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Disclaimer: The Age of Entitlement attitude is not limited to age, nor
do all Generation Y-ers have that attitude.
Generation Y, those babies
born in the 80′s and 90′s, have been dubbed the Generation of
Entitlement. There is a
plethora of articles from business journals to psychology magazines
describing the typical attitude of Generation Y-ers. Early in my
teaching career, seminars on how to deal with this type of attitude and
expectations were common, even at major universities. We were warned
that these generation of students were demanding. They wanted exams
grades posted within hours of the exam. They wanted credit for effort,
regardless of mastery or completion. The phrase “But I tried….” was
The first lecture class of 250 freshmen I taught was likely the
poster children of this attitude. While that class was soon under
control with a reality check, I decided that there had to be a serious
culture setting procedure right from the beginning. I use old school
teaching methods where I set expectations high, keep my grading scale
difficult, and ban all misbehaviors from my classroom. Any student that
has an unpleasant attitude is asked to leave, forever. I also show
Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture video, and I insist that all my students
perform as well as his students did. Needless to say, by the end of the
semester, the generation of entitlement is turned into the generation of
hard work and gratitude.
There’s no attitude switch for the Generation Y-ers when they enter
social media. The attitude of give me, credit me, and make me feel
special persists everyday on social media. It doesn’t take long to see
someone on Twitter complaining about what they should have gotten. Just
show up late to a party advertising free food and free drink. You’ll
hear the Generation Y-ers complaining about how they didn’t get any free
food or free drink that they deserved. Some businesses have reported
hearing the “I’m a Yelper so you should give me free food/drink.”
Sadly, that’s not unheard of from unscrupulous bloggers as well.
It isn’t any secret that I was a born in the 80′s. I’m technically a
Generation Y baby, and I’m embarrassed about the attitudes and behaviors
of my generation. Some people assumed that I was given things like my
house. Sorry, I bought my house when I was 21 by saving up all that I
had earned as being a nanny. I could afford to invest in my hobbies
because I worked many hours during my early years of graduate school.
Now that I started my own business, I get emails and phone calls from
people asking me how I did it. The short answer is, “I worked hard.”
Fortunately, my doctorate is in social psychology so I had a knowledge
base that translates easily into marketing and social media. But most
importantly, I worked hard to build up my skill sets and to build
relationships that now support my business.
I very happy to help others get started in social media. On the
other hand, I’ve been contacted by many generation y-ers about social
media and food blogging. Most recently, someone who had only been on
Twitter for two months was now wanting to start working as a social
media consultant. This person was straight out of college with no work
experience to boot. I was speechless. Had Generation Y babies
completely forgotten about hard work, learning from mentors, and earning
a reputation? Did they not realize that many successful people worked
their way up?
Gary Vaynerchuck is living it up now, but he started from a
Ray is highly successful now, and she started making only $50 per
So what can you do if you’re a business that faces the Age of
Entitlement regularly? I’d advise that you set a strict policy on how
to deal with the most common challenges you have. If your business
regularly gets people asking for free product because they are active in
social media, implement a policy on how to handle those requests. Hint:
A complicated policy requiring those people to send you samples of their
writing and/or detail the impact their strategies have on your type of
business usually sends them on their merry way.
If you’ve got that Entitlement attitude, don’t be hurt. Just be
prepared to work hard. If you fail, just try again. If you have a
passion for something, look for a mentor to help you cultivate that
passion. Show gratitude. Thank people for their time. Thank people
for helping you. Open your ears to criticism. You can’t improve if you
don’t know where you need it. Look for communities in which a
hardworking attitude is required and rewarded. This
Week in Startups is one I highly recommend.
is the complete opposite of a Generation Y-er. If you haven’t watched
Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture, this is the time to do it.
trying to turn things around. Public distrust. Angry
business owners. Three class-action law suits. Yelp has
been on many people’s naughty list lately, and they have
implemented something new to turn that all around. They
have allowed previously “filtered” or “suppressed” reviews
to be viewed by anyone and everyone. Here’s several links
to the details on that, and I’ll avoid rehashing all that
However, I spent a large chunk of time studying Austin
business reviews, and here’s what it means to users and to
businesses (from my limited information that is). I noticed
that some businesses has only 10% of reviews filtered while
others had more filtered reviews than reviews visible (i.e.
28 reviews visible, 47 filtered). The percentiles were
highly variable. I haven’t seen any patterns to them yet.
A few other things I gathered included:
Yelp has increased it’s transparency, and that is
bad news for sneaky businesses out there. With the
filtered reviews exposed, I easily found many businesses who
wrote themselves shill reviews either using their own names
or only writing positive reviews for other businesses they
owned. It appears that even if reviews are flagged by the
community as being fake (i.e.
the master debater’s thread) they are either filtered or
deleted due to violation of terms of service (TOS). While I
can’t be absolutely certain due to the limits of information
I have, I think they are deleted and placed below the
filtered reviews. You can’t read the reviews anymore, but
you can see who wrote them.
thing I do notice is that the filtering system is
fairly ineffective. Sometimes it filters out
people with 20 reviews, yet it leaves people with only one
review unfiltered. Sometimes it filters out people who have
spent a significant amount of time writing a thoughtful
review, yet it leaves people with one-line reviews visible
on the business page. That’s the problem with having an
algorithm do your work.
The users who have filtered reviews (if everything
is truly computer run numbers) should have all their reviews
filtered. I did find this to be true for the few
people I researched on Yelp, but I can’t be absolutely sure
that this is true for all users who have filtered reviews.
Also, on the user(s)’ profile page, it does not show whether
or not their other reviews have been filtered. It is also
unlikely that any of these users know that their reviews
have been filtered. Theoretically, there should be a
waiting period for all new users who have to work their way
out of the filter by crossing whatever threshold the
algorithm uses. Yelp does not inform new users
about that they are being filtered, which can be good or bad.
New users probably have a difficult time understanding the
concept of filtering, and it might scare off new users from
joining if they have to read a bunch of rules and
regulations. However, I think that if new Yelp users were
informed of this filtering mechanism, Yelp might see more
engaged new users. That’s all speculation though. I can’t
think of any psychology studies examining commitment to a
social community if there was a heavy time investment
upfront without immediate reward.
It appears that some administratively removed
reviews are never shown in the deleted reviews. I
noticed very recently that Yelp had administratively deleted
all reviews for a business if they were written before the
business officially opened (i.e. Urban An American Grill and
Lick it Bite it or Both). After the business opened, those
reviews did not reappear nor did they appear in the filtered
or deleted review section. It is my understanding that Yelp
administrators would send an email to each of the users
informing them that the review was removed. However, there
have also been some claims about missing reviews without an
email from administration. It does appear that all
other administratively removed reviews that were flagged by
the community do appear in the deleted review section.
advice for businesses is to scroll through your
filtered reviews. If they were written by
yourself, your employees, or your friends, delete them as
soon as possible. These reviews might have been
previously filtered and not visible to the Yelp community.
Now that they are visible to the Yelp community, users might
feel as if you were trying to fool them with fake reviews
and retaliate. You might have escaped the
master debater’s thread previously, but now you can’t
hide those filtered reviews. Even if users flag them now as
shill reviews, they might still end up in the deleted
section. Deleting them now from the accounts you’ve (or
employees or friends) created is the only way that they will
disappear. Additionally, reviews that are deleted are not
searchable and do not come up in Google searches. Threads,
however, have no delete or edit button. If you are called
out on a thread, it is there to stay forever. *Google can
find quotes from filtered reviews though.
Yelp has taken steps to be more transparent, but
that also means that the businesses must also be more
transparent. You can run and hide, but not for long.
Have you ever felt
help like you couldn’t control your body? Perhaps you couldn’t
walk. Maybe you couldn’t see. Maybe you couldn’t hear what people
were saying. According to the United States Census Bureau, about
5.4% of Americans are living with a disability. One valuable furry
creature that has been making the lives of people with a disability
better is the service dog. For this post, I’ll be using the term
service dog to include any dog (or monkey or pony) that assists a
person with disability. This includes, but is not limited to guide
dogs, hearing dogs, seizure alert dogs, and mobility dogs.
A service dog can be trained to:
dropped objects or a phone
person when walking
person during walks
person to every day sounds like a baby crying or a knock at
person when they sense an oncoming seizure
intelligent and highly useful creatures. When I was on crutches, my
Mouse would pull me around the house in a rolling chair and fetch
items for me. Mouse had already been taught to pull in draft
training and to fetch items in water rescue and obedience training.
Additionally, service dogs can be trained to complete very complex
tasks. My late trainer’s dog completed a very difficult task one
day at Pace Bend Park. My trainer, Dick, took both his dog out on a
boat. Dick threw his cane overboard while in the middle of the
lake. Buddy, his service dog, jumped out of the boat, fetched the
cane, and brought it back to the boat. Buddy then pulled the boat
to shore. Needless to say, Dick was a great trainer, and Buddy was
a wonderful dog.
Dick, Chase, and Buddy on the boat back in 2004.
The value of a service dog is that they give people freedom to
live their lives more independently, and that value is priceless.
As Austin is a very dog friendly city, it may be difficult to
determine whether or not a dog is only a companion dog or a service
dog. Here’s a friendly guide for restaurants on some challenges and
etiquette when serving a guest with a servicedog. Please see Keep Austin
Dog Friendly for etiquette that companion dog owners
should follow when dining out with their dogs. A big thank you for
from Texas Hearing and Service Dogs for providing much of this
Service dogs aren’t always easy to identify. Disabilities
are not always visible or obvious. While many of
service dogs may wear vests with logos, some will not.
