Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Three Ways To Manage In-Person Encounters

Acquaintances: they're everywhere. I wish there was a universal, neutral way to acknowledge people without having to say anything. Actually, I don't really wish for that, but I know that other people do.

When you pass someone you know--even sort of know--it's almost automatic to ask "how are you?" when all you meant was "hi." Some blog readers out there might argue that this neutral acknowledgement already exists in the gesture that I'm calling the 'whassup' head nod. Not really a nod, but a lifting of the chin, kind of like you're trying to point at the acquaintance with your chin. You've seen this gesture in the works in high schools, on campus at colleges and likely on sitcoms starring Miley Cyrus or Raven Simone. It translates into the word, "whassup?" or just "sup?" if you're into the whole brevity thing.

In the professional world, I think the whassup-chin-up has evolved into a more conversative chin lift--maybe just a 'whass'--accompanied by eyebrow lift. Translated into words, it would equate to, "Hi, I see you. You're there." And this gesture is one to consider when you see acquaintances.

With the advent of Facebook and MySpace and other social networking sites that I don't participate in, it seems like we're all more and more comfortable with managing people like line items in spreadsheets, complete with a sort function. I don't social network (ok, I'm on Linked In), so I don't know all the details, other than people need to write/read blog entries to know how to appropriately manage acquaintances.

But let's just talk about in-person encounters here. I'm talking about the times when you're in a restaurant, or a store, or just walking down the street. Coming up on your left is a person you used to work with, went to high school with, knows your sister, might be a friend of your dad's or you talked to briefly over the meatball Crockpot at a party.

What do you do?

In my mind, you have three choices:

1. Ignore. You can do it on social networking sites, so why not in person? Oh, because it's rude? Well, not if you pretend that you're looking at your phone and "don't see" this person.

2. Extend arm as you pass and let out a "nice to see you!" My friends make fun of me for this one. But I advocate Option 2 as the most economical, friendly and genuine way to greet those acquaintances. It's:

Economical - saves both parties a little time.

Friendly - who doesn't love to have someone else tell them it's nice to see them?

Genuine - it is nice to see them, afterall. Now, keep walking.

Note: Don't forget that a simple wave or a 'whassup' nod can take the place of actually saying anything.

3. Stop and chat. If you have a few minutes and want to catch up (and the other person does, too), then go for it. Grab a coffee and sit down and chat it out. Catch up on how Sally is doing out there in Omaha, and reminisce about that crazy Government 1/2X class during 3rd period was hilarious. Remember that?

This blog does not endorse #1 in any way. In fact, I think it's always better just to say, "hey" or let your chin do the talking. But feel free to use and/or adapt any of the three approaches above, and let us know how it goes.

The Things We Can Do Without

Let's remember last summer. You might have seen me driving shirtless in my Montero (on my way to work). Or you may have caught me changing shirts in the parking garage because I always kept a spare in the back seat. Why? Because I didn't have air conditioning in my car all last summer. And rolling the windows down only brings in so much cool air. So even if I sweated through a shirt on my way to work/grocery store/dentist office/other, I had a backup plan.

I sweat. In cars with no air conditioning, I sweat a lot. I think it was July last summer when I went on a blind date and she asked what time I'd pick her up. "7 or so?" she offered. "Um, what about 8 or 8:30?" I replied, knowing that temperatures were cooler an hour or two later (and also knowing that I shouldn't change shirts mid-date). Don't worry: I timed the date perfectly and we were both as comfortable with the car temperature as we were awkward with the conversation.

So a year and a half later, my air conditioning is fixed and it set me back $39.99. Thinking back now, I'm embarassed for not having it fixed before. But at the time, it seemed easier to roll the windows down than to get it fixed. Plus, I thought it was going to be a lot more money.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A New Reality

If you have been following this blog (or my life) you probably already know that I watch lots of television. Way too much television. If I wasn't married, I'm pretty sure I'd leave the television on at all times. I find all kinds of excuses to leave the TV on. During the day I convince myself that our dog likes to watch TV, so I leave it on for him sometimes. When I travel, I leave it on when I leave my hotel room and somehow convince myself that by leaving the TV on, it's less likely that someone will break into my room. I know how irrational this is, so you don't have to tell me. I think it's just because I really, really like TV.

There isn't much that I don't like about television, but there is one thing that gets me to turn off the TV (or at least change the channel) - the lost art of product placement and subliminal advertising. To clarify, I'm not against subliminal advertising or in-show product placement - I actually think it's brilliant. I just don't like the fact that advertisers don't really try to hide it anymore. Product placement used to be awesome. You'd end up buying something from the store and not realize why until you saw a re-run of the episode. Damn that Michael J. Fox and his Pepsi products.

Like most things, this new lazy product placement can be blamed on reality television. And like most of the pitfalls of reality television, this can be blamed on Survivor. I think it was the first season of Survivor when Jeff Probst awarded Richard Hatch with a Pontiac Aztek when his torch was the last one lit when advertisers realized that they no longer needed to 'sneak' their products into TV shows. On a side note, I think that all 8 of the Pontiac Azteks sold in the United States can be directly attributed to Survivor.

So Survivor was the first, but it has gotten way way worse in the last decade. One of my favorite shows with the absolute worst product placement is The Biggest Loser. Bob, Jillian, and the competitors hawk everything from Jennie-O Turkey to Extra Gum to Ford Freestyles. Oh, and then make it look like it's a conversation:

Contestant 1: Hey Bob, what are you making?

Bob: Just grilling up some Jenni-O Turkey.

Contestant 2: But Bob, is that healthy?

Bob [I'm not sure what Bob says at this point, I get upset and change the channel]

I think if I end up on a reality show, I'll probably freak out like Jim Carrey on The Truman Show when the other contestants start one of these advertisements. I haven't seen the movie in about a decade, but I seem to remember him going nuts on his pseudo-wife when she started one of these mini-commercials in their kitchen. That's probably how I'd get voted off of whatever reality show I end up on. Either that, or it'll be the fact that I would refuse to use the word 'alliance' during my show.

Some product placement just makes me sad. On Rock of Love II, Brett Michaels did a mini commercial for Dave and Busters during the "Meet the Ex-Boyfriends" episode. I mean, the guy used to be the lead singer of Poison, and now he's telling me where I should go next time I want to play air hockey with the guys. Oh, and then he says he's not sure if one of the girls can handle his Rock'n'Roll lifestyle. Really Brett? Can she not keep up with your potato skins and ski ball lifestyle?

