Thursday, December 29, 2011

On tablelism....

Tableism - the practice of sorting large families into smaller groups by table and age.
Phillip's New World Dictionary

When I was growing up, my grandmother's house was the place where everyone met for holidays and family gatherings; I called her house The Hub because it was where everything happened.  Since my extended family was scattered across several states, and I rarely got to see them, those gatherings at grandma's were special times indeed, and they occurred all too infrequently.

My grandmother always had two tables, a smaller one that was used for every day meals and a larger table that was used when my relatives were visiting.  My grandparent's, like most people, were tableists; when we had family functions the bigger table was reserved for the adults and the smaller table was used by us kids.  I used to always think that being an adult meant two things; that you got to sit at the big kid table and that you got to drink coffee.  I still don't drink coffee and I suppose that my refusal to drink it is just an expression of my desire to stay young and not grow up; coffee's always been just a little too grown up for me.  I do get to sit at the big kid table though, so I guess that I'm at least partially grown up.  For me sitting at the adult table was a right of passage, a sign that you'd arrived at adulthood.

The people at the big kid table always seemed so cool; they would drink their coffee, talk about their jobs and divorces, and tell dirty jokes.  I yearned to be a part of that cooler, older table, minus the divorces.  The younger table talked about stuff like school, the books we had read and what we had done during the long, lazy summers that is one of those unique gifts of childhood.  Though it was nice to see my cousins and I enjoyed their company very much, there was nothing in any of those conversations that was going to leave an indelible impression on your young mind; I couldn't tell you one thing that was ever said at that table, but I remember well some of the jokes told at the big kid table.  The conversations at that big kid those were special.

There was also a group that I dubbed "the Tweeners", they were the people who were too young to sit at the big kids table, but too old to fit in at the little kid table.  When my grandmother had more people at the house than she could fit at either of the tables the Tweeners would get a folding tray table to eat at.  I always tried to be a Tweener whenever I could because it made me feel a little less like a kid and a little more like an adult.

I've come to realize that my life-long desire to be welcomed as a full voting member at the big kid table, with all of the rights and privileges thereto, was overrated and that I had idealized what occupying a spot at that table really meant.  Heck, I never could tell a good joke anyway.  It took me years of observation to reach this enlightened state, years that finally culminated in a kind of epiphany.  I came to this epiphany while sitting on the couch in my in-law's living room this past Thanksgiving.

As I sat there I observed that although we were obviously all there together, the larger group was made up of several smaller groups, with each group member interacting with one another in completely different ways.  The first group was the Wee Ones; they were all under 5 and were playing with dolls or crawling across the floor putting things into their mouths that didn't belong there.  This was the equivalent of the little kid table, though the age range didn't stretch quite as far as I was used to.

The second group ranged in ages from 16 to around 21.  This group was talking about World of Warcraft, games in general, and electronics.  This was the Tweener group from my childhood.  The only thing missing were the folding tray tables.

The third group was the full-fledged adults, the occupants of the big kid table. What were they talking about?  Social Security, maintenance medications, medical conditions and other old people stuff; it was like sitting in a cardiologist's waiting room.  It was at this point, sitting on that couch in my in-law's house and watching these three groups interact, that my soul begged to be thrust back into the comforting arms of my grandmother's little kid table, if just for one more time.  Either the big kid table isn’t what I had made it out to be or the kids that sit there, me included, aren’t nearly as cool as they used to be.  I think maybe it's probably a little of both.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

On avoiding laundry duty....

Part one in my How to Avoid Household Chores series addresses how to avoid doing laundry.  Following these simple tips will not only allow you to avoid laundry, it will actually get you a lifetime laundry ban; she will BEG you not to ever wash anything again and you never doing laundry will be cause for celebration.

I hate doing laundry and I hated it even more when the kids were babies, there's just no good way to fold those little clothes.  And people get injured trying to fold fitted sheets; if a person could figure out how to neatly fold them they would probably win a Nobel Prize, have a holiday named after them and would have parades and festivals held in their honor.  The fitted sheet is a nut that I just haven't been able to crack, when confronted with one I just roll it up and shove it in the closet.

During our first couple of years of marriage Paula didn't mind me doing laundry; she started minding when she discovered my daughter using her favorite shirt to dress her Barbie.  I didn't just shrink that shirt, I broke several laws of physics and I'm pretty sure that my feat will never be duplicated.  If there was a Laundry Mistake Hall of Fame I would be in it.  That shirt sure did look good on Caitlin's Barbie though.

That first incident didn't quite do the trick.  The final straw was when I washed a red shirt with the whites and one of her favorite tank tops came out pink.  I actually suffered a little with this incident because all of my socks were pink too, but after a couple of washes and a few catcalls the pink came out. 

Since that day I have been banned from the laundry room.  Occasionally I will be in there doing something and she will yell from the other room "you aren't doing laundry are you?"  When I’m at home and she goes somewhere her last words are generally “don’t worry about the laundry, I’ll get it when I get back”, which really means I better not touch it.

So to avoid doing laundry all you really have to do is mix some darks in with the whites and totally ignore the advice on the tags.  The minute she realizes that the shirt she wore just last week is now three sizes too small your laundry days are over forever.

Friday, December 23, 2011

On Satan Claus....

Just like every couple, Paula and I have developed traditions around the way that we do things at Christmas.  We shop for most things together (except for the ones from Santa of course) and then we sneak everything into the house and hide them somewhere that we're pretty certain is safe from snooping eyes.  We change that spot every year just in case they've gotten wise to us.

On Christmas Eve we set our alarm clock for about 2 AM Christmas Morning and when the alarm goes off we get the gifts from their hiding places, wrap them, and stick them under the tree.  I'm not a very good wrapper, so I always fetch the gifts and get strips of tape ready while Paula wraps.  Then, when she's done wrapping them, I will put the name tags and bows on them.  We always do one tag for each of the kids that says that it's from Mom and Dad, but the others always say Santa.

Because we generally end up going to bed late, we're usually pretty tired when we get up at 2 AM to do that wrapping and we find ourselves making little mistakes like cutting the paper too short or putting the wrong name on the tag and stuff like that.  In fact Paula, always cuts at least one piece of paper too short and giggles about it; it's one of those little unintentional traditions that always makes me smile.