Service dogs come in many breeds and sizes depending on
their function. If a person identifies their dog as a
service dog, I wouldn’t interrogate the handler anymore.
Comments and questions such as, “Well, you don’t look
disabled.” or “What kind of disability do you have?” are
highly offensive. Avoid those types of remarks.
Please do not pet a service dog without first asking
permission from the handler. The handler might
instruct you on how or when to pet the dog. Please do not
be surprised if the handler requests that you not disturb
the dog. Remember, these dogs are working all the time.
They do need a break once in a while. Additionally, the
handler may be using the quiet time under the table as a
Please do interact with the dog’s handler. A
common mistake that one might make it to completely ignore
the dog’s handler and to speak only to other people at the
table. Also, please don’t direct your questions to the
dog. The dog’s handler is your customer. It is a
restaurant’s job to provide service to the customer, not to
make a big deal about a dog.
Many handlers will ask their dogs to remain in a down
position during their visit. Please don’t bark at
the dog, call the dog, or throw food at the dog. Don’t ask
me why people bark at dogs. I don’t understand it.
the time, the handler will let you know where it is
most convenient to be seated. The handler may have
a difficult time navigating through a sea of tables,
un-level ground, or stairs. Occasionally, diners with a
service dog might be seated in an isolated corner by the
staff. This may make the diner feel as if he or she is a
nuisance or bothersome. Dining out is not something we do
to just to fill our stomachs. Dining out is a social
experience that should involve good food, good drink, and
good company. To make someone feel as if his or her party
is isolated from the rest of the world does not make for a
positive dining experience. All diners should be seated in
such a fashion that they feel that their patronage of your
restaurant is appreciated.
other diners do not wish to be seated near a service dog,
the proper course of action would be to offer the other
diners another seating arrangement. It is
considered improper to move the party with the service dog.
service dog’s handler should carry water for the dog along
with supplies to clean up/pick up. While a
restaurant not required to provide water for the dog, it
doesn’t hurt to ask if the dog can be offered water.
Here’s the wrap up the SXSW interactive along with some tidbits from
*From building Facebook games, two components have been found to
make a game successful: 1. Creativity and self-expression in
profiles. 2. Competition.
*From another panel called Friends, Fans, and Followers, use the
power of participation and engagement to build a community. The
examples used were running a contest for best recreation of OK Go’s
video. That contest spawned creative entries and gave people
something to talk about.
*The panel also said to go where your audience already is. Use
activist groups, and community groups that are already in place and
already attract your target audience. For instance, don’t try to
start a community where there already is one. You’ll only be
dividing your efforts and be competing for time with the other
community. Instead, work with the existing community.
*You can also invite guest bloggers to reach other readers that
you don’t already have. Find out where your followers are already
hanging out, and hang out there too. Here’s a write up about the
*I stepped into the Airing Dirty Laundry core conversation
thinking it might have something to do with online ratings, but it
was mostly about publicizing regretful sex acts on Sorry-mom.com.
Most of the conversation was about the legality of posting men and
photos on the site, the passive aggressiveness in posting, and
whether or not there was a therapeutic component to this website.
While I generally don’t frequent humor or entertainment sites, this
site is very interesting from a research perspective. I’d love to
track women’s behavior as a function of the menstrual cycle.
Theoretically, women should be engaging in more “sorry-mom.com” acts
during ovulation than during other parts of the menstrual cycle.
*Facebook: It’s complicated was a core conversation about posting
relationship statuses on Facebook and the effects it has on our
lives. One of the slides presented was that one out of every five
divorces cited Facebook as a cause. It isn’t difficult to see that
Facebook does make it easier to meet people or connect with past
romantic partners, but I’m not sure that Facebook should be to
blame. I found this to be a very interesting conversation, and I’m
also interested in how social media can change mating strategies and
Overall, SXSW was a blast. I had a great time meeting cool
people. A big thank you to @KitchenAidUSA for the blender I won at
Cupcake Meet up. Thanks to @bakespace and @cupcakeblog for hosting
the meet up. A big thank you to @suerostvold for the incredibly cute
Bernese Mountain Dog greeting card. And a big thanks to @PN_ATX for
having me at the Entrepreneur’s Lounge at Fogo De Chao. And big
thanks to @GMTexas for the SXSW music wristband.
I knew little about Gary Vaynerchuck prior to SXSW 2010. I had heard
that he did some wine videos and he had a book out. I did cite one
of his articles in my Online Culture, Offline Behavior articles, but
I hadn’t really dug deeply into this world of GaryVee. I attended
his SXSW 2010 panel, and I was surprised. Gary didn’t talk about
anything new. Gary didn’t talk about anything I didn’t already
believe or implement. In the first 10 minutes of his talk, I could
have sworn he was reading my mind (and website).
delivered his message in such a way that it made an impact. He was
energetic. He was passionate. And he used the F-bomb at least 40
times. Thom Singer counted 28, but he missed quite a few. This man
gives a simple message such a punch that I swear the room was like a
religious cult. Here’s some highlights and comments from the panel.
Also, there was impromptu rapping at the end of the panel that was
awesome. It is probably better than anything else you’ll see at SXSW
P Note: These aren’t my videos. These were on youtube. The rappers
were @flexmathews and @Koshadillz. Awesome job to both!
1. “We don’t care enough about thank you’s.” No one these days
give enough gratitude. Thank people. Thank everyone on who responds
to you on Twitter. Thank them for coming. Thank them for listening
to you. I’m an adamant believer in this point. Successful people
don’t get that way on their own. I’ve never done anything on my own.
Be it dog training, hypermiling, cooking, or writing, there was
always and there still is a strong support system taking care of me.
In every single activity I’ve ever attempted, I’ve had a mentor.
That mentor was there to advise me when I was confused, to encourage
me when I felt overwhelmed, and to be happy for me when I
accomplished even the smallest achievements. To those people, thank
you. Now YOU thank those people in YOUR life.
2. “Don’t sell your product when it comes out. Sell your product
before it comes out.” This is self-explanatory. Create the buzz
about your product. Get people interested in it before you have it
out. Don’t wait until the last minute to start promoting it when it
already on the shelves. By then, it is too late.
3. “Experience and interaction are paramount.” Business is built
on relationships. There’s no denying it. Gary said, “Any interaction
be is a handshake, hug, or butt-grab can turn into business.”
Business is also personal (also preached by Jason Calacanis), and it
is high time that we started building relationships and then
business. We can use social media to build those relationships.
There are many ways to not use Twitter effectively, and one such way
it to use it as an information dissemination tool. Information is
good, but it is not at all sufficient for creating relationships.
For example (if you are standing, please sit as you might hit the
floor laughing), there is a certain company in Austin that doesn’t
understand social media. To give you a little background, they offer
consulting services that cost $250 for the initial meeting, and they
think they were worth every penny. They thought social media was
useless. Of course the CEO’s account was only following 16 people
and had 17 followers after six months. Their marketing plan was to
put fliers on cars in grocery store parking lots. They wanted to
post fliers with those little pull off tabs in gyms, coffee shops,
and on neighborhood mailboxes (which is illegal). This company also
posted service ads on craigslists. I asked if they knew any teachers
in the area (should be the biggest referrals of their business), and
they knew none. The excuse was, “We’d have to buy them lunch and
talk to them.” This marketing style was the antithesis of what Gary
preached. He would have had a field day with this company. I’m sure
the F-bomb count would have been pretty high.
4. “Do what makes you happy.” Follow your passions. If you do it
well, and you create waves, there will be arrows in your back. Gary
has the same message as Randy Pausch, except Randy doesn’t use the
F-bomb. Both people have the same inspirational message and eerily
the same words. I’ll probably be using both Randy and Gary in my
lectures from now on.
I also got a hug from Gary afterwards. Totally awesome.
I was one lucky chick on Monday during SXSW. Exceptionally lucky.
I got to take the new-under wraps-still in prototype mode Chevy Volt
for a spin. Here’s the report of the fun along with some photos and
information. Since the Volt is not yet released, I wasn’t privy to
some information. This is piecemealed from the bits of information
that I was told or have read. I apologize for any misinformation.
The Volt isn’t a hybrid vehicle or is it; this topic is highly
debatable. We’ll stay away from the debate for now. From what I
know, it is essentially an electric vehicle with a gas generator
that powers the battery when need be. The Volt was designed run on
the battery for the first 40 miles, and then use the gas generator
to power the battery. The explanation for the seemingly arbitrary
40 miles is because the average American commute is 20 miles. 40
miles using only electricity would mean a round trip commute to work
without using a drop of gas. And thusly, the Volt was designed with
a 40 mile battery pack. I wasn’t even given a ballpark estimate on
the size of the gas tank, however, a full tank should get about 300
The interior was very modern and the buttons were all “touch”
buttons. You didn’t have to actually depress the button, rather it
functioned like a touch screen. It had a very Ikea feel to it. I
was told that the transmission shifter would be redesigned, so it
won’t look like what’s in the photos.
In addition to the regular horn, there’s a “friendly” horn to warn
pedestrians who can’t hear your car because it is so quiet. I do
mean quiet. That car didn’t even have a detectable hum (I was in a
semi-noisy area). The car also had a rear backing camera with video
built into the dash.
There are smart phone apps connected to OnStar so that you could
program the volt to charge at a certain time or to start air
conditioning in the car before you actually turn the car on. You can
also use the smart phone app to honk the horn. I did download the
application on my iphone, but since I wasn’t connected to the car, I
couldn’t play with the features.
