Seven Deadly (Conversation) Sins

storm trooper see no evil

Did you listen to extremely entertaining and informative This American Life last weekend?  I heard most of it while I was driving around town running errands (and listening to them on headphones while in stores, etc) and then re-listened to the podcast this week while I was going to/from work.  The topic was boring conversation and the seven topics you should never talk about in a social setting.  Obviously, if you are asked a direct question, go for it, but if you are at a gathering of people, these seven topics should be avoided because, frankly, no one cares:

1. Your period
2. Diet
3. Your health
4. How you slept
5. Your dreams
6. Route talk
7. Money

As we are entering the holiday party season, it may be good to hit ‘refresh’ on your conversation skills.  It is long been understood that religion and politics are not good topics to bring up in social settings because it could cause discomfort and conflict in others, but these seven topics are really more about being boring and self-indulgent.  It is really more about not making the topic that you talk about you.  We have all experienced being in conversation one-up-off with someone who has a personal story that is just a little bit more intense than your story and they top your story with theirs.  It is boring and annoying and you leave the conversation thinking that the person is no one with whom you want to cultivate a friendship.  Don’t be that person.

1.  Your Period.  Why would you think that anyone wants to hear about that?  No one cares.

2.  Your Diet.  If you are on a weight loss plan or are a vegan or gluten intolerant, don’t go into detail.  No one cares.

3.  Your Health.  If you have a cold, it is bad form for your to even be attending a social event, let alone talking about your cold.  I would say that anything less than cancer no one cares.

4.  How You Slept.  This topic is pretty much a conversation stopper.  You slept well, you slept poorly, there is nowhere to go from there and no one cares.

5.  Your Dreams.  Talking in length about your dreams is a lot about showing people your extensive collection of vacation photos:  they weren’t there and they don’t care.

6.  Route Talk.  A retelling of your choice of streets and the traffic on those streets is not interesting to anyone.  No one cares.

7.  Money.  It is widely understood that talking about money is crude and vulgar.  Talking about how much money you make or how much your paid for things is self-indulgent and unless you are directly asked, no one cares.

Obviously, the height of good etiquette is not pointing out others shortcomings.  Basically, it is rude to tell people they are being rude.  This is a self-governing list to bring awareness to your own topics of conversation.  If you find yourself in a conversation that is not entertaining to you, it is well within your ability to change the topic to something mutually interesting.  If the person brings it back to a self-indulgent topic, take a mental note, and find a way to extract yourself from the conversation.

There are times when letting self-indulgent conversation topics occur are in your own best interest.  When you are first meeting someone and it is important that it goes well, cultivating a line of conversation that allows the person to talk about themselves is acceptable.  I recently read an article called 8 Conversation Hacks That Make People Like You and there were a few that really helped me fine tune my conversation skills with people I have just met and with whom I really want to make a good first impression:

  • Invite People to Share About Their Lives.  Most people enjoy talking about what they are knowledgeable about and everyone know a lot about themselves.  Ask questions that encourage a bit of bragging.
  • Wait for Your Turn to Talk.  Do not interrupt. I have found that if you are not finding a natural break in the conversation, the other person will eventually need to take a breath.
  • Request Advice.  Not even advice, just confirmation.  It could be as simple as requesting affirmation of what you have said.  But asking advice will make the other person feel that their opinion is of value.

But most importantly, you should listen to the episode because it is hilarious, follow the links below, grab the podcast or listen to it right here:

DropBox Clearing House – Train Musings

thinking quote

Sometimes, I put things in my dropbox and they stay there, never to see the light of day.  I need to dust them off and take another look at them.  This one is not that old, only from Thursday morning.

I have a little twinge in my back that is uncomfortable and annoying.  It makes everything difficult and exhausting. I can’t go to the gym and my walk to the train takes longer.  It happened Wednesday morning.

I was feeling old and sorry for myself on Thursday morning as I slowly hobbled to the train station.  I passed a women walking with a cane and a man on crutches having a difficult time with the curb.  On the train, I sat behind two people chatting and laughing, both holding red-tipped white canes.

Is it the universe our God trying to send me a message to get over myself?  Is it my subconscious getting my to stop focusing on the empty portion of the glass?  I’m not sure it really matters that much on who our what changed my perspective as long as it has been broadened.

Since the ‘accident’ happened at work, I was required to document it, and by that, I mean fill out a six page insurance accident report for which I only knew half of the information.  I completed it to the best of my knowledge, sent it to my boss and she submitted it to the people she thought needed it.  It is always a bit of a guessing game as to who/where to send inquiries, so we thought it best to cover our bases and send it to anyone we think that would need it.  Two people who did not need copies of the accident report, two higher-up manager-types, responded with short terse emails stating that they did not need a copy of it and inquiries as to why they were getting it.  My response:  “I will be fine, thank you for asking.”

