When Can You Just Let Electronic Conversations End?

I wasn’t great with the traditional etiquette of the Emily Post and Miss Manners variety, but I’m hopelessly mystified by the challenge of the proper rules of etiquette for our digital age.

Consider electronic writing — emails and texts — for example.  In the old days, when you wrote a letter to a friend, you expected that someday you would get a letter in response.  Do the same rules apply to email and texts?  With email and texting being virtually instantaneous, is there an expected response time after which you need to apologize and offer a reason for not responding sooner?  In my view, often the speed of a response isn’t as important as getting an answer that is thoughtful — and thoughtfulness usually takes time.  But if I’m infuriating someone because I haven’t responded within two hours, I’d sure like to know that.

When can you just let an electronic conversation end, and when do you have to respond with yet another message?  If I send an email and get a response that is completely satisfactory, is it rude to not respond with a “Thanks!”?  It seems silly to constantly be sending “Thanks!” emails, but I’ll do it if that is the expected etiquette these days.  For that matter, if you go with the “Thanks!” response, must you include the exclamation point?  And is it dismissive or demeaning if you go with “thx” rather than the full, written out “Thanks!”?

I pose such questions because I really want to know if I am inadvertently being a thoughtless jerk in my handling of these nettlesome electronic conversations.  If I’m going to be a thoughtless jerk, I’d rather do so intentionally.

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The Pointed Sign-Twirling Guy

One of my more frequently traveled routes in Columbus takes me past a shopping center with a business that has “Liberty” in the name.  Usually when I drive by, there’s a guy out by the road wearing a Statue of Liberty costume — a foam crown, a green gown, and green face paint — using a pointed sign with an arrow to try to entice motorists to visit the “Liberty” business.

It’s hard to believe that the presence of a guy twirling a sign and wearing a Liberty costume would cause a passing motorist to make the snap decision to turn in and visit the business.  There must be a lot of impulsive drivers out there, though, because you see the sign-twirling guys everywhere, flipping their signs, tossing them in the air, and using them to make intricate dance moves with varying degrees of proficiency.  Do they have to go through some kind of training before they head out to the roadway?  In any case, it wouldn’t be a very attractive job — being outside next to a road in all kinds of weather, breathing the exhaust fumes, wearing an embarrassing costume, and enduring the rude comments of some passersby.

When I was stopped at a traffic light next to the shopping center on Saturday, the Statute of Liberty sign-twirling guy was sitting at the bus stop.  I took a good look at him, and realized with the start that he was probably in his late 30s.  He was still wearing his costume and was waiting patiently for his bus.  I found myself wondering if he took the job because he couldn’t find anything else, or whether this gig was a second job that he worked on the weekend to help provide for his family.  I felt sorry for him, but in this economy a job is a job.

Girl Scout Cookies, Here And Gone

IMG_3178Today we got our order of Girl Scout Cookies, and it made me think that girl scout cookies must be the strangest product ever marketed.

What other product do you buy primarily because of guilt?  That eager, fresh-faced girl from the neighborhood shows up at the front door, and you feel that you just have to buy something from her or you’re not a real American.  This year, it was six boxes of the cookies.

And then, as soon as the cookies are delivered to your house, you try to figure out the quickest way to get them out of the house.  This year, Kish decreed that when the cookies came we need to get the Thin Mints, Shortbreads, and Samoas out of the temptation zone.  So, some of the boxes will be shipped out to Richard, some to Russell, and some will make their way to the coffee station on the 5th floor of the 68 building, where the ravenous secretaries and attorneys would consume just about anything dusted in sugar or coated in chocolate.

Handling The Sunday Curse (II)

The Sunday curse has finally been exorcised!

IMG_3102Today, the Buckeyes played a tough game in the second half.  After trailing by six at halftime, the Buckeyes reacted to a well-timed timeout by coach Thad Matta, ratcheted down on defense, and played a great second stanza.  Riding a career performance from Aaron Craft — who simply would not be denied on his drives to the hoop — the Buckeyes topped no. 4 Michigan State, 68-60.  Evan Ravenel, Sam Thompson, Deshaun Thomas, and Amir Williams played very well.  Buckeyes fans can hope that this team is starting to find its heart.

The win gives the Buckeyes 20 wins for the year, and also means that they will have a winning record in the very tough Big Ten.  There’s still a long way to go, but beating Michigan State is a huge win for Ohio State.  Great win, Buckeyes!  Now, keep it up!

Guam Cats, Beware! Toxic Mice Are In The Air!