So a few years ago the kids got up, as usual, at around 6 AM, ready to open presents.  Someone always takes the initiative to grab them, read the tags, announce who they're from and for, and then distribute them.  This particular year my daughter, who was maybe 10 at the time, was passing them out, dutifully saying "From Santa to Tyler", "From Mom and Dad to Caitlin", etc.  She grabbed one of hers and with eyes the size of half-dollars read "From Satan to Caitlin".  Caitlin looked at me and said "very funny dad, that's mean".  The funny thing about it is that it was a complete mistake and in my sleep-deprived state I had just misspelled Santa.

So now it's become a tradition that someone says something like "there's none here from Satan are there?"

Thursday, December 22, 2011

On Facebook Falsehoods....

People who post on Facebook are the most ardent group of sunshine pumpers I've ever seen in my entire life.  I've seen it time and again; someone posts a horrible picture of himself or herself and everyone comments on how handsome or pretty they are.  Everyone knows they're lying, but for some reason they feel compelled to leave a comment and it has to be a positive one.   

I guess they want to try to be nice and not mention how horrible the picture looks, so instead they say stuff like “nice sweater”, or don't really mention the picture at all and say something about the upcoming reunion or their kids instead.  If I was posting a picture of myself and someone told me that they liked my sweater I wouldn't know how to take it, but I would probably think that it was the only kind thing they could come up with.

I'm more of the "if you don't have anything nice to say don't say anything at all" kind of guy, so I don't say much of anything when I see these bad pictures.  Usually when I do end up saying something I stick my foot in my mouth anyway, so silence is a pretty solid policy and has probably kept me from being beaten up a couple dozen times.

So today I conducted an experiment and took a picture of myself in the mirror.  It's these kind of pictures that usually generate the most sunshine pumping.  I asked myself, would I be told what a handsome little fella I was or how skinny I looked or how pretty my sweater was, all of which are probably not true?  See for yourself (the names have been changed to protect the innocent):

Apparently either the compliments are reserved for other people, women maybe, or I have some mean friends.  Maybe I should have worn a sweater.

Monday, December 19, 2011

On Angry Birds....

Until I installed Angry Birds on my smart phone this past Saturday I was probably one of only two people in the world who had never played it; I uninstalled it on Sunday.  I didn't remove it because I didn't like the game or anything, I uninstalled it because the two times that I sat down and played it I ended up with a headache and temporary near sightedness and experienced a shift in the space-time continuum; before I knew it I had traveled into the future an hour and a half and that pig was still alive and laughing at me.

After my second dalliance with Angry Birds I quickly decided that any further involvement with this game would probably end with my wife being tried for what most would probably consider justifiable homicide.  I now have a full appreciation for why the game is so popular, it's really, really addicting.  Even now there is a little devil sitting on my shoulder telling me that it would be okay to reinstall it; that I can exercise self control and play it for a few minutes now and again, but I know that I am powerless against Angry Birds and that the only way to stay healthy is to walk away completely.  Though I know all of this, walking away still hurts my heart.  I think I just cried on my keyboard a little....

Sunday, December 18, 2011

On guerrilla warfare....

From Wikipedia:  Guerrilla warfare is a form of irregular warfare and refers to conflicts in which a small group of combatants including, but not limited to, armed civilians (or "irregulars") use military tactics, such as ambushes, sabotage, raids, the element of surprise, and extraordinary mobility to harass a larger and less-mobile traditional army, or strike a vulnerable target, and withdraw almost immediately.


I got a good chuckle the other night when my wife and daughter and I were discussing the possibility of me attending a bowl game this New Year's Eve.  My wife said that I should go and my daughter said no I shouldn't because although she wouldn't admit it, my wife would be mad at me if I did.  I told my daughter that last year when I got back from the New Year's Eve game her mother had admitted that she was mad at me for about 4 long and painful hours; it was like an anger marathon and because she had dozed after midnight while I drove home she was rested up for it.

The whole night of the game I thought I was golden; I had taken my son, my brother-in-law and his son-in-law and we had a great time.  My wife and daughter had gone to a movie and then come home and watched the ball drop.  I called my wife at around midnight and wished her a Happy New Year and then continued the long drive home, fat dumb and happy.

When I got home the house was quiet as expected, so I got a drink of water and headed to bed.  The bedroom was a little dark, so I turned on my cell phone and aimed it at the bed so that I wouldn't break a foot.  In the pale light of that cell phone this is what I saw:

Okay, it wasn't that bad, but there certainly wasn't any warmth in the eyes of the woman that was laying there waiting for me.  Right about the time I walked into the bedroom, unaware that I was about to be ambushed, I thought that I heard my wife whisper a line from this movie.  This is when I should have turned around and run.

I've heard people say things like "she's a demon in bed", but the knowing looks and dumb grins that usually accompany that expression gave me the impression that it meant something good.  In my case though the demon that I had just slid under the covers with was a creature (a lovely creature mind you) bent upon my destruction.  The 4 hours of education that I received that night taught me that "I'd really like you home with me at midnight, but if you'd rather go to the game then go ahead" had been misinterpreted by me as an okay to go. 

Needless to say this year I will be staying home.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

On Occupy Wall Street....

Apparently in order to join the Occupy Wall Street movement you have to pass an exam.  Here's one of the questions:

Jimmy is 22 years old and is a lazy little pansy who thinks that everything should be given to him; he likes to cry and feel sorry for himself a lot.  Jimmy gets two apples for every hour he works at the factory.

Janet is 44 years old and has been working at the factory for nearly 20 years.  She worked hard to put herself through college and her hard work has paid off; she was prompted 2 years ago and is now a vice-president.  Janet gets 20 apples for every hour she works.

How many of her apples will Janet have to give Jimmy to make the little pansy happy?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

On the female Rolodex....

Women are unique creatures.  I wrote before about how men have a situational disability commonly referred to as selective hearing.  Women have selective hearing too, but along with that they have the uncanny ability to remember every single time that you've ever made then angry; they have selective memory.  When they get mad they turn into Rain Man.  They remember exact dates, locations, weather conditions, what you were wearing, everything.  If you could hear what was going on inside a woman's head right before she goes all Chuck Norris on you would you would hear something that sounds like a Rolodex being flipped.  This is because like a computer searching for data they are accessing the memories of every single time you've ever made them angry.

