Look, a squirrel!… and other annoyances

Is it bad to be so annoyed all the time? I mean, c’mon, is everybody else really that… brain dead? Well, yes, many are. Around me, it seems. But not all, let’s be curmudgeonly fair. I have even had my own moments of dumbness, though only a couple, and mine were completely justifiable. No jury would ever convict me.

Be that as it may, there are some irritating things in the world that need to be discussed and dealt with.

Example: Road construction. A couple things here. First, back in my day… get off my lawn!… they’d put some cones and a couple signs out, and everybody knew where to drive to stay out of causing a wreck. It wasn’t a big deal. Today, apparently we have enough non-drivers that they have to completely repaint all the lines and arrows, just to take them out later, which scars the pavement, so they can repaint them again, rinse-and-repeat, lest Goober lose his way and ram someone who did know what to do. This is not a good sign of where society is going, no pun intended.

Second, you remember my previous post where I mention the Facebook page for my hometown where all people do is complain? Basically, whenever the city does anything new and/or different, the wailing and gnashing of teeth begins. Wasting money on pet projects for friends (read: developers), blah, blah, blah. We have lots of roads that need work so spend money there (there’s one guy that I think would prefer gravel roads, he wants no money spent at all). Yet when there is construction to fix or rehabilitate a road, they complain about that, too. It’s not being managed right (as if they’re in this industry and know what they’re talking about), why did they choose that spot when this other road right in front of my house needs it more?, and my personal favorite… I had to wait. 😐 and *facepalm*. What the deuce, people, do you want the roads fixed, or not? I mean, really!

Then there’s my memory, of late. This point was going to be something completely different just 45 seconds ago, and it was going to be so poignant and cool as to be mind blowing, so much so that you’d have had an urge to give me a fist bump, and now it’s this as a back up…

Oh, wait, now I remember… why is good food labeled as bad? Don’t know what I’m talking about? Treats like chocolates and candies and the such are often labeled as “sinful”. Why is that? Are we saying that good tasting food is from the devil and that good-for-you food sucks in taste, but is righteous? Phfft, that’s no fun. Oh my God, pun intended, we might be a bad person if we actually enjoy something. (throws up hands in futility of trying to be a good person)

It should be the other way around, the good people should get the good tasting stuff AND have it be good for you. “Sinful” food should be, oh, I don’t know… castor oil. Or liver & onions. This dichotomy fits with my historical perception of the Catholic church, whose motto should be, “Life is pain. Deal with it.”

And last, but certainly not least, “Look, a squirrel!”, the phrase. Such an awesomely descriptive phrase. It explains mindless distraction perfectly. I want to reference that, along with “first world problem(s)”, all the time, but just look at it. “Look, a squirrel!” I mean, to be done properly, an exclamation point is a must, but the exclamation point gets lost next to the ‘l’. No impact. Just a plain sentence. A perfect phrase thwarted by similarities in character.

So annoyi… oh, what a cute basset meme.

Work Breaks!

Ken The Grump fancies himself an observer. A person who notices and notes behaviors of people around him, especially patterns in groups of people. Things that most people don’t notice, or when you point it out to them they say, “Oh yeah, now that you mention it…”

Either that, or, “I don’t do that!!!”

Our theme today is inconsistencies, or double-standards, or hypocrisies, in break time at work. Please note that Ken makes it a personal policy to not talk about work or his employer on social media. This is unwise. So also note that these two things are commend everywhere, and in no way apply narrowly to my current employer or any past employers. How’s that for a disclaimer? So let’s jump in…


Coffee is the life blood of corporate America. Ken does not drink coffee, and he perceives his lack of inclusion in “the coffee clique” thwarts him in his career. Ken is not trendy enough. Many office don’t like it when you take too long (in their minds) of a break. A coffee drinker can wander to the kitchen, pour a pot of coffee, even make a new pot if necessary (they love you when you do that, seriously), shoot some BS for a few minutes, then mosey back to their desk, and everything is fine.

A non-coffee drinker, on the other hand, does not have this luxury. If Ken wants to get a some water or a soda, Ken better get in, get his drink, and get back to his desk. How dare Ken want to heat a snack in the microwave on company time… even though that time is the same as the coffee ritual. Unfortunately, non-coffee drinkers are not a protected class, so we get the short end of the stick.


