Monthly Archives: March 2008

The first six weeks in Mr Colvin’s science class was a blast. The next six weeks changed my life.

I got my first report card in the second grade, and I don’t even have to be humble because it told everybody how much I rocked. I rocked so much that I didn’t need to worry so much about paying attention in class and doing homework. My next report card wasn’t quite as generous, but it was generous enough. The report cards became more and more sparse in their praise. That was okay, though, because I completely accepted mediocrity. Well, not even mediocrity. All that mattered was that I was passing. My parents, sensing that I wasn’t the sharpest academic tool in the shed, were okay as long as I was passing.

I got a lot of 70s in elementary school. In Delosa, 70 is passing and 69 is not. The mathematical probability that I got that many 70s was, to say the least, low. In retrospect, I was almost certainly being socially promoted. I was a good kid, after all, and I wasn’t stupid. I was just… different. Special. Every sentence that started off explaining how I wasn’t stupid ended with reasons why I was not capable of making the same grades as everyone else (or better).

When I got to Larkhill Intermediate, I intended to continue coasting as I always had. What I didn’t realize was that junior high is a completely different world from grade school. Few of my teachers knew my mother. Since my smart brother was in honors classes, I didn’t have his extended halo over my head. My other brother’s reputation wasn’t particularly helpful until I tried out for the basketball team. The guard rails were gone and I got two F’s on my first report card, one in reading and the other in science. The grade in reading was a 68, which I could bring up without much problem. The science grade was… a 60.

There are parts to this story, only one third am I going to share tonight. All you need to know about the other relevant third is that I went home so obviously devastated that my parents did not see fit to give me any sort of formal punishment. Mr Colvin, the science teacher, could tell that something was wrong the day after report cards came out. I could see him looking at my nearly dispondent self. He slipped a note to me to talk after class. I figured he was going to yell at me or something. No teacher had ever asked to speak with me after class.

Colvin gave me the schpeil about being a smart kid. He said he felt bad about the grade, but that he could tell that I wasn’t going to try to catch up if I didn’t appreciate how far behind I was. But he would make me a deal. If I made a B or better the next six weeks, he would raise the grade to a 65. The idea was preposterous. A B in science? From a teacher that had just destroyed me? Preposterous!

My best friend Clint was in that class with me and we were both the reason that we were doing so poorly in that class. The first six weeks had been so enjoyable because he and I were passing notes and doodling and screwing around. Obviously, that was going to have to change. He had gotten a 70 in the class and I had gotten a 60. He was confused when I was suddenly starting to pay attention in to Mr Colvin and doing my homework. But once I started, he didn’t have anything he could do but follow suit. When the next report card rolled around, my grade was a 95. My lowest grade had been my highest. Clint, in the remaining one third of the whole story that I will not today share, got a 100.

Improving my grades was startlingly easy. So easy, in fact, that I kept thinking that I was just getting lucky. When my parents praised me, I would lie awake some nights fearful of how disappointed they would be when my grades turned back to “normal”. Then, gradually, I learned that normal changed. I had help from my father, but for the most part I discovered that it was simply a matter of doing the homework. I read each chapter for science, but in most of the other classes where my grades were my grades were also improving I didn’t even have to read the chapters. I just did the homework, tried as hard as I could on the tests (which I only occasionally bothered to study for), and before I knew it my grades were getting pretty good. The last two six weeks of my Larkhill schooling, I got straight A’s.

I appreciate what the elementary school teachers were trying to do when they passed me when I didn’t deserve it, but the teacher that most stands out in my life was Mr Colvin, who not only did what needed to be done, but took the time and attention to try to help me undo it.

Category: School

Cassandra observes:

When I go out in jeans and sneakers people aren’t rude or unpleasant, but the sense of friendliness and niceness does drop. The difference is more noticeable in men than in women – when I’m decked out in full girlie regalia men actually go out of their way to do favors for me – but it’s there in women too. I used to have a job at which every time I wore a skirt at least 3 or 4 female co-workers would stop me in the corridor and compliment me. In all these scenarios it almost feels like I’m being approvingly patted on the head for conforming perfectly to what is expected of my gender, even though my personality remains as assertive and non-girly as ever.

