The everyday blog of Richard Bartle.
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5:13pm on Friday, 26th September, 2008:
I have very fast reactions. It's almost guaranteed that I'll be able to beat you at snap. They're remarkably, incredibly fast. I've lost count of the number of times I've managed to avoid accident because of them.
Once, at school, we did a reactions test. Someone in one room flicked a switch that started a timer and lit a light in another room. The subject, in that other room, flicked another switch when they saw the light come on, which stopped the timer in the first room. Everyone else in the class was getting responses in the 300ms to 400ms range. I've no idea what my time was because it couldn't record under 200ms. It timed out after 10 seconds instead.
Another time at school, we had to watch a movie during which letters were flashed up. We were asked to write down the first letter we saw. The first letter would be shown for one frame, the second for two, the third for three, and so on. I could tell when the first and second letters had been shown, but didn't know what they were. I picked up the third one, though (it was a C — it turned out they were doing it in alphabetical order). My best friend saw the D, everyone else started around F. C corresponded to 125ms (D was, er, 167ms I think — still abnormally quick).
OK, so my reactions are fast.
Now on the one hand, this is good because it means I can avoid accidents. However, it's also bad, because my reactions are too fast for me to stop. I had an eye test today, and had three puffs of air blown into each eye. Even though I knew the puffs were coming, and even though I braced myself for them every time, I could not stop myself jerking backwards after each puff.
This is a general problem for me. I am unable to stop myself jumping when I hear a sudden noise or am touched unexpectedly. I'll collapse to the floor if someone comes and pokes me in the ribs if I don't know they're going to do it, and could well do so even if I do know. I've been in shops looking at things and an assistant has come up behind me and said, "can I help you?" and I've jumped at it — literally hundreds of times. If a loud noise comes from nowhere without warning, I am going to be startled; I just react too quickly for me to be able to stop it from happening.
Which brings me to the police.
Look, police, I know you need sirens, and I know they have to be loud, but do they have to start loud? I was in the High Street in Colchester today, and one of your vehicles switched on the blues and twos and ACK! If I'd had a cup of coffee with me, it would have been six feet in the air. My heart did 30 beats in the 15 seconds that followed. Why can't you make the sirens start low for half a second or so, instead of making them come on full blast out of nowhere? You could give someone a coronary! More worryingly, that someone could be me!
I'll give you some time to read and digest this, but I'm warning you, if 10 years from now you zap me with a siren and I do have a heart attack, I (or, if it kills me, my estate) will sue you to pieces. You've had fair warning.
And some kids were laughing at me for jumping. Augh!
Referenced by New in at #2.
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Copyright © 2008 Richard Bartle (firstname.lastname@example.org).