Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Simplicity is Relative

Simplicity is relative.

Speaking of "relative". Those of us who live in the world of genealogy research have often dealt with the struggles of explaining to interested parties (albeit a fleeting interest) at family reunions the degrees of relationship between them and some famous relative of yesteryear.


You've seen it. Come on now, be honest. For that brief moment in time your audience - Aunt Milly or cousin Billy or that brother-in-law who tried so hard to fit in - shows a heightened degree of interest in the story you've just imparted. Their eyes are wide open. Their smile extends from ear to ear. Inevitably, your story has once again led someone to ask that infamous question.

"How are we related to him again?"

So naturally you launch into the logical, generation by generation (impossible to miss) lineage that explains how this person - your audience - and the object of your story, cross paths within the same family tree.

The eyes are now glazed over. The smile has fallen ever so slightly into a sloping, sliding look of consternation. There might as well be a neon flashing light over their forehead shouting out loud "I don't get it! What did he just say? I don't want to say something and sound stupid."

And of course, you want to go ahead and say out loud, "I know. I just lost you, didn't I?".

And yet, you just explained that relationship as simply as possible. How else can you explain it?

Simplicity is relative.

With that in mind, I thought I'd share this story with you, just to put into context that genealogy researchers are not the only "industry" in which clarifying certain issues are next to impossible. The following excerpt is from a British Airways 1996 Memorandum. Enjoy.

Wes
"It appears some confusion exists over the new pilot role titles. This notice will hopefully clear up any misunderstandings.

"The titles Pilot-in-command, Commander, First Officer, Pilot Flying, Pilot-not-flying, P1, P2 and Co-Pilot will now cease to have any meaning, within the BA operations manuals. They are to be replaced by Handling Pilot, Non-Handling Pilot, Handling Landing Pilot, Non-Handling Landing Pilot, Handling Non-Landing Pilot, and Non-Handling Non-Landing Pilot.

"The Landing Pilot is initially the Handling Pilot and will handle the take-off and landing, except in role reversal when he is the Non-Handling Pilot for taxi, until the Handling Non-Landing Pilot hands the Handling to the Landing Pilot at eighty knots.

"The Non-Landing (Non-Handling, since the Landing Pilot is handling) Pilot reads the checklist to the Handling Pilot until after the Before Descent Checklist completion, when the Handling Landing Pilot hands the handling to the Non-Handling Non-Landing Pilot who then becomes the Handling Non-Landing Pilot.

"The Landing Pilot is the Non-Handling Pilot until the "decision altitude" call, when the Handling Non-Landing Pilot hands the handling to the Non-Handling Landing Pilot, unless the latter calls "go-around", in which case the Handling Non-Landing Pilot, continues handling and the Non-Handling Landing Pilot continues non-handling until the next call of "land" or "go-around", as appropriate.

"In view of the recent confusion over these rules, it was deemed necessary to restate them clearly."