Read this before you start a blog.

Blogs are dumb. That’s what I used to think. I tried starting one twice in the past, but both times, blogging quickly became a chore. This time it will be different, and I can tell you why. If you’ve been thinking about starting a blog, let me tell you about why blogging is awesome.

You are unique. You are the culmination of your specific background and experiences, which makes you different from everybody else. You can see things from an angle, that others often miss. The places your mind wanders, when nobody is around, some people never get to see.

You are passionate about something. What do you spend a lot of your time doing? What do you spend a lot of time thinking about? Could it be: food, partying, sports, sex, music, marketing, finance, or movies? The combination of things you’re passionate about is pretty unique to you.

A blog is a great way to write down random crazy ideas that you might forget about the next day. Have you ever invented something before, that you don’t have the resources or passion to pursue? Have you ever come up with a crazy marketing idea for your favorite company, assuming they would never listen to you? These are ideas that you may or may not share with your friends. What a waste it is that some of the cool ideas you have never made it out of your head.

Who cares if anybody reads your blog? You should be writing a blog you want to write. There’s no better way to enjoy writing than to write about something you want to write about. In addition, putting your writing out there will make you want to become a better writer. If you’re not a good writer, you could ask your friends and family to read your blog and give you tips. Just start writing.

Of course, don’t write about things you don’t want to share with anybody.

Many great things can come from simply writing down cool ideas or thoughts you have. You might inspire somebody. You might find someone whose shares your passion. Your predictions may come true; and you’ll have something to point to and say, “ha, I told you this would/should happen.” You could gain credibility in an industry you’ve been wanting to work for.

Once you start writing anything and everything, you’ll start getting an idea of what you really love to write about vs things you like, but don’t want to write about. If your friends read your blog, you’ll probably notice you’re getting positive feedback about certain types of posts.

Writing a blog let’s you better yourself while bettering those around you. It becomes a well-written, recorded, personal resume that showcases what differentiates you from the rest of the world.

Your idea could save the world some day.

Photo from Flickr. Thank you Maria Reyes-McDavis!

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CMC doesn’t wear it: a story about slang.

Recently, I came upon sunglasses sold by the student government of my alma mater (Claremont McKenna College) that read, “CMC. Wearing it since 1946.” While I can imagine their excitement when they came up with a way to infuse a popular slang used around campus with a pun that can be printed on a popular item, I wonder if they realize the message it sends.

To “wear it” means to do something humiliating. It can be used in any context where the outcome of an event is negative, but more appropriately used when the victim of the incident is at fault. Examples of how one can “wear it”:

  • Falling into a pond unexpectedly.
  • Spilling a beer on one’s self.
  • Hooking up with a tranny without realizing it.

So my question to them is this, what is the message you want to send? “CMC Wearing it since 1946” suggests that we have been humiliating ourselves for 64 years. I hope that’s not the message they’re trying to send.

The phrase “wear it” and it’s definition as described above can be dated back to 2004. I know there are at least a handful of kids who still go to the school using the slang this way. At what point did the meaning or connotation change?

Why and how does slang change?

In my opinion, CMC has been “figuring it out” since 1946.

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Are you enjoying your playtime?

Do you know anybody who carries two blackberries? One of which they fear and loathe, knowing they must stop whatever they are doing to focus on work for a quick second, or in some cases all afternoon. Through my phone, I can connect with my colleagues, friends, and family through text message, email, Facebook, and Twitter. They can also connect with me. There is no escape.

When you’re interrupted by something you have to do at a time you’ve set aside for enjoyment, we call that a buzzkill. Whether or not you act upon these tasks immediately, you’re mood is negatively affected, knowing you have to stop your enjoyment or that you’re procrastinating something important.

I sometimes get the feeling that it’s no longer acceptable to be unavailable. I receive complaints from friends that I didn’t respond to their text immediately, or that their hurt because I didn’t pick up a phone call. Can’t I enjoy spending time with the people I’m with, without hurting other people’s feelings?

