10 October 2011

You didn't say hello?

What are we supposed to do when we see someone we know in the street or at the mall, but the person in question doesn't notice us? Should we say hello? Should we not say hello? It's a lot easier when you just bump into each other, or even see each other from apart, but at the same time. In those cases you naturally say hello, give hugs and kisses, catch up on your past lives. But when you see a person that doesn't see you back, you hesitate. Do you go there and make yourself noticeable? Do you try to sneak out without being seen? As far as I see it, there are four ways to address this problem, and I'm going to talk about them next.

1. The Stare
The Stare works well when you are sitting somewhere, or otherwise not moving. It doesn't work well when you're moving, unless you're moving in the same direction as the person in question. Furthermore, you have to be at least in their field of sight. The method is simple: you stare at them until they notice you. It can take a while for them to do that, and in the meantime you see them looking in every possible way, every freaking angle except the one pointing at you. And there are some times when they don't notice you even if they're looking directly at you. But, when (and if) that eventually happens, you can finally say hi from apart, or do The Walk Over. The Stare can be a bit difficult if you're not concentrated in it: if you stare just once in a while, then you are likely to get The Double Stare, when each of you, in turn, try to draw the other's attention, but look away in the exact same moment that the other notices you.

2. The Call
The Call is the most dangerous of the four, one that can hopelessly embarrass you if you don't use it right. It's best used when in close range and when The Stare can't work or isn't working. In The Call you call the person by their name or some other way. I strongly suggest that you call the person by their name, because using terms like "Pssssst" or "Hey you!" will make everyone turn around and look at you except the person you're calling. And, if the person is too far away from you, or there's too much noise, you may end up calling them again and again, with no success other than alerting everyone around you; in those cases, it's better to try The Walk Over or The Sneak Out.

3. The Walk Over
The Walk Over is to be used when everything else fails. It's 100% efective, but it can be a bit cumbersome because you have to walk next to the person and draw their attention either by touching them or by doing The Call. You can't always walk to a person to say hi, maybe you can't leave your things unattended, or your group of friends. I recently saw a friend of mine in an escalator, I was going down and he was going up; to do a Walk Over in that place would be mayhem! If you can walk to the person, great! You will certainly, definitely make them notice you. But first you have to ask yourself, is this person worthy of a Walk Over?

4. The Sneak Out
Yes, you can make that choice. You can choose to walk away. But The Sneak Out isn't just about walking away. Now that you decided you're not going to make yourself noticed, you're gonna have to make sure that the person doesn't notice you. Even more important, you have to make sure they don't notice that you noticed them! Because if they do, they will also notice you were trying to avoid them. That's why it's a Sneak Out and not a walk out. If you make it out safely, The Sneak Out automatically provides you with a brief guilty conscience and the inability to tell people who you saw, because if the person in question hears that you saw them, they're gonna ask why didn't you say hello. But don't worry, you will do just fine.

You can use either one of these four types depending on the situation, but I believe a person can be defined by the type they use more often. So, what kind of person are you?

(versão portuguesa)

25 September 2011

The Zorbas Project

I remembered this when I was updating my CV and thought of giving you guys a peek. It's a game demo for the Gameboy Advance that I made about 8 years ago. The real Zorbas the cat was already a fat cat at this time (living up to his name, which was taken from this book).

You can download and try the game demo at the link below. Just boot up the VisualBoyAdvance emulator (which is included) and drag the file zorbas.gba to the window. Use the return key to start and the arrow keys to move. Unfortunately this is not a real game, just a demo, so you can't do much other then take Zorbas for a walk...

23 September 2011

The man that needs no introductions

I was never good at introducing myself. You know, those times when you get next to the other person and say "Hello, I'm John, pleased to meet you". Yes, those are the ones. At first glance, it doesn't seem much complicated, but the fact is that there's a whole ritual in an introduction that is more complicated than it seems and where is very easy to get it wrong in little things. The little things that rapidly turn something perfect in something, let's say, clumsy and, eventually, stupid.

Starting with saying your name. It always bewildered me that people introduce themselves by saying their own name. No, no, just their own name. Not something as sophisticated as "Hi, I'm John", but something more harsh, like "John." An introduction that could be moderately long and educated is replaced by "John." "Mary." Just like that, short and to the point. And this is just when the new acquaintances don't say their names at the same time, which happens half of the times, making them pleased for having said their name but puzzled for not hearing the names of each other. Even weirder is when my interlocutor decides to say their full name. "Peter Jefferson Hawthorne." OK, is this really how he wants to be called? Does he expect me to call him later and say "Yo Peter Jefferson Hawthorne, grab me a beer"? Because of all these things and some more, most times I do not introduce myself by saying my name, thus my typical introduction is something like this:

The other - "Peter Jefferson Hawthorne"
Me - "Hi..."

