The Logical Philosopher

Friday, September 29, 2006

Don't pick your nose

I found irony again today, this time presented in the form of boogers.

While getting on the bus filled with University Students, many were reading the local independent paper, the Martlet. On the front page was a collage of people, picking their noses. Apparently this month's big front page article was entitled "No-finger zone".

You should read it. Really. It's independent paper at it's best.

Here's the irony: of the 8 or 9 students I saw reading the paper, 2 were also picking their nose.

I don't know about you but I'm suddenly feeling hungry.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Starbucks Social Gap Theory

I sat, and unknowing observed. Tazo Brambelberry over crushed ice will do that, if you are not paying attention. After some time the patrons became a blur. Then, slowly, the blur crystallized into two clear groups.

The first group passed me as they entered the store to order their morning drinks. Businessmen dressed in Hugo Boss shoes, Armani silk ties and other Italian named suits. With their cell phones and Blackberry in one hand, they shifted the papers under the other arm to accommodate their freshly brewed coffee. I didn't get the impression any of them would be impacted by the upcoming price increases for their latte next month. The women, also dressed for success, mostly opted for espresso - low fat milk with no whip of course. The standard attire for the day started with the eyes hidden behind large designer sunglasses. For dress it was either black skirts and top, or black pinstripe pant suits, both options contained between dyed blond hair in a bun and stiletto heels. Many sat together, nobody alone for more than a moment, their animated gestures and laughter open for everyone to see and hear.

The second group straggled in slowly, clutching McDonalds coffee in one hand, the other busy searching out discarded cigarette buts. They each sat at the outdoor tables, alone, with their Zig-Zag paper, making a new cancer stick of out of the discarded few. There is less to write about them because they moved as such. No designer clothes. No laughter. No discussion. Just survival.

As I sat I realized that something and somewhere as simple as a Starbucks visit can exemplify the social gap that is prevalent in any city. I'm sure they don't advertise that in the franchise materials.

The Starbucks Social Gap Theory: only the wealthy need apply.
When I was leaving two young business men strolled in, one grabbing a seat while the other headed into the coffee shop. "Hey, Mike, want a latte?" the first called out over his shoulder.

His business partner cocked his head to one side and thought for a moment. "Nope. Caffeine is bad for you, grab me a juice instead please." Then, he pulled out a pack of cigarettes and proceeded to light up.

An addendum to my Starbucks Social Gap Theory - A prerequisite for being in the first social tier is not intelligence.

Friday, September 22, 2006

I'm famous (I think)

Today someone asked me if I was famous or infamous.

I was stumped. Why? Because there really were two things I had to consider - which one was I, and which one did I want to be? I'm sure you could see what the conundrum.

Spectemur agendo I thought, right before I told him I'd get back to him, if I felt like it. I guess with that flippant answer I acted like a famous person.

Problem solved: I'm famous.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Sublime Birthday

It must have been Opinionistas' birthday too, given her recent post. While she seemed more cynical than I, on our day of celebration, I'm sure our parties were much different. She didn't have a special guest join in.

The Cast:

  • JJ: Brother in law. Loves to play with the kids, probably because he doesn't have any yet, and thus still has the energy. Next time he is in town I'm going to teach all the kids the meaning of dogpile.
  • Older Brother: Title says it all - and thus he thinks he's the wiser one. Yes, the one who, when he saw the FedEx commercial about MBA students, promptly called me up and laughed at me. Well, just so you know I laughed when I saw Clops too.
  • Little Sister: JJ's wife, and my sister. She loves that I have kids, because it means she doesn't have to yet.
  • The Matriarch: Our mom. Although she says she loves us all, when you really get down to it I swear she's in it for the grandkids. At least that was the theory I set out to prove.
With JJ, Older Brother, and me all celebrating our birthdays in September, the Matriarch conspired with Little Sister and cooked up a birthday plan: cake, games and a surprise guest. So the word went out, family party at a local park, complete with guests and party games. As you can imagine, when I got the email, I could not contain my excitement...

After hearing the news I called Older Brother:
"Did you hear about the party?" I asked.
"Yep... got the news yesterday." I couldn't tell his tone - it was either whoo, kids & cake tone, or I'm game if there is Starbucks involved.
I probed a little further into his thoughts. "All I wanted to do on my birthday was go for a bike ride. What about you?"
"Well, I wanted to go for a long drive with the kids, maybe take them to the beach up island."
Hmm, the plot thickens, I though.