This one is not as prevalent in today’s world as it was 30 years ago, but it still exists. You want a cigarette, sure go ahead and do your thing. See ya in a bit. Anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes.

You the non-smokers wants a break?!? Don’t be so selfish. Get back to work.

I will give a specific real-life example: When Ken was in the Army in basic training in 1982, we’d pretty much everyday be outside doing various things and training. About three to four times a day smokers would get a smoke break. Non-smokers got no break. Non-smokers were expected to keep working. I am not kidding and I am not exaggerating.

Ken is always one to work the edges of the system, so Ken came up with a solution. Ken… the non-smoking Ken, mind you… bought cigarettes. When smoke breaks came up, Ken would take a break, light a cigarette, and sit there relaxing while the cigarette burned down by itself. Ken got his breaks!

Then there’s the time where, during one of these smoke breaks in a forested area, one guy fell asleep. A bunch of other guys covered him in pine needles. Then a drill sergeant came over and woke him up… rather harshly. But that’s a different story for another time. Ken did not partake, but did sit against a tree and watched and laughed.

In conclusion:  is it really that bad to give everybody the same consideration for breaks?

Three things that never should have been

Today we will take a look at three bad ideas.  Incredibly dumb, self-defeating, moronic ideas.  Fortunate for us… or maybe not… the human species is full of dumb ideas.  Now, we’re not talking things like jumping off a water tower while drunk to impress a girl who already went home with another guy.  No, we’re talking things that were intended to be completely serious, yet failed miserably anyway.  So, without further ado, let’s go…

1. Continues recycling linen towels in public restrooms.  Officially known as “Reusable Cloth Roll Towel (CRT) systems”.  Some guy with a blog… as if anyone cares what some random guy thinks, I mean really!… claims these are the best and most hygienic options for public restrooms.  Let’s look at this objectively, shall we?  In a controlled and carefully manipulated scientific atmosphere, and with light use, I’m sure these things are actually pretty decent.

But let’s also take a look at reality.  Think back to every time you’ve actually seen these contraptions in action.  They almost always tend to be in the seediest and most questionable restrooms.  Which kind of makes sense as they would appeal to the laziest of operators who want to spend as little time as possible maintaining their restrooms.  Due to questionable sanitary conditions and constant overuse, they’re all wrinkly and dirty and still wet from the last six guys who were in there doing whatever it is they do.  The linen towels on these things are always absolutely disgusting.  Hardly sanitary, let alone reassuring.  I feel better wiping my hands on my shirt.

2. Dual drive-thrus.  A relatively recent phenomenon, I can sense the logic.  Get people in and their order taken as quick as possible.  People are impatient in the first world, after all.  This will speed up the process, get people through quicker, which makes them happy, but even more important brings in more revenue, which makes us happy.  Sounds great.  In theory.

In practical reality, however, they are horrible.  Whenever you take an order, then have to ask every car in line which order is their’s, you know it’s not working as intended.  And the kicker?  They still get it wrong way too often.  You still end up driving away with somebody else’s order, wondering who got your food.

Then there’s the schmucks who risk an accident to rush around you to get in what they believe will be the quicker side.  Or the lackey who hasn’t been paying attention and takes orders out of order.  Yes, just a lovely experience all around.

3. Spray on hair, hair in a can, whatever it was called.  It was invented and sold by Ronco, inventors and makers of a plethora of supremely quirky gadgets and novelties… though I will say that my Ronco Showtime Rotisserie is freaking awesome.

Anyways, was this really intended to be serious?  As strange as it may seem, I think so.  I think Ron Popeil is supremely serious in all his inventions and innovations.  Which, of course, makes it all the funnier.  It didn’t help that the actors in the television commercials were serious.  I always wondered how they were able to keep straight faces.

