Splatch of Assorted Musings

Scattered, mostly trivial musings. Just need to get these thoughts out of my head and out of my "drafts" folder….

  • An audience member gets nervous if he senses the speaker is nervous. Hence, as a speaker, the best way to put the audience at ease is to yourself be and appear at ease.
  • Annoying: people who talk slowly most of the time. Talking slowly at times can be a great way to emphasize something, or to occasionally come across as profound, but a default pace of slowness I find insufferable.
  • Without wanting to further the "brilliant guy who hasn't showed in three days" stereotype…men I know who are metrosexual or spend lots of time thinking about their fashion / grooming are usually not very smart. Similarly, people who make spiritually a big part of their identity tend to be fuzzy thinkers. (I know, I know, generalizations are dangerous, plenty of exceptions, etc etc.)
  • Like every other sentient being, I find excessive name-dropping annoying and a sign of insecurity. But I'd be lying if I said it wasn't effective at conveying success or importance — someone's proximity to power does usually mean something.
  • Why do pilots always announce the direction of the wind? Any regular flyer knows what I'm talking about: the pilot comes on with about 20 minutes left in the flight and says, "We're about 20 minutes away from San Francisco's International Airport. It's a beautiful day there, about 68 degrees and winds out of the west at 6 miles an hour." It's always those two facts: the temperature and the wind. Why do they say the wind? This is irrelevant to the passengers. I understand why the pilot wants to know this info. But passengers, inasmuch as add'l info is going to be given, would be more interested in tomorrow's forecast, temperatures of other neighboring cities, what the weather has been earlier in the day, or chance of precipitation. Anything. Wind speed and direction, not so much.
  • Side projects needn't make money. The experimental value alone is worth it.
  • People with learning disabilities should get extra time on tests but their special status ought to be known by the evaluators of the results. Currently, a college does not know which SAT scores came from an extra-time exam.
  • Gossip is a form of social bonding. To tell someone a secret, or something juicy, is a way to build closeness with the person. Of course, it's an awfully lazy way to bond!
  • Why don't people wear shorts in India or Ecuador? In both places, even on hot days, no locals were wearing shorts when I was there.
  • How the hell do people deal with time zones on their calendar? I schedule all events in local time and keep my computer time zone on Pacific Time. If I schedule a meeting in Denver next week, I enter it under the setting Pacific Time but at the local time the actual meeting is happening. E.g.: 2 PM MT meeting on Tuesday goes in my calendar as 2 PM and I don't change my time zone as I travel (otherwise all entries would be knocked up an hour).
  • Ever had this happen: you describe your position to somebody you respect, and they reply, "I agree!" and go on to "reinforce" your argument…except that you discover during their reinforcement that they don't actually agree. They misunderstood you. Do you correct them and say, "No, actually, wait, you don't agree" or simply move on? Oh, the high stakes of social interactions!
  • Many big companies interview potential candidates by having 5-6 employees interview the candidate for a half hour or hour each. If a candidate has a set of talking points, he can dish them out each time. I prefer one trusted person going deep with the candidate for a couple hours.
  • Even in this advanced state of civilization, when I'm on the road, I find my days animated by the primal hunt for food, water, and a bathroom. I feel I'm always hungry, thirsty, or needing to pee. And yes, I understand these things are connected!
13 comments on “Splatch of Assorted Musings
  • In India at least, the traditional dress (salwar or dhoti) are loose, billowing garments, mainly made of cotton or other light fabric, alleviating the need for actually wearing shorts. Wearing such garments might actually cool more effectively in hot weather, because the cotton would wick away sweat so that it would dry faster. This goes for men at least, for women there is the issue of modesty, but women’s traditional clothing is also generally very light and loose.

    For people wearing Western clothing (i.e. suits and jeans), I would imagine that part of their reason for wearing it is as a status marker. Shorts might detract from that aspect by being overly informal… I don’t know.

    Personally I think shorts just look weird.



  • The ongoing de-masculinization of men in the US might ease if we regulated the social engineering by Madison Avenue of young male libidos to create new consumer markets.