What's funny is that they can't remember what day Big Bang Theory comes on no matter how many times you tell them.  They can't remember that you told them three times that you were going to a football game next weekend, or that you are traveling for business in two weeks.  They can't remember where they put your camera or how that dent got on their car.  They can't remember how to work the DVD player to save their lives.  Basically they can't remember anything except the things that you've done wrong. Sometimes I think that if you want a woman to remember something you should wedge that information in between a couple of insults because then it would be set and they would never forget it.

As mentioned in a previous post they also won't just come out and tell you what they want.  When they want a sandwich they will say "doesn't a sandwich sound good?"  If they want you to turn the lights out they will say "wouldn't it be good if those lights were off?" And of course if they want an ice cream they ask you if you want one.  Until you have been married long enough to them to understand what this all means, you end up in a lot of trouble.  This video is an example of what ends up happening when you mistake "doesn't an ice cream sound good?" with "stop and get me an ice cream":

Friday, December 9, 2011

On Self Checkout Seth....

The third and final installment of my People Who Annoy me series is about Self Checkout Seth.  Just like Parking Shark and Drive Thru Delores, Self Checkout Seth is a burger, fries and drink short of a Happy Meal.  All they have rolling around in that noodle of theirs is the cheap plastic Happy Meal toy.

Self checkouts were invented to be efficient, save people time and ultimately cut down on the number of cashiers needed.  This in turn saves the store money and allows them to pass those savings on to you the customer in the form of higher prices and smaller portion sizes.  But the inventor of the self checkout failed to take into account self checkout Seth.  Here's how to identify Self Checkout Seth:

1.  They have 300 items in their buggy and are unable to locate even one of the bar codes in under 5 minutes.
2.  It takes them 5 minutes to transfer the scanned item into a bag, sending the self checkout computer into hysterics.  They never quite figure out why the computer doesn't care much for them, even after having the same issue 300 times.  I always want to scream "Quit fondling the damned thing and put it in the bag!"
3.  Like Drive Thru Delores they have to neatly fold their receipt and put it and their money in their wallet before even thinking about getting out of the way for the next guy. The process of folding that receipt makes it look like they're doing origami; it takes them forever.

The only self check out that I envision working for Self Checkout Seth is some type of conveyor belt that scans his stuff automatically, bags it for him, grabs his wallet and then swipes his card.  Short of that I'm afraid that Self Checkout Seth is here to stay; right there in front of me at the checkout line.

On Drive Thru Delores....

The second installment of my People Who Annoy me series concerns Drive Thru Delores. 

One of the most annoying parts of the drive-thru experience is when you get behind Drive thru Delores.  How do you know if you're behind her?  Drive thru Delores exhibits 2 or more the following traits:

1.  She has up to 15 different orders.
2.  She has to ask every person in the car what they want, but not a moment before hearing the words "welcome to McDonald's, may I take your order please?"  Planning ahead and asking everyone what they want before hearing the voice from the magic box is simply not an option.
3.  When window #1 opens and the cashier tells them their total they exhibit shock that they're being asked for money and only when the shock wears off do they begin to rummage through their purse for money.  They bypass the $20 that would cover the whole meal and instead search that saddlebag of a purse until they find the exact change.
4.  While waiting at window #2 they become so engrossed in conversation with their passenger, or in reaching behind the seats to smack their kids, that they fail to notice the cashier with their order.  The cashier has to bang on their window to get their attention.
5.  Upon receiving their order, they have to put their change away neatly, put the straw in their drink, reach back behind them and hand food to the kid they were just trying to smack, fasten their seat belt, wash, blow dry and comb their hair and adjust their mirror before they pull out. 

I've been behind some people for so long after they received their food that I was a mere seconds away from calling an ambulance because I thought they had passed over to the other side. Drive Thru Delores is closely related to Parking Lot Polly who, despite knowing that there's a Parking Shark behind them, still insists upon doing a complex fifteen minute ritual before finally pulling out and relieving the traffic jam created by Parking Shark.

On Parking Sharks....

I went to Wal-Mart during lunch today hoping to get in and out quickly but as nearly always happens I fell victim to a Parking Shark.  A Parking Shark is one of those extremely annoying people who cruise parking lots for the best spot, then block traffic while they wait for someone to stow their groceries and leave.  This particularly Parking Shark was sitting in the middle of the row, and I do mean the middle of the row, preventing anyone from going around her.  Luckily I had some MRE's with me because I sat there for like 3 days.

I don't really have an issue with anyone stopping for a car pulling out so that they can get the spot, but etiquette has to be observed.  If, during your wait, a car pulls up behind you though you need to move on and take the loss.  This woman didn't do that though, walking the extra ten feet was unacceptable and having 6 cars behind her waiting for her to move didn't bother her in the least; that's just lazy. 

If it's raining I tend to overlook Parking Shark because I turn into one myself in a downpour, but it was a solid 60 degrees and sunny so the Parking Shark behavior was not necessary.  It's a darned good think that I haven't experimented on myself with gamma radiation because if I had I would have ruined a shirt and a good pair of pants and thrown Parking Shark's car into the next time zone.

I don't like the Parking Shark when I'm the shopper either.  I've had people pull up behind me while I'm still putting my groceries in the back so that they can get my spot and that isn't any less annoying.  When people do that I tend to go all James Dean on them and take my time; I'll be damned if I'll let peer pressure and the presence of a Parking Shark make me rush.  Sometimes I even sit there for a minute and just stare at the steering wheel until the Parking Shark pulls away in frustration, it's my way of thumbing my nose at them.

As to the person that the parking shark was waiting on, she wasn't a whole lot better, she was a Parking Lot Polly.  Or perhaps she was just doing what I do and not bowing to the pressure of the Parking Shark, but the signs certainly pointed to her being a Polly.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

On Christmas Nazi's....

With Christmas approaching I thought that it would be a good time to discuss the Christmas Nazi.  We all know at least one of them, they're the people who so closely control every facet of the Christmas experience that by the time Christmas rolls around there are at least a half dozen people plotting to kill them; grandma getting run over by a reindeer was no accident.  They do all of this because Christmas is all they have to look forward to, but they fail to realize that with each passing year they just make the prospect of another Christmas with them more unbearable for those around them.  They get a lot of joy out of Christmas while at the same time sucking the joy out of everyone around them; they’re the black holes of the holiday season.  Okay, maybe they're not that quite bad, but they are annoying.

