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Have You Ever Woken Up Crabby?

I am generally a consistent Type B personality. I notice a lot of things, but very few of them actually have any impact. But every once in a while, I feel like the Incredible Hulk after he turns green. Things that are insignificant before and after annoy the heck out of me:

They play “Escape” (The Pina Colada Song) by Rupert Holmes a lot at work. Have you ever noticed that both the man and the woman are using the personal ads because they are bored with each other? He gets all excited because he finds out they actually have a lot in common. What have they been doing all this time – staying in and watching TV since their first date?

A woman comes in with two little boys. She asks the one little boy if he is looking for his drink. When he does, she tells him he doesn’t have it because he was too busy playing his “technology games”. Why did she bring up the topic? Why does she keep calling them technology games?

A couple is standing in front of the cheese slices. She asks him what kind of cheese he likes. He tells her cheddar, provolone, pepper jack, etc. She gets all excited and says, “So do I!” Of course you do – he’s listed pretty much everything except limburger. Are they on their first date at the grocery store?

The road I work on has a speed limit of 50 mph. They are (very slowly) doing work on a part of it and lowered the limit to 40 mph. I almost never run into traffic on my way to work at 3:30a. But if I do, they always seem to feel the need to slow down in the zone. Nobody stays at 40 mph during the day (it’s hard to stay motivated when you can’t find the workers). Why do they feel the need to obey when we’re the only ones on the road?

We have to punch in no more than 2 minutes before start time and no more than 1 minute after. I see no reason to get there more than a few minutes early. I pretty much know what time I will arrive by what time I leave the driveway. But if I’m and minute or two behind my “preferred” time, I will stress all the way there over the possibility of being late. When I know I won’t be.

Of course, the day that I’m late is also the day someone has left a cart in the spot I want to pull into. Getting there early lets us pull through one spot into the one in front of it to avoid backing out later. Unless there is a hidden cart which prevents it once you have pulled into the back spot.

I use an intersection with two lanes turning left on a light. The trade-off is that the left-turn light is very short. At most five cars in each lane can turn. Unless the front person isn’t paying attention. Then the first couple of cars turn and the rest of us get irrationally irritated by the extra 90 seconds or so we have to wait.

I go past an extremely convenient gas station. It even has the type of gas that doesn’t guck up the works and cost me a couple of miles per gallon. But it won’t take any card that has the ability to be a debit card. Only the ones that are strictly credit. Almost no one carries enough cash to pay for a tank of gas anymore. Are they in some sort of collusion with the credit card companies?

I love using the self-check at the grocery store. I have used them since they were first introduced. Some people really need to have a cashier help. Like the ones with a basket of produce that all needs to be weighed. Or the ones who can’t seem to find the UPC to scan on each of their items. Or the ones who don’t seem to realize that they need to press the “Pay” button before the machine will take their money.

I don’t really like hamburgers, but my husband and son do. When I pick up the supplies, I like to get decent buns. Onion rolls are my favorite, but anything with real bread will do. I generally shop at the end of my shift, about 1p. Why do I ever run into the situation where all I can find are the icky store-brand little cheap buns? I keep roaming between the bakery bread aisles like I can magically make what I want appear.

Oddly enough, relating all of this has not irritated me. One the other hand, it has reminded me that people can be really annoying.

 
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Posted by on July 31, 2014 in Humor, Miscellany

 

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Better Writing Through Better Eating

Hopefully you didn’t come here to learn which foods you should eat to turn you into the next Ian McEwan. I don’t write about food, except cheese and chocolate. My own eating bounces between healthy and a 10-year-old’s dream.

No, I’m going to share what some of the best-known writers of the nineteenth century ate. Think of it as an early celebrity diet book.

Prior to 1847, vegetarians were called Pythagoreans. I have no idea why. Maybe they were as unpopular as the man’s geometric theorems.

The Romantics (capital “R” to distinguish them from the believers in love) wrote that humans should show compassion to all living creatures whether animal or plant. Unfortunately someone figured out that would leave humans with nothing to eat.

And we know which group won that battle. Plant-eating people began to proliferate. Since they didn’t know why they were called Pythagoreans either, they decided they would be vegetarians. Less explaining to do.

As with all fads (don’t throw tomatoes, at that time it was a fad), some people took a fairly rational approach and others were more inventive. And some just had weird eating habits.

We can start with Percy Bysshe Shelley, a brilliant English poet. He was concerned with the transmigration of souls that would be brought about by eating an animal and so stopped eating them. Eventually he went back to eating meat. He died shortly before his 30th birthday. Maybe some animal didn’t want his soul?

