Monthly Archives: May 2016


img_20160518_120628592-1I know a family visiting Italy for a couple of weeks. They’re getting immersed  in Italy’s rich history of architecture, art, food, and shopping. The family is made up of the parents and three college aged sons, so I not sure how much shopping they pursue.

But here’s the thing about shopping. You can shop as a consumer or as an appreciator.

A consumer sees something interesting and thinks, “I must have that.” Whereas an appreciator thinks, “That’s cool, interesting, clever, or whatever.” The object’s existence becomes food for thought.

Pablo Picasso said, “I’d like to live as a poor man with lots of money.” Maybe he meant that you don’t need lots of stuff to be happy, but it’s good to have money for options. There’s more to the world than cars and televisions, but they’re handy when you need them.

Being an appreciator lets you take in lots of ideas. The cross pollenating by ideas is what makes us a successful species. Barter, trade, and by extension shopping, has always exposed us to other and new ideas about how things could be done or made differently, and ultimately better. That’s why more ideas emerge from cities than the country.

Winding up with less stuff is another benefit of being an appreciator. Not due to lack of money, it’s just how you end up while optimizing for appreciation rather than maximum consumption.

One revealing question

B & JYou’ll always be better off avoiding  people who are just rat poison. So how can you throw on the brakes of the crazy train before it leaves the station? I saw an interesting idea online about one question you can ask that reveals more than you might think.

It’s a rule of thumb, a quick and dirty (but scientifically validated) way for assessing the presence in another of a certain personality trait.

“If you want to know if someone displays a certain characteristic, just ask if he or she thinks other people often display that characteristic.”

“(it’s) a powerful hack for evaluating others people’s character, if you want to know if they display a trait, just find a way to ask how common they think it is in others. The more of a quality they see around them, the more they probably possess themselves.”

Who knew?

tallboyWhen you’re talking about the ways people are treated differently in society, sometimes you stumble onto interesting tangents.

Usually, people don’t discuss public toilets. But the subject comes up now because some people are trying to restrict transgender folk to using restrooms for the sex into which they were born.

Over the long run, it’s not really a big problem, it’ll soon be forgotten. But that’s why the subject of urinals came up at a party I was at.

It turned out, that out of four guys at that party, three of them, including me all had a preference for the old school, floor to rib height urinals. The ones that are nowadays generally found in older buildings. For women who’ve probably never seen one, most of them look like the one pictured above.

And the guy who didn’t have a strong preference did think the tall urinals were cool. Three out of four is a pretty strong endorsement.

I don’t think about the issue unless I go into a restroom that’s equipped with the tall urinals, so it just never come up because guys don’t chitchat in public restrooms. It’s hard to imagine a stranger saying, “Damn I miss these old style tall urinals!”

Who knew? May those older style urinals are iconic in some way, remind men of a different time, or are a bit easier to use.

If I ever need to build a public restroom, I know what I’m putting in the men’s room.

That creepy feeling

spotlight skeletonUnsure of what a person who you don’t know might do next? You might get a creepy feeling.

Being “creeped out” signals that someone or something could be dangerous.

Things we know are dangerous just scare us right away. With a shark, a rattlesnake, or a member of a motorcycle club there’s no creepiness – they’re dangerous. But if we’re unsure about  someone’s motives, that’s when things get creepy.

When it comes to people, there’re some things that trigger the creepy-ness radar. Most people think creeps are more likely to be men. Especially if they work as clowns, taxidermists, sex shop owners, or funeral directors.

Also, uncommon physical characteristics contribute to perceptions of creepiness. Things like peculiar smiles, greasy hair, long fingers and pale skin are likely to be rated as creepy by people in surveys.

So, make sure to wash your hair and get a little sun. While you’re at it, avoid working in occupations involving “threatening stimuli” like death or sex. And don’t forget to make your motives clear, but don’t stand too close to the person you’re talking too.