Tuesday, September 29, 2009

7 Signs That I May Be Anal-Retentive


  1. I have a picture of a Flemish coil on the wall in my dining room.

  2. I have kept an accurate running diary since 24 December 1990, with details of how long I ran each day, route, weather etc. etc. etc.

  3. I once wrote to the editors of the Oxford English Dictionary to point out an error in their definition of "water".

  4. I have a copy of every version of the Racing Rules of Sailing going back to 1981.

  5. I once wrote to Dick Rose to point out that there was a logical error in the wording of one of the US Sailing Prescriptions to the Racing Rules.

  6. I've just looked up "anal-retentive" to see if it needs a hyphen.

  7. I always leave one blank line at the end of every blog post. Never less than one. Never more than one. Just one. I have no idea why.

42 comments:

Bunty said...

We have our wierd ways! Thanks for your comment on my blog by the way.

Zen said...

I have always wondered, (well not always, for a time I did not care) is the end of the dock line inside the Flemish coil suppose to be parallel to the dock cleat or perpendicular

Tillerman said...

Excellent question Zen.

Almost as important a question as whether the coil should be clockwise or anticlockwise. (I did just look up whether "anticlockwise needs a hyphen or not. It doesn't.)

Tillerman said...

Bunty, I think you mean "weird" not "wierd". It's a rare exception to the "i before e except after c" rule. Doesn't it just drive you crazy when words don't follow the rules?

Sam Chapin said...

Number 7) It looks better and I will try to do it, too.

O Docker said...

Flemish coils are wound clockwise in the northern hemisphere and counterclockwise in the southern hemisphere. I'm not sure where they're wound anticlockwise.

I have a picture of a Flemish coil on my profile - in fact, it looks a lot like your picture of a Flemish coil - but I don't see where that makes me anal-retentive (I checked again and, you're right, it is hyphenated).

And I always leave two blank lines after every comment on the comments page - well, on Blogger blogs that use Blogger's native commenting, that is.

On blogs hosted by Blogger where the comments page is handled by Haloscan, adding just one blank line leaves 98.4% of the space left by two extra lines in Blogger's commenting, so, not being anal-retentive, I get a little sloppy and let it go. On blogs hosted by Wordpress, the hosting software automatically leaves a 4.75 mm space so, of course, no additional lines are needed.

Tillerman said...

Thank you for clearing that up O Docker. Of course all Flemish coils in the northern hemisphere are coiled clockwise, but I think you are wrong in saying, that they are coiled "counterclockwise" in the southern hemisphere.

Sadly the American colonies of the British Empire rebelled in the 18th century and with considerable help from the French succeeded in gaining their independence from Britain. This is why inhabitants of the USA no longer speak British English in which the correct term for the opposite of clockwise is "anticlockwise". Instead they speak some weird dialect called American English which is corrupted with such strange hybrid words as "counterclockwise" which clearly comes from the French "contre".

If the USA were in the southern hemisphere then perhaps Americans would do their Flemish coils "counterclockwise". But it's not. So they don't.

Just think, if it weren't for the French, Americans would all be speaking English.

Tillerman said...

Wait. Are we looking at the rotation of Flemish coils from the outside-in or the inside-out? It makes a difference.

O Docker said...

I've looked at coils from both sides now, from in and out, and still, somehow, in my confusion, I recoil. I really don't know coils at all.

Tillerman said...

How do you make a Flemish coil?

Do you start at the middle and work out, or start at the outside and work in? The Google is strangely silent on this subject.

Sam Chapin said...

I will tell you how to make that coil if I can get by this Google thing.

Sam Chapin said...

Say, it worked that time.

Take the bitter end of the line and make a tight 2 turn coil with it. Put that flat on the deck or the dock. Then put you palm right over it and turn the whole thing in the direction that you started it. I hope you checked which hemisphere you were in before you started the little coil. Pick up your palm and then put it down agin and give another little turn. After a few turns the line will roll up a lot faster.

I had a crew member on a J 24 that loved to do this and when we left the boat it really looked classy.

Tillerman said...

So if your hand turns clockwise the line will turn anticlockwise (or counterclockwise if you are French) from in to out, but clockwise from out to in? So is that a clockwise Flemish coil or an anticlockwise Flemish coil?

O Docker said...

If you want to know the whole story of Flemish coils, you'll have to wait for the next post at O Dock

Tillerman said...

Oh damn. I had an idea for a post about Flemish coils too. Now O Dock has turned it into a competition.

Damn. Who gave this man a blog?

bonnie said...

Oh, this is sort of funny - I actually put up today's Frogma post, whose title begins with "One Sign You May" PRIOR to stopping by Proper Course.

I remember "weird" because I before E except after C, but weird is weird.

bonnie said...

oh, also funny - the new word verification is "giest". Which is not a word at all but at least it's spelled correctly!

Tillerman said...

Now I don't want to get anal about this bonnie, but giest is not the correct spelling. Another damn exception to the rule. This is driving me nuts.

Greg and Kris said...

You're my wife, except you're a grandpa and a Laser sailor. So, you're not her at all, except with the OCD stuff, which is the WestCoast version of anal-retentive.

my2fish said...

I always thought flemish was that nasty stuff that gets caught in your throat and makes you have to hock a loogie.

Pat said...

Not quite; something like "Don't step in the Phlegm" was a line from a Harry Potter book.

Whereas flames are either the result of bad-spirited competition in places such as Sailing Anarchy, or are objects of infatuation, or something that's a bit hot to handle.

