Friday, August 26, 2016

This is Next


Here at average jester, I hold myself to very strict standards in terms of the responsibility I have for the overall education and development of my readers. Sometimes it merely involves pointing out the obvious, highlighting it, underlining it and then putting *asterisks* (<- I had to Google how to spell that) around it. Other times, like today, it involves solving age-old questions and telling you what is true and ultimately correct. 

I know others have tried tackling the issue of "over vs. under" when loading the roll of toilet paper on the holder, so I will skip that one. I think it's too delicate a topic to cover in a single blog post. It's likely to cause too much controversy and could quite possibly lead to violence. That, and I don't want to cause any delay when nature calls and seconds count. 

Another topic of great concern has been what you call the mid-day and end of day meals. Supper? Dinner? Does it matter if one is typically your bigger meal? Does it matter if it's a special occasion? What if you're eating that meal in a diner? All good questions, but far too difficult to explain. 

Instead of those hot topics, I have chosen to shed some light on the much more confusing issue of "this" versus "next" when referring to an approaching time or place. I know a few of you may be scratching your heads in confusion right about now, so I'll give you a couple of examples to put you on my crazy train of thought:

  • You're approaching an exit on the Interstate travelling 70mph and your navigator says to take the next exit. Do you hit your turn signal now or wait?
  • It's Monday afternoon and your friends tell you about a big get-together happening next Saturday. Do you mark you calendar for 5 or 12 days from now?

You would think this would all be very simple to communicate properly, but it gets confused far too frequently. This is where you're probably thinking the word "this" will solve all your problems. As in, "take this exit versus the next exit" or "this Saturday versus next Saturday." You'd be wrong though - as the real world so cruelly points out on a near-daily basis. 

Using "this" only works to solve the problem if everyone was on the same page...but that's not the case. I will admit that I am guilty of this myself and I am your average person. I am really good at taking things literally - which is odd since I use sarcasm at the professional level. 

To me, next literally means the next in sequence. If you're counting 1, 2, 3... 4 is the next number. It's not 4 is this number - making 5 the next number. No, 4 is the next number. If I'm driving down the interstate, 1/4 mile from an exit, the exit I can see 1/4 mile away is the next exit. It's also "this" exit. See the confusion? Just like when it's Monday and someone wants to get together next Saturday. To me, the next Saturday I will run across is 5 days away - not 12. 

Now that we can't remember if we're driving on the interstate or planning a party, I will unveil my cure-all plan to fix this. Basically, it's a simple math equation from a simple mind that I express with the following:


As you can clearly see, there's a bunch of garbled parameters involving time, distance and a confusing mathematical sequence. If you were to follow PEMDAS (Parenthesis, Exponents, Multiplication, Division, Addition, Subtraction), no matter what changes are made within the equation, you always end up with pi. Who doesn't like pie? 

The moral of this exercise is to point out that nobody knows the difference between this problem and the next, but it really doesn't matter as long as you end up with pie. With pie, everybody's happy. Who cares if you missed your exit or the big party on Saturday - you have a full belly and a smile on your face. Until next time....