Thursday, March 28, 2013

I Got Huffington Posted

My fourth Huffington Post story, “Why Women Rule the World,” published Tuesday evening on the website’s Women blog (as opposed to its Healthy Living/Generation Why blog where my previous three stories published). I’m excited to expand my writing topics to reach new readers.

Founder of The Huffington Post, Arianna Huffington
Until Arianna Huffington gets sick of me, I’ll continue as a contributing blogger. Since I may not update this blog each time a new Huff Post story publishes, you can receive notifications other ways, including Twitter and Facebook. You can also subscribe to my Huffington Post feed here.

You can view my Huffington Post profile, which displays all my stories, here.

If you already have a HuffPost Social News account (or want one), you can become my fan here.

And because it is fun asking you to click so many times, here is a teaser of “Why Women Rule the World” with a link to read the full story.

Why Women Rule the World

Though I had a girlfriend for one month in the seventh grade, in general, I have endured female rejection until I recently hit my stride. This background makes me the most unlikely expert on women since Mickey Rooney, and the most unlikely representation of males aside from David Duchovny. However, I believe I have suffered in order to learn the secrets of the fairer sex. Women: here is why you rule the world, according to me.

You think you know what you want, but your feelings about men fluctuate like Ben Affleck's Boston accent. I communicate and behave based on my best guess: consolation when you're feeling down, dry humor when you're testing my wit, exclamation points and "haha's" when you're excited, short and sporadic messages when you find me overbearing and immediate replies when you're comfortable. Guessing makes me restless and anxious. You are terrible for my health. Keep reading, here.

Leia Mais…

Friday, March 22, 2013

How to Complete Your NCAA March Madness Bracket Like a Boss

    2013 NCAA Final Four in Atlanta
  1. Get a computer with at least 6 GB RAM and Intel Core i5. You will need the power after you…
  2. Open 12 tabs on Firefox or Chrome, but not Explorer. Also, I just realized you will need to…
  3. Get a 27-inch widescreen monitor.
  4. Open a tab with the latest Vegas odds of:
    1. Winning the tournament.
    2. Winning each region.
    3. Winning the round of 64.
  5. Open a tab with the trends of which teams people are picking to win the tournament.
  6. Open tabs with team schedules, RPI, rankings and cheerleaders. Fuck mascots.
  7. Open the bracket for each of your pools, in descending order of difficulty-to-win based on the number of people in the pool and their average college basketball intelligence.
  8. Complete your entire first bracket by selecting your champion and working your way out. Since this is your most difficult pool, you can’t simply choose the favorites because, even if those teams win, your total points will still likely be less than someone else’s total. Find the teams Vegas values highly but the NCAA selection committee and bracket filers don’t. If a team with this discrepancy is considered one of the four most likely champions—like Florida—then there’s your bitch.
  9. You may be tempted to pick against a favorite early on based on a discrepancy or hunch. Let this feeling pass. Even if you’re right about Gonzaga losing before the Sweet Sixteen, the risk isn’t worth the reward.
  10. Replicate this bracket for your next pools, but make small yet significant changes beginning at least in the Final Four; preferably changing the winner. Although this seems counterproductive to enjoying the tournament and rooting for specific teams, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. You can still root for the teams in your pool with the biggest payout.
  11. Let’s go UVA in the NIT Tournament!
Happy March Madness.

Leia Mais…

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Drawbacks of Voluntary Crutching, aka 'Quadstepping'

Last week my third Huffington Post blog published, titled, “The Joys of Voluntary Crutching, aka ‘Quadstepping,’” which you can read here. Many people would not have thought that I mostly view my foldable forearm crutches positively, or that the crutches would change my life.

JanSport doesn't contain folding forearm crutchesHowever, there are times when my crutches are inconvenient…

At first I carried them in my backpack, but they consumed too much space, jabbed my cheek when I turned, and terrorized passersby. Feeling like Nicholas Cage carrying a bow around in The Weatherman, I would have accepted those inconveniences if not for my backpack requiring giant twist ties to keep the zippers together.

a yoga mat bag is the best way to store folding forearm crutchesNow I carry my crutches in a gray yoga mat bag with blue flower stitching—demand for a foldable forearm crutches bag isn’t yet high enough for manufacturers to make one. The sales girl at the Dick’s Sporting Goods where I purchased them first showed me a purple bag, probably thinking it was a gift for my girlfriend. She removed the packaging so I could analyze the bag. I then folded my crutches and slid them in. “Wow, these fit perfectly! Do you have them in any other color or without plant life?” Yoga mat bags for men also aren’t in high demand.

Older women sometimes inquire about my yoga frequency. “It’s such good exercise!” they remark.

It’s awkward no matter if I respond “It beats gluteal hip thrusts” or “The bag actually holds the crutches I use because my cancer-ridden ilium was resected.”

