Book Report: Snoop

Yesterday, my office-mate told a story about the struggle with stuff. Her house had a lot of clutter. She was sick of it. So she cleared stuff up. She got stuff organized. She gave stuff away. She discarded stuff. There was that moment of triumph when she realized she could see the floor. A while later, she went up to her son's room. There were boxes in there, boxes full of stuff. Apparently, her task was more Sisyphean than she had realized.

Where had all of these boxes come from? Her ex-husband had heard that she'd cleared some space in her house--so he'd sent over some stuff from his house to store. I immediately thought about my teeny-tiny apartment, which is bursting at the seams with stuff. People look at me funny when I say I don't have room for a TV in my apartment, like I'm saying something philisophical about TV or judgemental about mass media or... whatever. These people have not seen my apartment. People who have seen my apartment just nod in agreement. I have too much stuff for my apartment. So when I heard my office-mate's story, I thought it would be great to have an ex-wife. I could box up all of my useless crap and send it to her. That would be awesome. (Though, on later reflection, I figured out that the process of acquiring an ex-wife is even more painful than dealing with a storage company, so never mind that idea.)

Anyhow, people have a bunch of physical possessions. Physical possessions are a hassle, so probably we can learn something about ourselves by looking at which physical possessions we think are worth hanging onto. That's the basis of Snoop. It's about personality, what your stuff says about your personality, and your stuff doesn't say about your personality but people will draw conclusions so watch yourself. It's not just about physical possessions--it's also about how you carry yourself, how you interact with people.

This book is about figuring out someone's personality by looking at their stuff and outward appearance. What can you figure out about someone by browsing their bookshelf? By watching them walk? By looking at their Facebook page? (And what can you figure out by looking at their homepage (other than that they were narcissicistic enough to set up a home page in the first place)?) What can you find out by rooting through their trash?

You probably already have some good ideas what you can figure out--and some misconceptions. This book is about some psychologists who studied correlations between personalities and stuff.

They like the Big Five (a.k.a. "OCEAN") measure of personality--instead of clustering folks into types, it attempts to measure five aspects of personality. (I'm a O5-C74-E12-A32-N9 Big Five!!, at least according to one on-line personality quiz.)

Don't try to draw too many conclusions from one object; look for the big picture. If you see that someone has some organizational aid, don't assume that they're organized--check to see that they're using it correctly. Sometimes someone will set out one item that they hope will be noticed; that item might reflect their personality or it might not. Sometimes someone will have some item that catches your eye because it seems like a clue to their personality--but it's an outlier; maybe a gift, maybe something they picked up for someone else; maybe something that's just plain unusual for them.

When trying to judge someone's personality based upon their bearing, how they present themselves: You probably can't figure out Open-ness, though people try based on refined appearance, friendly expression, and calm speaking. If you want to know if someone is conscientious, see if they dress formally; don't look for plain dress, nor a controlled sitting posture, nor calm speech. You can figure out if someone's extraverted based on how they carry themselves. To know if someone's agreeable, see if they have a friendly expression, but don't rely on lots of smiling. You probably can't judge someone's neuroticism based on features you might think would work: grumpy expression, stiff gait, unpleasant voice; you can get a hint that they're neurotic if they wear dark clothes.

When trying to judge someone's personality based upon their living space. For open-ness, look for some unusual objects, look for a variety of reading material. To know if they're conscientious, look for organization, neatness, and comfort. (You might not have thought to look for comfort.) Don't try to figure out extraversion or agreeableness. When judging neuroticism, ignore stale air, but do look out for inspirational posters.

To guess someone's open-ness, look at their web presence, their office, the variety of their music tastes. To guess someone's conscientiousness, look at their website vs their Facebook profile--Facebook guides you away from a cluttered look; look at living space or how they carry themselves in a short meeting. For extraversion, check the Facebook profile or (duh) watch to see how they interact with people. For agreeableness--maybe you're not going to get a strong indicator. For neuroticism, look at living space, personal web site, or how they interact socially.

Labels: ,

Book Report: Botany of Desire

This book by Michael Polan was fun. It's about four domesticated plants, talking about how some plants survive not by being tenacious but rather delicious. Or maybe beautiful or nutritious or intoxicating. Something that encourages humans to cultivate the species. I enjoyed reading the book, but I didn't retain much. I wish I hadn't retained quite so much as I did, actually. At work, conversation turned to, as it sometimes does, the facilities necessary for a major marijuana "grow operation". (So difficult to distinguish from a computer data center--a large inside area, sealed environment, huge power consumption...) Thanks to this book, I was able to point out that you don't necessarily want to run the grow lights 24 hours a day--after a certain point in the growth cycle, you only want to run the lights just 12 hours a day. After I said that, everyone looked at me strangely, as if they were trying to figure out whether I had some home gardening hobby that I hadn't let on about. (I don't!)