Now if Giest were spelled Geist, we could really get into a spooky spirit of things. That would bring us to something like soundings on the Serb Ghost, which was a creative pronunciation of the Serbian coastline in an Alan Lewrie Napoleonic naval fiction book. And that book involved pirates and so was even more appropriate to mention this week.

Now who is brave enough to explore the whole Rorschach gestalt of docklines and tell us about people who flake instead of Flemish? Or the ones who just dump a pile of line on the dock?

Carol Anne said...

The most common rule people learn is "I before E except after C and in words that sound 'eigh' as in 'neighbor' and 'weigh'" -- except for some weird ones like 'weird.'"

There's another rule that seems to work more reliably: "When two vowels go walking, the first one does the talking," which addresses not only "weird" but also "caffeine" and similar words. This rule does not, however, do so well with words of German origin, where the second vowel is often the one whose sound is used.

Oy vey.

Tillerman said...

Look Greg, I don't want to get obsessive about this but being anal-retentive and having OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) are NOT the same thing.

An anal-retentive person would be someone who thinks a lot about Flemish coils and who bores people on the internet by asking questions about which way to coil them.

Someone with OCD would keep making a Flemish coil over and over and over again because it was never perfect enough for him.

EscapeVelocity said...

Do people who don't have OCD even make Flemish coils, except on OPB?

Tillerman said...

You people are so anal! Why the obsession with the first item on my list? Isn't anybody interested in any of the other six signs?

O Docker said...

You've got to take the items on any list in order and resolve the first one before dealing with the rest.

That is the only right way to do it.

It MUST be done that way.

Oh, dammit! I forgot to leave two blank lines after this comment!

Tillerman said...

There you go O Docker. You have made a wild, creative and very un-anal leap to sign #7.

I was thinking. Would it be OK if I finished off every blog post with the line "This line intentionally left blank"?

For those of you who didn't share my experience of working in IT in the 1970s let me explain that the IBM manuals of that era always had blank pages in them that simply comtained the line "This page intentionally left blank".

For some reason, it used to crack me up every time I saw it. I guess I wasn't anal enough to really understand why it was so important to have that message on a blank page.

Zen said...

If the the tag, "This page intentionally left blank"
was on the page , it is no longer blank. AT that least this is what I would think if I was Anal about things...

bonnie said...

Why, it's almost a koan. Something like "What is the blankness of the page marked with a note describing it's blankness?"

And back to spelling - I have a message from Bubbles for you:

Like, omigod! It's not "zietgiest"?

Tillerman said...

No Bubble, it is not.

"Geist" is one of those German words that, Germans will tell you, cannot really be translated into English. You may think it means "mind" or "spirit" but those are only approximations to its true meaning. You have to be a German and have one of those big German brains to really appreciate what it means.

"Geist" is also one of those exceptions to the exception to the rule that Carol Anne mentioned. Anal-retentive people really love exceptions to the exceptions to the rule.

Hmmm. Maybe I should start a blog called Stuff Anal-Retentive People Like?

Tillerman said...

Zen, you are absolutely right.

I see now what the authors of that manual should have done to stop the anal-retentive readers of those manuals from worrying about why there was a blank page in the middle of the manual. Actually I can think of three solutions...

1. Put a message on the preceding page saying, "Following page intentionally left blank."

2. Put a message on the following page saying, "Preceding page intentionally left blank."

3. Put a message on the blank page saying, "This is not a blank page."

I wonder which of the three soultions would be best for the last line of my blog posts.
This line intentionally left blank.

O Docker said...












This comment intentionally left blank.












Bubbles said...

Kewwwwwllll!

Baydog said...

Tillerman: I am an anal+retentive speller, meaning I am both anal and retentive. Discuss. In the third paragraph of the 27th post, you typed "comtained". Is this word in the OED? Shall we inquire about its origin? I love the contents of your blog. P.S.- Do you have an English accent? I owned Laser #802. Does that qualify me to be considered "Old School"?

Carol Anne said...

In terms of cognates, geist translates from Old German as both wind and soul. Thus, gust and ghost originally had the same meaning.

Back when I worked writing software manuals for a national laboratory, the protocol was for each section of the manual to start on a right-hand page, and so if the previous section had an odd number of pages, the legend "This page intentionally left blank" would appear to reassure users that there wasn't a misprint in the manual. I came up with the idea of replacing that legend in the middle of the page with the word "NOTES" at the top of the page. Suddenly, we were no longer wasting paper; instead, we were allowing the user of the software to jot down useful information. It worked.

tillerman said...

Baydog, well done for spotting "comtained". I sometimes leave deliberate spelling mistakes in posts and comments so that anal-retentive people like you will derive simple pleasure from pointing them out to me.

Thanks for the kind words about this blog.

No I don't have an accent. Everyone else has an accent. I speak proper English.

Yes, owning Laser #802 qualifies you as "Old School". That would be a great title for your blog if you decided to start one. Blogging is not hard. Even I can do it some days.

Baydog said...

Thanks, Tillerman

EVK4 said...

I couldn't read all the comments but would you spell it "flemish coil fairy" or "flemish coil faerie"?

Tillerman said...

Why couldn't you read all the comments?

bowsprite said...

thought of you, Tillerman: I just walked by a plywood wall hiding typical endless nyc construction with a bill that said, "POST NO BILLS"

(it will be covered in graffiti in no time.)

bill stickers said...

I am innocent!

EscapeVelocity said...

Thanks to this discussion, I now have the only Sunfish on the board boat dock whose tie-down line is flemished.

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