So those are just a couple of examples. There are plenty of others. Please share your (least) favorite product placement as a comment to this post. Whatever show it is, I'm sure I've seen it. Or at least my dog has.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Hippie Tipping Point

Hello and greetings from Asheville, North Carolina. Don't worry, I have no intention of turning this into a "here's what's going on in my life blog." Even if I wanted to, that's probably not an option now, as I broke my wife's camera yesterday so there's no way for me to post uninteresting pictures from our travels.

So there are a lot of hippies in Asheville. All kinds of hippies. There are also lots of old retirees here with their gated communities and Tommy Bahama shirts. It's kind of interesting to watch them coexist. It's like Florida and Vermont spent one special night together and Asheville is the result.

Anyway, all of the incense and hacky sack got me thinking about when a city goes from being "hippie friendly" to "a hippie town." I'm pretty convinced that Asheville is the latter. I'm not really sure what pushed Asheville over this hippie threshold (I'll probably need Malcolm Gladwell's help for that) but here's what I've come up with so far:

There are three different generations of hippies here - not counting young children or animals:

1. Credit Card Hippies - Generally 18-29. Loading their canvas shopping bags in the back of their dad's SUV. They recycle, they are politically active, and they wear a North Face fleece over their thrift store t-shirt. They also have an old Phish bumper sticker on the back of their car. Once the phish sticker peels off, they've probably moved into the next category.

2. Whole Foods Hippies - 30 - 49. They were probably Credit Card Hippies at one point but have grown out of that phase. As the name suggests, they are big into organic food and probably bike to work (but only when the weather permits). Their baby strollers are made out of organic or recycled products and they park them in front of the local coffee shop.

Tangent - That's another thing...I can't find a damn Starbucks in this town. Are they too hippie for Starbucks or something? This is a clear sign that you have gone from hippie friendly to hippie town.

3. Original Hippies - 49 - ?. These people were hippies back before being green was something that companies could capitalize on. They compost and garden and have children with interesting names. I've noticed that these original hippies can be on either end of the skincare spectrum. My dermatologist (circa 1994) had a poster about how skincare today would determine what you looked like when you got older. So anyway there was a picture of a 50-something Plains Indian woman with a face like an old catcher's mitt and then a 90-something year old monk with the best skin ever. Anyway, these original hippies either have the best skin ever and look super healthy (like the monk) or they look like they have spent their entire lives outside and are completely weathered (the Indian woman). There are never any original hippies in between.

So I guess if you have all three types of hippies in your town, then you are not just hippie friendly, but are actually a hippie town. Oh, a couple other things that I noticed about Asheville that could have tipped them toward hippieville:

1. There was an actual hippie drum circle in the city park on Friday. I'm not kidding. Honestly, could you play to the hippie stereotype anymore?

2. It was impossible to tell the difference between the homeless hippies and the other hippies. We couldn't tell if we were in a bad neighborhood or not. This is a telltale sign.

Okay, that's all I've got. If you've ever spent time in a hippie town and have something to add, feel free to post comments.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Spring Break - Family Style

So this spring break post is probably about a month too late. Had we started the blog earlier, I probably would've started with something like:

"It's that time of year again -time for college students everywhere to load up the Grand Cherokee and head to blah blah blah sleeping in the bathtub blah blah blah..."

But as I said, I'm a little late with my spring break post. The reason I'm just getting to it now is because Kate and I are going on our semi-adult spring break. It's definitely not Panama City with the fraternity brothers, but it's not Orlando with the kids and the minivan and the juice boxes either. We're doing a four day road trip through the Southeastern United States - hitting Asheville, Charlotte, and Nashville on successive nights. For those of you wondering, Gilbert is staying with (and being spoiled by) his grandparents.

So back to our mini spring break. There are a few reasons why I know this is just 'spring break' as opposed to Spring Break!!! First, we have to ask permission to go. In college, you just leave when class is over with. Everyone leaves. But now we have to ration our vacation days over the course of a year. Also, I think that one of the best parts of vacation is that every day has a potential highlight - basically something that you're looking forward to. My first boss always had us give our highs and lows for each workday. At work, the low for the day tends to stick with you more than the high. On vacation, the low is typically overshadowed by the day's high. Durring a college Spring Break! these potential highlights would usually involve bars named using some kind of (Adjective or Animal Species + Human Name) naming convention. Something like Sharky Bobs or Crazy Eddies. It's a little different for our sort of grown up spring break. Here are our potential highlights:

Kate's Pre-Trip Highlight: Finding the perfect sized bag of cheddar-flavored Chex Mix. Large enough for a 7+ hour drive, but not so big that you'll feel guilty eating the entire bag.

Nate's Pre-Trip Highlight: Naming my own prices for hotel rooms on Priceline. After a successful bid, I would do the William Shatner "Priceline Negotiator" karate chop. As mentioned in previous posts, I'm a huge dork.

Kate's Day 1 Potential Highlight: Not having to wear her pager. Yes, you read that correctly. My wife has to wear a pager for work. All the time. Yes it's 2008. Yes, they still make pagers. And yes, they still look ridiculous. For those of you not familiar with this technology, it's like a phone with caller ID, except the phone part is broken. And it doesn't have a camera or MP3 player.

Nate's Day 1 Potential Highlight: Mastery of my new Garmin. Oh, who am I kidding. It's really the potential detour to the Maker's Mark Distillery (my Graceland).

Kate's Day 2 Potential Highlight: A hotel room with a fluffy comforter. Or as she puts it "I hope they don't have the dirty comforters like the ones on 20/20 with the blacklights." The style of the comforter will determine whether I was successful with my Priceline Negotiator skills.

Nate's Day 2 Potential Highlight: Running then Pancakes. Oh, and not checking my email before noon.

Shared Day 3 Potential Highlight: Beer and live music in Nashville. Probably peaking early and being in bed by 10:00.

Kate's Day 4 Potential Highlight: Being one day closer to seeing her dog. Or being home in time to watch Oprah - it's just not the same when it'd TiVo'd.

Nate's Day 4 Potential Highlight: Stopping at the outlet mall to buy new running shoes because the Nike Outlet Store is the only place I can find shoes for my freakish feet.

So that's a glimpse into the Romance Family Spring Break 2008. We'll be back in a few days with plenty of new blog material. Oh, and if you have any other suggestions for what my daily highlights should be in Asheville, Nashville, or Charlotte, let me know. I'll try not to use up my ticket quota this early in the year.

