Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Barberic ordeals

Its that dreadful time of the month again. An hour to be wasted in worsening my appearance. A good day and two's abuse to be had for how funny I look. An extra bath to be taken, albeit without a closure, without that feeling of complete cleanliness. An hour's emptiness to bear, looking at other people dreadfully look at themselves in mirrors, and sifting through women's magazines. Oh, its time for a haircut again.

Well hair has never really been my best physical asset. I seemed to have been born with a good wave of it, but somehow over the years it transformed itself into this mad rush of, well, rushes. I was very deservedly called the porcupine- my hair resembling an army of hapless warriors in retreat, some of them attempting to run away, some brave enough to fight, and some others wondering what the fuss was all about. All they needed was an able leader, an insightful hairdresser. And thus became the quest of my life.

Now hairdressers in India are a funny lot. If you judged their haircutting ability by their own coiffeurs, you would never step into any of those salons and volunteer yourself for a hairdo. Unfortunately as a middle-class kid I didn't really have much choice, so I just used to pray, take a deep breath and keep my fingers crossed, hoping that the next free hairdresser would cut me a good deal. It came to the point that on the rare occasions that I found my haircut satisfactory, I politely asked the hairdresser's name, hoping that Id make him my regular- but no luck there too, I always forgot their names, and there never seemed to be around the next time I mustered my courage for a trip. Moving to London only worsened matters- I dabbled with the 4-pound Mr.Topper's for a while, and thats exactly how they treated my hair too- start to finish in 15 minutes! Grudgingly I've moved to Supercuts.

But my dreams have always remained unfulfilled. Month after month, it is the same story- sometimes they cut it so short that my medical-school-attending sister used my skull as a prop for a bone-identifying quiz with her friends, some other times they cut it so uneven that I have had to blame it on the paper-shredder at work. Of course, partly, I am to blame- I have lesser of a clue of what to do with my hair than they did. I still awe at those hairdressees who sit confidently on the high hairdresser's chair as if it were a director's and rattle off orders (I can imagine them shouting "Cut!")- I always preferred to utilize the time to catch up on my afternoon nap. Perhaps was a result of the realization that the result of that ordeal was going to give me some sleepless nights in the days to come.

Which in itself is ironic, since sleep is when our body hair grows the most. So, in the wake of the mishap, I get up from bed every morning, casting a glance at the mirror, hoping to catch the extra hair grown on my scalp. And so it goes, the life cycle of a haircut, the relief at it finally having grown to a respectable level, the week of basking in that joy, and the swift transition that occurs between then to the moment at work when your boss mentions, "Mate, I think you need a haircut". Hair we go again :)

The memoirs of a hopeless romantic

Soon it will be time for the last page of the 2007 calendar to present itself. And soon it will be time for the year-end India trip, the highlights of which, among other things, will be the annual writedowns of my Love life Ltd accounts. They happen as part of a very friendly, social setting called the wedding. Weddings of close female friends, who would have been my love interest at some point of my spectacular love life. Its really becoming a disturbing pattern of late.

There is absolutely nothing more disheartening for a nice guy than a unrequited love's wedding invitation. Why do they have to rub it in? It goes something like this:

Unrequited love: "Suuuummeeeeeeet!!!!! I'm so happy"
Sensible brain: "You sound like you are very much in love and are about to get married to that jerk who was worse than me in every sense. So you are off my development list. No more resources granted. I've gotta rush! Can I talk to you later?"
Nice-guy mouth: "Heyy!! tell me about it!"

Unrequited love: "Im getting married to Un-nice-guy!!!!! I'm so happy!!! I met his parents last week and it was all finalized!"
Sensible brain: "why not me?" "Why not me?"
Nice-guy mouth: "Awesome! I'm so happy for you! When is the D-day?!!?"

Boring monologue follows, and then she proudly proceeds to reveal the most disturbing statistic:

Unrequited love: "You know Sumit, you are the first friend to know!"
Nice-guy mouth: "I'm so honoured! Thanks!"
Sensible brain: "Boo hoo. %&#&*^. That's the most useless thing in the world. Its like telling a cancer patient that he's going to die, and then telling him "You are the first one to know!". No, babe. I'd rather not know. Ever heard of ignorance being bliss?"

