Things that Annoy Me, Part 1

These are just the minor ones… in no particular order:

  1. A blank page at the end of a Word document.
  2. When the letters stop appearing on my screen and I’m still typing.
  3. People who slow down to a virtual crawl a block and a half before their right turn, and don’t use their blinker until they start making a turn. (You had to know there’d be an Iowa driver reference in here somewhere.)
  4. The constant never-ending list of small pesky things to do… check one off, two more pop up.
  5. People who leave their shopping carts in the middle of the aisle then wander off to look at something, then give me a dirty look when I move their cart.
  6. Forgetting one thing… every… single… time… I… leave… the… house.
  7. Companies that encourage you to contact them with questions and feedback, then give only the most inconvenient options for contacting them.  They don’t really want to hear from you, but they do need to appear that they do.
  8. Rewards cards where earned rewards expire quickly. “Quickly” defined as anything less than one year.
  9. Companies, i.e. cell, cable/satellite, etc, that won’t give you the time of day to negotiate a new rate, but then are your buddy offering the world when you want to leave because they wouldn’t work with you on a new rate.
  10. Gaining weight.
  11. Subscription pricing on software.
  12. The freaking plethora of passwords that I’m expected to remember. And no two places have the same requirements. Do I need a number or not? Capital letter? A symbol? And are all the symbols available across the board? We don’t know. And it’s all over-hyped, anyway.
  13. People who excuse bad behavior in others by saying, “You should have known better.”, or “You made a choice.” It’s still bad behavior and shouldn’t be encouraged or enabled.
  14. Just answer the phone… (calling customer service).
  15. Non-negotiable terms of service.

There’s gonna be a part 2.  🙂

Is anyone ever happy?

This post could have so many different titles.  I considered naming it Whine, whine, whine!, or It’s always somebody else’s fault. That would have been appropriate, too.  It’s a never-ending trend anymore, everybody else is an incompetent idiot… hey, maybe somebody should blog about that.  Might be onto something here.  What’dya think?

So here’s the story:  Yesterday morning (Saturday) I’m in line at the bank to make a deposit.  Only went in to cash in some coins that I’d been tossing in a jar and you have to do that business inside.  I get in line behind some guy slightly older than me and he’s wearing a John Deere hat.  After a couple minutes another guy comes in… older, long scraggly beard, overalls, dirty hat, possibly one of Jed Clampett’s kin… who also reeked of cigarette smoke.

The two obviously knew each other as they called each other by name, and apparently this was the second place they ran into each other.  Well, they begin talking, I’m standing in between trying to appear uninterested but listening, and their conversation for the next 10-ish minutes goes something like this…

  • The credit union we’re in has gone downhill lately… especially since “that lady” took over… now it’s run more like a bank… yada yada yada.
  • The bank doesn’t have tellers, they only have “cubicles”… “All those people right there are ‘cubicles’.”… which I took to mean people who normally worked in cubicles during the week.
  • The city is incompetent… too many potholes… no one knows how to run a city… and on and on and on.
  • Some lady friend of theirs has been paralyzed from the waist down for nine months because the doctors are idiots and don’t know what they’re doing… then it comes out that she was suffering the effects of e-coli (they think) and she had been ignoring sharp pains for several weeks until someone finally made her go get checked.  Something settled into her spine, or something like that… but it was the idiot doctor’s fault.  <eye roll>
  • Jed Clampett Part Two is out of work and can’t find anything… he’s had three manufacturing jobs since 1973, but now they’ve all gone away and that’s all he knows and he can’t find one.  (I so wanted to say, “Wasn’t Donald Trump supposed to take care of that?, but I didn’t.)  Which leads us to…
  • Social security, both for JDPT and the partially paralyzed lady who has been denied disability.  To be fair, this was a legit point about people being denied the first time as SOP then having to apply again
  • Back to the credit union… he could do an electronic transfer one way, but not the other… more incompetence…

It was about this time that we reached the front of the line where the telle… er, umm, ‘cubicle’… asked me for ID to make a cash deposit, which of course annoyed me.

Anyone else noticed a theme here?  No matter what or who, literally everything in the world was sub-par and was somebody else’s fault.  Is this what we have degenerated to?

Rant: Are you honestly surprised?

Shocked… yes, shocked I am!

Oh noes, a somewhat serious subject:  Outrage over the education scandal du jour where some wealthy parents paid money to get their kids in select colleges and universities.  Sometimes BIG money, no less, upwards of $100,000.

