Saturday, August 29, 2009

Smile And Nod

I learned the value of this Standard Operating Procedure from a colleague of mine at Schwab. It entails never pushing back regardless of how unreasonable the request, and only later surfacing the constraints. That way you become the invaluable go-to person and never get pegged as a naysayer.

This morning I embraced the SAN SOP when I agreed to join my friend's running group.

Let's clarify: I run. I just don't do "endurance" runs. But, I figured, how hard can a little extra distance be?

Only in the car - en route, committed - did John throw out these remarks:
  • "If you studied the trail posted online..." ("study" the trail? ah...right...)
  • "The grade ascends consistently for the first 6 miles." (note the use of "first")
  • "There is an extension option because the main course is only 11 miles." (note the use of "only")
  • "The fact that it's trail running sort of selects out who will be there." (I had no idea what this specifically referred to, but got the sense that trails must be scary)
Smile And Nod. Smile And Nod. No problem!

But, in merciful face-saving fate, the Running Demon of Sun*Sans*Shade led even the "ultra" runners to condescend to their own humanity and join me in stopping at various points along the way.

So really, I am just like them. I could do a 50K in my sleep. Dreams, that is.

This is not me.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

May I have some opiods to chase my dopamine, please?

My highly social nature + my incessant need to uncover truth has traditionally been a source of pride, enabling me to be a journalist, sleuth and master of no trade (aka "generalist").

But pride cometh before the fall: thanks to current networking technology, I can now feed my social and search beasts at alarming rates. It started slowly with email....escalated with Facebook....and was fueled to whole new levels by IM, Skype messaging and Twitter. Now I have services like FourSquare which text my phone to immediately notify me who is going where and subsequently permit me to research, add tips, stalk others ... the ADD possibilities for those seeking external stimulation are endless!

Specifically, I'm noting that my capacity for reading and writing beyond a short email or tweet is eroding; that my Facebook activity steps up considerably when I am forced to read through a document longer than one page; and that I must multitask with my human-computer interface when encountering a simple human interface, lest I neglect my extroversion of any possible input.

So it was with great relief that I had the patience to read all of this piece (yes, first seen as a friend's post on Facebook but actually a normal-length article from Slate...which still writes articles vs. being pure post redux). It neutralized my neurosis by stating it in concrete and physiological terms.

And that's good enough for me. Just proud that I finally finished this post!

This very post is a cry out for intervention. Sponsored by AT&T.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

The eye of the tiger

I've never been sure if it is simply unsettling or outright rude when people over the age of four transgress their social boundary with a hovered gaze. Only recently has this led to some real confrontation.
  1. Yesterday I shamed my spinning student when I announced to the class that I was staring her down. That did the trick and she looked away (note: she explained later that she often just "zones" by staring at the teacher...but, still....).
  2. Later in the day in a cafe, I found myself unable to listen to my friend catch me up because the woman next to us - while pretending to eat her Waldorf salad - overtly stared at us each time one of us uttered a word. Remember, this was a cafe folks - not a library. So I kept looking back at her and mercifully, she would back down. However....every time we resumed our conversation, she jumped right back in, compelling me to simply stare her down. Result? She let out a nervous smile, got up and left 1/3 of her salad there. Mission accomplished! (Of course, this was a Seinfeld moment that only video can fully capture).
  3. The coup de grace came today in Sausalito when I failed to notice one of the thousands of self-entitled cyclists crowding up the (AUTOMOBILE) route. Alas, my blissful Sunday afternoon happy place was interrupted by an abrupt, childish fist thump on my car accompanied by some choice expletives and accusations. My natural response immediately kicked in: gleefully smile back! But, this didn't lead to victory; rather than use his endorphins for their stress-relieving purpose (come on: Sausalito, sunny Sunday afternoon with a clear blue SF Bay view?), he proceeded to ride up to my car, scream at me and threaten to call the police. Which only drove me to smile at him more.
While I technically "lost" this third face-off, it somehow felt the most gratifying.