Great stories from the driver’s seat, online playgrounds, and the new vigilance that’s the price of liberty, included in this week’s array of helpful hints…
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You know that thing that happens when you buy a new car and, suddenly, you see the same model car everywhere you go and it seems the car must be much more popular than it was before you bought it?
Except, of course, that it isn’t any more or less popular, but you are more sensitive to sighting than you ever were previously? There’s probably a scientific term for this, but I’m too lazy to look it up, so we’ll just call it purchase affirmation for the next 400 words.
It turns out that purchase affirmation is about much more than purchases. We fall victim, or victors, as we pass through life stages, as well. When I was younger, I didn’t think anyone had problems with their prostate. Now, I think everyone is urinologically challenged. Thirty years ago, I thought fertility rates were increasing, largely because everyone I knew was having children.
The list of perceptions is endless. Sometimes we’re right and sometimes wrong, but the accuracy of our conclusions will flow more with our station in life than the underlying trends. Are most baby boomers downsizing? Many of my friends are doing so, which means this must be the case. Is Iceland the hottest new vacation spot in the world? I know three couples that visited in the past year, so I will say yes, it is.
Some of our purchase affirmation results from the decision to make the leap. When we lived in the suburbs, we didn’t know many people who had sold the house and moved to the city. After we sold the house and moved to the city, though, we were surrounded by others who had made the same leap, so it was clearly more of a trend than we realized earlier.
Purchase affirmation is a warm fuzzy, because it makes us feel better about our choices. When we leased an Acura, I started seeing more Acuras on the road. This perception made me feel like I was part of a hip new trend. Heck, maybe I was driving that trend, because I didn’t see this many Acuras until AFTER I had signed the lease.
At the same time, purchase affirmation is a trickster, convincing us of untruths and leading us to make bad decisions. I’ve made more than a handful of bad investment decisions on the basis of my incredible observational skills, applied to a minuscule sample. Too frequently, I have perceived the wisdom of crowds when I should have recognized herd mentality.
Purchase affirmation is harmless, as long as we recognize it for the mind game that it is. Lately, though, I have noticed more and more people who believe their decisions are changing the world. Clearly, this is a trend we need to address quickly.
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The secrets of great leaders, the absence of sex questions on Jeopardy, and making plans for a killer eulogy, all submitted for your intellectual stimulation this week…
Audience participation time: What’s the worst advice you ever received? Add it to the comments section and all of us can commiserate.
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I know we’re supposed to be raging against the storm and convincing ourselves that wrinkles are really “laugh lines,” but there are a lot of things to enjoy about getting older. Getting older, by the way, is not the same thing as aging. Aging is about losing vigor and getting weaker and stapling “out of order” signs on your knees and ears. Getting older, though, is a positive thing, and not merely because it means you haven’t died…yet.
For one thing, you’ve been there and done that, which means you don’t have to do it again if you didn’t like it the first time. You panic less, because you’ve been through more false alarms. People offer you discounts without being asked, and you get a pass from fads like the ice bucket challenge, snorting Tide pods, and kale.
But the best thing about getting older is never, ever, ever being at a loss for conversation when you meet other people in your age group. Any time I connect with other guys over 60, I know the first half hour of small talk is guaranteed. And all I need to do is ask…
How are you?
Not so hot. I finally got the second knee replaced last month and it’s much easier to get around, but now that I can sit, the hemorrhoids are killing me.
Sorry to hear that.
Not a big deal. I can’t sit long, anyway, because I have to go pee every three minutes. Damned prostate.
That sounds like a challenge.
It’s hell. I just stand there and sing a few show tunes while I wait for something to happen, and then I need to do it again ten minutes later. I had to stop at three gas stations on the drive over here, and they all made me buy those pine-tree air fresheners before they would give me keys to the john.
Got it. Now I’m even more grateful you made the effort to meet for lunch. Have you been here before?
Yeah. Maxine and I came when they first opened last year, but I got some reflux from the corned beef sandwich and we haven’t been back since. Maxine says I shouldn’t be eating all the fat and salt, anyway, but that’s what makes it taste good.
Would you rather we go somewhere else for lunch?
No, no, don’t make any changes on my account. Anyway, I’ve got this pill for cholesterol and this one for blood pressure, and this one for reflux, or maybe it’s for my nerves. Doesn’t matter. I can eat anything now. The only thing I still need is a pill to let me sleep through the night without having to get up every hour to pee. Crazy. I can’t go from one end and I can’t stop from the other. You’d think it would even out somehow, but nope.
Well, yes, thanks for sharing that. How are things going otherwise?
Ya gotta love it. When you dine with old people, there’s never a lull in the conversation, never a search for topics and never an awkward pause. The conversation itself is hugely awkward, but it never slows down, either.
Next time you’re feeling low, take an old guy out to lunch. It’s a very uplifting experience, in a warped kind of way, and you’ll never lack for fascinating topics.
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The mysteries of business meetings, thriving on jargon, and the most thankless job in the world are all top of mind this week, among other cautionary tales…
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Six Tires, No Plan has a rating of 4.7 out of 5.0 on Amazon, so I shouldn’t be complaining about grade inflation…but it does seem that we’re all getting trophies for showing up these days.
I must admit that I am a true curmudgeon about praise. I don’t clap when some famous actor walks onto the stage, because he hasn’t done anything yet, and I seldom applaud when the fat lady sings, because that what she was paid to do in the first place. And, yes, I am the same guy who wrote that I want applause for finishing my dinner and tying my shoes, but that was about me, not other people. I am special and deserving, but the rest of the world? Not so much.
Like Yoda, I believe that there is no try and coffee is for closers. That doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate effort, but I don’t like participation trophies, either. Maybe it’s okay for toddlers, but we all need to be weaned by the time we’re seven. (This is the point at which readers will begin to feel bad for my daughters.)
I am clearly in the minority, though, because I cannot go to a play without enduring a standing ovation at the end. It doesn’t matter how good or bad it was> Everyone’s on their feet for the close, clapping like seals who just snagged a mackerel.
The same puzzle awaits me every time I take a Lyft ride. I always start with four stars and the driver can work up or down from there, but Lyft assumes that four stars is a mediocre rating and the only acceptable rating is five stars. Give the driver four stars and the caption comes up, “Okay, could be better,” and then they ask what was wrong.
Nothing. Nothing was wrong. It’s a *&#@$% cab ride, not a private jet. I’ve had two or three rides good enough to bump my rating up to five, but really? Five stars for taking me to the dentist?
All this grade inflation has made the ubiquitous rating systems meaningless. A 4.5 rating on Yelp! could mean “very good” or “entrails with sriracha.” There’s no way to know. Ratings become meaningless when the top score becomes the starting point.
Clearly, we need a six-star scale to restore meaning to this quagmire, and we should institute jumping-jack ovations for truly exceptional acting. Grade inflation will creep in, of course, and we’ll need seven or eight stars, and headstand ovations, in another year or two.
In the meantime, I probably need to lower my standards for pretty much everything. And you need to rate this post 27 stars.
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Dadwrites oozes from the warped mind of Michael Rosenbaum, an award-winning author who spends most of his time these days as a start-up business mentor, book coach, photographer and, mostly, a grandfather. All views are his alone, largely due to the fact that he can’t find anyone who agrees with him.