Bob asks:

We do get rewarded for conforming to norms. That’s how they come to be norms. What are norms if not those things society pats us on the head for following? Is this bad though?

This actually opens the door for a fundamental difference in opinion that my wife and I have, but I’ll have to table that for the time being because this is going to be a long enough post as it is.

Cassandra’s point is broader than mere dress, and hers has more to do with gender norms than anything, but I think that dress is a good place to start since it is mostly voluntary.

Simply put, how we dress is a representation of who we are. We make minor changes because we think that a particular color or style looks better on us, but for the most part it’s a representation. Even if someone dresses based solely on comfort, their representation is that they don’t care about their representation. Even if we dress a particular way because our job requires it, the only difference being that we are making the representation that someone else wants us to make and that we’re willing to do so in exchange for food and shelter.

Everyone knows this, yet people frequently forget it (or at least forget the inevitability of it) when it’s convenient to. For instance, a mohawked, blue-haired punk might complain that store clerks watch them more closely because they falsely assume that everyone dressed that way is a shoplifter. The obvious solution is that if you don’t want to be treated like a punk, don’t dress like one. But that seems so unfair because people shouldn’t make judgments based on someone’s appearance. Poppycock. They dress that way in large part precisely so that people will make judgments. Maybe not the negative judgments of the store clerk but at least the positive judgment of those with similar sensibilities. You can’t have one without the other.

On a sidenote, I want to be clear that I do not endorse harassment of anybody based on how they dressed. A clerk looking a little bit closer at strangely dressed customers does not constitute harassment, in my opinion. I am merely using this as an example of negative behavior that some people complain about.

I’ll go even further and make what I don’t believe to be a controversial statement: in some sense, these people want the negative attention. If store clerks, as a proxy for society at large, approved of their fashion they would probably go out of their way to change into something else. Expressing one’s individuality requires differentiating yourself from others and you can’t expect people that you’re making a point of differentiating yourself from are less instinctively warm to you. You’re sending a signal. You can hardly be upset that they’re receiving it.

We might say that we dress this way or that based solely on how much we like it aesthetically. To a very limited extent, this is sometimes true. Some ladies genuinely look better in blue jeans and a shirt than they do in a dress. Some people look better may even look better with purple hair regardless of the social norms (though purple hair usually involves social context). Even when this is the case, however, we are choosing from the cafeteria of social conventions. I’m sure that by some objective criteria some guys would look best in a toga, but such a fellow would probably make do with a tanktop.

In the end, it always comes down to the baseline of social norms. Those that conform to the norms usually end up changing as the norms do (until we reach an age where we’re tired of changing) and those that deviate from the norm usually deviate in some familiar way. If you want to dress in true rebellion, but on that toga, a powdered wig, or heck a giant garbage sack. We don’t, though, because they (generally) make the same judgments about people that do that straight-laced folks make about them.

So having said all that, let me pull this post back to gender norms before wrapping it up. As with any other deviation from a norm, men and women suffer (though not equally) when they deviate from that norm. So why are the norms different and who does it benefit? I can’t explain why they are as they are, though who it benefits depends on one’s personal tastes.

A woman that dresses in men’s clothes without make-up makes off a whole lot better than a man that dresses as women do. A woman can enhance her appearance and detract from her flaws with make-up while men (generally) can’t. Women have all sorts of dresses and shirts and shirts and pants to choose from, men get only a select portion of those options. On the other hand, more is expected of women. They’re under more pressure to put make-up over their flaws. They’re looked at differently when they dress lazy. Some of their clothes seem deliberately designed to cause discomfort. Women have the freedom of options and more responsibility to match while men lack freedom and pressure.

Would the world be a better place if both genders had the exact same expectations and pressures? Maybe, but it’s sort of a moot question. Just as the punk needs Tommy Hilfiger to define who he isn’t, women will find ways to differentiate themselves from men and vice-versa. Further, with our bodies being different and all, we will almost certainly always want to accentuate different parts of our appearance.