Your Turn

Thanks to all our readers for your help on my paper re: Native Land Allotments in Natick, Mass. Really appreciate your help, and your patience as I get through finals. Don't worry: everything is complete on Monday. I'm in an airport in Nate's future home, so I decided to write you. Here goes:

My sister is furious about a recent parking ticket.

She's especially mad because she returned to the empty parking meter within two minutes of dropping in a nearby store to get change, only to return to the car, and the meter maid writing the ticket. "No, no, no--I'm right here. I have change!"

"I'm only doing my job," the meter maid replied, handing the pink sheet to her.

My sister is five months pregnant and has a one-year old on her hip. I proclaim: her dedication to baby-making does not give her permission to break the law or avoid slotting loose change in the meter. But the meter maid did not show any compassion for my sister or her circumstance when writing out the ticket. And this pissed my sister off. She made a scene on the street and promised the meter maid, "I'm going downtown to report you!"

All that effort, and she's stuck with a $20 ticket. But my sister is one of her word: she followed-through on her promise to the meter maid and sought out the supervisor o' meter maids at the City-County Building. Instead of finding him/her, my sister got the next best thing: her court date is scheduled on June 4th to protest. Stay tuned to the blog for how this story ends. . .

We all have these "it's not fair" stories about traffic and/or parking tickets, right? A roommate told me a story about how he got a ticket (but shouldn't have) for turning left on a red light. Another friend got a speeding ticket for eluding a tailgater (but it was to avoid a larger traffic danger). Buy me a beer and I'll tell you a boring story about my own experience getting a ticket while delivering oranges at Christmastime.

I'm pretty sure that everyone (at least occasionally) exceeds the speed limit, rolls a stop sign or doesn't slow to 20 mph in a school zone. While these laws were designed to protect us all, sometimes we, as busy blog readers, don't have time to pay appropriate heed to them all. So when we get caught, why don't we just pay the fine and move on? Why the big deal?

You're going to say, "money." Yeah, I don't have $150 bucks (speeding) or even $20 bucks (parking) to throw out the window, either. But I don't think it's about money for most. Instead, it's about getting caught.

Here's my solution: I save myself some heartache and angst by assuming that once a year, I'm going to get caught. I am going to get caught, and pay a ridiculous fine for something that most everyone does every day. It's that simple. If I ever made a budget, I'd budget 'Tickets' line item into my annual operating costs. If you're getting more than one ticket a year, it's probably time to reevaluate some things.

What do you think about this 1 ticket/year as a threshold? Do you think it should be more/less often??

Monday, April 21, 2008

My Basket of Goods

My blogmate is still working on his finals, so you're stuck with me again today. Or, if you happen to be an expert on early American history (specifically all things Tecumseh) then you could help RJ out and give him more blogging time.

So I was an Economics major in college and my favorite topic was the Consumer Price Index. I know...I'm a huge dork. For those of you who have not devoted years of your life to studying Econ, the Consumer Price Index (or CPI) is a measure of inflation. The concept that always interested me was the so-called basket of goods. It's a basket of real products that economists use to determine the level of inflation. This basket is used as the foundation for the CPI. Prices increasing on the items in the basket helps determine the rate of inflation. Okay, no more Econ lecture.

The basket of goods is supposed to be a representation of commonly purchased food and household items by the typical American consumer. I'm curious how they determine which items to put in the basket. Like when the whole Atkins Diet craze happened, did they start taking bread out of the basket and put in more meat? Also, do you ever look at the stuff that the people in front of you buy at the grocery store? It's one of my favorite things to do. It's very rare for me to have a matching shopping cart with the person in front of me, so I wonder if they're using my basket of goods or the person in front of me with the clear plastic tub of generic ice cream and the Hungry Man XXL TV Dinner.

A similar topic is the concept of persona marketing- where companies try to put a face on different segments of customers. Basically trying to figure what different characteristics make up different segments of the customer base. The idea seems to make sense to me, until I think about some of the random-ass product assortments that I've purchased lately. Last month I went to Best Buy and bought my H&R Block Tax Software, a Kid Rock CD, and a "teach yourself German" CD-Rom. Are there other people out there who have purchased the same three products out of Best Buy's 10,000+ SKUs? Oh, and then my wife and I went to CVS (one of Kate's favorite leisure activities) and we walked out with a tube of Neosporin, a handle of gin, and an issue of Marie Claire. You can probably figure out which item was for me and which were for Kate.

So I've decided that an accurate basket of goods would look more like the back page of the Menards advertisement (reading this is another of Kate's favorite activities). I encourage all of you to look at the Menards Ad in this Sunday's newspaper. It's just completely random stuff that Menards sells (for some reason). I'm convinced that they just let a four year old or drunk person go into one of their stores and point to a bunch of items and that's how they determine this week's advertisement. This week they have beef jerky, an 18'' push broom, and bird seed.

Feel free to post your own basket of goods. I have to get back to my gin and German lecture.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Pepperoni Pizza and Other Friend-Screening Techniques

Sorry to all of the RJ fans out there, but he's all busy with school or a social life so that means two straight posts by me. This one was inspired by an IM conversation that I had with RJ today, so I guess that's his contribution for this week. Oh, and if you find this post offensive, then it was RJ's idea.

We started talking about pepperoni pizza this morning. And by talking, I mean I just IM'd RJ (even though we sit next to each other) and he responded favorably. I don't really mind pepperoni pizza. I guess it tastes okay. According to How Stuff Works (yes, this is really how I spend my Friday night), 35.7% of you would list pepperoni as your favorite pizza topping - the highest of any topping. Despite its popularity, I think pepperoni pizza (specifically, aggressive campaigning on behalf of pepperoni) can be used as a friend/acquaintance screening device.

The theory goes something like this - If you have several acquaintances and are trying to determine which ones you want to upgrade to friend status, invite them over to your house/apartment/office for pizza. Try to get the group to decide on the appropriate topping(s) for your pizza. Most will probably say something along the lines of "oh I don't really care - I like anything." For those people, you can either grant them the upgrade to friend status (if you're looking for flexible, low-maintenance friends) or you can apply another screening technique (other options listed below). If someone requests veggie, or something not found on the average pizza menu, then they're either a vegetarian or just an interesting person, so you can upgrade them to friend status. Everyone needs at least one vegetarian friend. The person that you have to look out for is the person who actively campaigns for pepperoni. I'm not really sure why, but I've never gotten along with most pepperoni lobbyists. Not someone who goes along with or offers mild support to the pepperoni campaign-they're probably decent people. As are people who order pepperoni by the slice, or want a pepperoni-inspired Chicago style pizza. It's the Karl Rove of the pepperoni campaign that you have to look out for- working behind the scenes to get others to support their candidate. I'd recommend severing all ties with this person immediately. If they are aggressively campaigning for pepperoni, just politely ask them to leave.

