Friday, March 31, 2006

Tip the Deserving

I'm lucky enough to have never worked in the food service industry, and I'm really glad about that. It looks like a tough job being a waiter, and I'm sure it's tough being a busboy or someone else working in the back too.

We people are pains when it comes to our food. We want our food delivered perfectly or it's got to be done all over again. Other professions don't have to worry about that. An OB/GYN doesn't have to hear, "Excuse me, there's a hair on my baby." "Oh, I'm terribly sorry about that, let me get you another one...and it's on the house." And he gets paid enough he doesn't have to care if the customer likes him enough to leave him a couple of bucks.

Waiters have it rough. Theoretically, they can make a lot on tips. They certainly don't get much in wages alone. But the problem with "working for tips" is that it makes you a codependent person. Chances are, if you're a waiter, you won't be yourself while interacting with people. Subconsciously, you're trying to get something out of them. It's a game of seduction. You have to make them like you.

And of course, whatever goes wrong is the waiter's fault, in the eyes of the customer. The waiter is the only employee the customer comes in contact with, and judges him for the entire experience.

You should definately tip often, if you can. The more you can afford, the more you should tip. Don't just stick with a standard percentage as the default. Customers need to "feel" the quality of their waiter and tip accordingly. When things go wrong, don't automatically blame the waiter, instead take note of how he/she handles the situation. You'll know when someone's deserving and when someone's not.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Deaf People - The Great Mystery

How do deaf people wake up on time? One theory is they turn the volume up really loud on the alarm. I doubt that works if they're deaf though, unless the point is to piss of the neighbor so he comes and pulls you out of bed. Does anyone know what kind of alarms deaf people use? How does it alert them? Is it painful? Sorry if I offended any deaf people...I'm sure they get tired of hearing stuff like this.

Last chance to submit a caption for the Photo Caption Contest.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Learning to Listen - Lesson #1

I said I'd eventually blog on being a good listener, so now's a good time to start. Theoretically, following these lessons and learning to be a good listener will make you a better person and give you lots of insight into people in general.

To become fully effective, you have to want and be open to change. Good listening requires an open mind. As a listener, it's your job to listen to their stuff. You can't be judgmental. You don't have to agree with what's being said, but understand them. Nobody will believe they're wrong, so whatever someone thinks, feels, says is true to them.

First, you have a metaphorical toolbox. All your techniques are in it for you to pull out and utilize during conversation. The first step is to empty that toolbox so you can start putting in the right tools. The things we're taking out are asking 'why' questions and offering solutions.

You're most likely thinking, "Why can't I ask why?". Why is counterproductive to communication. It implies doubt, it makes people defensive and mainly, you can't expect to understand or accept someone else's reasoning. Think of a problem you have, imagine telling someone you're problem and getting hit with a "Why did you do that?" or "Why does that bother you?". It won't make you feel understood.

Secondly, you can't offer solutions. People's problems are their own to solve. Stuff going on in their lives is their stuff. And so, you could not fix it if you wanted. People need to be able to come up with solutions for themselves. You're just there to listen and help them become aware of their thoughts, so that they can make the right decision.

So, now you should pay attention to those two things while you have a conversation. Don't ask why (this includes "how come", "what for" and other hidden whys) and don't offer solutions. Pay attention to yourself as someone talks to you and watch for your tendancies. Make an effort to stop asking why and offering solutions. Once you get this down, you'll be read to start filling your toolbox with the right stuff to use.

Here are some other things you should try to do:

  • Maintain Eye Contact - You want to stay focused on them. Don't stare them down, but looking off in the distance, or at your watch, implies you're not paying attention.
  • Provide Feedback - Let them know you're listening, receiving, understanding. You can do this by nodding from time to time, or even saying, "Mmm..hmm."
  • Relaxed-Attentive Posture - You want to look relaxed, but attentive. Don't fold your arms over and stare them down, but don't slouch on the couch with your feet up on the coffee table either. Practice what feels right to you, and see how you look in a mirror. The key is to try to find a nice middle ground.
  • Manage Appropriate Silence - Silence is okay. You're listening, it's not your job to fill in silence. If the conversation stops for a while, nod or say, "Mmm..hmm" to let them know you're taking in their stuff. People tend to find silence awkward and will fill it. If you let the silence happen, you'll make them fill it with something, and it'll likely be somewhat impulsive, and more honest of how they feel.
  • Stay on Topic - You're listening to their stuff, so keep with their stuff. If they try to put things on you with a question like, "What would you do if you were me?" or "Has this ever happened to you?" try to get it back to their stuff. Say something like, "You're not me. You have to find what works for you."

