some archers, catapults and a few flying buttresses, it would have almost resembled a castle.

Of course, most of the morning was spent schmoozing park and rec folks, getting the word out about our products, and doing lots of salesman-type activities. But as soon as lunchtime rolled around, I grabbed some free food and then let loose on the convention center. I skipped right over Baggo , a rehash of those old toss-the-bean-bag-through-the-hole carnival games, and went straight for the good stuff: the climbing wall.

Even with my fancy pants and my fancy pants shoes I scrambled up to the top to achieve maximum invigoration. After, my boss wanted to get back to our booth so we didn’t miss any customers, but I wasn’t having it. I needed more fun.

We found an awesome spinning carousel doohickey where people would grab the handles, run around to get some speed, and then enjoy the centrifugal forces lifting your feet of the ground, endowing temporary Superman qualities. So of course, when I saw that, I ran and jumped on. Then I promptly flew off and took a tumble on the heavenly softness of the fake grass and got up to do it all over again.

I still restrained myself and didn’t get too childish/childlike on all of the equipment. Of course, some of it looked more like torture devices than play structures anyway. If I’ve come away with one thing, it’s this: there’s a definite advantage to selling playground equipment. Just like anything else, you have to know your product in order to sell it, and to know playgrounds, you’ve gotta play.

Jesus is like heroin? What?

It’s always a little unsettling when a white Dominican man starts talking like a drug dealer during a Catholic mass. Even if he is a priest. Scratch that—especially if he is a priest.

Fr. John Bowman (names have been changed to protect the fact that I don’t remember them) was visiting St. Mel Church over the weekend, so he got to do the sermon on Sunday. Of course, Bowman doesn’t sound very Dominican, or Latin at all, but that would be because he was a priest of the Dominican order. Most of the time it’s easy to tune out or sleep through the morning homily. Not with this guy. His voice boomed like a drill instructor giving an inaugural address. He went on for roughly 10 minutes about why everyone should spend “a little more quality time with your best friend, Jesus.”

Whatcha got there, Father?
Catholics believe in this thing called the “real presence,” as in when the priest holds up the holy Necco wafer and the bells ring, Catholics believe that it turns into Jesus. Not just symbolically; the belief is that that little cracker is Jesus himself. So what this Bowman guy was talking about was recruiting people to spend some time in the chapel, where a piece of Jesus is kept on display and has to be constantly accompanied by somebody (I guess because Jesus craves companionship like Rush Limbaugh craves attention).

“Find some time, and spend it with your good buddy, Jesus” Father tells us. And then tells us again. And again. Even with a booming voice, one can only hear the same thing so many times before it becomes white noise. Then he said something that grabbed some attention: “Re-up on Jesus!”

I’ve been watching a lot of reruns of “The Wire ” lately, and this phrase “re-up ” is used just about every episode. Typically it’s the at-risk youth peddling heroin on the corners of West Baltimore that are saying it. For example: “Yo, we short, we need a re-up” = “We’re out of our supply of heroin to sell. We need to restock our inventory.” So essentially, this old white priest was comparing Jesus to heroin.

But I guess I actually listened to that part, and it even made me think long and hard enough to want to write an entire post about it. So I guess if he was trying to spread awareness, he succeeded. Well done, Fr. Bowman, or whatever the heck your name was.

Now I just hope that this Jesus/drug comparison doesn’t go too far. I’d rather not see any religious groups cropping up with names like “Jonesing for Jesus.”
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