Ok, I’m going to go out on a limb here and speculate that, the more money spent, the dumber the kid.

But, I digress.  (I do a lot of that, digressing.)  Anyway, everyone is all up in arms.  There’s outrage… OUTRAGE, I tell ya!  How could this have happened?  This is an unethical and moral perversion of the purity of higher education!  (Don’t laugh.)  Academia is above this.  (Stop laughing.)  I’m shocked… shocked, I tell ya!

😐

Seriously… honestly… are you really naive enough to believe this is somehow new?  After your check clears for the bridge, I have a special nugget of information for you… write this down:  People cheat!

Not everyone, of course, but enough to make it common.  And people with money cheat no less than the average person, they only do it at a higher level, hence the current scandal.  Generally, though, rich people can buy their way out of it, but this one was just too much.

Anyway, again, another little nugget:  People are greedy.

Inconceivable, I know, but it happens.  Why do you think the cost of higher education has kept pace with the availability of easy money, i.e. student loans?

Long story short, it’s ok to be disapproving, but any outrage on your part is either insincere or naive.

I’m kind of curious how this one will play out.  I’m expecting it to be eclipsed by the next outrageous scandal within two months… if that long.

Stop… no go… wait… what?

The downtown where I work has had some recent street reconfigurations. Things like changing one-ways to two-ways, eliminating some traffic lights in favor of 4-way stops, adding barrier arms at railroad crossings, and so on. And for the most part I think pretty much all of these are great. I think they enhance access and the flow of traffic. So, you ask, what is there to complain about on a grumpy blog?

Iowa drivers.

Yes, you people, Iowa native drivers. These improvements have been in place for well over a year. Plenty of time to adjust. And if you’re new to the area you don’t know about the old. Bottom line: No excuses.

Yet I can’t count the number of times where I almost t-boned someone who crossed my street where I didn’t have a stop sign. (There used to be one, but not anymore.) This happened as recently as this past Monday. Then, I get down to the next street, where I do have a stop sign but the cross street does not, and TWO people, one in each direction, stop where there is no sign to do so. One of them just sat there and even waved to me to go.

😐 (<— my favorite emoji on this blog, apparently)

“Iowa nice” does not work well on the roads. Please, I implore you to be just a little aggressive (and competent). Traffic overall will flow much easier if you just do it… and pay attention to signs and stuff. I feel like a “GO” sign at some of these intersections would help greatly. Seems some people need to be told.

“I’m done!” Are you, really?

I’m done!

I’m seeing and hearing this a lot, lately. The implication being, of course, that the person is so frustrated with the futility of it all that they’re, well, done, and are going to walk away and pay it no attention from here forward.

Sounds good. Actually, it sounds pretty healthy. Walk away. Ignore that which you cannot change. Or, if you can’t ignore it… sometimes you have to deal with it, let’s be real… at least don’t obsess about it and move forward anyway… the unsaid portion being without bothering others.  I like that.

Unfortunately, based on my observations, at least, it pretty much never seems to actually work out that way. “I’m done!” is just a buzzword* for “I am so frustrated… here, let me tell you!” Because, based on your actions, you are far from done. You’re going to continue to kvetch for the next 30 minutes about what you are supposedly done with. Then, maybe a couple days will go by, and you kvetch some more, finishing again with, “I’m done!”

If it’s an ongoing situation you’re dealing with, all too often you fail to rectify the situation in any timely manner, and continue your kvetching for weeks, months, sometimes with no end in sight. Yet every time you vent, you finish your vent with, “I’m done!”

No, you’re not ‘done’. You’re just venting, and this is the new way to phrase the depth of your frustration. It would be really cool if people meant what they said. But then that’d probably cause even more problems.

*-Did you know that “buzzword” is a buzzword? 😛

Pre-packaged vegetables… damn them!

Carrots, just in case you’re one of those people who never eats vegetables and aren’t sure.

Damn the grocery store produce manager, I mean.  This is serious.  It’s all about them when it’s supposed to be about me.

Here’s how it goes down.  I decide to eat healthy.  I select a scrumptious recipe that has… <gulp!>… vegetables.  (Remember, I said this was serious!)  Anyway, I scan the internet for something appealing… I plan my meal… I write down the ingredients I need for said recipe… I pack the dog away so I can leave… I leave and head to the store… I turn around and go back home to get my list… I get back in the car after trying to get the dog to calm down after being hopefully excited that I’m home for good (to service him, of course, it’s all about the dog)… I drive to the store… I get annoyed at the parking… I grumble at the cluster-eff of people in my way… I make my way to the produce section.

