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.

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 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.

Equal Time: Yes, Men Have Their Annoying Quirks, Too

I used to live in the downtown district of a very small town. Lived there for 15 years, as a matter of fact. Being that it was literally an old-fashioned small town downtown, I did not have a driveway or a garage. I had on-street parking in which I had to vie for a parking space every single day. I could usually get pretty close to home, but it was no guarantee. Simply put, I hated that.

What was especially not optimal was that I preferred to wash my own cars. I will now do a touch-less automatic car wash, but I do not do any automatic car wash that drags carpet across my vehicle or spins abrasive brushes against it. Washing one’s own car is the way to go, and gets the best results.

Whenever I could get a parking space right out front on a Friday or Saturday night, I would drag the hose and bucket and soap out the next morning and wash my car in the street. Just me and some shorts and a tank top and some sandals and a hose and a bucket and some soap, and… old men.

Ugh!

Just as women have that chemical imbalance that kicks in at middle age regarding their shopping rituals that I mentioned in my last post, men I think experience a similar brain chemical imbalance that kicks in right on their 60th birthday.

Obviously, because I was washing my car on the street, and it was downtown, people would often walk by. Pretty much everyone would look, some would point while whispering to their companion, probably wondering who the hell washes their own car anymore to begin with, but would never say anything. Except the old men.

Always, without fail, some old codger would sidle up to me, and smile in his charming my-dentures-are-about-to-fall-out kind of way, and say… and this is pretty much verbatim, it was like they all had the same script… “How about I pull mine in behind you and you can do mine next?”

😐

Oh, lordy, you’d swear they just made up the most uproariously hilarious and completely original, joke. Wow. I’d never heard that one before, by golly. They’d all get some version of a belly laugh as they wandered off feeling so satisfied with themselves. If they were strolling with their wife they’d re-tell it to them, usually while the wife was rolling her eyes.

And I single out old men for a reason. It was only them. Never kids. Never younger men. Never ever a woman, at all, ever. Just old men. I will strive to never be “that guy”.

By now you’re wondering, “What did Ken do?”

At first I did an eye-rolled laugh and quoted a price of $50 (a couple guys were actually offended by the price, go figure). Then after awhile I just said, “No thanks.” I eventually just gave them a blank stare and didn’t respond at all. That last one was the most satisfying to me, as they seemed to enjoy comebacks, and didn’t know what to do with no response at all.

Fast forward to today, and I have a driveway and a garage, and I used to still wash my own car in my own driveway… and loved it… but the last several years have been using automatic touch-less car washes, instead. I miss washing the car… really, I do… but I don’t miss getting dizzy every time I bent over that came with my own advancing age.

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.

Rant: Idiot Drivers

And no, I don’t mean just Iowa.  I mean idiot drivers everywhere.  I mean the morons who refuse to turn their headlights on in inclement weather.  Rain, snow, fog, and so on.  And what are the most common lame excuses?  They are…

1) “Having my headlights on don’t allow me to see any better.”

Yes, I have actually had people say this to me.  Hey, idiot, headlights on in bad weather is not for you to see better, it’s for other people to better see you.  Duh!!!

I come from the central valley in California, with some of the worst Tule Fog imaginable.  Fog so dense you often feel the only thing guiding you is the lines on the road.  “Driving by braille” we often called it (many California roadways have raised line markers), and the ONLY thing that clued you in to an oncoming car was their headlights.  You for a 2 second warning.  Cars with no headlights on you wouldn’t be aware of until they were right on top of you.

Most places, such as Iowa, don’t have fog nearly that bad, which actually makes your headlights more important because you can get a decent sense of who else is on the road.

2) “My headlights are automatic and activated by a sensor.”

😐

Seriously?  That’s your excuse?  Don’t be irresponsible.  Are you in charge of your car, or is your car in charge of you?  Think.  Be aware of your responsibilities as a safe driver and take  control.  Be pro-active.  Override your automatic system and manually turn on your headlights, if necessary.  To blame it on your automatic sensor is pure laziness and abdication of responsibility.

Bottom line:  Don’t be an idiot driver.  This has been your driving PSA for today.

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.

Rant: Is there a market for pre-stained shirts?

I give up.

I dress reasonably nice. I prefer clean clothes. I dress somewhat conservatively. I have very vanilla tastes in clothing, so I prefer solid single-color shirts, muted colors, most of the time. I got that part down.

Then… I eat. Invariably, I spill something on my shirt. Seldom fails to happen. Bet your mortgage on it. Doesn’t seem to matter if I’m eating a burger, or if I’m eating a meal that requires a knife and fork. Chicken wings?  Forget it!  A whole wing is being dropped at some point.  If I’m sitting at a table, it doesn’t matter how close I lean over the table, or how small my bites are, or how conscientious I am, it still happens. And the fact that I wear plain solid-color shirts just makes it all the more obvious to the world.

It’s common for me to come home, strip my shirt off, and immediately apply stain-remover for the next load of laundry. Hell, what don’t they make laundry detergent out of stain remover? That would be awesome, but I digress.

Anyway, here’s the kicker, it’s almost always either the first bite or the last bite. Seldom in between. Makes me think I have invoked the wrath of the fashion gods, or something. Seriously, why do I even try?

So, since eating like a normal cultured person seems to be beyond my abilities, I’m thinking these are my most realistic options…

1. Wear loud shirts that will hide the stains.

I already annoy people with my irreverent sense of humor, I don’t need to look like a schlep, too. I mean, if you’re 50 years old, and you routinely wear loud animated NASCAR shirts in public, you’re still trying to be 12. The stains will be hidden, I suppose, but no.

2. Wear a bib 24/7.

Might seem like a realistic option, but how big does the bib need to be? Seems that when I put a napkin on my chest at home, the aforementioned fashions gods direct the offending food matter to an area juuuuuust outside the bib/napkin. Maybe a poncho?  Kudos for trying, but no participation trophy.

3. Wear pre-stained shirts and stop worrying about it.

Just accept reality and move on. I often see people buy a new car then obsess over it and get so upset when it gets its first door ding. OMG, you’d think the rapture had just occurred and they weren’t included. C’mon, people, it was inevitable. And the second door ding is met with a shrug because they’re over it by then. This is why I believe that ALL vehicles should leave the assembly line with a “pre-ding” somewhere on the side. (Hell, I’d like to apply for that job, just give me a hammer!) You buy a car, it already has a ding, your life has just been eased of an unnecessary first-world stress. Problem solved.

In that same spirit, I think it’d be best that I purchase pre-stained shirts. I would no longer have to worry. It is what it is. Any new stain I contribute simply won’t matter in the same way the second door ding on a car doesn’t matter. Problem solved. I wonder if there’d be a market for that? Similar to pre-ripped jeans that sell for more than new unripped jeans. (I will never understand fashion.)

Given those three options, I know what you’re thinking, “But Ken, just be more careful.” <insert blank stare here> Oh, do shut up. As if that never occurred to me. Retraining the world to view stains as a positive thing would be more practical.

Note:  Beginning a third special category, The Rant.