Intelligence in Eyes

There’s just so much there there.

Musings during a really bad commute: I can usually tell if someone is intelligent just by looking in their eyes. Why is that? How is that possible?

Am I profiling? Am I being judgmental? Maybe. But it works for me.

I respond to people who have curiosity in their eyes. Inquisitiveness. I like it when people are alert and participating in life. People who appear interested in learning are usually the very ones who actually learn. Go figure.

I can connect with some animals through their eyes, too. I’ve seen enough intelligence in the eyes of dolphins and elephants and whales to make me gasp. It amazes me that anyone could want to harm them. There’s just so much there there.

Dilation of the eyes can indicate interest. Eye contact can, too. (Although I must say that a prolonged, unblinking stare gives me the willies.)

There’s a reason that people say that the eyes are the window to the soul. We’ve learned to read people by gazing into their eyes. We’ve been doing it for thousands of years. Most of us (including me) couldn’t tell you how it works, exactly. But most of us know that it does.

So, if your eyes glaze over as if you’ve lost interest, then don’t be surprised if I lose interest, too.

Elephant Eye

Like the way my weird mind works? Then you’ll enjoy my book!


That Moment When You Realize You Have Horrible Taste

Hi, my name is Barb, and my curtains don’t match. My pillowcases don’t match my sheets, either. And some of the pants I wear to work are patched because I refuse to spend money on something that’s just going to get greasy. I’ve had pretty much the same hairdo since high school, and no one else seems to dress the way I do. I can’t be bothered to be trendy. I’d rather spend my money on travel.

I don’t wear makeup, I’ve never had a manicure, and I watch a lot of reality TV and true crime crap off of Youtube. I collect rocks. I also collect misfits.

I really ought to vacuum my car, but since I don’t even bother to wash it, what are the odds of that? And I’m sure my neighbors would say that my yard is in desperate need of attention.

The reason I appreciate my friends and loved ones so much is that they are willing to look beyond that surface stuff and see who I am. Underneath all that tacky sloppy stuff is a warm heart, a loyal friend, an intelligent woman with a killer sense of humor. I’m kind and compassionate and creative. And my dog loves me.

I admit I probably don’t make the best first impression. But I’ve always appreciated those people who are willing to delve deeper. Thank you all for that.

bad taste

Like the way my weird mind works? Then you’ll enjoy my book!

Ignorance is NOT Bliss

There are few things in life that annoy me as much as an intelligent female who acts stupid because she thinks it’s cute or expected of her. There are women in this world who think people will like them more if they avoid being seen as the smartest people in the room, which indicates to me that they probably aren’t the smartest people in the first place.

I suppose this behavior bugs me because I prize intelligence over just about anything else, and I can’t imagine giving that away. I also can’t imagine wanting to be in the company of someone who would prefer that I be less than who I truly am. And I would have a hard time respecting someone who would actually fall for an intelligent person who is dumbing herself down.

Ladies, there are plenty of people out there who are going to assume we’re not very bright just by virtue of your gender. If you doubt this, walk into 9 out of 10 mechanic’s garages and ask a question and see what happens. There’s no point in taking part in the reinforcement of that categorization by acting the fool.

If anything, being a strong, independent, intellectual woman means that you shoulder quite a bit of responsibility. Just by being in this world and interacting with others, you are setting an example of what women are capable of, and how they should be perceived and treated. Each day you are making a small impact, and chipping away at a stereotype. Future generations will benefit from the impression you make every single day. Whether you know it or not, you are blazing a trail. For God’s sake, do it with pride, dignity, and intelligence.


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God, I love National Public Radio. I was listening to a guy get interviewed on the way to work this morning. He was talking about a book he had written about understanding the monetary system. I wish I had gotten his name or his book’s name, but I was driving. Anyway, he was saying that many people are intimidated by the whole system, including banking and investments, and that he wasn’t because he had relatives in banking, so he had the courage to learn about it.

And then it happened. He coined a term that I think ought to become a thing. If it doesn’t become a thing, I will lose utter faith in humanity. You have been warned.

The term was “pre-baffled”. He said a lot of people are sort of pre-baffled by the monetary system. They think they’ll never be able to understand it, so they don’t even try.