It’s not that I don’t like you, it’s just that I like living in the moment.

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Find your "Cheers"

Last night, as I walk up to the bar, I’m greeted by the bouncer with a handshake. As I make my way toward my part of the bar, I stop along the way to give hugs to the usuals I see weekly. I get to the bar and high five the bartender who is just about to pour shots for my two friends. Another friend comes up to the bar, so the four of us take a shot. As I drink, play games, and dance all night, I count over 25 people I know by name. Many of them I only ever see when I come to this bar.

My secret? Here it is: go to the same bar over and over again.

It’s also helpful to pick a day of the week where you dedicate yourself to the same bar. This way, you’ll see the same staff each time, who then will remember your name if you tip them well enough. You’ll also notice that there are other people like you, who have weekly schedules to go to this same bar.

How do I meet people? Simple:

  • If I recognize the same person three times, I’ll start talking to them.
  • If I talk to them three times and don’t know their name, I’ll keep asking until I can remember it.
  • If I like them, I start inviting them to other fun places I go.

Now, you try.

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Equal opportunity makes us materialistic.

The concept of equal opportunity is that we all have the same chance to be rich. The idea that we could all be rich some day has made our society materialistic, something many people complain about daily.

The concept of equal opportunity is quite new, and very different from back when royalty was royalty and peasants were peasants. In those times, few people climbed the hierarchical ladder of society, and that was alright. Rather than finding happiness through gaining power or money, peasants found happiness in day to day occurrences.

Simple things made them happy, such as the birth of a farm animal or an exceptionally large harvest. Both of these examples, do in fact provide them monetary gain. However, to them, this wasn’t a step closer to the castle they hope to live in some day, but rather a way to feed their family good food.

Politicians gain popularity by promising everyone a richer and better lifestyle. Marketers sell their product by showcasing how luxurious ones life could be.

Everyone can be rich. You can be rich too. Act rich, look rich, and you will be come rich. Money is happiness. Equal opportunity.

Photo from Flickr. Thank you Max Shearer.

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Equal opportunity also leads to depression.

I just recently wrote about how equal opportunity makes us materialistic. I just found a study that links materialism to anger and depression.

  • If equal opportunity leads to materialism,
  • and materialism leads to anger and depression,
  • then equal opportunity must lead to anger and depression.

At least materialism also makes us work harder, which increases output per unit of human capital. This means a higher GDP, and that’s all we care about, right?

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Google Instant #1 results: A through Z.

Google instant will start giving you suggestions as soon as you start typing a word in. Awesome. So I thought it would be fun to find out who the number one searched result was for each letter of the alphabet. Some of the results surprised me at first, but then I realized it’s probably pretty personalized to the profile google has stored for me. Creepy.

A – Amazon.com
B – Bank of America
C – Craigslist
D – DMV
E – eBay
F – Facebook
G – Gmail
H – Hotmail
I – Ikea
J – JetBlue
K – Ktla
L – Lakers
M – Myspace
N – Netflix
O – OC Fair
P – Pandora
Q – Quotes
R – Ralphs
S – Skype
T – Target
U – USPS
V – Verizon
W – Weather
X – Xbox
Y – Yahoo
Z – Zillow

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Freakematics

Freakematics is a word I just put together now as a way to describe a habit of mine. Freakematics is the application of pure mathematics to diverse subjects not usually covered by “traditional” pure mathematics. The inspiration came from the term Freaknomics, which is “an application of economic theory to diverse subjects not usually covered by ‘traditional’ economists (Wikipedia).

Pure mathematics should not be confused with applied mathematics. Pure mathematics is more about the beauty of finding patterns, and not necessarily used for practical application. A central concept of pure mathematics is the idea of generality. It’s the pursuit of a generality that can describe everything.

The idea of Freakematics is to use logic to show that the universe is connected. The core idea is that everything makes sense and nothing doesn’t make sense. You must always assume there are factors you don’t know and haven’t thought of. It isn’t always practical, but at least it’s never wrong.