This photo here is proof that it’s a good idea, right?  <wink wink, nod nod>  Men with hair get all the babes.  That’s how it works, isn’t it?  Isn’t that why some men do comb-overs?  To get the babes?  At least that’s how it’s sold to young boys and men growing up, if you don’t have a full head of hair you need the illusion of a full head of hair.  And we won’t even get into toupees, ala Mr Tudball.  The only way you can get a babe without a full head of hair is to be rich.  This thinking, naturally… no pun intended… is equally insulting to both men and women.  It implies that each sex is shallow.

Well, ok, both sexes ARE shallow in their own ways.  No one sees that about themselves, though, just the other side.

So there you have it.  We may report on more later, ya never know.

I just wanted a pizza

Is it really that hard to just sell me something?  If I want to go to a concert, when I go to buy tickets I have to create an account where I hand over personal information.  Everybody on the internet wants you to create an account anymore.  It’s become disconcerting.  Remember Radio Shack?  They would ask for your phone number at every purchase.  You’d have thought that that diode you purchased had national security implications.

Yesterday was Friday.  It was hot and muggy.  I was tired.  On the way home I decide I’m going to stop in and get a pizza to take home for dinner.  I go in, the clerk immediately asks for my phone number.  Curious, I ask the clerk if it’s required.  He looks shocked, then says ‘yes’.  Now, I have no idea if he’s lying or telling the truth.  He could have lied just to get me to shut up and comply.  It’s a good thing The Grump has a strategy for this.  If The Grump, aka “Jenny”, determines that they have no legitimate need for my actual phone number… such as when purchasing a pizza… he gives his phone number as 867-5309.  I’ve been doing this for over 20 years now, and only once has someone looked back at me and smiled because they knew exactly what I was doing.  (Then there was the business that had over a dozen ‘Jennys’, and I had choose from the list.)  This does afford me some level of privacy, granted, but it still shouldn’t have to be that way.  I order the pizza, I give you my money, you give me my pizza.  Done.

But it’s amazing how many people just blindly hand over their personal information, as if everyone is ethical and honest.  It wasn’t all that long ago that the same thing happened routinely with Social Security numbers.  Now, THAT’s dangerous.

Of course The Grump is not so naive as to not know they are collecting information to make more money, to entice me to buy things I might not otherwise buy, to sell and/or use against me at a later date.  They claim it’s to serve me better, and there is a kernel of truth to that, but if they didn’t get anything extra out of it they wouldn’t be concerned about serving me better at all.

The Grump wrote a letter to corporate asking if this was indeed a mandatory policy.  I want to know if the clerk was being truthful or if he was jerkin’ my chain.  Simple transactions shouldn’t have to be so difficult.

I just wanted a pizza.

Iowa Drivers, Pt 3

Back in Part 1 I talk about the driver who feels the need to come to a virtual stop to make a right turn. Today we’re going to talk about their cousin, the late signaler.

I’m cruising down the road, half a block from the next intersection. The car in front of me is slowing down to a virtual crawl. I can already see what’s going to happen, being the superior driver that I am. Slower, slower, constantly slower, almost to a stop… then they whip a hard right onto the cross street and whip on their turn signal as their hand passes the lever turning the steering wheel.


Thanks, driving genius. That helped. Ya know, I never knew anything was up prior and you sure saved me from rear-ending you with that proper cautionary warning. <insert eye roll here>

Why did you even bother?


Happy Happy Joy Joy: Things I Learned from My Mother (in the Kitchen)

A new feature here at kurmudgeon.net, something positive and happy. Contrarian? Yeah, that’s me. Granted, it seems like the life of a grump is nothing but sorrow and disappointment… at my fellow humans, just to be clear… it is not. We do have our moments of happiness. So here we go, things I learned from my Mother in the kitchen…

Toast Your Buns: That’s right, whenever you are eating a hot dog or a hamburger, or something else similar, toasting of the buns is mandatory. It makes all the difference in the world, really it does. An untoasted bun is a drag on the otherwise goodness of your lovingly prepared meal. It’s like putting cold syrup on pancakes (we’ll get to that in a minute)… why would any sane person do that? Do you not love your spouse and kids and friends?

Now, I *can* eat a burger or a hot dog on an untoasted bun, and I will when visiting others, and I will be polite and smile and not say a word, but I will also consider you to be an unwashed heathen for being so gauche. And to subject your guests to that level of atrocity?!? You might as well have horns and hooves, you have slighted my existence that much.

