Sunday, November 29, 2009

Yes, No, or Maybe?

I've always loved the idea of the "Do you like me? Yes/No/Maybe" note. Making the note's usage acceptable for sane adults has been one of the most prominent, passionate goals in my life, right in front of saving diabetic puppies from puppy hating neo-Nazis.

I used to pass these kinds of notes all of the time in kindergarten and first grade when I was attending an international school in Bahrain. I met the love of my life (up to that point) at that school. She easily beat out both Ms. Patterson (a super-hot, but probably out-of-my-league preschool teacher of mine) and Sarah, who I'd also met once in preschool when we shared blocks (she was really cute in a down-to-earth kinda way).

This girl's name was Lotte (pronounced low-tuh, pictured above), and she was an incredibly cute Danish girl. We held hands at storytime, and she would kiss me on the cheek. But, after a week of passionate hand-holding (which is like months in kindergarten time), she fell for another man. Apparently my accent wasn't Australian enough for her, and the floozie started holding hands with Michael (pictured right). Michael was obviously less interesting and far less attractive than I was (see ladykiller Shawn below), but apparently Australian accents multiply your attraction factor by 10. But whatever, I was over her. Or so I thought ...

Along came first grade, and Lotte and I were in the same class again. This shouldn't have come as a surprise, since the school was so small that each grade only had one class, but I was just a naïve first grader, and I didn't notice things like that. She'd moved on from Mike, and I felt like, with an extra year of experience under my belt, I could re-woo her. We stood in line every day to go various places as a class, and I would invariably have an "I like you" note in hand each time to pass up through the line to Lotte. I didn't understand the concept of checkboxes at that time, but my note sufficed as a precursor. Her silence was its own answer -- a "No" checkbox marked with my bleeding heart.

But I grew older and wiser. I advanced to checkboxes by the time I was in third grade in California. By that time, though, I'd become socially awkward, had just gotten glasses, and lacked fashion sense. As a result, a flood of "No" checkboxes became my persistent reality.

I shelved my notes for some time after that, at first worried about getting more "Nos," and then realizing that the note's time had passed. But why? Why had it passed? All through high school and college I longed for a simple answer from any of the innumerable women I pined for. Were society less judgmental, it could be as simple as a sheet of paper handed along and then recollected later with but a mark's difference -- and that would be all I'd need.

In college, I finally took a stand and set out to try applying the concept once more. Of course, I was still a bit worried about looking like an immature fool, so I revamped the idea such that it was less recognizable. Thus, I conceived of "The Survey."

People were always giving out surveys on the quad at the University of Arizona, so I figured I wouldn't look out of place. I'd simply stand there with pens and clipboards and hand out my survey to attractive women.

Here's the list of questions that appeared on my survey (and an image of the actual survey itself, as it was given to girls, is on the right-- enlarge by clicking):

"Survey Guy" Survey


1) Do you think the guy who gave you this survey is cute?

Yes
No

(If Yes, proceed to question 3; if No, go to question 2.)


2) Since you are not attracted to him physically, does it seem like he might nave ANY characteristics that appeal to you?






(If you could not think of any, please return the survey now; if you wrote something, continue to question 3.)

3) Really? Great! He thinks that you're attractive, too, or else he wouldn't have given you this survey. Next question: Are you in a relationship at the moment?

Yes
No

(If Yes, continue to question 4; if No, continue to question 5.)


4) Is your boyfriend (or girlfriend) big enough to beat the living crap out of me?

Yes
No

(If Yes, please turn in survey and never mention this to boyfriend/girlfriend; if No, continue to question 5.)


5) Let's say that, hypothetically, there was a national emergency and someone very important to you needed to call you about something very important; what seven numbers would he have to dial to reach you, and in what order should I dial them?

Phone Number = _____________

(If you leave a number, please proceed to question 6; if not, please turn in survey.)

6) I congratulate you for reaching the final question! Based on the positive responses thus far, would you be interested in going on a date with the guy who gave you the survey if he called you?

Yes
No

(If Yes, please include name at the top of survey.)