The next day I called JJ:
"Hey JJ, how's it going?"
"Pretty good. Pretty good. Hey, did you hear about the party? We're coming into town for it."
"Yep, that's why I called - just wondering what you wanted to do for your birthday."
"Well, I was hoping to go play tennis, or at least have the party at Older Brother's house because he's got the cool games in the basement."
"Hmm, can you put Little Sister on?"
"Yeah, here she is..." he trailed off as he passed the phone over.
"Hey LP! You ready for the party this weekend! We've got a special guest coming!"
"Yeah... just wondering if..." I started before being cut off.
"Ohhh!" she exclaimed. "We've got games planned! I hope you're ready for some three legged races!"

At this point I paused and quickly summed the situation up:
For my birthday all I wanted to do was go for a bike ride.
For JJ's birthday all he wanted to do was go play tennis.
For Older Brother's birthday all he wanted to do was go for a drive with the kids to the beach.
So what did we do instead? We all had cake at a park with the special guest, which turned out to be Bubbles the Clown. Yes, with an aggregate age of 92 between the 3 of us, The Matriarch and Little Sister had a clown come and blow us up balloon animal party hats.

The fact that I had a clown come to my birthday isn't the point - what is important is what I uncovered about my family. The clown got me thinking two important things: First, maybe if Opinionistas had a clown come to her party she won't be so down on getting older. Second, it provides proof that Little Sister and The Matriarch are 100% in it for the grandkids. Now that I have discovered their Modus Operandi, I hold the equivalent of a "get anything I want" card. Based on that, here's my plan: next year I will convince them that the grandkids really want to go on a vacation to Hawaii for my birthday.

So look for it this time next year, blogging from Hawaii. Because it's what the grandkids want, right?

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The Upsell

Much like taking the bus, eating out provides a feast of stories to blog about. This is particularly true if I sit contemplatively while drinking some coke on a sunny afternoon, reliving the recent events.

Not to disappoint, a dinner out last night provided one of the better upsells I had seen in long time:

“Excuse me waiter, which of the pasta dishes you recommend?” queried one dinner guest. She had been perusing the menu for quite some time, unable to make a decision.

Rubbing his hands together, as if he was savoring the meal itself within his palms, he offered up his recommendation. “I would suggest the Seafood Lasagna. It is chalk full of marinated fish, prawns and steamed clams. An excellent choice.” It was also the most expensive item on the pasta menu. Good choice waiter!

“Hmm, I don't really feel like seafood this evening,” she slowly replied with an air of uncertainty.

Seeing this uncertainty as a weakness he opted for the second high price menu item, this time downplaying it was actually seafood. “Well then I would try the Fettuccine with Seared Scallops. Lovely pasta, and the sauce is wonderful.”

“Sounds tempting. I’ll have the fettuccine then please.”

“Wonderful!” he beamed. Another upsell through the magic of the waiter.

That made me thinkthe upsell – it really is all about presentation. For example, I successfully use the upsell method with our kids all the time. Broccoli for dessert is actually a treat in our house some days, it’s just in the lead up and presentation where we can get them excited enough to want to eat it, then ask for more.

As for this blog, I don’t really have an upsell in mind when I craft each post. It’s not that I don’t have something to sell – I do – this blog itself, these posts, these stories, all culminating to selling the Logical Philosopher brand. Regardless if your currency of exchange is shown in the form of comments, silently loyal readership, or helping me bump my traffic through some viral marketing program, I appreciate it all. But a tangible upsell? Maybe I should. If after reading you get the urge to buy me something tangible, or pass my posts to all your friends, family or other social networking sites, then my logical philosopher upsell has covertly been successful.

And with that note I have put the and Digg hotlinks on my posts.
Apart from the storm of social networking you may want to enter into, let me know if you need my address for shipping more tangible goods.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

An Ironman and his Boobies

"Did you do it?" she asked, her eyes tracing across my chest.

I took a second but I manged to pull myself out of my iPod daze, "Uh, pardon?"

"The race," she said as she motioned to my t-shirt, "did you actually do it?". Clothed with one of my "Ironman Finisher" shirts, I had ventured out to the bank to cash a cheque and was being chatted up in line. Too bad I didn't race when I was single, I thought...