I must consider all the planned and possible destinations when I go out to determine whether to bring just the crutches, both the crutches and the bag, or neither. If I am quadstepping then once I arrive at the Metro, I must determine if I have enough time to fold the crutches and place them in my bag before the train arrives. If there is not enough time, and there are no open seats on the train, then I have to hold them and pretend to be occupied because everyone waits for eye contact so they can point to their seats, gesturing for me to sit. But I have no hands to do anything besides hold the crutches with one arm and the railing with the other, so staying “occupied” involves me watching the floor intently.

When quadstepping behind slow-movers with no extra sidewalk room to pass, I sometimes tip their heels accidentally with my crutch. They turn around peeved, and then see my crutches and smile. “It’s ok!” they say after I apologize. Actually that is funny, not inconvenient.

When I rush down the left side of Metro escalators leaning my crutches on my shoulder, I sometimes catch the tips on the clothes of the people standing on the right. Unlike the people whose heels I tip, these individuals’ irritation does not dissipate after my apology. This, too, is kind of funny.

When I go on dates I devise a travel plan so I can leave my crutches behind. This is a hassle since it involves additional modes of transportation, like driving and parking on a street near the Metro, or taking the bus. Ideal Ben feels shame for hiding, and maybe you’re right if you’re thinking that if a girl is too shallow to see past crutches then she’s not for me. But Realist Ben doesn’t believe one snap judgment makes that girl a bad person, and doesn’t want to be left regretful and wondering, “What if?” Another perspective is that using my crutches is hiding. My limp: poleless, unadulterated, me.

A better approach may be to carry my yoga mat bag everywhere, regardless of whether my crutches are with me. Apparently that is the best way to pick up (much older) girls.

Leia Mais…

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

I Am Who I Should Have Thought I Would Be

Big Red gum is one of the remaining non-sugar-free gum brandsIn high school I brought Trident to chew after lunch—it was that fourth dentist that sold me over the then-competitor Carefree. My friends leveraged this knowledge and preyed on my gum. I responded by bringing only one piece every day, leading to their disappointment and stereotype jokes. My decision had nothing to do with money since my dad bought (and continues to buy) me an unending supply. It was a matter of efficiency. I should have known then the type of grown-up I would become…

I bought a 12-quart pot so I can boil 40 pieces of chicken at once. Boiled chicken is dry and tasteless, but it is worth the time saved cooking dinner each night or work lunches on the weekend. I also cook two pounds of beans at once for work lunches. At least I don’t have to worry about coworkers stealing my beans and boiled chicken. I had thought girls would appreciate this efficiency when I shared it with them, but it disgusts them. Hopefully no prospects are reading this now.

I bought custom-fit dress shirts from an online Vietnamese retailer for about $25 each. The perfect fit alone made them worth more than the $60 per shirt I used to spend at Brooks Brothers. I accepted the shirts’ flaws, like uncut button openings and loose strings. I also tried not to consider the average labor age that went into the shirts.

I also bought a custom-fit wool suit for $140, which would have cost $1,000 at many U.S. retailers. The tailor used the wrong leg measurements and the suit pants were baggy. I fussed and got a partial refund. The Vietnamese company then stopped taking my orders. I should have accepted the defective suit pants as a sunk cost—my short-term efficiency clouded my long-term one.

I’m living rent-free so people assume I spend money I otherwise wouldn’t have, like how business travelers who get a per diem eat out at fancy restaurants. That is not how I think, which is always in terms of opportunity cost. I will still take the Metro instead of a cab, for example. My rent savings is unrelated.

Opportunity cost drives most of my monetary decisions. An example: my friends and I want to go out to dinner where the assumed requirements are waiting service, alcoholic beverages and a calm atmosphere. My instinct is to select a restaurant from Groupon or Scoutmob because those will provide less expensive alternatives for the same thing. If only I could do that on dates. Something tells me my “it’s the same thing for less money!” plea would not go over well.

People assume I am cheap. Actually, based on my Accept All Social Invitations Because You Never Know What You'll Miss rule, money almost never decides my behavior. I don’t think twice spending on activities and experiences. But if my goal is simply a vacation, for example, then I’m going rock-climbing for free. It’s the same thing for less money!

I get pleasure from shedding unnecessary possessions and body fat, and try to prevent accumulation in the first place. No wonder one of my few academic passions was the environment and sustainability.

Sometimes I’m not so efficient. I love the cold weather but hate feeling cold, so I keep my thermostat high which wastes energy. Finding monetary efficiencies like I do at supermarkets leads to inefficient use of other resources, like time. And buying clothes that use material as efficiently as possible, and then washing them, can lead to shrinking disasters like this:

men's tight t-shirt fashion style

I happily share my gum now, which my high school friends would resent me for. But I switched from Trident to Big Red, which doesn’t get many takers. That combination of offering my kindness and remaining efficient is like the 12-gallon pot of chicken boiling.

Leia Mais…