Friday, May 8, 2009

Bloggers of Interest: Da Old Man

I'd like to introduce you to a little concept I call the "snowball of shame." It starts with something that you've been putting off doing for a while, and you're ashamed because you should have done it earlier. The "snowball" part comes in when you put it off just a little longer because you don't want to face the embarrassment of how overdue this task is, but then putting it off makes you even more ashamed to admit that you've been dragging your heels, which makes you put it off longer, etc.

For example: you're reluctant to call your mother because you don’t want a lecture about how you never call. So you put it off for a day, and then the next day you worry that you're going to hear even more about it, so you put off calling for another day, etc.

That's why it's taken so long to get to the latest entry in my Bloggers of Interest series. You don't want to know (well, actually, I just don't want to tell you) how long ago Da Old Man, the proprietor of the Crotchety Old Man World Wide Headquarters and Discount House of Worship and author of Crotchety Old Man Yells at Cars, was kind enough to answer my questions to be profiled as a Blogger of Interest. Let's just say that I'm finally sitting down to cope with a particularly big snowball of shame, and he's been incredibly patient.

Da Old Man's blog is interesting because of its aggressive outlook, no-holds-barred approach, and its regular photo caption contest. He covers a range of topics, including his courageous battle with hospital food and harrowing tales of embarrassing personal disfigurement. But he can tell you more about his blog in his own words.

What got you into blogging?

About 5 years ago I worked in a terrible job. We called my bosses the Incubus and the Succubus. Blogging gave me a way to tell off my bosses without losing my job. My co-workers could read the crap I was feeling, and usually would get a laugh or two.

Where did the names Incubus and Succubus come from? Were your bosses constantly trying to do it with their employees? Or was it a life-draining kind of thing? I always thought that while the Succubus... um, "drains it out," its male counterpart, the Incubus, is supposed to... er, "put it in."

Incubus and Succubus were chosen simply because they were perfect demonic terms, and we were sure we were working in the Social Services ring of hell.

How did you choose your blog's name?

I'm pretty crotchety, and I imagine if I live long enough, I'll be the insane old guy on the corner yelling at cars to slow down.

What were you like as a crotchety young man?
I just pretty much had a bad attitude every day. Lots of teen angst, mixed in with anger issues.

I'm going to assume that you count "crotchety" as having a good attitude these days, and skip on to the next question. When and why did you start the photo caption contest?

It almost gives me a day off. It is also a chance for the readers to get more involved. They really like it. Because my judges are my friends, it gets them involved in a fun way, too.

Why did you choose a Zucchini as a trophy?

There were so many glitzy awards being passed around, I wanted to give out something funny, and zucchini is the most humorous denizen of the vegetable kingdom.

Are you sure that the zucchini is the funniest vegetable? No love for the jicama, or the tomato, or the eggplant's snooty British cousin, the aubergine?

Zucchini is the perfect funny trophy worthy vegetable, no question. While kumquats, jicama, tomatoes, and aubergine are every bit as funny on their own, they lack the overall comedic stature that a zucchini projects.

Ah, the zucchini "projects," thrusting its mighty comedic stature forward to penetrate stodgy reserve of some of your readers. It's a dick joke, I get it. Next question: what does the blogosphere need more of?

It needs more originality, with more quality first person writing.

And more public service announcements on the dangers of buying secondhand truffles, I might add. What does it need less of?

Youtube videos, blogs about how adorable one's kids are, blogs written from the viewpoint of pets.

Where do you see yourself (and your blog) in three years?

I just hope to keep getting better and include more original photos, perhaps with frequent travelogue style posts. I'd also like to have tens of thousands of readers per day, so I can accept a bit of paid advertising and make a living.

Digg this Stumble Upon Toolbar

Monday, May 4, 2009

I Love You, Man

I'd also love it if you drank less. And I'd love some acronyms, too. Actually, I'd love a lot of acronyms. Can anyone make that happen?

The University of Texas can make all that happen, and more. Their School of Public Health conducted a research study that threw around more acronyms than a GAO rundown of NIST RFP audits, kicking around acronyms like SMART (Southern Methodist Alcohol Research Trial), MIF (motivational interviewing with feedback), NIAAA (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism) and e-CHUG (don't ask). Their claim is that individualized feedback is effective at stopping alcohol abuse in college.

According to this study, people in college don't realize that their peers drink less than they appear to. Sure, the rumors abound that college campuses are packed with drunken yahoos, but this study claims that there's less drinking going on than people realize, and by educating students about the behavior of their peers, they'll realize that it's okay to drink less.

I suppose that way of thinking is fine, if you're content to follow the herd. Tonight, I'm going to raise a glass to the outliers of society, who not only drink more than their peers, but who are also proud of it.

Digg this Stumble Upon Toolbar

Friday, May 1, 2009

Chicks Are Inscrutable

And that's not just my opinion. It's backed up by science. Outside observers are better at reading the intentions of men than they are at figuring out what women are thinking.

Indiana University conducted a study where observers watched clips from speed-dating interactions and were asked whether or not the participants were interested in each other. Neither men nor women were particularly effective as observers when it came to figuring out which daters were interested. However, the speed-dating men were easier to "read," and both male and female observers were able to figure out whether the interest on their part was genuine. Speed-dating women were more deceptive, and misled observers as to whether or not they were interested more frequently.

There were some other interesting side notes to this study. For one thing, there was no difference in accuracy on the observers' part whether they viewed a full 30 seconds of interaction or only 10 seconds (Hi there, Malcolm Gladwell!).

The other point worth noting was that while the observations were conducted in Indiana, the actual speed-dating sessions were conducted in Germany. So as far as we know, it's only German men who are transparently easy to read.

Digg this Stumble Upon Toolbar
The header image is adapted from a photo taken by Bill McChesney and used under a creative commons license.
ss_blog_claim=59c833aa066112eeabade1b22648d49b ss_blog_claim=59c833aa066112eeabade1b22648d49b