Category: Coffeehouse

Over at Dustbury, a discussion popped up about Apple’s bundling of the Safari web browser with the latest version of iTunes. As many of you know, it’s difficult to impossible to download Apple’s bundling of Quicktime with iTunes so that you can’t get the former without getting the latter. I never really objected to the latter bundling since iTunes is going to be a necessity when it comes to introducing my wife to our MP3 collection, but I have a suggestion for anyone that wants Quicktime but doesn’t want iTunes: don’t download Quicktime.

The Quicktime movie player is required to watch certain media types, which is really the only reason most non-Apple users download it to begin with. Fortunately, there is Quicktime Alternative. QTA allows you to view Quicktime files using most viewing software (including browsers).

Irony of ironies, it does come bundled with a viewer called Media Player Classic. However, MPC is so non-obtrusive as to even be a little inconvenient in a way. I wish it would hijack movie extensions (so that if you click on a movie in Windows Explorer MPC will come up instead of WMP or whatever software you have) because it would mean that I wouldn’t have to manually reassign them. It doesn’t take up any resources when you’re not running it and is extremely resource-conscious when it is (I have old computers that won’t run videos properly on anything except MPC). I think that there is an option to choose not to install MPC if that is your preference, though, and Quicktime files will run in most of the software you already have.

In addition to Quicktime Alternative is Real Alternative, which allows you to view RealPlayer files without needing RealPlayer. RealPlayer isn’t bundled with any software as far as I know, but they try to hook you into their pay service.

Quicktime Alternative, Real Alternative, and Media Player Classic are all completely free.

Category: Server Room

Clancy and I were driving down I-13 in Deseret to go to my cousin’s wedding and she was reacquainted with a driver that seemed to be collecting pet peeve of hers to toss out there and drive her blood pressure up.

The first thing he did was follow way too closely from behind. She kept slowing down so that he would pass, but he didn’t seem to want to do it. Then he finally did, driving right to the point that she was in his blind spot and then swerving back and forth.

We were pretty ruthless with our commentary. At first we thought he was drunk. Then I thought he was trying to read something, then Clancy suggested that it looks like he might be writing something. “Probably doing a crossword puzzle, I murmured as Clancy darted past him.

The next thing we knew the jerk had sped up too so that he could be right beside her. “What an ass!”

Then we saw what he was writing.

“You have a flat tire!!”

We looked at each other. “We do?” We asked. The car seemed to be pretty steady. Flat tires are generally something that you notice. But the car was a rental and we didn’t want to destroy it, so we waited for the next exit to get off on.

When we found it, the driver was getting off, too. This was an exit in the middle of nowhere. We started getting nervous that maybe he was jump us or something and take our car. Maybe he had someone with him laying in the back seat of the car. Heck, he didn’t even need that, really. A gun would have done the trick.

He was pulled over on the side of the road off the exit. Since we didn’t know when the next exit would be, we decided to risk it to check the tire. I got out my cell phone and dialed 911 so that if need-be I could just hit the “send” button in case of an emergency.

When we stopped, he walked over to the car and said “Sorry about that. I was really concerned about your tire. I guess it’s not entirely flat, but it’s pretty close.” I looked down and sure enough, it was pretty low. The guy we’d been cussing out for the previous half-hour was trying to do us a solid.

He said that he thought he’d had a tire pumper, which was why he pulled over, too, but that it must have been in his other car. So worst-case scenario, the guy was going to help us out looking for a tip. Once we were back on the road, we quietly apologized ourselves for all the bad things that we were saying about him.

Category: Road

For some reason I’ve had my mind periodically stuck on… someone… I knew from… somewhere. I’m usually really good with faces and if I don’t recall where I saw it originally I remember once the librarian in the back of my mind searches the archives for a day or two. It’s one of those things where I can think myself to death about and get nowhere, then a day or two later it will magically come to me while I’m thinking about anyone else.

It’s been four days and I am still nowhere. She had brown hair that she usually kept in a pony tail. Brown eyes (I am usually not very good with eyes). She wore minimal make-up and was rather tomboyish. Not much in the way of breasts. She could mostly be described as being the friend of a friend or someone that was in some social circle I happened to be in for a while. I don’t remember ever having a long conversation with her. She smiled a lot, but it was a weak sort of smile. A silent serenity. It was a boy’s smile. Though she looked very much like a woman, there was a masculine quality about her. Particularly in her smile, which came across as “heeey buuuuddy!”. She was attractive enough, but I wasn’t specifically attracted to her.