A good way to explain why you must always assume there are unknown factors is The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: “The Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything is calculated by an enormous supercomputer over a period of 7.5 million years to be 42.” When we apply Freakematics, we’re only doing an analysis of what this supercomputer can do in a split second.

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The Third Place

The Third Place is a term coined by Professor Ray Oldenburg back in 1989. He describes the importance of informal gathering places such as bars and coffee shops that allow you to escape from your two usual environments. Your two usual environments are your home (the first place) and your office (the second place).

As a way to skip the process of rewording what’s already been said, here is an excerpt from the wikipedia article on Oldenburg’s writings:

Oldenburg calls one’s “first place” the home and those that one lives with. The “second place” is the workplace — where people may actually spend most of their time. Third places, then, are “anchors” of community life and facilitate and foster broader, more creative interaction. All societies already have informal meeting places; what is new in modern times is the intentionality of seeking them out as vital to current societal needs. Oldenburg suggests these hallmarks of a true “third place”: free or inexpensive; food and drink, while not essential, are important; highly accessible: proximate for many (walking distance); involve regulars – those who habitually congregate there; welcoming and comfortable; both new friends and old should be found there.

The beauty of Third Places are that they are public spaces for informal social gatherings, such as coffee shops, bars, and parks.

  • Public – (Almost) Everybody is welcome. The beauty is that it allows interaction between people of different backgrounds. During a walk through a park, you wouldn’t be surprised to interact with liberals, conservatives, kids, adults, accountants, rock stars, tourists, or scientists, whether it be simply smiling at them or actually engaging in conversation.
  • Space – Any social gathering requires a setting. There is usually a “host” to any third place. At a bar, it would be the bar owner, manager, and bartenders. At a public park or beach, the host is your government. The host often provides a lot to and has a lot of control over the space. More recently, we see a lot of social interaction on the internet; an interesting topic to discuss is social networking sites as Third Places and the power of the host.
  • For – In this case, this word is used to indicate purpose of both the host and the guest. What kind of space and environment does the host intend to create? What is the mindset of the guests in the space?
  • Informal – By definition, this is referring to the absence of formality. This can create a sense of neutrality between two people that may not exist in another setting. In your office, it could be a taboo for you to walk up to the CEO of your company and discuss with him your opinion on this year’s football season, but if you happened to sit next to him at a bar, that conversation suddenly becomes (more) acceptable.
  • Social – The Third Place concept puts a lot of emphasis on the interaction between people. It is a study of sociology, which is using “various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop and refine a body of knowledge about human social activity, often with the goal of applying such knowledge to the pursuit of social welfare” (Source: Wikipedia). This knowledge can also be applied to business decisions such as by marketers or business owners who host third places.
  • Gatherings – Not one, but many gatherings. You must look at the culmination of the many gatherings that change constantly over time both in size and numbers. Each interaction, no matter the duration or importance, is a gathering.

I am not writing about the Third Place concept because I believe that bars are more important to you than your home or office.

I am not writing about the Third Place concept because I believe that third places are distinct from your home and office. Nor do I believe that they should be.

I am not writing about the Third Place because I want to argue for or against anybody. The writing of this blog is part of my research process. I hope to find a thesis someday, or do I?

I am writing about the Third Place concept because it’s an interesting way to look at our lives and society. Live, work, and play is only one way of categorizing your mindset, it’s neither right nor wrong. But when you apply these categories to your observations about human interaction and physical location, you might notice something you didn’t before. That’s all I’m saying.

You live at home, work at the office, but where do you play?

For sake of full disclosure, I’d like to share that I have not read either of Professor Oldenburg’s books on this subject which are The Great Good Place: Cafes, Coffee Shops, Bookstores, Bars, Hair Salons, and Other Hangouts at the Heart of a Community and Celebrating the Third Place: Inspiring Stories About the “Great Good Places” at the Heart of Our Community. I hope to read these books soon, and I will share my thoughts along the way.

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