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Friday, May 22, 2009

THIS BLOG IS MOVING!!

Yes, the blog is moving to a different platform and URL. This will be the last post I make on blogger.com

If you are reading this, please visit: www.MotivationalSmartAss.com to get the latest posts (all posts from this blog have been transferred over there already)

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Thanks for reading!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

In Facebook's Eyes, I am Old and Lonely

On May 31st, I will turn 258 years old (in dog years at least). For those of you less mathematically inclined, that's 36 in human years. I don't mind the passing of another year, but I certainly don't need an automated reminder of my aging bones...

Facebook runs ads on the right side of their pages, and these ads are supposed to be "customized" based on your profile and postings. Well, Facebook has lately been posting this ad

Meet Elite Mature Singles

Dating for mature singles can be very difficult, but it doesn't have to be. Mature Singles Only believes that no one should be alone.


"Meet Elite Mature Singles"?? First off, by many definitions I am not someone you would call "mature." Second, isn't "mature" just the polite way of saying "old?"

And what the hell is an "Elite" Mature single? Is it like the A-Team of old dating folks?

"If you are single, if you are old, and if you can find one, maybe you should date... An Elite Mature Single."

Et Tu Facebook...?

The Lesson: Computer algorithms and automated systems (whether computerized or through a fixed process you or someone else implements) can only get you so far. At some point, and for important things, you need a real person with real judgment to decide what's the best message to communicate.

"Mature" my ass...

P.S. Under the "Meet Elite Mature Singles" was another add for "Meet Elite Singles" (no maturity here) with the following description:

"Meet high caliber singles. VIPSingles can introduce you to dignified, professional, and successful singles."

I don't know, I have a feeling that anyone who described themselves as "dignified" would not fall into the demogrpahic known as "people who would get along with Avish."

I'm just saying...

P.P.S. Speaking of Facebook, if you like this post use the "share" button right below to share this post on your Facebook page!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Are we Still Holding Doors For People?

Ok, here's a weird problem:

I think of myself as a pretty polite guy. As a polite guy, I tend to hold the door open for people when I walk through. If someone is right behind me, this is no problem because I just hold it open an extra second and then they hold it.

However, there are three door holding open scenarios that vex me:

1) What do you do if the person isn't right behind you?

They are a few steps away. Then that stupid mathematical/geometric calculation debate starts in your head, "hmm, if I let go of this door they may reach it while it still closing, which would be rude. However, based on their current land speed I could be standing here like an idiot for 5 or 6 seconds (longer than it sounds, when you're standing there like an idiot) while they get here." And sometimes the person doesn't go through the door or worse, stops a few feet away. Then you really look stupid.

2) What do you do if you open the door and let someone go in before you as you walk into a place with a line?

For example, you arrive at the door to a restaurant a few scant seconds before someone else. Being polite, you open the door for them and they walk through first. Since they went in first they talk to the host/hostess first, and they get sat first. In a busy restaurant, this could mean the difference of 10-30 minutes, all because you were polite. Ideally, the person you let go before you should acknowledge your politeness but will they always? I think not. There should be a law about this.

3) What do you do if you hold the door for someone and they don't thank you?

This one is obvious and frustrating all at the same time. If I do something polite for someone like hold the door, how do they not give a simple polite "thank you" in return. What's up with that?! How do these people exist in the world? I think if I hold the door open for someone and they don't say thank you, it should be socially acceptable for me to run ahead of them, go through the next door they encounter, and then slam it in their face right as they get to it. I mean, fair is fair, right?

In this day and age, I think we need to re-look at the whole "door holding open" thing (yes, this discussion should trump the economy and environment). Modern doors are light enough that most anyone can comfortably hold them open. And it seems people just don't appreciate it anymore. If someone is directly behind you, sure. And of course, when you are with people you know, I think it still works. But in all other cases, I say, "bah, let 'em deal with the door themselves!"

Sadly, we live in a world where I do not set the etiquette rules (wow, could you imagine that dystopia!?) So I will continue holding doors for people, losing my place in line, and occasionally looking like an idiot, until Emily Post tells me different.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Hey Salespeople, Get Off the Script!

You know, there are some bad, annoying salespeople out there...

I was out this past weekend with my friend and his fiancee, Jamie. While my buddy and I went to see Star Trek, Jamie took a pass on the movie and went to mall instead (Big mistake: Star Trek was awesome!!)

While in the mall she walked past one of those kiosks. You know, the ones where the people working there have been trained to yell out to you and to try to rope you in to view their wares like some rodeo cowboy. Those are some very aggressive sales-people - it's like a little slice of some foreign country shopping bazaar right here in good old Suburbia, USA.

