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!  🙂

Rant: I had such grand plans…

I was going to be off work for roughly two months due to surgery.  I knew not much would happen the first couple weeks, I’d be sleeping a lot, and I did.  But after that I could get a great deal of stuff done that I had been putting off.  I’d work on all my blogs and websites, clean/organize my office, get ready for the spring semester for school, update AutoCAD on my home computer, and some other random stuff.  It was truly going to be a productive time.

Well, I go back to work in four days, and I have accomplished almost nothing.  I did get some posts done for my blogs, but nothing in the way of maintenance or upkeep.  I got my desk cleaned off and roughly “organized”, but that’s it.  Didn’t do a $#@! thing regarding school.  I have binge watched Forensic Files.  Didn’t watch many of the other shows on my Netflix list, though.

*sigh*

I once read a book about procrastination (forget the title and author’s names).  The authors related a story about a weekend seminar they put together to work with and interview procrastinators.  They planned this whole big shindig for over a year.  A week before they had almost no one signed up, in the single digits if I recall correctly.  They seriously considered canceling, due to insufficient interest.  Then, in the last five days scores of people rushed to sign up, and filled all the slots.  The seminar was a huge success.

But why did the sign-up process almost go so horribly wrong?  They figured it out, and were very embarrassed about it.  Their target market was… procrastinators.  And they did exactly what they do.

I chuckle every time I think about that story.

Anyway, back to me.  Four days.  Lots to do.  Yeah, I can pack it in.  😉

Three Superpowers I Need

Life would be enhanced if I could have superpowers.  We all want superpowers, don’t we?  I mean, who wouldn’t?  My life would be greatly enhanced with superpowers.  Now, I could go for things like enact world peace, or cure cancer, or some other selfless act, but where’s the fun in that?  No, I want “revenge superpowers”.

This does preclude something like the ability to see through clothing.  I think Superman had that one, but I forget.  That has a certain… provocative allure to it.  There would be downsides, though.  You’d have to be able to pick and choose whose clothes you were ignoring.  Don’t want to see just anybody.  Plus, looking through clothing you wouldn’t be seeing people in their perfection.  The clothes would still be there, so you’d be seeing their body all stuffed in and wrinkled and unnaturally pushed here and there, not unlike a homemade sausage.  And do you really want to see the entire muffin along with the muffin top?  I’m sorry, but that doesn’t sound as appealing as one might think.

Presuming the genie would give me only three superpowers, here’s what I’d choose…

The ability to have the entire road pull over to the side while I drive where I want to, unhindered.  Readers of The Grump know that other drivers is a pet-peeve of mine.  This is numero uno.  People just need to get out of my way.  This includes police and ambulances and fire trucks.  Now, in my own magnanimous way, my superpower would include the ability to heal whoever is being transported by the ambulance, or reverse the fire the fire truck is going to.  The Grump just wants people out of his way, he doesn’t want to be a jerk about it.

The ability to disable all cell phones within a 150 foot radius of me at concerts.  The Grumpess and I went to see Alice Cooper a couple nights ago.  Truly an awesome show.  We had great seats.  The man may be 70 years old, but he can still bring it!  He even played one of my favorite songs from a semi-obscure album from 1980 that he hadn’t played live since 1982 until this leg of this tour.  It was a perfect night… except for the lady in front of me that kept raising her phone in the air, in my direct line of sight, throughout the show.  And for what, some crappy photos and videos that she will probably forget about after next week.  It was rude!  I was tempted to knock on her head and tell her to stop, but an arrest for starting a riot wasn’t exactly in The Grump’s best interests.  So now, I want the ability to disable ALL cell phones around me so that I can enjoy the show.  I don’t think that’s unreasonable at all.

The ability to remember where I put my keys, and my wallet, and my glasses… all the time.  For anyone who is getting up there in age, this is self-explanatory.  What’s that you say?  I should just designate a place and always put them there?  Bless yer heart.

There ya go.

‘Vaginasplaining’

Have you ever coined a word?  I’ve never coined a word… until now.  Or, at least I thought I had.  When I first conceived of this topic a few months ago I did a Google search for ‘vaginasplaining’ and came up with nothing.  Zero.  Nada.  Zilch.  I was excited.  I had never coined a word, and here I now had.  Sorta, but not really, though there is precious little examples or definitions available.  Primarily, people just seem to use it as a clever Twitter hashtag with no actual definition.

‘Vaginasplaining’… some call it ‘womansplaining’… is, of course, similar to ‘mansplaining’.  According to the Urban Dictionary, ‘mansplaining’ is defined as…

When a woman is not smart enough to understand something, so a man explains it to her.

Woman: The wage gap shows that females are being payed less for the same job.
Man: The wage gap is only showing the average pay of man and woman, it does not count for hours worked or different jobs.
Woman: STOP MANSPLANING!!!