I guess I don't look in the best of shape because people are always surprised to find I actually can finish an Ironman distance triathlon, and post a respectable time as well. Another query happened last week too, while at the beach (different finisher T-shirt though). That particular time it came from a Coast Guard Diver who was suiting up to catch some sea life to show to the kids on the beach. Being a strong swimmer himself he looked surprised I could even make the 2.4 mile swim, let alone do a 112 mile bike and 26.2 mile run right after it.

When those sort of things happen, I usually feel pretty good about my ability to accomplish things people say or assume I can't do. After all, like Roger Martin I aspire to beat, not just to satisfy the world. So what if I am not the fittest person out there? At least I start the race and ultimately finish strong. Who cares if I have 15 pounds on the rest of my racing field? Drinking slushees and going to the Olive Garden for double pasta dinners three times the week before my races probably doesn't help, but it makes all the training pain worth it.

However, today I paused to rethink my "feeling good despite what you think" theory. Here's how my 1 year old put it all in perspective:

Yesterday my 1 year old climbed up on my knee, pulled up my shirt and, as she punched her chubby finger into my soft belly, shouted "Boobie! Boobie! Big boobie!"

Yes, I may be an Ironman, but like any child she called it like it really was, all while using 2 of the 13 words she actually knows. That means it is probably time to stop drinking coke and go for a run instead. Caloric output replaces caloric input. I should probably run nowhere in particular, and see if I can loose the boobie.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Getting Haloscan to work in Beta Blogger

For all you Beta Bloggers: Haloscan comments & trackback do work in Beta!
For all you non-technical, loyal LP readers: All regular comments are back up!

Finally, after (ironically) using google and not finding the answer I searched elsewhere on the Haloscan forum. Between some guessing and the comments of Wiiiai's and Now That's Amateur , I got them up and running.

Here's how to work it, which was posted on the forum as well:

Step 1:
Turn on the widgets and find the following 3 lines of code:

<span class='post-comment-link' >
<b:if cond='data:blog.pageType != "item" '>
<b:if cond='data:post.allowComments'>

Step 2: (which Wiiiai didn't include and it took me forever to figure it out)
DELETE the code that is in between the code above and the "<'/b:if'>" that comes next. If you don't do this you'll see both the blogger comments AND the haloscan comments come up. I saved them in a text file in case I need them back.

Step 3:
Insert the following (the XXXX being your haloscan user name):

<script src='' type='text/javascript'> </script>
<a expr:href='"javascript:HaloScan(" + "\"" + + "\"" + ");"' target='_self'>
<script type='text/javascript'>postCount('<>');</script>

That's it.

UPDATE: it seems the footer code also needs ported into the spot when a post shows up on it's own page. Once I get it working, I will repost where to add that in also. Right now I have Haloscan to turn on in place of Blogger comments, but it may be easier to recode the text to work the opposite using the else/if statements - Haloscan turns on when Blogger turns off.

UPDATE 2: to add the code in the single post footer you need to drop in the SAME code as above, this time after the following code:

< id="'comments'" var="'post'">
< id="'comments'">
< name="'comments'/">
< 'h4' >

Note that both the blogger AND Haloscan comments will come up unless you delete the blogger code that comes under the < 'h4' >(which may be different in other templates).

UPDATE 3: Code in main section was updated - there was a missing portion of code the disappeared when blogger beta posted it! Arrg!

UPDATE 4: I've gotten a few hundered hits to this post, meaning there is a need for beta workarounds. If you are looking for other beta hacks check out Hackosphere, it's got a few gems in it.

UPDATE 5: If you came here just looking for the code using and are using Firefox, you may be interested in the follow-up article I did on Social Networking & Innovators/Early Adopters and their use of Firefox.

UPDATE 6: Peter at Utter Muttering got the trackback working. In the comment on this post he says "I just got trackback working (I think) by adding identical code and changing "HaloScan(...)" to "HaloScanTB(...)" and "postCount(...)" to "postCountTB(...)". It appears to be working correctly." Note that you need to add this new feature as a second set of code to your template.

UPDATE 7: I had a few emails about adding another update to clarify some things. Apparently for some templates you need to delete to the SECOND <b:if ... to get rid of the Blogger comments and the "invalid XML" error.

If you were able to use the hack, go digg it for me! Thanks.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

I've moved!

I've moved over to the new Blogger Beta!

