Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween Prepared

I stated in yesterday's post that I am not a fan of uninvited Trick or Treaters coming to my door. Once again, I have nothing against the practice, but participating is supposed to be optional. Knowing that I will be home tonight, but not planning to run to the door to hand out candy every five minutes, I have gathered a few items from around my house to give to the cretins who choose to knock on my door despite the signals saying "Stay away."

Namely, the unlit porch light and the huge sign on my front door that reads "STAY AWAY!"

For those misguided souls, I have a box beside my door of goodies to hand out so they will not walk away empty handed.
  • Canned beets
  • Subscription card for TIME magazine
  • Bag of clothes originally intended for Goodwill
  • Damaged XBOX 360 controller
  • Empty bottle of True Blood
  • Amway recruitment literature
  • Rolls of Tums
  • Math flash cards
  • Stack of political door hangers
  • A live hamster
  • A dead hamster
  • Keys to '76 AMC Hornet stationwagon
  • Packs of Sweet n' Low for the diabetic children
  • Expired Vicodin
  • Three crayon halves (burnt sienna, fuzzy wuzzy, beaver)
  • Dead Samsung phone battery
  • Dental floss
  • Blockbuster membership card
  • Old issues of TV GUIDE
  • Electrical tape
  • KFC hand wipes
  • A four of clubs 
  • McDonalds' Monopoly board (4 Oriental Place markers included)
  • VHS tape of Richard Simmons' Sweatin' to the Oldies
  • Assorted blown fuses
  • Ineffective smoke detector
  • Twinkies with the creme filling sucked out
  • Cassette tape of Jefferson Starship
  • Toilet paper tubes
  • Plastic drill index
  • 2 dozen shrinkwrapped Windows NT 3.5 install CDs
  • Ramen noodle flavor packets 
I am hoping that some parent will complain about the treat their child was given. I haven't had a good argument in a while.

Ideally, I won't have to hand out any of these items because people will be decent this year and stay off my porch. For the violators, I am prepared to follow them home and knock on their doors each night during supper until Christmas.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

I'm Making Caramel Onions

Halloween is upon us and with it comes the practice that makes me want to pull my hair out. TRICK OR TREATING!!! I can't stand it.

I have said many times on this blog that I don't like most people. While I have fun with it, it is not really a joke. I don't. I also do not care for children, but for some reason Halloween is the day that not only are kids allowed to knock on the doors of complete strangers, but they are encouraged to ask for candy from those strangers. A practice that is staunchly discouraged any other day of the year.

Before anyone calls me a Scrooge*, be assured that I do not hate the entire holiday.

*I know Scrooge is a Christmas-y term, but I couldn't think of the Halloween equivalent of Scrooge.

Everybody loves clowns!!!

Best costume ever.

Have I ever said I don't like kids?
I am a huge fan of horror movies. I enjoy a good haunted house and my mind sort of leans toward the dark side -- dark side, as in the macabre, not the Star Wars reference. I can appreciate someone who has put a lot of work into their costume. In fact, I don't even have anything against the practice of trick or treating, but I have a huge problem with the way it is practiced.

I participated in this activity a few times when I was a kid. It was done the same way every year. We would get into our costumes, my mother would drive us around to the houses of people we knew and then we would go to a party somewhere. Note the bold print. We went to the houses of people we knew. It never even crossed our minds to go to a stranger's house and expect them to give us free stuff just because we showed up.

The very idea that children are allowed to walk up to the doors of anyone they please is appalling. Then the person who lives there is expected to hand out candy.

A few years ago, I was working on Halloween and got home about seven o' clock. Getting out of my car, I was met by a family of trick or treaters. They saw me pull up and cut me off before I could get to my door. After I apologized for not having anything, the mother called me a nasty name.

She actually thought she was entitled to that opinion and was in the right because I hadn't done something she felt I was supposed to do. As far as I know, there is no law that says I have to give these people candy. I am not being stingy, greedy or even insensitive if I choose to not give handouts to a bunch of strange kids I have never seen before in my life. I am free to participate if I want to and some years I have, but if I choose not to that is my choice. I don't even need a reason.

I have decided that this year, I will be putting up NO TRESPASSING signs and will park my car in my front yard. Anyone who steps on my lawn will be startled when I start honking the horn. I will not let up until they flee back into the street. If someone gets upset because their kids gets scared and starts to cry, they will be reminded that it is Halloween. Being scared is part of the deal when you leave the house and maybe they should keep their kid on a leash.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Jack Frost Can Bite Me

On Tuesday, I wrote about me being sick. I received lots of get well wishes, which were very much appreciated. Thank you.

Today, I am not back to 100% yet, but I am definitely on the mend. All my aches and pains are gone. I no longer have a head ache or fever. The only thing left is some chest congestion. Hopefully, that will clear up in the next few days.

Since I have basically just slept when I haven't been at work for the entire last week, waking up today feeling good meant that I had some pent up energy. I thought my return to the world of the healthy would be good news to my daughter, but she claims the house was much quieter when I was incapacitated.

Apparently, she doesn't care for my musical outbursts or being forced to box with me when we pass in the hall. I never knew this. She may complain now, but she'll miss me when I'm dead.

She was thankful that I was up and moving when we all went out for dinner. According to her, we have been out of food for the last three days, but I had been too sick to notice. She was sweet enough to know that I was sick and didn't bother me with this little detail, but is still of the mindset where she thinks she has to eat every single day. That gets a bit annoying, but I have learned to make due. It's just part of the sacrifices I make for my family.

Now that I am on my feet again, I realize that I have some seasonal preparations to take care of. The temperature has dropped significantly in the past week, which means winter is right around the corner. It is no secret that I hate winter.  We barely survived the great SNOWPOCALPSE of 2011 because we weren't properly prepared. I don't care to have a repeat of any similar events.

I may not be able to control the weather, but I can control how prepared I am for whatever may come my way. Here are some of the things I plan to do this weekend to get prepared for the three months of icy Jack Frost hell that are coming our way.
  • Stock up on groceries. Generally, if I have to leave the house, it is because I have gotten low on food because the kids discovered where I was hoarding it. Frozen pizzas, frozen burritos, frozen waffles. Frozen is usually a good way to go in case of a power outage. Food can be tossed in the snow to maintain freshness hardness.
  • Get chains for car. The roads get slick out there and I will need something heavy to break into another car if mine gets stuck in a ditch.
  • Dig out the warmer clothing and extra blankets. Having these handy makes them more readily available to stuff under doors and hang over windows when those cold drafts start to blow in.
  • Cancel gym membership. There is no way I am driving across town to change into shorts, start sweating and then drive back in subzero temperatures. I'll rejoin in the spring.
  • I know bacon usually comes from
    pork bellies, but that's only because 
    it's the fattest part of a pig
    Stock up on ammunition. If we run out of food and the roads are impassable, I may need to be prepared to personally provide food for my family. I see the occasional rabbit in my back yard. If things get more desperate, several of our neighbors have outside dogs. I am not even above an Andes rugby team type of scenario if the situation calls for it and we have plenty of neighbors. I have even been reading up on how to make my own bacon.
  • Buy plenty of batteries. Mostly AA to ensure the TV remotes and XBOX controllers are always functional.
  • Buy shovels to clobber anyone who tries to enter our house and loot our winter supplies.
With a little forethought and planning, I should be able to get my family through to spring without any casualties worth mentioning. Once my daughter graduates high school, I'm moving south.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Pish Posh Challenge - Week 8 - I DID IT!

This is the final posting for the Pish Posh 8 Week Challenge. Pish challenged her readers to choose something about themselves that they wanted to change and then start doing it. Whether weight loss, breaking a bad habit, starting a good habit or whatever the case may be, she challenged us to better ourselves and check in each week as we write about our experiences.

Personally, I wanted to challenge myself as a writer and decided to bump up the number of posts to my blog. I vowed to post at least five times per week. Some weeks were harder than others, but I met that goal. This is my 41st post since starting the challenge two months ago.

This is the first time I have actually accomplished the goal of the challenge. The last time I participated in her challenge, I failed miserably. So, I don't know what is supposed to happen now. Did I win? Is there money involved? Will I become famous? I'm sure I'll find out.

Each week of the challenge, I linked back up to Pish's site and showed the links for my posts that week. Here are my posts for this week:

Saturday, October 20, 2012
Better Than Any Sleeping Pill
Everyone was amazed that I slept through my neighbor's house burning down a few months ago. As it turns out, I won't even wake up when it's my own house.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Danger Mouse Must Sign A Release Form
I experience the ridiculousness of bureaucratic red tape and fill out the dumbest form I have ever seen.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Maybe I Should Stick With Books
Best Buy holds me hostage for over an hour just because I want to buy something in their store. A story of atrocious customer service.

Thursday, October 25, 2012
Snot A Good Day
I have been slowly getting sick all week and I use the venue of my blog to whine about it.

It has been a lot of fun and I plan to continue posting at this pace. At least for the near future. I have a job that allows me to be able to do so and it has become a habit. 

Thank you to those of you that have offered the encouraging words. It is appreciated. Congratulations to all the other participants of the Challenge as well.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Snot A Good Day

I'm sick.

I haven't felt so hot for the last few days, so I started downing vitamin C, zinc, and lots of fluids trying to ward off whatever evil mucus-filled virus was coming my way, but it didn't work. Today, I am sick…and it sucks.

Since the weekend, I have slept about 14 hours per day. I am trying to get plenty of rest when I am not at work and don't seem to have any trouble sleeping. Despite all the rest I'm getting, it just doesn't seem to be enough. I want to curl up in bed and stay there until I am better.

Unfortunately, it just doesn't work that way. Kirsten still has to get to school, church, and work. I still have to feed myself and visit the bathroom occasionally. I also still have to go to work. Luckily, my job has almost zero interaction with other people. I can be sick without spreading it to anyone and no one even knows about it.

I am left to wonder if I have a cold or if this is a residual effect of all the smoke I breathed in when my house tried to kill me a few days ago. It could even be a combination of the two. Either way, I will be grateful when it finally passes.

Whatever the cause, my medicine-induced, fuzzy-headed, double-vision, snot-running, room-spinning state makes it difficult to focus on writing, so this will be a short post.

6 more hours and I'll be back home in my own bed.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Maybe I Should Stick With Books

This is the second part of the post that started yesterday. Click here to get caught up…or don't. This post could probably stand on it's own.

After the fiasco at Petco, where I assured them that I would not be locking my new mouse in a sex dungeon wearing a ball gag and attaching tiny nipple clamps, it was time to head to Best Buy to get my Kindle.*

* I'll bet you wish you had read the previous post now, don't you?

Like most men, I hate shopping and don't want to spend any more time inside a store than I absolutely have to. I walked into the store at 9:55, five minutes before they were technically open. By ten o' clock, I already had the item in my hand and found the nearest store associate to check me out.

He takes the Kindle and leads me to the back of the store. When we arrive at his station, he starts typing on the keypad of his computer. After a few minutes, he lets out an exasperated sigh, hangs his head for a moment and starts furiously pounding away again. This goes on for several minutes with him making the occasional grunt of disgust.

He finally looks up at me and apologizes, "I am so sorry. I have been gone a week for training and they made me change my password right before I left. I can't remember it."

He then walks off. I look at my phone and discover that it is 10:12. I had been standing there for close to fifteen minutes and that entire time he was only trying to log into his computer!

At 10:20, I am still standing there wondering where he has gone. I thought he was just going to get help and come right back. I step around the counter to retrieve the box so I can just take it to the front of the store to check out. Once behind the counter, he shows up with another store associate.

He apologizes again and the other associate logs him on before running off to assist another customer. He starts ringing me up and asks if I am part of their rewards program. When I advise him that I am not, he tells me of a few of the perks and assures me that it is free to join. I like free stuff so I agree.

He starts digging through the papers to the side of the computer and mutters, "They must have moved them." He immediately runs off to retrieve the required papers for the rewards program.

It is now 10:27, over half an hour since I entered the store. However, since he took the Kindle with him when he wandered off this time, I can't grab it to check out at the front. I scan the store trying to locate him, but can't see him anywhere. I head back over to the electronics section with the intention of grabbing another Kindle so I can take it up front and forget about the first guy. However, there are no more on the shelves.

I would have left, but I really wanted to buy it that day. Reluctantly, I head back to the sales counter to find that he has come back with the rewards paperwork. He apologizes again and hands me a clipboard with paperwork to fill out.

When I ask him what the papers were for, he advised that they were for the rewards program. I give them back and say I am not interested any more and would like to be on my way. He is obviously disgusted with me since he had taken the time to track down the paperwork for me, but is trying not to show it.

When he goes to scan my item, he discovers that the several minutes of inactivity, caused by him looking for the rewards paperwork, has caused his computer to log out again. He still does not know his password, but tries for several minutes before he tells me what is delaying him.

He looks up, apologizes for the fifteenth time since I have met him and darts off to get someone to help him. Not falling for this again, I take off after him and yell for him to stop.

"Give me the Kindle!"

"But you haven't paid for it yet."

"That's what I want to do, but you can't seem to help me with that!"

I remind him that I originally asked him to check me out a few minutes before ten o' clock. I then pulled out my phone to show him that it was now 10:47. He replied, "Give me a few more minutes and I will have you checked out."

Through clenched teeth I warned him that if he did not immediately hand me the Kindle, I would climb up on his checkout counter and start screaming for a manager. He handed it over. He then gave me a card to present to the cashier so he would get credit for the sale.

"You have got to be kidding me."

"Well, I am the one who helped you."

I decided to walk away before I said anything further…or punched him in the spleen.

At the front register, I am asked if I want to join the rewards program.


Do you want the extended warranty?


Do you want any extra accessories like a cover or charger?


As she starts to ask me the next question I cut her off and tell her that I have been in this store for over an hour trying to leave. I do not want anything extra. Just ring me up so I can get out of here.

She politely smiled, apologized and said, "I understand. We'll get you right out. Let's start with your last name."

"What? Why?"

"For the purchase. What is your name?"

I informed her of my counter climbing, manager alerting, screaming idea from earlier and told her how close I was to doing it again. Scan the item, swipe my card and let me leave. Why does this have to be so difficult?

Thirty seconds later, I was on my way out the door with my purchase proving that it could be done. I got to the car at 11:04. Since it had only taken me a few minutes to pick up the Kindle in the store, that means it took over an hour for me to check out. I thought technology was supposed to make things more efficient.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Danger Mouse Must Sign A Release Form

Today, I finally broke down and bought the toy that I've wanted for the last year. I bought a Kindle Fire. It has so many features, I am still learning how to use it, but I love it.

As much as I'm enjoying my new toy, getting it was not nearly as enjoyable. I will break this story up into two parts. I know how pleased everyone was last time I did a 'TO BE CONTINUED.'*

*Hopefully, the sarcasm was noticed.

I bought it from a Best Buy over an hour from my home. I had to travel for unrelated business anyway and decided to get it while I was there. I had arrived 30 minutes before the store was open, so I wandered around some of the other stores to pass some time. I have a tendency to get into trouble if I don't keep myself busy.

All dogs go to heaven,
but cats burn in eternal fire
One of those stores was a Petco. After spending a few minutes looking at the animals, I decided to get a feeder mouse* for Dr. Finklerstein.  

*'Feeder mouse' is a nice way of saying 'snake food.'

Dr. Finklerstein is a python…and he eats live mice. In case you didn't catch that part. Well, he kills them first, and then eats them. So, I am buying a mouse to toss in a cage to be eaten by a snake.

It is very important to the story that you understand that.

I ask one of the employees to get me a feeder mouse and he dashes off. After several minutes, he comes back, hands me a paper and says, "Fill this out and date it."

Without even glancing at it, I started to just give it back to him. I hate when stores ask for my information. I decline to provide it because they don't actually need my info for me to make a purchase. Plus, I don't want to get a bunch of mail from them, electronic or otherwise.

As I start to hand it back, I see the word 'AGREEMENT' at the top. This made me curious. I read the paper and realized it was a disclaimer form promising that I would treat the animal I was purchasing in a humane fashion and would not intentionally let it come to harm.

Let me remind you again that I was only buying this mouse to feed it to a snake!

After reading it, I looked up at the employee. He stared back at me with eyes that clearly said, "I know. Please don't say it."

My eyes pleaded with his, "I want to say it."

He glared back and his eyes spoke with intensity, "Can't you tell I think this is stupid too?"

I furrowed my brow and even shook the paper for effect as my eyes challenged his, "But you're the one who gave me the paper."

He then sighed and gave me a sad look that said, "I can't get your mouse until you sign it" or it might have said, "I hate my job." I'm not very good at reading visual cues. Either way, I signed the paper promising not to harm the mouse.

Despite the fact that he knew I was lying since I had asked for a feeder mouse, he retrieved one for me. I tried to hand him the signed agreement, but he instructed me to present it at the register when I checked out.

As the check out girl was ringing up my mouse, she asked for the humane treatment document. I handed it to her and asked, "You do know that I am only buying this mouse for snake food, right?"

She shot me a look that sternly communicated, "You do know that I only make minimum wage, right?"

I took my receipt and new doomed pet out of the store and headed toward Best Buy. It was time to get my Kindle, but the story of that store will have to wait until tomorrow.
Tune in to our next post for the conclusion to this harrowing tale and answers to the questions:
  • Will Best Buy also have asinine paperwork?
  • Does the mouse have an opinion about any of this?
  • Will Brett continue to communicate with his eyes or will he switch to using a finger?
These questions and many more will be answered in the next post…or maybe not.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Better Than Any Sleeping Pill

When I got off work yesterday morning, I was looking forward to getting to my bed. Working the midnight shift as a single parent gets a little challenging when it comes to finding enough time to sleep. I have no trouble falling asleep during the day, as I hear other people do, but parenting responsibilities get in the way.

Wake me at break time.
I get off at eight Tuesday through Saturday mornings. I have made arrangements to get Kirsten to school each morning, but I have to pick her up in the afternoon. She gets out of school at 3:30, so if I can be asleep by 8:30, I get almost seven hours. However, there are usually little things that chip that time away.

I may need to run to the bank, drop by the library, get my oil changed or go pay a bill. I try to do as many things as I can in one day, but it doesn't always work out that way. Many days, I am only able to get about five hours sleep. I can do this for a couple of days, but it starts to catch up to me pretty quickly. Yesterday morning was going to be a good sleep day.

My daughter was already out of school and had an event after school that even provided her with a ride home afterwards. I would be able to go to bed and sleep until I woke up. I had gone short for the last couple of days, so I was really looking forward to it. Plus, I knew that I would barely get four hours the next day, so I needed to be well rested going into the weekend.

As soon as I take my coat off in the house, I notice how cold it is. The thermostat showed 58 degrees. The pilot light on my furnace had gone out again. That happens occasionally. I re-lit it and went to bed. I don't even remember laying down. I was out immediately.

Some time passes and I am jolted awake by a knocking on my bedroom door. As soon as I sat up to answer, my chest and eyes were burning. I started coughing and was having trouble breathing. I stumbled to the door. As I opened it, the light from the hallway lit up the smoke that had filled the house, including my bedroom.

My son Christian had dropped by the house and was met with a wall of smoke when he stepped in. He had immediately woken me and told me that there was a lot of heat coming from the furnace. I opened the furnace doors and tried to turn off the gas, but the controls were too hot to touch. I got it shut down using a rag. The blue flames disappeared immediately, but I could see a red glow still coming from the interior of the furnace. At this point, I occurs to me that I will not be getting all the sleep I had been looking forward to.

Fearing my house was on fire, I called 911. They told me to get everyone out of the house. I suddenly became aware that I was still in my underwear. Since the house wasn't actually burning down around me, I got dressed quickly and then went outside. I could already hear the sirens. I started checking out the roof and piping coming out of it, but could see no smoke.

It took me about 30 seconds to realize how cold it was outside. I knew the fire fighters would not let me near the house again once they got there, so I held my breath and went back in to get my coat. While I was in there, I also grabbed my laptop and my phone. Still no flames, but I couldn't see through the smoke. I remember thinking, "At what point am I supposed to stop, drop, and roll?"

I step outside much happier now that I am not freezing and see the help arriving. Two police cars and three fire trucks fill up the street along with all my neighbors, who are coming out to investigate the excitement. I couldn't really explain it to them, because I was busy trying not to hack up a lung.

I cough out an explanation to the first fire fighter about what had happened as the others went inside. They determined that there was no fire, but the furnace was still very hot. The glowing I saw was probably glowing metal from the extreme heat.

They said the breaker to the furnace had blown in the fuse box, which means the blower was not running. The flames were building heat, but the blower was not distributing it through the house. I don't know anything about this stuff, but will attempt to explain it as I understand it.

Apparently, there are safeties in place to keep this sort of thing from happening. If the blower stops running, some little dude inside is supposed to notice and kill the flames. However, he fell asleep on the job or didn't show up for work and never turned the flames off. This allowed the heat to reach unacceptable levels. The same department must be in charge of my smoke detectors, because they never went off. Despite the battery change from six weeks ago. I'm going to make rabbit stew out of the Energizer bunny.

A few hours later, I was able to crawl back under the smoke saturated covers to go back to sleep. I was able to get a few more hours sleep and was immediately reminded of the events of the day when I woke up to the smell, a wheezing chest, and a splitting headache.

I am not one to usually play the "what if" game, but two scenarios come to mind. What if Christian had not dropped by?
  1. The quickly increasing heat would have eventually caused a fire, burning my house down with me asleep in the back room.
  2. Even before the fire started, the smoke inhalation would have probably already done me in.
I am truly amazed at how much smoke was in my bedroom and I didn't even realize it. The toxic gases lulled me into a deeper sleep than I have ever experienced.The deep sleep was nice, but not worth it in the end.


Friday, October 19, 2012

Pish Posh Challenge - Week 7

We have reached the seventh week of the Pish Posh 8 Week Challenge where Pish Posh has challenged her readers to pick something about their lives they don't like and change it. She also challenged us all to write about the process over the course of the eight weeks so we can check in on each other for encouragement, sympathy, or congratulations.

I focused on my writing. The best way to get better at something is to practice and people wanting to improve their writing are commonly encouraged to write me. So, I challenged myself to write at least five posts a week. As of the end of week 7, I have met the goal every week. This week, I even got an extra one in.

Here are my posts since last week's link up:

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Back In My Day
I use pictures from my childhood to tell a story to a bunch of high school kids with a sense of entitlement. NO! The story is not true.

Monday, October 15, 2012
The Awards Fairy Is Foiled
I received an award and got another visit from the Awards Fairy.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012
It's A Wonder I Ever Leave Home 
I added a few people to my ever growing list of people I cannot stand. Let's add to the list people that only want to talk about health food. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012
He won't eat it.
He hates everything.
Things That Make You Feel Old
I compiled a list of pop culture events designed to make you realize how old you are. It may or may not be fun to read. It's a nice nostalgic trip down memory lane, but could make you fell like crap at the same time. Did you know that it has been 26 years since the last time LIFE cereal ran the ad with little Mikey?