I think I knew her from high school. For some reason “cross country” comes to mind or running of some sort. Maybe she ran in college, though. Or maybe she was just an avid jogger. I didn’t really have much of a social network at my high school, though, which makes the high school connection seem odd. Alternately I might have known her while I was in high school and she went to another one where she was a runner of some sort. Runner, runner, runner, that’s what I remember though I have no recollection of actually seeing her run.

My high school yearbook is stashed away in Colosse. If I had it handy, I’d be scanning the 800 or so people in my graduating class (and maybe the 850 people in the next lower graduating class). Part of me is glad I don’t have it handy because it would lead to the waste of some time. On the other hand, if it’s going to be bugging me for the next few days it might be quicker just to actually look it up.

Most frustrating of all I can’t remember why she has even crossed my mind or why it matters.

Does this happen to y’all?

Addendum: I’m definitely going to have to crack open the yearbook. This past weekend I saw some NCAA tournament basketball. Mom pointed out that one of the players for one of the big schools is a graduate from my own Mayne High School. Futher, his not-common last name is really familiar and matches or is close to the last name of a bully that I went to school with. While the age difference wouldn’t suggest that they are brothers, my classmate was extremely talented and could have made it a lot further if he weren’t so short.

Category: School

I am looking for software that can do something rather specific. I would like to be able to save the contents of Windows directories into a text or (preferably) Excel file. What would be most awesome is if there were something that could take the file, file’s directory, and file’s size into different columns on a spreadsheet. Absent that, I would be cool with being able to save the files with their directories into a text file.

What I primarily want to be able to do is save these file names so that if I were to lose a hard drive or directory that has a bunch of images on it, I’d be able to look and see what all images I lost.

I’m aware that you can direct DOS actions to text files and that you can view directory contents through DOS, but I’m looking for a simpler way of going about that for more complex directory structures.

Does anyone have any software that can do that? Does anyone understand what I’m wanting it to do?

-{Crossposted at Bobvis}-

Category: Server Room

I saw the movie Juno last weekend. With spoilers, here are some random observations and thoughts:

  • Fingernails. One of the things that convinces Juno to have the baby is the revelation that fetuses have fingernails. I laughed out loud at that one. When we were living in our Deseret basement apartment, our LDS landlords upstairs had a never ending churn of grandchildren through their four daughters. I met one of the little ones very shortly after birth. I don’t think that I’d ever seen such a young infant and the thing that stood out at me most was her tiny, tiny little fingernails. “She has fingernails!” I exclaimed. I didn’t think that infants didn’t have fingernails. I just hadn’t thought about it.
  • Lorings. The part that most stood out to me about the Lorings at the outset was the banishment of all of Mark’s things to a single room. Clancy and I go back and forth about what our future house will look like decoratively and one of her stock responses to some of my requests that she’s not fond of is that I will get a room where I will get to put anything I want. I’m a little concerned that we’ll end up in a situation where I get a room and she gets the rest of the house. We’ll probably be able to work something out, though. We’re pretty good at that. This probably deserves its own post.
  • Parents. Unlike Spungen, I thought that the movie handled the parental (and adult) reaction about right. Not horror, but disappointment and a willingness to help guide her through it. I’d imagine a similar reaction from my parents and from the blue-collar parents of my ex-girlfriend Julie. Her mother might subtlely have pushed for an abortion, but once it became obvious that she wasn’t going to have one (if she wasn’t, of course), I figure they’d go along as Juno’s folks did.
  • Music. Unlike Ethan, I loved the soundtrack.
  • Dialogue. The dialogue was a little too cool for school at a couple points, but I thought it helped the movie along more than it irritated or detracted from authenticity.
  • Mark Loring. I knew that he was going to have a downfall and be revealed to be the less admirable of the couple, but I didn’t know his unwillingness to grow up would culminate in an inappropriate affection for Juno. I interpreted his early actions to that of a stay-at-home wife… the loneliness of being at home and the latching on to an outside figure. As the movie went on I wasn’t too surprised about the dance scene where it all started to unravel. The line “How do you think of me?” was perfectly delivered. You can see the realization of his age on his face. Well done, Mr. Bateman.
  • Mark Loring II. The similarities between Mark Loring and my friend Clint are eerie. When he and I talked about the movie, i was afraid of bringing it up, but he did. A love of music, the ability to write jingles, the attraction to a more dominating sort of partner… not the hitting on 15 year old pregnant girls, though.
  • Vanessa Loring. I know that she totally wanted to be a mother and all that, but I’m not sure I buy her decision to still be in after the separation with Mark. She struck me very much as the type of person that needed everything to be “just so” and being a single mother, no matter how much she wanted to be a mother, would strike me as ruining it for her. Maybe I don’t fully understand a woman’s calling to be a mother or maybe I just didn’t buy the redemption of her that I was supposed to.
  • Juno MacGuff. She’s entertaining on the screen, but I think she would be supremely annoying to deal with in real life.
  • Paulie Bleaker. He’s the good guy on screen, but he too wouldn’t be nearly as interesting to know in real life.
  • Mac MacGuff. He’s the kind of guy I wouldn’t mind knowing in real life. He reminded me a little bit of Evangeline’s father when I liked him before I started feeling sorry for him. Except that Mac was responsible.
  • The Note. I couldn’t actually read what the Jiffy Lube said until I went back and saw it again after the movie ended. I caught the drift, though.
  • Adoption. Even though I didn’t know at the outset whether she would keep the baby or not, I was totally taken in and thus surprised when she gave it away anyhow. Partially because of my above observation about Vanessa.
  • Overall. I really enjoyed the movie. I don’t know that it was quite worthy of all the attention and praise, but I was thoroughly entertained.

