Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Slippery Slope of Stupidity and My Intolerance

So, I'm taking this Terrorism and Political Violence course. As you can imagine most of our discussions revolve around the predominantly Muslim terrorists that we see in the world today. I should also preface that there are approximately 8 military students (all of which are seniors) in this class. We've been here together for a while, so we're fairly tight and can get fairly rowdy. There also just happens to be a female in the class who is of Arab descent and says "we" when talking about Arabs and Middle Eastern people in general (not the brightest move being at this particular institution either). I should also note that the teacher had us move our desks into a giant circle to help facilitate a better atmosphere for a discussion. As fate would have it, Little Iran was sitting directly across from me in the circle and had been staring at me (mistake #1) for some time (the class is just shy of 3 hours long). It was so bad that several friends of mine commented about it at the break. As with most people, I get agitated if someone stares at me (For the new readers: I'm a little edgier than most people). This is at about 1.5 hours into the class. Well, for some reason the professor was making some connection or comparison between the Middle East and Asia. Little Iran speaks up and says that the reason Asia isn't completely backwards is because they were never colonized. As I can't contain myself any more I said, "No it isn't! Asia was colonized too! Ever hear of France and Vietnam?" She (mistake #2) responds, "But it says it in the book!" (mistake #3) while pointing to it. I let my jaw drop for approximately 0.27 seconds and quickly fired back, "Oh yeah! Its in the book!", as I shook my head in an obnoxious manner. By this time, one of my classmates already said, "That's what the entire Vietnam War was about." I don't recall if she said something else, but I then sent a fire for effect volley with "Are you that blind to history?!". The military side erupted with laughter. I'm not sure if anyone else found humor in what I said because I was so pissed that the room was spinning while I was just sitting there. I shortly thereafter got a "fist of power" (fist-to-fist version of the "high five") and some wide eyed grins & chuckles from allies.

*deep relaxing breathe*

At the break, with approximately 1 hour of class time remaining, as soon as we got clear of the classroom, everyone that came out our side of the classroom was like, "But its in the book!" So, expect some good stories to come out of that class! That class is once a week on Thursday nights.


Wednesday, August 30, 2006

On Socializing a Blogger

I recently ran across this excerpt from a fellow blogger:

This is where I could use some specific answers to questions I've had for a while:

- What kind of stuff can you talk about with someone you've never met once you're past the basic "where are you from, what's your major, etc." crap?

- What's a good non-awkward way to break an awkward silence?

- Is there some specific gesture or voice inflection that most people use when they're about to finish talking and want you to reply? This has baffled me all my life and is the source of most of my interruptions, since I have no [snip] idea when the other person is going to stop talking, and if I wait for a pause, it usually turns out that they were just gathering steam for something else, and I end up cutting them off.

- Is it a good idea to try and reciprocate in conversation as much as possible? For example, if someone asks how your classes are going, are you expected to answer and then add a "how about you?" or something, or is that considered rude since they didn't bring it up? Sorry I can't think of a better example, but you get the idea.

Any other conversational advice would be appreciated.

Well, you've asked some good questions. In my experiences, I've noticed that with certain people conversations flow while with others, it is like running into a brick wall after you get their name. I honestly don't know what makes some conversations work and others fall to pieces. The other night we had a movie on the drill field. Since I generally have a high level of situational awareness and I was fairly bored with the movie (imagine that), I started to people watch. Well, someone caught my eye. My buddy kept badgering me to go talk to her so I finally gave in. I grabbed two sodas and headed down by her. I squatted down next to her blanket, and as I held out the drink, basically said, "Would you like a soda? I'm Crispy, how are you?" The conversation took off from there and we were talking until the end of the movie.

As for your first question: What can you talk about with someone you've never met?
The shortest answer: ANYTHING! The technique that I use is to attempt to find out as much about the other person as possible. Some call it charisma. Let's face it, most people enjoy talking about themselves. Asking questions about the other person also indicates your own interest in them. Dan Reiland, the VP of Leadership Development at INJOY says this, "How can you have charisma? Be more concerned about making others feel good about themselves than you are making them feel good about you." In short, be a good listener. Bits of information that I like to try to find out include where people have traveled, where they would like to travel to, what their parents do, where they have lived in the past, where they want to move to once they get out of college and what they want to do, how many brothers and sisters and their ages, pets, what hall the person lives in and who their RA is, and anything else that comes up.

Your next question was: What's a good way to break an awkward silence?
Ask a question. Talk about how much the food at the dining facility sucks and make fun of it.

As to voice inflections and expressions, I can't possible type a reasonable answer for you. My best advice is to become a people watcher and train your eye to pick up on the slightest facial expression changes. A general rule of thumb, and seemingly obvious answer is that when a question is asked (to include, "Ya know?"), they want an answer.

Regarding reciprocating questions, I always turn questions back to the other person after I've responded to their inquiry. As you develop your social skills, you will get to the point where you can manage to avoid their question but find out how their classes are going, if you don't want to answer them for some reason, but we'll address that at a future date.

If I may be so bold as to recommend one more book for you to read: "The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader" by John C. Maxwell. Of all the leadership-based books that I've read, this is one of the best and one that I continue to relate to.

As for remembering people's names, try to find something that it rhymes with or take note of a unique feature about the person. If you find a better method, let me know!

I hope at least some of this will be helpful. If you have any questions, feel free to send them my way.


Tuesday, August 29, 2006

On Emo Kids

Does anyone know if they Emo kids (who are all individuals, by the way) band together and have a recruiting drive? This incoming class has been the most interesting I've seen yet. So far, I think I've seen more Emo kids this year than in all years past. My prediction is that within two months they will begin to return to normalcy and put away their dumpster clothes.

For those of you that are not quiet clear as to who or what, exactly, Emo kids are, they hail back to the "Poets" of days gone by. The newer, more Emo(tional) caste, however, have improved on the work of the Poets by incorporating gay/lesbian styles of ensembles. Don't stop there, though. Other flavors of the Emo incorporate light Gothic flare to their wardrobe.

You need to listen to the song whether you know about them or not. It will explain a lot.


Saturday, August 26, 2006


FYI - There have been about 13 notifications that have come in since I last posted one. Check their website if you're really interested in knowing what they are. I plan on continuing to post the notices though. Enjoy!