The Result -- The Struggle Continues


The survey garnered mixed results. Women who took it fell into a few categories:

  1. Confused

  2. Creeped the fuck out

  3. Annoyed

  4. Entertained but not interested

  5. Entertained and interested

  6. Plants; Ridiculously attractive women I already knew who would humor me by filling out the entire survey publicly to engage other women's interest (Wendy, I'm looking at you)
Alas, category 5 was the key, and only one girl fell into it. And, inexplicably, I believe I chickened out on ever calling her. What the fuck?

Nevertheless, one day this method will be repopularized. I feel like Michael Cera and Jesse Eisenberg are doing their parts to glamorize the cute-in-a-socially-awkward-and-dorky-kind-of-way guys, which the note system certainly applies to most. One day ... one day.

-- Shawn

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

My Face On a Poker Table


(Note: If you wanna skip the boring stuff and find out my different face-on-table options and where you guys come into play, head to the subsection appropriately titled, "Here's Where YOU Come In.")

So, I went to a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) conference called PubCon for work a few weeks back, and during the lunch break, a guy at the table I was sitting at was talking to someone else about an invitational poker tournament for attendees. This obviously piqued my interest, because I figured it would be a soft field full of people from this conference who simply wanted to have some fun and play a poker tournament while they were in Vegas. I got the URL to the Web site giving all of the details regarding the event, and it sounded pretty damn awesome. Here were the details:

  • $170 buy-in, which goes into a normal prize pool (everything else below is added value)
  • A $2,000 custom poker table for the winner (courtesy of CustomPokerTables.com)
  • Complimentary two-night stay at the Mirage for the winner
  • 25 free Chipotle burrito coupons for the winner
  • Open bar throughout the event
  • Free Chipotle burrito for top 50
  • A bunch of other free stuff, including shirts, decks of cards, and a meal if you lasted long enough
  • And, of course, you get to network with a bunch of other SEOs, which is good professionally.

The first-place prize was likely to be around $3,500 in addition to the added prizes. So, lots of cash, a ridiculously awesome custom poker table, free hotel-stay for my parents when they come to visit, and 25 free meals at Chipotle -- a place I eat nearly every day, anyway -- all sounded pretty fucking sweet.

Long story short for you non-poker people, 84 players entered, and I wound up taking it down.

Here's Where YOU Come In


So, here's where I need your guys' help. I won that freakin' sweet custom poker table, and now I need to figure out what to put on it. I can put whatever I want on the felt, and I need suggestions and/or artistic submissions. I want it to look awesome.

Nearly everyone I've asked so far has told me I should put my own face on the poker table -- no joke. Considering I have a T-shirt with my own face on it, I suppose that wasn't such a ridiculous suggestion.

If I put my own face on it, though, I still want it to look classy, so I came up with a few ideas. First, what's classier than the fucking ceiling of the Sistine Chapel? So, BAM, my face on Adam's body. (Note: apparently people had small penises -- or however you pluralize penis -- in Michelangelo's time, so that general area would have to be expanded to reflect actual sizing.) But if I were really being egotistical, I couldn't not be God in that painting, too, so ... BAM, Shawn is God, as well. (Apparently God has a harem of hot angel babes, according to Michelangelo. Fine by me.)



The other option I thought of was something I've always wanted. I want a portrait done of me sitting in a fancy chair in the awesome-looking library of a sweet-ass mansion, and I'm wearing a red velvet robe (not pictured) and a monocle, smoking a bubble pipe, and reading a dictionary. Classy. Super classy.



Of course, if you have any cool non-my-face ideas, those are entirely welcome, as well. I just want a cool-looking poker table.

- Shawn

Poker Table Felt Design Requirements

  • 300dpi
  • TIFF file
Set to actual size of the cloth:
  • Actual Playing Surface Size: 73in x 23in
  • Size with standard 2" Bleed Around Artwork Area: 77in x 27in

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

How I Prepare to Go to Sleep -- The I'm-Awesome Method


I was talking with a friend the other day about our rituals for falling asleep. Her ritual is, apparently, to close her eyes and go to sleep. Booooring. When I told her what I usually think about to try to fall asleep, she kept laughing at me and looking at me like I was crazy. I sincerely doubt that other people don’t do exactly what I do, so I figured I’d ask you guys to see.