This car is so quiet that I’m afraid I wouldn’t remember if the car
was on or off. Driving the Volt is exactly like how Josh Bauer
describes driving his Tessla. There is no Vroom Vroom. You just
get on the gas and it goes. While I didn’t get to see what the Volt
really had, I did get to try the turbo button. I wasn’t clear on
the technology of it, but it does give your ride some “OMPH!”
The dash also has a monitor on it with a green ball in the center,
if you accelerate too hard, the green ball moves out of the “happy
zone” and turns yellow. If you brake too hard, the green ball moves
out of the “happy zone” and turns yellow. While I’m familiar with
many of the tools that have this type of user interface, I’m not
sure about the technology behind this one.
Some issues to ponder:
The dash of the Volt didn’t have a Miles per gallon or MPKilowatt
indicator on it that I could see. I think I was told that there was
one, but I didn’t get a chance to see it. The battery gauge did
have an indicator with how many miles were left, but I’m not sure
how that is calculated. Presumably, more rough driving should
consume , but how does the battery know how rough you’ll be driving
for the next few miles?
The Volt does have an OBD port for the scan gauge, but I’m not sure
if the scanguage would be
able to give miles per gallon readings as there is no gas engine.
I’m not sure if the scanguage
would be able to measure CO2 output from a generator. Additionally,
I was told that the generator can turn on to power the battery
randomly. In that sense, gas used by the generator isn’t a function
of the current electricity used. The numbers may be inaccurate.
Again, since I wasn’t given all the details, I might have some
misinformation on this. I didn’t have my
scanguage on me (I decided
to not drive in Austin that day due to SXSW traffic), otherwise I
would have tested it.
sure was bright out.
The very modern
I also attended
the Chevy Veggie drive in which a group of Austin Food Bloggers
drove down to Pearl Farmer’s Market in San Antonio, ate lunch at
Farm to Table, and then back to Austin in a variety of 2010
Vehicles. A big thank you to Chevy, @gmtexas, and Yeti Coolers.
Enjoy the pics below! Photos by
Yelp is the new four-letter word. Slapped with three
class-action lawsuits, there is no doubt that Yelp brings
out the fury in business owners. I’m a Yelp user, and I
have been since 2008.
Addie Broyles and I hosted a core conversation at SXSW
2010 entitled “The Yelp Effect: When Everyone’s a Restaurant
Critic.” The original focus was to discuss how
user-generated reviews had changed the challenges that
restaurants faced, but it quickly turned into a conversation
about Yelp. She_Eats
Houston Press wrote up a very thorough review of the
conversation, and the hashtag for the conversation was
#theyelpeffect. Here’s some of my personal thoughts
that we may not have discussed at SXSW. I am NOT employeed
by Yelp, nor do I have any comments on their legal
situation. I’m a user that sees both the good and bad of
Yelp. A big thank you to the always thoughtful Addie
Broyles for inviting me to share my thoughts.
1. Yelp is a social community, and reviews
are the commonality among the users. Many people see Yelp
as a review site, which it is, but it also a community of
people who happen to write reviews. Yelp uses have also
been called anonymous. This may be true for the lurkers or
the mostly inactive users on Yelp, but most users are NOT
anonymous. In the age of social media, most of the
users are identifiable. Users are pretty easily
identified by the places they review, their photos, or other
profile information. Even users with the most generic
profiles have been identified by the community. This
business was sniffed out by the community, and well, it
didn’t go over so well. To say that users are completely
anonymous is a misunderstanding. Additionally, Yelp Elite
members are required to use their real names and real
2. “I don’t trust Yelp.” This was a common
phrase muttered at the core conversation, and I would
totally agree if I didn’t know many of the Austin Yelp users
in person. While I do read reviews and view star ratings
with a grain of salt, there are some users that I do trust.
I know their likes and dislikes. I know that they have
experience dining out. And I know that there are not the
type to give a restaurant a low rating without considerable
3. “People on Yelp must be *insert derogatory
adjective here.*” The demographics of Yelp users
might actually surprise you. Most users are over 21,
well-educated, and typically interested in food beyond just
stuffing their faces. You might think that Yelp users must
be lazy-do nothings because they “waste” their time on
Yelp. Here’s a video on
cognitive surplus that might help you
understand why people use online tools including Twitter,
Blogging, and Facebook. Spending time socializing with
people (even if online) is not a waste of time in my
opinion. They are contributing to a community, and using
that cognitive surplus.
4. “10% of the
dining experience comes from the food.” There are
so many factors that influence one’s mood, perception, and
memory of a dining experience that ultimately feeds into
review. Stay with me for a moment as I dive into some
academia. People in happy moods tend to ignore negative
information, and people in grumpy moods tend to think more
logically about situations. There’s an vast amount of
research in the field of social psychology that investigates
that impact of mood on perception and memory. For example:
Let’s say that I receive terrible service along with some
fairly satisfying and tasty food. I would hazard to guess
that the service might put a damper on my experience and
therefore I might rate the restaurant worse the food
actually was. On the other hand, there are some restaurants
I frequent because no matter how terrible my day was, they
always put me in a good mood. Thank you
Research has shown that in relationships, people who are
anxiously attached (about 10% of the population) tend to
remember things much worse than they actually were. People
securely attached (about 60-70% of the population) tend
not to remember past events as bad as they were, or they may
not remember them at all. At the Business of Software
Conference 2009, Dr.
Jennifer Aaker gave a presentation about
Disneyland. Disneyland is actually a miserable place. The
lines are long. The food is expensive. But our memories of
Disney are fantastic. Disney is so skilled at branding and
framing, that we have great memories of the miserable time
we had. That’s just some food for thought.
5. Yelp can be likened to a focus group for your
business. People come, pay, and give you feedback.
What’s more? They are your actual consumers. What better
focus group can you get than to get actual consumers?
However, the catch with this focus group is that they put it
online for the world to see. My advice for a business would
be to use their free business owner’s account to reply
(politely). That reply is also up for the world to see.
For further details on how to use Yelp, check out their
business owners section or
You might say, “But that review is blatantly wrong!”
or “I don’t agree!” This isn’t easy for
people (myself included) to get negative feedback about
ourselves. Humans are designed to have high self-esteem.
We are also susceptible to
think (groups that don’t think or listen to feedback).
We tend to ignore things that are inconsistent with our own
beliefs, and we tend to look for opinions that are
consistent with our own opinions. We are angry when someone
disagrees with our self-perception. There’s no way around
this sticky issue except to accept it. We all get negative
As a professor, when those course evaluations come in, I’m
sure to get at least one negative evaluation. I typically
get 90-95% “We LOVE Ms. Chen!” evaluations, and 5-10% “I
hated this class!” evaluations. Sometimes those were
correlated to the students’ grades, and sometimes not. I
had one student who knew she was going to fail my course,
but she gave me a hug on the last day of class and wrote me
a thank you note. I also had one semester where I had such
good evaluations that students protested to the department
head when I told them I was no longer teaching, but that’s
pretty out of the ordinary. I did teach at that institution
for the next three years. There’s no pleasing every single
customer as there is no pleasing every single student. I
take my feedback, improve, and I move on.
At this point, I’m fairly certain that this post will turn
into somewhat of a novel. I’ll end this post by saying that
Yelp is not a perfect website. There are things I would
like to change and policies I’d like to implement if I
could. However, let’s not throw the baby out with the
bathwater. Yelp is a useful website for both consumers and
restaurant owners. I’ve also found that once most
businesses have learned how to navigate and use Yelp
effectively, much of the anxiety surrounding Yelp
SXSW is a monstrosity of an event, and I love it for many
reasons. For people who love the crowded parties jammed packed
full of awesome people, SXSWi is where to be. People (yes, you)
are the reason why I go to SXSW events. You might have noticed
that I’m a relationship oriented person. My personal philosophy
is that social media isn’t about the user, but everyone else.
Social media isn’t social unless you have relationships. That’s
why I go: to meet you. To give you a handshake or hug, and to
turn our online pinging into an offline relationship.
I’m very sad that I will be out of pocket for Friday and
Saturday of SXSW. Instead, I’ll be wearing a lilac dress,
really tall high heels, and holding a bouquet of roses. Anyone
want to trade places?
) If you do see me running around Austin, don’t be afraid to
jump in and say “Hi!” I’m always thrilled to meet new people.
Here’s a short list of events that I would have loved to attend
or am attending:
There’s no lacking
of Happy Hours in Austin, and to try to hit up all of them would
require some teleportation talents. Here’s two links to popular
webpages that sum up most of Austin’s Happy Hour deals as well as a
short list of my favorites that are fairly close to Downtown
Austin. So grab a fellow SXSWer and head on down for tasty bites
and refreshing drinks.
Faves Paggi House –
200 Lee Barton DrAustin, TX78704
(512) 473-3700 @paggihouse
I love Paggi House for the atmosphere, service, and the dog friendly
patio. Not only are the deals great, the presentation of the food
here has been tops. I haven’t been let down here yet! Half off
selected drinks and half off appetizers. Trio at
the Four Seasons – 98 San Jacinto Blvd Austin, TX 78701 (512)
478-4500 @FSaustin Trio understands
happy hour. With fabulous deals, cheery staff, great selection of
wine, and to scrumptious lamb sliders, Trio has earned my happy hour
loyalty. Half off selected wines and appetizers. McCormick’s and
Schmick’s – 401 Congress AvenueAustin, TX78701
(512) 236-9600 @MccormickSchmicks While it isn’t the
very best Austin has to offer, McCormick’s and Schmick’s is a great
place to go for cheap eats. With a purchase of a drink (minimum $2,
ice tea counts), order from a reduced price menu in the bar area.