So, that's it for Lesson #1. It'll be hard at first to change. People will notice, and you'll want to continue your old ways, especially for those close to you. Make an effort not to ask why and offer solutions, and keep in mind the active listening tips. If you have any comments or questions, post them here (you don't have to be signed in to Blogger to post either). Incorporate this lesson into your life and tune in next time for Lesson #2.

Don't forget the Photo Caption Contest! We need more captions, there's a few good ones already. A winner will be announced soon and a new picture will be posted. The rule is, if you read this, you have to come up with something to submit for it. (If you have trouble commenting, send me a message.)

Monday, March 27, 2006

So What Else is News?

Have you ever watched the news? Most people have. I'm assuming at one point in time the news existed to report on stuff. Now, it's just entertainment and subliminal spin.

News shows make a profit just like any other TV program. So, they want good ratings. That causes them to favor being entertaining over being informative. They find the stories with an emotional pull and use it to keep viewers watching. Now, it's all about fear.

The News wants the public to be afraid. A constant state of near-panic results in more news-watching. If you don't want to get the bird flu, then you better check up on what's happening from time to time. The tactics of news shows are the same as Ripley's Believe it or Not. There's always one particular incident you're waiting to hear about and it's always the very last part of the show. This keeps people tuned in for the entire show. The news does the same thing. Plus, they take advantage of this every commercial break by promising something really important coming up.

"And the Panda seems to be happy. In other news, your TV could be causing Cancer, find out if yours is....after these messages." So you turn the TV off in panic. But then how do you know if yours causes cancer? Better turn it on and see what the news guy says. The end of the world will come and before the meteor hits you'll hear, "A huge meteor is heading for Earth and due to strike in less than two minutes. Will it destroy mankind? Is there anything we can do to stop it....answers to these and more, after this."

People are already stressed enough. The news isn't helping. Sure, there are dangers needing to be reported on, but the news takes any little incident and blows it out of proportion to scare the bejeezers out of the public.

The whole Lacy Peterson thing, for instance. Did it deserve as much coverage as it got? The fact is, it's more entertaining than say, the Iraq war. And I heard a lady say something along the lines of, "Is your man capable of the same thing?" and then a commercial. That might have made for some awkward moments for anyone watching the news with their spouse.

The news is also used to help mold public opinion. And I feel like now it's job is more to divide the public. I guess when we're too pissed at each other, we won't pay attention to the people screwing us. You end up with programs like Bill O'Reilly and other personality-driven "news" shows. The truth is, they aren't news. They should admit it. It's just designed to preach to the an effort to make them hate the other side even more.

Maybe this is a recent development, but I feel like the news has always been a disquised pawn of the elite. Maybe more so now, or perhaps it's just now that people are starting to realize it.

Remember to participate in the Photo Caption Contest. A winner will be announced this week!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Marvin's Death

Marvin was finally found in the penultimate place the lawyer looked. It was too late, someone had murdered Marvin. By the look of it, he was still alive when they killed him. It seemed the murderers used a sword to chop him in tiny pieces, then put him back together and shot him in the head two times less than three. The lawyer found a shell. Inside it was an even smaller snail. Beside that was another shell, a .357. Poor Marvin…well he wasn’t rich anyway, not that any of that mattered now, except to his children who won’t inherit much because Marvin was poor. Marvin, Jr. received a phone call in the mail containing an inheritance of three dollars and forty-two cents and a magic bean that was more of a midget potato than a bean and awkwardly colored than it was magic.

Any thoughts?

Help Wanted

I try to post every weekday, but I haven't been consistent. Hopefully I'll get a system developed so that you can all be entertained for a few minutes everday. This photo caption contest idea might work well. I've got a couple of comments with good captions so far, but more are needed. I've got some other great photos waiting to be posted. I'm working on creating a prize for the photo caption contests. Got any ideas for a prize?

So, from here on, daily posts will be a priority. I could use some help. Comment often and come back to read comments. Also, I've got a couple positions open for Guest Posters. You can, from time to time, post your own entry on my web log when I'm out or unable to post. The pay is great* and it'll be a fun job. Comment or email me if you're interested.

I'm getting a lot of readers according to the page stats. Hopefully I can keep it up. Send me your thoughts and suggestions so I can keep this moderately entertaining, at least. And don't forget to comment a caption for yesterday's post. And comment some ideas for a prize for the contest on todays.

P.S. You don't need a Blogger account to comment (but you should get one anyway). You can comment as 'Anonymous' or with whatever name you type in the box. Use the 'Post a Comment' link to do so, if you don't see it, look for 'Fans of Clayburn'.

*Definition of great in this case being the equivalent of satisfaction from a job charity work, volunteering. The pay is in the job itself.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Photo Caption Contest #1

I'm going to be trying this often (if the response is good). Check out the picture below, then come up with a witty and/or funny caption for it. Leave your answer in a comment. If you don't know how to comment, email me or just click on "Fans of Clayburn" and you'll figure it out.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Adios Dollar Menu

I heard something about how "they" are considering raising the minimum wage to $7.50/hour. They are so dumb. When will they learn?

It would be nice to make more money (I get over $7.50/hour, so it won't affect me). The problem with raising the minimum wage is that everything will change to accommodate it. The main reason you can't get by on $5.15/hour is because of the cost of living. But, if people are making $7.50 an hour, they can afford to pay more to live, and they will.

Right now, you can go to McDonald's and get a couple of green chile cheeseburgers for a couple of bucks. Or, get a meal just about anywhere for around $5. All of the employees at these places are making around $5/hour. If the owners have to start paying them $7.50/hour, then you can expect the meal prices to go up to $7.50. And those of us making over $7.50, which is a lot of people, won't get a raise. We'll be making the same amount of money as prices go up around us. Eventually, our wages will go up too. Then they'll need to raise the minimum wage again. So nothing's being fixed.

The economy rules itself.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Sonic - The Great Mystery

Where do Sonic employees park?

I've never seen a parking lot area at a Sonic. I wouldn't expect that they'd make their employees walk from wherever the nearest parking lot is. My sister said that maybe they park in the Out of Order spaces. But what happens when there's not enough room? Do they break a few more? Or fire people?

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Problems with MySpace

It's the biggest one of its kind and probably the worst. I prefer, but there's only about 5 people from all of Lea County on it. So, I have MySpace too, but I don't like it.

This Tom guy is an odd fellow. I get the feeling he'd really rather be doing something else, but doesn't have the guts to get out of his parents' house and go do it.

But, my biggest problem with MySpace right now is the technical bugs. Is Tom running this off his home PC or what? When a website operation outgrows it's original system, the system should be upgraded. There's always sudden outages, sporadic at that. Things should just work. Google understands that, and that's what makes Orkut so much better.

The most appealing thing about Orkut is the style. It has a kind of mellow coolness to it. The features are about the same as MySpace, but they've been worked out to their fullest potential. The Groups idea of MySpace is much larger in Orkut, and they're called Communities. You can also rate all of your friends using Karma points. Giving them three of either or all: smileys (trustworthiness), hearts (sexiness), ice cubes (coolness). The Comments, like in MySpace, are a big part of the user's profile. But they are actually used as comments about the person, not like a discussion forum. They call them testimonials, and you can check out what someone's friends say about them. Another big bonus of Orkut is that you can rank your friends by "havent' met", "aquaintances", "friends", "good friends" or "best friends". That helps in organizing the tons of people you meet online who you don't actually know and those you do know in real life as well. The profiles you'll see on Orkut are more informative than on MySpace. There's a lot of room to talk about yourself and plenty to read about others.