When I lay down to go to sleep, I need to clear my head or else I’ll just keep thinking about what I have to do over the next few days. To get all of the idle thoughts out of my head, I usually run through a little daydream that I’ve been honing over the years. My daydream starts with -- what else? -- me winning a major poker tournament. After I win that, I play in the next major event, and I win that, too. And it’s not luck; I suddenly acquire some ridiculous sixth sense about the game and I always make the correct play. I keep winning and winning, taking down like 10 major events (including five World Series of Poker bracelets) in just one year. It gets to the point that I have to retire from poker after just that year because people stop playing in events if they know I’m going to be there -- why play for second?

So, I’ve now got a bunch of money, and I figure I may as well pursue interests that are more artistic and less likely to be profitable. I can just give any money I make to charities. So, I decide to write a book. I write the book in like two weeks; it just flies out of my head. It instantly tops the best-seller lists and immediately starts being taught in schools as the example of how to write. People are calling it the most important book of all time. (Sorry Bible.)

I spend the next few weeks after writing that book recording some music. Not one to be OK with making an album full of songs that all sound alike, I decide to challenge myself by making each song in the album part of a distinct genre (rock, electronica, rap, country, jazz, etc.). I put out the album, and I decide to release every song on the album as a radio single simultaneously in their respective genres. Why not, right? Every song hits the top of the Billboard charts and my album goes sextuple platinum (or diamond, or multi-diamond, or whatever stupid system they're using nowadays).

So, at this point I realize that if I just spend a few weeks on something, I’ll be the absolute best at it. I decide my talents are being wasted by only working on artistic or selfish pursuits, so I decide to start researching a cure for cancer. BAM, cured. AIDS? What’s that? You don’t remember because I cured that, too.

Here’s a Nobel Prize, Mr. Green. Thanks for saving billions of lives. No problem Earth.

(In my dream, I’ll pretend like the Nobel prize didn’t get de-valued by being awarded to Obama before he’d done anything.)

I tell all of the pharmaceutical companies that they aren’t allowed to sell my cures for more than cost plus 1%, because these cures are too important to worry about profits.

So, I cure a few more diseases before getting bored and deciding to try my hand at sports. Tennis starts getting boring when no one can return any of my serves. Who wants to watch that? I win a few titles and then decide to retire from that to avoid hurting the sport. Ditto Basketball. I simply take the ball from whoever has it and shoot it from wherever I’m standing and it always goes in. That’s boring. I retire from that after a season, as well. I randomly decide to try my hand at winning Olympic gold medals. I win 10 in a wide variety of sports (not just one sport, like swimming; suck it Phelps).

Now sports are just dumb, too, so I decide to shoot for global political changes. I throw my hat into the ring for the U.S. presidency, and everyone else drops out. Seriously, though, who’s going to run against the guy who fucking cured cancer and AIDS? So, I become president, and I don’t care about the politics or the fame or anything like that; I simply fix shit. I don’t even want the power, I just want to fix everything that’s broken. After my first year, the U.S. is like a freakin’ utopia. No one worries about anything, and our happiness index is through the roof. HolycrapI'mawesome.

The rest of the world takes notice and, by unanimous consent, they ask me to be supreme leader of Earth. I tell them that I’m not interested in that kind of power or anything official like that, but I’d be happy to give strong recommendations on how the world should work that they can follow. They, of course, accept.

Anyway, I could go on, but you get the idea. So, I go to sleep every night thinking about how awesome it would be to be some kind of superhuman variety of amazing.

You can’t tell me that you don’t have the exact same kind of sleep prep …


- Shawn


P.S. This is actually not a joke. I really do think about all of that almost every night before I go to sleep.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Love and Marriage


Screwed you there, didn't I? Now you've got the Married... With Children theme song in your head.