Category: Theater

Last month I donated to a political campaign for the first time in my life for my family’s congressional district back in Delosa. I made a deal with myself that I would never donate to the campaign of anyone that runs on border hawk positions front and center and of course I broke that deal with myself on my first political donation to Jim Murali a few weeks ago. The thing is that he’s running against “conservative” Republican* Bob Markam, who has represented the district since I was a kid and is one of the more despicable congresscritters in Washington. Murali may be indistinguishable from him politically, but I know people that know Murali personally (he went to my high school and grew up near where I live) and they all say glowing things about him. In the past I’ve tried to work on the campaigns of people running against Markam, which obviously isn’t possible living where I currently do.

One thing that makes me slightly uncomfortable is the disclosure aspect of it. I don’t mind being on record as making the donations that I have for anyone that really wants to know who I’ve donated to, but they made me disclose who my employer is. I’m not sure why I am so uncomfortable with that since I don’t expect to be reprimanded for donating to the wrong entity, but it doesn’t seem right that their name should be on a political donation that they had no say in and I can easily imagine situations where I wouldn’t want any trail to exist between my employer and myself for whenever I am at odds with the views of my employer.

On the other hand, I guess the reason that they do it is as an anti-corruption measure to make sure that employers aren’t pressuring employees to donate to campaigns or (more likely) making donations by proxy. As someone that doesn’t like the restrictions of free speech and whatnot of McCain-Feingold and thinks that transparency is a better mechanism, I shouldn’t be at all uncomfortable with this… but I guess I am, a little.

* – As far as I am concerned, he stands for nothing except his standing within the GOP and his own re-election. He is as sincere as a maggot in all that he says and does.

Category: Statehouse

It’s been observed a number of times in a number of places that romantic relationships constitute a market like any other. You have something to offer and you need something in return. You try to get the best that you can with what you have. It can be as sturdy as the diamonds market or as loose as a futures market, but it’s something of a market all the same.

As with any other market, it is rife with inefficiencies. Some people benefit from these inefficiencies, though I suspect more people lose from them. One of the big causes for inefficiencies is the lack of a singular marketplace. If you want a house, you go to the real estate section of the paper. If you want a relationship… well, you can try to get that from the paper, too, but there are too many intangibles to fit into an ad and it is on the whole less successful the same way that housing ads are not as helpful as car ads (people need to see the house, they know ahead of time what they’re getting with the car and if they need to see it they are just verifying).

