Why You Shouldn't Mess with a Social Psychologist

Thursday, April 28, 2011 | 4 Comment(s)

We study what people do and why they do them.

Sometimes, however, the "why" is not as important as the what.

For example.  A woman at a Milwaukee baseball game listed her actual cell number on a sign asking the Brewer's amazing (and Jewish!!!) left fielder to marry her.  Predictable to everyone but this woman, a whole crap-load of people called the number.  She shut her phone off.  Hilariously, the player, Ryan Braun, heard about this whole ordeal and called the number only to find it going to voicemail.  Upon hearing this, the woman turned her phone back on . . . commencing a whole crap-load more phone calls.

The moral of this little story is that when given a phone number in a public forum, people call it.  The show How I Met Your Mother employed this knowledge when they had Barney (aka neil patrick harris) stand up in an add at the Superbowl with "his phone number" listed on it.  Commence a crap-load of phone calls.  This same premise also works when phone numbers are said in movies, which is why they came up with the 555 prefix for fake numbers (e.g. 413-555-6767). 

Considering the amount of subtle marketing going on in TV shows now (Jeopardy has sponsored categories -- Top Chef is essentially Top Product placement --  Even sitcoms have pretty gratuitous product placement [come ON 30 rock, you're better than that.]), i have to think that this whole 555 business is a missed opportunity. 

People hate cold calls.  Oh how people hate them.  People hate them enough to go online and enter their phone number on a "do not call list" (how easily could that be used as a way to get people's numbers btw?).  I think some people leave themselves off "do not call" lists because they enjoy the release of telling people who cold call them off when they call during dinner (i'm looking at you dad).  But, generally speaking, i've never heard anyone say, "this guy called from Comcast last night to ask me if i wanted to expand my existing coverage, and we had the. best. time. ever!"  Doesn't happen.  So, if people don't like being called . . . and yet . . . when given any public phone number they will call it themselves . . .

You see what i'm getting at here.  If you make those 555 numbers into marketing firm numbers, when people call them, thinking they are being all subversive and cool, they end up talking to a person on the other end who answers, "thank you for choosing to take our brief 5 minute phone survey about product X."  Or, better yet, "thank you for volunteering to answer these few polling questions about your voting preferences."  Pew (polling service) and Gallup should be all over this shit.  You could even insert different phone numbers in the tv shows in different viewing regions, so as to categorize the responses geographically.  This is gold people.  It's like i'm giving away free money. 

i think, in a parallel multiverse there is a different version of me who has no inner need to do good and has made a crap-load (see how i'm tying the language together--that's called good writing :) of money off of these horrible life-worsening yet eminently profitable ideas.  I bet that version of me wears a lot of fitted suits and enjoys the feel of a tie around his neck. Fuck that me.  I hate that guy.

Chubby Bunny of Love

Sunday, April 24, 2011 | 0 Comment(s)

Easter is a confusing holiday.  It seems all filled of mixed metaphors with its resurrection slash eggs slash renewal slash rabbits slash jellybeans.  I have to say, from a jew's perspective, this holiday just comes off . . . sloppy. 

My earliest experience with Easter, however, was very positive.  In elementary school on Easter, random lunch trays were marked with tape on the bottom. and a bunch of them said "egg" which meant that you got a plastic egg filled with jellybeans (um . . . this was in the 80s . . . so i guess it was pre-childhood obesity).  I went about my business in the lunch line.  Got my fluff samich, per usual, and hunkered down at the long white fold-down tables that you only see in school cafeterias and food kitchens.  Munching away, the announcement about the tray prizes was made and immediately 100 kids flipped their trays upside down. i can only imagine that a good amount of food took to the air, but,  being as i was about 8 years old, details like you're making a mess didn't come close to registering in my candy driven mind.

On the underside of my tray i found a piece of tape, but i did not see the word 'egg'.  I knew it wasn't "egg" because i knew what that word looked like. 3 letters long. only 2 letters involved.  These are the type of words that elementary schoolers thrive at. we are short uncomplicated word learning monsters.  And that word on my tray had 6 letters.  and it was not "eggegg" either. 

I think i brought the tray up to a teacher.  And the teachers eyes lit up.  It turned out that one tray each lunch period . . . one lucky tray . . . said basket on it.  And that lucky kid got a huge wicker basket full of marshmallow bunnies and chocolate eggs.  I remember it being a shit-ton of candy.  The school must have been glad it went to a kid as scrawny as me (80% bone).  Giving that much candy to a chubby kid would not have looked good for anyone. 

That said, one of the five jewish kids in a almost completely christian school getting the big Easter day surprise was not an irony lost on my peers.  Let's just say i was advised to put the basket in my cubby and enjoy it at home.  And, the fact that an ADHD kid (animal) like me agreed with this recommendation tells me that this probably would have been a great inroad to teaching elementary schoolers about the Holocaust.  (too far?)