So maybe the above scenario won't present itself very often. I guess you could just be the type of person that offers instant upgrades to friend status, or likes to just let these types of things happen naturally without applying some type of evaluation process. Or maybe you're the person that would campaign for pepperoni. If this is the case, then we have some other screening criteria that you can apply:

Screening Technique #2 -Think of a band or musician that you are indifferent about. If you hear them on the radio you don't change the station. You know there's probably something better on, but it's not worth the effort to reach for the dial. Hopefully you've got a handful of bands/artists that meet that criteria. Now think about die hard fans of that band or artist. Do they annoy you? Back in the day, Blink 182 fit this criteria for me. The music was harmless but the true fans were annoying. Okay, so take the band/artist with the harmless music and annoying fans, and apply the following screening technique Ask your potential friend to go to a concert with this band/artist. If the candidate accepts the invitation, then just tell them you were testing them and never talk to them again. If they think about it, but then decide that it isn't worth the time or money, then they have passed the test.

Screening Technique #3 - Think of the alcohol that you had your first negative drinking experience with. The one that even the thought or sight of it makes you throw up a little in your mouth. Mine would be Southern Comfort. That was difficult to write down. Okay - now that you've remembered that terrible experience, make a rule that you will never take on a friend that has this alcohol as their 'go-to' drink at a bar. Trust me, you'll be much better off in the long run.

Feel free to post comments with your own friend-screening criteria. Or you can disagree with mine. You won't change my mind on this (Kate has tried unsuccessfully for the last four years) but you can disagree if it makes you feel better.

Oh, and my sincere apologies go out to all of the pepperoni pizza-campaigning, Blink 182-listening, Southern Comfort-drinking people out there. You know who you are. It's not too late to change your ways.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Good Morning, Matt. GoodMorningGoodMorning

For the most part, this is a fairly positive blog. RJ and I are both pretty positive people. There's one topic that we both have very strong feelings about. Strong enough to have a negative post. My 28th birthday (yeah, that's today) serves as a convenient excuse for writing a negative blog post: The Ann Curry Post. Also, this will be the first joint effort on this blog. Through the magic of blog technology, we're able to (I hope) both contribute to this post.

Update: We couldn't figure out how to have two people edit the same post, so instead RJ will add his thoughts on Ann later tonight. Also, it's no longer my birthday, but I don't want to edit the first paragraph, or wait another 364 days to finish this post.

I love The Today Show. I watch it frequently. For those of you who work with me: no, that's not why I show up late or why I work from home. Let's just say I TiVo The Today Show. Anyway, there's one aspect of The Today Show that ruins my Captain Crunch and Apple Juice: Ann Curry. To clarify, I don't have anything against Ann personally. I actually think she does a decent job on Dateline and some of the other NBC shows. But on The Today Show, she's terrible. My biggest complaint with Ann centers on her interviewing skills. She's an interrupter. We all know one, and maybe that's why Ann strikes a nerve with me (and the tens of others that I have discussed this with). In his post, I'm sure RJ will reference the interview where Ann was asking questions (sort of) of an expert on etiquette, and Ann would interrupt her...oh the irony. Ann really doesn't listen to what her guest has to say, but is just waiting (or not waiting) for her turn to ask a question.

So the interrupting thing is by biggest complaint with Ann, but because of this, I have started looking for other things that annoy me about Ann. These are probably things that I would look past if she didn't interrupt her guests. One of these is the way that she constantly tucks her hair behind her ears while reading the news. She could be reading a story about IEDs in Iraq, and mid-story she'll start messing with her hair. I want to believe that my news reader is at least thinking about the story that she's reading, instead of worrying about her hair.

Oh, and there's the way that she gets all nervous when she starts reading the news. Like she knows everyone is looking at her, so she starts talking all fast like the micro machine man. There are plenty of YouTube clips out there about her wishing us a good morning several times before getting to the headlines.

Finally, there's the Ann Curry question. If we want to analyze the actual question, it's more like a question-statement-underlated statement-different question-statement-pause. The guest typically doesn't know how to respond. Either that, or they just don't bother because they know that Ann is just going to interrupt them. Here's a sample (made-up) Ann question:

Ann: Senator Obama, You're wearing a blue tie, could you please explain why you're wearing a blue tie, I really like blue and think it's a good color, your views on healthcare are very interesting, What can we do to get out of the war in Iraq, I know that you don't like the war and I think we should get out of it as well (pause).

Senator Obama: Well Ann...

Ann: Sorry Senator, we're out of time, thank you so much for joining us.

We could get into much bigger issues here, like why I watch The Today Show, or why they brought back Kathy Lee, but that's not really the point of this post. We'd love to hear your thoughts on Ann, and stay tuned for RJ's post on this topic. Back to you, Matt and Meredith.

Friday, April 11, 2008

A Vision for Television

I don't have cable.

But about once a week, I get offers from the cable and satellite companies offering me special three-month, 99 channel deals--what makes them think I want to trade in my rabbit ears? In February 2009, I'm going to have to buy a new apparatus if I want to continue sharing Sunday Mornings with Charles Osgood, so maybe I should stop shredding those offers and welcome in the millenium. I might go wild and look into a DVR--I get offers for those, too. This afternoon, I found two in my mailbox.

My family didn't have television between my 4th grade year and high school graduation. Other than being completely out of touch with 50% of middle school and high school conversations (the Friends or Seinfeld era), I think I turned out okay. It wasn't that my parents were anti-entertainment; we watched nearly every movie that hit theaters between and '89 and '98. Instead, I think they just didn't want to have the distraction in the house. . . same logic I apply to not having hundreds of cable channels within my remote control's reach.

I still see some cable programming at friends' houses, or the houses of my family members who have completely cast down their heritage and watch cable defiantly on giant, glowing plasma screens. And I know the dangers of having cable near: in college, I was known for entire Saturdays spent watching reruns on Comedy Central. One January, I watched two episodes of Quantum Leap per day. I should have included Ron Popeil's informercials at the top of my list of 'guilty pleasures' blog. Combine some Top Chef with a few episodes of Stargate and I've got myself a nice little weekend.