Yes. Rain. Fcuk. – That Questionaire

In an early (ish) Saturday morning nod to Inside The Actor’s Studio, I will answer some questions.  The questionnaire concept was originated by French television personality Bernard Pivot, after the Proust Questionnaire.
1. What is your favorite word? Indeed.  Use it when agreeing with someone, it guarantees a double-take from the person.  It’s classy and underused. (Plus, I found this giraffe saying it, so it must be classy.)

2. What is your least favorite word? Can’t. There are very few things that we can’t do and I feel like it is a lazy person’s excuse for not trying and a scared person’s excuse to avoid possible failure.

3. What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally? Conversation. Exchange of ideas where one is not trying to convince the other that they are right or wrong is exceptionally energizing.  Expressing passion.  And being a bit crazy never hurt anyone.

4. What turns you off creatively, spiritually or emotionally? Ego. Nothing is more tiresome to me than arrogance and fear.

5. What sound or noise do you love? Rain. Rebirth, cleansing, nourishment.

6. What sound or noise do you hate? Garbage trucks or any large truck beeping as they reverse into your early morning slumber.

7. What is your favorite curse word? Fuck. Not original, but popular for all the right reasons.  Add it to your favorite sentence, not a lot, just enough. It is the cilantro of words.  (I would love it if I could just get myself to start using “Horse Shit” at times of exclamation, but it just hasn’t caught on in my brain.)

8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Doctors Without Borders. Using knowledge to improve the human experience is the greatest act of selflessness in my opinion.

9. What profession would you not like to do?  The universally and rightly so hated Corporate Attorney. Protecting a business against people rapes your soul.

10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? “Wow, damn fine run. Wanna go again?  Oh, and ya, that guy isn’t my son, I am not sure where they got that idea.”

Why I am an Atheist

In 1903, Kentucky-based newspaper “Blue-grass Blade” asked its readers to write in and contribute to a forthcoming feature named, “Why I am An Atheist.” Hundreds of letters soon arrived and many were subsequently reprinted in the paper; over a century later, in 2011, they were compiled to form the book, Letters from an Atheist Nation.

Below is just one of the letters. It was written by Minnie Parrish, a 23-year-old divorced mother of four who later went on to become the first female doctor to practice in North Texas.

Why am I an Atheist


Because it has dawned upon me that it is right to be so, and upon investigation I find no real evidence of the divine origin of the scriptures. And because I cannot, as a refined and respectable woman, take to my bosom as a daily guide a book of such low morals and degrading influences. Written by a lot of priests, I cannot accept a salvation that is based wholly upon the dreams of an ancient and superstitious people, with no proof save blind faith.


Everything that so many people think transpires from the supernatural, and many things that would really perplex the average mind, have a natural and material foundation in the workings of the human mind; that is, things that are not connected with our solar system.


It is ignorance of the scientific working of their own natures and mind that keep so much “mystery” in the air; and as long as there is a mystery afloat the people will ascribe it to the supernatural.


I am an Atheist because I know the Bible will not do to depend upon. I have tried it, and found it wanting.


In fact, I found in the scriptures the origin of woman’s slayer, and that it was one of God‘s main points to oppress women and keep them in the realms of ignorance.


I am in the ranks of Liberalism because of its elevating principles, its broad road to freedom of thought, speech, and investigation.


23 years old
Leonard, Texas

Letters of Note: Why I am an Atheist.

40 Things To Say Before You Die – Self Help

Before you’re sprawled on your deathbed, there are some things you really have to say. They’re not complicated. They’re not poetry.

They’re just short sentences with big meaning.

I hope they get you talking.

“I wonder.”

Give yourself time to think so the time you spend doing things will be better spent.

“Today was good.”

If you can say it once, you can say it again. And again. And again.

“I believe in this.”

A god, a plan, a company, a person, an idea—you have to put your faith in something.

“I’m not finished.”

Only you get to decide when your life’s work is done.

“Thank you for making this possible.”

Because nobody does anything alone. We’re driven and supported and thwarted by others at every turn.

“That’s enough.”

Food. Drink. Episodes of Law & Order. Pairs of shoes. Overtime. Articulating your own limits is powerful.

“I can do better.”

As soon as you say it, you’re that much closer to making it true.

“I’m sorry.”

But you can’t just say it; you have to mean it. Really mean it.

“I survived.”

Moments of danger are the plot points of an exciting life.

“You’re amazing.”

Let yourself be in awe of another person, and you’ll feel strong and weak simultaneously.

“I am home.”

Home is every adventure’s final destination and starting point—and we all need one to call our own.

“I did my best.”

If this is true, you did something amazing.

“How can I help you?”