Brown snakes are overrunning Guam.  They came to the island aboard U.S. ships after World War II.  Now they are multiplying like crazy, have killed off virtually every native species of bird, and are biting humans and wrecking power lines.  As a result, Guam’s jungle areas are coated with spider webs, because the birds that normally would eat the spiders aren’t there to keep the spiders in check.

Guam’s snake infestation is giving Hawaii the heebie-jeebies.  If a pregnant brown snake, or a mating pair of snakes, hitched a ride on a boat and landed in the snakeless Hawaiian Islands, Hawaii’s beautiful bird population — which has no fear of snakes — could be decimated.

Guam officials are concerned that the brown snake problem could hurt Guam’s reputation as a tourist destination.  No kidding!  Guam sounds like a nightmare.  If your small island is infested with biting snakes and spiders, you’ve already managed to creep out the vast majority of humans.  All Guam needs to do to complete the hair-raising, creepy-crawlie trifecta is to throw some scorpions into the mix.

The U.S. government has come up with a drastic solution to Guam’s brown snake problem.  It will drop dead mice laced with painkillers over the island’s jungles.  The theory is that the brown snakes will eat the mice and die by the score.   Presumably, the government has some reason to believe that other mice-eating creatures won’t gobble down the tainted mice.

I’m not so sure — and I therefore composed this bit of doggerel:

Brown snakes hitched a ride to Guam, hoping to find some lebensraum

They bred and grew to levels absurd, ’til little Guam had not a bird

And as the bird population ebbed, the isle became more spider-webbed

Then Uncle Sam said it’d help poor Guam, by inventing a toxic mice bomb

So, cats of Guam!  Good cats, beware!  Toxic mice are in the air!

Handling The Sunday Curse

This afternoon the basketball Buckeyes will play the Michigan State Spartans at the Schott.  I’ll watch it, but I’m kind of dreading it.

IMG_3110Lately, Sundays have not been kind to the Buckeyes.  Two Sundays ago, the number one-ranked Indiana Hoosiers came to the Schott and beat the Buckeyes soundly, 81-68.  Then, last Sunday, Ohio State got embarrassed in Madison by the Wisconsin Badgers, 71-49.  The Indiana game was bad enough, because losing on your home floor, even to the top-ranked team in the country, is always painful, but the loss to Wisconsin was especially disturbing.  In that game, the characteristic traits of a Thad Matta team — tough defense, hustle, grit, and a don’t quit attitude in the face of adversity — were wholly absent.  The Buckeyes didn’t show up and didn’t look like the same team we’d seen earlier in the season.

Fortunately, the college basketball season is long, and there are opportunities for redemption.  The Buckeyes bounced back with a win over Minnesota earlier this week, and now they face another huge challenge in Michigan State.  The Spartans are vying with Indiana for the Big Ten lead, and you know they will be crashing the boards like Tom Izzo-coached teams always do.  Led by excellent point guard Keith Appling, the Spartans have a deep lineup of hard-nosed and talented players.  Sam Thompson, above, and his teammates will need to play well to beat them, and they could use some help from the Buckeye Nut House fans, too.

But . . . it’s a Sunday game.  Let’s hope that, this Sunday, the Buckeyes don’t play like they think Sunday should be a day of rest.

Breakfast At Bob’s

Normally I don’t eat breakfast.  I drink a cup of black coffee and a small glass of orange juice, and then I’m off.  A big breakfast makes me feel leaden, and that’s not how I want to begin a work day.

IMG_1142Today, however, I had breakfast with my siblings at Bob Evan’s.  It was jammed, of course.  If you go to a Bob Evan’s in central Ohio during the morning hours, it will be packed.  People like it because the food is of good quality, the wait staff is competent and friendly, they keep your coffee cup and water glass filled, and they don’t shove you out the door if you want to chat a bit after your meal.  I had a bottomless cup of well-brewed, medium strength coffee and the sausage gravy biscuit breakfast.  The biscuit was fluffy, the gravy was not salty (a common problem with sausage gravy at many diners) and chock full of sausage, there was enough gravy to cover my finely shredded hash browns, and it all was topped with an egg.  The dish was a steal at $5.99.

So what if most of the people who eat at Bob Evan’s are charter members of AARP?  It’s a nice place that follows a time-honored recipe for business success:  provide customers with excellent value for their hard-earned money.

And speaking of charter members of AARP, I thought it was interesting that UJ didn’t even need a menu.  He’s a Bob Evan’s regular who gets the same thing every time he visits.  What does that tell you?