The reason it strikes such a chord with me is that I see this phenomenon all the time, and I can’t relate to it at all. The one thing, probably the only thing I’m 100% confident about is my intelligence. I have absolutely no doubt that I’m capable of learning anything at all if I’m willing to put the time and effort into it. Granted, I really don’t feel like investing years of my life delving into brain surgery or rocket science, but if the spirit moved me, I have no doubt I could do it. Apparently I suffer from an utter lack of pre-bafflement.

Unfortunately I see friends and loved ones psyching themselves out all the time. “I hate math. I’m not going to do well in this class.” “Well, I hate math, too, and it doesn’t come as easily to me as writing my blog does, but that only means I have to try that much harder. You are an intelligent person. You can do it.”

Update: A friend of mine tracked down the source of this new term! It was an interview with John Lanchester about his book How to Speak Money. Check out the interview here.


Poor Beaker is the poster child for bafflement, both pre and post.

On Looking Homeless

My late boyfriend had brain surgery about 25 years ago. Because of this, a big section of the back of his skull was missing, and his face was lopsided. To mask these things a little bit, he grew his hair long and wore a beard. I thought he was absolutely gorgeous. Certainly the best looking man I’ve ever known. But I was biased.

People who didn’t know him often mistook him for a derelict. It didn’t help that as a roofing contractor he was often wearing grubby clothes by necessity. And because his speech was slurred, he was sometimes treated as if he were mentally retarded. That was ironic, because a more intelligent man you will never meet. One time he was rudely kicked out of a convenience store because the clerk thought he was a hobo. And sometimes people would avoid him on the street. He’d try to smile at them, but his face was no longer capable of that. He had the most smiling eyes I’ve ever seen in my life, though.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, some people were over the top nice to him. People would often offer him food. He’d smile with his eyes and thank them and explain that it wasn’t necessary.

He used to say that he spent a great deal of time convincing every new person he met that he was normal. Mostly he was amused by it, but sometimes it made him tired to be so misunderstood. There wasn’t much he could do about it, though. He just had to start from scratch with every single person every single day. Every. Single. Day.

Now that he’s gone, I often see people walking down the street that look quite a bit like him. Once upon a time I would have thought, “homeless” and discounted these people. Granted, some of them are, indeed, begging on street corners, and now, in my mourning, that makes me get more than a little emotional. I wish I could save every Chuck I see.

I often think how lucky I am that I didn’t discount Chuck when we first met, or I’d have missed out on some of the most amazing parts of my life. I’m not suggesting that you go out and embrace every scruffy stranger you see. But maybe pause a couple of extra seconds and give them a little bit more of a chance. Because you just never know.

Working hard

Kiss Me, Russell Brand

About 20 years ago I saw an episode of Doogie Howser, M.D. in which a very young Neil Patrick Harris, as the lead character, fresh from some triumph or other, walks up to a woman he has never met and says, “You’re beautiful. Can I kiss you?” And then he kisses her and they both go their separate ways.

When I saw that, I remember thinking, “Oooh! I want to do that!” The thought of having a brief, innocent, extremely sexy encounter with an unknown person with absolutely no consequences, giving me an utterly clean slate on which to paint fantasies for the rest of my life, greatly appeals to me. In fact, “Kiss a total stranger” is on my bucket list.

Ah, but who am I kidding? I’d never risk the rejection or the potential look of horror and the subsequent awkwardness or assault charges. I’m not brave enough for that.

But the other night, with Russell Brand’s autobiography My Booky Wook on my nightstand as I drifted off to sleep, I thought, “Russell would let me kiss him.” Let’s face it, though, a great deal of Russell Brand’s, er… brand… revolves around his libido, so I’m fairly certain he’d kiss just about any woman, even one like me whose fantastic 19 year old body is hidden under a thick layer of fat and age.

So yay! That would remove the whole rejection factor, and there’s the added benefit that I happen to think he’s one of the most gorgeous men on the planet.

But here’s the question, would I actually do it?

Heck yeah! Didn’t I just say he’s gorgeous? (Well, at least when he doesn’t go wild with the mascara and the teasing comb.) And I wouldn’t have to worry about being tempted to go further than a kiss, because the man admits he doesn’t practice safe sex, so… no thanks.

But I think that after the kiss, instead of feeling triumphant, I’d feel a little sad. Because there’d be no emotional connection. There’d be no meaning behind it, no “might have been”, especially for him, so it would have no value. Well… reduced value, anyway.

In his book, he says he enforces his “identity and status as a man through sex and the seduction of women.” I’d love to talk to him about that, one on one. Not judging, but frankly, I’m curious why that identity and status needs to be enforced over and over and over again as he does. I suspect he may not be doing something right.

I would love to point out to him that what makes him a man has very little to do with sex and seduction. What I find most attractive about him is his erudition and intelligence, his ability to look at the world from his own unique perspective, his personal honesty about his rocky past, and the way he attacks life with a white-hot intensity. I like that he seems to have an utter lack of social filter, and that, to quote My Fair Lady, he treats a duchess as if she was a flower girl. Everyone the same. I find that charming.

So don’t worry, Russell, you’re a man. You seduce the world with your words, and I therefore think I’d get more of a kick out of talking to you than I would kissing you, but I’d be more than willing to test that theory. So if you ever pass through Jacksonville, Florida, call me, darlin’. You could spend the wee hours of the morning hanging out with me on the drawbridge. It’d be our delicious little secret.

Oh, and by the way, I’m told I’m a great kisser. Just sayin’.


The True Sign of Intelligence

I am fortunate enough to have a lot of extremely intelligent people in my life. I find intellect to be comforting. To me it says that problems can be solved, mysteries can be explained, success can be achieved and logic will prevail.

Unfortunately, too many people rely completely on the IQ test to measure intelligence, even the folks at Mensa who should know better, and that is a huge mistake. There are several schools of thought on the subject, but it has been posited that there are as many as 77 different forms of intelligence, and the IQ test measures only one.

In light of that fact, I’ve come up with a very simple, utterly unscientific method for determining who are the most intelligent people in my life. People who pass this test tend to be the ones I approach for advice, because they are not only smart, but they also care about others, and that matters a great deal to me.

Here’s the test. One question. And it’s not even a question you ask the person in, uh…question. No, you ask this of yourself. Is this person capable of making him or herself understood no matter whom he is talking to?

Think about it. Some of the people with the highest IQs in the world cannot pass this test. You ask them to explain something and they hit you with a long, drawn out, highly technical response that not only goes straight over your head but also leaves you feeling even more at sea than you did before you approached them. How valuable is that?

The most intelligent people I know are more well-rounded than that. They not only take in the inquiry, but they also take in the nature of the inquiry. In other words, what is it you’re really trying to find out, and why? They also look at the source of the inquiry. A truly intelligent person (by my yardstick, anyway) will have a different response for a highly inquisitive 5 year old than they would have for an extremely educated colleague in the same field of study.

That may seem like common sense, but you’d be amazed. But this measurement, many of the people in Mensa would be considered not very intelligent at all.

You can know everything there is to know, but if you are incapable of communicating that information, you are nothing more than a solved Rubik’s Cube sitting on a shelf.


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Get Off of my Cloud

As a blogger and a fairly intelligent person, you’d think I’d be up on current events. Not so much.

I almost never watch the news. This current trend of expecting the public to live in a world of constant fear makes me sick. And creating news out of non-events, such as what Paris Hilton’s dog is wearing these days, has limited appeal as well.

Several years ago I decided that there was really no point in getting worked up about situations over which I have little or no control, and because of that, I stopped reading newspapers and magazines, and stopped watching the news.

Now, if I have a question about something, I look it up. If it really intrigues me, I’ll read everything I can about it. And I don’t cast votes without doing my homework. Other than that, I let the news come to me. I never go to it.

You’d be amazed. If there’s something that you need to know, such as the fact that a hurricane is headed straight for you, you will find out about it one way or another. I’m never left in the dark about the major stuff, in spite of the fact that I don’t actively seek to be illuminated.

I must admit that there are distressing gaps in my knowledge of pop culture these days. I haven’t a clue as to whose record is topping the charts, what the most popular TV shows are, or who won the Super Bowl. But here’s a shocker: I seem to be able to live my life quite well without this information.

We Americans are under the mistaken impression that the entire world cares about what’s going on in this country, but I bet if you took a poll you’d discover that the vast majority of them can go days, months, and years without thinking about us at all, unless we’re threatening to drop bombs on them. So if the rest of the world can go without peering at our figurative navel, why can’t I?

This is a personal philosophy of mine that drives my boyfriend absolutely insane. He spends a great deal of time keeping up with current events. Guess which one of us has to take blood pressure medication.

So if you see me floating by on my own little cloud, humming quietly to myself to block out the onslaught of bad tidings that are coming at us all from every direction, just wave and let me drift on past.

Unless there’s a hurricane coming.


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