I have arrived!  Now time to ‘be healthy’.

I need a carrot to spruce up my dish, make it a little more colorful, add a few extra vitamins, ya know?  Please note my specific working here.  I need A carrot.  One.  I don’t eat carrots often.  So what do I see?  I see bags of sliced carrots, baby carrots, and 5-10 lb economy bags of whole carrots, the literal bag-o-carrots that even Bugs Bunny would be hard-pressed to consume.  What happened to the loose carrots?  Back in my day… get off my lawn!… there’d be a huge bin of loose carrots, allowing me to sift through them and pick the one perfect carrot for my needs.

It worked for me.  It seemed to work well for everyone.  I cannot recall ever hearing a complaint.

What was wrong with that set up?

Rules to Live By, Vol. 1

Sometimes people simply need to be told, and I’m gonna tell ya.  I’m probably going to have to tell some people that these points are self-explanatory, so here we go…

  1. When a stranger or casual acquaintance asks, “How are you?”, they’re not actually expecting an answer.  (Unless you’re like me when I’m in a mood, and I do answer… in great detail.)
  2. Don’t say, “Ewwww!”, in response to what someone else is eating.
  3. When talking with someone on the phone, don’t talk to someone else in the room.
  4. When visiting someone for a meal, offer to help clean up.  If they decline, offer once more.  If they still decline, drop it!
  5. Don’t take the urinal next to an already occupied urinal, unless no others are available.  This is simple unwritten ‘urinal etiquette’.
  6. When someone else is buying a meal, don’t order the most expensive item.  Try and have them order first, then follow along in the same or lesser price range.  If they insist you order first, pick something somewhere from the cheapest to roughly mid-price.
  7. Always hold the door open for the person behind you, male or female is irrelevant.  Say ‘thank you’ when it is done for you.
  8. Middle names are for use only by mothers when you’re in trouble.
  9. Don’t ask shy or introverted people, “What’s wrong?”, or otherwise bring attention to their quietness.  It only makes them even more self-conscious.
  10. Never… ever… makes plans in front of people you’re not involving.
  11. Close your mouth while chewing/eating.
  12. In the grocery store, when you change your mind about an item, put it back where it properly goes.  Especially do NOT abandon frozen or refrigerated items at random.
  13. If you borrow someone’s car, before you return it fill up the gas tank, and clean out trash (even if not yours).
  14. Don’t let your dog jump on people.  (There is an understandable training period to this.)
  15. Praise publicly and often.
  16. Don’t talk to people while wearing sunglasses.  It’s rude.
  17. Don’t expect someone’s else’s food to get cold just because you haven’t been served yet.
  18. Don’t answer someone’s thoughtful email with just, “k”.
  19. Don’t stop in the middle of a busy sidewalk or aisle.
  20. Don’t read every word in your PowerPoint presentation.
  21. Don’t expect someone to not talk about the hot new movie a month after its release.  You get one week of consideration, that’s it.
  22. Don’t bring toddlers to movie theaters or loud concerts.
  23. Knock before entering your kid’s bedroom.
  24. Compliments on people’s appearance is fine, just once, though, and don’t overdo it.
  25. The customer is not always right.  It’s ok to tell some people to just get the eff out.  (Remember, the theme of this post is that some people need to be told.  🙂 )

You know there’s going to be a Vol. 2.  😉

25 Ways the Military has Shaped Me

P38/P51 in use.

I served in the Army for three years, 1982 to 1985.  It was peace time, and the military was still experiencing some residual effects from the Vietnam War.  The only “thing” that happened while I was in was Grenada.  I was in Germany at the time, we went on alert for a couple days, and it was effectively over before we even found out what happened.  So it’s been 33 years, and yes, I still have some of the habits and mindsets. Some good, some not-so-good, some “pro-“, and some “anti-“.