From half pound burgers and fries for 2.95 to a large serving of
hummus and pita for 1.95, you can’t go wrong. McCormick’s and
Schmick’s offers a regular happy hour and a reverse happy hour. Get
there early or practice your ninja skills in snagging a seat. It
can get crowded during happy hour.
Austin, SXSWers! If you’re looking for places to wet you
whistle, try some interesting cocktails, taste some regional
brews, or sip on some wine, you’ve come to the right place.
The variables that I used to choose bars to include on this
list includes variety in selection, atmosphere, and
location. These are places that I might frequent to enjoy a
quality wine, beer, or cocktail. Here’s a
Twitter list of Beer, Wine, and Cocktails tweeters to follow.
I usually post my social media articles on
Misohungrynow.blogspot.com, but since there are so many businesses
in the dog community, I’m posting it here as well.
We’ve heard all about the website
Yelp. Some people love it, and some people hate it. Some people
feel that their policies are unfair to business owners and that
business owners are powerless to reviews. Don’t fret. Don’t get
angry. Do get proactive, and do learn how to manage your business
owner’s account to turn sour reviewers into happy customers. On
Tuesday, March 3rd, I’ll be giving a presentation on Rise Austin to
show you how to navigate and understand the ins and outs of Yelp
policies and how to understand the Yelp community. I’ll also show
you several small Austin businesses that used Yelp to drum up
business (without paying $300 per month). Click here to
And the biggest question on your mind now:
Since Yelp is being sued, will it go away? My personal opinion
is “No, Yelp is not going away.” The amount of traffic on Yelp is
staggering compared to other similar websites.
Yelp was offered $500 million dollars by Google. Yelp has
spurred many angry articles in the past about their policies. None
of those things have made any impact on Yelp as they are continuing
to grow bigger and bigger. Yelp isn’t going away, in fact business
pages on Yelp are often very close to the top when searching for a
business on Google. If a business doesn’t have a website and
adequate SEO skills, you can guarantee that their Yelp page will be
the first link up on Google.
What can you do? You can ignore Yelp. Some businesses thrive
regardless what reviewers write about them. On the other hand, you
can use Yelp, a website with roughly 8.5 million visitors daily, as
a marketing tool. For Free. If you can’t make it to the session,
here’s a sneak peak into one of the topics I’ll be covering. I’m
also available at
firstname.lastname@example.org or 512-981-7627.
Rule 1: Do NOT ask for reviews. This is in fine print on
Yelp for Business Owners page here. It really should be in bold
and in all caps. Do not ask customers for reviews. Do not ask
friends to review. Do not ask family to review. Anytime a business
starts to get many positive reviews from people who aren’t obviously
part of the community, things look suspicious. These newbies are
often referred to as 0/1 as in zero friends and only one review.
There’s nothing against newbies as everyone starts somewhere, but it
does look suspicious when as business gets nothing but newbie
reviews. There an entire thread on Yelp dedicated to
outing suspsicous looking activity on reviews also called shill
reviews. This type of behavior only creates anger and distrust in
the community, and even casual Yelp users recognize the behavior
easily. Urban, an American Grill took it to a new level by having
employees write shill reviews even before the restaurant opened.
Yep, it is pretty easy to see that they have literally shot
themselves in the foot. I’ll be displaying the reviews written by
the employees and of the Yelp community at the Rise presentation.
They have been taken down by Yelp Admin for the time being.
You might ask, “But I’m referring
users to Yelp when I ask people to write reviews for my business.”
Yelp gets about 8.5 million visits a day. They probably don’t care
if you referred 100 users a day to their website; they don’t really
need word of mouth advertising. However, the community does care
that your reviews (even though your friends and customers have good
intentions) look like shill reviews. If your friends and family do
review you, it should be disclosed within the review. With social
media being a huge part of our lives, you can’t hide your friends
and family anymore. It is better to be upfront rather than the
being outed on the
master debater business flogging thread.
Also, here’s a few other interesting characteristics about the
Yelp community. They love dogs and support almost every single
event or cause for dogs. If you have a dog business, you are pretty
much welcomed with open arms. They love supporting local
businesses. Most are internet savvy and educated. While there are
always a few angry and unsocial-able people in every community, Yelp
users are generally very friendly and outgoing. Many business
owners are also have individual accounts on Yelp, and they are also
active in the community.
The integration of online lives and offline lives is a
relatively new mainstream concept. With a growing
number of the population now joining social networking
sites, online and offline culture have been mish-mashed
haphazardly with rough guidelines on etiquette and
behavior. Because the social constructs of online lives are
different than those offline, I felt that an article
covering the social aspects of online behavior and offline
behavior and the creation of online culture was much
needed. It seems that many
online as if they were anonymous even though they are not.
This article will discuss some of the psychological aspects
of why people engage in socially unacceptable behavior and
how the culture of that behavior is created. I’ll lead into
a section on the societal impacts of social media, some
quantitative data on social media, and then onto a
discussion of etiquette.
A little background about me: I’m trained as a social
psychologist, and my research area is behavioral
neuroendocrinology in social relationships. In short, I study
how hormones might affect behavior, and how behavior might
affect hormone release. Relationships, largely romantic ones,
are the context in which I study hormones and social behavior.
You might notice
relationships as an overarching theme in this article. This
article is not meant to focus on how to use social media (though
the topic is lightly discussed); rather this article aims to
explain the constructs of behavior when combining offline and
online culture. In other words, the purpose is to discuss human
behavior online and offline.
Brief History of online cultures and early online
microcultures. The Evolution of Culture is a long and drawn out process.
Theorists have debated exactly what culture is, how it arises,
how it evolves, and how it is transmitted.
Not by Genes Alone, How Culture Transformed Human Evolution
by Richerson and Boyd, is a great book for some insight on these
topics since there won’t be debating here. Culture can have
several meanings, including (from Wikipedia) 1) High culture –
sophisticated taste in fine arts or humanities. 2) an integrated
pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that depends
upon the capacity for symbolic thought and social learning or 3)
the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that
characterizes an institution, organization or group. For
purposes of this article, I’ll be focusing only on the third
definition of the word culture.
Before Myspace, Facebook, or other social networking sites
became popular, online culture was relatively undefined and used
by a rather narrow group of people. In other words, it was not
mainstream or widely used. One of
the first methods of online real-time communication was
“Internet Relay Chat”, or IRC, which people often accessed from
university-provided UNIX accounts. UNIX accounts also provided a
command, which showed you basic information about another user
– an online “profile” of sorts.
It had information such as name,
email address, and a
“.plan” file which the user could fill with any information
they chose. The information was neither required nor
validated. These online personas could be entirely
anonymous, and easily kept that way. While people did meet each
other in person after contact via IRC, meeting people in person
after only online communication was much less common than it is
today. The taboo of meeting someone online was that it was
“weird” or that people only met online because they had
personality issues or something of that nature (completely
untrue, might I add). The demographic of people using IRC was a
very narrow group of people who were interested in using
computers as a communication device and had the skills to use
the IRC program.
It is difficult to say how many people were communicating via
the Internet in that fashion, and many have abandoned that mode
in favor of more popular modes such as
Googletalk. Chat programs are now extremely popular for
everything from providing online customer support to chatting
between friends on social networking sites.
Another popular form
of online communication is
Before the World Wide Web, the earliest forums on the Internet
As the World Wide Web became more mainstream, Web-based message
forums became a popular medium for online communities. Internet
message forums are typically focused on a certain hobby or
recreational activity. Through my own hobbies, I joined many of
these online communities. Most of the organizations I
joined over the years were nationwide with members scattered
across the country. The mode of communication and conduct of
business was mostly online via Yahoo groups (which can be public
or private depending on the group’s needs) or
listservs (email mailing lists) and moderated forums. These
groups were comprised of people who were highly invested into
the particular hobby or activity, but
who were not
savvy. While one could choose to be anonymous
within these groups, it
was mostly impossible to do so, as people would
eventually meet you at shows, trials, clinics, or other events
surrounding the hobby. Joining these national clubs which existed
mostly on the Internet was my first encounter with an
online culture where members were expected to meet in person.
In summary, Internet Relay Chat (IRC) and message forums were
one of the early modes of online communications with anonymous
users. There was no expectation that the users would ever meet
in person. Later, some groups and organizations used the
Internet as their primary mode of communication, and meeting
users in person was a by-product of attending club events.
Nowadays, the norm of modern social media tools and websites is
that profiles disclose a person’s true identity, and meeting up
with other users in person is no longer considered taboo or
“weird”. Websites like
Twtvite.com are examples of websites created to facilitate
offline meetings of online communities. Part 2 – Establishing Culture
Establishing Cultures and Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture How culture is established is a multifaceted and deeply
involved process. Some factors in establishing culture include
the speed at which cultural norms are set, whether
there is a clear leader or dissenter, and how outside
visitors view the culture. There have not been empirical
studies on establishing microcultures to my knowledge, but in
many social psychology studies, microcultures are indeed
established for the duration of the experiment. One well-known
study that investigated the creation of micro-culture is the
Stanford Prison Study by Phillip Zimbardo. While this study
uncovered many unknown aspects and phenomena about the human
psyche, it was also an extreme example of culture creation.
Twenty-four male students were recruited to participate in a
study in which half the participants were to be guards and the
other half were to be prisoners in a makeshift prison. Using a
variety of methods including the factors previously listed, the
indoctrination into this simulated culture was so harsh and so
disturbingly easy that the study was ended after only six days.
