Do You Hate Your Kids?

Oh, I know. You want little precious to be unique. To stand out from the crowd. They should have their own identity and a special personality, and all that. At least that’s what you say when explaining it. Not sure I buy it, though.

Made-up ridiculous names are bad enough. You’ve already sentenced your child to a lifetime of saying, “Do you want fries with that?” But what’s really evil and insidious is burdening your kid with one of those absurd spellings of a common name. That’s completely uncalled for. For example… It’s not Kelleigh, it’s Kelly. Or, Kelli, which was the extent of silly creativity when I was a kid (get off my lawn!). Is it Heather, or Heathyr? Abigail, or Abiagael? Quinn, or Kwynn? Channyn is not Shannon. (I looked all these up, seriously.)

You must hate your kids. That’s the only logical explanation.  You must have a sadistic side that relishes watching them correct people and spell their names to everybody for their entire freakin’ lives. I mean, really, why else would you do that to them?

I read an announcement recently introducing Jaci.  I thought, “Jaci, like Macy, or Casey.”  Then I read further and saw the disclaimer, “(Pronounced Jackie.)”  Ummm… if you have to pre-emptively explain it, you’re doing it wrong.

Then there’s the extreme edge of ludicrous. Not Jacob, but Gakub. I bet he got called ‘Gay Cub’ a lot in school. I know, you’re reading this shaking your head and thinking it can’t get any worse, right? But wait, there’s more. How about… wait for it… KVIIIlyn? It’s obvious, right? This can be explained, which is good because it needs to be explained. Spelling with numbers… think Roman numerals. Not K-8-lyn, but K-VIII-lyn, pronounced Kaitlyn. 😐 Those parents should be prosecuted for child abuse.

And if you don’t know how to spell what you want? Why, just guess, like this mother did…

One of my English teachers once had a student with a name listed as “Johnhatten”, and she pronounced it as “John-hat-in” For a very long time.

One day, Johnhatten approached my teacher and said, “My name isn’t actually John-hat-in. It’s actually Jonathan.”

Apparently his mom wanted to name him Jonathan, but she and the nurse who was writing the birth certificate didn’t know how to spell it.

Works every time.

I was in line at a local hardware store one day and the teen girl who was checking me out… No, not like that! Get your head out of the gutter. Sheez!… was named Baighleigh. It took me over thirty seconds looking at her name tag for me to properly decipher her freakin’ name. Bailey, btw.

As someone who has had to spell their surname since Day One I know full well that this is a major pain in the rear end, so why saddle that rear end pain on your kid on purpose?  When people ask me my last name I just start spelling it for them, because I know that 99% of the time they will ask. (Then I get the, “Oh, just like it sounds.” response. 😐 Yes, just like it sounds) But it’s a surname, you’re pretty much stuck with it. It’s not a chosen name that you foist on someone else against their will.

Here’s the bottom line. Don’t be mean to your kids. Some countries you have to actually choose from a limited list of approved names. We don’t need to go that far, but we also need to stop making our kid’s lives more difficult than they need to be.  They will have their own identity no matter what you do, and it’ll be from their own personalities, not incidental cutsie stuff.

Punctuation is Your Friend

Be nice to your friends.

Not real often, but often enough to be annoying, you will be reading something… usually a post of some sort on the internet… and the writer will use no punctuation whatsoever. (Nor capital letters where appropriate, either.) Some of these people I have known for a long time, even in so-called “real life”. I know their educational background. I know they’re not dolts, though you can’t tell that from their writing. Case in point: the question mark has become as elusive as Sasquatch. Shoot, there was one guy I knew from a message board who claimed to be a university professor, who did this all the time. No capitalization or punctuation. I’m sorry Mr Highfalootin University Professor, but if this is how you choose to present yourself, then I question the quality of the education you provide. (He once said he would mark students down if they used two spaces between a period and the next sentence. He demanded only one space. *smh* #hypocrisy.)

Moving on, of course you’re wondering if I can provide an example. You bet’cha, I am a full-service curmudgeon…

oh my god this is my dog he is so cute and cuddly we went to the park earlier today and he jumped around and chased other dogs and had a great time he was so happy i wish i could be a dog too that would be so much fun well maybe not the butt sniffing part but id have to be a poodle or something because im just cute like that dogs are better than cats kangaroos are better than dogs that pouch is so cool i want a pouch i like cheesecake but back to dogs hes so slobbery i laugh when he gives me kisses please let me know if you read this and understood it my dog is the bestest ever how come people dont have breeds like dogs do lol

😐 Did you get all that? What the hell am I supposed to do with that?!?