  1. All my clocks are set to 24 hr mode, if possible, though I will admit that part of my motivation is just to dick with people around me. It’s common around the world, but Americans think of it as “military time” because it’s only common in America in the military.
  2. I can fall asleep anywhere, anytime, though this was a ‘skill’ that I had prior to the service, too.
  3. Linked to no. 2, I can operate on erratic sleeping schedules for days on end.
  4. I wake up when I need to wake up.  My eyes do not magically pop open at 06:00, or whatever.
  5. I east fast. Very fast. Almost always faster than the people around me, though there is a young co-worker (who never served) whose eating makes me look like a sloth.
  6. I hate shaving. I shave, maybe, once every six months. Otherwise I just clip it short and go for several days before I do it again.
  7. Kind of OCD for keeping things in the same pocket so I always know what is where. Now, if I could just put my keys and glasses in the same place at home I’d be golden.
  8. I learned to observe, wait until I see how a scenario is going, before I chime in… IF I chime in.
  9. I generally do not make my bed or iron or sew a button, but I know how and can and do them all in a pinch.
  10. I still prefer maps over GPS. I can read a map like a champ. My wife refers to me as “the human GPS”.
  11. I often refer to people as “sir / ma’am”, but not automatically or reflexively. Depends on the scenario. I extend my belief that respect is how you treat people, not superficial pleasantries.
  12. Dates are day-month-year, as in 18 Nov 2018. Again, common around the world, catches many Americans off-guard.
  13. I love bullet-points.
  14. The Army’s unofficial mantra (at the time, at least), was “hurry up and wait”. Hence, I struggle with taking deadlines seriously to this day. An example of the not-so-good.
  15. I detest “busy work”.
  16. I am deeply suspicious of red tape and bureaucracy.
  17. I am also leery of supervisors with unearned egos and power trips. I will do for them only what I have to, and no more. I learned that “shit rolls downhill”, and this little piece of knowledge has served me well. Others, that I respect… respect doesn’t necessarily mean like… I will always go the extra mile.  Each of my two basic training drill sergeants fit the opposite sides of this example.
  18. In a hallway or walk aisle in the store I always walk on the right… and get annoyed when others break that protocol.
  19. I have a P51 (P38 on steroids) on my key chain. It does get used every so often, too.
  20. I take my hat off indoors, and get annoyed… offended, actually… when others don’t. This notwithstanding, I see undue reverence for the flag and national anthem as false patriotism. Again, it’s what you do, not the superficial ceremony. And no, you don’t impress me with how much louder you can proclaim it or how many flag stickers you have on your vehicle.
  21. I still use the phrase “good to go”.
  22. I never smoked, so I always hated policing cigarette butts. I didn’t make the mess. Today, I have no animosity toward smokers, and even feel they get treated unfairly by lawmakers, but they lose my sympathy when I see them toss their butts on the ground or out a car window. That just pisses me off.
  23. The Army was my first real experience with different races and ethnicities and cultures all pushed together in a small space… and we survived just fine. I learned a lot. Part of me believes that the draft should be mandatory for this reason, we’re losing empathy for others outside our own “group”, but at the same time I don’t want the military to be a social fixer, either, even if that is a side benefit.
  24. I can still adapt to physically uncomfortable situations with stoic resolve.
  25. I still remember the phonetic alphabet, but rarely use it.

Oh, and if you haven’t served, I will discount your opinion on what freedom is, or what it takes to get and keep it.  I’m not all that interested.  Women and people with legitimate physical disqualifications excepted, though double kudos for women who did serve.

There ya go. 🙂

How to Handle a Traffic Stop

In The Grump’s never-ending quest to enlighten the masses, I am going to help y’all out and offer some suggestions on how to handle yourself when pulled over for a traffic stop.  Please keep the following in mind:  I am not a lawyer.  This is not legal advice.  This is just what I generally do, your mileage may vary, so take these with a grain of salt.

So, like I said, here’s what I do. I’ll admit it’s been hit-and-miss as far as success in avoiding a ticket. I am very testy and annoyed in situations like this, surprise!, so it takes effort on my part to keep that in check.