Thursday, October 18, 2012
Tired Of Politics
I express my disgust with the current state of social media and all the bickering about politics because of the upcoming election AND I offer a solution.

My new job allows me a lot of free time, part of which I use for writing my blog. I almost feel like I'm cheating because my circumstances have changed since I started this challenge. My biggest obstacle before this was feeling like I didn't have the time to write. I had made the decision that I would make time for it like I do my shower time. Now, I don't have to*. The time is there.

* I don't have to find the time to WRITE. I DO still have to shower.

This leads me to believe that even when this challenge is over, I may continue at this pace as long as I have this job. I need to start pre-planning some posts.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Tired of Politics

We are well into the election season and I cannot wait until it is over. As annoying as it is to watch and listen to the mud-slinging, negative campaigning and all the accusations of the other candidates lying (even if it's true), it is even worse to listen to it amongst the people I know.

I know where I stand politically and I am not shy about it, but I don't throw it at other people. It doesn't bother me that some people want to wear their political affiliations on their sleeve. It's their right to discuss politics and policy as often or rarely as they want. However, it is amazing how many people cannot discuss these issues without getting angry and insulting toward someone who does not share their views. I love a good debate and would be more than happy to debate my beliefs with anyone, but I don't want to get into an argument. Not many people can friendly disagree.

It is no secret that I love Facebook. In fact, I am pretty sure that a very large number of people do. However, for the last two months or so, it has not been fun to be on Facebook or Twitter. The political posts are making me want to gouge my neighbor's eyes out. It's nothing against him, but I'm not going to gouge out my own eyes. It is not people's opinions that bother me. I can handle and even welcome opposing views. It is the nastiness I am seeing happen on people's walls. People that I know to be friends are saying the most horrible things to each other just because they stand on opposite sides of an issue or support a candidate the other does not care for.

There are many issues that I am very passionate about and still others that I firmly believe involve a moral right or wrong and am disgusted that we even have to discuss their legality, however none of these issues are worth losing friends over. In most cases, I keep my mouth shut. It is very rare that you can sway a person to your side anyway. Many of the people that are hard to take on Facebook and Twitter right now are people that I enjoy interacting with the rest of the year, so I don't want to unfriend them. I wouldn't even mind talking to them if they could be nice, but it doesn't seem to be the case for now.

I have taken some measures to help make the next month more tolerable. Due to the nature of my job, I don't physically encounter many people during the week, so my social interactions are on Facebook, which is where the bulk of my irritation lies. Last week I found a way to get around it and thought I would share it with you.

There is a fantastic new app out called Social Fixer. Some have dubbed it the "Better Facebook." This app is not made for political purposes, but can be used for them. Social Fixer has many, many, many ways it improves your Facebook experience, but my favorite one is the blocking of statuses containing keywords you define.

If you install this app, you can set it up to block the words Romney, Obama, Democrat, Republican, election, health care, town hall, etc. Your Facebook will look exactly the same, but a post containing any of those words will not show up in your feed. It makes your internet time much more tolerable if the political rants are starting to make your blood boil.

When the election season is over, you can continue to use it for the political nasty backlash that inevitably will happen after the election or set the blocked words to be anything else you don't want to see. You can block out a hated sports team, stop news about the latest cause bandwagon everyone has jumped on, or avoid posts concerning anything else you may be sick of hearing about.

Another tool that does the same thing is Facebook Purity. This one specifically blocks certain updates, but doesn't have all the extra features of Social Fixer. There are similar apps for Twitter as well. Try Declutter or Proxlet. For mobile user of Twitter the TweetDeck app can do the same thing. Click Settings > Global Filter and define whatever restrictions you prefer.

This was not the direction I intended to go when I started this post. I just wanted to express my disgust for the people who forget common decency when discussing politics and did not know I would be plugging social filter products, but I am happy to provide this service for the people who might like to take advantage of it.

This is not paid advertisement. WOW! I've never had to say that before.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Things That Make You Feel Old

Two years ago, I suddenly became very aware of my age when I discovered that one of my best friends from college had become a grandfather.  


He is only a year older than me. How is that possible? Grandparents are old people.

At least, that is the view I used to have. Once I reflected on this, it occurred to me that my son is 20 years old. Not that I am expecting him to become a father anytime soon, but he is at the age where that would not be such a shocking thing. It still catches me off guard when I am substitute teaching and meet a high schooler who is the child of someone I went to school with. I don't know why this surprises me since my youngest child is a junior in high school and 16 years old. Even though I have gotten older, I guess I don't think about the ages of other people that I don't see on a regular basis.

Years ago, I laughed it off when I heard a DJ refer to Motley Crüe as 'classic' rock. However, I have come to accept that it has been quite a while since we used floppy disks and had satellite dishes that dwarfed the cars sitting in our driveway. I distinctly remember when gasoline reached the outrageous price of $1/gallon and the excitement we felt when the new network channel FOX first came on the air.

I started looking around the internet to see how old some of the things I remember are and compiled the following list.

