Thursday, May 27, 2010


The most difficult and the most rewarding thing in an argument between friends can be a sincere apology. Unfortunately, there is a fundamental difference in how men and women use and respond to the language of apology.

Typically men view an apology as an admission of fault or guilt where women use it as a way to reconnect after a disagreement. This essay is dedicated to helping men understand what an apology is to a woman and how to construct an appropriate one.

Guys, you can't tell a woman what to feel. Her emotions are real or you wouldn't be trying to change them. They're important or it wouldn't matter if she is upset or happy. Save yourself from making her angrier when you try to convince her that her emotions are unmerited or irrational. This is what we call "adding insult to injury". I'm pretty sure it would confuse and upset you if someone said that your ears (which for the record are also real and important) were clouding your judgment and that you should ignore them. Emotions can be a helpful guide in decision making, not unlike your ears.

Now on to crafting that apology. A successful apology has 3 major parts and I'll address each separately.

1. Admit your transgression. There's nothing wrong with a good old, "I was wrong." This owns the act. Saying, "I'm sorry we disagree" or "I'm sorry you think I was wrong" is insulting. You're not taking responsibility for your actions and you're denigrating her stance on the issue. You care about this lady or you wouldn't be trying to fix things. Subsequently, her point of view should matter to you and you'll win points by making that clear to her.

2. Acknowledge her feelings. Now that you've addressed the act, you need to take responsibility for the consequences. "I hurt your feelings," should be your basic model. This shows that you understand her emotional state as a logical consequence of your actions. Saying "you're feeling hurt," is a big no-no. You're disconnecting your actions from her emotions. You need to connect the two so that you can reconnect as friends.

3. Express regret. You've owned your actions and the consequences and now you've got to be sure she understands why you're apologizing. Presumably you're apologizing because you care about her. This is the part we typically associate with an apology and it goes like this, "I'm sorry."

So let's string that all together. "I was wrong, I hurt your feelings, and I'm sorry." This is really a basic model and I encourage you to explore possible permutations for a more sincere and relevant apology. For example, "I'm sorry I ran over your cat with my car. I know you loved that cat and I'm sorry I killed your beloved pet. I know I made it worse when I tried to blame the cat for sleeping under the car. That was wrong. I could have checked. I knew the cat liked to sleep there."

There's another part to reconnecting with your lady-friend that isn't totally necessary but will help her feel understood and help the two of you to get back on the same page by inviting her to participate in your future together. This has two parts, are you ready?

A. Offer a solution. This can be as simple as saying, "I will never do that again." but this isn't always realistic. If you're a repeat offender you lose credibility and insult her intelligence for a reasonable expectation of future behavior based on past experience. You might gain points in saying, "This is a personal flaw and I'm working on it." For example, "I'm sorry I keep throwing my clothes on the floor. I know it irritates you and I'm trying to be neater." It should go without saying but you do have to make good on any agreement you reach. For example, "I won't get upset if you leave my dirty clothes on the floor instead of washing them." An alternative is to ask her if there's anything you can do to make it up to her. This is a great way to bring her back into the situation and empower her to contribute to the relationship. Obviously you have to make good on any commitment you make in a timely manner or we're back to step one.

B. Ask her to forgive you. This might seem like a no-brainer but it's often left out of making amends after disagreement. Absolution isn't unilateral and requires a meeting of the minds. This is the part that drives home the idea that her happiness is important to you and that you want to be in her good graces. The basic model is "please forgive me." Depending on the severity you might add, "I understand if you can't forgive me," to avoid seeming presumptuous.

A crucial part of these steps to working things out with a girl is sincerity. If you don't really mean it or you don't know why she's upset you've got two problems: a pissed lady-friend and an incomplete understanding of the situation. Take some time to put yourself in her shoes. You won't lose face by asking to explain her perspective. This indicates you want to understand her and will help convince her of your sincerity.

Guys, I know there are a dearth of blogs and articles just like this one on the internet and I have to commend you just for taking the time to look. Whether it's your daughter, wife, sister, girlfriend, mom, boss, or a friend; your relationship with these women will benefit from understanding what an apology means to her and that she will respect you for owning your actions and taking responsibility for the consequences.

Happy relationship advice day and good luck!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


I sat half asleep with my breakfast and coffee watching our local morning show. The hostess interviews the proprietor of a "catch your cheating partner" service.