It makes you look uneducated. It makes you look dumb. It makes it likely that the reader will not get a thing you’re saying, especially if your post is a long “wall-o-text” type post. Not only that, it’s actually rude and inconsiderate to your reader. And phone texting is not an excuse, either. Especially if you have a smartphone with a keyboard and don’t have to manipulate numbers to form words. Why should I have to decipher what you’re trying to say as if it’s secret code?

If you do know better and are merely trying to fit in, just know that feigning ignorance and/or stupidity to fit in is uber dumb. Don’t be average, be better. So, unless you really are a dolt, stop trying to play one on tv.

Hey!!! I was reading that!

There you are, in your local grocery store, wanting to get some Chinese take-out for dinner at home. You’re standing there perusing the menu board when… it changes! What the deuce, people?!? I was reading that! And it doesn’t even switch to more menu items, it switches to some mindless video of egg rolls and wontons being thrown in the air at each other like it’s a freakin’ combat badminton game.

*sigh* I now understand why old people act the way they do. All that kvetching is starting to make sense.

But I digress. Anyway, they’re called ‘digital menu boards’, and they’re flashy, and they’re trendy, and they make the restaurant look oh so cool and hip… and they’re completely infuriating and annoying. I, for one, am not impressed. I already know what an egg roll looks like, that’s why I’m there. I just want a list of options (with prices) so I can make my choice accordingly. It’s even worse when I’m asking a question about a certain menu item and… *facepalm*… it’s not there anymore. Never mind, now we both get to wait for the recycle. Don’t make me stand there waiting for the recycle. Maybe it’s me and my curmudgeoness, but I honestly don’t think that’s too much to ask.

I wrote recently about not being a Luddite. I welcome new ideas and chances and improvement and advancement. That’s fine. Just be honest and know that not all change is for the good.  Sometimes we overthink things.

Rant: Stupidity, defended

Being from the “big city”, there are things that are just not in my mindset.  Living in a more rural state has shown me there’s much trust out there.  Trust that I was raised to reject.  One is the naive lack of awareness of one’s surroundings.  Case in point:  In the winter people will leave their cars running and unattended while they go in the store.  It’s only a few minutes, right?  (They also openly count their money while still standing at the ATM, which drives my sister crazy.)

Where I come from your car would be gone in a heartbeat.  And guess what… it happens here, too, albeit not as often.  In fact, it happened here just last week.  This guy that I do not know personally, but am loosely acquainted with through a Facebook group, had his car stolen in this manner.  I’m copying portions of the story here…

MARION, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) — A Marion man says he was just trying to keep his vehicle warm in sub zero weather when someone stole his SUV.

It happened on December 30th at Casey’s General Store at 680 Lindale Drive in Marion. <deleted> says he was running inside to get a cup of hot chocolate before work.

He had his spare key on him, and thought he locked up before going inside. A person at the nearby laundromat spotted the SUV and drove off with it. Police are still searching for the person who did it. <deleted> thinks the person is homeless, and stole his car to stay warm.

He adds, “Well I feel violated. And like I told the officer, the Marion Police officer. I told them, I said I would’ve given him a ride. You know, some place or a shelter, or wherever he wanted to go.”


The vehicle was found Monday in Cedar Rapids. Police will check it for evidence, then give it back to <deleted>. He says he will keep his doors locked from now on.

He adds, “I screwed up, you know. I don’t know how else to put it.”

(He wasn’t this contrite in the Facebook group.)  And he’s surprised it was stolen.  😐

Ok, now this news story does not include all the annoying details.  It also happens that this guy posted his plight on the previously mentioned Facebook page, expressing sadness and shock at being victimized.  And… this is what gets my goat more than the car theft itself… people lined up to defend him and his choices.  People slammed the thief, which was appropriate, but not a single person dared criticize him for the obvious.  They actually defended him and told him he bore no fault whatsoever.  It was all on the thief.  It was as if they were all enabling dumb decisions.  No one was willing to say what needed to be said… “But you left your car running, you idiot!  That was stupid!”

Now, don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t matter how ‘available’ something is, and no theft victim ever “deserves” it, there is never an excuse to steal.  But let’s get back to the real world, shall we?  In the real world there are dishonest people.  People who will steal, and it is incumbent on you to reasonably protect your stuff.  Locks were invented for a reason.  Leaving your vehicle available is not responsible.  Leaving your vehicle available is dumb, especially without remote start.  Even if the door is locked, if the key is in the ignition you’re asking for trouble.

Oh, and the best part:  In the Facebook group he said he will continue to do the same thing.

New Year’s Fantasies

Every year we go through the same thing.  People want to start anew.  People want a new beginning, a “do over”, essentially.  “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”, or something like that.  And this is big business, too.  I’d be willing to bet that weight loss programs and gym’s make most of their money in the first three months of the year, just as toy retailers make most of their money the last two months of the year.  The “season” drives the rest of the year.

There are probably a dozen or so common resolutions, but we’ll focus on the ‘Big Three’…

  • Weight Loss:  America is fat… and in the interest of full disclosure, so am I.  It stands to reason that people want to be healthy and/or feel better.  I get that.  But why wait until AFTER the holiday eating season?  Wouldn’t it make more sense to start your program on October 1st, instead?  Head those extra few pounds off at the pass!  I mean, if you’re serious…
  • Exercise:  Joining a gym.  Again, timing, why now?  And what, exactly, are you going to do in the gym?  Are you a weights person?  Elliptical?  Team sports?  Swimming?  Will you be going alone or with a friend or two?  Ask these questions first, before you make the commitment… and it is a legal commitment.  Referencing payment above, there’s a reason gyms make you sign a contract for a minimum period of time (usually six months), and require auto-deduction from your credit card or bank account.  They know that the excitement you feel in January fades by the end of February and is totally done by the end of March.  How busy the gym is during these months also says the same thing.
  • Quit Smoking:  Definitely a laudable goal, and worthy of doing at any time.  Quitting smoking is hard (so I have heard, I have never smoked).  It is common for people who have been both cigarette smokers and heroin addicts to say that quitting heroin was easier.  I would think, though, that timing could be any time of year, not some arbitrary calendar thing.  Seems to me that if you’re basing your new lifestyle on a date on the calendar you are bound to fail.  You’re doing it on a wish, not because you really want to.

So here I am pointing out other people’s flaws and I know what you’re thinking.  You’re thinking, “But Ken, have you ever done any of these?”

You bet I have.  Back in the early 1990s I joined Weight Watchers (in the spring).  I hated it.  I like food, I like good food, and good food wasn’t anywhere to be found.  But I was determined and stuck to it… until the last day of the first week, a day before my first weigh-in.  I ate an entire medium pizza for lunch.  And I had still lost eleven pounds that first week, even with the pizza.  Wow!  In a perverse way that actually motivated me, for awhile.  Then I slowly regressed to eventually not doing it at all within a couple months.  But, due to my experience, I know for a fact that Weight Watchers works, so should I ever be serious I would go back.

In the early 2000s I joined a local gym.  Same reasons.  I joined a very nice gym.  They had an indoor swimming pool and everything.  As mentioned above, I had to sign a six-month minimum commitment.  I went twice a week for about four months, then started to slack.  I’m not a weight-lifting person, that’s boring.  I wasn’t able to commit to team sports like volleyball for time reasons.  I did use the pool occasionally, but mostly just used the treadmill and watched tv while I walked.  Well shoot, I can walk at home for free, so when my contract was up I canceled.

Anyway, when you decide to do something like this, ask yourself some important questions.  Primarily, why now?  Are you doing it because you wish you lived better and because you know you should?  That’s what ding it based on a calendar date would suggest.  or, are you doing it because you’re fed up with your current lifestyle and you know it’s time to change?  That’s the real reason and that happens any time of year, albeit not always at your convenience.

If you’re doing it for the right reasons I will support you to the ends of the earth.  If you’re doing it because you think you should… I’ll roll my eyes.  I won’t say anything to you, but I won’t believe you, either.


Restaurants… breakfast food… conditioning.  And that’s what it really is is conditioning.  There’s no other logical reasoning.  Pro-tip for restaurants:  Not everybody likes eggs.

  • Go to McDonald’s (or almost any fast food restaurant) and almost all options include eggs of some sort.  McDonald’s even recently rolled out all-day breakfasts.  Why is it so hard to to have a burger option or two for the rest of us?  Doesn’t have to be the entire menu, but a couple basic options would be appreciated.
  • Go to almost any sit-down restaurant and pretty much every combo option involving pancakes or french toast also includes eggs.  And this is one area where they are loathe to consider substitutions.  Sure, I can order ala carte, but then I’m paying inordinately more for my meal.

Eggses, by themselves, are nasty!  The notion of cutting up a lone fried egg and eating it alone is nauseating to me.  Scrambled eggs, by themselves, need to be covered in ketchup… which says all that needs to be said regarding them.  Now, I’m not wholly anti-egg.  I will eat them in certain scenarios…

  • Omelettes:  Eggs in the form of an omelette are quite tasty.  Being combined with the other ingredients is what makes an omelette tasty.
  • Over-easy eggs mixed in with harsh brown potatoes:  Not “American fries”, but hash browns.  Put the over-easy eggs on top, and cut them up and mix them in.  (Mix in some link sausage, too, and it makes a nice meal.)  This is something my Dad learned in the Air Force in the 1950s, and was something he taught my sister and myself, and is the only way that I actually like over-easy eggs.  The whites must be trimmed away as much as possible, too.  Egg whites are tasteless.
  • Hard-fried egg sandwich:  This is kind of an exception.  A hard fried egg on toast.  With or without meat and cheese, depending on my mood.  Mayo is required.  Usually salt, too.  A scrambled egg makes a mice sandwich, too… no ketchup necessary.
  • Over-easy cut up on toast:  About once a year.
  • Oh, and poached as part of an Eggs Benedict is a nice change of pace, as well.  (A local restaurant here that I like stopped making poached and tries to pass off scrambled for Eggs Benedict.  Blasphemy!)

Those are about the only way I will do eggs.  Hard boiled/Deviled Eggs?  *Gag!!!*  Raw in a ‘healthy’ drink?  Do you really want to clean your shoes?  My list of what is acceptable doesn’t seem so bad, but if you have caught the common theme so far is that they must be “doctored” to some degree, and/or combined with something else, to be palatable.

Bottom line:  People only eat “breakfast foods” at breakfast because they’ve been conditioned to do so.  Someone told them that’s the way it’s supposed to be as a kid, and like a good little soldier fell into line and repeated that mantra for the rest of their life.  A good burger for breakfast is perfectly fine, quite tasty in fact, and restaurants especially need to suck less and do better to accommodate us non-egg people.

Rant: Idiot Drivers

And no, I don’t mean just Iowa.  I mean idiot drivers everywhere.  I mean the morons who refuse to turn their headlights on in inclement weather.  Rain, snow, fog, and so on.  And what are the most common lame excuses?  They are…

1) “Having my headlights on don’t allow me to see any better.”

Yes, I have actually had people say this to me.  Hey, idiot, headlights on in bad weather is not for you to see better, it’s for other people to better see you.  Duh!!!

I come from the central valley in California, with some of the worst Tule Fog imaginable.  Fog so dense you often feel the only thing guiding you is the lines on the road.  “Driving by braille” we often called it (many California roadways have raised line markers), and the ONLY thing that clued you in to an oncoming car was their headlights.  You for a 2 second warning.  Cars with no headlights on you wouldn’t be aware of until they were right on top of you.

Most places, such as Iowa, don’t have fog nearly that bad, which actually makes your headlights more important because you can get a decent sense of who else is on the road.

2) “My headlights are automatic and activated by a sensor.”


Seriously?  That’s your excuse?  Don’t be irresponsible.  Are you in charge of your car, or is your car in charge of you?  Think.  Be aware of your responsibilities as a safe driver and take  control.  Be pro-active.  Override your automatic system and manually turn on your headlights, if necessary.  To blame it on your automatic sensor is pure laziness and abdication of responsibility.

Bottom line:  Don’t be an idiot driver.  This has been your driving PSA for today.

It Tastes Just Like…

Stop!  Halt!  Cease and desist!

No, it doesn’t. It’s bad enough that you’re lying to me, though I know better so it’s a hollow claim, but it’s sad that you’re lying to yourself. Is that what you really need to do to get yourself to choke down that healthy replacement of the real thing? I mean, c’mon, even dogs aren’t interested, and they eat cat poop.

  • Margarine is not butter, and the two don’t taste remotely the same. “I can’t believe it’s not butter”, my arse!  They should be jailed for false advertising.
  • Mashed cauliflower is not the same as mashed potatoes. To suggest so is an affront to all that is pure and holy.
  • Tofu. Oh yay… tofu. 😐  But but but… it takes on the taste of whatever you cook it with. Oh, goodie, I have to add bacon and butter to get it to taste like bacon and butter. And let’s not even start about the lack of consistency. Bleh!

Now, it may taste good. That’s fine. That’s totally acceptable and believable. Just don’t insult me by claiming it tastes “just like” the real version, the version that even you know you prefer better, because if you didn’t think the original was better you wouldn’t be trying so hard to replicate it. If you have to “doctor it up” to get it to taste the same… which is impossible, but for the sake of conversation we’ll go with it… then you’re only kidding yourself. You can put a Mercedes emblem on a Yugo and it’s still a Yugo. Just suck it up and say it tastes good and leave it at that.