Jamie gets sucked into one (big mistake #2) and the guy goes into his schpiel. They all have a schpiel; some very rehearsed routine designed to razzle and dazzle you into buying whatever it is they're selling.

This guy's routine involved opening his collection of lotions and having the customer smell them. I guess the logic is that once you smell the lotion you can not help but invest. (I don't know, I didn't write the routine!) Here's the thing: Jamie has no sense of smell. I don't mean that has a bad sense of smell; I mean she literally, biologically, can not smell. She explains this to him, and guess what he does? He thinks about it for a second and says, "well, here, try it anyway," and gives her the bottle to smell.

Yes, after she tells him she can't smell, he asks her to do it anyway. There can only be a few possible reasons for this:
  • He doesn't believe her - Maybe he things she's lying, and is calling her out on it. That's a great way to build rapport and make a sale.

  • He's taunting her - Maybe he was rubbing it in to her that she can't smell. Like showing a starving person pictures of a buffet. Makes no sense.

  • He had a complete inability to get off his script - Ok, this is probably the real answer. This guy had his routine, his script, and was so set on delivering it that when something came up that didn't apply he did not have the ability to change his routine.
Scripts and routines are great as a baseline, but the real magic is in being able to be in the moment and flow with the changes that happen around you. When you don't, you instantly break rapport (and look like an idiot). It's really sad how many people cling to their scripts and routines even after they no longer apply.

The saddest part about this story is that Jamie did end up buying stuff from him - after haggling him down from $30 to $10. Yes, that's a 66% reduction. She is impressive. You know you've done something right when the salesperson pulls out the old, "I never do this, but for you." Aww, aren't you special?

What makes this the saddest part to me is that there are people running around thinking they're stupid schtick works when in fact the prospect was already interested in the product and the routine probably did nothing but hurt. If these people would just stay in the moment and communicate with their prospects, they would be much better off.

End result: everyone that day spent $10. Two of us saw Star Trek, one talked to a mall kiosk guy and bought some nail enamel stuff. Who do you think came out better in that deal? Wait, don't answer that - you just might depress me...

Monday, May 18, 2009

Follow Up to "Are You "Literally" an Idiot?"

A few weeks back I blogged about people who use the word "literally" incorrectly, and how stupid that is.

I recently came across another blogger posting on the same thing, and I have to say, his examples are very funny.

Here's a sample [I added the censoring]:


Kristen Stewart from the movie Twilight recently reported: “I get to do something that literally if I didn’t get to do, I would implode.”

Oh, s***. Well, thank God she was able to get into acting, because can you imagine if she imploded? She’d be all tiny and dense and s***. And if she got fat first, she might have had enough mass that her implosion would cause a black hole. Whew, crisis averted.



Very funny stuff. Go read the rest. I literally died laughing...

Friday, May 15, 2009

Which is Easier: Detonating an H-Bomb or Talking it Out?

Warning! This post contains some spoilers for this week's Season 5 finale of Lost. Consider yourself warned!

Lost is a great show, and the Season 5 finale was awesome. I loved it. But there was one bit of spurious logic that got me thinking (only one? Ok, maybe there were more, but it's a great show and I only want to talk about the one right now...).

For those who don't watch Lost (what's wrong with you people?!) let me fill you in: One of the characters (Jack) wants to detonate a hydrogen bomb in an effort to undue the last five years. Basically he sees it as a giant "reset button" that will erase the years of struggle and trial and tribulation.

Warning for kids: Do not try this at home! This is a TV show. If you attempt to detonate an H-bomb to reverse time, chances are you will just blow yourself up. If not, you will most certainly get grounded. So don't try it (looks like you're gonna have to stick with high school years you got!)

When Sawyer (another character who used to be a degenerate con-man but has become something of a bad ass Heathcliff Huxtable) asks Jack why he wants to undue time, Jack says, "I had her. And I lost her."

You read that right. Jack wants to BLOW UP A HYDROGEN BOMB DO GET BACK THE WOMAN HE LOVES?? (Lost is awesome but it has this weird soap opera side that is usually ponderous and makes characters do stupid things. Like blow up nuclear devices)

Sawyer then tells Jack to just go talk to the girl (Kate). Jack basically says "no, that won't work."

What.

The.

@#$%...?

Jack sees talking with the woman he loves and used to live with as a futile effort, but blowing up a hydrogen bomb to plug a leak in an as yet to be explained (to us or him) electromagnetic anomaly makes sense?! Oh, and there's also the chance that the H-bomb will kill a lot of people.

