The Commuter Challenge

3 September 2015

The September 2015 Challenge

by CC @ 16:45

Compose a list of 10 instructions. Your list should have a title that ends “… in Ten Easy Steps”. There is no upper or lower word limit to this challenge. The only constraint on your submission is that the instructions should describe something that is generally an inside activity (as the warm weather slowly drifts off with the coming of autumn).

The Results

Ryan Finholm

Watching paint dry in 10 easy steps:

  1. Read and commit to memory the entirety of Ryan Finholm’s seminal and authoritative work The Sophisticated Gentleman’s Guide to Watching Paint Dry. I cannot overstress the importance of this step. In addition to the book’s thorough and definitive coverage of the history, cultural origins and impact, and the techniques and skills associated with this art, The Sophisticated Gentleman’s Guide to Watching Paint Dry provides crucial guidance on the individual and public safety concerns surrounding the practice. This 10-step guide may be used as a reminder of some of the main points covered in the book, but it is not meant to be used as its substitute. If you have not already read the The Sophisticated Gentleman’s Guide to Watching Paint Dry, then you should read no further in this list and take no further action until you have completed that step.
  2. Dress comfortably, but stylishly. Watching paint dry is best experienced as a solitary recreation, but even when done alone, it is not uncommon for the watcher himself to be observed by others. While watching paint dry you may find yourself remaining mostly stationary for several hours, and that is plenty of time for passers-by and well-wishers to notice you engaging in your pastime. Dressing well will help you to emanate an aura of confidence and purpose, and that should help to discourage spectators from interrupting you with frivolous concerns, interjecting with superfluous commentary, or, worse yet, joining you. Besides, proper formal dress is a virtue unto itself, and elegant attire can only enhance your esteem and experience.
  3. Find a newly-painted wall. You should not attempt paint a wall yourself; you do not have time for such a menial task. The art of watching paint dry is not about manual labor, it is an entirely aesthetic experience. You can either wait until you come upon a newly-painted wall by chance, or hire someone to paint a wall in your general vicinity, or follow someone around until they start painting a wall.

*Note: for the remaining steps, time is of the essence. Paint can dry at a relatively leisurely pace, but the drying process itself waits for no man. There is no greater heartbreak in the universe than to have the giddy anticipation of a lovely afternoon of watching paint dry foiled by the reality of a prematurely set, dry wall of paint in front of you. Who would want to watch an already-dried wall of paint? What would be the point of that? That would be a ridiculous waste of time.

  1. Select a nearby comfortable chair. It can take up to eight hours for a newly-painted wall to dry, so comfort is essential. Standing would eventually become tiresome, and sitting on the floor is uncivilized. Locate a chair that will not induce fidgeting, sweating, or sleep. If the ideal chair is already occupied, you may commandeer it from its occupant – it is universally established etiquette that one should surrender any chair to anyone who will use it for the loftier objective of participating in the sport of watching paint dry, so it is de rigeur for one to simply seize the ideal chair for this pursuit.
  2. Carefully position your chair. Set the chair at an ideal distance from the wall to allow for perfect visual focus while maintaining proper posture. For the nearsighted, this may involve positioning the chair facing parallel to the wall, but this positioning is not ideal as it may result in neck soreness over time.
  3. You will want to minimize the need to leave your chair. To that end, ensure that there is a healthy supply of rejuvenating beverages within arm’s reach. Your activity level while watching paint dry will necessarily be very low, so solid food will not be required. The complex sugars that are present in any of a wide assortment of grain alcohols should be more than adequate to fortify you during your vigil. To engage the palate, you would do well to have a large variety of liquors handy to sustain and inspire you.
  4. Do not waste valuable time, effort or expense trying to film this experience. The subtle process by which paint dries is a very delicate physical, chemical, and atmospheric phenomenon that does not translate well to any medium. It must be fully experienced in the moment. If you review of any of the thousands of online videos of paint drying, you will notice how poorly the experience is conveyed by film or video, even in the many time-lapse and infrared examples. Furthermore, the presence and management of the filming apparatus itself can only serve to distract from the experience, which naturally leads us to tip #8…
  5. Avoid distractions. We all remember David Hasselhoff’s widely-publicized, disastrous attempt at watching paint dry, and it can be regarded as a primer for how NOT to approach this endeavor: the food, the family member, and the filming of the experience (not to mention the lack of a chair) were a perfect storm of distractions that led to his epic failure in watching paint dry. Had he been properly attired, properly seated, and not distracted by food, family, and film, the end result might well have been completely successful. While you are watching paint dry, your primary potential distraction will most likely be your family. The best practice is to simply block them out and not engage them – do not respond to their inquiries or acknowledge their presence, and eventually they will retreat and allow you to continue your pursuit.
  6. Avoid touching the wall while the paint is wet. Doing so will almost always result in some of the paint transferring to the surface of whichever part of your body has come into contact with the wall, and it may even smudge the paint on the wall, making the paint less uniform at the point of contact.
  7. Avoid touching the wall when the paint is almost dry. Why should this be avoided? Because it’s tacky.
Brian Raiter