I’m pretty sure that that’s just what people do.  Men do it to women, yes.  Men also do it to men.  Women do it to women, and women do it to men.  Especially in relationships where the two people will often snipe at each other in this manner trying to establish some sort of subconscious emotional dominance.  It could also simply be an insecure person trying to fit in to the group and/or show that they are indeed intelligent, too.  It’s nothing special or uncommon, but trying to shame one select group for it is nothing short of insidiously hypocritical.  It’s actually a form of ‘*-splaining’, itself.

Warning, serious political example to follow:  We here at The Grump generally try to avoid political topics, but sometimes politics invades daily life… even curmudgeonly life… so much that it cannot be avoided.  The recent public debate about sexual assault and rape during the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearing where women told men that false accusation was simply not an issue because it’s “so rare”, was an absolutely perfect example of ‘vaginasplaining’.

Ok, back to curmudgeonism:  Anytime a woman suggests she can do something better, or knows more about a topic, simply because of traditional gender roles and she’s a woman, that’s ‘vaginasplaining’.  Anytime that a woman belittles a man (or anyone, really) because she’s knows better based on generic factors, that’s ‘vaginasplaining’ (differing body parts excepted).  Anything from a woman directed at a man intending to be dismissive or belittling, where the implication is because she’s a she and he’s a he, is ‘vaginasplaining’.

This word, ‘vaginasplaining’, needs to be adopted and used more frequently.  Orrrrrr, ya know, we could just get off each other’s backs and start treating each other better, and stop being so uptight.

Naaaaaah!

Three things Facebook needs to do to improve my experience

Hey Facebook… I’m lookin’ at you, Mr. Zuckerberg… your product is pretty good, but needs help.  I have three things that should be easy peasy for you to fix, because I think you do them on purpose.  Let’s get started..

Put things in order.  News feed and notifications, both.  Skeptical Ken says you do this on purpose because you want people to be confused and stumbling around the site.  You want them spending more time, doing more clicks, that appeals to advertisers, and so on.  It also makes you look incompetent, even though it’s deviously brilliant.  If Social Fixer can put the news feed in order, so can you, and you know it.

Stop notifying me when people I don’t know do something.  Whenever I comment on a friend’s thread I get notifications when people I don’t know… and don’t want to know… post as well.  Let Annoyed Ken carefully phrase this so it’s crystal clear:  I… don’t… care.   I don’t even care if they post in response to my comment, or tag me by name.  All it does it muck up my notifications, which I already have to navigate deftly because you refuse to put things in order.  I don’t know these people, why should I care?

Give me a place to contact with questions… and get answers.  And something easy and legit.  How about an email address or a contact form.  How about something where I can ask a question and get a human response with an answer?  At least a legit place for me to complain about your shortcomings, with a real person reading them, even if you don’t respond.  I know, I know, I know, nobody does this.  Not Yahoo, not Google, not Microsoft.  Be better.

There ya go.  These three things would enhance my experience greatly.  Please note that I did not suggest more privacy or that you don’t sell my information.  We both know that will never happen.

3 Dumb Sports Rules

Sports, like anything else, evolves over time.  Usually for the better, though not always… NFL I’m lookin’ at you with your anal retentive nanny rules that have virtually ruined the game.  But there are some rules that simply defy rational explanation, and that need to be changed.  What are they you ask?  Well, I’m glad you asked, because here they are..

Baseball

Batters are allowed to “steal” first base if they strike out and the catcher drops the ball.  Why?  You either let a good pitch sail by, or you swung at a bad pitch, you don’t deserve a second chance.  You struck out, go sit the eff down!

Football

The ground can’t cause a fumble.  Why not?  We have here some of the strongest and most gifted athletes imaginable, and we can’t hold onto the ball?  Really?  Seriously?  You’re a man, football’s supposed to be a man’s game, hold onto the damn ball.

Soccer

Offside.  This one can’t even be explained by commentary.  An official explanation is required.  According to the Orlando City Soccer Club, offside is explained thusly…

According to the FIFA rulebook, a player is in an offside position if:

  • He is nearer to his opponents’ goal line than both the ball and the second last opponent.
  • A violation will occur when he is in an offside position (previous bullet point) at the same time the ball is being passed forward to him.

A player is NOT in an offside position if:

  • He is in his own half of the field of play.
  • No part of the attacking player (head, body, or feet) is closer to the opponents goal than the final defender (not including the goalkeeper) .
  • He is receiving the ball from a throw-in.

Got all that?  Simple.  😐  No, it’s not, and contrary to the link it’s not easier to see than read.  A casual fan has no clue what or when offside is happening, and there’s a good reason for that… it’s dumb.

My solution is really quite simple:  Teach the defense to play defense.  If they don’t defend properly, they deserve to have a goal scored against them.