Sunday, April 05, 2009

Unintelligent Design

I suppose I am easily agitated, but I think there is a reasonable midpoint where I realise the perpetrator of said annoyance didn't mean to do whatever they did, and sometimes the realisation that I've committed the same offense at some point which forces some cold hard humility and I am soon reminded that the world actually isn't set up for the purpose of making my blood boil.

But there are many other instances where, while things may not be set up with the intent of boiling blood, no thought at all is given to that possibility and so cauldrons full of plasma can be found simmering across the globe, a cook off which could easily be avoided. The feeling of empathy seems increasingly distant as we are continually foiled with systems in place in which the planner or designer appears to have never placed themselves in the circumstance in which they expect to place others.

I can't believe it's not borscht!

Here are some examples I've collected over time where I feel practicality has not been considered.

One of the earliest instances of my recognising this phenomenon was on a plane. Traveling back and forth between the USA to Australia has clocked up countless plane meals over the painfully long flight. Being a vegetarian, my meal is often brought out before the main dinner service cart makes its way down the aisle and more often than not, I am long finished with my meal by the time the other people in my row receive theirs. Even without the tray table down, the seat is cramped. I am not overly claustrophobic but this particular set up really pushes my limits of tolerance. When crew member comes to give my row-mate their meal I ask "Could you take my tray?" This has been met, more than once with a resounding "no". So I wait, wishing desperately I could cross my legs or tilt to one side. At the very worst, putting my irritating special meal needs behind, the crew has left the trays of the remainder of the passengers for an entire hour. Adding my 30 minutes prior to that has my confinement to a solid 90 minutes. "Tea or coffee? Tea or coffee? Tea or coffee? Tea or coffee?" they chirp as they walk the aisle, oblivious to our discomfort. "I DON'T WANT ANY FUCKING COFFEE!!! WHO WANTS ANY FUCKING COFFEE WHEN WE ALL WANT TO SLEEP SO WE CAN ESCAPE THIS HELLISH FLIGHT AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE!!! TAKE OUR FUCKING TRAYS BEFORE WE POUR THE SCALDING POT OF COFFEE OVER YOUR FUCKING HEAD!!!!!!!" That's how I feel during the "tea or coffee" mantra. I am baffled by the fact that since crossing over the position of steward or stewardess, they have lost any memory of what it's like to be forced to stay in that position for so fucking long. If anyone needs to use to bathroom during meal service, unless they are in the aisle, are causing near chaos. For over an hour the expect 400 people not the need to go to the bathroom. I can't tell if they crew are oblivious or simply don't care. It's hard to yell at them when come off so attentive, but in holding us hostage like this, they prove they are not. If you urgently require tea or coffee however, you will be well taken care of.

The only pictures I could find of people with their trays down with a meal on it were all in business class. I imagine this is because people in economy are too confined to reach their cameras.

Another tale from the plane involves another whole group of people. The designers of the controller for the personal entertainment systems seem to be designing for good Stepford Wives who sit upright, feet flat on the floor, face forward for the whole 15 hours. I'm yet to encounter such a person on a long flight as people shift, lean and contort in all sorts of ways in a desperate effort to to remain unconscious for as much of this uncomfortable journey as possible. If one's hip or buttock presses against the arm rest, as the controller is stowed in the side of the arm rest, they will find their buttock most illuminating as it presses against the "On" button, causing the screen to turn on and the blinding light forcing you out of the haze you are struggling to stay in. Making it so the controller is disabled while in a place where it can accidentally be triggered never occurred to whoever put it there.

This adequate gentleman need only hiccup to activate his personal entertainment system.

Possibly the second incident of complete tunnel vision occurred to me at work. I work for a fabric designer where the designs are hand painted before eventually being printed onto fabric. The designers work to the end of the day, leaving their work on their desks to be resumed the following day. On instances where we have had people come in after hours to wax the floor, much to everyone's horror the following morning, the cleaners have thought it quite reasonable to lift rubber mats off the floor and place them directly onto original artwork. Now, I don't want to make any assumptions about the intellectual abilities of a floor waxer, but what the fuck? How much fucking brains does it take to identify something of value, something that needs to be protected and know not to put dirty, dusty mats onto them? After this happened repeatedly, for the most recently waxing, everything on the floor in the studio and office was moved into the warehouse and out of idiotic clutches.