  1. Windows XP was released 11 years ago, in 2001.
  2. Ren & Stimpy debuted over 20 years ago.
  3. The "new" Millennium is over a decade old.
  4. Pluto was downgraded from planet status 5 years ago.
  5. Pierce Brosnan last acted as James Bond 10 years ago.
  6. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air has been off the air for 18 years.
  7. It has been 11 years since 9/11.
  8. Ellen DeGeneres came out 15 years ago. 
  9. The Matrix came out 13 years ago. Keanu Reeves is 48 years old today.
  10. Princess Diana and Mother Theresa have been dead for 15 years.
  11. The Challenger space shuttle disaster happened 27 years ago.
  12. Macauley Culkin is 31 years old. Home Alone came out over 20 years ago.
  13. Terminator 2 is over 20 years old. Edward Furlong, who played kid John Conner, is 34 now.
  14. Sean Connery is in his 80's and retired. He hasn't made a new movie in 9 years.
  15. Brittany and Madonna's famous on-stage kiss was 9 years ago.
  16. 27 years ago.
  17. Nicole Brown Simpson was murdered 18 years ago.
  18. There hasn't been a cast member from I Love Lucy alive for 32 years.
  19. If the Simpsons' actually aged, Maggie would be 24 today.
  20. The youngest Spice Girl is 36, the oldest Backstreet Boy 39, Gwen Stefani is 42, Madonna 53.
  21. The last Goosebumps book was published 14 years ago.
  22. Kurt Cobain has been dead for 17 years.
  23. The first Harry Potter book came out 15 years ago!
  24. The first season of Friends was aired 18 years ago.
  25. The Macarena dance craze was 16 years ago.
  26. The little red headed girl who starred opposite Jim Belushi in Curly Sue is 30 years old and married.
  27. Kids born in 1994 can legally vote this year.
  28. All 3 Hanson brothers are married with kids.
  29. Ask a teenager what this means: "BE KIND. PLEASE REWIND."
  30. Marilyn Monroe would be 86 now.
  31. Jurassic Park is older than Justin Bieber.
  32. Nintendo 64 hit the market 16 years ago.
  33. Bryan Adams' cult classic song Summer of '69 was released 27 years ago.
  34. Kids who you remember in diapers have been posting their own pictures on Facebook.
  35. Rudy from The Cosby Show is now 33 years old.
  36. Facebook has been around for 8 years.
Weekend Funnies Badge photo weekendfunnies_zps47e39585.png At least I can hold on to the fact that I still have no grandchildren.

Submitted to 
Weekend Funnies at My Half Assed Life 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

It's A Wonder I Ever Leave Home

I have mentioned in many of my posts that I do not like most people. It's entirely true. It's not that I have a searing hatred for the people I meet, it's just that I don't often see someone that I feel I would like to spend more time with. I do have a few people I like. By few, I mean FEW. As for the rest of the world, I am pretty indifferent to most. However, there is a large percentage of people that I do not like right away and they seem to be everywhere.

One of the people that I develop a dislike for very quickly is the person I don't know that talks to me in public. I will be the first to admit that I have a double standard on this one. If I decide to talk to you, everything is cool. However, I rarely want to talk with the people who try to initiate conversations with me.

It's not that I feel that no one should speak to me. It's just that I have trouble excusing myself from a conversation I did not initiate. If I start a conversation with a stranger at the bank, a restaurant or a fair, I have the ability to step away if the conversation heads south or was not as interesting as I thought it would be. On the flip side, if I was the one approached, I feel trapped when I am done talking.

There is an elderly woman who I run into several days every week. She is incredibly sweet and giving. However, she seems to have no idea how a conversation works. As soon as she sees me, she launches into detailed descriptions of the new job her grandson has, how hard her daughter is working to implement a new program in town, her opinion of a recent news item and dozens of other topics. What she doesn't talk about is anything I might be even remotely interested in hearing about. She also makes no attempt to look for any cues that I am interested in the conversation or even gives me a chance to speak. She will stand in front of my desk and talk for 45 minutes without taking a breath.

I understand that she is an old lady and might be lonely and just wants someone to talk to. I get it, but I also think that after 70-plus years on this earth, she should have developed some acceptable social skills that would make it more tolerable to be in the same room with her. Maybe this is why she's lonely. And uses a cane.