Lord Byron could have written his own weight-loss blog. He loved starchy foods but was concerned with his weight. So he decided to create his own diet. While at university, he ate only dry biscuits and water or boiled potatoes in vinegar.

He felt that vinegar was a weight loss tool since it lessened hunger pangs and seemed to sharpen his mind. I wouldn’t be too hungry either, looking forward to a dinner of potatoes in vinegar. He did lose 70 pounds. Please feel free to try the vinegar as mental stimulant thing if you’d like.

Lord Byron may also have been the first Romantic purger. If he went to a dinner party and had to eat, he would go home and drink magnesium (as in the laxative). If he wasn’t going out, he would dress in layers of wool to sweat off some of the weight. No wonder he was so depressed.

Lewis Carroll was very fond of opium. He smoked it regularly, and when that wasn’t sufficient, he put it into snacks. Pot brownies were not an original idea in the 1960’s. It has been recorded that it gave him terrible breath, but there is no record of the impact on his weight.

Charles Dickens had a much healthier obsession: baked apples. He believed that if he ate one every day during sea travels, he would not get sea sick. Eating one upon landing would also fix the lack of balance experienced getting off the boat. I wonder how he convinced captains to load all those apples for his trips across the Atlantic? Or maybe that’s how he proved his theory.

I’m really glad I didn’t know John Keats’ doctor. Keats was diagnosed with mental exertion (no, I didn’t mistype exhaustion). His doctor prescribed a diet of (only) one anchovy and one small piece of bread daily. He was also bled daily. Oddly enough, he didn’t get any stronger. Might also have had something to with the reality that they were trying to treat tuberculosis, not a mental condition.

I will admit to not being a huge fan of the Bronte sisters. However, they grew up in poverty and often didn’t have anything to eat. Which explains why some of Charlotte’s heroines see starving themselves as a sign of strength. It’s the heart and mind that need to be strong. I probably would have liked her writing better if she’d been better fed.

Walt Whitman credited his breakfast for some of his success. Every day he had a special meat oyster breakfast plate. He said the meat was for fuel and stamina. The oysters would keep his wit and mind sharp. Maybe that was a nineteenth century euphemism for aphrodisiac.

Charles Darwin ate a small portion of meat, an egg-only omelet, and cheese. He also took ten drops of muriatic acid (now called hydrochloric acid) two times each day. He wouldn’t make any changes recommended by his doctor. He said that his diet had reduced his vomiting. Probably by burning out most of his innards.

Looking back over this, I only see one common thread. And we all knew it before we started. You need to be a little strange to be a successful writer.

(factual information courtesy of Sabine Bevers on listverse.com)

 
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Posted by on July 27, 2014 in Food and Drink, Humor

 

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Hmmmm….

Sometimes, my brain runs amok -

Why did I have so much more energy when we had no Internet access?

Why do people wearing shorts and tank tops complain about how cold it is in the dairy section? Why do some of them get irritated when I tell them the cheese likes it that way?

Why can chefs serve possum and muskrat for outrageous prices when those people would never eat that meat at home?

Why does it seem to snow at least a little every day in the winter but we can’t get rain when we need it in the summer? (I’m not complaining)

Why did our new neighbor not check the property lines before taking out bushes on our side? He also cut down most of the trees on his property. Maybe it isn’t an aversion to wild roses. Maybe he just doesn’t like the color green?

Why do they fill holes in our roads with loose asphalt and not pack it down?

Why does driving in the dark in the morning seem so much more unnatural than driving in the dark at night?

A strange cat jumped on our window box and our cats just sniffed it rather than trying to run it off. Is that a violation of the Cat Code of Conduct?

If night crawlers come out in the night, and meal worms hang out in the meal (if given the opportunity), why aren’t wax worms attracted to wax?

Why didn’t the union object to the new time clocks the company put up (fingerprint recognition)? I’m not sure the company understands it – they don’t have baseline prints.

Why doesn’t my sun therapy lamp cheer me up on gloomy summer days when it works fine in the winter?

Why is our ground cover growing into the cement rather than moving the other direction into the dirt?

Why don’t I ever see live skunks on the side of the road?

Why do some people seem to completely lose their sense of modesty when it gets hot? There are some parts of a stranger’s body that I never want to see. Ever.

Why does Kommado Kitty not like her treats when they’re new? Does catnip have to age?

What did beer drinkers do before there were summer and winter options? Was it really a cause of stress?

Why don’t all those kids who play soccer grow up wanting to watch it on TV like the kids who play baseball and football?

Why is the Sunday crossword puzzle in The New York Times so much harder than the one in the Boston Globe? I can’t believe the people in New York are smarter.