If you haven’t been exposed to the
Stanford Prison Experiment, please do check out the website
and think of the implications the study has in many real world
situations. It is incredibly easy for anyone to fall into the
role of a prisoner or guard in their personal relationships,
work places, or government.
For this next section, I do not have references or empirical
studies to cite. Many of the following situations are
anecdotal, and I’m open to other interpretations.
Here are some
examples of how I’ve set rules in a microculture, and a link to
nurture an online community.
Example A. As a biological specimen collector for the
Texas Attorney General’s Office (think CSI), I’ve had to work
with many children, most of whom are pitching a fit and crying.
When the children get to me, I tell them directly in an
assertive yet calm tone, “There’s no crying allowed here.” I do
this with lots of children between the ages of six months old to
five years old, and the method has a 95% success rate. Many
parents stare in awe and ask, “How did you do that?” Simple. I
established the rules for my laboratory, and the children
Example B. One of my hobbies is dog training,
handling, showing, and judging. Along the way, I’m often
approached for advice by dog owners who do not set specific
rules and boundaries for their furry loved ones. Dogs have very
different social structures than humans. Giving dogs free reign
and no rules usually leads to dogs who misbehave in a variety of
ways including: jumping on people, gnawing on people, ignoring
people, running away, refusing to obey commands, growling at
people, challenging or fighting with other dogs, getting food
whenever the dog wants, or food aggression. When people ask me
for help with these issues, I immediately point them to the
Nothing in Life is Free program and the
Umbilical Training Method. These programs and other
variations are quick and easy methods to teach dogs rules and
reinforce desirable or undesirable behaviors. Simply, the dog
must offer desirable behaviors prior to receiving food or
attention. It is the owners who should demand and get the
attention, and not the other way around. Many dog owners assume
that dogs should behave in the fashion that we desire, but they
are dogs and do things that dogs enjoy.
Example C. Every semester that I teach a new class, I
establish a microculture in my classroom. I learned the hard
way that if rules are not explicitly set at the very beginning
of class, the entire semester could be a disaster. My first
solo teaching experience: I was given two weeks notice that I
was teaching an Introductory Psychology course to 250 students.
Needless to say, I was not prepared nor did I expect college
freshmen to behave so immaturely. Since I am of
small stature, female, and appeared young, it contributed to
the problem. It is commonly known that these are the three
factors that are most
correlated to classroom management issues. Students
would stroll in late, they would talk on their cell phones
during class, and they would protest assignments and exams. I
did recognize the problem early on, consulted with my teaching
Dr. Ludy Benjamin and
Dr. Stephen Balfour, and got my class whipped into shape by
mid-semester. Other graduate students who came to my class
described my students as polite, quiet, well-behaved, and almost
like a military troop. A colleague also taught the same course,
but she did not instill any rules. The misbehaviors in her
class grew over the semester. Asking the department head to sit
in on her class only exacerbated the problem. One student
yelled obscenities at her during lecture, and neither the
department head nor the lecturer
issue. In the mind of the students, if the department head
thought it was okay to be obnoxious and rude, then it certainly
was acceptable classroom behavior. In conclusion, I now spend
the entire class period the first day of class in every single
class establishing the cultural norms of my microculture, and
then we spend a day watching
The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch. If you haven’t watched
the lecture (available on googlevideos or youtube), stop reading
this article and
watch it now. Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture is one of the most
motivating and useful lectures that is a must watch for both
educators and students alike. Randy Pausch’s lecture is a guide
to how to live your life, how to nurture your relationships, and
how to achieve your dreams. The purpose of watching the video
is to establish expectations and classroom culture. Randy
Pausch is not only a great lecturer, he’s also models classroom
behavior the way I would like.
Part 3 – Social Psychology and Online Communities
Following that same vein, there is no hard data on what is
exactly going on in social media. There is a plethora of
quantitative data on how many views a page or post receives
and from where the traffic originated, but there is no data on
how content is perceived. Little to no accurate or complete
qualitative data exists. Comments on wall posts or blog
posts are qualitative, but it represents a very small portion of
the readers. There is no data on how the other users who chose
not to comment actually feel about the post. So while there is
data on the number of viewers and when they viewed, there is
little indication of their reaction to online content. This is
where cultures can sour a bit. Austin Yelp Talk threads used to
be filled with light-hearted banter and fun topics. Over time,
a few users became snarky, rude, condescending. Some believed
that if you ignored those users (often called
trolls), they would go away. That is a very
common technique in dog training using
operant conditioning , i.e. not rewarding unwanted
behaviors. However, the other issue is that if those users
repeatedly violated the “be cool” guidelines in the terms of
service without any one calling them out, then saying nothing is
in some sense establishing that
behavior as the norm. While users can flag rude and snarky
posts for removal, most Austin Yelp users simply quit using the
talk threads because the culture had changed.
One might think that people would be unlikely to conform to
behavior just because they observed it on the Internet or in
person. The popular opinion is that humans are free from
influence when it comes to making
their own decisions or controlling their own behaviors.
Nothing could be further than the truth. Many social psychology
studies show that when the situation is ambiguous,
people look to others and model other people’s behaviors.
Even in situations where a norm is already established, others
behaving in another fashion can entice
people to change their own behaviors (watch the video, it’s
hilarious). This may explain how a faux pas might become the
norm for behavior.
One issue that doesn’t have a name yet and has not been
empirically studied is users’ feelings after posting something
on the Internet. It appears that there is a certain sense of
self-worth or accomplishment because one’s own opinion is
posted on the Internet. The user feels that because he or she
has a right to post things online, his or her opinion is valued,
trusted, or even validated. While I highly value my
Freedom of Speech, I do not think that just because certain
information can be posted that it should be posted
or that it is correct. My personal rule of thumb is: If I won’t
say it to someone’s face, I shouldn’t post it online.
Part 4 – The Importance of Social Media and Social Media
The Importance of Social Media in our society
The importance of social media is quickly growing; some cities
online community newspapers. Social media and online
cultures do matter. Online communication is just one
medium in which to
transmit information, exchange ideas, and meet people. Here are
some stories of how social media has affected something offline,
both positively and negatively.
Rock Art Brewery was sent a cease and desist by Monster (the
billion-dollar energy drink company), over a Rock Art
beer called Vermonster. To make an incredibly long story short,
Rock Art Brewery united on blogs and Twitter urging people
to boycott Monster products. Hashtags ranging from
#boycottmonster to #savethevermonster flooded my Twitter feed.
Even non-beer drinkers saw the inequity of the situation and
pledged their support for
Rock Art Brewery. Just check out all the blog posts listed
here. Those blog posts went up in just a matter of days
after the word had gotten out. Eventually, Monster backed off,
Rock Art Brewery was able to continue selling their
Vermonster free of harassment.
Case 2. As I was watching CNN at the gym,
Josh Levs was doing a segment about using social media to
find missing children. He showed this Facebook fan page called
Missing Children, Let’s find Them. Imagine an entire city
being alerted to a missing child via radio, television, news
articles, Facebook, and Twitter. Finding missing kids would be
so much faster and more efficient. If you know anything about
missing children, the length of time they’ve been missing is
highly correlated to the likelihood that the child is no longer
alive. Time is critical in these cases. This is only one way
that social media can be beneficial to society.
Postsecret.com is a very popular blog filled with secrets
submitted on a post card. While the submitters of the post
cards are anonymous, the idea that someone can disclose deep and
disturbing secrets has spawn into what amounts to an emotional
support group. Click on any of the comments and you’ll see
evidence of an online community within
Postsecret.com. One reader’s email on how she decided to not
commit suicide was posted for a very long time on
PostSecret.com. Sometimes, we all just need someone to
listen to us.
Case 4. This story isn’t about triumph or useful ways that
social media can be used; this story is one of how social media
can have powerful effects. You might remember in late 2007, a
young girl committed suicide after receiving messages from a
fictitious myspace friend. The lesson that we should all learn
from this story is that social media, though online, is
powerful. It can create strong friendships, and it can also
hurt others to the point of committing suicide. Please use
social media carefully. Stop
Social Media as a means
Now that we have established that social media is a
mainstream mode of communication, let’s look at what it means to
advertise via social media.
Research (non-academic to my knowledge) has shown that
people are more likely to believe
word of mouth marketing (the recommendation of their friends
on products) rather than traditional advertising. The issue
with this type of advertising is that – contrary to popular
belief – some of the mouths doing the advertising are being paid
by the companies for said advertising. I personally feel that
this behavior is misleading because the information is no longer
coming from an unbiased source. If you haven’t already seen it,
Federal Trade Commission has just released guidelines on
blogging. It is common for bloggers to receive
complimentary items, but there are some bloggers that are also
paid for posts, tweets, or other forms of advertising. In the
food blogging world, there are marketing blogs that are set up
to appear as if they were food blogs. I feel that
everything should be disclosed,
consumer to decide who they want to believe. Here are some
links for reading.
1. If you are the organizer of a big event, show up, and
deliver. There’s nothing worse than going to a meet up, and not
having a meet up. It wastes the time of many people.
Give more than you can take, online and in person. Reach
out in some other way besides the Internet. Perhaps someone on
Twitter recommends you to a client which brings you very
profitable business. It would not be out of the ordinary to
send that person a thank you plant or a dozen cookies, provided
you know that person’s work address. You might even invite that
person to lunch. When I was the Ways and Means chair for one of
my national clubs, I learned that a person who recently placed
an order had a death in the family. I did not know that person
outside of filling the order, but I sent the family a sympathy
card in the regular
postal mail. Few things in life are worse than losing a
loved one, and I’m a big proponent of
oxytocin and social support. From that, we began to
communicate more and more often. Less than a year later, the
family, who lived on the other side of the country (Austin, TX
to Washington, DC) met me in person for the first time while I
was in DC, and presented me with a very
valuable and large gift that both my dog and I love. This
example shows that a stamp and a card could turn into a
wonderful long distance relationship.