On the other hand, if people don't tell you their name you never get to know how they're called, which is a bummer. You have to wait for someone else to call them, or for them to introduce themselves to another person, and if everything else fails you'll have to suffer the humiliation of the "What's your name again?". I have fallen into this trap a number of times already, maybe because when you don't tell your name, the other one doesn't feel the need to tell you theirs. I remember that in my teenage years I hung out with some guy for months without knowing his name. The problem is that the "What's your name again?" has an expiration date, if you let too much time pass by, you can't use it anymore, the humiliation would be unbearable, like if you were struck by lighting or something. Fortunately, after a few months, someone else called my friend by his name, and I listened and registered. I didn't have to suffer the humiliation, this one even worse than the other one, of the person finding out I didn't know their name, as happened in this episode of Seinfeld.

The best introduction, the way I see it, is the one that is mediated by a third party. It's the third party that tells people their names (and no full names whatsoever!) and the others say "Pleased to meet you". The "Pleased to meet you" is also very interesting since it's an expression that can range from the hypocrite (do we really have pleasure in meeting them?) to the vaguely erotic (just take the expression literally). It also makes way for the best, most elegant expression to use in an introduction, "The pleasure is all mine". "The pleasure is all mine" makes an introduction perfect: it removes any traces of hypocrisy and pulls it to the side of the vaguely erotic, which is a valuable point. Believe what I tell you and try using "The pleasure is all mine" in an introduction: you'll see your interlocutor's eyes shine with satisfaction.

There are a number of little things that make my own introductions go wrong frequently. Sometimes I feel guilty when I realize, after the introduction, that the other person didn't get to know my name. Other times, I say my name in passing (most times between the first cheek kiss and the second), which ends up having the same effect.

And after all, the fact of knowing beforehand that I'm going to have a weird introduction enables me to mess things up even more. The most recent cases were with new co-workers: as a person used to see these people every day and just say good morning without kissing or handshaking anyone, what was I supposed to do when meeting a new colleague? Or, to complicate things a little bit, a new female colleague? Well, one of them, after being introduced to me by another person, stood up to give me two kisses, then changed to an handshake, and finally gave up when realizing that I had already started talking to her, bringing the introduction to an end even before it started. The second time I made the mistake of knowing her name before I met here, and when I saw her for the first time I just skipped the introduction, called her and talked to her normally, naturally, like if I knew her for months... It may seem arrogant or unwilling, but believe me, it's just plain clumsiness.

Finally some notes about the title of this post. Obviously the title is a little overstated. I don't consider myself a man that needs no introductions, just one that is not very good at doing them. Yet I still try to introduce myself to new people the best way I can. Hello, I'm... aaaa... I may cause a terrible first impression, but I promise it gets better with time.

(versão portuguesa)

18 August 2011


That's right, it's that time of the year. That time where the wool sweaters and the long sleeves disappear, to hibernate for another six months, and we get back the short sleeves, the skirts, the shorts and... the cleavages. Today's post was inspired by the portuguese Facebook group Adoro andar e ver um bom decote (I love to walk and see a good cleavage), where you'll be able to see some more opinions and considerations about that matter, but the biggest inspiration came from walking down the streets and realize that, indeed, they have come back. They came back, and they are surely a feast for our eyes, but as Jerry Seinfeld states in the above video, "Looking at cleavage is like looking at the sun: you don't stare at it, you get a sense of it and then you look away." Cleavages (as well as the reasons to wear them or to look at them) are a part of the most basic intuitive human nature, and they have always been a problem to those who hyperanalyze reality and tries to put it into words, like me. Either you get it immediately the first time, or you'll never get it. I tend to lean toward the latter, but I'm still gonna take a chance by answering two or three of the most common questions about this subject:

Question 1: Why do women wear cleavage revealing clothes, and yet scold the guys who are caught looking at them?
As you can imagine I'm not an expert on the matter, therefore I won't dwell too much in the answer. But my guess is that they know by nature that they have something that exerts this power over men and won't refrain from using it as they please. On the other hand, they must enjoy as hell to catch the other person red-handed and throw a typical "Hey, I'm up here!", hopelessly embarrassing him. But, then again, women are the ones that always say no when they mean yes, how am I supposed to know...

Question 2: Why are they always staring at their cleavages?
In a word: because they're ir-re-sis-ti-ble. And I don't mean irresistible in a romantic sense, but in the physical, literal sense of the word. To put simply, you just can't resist it. Here I have to resort to the most basic and primitive human instinct, it is something that cannot be understood nor justified. If there is a cleavage in the field of view of a man, he's gonna look at it. If he's talking face to face to a woman with a cleavage, then he's screwed, because he's gonna have a little irritating man in his head nagging him every 30 seconds and saying "look at the cleavage", "have you seen the cleavage?" "there's the cleavage, again", "did you forget the cleavage already?", taking out all the concentration on the subject at matter. No matter how many good intentions we had of trying to avoid looking at a cleavage, we couldn't have made it, because here's the thing: it's not really a question of "I have to stare at this cleavage, I cannot resist it", it's more a question of "huh? I'm looking at this cleavage? how did this happen?". To give you a point of comparison, just like you cannot avoid blinking from time to time because your brain tells your eyes to blink even without you knowing it, the male eyes are also attracted to cleavages without noticing, and only after a few seconds they realize what they were doing. Well, what they do after that is another thing, there are the ones who quickly look away, for safety, the ones who risk a little bit more to better assimilate the information, and those who keep "staring at the sun", risking severe retinal damage...