I have a friend that’s an investment banker in New York City (he commutes from Connecticut… probably driving Peter crazy on the train). He tells me that the real estate market in NYC is brutally efficient. There are so many people looking so intently at it that if there is any added value to a location it will be appraised and the price adjusted. The housing market in the Colosse area is not nearly so efficient. There are some places that you can get great deals on a four bedroom house going to the same schools and having the same degree of security as a guy that paid twice as much for his house in part because there are so many people that aren’t as familiar with it or don’t question their initial assumptions about what they want. On the other hand, the market does often play catch-up. My Midlerth apartment with Karl had rent go up 86% in a year and a half as more people discovered what a prime location that place was.

I’ve been talking a lot to my friends in Deseret and I am reminded of something that I noticed up there: the relationship markets for non-Mormons are much less efficient than they were in Colosse and seem to be here in Santomas.

The more people there are, the stiffer the competition becomes. That may sound like a bad thing, but it isn’t necessarily. You have more people to compete with, but you have more options to choose from. Deseret is not nearly so densely populated where I lived. Further, half of the population was Mormon and most of those were reluctant to seriously consider marriage outside the faith.

So now we’re dealing with a half of what would already be a small dating market. Being a non-Mormon covers a lot of ground, so you take that half and you have to further fracture it because the evangelical Christians that live out there (and yes, some do) would have a problem with the atheists for example. The Mormons have added efficiency in their market because they have singles groups and a strong sense of community. Non-Mormons have no such thing and have reason to worry that they are wasting their time with someone they just met because they might be a Mormon. The longer I was up there, the easier it was to tell, but it’s still guessing (particular with the females).

Even if you take out the Mormon factor, though, the population base makes quite a difference. In this case, it just exacerbates the problem for non-Mormons. It was a good thing that I was married while I was out there, because romantic options would have been practically nill. There were a handful of people I knew from Colosse out there. One of them had a minor crush on me. I wasn’t interested, but in the backdrop of Deseret she became a lot more appealing.

Ordinarily it’s unlikely that I would ever consider dating someone like Carol Goddard or she dating someone like me — in fact, it’s unlikely that she and I would have even gotten along — but we had more in common simply by being on the outside of the local culture and had either of us been single (and I older or she younger) I would have considered it all differently than I might have if we had met in Colosse. In fact, I knew people like her in Colosse. I had no use for them. In Deseret, she was one of the better friends I had in the office.

And on and on.

I remember seeing an engaged couple in a restaurant. while I was up there. Though I hadn’t seen the movie yet, they looked strikingly like Katherine Heigl and Seth Rogen from Knocked Up. I still remember that couple because I remember thinking that such a coupling would never happen in Colosse. Often there is a difference in the level of attractiveness of couples, but you can usually see off-hand where the less attractive partner makes up for it. This guy seemed like a stoner and the ring was tiny. He didn’t seem particularly charismatic, though that sort of thing is difficult to tell without talking to him. Then I did talk to him at the video store where he worked and he reminded me a lot of me.

At the same time, I didn’t look at this couple and say “Why is she choosing such a loser?!” the same way that I might have in Colosse (ahem… particularly when I was single). Instead, I looked and saw exemplars of the observation about market inefficiencies in Deseret. It struck me that as a non-Mormon (which she seemed to be) living where she did, this guy may have really been the best that she could do. Or to put it more kindly, she gave him a longer look than she ever would have considered doing in Colosse and found something in him she otherwise would have missed.

There is one big exception to the population=efficiency argument: College. I saw a whole lot of mismatches in colleges and yet in college you are numerically barraged with options). I’d have to guess there that it comes down to insufficient information. When we’re in college, we don’t always have a clear idea of what we’re looking for, so we experiment. Also, when in college it’s extremely difficult to figure out with of the charming rogue sorts is going to use his charm and charisma to become a captain of cutting-edge industry and which one will be using his charm and charisma to convince his landlord not to evict him because he’s six months behind on rent or convince some girl to take him in if he is evicted.

Some people hate comparing the relationship world to a marketplace, but in some ways I like it. For one thing, it helps me understand why things are the way that they are sometimes. For instance, why was it so difficult for me to find dates when I was 23? It was because I was undervalued by the market because 21 year old girls were still in college and were more interested in college guys but 23 year old girls dating beyond college could just as easily date a 28 year old with a better job. When I got 25 or 26, things started to improve.