Unrequited love: "I soooooo want you to be there! Please please don't ditch me! Listen, I'm not going to marry unless you are attending!"
Sensible brain: "I'd love to attend, darling, but only as the groom. Since you have already chosen someone for that position, I really dont see the point of wasting my time, money and emotional energy by attending your wedding. And seriously, you promise me you won't marry if I don't attend??? Sounds like a plan!"
Nice-guy mouth: "How can I not attend? Ill be there for sure, to witness you in your special moment!"

The phone line's long gone dead, but I'm still absent-mindedly holding the receiver, as if it were transmitting my thoughts back to school when the heart was more hopeful but the record equally abysmal. The annual losses then were revealed mid-year, at another festive occasion called Raksha Bandhan. I hated it every bit- as if the remembrance of having real sisters wasn't painful enough, the fashion among girls of making "muh-bole" brothers made it even more depressing. For some reason I was prime muh-bole material- every girl I liked would reveal her feelings to me in the form of a dirty string to be worn around my wrist, and parried around for the day for everyone to mock me! My mental angst soon had a physical form- I strangely started falling ill every Raksha Bandhan day. Doctors could never find the problem, but I had found the ultimate solution!

So its UL-wedding day. And as I stand there in the wedding hall, devouring yet another generous helping of the mutter paneer (food does work as a good anti-depressant), another machiavellian pattern presents itself to me. Every girl that I pine for, have a crush on, or am romantically involved with, somehow ends up getting married within a year. Of course to someone else. It was most disturbingly proved last year- she wasn't even thinking of marriage when I first met her. "Oh no, I'm really not looking to settle down soon.", I swear she told me. And 12 months later she had married someone she had known for 6 months!

So I'm really thinking of starting a matrimonial witch-craft agency, targetted at desperate parents of nubile women. Your daughter doesn't want to marry? Commitment phobia? Too career-oriented? Cant find the right man? Arrange a meeting with the renowned marriage sorcerer, Sumit Mehta aka Nice Guy! Aka the "hopeless" romantic :)

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Why We-blog

"Why do you blog?": This isn't the first time I've been asked this very simple question. Back in 2005, when I was excitedly announcing to everyone that I was about to start MY OWN blog, a friend of mine did wonder the same. She argued that all the benefits of a blog could be achieved by having one's own personal diary, then why exhibit one's personal life to the scrutiny of a voyeuristic surfer-by? I don't think my answer was very convincing then, because I was just doing something that seemed right to me. The basic elements seemed to be in place- I could write, I was happy to write, and I had things to write about. What else did one need!

Two years, 30 posts and a revival of a almost-dead blogging career later though, I think I have a fair idea why. A hectic social life and the coincidental timing of me relocating to a new country have left me with very little time to blog- but somehow I keep wanting to go back to it.

It's primarily because I always have a lot to say. I'm somewhat opinionated (though I like to keep an open mind!), I feel strongly about certain things and I'm curious about almost everything. And I love sharing with everyone those small incidents that are probably just worth a chuckle. Though my closest friends often wiggle their way out of having to listen to my funny anecdotes, I never give up: I always find opportunities to insert them into casual conversations. Blogging is another method I employ to expand my victim circle.

But most importantly, for a person like me, the very public nature of blogging is something very essential to bringing out the best in my writing. I have written diaries in the past- a year later I would read them and find them so boring, because they were an exact replica of my usual thoughts- verbose and haphazard. Only when I blog is when I sit down and order them, construct meaning out of them and present them concisely (ok, relatively speaking!). The fear of writing a bad post and getting negative feedback on it always plays on the blogger's mind- and she/ he responds to it by being one's own critic, proofreader and editor. And that's where one transcends writing to a higher level.

This may sound strange, but after you become a regular blogger, the one-way traffic lane between your mind and the blog transforms into a duplex exchange. For initially, you write everything that you think, but then you soon exhaust all of them. When the mind then starts hunting for different topics to blog, and finds something interesting (like this post!), it becomes attuned to thinking more towards it and completing the thought's incomplete silhouette. Thus blogging helps me think more, think better, and think focussed. (That could be used as a tagline by Blogger!)

And of course, it helps me reach out to people in an efficient way. Feels good to see comments from friends I haven't met in years, and to meet new interesting people. What's been fabulous is a few complete strangers who emailed me complaining about me being so lazy with my writing- that has really spurred me on. To know that people connect with/ mull over almost every thought you put out is a massive sense of achievement. As Sudha points out, its just another medium for a people-hungry extrovert to expand his social associations! :)

Friday, August 31, 2007

Test (on) Tube, baby...

