Soap Box: Pets, Hurricanes, and People

Today we introduce a new feature, the “Soap Box”. This is where I will go on a literal rant about something that, in my humble opinion, any decent person should agree with me is just plain wrong. Soap Box topics generally make me angry, and I have little to no tolerance for the guilty parties. Soap Box topics cause me to believe that people suck. While very curmudgeonly and very opinionated, I am not prone to violence, nor do I endorse violence in most any individual circumstances (excepting self-defense, then it’s expected). So, here we go…

In the Houston area during Hurricane Harvey many people have had to evacuate their homes. Many of those people have bent over backward to save their pets, as well. Some of the faces of the forlorn pets is heartbreaking. People, even most kids, know and can comprehend what is going on. That doesn’t make it better, per se, but they get it. Animals, on the other hand, essentially have the relative safety and security of their world turned upside down. They’re scared, they’re tired, they simply do not know what’s going on. Add in domestication and they are unusually dependent on us for their survival.

Then we have the dregs of society. The ones who define “people suck”. Two recent examples involve dogs. In one example a dog was left in rising flood waters tied to a tree. In the other example two dogs were left in rising flood waters in crates on a porch. Who the hell does that?!?

Just thinking about it makes me livid.

Really, what kind of selfish low-life person does that? Personally, I cannot imagine leaving my pet behind. A pet would be second only to people, of course, and if I absolutely had to make a choice, I’d have to go with people first, but I’d do whatever humanly possible to save my pet, as well.

And I’m not so much ranting about leaving the pets behind. I don’t know the people’s situation, and maybe they had to make an either/or decision. That’s one thing. It’s quite another to leave them in a situation where they are likely to suffer a horrible death by drowning. If you have to leave a pet behind, ok, but leave them free so that they at least have a chance to run and/or swim to safety and a chance at survival. Only a sadistic jerk would not allow them that chance.

In both of these examples someone happened by and saved them. Those people deserve eternal admiration. But it shouldn’t have to have happened that way in the first place.

/rant off

There is no humor in this post, as that wouldn’t be appropriate, but true to my general purpose, it needed to be said.

 

Visiting the Doctor

Last week I had a doctor appointment.  Now, a somewhat consistent annoyance of mine is going through the list… and my list is looooooong, unfortunately… of medications.  Do you take this/that/this/that, and on and on.  Yes/yes/yes/yes, and on and on.  It’s very tedious, and let’s just say that my patience is short for a patient.

I’m thinking, I’m going to beat this.  I start this long ambling monologue about how my sister does the same job, people always say there aren’t any changes, then admit there are, fess up that yes I did do that once, but that yes everything… and I mean everything… is still the same, except this one new prescription, which I produce from my pocket and show them.  I’m thinking I was pretty clever.  They would know that anyone who thought this through to that extent would obviously know what they’re talking about, and leave me alone.

*sigh*  No.  They still had to ask every single medication.  She thanked me several times for my patience, but I think she knew I was highly annoyed.  (I was annoyed enough that I was only half paying attention and said ‘yes’ to everything, which I’m sure didn’t help.)

Like I said, my sister has to do this, too.  She explained it to me once, and it did make sense.  I get it, people are forgetful.  Probably liability and health reasons, too, I’m sure.  Fast forward to today, and I have another appointment with a different doctor.

I’m thinking, I’m going to beat this.  I got online and went through their “eCheck-In” and confirmed all my personal information and medications.  The website said this would speed up the process because all the questions were already done.  And, just in case, I took a printed sheet of all my medications and doses with me.

It didn’t start well.  The receptionist started asking my personal info.  I interrupted and said I had already done the eCheck-In.  She looked on another screen, confirmed that I had, and stopped asking questions.

After I got called back to see the doctor the nurse starts her usual routine, including verifying medications.  😐  I politely… and I was very polite, I think… point out that I went through their eCheck-In and already verified everything.  She says she has no way to see that on her computer, so she has to ask anyway.

Double 😐

At this point I whip out my handy-dandy paper list and hand it to her.  She looks at it, and… proceeds to ask me about every single one as she is comparing my list to her computer.

*facepalm*

This is already bad enough.  I’m feeling minorly insulted and majorly annoyed.  But, now I had one more thing to complain about.  Why the #$%! do they promote their eCheck-In when they’re not going to use it, anyway?