Who came up with “amok”? It sounds like your mind is someplace dirty.

 

(btw – I hit my one-year anniversary on WP last week. It seems that most people write something clever about that. I didn’t have anything clever to write, so you can just send me congratulatory chocolate.)

 
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Posted by on July 23, 2014 in Humor, Miscellany

 

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Calling All True Hedgehogs

http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/02555/hedgehogs_2555759c.jpg

 Lord Nelson (aka Horatio Hedgehog, our resident insectivore) tells me there is disturbing news in the hedgehog world. Apparently someone has decided to make a movie about Sonic the Hedgehog.

I am not very knowledgeable about Sonic. He had his own video game in the early 1980’s. I vaguely remember a cartoon about him. As I recall, he nabbed the villains mainly through cunning and extraordinary speed.

I asked Horatio why hedgehogs would have a problem with a movie about one of their own. He looked at me as if I’d lost my mind. How would I like it if everyone assumed I was just like Barbie? Or Miley Cyrus? I got the point.

He referred me to THRASH (True Hedgehogs Rebelling Against Sonic Hedgehog). I went to their website, THRASHtalk.eu/greatbritain. Guess I should have been able to figure out it would have originated where hedgehogs are free to gather in groups.

Looking at the site, I realized that the group has a long-standing grudge against Sonic.

For one thing, he’s blue. No self-respecting hedgehog would ever appear in blue. It’s garish and flashy. True hedgehogs are attired in dignified earth tones. Possibly with a tasteful pink undertone.

He talks a lot. It’s like he’s embarrassed by the cute snuffling noises real hedgehogs make.

He walks on two feet and wears shoes. Seriously? Who is going to wander around woods and hedges on two feet looking for food? You’d never be able to sniff it out. In fact, you’d probably step on it.

Not only that. What’s the only place hedgehogs are truly vulnerable to predators? The stomach. What self-respecting animal is going to walk around showing off his weak spot?

Sonic can’t swim. Most hedgehogs love the water and are very good swimmers. (This is a point of contention for Horatio. He’s afraid of water.)

He is a terrible role model for young hedgehogs. He is a daredevil. He runs faster than the speed of sound and uses the “Sonic Spin Attack” to defeat his enemies. There is nothing remotely realistic about him.

Most importantly, he is a sell-out. He makes a mockery of the hedgehog’s well-deserved reputation for modesty and reserve.

Forget about the games, cartoons, and movies. He has appeared several times with his arch-rival Mario just for the money. On Nintendo, no less.

In 1996, Sonic was the first video game character to be seen in a Rose Parade. Sonic is also the first video game character to have a balloon in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Between 1993 and 1997, Sega sponsored the JEF United Ichihara Chiba football team, during which period Sonic appeared in the team’s uniform. Was he ashamed of his quills?

During the 1993 Formula One championship, Sega sponsored the Williams Grand Prix team. Sonic was featured on the cars and helmets. Their rivals McLaren used to paint a squashed hedgehog after winning races over Williams. Why would he agree to something that included a squashed hedgehog? Is that something you would want your children to see?

The 1993 European Grand Prix featured a Sonic balloon and Sonic billboards.

I guess I could see their point. But I told Horatio that I didn’t see how THRASH was going to be able to stop the movie. He said that they knew they couldn’t stop the movie. They just wanted to try a different tactic than other conservative groups have used to limit its influence.

They are hoping to convince everyone to just ignore the movie. The less publicity it gets, the better. It’s been 20 years since he was a star. That’s way past the lifespan of the average hedgehog. Hopefully, his time is past.

If that doesn’t work, the plan is to infiltrate the corporate offices and destroy the master files. It didn’t work for the NSA, but it’s worth a try.

 
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Posted by on July 19, 2014 in Animals, Humor

 

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Peace in Our Time**

**A reference to World War One. Remember: I told you that one of the hazards of reading this blog was the possibility of learning something.

I wanted to remind you that this year is the 100th anniversary of the start of WWI. (Yes, we count the part before the U.S. entered.) Those of you with school-age children may want to be prepared for macaroni U-boats. I can also see a debate on the futility of trench warfare vs congressional debate. Maybe Congress could debate the futility of trench warfare. Would they see the irony?

Back to reality.This this post could have been subtitled “Technology Strikes Back Part, Part 2: Going Global.” Last week we lost all electronic connectivity.

That’s right. No Internet. No TV. No land-based telephone. If we wanted news, we had to read it. Which would have been a lot easier if the Internet had not caused the papers to either shut down or only print a few days a week.