Because you want people to come to your funeral, and if they can’t make it, at least they’ll miss you.

“I’m lucky.”

You are lucky, in a way that no one else is. Now, what are you going to do with your good fortune?

“I want that.”

Ask for it: that’s you get what you covet—from others and for yourself.

“This is wrong.”

If you never say it, you embody the statement.

“I quit.”

Not everything is worthwhile, and sometimes we don’t find that out until we’re in the middle of a rotten situation.

“Isn’t this beautiful?”

The more often you notice the gorgeous world around you, the happier you’ll be.


Say this without jealously. Practice if you have to.

“Damn, I look good.”

You come from a long line of people who convinced others to sleep with them. Remember that.

“I can master this.”

The ability to learn is the foundation of every other talent.

“Hold the mayo.”

Ask for the little things on a regular basis and you’ll find that it’s easier to make larger demands on occasion.

“This is who I am.”

The nervous energy spent pretending to be something you’re not is better spent on practically anything else.

“Get out.”

It’s always harder to take back an invitation than to give one, but protecting yourself from personified trouble is always worth the effort.

“That was my contribution.”

Own what you’ve worked to create—that’s how your presence will be felt long after you’re gone.

“I’ll try it.”

Consider the impotence of never saying you’ll try.

“Tell me more.”

Really getting to know someone (or some topic) will help you better triangulate your own place in the world.

13“This is my favorite thing.”

Enjoy what you love and say this as often as you can.

“I earned this.”

There’s a layer of proud ownership over everything you possess that wasn’t merely given to you.

“I don’t care.”

Being able to discern between what’s important and what’s trivial is a skill that will save your sanity and your schedule.

“Your secret is safe with me.”

Because it feels deep-down good to be trustworthy.


Being the first to know something is a delicious sensation.

“Let’s go!”

Where you’re going often matters far less than the enthusiasm you have for the trip.

“I trust you.”

We all need allies, and admitting as much helps forge alliances.

“I don’t know how to do this.”

It’s better to admit it and learn than to fake it and embarrass yourself.

“I’m terrified.”

Fear is an asset. It can save you from danger and alert you to trouble. Don’t ignore the tingles that run up and down your spine.

“This is going to work.”

When this is said truthfully, it’s an assertion of power.

“I made a decision.”

Autonomy transforms any activity from a chore to an act of destiny.

“I love you.”

We all want to say this, and we all want it said to us.

“I understand.”

More important than being right, or being important, is being truly aware.

Pray on, Praya

hrc logo

When Polling Turns Against You, Voters Reject You, and the Parties Abandon You, There’s Only One Thing You Can Do to Ban Gay Marriage

Posted by on Mon, Mar 25, 2013 at 11:07 AM


You can pray for the Supreme Court to strike down gay marriage. You can pray the justices will fear the wrath of a vengeful god. You can pray your bigoted little heart out. So that’s what Traditional Values Coalition president Andrea Lafferty, who has spent every other option, begs you to do in a letter:

In Washington this Tuesday, the Supreme Court of the United States will hear a landmark case that could redefine and ultmately abolish marriage as we know it. So I am asking you for one “donation” as we gear up to protect marriage here in Washington.


I know that’s not a normal request. This isn’t a normal time. As you know, the Supreme Court of the United States isn’t a legislative body. No amount of lobbying, no amount of protesting short of millions is going to sway the Justices of the court other than sound argument and conscience—and the impact of prayer. … They need our prayers. Your prayers.

Over the weekend and thru next week, take a moment to lift up this nation and our Supreme Court in prayer. Pray that God will allow them to be open to His word. Pray for wisdom. Pray for fear of the Lord. Pray for the millions who will be impacted by the decision of the Supreme Court. Pray for healing across America. Pray for a restoration of all things to Christ.

Pray for TVC and our mission. Pray to protect marriage.

The letter doesn’t end with a prayer, of course. It ends with a “donate here” button. And weirdly, their donation website isn’t collecting prayers.

You look absolutely terrific, honestly.

Happy New Year!

edie close up

I just found this photo when I was creating the “New Years With The Beales” entry and seriously fell in LOVE with it.  Edith Bouvier Beale died over 10 years ago and is most known for a 40 year old documentary about her life with her mother and people are still inspired.  That is a S-T-A-U-N-C-H CHARACTER!  Do your best to become a S-T-A-U-N-C-H CHARACTER in 2013!


Little Edie Blythe Doll
This is a special Blythe doll designed by Gina Garan and Christina/Oriettacat.  Gina is a successful photographer and operates a website devoted to the Blythe phenomenon and her husband, Asa, was a cast member of the GG Broadway musical.  Sounds like the best of both worlds!  For more information visit

And If you feel like it, watch the whole movie: