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I was at an event yesterday where the participants were asked to do a listening exercise. We got into pairs and one person had to talk for two or three minutes while the other listened, and the listener was supposed to just hold eye contact, without any nodding or providing facial/verbal cues of any kind.

(A brief aside to state for the record how much I hate the partner up! request when it comes to group activities. I suppose there are some people who simply turn to the person next to them and raise their eyebrows, like SHALL WE DANCE? and everything’s great, but for me I find myself facing dead ahead while I desperately try and scan for a sense of receptiveness from whoever’s nearest and when I finally summon enough courage to orient myself in their direction I feel like everyone else has instantly made a new best friend for life and is in the midst of exchanging phone numbers and pricking their fingers to become blood bonded while my person and I are making that emoticon face with the perfectly flat mouth and saying things like “Uh…so.”)

Most people agreed that it was extremely difficult to listen without providing any sort of response. For me it felt not only robotic, but sort of creepy: I was highly aware of the eye contact, and as the seconds ticked by I felt more and more like I wasn’t just delivering a neutral gaze, I was boring holes into her skull with my unflinching eagle-stare. Then I kept losing focus on what she was saying because I was distracted by the effort of not nodding or smiling or crumpling my face sympathetically or any of the things I normally do when I’m talking to someone.

It wasn’t much easier to be the person doing the talking. Afterwards, the instructor said how she believed that talking to someone who’s not offering any distractions in the way of feedback allows someone to get deeper into what they’re saying, but I felt like it was the difference between engaging in a conversation and delivering a speech. Not even a speech, actually, because at least you might get a chuckle from the audience at some point — this was more like reciting the night’s specials to a couple who was masking their impatience (I DON’T CARE ABOUT THE BAKED ORANGE ROUGHY) with blank facial expressions.

The whole point of the exercise, at least if I understand it correctly, was to highlight how we can be better listeners by not allowing our own biases and opinions and conversational tics to distract or influence the person we’re listening to. The general end goal makes sense, but if we were being asked to demonstrate best-practice social engagement, I want nothing to do with it. I mean, I find human interactions challenging enough without taking everything encouraging out of the picture. Without the nodding and smiling and face-wrinkling and “Uh-huh”-ing, you know what you’ve got? A phone call, that’s what. A. PHONE. CALL.

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mburch42
1 day ago
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Real Products That Exist: The Star Wars Dewback Loveseat

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dewback-loveseat-1.jpg This is the Dewback loveseat crafted by Regal Robot, a new spinoff of Tom Spina Designs (previously). The 330-pound loveseat looks like a Dewback from Star Wars and costs $10,000. Granted it doesn't look particularly comfortable, but who cares about comfort? You think I sleep on the floor because it's comfortable? No, I sleep on the floor because I couldn't get rid of the bedbugs in my last mattress and new, stain-free mattresses are expensive. I should get a hammock. Also, why the hell did they decide to make a Dewback loveseat when they could have made a Jabba The Hutt chaise lounge? Now that's a sofa that would really fly off the showroom floor. But don't take my word for it, just ask furniture sales analyst James Talbott. "He's 100% correct." See? And for the record that totally wasn't just me throwing my voice, John is a real person who knows his shit. "My name is James." See? There's no way I could be lying now. Keep going for a couple more shot.
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mburch42
2 days ago
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Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Why do you want to work here?

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I'm starting to wonder if I don't have some deeply repressed fantasy where I'm a middle aged woman who participates in overly blunt job interviews.

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HEY BRITAIN! Soonish is available in the UK. We've used metric units, added the letter "U" after every "O" and as a courtesy, every book will be lightly dampened with cold rain.

Available for preorder!

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mburch42
2 days ago
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jlvanderzwan
2 days ago
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"How many fingers, Winston?"

The abandoned Château de la Mothe-Chandeniers castle in France

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Encircled by a moat in the midst of a large wood, Château de la Mothe-Chandeniers can be found at the at the town of Les Trois-Moutiers in the Poitou-Charentes region of France

Originally called Motte Bauçay (or Baussay), the stronghold was built in the thirteenth century by the Bauçay family, lords of Loudun. In the Middle Ages, the castle was taken twice by the English and it was devastated during the French Revolution

In 1809, Château de la Mothe-Chandeniers was bought by wealthy businessman François Hennecart who restored the castle to its former glory, an in 1857 it was passed to Baron Joseph Lejeunea. After a major fire destroyed most of the buildings in 1932, the castle has been abandoned. 







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mburch42
2 days ago
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MenageAquad
2 days ago
Eventually found on Google Earth but the low res satellite images are less than impressive.
mburch42
2 days ago
Some interior photos: https://www.derelictplaces.co.uk/main/overseas-sites/31823-chateau-de-la-mothe-chandeniers.html
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The Italian ghost town of Balestrino

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Situated in Liguria, 70 kilometres (43 mi) southwest of Genoa, Balestrino is one of Italy's most mysterious ghost towns, with little information known about the town's history and origins as well as its demise. 

Balestrino dates back to at least the 11th century. During the middle ages, the Bava family, nobles from Piedmont, were the feudal lords of the town and the one's who built Balestrino's oldest castle. Later, in the 16th century, the Del Carretto family came into power and built their castle. The castle was burned down and the lord was killed in 1561, leading the family to establish a court and torture chambers to maintain control and stop rioting. 

Although the town managed to flourish, battles between his armies and locals during the occupation of Napoleon severely affected the area and its population. Balestrino came under the rule of the Kingdom of Sardinia and Piedmont and in 1860 it became part of the Kingdom of Italy

It is believed that earthquakes and hydrogeological instability was the main reason for the town's demise. A number of earthquakes in the 19th century caused a part of the population to flee, with the last inhabitants evacuating Balestrino in 1953. 

The abandoned area is 1.5 hectares wide and is made up of fascinating buildings such as the churches of St. George and St. Andrew, built in twelfth century. The town's best-preserved building is the Byzantine castle of Del Carretto, while the bridge of Deautra, covered in wild plants, is another beautiful corner of the abandoned town. 

Today, the ghost town of Balestrino, situated close to the newer Balestrino town is visited by thousands of visitors and explorers every year. It has also caught Hollywood's attention, chosen as a location for the movie Inkheart.





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mburch42
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Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Recreation

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Happily, this will never be true of nerd comics.

New comic!
Today's News:
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mburch42
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