Which brings us to…

Heat Your Syrup: Putting cold (room temperature equals cold in this situation) on pancakes or waffles or french toast is simply an abomination. As with toasted buns, warm syrup makes all the difference. The two go together like, well, peas and carrots.

Think about this. You cook waffles. Cooked, they’re hot. Duh! They’re intended to be hot. Hot is good. Then you slather it in a cold sticky substance that brings the hot food down to some middling barely warm room temperature that is now unappealing and unsatisfying. Congratulations, you have now created a sweet semi-solid version of gruel. (Or grits, po-tay-to, po-tah-to.)

The importance of both of these were taught to me by my mother, and has been reinforced by experiencing the dreary and unappetizing versions of people who are too lazy to do these added little, yet tremendously significant, “extras”.

A third thing taught to me by my step-mother when I was a teen…

An appreciation for mushrooms: I never had a mushroom until I was 14 years old. They simply were not served in our home. Never experienced garlic, either, my Mother would simply leave them out of a recipe if she did not like them. Anyways, a mushroom is a wonderful thing, to be sauteed, or roasted, with some garlic and butter, or whatever. Truly a food from the Heavens.

Some people don’t like mushrooms, though. I often ask people why. If your answer is that you don’t like the consistency and or taste, that’s cool, I can accept that. But some people respond with, “It’s a fungus!”, to which my response is: 😐

Yes, it’s a fungus. Sooooooooo?

As we conclude, let’s reiterate that shortcuts in food preparation is for the uncouth. Be couth.

Equal Time: Yes, Men Have Their Annoying Quirks, Too

I used to live in the downtown district of a very small town. Lived there for 15 years, as a matter of fact. Being that it was literally an old-fashioned small town downtown, I did not have a driveway or a garage. I had on-street parking in which I had to vie for a parking space every single day. I could usually get pretty close to home, but it was no guarantee. Simply put, I hated that.

What was especially not optimal was that I preferred to wash my own cars. I will now do a touch-less automatic car wash, but I do not do any automatic car wash that drags carpet across my vehicle or spins abrasive brushes against it. Washing one’s own car is the way to go, and gets the best results.

Whenever I could get a parking space right out front on a Friday or Saturday night, I would drag the hose and bucket and soap out the next morning and wash my car in the street. Just me and some shorts and a tank top and some sandals and a hose and a bucket and some soap, and… old men.


Just as women have that chemical imbalance that kicks in at middle age regarding their shopping rituals that I mentioned in my last post, men I think experience a similar brain chemical imbalance that kicks in right on their 60th birthday.

Obviously, because I was washing my car on the street, and it was downtown, people would often walk by. Pretty much everyone would look, some would point while whispering to their companion, probably wondering who the hell washes their own car anymore to begin with, but would never say anything. Except the old men.

Always, without fail, some old codger would sidle up to me, and smile in his charming my-dentures-are-about-to-fall-out kind of way, and say… and this is pretty much verbatim, it was like they all had the same script… “How about I pull mine in behind you and you can do mine next?”


Oh, lordy, you’d swear they just made up the most uproariously hilarious and completely original, joke. Wow. I’d never heard that one before, by golly. They’d all get some version of a belly laugh as they wandered off feeling so satisfied with themselves. If they were strolling with their wife they’d re-tell it to them, usually while the wife was rolling her eyes.

And I single out old men for a reason. It was only them. Never kids. Never younger men. Never ever a woman, at all, ever. Just old men. I will strive to never be “that guy”.

By now you’re wondering, “What did Ken do?”

At first I did an eye-rolled laugh and quoted a price of $50 (a couple guys were actually offended by the price, go figure). Then after awhile I just said, “No thanks.” I eventually just gave them a blank stare and didn’t respond at all. That last one was the most satisfying to me, as they seemed to enjoy comebacks, and didn’t know what to do with no response at all.

Fast forward to today, and I have a driveway and a garage, and I used to still wash my own car in my own driveway… and loved it… but the last several years have been using automatic touch-less car washes, instead. I miss washing the car… really, I do… but I don’t miss getting dizzy every time I bent over that came with my own advancing age.