4. One of my favorite business Twitter accounts is
@FSAustin – for the
Four Seasons and
Trio in Austin, TX. The hotel and restaurant’s phenomenal
service shines through on their Twitter account as well.
@FSAustin‘s tweets are useful, full of local tips, upbeat
and happy, and very timely. They don’t tweet too often, yet
they are always there when you “at reply” or “mention”
@FSAustin or direct message them. Not only do they reply to
people frequently online, they are the very same way offline.
Their Twitter managers always make it a point to greet me if
they see me in the hotel or even out and about town. All staff
members, including the general manager, wait staff, masseuses,
and even the valet drivers, are always smiling, and very
receptive of any concerns, online and in person. They are a
great example of a business that
builds strong relationships with their customers online and
Twitter and Blogging Etiquette
There is no shortage of posts and articles outlining
Facebook, Twitter and blogging etiquette. However, I haven’t
found any articles that are dedicated to outlining behaviors
online and offline. Here are some useful links on twitter and
blogging etiquette. My personal opinion in the next part will
not outline the issues already discussed in the following links.
Here are some of my personal tips concerning online and
offline behavior. 1. Accepting complimentary food
and drinks from a restaurant is fairly common for a variety of
reasons including birthdays, replacing another dish, extra long
wait times, etc. However, I personally feel that one should
never ask for complimentary food simply because he or she blogs
or tweets. Stating “I am a blogger, writer, reviewer, and
therefore I want free food and drink” is in poor form. Tweeting
that you should receive free food, drinks, and other goods is
just wrong in my opinion. This is how some
restaurant owners might feel about asking for free food and
drinks. Anyone can write a blog on the Internet. Having a
blog doesn’t make a
person special or deserving of complimentary treatment. If
you are respected and known for your writing and your opinions,
the staff will recognize you and compensate you as they please.
Keep in mind that individuals who are well-known for their
influence in media all started out somewhere. Most of them pay
for their meals despite what the public might think.
2. When posting reviews or
information online, be thoughtful and careful, whether the
information is positive or negative. Remember, telling your
friends that you had a bad experience is not the same as posting
it online. Everyone can read it online, which can hurt feelings
business owners very angry. My personal rule of thumb is
that I will let the restaurant know that I am having a poor
experience while I’m there. If the restaurant tries to fix the
problem, I’m happy with that. If the restaurant doesn’t try to
fix the situation, I feel that it is fair for me to post my
experience if I decide to post at all. Before I post a negative
review, I have several people proof read it to make sure that
the post is fair and the restaurant had adequate opportunities
to fix the issues. If the experience was positive, I will focus
on the positive points and mention the minor issues if there
were any. If I thought the food was mediocre, I don’t post that
it was fabulous. Accurately conveying my experiences is
important to me. Writing that every single restaurant was just
a fantastic five star experience might cause others to start
questioning my integrity, sense of smell, and taste buds.
3. Promoting events should be
given careful thought. If the event clearly requires an RSVP or
tickets, it is to everyone’s advantage to make that blatantly
clear. No one wants to show up to an event to discover that
tickets cost a small fortune or that it is not open to
non-members. If you would like to attend an event out of your
price range, you might volunteer at the event, which frequently
comes with perks. Check out my
navigating food festivals post.
On the other hand, businesses
often host free events to celebrate with their customers and to
bring in new customers. I’m not in the market to buy a new or
expensive vehicle. If a local Porsche dealership is throwing a
party to celebrate a new model, I’m probably not going to
attend. The effort and funds that the Porsche dealership is
investing into the party isn’t targeted for non-customers. Be
mindful of businesses before advertising all events as free and
open to the public. The party may be free for attendees, but
the business is the one footing the bill. I ask business owners
first if it is okay to promote their event on my blog or
twitter. Also, keep in mind that free food and drinks brings
out everyone in town. Free food and drink events will be
crowded and busy. Enjoying a free party is a privilege, not a
right. Don’t get angry if you happen to miss the free food and
drink. If you are vending at an event, it is to everyone’s
benefit to ask how the event will be advertised, how many people
the organizers are expecting, and how tickets for the event will
Dos Equis learned this the hard way.
4. Burning bridges when you
might need them the most. Online communities are just as real
as offline communities. If you own an Italian restaurant, it
would be wise to be friends with other Italian restaurant
owners. I’m not saying that you should be best buds and spend
every waking moment together. But you ought not write
unflattering things about them online. I once tweeted a
positive comment about a yogurt shop I frequented. 30 seconds
later, a gelato shop tweeted how yogurt in general was a
terrible product. I was put off by the gelato shop’s behavior,
and I don’t intend on patronizing a business with such an
5. If you have socially
unacceptable attitudes, you shouldn’t broadcast them. It’s
2009, but there are still racists, sexists, and mean people in
this world. Those attitudes are socially unacceptable, and if
you choose to post them publicly, you might not have many
Two local DJs made that mistake, and there has been quite
the buzz about it. I’m not going to debate whether what was
said was actually intended to be a racial comment. Regardless,
some listeners were offended. I feel that I can pull a
Delfina’s pizza stunt
in which the employees wore their
negative reviews on a shirt, and I’m going to link to a
racially insensitive post written about myself. Since it is
about me, I won’t be hurting anyone else’s feelings by using
it. I’d also like to mention that I am Asian, and the writer’s
husband also proceeded to make sexual arm gestures and hip
gyrating moves during the interaction. The two local DJs and
the author of the blog post have committed a serious social
6. Somethings are
better kept private. Posting personal information online
might violate someone’s trust in you, exploit someone’s privacy,
make others feel uncomfortable,
tip off authorities and lead to your arrest (it’s funny,
just read it), or create problems in the
work place. In browsing through the previous blog when
adding it to this article as an example, I found the content to
be quite inappropriate in social media. There are support
groups for depression and other mental illnesses. Posting
information about personal marriage problems,
drug dependency, depression, and post traumatic stress disorder
along with identifying photos and information is not a good
idea. This would make online and offline interactions with
either person in this couple awkward to say the least. I feel
awkward reading it. Social media outlets should not be used as
a support group. It is better to find a support group that also
uses social media for healing. There are also websites like
PostSecret to vent those private feelings.
7. It is perfectly normal and
accepted to disagree with others online. However, disagreements
can be handled with tact. Unless you do want some major
fighting online probably isn’t a good idea. Fighting in
offline doesn’t accomplish much either.
Also, please read
this post written by another Austinite (not related to my
incident either). Tweeps, don’t be mean. Twitter users are
real people with real feelings. Now that online interactions
intersect with real lives, think twice before hitting send.
Here are some of my personal tips concerning online and offline
1. Accepting complimentary food and
drinks from a restaurant is fairly common for a variety of reasons
including birthdays, replacing another dish, extra long wait times,
etc. However, I personally feel that one should never ask for
complimentary food simply because he or she blogs or tweets.
Stating “I am a blogger, writer, reviewer, and therefore I want free
food and drink” is in poor form. Tweeting that you should receive
free food, drinks, and other goods is just wrong in my opinion.
This is how some
restaurant owners might feel about asking for free food and drinks.
Anyone can write a blog on the Internet. Having a blog doesn’t make
person special or deserving of complimentary treatment. If you
are respected and known for your writing and your opinions, the
staff will recognize you and compensate you as they please. Keep in
mind that individuals who are well-known for their influence in
media all started out somewhere. Most of them pay for their meals
despite what the public might think.
2. When posting reviews or
information online, be thoughtful and careful, whether the
information is positive or negative. Remember, telling your friends
that you had a bad experience is not the same as posting it online.
Everyone can read it online, which can hurt feelings or make
business owners very angry. My personal rule of thumb is that I
will let the restaurant know that I am having a poor experience
while I’m there. If the restaurant tries to fix the problem, I’m
happy with that. If the restaurant doesn’t try to fix the
situation, I feel that it is fair for me to post my experience if I
decide to post at all. Before I post a negative review, I have
several people proof read it to make sure that the post is fair and
the restaurant had adequate opportunities to fix the issues. If the
experience was positive, I will focus on the positive points and
mention the minor issues if there were any. If I thought the food
was mediocre, I don’t post that it was fabulous. Accurately
conveying my experiences is important to me. Writing that every
single restaurant was just a fantastic five star experience might
cause others to start questioning my integrity, sense of smell, and
3. Promoting events should be given
careful thought. If the event clearly requires an RSVP or tickets,
it is to everyone’s advantage to make that blatantly clear. No one
wants to show up to an event to discover that tickets cost a small
fortune or that it is not open to non-members. If you would like to
attend an event out of your price range, you might volunteer at the
event, which frequently comes with perks. Check out my
navigating food festivals post.
On the other hand, businesses often
host free events to celebrate with their customers and to bring in
new customers. I’m not in the market to buy a new or expensive
vehicle. If a local Porsche dealership is throwing a party to
celebrate a new model, I’m probably not going to attend. The effort
and funds that the Porsche dealership is investing into the party
isn’t targeted for non-customers. Be mindful of businesses before
advertising all events as free and open to the public. The party
may be free for attendees, but the business is the one footing the
bill. I ask business owners first if it is okay to promote their
event on my blog or twitter. Also, keep in mind that free food and
drinks brings out everyone in town. Free food and drink events will
be crowded and busy. Enjoying a free party is a privilege, not a
right. Don’t get angry if you happen to miss the free food and
drink. If you are vending at an event, it is to everyone’s benefit
to ask how the event will be advertised, how many people the
organizers are expecting, and how tickets for the event will be
Dos Equis learned this the hard way.