In any event, later in life Easter once again became memorable as the first morning I ever woke up with mmf next to me.  While still keeping it very PG, mmf and i had an epic date which included dinner at an insanely loud restaurant (her choice), candle-pin bowling (my choice), then drinking 28oz of beer from huge Styrofoam cups while watching the end of the sox game (mutual choice), then T-ing back toward my place to go to another bar and meet my then roommate who attempted to embarrass me unsuccessfully.  and then.  after a bit of encouragement.  back to our apartment.  We remember the date, of course, because the next morning everyone in the house + sig. others went out to a big Easter brunch together.

Resurrection indeed.

Sleeping Bubonically

Saturday, April 23, 2011 | 0 Comment(s)

I've been sick.  ill.  and not beastie boys ill.  more gizmo wet after midnight ill.

Personally, i try my best to take an "airplane travel" approach to illness.  Which is to say, i try to sleep my way through it.  Because when you're asleep, it's magical.

For instance.  I can get on a plane in hartford, take a 'relaxation aid' in the form of a mild anti-anxiety med, and after the most pleasant of naps, i magically arrive in California.  i have no idea how this happened because i was asleep.  My best guess is that a couple of my guardian angels swooped down and fairy'ed me there (super pun). 

When the snot monster comes, i try the same approach.  Sleep it off.  Sleep through it.  Sleep hard.  This is a particularly helpful strategy for me because my illnesses are usually the result of totally overworking my body and mind until they meltdown.  In this current case, my tentative grip on health was additionally foiled by mmf getting the plague (the 10 day version of the 3 day cold im dealing with).  Because she loves me and learned at an early age the importance of sharing, she gave me a weakened version of her black death. 

During the past 48 hours of illness, i slept through 28 hours of it.  My body just couldn't seem to stay awake.  And who am i not to go with the flow.  Suffice it to say, these were very happy days for our puppy grover.  Essentially this meant he had free access to sleeping on the bed for almost a week (mmf's illness plus mine).  He loves this.  And as i am writing this i'm beginning to worry that maybe my puppy (much like his mother) is an evil genius.  Secretly infecting his parents with non-lethal totally debilitating diseases so as to lay them up and thereby giving him access to the almighty human-person bed.

bliss squared

It all makes sense now.  I feel like the tv detective right before the end of the show where my mind's eye is watching all the puzzle pieces fall into place.

oh no . . .  i'm at the coffee shop typing this . . . i've left mmf alone at home with the pup.  what if this is the moment he's been waiting for . . .   to put into motion the final phase of his plan  . . . .

*running home to see if ill they'll ever be a space for me on the human-person bed ever again* 

don't count on it.

Beautiful Bubble-Gum Babies, Ready to Party

Wednesday, April 13, 2011 | 1 Comment(s)

Undergrads are unavoidable.

And i don't mean the one's i work with.  The one's i work with are smart and driven and funny and great.  I'm talking more about the undergrads i interact with in dining commons, around the building, etc.  I don't know these students, we are but two ships ion the college sea at night. 

But i smell them.  And, i know you think i'm going to talk about BO and grossness and whatever.  But no.

It's the ladies this time.  For whatever reason it dawned on me today.  The women at this school smell like bubble gum.  And not just "bubble gum" scent, but also smells that i associate with bubble gum flavors.  Peach Punch, Green Apple-berry.  Shit like that.  And i don't get it.  Maybe this is one of those "im getting old" things, but i don't don't see the allure of smelling like Hubba-Bubba.  I can't see myself being like, "this chicks only kinda fly.  hairs all messed up, but she's funny.  i'm torn . . . but she smells like Grape Ape Jungle Chew, so i'm gonna go for it."

Maybe the thinking is that the guy (let me get hetero-normative here for a minute) will smell the bubble gum and it will remind them of baseball.  Thinking of baseball will make them want to "play ball" (so many sex/baseball metaphors to choose from). 

The only time i ever remember a girl smelling like sugar coated fruit is from my limited exposure to strippers.  You can understand how smelling like strawberries and cream can be an asset in the stripping business.  I mean, you want your customers to want to devour you (right?).  But, for the college population at large, is this what our culture has trickled down too.  Are Bubble-Yum scents for girls the next leggings with Ughs (i'm assuming that's how those are spelled).

I thought one of the reasons girls went to college was to avoid becoming a stripper?

(*editors note: i hold no strong moral or ethical qualms with stripping other than i don't think i would enjoy doing it myself and that it probably propagates bad societal gender politics.  but nothings perfect.

Let My People Grow

Tuesday, April 12, 2011 | 1 Comment(s)

Ok.  So first.  TITLE PUN!  Not only will this entry relate to plants but Passover is just around the corner.  I'm proud of this one.  You can tell.