I wanted to start the blog off with a "Why So Serious?" humor entry, but I've been waiting so long to dump out all of my recent thoughts on love and marriage that I figured I'd just do an entry on that first to get it out of the way. Plus, I kinda really want to hear everyone else's thoughts on them.

That being said, I have a strong feeling that I might offend some people or make them defensive. That's truly not my intention. I realize that my philosophy here is in the minority, and there's probably a reason for that. But I also believe that mine is a logical philosophy, and it couldn't hurt to read something that could shift your paradigm. So, no offense is meant to any married or engaged couples out there (or to people who want to get married). I know a lot of people in those categories. Just read with an open mind and feel free to bring up your own points in the comments. I'll definitely answer.

So, here goes:

I don't want to get married. Or, at least, I can't realistically see myself wanting to get married. Why? Well, it has to do with the changes people go through in life.

Avoiding Cliché Song-Lyric Heading About Changes


People are constantly changing and constantly adapting to their current situation. Their financial situations change, their jobs change, their friends change, they meet new people, loved ones die, they contract diseases, and the list goes on. You, as an individual, change just a little bit every day of your life. You learn a small little lesson that you take to heart one day, and it sticks with you. Another day, your mom dies and it wreaks havoc on you to the point that you're instantly and forever changed somehow (you appreciate life more or, alternately, are more depressed about the futility/fragility of life). Those things happen every day. Over the course of a year, the sum of these changes is often pretty apparent. Over five years they're that much more so. In 10 years, I'll still be Shawn, but a much more experienced version of him.

It's All About the Butterflies


So, how do love and marriage play into that? Well, if you think that you truly want to be with someone for the rest of your life, you're basically saying that not only will she still love and respect the person you will be 10 years from now, but that you will love and respect the person she becomes, as well. So, you essentially have to meet someone who gives you butterflies and who you're head over heels for, and you have to bet on the unrealistic possibility that all of the changes you both will go through for your entire lives will be complementary or insignificant.

For what it's worth, I'm not ruling out the possibility of that happening. Some people hit the Love Lottery and find a person who is perfect for them and who remains perfect for them despite both of them changing significantly throughout their lifetimes.

I just think it should be more widely recognized that that is the exception, not the rule. We're taught from childhood that we'll find the one person who we'll love forever, and we live our lives with that goal in mind. Most of us won't find that person in our lifetimes, so we use cognitive dissonance to convince ourselves that the person we marry is the one for us, and always will be. (There's a great book on cognitive dissonance out there called Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me) that I highly recommend.)

It's those last few words, "always will be," that are dangerous. Chances are, they won't always be the one for you. That leads to the bottling up of some powerful emotions and leads to a sense of resentment in our lives.

Life is not a fairy tale. Fairy tales give us psychologically harmful expectations of life and love.

No, Really ... I Love Love


But don't take me for a stick-in-the-mud pessimist. I actually relish this reality of love. Here's how I've decided to handle love in my life:

Step 1: Find someone who you connect with and fall in love with her (I'm actually really good at this step ... it's a problem.)

Step 2: Love the fuck out of her. Enjoy nearly every single moment with her. Do incredible things with/for/to her. Make sure that you both get butterflies as often as possible. The truly magical balance for a good love life is equal amounts of comfort and butterflies.

Step 3: As soon as the butterflies entirely stop, seriously consider moving on. Two notes here: 1) Don't instantly move on. Give things a chance to see if it was just a speed bump rather than a wrong turn toward a cliff, and then try to fix things. Just make sure not to prolong the inevitable if you know in your heart that it's not going to work. 2) Obviously don't cheat. Ever. With most people you date, your relationship will eventually turn into one of comfort only. It's important to realize that you're no longer in love with this person; you simply love them. They're more like a friend or family member than a lover now. Try to end things on a positive note and, if you can, try to remain good friends. This is a person who you have a lot in common with and with whom shared a number of incredible moments in your life. They were your best friend, and they can (and should) remain as such, if possible.

Life without the excitement and passion of "in love" love isn't human nature. We crave that feeling; we love it. There's no logical reason not to continue striving for it for our entire lives. People change, people move on ... so what? That's a good thing. Keep your life fresh, and keep yourself happy. Don't lock yourself down to one person for decades just because you've been told that's how it's supposed to be.