4. Burning bridges when you might
need them the most. Online communities are just as real as offline
communities. If you own an Italian restaurant, it would be wise to
be friends with other Italian restaurant owners. I’m not saying
that you should be best buds and spend every waking moment
together. But you ought not write unflattering things about them
online. I once tweeted a positive comment about a yogurt shop I
frequented. 30 seconds later, a gelato shop tweeted how yogurt in
general was a terrible product. I was put off by the gelato shop’s
behavior, and I don’t intend on patronizing a business with such an
5. If you have socially unacceptable
attitudes, you shouldn’t broadcast them. It’s 2009, but there are
still racists, sexists, and mean people in this world. Those
attitudes are socially unacceptable, and if you choose to post them
publicly, you might not have many friends.
Two local DJs made that mistake, and there has been quite the
buzz about it. I’m not going to debate whether what was said was
actually intended to be a racial comment. Regardless, some
listeners were offended. I feel that I can pull a
Delfina’s pizza stunt
in which the employees wore their negative reviews on a shirt,
and I’m going to link to a
racially insensitive post written about myself. Since it is
about me, I won’t be hurting anyone else’s feelings by using it.
I’d also like to mention that I am Asian, and the writer’s husband
also proceeded to make sexual arm gestures and hip gyrating moves
during the interaction. The two local DJs and the author of the
blog post have committed a serious social blunder.
6. Somethings are
better kept private. Posting personal information online might
violate someone’s trust in you, exploit someone’s privacy, make
others feel uncomfortable,
tip off authorities and lead to your arrest (it’s funny, just
read it), or create problems in the
work place. In browsing through the previous blog when adding
it to this article as an example, I found the content to be quite
inappropriate in social media. There are support groups for
depression and other mental illnesses. Posting information about
personal marriage problems,
drug dependency, depression, and post traumatic stress disorder
along with identifying photos and information is not a good idea.
This would make online and offline interactions with either person
in this couple awkward to say the least. I feel awkward reading
it. Social media outlets should not be used as a support group. It
is better to find a support group that also uses social media for
healing. There are also websites like
PostSecret to vent those private feelings.
7. It is perfectly normal and
accepted to disagree with others online. However, disagreements can
be handled with tact. Unless you do want some major attention,
fighting online probably isn’t a good idea. Fighting in offline
doesn’t accomplish much either.
Also, please read
this post written by another Austinite (not related to my
incident either). Tweeps, don’t be mean. Twitter users are real
people with real feelings. Now that online interactions intersect
with real lives, think twice before hitting send.
Over the last year, the number of blogger/online media happy
hours and events have exploded. With many of new restaurants
opening, restaurants undergoing a makeover, and restaurants
looking for new ways to reach bloggers/online media, I’ve helped
set up some of these events. Here’s my guide to organizing and
executing a blogger event. This guide was written after
attending many wonderfully orchestrated events as well that some
that left a poor impression on me.
Blogger/Online Media Culture
Bloggers and food writers tend to hang out together and to
know each other well. There is a strong sense of community, and
the active ones tend to keep each other up to date on events and
happenings. Most of food bloggers have full-time jobs, kids,
and other hobbies. Very few are food writer for their day jobs.
Make sure your staff understands that a bloggers at an event
tend to be different from normal customers. We’ll typically ask
more questions about the food, move around often, and spend
quite a bit of time with our cameras. Be prepared to answer
numerous questions from food sources, cooking techniques, and
restaurant philosophy. Expect questions about your wine cellar,
kitchen appliances, garden, or other event areas.
Schedule the event for at least two hours with no other
events that day. Media tends to hang out and socialize for long
periods of time afterwards. Most events are 5-7 pm or 6-8 pm.
The advantage of earlier hours is that the event won’t interrupt
normal dinner services. The disadvantage is that many bloggers
work past 7 pm.
Plan for the event to be earlier in the week so that the
chef has time to chat. Make sure your event doesn’t conflict
with other food events, avoiding blogger, social media, or other
community events as well as around the holidays. Many food
bloggers have a list of upcoming food events.
Invites should address all details. Ambiguity in an
attendees’ mind almost always equals disorganization. Invites
should specify whether or not the event is complimentary,
requires tickets to be purchased, or if meals will be ordered
off the menu regularly. Invites should also be explicit on
whether or not the event is a private blogger event or part of
an open invite to the public.
Many blogs have co-writers or support staff
(photographers). I have a small pool of photographers that
rotate in when my regular one cannot make it. Specify in the
invite whether or not the event can accommodate support staff.
Electronic invites with a built in RSVP tool can be sent out
with a variety of free online services such as
Make sure you send in as a separate email, and NOT as part of a
weekly newsletter or link on your website. Most people won’t
see the invite, and thus no one will show up. Be sure to hide
everyone’s email addresses when sending email. No one wants
their email to be stolen. PDF or jpeg versions of the invite
can also be emailed.
Expect that many people will not attend. In the Austin food
community, usually one-third or less of people invited typically
show up. Factors that decrease attendance includes distance
from downtown, parking availability, day of the week, time of
the day, and proximity to other big food events. Expect that
about 10% of those who RSVPed will not show up.
Ideally, invites to these events should be sent out at two
to three weeks in advance. Be sure to include links to website,
chefs bio, facebook page, and twitter accounts. Last minute
invites give the appearance of disorganization.
If you’re marketing the restaurant to wildly different
groups of people, you might think about doing events for each of
the groups separately. This will help you meet the needs and
expectations of all the groups.
Publicity and Contact Methods
While there are many good publicists in Austin (email me
privately for a list of ones that do a thorough job), there are
not so thorough ones. Check up on publicists by asking for
references. I’ve had one publicists tell me that 5000 people
were invited to an event, and only 12 showed up.
While it is nice to have your publicist(s) present at the
event, bloggers/online media often want to meet the chefs and
Questions and comments from writers should be answered
promptly, usually within 48 hours. I’ve had to wait three weeks
for simple answers from a publicist, which ultimately lead to me
discarding the blog post.
Photography and Set up
Make sure there is a well lit area for staging food or set
up arranged dishes in a well-lit area for photographs. Adequate
lighting is essential for good photographs. Many food bloggers
do not use a flash. If possible, set up a photo table with food
next to a window for photos in natural light. Dim light or
multicolored lights are terrible for taking photographs, and it
can require many hours of photo editing afterwards.
Avoid sit down style events if working with a fairly large
groups (15 or more). Those types of events have often felt too
formal, too stiff, and not a good set up for conversation.
Provide seating, but don’t expect food bloggers to sit still.
One of the best part about these events is the community among
the food bloggers. We love to hang out with each other.
What to Expect and Taking Criticism
Do not pressure bloggers to post about your event. Everyone
has different reasons for why they do or do not post. They
might not post because they did not get enough content to post.
They might also decide to not write simply because they lacked
the time. Lack of writing shouldn’t be taken as feed back.
Some bloggers will save your blog post for a special
occasion. For example, I posted about St. Arnold’s new brewery
three days prior to an event held at the brewery. Even though I
had written the post four months in advance, it served as a
teaser to the event.
Name tags are especially helpful if inviting different types
of media (magazines, online, newspapers, etc…). It helps
facilitate conversation between everyone.
You can solicit feedback simply by asking how one is
enjoying the food. Take constructive criticism gracefully.
Most bloggers offer criticism because they want a restaurant to
succeed. Don’t take it personally. Not everyone has the same
preferences. Expect that some people might not enjoy the dishes
Tweeting or posting links to your own website, Twitter, or
Facebook is perfectly fine, but make sure you ask permission
before using photos outside of a post. Some bloggers don’t care
if you use their photos, some bloggers’ photos are creative
commons licensed, and some are not to be used without explicit
consent and proper credits.
Promoting an festival or other events
It is quite possible that there are bloggers who specialize
in covering certain types of food or drinks. It is to your
advantage to offer complimentary media passes. Covering events
is not only incredibly time consuming (some events lasting up to
five hours including driving time), but blogging can also be
incredibly time consuming. I’ve spent over 24 hours uploading
video for a single post, and I typically spend one to two hours
writing text. My photographer sometimes spends up to four hours
editing photos for my blog. Offering a complimentary media pass
is a friendly gesture.
To drum up events, you might offer tickets to serve as prize
giveaways to prominent blogs. Not only does it encourage
traffic to the blog, but also gives more face time to the event.
Going the Extra Mile
Provide attendees with hand outs and detailed information
about the dishes. It is difficult to take notes, eat, chat with
friends, and take photos at the same time. Offering access to
stock photos is also greatly appreciated.
Publicists and chefs might take a moment to familiarize
themselves with the attendees prior to the event. This gives
the impression that the restaurant truly cares and is wants to
be part of the food community. It also allows the chef time to
create a special dish for attendees who might have dietary
If parking is an issue, providing complimentary valet may
increase the number of bloggers who would attend your event.