Right, so I decided to venture my blog into the maze of cryptic crosswords. Ill confess, I've been a fan of this geeky business since I was a kid. All courtesy my Dad, who spent his mornings multi-tasking between ignoring my mother's fervent pleas to start exercising his body and joyously exercising his mind. Sometimes, the crosswords were beyond his reach, so he started employing my help in finding words or just in finishing off the left-overs. Google hadn't woken up, so we used big fat Oxford dictionaries. It ashames me to admit that I've spent hours combing through them, looking up all words that were 5 letters long, with the 2nd and 4th letters being R and Y! (One such word is CRAZY)

So it wasn't long before I had caught the craze, and soon me and my Dad were fighting over first right to solve the crossword. That gave my mother some more headache: soon she was multi-tasking too, between yelling at my Dad to exercise, and exhorting me to go out and play. Every extra moment of sleep was critical: if you weren't awake to jump on the scared paperboy when he came into deliver the paper, you had lost the match there itself- 50% of the crossword would be solved by the time you could put a hand to it. Soon it became very competitive, and after a few cases of domestic violence over the newspaper, it was amicably agreed to buy 2 newspapers. The scared, bewildered paperboy just couldn't fathom what was the matter with this nutty news-hungry family who loved the paper so much that they weren't satisfied with one- he soon changed his delivery area, citing personal problems.

So, back to this one. I've tried to make this one fairly easy, so as to not scare away people who havent got much practice in cryptics. Cryptics are very enjoyable because on first look, they look so tough and yet when one finds the answer, it always seems that it was right there staring at you. Solving these requires a fair bit of lateral thinking: you have to force your mind to abandon its usual flow of logic, nay, interrupt it at certain points and then reconstruct it all together at the end. That's what makes them so much fun. I don't understand what all the fuss about Sudoku is- working numbers into a grid is just so boring! Cryptic crosswords combine language skills with logic and lateral thinking all into one neat little 15X15 grid that can massage your brain better than anything else.

And if you are one of those who want to get started on cryptics, but dont know what to google, there's something for you too! I like some webpages that give a fairly easygoing and comprehensive introduction: try this and that. You might want to read these before you try the one above.

Finally, some notes before you start solving: This is a themed cryptic, and the theme is London Underground (mostly zone 1) stations. Which explains the total lack of symmetry- I've not added any words outside the theme to make it look better. If you are not acquainted with London, heres your cheat sheet. Clues are a mix of cryptic and simple ones, mostly the former. In some cases where the words are multiple (like Willesden Green), clues may refer to the entire word formation (e.g Will+esd+eng+re+en). Some clues refer to the theme, or hint towards it (e.g "area in london...", "london's financial center...") whereas some don't.

So get cracking! I already subjected my manager to the ordeal yesterday, he being the perennial test market for all my eccentric ideas and thoughts. The trouble one has to take for one's mentee :)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Confessions of a Judgemental Mind

Sudha ran an interesting article the other day, writing about the 10 things that she judged people by. She's tagged me to do the same, and I thought, I consciously stay away from negative emotions on my blog because I'm such a cynic at heart. So do I really want to do this? But then I said, what the heck, lets give it a go!, but I know, this is going to be ugly. So here are my 6:

They live life within their comfortable closed loop of thinking. They mock those who are brave enough to experiment, and react bucolically when someone confronts them on the shut windows of their dust-gathering brains. They are the parochials, the narrow-minded ones. I find quite a few Indians here, and also in India who can be described such: they are parochials on issues such as integration with non-Indians, respecting people for qualities other than wealth, and attitude towards women. I judge them instantly and I instantly despise them.

Their minds, in an effort to make sense of the complications around them, simplify by classification. They occasionally get lost in the maze of things, and to rationalize, they run to the help of adjectives. They are the stereotypers, the judgers. They judge you from day 1, moment 1. They judge you oh-so-unfairly even before you open your mouth: they have already labelled you based on your appearance. "You are wearing outdated fashions, you are so uncool, you would be so boring to speak to!" "You are Muslim, oooh you must be a fanatic" "You are so hyper, its because you are insecure about yourself!"- their minds are at it already. I pity them for their unevolved thinking, and really cant stand it when they proceed to share with me their half-baked judgements of me. So ironic, but I judge judgers.

