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!

Soap Box: Don’t lie to me

One of the great things about a blog such as this is that there’s almost never a lack of good subject matter. Today’s topic is when people lie to us. More specifically, when corporations… which are made up of people… lie to us. I’m talking the bold-faced intentional lie that no one, not even the most forgiving considerate nice person, believes.

For example: I log into my email this morning, and there’s a message from Google Play, the header of which reads…

At Google Play your security is our biggest priority

😐

No, it’s not. Don’t lie to me. Nobody, without exception, believes that. If I had to dissect it… which I will because I need to fill some space, stating the obvious is kinda short and quick… I guess the big hang up for me here is the inclusion of the word “biggest”. As in #1, everything else pales in comparison, we will sacrifice profit to protect you. The mere notion makes my head hurt, it’s so patently ridiculous. You’ll sell us down the road for a buck in the blink of an eye. You know it, I know it.

If they had said “…your security is our priority”, and left out the ‘biggest’ lie, it would still imply #1, but it wouldn’t be as in-your-face blatant lying about it, and would have been ok. I probably would have rolled my eyes and moved on. It wouldn’t have triggered my ire to the point that I felt the need to speak out about it.

At least butter me up and pretend that I’m intelligent.

Things I will never understand

The things we will do to posture ourselves so other people will think highly of us… or at least how we define highly. People are so fake. “Plastic” was a groovy term from the 1960s and 70s. Personally, I like “transparent” better. So, what are some of these things that people do to fake it?

1. Pro-active proclamations of assertiveness.

You know the person, they’re the ones who will make sure to tell you how freely they will tell the truth, tell it like it is, tell (correct?) others to their face, yada yada yada, and if people don’t like it they can lump it. Or something like that. I call BS. In my life’s experiences and observations, the more people brag how brutally open and honest they are, when opportunities do arise to do this, more often than not they’re as quiet as the proverbial church mouse. Do it too much and you lose credibility.

2. Pro-active proclamations of indifference.

If you take the time to publicly state, on your own, with no prompting, that you don’t care what anybody thinks, you are lying. The mere fact that you made the statement proves that you do care. If you honestly and truly didn’t care, the thought would never even have occurred to you to make the statement. Usually done by people who have no credibility to begin with, but desperately want some.

3. Pro-active assertions of how they make the world change for them.

A particular medication is only available in pill form.  You hate pills.  You demand that they make it in liquid form just for you.  You won’t take it except in liquid form.  Basically, the person who claims they made the world change for them, and only them, and as you listen you know it’s not true. Hate to break it to ya, buttercup, but you are not that special that the world stops and re-directs just because you demand they do so. Oh, and I’ve already dismissed your story of corporate manipulation success, too. What credibility you might have had, is now gone. *poof!*

Incredible.

Honoring people who have sacrificed

We’re taking a break from our usual curmudgeoness today.  I’m going to relate a scene at an event I went to yesterday.

The WW2 ship USS LST-325, one of the the last navigable tank landing ships from WW2 in existence, was visiting local Dubuque for a five day visit.  I thought this would be interesting, so Missy and I decided to go.  Apparently, many other people also thought it would be interesting as well, and they all decided to go, too.  We get there and we see this looooooooooong line stretching along the aquarium.  I sense I have been thwarted.  Long story short, the wait was three to four hours, and while I wanted to see the ship, I don’t have that kind of patience.  Instead, we hung around, checked out the outside, took some photos, then blew a wad of cash at the aquarium gift shop.

But that’s not why I’m writing this.

While we were standing under a gazebo at the water’s edge, Missy and I started to hear some slow clapping.  We turn around and an old man is ambling up to the registration table.  He was a WW2 veteran.  Not only do WW2 vets get free admission to the tours, they also get escorted to the front of the line.  Another man in a uniform… I think he was emulating MacArthur, not sure… saluted the older man and placed a medal around his neck.  All the while the crowd around has stopped everything they were doing and slowly clapped in reverence and smiled at the scene.

Doing some quick math in my head, presuming the man was 18 years old in 1945, he would be at least 90 years old today, and probably actually is older than that.  Seeing the respect this gentleman was offered… I’ll use the word reverence again… was entirely fitting, and… emotional.  Missy teared up a bit, and I won’t lie, I did , too.

In the accompanying photo, the older gentleman veteran is the one in the blue jeans and hat and using a cane.  (“MacArthur” can be seen three people to the right.)  Ok, I shouldn’t make fun, he’s probably a veteran worthy of respect, too, but he did look a bit like when the tv show M*A*S*H would have someone dress up as MacArthur.

Anyway, it was a very moving moment, and I am glad that I got to be part of it, even if only in an observatory manner.  I could feel the hostility that hung in the air due to the long line and hot humid afternoon pretty much disappear.

In spite of my 400+ word essay here, words fail me… in a good way this time.

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?

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.

I just wanted a pizza

Is it really that hard to just sell me something?  If I want to go to a concert, when I go to buy tickets I have to create an account where I hand over personal information.  Everybody on the internet wants you to create an account anymore.  It’s become disconcerting.  Remember Radio Shack?  They would ask for your phone number at every purchase.  You’d have thought that that diode you purchased had national security implications.

Yesterday was Friday.  It was hot and muggy.  I was tired.  On the way home I decide I’m going to stop in and get a pizza to take home for dinner.  I go in, the clerk immediately asks for my phone number.  Curious, I ask the clerk if it’s required.  He looks shocked, then says ‘yes’.  Now, I have no idea if he’s lying or telling the truth.  He could have lied just to get me to shut up and comply.  It’s a good thing The Grump has a strategy for this.  If The Grump, aka “Jenny”, determines that they have no legitimate need for my actual phone number… such as when purchasing a pizza… he gives his phone number as 867-5309.  I’ve been doing this for over 20 years now, and only once has someone looked back at me and smiled because they knew exactly what I was doing.  (Then there was the business that had over a dozen ‘Jennys’, and I had choose from the list.)  This does afford me some level of privacy, granted, but it still shouldn’t have to be that way.  I order the pizza, I give you my money, you give me my pizza.  Done.

But it’s amazing how many people just blindly hand over their personal information, as if everyone is ethical and honest.  It wasn’t all that long ago that the same thing happened routinely with Social Security numbers.  Now, THAT’s dangerous.

Of course The Grump is not so naive as to not know they are collecting information to make more money, to entice me to buy things I might not otherwise buy, to sell and/or use against me at a later date.  They claim it’s to serve me better, and there is a kernel of truth to that, but if they didn’t get anything extra out of it they wouldn’t be concerned about serving me better at all.

The Grump wrote a letter to corporate asking if this was indeed a mandatory policy.  I want to know if the clerk was being truthful or if he was jerkin’ my chain.  Simple transactions shouldn’t have to be so difficult.

I just wanted a pizza.

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?

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.