Christmas Nazi's are a pretty regimented group of people and have a mental checklist of what they want done and when.  They insist that the tree and decorations go up the day after Thanksgiving, denying their loved ones the joy of being trampled to death at a Wal-Mart Black Friday sale.  They put lives in danger by insisting that no matter how steep the roof, there must be lights.  They insist that all of the yard ornaments be placed in just the right location for optimal road side viewing and they place our safety in jeopardy by making us stand in the middle of the road to ensure that everything is just so.  And, of course, they stand at the window watching what the neighbors are doing to ensure that their yard has the most crap.

Someone at work sent me an IM today about a discussion that she overheard from another group.  One of the office Christmas Nazi's, and we're cursed with several, was complaining about not having a tree and wondering why someone had failed to take care of that yet.  You see, the Christmas Nazi has all of these rules and expectations, but they're usually not the one to do the work, they have people for that. 

One of our Christmas Nazi's actually spent a thousand dollars to have someone put her lights up for her.  At the end of the season, which for the Christmas Nazi seems to be sometime in July, these well paid people will return, take the lights down and store them until next year.  It's easy to feel festive when it isn't your butt hanging 15 feet off the ground.

I'm the antithesis of the Christmas Nazi; if given the choice I would never put up a tree or decoration of any kind.  One year I didn't put a tree up until Christmas Eve and only did so then under protest.  Christmas decorations at our house don't hang around long either, every year I pack up the decorations as soon as the presents are opened; by 8 AM on Christmas Day the only sign of Christmas you'll see at my house is the discarded wrapping paper and empty boxes bulging out of our garbage can. 

Every year I store the decorations more carelessly too, I started off packing them away neatly and then putting the boxes into neat stacks too, but last year I found that if I stood just right and put the right arc on it I could throw everything up in the attic and never even have to go up there.  Yes stuff get’s broken, but it’s much more efficient.  My wife has mentioned a couple of times how Christmas stuff doesn’t seem to be made as well as they used to be and that it’s amazing that they’re only out for 2 days a year but still tear up so quickly.  The bad thing for me is that I have already maximized my storage efficiency; I may have to just start throwing everything out into the yard when I’m done for the year.

Christmas Nazi’s forget that Christmas isn’t about how many lights you have in your yard or when you have your Christmas tree up.  It isn’t about how many festive Christmas sweaters you wear or how many family, friends and co-workers you can force feed with Christmas spirit.  It isn’t about playing Christmas music 24/7, which forces others to listen as well.  Christmas, to me, is about ROI, or Return on Investment.  If I spend $5 on your Christmas gift and you spend $50 on mine, my ROI is $45 and I don’t think anyone would disagree with me when I say that is a fabulous Return on Investment.  Every year I have to remind myself of why we go through this pain every year, and that’s for the stuff that people give us.  My tip for those that have to suffer with a Christmas Nazi is that a swift kick to the neck may not kill them, but it will put them out of commission for awhile.

There are 16 days until Christmas, so spike the eggnog, avoid sharp objects, and enjoy the rest of the holiday season, the Christmas Nazi’s out there certainly will.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

On NAPA Know How....

I understand that commercial ditty's are supposed to be catchy and that their degree of catchiness is an indicator of how well the ad agency has done its job, but getting one of those ditty's stuck in your head is the closest thing to hell that I have ever experienced; I call it Lyric Overload.  I have the NAPA Know How ditty stuck in my head and because I care, I want to share that special piece of hell with you, so here is just one of the commercials:

Lyric Overload is a progressive disease, here's a video posted by someone who's obviously in the late stages of that disease.  Pray for this guy, he's going to need it:

I guess you could say that my little slice of hell is proudly sponsored by NAPA.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

On "seeking treatment", the new moral Teflon....

Recently politicians and other public figures who have made horrible personal decisions have devised a creative new way of shirking responsibility for their actions by announcing that they are "seeking treatment" for their issues.  This apparently absolves them from responsibility and provides them with what they believe is the equivalent of moral Teflon.

A recent example of this is Anthony Weiner, a Democrat from New York who was accused of posting inappropriate pictures of himself on Twitter and Facebook.  The irony of Representative Weiner posting pictures of his weiner was not lost on me and my first question was what made him think that he, as a public official, could possibly get way with something like this.  My second question was why someone would think that anyone would want to see their weiner.  If those things had arms and legs nothing in the world would be more frightening.  Those things should be locked away and should never see the light of day.  Hot dog manufacturers should sue anyone who sullies the reputation of their products by calling that ugly thing a weiner.  

What if he did it because his last name caused some form of mental instability?  He had to have been made fun of growing up, right?  What is the long-term impact of kids ruthlessly making fun of your name while you're growing up?  If the name calling caused his mental health issue, my fear is that Representatives Schlong, Stiffy, Wanker, Pecker and Dong will follow suit.  If this spreads to the Senate, what about Senators Dipstick, Pole and Rod? And forget about Native American tribal leaders Purple Headed Trouser Snake and Throbbing Python of Love, those men don't stand a chance. 

Anyway, shortly after the proverbial poo-poo hit the fan and amid the cries of righteous public indignation Mr. Weiner announced that he was "seeking treatment."  Now while I know that the medical establishment has worked tirelessly to create new addictions and "diseases" for us to enjoy over the last twenty years or so, I wasn't aware of a psychiatric or medical condition that renders people stupid.  Is there a cure for stupidity?  If there is, I need to know about it and I would like my prescription filled too.

I offer an alternative explanation though.  Seeking "treatment" is just another way for someone to not take responsibility for their actions. It says "I did it because I was sick and powerless to stop myself, but now I am cured and don't have to be accountable for my own supreme stupidity."  But I guess that this is just consistent with what the "Occupy Wall Street" generation seems to be saying; we're all victims here.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

On the hot dog lobby....

I’m not a conspiracy theorist by any stretch of the imagination, but I know people who are and most of them are crazy as a shit house rat.  I have a brother who doesn’t believe that we’ve been to the moon.  He thinks that what NASA should do to quell all of the talk from him and the 10 others who think like him is point the Hubble Space Telescope at the moon so that they can see the Tang containers we left behind.  He says that then he would believe it.  I laugh and poke fun at him about this every chance I get; it’s fun.