But I don't want to spend my life in front of the television. So when I tore open the cable/satellite junkmail offers today, I came back to an idea I've had for a few years. If we get enough people behind it, I think we might be able to make this happen. Here's what I'm thinking: an idea that we could call ChooseTube--a kind of 'Fave Fives' for cable TV.

Here's how it works: in addition to your local stations, you get to pick any five cable channels and you can change them out on a monthy basis. Hey, since I'm making it up as I go, let's say you can change out the channels at any time. Of course, the cable companies would never go for it; they're too fond of C-Span.

Instead of hundreds of channels you never watch, you get your favorite five channels (maybe 10 in a Family Pak) on a pay-per-channel basis. My initial order would include:

1. HBO: Six Feet Under is the best drama I've ever seen on TV (well, rented from Netflix). I'm through Deadwood and happily in the midst of Entourage. There's a reason HBO keeps winning all the Emmys, and also the top spot on my ChooseTube.

2. Food Network: I'm drumming up the courage to email Nigela to ask out her out on a date. And I feel like I'm friends with Jamie Oliver, Bobby Flay, and Paula Dean could be my aunt. Iron Chef is perfect for a Friday night unwind. . .though I might get picky and ask that this channel be traded with Animal Planet whenever Emeril is scheduled.

3. Discovery Channel: Because Mythbusters is so good.

4. VH1: A music channel that actually shows music videos (well, in the morning, anyway)? Their countdowns are good wastes of time, and I always enjoy Best Week Ever.

5. Comedy Central: But only for Kids in the Hall reruns.

You're probably thinking: no news? No sports? Yes. And yes. Maybe this idea isn't supportive of the cable companies' current business models, but I think it would be perfect for me.

What channels are on your list, and who's saving C-Span?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

On Adulthood

So one of the themes of this blog is that the authors are somewhere between college and official adulthood. This has led to a few of our loyal readers (okay, we probably don't have loyal readers yet) to ask for a definition of adulthood. Maybe not a definition, but some sort of criteria that would help determine when you officially reach adulthood. Keep in mind that whatever criteria we set here for adulthood, it can't fit me (otherwise this blog would be founded on lies).

I've ruled out using a specific age to determine adulthood. There are a couple reasons for this:
1. There are plenty of 24 year olds out there who act like they're 45 (and the other way around).
2. Whatever age I set, some of our blog readers would be older than this age, and we're really trying to grow our readership here

R.J. thinks that vacuum cleaner ownership is an indication of adulthood. I'm ruling this one out, because we're on our second vacuum cleaner already - which would make me an adult.

Sidenote: If you're asking yourself why does he have two vacuum cleaners then you're not alone. I ask myself the same question everyday. Apparently our perfectly fine/working first vacuum cleaner doesn't do a good job of getting dog hair off of couches. My solution to this was to keep the dog of the couch. Silly me.

Some of the other rejected criteria for adulthood followed the same general idea - if you own this, then you're an adult. I decided that ownership of some possession (or lack thereof) isn't the best criteria, as that's more a product of economics (or marital status) than adulthood. So that rules out potential criteria like having a mortgage, food processor, or getting rid of your college car.

I also don't think that parenthood = adulthood. I watch enough Dr. Phil and Discovery Health to know that plenty of non-adults have kids.

So I've come up with two ideas that I think might work. The first involves going to the doctor. Not just going to the doctor when you're sick or hurt, but going to the doctor because it's time to go to the doctor. So regular appointments or check-ups with a family physician. This family physician cannot be the same doctor that you went to when you were a kid. You have to have your own general doctor and go there when nothing (that you know of) is wrong with you. I'm sure that's a really good idea, but I think that makes you an adult.

The second potential sign of adulthood involves work holiday parties. There are all kinds of holiday parties. Since I graduated college, I've had three real jobs and had three different kinds of holiday parties. The first one I would classify as adults only and quiet - the kind of thing that you might do on a typical weekend. It was at a dinner theatre where you'd sit with one other couple and watch a play and eat dinner in silence. It was over by 10:00 PM and there was no hint of an after party. The second type (job #2) was the family friendly holiday party. It was scheduled from 10 AM - Noon and involved Santa and children and scrambled eggs. The third type of party is adults-only, open bar with plenty of options after the official party ends. Nothing too crazy, but at least enough activity to make you believe some of the statistics about people getting fired based on behavior at the holiday party.

Getting back to my theory on adulthood, the criteria here is what is your ideal holiday party is either #1 (adults only, in silence, in bed before 11:00) or #2 (children and Santa) then you're an adult. If your ideal holiday party is #3 (and it's not your one big night for the year) then you're probably not officially an adult - or you don't get out enough.

So those are just a couple of ideas. I had another one that revolved around what you look for when you buy a pair of jeans, but this post is probably already long enough. We'd love for you to post comments on your own criteria because a) I'm pretty sure we can come up with better ideas and b) I'd like to break the current blog record for comments to an individual post. Roy's guilty pleasure post has 14 comments (check local listings) and I'm pretty sure we can break the record.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Guilty Pleasures

This morning at work (post-hug), I wanted to tell Nate the idea for my next blogpost. I had thought of it just a few minutes earlier, but racked my brain and couldn't remember. Turns out I had email stacking up in my inbox, so I stopped worrying about it.

But I quickly remembered in the parking garage. Because when I turned the ignition, my sound system kicked in, and the new Matchbox 20 CD was playing (Track 2).


I know. And I'm one of those guys who prides himself on knowing obscure bands. I also still buy CDs. In related news, I love to tell stories about how I know bands before they get popular, including:
- Vertical Horizon: found the original release of their CD (years ago) in a random bin at Barnes & Noble years before their lead singer shaved his head and their CD was re-released. I have the CD as proof.
- The Fray: I got set up on this "blind" date and we went and saw them open for Kyle Riabko back when they were recording their first album in Bloomington, IN .
- Train: okay, Doug--one of my college roommates--gets credit for finding them somewhere online in pre-Napster-gets-busted days.
- I'm sure there are others; I just don't want to bore you.

Note: I don't know that I'm helping my blog-cred or music-cred by mentioning the above bands (or by using the slang, 'cred,' for that matter).

Cut back to me, driving home from work, Matchbox 20 is playing. And yes, I'm singing along. Come on, this post is about guilty pleasures, and I couldn't remember about the blog idea when I was talking to Nate. I think it's because I completely block out some of these guilty pleasures until I experience them again.