Buttons, and Zippers, and Snaps… Oh My!

Forgive me if I’m being sexist, or misogynist, or some other gender-related *ist, but I can’t help but notice differences between the sexes.  I’m sorry… not really, just being polite… but there ARE difference between the sexes.  It just is.

Younger women don’t do this, so there must be some chemical imbalance that kicks in in women at roughly the age of 35.  Maybe some sudden draining of estrogen, or something.  Beats me, I don’t always get women to begin with… and from what I’m told, neither do other women.  But I digress…

They start becoming obsessed with their pocketbooks.

I don’t mean about the pocketbook itself, necessarily, though they do fawn all over how cute it is.  No, I’m talking about the organizational aspect of the pocketbook.  Their favorites seem to be the pocketbooks with 75 little parallel compartments sized just right for cash, credit cards, and so on.  And it’s not simple like a man’s wallet.  No.  It’s all safely secured behind a mind-boggling series of buttons and zippers and snaps.  Carefully designed to thwart even the most tenacious thief, I’m thinking.  That has to be the mindset in even designing something like this.  Here’s what I observed just a few days ago…

…A 45-ish year old lady is at the checkout in front of me.  She waits until all her items are rung up and is told the total, THEN she decides to pull her pocketbook from her purse.  This delay in starting the process of paying is inconsiderate and bad enough, but then begins the money extracting ritual.  Just shoot me now, it’s gonna be a long one.

She pulls the pocketbook from her purse… she lays it on the counter… she flips it over to the correct side… she unsnaps the little buckle-like snap on the outside… she opens the pocketbook… she flips the pocketbook over to the correct side (again)… she unzips a compartment, which exposes several smaller compartments… she fiddles and thumbs through what must have been ten little pockets… she extracts $10 from the cash compartment… the total is $10.72… she flips the pocketbook around… she unsnaps the coin area… she carefully counts out exactly 75 cents and hands it to the cashier… she then closes the pocketbook and pushed it away from her… (I’m watching all this in awe of the mind-numbing process that I’m sure happens in her life several times a day)… the cashier hands her 3 cents in change… she flips the pocketbook over to access it (at least she did reseal it)… she carefully puts the 3 cents in the coin area… she snaps the coin area shut… the cashier hands her the receipt…. she browses for another as yet untouched compartment… she carefully and precisely folds the receipt and places it in the new compartment… she then proceeds to do most of the same thing to close it all up (I’ll spare you the play-by-play on this one)… ALL WHILE STILL STANDING THERE WITH BOTH ME AND THE CASHIER STARING AT HER IN DISBELIEF!!!  And of course the pocketbook must be replaced in just the right place in the purse.

😐  I can’t.  I just can’t.  The cashier gives me an “I’m sorry.” look, but it’s not her fault.

And God forbid writing a check is involved.  It is also my observations in life that habitual check writing starts for women around age 35.  Not younger women.  Almost never men.  And generation seems to make no difference.  When younger women of any generation who never did this before reach a certain age, it kicks in, out comes the pocketbook and the checkbook.  Now, about a week ago, I did see an older man do something similar with his wallet and cash, but that was a an anomaly.  He was also looking around 70-ish.

It’s got to be a chemical imbalance, or something.

May the 4th Be With You…*facepalm*

May the 4th be with you.


Really, it sounds like it was coined by a 7th grader who thinks he’s way more creative and pithy than he really is. And I specify “he” because, while women use it, women generally aren’t this juvenile to actually make it up. You’re not cute or funny.

People who say this deserve a throat punch. It’s one of those phrases that was mildly cute and earned a chuckle… if not an outright eye roll… the first time you heard it, but grows stale and lame after that.

Of course, these same people will, whenever an annoyance is expressed, purposely do said annoyance… I’m looking at you, Jill… which just adds to the vexation factor. And they know this, of course. That’s precisely why they do it.  People are so special.


2(of an explanation or excuse) unconvincingly feeble.
‘the TV licensing teams hear a lot of lame excuses’

2.1 (of something intended to be entertaining) uninspiring and dull.
‘I found the programme pretty lame and not very informative’


Look, it’s not original. Let it go. It’s been done to death. Let it die.