Question 3: Why is a cleavage seen on the street more interesting than a half-naked woman in the cover of a magazine?
This one deserves a more elaborate answer and may lead to different opinions. First of all, the facts: while cleavages are completely irresistible, as I mentioned above, naked women in magazine covers are not. It's just that, when you look at women in magazine covers, you have the feeling that they're all the same, that everything's already seen, that it's always the same stuff. When you look at cleavages, you also know that they're all the same, but you can't resist them anyway. Regarding the reasons for this, I have postulated two hypotheses: the first is the classic allure of 3D compared to 2D, or, putting things in another way, the fact that the cleavage we see is in 3 dimensions, it's real, it's near us, ultimately we could even touch it, opposed to a photo which is in 2D, virtual, not tangible. But the second hypothesis is certainly more interesting, and it is the fact that we are attracted by the possibility of being caught staring at the cleavage. Just like extramarital affairs and sex in public, the real excitement doesn't come from the act itself, but from the possibility of being caught in the act (even if, in practice, if that really happened they would be much more embarrassed than excited, and the thing wouldn't go very well). And obviously this is something you can't get by looking at a magazine.

For this reason, we find an interesting parallel between men and women, when it comes to cleavages: women rebuke men whenever they catch them staring, but deep, deep down, they like them to look. And men try to look as much as they can without being caught, but deep, deep down, they'd like them to notice. How something as simple as a cleavage can cause so many contradictions, is something that is outside my comprehension limits. Either you get it the first time, or you'll never be able to get it. There is no other solution other than appealing once more to the most basic and primitive natural human instinct, because that one couldn't care less why cleavages make this or provoke that, it simply tells us: "Bring them on!"

(versão portuguesa)

04 August 2011

Do we have to get to summer so that knives can cut through butter?

In the group of expressions that are particularly irritating is the expression "knives that cut through butter". Looks like a really smart thing to say, but deep down it's an expression completely devoid of personality, something that goes with everything but in reality doesn't explain much. Hearing the expression "knives that cut through butter" as an answer to a question doesn't leave me assured that my question was answered, on the contrary, it leaves me thinking of about a dozen other questions that I need to ask.

First of all, the very object of the expression is ambiguous. The expression may be used both to describe something that cuts easily ("this knife cuts the meat like if it were butter") and to describe something that doesn't cut well ("this knife only cuts butter"). So right there it raises the question: if the knives can cut butter easily, does that mean that they cut well or that they don't?

But that's not the main problem. The problem is where one assumes that every knife can cut butter. Or at least that it cuts it as easily as everyone says. Do you think that's true? I see you ashamed, refusing to admit it, but deep down each and every one of you know what I mean: Knives Can't Always Cut Through Butter! And everyone arrives to that brilliant conclusion when winter comes and it's freezing cold, or when someone forgets to take the butter out of the fridge. That is a hard and solid block, whose pieces that we cut are always bigger than the ones we wanted! If an alien came down to Earth and see this block of butter, it would find it hard to conclude that it was the easiest thing to cut with a knife.

Everyone knows this. But no one assumes this blunder, and people continue to say out there that it is easy to cut butter. The most conscious ones ended up inventing a series of euphemisms to keep the error from becoming so visible: "It's like a hot knife cutting through butter". "It's like a sharp knife cutting through butter." "It's like a knife cutting through soft butter". "This knife cuts butter in the summer". "This knife cuts butter in the tropics".

With so much additions and modifications, shouldn't we start to think that the problem is really with the butter? Can't you really get anything else easier to cut? Try cutting through pudding, or jello, or peeled banana, or flour, or bechamel sauce! Any of these things should be much easier to cut than butter. Believe me when I say that if someone told me that something "looked like a knife cutting through bechamel sauce", I'd be perfectly enlightened.

Have some common sense, and help me eradicate this urban myth from the history of mankind. And to give butter, which is not as weak as they say, its well-deserved respect.

(versão portuguesa)

03 August 2011

By the way...

My nickname is "J.". That is pronounced "J-dot". "Jota" is J in Portuguese, and djeidot would be the pronounce for "J-dot" written in Portuguese (if written in English it would be something like jaydot). I think that an English reader would pronounce djeidot the same way a Portuguese one, although I'm not certain of that. Maybe some day you can tell me.