Orkut is definately a better choice, but it needs to grow. Oh, and the cool thing about it is it's by invitation only, so you only get in if you've actually got a friend in it already. Exclusive? Maybe, but it helps with the quality. If you want to try Orkut out, send me a message. Maybe we can move all of MySpace over to Orkut by Christmas.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Spanking - You know you like it

I was eating some Chinese food when I came across this couple, probably in their 30s. They had a little boy with a Power Ranger action figure. It was one of the new versions, so I couldn't tell you the name.

Anyway, the boy finished eating and was running around, being a typical little kid. The mom kept threatening, "Do you want to go to the restroom? Come on let's go to the restroom so I can give you a spankin'."

This continued the entire time I was there. She never went with him to the restroom, but she did smack him once.

So is spanking a good idea?

I think there's a lot of more effective methods of conditioning, but I know for a parent spanking can be the most appealing. I think there's some things you should keep in mind if you are going to spank your child.

First, don't make empty threats. The kid in the Chinese place kept acting up because he obviously didn't care that his mom was threatening him. If you say, "Do that one more time and I'll spank your ass raw," you better follow up as soon as they grin and see how far they can go past the line you set. That would mean next time in public, if you threaten them, they'll be more willing to comply.

Secondly, don't spank them if they're just being annoying. Spank them for disobedience. Children can't help it that they find gum under the table entertaining to throw at bystanders. Explain how that's wrong and let them know it's a bad thing to do. Then when they get spanked for it you can tell them, "Sorry, but I told you it's not nice to throw used gum at strangers."

Third. Try not to become angry. You'll probably be frustrated by them if you resort to spanking. But realize that spanking is a form of conditioning. You're spanking them to let them know their behavior is bad. You're not spanking them to take out your frustration at said behavoir.

Fourthly, don't be embarassed to disipline your child in public. They'll catch on to your embarassment and use that to taunt you. They know they're safe as long as there are witnesses around.

Of course, it's a great idea to try other techniques. One thing you could try is talking to them. While not all children are capable of understanding what you're saying, they can probably get the general idea. Explain to them their actions and ask them what they think of it. Find out if they realize they're being bad.

Reward them from time to time when they behave unexpectedly. Don't say, "We'll give you ice cream if you take that man's tie out of your mouth." Instead, if they go the whole duration of a public outing without an incident, or if you ask them one time to behave and they do, take them for ice cream afterwards. Then say, "I'm really proud of you guys for behaving while we were at church." If you tell them ahead of time, they'll come to believe that being good is only worth it if there's a promise for reward.

Well, there's my thoughts. Now go ahead and do some spanking if you're into that kind of thing.

Friday, March 10, 2006


Here's something worth thinking about. This was on another person's blog:

Looking your best for people you don't even know.

Looking your worst for people you care about the most (around your house)

It's an interesting point. We do dress up when we know strangers will see us. We may not even get dressed all day if only our family will see us. It's interesting in that it sounds like it's backwards. But maybe it's not.

I don't think that it has anything to do with wanting to show respect for strangers. But we want them to like us. Strangers will judge us on how we look, as they have little else to go by.

I think it goes deeper than wanting to be liked. It's about being comfortable. True, pajamas are more comfortable, but they are also more intimate. Not having your hair fixed is showing the "real you" as you are upon waking. Exposing this more intimate side of us allowing us to be vulnerable. If you were in your pajamas, talking to a guy in a suit, who would feel in control?

The idea is a lot to do with trust. We trust those closest to us. We can allow ourselves to be vulnerable around them. And they will love us despite our food-stained attire.

The more dressed up you are, the more protected you are. Nakedness is vulnerability. And the spectrum goes from being naked to being in formal attire. Pajamas are down near being nude when it comes to lack of protection. Formal clothing is complex, and gives layers of psychological protection from strangers.

So even though it seems dressing up for strangers and not for loved ones is the wrong idea, it certainly says a lot to let someone see you in your natural state.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

I want an Oscar

If only they had a category for best crush on Natalie Portman.

I've decided this year I've got to become famous. How else can I meet Natalie? I've been wanting to get into the movie industry for a while now, so I'll try to figure out how to do that before this year's over.

