EFFIN’ ALBERT, buttered side up

attribution: Unitspere, Wikimedia Commons

The Buttered Toast Problem

At what minimum height h above the edge of a height-H table should you hold a square (side 2R) piece of toast butter side up, so that if its edge clips the table edge when you drop it the toast will land butter side down?

. . .

If the toast is height h above the table, the speed when it hits will be v = Sqrt[2gh]. But how might we model the table’s impact? Suppose after collision that the toast center has a downward speed v’ and angular velocity of ω=v’/R where R is the edge distance. Then collision impulse FΔt=m(v-v’) and angular impulse RFΔt=Iω are linked. Solving for v’ gives v’=v/(1+I/mR2). Time to the floor and the amount of rotation can now both be calculated as a function of h, and then h adjusted so that the butter side lands down.

Will that work?

Short answer, I have no effin’ idea. 🙂

I don’t get half of what Unitsphere is saying because my brain doesn’t comprehend mathematical delta-ω stuff. But I think I get the gist of the buttered toast problem: variables come into play. They must be considered and factored into the equation. Manipulate those variables, manipulate the end result. Theoretically.

Which brings me to my little novel.


Right now, my manuscript has been read by two betas, partially read by a third, and is being read by a fourth. Reactions thus far have been mixed but I do know this: ALBERT needs work. My problem is, how do I make EFFIN’ ALBERT a better novel; a richer, deeper novel? A more suspenseful novel? How do I ensure that my novel lands sunny-side up for the majority of my readers?

Not an easy task, considering the variables: each reader brings to the table a unique set of experiences and expectations. Each filters what (s)he reads through a unique lens. Each has a specific skill-set. Mind-set. These are truths, out of my control and non-negotiable.

But there are aspects of my novel I can manipulate, variables relative to plot and characterization. Word choice. Story structure. Foreshadowing. Should betas reach a consensus relative to any of those things, either for or against; if they reach similar conclusions, offer similar suggestions, it would behoove me to go back in there and consider what they are telling me, give it serious thought, perhaps factor in what they say, wholly or in part, accordingly. Will that work?

I guess we’ll see.

6 thoughts on “EFFIN’ ALBERT, buttered side up

  1. Answer to math buttered toast problem = d. Big Dumb Dog to eat toast and butter when it hits the floor, leaving no crumbs behind.

    Answer to Albert = sigh. (not to be confused with cosine) Go through your beta responses. Reread Albert. Go through the beta responses again. Then think about what it is you want to be emphasized in Effin’ Albert. Is it characterization? Suspense? The fucked upedness of their little world? Being powerless among those who hold power over you?

    Every reader will still read from their angle, their experiences, and experience the novel a bit differently, but you have to decide what you would like to see someone take away from the manuscript–beyond the bones, exactly what story do you want to emphasize?

    Most of all, the answer is you can do this kk.


  2. I want your dog.


    I know what you’re saying, mrs fringe. I shall do that. Carefully consider what my smart and savvy betas (((hugs)))have told me but you are right, I need to decide first what it is I want to accomplish and how far I’m willing to go to do that. As for whether or not I can actually *do* it, I think yes, if I keep focused on the end result and not let uncertainty or doubt get in the way. Those are two variables that do nothing but hinder progress.

    Thank you for the sage advice and vote of confidence, mrs fringe. Both are greatly appreciated.


  3. Toast problem? No clue. Now ask me how close to the floor you can drop a cat upside down and still have it land on it’s feet and I can tell you that. 🙂 Kids.
    I’m probably not the best person in the world to ask about betas either. I allow one and only one person to read my stuff before I do a final edit. Too many cooks makes me crazy. But that’s just me. So, you ask, what the heck am I doing here if I have nothing of any value to contribute? Just a ‘go girl’ you can do it’. Trust your gut. Only alter what you think needs altering. It doesn’t matter how many betas read your work, every single one of them with be coming from a slightly different place and you need to know, as mrs fringe said, how you want your story to look.


    • linnea, thank you and yes, you are correct, I need to decide what I want from my story, how I want it to go. Trust my gut. The problem right now is, beta feedback is mixed. The betas aren’t coming from slightly different places, they’re coming from vastly different galaxies. So I’m kind of discombobulated at the moment.


  4. kk, getting feedback from betas can be oh, so helpful but also oh, so frustrating, can’t it? Couple months ago, I had a huge chunk of the WIP done but was still struggling with chapter one. So I sent that chapter out to a few betas, one of whom told me it was clichéd (that was the word used) and didn’t work for her while another said it was great and pulled him right in (the others were in the middle but tended toward the “it worked for me” side of the spectrum).

    So I tried to think about what they were trying to say underneath the surface words. You know, what was it, exactly, that made the chapter work for one person and what made it suck for another. And then what deeper thing was it, exactly, that I wanted readers to get out of that chapter and could I somehow find a different way to convey that while still being true to the original construct? (Because I liked the chapter and didn’t want to change it.) The good thing is that the feedback forced me to think harder about the characters and ultimately helped show how to modify the chapter. Two other betas have seen the revisions and like it, although that doesn’t mean that a third won’t still think it sucks.

    I guess what I’m saying is give it a little time. I wouldn’t necessarily rush out and make changes unless you see a clear path for how to change some things right away. You have a great writing style, very engaging, and a good story to tell. Maybe let some of the feedback marinate in your brain for a while. You’re a good writer. You’ll figure it out. This is rambling, I know, but hope it helps a little. — Donna G.


    • Donna, excellent advice and I am trying to do what you did, look beyond the surface. I am holding off revising anything at this point, reviewing comments, seeking that clear path.

      But the problem isn’t just with one or two passages, or chapters. It’s with THE BOOK. Seriously. Just about every chapter. One beta says tension is really ramping. One says there is no tension. One says, don’t change anything in Chapter X. One suggests a major rework. This is incredibly frustrating and daunting and scary as shit. I am doubting THE BOOK right now. I am doubting the skill-set of THE AUTHOR.


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