Iowa Drivers, Pt 1

Yes, this one’s going to be a multi-parter.  Shoot, might end up a series.  There’s a lot to be said on this topic and I have only limited space… and limited attention span.  Now, I am a native Californian, born and raised and lived most of my life in California, and driving-wise I fit right in when I lived there.  Add to that some German Autobahn experience and I do feel that my driving abilities and skills are above average, albeit admittedly aggressive.  California and Californians have many flaws, but we know how to drive.  Now, don’t get me wrong, in so many ways Iowans are nicer and more pleasurable to hang with, they’re all-around good people, and I love Iowans to the ends of the Earth, but let’s be fully honest here… you people (Iowans) simply suck at driving!

I almost break down into a full belly laugh when I hear an Iowan complain about how bad Iowa drivers are.  Seriously?  I’m sure they mean other Iowa drivers, of course.  What I want to know is: Has this person never been outside the state?  You have no idea what lies outside the borders of your fine state.  Iowa drivers are tame, timid, meek.  Whenever I see an aggressive Iowa driver I presume they’re like me, a transplant.  Otherwise, I feel like I’m on the road with a bunch of Mr Rogerses and Mary Poppinses <gollum>.  Let’s just put it this way… “Iowa nice” and 4-way stop intersections don’t mix.

Today is a good example.  While driving home from work I managed to get behind no less than five people… count ’em, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5… who, while making a right turn into a parking lot, felt the need to come to an almost complete stop in the middle of the traffic lane before making their turn.  What the hell, people?!?  It’s maddening.  Those of you who have never been here won’t understand. Those of you who are transplants are nodding your head and are as annoyed as I am.  Those of you who are from here probably think, “Yeah, so? I’m being safe.  I don’t want my car to roll over.” Dude, it’s not a tractor.  <insert eye roll here>

To make it worse, Iowans drive their shopping carts the same way they drive their cars.  So there they are, tooling down the aisle, they see something they want, so they wander off and LEAVE THE CART IN THE MIDDLE OF THE AISLE!!!  And it’s not like this is a rare few doing this.  You’d think they are completely unaware that there are other people behind them who want to get somewhere.  (What a concept!)  And no, this is a common occurrence, as if it’s an embedded mindset, genes in the corn, or something.  Tra-la-la.  I’m the only one here… on the road… in the market… it’s just me.

C’mon people, clear the fog of blindness from your eyes and get on the stick and get out of the way.

Condolences

One of the worst feelings in the world is for something tragic to happen and for you to have nothing to say.  You know that no matter what you say it won’t make them feel better, but you feel the need to say something anyway, as saying nothing will be perceived negatively, too.  Yes, like I alluded to before, you feel helpless in your inability to help.

But don’t you fear.  There are time tested solutions to this quandary.  There are things you can do that are sure-fire guaranteed to not only help, but put the grieving person in a warn-and-fuzzy mood, if not a fit of belly-laughter rolling on the floor.

And what are those things, you might ask?  (Yes, I’m dragging this out… you’d think I’m getting paid by the word.)  Well, I’m going to tell you.  Here they are.  Ready?  I even offer my own sage advice at the end.  I should charge for this, it’s gold!  Here we go…

Prayers:  “I’ll say a prayer.”, “I’m sending prayers your way.”, “You’re in my prayers.”, and so on.  Obviously, this is from the religious, and one would hope for the religious, but then religious people often subconsciously believe they can save the world with their hope and kindness, don’t they?  I’ve always wondered, what do non-religious people think when offered prayers?  I’m pretty sure most roll their eyes and say nothing, maybe offer back a weak smile of acceptance.  Bringing this scenario along to it’s next logical step… what do non-religious people offer to others?  The answer is obvious, of course, they offer the vaunted…

“Good Vibes”:  “I’m sending good vibes your way.”, and other such thoughts.  These phrases are usually uttered in lieu of prayer by non-religious people, and I’m sure they mean well, but do they actually think it’s meaningful?  Think about this for a moment.  If they reject prayers, even though prayers ostensibly are backed by a supreme being who can literally smite the earth without a moment’s notice, then what the hell are “good vibes” good for?  I mean, really.  Do you really think things will go well for the other person simply because YOU wished it?

So, what do you do for the person for whom neither of these would be appropriate?  The answer is so blindingly obvious that I’m sure you saw it coming before you got this far.  You offer them your…

Thoughts and Prayers:  “Our thoughts and prayers are with you.”  Yeah, thanks for nothing.  Aside from being the preferred political alternative… which alone should make us wary of it… this is the double-whammy.  You get both, prayers and vibes, divine intervention AND the personal Jedi-like assistance of the well-wisher.  How can you go wrong with that?

