Archive for October, 2008

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psychology.

October 21, 2008

I finished reading Why We Buy, by Paco Underhill. It discussed his knowledge of “the science of shopping”, which he has gleaned from hours and hours of watching/recording people in stores. Given that his research is based off observation, the focus of the book is what not why. It was surprising to read about habits that I have that aren’t even conscious decisions.

I also finished Blink, by Malcolm Gladwell, which focused on the decisions people make in a very short amount of time. It was not as good as The Tipping Point. Certain points were interesting, like how facial expressions impact emotions and how visual cues can deceive us. I also liked reading about the Pepsi/Coke challenge and why Pepsi wins but Coke remains the #1 beverage. Overall, though, I’m glad the book wasn’t longer than 250 pages; it got a little long toward the end.

For people interested in this kind of social science/psychology, both books are a pretty easy read.

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marigold.

October 12, 2008

After the Farmer’s Market yesterday, Pat and I stopped for brunch at a small little restaurant called Marigold. It was, in short, pretty fantastic. Just off the Capitol, it was a small location, easily missed if not for the line of people out the door on Saturday morning. Despite being packed, the line moved quickly and the flow from line to table was surprisingly smooth. Perhaps with a group of more than four people it would have been a bit of a wait, but for the two of us, we were able to sit right away.

I got a scrambler – three eggs scrambled with smoked salmon, scallions and spinach – with sourdough toast and Marigold’s potatoes. It was a lot of food and delicious. Pat got buckwheat cherry pancakes with vanilla bean marscarpone. Both our meals were under $10, which makes it even better.

Unfortunately, they’re only open Monday – Saturday, which really means only Saturday for me. Will definitely be back though.

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fitness.

October 9, 2008

Recently, I’ve been in the market for a gym membership. This has been quite a quest since 1) I’m not very motivated to exercise, 2) memberships can be expensive, 3) I’m looking to take group exercise classes, and 4) it needs to offer classes that fit my schedule.

I tried hot yoga (at Inner Fire), regular yoga (at Bliss Flow Yoga), and Snap Fitness. Hot yoga was intense, fun, and offered a lot of classes. Unfortunately, it was a bit more money than I wanted to spend. The regular yoga was good too – very friendly and helpful staff, nice facility, not too expensive. The classes had variety, but few were what I was really looking for. Snap was definitely not my kind of place. It was very inexpensive, but I need more than just cardio and weight machines.

Last night, I took a trip to Pinnacle Health and Fitness and the Princeton Club. Pinnacle was impressive. I was given a tour and an explanation of their services (which took an hour!), but it was very tailored to what interested me. They offer lots of classes, lots of equipment, a pool (with towels!), and it’s conveniently located. Princeton Club was overwhelming. It’s huge, and looks like a small mall dedicated to health/spa/fitness inside. The soccer field and tennis courts on the roof were amazing, but not something I would use.

Now, I’m doing a trial at Supreme Health and Fitness. It’s much smaller but they offer a lot of classes. It never seems too crowded and all the people have been very friendly.

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pirates and gangsters.

October 7, 2008

My brother taught me two new games this weekend during my trip home, Liar’s Dice and Cash ‘n Guns. Best part is that both games can be made at home, which saves $20-$30 each. Both games need at least 4 people and can be expanded as necessary to accommodate more.

Liar’s DIce is a bluffing game, most prominently featured in Pirates of the Caribbean 2: Dead Man’s Chest. It needs 5 dice and a cup per person. Each person shakes their dice, looks at what fell face up and then bids on how many of a specific number are face up among all the dice. The bid keeps increasing until someone calls a bluff. The dice are shown and whoever was wrong loses a die. You keep playing until only one person has dice left.

Cash ‘n Guns is a bit more complicated and could benefit from having the actual cards and toy guns, but it works quite well with a homemade version. The premise of the game is that you are gangsters splitting a pot of money. You load your gun with a bullet or a blank (you have only 3 bullets), and on the count of three everyone puts their guns up. Once you know who’s shooting who, everyone has the ability to back out (but that means you get no money). The shots are taken and those who aren’t shot get to split the pot; whoever has the most money at the end wins. Once the basics are down, you can throw in special abilities for each person, which just adds another twist.

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unapproachable.

October 4, 2008

Let’s face it, not all people are approachable. I know I’m not. Given the amount of material on how to be more likable and interesting, I’d guess most people think they’re not. But then again, I don’t really think any of that reading is helpful. So what are we to do?

If you are not naturally interested, friendly, sociable, or approachable, you need to figure out what gives people the wrong impression. In my case, I don’t like starting conversations; I will happily sit next to you and not speak. I’m also an awful listener because I have a hard time holding focus. And apparently, I just look like an intimidating person. I never have too many interesting things to say either, which is key to small talk. (sidenote: I do have friends, despite all of this.)

Then, all it comes down to is practice. I’ve worked on making a conscious effort to attempt conversations as often as possible. If it goes horribly, it doesn’t matter since I’ll probably never see the person again. No matter how hard I try to listen, it still doesn’t really work. So if I need to stay focused, I ask questions. It breaks things up for me so I can refocus (bonus points because no one wants to talk to someone who doesn’t talk back!). Smile a lot, laugh a lot, and stay on top of a few basic smalltalk issues (sports, weather, major current events, local events/places, etc).

Last, learn to turn it on and off and adjust according to the situation. You can’t be somebody else all the time. It gets tiring. But given the importance of first impressions, it never hurts to put in a little extra effort.