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.

Daytime TV

I had reason to spend some time in the hospital for surgery for almost a week last week.  Being a person with a ‘normal’ 8 to 5 job… actually 7 to 4… I normally never get to watch daytime television.  And I use the term “get” loosely.  With all this spare time as I was literally just lying around, I reluctantly gravitated to the television.  The options roughly break down into the following categories…

Talk Shows

If it’s a legitimately informational topic it’s on Sunday mornings.  If it’s funny and entertaining, it’s on weeknights after the nightly news.  If it’s anything other than informational or entertaining it’s on weekdays.  Pretty much that simple.  Jerry Springer inducing fights and violence, Maury seeking out as many unwed mothers with no idea who the father is as he can find, and the more recent addition to the daytime tv lineup, the all-female estrogen-laden panel talk show, complete with a screaming adoring audience who worships the panels members more than the topics.

Game Shows

Not as common as they once were, game shows kind of ride the edge.  Some actually aren’t too bad, i.e. Jeopardy, for example.  Wheel of Fortune is generally good.  Price is Right has sunk, and the new Let’s Make a Deal has become lame.  I miss the old Match Game with the long penis microphones.  And whatever happened to Password?  Would anyone watch it if it were on again?

Daytime Dramas (aka Soap Operas)

Ugh.  Just shoot me now.  These shows are lackluster, insipid, unimaginative, tedious, unfun, anemic… bor-ing!!!  Everyone is so serious.  Even half-hearted attempts by the people who live in these towns to have fun aren’t really sincere and always fall short.  I mean, what is the attraction of watching people operate in constant dry misery?  Ever since I was a teenager I have always thought:  If I lived in a place like that, where everyone is ceaselessly trying to screw over everyone else, I’d move!

The Saving Grace

Cable and Satellite are no better than the traditional networks.  At least we have Netflix!  At least then I can pick and choose according to actual entertainment value, and my individual preferences, which are clearly superior to that of the masses.  I am currently semi-binge-watching Fawlty Towers, which should go quick.  I will be perusing a lot of WW2 documentaries in the next several weeks while I’m off.  And all I can say is, thank God for Forensic Files!

Three things that never should have been

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Iowa Drivers, Pt 3

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

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

😐

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

Why did you even bother?

Annoyed At Not Being Annoyed

First world problem, I know. (I love that phrase!) It’s been almost a month since my last post. That’s outrageous! I mean, there have been lots of little things that have been annoying of late, so all hope is not lost, but nothing really pen-worthy. For example: I’m eating as I write this and I spilled something on my shirt. Damn that’s annoying, but I already wrote about that. See what I mean?

Overall in life things aren’t going as superdupolous as they could be, but neither are they horrifically bad, either. Just cruisin’ along, in the middle lane, wondering when it’ll hit the fan again.

Here’s an annoyance: We’re going to see Alice Cooper next week. His new CD is awesome. Only two songs I don’t care for. I looked at his current setlist yesterday and noticed he’s playing only two songs from the new CD… and one of them is one of the two that I don’t like. 😐

Still going to be a good show, though. He has lots of great material.

Another phrase I like, and from Alice Cooper:
“I ain’t evil,
I’m just good lookin'”
Opening lyrics from “Feed My Frankenstein”

Perfect example. Yes, there is an annoying aspect there, but there’s also an awesome counterbalance. What’s a grump to do?  <shrug>

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…

http://www.kcrg.com/content/news/Marion-man-has-car-stolen-after-leaving-it-running-unattended-468390093.html

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.”

…and…

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.

Rant: The “Dumb Run”

A few weeks ago I pontificated about running and jogging and the questionable mental capacity of the people who do this stuff BY CHOICE! That was a fun piece to write, and I enjoyed putting it together and especially choosing the photos, and there was some tongue-in-cheekiness to it. Some. Today, however, comes a rant involving not running per se but runners. Dumb runners.

Scenario: 6:15 am. It’s dark out, sunrise is still about a half hour away, though you can see some light juuuuuust starting to come over the horizon. Driving down a semi-rural road, no sidewalks, no street lights, lots of houses, but spaced apart and in a heavily wooded area. Aaaaaand, the runner.

Dressed in pretty much all black. Black shoes, black sweat pants, black hoodie pulled over his face because it’s also cold out. Running across the street. I could barely see the silhouette of the guy, literally. I dub thee “the dumb run”.

There’s another guy who runs this same route and time, but at least that guy wears a bright yellow safety vest with lots of reflective markings. Personally, I still think that’s kind of dumb as well, but not nearly as much as this other guy who seems to be impersonating a Sasquatch that doesn’t want to be seen.

See this image I included? That’s what this guy looks like to drivers. Clearly discernible… not! I think I’m pretty sure I speak for other drivers when I say that I don’t want to be part of his Darwin Award epitaph.