After pleasantries and background, she asks an incisive question, "What got you into this line of work? Are you just jilted and bitter?" She's got my attention. I don't see a lot of reporters putting pressure on their subjects. He says that as a former police officer he possesses the skill set. He adds that the chase is thrilling to him.

Her next statement also gets my attention but for a very different reason. "This sort of thing ruins lives." He glosses over the question with some hand waving about how STDs can have a negative impact on an unwitting spouse.

Still, did she really just assert that revealing people's shortcomings ruins lives!? I'm pretty sure it's the character flaws that ruin lives and not the act of shedding light on them.

If someone calls the owner of a "catch your partner cheating" operation, the damage is already done. Whether the partner is cheating or not, the fact that the caller doesn't trust their partner enough to confront them directly and/or they seek to humiliate them publicly is the kiss of death for the relationship. If the partner is cheating (and I'd like to make clear that cheating is an additional relationship carried out in secret despite assurances of monogamy and doesn't apply to an 'open' relationship) the relationship won't survive.

In other words, don't shoot the messenger.

Monday, May 10, 2010


I sent this email to my department after finding a mislaid flash drive last week.

-----Original Message-----
From: Ellen, Watts
Sent: Thursday, May 06, 2010 4:53 PM
To: BioChem/Molbio
Subject: Flash Drive

I found a Flash/USB memory stick in the Storm Scanner on the 2nd floor. I'm sure someone is missing it/their data. It's safe; you just have to show up and claim it.

-----End Message-----

Moments after the mail went out, my boss walks into the lab and asks me and coworker if either of us is missing a flash drive.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Skin Color

Left to right: plantains, purple bananas, bananitos or apple bananas, and Cavendish bananas.

I don't like black skinned bananas. I also don't like when they have black spots. I don't really like bright yellow skinned bananas either. I prefer my Cavendish bananas a little green. I especially like the little purple bananas that are common to South Florida except that they take forever to ripen. I like the little yellow apple bananas too but not the huge green plantains. They're only good for frying.

I just think that black skinned bananas are too sweet and they're usually brown and mooshy on the inside and I find that unpalatable. I also think they're lazy. They just lie around in my kitchen all day. I never see them do anything at the supermarket either.

I discriminate against bananas. You can call me a horrible person: that's fine. It's certainly true. I will defend myself by saying that even though I won't buy black or spotty bananas, when bananas I've purchased reach that stage I'll check to see if they're overripe before discarding them. See? I give some bananas a chance.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Pants

Over breakfast, a friend tells me about a date she'd been on the night before.

My friend drives to South Beach and meet a guy on Lincoln by the sushi restaurant he's selected. He's nice enough and tells my friend about his work at National Geographic magazine as a staff photographer. After the first bottle of Saki he begins to slur his words. He seems overly interested in going back to his place. He baits the hook with a hot tub. He recommends she go au naturale when she protests that she is sans appropriate swimwear.

She suggests they stop at a bar on South point for a few more drinks before wrapping up their date. The bar she takes him to is my place of employment. We've known eachother for years. We used to tend bar together at the country club when I first moved to Miami. My girlfriend gives me 'the sign'. Her companion orders two shots of vodka. I nod and within seconds I place the two shot glasses on the counter. She takes one and welcomes the sensation of ice water in her mouth, knowing that he's enjoying an equal volume of cheap vodka. He slides his credit card across the bar and she turns to me and winks with a sly smile. They consume four more shots in such a fashion.

He's so drunk that he can barely speak. He gurgles something about his place and a hot tub. She tells him that while they're right on the beach that they should go for a swim in the ocean. He makes noises of protest. She assures him that since the moon is full that it will be great, very romantic, erotic even.

They arrive at the beach after a short walk. He begins to disrobe and turns to her. She stands in awe as he inquires why she isn't stripping. She asks him if he would test the water to see if it's cold. He assures her that she can stick my feet in to test it. She tells him that sometimes water is warm on top and cold underneath. In his one valiant gesture since assuming that her body is included with purchase of one dinner, he bounds off into the ocean. She grabs his pants and inserts the contents of his pockets into his sneakers. She proceeds to her car and abandons him sans pants on the beach, several blocks from his hot tub.

He calls the next day and much to her surprise he asks her on another date. Suspicious, she apologizes and tells him that she is happy to return his pants. He insists that he's genuinely intrigued; he's never met a girl like her before.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Future Veterinarian

I sat next to a little kid once on the plane. I presented him with this drawing of a dog. He made a few modifications of his own.

He proudly proclaimed, "I like poop... and doodoo."