To sum up, instead of all this meaningless crap that you don’t really mean anyway… c’mon, we all know you are secretly hoping they will never ever call on you to help them like you offered… say this instead and the world will be a better and more honest place…

“Suck it up, Buttercup.”, and walk away.

 

 

Do you want fries with that?

“Do you want fries with that?”

<blank stare>

“Did I say I wanted fries?  No.”

Do I actually say that?  No.  Not anymore.  Contrary to popular belief, and contrary to standard curmudgeonly customs and expectations, I have gained some sense of couth and social refinement over the years.  Now, I will admit that I want to say that every single time, but I never do.  I mean, that would be rude, right?

Besides, I don’t want anyone spitting in my food.  Practical considerations, ya know.

Yeah yeah yeah, it’s called ‘suggestive selling’, or ‘upselling’, and employees are told to do it because it’s quite effective.  I have read many sources who claim corporations make boatloads of extra money just by adding an extra item here and there.  It boggles my brain cells that so many people fall for it.  Yet, in the interest of full honesty, I cannot claim that I have never fallen for it.  Every now and then, rarely, even though I know what they’re doing, they will suggest something that appeals to my weaknesses and I will succumb.  As a general rule, however, even if it sounds good, and even if I want what they are suggesting, I will politely decline just as a matter of principle.  I have been known to decline even though I was just about to order what they suggested.  I’m kind of stubborn that way.  I’ll show ’em!

Coming into the adult world, I love a good margarita.  Must be frozen/blended.  I call them “Adult Slurpees”, and I am a sucker for a good Slurpee, with or without tequila.  When I order one, though, they usually try to upsell me to a higher grade tequila.  I have been known to respond, “I’m not sophisticated enough to know the difference, so no thank you.”

I always get an annoyed stare in return.  They never laugh.  <shrug>  Plus, after two I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference, anyway, so no, I’m not paying the extra money for a higher-end tequila.

I’m kind of stubborn that way.

Classic band or Cover band?

Isn’t it amazing that you can still see so many classic musical acts?  And they’re all over the place.  Our nostalgic teen years can be continually played and replayed over and over again.  It’s great, I don’t ever have to grow up.

Hey Mickey you’re so fine, you’re so fine you blow my mind, hey Mickey!

Oh, sorry, got carried away.  Anyway, who are these people?  It’s one thing to see the Stones and view Keith Richards suspended in a perpetual age of 192 since he was 27, but for lesser bands it’s not always so sure.

I have this very basic criteria:  For a band to be that band, they must have at least one original member.  One.  And for simplicity sake I define “original” as the lineup when their first album was released.  No need to go back to the first garage jam session, just the first album. Otherwise they’re just a cover band.  And no, the height of the band’s popularity isn’t good enough.  Must… be… original.  Maybe it’s just me… it usually is… but I don’t think this is an unreasonable criteria.

Believe it or not, some bands claiming to be whoever have no original members at all, just hangers-on from later in the band’s career when the band was dying anyway.  There are several instances where there have been TWO bands of the same name, each one with an original member and each original member hating each other.

Then there’s the case of the J. Geils Band.  For legal reasons, the band calling itself the J. Geils Band in recent years doing nostalgic shows had most of the original members… but not J. Geils.  He had disputes with the rest of the band, so they wouldn’t let him in, but they got to legally keep the name.  That’s actually funny.

I’m not convinced Keith Richards will ever die, btw… then again, maybe he’s been dead for 40 years.  Can’t tell.

An Open Letter To: Facebook

An Open Letter To: Facebook

Dear Facebook… and Mark Zuckerberg,

re:  “Top Stories” vs. “Most Recent”

On occasion I’m going to have a semi-regular feature where I write an open letter to someone, usually a corporation or other faceless non-person entity, regarding an issue that they need some help with. Somebody’s gotta tell ’em, right? Today’s letter is to Facebook and regards their settings for post viewing. Or, rather, the lack of settings for post viewing.

I’m talking about “Top Stories” being the non-changable default, causing me to have to continuously switch it to “Most Recent” so that I can view them according to my preference. Sometimes I have to manually switch a dozen times a day, sometimes none at all. I have no need to have a continuing long discussion about three women’s personal foot care processes thrown in my face every time I log in just because it’s ‘popular’ or active.  No, I prefer to scroll back through the day as it happened, and let’s be real, even with all your tracking and algorithms, you do not know what I like like I know what I like.