To be fair, the idea of 'guilty pleasures' is not remotely original; in fact, some Indy natives recently wrote The Encyclopedia of Guilty Pleasures detailing their list of 1001 of them. But it's times like this morning when you suddenly realize that you love something that's socially unacceptable. Here's a short list of the ones I'm willing to admit to:

1. Matchbox 20: as mentiond before. Rob Thomas is a good songwriter. I own his solo album and those of Matchbox 20. There, I said it.

2. Fudge Rounds and Oatmeal Cream Pies. I used to eat these things in middle school when I was waiting for my mom to pick me up from 7th grade. You know, back before PTOs took the vending machines out of schools. I know that the "little" in Little Debbie is a lie and that she's probably huge or dead by now. But if I'm alone on a road trip, you can be sure that I'm picking up at least one of her soft, sugary mushpies.

3. MTV: I don't have cable, but I go to my sister and brother-in-law's house frequently, and they do.

4. Taco Bell: I'm pretty sure I'm not alone here. I think Taco Bell generates at least 40% of revenues on the loyal 'guilty pleasure' following that does drive-thru only. I used to love the Crunch Wrap Supreme, but I'm back to being a three soft tacos guy; sometimes I go for a burrito. Damn, I miss those twisty cinnamon things.

And now it's your turn, so start posting your comment(s). Use a code name or a handle so we don't know it's you.

Let's Meet Our Contestants

I like game shows. Not Howie Mandel with a bunch of briefcases, but real game shows - like Jeopardy. My favorite part of Jeopardy happens just after the first commercial break (usually a Head On or Adult Diaper Commercial). That's when Alex gets to know more about the contestants. Each contestant has their Jeopardy fact - Alex gives them a teaser and then the contestant finishes the story. Example:

Alex: "So I hear you've got something in common with an American icon..."
Lame Contestant "That's right Alex, I share a birthday with Elvis - January 8."

As you can see from the example above, some Jeopardy facts are really, really uninteresting. This makes me sad, especially if it's a first time contestant. I think a decent quarter-life goal is to have five interesting Jeopardy facts. It shouldn't be that hard - to average one interesting life experience every five years. Or I guess you could come up with one really good lie every five years (I doubt the Clue Crew is doing their due diligence between episodes).

Having five interesting facts at your disposal would certainly come in handy if you're ever on Jeopardy, as you'd have an interesting Jeopardy fact for your entire first week as a contestant (I'm assuming you're smart). After the first week, Alex just starts talking about all the money you've made or takes the 30 seconds to show how smart he is anyway.

I also think five good Jeopardy facts can help your career. I've found myself in plenty of awkward work situations where only a good Jeopardy fact can break the awkwardness. Whether it's a way too dull client dinner, a get to know you meeting with new coworkers (i.e. scheduled play date), or just a planning meeting that is dragging on longer than anyone expected - a well positioned Jeopardy fact (like telling people that you were in a circus for seven years, or that your dad was your junior high sex ed. teacher) can shift the conversation away from work for just long enough. It often will lead to others sharing their Jeopardy facts, which is a great coworker screening tool.

So I speak for my blogmate when I say that we'd love to hear your Jeopardy facts. You can post them as comments to this post, or just save them for your next game show appearance or awkward work situation.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Social Networking Rules of Engagement

So this social networking is all the rage these days. Wow, you can add that last sentence to the "Things that make me feel old" post. Anyway, I think it's time to come up with some type of criteria to determine whether you should become someones "friend" on Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn or any other social networking site. So the following list is for evaluating potential friends and determining whether you should A) Accept a pending friend request or B) Invite the person to be your friend.

Editor's Note: As many of you know, I do not adhere to my own rules, nor do I want any of you to unfriend me because I do not meet these standards.

Okay, back to the list. Only one of the following rules has to be met in order to invite or accept a pending invite. I was going to create a decision tree, but I'm not sure if blogger has advanced editor capabilities.

1. Do you currently work with the Potential Friend? If so, you have to accept. Work will be awkward if you don't.

2. Do you know the Potential Friend's birthday, middle name, or parents name(s)? If you know two of the three you should accept. If not, move on to the next question.

3. Have you eaten a meal or had a drink with this person (just the two of you). Or, if the person is a grown-up (we'll use 35+ as our definition for this post) have you eaten dinner with potential friend's family? If so, you've got yourself a friend.

Sidebar: I'm finding that people 25-29 have more issues with "adults" joining social networking sites than people under 25. My theory is that for the under 25 set, social networking is your thing. You were in college/high school in 2004 when this became popular. You probably even think the term "social networking" is a way for older people to try to sound cool (agreed). Anyway, the under 25 group that grew up with social networking views the medium in an entirely different way than people in the 25-29 demographic. The 25-29 group feels that they're pushing it on the acceptable age of having a Facebook account, so they really like to look down on older people being on there. Sorry, I'll get back to my list now.

4. Are you in college right now? If yes, then you can be friends with anyone. See sidebar above. This is your thing, so my rules don't apply to you.

5. Did you graduate (same year) from college with potential friend? If yes, then you're good to go. If potential friend went to college with you, but did not graduate in the same class, then you have to share a club, group or team that averaged at least 5 hours/week for at least one semester. If potential college friend does not meet this criteria, move on to #6.

6. Is potential friend's phone number currently stored in your phone? That alone is not enough. If you were to lose, break or upgrade your phone, would you transfer potential friend's number into your new phone? If so, then you've got a new friend.

7. If potential friend randomly emailed you, with the typical "I'm-trying-to-be-a-better-friend-and-trying-to-keep-in-touch-so-here's-everything-going-on-in-my-life-now-it's-your-turn" email, how long do you think it would take you to respond? If it is less than 48 hours from the time you read the email, then they indeed are a friend.

8. If it is a potential friend from high school, do you have a story with potential friend? Note the use of 'with' here. It cannot be: "Remember the time when Potential Friend did X at Y." It has to be: "Remember the time when Potential Friend and I did X at Y." If you've got a story, then you have a friend.

9. Family members. They actually make pretty good Facebook friends. They update their status frequently and post pictures of other family members. You know who you are.

10. Is it after 10 PM? If yes, then accept the pending invite or invite the potential friend. It is statistically proven (N=1) that most friend requests are made and received after 10 PM, so this should take care of most of the other requests that you receive.

Well, I hope this list is helpful. Like I said, I don't use it. If you have others, let us know. Stay tuned for a blog post on "Why my ridiculous blogmate is scared of social networking and refuses to join Facebook" (working title).

