Bedtime

What’s wrong with me?  For that matter, what’s wrong with Missy?  We both like to sleep.  A lot.  Nothing beats a good nap, and I know we’re not alone.  I know many friends who feel the same way.  Now, we’re not quite as bad as the little girl in the photo… yet.  We’re on our way, though.

Missy’s on the verge of falling asleep next to me as I write this at 10 pm, watching a recently-passed Tim Conway tribute on Carol Burnett & Friends.  But I digress…

I can sleep anywhere.  In Army basic training I would sleep in an open field across the road from a machine gun range.  I’ve slept on the sidewalk outside a stadium the night before an all-day concert.  I’ve slept on the floor of a Greyhound bus on the way back from Grad Night at Disneyland.  You name it, I’ve slept there.  Not like George Washington, of course, but still…

The last skit had Tim Conway, Harvey Korman, Vicki Lawrence, and Bernadette Peters.  This next sketch has Tim, Harvey, and some random women.  Tim and Harvey are pick-up artists.  Harvey’s the smooth one.

But yes, I can sleep pretty much anywhere.  White noise?  Only helps.  Food coma?  Routine.  Music?  Yep.  i’LL… oops, hit the CapsLock key… there we go… I’ll go to bed in a few minutes and pretty much guaranteed I’ll be asleep within three minutes.  (I think Missy’s jealous of that.)  About the only place I don’t fall asleep is when I drive.  I can drive for hours, day or night, and am good.  And I love a good road trip!  (Can I get an “Amen!”, Eddie?)

Hopefully, it’s Mr Tudball and Mrs Wiggins next, so I can go to bed.

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.  🙂

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. 🙂

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.  😉

‘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!

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

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.

Cigarettes

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?

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.

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.