    And if the macho cadre of jocks and working class men embraced their natural bisexuality in a public way, rather than clinging to the tearoom hypocrisy of the old days, we might find that crime rates decline as more of their aggressive psychic energy is discharged in a liberated environment of sexual release rather than in rampant social violence.

    Already a much higher percentage of the sum total of gay sex being had in this country is enjoyed by these guys than people realize, and outside the big urban centers they are a lot more common than metrosexuals.

    As for those sad pretty-boys, nerds, and geeks– they’ll know society has made real progress when an A-list actor who plays leading-man roles can publicly admit he likes James’ big cock as much as he does Victoria’s lovely pussy.;-)

  • Mosquitoes/malaria prevention is another reason why people likely don’t wear shorts in Ecuador/India.

    Also, re. wind direction: Maybe it suggests the pilot actually knows what he’s doing, since it implies a greater-than-normal awareness of flying conditions?

  • the wind direction and speed is critical to the quality of the flight and arrival time. if the wind is at your back, arrive earlier and quite possibly an uneventful flight. if it is a headwind, could be turbulent and arrive later than suggested.

    in my field of organic chemistry, we name drop to showoff, but also to lend credibility to our argument. for many they use is as a way to not be challenged if they are uncertain or dont want to be seen as an inferior student of their field.

    i had an experimental project in grad school and it resulted in a serendipitous lead which eventually became two first author publications. somemtimes you get really lucky and can get out school earlier if you catch it sooner rather than later.

  • If you don’t enter all your events on the same timezone, how do you get notifications/alerts at the right time?

    I enter everything in PST – so a 2PM meeting in Denver would go in my calendar as 1PM. This way my email and SMS alerts arrive at the right time and I don’t miss my meeting.

    Even when living in Germany I kept my calendar and appointments on PST time so I’d never have to worry about switching them all back when returning to Seattle.

    Also, yes, you should tell people that they don’t actually agree with you. I can’t stand it when someone purports to agree with me when they don’t – you don’t want that person name-dropping the future and saying “Ben Casnocha agrees with me!”

  • Slow talkers: Overly fast talkers and mumblers are equally annoying.

    Time zones: keep everything in your home time zone. Some systems (e.g., Outlook) allow you to display multiple time zones so you can see both home and away times. And when you are traveling, pay attention to the time zone. When you are traveling, there are many things you have to pay more attention to than usual (e.g., bathrooms), timezone is just another one.

    Wind speed: You don’t spend enough time outside. The wind is an important component of the weather if you’re doing anything outdoors. Furthermore, it says a lot about what the landing is going to be like, and some people have an interest in that.

    People who agree when they don’t: if you want to get their respect back, you have to point out the disagreement. Finding the points of agreement and disagreement is one of the purposes of conversation.

  • I had forgotten that rarely do you see Ecuadorians in shorts. Even when it is scorching they are still rocking jeans.

    I think it has a lot to do with getting sunburn. Everyone in Ecuador puts on tons of sunscreen and never sit out in the sun.

  • Speaking slowly: Difference of accents, English-as-a-second-language are two reasons where speaking slowly is the only way to get one’s point across. Most of the times, I have found that clients etc have to slow me down as my mouth tries to keep up with my brain. There is no solution to this except to become a slow thinker.

    Metrosexuals: Men who have to think about fashion/ grooming are no different from women who think about fashion/ grooming a lot. Both have no innate sense of style, ergo all the effort.

    Shorts: Partly, the explanation for India is that we place a high value on ‘modesty’ although this concept is in flux. People, including women, do wear shorts more often at home/ indoors but rarely outside. This is not necessarily the case in metros. As Lisa points out, our clothes are made of different materials and are structured differently. Haven’t you wondered why Bedouins always wear big robes and cover their heads and faces? 🙂 Similar reasoning.

    Different time zones: I write cross-time-zone calls in my calendar in _my_ time zone. I also let the other party know my local time so they are aware of the time difference (the worst culprits are Americans on west coast who seem to find it hard to remember that the UK is 8 hours ahead so it needs constant reinforcing).

