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 Jokes2000.com, 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.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

On fingers....

I consider myself an expert on fingers and their relative worth.  About six years ago my left index finger got into a violent disagreement with a table saw and lost.  I haven't used that table saw since; once they get the taste for blood you might as well throw them out. 

When I first bought that table saw the first thing I did after it came out of the box was disable all the safety features.  I felt that the guards got in the way and apparently I was right; they got in the way of my finger and the saw blade.  That little lapse in judgment cost me and my insurance company two surgeries, dozens of physical therapy sessions and tens of thousands of dollars.  More importantly it cost me my life long dream of being a hand model.  What I got out of that little adventure is a finger that looks like a hot dog  left out in the July heat for a week that no longer bends.  I can't tell you how many people have mistakenly accused me of pointing at them; people apparently don't like being pointed at.  For several months immediately following the accident I had to hear people singing :

          "Where is pointer, where is pointer?"
          "On the floor, on the floor."

Being a bit of a smart aleck myself I appreciated the humor. 
After my accident I learned the value of a good index finger, particularly when it's on your dominate hand.  I could no longer thread a nut, typing was tough and I couldn't pick my nose to save my life.  It's amazing though how resilient people are and how quickly they can adapt; I can now pick my nose with all of my fingers, and my thumb, can type better than ever, and just use my other hand anytime I'm doing something that requires fine motor skills, which isn't often.

Yes, I've learned that a good index finger is a valuable resource and I wish that I could pick up another one to replace the one whose existence ended so tragically and senselessly.  If given the chance I would trade both pinkies for another index finger.  Pinkies are totally worthless and just get in the way.  Unlike the pinky toe, which provides balance when you stand or walk, I'm not aware of anything that the pinky brings to the table.  Mine have minds of their own and hit the tab or enter key well before I want them to.  I can do without them.

In 2008 Trevor Wikre, a 280 pound senior right guard for Mesa State College severely dislocated his pinky, leaving a shard of bone where his pinky once lived.  The surgeon told Wikre that they needed to insert pins and that the recovery time would be 6 months.  It being his senior season, and not caring about the hand's equivalent of the little piggy that went wee wee wee all the way home, Wikre opted to have the pinky amputated.  Many people criticized him for having it amputated so that he could play football, but it's not like it was an index finger or anything.

We have the benefit of hindsight and know that his team went 0-3 the rest of the season; I looked it up.  So hindsight being 20/20 he probably wishes he had that finger back.  I guess the moral of the story is that if you're going to trade a pinky for football, you better be playing for a good team.  What's interesting is that Mesa State was 7-2 prior to the loss of that pinky and were on a 7 game winning streak, then took their 0-3 dive.  Maybe pinkies are more important than I thought.