January 13th was
the first every
Ignite Austin. I was lucky enough to be invited to give my
talk to 400 super rad and active Austinites. From IgniteAustin.org:
events are talks given in five minutes, 20 slides. What would
you say? At
Ignite Austin, 16 artists, technologists, thinkers, and
personalities will take the stage to answer this challenge. The
goal is to spark new conversations and collaborations across
cultures and disciplines throughout the city of Austin with
fast-paced, bite-sized presentations. It’s a great opportunity
to meet smart, interesting people (if we do say so ourselves)
and maybe even learn something.
my original submission to Ignite Austin was on Clean Driving
and modifications that the City of Austin could make to improve
and green their traffic design, I didn’t have time to prepare
that particular talk. Instead, I decided to give my talk on
oxytocin, a hormone I have been researching for the last five
years. I currently have one book chapter in the
Endocrinology of Social Relationships edited by Gray and
Ellison. Follows are
several photos from the event and my talk in online version.
If you are passionate about something, and you want others to
learn about it too, submit a talk for the next
It’s a blast! Photos from
John Knox, Eugene Hsu,
and video from Greg Ackerman.
Thanks to Chris
Lamprecht for proofing my talk.
started with a Paper Airplane contest. Winner received a pass to SXSW 2010 Interactive. Photo by
John Knox. And some planes
were more agile than others. This one did a 90 degree turn. Photo
John Knox This is John’s
first attempt at
HDR photography. The subject of the photo? Trey Ratcliff, a
HDR photography guru. Isn’t it ironic? Photo by
John Knox The talk is
starting. Photo by
John Knox Aw…. isn’t that
puppy in the back cute? Photo by
Eugene Hsu. People making
paper whales for Lisa
Maxwell’s talk. Paper whales rule. Photo by
John Knox Joshua and Whurly are happy. I’m
happy. Photo by Eugene Hsu.
oxytocin from @windaddict.
Photo by Eugene Hsu. The talk starts
now……the text for each slide is underneath it. I have added extra
comments and information that were not in the talk. You might
notice that there are less than 20 slides. Some slides were
I have a
confession…. I’m an oxytocin junkie, and maybe after the next
five minutes, you will be one too. I said Oxytocin, NOT
Now we’re all
going to have a little oxytocin. When the next photo shows up,
every go aw…… Did you get the warm fuzzies? If you did, enjoy
your oxytocin. If you didn’t, you’re a cold hearted monster.
oxytocin causes the uterus to contract and shrink thus aiding
the birthing process. Oxytocin is released during breast
feeding, and nipple stimulation increase oxytocin release thus
facilitating milk let down.
an amnesic effect, especially in stressful situations. It
suppresses memories of those painful moments; this is most
advantageous during childbirth. In mice that were injected with
oxytocin (into the brain), they don’t remember bad experiences.
You can shock them all day long, and they don’t remember a
also critical for social recognition. For strains of mice that
do not have oxytocin receptor sites (called oxytocin
knock-outs), they also seem to not recognize each other. It is
as if after my five minutes, you still won’t recognize me. For
those of you who have had too many drinks or have been spending
the last minute playing with your iphones and blackberries, you
might not recognize me for a different reason.
studies have shown that warm physical contact, like hugs, can
increase oxytocin when going into a stressful situation. Prior
to a stressful event, hugs seemed to increase oxytocin levels as
well as decrease cortisol levels. In studies with humans and
animals, it has been found that physical contact can increase
oxytocin levels in both species. This is evidence that animal
assisted therapy is not only mentally and emotionally healthful,
but also physically helpful.
economics game based on trust, researchers found that players
with higher levels of oxytocin tended to trust and reciprocate
more. Some companies quickly jumped at the chance to
Trust” is supposed to be sprayed on your body so that other
people will start to trust you. Oxytocin cannot cross the blood
brain barrier, and it is in no way detected by the olfactory
system or the Jacobson’s organ (VMO). This product is a fraud,
however, I do have small vial that you’re welcome to try. The
second product is oxytocin tablets. However, it will never make
it past your stomach acids and into your bloodstream. Let’s move
onto how you can release oxytocin on your own.
are a great source of oxytocin release. We’ll go through a
several ways of releasing oxytocin in a variety of relationships
including pair bonding or romantic relationships, relationships
with friends, bonding with children, and in business
One of the
easiest ways to facilitate oxytocin release is with a hug. Hugs
are not only free, they are also environmentally friendly,
legal, calorie free, and you get a dopamine bonus.
One way to
encourage bonding is mutual self- disclosure. You trust each
other more, you release oxytocin, and you bond. You can also
talk about and think about past bonding moments you’ve had.
Studies have also shown that just thinking about a bonding
moment can release oxytocin.
Now if those methods don’t work, you can also go to the old fashion
methods. Nipple stimulation. That’s right, just start titillating
those nipples to get the oxytocin going. And there’s also orgasm.
To go into that will surely put me over the 5 minute time limit, so
we’ll save that for another day.
oxytocin release don’t just happen in real life with warm
physical contact, it can also be released when people receive
social support. My study found that women who received social
support from their partners tended to release oxytocin and
became less stressed. Social support, even online, from a
variety of sources like Twitter, Facebook, or support groups can
facilitate oxytocin release. I frequently ask for it online.
Just search for how many times I use the word “luv.”
surprise you that I’m a big proponent in nurturing business
relationships. You know the saying, it’s not always about what
you know, but who you know, and hope that they like you.
Relationships are an integral part of business. Here’s an
example of my dog using oxytocin to generate some cash flow.
This is my
dog. His name is Mouse. He is an oxytocin machine, and the best
marketing tool. He has made up to $175 in two hours just laying
on the ground looking. There’s only one job I can think of
making that much money by laying around, and it isn’t legal.
When giving children cart rides not only does Mouse make everyone
fall in love with him, I have the children hold the donation jar. As
we circle around, people instantly start snapping photos and feel
compelled to fork over the cash. As we end the ride, I take a photo
with a Polaroid and hand it to the parent. If you’re at all familiar
exchange theory, you’ll know what’s coming next. When asked how
much the ride costs, I say, “It’s free, we do it for luv,” and out
comes the wallet. Thank you very much. Hope you get some tonight.
Oxytocin that is.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ During my talk,
someone wasn’t listening, and she tweeted this. It was brought to
He had no choice but to show the world this epic tweet. That’s
right. If she learned nothing from the other 17 Ignite Austin talks,
at least she learned what is most important in life.
Sunday, Dec. 20th
was my first hot air balloon ride with
While it might not be as thrilling as a
first flight with Austin
Aeronauts was fun and exciting in its own way. The morning
started early, as in 6:30 am early. The reason they start early is
because winds tend to pick up over the course of the day, and it
really isn’t a good idea to take first time passengers up if the
winds are more than nine miles per hour. The course of the
hot air balloon is entirely up to Mother Nature. At different
altitudes, the wind blows in different directions. To tell where
the wind was going, a helium balloon was released into the air prior
to take off. The pilot, David Smuck, and retriever, Chuck, watched
the direction of the helium balloon as it floated through different
altitudes. A hot air balloon team consists of at least two people,
a pilot and a retriever (not Golden, German Short hair, or
Labrador). The pilot navigates the balloon by releasing air or
turning on the flame for more more hot air. The pilot is
responsible for finding a good landing spot for the balloon as well
as landing it safely. The retriever drives to the landing location
to pick up the balloon and passengers. Sometimes it isn’t easy as
good landing spots aren’t always easily accessible to a truck towing
a trailer. Good landing spots aren’t always easy to find as there
are many parameters. Dry, flat land sans large rocks or livestock
is ideal. Private property is sometimes the only option for
landing, and if so, they tend to look for property that isn’t gated
or locked. Sunday morning was
freezing. Check out the frost. The balloon is
first filled with cold air with a high powered fan. Other
passengers are helping by holding the balloon. The volume of this
particular hot air balloon filled is about the size of 60 school
buses at 100 ft long and 100 ft in diameter. This aircraft can hold
up to 1500 lbs. David, the pilot
at the top of the balloon during inflation. A look into the
inflating balloon through the envelope on top. The flame
throwers. These make shooting flames into the balloon. We’re just now
starting to float. The Dell Diamond.
balloon. You can see the shadow of the balloon I was riding in on
the other balloon. We flew over
someone’s very dirty pool. Here’s a photo of the reflection of our
balloon in the pool. Reflection of the
balloon in David’s sunglasses. Cattle grazing.
Shadow of the
balloon. Spooked cows.
When the cow on the left first saw us, it literally freaked out. It
startled violently, stared at us with wide eyes, and froze. Poor
cow. I thought it was going to have a heart attack. When humans
first see the balloon, they usually run inside to fetch a camera.
Dogs occasionally bark at us. After flying for
about 90 minutes (~26 miles), we found a good spot to land. The
landing spot was only 3 miles away from the take off locations, and
it was a grassy flat area on a public road near some homes. David
begins our descent by turning off the burners and pulling on the red
cord to let some hot air out. There are no
photos of landing because it can be kind of bumpy. The basket can
tilt, and you can get thrown out. Lucky me got to be the pilot once
we landed. David, the pilot, hopped out of the basket while I got
to pull the cord to let out the rest of the hot air. It wasn’t an
easy task. Talk about some rope burn. Collecting the
deflated balloon. David and the
other passengers squishing the air out of the ballon. The balloon is
partially rolled up, then rolled into a bag. David, another
passenger, and I sitting on the balloon to get the air out. Chuck, our
retriever, laying on the balloon to get the rest of the air out.
everyone gets a glass of champagne as part of tradition. The legend
is that the very first hot air balloon was mistaken for a fire-y
beast of sorts, and attacked by people on the ground. People just
weren’t used to seeing large objects in the sky with fire in 1783.
The champagne tradition was developed as a way for the hot air
balloon passengers to signal to people on the ground that they were
indeed humans; after all, who doesn’t recognize a champagne bottle.