Labels: , ,

Book Report: Garbage Land

Yesterday was all errands, errands, errands. Except that one of those errands was "Return Garbage Land to the library." and since that library was in Berkeley, I made a couple of fun side trips.

I went to the Tauba Auerbach art show at the Jack Hanley gallery, featuring art based on anagrams, a game of telephone, overlapping letters, letters and digits ordered by frequency... a code-lover's feast. There were two piece of art next to each other--one a phonetic alphabet ("alpha bravo charlie") that I knew, but next to it one that I didn't ("allah born cee divine equality"). When I got back home and did some internet research, I found out that this second alphabet wasn't actually used as a phonetic alphabet. It was the Supreme Alphabet, a sort of mnemonic used by an offshoot of the Nation of Islam. Probably my favorite pieces were those that had overlapping letters, but those didn't inspire any research. Mostly, they made me want to have some free time try copycatting that work using some other fonts.

In Berkeley, I stopped off at a sort of artificial grotto by Moffitt library. There I noticed a couple of green plastic champagne glasses concealed in a pile of leaves. I dusted them off and put them into my backpack. Better late than never, I guess.

Yes, I picked up some trash. Maybe that's a good segue for finally getting around to talking about the subject of this book report: Garbage Land.

In this book, Elizabeth Royte follows her garbage around. She visits landfills, tipping stations, a garbage-choked creek, recycling stations, sewage treatment plants. She rides in a garbage truck, canoes past a landfill, visits Berkeley's Urban Ore. She worries about compost and considers whether consumer recycling is worthwhile. This book is pretty interesting and I recommend it.

Labels: , ,

Book Report: Charles Sheeler: Across Media

I am still catching up on email from the last couple of weeks. Going on business trip = distracting. Good thing I had this book report written up ahead of time. Ahem, Charles Sheeler: Across Media.

It's a coffee table art book featuring the art of Charles Sheeler. I made the mistake of trying to read some of the text. Art scholars have a tough job. If an artist becomes known for a certain style and you're supposed to come up with something original to say about each of these hundreds of similar paintings... Is it any wonder that so much writing about art is full of it-means-what-you-want-it-to-mean jargon and dwelling on clumsy verbal description of minutiae?

But if Sheeler distanced himself from the Whistlerian painterly touch of the pictorialists, he did not abandon the basic tenets of aestheticism expounded by Whistler, instead enlisting the camera in his own search for a timeless, abstract beauty.

Pages of the stuff, the work of a tortured soul who has slipped on a pair of red shoes and finds himself forced to dance about architecture until collapse.

But the art is good. It's kind of like what you find if you search the internet for [Charles Sheeler], but the book is higher resolution. I recommend it.

Labels: , ,

Site Update: Contact Info

The next time you visit the site's contact info page, you might notice that I got a mobile phone. You're not the only one who noticed. Ron figured it out right away: "Ha! You got it so that you can use Google on those puzzle hunts!" Yes, yes I did. And I don't even consider mine to be hard-core behavior.

If I'd got a Braille phone, that would have been hard-core.

Labels: , ,

Book Report: Ready Made #16

I read an issue of Ready Made, a magazine for crafty re-users and recyclers. I am not sure what I think about it. It is witty and amusing. It was inspiring to read instructions for making furniture from leftover pallets and planters from just about anything.

On the other hand, I have plenty of furniture, and more planters than I need.

In the end, I felt like I'd fallen for a lifestyle-porn magazine. While I was reading, I fantasized about living in my green loft which I was filling with dream furniture. But when I looked up from the magazine, I was still in my cramped studio apartment.

I ruined my raincoat recently, planting trees in Oregon. Maybe someday soon Ready Made will have an article telling how to make a raincoat out of, say, plastic produce bags and surplus beeswax. That would be awesome. But I don't know that I'll keep reading their magazine in the faint hope of such an article.

Meanwhile, I could make a poncho out of a plastic garbage bag, if only I had a plastic garbage bag. But I don't. Good thing it's not raining today.

Tags:  |  |  |

Labels: , ,

[Powered by Blogger | Feed | Feeds I Like ]

home |