The one big change you will notice is my Labels categories on the sidebar, which was the main reason I switched over (I have Wordpress tagging evny).

For those already on Blogger wanting to do it: FOR THE LOVE OF ALL BLOGS THAT ARE HOLY - WAIT!!!

While it offers considerable behind the scenes advantages (tags, drag & drop templates, etc.), the drawbacks of not being able to edit your raw HTML caused some serious issues for me. I also had my comments in Haloscan and I can't seem to relink them. If anyone knows how, please let me know!

It may be a few days before new posts as I'm spending all my online time getting the new template tweaked to work, and I've got a year of posts to label for your categorized enjoyment!

Sunday, September 03, 2006

The Culture of Expectation

I stood, waiting patiently for my turn. I am, after all, a polite and patient man.

She stood at the front of the line, talking at another customer in the store. She was, after all, a young professional Know It All that felt she was entitled to hold up the line.

"No, you're doing it wrong. You need to find your niche, then you can sell your work," she instructed with an exasperated tone. Looking young enough that she would get id'd in any bar, it appeared she was dispensing advice to a grey haired man on how to sell his photographs. I caught a glimpse of his camera and lenses poking out of his case, which pegged him as either a pro, or high-end amateur photographer. Either way, by his equipment it looked like he knew his stuff and had probably forgotten more about photography than she had even learned. She continued on as he looked at her with a blank 'why are you talking to me expression', "And you do know of all the places to send to, right? I'm having a gallery showing next week, and you should come and see my work to compare."

The clerk behind the counter looked up as he finished printing a receipt on the computer. Sliding it across the counter to her, he leaned to the side and made eye contact with me - one of those "your turn, can I help you" motions.

Ms. Know It All must have heard my muscles twitch, readying to relay my polite request for service, because before I could even part my lips to emit any sort of sound she held up her right hand between me and the clerk. Then, with a long finger extending upwards towards the ceiling she said in a louder tone than her current conversation, "I'm not done with my transaction yet." The amazing part was she didn't even bother to break eye contact with her main target of her verbal directions. Do you want more amazing? Well, I have it - she then continued on talking to him.

I quizzically looked at the clerk with a "did what just happened really happen" look on my face, only to be rewarded with a sympathetic eye roll. A second clerk that was stocking the shelves turned and looked at all of us, her mouth slightly agape at what was unfolding in front of her.

"The showing will be on the 12th at 8:00," she chattered on, reaching into her purse with her left hand to pull out one of her cards. I know it was her left hand because her right was still busy holding up a line of people with her single finger pointing up towards the ceiling. "Take this, it has my contact information so I can give you more detail on what your next steps should be."

I had time on my hands so was happy to be polite and wait, but then thought for a moment:

Old lady that can't find her wallet?
I would wait patiently.

Young parent trying to finish her transaction while balancing a crying child?
I would wait patiently.

Confused spouse attempting to pick just the right gift for their significant other?
I would wait patiently.

Arrogant young professional with the expectation of privilege?
I am not waiting patiently.

As I stepped up to the counter Ms. Know It All's finger straightened up like she was going to climax, all while she continued to talk at her victim. Sensing all hell was going to break loose two of the other clerks that had been near enough to see what was happening jumped behind the counter and loudly announced in unison "I can serve whoever is next!"

I left about 1 minute later, after paying for my photographs (which I probably couldn't sell because I haven't found my niche market). When I looked back at the first clerk behind the counter he was still holding the transaction paperwork for Ms. Know It All, while she continued to hold her right hand high, almost daring him to serve someone else in line.

The older man still had that Charlie Brown look on his face, like all he could hear from the teacher was "Whah wah, wah wah wah...".

An editorial I read a few months back said today's iGeneration and Generation Y, which I just missed out on by a few years, is developing into a "Culture of Entitlement".

Instant access to information, instant intellectual and markatable skills when they graduate (which ports directly into a high level position at a large firm), and the tendency to blog now & regret it later.

Unfortunately these traits come with a price: they think they run the show.

I wonder how long this will go on until the older generations start to turn them into a "Culture of Just Got Wacked Up Side The Head". I think this video of an old granny giving a wack to the Mercedes Benz of Mr. Know It All illustrates exactly what I am getting at.

I don't think "iGeneration Wacking" has caught on yet, but I was pretty close to starting the trend on my own today.