As you may recall, I am not a huge user/lover of technology. When my husband came upstairs on Friday to tell me that Comcast was out, I don’t think I showed the proper level of distress. That really shouldn’t have come as too much of a surprise. I’m the only one in the family who could have been home from work for three hours without noticing it.

My reaction was more along the lines of a sigh of relief. No Judge Judy (a family member’s secret addiction). No shouts of triumph at 2a because someone’s team had finally breached the wall and was attacking their arch-nemesis. No pieces of candy, marbles, flying pigs or whatever mesmerizing for hours. No more hour-by-hour updates of someone’s family (not mine) reunion.

Best of all, no solicitation calls at dinner-time. Admittedly we eat early (about 4p), but the timing is amazing. I’m told that non-profits were not impacted by the No Call rule. There seems to be some sort of team-tag going on. I will just get rid of one, when another one finds our number. Considering that it usually takes 3-4 repetitions of “I’ve told you not to call x times” before it gets through, I’m thinking that maybe my own pre-recorded response is the answer.

I probably could have been a little more sympathetic. My husband does use home email for work since the email at work is down for upgrade. I figure if they can use the excuse that their email server is down, so can he. He’s worried about a breakdown in communication. As if anything has been able to fix that problem since the beginning of time.

My son’s friends took pity on him and invited him to the modern equivalent of socializing: sitting in the same room and each person facing a screen instead of the other people. I had heard about it, but the first time it happened in our house it was a little unnerving. Back in the dark ages, if two or more people were in the same room and not talking they were either fighting or bored. Unless it was mixed male and female.

My daughter turned to cleaning her room. It was wonderful. She’s been promising to do it for some time. She’s going away to college in the fall. It’s going to be really nice to be able to leave the door open and not worry about losing the cats.

In a way, the timing was a little unfortunate. Edgar (my computer) and I had finally come to a meeting of the minds (so to speak). I realized what a sensitive personality he really is. And he realized that I could permanently disconnect his power source. We can generally get through an entire session without angst. It probably helps that my son taught me how to move around the screen rather than having the screen move around on me.

Nevertheless, I probably suffered disproportionately little. Even one of the cats was put out. She spends a lot of time with my husband while’s he’s on the computer. In his lap, not the keyboard (she’s a little non-technical too). No computer, no sitting, no warm-blooded furniture.

I guess we’ve all become creatures of the 21st century.

Update: It is now Wednesday afternoon (5.5 days later) and the connectivity has finally been restored (they did something in the backyard.) Maybe Comcast is right – their customer service couldn’t possibly be any worse after a merger with TimeWarner.

 
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Posted by on July 16, 2014 in Family, Humor, Technology

 

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Be Careful What You Wish For

You may recall the short story, “The Monkey’s Paw” by W.W. Jacobs. A British Army officer returning from India stops to see his friends the Whites. He has an old monkey’s paw that a friend got from a fakir which is able to grant the bearer three wishes. The officer, having had a bad experience with the paw, attempts to throw it in the fire.

Mr. White see it as a means to get the funds to pay off his house. He does receive the funds, but pays an extremely high price for the money. The moral being that we should not attempt to interfere with fate.

I have always loved that story. I was reminded of it last week at work. You may (or may not) recall that we lost our deli stocker to an unfortunate incident involving a bagel. Instead of being immediately terminated, he was placed on indefinite suspension.

My theory was that they were waiting to see if they could get someone to replace him. When dealing with the company, it’s always best to assume the most cynical, mercenary motives.

Sure enough, a few weeks later someone was hired and he was officially terminated. Hopes were high.

The new guy (NG) is very sweet and works extremely hard. He also seems to have a bit of trouble processing new information, which makes him work very slowly.

The team leader (TL) has trouble with people she perceives are not working as quickly as she thinks they should be. Or cannot learn all facets of a position immediately. She practices motivation by volume.

The intolerance is rather ironic given the number of things she still cannot do after a year in her position. Perhaps no one has yelled enough.

The NL quickly decided that NG would not work out. She wanted to hire someone else and move NG to a different position (preferably in a new department).

Moving to a new department would probably increase his productivity immensely. I had him with me for a day over in cheese and just left him alone. He did great work, and we were both happy with the arrangement. (Do not expect a happy ending here.)

Now they have found a guy to replace NG; the new new guy (NNG). Once again, he was greeted with great fanfare and high expectations.

That lasted for about half a day. The first day he was on the floor, they were teaching him the basics of stocking. He was rather slow, but that was to be expected, right? Although I’m not really sure how he explained all that time he wasn’t on the floor.

The next day, I was supposed to show him how to unload the stuff from the truck and get it into the deli. It was worse than unloading all of those stupid chickens.