Ten Things That Should Be Against The Law

There’s not much to start with, because, well, the title kind of says it all.  So, here we go.

1) Auto-renew:  I can manage my payments quite nicely, thank you very much.  I don’t need your convenience, which is really you hoping I’ll forget and keep paying for your service long after I’ve stopped using it.

2) Terms of Service (TOS) without ways to negotiate or discuss:  You’re either with us or you’re against us.  That’s the attitude.  Accept our terms, or go away.  Raise your hand if you read the TOS on anything.  Yeah, I thought so.  I don’t either.  I already know pretty much what it’ll be… anything that could possibly go wrong will be in their favor, never mine.

3) Double standards in law enforcement: In some states police are allowed to use radar, but you’re not allowed to use a radar detector.  Should you ever find yourself in a police interrogation room… er, excuse me, interview room… the police and prosecutors are legally allowed to lie to you, but you are not legally allowed to lie to them.  No, fair is fair, level playing field and all that.

4) Credit reports and criteria about YOU that you are not allowed to see:  Your credit report virtually rules your life.  But do you know how it’s determined?  I bet ya don’t.  Oh, you have some vague idea, and of course if you pay your bills it’ll be better, but deep down hidden in the shadows you don’t know.  And you should.  Anything about you should be available to you.

A person should be able to copyright them self so that if anyone wants to do anything at all with your information they have to get your permission, agree to your TOS, and pay you a fee.

5) Buy 2 for $2.00, or 1 at regular price ($1.69):  I don’t want two hamburgers.  I’m only hungry for one hamburger.  I’m in a no-win situation with these “deals”.  I feel like I’m being screwed either way.  If I get two, I feel guilty for wasting food.  If I get one, I’m being price gouged.  They’ve already stated they’re willing to take a dollar for their burger, so just sell me one for a buck and otherwise leave me alone.

6) “Convenience” fees:  It’s bad enough that you have to pay a fee to your financial institution to pay online, like you’re getting a mother’s note for permission to give them money, but we’ll go for the big enchilada here… concert tickets.  Ticketmaster seems to be the worst.  They keep adding them on.  “Convenience fee”, “facility fee”, “service fee”, fees to print your own tickets, or a fee to have it mailed to you via snail mail.  These fees tend to be so overtly bogus that they can’t even think up good names to justify them.

And for your continued entertainment pleasure, here’s a couple blog posts by others specifically about this topic: How do I avoid TicketMaster fees? and Ticketmaster’s new blog: ‘We get it — you don’t like service fees’

7) Celebrating “firsts”:  Ok, we get it, something “historical” has happened that we will all promptly forget because it’s really not important.  All the truly historical “first” have already happened.  Let it go.

8) Companies having websites then making it virtually impossible to contact them or cancel:  You get suckered into violating rule #1 above, you agree to auto-deduction from your account.  Time passes and you decide you want to cancel, or maybe you just want to give them some feedback, so you go to their website, the same place you signed up, and… wait, where do I find the cancel button?  Oh, they hid it from you.

9) Not answering the question:  I don’t know what’s worse, the person who won’t answer the question, or the reporter who lets them get away with it by not pressing the issue.  Example…

Reporter:  “Senator Blowmoney, was that you we saw driving 90 mph on the freeway last night?”

Senator Blowmoney:  “Let me reiterate my full admiration and support for our fine law enforcement officers.  Theirs is a very difficult job, and I know that each and every one enforces the law fairly and with integrity.

Reporter:  <goes onto another topic>


Is it just me?  Senator Blowmoney didn’t answer the question.  And not only didn’t you press the issue, you completely ignored that he didn’t answer the question.  What kind of a reporter are you anyway?

10) Thoughts and prayers:  Oh do shut up!  We get it, you got nothin’ in the way of actual help or solutions or even meaningful sympathy.  Spare me.

Now, of course, I am speaking tongue-in cheek. Maybe.  As a more-or-less free market advocate, I do not believe these things should literally be against the law, but they are bogus in concept and should end. I live strongly by the “Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.” ideal.