  1. I pull over immediately. Turn the car off, etc.
  2. I wait until requested to get my paperwork. I do not warn them where it is. I figure they made the request so they know what I’m doing.
  3. I generally do not talk, except for answering questions, and those I try to keep short and simple… and polite.
  4. I do not keep my hands on the wheel, but I do keep them in plain sight.
  5. I do not refer to the officer as “Officer”.  It’s not, “Yes/No, Officer.”, it’s, “Yes/No.”
  6. Basically, I am very polite, but I will not boot lick. (I’ve always thought if I were an officer that would annoy me. I’d think they’re just sucking up.)
  7. If they ask if I know why I was pulled over I say “No.”, even if I do know, which is usually the case.  Though one time I tried the honesty strategy and got off with a warning, so go figure.
  8. I hate Hate HATE when they ask where I’m going or where I’m coming from. It’s none of their damn business. But, I have not figured out how to not answer without annoying them, which I believe will increase the chance of them turning into a jerk, which will just make my life more difficult. I want a drama free traffic stop.  I generally know where I am so I usually give generic answers like I’m going home (if I really am pointed in that general direction), or coming from some local business behind me.  I always suspect that, “Oh, I’m just out for a random drive.”, which is something I legitimately do often, would earn me more scrutiny than is justified and more than I want.
  9. I do not argue the ticket. I wait for court to do that (don’t always take it to court, but sometimes will). One time, though, the officer asked me afterward why I didn’t argue at the time instead of wasting his time making him go to court. I just shrugged. I didn’t really have an answer and didn’t want to say I didn’t just as a matter of personal policy.
  10. I do not thank them for giving me a ticket… why would anyone do that, seriously!… but I do thank them if they let me off with a warning.

I have found that I’m let off more as I get older. I have a pretty clean driving record. I figure that must have something to do with it, but I don’t know that for sure.

Iowans are good people…

…and I mean that with the utmost sincerity.  As you’ve probably already gathered, this is not going to be a grump post, this is going to be a “happy happy joy joy” post.  I have something good to say about my fellow people, important enough that I feel it needs to be said publicly.  Iowans are good people.  I honor you.  I respect you.  I am proud to call you my friends.

Having said that, and it’s all absolutely true, there are a couple qualifiers.  This  is not to mean that Iowans are perfect.  I’m sorry, Iowans, y’all still can’t drive a lick, to the point that I have special categories just for you, and you have no culinary sophistication whatsoever.  I mean, if you brag about tenderloins and loose meat sandwiches, as if they’re sent from Heaven, I rest my case.  But I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt, you don’t get out much and you just don’t know better.  That’s ok.  Iowans are good people overall, and I’ll give a couple personal examples that I have experienced…

The Cell Phone:  I inadvertently left my cell phone in a shopping cart at Walmart one day.  Drive home, couldn’t find it.  Looked all over.  Decided to drive back and look around the parking lot.  It was on top of a cart in a cart corral.  Someone had moved it to that location, but otherwise left it alone.  They did not steal it, or toss it, or anything unethical.  They left it there for me to come find.  And about a 1/2 hour had passed, so surely others had seen it as well, and had the same opportunity to take it, but they didn’t.

The Wallet:  I use a locker at cardiac rehab for my stuff.  This past Wednesday I got everything out at the end, but missed my wallet.  It’s dark, and the inside of the locker is dark.  I just missed it.  Didn’t realize until I stopped on the way home for a refreshing beverage.  I was quite beside myself, more because these incidents keep happening with increasing frequency, and I’m not happy about that.  Anyway, I wasn’t sure if I left it there or on my desk at work.  Go into work the next morning and it’s not there.  So I call rehab, and it is there.  Patiently waiting for me to come reclaim it.  Everything still inside.  And we had a good joke about me not being able to prove I’m me because I don’t have any ID on me… it’s in the wallet.

So, yeah, I honestly do not feel these wonderful outcomes would happen just anywhere.  With as much frequency, I mean.  There are indeed honest people all over the world, but I believe not with the same populational proportion everywhere.  Some places are better than others, and Iowa is at or near the top.

I will offer some chastisement, though.  With said honesty and impressive integrity, which is an admirable trait that more people could and should emulate, also comes some naivete.  When I moved here 13 years ago I witnessed things that I have never witnessed anywhere else.  One, people stand at the ATM and openly count their money.  (This drives my sister nuts, and I agree with her.)  Any time of the day or night.  No forethought regarding personal safety.

Two, people will leave their vehicles running and unoccupied when at a convenience store.  In the summer to keep the AC on, or in the winter to keep the heat on.  😐  This is so… dumb.  Every other place I’ve been in the world your vehicle would be gone in a heartbeat.  And it even happens here from time to time, as I mentioned in a previous post about an online acquaintance, but people still don’t get it.  That guy even said afterward that he had no intention of stopping, he would continue to leave his vehicle unattended.  *sigh*  Ok, dude, just don’t whine when it happens again.

Be the downsides as they may, I salute you Iowans.  Keep being good people!  🙂