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Next Round's on Me

The British are big on buying rounds. In my experience, when you go to a [pub] with British folk, they beeline it for the bar, collecting orders from the group on the way. It's almost that they delight in starting off the evening by picking up the first round. People in London don't drive a lot, so it must be like their version of yelling "shotgun!" in the parking lot. Whatever it is, the act feels genuine, and without need of reciprocation.

But there's some unspoken co-op strategy to this round-buying idea. Perhaps something like this: everyone's going to drink the number of beers equal to, or greater than, the number in the group. So the number of people you go out with is directly proportional to the level of your anticipated drunkenness. Five people in the group = five beer night. Six people = six beer night. Note: I'm not sure if martinis or pina coladas apply in this situation. Also note: I've never seen a pina colada ordered in a British [pub].

My friends are just discovering this round-buying concept, and it's making everyone's life a little better. The waiter/waitress/bartender doesn't have to run [insert number of group members] credit cards, and we don't have to wait for the waiter/waitress/bartender to do so. Plus, some trips to the bar are 'free.'

So why the change from an 'everyone for themselves' approach? I've come to a conclusion based on plain economics: five years into our adult working life, we have more money. Plus, it's fun. You feel like a hero in knowing that you're treating. When you buy a round of drinks, you're in a scene that reminds everyone of Cheers rerun.

Once I have enough extra cash blowing around, I'm going to walk into a bar and stand up on a stool and announce, "next round's on me!" I imagine that there will be cheering, some shouting. Ted Dansen might be there with a pre-White Men Can't Jump Woody Harrelson. Confetti might drop on the crowd, and everyone will want to shake my hand. In the uproar, they'll ask for my name, and what part of England I'm from.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Messenger > My Display Image > Share My Picture

One of my favorite things about work in my company's dependence on instant messenger. IM isn't always the best communication method - you rarely have the recipient's full attention, there's no paper trail, and my sarcasm doesn't always come across correctly. Despite it's flaws, IM provides a unique create outlet - the avatar. For those of you unfamiliar, it's the display image that shows up next to your name (and your IMs) to your contacts. I know avatar technically has some other meaning, and that what we're really talking about here is called a display image, but I call my display image an avatar. This is 50% my blog, so that's what it's called.

So back to the beauty of the avatar. You can select whatever image you'd like. In a company like ours where you rarely (if ever) see your coworkers, the avatar serves as your head shot to the digital world. Speaking of which, the selection of a picture of yourself as an avatar is not good. If I wanted to see what you looked like, I'd just google you. The avatar is a creative outlet. Some members of the avatar hall of fame include:

Chairman Mao Playing Ping Pong
Pig in Slop
The Chief from "Where in the World is Carmen Santiego"
The State Fair Handshake (Man and Woman walking with hands in each other's back pockets)

As you can tell, avatars don't have be be relevant or timely or anything. I did a little avatar consulting for my work friends in the past. I would ask a series of questions (example: What is the heaviest thing that you can lift above your head") and would then provide a handful of images to select from (example: Bell Biv Devoe Album Cover). Similar to blogging, I was not able to monetize my avatar consulting business, but feel as though I contributed to the greater good. There are now more cartoon characters and pop culture icons and fewer yellow smiley faces on my buddy list than there were when I started. My work here is done.

What Happens At Work...

I want to start this post be reiterating that this blog is not an attempt to point out differences between men and women. I'm pretty sure that John Gray has that niche covered with his planetary contrasts. With that disclaimer in mind, there is one difference that I have to point out:

My wife cries at work. Frequently. Her female coworkers also cry at work. They cry alone. They cry with each other. They cry at home when thinking about work. I don't cry at work. Never have. I assume I probably would if I got fired or shot or something like that, but I can't think of too many other work situations that would bring me to tears. I think it has something to do with a difference of philosophy in how work is a part of life.

I care about work. Working hard and doing a good job is a means to do what I want to do in the future - not work. Also, I've found that doing a good job at work leads to fewer awkward work situations than if you slack off or mess up at work. These are good reasons to care about your job.

The difference is that I see work as an 8-10 hour play with daily performances. I'm not myself at work. If I was myself, I'd wear pajama pants and drink beer and watch sports. Clearly, this would lead to more awkward work situations. So I play a role everyday in this work play. There's no real script, so I guess it's like the longest episode of "Whose Line is it Anyway" with less singing. That said, since it's the same play everyday, I think my performance does improve over time. With this approach to work, I also assume that my coworkers are clients are also acting. When you spend time with coworkers outside of work, do they behave the same way that they do in the office? If not, then they're probably acting when in the office. Either that or they have multiple personalities.

Taking this acting approach with your jobs makes it easier to dismiss work drama and difficult personalities. If someone is mean to me at work or if it is a difficult client, that's just the role that they're playing on that day. Once shooting wraps for the day, you leave the set, get out of character, and don't really think about it until the next day.

My wife is the same person at work that she is at home. This does have some benefits (especially for her coworkers) because she's a really, really good person. The downside is that there's no way for her to distance her home self from her work self. What this means is that I hear about her job when she gets home. I don't really mind that. Sometimes the stories are interesting. I just think that her approach leads to thinking and talking about work well after work is over for the day. Not a big fan of that.

So next time someone is annoying or mean at work, try to think of it as an acting gig. Your coworker is playing the role of "Annoying Coworker #1" and you're playing the role of "(Wo)man Who Doesn't Take it Personally" Just avoid using a fake British accent. Those are annoying whether you're acting or not.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

My Other Blog Title is Ironic 2

We knew each other in college, but we didn't really become friends until we started working together. Before, I'd say we were acquaintances, even though we were roommates one semester. Nate loves Malcom Gladwell allusions when describing my approach to acquaintances. Ask him about it. Or post a comment with your question and he'll respond.

Nate started at our company two years ago. After a month of saying I would, I joined him for my first-time lunch run. And for over two years, we've been running during our lunchbreaks. We call the two of us running at lunch, 'Running Club,' and we now have two additional members. But Nate and I might be nearing 300 lunchtime runs--I don't really know the exact number; Nate's the numbers guy.

On at least 4 or 5 of those 300 runs, we talked about writing a book. Some sort of co-authored pop culture project where we discuss the awkward 'second puberty' (Nate's term) that happens after college graduation. We've come up with 'sarcasm' and 'grad school' as distractions, but we're still trying to find a way to answer that interview question: "where do you see yourself in. . . ?"