Let me know if you've got any advice. I think my plan will be to finish writing something, and find an agent to get that published or made into a movie. At the same time, I'll give acting a shot. Other than Natalie Portman, an Oscar would be a neat thing to have.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Ego - Imaging Software from God

We spend a lot of our lives trying to be ourselves. The problem with that is we are ourselves already. What we're trying to become is the image we want to portray.

No one would admit that they were trying to put up an image. Doing so would be "wrong". That's how counter-culture comes about. People want to show everyone that they don't care what they think about them. If you think about that a little, you'll see the problem. It's mother nature's way of using reverse psychology.

What is a purple mohawak? It's an advertisement that says, "I'm not comforming to your ideas of being normal. I'm a totally unique individual, going against the flow. I don't care what you think about it either."

Another big factor in one's image is religion. What makes religion so appealing isn't that it gives "answers" to the mysteries, but that it gives someone the pedastal to teach these answers. By believing the ultimate truth is on our side, then we become self-righteous. We use religion to reinforce our self image. We want to be right and religion makes us right. It tells us we are right.

This can also happen with people who do a lot of charity work. Often times they've done something in the past that makes people think less of them. Or for some other reason they feel as though people don't like them, or might try to attack their character. So, they set out to strengthen their character. By being a "good" person, you can shield yourself from attack. Do you think Mother Teresa had to put up with people talking smack about her? I'm guessing not. We all make mistakes, and I'm sure she had at some time in her life. But no one can say anything about it. She's immune to character assasination.

These are just examples of how our imaging software works. We're programmed to desire acceptance and understanding and will do whatever it takes.

What's the solution? Do we reprogram ourselves to not desire acceptance and understanding? I don't think so. It may not even be possible. People who say they don't need to be understood or accepted are putting up an image they see as independence. Their greatest weakness would be vulnerability.

How do we stop imaging ourselves then? The first step is to realize what you're doing. When you understand who you're trying to impress and how, you can begin to see what about you isn't true.

After you take down the false image, you have to turn off the Imaging Software. Stop portraying an image. This will probably leave you feeling lost. You have no image, and you still don't know who you are. You'll feel that at least the image gave you a sense of meaning.

But now that you have gotten rid of the image you can begin to discover your true self. Start asking yourself questions like: "What am I passionate about?" "What do I want out of life?" "What makes morality?"

Of course, before you can take that first step you have to want to know yourself. You have to be open to change. Once you start to learn who you truely are, everything you thought you had believed could change. If you say, "I know who I am and what I believe is right, I'll never change it," then you probably don't know who you are, but you've got an image that's become self sufficient. The software is running itself and you'll have a hard time Control, Alt, Deleting it.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Soap Operas, the Hidden Dangers

Besides being TV Trash, a new theory says that Soap Operas could cause health problems. Do you watch Soap Operas? Enjoy them? Get caught up in the drama?

If you answered yes to those questions, then I bet you are overweight and probably have high blood pressure.

But Soap Operas taste so good! Where's the harm?

The health hazard when it comes to Soap Operas is stress. Stress is a terribly dangerous thing. It can wreak havoc on your health, and it also strains your mind. Soap Operas create a world inside your head filled with stress. There is never a peaceful, tranquil moment in a Soap Opera. And by getting caught up in it, it's as if you're having the stress of everyone's character in the show. Meaning you could have on your mind the stress of going through a break up, having an affair, lusting for a forbidden love, hiding a secret and so much more, all in a single week.

People watching Soap Operas can easily become addicted. They feel like they need something interesting going on in their life, and they get it from TV. This could easily lead to TV addiction, which could keep you from doing much physical activities. Sitting around watching TV every chance you get will make it hard to lose weight. And of course, if you're fat, you're going to stress about it. Especially since it's the fat girl on the TV that never gets someone to love her.