It's not just people that I have to talk to that get under my skin. There are a lot of people that I decide very quickly I don't like and feel no guilt about judging:
  • People who block aisles at the store - Every time I walk into Wal-Mart, I run into one of these self-absorbed troglodytes. When I shop, I hug the shelves with my cart to leave the rest of the aisle clear. If I stop to grab something, I only stop for a moment and I stay against the side so other shoppers can get around me. About a third of the shoppers at my local Wal-Mart do not understand this basic concept and/or have no respect for other people. I have witnessed countless people leave their cart in the middle of the aisle while they stare at soup, blocking traffic from both sides. Some of them are rude enough to ignore me when I clear my throat (in case they didn't realize I was there), verbally protest or flip their cart over. These people need to shop online. 
  • Anyone who wears a fanny pack - Do I really need to explain?
  • People who can't drive - I am amazed at the number of people who don't understand how a turn lane works. The main street through my town is a four-lane road with a turn lane in the middle. Almost daily, I am pulling off a side street, but am trapped behind someone who wants to turn left and will not pull out until traffic is clear on all sides. There is a turn lane in the middle! Pull into the turn lane when this side is clear and then merge into traffic at the next opportunity. The same goes for turning off the main road onto a side street. Get into the turn lane to slow down. Don't impede traffic!
  • Stupid people. Especially ones who don't realize they're stupid - Someone needs to do them a service and let them know. In a polite way, of course…and with small words. We don't want to have to explain it again.
  • Fork biters - Use your lips to pull food off your fork, don't bite down in it. Not only will it not damage your teeth, but will prevent that horrible screeching/grinding sound that drills into my brain stem and might make me choke you to stop your breathing since that now irritates me too.
  • People who try to tell me what I believe. - Whether we are talking about my political party, my church denomination, or policies at my place of employment, don't tell me what I believe. I already know. If for some reason, you have already done this, and I inform you that you are mistaken, STOP IMMEDIATELY and remember who you are talking to. I am the owner of my own mind. I seem to have a talent for finding people that mention the belief or philosophy of a group I am affiliated with. Misinformation happens and I have no problem with that, but when I advise that it is not true, drop it. If I belong to that organization, I will know better than someone who does not.
  • People who routinely steer conversations toward their illness or medications - There are genuinely unhealthy individuals. I have no problem with them. The ones I am referring to are the people who use their illness or 'pretended illness' as a way to cry for attention. Plus, the ones who do this the most are usually in the 'pretended illness' category. I know people who have cancer and rarely mention it. I do not need to hear about your newest prescription every time I speak with you. I don't care that you changed doctors. I don't need the details of your latest emergency room visit. I don't mind an update now and then, but do not appreciate a 20 minute conversation about your irritable bowel syndrome every time I see you. And you wonder why I never stop by to visit.
  • People who use the phrase, just sayin' - First, I know you were saying it. You just said it. I heard you. You don't need to reaffirm that. Second, it is usually said after the speaker says something they think might not be taken well. The tag at the end doesn't soften the message and just irritates me further. Just sayin'.
  • People who offend easily - I cannot stand to talk to a person who makes me feel that I have to watch my every word. There is a huge difference between something being offensive and you being offended. I have offended people just by asking about their family. If that question is so offensive to you, then maybe you should stay at home in a protective little bubble. People have had to defend themselves in court, lost friendships or been fired from their jobs because a comment is taken to be racist, sexist or intolerant. I am not suggesting that people should never get offended. Some things are offensive. However, many people look for something to be offended about and have caused way too much trouble when no offense was intended.
  • Troublemakers who think they are victims - My daughter witnesses this at her school on a daily basis. In junior high, she made the mistake of advising a girl who kept stating how much she hated drama to avoid it. When the girl exploded and started screaming at her, Kirsten tried to point out that drama was being created at that very moment by the girl who claimed she hated it. These are often the same people who use the term haters. Here's a tip: In most cases, if there are a lot of people that don't like you, it's probably you. It's not jealousy.
  • Pretty much anyone under the age of 15 - I don't like kids. It's not really a secret.
  • People with a sense of entitlement - Unless you actually gave someone a loan, NO ONE OWES YOU ANYTHING!!! The government owes you nothing. Your parents owe you nothing. Your friends owe you nothing. The sooner you realize this, the less you will be disappointed, and the happier you will be.
  • People who get mad when they encounter someone of a differing opinion than their own - I know some Democrats who can't be friends with Republicans and vice versa. I've experienced the same with different religious affiliations and fans of different sports teams. Most people are not like this, but there are those idiots who cannot associate with people who have different allegiances than themselves. I actually got into a fight with a friend once who insisted that steaks should be well done. I like mine medium-rare and have no preference as to how his should have been prepared, but my choice was too disturbing to him. This was the same guy who got upset when I didn't take his advice to buy a pickup truck and bought a car instead. People who thought differently than him made him mad. We are not friends anymore. He didn't agree with that decision either.
There are many, many more types of irritating people out there. Believe it or not, despite all the people that get under my skin, I am a very happy person. I think part of it's from the knowledge that I am better than everyone else.

I'm kidding, of course. I am not better than other people...except the fanny packs wearers. I am much better than them.

The Awards Fairy is Foiled

I have been working the midnight shift as a security guard at a homeless shelter. After a long night, I was looking forward to getting home to my bed. As I pulled onto my street, I saw three police cars in front of my house.

Since they had my driveway blocked, I had to park next door. They stopped me as I walked into my yard. After showing them my ID to prove that I lived there, they explained that they had responded to a report of breaking and entering. One of my vigilant neighbors was out walking his dog at six in the morning and saw a guy attempting to crawl through a window of my house. Thankfully, he promptly called it in.

I asked to go inside to see what was missing or damaged and they assured me that he never made it inside. The officer said that he couldn't lift himself through the window and it was doubtful that his gut would have fit through it anyway. The perpetrator so out of breath from his attempts, he didn't even try to run when they arrived.

They showed me to the squad car to see if it might be someone I knew. I recognized him immediately. It was the Awards Fairy. I have had several encounters with him already.

Past Award Fairy Experiences:
The Awards Fairy Came By
Return of the Awards Fairy
Awards Fairy Detox
The Awards Fairy Strikes Again
The Awards Fairy Is Still At It

Since he wasn't carrying any identification, they were happy that I could identify him. However, I still don't know his name, so I was of little help.

The officer said that when they arrived on scene the fairy was carrying a large plaque that had my name on the back. He wanted to know if it was mine.

I accepted it and thanked the officers for their quick response. Based on past experience, if the Awards Fairy had succeeded in getting into my house, I would have been stuck with him for a long time and he would have cost me dearly in long distance charges and pizza delivery bills OR he would have just robbed me blind once he caught his breath.

Once I told the officers I would be eager to press charges and fully cooperative in their investigation, they left and I went inside to look at the award. It had been sent by Lady Goo Goo Gaga.

Lady Goo Goo Gaga is a native of Connecticut who gets invited to movie premieres. Although, I get the impression that there isn't much elbow-rubbing with the stars. She has two kids, so she is familiar with all the sacrifices that being a parent comes with (no sleep, no personal TV choices, no love life, a trashed house, no time to converse with adult-type people, etc). She didn't say any of that; I'm just remembering having small children. Lucky for us, she finds time to blog. She is linked up to several MOMMY BLOG sites and would appreciate your vote.

As she sent this award to me, the plugged my Twitter feed saying that is was very funny. I really haven't promoted my Twitter on here, so I will jump on the bandwagon with her. Please, follow my Twitter page and check out her blog.