They love to focus on the grim realities of life, only that they do it to an unreal extent. They brood over the wrongs, the lows, the sorrows. The fact that they call themselves "practicalists" is probably the only euphimistic thing they can ever do: they are the pessimists, the half-empty ones. Most of them refuse to play the odds: they are content with making no effort and then complaining about it for weeks after. "What are we doing yar, we dont have a girlfriend" "Some people are earning so much, shit we have no money as compared to them." They look at life's bell curve with one conveniently blind eye, focussing only on the part thats better off than them. They defy the purpose of life, happiness.

They sweat over the small stuff all day, and they do it so well that they are bloody good at it. In the process however, they lose touch with the broader meaning of their lives. They fret and fume about love affairs, about doing things as per schedule, about pleasing their bosses, while they lose no sleep over where their life is heading. I call them the microscopes, the 9-to-5s. (Ariel says I was one of them a few years back!)

They are the spoilt kids of yesteryears, born with a silver spoon up their arses. They strutted about in college in their own elite cabals, laughing at the rest of the world and their lack of social tact. Somewhere down the line, they forgot to do anything useful, while the gawks worked away. Let me introduce to you the rich-dad-poor-kids, the arro-cants. You find them in different kinds- punks in RAIT ("ultra-cool" engg. college in Bbay) or the ICSE kids. There's a great sense of achievement to meet them now, remember at being laughed at, and to have the last laugh.

They spend all day sitting in front of the TV, fascinated by the kitsch that cable television throws at us. Content to vegetate with their own lives, they excite themselves vicariously with the ongoings of celebrity lives- Abhishek Bacchan's new hairdo or Preity Zinta's broken foot, they know about them all. The PR-driven hypocrisy of these "icons" of our society doesn't ever faze their enthusiasm- they are our country's starry-eyed's, the couch potatoes. We dont have a shortage of role models to look upto, but whose to look beyond Bollywood? I think they (and there are many of them) are the bane of modern India.

And, finally not to forget those, for whom there is no black or white, but just various shades of greys. No thought excites them, and no action disgusts them. Existence for them is a clinical and emotion-less duty that they fulfil- they are the impassionates, the fence-sitters. I get frustated by their lack of passion for anything, by their inability to stand up for any cause or attitude.

And oh, by the way, I also judge diplomats, cunning foxes, backbitchers, sweet-talkers, boasters....:)
(And I tag Ariel to air her judgements!)

Monday, July 30, 2007

The Reunion

Excited as a kid on his first date, I made my way up the slow airport escalators. Within minutes, I was abound the dinghy Ryanair plane bound for Frankfurt. I tried sleeping but the combination of anxiety and anticipation was uncontrollably intense. As the staff bawled out their usual announcements, I felt like I was watching the TV and ruing the fact that the remote wasn't working. Wish I could just fast forward through it all! The two hours seemed unending.

In true cheap-airline spirit, we had a not-very-subtle landing. A ruder shock was to follow- Frankfurt- Hahn airport was a misnomer, someone's idea of a joke- it was 2 hrs away from central Frankfurt and the Frankfurt airport where I was headed. The bus journey cutting through suburban lanes made me feel even more nostalgic.

My heart raced as if on an auto-bahn as I made my way to terminal 2 arrivals. And after a few minutes of hectic running around, I saw him, standing with 2 pieces of luggage, looking all harrowed. The fact that I'd met him only a week back in India didn't seem to make a difference- here was my Dad, moi Pa, in his first trip abroad, all by himself, except for his dutiful son who had come to help him. The joy and pride of that moment was unforgettable.

He was wearing a tee handpicked by my Mom, and his luggage was very heavy, stuffed with Indian food by my Mom, I presumed. I smiled at the thought of how my Mom's packing could be construed as a denial of the existence of food stores abroad. We made our way via cab to the hotel I'd painstakingly chosen and booked for him. I wished he would like it, but he immediately disposed any such notions- his acquaintances travelling for the same purpose had chided him for staying in an expensive hotel "Mehta, you are spending too much money on acco, yar!", he repeated their words bitterly. I swallowed my disappointment hurriedly, his Marwari-ness making me chuckle.