Kinds of Married Couples


Here are a few examples of the kinds of married couples I see out there today:

1) Married and Still in Love -- Yes, it happens. I never said it didn't. They may simply still be in the "in love" phase, as opposed to simply the "love" phase. Or, they may be the exception to the rule that I was talking about, the Love Lottery winners who will truly give each other butterflies forever. These people are the exception, though. Don't live your life trying to find this person; you're very likely to be disappointed or to stay with someone who you should no longer be with because you're still holding out hope that they're the one. To find this person, simply live your life and date people. Don't go into any relationship with even the remotest expectation that this will happen. If it does, it will happen naturally, and will happen whether you were hoping for it or not (and yes, it will be incredible). The only difference is that if you hope for it, there's a high risk of disappointment, and you can prolong the inevitable (a breakup).

2) Married and Comfortable -- These people are married and are no longer in love, but they still love each other. They're in a marriage of comfort. They like being with each other and they like talking to each other, but there's not really any passion left. They no longer get butterflies around each other. There's nothing necessarily wrong with this kind of marriage, and I suspect that a lot of people want to have a marriage like this, but I definitely don't. I get comfort and companionship from my friends and family. My significant other should serve a different purpose. I want to get excited around them, and I want to get butterflies. I think it might be true that a lot of married people are in this stage, and they're simply still together because they feel that they're supposed to be. They like each other, but it's more just like hanging out with your best friend every day. They feel no need to move on, even though they have a chance to truly find someone who they're actually "in love" with again (and again, and again).

3) Married and Unhappy -- There are more of these people out there than you might realize (for the record, I have zero research to back up that statement and am thus talking out of my ass). It seems to me that whether it be for moral reasons, religious reasons, or some other societal pressures, a lot of people stay together when they shouldn't because they're unhappy and depressed. They might be annoyed by their spouse, have contempt for them, or simply find them unattractive now, but they stick with it because they're married. They don't want to become a statistic, or their religion says that divorce is wrong, or they don't want to admit that they made a mistake (again, cognitive dissonance).

There also may be children in the equation that complicate things; you're supposed to stay together for the children, whether you're happy or not. Well, guess what? The children usually know that you're unhappy, and that rubs off on them. Just get a divorce already. Your children ultimately want you to be happy. They may have to deal with the divorce for a while mentally, but they'll have to deal with it eventually. I've known people whose parents have divorced, and very rarely do I hear about how it ruined their lives. More often, I hear about how they're happy that their parents finally just did it and moved on. Kids aren't as stupid as you think. And if parents are divorced and happy, that's a lot better than being married and unhappy (or pretending to be happy ... which rarely fools kids, by the way).

What's a Marriage if Not Symbolic?


As a final reason for why I never see myself getting married, marriage simply doesn't mean anything to me personally. I'm an atheist, so there's no religious significance. As far as symbolizing my love for someone, I'd rather show my partner that I love her every single day than in one expensive and overblown ceremony. A single ceremony on a single day doesn't mean anything to me. If I truly love someone, I'll show her with both little and big things constantly, which hopefully would make a wedding relatively irrelevant and pointless.

One example that I like to bring up to people is this: Let's say you have two couples, one that has been married for 20 years and one that has been together unmarried for 20 years. Which couple's love would you be more likely to respect? I obviously can't answer for you, but as far as I'm concerned, the unmarried couple is the runaway winner.

With the married couple, you really don't know much about their love. They may still be together because they truly love each other, or they may still be together simply because they're married, and that's caused them to overlook the fact that they don't feel the same way about each other that they used to.

With the unmarried couple, they could leave each other at any time, pretty much on a whim. Sure, there's comfort in their relationship that might keep them together, and after 20 years they probably share a lot of possessions, but if they really wanted to leave each other, it's pretty much as simple as that. No divorce lawyers to call, and no real reason to worry about ending a marriage or becoming a statistic. They could call it quits at the drop of a hat and be done, but they haven't. They're still together for no other reason than that they want to be. I can't help but respect that.