“Internet Disease”: Lying for Reasons Unknown

Half the people on the internet are lying at any given moment. I am convinced of this, based on observations and correlations over many years. Now, I don’t know which half, and it’s probably safe to say that the lying half fluctuates from topic to topic, in other words it’s not always the same people, but the ratio still remains at roughly half being liars.

And what they lie about is stuff that is so inconsequential that it doesn’t matter. Nothing in the world will change based on their lie. It’s all to boost their ego, or save face so others won’t think lowly of them (which might suggest low-self-esteem, but that’s another topic for another post… and blog).

I have named this phenomena “Internet Disease”. Let’s take a look at some examples, shall we? If one were to believe everyone on the internet at face value…

-…McDonald’s would be out of business, because no one ever eats there. The food sucks, they say. Many question if it’s food at all. The old, long debunked, rumors… what’s in the meat, etc… keep getting spread around as if they’re true. I think many people want to believe they are.

-…Walmart would be out of business, too, because no one would ever be caught dead in that place. They don’t come right out and say it, but the class of people who do shop at Walmart… which apparently don’t have internet because we never hear from ‘those people’… are literally beneath them. The funny part is that many of these people readily admit that they shop at Target… which is just Walmart with a different color scheme and slightly higher prices.  Status costs extra, ya know.

-…the BBC would be the only news source for the entire world. The rest would be out of business due to lack of viewers, readers, and listeners. Ask people on the internet and the standard answer is the BBC. Maybe a few stragglers will admit to NPR, if American guilt hasn’t completely consumed them, but it’s clear that all the informed people use the BBC, and they want you to know it.

-…chain restaurants, in general, are always empty, bereft of customers. Chain food is unworthy. Really, restaurant food, in general, is questionable, and is to be consumed only in dire emergency, but if one must eat out then the obvious choice is the “mom-and-pop” restaurant. <cue harps from heaven> Mom-and-Pops are full of people. Which I guess explains why mom-and-pops are thriving and chains are closing and going the way of the Automat. Oh, wait…

-…relating to the last point, no, we all eat at home almost exclusively. Why? Because we all have all the time in the world and use only the finest ingredients. A regular Galloping Gourmet we all are.  Margarine? Pshaw! Surely you jest, only real butter. Preferably hand-churned by silk-haired virgins who were sacrificed to a volcano immediately after to preserve the uniqueness of this butter. And only the best olive oil is used, pressed between the bosoms of lusty Italian widows. And we all have a special butcher who saves all the best cuts just for us, and will even deliver on Christmas morning if we get a hankerin’ for some extra-lean goat brains. We also have Juan Valdez climbing the peaks of Colombia on his hands and knees to pick coffee beans with his teeth so they can be shipped fresh to our door every morning. That’s right, we will tolerate only the best!

Now, granted, some people do do some of these things, but I call BS that all that claim to do so actually do do so.  (Was that awkward wording, or what?  lol)  And in the interest of full disclosure, I even have my things. For example, we recently stopped buying margarine entirely and now use only real butter, but we buy it from Walmart… and the Walmart house brand, no less. I often seek out mom-and-pop restaurants when I’m traveling, as sometimes you discover some truly great food and you experience the local culture, but there are times that I crave a Denny’s or a Wendy’s hamburger, as well. There’s nothing wrong with any of that.

To paraphrase Dave Ramsey, “We go to great lengths to claim an air of sophistication we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.” The whole thing is absurd.

The Secret to Living to a Ripe Old Age


That goes without saying.  Oh, and being a jerk.  Yes, that’s right, be a jerk.  In a curmudgeonly way, of course.  That’s the secret.

You hear about people who live to be 104 and they credit a whiskey a day, biscuits and gravy, smoking, nitrate-laden meats, and on and on.  All that is just coincidence.  The part that no one talks about is that all these people were jerks.  Mean, nasty, stubborn, difficult, obstinate… jerks.  Allow me to present my case…

I watch a lot of true crime documentaries.  Shows like Forensic Files,etc.  I find them fascinating.  Quite often a murder victim is a young person.  Usually a girl, but not always.  And the one thing they ALL seem to have in common is that they were such sweet great wonderful people.  I’ve lost count at how many of these people would “light up a room” as soon as they walked in, how they all were “full of life”, and “had the world by the tail”.

Really?  Maybe this is why the world is so screwed up.  All the good people die young.  Perkiness attracts bad people, apparently.  Bad people leave other bad people alone.  There must be no satisfaction in harming another person like yourself.

So that’s it.  Be a jerk and you’ll live to over a hundred years.  I rest my case.

p.s.:  I wonder if having crass and insensitive taste adds a few years?