It’s Great Being Tall, In Case You Wondered


So we were at pinball league — not that one, the other one — when I reached up and plucked a can of soda out of thin air. “How did you do that?” my love demanded, as the soda was a surprise even though it was just a can of Diet Mountain Dew. Well, there’s these small shelves, a couple inches wide, running just below most of the ceiling at the pinball league’s location. All the taller people put their drinks up there, out of the way. “What is it like being tall?” my love wanted to know, and I don’t want to sugar-coat it: it’s pretty great.

There’s down sides, of course, like how you can’t be comfortable in an airline seat unless you gate-check your legs, but nobody’s been comfortable in an airline seat since 2007, when United started charging $25 per flight segment for “Double Plus Economy” seats in which flight attendants would not repeatedly batter passengers with bags of rocks. But otherwise, being tall is a great thing and I suppose it’s only fair to tell you about some of the privileges.

First, you’re never actually fat as long as you’re tall. Until five years ago I weighed about as much as the Principality of Andorra, but because I could peek down over top of the refrigerator, all that obesity did was make me look even bigger yet, since people could see me from so far away. When I started losing weight — I’d leave some in the junk drawer, some outside the garage for the squirrels to use as nesting material, some in the Weird-Sized Falling-Apart Books About Motorcycles section of the library — I got appreciably skinny, and yet that didn’t hurt my apparent tallness either. It just made me look more like a compass needle, the tallest of all the orienteering tools.

The next thing is you never have to play basketball again. If a social group starts talking about basketball of course they’ll look to you, as a tall person, as a ringer. You can just shake your head and wave them off, saying, “Oh, I’m no good, you should stick with people who can really play,” and everyone will assume you’re being self-effacing. If you stand firm on this they’ll suppose you’re more interested in their having a good sporting match between roughly equal teams. If they draft you into the game anyway you can do like me, standing around looking befuddled and thinking about rockets, and as long as you ever at any point touch the ball in any play that ever results in a score, you’ll get credit for being a good team player. You can’t lose except by actually participating, and showing that you can’t dribble without the ball somehow hitting your foot, your nose, and your car simultaneously. You didn’t even take your car to the basketball game. And yet — smile afterwards and you still look charming.

Tall people always get to influence society — George Washington was put in charge of the Continental Army because he was taller than anyone else in the room, and he finally won the Revolutionary War when qualified negotiators established King George III was shorter than him — but it’s not always in obvious ways. For example, as someone more than six foot two inches tall, every year I get to introduce two new phrases that become common sayings even though people don’t know quite what they’re supposed to mean. I’m not perfectly satisfied that I’ve got my late-2014 choice perfected just yet, but, what the heck, you’re friends, or at least readers. This time next year, when you realize you don’t even clearly remember life before everyone used the aphorism, “it’s as real as bowling”, know that’s one of mine. You’re welcome.

I shouldn’t say this, but I guess you know about taller people being able to see the tops of refrigerators. There’s a thriving zine culture of fascinating reading materials distributed exclusively on the tops of taller consumer appliances. I guess you could get a stool and examine them but I don’t think you’d appreciate the social mores quite well enough. Sorry.

In all, I’d say that given the choice between being tall and not, I recommend being tall, because it would hurt my knees to crouch around all day and even then I wouldn’t be all that not-tall.

My January 2014 Popularity Contest


Since it’s a new month and all that, let me look back at how successful it was in terms of being read. According to WordPress for January 2014, I had 337 views — up from 301 in December 2013 — but only 153 unique visitors — down from 168 — which has this silver lining: the number of pages each visitor looked at, on average, rose from 1.79 to 2.20. That’s heartening, because I like to think they’re not just reading the spaces and the paragraph breaks, as there’s not enough of that to be a fifth of a page. There’ve ben only two months where I had a higher views-per-visitor ratio, and this puts me even with February 2013, when I started, which is about what I should have expected.

Anyway, the most popular articles of the past thirty days haven’t included any of the silent movies or S J Perelman bits, which is a bit heartening. The top of them — there was a four-way tie for fourth place — comes to:

  1. Poising For Success, for which I might have accidentally optimized my search engineness.
  2. Giving The People What They Want, my yielding to the fact that Kinks allusions and lists of countries are well-liked, and you all thought I was kidding.
  3. I Dance Horribly, a confession.
  4. Unbeknownst, about a word I thought had fallen out of use, and which hasn’t, and boy do people like reading about that fact.
  5. Why It Is Known As Frontier Airlines, which is probably popular because I was venting my frustration at the airline.
  6. The Mysteries Of Modern Recording, about trying to figure out how this weird Hanna-Barbera record could have existed.
  7. Statistics Saturday, again, giving in to how lists of stuff are popular and see if they’re not.

The countries sending me the most readers this time around were the United States (261), Canada (19), and the United Kingdom (11). There were only five countries sending me a lone reader: Chile, Indonesia, Malaysia, Morocco, and the United Arab Emirates. None of them were on the roster of single-visitor countries last time, so I’m working my way through the world, eventually. I should get souvenirs.

It didn’t make the monthly top roster, but for a short while this week How I Started Consulting was one of the top-articles-of-the-last-day (or however it is they judge the things on the sidebar there), and I looked at it and realized I had forgotten it entirely and was pretty amused by the thing, so let me throw that in as something I liked and maybe you will too if you haven’t seen it already.

Further From Ohio


I guess I’m wondering now, if I needed to fly from White Plains, New York, to Akron, Ohio, on some day other than January 6th, would United Airlines be enthusiastic about it? Maybe if I picked the correct day I’d see not just the online system giving me my ticket reservation, but the person who lurks behind the system — the one normally deciding when to just give you a page that’s got all the headers and footers and navigation menus and advertisements but a blank page where the search results come up — suddenly wakes up and e-mails me a note of deep gratitude that someone’s asking for the travel. Perhaps they’ve been sitting around United Airlines Secret Command, fretting that nobody’s going to take them up on the prospect of flying to Akron on, say, January 7th, and the first person who makes such a reservation will be greeted as royalty. “Here,” says the flight attendant as the flyer boards, “We brought out a warm bathrobe just for you, and you don’t even have to turn off your iPhone while we take off.” That’s how grateful they’d be on the 7th. But the 6th? Absolutely not. That’s a day where they bring out the whole flight crew to kick you in the shins. Seems only fair.

Flight Checks


From: flightnews@upperairlines.com
Subject: UPA8100 Flight updates now available.

Thank you for signing up to receive e-mail updates on any changes to your forthcoming flight UPA8100 from Salisbury, North Carolina to Plattsburgh, New York. We send our smuggest condolences to you on the occasion of whatever life choices have forced you to fly from Salisbury, North Carolina to Plattsburgh, New York, this Friday departing at 5:42 am and hope you enjoy leaning your forehead on our new comfort-rated windows just cool enough to make lifting your head feel like too much work.


From: flightnews@upperairlines.com
Subject: Flight Delay – UPA8100 departing at 5:56 am

Due to delayed crew arrivals at our Hartford, Connecticut, branch facility flight UPA8100 will now be scheduled to take off at 5:56 am. Please be at the airport before it takes off as this simplifies boarding procedures.


Continue reading “Flight Checks”