    People who agree but don’t: They are using a classic arguing technique called ‘the sandwich’. You say one positive or agreeable thing, followed by one which may be not a point of agreement, followed by another agreeable one, preferably finishing on a positive note. Makes conversations less argumentative. If you want to take someone on, try this next time.

    Interviews: Interviewing for most senior roles in large corporations starts with one or two people doing a ‘chemistry’ check. Unstructured as this may be, it is always positioned as an informal chat and used as brutal shortlisting measure. This may be followed by panel interviews where more deep probing can take place. I like the chemistry check.

    Social bonding: Believe it or not, discussing body fat is a popular bonding tool amongst thin Scandinavian teenaged girls. A fat girl cannot join in this conversation because when she complains about her fat, it is about real fat – not about exposing vulnerabilities. Crazy? May be. But true. But smarter than gossip.

  • I was walking down the street in Verona when two young Italian men in their mid-twneties passed me on the sidewalk.

    You may know that the Italians are very judgmental about style and fashion in dress, and the men do not try to hide their disdain for the sloppy attire of clueless Americans.

    I thought I was dressed well enough in a wool sweater (Italian made), well-cut linen shorts and leather walking shoes, but I had committed the fashion crime of wearing shorts in Italy on a cool October night.

    The better-looking of the two Italiani could not contain himself, and eying my pants contemptuously, he shook his head, looked me in the eye, and viciously spat the words, “Stupido Americano.”

    I could not mistake his meaning and was very taken aback, especially since he was so handsome (as an inordinate number of the Italiani are).

    I quickly recovered my balance, though, and looking straight at his ‘basket’, as they used to call it on Christopher Street, I asked him in Italian if it was as good for him as it was for me.

    He turned red and picked up his pace, while his friend smirked with a look of great satisfaction.

  • Ben, I have a solution to your time zone problems.

    In my business (aviation) we’re constantly jumping from time zone to time zone so we use Zulu time (also known as UTC, Coordinated Intervirsial time).

    Right now in San Fran (UTC-8) it is 1525L (Local) which corresponds to 2325z (Zulu).

    If you’re going to be jumping lots of time zones it can make scheduling much easier. Of course the big key is knowing how the time zone you’re currently in corresponds (UTC-8,-5, +3, etc.)

    As far as reading off the winds, I think the only reason pilots do it is because it’s part of the automated weather system brief we receive (ATIS or AWOS).

    We don’t tell the passengers the weather on military flights, but I would assume commercial guys do it simply because it is part of the weather info they get and they repeat what they hear or read.

    But, I agree, it’s pointless to tell the passengers…maybe a favorite restaurant would be better info.

  • “Why don’t people wear shorts in India or Ecuador?”

    Like I wonder –

    What kind of people loath hot n’ spicy stuff? Cereals and bland Milk for breakfast – ain’t that for babies? Yuck!!!

    How do Chinese/Japanese eat raw fish, snake, insect, worm? Haven’t we moved on from stone age when they lived off the land (and water)? Have the civilization process turned princes into frogs?

    Genesis of Golf – Lazy executives felt like spending a day of strenuous idleness? Instead of calling the emperor naked, a lazier herd follows it!

  • The comfortable thing is true for all things not just speaking. I had a waiter yesterday who was very nervous while presenting the menu. It made me feel uncomfortable.

    We all desire confidence, certainty.

  • Re: wind speed
    It does make a lot of difference in the perceived temperature (wind chill). It tells you whether you need that coat or not. I check my computer before leaving home for the actual temperature and the wind speed.

    Re: time zones in calendar
    I always enter events in the local time, but keep the computer time to Central Time. I also make sure that the reminders are set properly. (It’s a pain.)

    Re: no shorts in India
    Some of my friends and I (who moved from India to the US) came to the conclusion that Americans (people in cold climates rather) want to strip down to a bikini/shorts at the first sight of the Sun because of being bundled up all winter long (especially here in Minnesota).
    Another reason: The full length clothes protect you from getting a bad sunburn and keep you cool in the tropics. Just make sure it’s cotton (and not polyester, etc.)

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