The Kid Conundrum


OK, fine, you may have me here. Again, if you have kids with someone, it very well might make sense to get married for the kids' sakes. But don't jump right to that conclusion. In fact, if you don't think you two will last, wouldn't it be easier on the kids if you never got married in the first place? They'd never know you two as married, and there'd be no divorce or resentment to deal with later. In a progressive society like today's, I'd like to think children in single-parent homes do OK.

That being said, I don't really know on this one. Kids definitely complicate things, and I can see it both ways. I simply don't think it makes sense to be unhappy for the sake of children. Be happy and love your children to death, that's all that should matter. If you're happy, they'll be happy; if you're unhappy, it's likely to rub off on them.

And for the record, I'm fairly certain I don't want kids, so this is a moot point for me, anyway. I'm not ruling it out, but I've never had the desire to have children myself.

Don't Worry About Me


Seriously, don't. I'm excited about the prospect of loving many women over my lifetime. I love the idea of not knowing where I'll be in 10 years but being pretty damn sure that wherever it is and whomever it's with, I'll be happy. If I happen to find a girl who's perfect for me and stays perfect for me, I'll consider myself a lucky man. On the other hand, if I find five girls (or hell, why stop at five) to fall in love with and share experiences in my life with, I'll feel equally as lucky.

My outlook on life hasn't impaired my ability to love. If you doubt that, ask any of my close friends how easily I fall for women. I'd venture to guess that my outlook has in fact enhanced my ability to love. I know I'll never be afraid to end things when love ends, and I know I'll be able to experience the butterflies throughout my life. That's pretty damn awesome.

Anyway, so those are the current, entirely malleable tenets of my philosophy on love and marriage. Feel free to try to mold them into something new in the comments below.

- Shawn

Here Goes...

So, I suppose this is my blog. I used to write a blog back in my college days, and people whom I’d never met would come up to me and tell me that they got a kick out of it. And, frankly, I got a kick out of them getting a kick out of it, especially if they were hot girls. So, I figured what the hell. I’ve always had an inflated sense of self-worth, and I like to pretend that people give a shit about what I think/say, so what better platform is there than a blog to pretend that I’m important? That’s a hypothetical question; please do not post your answers in the comments.

Plus, I’ve actually had a lot of thoughts tumbling through my head over the past year or so, and they’ve kinda been struggling to get out in a more solid, structured form. My old blog used to be straight humor. This one is more likely to be 50/50 between humor and more starkly serious philosophies I hold about life and love. And the truth of the matter is that I’d love to open up a debate in this blog about my philosophies. I’m still ironing a lot of them out, and I’d love to hear some logical retorts to my ideas.

But I do realize that a lot of you might just want what I used to have, which was a less thought-provoking, more chuckle-inducing blog. With that in mind, I’ve decided to tag individual entries as either “For Seriously” (serious blogs) or “Why So Serious?” (humor).

I doubt I’ll write much about poker, but on the off-chance I do, I’ll tag them as such. Regardless, read whatever you want, or never read my blog again, whatever, I don’t care. (<-- blatant lie. I crave attention.)

Shout-Outs


Some shout-outs are definitely in order before I post any real entries. Two people in particular inspired me to resume blogging:

Single Steve -- One of my friends from college named Steve (I'm omitting his last name, because he leaves his last name and his face off of his blog for professional reasons) has been writing a blog for some time called Single Steve. It's hilarious, it's exactly my kind of humor, and it's frankly almost exactly like what I used to do on my humor blog. He makes ridiculous jokes, whips up ludicrously bad MS Paint diagrams and charts, and is just generally hilarious. Those are all things I used to do, and I very much missed that. Thanks for getting me off my ass, Steve.

Kristy Arnett -- Kristy is one of my great friends here in Vegas. I work with her and we have the same group of friends. She started an incredibly honest blog called Snaptress about her life and just random funny experiences, and I love how she just puts herself out there.

Anyway, enjoy my blog. (Or, you know, be a dick about it and don't enjoy it.)

- Shawn

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