I’m not stupid either though and I do consider myself to be intuitive.  I see something here and hear something there and my intuition does the rest.  I’ve always thought that I would be a good investigator.  Once there was a woman who came in for an ID card who couldn’t tell me her deceased husband's full name or where he was stationed, only that he was in the Air Force when it first became the Air Force.  I made about 20 calls and eventually tracked him down and got her that ID card.
About ten years ago I was listening to the radio while driving home from Chattanooga and heard a short news report about an annual hot dog lunch that a number of politicians routinely attended.  “Hot dog lunch”, I thought to myself, “a fine example of the hot dog lobby hard at work currying favor with our elected officials”, and chuckled to myself.  At the time I didn’t realize just how prescient that fleeting moment out on Interstate 24 was.  After that day the hot dog lobby became a distance memory and I all but forgot about it.
About five years ago I read about a piece of legislation introduced in the House of Representatives (H.3462) that would have made it unlawful to use chicken knuckles in the manufacture of hot dogs due to health concerns and the inhumane methods used by chicken farmers in the harvesting of said chicken knuckles.  Manufacturers argued that chicken knuckles were actually good for us and that they would be the least of our concerns if we knew what else is in hot dogs.  Before the bill came to a vote its sponsor withdrew it from consideration without comment.  I thought about this briefly, then something shiny distracted me and just like that earlier news report it was soon forgotten.
Last year a bill was introduced by a Senator in North Carolina (S.1291) that would have forced hot dog manufacturers to package their hot dogs in an eight pack to match the number typically found in a pack of hotdog buns.  This bill made it out of committee and was voted on by the full Senate, but it failed to pass by a vote of 95 to 15.
Here are my issues with these two pieces of legislation:
  • The Representative who introduced the chicken knuckle bill suddenly became wealthy off of some hot dog futures that he claims were purchased prior to taking office.  Shortly after withdrawing his bill from consideration he retired to Vienna, Austria. 
  • There are only 100 senators, but there were 110 votes cast.  Where did those other votes come from?
After the incident last year in the Senate I became convinced that the Hot Dog Lobby that I had dismissed with a chuckle ten years previously actually did actually did exist, so I began to sit back and observe, determined not to continue to be a victim of dirty hot dog politics.  I began to see headlines like this one from
 (Click on the titles to see the article if you don’t believe me):

Were the hot dogs a bribe to keep him quiet about Lockerbie or just a reminder of who he works for?

And this one from

After a time I knew that I had stumbled upon something so sinister and secretive it made the Illuminati and Red Elephant Club look like the Girl Scouts.  Then came the final piece in the puzzle when in June of this year the USDA held an event during which it was revealed that they were pulling the old swicheroo and replacing the traditional food pyramid with a plate graphic. 

Who headlined the event unveiling this new plate?  None other than Michelle Obama of course.  Here is a picture of that graphic:

What's missing?  The venerable hot dog.  Michelle Obama has apparently adopted nutrition as her pet cause, which brings us to this headline from The New American:

Ask yourself this: With your wife making such a huge deal about nutrition, why is Obama out throwing down dogs? Just who are you beholden to Mr. President, your wife or Oscar Meyer?

This brings us full-circle back to the incident that first started me down the path of uncovering this hot dog conspiracy.  I started thinking about that first little news snippet that I had heard and made it my mission to track down more on this story.  After months of intensive research followed by a ten second query via Google, I found this:

That’s right, the Hot Dog Lobby now has a name, the American Meat Institute.  How hot dog manufacturers were able to join an institute dedicated to furthering the just cause of meat is beyond me, but there it was in black and white.  Like deviled ham, SPAM, vienna sausages and bologna, I hardly think that the contents of the common hot dog would qualify it as meat anymore than me being born in an oven makes me a biscuit.  Here's a quote taken directly from this article:

“The event was also sponsored by the American Bakers Association, International Bottled Water Association, American Beverage Association….”

So the hot dog industry doesn’t have a tight enough grip on the American political process and had to bring in reinforcements in the form of buns, water and beer.  What’s really cooking in the kitchens of Oscar Myer and what agenda are they pushing?  Part of the answer is their desire to continue the use of chicken knuckles in their products and their refusal to conform to the eight hot dog/eight bun standard.  There's more to it than that though and I assure you that my investigation will not stop until I have the full story.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

On waiting room etiquette....