As usual, there are conditions that go along with receiving an award. I am to list 10 facts about myself.
  1. I am still in shock that they killed Opie. You either know what I am talking about here or you don't. No need to explain further either way.
  2. When I was teaching in Puerto Rico, I had several students who referred to me as 'Feeny,' a reference to the teacher from Boy Meets World. I took it as the biggest compliment that could be received.
  3. Now that my daughter has a job, she has fallen in love with online shopping. Packages arrive weekly.
  4. I have a friend whose grandfather holds the record for the highest recorded blood-alcohol content that did not result in death.
  5. My son was shown on ESPN punching the Cardinal's mascot FREDBIRD in the face.
  6. He also sang on the field at BUSCH STADIUM during the 7th inning stretch with my mother.
  7. I have visited the house where A Christmas Story was filmed. They even had the leg lamp in the window.
  8. I have been bitten by a shark. It was a baby, but it still counts.
  9. I once left a store and hopped in a vehicle that was not mine. It took me a couple of minutes to figure out why my key wouldn't work.
  10. I broke a tooth eating popcorn.
 I got off lucky this time. The Awards Fairy didn't cause me any real damage or cost me any money, but I am going to have to take some precautions to protect myself in the future. It is growing more and more obvious that he will continue to keep coming back until he is either permanently locked up or one of us has killed the other.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Back In My Day...

Earlier this week, I was teaching a class to a bunch of high school kids and they got to talking about how difficult their lives are. They all complained about the hardships they had to endure because of their parents.  I tried to convince them that their lives were not as bad as they thought they were, but they insisted that they had it rough. I asked them for examples of their mistreatment and got the following answers.
  • "It's not fair that my parents make me use a cell phone that only has a 4 megapixel camera."
  • "I have to share a bathroom with my sister."
  • "My mom won't let me have a ferret."
  • "The cable TV in my bedroom didn't have HBO."
  • "My cheapskate dad bought me a car that can't even play MP3s on the stereo."
  • "My laptop doesn't have a webcam!"
As I tried not to laugh at their ridiculous claims about hardship, one of them noticed my stifled laughter. "Let me guess. You're going to tell us we don't know how good we have it and tell us stories about walking to school in the snow?"

I assured them that I had no such stories, but it was true that they had no idea what hardship was. However, since they wanted to direct it back at me and I always keep my laptop with me, I decided to treat them to a little slideshow.

I have been scanning all our family photos in my computer over the last few months and had the evidence I needed with me, so I didn't need to look very hard. I hooked it up to the class Smartboard and showed them photographic evidence of the real hardship I had experienced as a youth.

For the kid who thought he had it so hard because he didn't have HBO in his bedroom, I showed him what life was like before cable. We had a TV, but we used it like an end table. We would sit in front of it for hours pretending we were one of those rich families who had things like television reception.

Cousin Tabatha, Kyle, me
They weren't always in our size.
While the kids today are decked out in Hollister, Abercrombie & Fitch, Ocean Pacific, and Affliction, we had to wear hand-me-downs.
Hand-me-downs from the 70's!

Trevor trying to stay cool
 We didn't have crazy luxuries like air conditioning either. Sitting in an ice filled cooler in front of a fan was a good as it got.

Trevor hoping the dog doesn't fart again.
This picture was for the benefit of the girl who thought she was being mistreated for being forced to share her bathroom with her sister. We would've loved to have a bathroom and would have happily shared it with the entire family. We didn't concentrate on it much since we didn't have several of the other conveniences kids today are accustomed to.

Kyle was never ready for bed
Kyle had to sleep in a box because my parents refused to waste money on frivolities like beds.

Trevor would scoot down the stairs if not weighted down.
Trevor slept in a clothes basket when he was a baby. We had to put heavy books on top so he wouldn't crawl all over the house.

In chest: me  Closing it: Trevor
I would get shut in a chest each night. Once I brushed all the spiders out, it wasn't so bad.

It wasn't always this way. Eventually, the day came along when Dad announced to us that he was going to build us each our own room. We were so excited. He got to work on the construction and soon presented us with our new living arrangements.

Me, checking out my new place
Here was mine. I had to share it with the mouse traps and the paint, but it was all mine.

Trevor being ungrateful, as usual
This was Trevor's. I thought it was unfair that he had so much more space.

Kyle's really didn't change much.

Red the Cow. Tried to kill my grandmother once.
Next, I addressed the girl who had been whining all through class about not being able to own a ferret. My first pet was a cow and we eventually ate it. None of them could admit they'd ever had to eat one of their pets.

One of the girls piped up, "Well, at least you got to have a pet!"  This was true, but I tried to illustrate for them what having a pet meant when I was a kid. We didn't just have pets. We had to take care of them.

Before I was even out of diapers, I had to feed the cows every morning.

Stupid dog turned over the bowl again
After the cows were fed, I had to make sure the dogs had water.

Trevor: 25 feet off the ground
This cat wouldn't stay off the neighbor's roof
As the years passed, I was happy to get little brothers to share in taking care of the animals. Trevor always went after the ones that wandered off to bring them back home.

The choke hold rarely worked,
but Kyle insisted it was more humane.
Kyle took care of exterminating the ones that got sick.
I just didn't have the stomach for it.

Animals weren't the only things we had to take care of. My parents piled the chores on us as soon as we were able to walk. While kids today complain if they have to take out the trash, we had much more for which we were responsible.

Me learning my way around a hoe
There was gardening to be done.

Trevor and Kyle enjoying the smell
The lines had to be dug out when the sewer backed up.

Kyle doing some dirty work
We had to clean Dad's catch each afternoon.

The neighbor would use our lawn mower,
so we made his daughter work for us.
Harvest the rice patties.

Trevor was always best at tuning out the crying
Babysit the neighbors'kid

Me emptying the hair filter
Clean out the pool.

Me taking measurements for drywall
Remodel the bathroom

Me biting Trevor's fingernails
since I wasn't allowed to use scissors.
When younger, having to take care of little brothers.

Dad and Me
Bring Dad his beer after a long day of fishing.

Me and Kyle
And finally fix dinner, so we could clean up, get to bed, and start again in the morning.

By the time the bell rang signaling the end of class, I had the kids convinced. It took the entire class period and I didn't cover any of the material that their regular teacher had left in the instruction book, but I think I taught them a valuable lesson that day. I have had 40 years to work on my sob story. I do it so much better than them.