If you find yourself in love with Soap Operas and can't turn away, try not to watch them before bedtime, or watch a silly comedy afterwards. Friends is a bad choice as it contains a lot of elements of a Soap Opera in terms of story arcs. Seinfeld or Family Guy, or even The Simpsons would be the best stress relievers. In Seinfeld, there is always closure (with the exception of a few hour long shows in syndication as two episodes). The story of a Seinfeld episode is done in a manner where it's not at all emotionally dramatic, but fully comedic. And no matter what the circumstances, it all wraps up at the end of the show and you leave happy, smiling and laughing. Family Guy and The Simpsons are cartoons, so you can't feel empathy for the characters as being people ("Oh, no. They shot Bumble Bee Man!" isn't as stressful to you as "She doesn't know Armando is cheating on her!"). Their sense of comedy is also pure humor. Family Guy more so. The Simpsons has some emotional draws from time to time.

The key thing here is stress. The chances are you'll stress out in your life sometime, it's best if you try to reserve stress for important things.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

How to Make it Work

If you're lucky enough to have somebody you want to keep, this is for you. I'll be imparting some of my knowledge about giving women what they want (and it probably works fine for girls to use on guys as well).

Women want someone they can trust and who understands them. Simple?
Trust is key in a relationship. The hardest part for us to do is trust someone. We are taught not to take candy from strangers. The news makes it seem everyone's out to harm someone else. It takes a lot to give your trust to someone, and doing so is a big gesture in itself. If you want your woman to trust you, you have to trust her. Take her at her word all the time. Always give her the benefit of the doubt.

But what if she's cheating? Lying? Thinking dishonestly? Or something else? You won't win either way. Suppose she's cheating on you. If you believe she is, and ask her, she'll either say yes, which will crush you, or no, which won't satisfy your need to know. The only thing you can do is trust her.

You think that won't work. She'll walk all over you, do whatever she wants behind your back. This is why it needs to be mutual. When you're the one being trusted, it's important you don't abuse that. Even if she never finds out, the fact you lied to her will make you have a problem trusting her. If you could hide something or trick her, then why can't she do the same to you? This kind of thinking will only hurt the relationship. You have to be 100% honest with her and trust that she will be honest as well.

Of course, you might be saying, but if one person is honest and trusts the other, but the other one isn't, then the honest one gets screwed. It's like that game show, Friend or Foe. I'd hope if you're dating someone you'd consider them a Friend and not a Foe. If you don't put in your side of it, then it won't work anyway. So all you can do is push the 'Friend' button and hope you were right about her.

The second key to women is understanding them. We know that they rank up there with existence, the Force and Jello when it comes to understanding, but the truth is it's possible.

Women all have stuff. Their stuff can be anything. It's whatever is going on in their lives, their thoughts, their feelings. And as a man, it's your job to get her to tell you about her stuff and understand.

Men want to fix everything. That is one problem that prevents us from understanding. "Jerry said I had a big nose." A common man would respond with, "Want me to knock him out for you?" or "Here's $1000, go see Dr. Farooq." Trying to fix this won't work, although she'd probably be happy to have you beat someone up for that or give her some money. What she really wants is you to understand. Think about what she feels. Then, tell her. "He really upset you." or "It sounds like you're really hurt by that."

To understand someone, you have to learn to listen. And here's some tips that will help you listen:

1. Don't ask why - Asking why is counterproductive to communication. It's an attacking question. You can't expect to understand or accept her reasoning either.

2. Don't offer solutions - You can't fix emotional problems with a simple solution. You have to sit back and understand and have empathy for the problem at hand. If you start devising a solution, then you'll miss out on what she wants to tell you.

3. Reflect feeling and content - As we talk, we want to know someone's listening. Let your woman know you understand by reflecting back her feelings or the content of what she's saying. Paraphrase what's she's telling you. Refelecting content helps you to make sure you've got all the details. When you're unclear about something, tell her how you interpreted it and see what she says. When you are listening closely, you can pick up on her feelings. Letting her know that you can sense how she feels tells her you do understand. You realize what she's going through and how it's affecting her emotionally. Think about how you (and other people) act when they're mad. They stomp, slam doors, yell. It's all very obvious. What's going on is that they want someone to realize and know they're mad.

Those are just a few of the biggest pointers for understanding women. There's a lot more to knowing how to listen, but I'll post about that later (if there's any interest).

That sums up my advice. If you read this through and try it out, you'll have a great relationship. Look forward to some more great relationship advice from me in the future.