I've recently started watching Mad Men. As I missed the original airing, I've been catching up by renting the DVDs. Being very anal about appreciating and enjoying my shows, I desperately avoid spoilers. So imagine my freak out when at the beginning of the season one DVD is a preview for season two? This preview could not be fast forwarded through! They were trying to force me to spoil their own show! I was forced to reduce myself to putting my fingers in my ears and humming with my eyes closed to avoid the disclosure every time I put the first disc in. Did the person who engineered this disc know nothing of spoiler prevention? I learned one little tidbit of the future that I'd rather not have heard, but I wont tell you what it was because I'm not a dick like the person who did that menu.

More in the television vein, I certainly cannot be the first person to have observed for their entire life actors in TV and film ending all phone conversations by simply hanging up the phone without the closure of a "bye". For how many more years must we endure unrealistic phone conversations that end this way? A kiwi guy I knew, upon possibly his first serious encounter with an American asked "So, do Americans really not say 'bye' before hanging up the phone?" I can't figure out if the actors are strictly adhering to the poor planning on the part of the script writers as I would imagine a good actor would, if properly in the moment, feel compelled to end the conversation correctly.

"Great! Don't forget the wine." *click*

On any show I watch regularly, just as I feel sadness that the show has ended, I am tickled by the "Stay tuned for scenes from our next episode" promise. When I miss shows, I download them as bittorrents and stay on top of my shows that way. So imagine my horror when the fool who went to all the trouble of recording, encoding and then uploading that episode thinks that final treasure the show offers as useless and simply doesn't include the preview? You've come so far, what's another 30 seconds? I guess I should be grateful that they uploaded the episode in the first place so maybe I should just eat it on this one.

The flip book has been a source of enjoyment ever since I first found them in the way of a fat Flintstones book with a scene of Fred in the top corner. In the course of the flip, Fred picks up some balls and juggles until at the end, he drops them, they roll off the page and he exits after them. At least that's supposed to happen. As I would near the end of the book, without enough pages at the end to squeeze between my thumb and forefinger, the final frames poop out and have little impact and feel like a real fizzle of an ending. At least in this case, this book contained a comic with the flip element as an added bonus, but in the years since then I have found books whose sole purpose is to be animated and still the final frames poop out. Has no one thought to add an extra 20 blank pages so story can reach it's dramatic conclusion dramatically? I regularly pick up these books and expect this to have been rectified and am yet to be appeased.

Wont someone leave some spare pages?

Finally, I give you the rubber vagina. In fact now that I think of it, my awareness of this particular problem may predate all the others I have mentioned. My friend had received a catalogue from Adam and Eve, an adult toy store, which I found it laying around in her apartment. While I marvelled at the detail that went into so many of the devices, I was struck by a realistic vagina model. A far cry from the blow up doll (do the holes in those have seams? I've always wondered about that because I imagine they would and that it would hurt to rub one's wiener against plastic seams) this realistic looking vagina could be plugged in to warm it up, and had incredibly realistic detail in regards to the anatomy with a springy labia and starry anus which was also hygienically one-way functional and from what I have described so far, this should sound to you like the height of craftsmanship in vaginal duplication. It almost is. The piece is, I'm guessing, about 12 inches/30 centimeters across. The piece, after being so detailed, appears to have been finished off by someone who never had, nor had any desire to have sex with a woman at all. The side of the hips and buttocks are flat. The device just ends sharply on the sides. I would imagine that someone going to the trouble and expense of obtaining such a realistic piece of ass might want to grab it by the sides, imagine it's a real round ass, close their eyes, grit their teeth and bone away at it. While the reviews of the device are mostly positive and no-one complains about the dead ends, for years I have been overcome by this huge oversight in this design.

Click here to see the uncensored version of this image

I know not everything can be perfect, nor do I expect it to be, but I feel like in all these cases that zero thought was put into the full and final experience but people whose job it is to take care of these details.

blog comments powered by Disqus