I don’t care much for waiting rooms and I don’t know many people who do.  Some of them are better than others; when my wife was pregnant and we would go for her monthly check-up’s we rarely waited more than about 5 minute or so.  Not only did we not wait long, but they didn’t even pull that little trick where they take you back quickly and then make you wait in the examining room for three days; offices that do that should have their license pulled.
I’m almost positive that they pump a gas into waiting rooms that makes you sleepy, this would explain why the little receptionist window is only open long enough for them to thrust a clipboard at you and take your co-pay; as soon as that’s done they close it again so that they don’t get sleepy too.  I’ll also never understand why they make you fill out the same paperwork every time you go there; until they prove differently that S-O-B died of kidney failure, just like I reported last time and on the ten previous visits.  Attention to detail and consistency are the keys to escaping detection.
I could write a book about doctor visits, but that’s not really what this post is about, this post is about the waiting room and people who dwell there.  The wait is horrific and the poking and prodding that follows the wait isn’t fun for normal people either, but worse still are the people you have to sit with while waiting your turn.  I don’t know where these people come from, but they violate nearly every social norm known to mankind, they just don’t act like people who have been living in civilized society for their entire lives.  Maybe the explanation is that they weren’t, maybe they were rescued from the jungles of South America. 
There’s an unwritten rule that I follow when entering a waiting room and that rule is that I search for the one seat that is as far away from everyone else as possible and that’s where I sit.  It’s kind of like The Urinal Code.  For those of you who don't know, The Urinal Code states that you have to allow at least one empty urinal between you and the other guy. If, for instance, there are 3 urinals and only the middle one is empty, do you use it? Yea you use it, if you're an anarchist. If you believe in maintaining the fabric of society though you check your watch, or cell phone, or whatever else you can do to look distracted until either the guy on the right or the guy on the left leaves, then you're in the clear.  When society breaks down it will start at a urinal.  Count on it.
This urinal selection is not something that is taught, it is ingrained in our DNA. I'm like a Terminator, I can go into a waiting room or restroom, do a quick two second scan and based upon complex mathematical calculations that not even I understand pick out the correct urinal, toilet, or chair.  Some people apparently don’t care though, they will go into a waiting room filled with 30 chairs, only one of which is occupied, and plop their lazy butt down next to the poor sap that’s sitting in it.
Some people want to strike up conversations with complete strangers in the waiting room.  I’m a people person, really I am, but I don’t want to talk to waiting room people.  My problem is that I get attached to people too easily and that five minute conversation about Dancing with the Stars, which incidentally I don’t even watch, is going to make me feel too close to you.  Just when that bond starts to strengthen and I start to realize that I would take a bullet for you, your name is going to be called and you will be out of my life forever.  I can’t handle that loss.
Maybe it’s because they’re nervous about what’s about to be done to them, but striking up conversations with strangers in a waiting room is a bad idea.  They want to talk about medical stuff, they don’t really want to get to know you.  They don’t want to hear about your hopes and dreams, about your successes and failures; they want to talk about hemorrhoids and bunions.  Hemorrhoids and bunions are subjects that just aren’t that compelling to me.  Now if you want to talk boils, I’m in.
Several months ago I had to go to a place while my wife was having tests run.  Sitting in a waiting room with someone isn’t so bad; at least you have someone to share the misery with.  But alas, as expected she was called back for her two day wait in the back and I was left alone.  At least there’s no one else here, I thought to myself as I settled in for the long wait.  But of course two seconds later in walks the Bertrum von Yapper family, who promptly sets up shop right beside me and without so much as a one seat cushion between us.  When a family enters a waiting room the alpha male is responsible for selecting the appropriate seat for the rest of the pack, but he failed in this responsibility. 
What made this particular incident so uncomfortable is that they received some less than joyful news and when that news was delivered the young lady sitting next to me burst into tears.  What does a person do in that situation?  You were there first and there are about 1500 square feet of unused space containing about 25 comfortable chairs, is it appropriate for you to get up and move elsewhere?  If you do get up and move elsewhere will they see it and think it rude?  Do you say anything at all?  I decided that the solution was to pretend to go to the bathroom and then sit elsewhere when I returned, so that’s what I did.  It didn’t make me happy that I failed to defend my position, but The Urinal Code doesn’t cover everything, so I fell back to another fortified position.
With the von Yapper family though there’s never a bad seat in the house, so I was able to learn that the news wasn’t quite as bad as that young lady thought and that the rending of cloth and gnashing of teeth was a little premature, father von Yapper was going to be just fine.  That brief encounter with the von Yapper family was like a good movie; I laughed, I cried, I was transported to another place and time.  In short it was a real honor to know that of all the waiting rooms in all the towns in all the world, they walked into mine and setup camp in my lap.
Maybe I’m old fashioned, but people just don’t respect personal space anymore.  They stand two inches from you while you’re putting in your PIN at Wal-Mart and they force you to listen to conversations that you really don’t want to be a part, all while apparently enjoying total ignorance as to how obnoxious they’re being.  But I’m not the kind to identify a problem without suggesting a solution, so I have a Zorb on order and will just take it everywhere I go and when my burdens are too heavy will ride off into the sunset in it.  That should resolve the issue.

Monday, November 28, 2011

On LOL....

I hate LOL, I don't really know why, but it just irritates the crap out of me.  I think that more than anything it's probably that everyone over uses it.  To me if something's funny just say that it's funny.  I have only used LOL twice, both in these posts, and I have vowed that I will never use it in a text message or IM.  Instead, I put "ha", or "that's funny".

My family makes fun of my for my utter disdain for "text-speak" and often make fun of me for it.  They say that they could read one of my texts and tell it was from me because of the correct use of punctuation, capitalization and my refusal to use abbreviations.  Once I was driving down the road and got a text from my wife.  Because texting and driving is dangerous, I responded with "k".  Her next text asked "who is this?", so I pulled off to the side of the road and wrote that it was me, who else would it be.  She then asked me who texted her back and said that she didn't believe that it was really me.  Call me anal, but I text like I would write and refuse to do otherwise.  Maybe if everyone else would do that they wouldn't text so darned much and would just pick up the phone.

Through Facebook I have been exposed to writings that I would never have seen otherwise and have observed that many young people post there like they text.  Some of them I have to think about for a minute to figure out what the heck they're trying to say and I wonder if they know how to spell; do they think that "you're" is really spelled "ur"?  If your post isn't written in plain English or gives me a headache trying to decipher it I'm probably just going to skip it.  Hopefully that skipped post doesn't contain the answers to the mysteries of the universe.  Of course if it did you probably wouldn't be posting it on Facebook anyway.

I fully expect the two people that read this post to text me with an "lol", but don't expect one in return.

Friday, November 18, 2011

On the man dance....

I don't know whether it's social conditioning or something that's ingrained in us, but people of the same sex tend to act in remarkably similar ways.  I mentioned this test in another another post a couple of months ago as an example.  Though this is listed on, like most funny things what makes it so humorous is that this kind of thing is what guys do.  If you don't believe it, have 5 guys that you know take the test and compare the results, you'll be amazed at how similar they will be.

Guys do something that I call The Man Dance.  The Man Dance isn't something that you're taught, it's something that you just do, it's in our DNA.  For instance, if I asked a guy to drive me up the street to pick up my car from the shop the rules of The Man Dance dictate that I offer him gas money.  It may only be a half mile trip and thus not really worthy of the gas offer, but the offer has to be extended.  The Man Dance also dictates that the offer of gas money must be rejected because this is what guys do for one another.  That is how men interact and this is what makes it like a dance; the steps are choreographed and each participant understands the progression and which step happens next.  When someone breaks the rules of the Man Dance things are thrown off balance.

A couple of years ago a guy that I work with wanted a dachshund.  Knowing that I had two, he asked me where I had gotten them.  I told him that I had gotten them from a breeder and offered to call her to see if she had any available.  It turned out that she did and he asked if I would be willing to ride out there during lunch to take a look at them.  Although it was about an hour drive from the office, I told him that I would take an extended lunch and ride out there with him.  So we went and he picked out a puppy.