He was going to be there for a week, attending a conference on plastics (or smth like that). It had been his dream for years, and it felt good to be able to help fulfil it for him. I could see the happiness in his eyes- I'd never seen him so excited. He took in the surroundings like a blind man who's suddenly been given back his vision, but I could see there was only one thing on his mind- the conference. He rattled off some attendance statistics that portrayed the scale of the event- I just hmmm'ed away. Inside though, I marvelled at his passion for his work, for his field. I was looking at a man, all of 60 years, who was more passionate about his work than his 24-yr young audience.

He had always been that way. He ran his small-scale factory on pure adrenalin, putting in 12 hrs of work daily, punctuated by all-nighters and travel. He never let adversities dull his resolve- perhaps that's why despite repeated occasions of hesitance, he always decided against selling the factory. As kids we always joked that the factory was more important than the home, but it was actually where his heart resided! Probably, we never understood how much it meant to him. And never will. But a first hand experience of the vagaries of entreprenuership was enough to keep us away from it when choosing our own careers.

It was Saturday, and I wanted to sightsee but he would have none. He wanted to reconnoitre the exhibition before it opened on Monday! He would start conversing to every random stranger who crossed our path- the receptionist, a security guard on the road, asking them their names even! We took the local transport, so that I could ensure that he knew the route he would take during the week after I left Sunday. His apprehension worried me. It was obviously a big ask of him to master that in a new place, where English was not the preferred language. We reached the venue, and he roamed around everywhere, fascinated. He spent the rest of the weekend in the hotel room poring through the member kit they had handed us there. Sunday dinner was at an Indian restaurant nearby, but he refused to eat much. I tried explaining to him that it didn't matter to me because I now earned in pounds, but he was stubborn. It was so frustating, me wanting to do everything for him but him not wanting any of it. He was very quiet too, surely missing Mom. In 30+ years of marriage, I can count on my fingertips the number of times they havent been together for more than a week.

He was up very early Monday morning, I think he probably did not even sleep. For a man who's dress sense could be described as accidental, his question of "Sumit, is the tie knot proper?" as he shook me awake astonished me and I was soon sitting up on the bed. I doubt if he had cared abt his tie on his wedding day. He left for the conference an hr before schedule, and I spent the rest of the day with a friend. I didnt ask him how it went when he was back- he told me, in fits and bursts of narration, boasting about all the new people he had met and the latest technologies he had witnessed. He had made quite a few plans for the strategic expansion of his business on the journey back, and he proceeded to explain to me his 5-yr plan. My heart filled with respect at the hope within him, at how bright he foresaw his own future. I thought, how many of my friends now have even 10% of his enthusiasm to life? But unbearably sad was his rare moment of regret, when he wished he had attended it a few years ago. I didn't know what to say, where to look.

Distance and time always give you a different perspective to the same old things. I was reminded of how as a kid I envied my friends' fancy toys and clothes and wished my Dad would do what their fathers did. On that Frankfurt evening, however, there was one emotion, that of unbrindled pride. Pride of being a son to someone who had lived with and imbibed in me such a refreshing attitude to life. Pride of finally having arrived as a son. :)

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

What were you born to do?

This entire concept of choosing the right career has always been loitering around the cradle of my thought. For quite some time, it tormented me, teased me at every decision-making node- and then after each time that I piggybacked on the comfortable concept of the "herd mentality" disguised as "why reinvent the wheel?", it sowed seeds of doubt in me. At every step, the dilemma haunted me- study further or work? MBA or MS? Finance or Marketing? What did I want to do? What would be I good at doing? I went through the motions, having taken the confusion in my mind as an eternal truth, and letting fate take its vicissitudinous course.

Then one day, it struck me that I had spent 6 months in a firm without being unhappy- I searched for the discontent, but it was no longer there. I realized I'd accidently stumbled upon my calling! But the idea has still fascinated me- I looked at the transition in my own commitment, and I looked at others, and I wonder, does it exist at all? Does everyone necessarily have a calling in life? Is the theory relevant in today's framework? Does anyone ever "find" their calling or does it just happen to you?

Writers' minds work like magic- the moment you think of a good idea and DECIDE that it will be the fodder for your next bestseller that will pick up Harry Potter by the scruff of his neck and throw him off the bookshelves, some obscure author across the world has already read your mind 3 yrs ago and has shamelessly released a book on exactly the same topic. So it didn't come as a surprise when my friend sent me this: Interesting read (worth the length, you lazy people!), and I was happy to see confirmation of some hunches I had.