Take it in again: blowing up a hydrogen bomb is easier than talking out your problems.

Ok, this is a TV show, and a sci-fi/fantasy one at that. But there are a couple of lessons to pull:

Lesson #1: If you are trying to reconcile with an ex, and talking it out doesn't work, move on. Don't pull some crazy big stunt. If you can't communicate enough to fix your problems, how are you going to communicate well enough to keep the relationship together? You can't just detonate an H-bomb every time your girlfriend makes you turn off Sunday football to go antiquing.

Lesson #2: If it takes an H-bomb to reconcile a relationship, it probably wasn't that strong a relationship to begin with. (Do I need to explain this further?)

Lesson #3: Communication is hard. But so are many things worth doing in life...

How many times have you avoided having a "crucial conversation" because it seemed to hard? How often do you make your life more difficult and less efficient by engaging in huge activities designed to get you out of having those conversations?

Take a look at the relationships you have now. If there are conversations you are avoiding, especially if you are doing ridiculous things to avoid having those conversations, commit to "talking it out." The few minutes you take now could save you a huge amount of time and effort.

Of course, if you happen to have an H-bomb, that changes everything. Just make sure you blow it up in 1977 at the Swan station on the Island. Otherwise people might get the wrong idea.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Fine Art of "Grodining"

Grodining
Definition: To flat out deny someone by saying "no," offering little or no explanation or alternative
Etymology: I don't know what etymology exactly means, only that it has nothing to do with bugs. So I will say that this term comes from a bit part by Charles Grodin in the Mike Meyers movie, "So I Married and Axe Murderer" (an underpreciated and quite funny movie, by the way) You can see the clip below.

Origin: Years ago, me and my crazy improv friends were watching "So I Married an Axe Murderer." This scene struck a chord with us because a) it's funny as all get out and b) it exemplifies a key improv rule.

That rule (and step number 3 in the step-by-step process to improvising with anything) is to say "yes, and," instead of "yes, but." Basically, say "yes," not "no."

In this scene, Grodin is laying some serious "yes, but" smack down. Funny for us because it's in a scripted comedy, but an awful way to improvise and a terrible way to communicate with the people around you.

In improv comedy, saying "yes, but" is referred to as "blocking." After we saw this scene, we started referring to blocking as "Grodining." Now you can too!

You can surely relate to being Grodined. And you know it feels awful and gets you pissed, so you know it's a bad thing to do. The thing is, are you sure that you yourself don't Grodin others? Pay attention and notice if and when you do.

What's the alternative to Grodining? Good question, and one I get a lot when talking about the concept of "yes, and." The alteranative to Grodining is not to say "yes" to everything, because sometimes you really don't agree or it's just not practical. There are three ways to stay out of the "Grodin Zone." Here they are, from most to least effective:

1)Say "Yes" or "Yes, and"
Simple enough. Sometimes you Grodin because you are afraid, or uncertain, or just feeling negative. In these cases suck it up, say "yes," and reap the rewards.

2) Be creative, and find a third alternative
Someone wants you to say "yes." You want to say "no." Who says there are only two answers? For some reason we humans are binary creatures. We like things as black or white, yes or no, on or off. Use a little creativity and find a solution that makes both people happy. With practice, it's not that hard.

3) Offer an alternative
Sometimes you have to say "no." Maybe you really don't like the idea, or maybe it's just crazy or impractical. The way to avoid deflating someone's spirit with a hardcore Grodin here is to offer an alternative with your "no." "Hey, can we go see the new Star Trek movie tonight?" Instead of, "no," try, "no, but we cen go see it two days from now." Simple but powerful.

Astute readers will have notices that this started with a "no, but." "No, but" is similar to "yes, and."

IMPORTANT NOTE #1: "No, but" does not equal "yes, and!" "Yes, and" is much, much more powerful in every way. Saying no is your last resort. When you do have to say no, make it a "no but."

IMPORTANT NOTE #2 This is for you improv comedians who will misinterpret this. Don't use "no, but" as an improviser. That's bad improv!

From now on, pay attention to when you catch yourself Grodining. When you do, try saying "yes" instead, or offer an alternative, or, when you must, at least say, "no, but." The people around you will appreciate it.

And you just may he helping stop an Axe Murderer.

Grodin in So I Married An Axe Murderer:


Bonus!
To see some true comedy, you must watch Charles Grodin hit on Miss Piggy from the Great Muppet Caper. Too good!