After about a half hour, I told the TL that NNG was either dumber than dirt or lazier than a pet hound dog (I love the expressions I got from my grandparents). She thought it might be both. (Told you she has a low threshold for the learning curve.)

The first thing he had to do was move a few cases of chickens from one cart to another in the cooler so we could finish filling the first cart with salsas and hummus. I explained it to him. He asked me to explain it again. I did. I went to leave the cooler and he followed me. I then explained that he had to do it right then. He asked me to repeat the instructions.

In the meanwhile, NG had started to move things from the pallets to the carts.

NNG looked at the pallets and asked how often he was expected to do this. I told him it would be part of his job. Did that mean every day? No, just Tuesday, Friday, and Sunday. He kept staring at the pallets.

I told him that he needed to learn how to sort the boxes to the various carts. He wanted to know how he could tell what went where. I told him that was what he needed to learn.

NG continued to move things onto the carts. Slowly buy continually.

NNG started to unload only those things that he had to stock. No meat, no dairy, no bakery, no deli salads, no specialty cheese.

I told him again that he needed to learn to sort things. He continued to unload his stock. Finally, I told him that he had to learn it because I wasn’t going to be there to help him after a few days. He looked at me then looked at the pallet. He slowly began to work through the load.

The next day he called off. NG unloaded the chickens and put them away. I don’t think NNG knows about the chickens yet.

I can hardly wait.

 
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Posted by on July 7, 2014 in Humor, Work

 

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That Was a Bad Idea

A couple of nights ago, it was really hot and humid here. We don’t have air conditioning so it was almost as uncomfortable inside as out. Horatio Hedgehog has his cage covered with a blanket so the sunlight doesn’t bother him while he’s sleeping.

I had forgotten to give him water that day, so I was worried about him. When I opened his cage, he was panting. I figured it was from the heat (not his grumpy personality.) Hedgehogs are supposed to love water and are good swimmers. Which had been the case with Jean Luc, his predecessor hedgehog.

So I put some water in our sink and brought out Horatio. When I put him in the water, he was not a happy hog. He immediately panicked and tried to get out. He managed to climb up the side of the stainless steel sink. I had to give him his favorite treat (wax worms) before he would calm down.

Speaking of bad ideas, I asked my (temporary) doctor for a note saying that I couldn’t unload pallets for more than 2 hours per day. I got the note. Unfortunately it says that I can’t do any repetitive motion for more than 2 hours/day. Which pretty much eliminates my entire job. I really need to enroll her for a course in empathetic listening.

It’s not just me. You may remember a few weeks ago I talked about Other Stocker and New Guy. New Guy didn’t last. First there was the work slow-down, then the quitting without calling in. Not the way to get a good reference.

But Other Stocker (OS) was the one with the really bad idea. The company is really strict about actually working while we’re on the clock (go figure). They even feel that we should be using the restrooms on our breaks/lunches (not gonna happen).

The deli and bakery are about as far from the break room as you can get. OS would pick out a bagel, pay for it, then go on break. Totally against the rules. It’s called abuse of time clock.

OS got caught one time and warned. He continued to do it without being caught. Until one day they got him again. He was called to Security and terminated.

The really stupid part about the whole thing is that his girlfriend was terminated a while back for abuse of time clock. She lived about 25 minutes from the store (why she would drive that far is beyond me). She always seemed to be running behind, so she’d pull up to the door, punch in, then go park her car. OS seemed to think it was reasonable because she lived so far away. It didn’t seem to occur to either of them that maybe she should leave the house earlier.

Probably the dumbest idea I’ve run across lately is from the guy in the next section over. He stocks overnight with another guy in dairy. The night people are supposed to take breaks consistently every two hours.

Dairy Guy (DG) has his own “system” and feels the need to not take his “lunch” until he should actually be taking his last break. And he usually schedules it so he misses unloading as much of the truck as possible. DG also has things he “has to do” before he goes to lunch.

The other day, one of the managers asked why DG was not working on the load. He went to find DG and told him to go help. DG was sure that his partner had ratted him out. DG was furious that his priorities should be questioned. He said that he was going to take his second break and leave on time. It was actually kind of amusing that he had thought he was impressing management by not taking his last break and working over every day.

The next day, DG went to the manager above the one who had “forced” him to help unload the truck. He told the manager that his “system” was being interrupted. The second manager agreed with the first one. I thought I was going to be stomped on if I got too close to one of his carts. It was the fastest any of us had ever seen him work.

At least Horatio will never tell anyone how I tried to drown him.

 
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Posted by on July 3, 2014 in Humor, Pets, Work

 

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