On the way back to the office he asked if I was hungry and I was so he pulled up to a McDonald's drive-thru.  The drive-thru attendant gave us the customary greeting and asked for our order.  This is where the dance should have started, but instead my co-worker said that he was going to have two orders.  Mentally I had already changed into more comfortable shoes knowing that some dancing was about to go down, but instead I was transported to a place where the rules of society no longer mattered and anarchy prevailed.

My co-worker should have offered me that lunch at McDonald's for my trouble.  Then I would have declined, he would have looked at me with wonderment in his eyes and asked if I was sure, and I would have said something like "Absolutely, I was glad to do it.  In fact, let me buy you lunch buddy."  This is The Man Dance and it is the absolute essence of male behavior.  The steps are offer, decline, offer again, decline again.  The code says that I have to say no, but even though he knew that, the code says that he has to offer.  These are the rules and yes maybe they're silly, but life without rules would be chaos and in a world of chaos no one gets McDonald's.

For the last 3 or 4 years I have been able to secure Cotton Bowl tickets.  The first year that I got them I mistakenly told someone in Missouri that I had a spare one that he could use in addition to the two that I knew he had gotten.  A couple of hours later I realized my mistake and immediately called him and informed him of my error.  Dude gave a very strong verbal indication that he wasn't going to be very forgiving and ranted about how he had already made plans for that extra ticket, so I offered up mine.

I had to offer because it was my mistake, but this is where everything went all Twilight Zone on me because he ACCEPTED my offer!  That's right ladies and gentlemen, he took my ticket.  Not only did he take the ticket, he asked me if I could overnight it to him at my expense.  He didn't just violate the code of The Man Dance, he blasted it with a 10 megaton bomb and rendered it totally unrecognizable.  There wasn't any of that "no, it's your ticket and I would feel bad about taking it," to which I would have been obliged to respond back with something like "no, I probably wasn't going to go anyway" (in situations like this the code of The Man Dance dictates that you try to lessen the mental strain on the other party) he accepted before I even had the offer completely out of my mouth.  What he did was take advantage of the code.  Knowing that I would have to offer, he had his acceptance speech prepared.  He zigged and I didn't zag.  He thrusted and I failed to parry.

But this total and complete breakdown in the fiber of society wasn't enough for him.  He never, and I do mean never, thanked me for that ticket.  If he had danced I could have at least left that situation knowing that when called upon to dance for the betterment of mankind I stepped up to the plate.  I would have felt better about the situation.  There should have been an offer, a decline and at least one more offer before his acceptance.  But instead he threw the rule book out the window like a piece of old chewing gum.

I was with a couple of guys at work the other day relaying this story to them and their jaws nearly hit the floor.  They were appalled not necessarily because he took the ticket, but instead because he seemingly had no interest in adhering to the customs of men.  Were there mutated genes involved here or was that ticket so important to him that the violation of code was, in his mind, worth it?  I may never know the answer to that but I do know that if any offense is worthy of having your mancard pulled, this is one of them.

I learned the other day that the guy that pulled the ticket shenanigans on me is no longer with the company and is having a difficult time finding employment.  Karma is indeed a bitch isn't she?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

On sucking it up....

I've been going through one of those periods lately where anything and everything has been making me angry, one of those periods where I've wanted to stab someone with a pencil and might have done it if a pencil had been readily available.  I've gotten angry about little things and I've allowed them to set the tone for my entire day.  Last week I woke up to a brief radio blurb about the Jerry Sandusky situation at PSU and I let that 5:30 AM blurb set the tone for the rest of the day.  I let a Thanksgiving event at work get me so hemmed up that on Friday night I barely slept for thinking about it.  I forget sometimes that not only will these things not matter 100 years from now, they probably won't matter next week.

I have someone who works for me who complains about salespeople constantly.  It's the same complaint all the time; their paperwork is never right, they don't send everything in, their orders are wrong....  I tell him that I have been with the company for 13 years and have come to expect certain behaviors from sales; it has always been this way and probably always will be.  It isn't a glass-half-empty response, it's just that people are people, they have their little foibles and being angry about it changes nothing.  I remind him that if they weren't selling new products we would quickly be out of work, that they are just people who are trying to get by like the rest of us, but every two weeks or so he's back in my office and we start all over again.  It's like being on one of these:

That gerbil gets up there and thinks that every time he runs forward he's closer to his destination.  My employee thinks that getting upset at sales is going to change something, but all it does is add to his aggravation without accomplishing anything.

I get wrapped around the axel the same way and sometimes it takes me entirely too long to realize it and make the necessary corrections to get me out of that rut.  I get frustrated at work when issues outside of my span of control are dumped on me.  I get frustrated when the guy who is supposed to be my right hand man drops the ball, which happens frequently.  I get frustrated when half of the people are complaining that it's too hot and half that it's too cold. Getting frustrated, though, does absolutely nothing to change the situation and just makes for a crappy day.

What I forget is that I'm blessed.  I have an incredible wife and great kids, 99% of the time my employees do what's required of them, and do it well.  I don't have to worry about where my next mortgage payment or meal is coming from and I'm compensated well for what I do.  Nothing else is really that important and letting the little stuff cause me grief is just plain stupid.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

On user prompts....

I kind of get tired of being asked if I'm sure I really want to do that every time I do something on a computer.  Yea I admit that it has probably saved me grief once or twice, but the ratio of "thank-you's" to "just do what I ask you to do's" is so disproportionate that the prompts are really just an irritant.

What I really need is a user prompt between my brain and mouth that would allow me one last chance to consider my words before I say them.  Or maybe a feature like they have in Microsoft Outlook where you can recall a message.  Sometimes, like most people, I say what's on my mind when it's better just to keep my mouth shut; but if I had these options available to me it would allow me another opportunity to edit my words or recall them altogether before they get me in trouble.  Something like this would save me a ton of grief and prevent a lot of those "did I just say that out loud" moments.

I had this girl that worked for me once and toward the end of her employment she frequently had duty after hours and was thus given a company cell phone.  One day she got a call and stepped outside to take it.  When she returned I asked her if she had just taken a duty call or booty call.  Though it was funny and I chuckled I probably would have recalled that statement; human resources frowns upon such witticisms.  Knowing her though it probably was a booty call.