Well, is it practical to find one's calling? Most people view work as a means to an end, and hence choose the best paying jobs outta campus. The idea is that XYZ's calling in life is sound engineering, but it would pay nowhere as close to MBA's, so is he mad to even think twice abt signing the dotted line with Mck? I agree somewhat with the practical logic behind that. But has the inequality between jobs widened so much in today's world as to make the concept unviable? I think not, jobs were always unequal. And as always, there are opportunities today for doing smth that you like, like entrepreneurship and if you succeed you will make much more money as compared to a top banker. Most people overlook the fact that the top bankers are the ones who are insanely driven and very good at what they do- most probably because banking IS their calling in life. It may sound cliched, but if you do what you love, the money will come. In the rare case that it doesn't, happiness always will.

How does one go about finding it? For people like me, with no clear skills sets in any particular domain, its even more difficult. We were the Carpet bombers in IIMB- our motto was "Have CV, will apply". But I genuinely liked every course I took. And loved none. But one fine day, I asked myself, forget the work. What aspects of the working environment would be important to me? And the answers came strongly enough- high intellectual quality of people, dynamicism and a certain bit of luxury. I knew instantly that Marketing wasn't for me, and went headlong into Finance, despite having done badly in it always. Bronson has solved the riddle for me- I guess most confused people like me suffer from misunderstanding what they are good at with what they want to.

I subjected my office friends to a long discussion on this topic, and was deeply disappointed to know that they didn't believe in it at all, or in the fact that it was practically possible for one to find her calling. They opined that your commitment to work should be 100%, irrespective of how much you enjoy it. And I thought how lucky was I, to be incapable of doing that, else I would never have found the answer to a riddle so critical to my happiness. :)

Friday, June 22, 2007

Of Orkut and statistics

Its a stale topic by now, I presume (like most others that I write on). The social networking craze that has bitten our generation has already been laughed on, mulled over and then taken seriously a year ago. Pundits are now focusing on the next level, its merging with user-defined content (Google interfacing its Blogger, Youtube with Orkut, and Facebook allowing users to create small third-party apps like SuperPoke that run on the Facebook platform). But my fascination with the phenomenon still remains. What did these do right that MSN/ Yahoo messengers didn't? How have these changed the way we behave, and appear to others? Here are my thoughts.

Let's start with the obvious. Like any other new application, Orkut/ Facebook/ MySpace (henceforth referred to as SN, phew!) initally work on the novelty factor, that's especially important for our generation. We want to be cool, to be seen doing the latest things. So when SN came calling, we jumped on. But we stayed on, surely because it offered us something we didn't have before- a virtual presence. MSN gave us a chance to keep in touch with friends, but SN also gave us identities. The reticent, offbeat ones among us got a chance to express themselves in a unique way. And yet, there was reliability in those identities (not Orkut, but others are pretty strict with fake profiles)- so the stories of the guy next door falling in love with a 19-yr old Russian chick on Msn, who actually turned out to be a bored middle-aged housewife in Bhillai, soon were a thing of the past (no, that didn't turn out to be me in the end).

But now that I think of it, theres probably more to it. I think SN worked because it was made for an important trait that we possess nowadays- busi-ness. We dont sit and stare- we ipod and surf. And SN is an efficient way to keep in touch with everyone- reply to scraps/ wall posts at your own leisure, or let everyone know at once that you are travelling next week. And I suspect that the entire profile photo thing gives us a virtual feeling of being close to our friends and being in touch with them. A lot of SN does work on visual imagery- again something that the earlier messengers lacked.

More interesting than the cause of this phenomenon is its effect- SN will prove to be a boom for advertisers and scientists studying word-of-mouth and other social phenomena. Isnt it fascinating- just looking at how 2 random people are known to each other (6 degrees of seperation) has become so much easier!- what's your friends network for? How often you speak to friends, how do cool ideas get passed on, how do the latest movie reviews get exchanged? the answer is in your scrapbook/ wall, pal. Advertisers surely are rubbing their hands in glee.

SN is going to change the way we understand social dynamics by providing itself as a tool for a novel purpose- the quantification of human social behavior. And wait, it might still get you the love of your life :)