Rumor has it that you are aware of this issue, and steadfastly refuse to address it. What makes this even more perplexing is that you seem to enjoy making all kinds of things optional to our preferences, so why not this?

C’mon, Facebook, get on the stick.

The Windows to Your Soul

As you will no doubt learn while reading my blog, I have pet peeves. Many pet peeves. Some people probably will think too many pet peeves. (It has been noted… *cough*) But hey, some things need to be said, and some people need to be told, and I’m the person to set them back on the right path. Well, there is an increasing trend that is sweeping the nation, and it is of epic, almost Biblical, proportions.

Have you noticed that when people post photos of themselves they are almost always wearing sunglasses? Quite often even indoors. Sunglasses are becoming ubiquitous. Even celebrities are wearing sunglasses in official functions. I was watching Wheel of Fortune the other day and Pat and Vanna were wearing dark sunglasses while making a promotional pitch. Several years ago then-San Francisco Giants manager Dusty Baker did a television commercial for a charity and, yep, you guessed it, he was wearing dark sunglasses while making his pitch.

What’s wrong with that, you say? Everybody’s doing it, right? Well, everybody re-elects their Congressperson and you can see where that got us. Anyway, dark sunglasses covers your eyes. Still shrugging your shoulders and wonder why that matters? Your eyes are the window to your soul. Your eyes convey personality and character and trust. Your eyes tell me who you are. If I can’t see your eyes, I can’t see YOU.

I get it, it’s sunny. You are shading your eyes. I do that, too. But when sharing a photo, you sitting in a tropical resort means nothing to me without the warmth of your personality coming through. You might as well wear a mask, and a cheesy smile doesn’t make up for it. When Dusty Baker was pitching his charity, I had no reason to even want to contribute. He removed all potential sense of trust when he covered his eyes. Might as well have been a hit man, or something, for all I knew. Regardless, he didn’t convey trust.

So, lose the shades for the photo-op. It takes only a few seconds, then you can put them back on again. I want to see you, not some generic soulless creature.

*grunt*

*grunt*

Seems reasonable to me. <shrug>

Them: “Good morning.” Usually including a cheery tone and a smile.

Really, what am I supposed to do with that? Is it a threat? Is it a command? A suggestion? A desperate plea of hope at the prospect of yet another mind-numbing day? What if it’s not a ‘good’ morning? What if it is a ‘good’ morning, but I just want to be left alone? Is that so bad? I, for example, am not a morning person. I may not have anything against you or the morning in particular or anything else, but as a non-morning person… combined with being an introvert… simply do not wish to interact with people beyond a minimally-required level until later in the morning after I have been awake for awhile and have eased into the day a bit. Yet, some people seem to think I’m some kind of grouchy pariah.

I have also observed that some people get very defensive about their morning greetings. They are put off, offended actually, if you do not respond in kind with the same level of chirpiness that they have graciously just offered you. (And, as I have found out the hard way, a sarcastic overly-bubbly “GOOD MORNING!!!”, complete with fake sunshine and rainbows and forced ear-to-ear grins, does not drive home the point and make them stop. Ugh!) Go figure.

Now, I suppose I could be the standard cookie-cutter curmudgeon and respond with, “What’s good about it?”, complete with faux gruff voice inflection, but that’s predictable and all wannabe-curmudgeons, the posers, say that. Those people… men, usually… are also viewed as cute and cuddly in their curmudgeoness. Curmudgeons are not cute and cuddly. (I am actually very cute and cuddly, but I hide it.)

Anyway, how I *want* to respond, and used to until the blowback became too annoying itself, was to just grunt.

Them: “Good morning.” Usually including a cheery tone and a smile.

Me: *grunt*

There. You got your acknowledgement. Go away. But, practical reality precludes me from doing this as often as I’d like. I am told that it is viewed as unsociable. Who knew?

My sister… a rare female curmudgeon, I am proud to say… and I have developed a standard response. And the best part is we developed it somewhat independent of each other. When people say “Good morning.”, we respond with, “Hello.”

What’s wrong with that? It’s a proper greeting. It’s short and simple and correct, we are offering a formal greeting. It’s polite and reasonably friendly. It’s not obscene or uncouth or insulting. Yet to see some people react you’d think you just bludgeoned a unicorn to death, or something. I know people who honestly get offended when I respond with “Hello”. C’mon, stop being uptight and demanding that people act and react how you want them to. Not everybody is happy and chipper when they first wake up. I gave you an honest and non-sarcastic response, accept it and be grateful.

Then go away and leave me alone.