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.