How To Get a Job in an Unfamiliar Industry in These Difficult Times in Ten Easy Steps

  1. Take a deep breath. This is no time to be uncentered or off-balance. You are about to embark on a journey — a much shorter one, to be sure, than it would be if you weren’t following these instructions, but no less momentous for all that.
  2. Let go of that which holds you down. You must be prepared to leave behind everything that you currently hold dear. All that hard-won experience you’ve accumulated in your current industry will soon be worth less (if not worthless). Nobody in software industry will care that you graduated from cleaning out the grease trap to
    cooking the hamburgers in a record three weeks. For that matter, nobody in the fast food industry cares about your encyclopedic knowledge of the C++ Standard Template Library. Seriously, don’t even bring it up in the interview.
  3. Cram. Don’t make the mistake of trying to actually learn enough to succeed in your chosen new industry. As anyone will tell you, there’s just some things you can’t learn from books, only hands-on experience. Which is what jobs are for, right? (Am I right, or am I right?) Go to the library looking for books of the “For Dummies” and
    “Learn X in 21 Days” variety. Read them, but don’t get hung up on trying to actually learn what’s in them. You don’t have time for that. If you had time for that, you’d be doing that on your own and not trying to follow 10-step instructions that promise to provide you shortcuts. Instead, read through the books as quickly as possible. In
    this manner you will osmotically absorb the rough outlines and foundational jargon of the profession. You won’t understand it, but neither will you panic when you hear it spoken around it. The goal is to avoid that deer-in-headlights moment that marks you as a hopeless outsider.
  4. Get a tattoo that is centrally emblematic of the industry you’re moving into. You want to impress the idea upon your potential employers that you live and breathe the stuff, that you spend all your free time thinking about it, that the only reason you’re not working full-time in the industry already is that short-sighted bean counters
    are unwilling to take a chance on someone without the right buzzwords on their resume. Note that it is crucially important that you get this tattoo well before your first in-person interview. Nothing says “I’m a phony” like a tattoo that is still freshly dark and clearly-defined. And don’t make the mistake of getting a pre-faded temporary tattoo unless you know what you’re doing. Temporary tattoos are prone to flaking off from too much sweat. The last thing you want in the middle of a tricky interview is your own personal LazyShave moment.
  5. Lie to recruiters. Figure out what kind of resume you need to get the interview, and give them what they want to see. Figure out through brute-force trial and error if you have to.
  6. Once you have an interview secured, you’re more than half way there. Walk into the interview like you know what you’re doing and bluster your way through it. At no point do you let yourself act like you’re in over your head. If you can avoid that moment, you’ve got a flat 10% chance of getting the job regardless of everything else. Higher if you actually managed to guess right on a couple of questions. If you feel yourself cracking and you need to run out the clock, ask for a bathroom break and hide in there, making embarrassing noises until the time is up.
  7. If the interview goes badly, you will need a plan B. Kill the interviewer, preferably using poison. You want something fast-acting that doesn’t leave a gaping wound. Martial arts experts can do this using various means, but for most of us poison is going to be the method of choice. If the interviewer doesn’t have a convenient cup of coffee at hand for you to spike in an opportune moment, then you might need to resort to nefarious means. (For example, hold out the packet of powder while smacking your lips and say “Hey, does this taste funny to you too?”) Once the interviewer is down, run out of the room screaming about how they just collapsed in the middle of shaking your hand. There will be a hue and cry, an ambulance will be summoned, and you will quickly be forgotten about. Slip away when nobody is looking. Then next Monday morning, show up at 9:00 AM, explaining that you’re here for your first day at the new job. When they look confused, start explaining how the interviewer had decided to offer you the job, given you a “handshake commitment”, and was about to start the paperwork for a formal offer when … and then stop talking and look horrified, as if realizing for the first time what must have happened. There’s a good chance that they’ll let you have the job to “honor the last wishes” of their late colleague. By the time anyone gets wise to your ruse, you’ll have garnered at least a few paychecks, and you’ll actually have something in your chosen industry to put on
    your resume.
  8. Light fuse; get away.
  9. … Profit!
  10. Seriously though, keep that step 7 in your back pocket. You’d be surprised how often it works.

no comments