I could also see myself as somewhat undervalued because of my introversion. Sometimes introversion is something that legitimately decreases someone’s relationship value because they’re harder to talk to and are awkward around people. I’m a pretty good conversationalist and not bad with people, though I don’t seek them out so much. I don’t like crowds, which legitimately decreased my relationship value, but I’m good at dinner party kinds of situations, though since I didn’t often get the opportunity to demonstrate the latter it becomes an inefficiency.

Some folks believe that there are no inefficiencies in any marketplace because something is worth precisely what one will pay or barter for it and never more or less. That makes a lot of assumptions about consumers have all of the information and appropriately weighing it for how positive or negative an effect that it will have on their life. It also means that I can’t say that I was an undervalued commodity in the relationship marketplace and deprives me of a rationalization that was helpful to me in the more distressing periods of my former single life.

Addendum: Bob Vis writes a ridiculously better post on the subject.

Category: Coffeehouse

In regards to a previous post, Peter commented:

Getting back to the original issue, one thing to keep in mind is that changing your behavior/appearance/whatever to eliminate undesirable characteristics might not do much in terms of attracting women so long as you’re in the same social environment. For example, if an overweight guy manages to lose a lot of weight his dating prospects may not really improve among the women who knew him when he was fat, as they’ll still think of him as the fat guy.

It can actually be more complicated than that sometimes.

One thing that heavy guys see a fair amount of that gives them hope is older married couples with a heavy guy and a slender wife. What they often don’t realize is that when they first got married, it’s often the case that he was in better shape. Whenever that’s not the case, though, in almost every single instance that I’ve known it to occur, the guy was at least in better shape before they met. That’s the kind of thing that when you think about it shouldn’t matter, yet it seems to and when you think about it, it makes a certain amount of sense.

Take a guy that was morbidly obese from ages 5 to 25 but lost it all by 30, more often than not you’re looking at a guy that is less successful with women than a guy that was in good shape from 5-25 that let himself go and became overweight by 30.

A guy that has been overweight for most of his life will often think of himself as such after he’s lost the weight. Even if he notices some improvement, instinctually he will think that women see him as they have seen him for most of his life. He’s less likely to ask girls out and even when he does, he is up against a pretty big learning curve never having been successful before. Once I learned to shower regularly and lost 70 pounds or so (and gained two inches in height) in high school, I was still way behind a whole lot of my peers. I didn’t know how to talk to girls, didn’t know how to ask them out, and didn’t know the 100,000 ways I could accidentally repel them.

That’s not to say that losing the weight didn’t make a difference. It did. But it didn’t make as much difference as one might expect. I was still the same awkward kid, just in a smaller frame. Eventually I got caught up somewhat on the socialities of girls and women and I began to improve considerably… though I was still behind a whole lot of my peers. Then, even when a fair amount of the weight came back on, the improvements actually stuck regardless of the fact that I was heavier than I needed to be.

It’s kind of depressing to think about it. It’s actually something of a demotivator when it comes to trying to get into shape a little later in life. If I were told at 15 that losing the weight would still leave me behind my peers, I might not have lost it. I’m certainly glad that I did, of course, but sometimes to lose weight you’ll have to think that it’ll make all the difference in the world. Particularly if you’re losing it for social rather than health reasons.

The same is often true for women. The one formerly fat girl that I dated was half-crazy with insecurity. I know a couple guys that managed to marry quite well for themselves (in the appearance department) because the girl they married used to have a serious weight problem.

And as mentioned at the top of this post, the inverse is also often in effect. Girls I know that started gaining weight well after college often project a confidence and social adeptness that helps guys overlook the excess baggage. The fat former frat boys that I know managed to marry some real hot women.

My family is close to another family named the Lamonts that was raised in a quite healthy household. No soft drinks around, little or no chocolate, all four food groups at every meal, no fast food, and so on. Once the girls left the house, though, they all started putting on the Freshman Fifteen and beyond. Some lost the weight, one didn’t until very recently. I remember thinking to myself that one can really go overboard with raising health-conscious kids because they can rebel as soon as they leave the house. As I get older, I see that to matter less and less. The fact that they were thin and attractive in high school mattered more than I would have expected.

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