So after months of saying we would, we started writing. Here it is. We talked about making the title something really witty or ironic, but Running Club voted for straightforward.

Why We Hug Every Morning

Mostly because Nate makes me.

Especially in the summer, when I sweat for 4.5 months straight, the last thing I want waiting at my desk when I arrive is a full-frontal man hug. But since I can't seem to get out of bed until 8 am--and then to work by 9--Nate makes the rules about our greeting style. And I just have to go along with it, the way the roommate has to take whichever bunk is leftover when he shows up to the dorm second with his parents and the U-Haul.

With all the focus on work-appropriate behavior, there's always a chuckle from colleagues when we're spotted back in our corner every morning, hugging and back patting. But we stick with it, and our other work-surival traditions. We run; we talk about the show New Amsterdam; on Friday afternoons, we go to Starbucks. I'm pleased that when Nate moves, he'll go with a roomy Americano in his hand, rather than embarassing himself by showing up South of the Mason-Dixon line sipping on a caramel frappucino.

Yeah, Nate's moving to Charlotte. He and Kate have an affinity for those southeastern ch- or sh-sound cities, like Charlotte and Chatanooga and Jackshonville. And in a few months, when he's wfh in front of Ann Curry's worst-yet interview in North Carolina, I'll be rolling in to headquarters at 9 to find a new desk neighbor. And I'm while I'm curious about what new traditions we'll build together, I'm more curious about who will greet me each morning, and how.

My Cliché Beat Up Your Honor Student

I love bumper stickers. All of them. I've come up with five categories of bumper stickers. Each one has a special place in my heart.

Cause Stickers - This includes political causes, social causes, religious causes and ribbons. Ribbons probably deserve their own post, so we'll save those for another time. So anyway, back to cause stickers. I don't really get it. Do people change their opinions on important issues because of what they see on the back of a car? So I used to be pro choice and then the sticker told me that abortion stops a beating heart. Does that really happen? If so, does it make a different what type of car the sticker is on? Maybe one day I'll believe in a cause enough to tattoo my car. I especially like the obscure cause stickers, like "I have an Autistic Son AND I VOTE." I guess that one is a warning to all of you political candidates who are running on an anti-autism platform. You know who you are.

Inherited Stickers - You'll typically see these on older cars. Faded stickers that don't match the driver of the car. Like a Tigger-jacket-wearing mom with two small kids in a Dodge Neon and a sticker that says "My Son and My Money Go To Florida State University." I understand that stickers can be difficult to remove, but I believe that cleaning products have come a long way in the past couple of decades. At least that's what the infomercials tell me.

Dated Stickers - Usually in support of a political candidate who has already left office or a band that broke up years ago. I don't personally know anyone with one of these stickers, but I think I'd like to meet one. People who live in the past are fun.

Pride Stickers - Something about kids or membership in a club or group. Without knowing the honor roll criteria at every elementary school in the area, I'm not exactly sure what level of accomplishment this is for your son or daughter.

Trash Stickers - Honk for finger, Get off my ass, Calvin pissing on anything. Whatever you want to put on your car is fine, but you just don't see these stickers in the valet lot. I'm just sayin.

Things That Make Me Feel Old

Just a short list. Feel free to add your own:

1. First college friend gets married
2. First college friend has baby
3. MTV's The Real World no longer makes any sense
4. Friends who drink a lot start going to meetings about drinking too much
5. Friends start buying real houses. Not starter homes or condos downtown. Houses. With acreage and sump pumps and school districts.
6. Nirvana and Pearl Jam songs on a classic rock station
7. Station wagons look sort of cool
8. The Simpsons are older than a college freshman
9. Nose Hair
10. Text Messaging Acronyms

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

My Red Guitar

There's nothing more badass than carrying around a guitar.

When I see a guy with a guitar case, I think:
1. He's in a band
2. He might know Jewel
3. Is that a gun?

I took a guitar class in college from a hippie woman who loved vegetarian food and saving mice. We learned a few songs, and even how to finger pick (a little). My signature song was James Taylor's "Fire & Rain" and playing it for my final earned me an A.

My dad has this guitar that he's kept in the luggage closet for thirty years. I was (and still am) not allowed to touch it. But back in college, Dad bought me my own guitar--it's a deep red color--in a moment of father/son bonding so I didn't have to rely on a loaner.

And I loved Tuesdays and Thursdays that semester, when I hauled that guitar all over campus. Not only to guitar class, but to the class before it. . .my 'busy' schedule didn't allow for a pre-class stop past our frat house. Back then, we didn't worry about guns on campus; everyone knew it was a guitar inside. Everyone was watching me, and thinking that I potentially harmonized with hot Alaskan sirens.

And now? The red guitar hangs by its neck at my house. I haven't played it since I moved in (three years and counting). I'm no musician, so I'm thinking I should just move the guitar to a closet where no one can touch it.

My Other Blog Title is Ironic

And my other car is a broom.

About A Blog

Welcome to our first blog post. I believe the first post is where we're supposed to explain the general theme of the blog and talk about what is to come. Maybe some kind of a mission statement or whatever.

Well, we don't want to disappoint our future readers. Sorry to report that this blog doesn't have any great cause behind it. We're not trying to raise money for AIDS or Autism (although feel free to make donations in the name of this blog - both are excellent causes). I don't think we're even trying to get rich via blogging. Never really understood how that works. We're really just writing about what we know...the awkward time between graduating college and being generally accepted as an adult. It's sort of a second puberty, but without the strange hair or voice changes. It's also the only life stage that nobody refers to as the best years of their life, but we'll save that for another post.

To give a brief introduction of the authors here: we both are about five years out of college, work for a software company in the Midwest, and like to run long distances at slow speeds. The similarities pretty much end there, unless we want to get into demographics. You'll soon find out that my co-author is the one who really knows how to write. I'm just the one who comes up with theories that are only accepted by me. Oh, I'm also the one who uses unnecessary commas. Don't pay too much attention to that. For more details on us, read the "about the author" section.

So if you like (or don't like) our blog, please post comments. I'm sure there are some great search engine optimization-related reasons why we'd love you to post comments, but we really just want you to make comments so we look popular and important. The comments don't even have to be intelligent-most blog comments aren't. Really, just write whatever you want. Whatever it is, it'll probably piss somebody off, which will lead to more posts, which will make us look even more popular and important. Maybe that's how people make money off of blogging?

Thanks for reading this first post. Just think...when this blog gets all famous you can say you knew us way back when. As for the name of this blog, you'll have to read the next post for that one.