Friday, February 25, 2011

February’s Contemplations and Ruminations – Part Two

Laughing Out Loud

Question: What should you do when one of your close friends starts using “LOL” in casual text conversation?


Sadly, this question has become very relevant to me in the past week, ever since a fellow compatriot of mine has decided that LOL-ing is the best thing to come around since kettle corn.

For now, I will allow him to remain anonymous. (I will say, however, that his initials contain the letters P, T, and S. Also, he’s one of my cousins. Whoa, I just realized that if this unnamed person married someone with the last name Dillard, his initials would become PTS-D).

This whole debacle started at 3:25PM on March 18th, 2011 with the following conversation:

*please note that "bbming" refers to Blackberry Messaging - I guess it works long distance from Mexico

Despite my blatant disapproval, the next day it continued…

I’m not sure what it is about LOL that bothers me so much. Perhaps it’s the fact that people use it to make potentially serious statements seem ambiguously lighthearted. In a way, it’s a lack of commitment on their part. They’re not sure how the receiver of their message will feel about what they’re saying, so they throw in LOL at the end in case they need to play it off as a joke. E.g: “Susan, I’m head over heels in love with you. LOL!” This way, if Susan is like “WTF??” the entire thing can be brushed aside as a harmless ruse.

I think it also bothers me because it’s not something that I would ever say in normal speech, unlike “Oh my god” and “For your information” and “On my way” all of which are statements that I commonly acronym-ize in my textual conversations. I can’t imagine ever saying “laugh out loud” to someone in a face-to-face conversation. Instead, if someone said something that was actually funny, I would probably just laugh. On the other hand, if someone said something to me that was not really funny but intended it to be funny and I didn’t laugh but said, “laugh out loud” I think that would be pretty confusing for that person (just as this poorly written sentence is probably sort of confusing to you).

Furthermore, when someone LOL’s me via text, I’m often left wondering if they intended it as a command or if they were just describing to me what they were doing. In other words, are you telling me that I should laugh out loud right now or are you letting me know that, after carefully considering what I’ve written, you’ve decided to laugh out loud? How are you even texting and laughing at the same time? Are you doing all this while driving too?? I mean, that’s just dangerous.

If it’s the former, please stop telling me what to do. If it’s the latter, I really don’t care whether or not the people around you can hear you laugh. They probably don’t know what you’re laughing about anyway unless you’ve just read them my really funny text message. In which case, perhaps a more aptly suited acronym would be AGOUALOLAYTMRN, which translates to ‘a group of us are laughing out loud at your text message right now’. But, if you do ever receive this in a text, just be sure they’re not trying to make a reference to famed emergency room nurse, Samantha Agoualolaytm, R.N.

I’ve remained adamant in my requests that this behavior ceases. I’ve tried anger, I’ve tried pleading, I’ve even tried to confront this person using the skills I learned last semester in my interpersonal communications course* (see below). Alas, all of my efforts have been futile and the usage of LOL by this person continues to this day.

*1. Identify the behavior that you need clarification 2. present the person with two definitive reasons that might explain his or her behavior 3. finish your statement with an open-ended question like "is it something else?" to leave them room for further explanation

And so, this blog post is my last resort. You leave me no choice but to humiliate you via public forum. I do apologize to Grace as she is an innocent bystander. Although, apparently she LOL’s a lot via BBM, FYI…so perhaps she’s actually not that innocent. Now that my voice has been heard, I see this playing out in one of two ways. Either the perpetrator gets the hint and stops LOL-ing me. Or, I’ve just made my last mistake and in the months to come I’ll find myself being awoken by 3AM text messages that just say “LOL, LOL, LOL.”

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

IMPORTANT MESSAGE (sorry to disrupt tracy's 10 part february series)

A few of you have expressed concern as a result of most recent post. I want to state, for the record, that I have not been attacked by a mountain lion. I am safe.

On an unrelated note, I just found out that one of my acquaintances and life-long enemies (an unemployed Capricorn named M. Nagelmann) has the same amount of blog followers as I do. This makes me feel frustrated and apprehensive.

Please accept my most sincere and grateful request that you follow my blog if you don't already. Let's get these numbers up for the 2011 campaign*).

Thank you,

*more on this to follow

Hi there! Welcome and thank you for stopping by…do you have any questions?

I often find that February is a month of deep self-reflection for me. I thought it would be pertinent and informative for the public-at-large if I documented some of this month’s ponderings.

And so, without further ado, I would like to present:

February’s Contemplations and Ruminations – a 10 part series”

This series will be presented here in full and can also be seen in its edited form at the Santa Barbara Museum of Modern Art from February 28th to March 7th. Opening night gala and red carpet begins @7PM, Feb 28. For more information please visit Press contact: Mary Stuartson (805) 453-2675.

Part One.

Q: Will I be ready and able to defend myself when I am attacked by a mountain lion?

For those of you that are avid hikers in the Santa Barbara Foothills, you are probably already aware that there is a 95% chance that you are going to encounter and possibly be attacked by a mountain lion at some point in your hiking career. Well, that might not be exactly true, but in public speaking that’s what we call the ‘attention getter.’ Regardless of the actual likelihood of a head to head (or should I say claw to jugular) fight with a puma, I think it’s important that you know some basic mountain lion facts and defense tips.

The absolute most important thing I can say to you is: always be aware of your surroundings. When mountain lions attack, they are usually coming at you from behind. They are often perched up in a tree or waiting for you at a rock outcropping. It is essential that you are always scoping out the trees ahead of you whilst you are on your hike (this can be done by utilizing Dan Beckman’s 3-point tree scoping triangulation technique). But looking ahead might not be enough, when I’m hiking I usually take 100 steps facing forward and then turn around and back-peddle for 25 steps. This allows me to take in a 360-degree view of the terrain I am about to cover as well as the trail behind me. Remember, a mountain lion attack is not the same as a velociraptor attack which involves 3 velociraptors (one coming at you from the front and the other two on either flank) and is basically impossible to survive. When you’re facing a mountain lion, it’s going to be a one on one type scenario that you just might be able to pull off if you’ve got your wits about you.

If you are unable to bring your pitbull with you because she is recovering from budget-breaking knee surgery, please do consider carrying a knife (a good example of an appropriate knife is pictured above). The entire time you’re hiking you should visualize yourself being attacked by a mountain lion in a variety of situations so that you are as prepared as possible. For example, let’s say you’ve just turned a blind curve on Tunnel Trail and you’re hiking on a 25ยบ angle when all of the sudden you’re pummeled into by a 112-pound female cougar. She has pounced on you from a perch in a tree 10 meters behind you and 5 meters above you, moving at a velocity of 9.2 m/s and, by my calculations, hitting you with about 4800 lbs of force. In this case, you will most likely be knocked off of your feet and you and the mountain lion will roll and tumble for about 25 meters. These are the most crucial moments in terms of chances of survival! Because you’ve been visualizing this exact scenario, you know that you have 2 seconds to reach into your pocket, pop open your knife, and try to do as much damage as possible. Once the fight goes past this point, it’s really just up to the stars whether or not you’ll make it down the mountain alive.

By no means is it my intention to frighten you or deter you from enjoying a leisurely hike on a sunny Sunday afternoon. I’m just trying to turn you into a more aware consumer of nature. As the boy scouts always say: “Always be prepared when hiking alone in the Santa Barbara foothills – AKA the Northern Pacific Man-Eating Cougar Greenbelt.” (Their other lesser know motto is: "For christ sake, we should sell cookies too!).

(these tips are adapted from my new book – Basic Mountain Lion Defense Tips, Random House Publishing 2011®)