This same girl quit because she felt that she was underpaid; she had an overinflated sense of self-worth.  We were disagreeing about what she was worth in relationship to everyone else when she said "well I guess that we can agree to disagree then and I will be turning in my resignation."  I walked her to her desk, helped her word her resignation just right, accepted it and told her that I would pay her for the 2 weeks, but that she was free to leave.  I don't think that she saw that outcome when she threatened to resign and I'm thinking that she would have recalled that message to me if she could have.

My lack of a filter is well documented in Goodson household lore; it's the thing upon which legends are built.  We laugh about it now, but a couple of years ago my wife was sick and spent most of the night hugging the toilet.  When I get roused from a deep sleep it takes a minute for me to gather my faculties about me.  At about 2 o'clock that morning I was awakened by the sounds of my wife being victimized by a particularly vicious round of sickness and I turned around and asked her if she could throw up more quietly as I was trying to sleep.  As I said we laugh about it now, but at the time she was not amused, not one little bit.  I didn't mean it, I was just half-awake and the minute those words came from my mouth I knew that the price for saying them would be steep.

My wife and I laugh because over the years we have discovered that she doesn't have a filter sometimes too, so we're more alike than we previously thought.  I guess that filter deficiency is really something that we all suffer from at times.  The fact that we recognize it and wish to correct it shows that if nothing else our hearts are in the right place; it's those who know they don't have a filter and don't care that I don't like to be around much.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

On victimocracy....

I found the term victimocracy when doing a Google search for the images that I typically include as a lead-in to my posts.  The Urban Dictionary defines victimocracy as “an offspring of democracy whereby the greatest victim yields the most power.”  This summarizes for me what our society has become; everyone’s a victim of someone and everyone’s powerless against it.

In a previous post I mentioned how I refuse to allow events that happened more than 30 years ago define who I am today.  This is an opinion that I’m pretty passionate about and I basically call it my Suck It Up philosophy.  To some that may sound harsh, but what it means is that when you face tough times you pick yourself up by the bootstraps and keep moving forward.  For me to do anything else is simply unacceptable.

I am a frequent listener to sports talk radio and the big story this week has been the Penn State child sex abuse scandal.  The fact that adults decided that the reputation of a university was more important than protecting young boys from this pervert absolutely sickens me.  Adults thinking that their responsibility ended with reporting this to their superiors sicken me.  The fact that they allowed this man back on campus astounds me.  There are several aspects of this situation that are just unsettling.

What are also troubling though are some of the commentaries I’ve heard and some of the remarks made by callers.   A lady caller to the Paul Finebaum show yesterday evening said that she was molested as a kid and it totally ruined her life and damaged her forever.  Obviously I am not a woman, so maybe it’s different for females, but I was molested when I was 10 and for me to say that it ruined my life and damaged me would be ludicrous.  Has it affected me?  Sure it has, but ruined me?  Not by any stretch of the imagination.

To me it’s pretty simple; you can chose to be a victim or you can chose to be a survivor. Telling yourself that you’re not going to be a victim doesn’t mean that it will be easy and that there won’t be struggles, but keeping your head straight goes a long way toward helping.  Thankfully I heard another caller this morning express this very sentiment, so not everyone wants to play the victim card, some people realize that they have choices to make. If you say to yourself that your life is ruined and you’re damaged you will be; it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.  Being a victim is easy, you get all kinds of attention and you don’t have to take any responsibility for your screw-ups. 

The crazy thing is that this society allows people to be victims.  I can’t tell someone to suck it up because that’s insensitive.  Alcoholics have a disease, they aren’t people who have no self-control and don’t care enough about themselves and others to stop drinking, and they’re “powerless against it.”  The basic philosophy behind drug and alcohol treatment is flawed because we tell them that they have a disease.  We allow them to be victims of that “disease” instead of telling them to suck it up and take responsibility for their lives.

It’s time to quit allowing people to point to distant events as an excuse for their behavior; if we don’t we’re giving the kids that Sandusky molested an excuse to do it to others.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

On bacon dust....

I love Five Guys Burgers and Fries.  If you happen to be in a part of the country that doesn't have them then you don't know what you're missing.  The fries are the best I've probably ever had and are cut right there in the store.  When you go in they have a blackboard telling you where the potatoes come from.  They give you a very generous portion of fries too; a regular fry is enough for two people.  In addition to the great burgers and fries they give you free peanuts; I love a place that gives you free peanuts.

Something that is disturbing about Five Guy and every other burger joint these days though is the bacon.  I don't know what kind of advanced technology was deployed to do it, but the bacon is unbelievably thin.  So thin if fact that if you mash a piece of that bacon between your thumb and forefinger it turns into bacon dust.  We're not talking bacon dust the consistency of sand, we're talking bacon dust the consistency of talcum power.  In addition to advanced slicing technology, they would just about have to use some kind of advanced polymer to keep the bacon molecules together during the cooking process wouldn't they?  The technology that goes into creating that bacon is probably beyond my comprehension.

Now I know that the roast beef at Arby's is sliced at least as thinly as the bacon at any fast food establishment, but with roast beef you are getting a stack of meat, not just a slice.  Put a single slice of Arby's roast beef on a sandwich and see how satisfying that meal would be.  My guess is that like a meal at a Chinese buffet, you would be hungry again 30 minutes later.

The only way that they could possibly get bacon any thinner is to turn it into paste so that you can spread it.

Obviously they slice the bacon so thin to reduce their costs; I'm sure if they could cut a tomato like that they would already be doing it.  As we speak scientists in Geneva are probably working out the tomato slicing problem and will soon be introducing a method to cut them as thin as a piece of paper too.  And then of course the Chinese will be printing stuff on the bacon, making it like a fortune cookie.

Like I said, if you mash a piece of that bacon between your thumb and forefinger the resulting bacon dust is the consistency of talcum powder.  Does this bacon dust present a health concern?  Are we soon going to be hearing about fast food workers suffering from Bacon Lung?  What is the long term impact of being exposed to bacon dust?  Maybe it's just paranoia, but I swear that I breathed in some bacon dust during my last fast food visit and I haven't felt the same sense.