So second. I belong to a non-exclusive club.  That club includes anyone who starts any blog/conversation/aside with a version of this statement, "if it is technically alive, doesn't have a mouth, and is in my house -- it will be dead in a matter of months.  Months is generous.  Months is adult-Matt with plants.  college-Matt could desiccate a flower faster than a magnifying glass on ant.

The only plants that have ever survived my wrath, or really that have any chance at all, are cacti and bamboo.  Let me be clear.  I have killed both cacti and bamboo.  But they have also survived the longest.  Currently i have a set of three sprigs (wtf's a sprig) of bamboo up against the window.  This would be all well and good and zen and whatnot, if not for the fact that these 3 sprigs are the survivors of two separate batches of bamboo.  the smaller batch, probably 6 sprigs, i took for my own, and killed.  Just to give you an idea of how hard it is to kill bamboo.  All bamboo need is to be in some level of water.  The other batch of bamboo was in a pho-indian ceramic elephant.  There was a ton of it.  40 sprigs.  When my batch was dead, every single sprig that had been left, mostly neglected, on top of the fridge were alive.  By the time I got around to swapping out the dead sprigs i was *ahem* nurturing, there were only 4 survivors.  These 3 sprigs we currently have are the ones that survived the move to the new house.  It's like Darwin's evolution, but much much faster. 

I've also killed cacti.  I've killed plants designed to survive to worst possible environments.  The sahara aint got shit on me.  The lone cacti survivors are two "Christmas" cacti.  Named because they are supposed to bloom in December.  One of mine blooms around Thanksgiving.  The other just bloomed.  I think he was thrown off by our move.  I hear changing home environments can be very stressful on your plants. 

No i didn't.  That's stupid.  I hope you didn't believe that not even for a moment.  That said, if you did believe it, let me know so i can start up some plant therapy/massage studios: 

I mean, cause, don't you want your plants to feel like they're a part of the family too.

I mean, cause, don't you love your plants enough to give them the best.

I mean, cause, 90% of planned parenthood goes to abortions. 

They're all lies, but only one was said on the floor of Congress. 

Thankfully, i'm attracted to nurturers.  And i'm lucky to live in an area where the moniker "Farmer" is synonymous with Mrs. or Mr.  or Dr. etc etc etc.   It must feel nice to have a moniker that you identify so strongly with.  One of my earth nurturing Farmer friends recently started his own CSA from scratch with help from a federal grant.  he started a farm.  a farm!  I seriously can't even figure out how to affix my coat-rack on the wall without creating an avalanche of plaster, and he is pulling food from the earth like a midwife 9-months after 9-11.  He got shares out the first season.  He even is kind enough to bring us some of his fresh veggies when he visits.  Usually i am very picky about food that looks too earthy.  All covered in soil and whatnot.  But I trust Farmer Steve.  Partially because of the moniker.  Partially because even though i eat my vegetables begrudgingly . . . his always taste so good.

Except the asparagus.  Asparagus makes me gag.

New Slang

Thursday, April 7, 2011 | 3 Comment(s)

Time for a mini-risk.  Today is a new poetry day.  and by that i mean not only is it time for a poem of mine, but its one i've written recently.  or rather, it is the one i have written recently.  i do hope you like it.

Losing My Tears

i used to cry all the time.
Back when every question was a path yet to be discovered
and all of my effects had definable causes.

Don't get me wrong,
i still ball.
But not all the time.

Nowadays the tears have to make it through my knowledge, my ability, my perspective, my "better judgment".

My adulthood.

And once it manages past all the superficial reasoning i set out for keeping it together,
i can cry like a withering stem.

Because it's always the child inside us doin' the cryin'.


And that's a good thing.
Because that kid has no excuses to give for the mistreatment, the anger, the unfairness, the helplessness.

of adulthood.

and while i love my inner child for the laughter,
i need him for the tears.

Multiple Choice

Monday, April 4, 2011 | 0 Comment(s)

Guess which of these things happened to me today.

A) Testing to see how clogged my nostril was, i blew a short burst of air threw to check the territory.  In response, a quarter size glob of gummy clear snot bee-bee gunned out of my nose and onto the shoulder of my shirt.

B) Relaxing on the couch with my puppy, i reached to gather him in, when i felt a medium length burst of "soft air" flow gently by across my palm.  puppy fart.

C) While absentmindedly walking from the post-swim shower to my locker, i happened to stem into what i can only term as a ball of multiple people's human hair. 

D) A & B

E) B & C

F) All of the above

are you sure you're ready to know.


it's D!  but aren't you glad you got to picture that hairball!!!

sorry.  i had a bad day.

Barely Legal

Friday, April 1, 2011 | 0 Comment(s)

Last week i went out to dinner with a 30 yr old male friend (aka. total bromance) and, after I ordered a beer, the waitress asked me for ID.

I thought two things simultaneously.

1.  I'm old enough to take that as a huge compliment.

and at the same time . . .

2. I'm old enough to take that as a huge compliment.

it seems like only yesterday that Ferris was reminding my to stop and smell the roses.