You didn’t think I was done with baselines yet, did you?
After a few more Google searches and some Wikipedia digging, I think we can separate baselines into 3 major categories:
1. Baselines that serve as the basis for a comparison: what’s your favorite pizza place? Pizza restaurants are the basis, and now we can stack rank the group based on your fickle tastes (with no judgement of course, words from one pizza snob to another).
2. Baselines that serve as a boundary: Yosemite Sam draws a line in the sand, tells Bugs Bunny not to cross it, and of course – Bugs immediately steps over it. Sports are full of this type too, in that you can be in/out of bounds. Comments can similarly be “across the line,” or in/out of bounds.
3. Baselines that serve as a connection between two points in space: Think about scrawling a note on the back of a napkin versus typing it out in Word. That left to right / line spacing is all a form of a baseline. In baseball, the relatively straight path you have to travel around the bases is not an explicit boundary, but still a rule to follow.
Great – but just because we’ve categorized them, like Darwin’s finches – we have to ask, how and why did this get here?
Baselines can have parents (the thing your brother told you), ancestors (the wives tale your mother’s mother told her that now you tell to your kids), and owners (that’s not your Industrial Average, it’s Dow Jones’).
Baselines can be fixed or moving. When the pizza restaurant comes under new management, we reassess the rank. When Bugs crosses Sam’s line, he draws a new one. Scrawling notes on unlined vs. lined pages can influence your productivity.
Moving baselines can change over time, with experience, or both. Your eyes might be getting worse as you age for example. If time is wrecking your vision compared to what it used to be, should you eat more carrots to offset the decline? How do you interpret the phases of your carrot consumption? Pre and post orange excrement production? Pre and post finding that Scientific American article justifying that carrots improving vision was probably just a wives tale? Did any of this change your vision at all for the better or worse?
Examining our baselines and categorizing them is a way to examine the default settings in our life. Since most of the time, those default settings determine our behaviors, a little extra attention can have massive long term effects.