May 14, 2010

Rosa

Rosa liked to write. Particularly articles for her neighborhood newsletter. Rosa had a secret though. She also liked to forget. Writing was her escape, her way to hide that she forgot. In order to write, you must pretend to know. Rosa liked to forget that she wrote. She also liked to forget that her name was Rosa. When she forgot that her name was Rosa, her name was Sam. When Rosa's name was Sam, she wore trousers. There was nothing wrong with Rosa, nothing to write home about either. When she remembered that she was Rose, she wore floral. Dresses, skirts, bermuda shorts. Big prints and small. She really liked the large prints, especially the ones by Georgia O'Keefe. Rosa didn't forget about floral prints. Not if she could help it.

And she could help it. As far as she could remember, that is. Rosa knew that she liked to forget, but merely liking a thing doesn't make it actually happen. Not always, that is. Rosa just really rather appreciated it when thoughts would disappear. She called them her shrinking violets - they'd turn purple and then grow unnoticeable.

Perhaps the reason Rosa liked forgetting so much was because she herself was rather unforgettable. She was six foot two, size twelve feet. She usually wore size elevens - it helped her remember what big feet felt like. When she wrote her articles for the city newspaper, she often wrote by hand. The size of her hand surprised her sometimes, most of all when she remembered it was hers. Forgetting, she would remember everytime she realized that the blue pen in the tawny hand was writing at her whim, has its distinct disadvantages. She had learned to avoid such shocks of unexpected recognition - she used large pens. When she remembered to.

Ros'as secret hobby had its downsides. Other people didn't share her secret. If Rosa had been more forgettable, she might not have had her secret hobby either.

Rose liked plaid. Tartan, Burberry. Especially the McEar family clan plaid. She wore it on her socks, almost everyday. It looked swell under her trousers. Rosa took pictures, for the school yearbook. She had a real sweet camera, an SRL. A Canon, last year's model. I think. She liked to wear brown Oxfords under her Tartan plaid socks. When she wore Oxfords her name was Ben.

Or was it Beatrice?

May 10, 2010

Book Review: Predictably Irrational

Definitely a must read for anyone interested in buying a house, starting a bank, creating a pricing scheme for a product set, or just understanding the idiocy of our current economic dogma. Dan Ariely explains in everyday (if not too everyday sometimes) language how and why we as consumers are NOT in fact rational consumers that obey Adam Smith's invisible hand, but rather irrational beings that merely like to think that we are logical. The rational model of economics is, really, nothing more than an optimists view of reality: the actual rules of reality, Ariely shows, are a far cry from what we would have ourselves believe them to be.

Taking the steps to become a savvy consumer begins with reading this book, not to mention taking a few extra steps towards learning how to understand yourself. Most of his points will have you nodding along in agreement, and you'll wonder why this wasn't something you could have written yourself. In fact, as with most social science, it sometimes takes someone with a PhD to prove that which we already know through our own intuition.

Although this book definitely fits into my definition of pop psychology, there are several very important gems for understanding ourselves and our complex relationship to money and expectations that is important for becoming a more savvy consumer. Though, the majority of the book's points could have been condensed into a 30 to 50 page pamphlet; the $30 300+ page monstrosity that it is in current form is merely a testament to the current tendency in the publishing industry to print large and overcharge.

Recommendation: Borrow or Kindle it. My copy is definitely up for grabs.

-SPOILER-
The only example of Ariely's that I would disagree with is his close examination of pricing and valuing mechanisms with an experiment on Duke basketball tickets. While I do agree with his conclusion that owners tend to over-price their belongings, his experiment was inherently flawed. By using a group of students that had both "worked" to earn tickets, some randomly who received them, some who didn't. Those who received tickets valued them 20 times over those who did not. Ariely uses this as an example for how those who possess objects tend to overvalue them without taking into account the following: students who received tickets and were putting them up for sale wanted to be compensated for their entire involvement in getting the ticket: the ticket wasn't just for the game, but for the entire ordeal that they went through to get the ticket. On the other hand, the students that went through the same ordeal but that didn't receive the tickets and were asked how much they would pay for them; they were being asked to pay for the tickets in addition to the work they already invested in waiting for the ticket. In essence, they were being asked what more they would invest for a ticket, whereas the group that received the tickets were being asked how much they valued all of the investment that they already put in. An unfair question and an interesting look at how people value luck and work, but not a very clear cut comparison for owners versus non-owners.

May 4, 2010

If Ifs Were Skiffs, We'd All Be Afloat

If i had a flavor, I would be dulce-amarga. With a hint of earl grey. And a dash of irresistible. If I had my headphones, I would be listening to DJ Shadow - Organ Donor. If I was an animal, I'd be an albatross. Or a grackle. If I could be anyone, I'd be Davy. If I could be a day, i'd be mid-October cloudy skies. No rain, just wind. Or a mid-July Gulf Coast thunderstorm. Rolling in, roiling sky, soaking earth, shattering eardrums. They smell good. I hope Arkansas smells that good.

Float on.

blank canvas

this canvas is blank. does that mean it's time for me to start afresh? that's one of the side effects of blank canvas -- it brings...