Category Archives: Humor

The time change brought all the boys to my yard…

And the girls… and maybe not so much my yard. Rather more like MY GYM. A week or two ago, I walked into my local repository of all things fitness, and I honestly thought I had hit a strange time vortex that transported me straight into gym-tending season. Arriving at my usual uncaffeinated and pre-dawn hour, I saw… people. Lots of them. Normally, I go to the gym at this particularly uncivil time of day not only to just have a chance of shoehorning a workout into my schedule, but also because it is the least populated time for the gym… or possibly the least populated hour during which I am vaguely conscious.

But yes… all the people were there. Not only were they there, they were milling about and generally congregating in ways that made me quite uncomfortable. Normally in the wee hours of a weekday, I’ve got the place practically to myself with perhaps one or two other regulars. We all go about our programmed routines studiously avoiding eye contact and personal interaction. On the rare occasions that we accidently make eye contact or reach for the same dumb bell, there is a curt bro-nod and polite shift while we accommodate the other and move on. Instead of my usual tribe, I beheld a gaggle of strangers. They were impeding routes and interrupting sets and sitting on the benches… Yes, sitting.

Every Smith machine and bench press was occupied by tank top clad, confused-looking individuals who were… not actually moving barbell or dumb bell… no. They were staring at their phones. The four or possibly five of us that normally wander freely among the free weights stood in paralyzed perplexity as we tried to squeeze our way into at least completing our training without unintentionally touching the crowding masses around us.

Had I gotten lost? Had I lost time… like months of it? What happened to my normally zen-like peaceful place of fitness?

Oh wait… then it dawned on me. The anachronistic practice of altering time-keeping pieces to somehow fool people into thinking that the days aren’t getting shorter had occurred. Yes, my friends, Daylight Savings, or rather the return to Standard Time, had struck again.

The practice of this clockwork tango was originally proposed back in the late 1800’s and first implemented (believe it or not) in the German Empire and Austria-Hungary back around the first World War. The United States followed along not long after, and the whole time marching on… and back… and on again has been confusing us ever since. Some countries don’t even do the whole springing forward and falling back routine anymore. Thank goodness for that little mnemonic, am I right?

Anyhow, aside from totally messing with the circadian rhythm of the demonic feline who lives with me, the putting forward or back of the clock numbers doesn’t really impact my life all that much (unless I forget to do it). However, this year it did have the added “entertainment” value of increased population at the gym that I finally realized was very likely due to a few people perhaps forgetting to set their clocks back. Well… good for them. I hope they enjoyed their day of being ahead of the game at least for that one time. Now that we’ve eased back into that Standard time… I have my bench press to myself again. Thank goodness!

The Tribe of the Giant Bags

I need someone to explain to me a trend in the fashionably accessorized…

What is with the ginormous bags?!? They’re huge. You could, I expect, carry not only toiletries, phone, wallet, and car keys in one, but possibly a full wardrobe change, several firearms, and a positive menagerie of pets. Maybe that is it? It is like a new version of homeless chic. You may not be able to afford a place to live after purchasing that Coach bag, but you won’t really need a place to hang your hat… or pants… or anything because it all fits in the bag. Doesn’t matter if you look like a staggering hunchback due to the imbalanced weight dangling from one shoulder or the other… you are en vogue!

I looked up the word “purse” in the dictionary. I ignored the part about the lips being drawn together to express displeasure or irritation (but I could see how discomfort might come into the issue with some of these bags). The definition that pertains in this instance is “a small bag used especially by a woman to carry everyday personal items.” Who needs that much stuff every day while out?!? Holy cowhide! Look at this gal. I’m fairly certain that if that bag actually contained anywhere near the material to fill it, it would outweigh her.

I have referred to myself as an accessory moron, but if there is one area in which I am even more of an imbecile, it would be with regards to handbags, purses, clutches, evening bags… I am not only uninformed, I am totally uninterested. The most likely outcome of me carrying some sort of luggage would be that I totally forget to take it with me and leave it hanging on a chair, in a chair, on a table, under the table… you get the idea. I am not of the mindset to carry my belongings in a stylish receptacle. In fact, I’m likely not to carry a receptacle at all, stylish or not. The only exception is for situations like conferences or travel when I might have a carry-on or utility backpack that is capable of housing all the necessities, but more often to stow the various items and information gathered at booths and tables and vendors along the way. Even so, what do I really need to have with me? I honestly cannot imagine requiring on my person while walking freely about town enough stuff to require the space of a large attaché or small suitcase.

However, that is not so much the issue as  the question of why do purses now resemble luggage? I mean, seriously, I remember a time when purses of the larger variety were restricted to individuals who carried the necessity of changing an infant or toddler (aka, the diaper bag) or to those individuals of an uncertain age (aka, grandma bag). You know what I’m talking about, because mother’s who are trying to travel or just run errands with accompanying offspring cannot do so without many parcels  and items that the rest of us generally don’t require (snacks, drinks, activities, diapers, wet wipes, pack and play cribs, physical restraints…). As for grandma, I never did understand all that. There might be wallet or billfold, checkbook, glasses, tissues (in varying states of use…ew), a collection of candy, gum, and cough drops, hair brush, hair spray, compact (with or without make up)… houseplants and maybe a floor lamp… The words “Just a moment, I have it in my purse…” were generally guaranteed to foreshadow a 20-30 minute archeological dig through a voluminous shoulder bag.

So, when did this become fashionable? I suppose technology can assume part of the blame as people seem more and more incapable of functioning without a laptop or tablet that might be larger than a pocket or clutch. Without the accompanying larger devices though, I’m baffled. I’ve seen young… young people squealing at non-human decibel and frequency over gargantuan constructions designed, I’m certain, to hold most of their worldly goods. What are they actually doing? If they pack the thing to its capacity, they are likely to cause significant and permanent spinal deformity that would draw pity from Quasimodo. You cannot convince me it is necessary for the individual who can actually afford the monstrosity to carry everything she owns, unless… maybe that is it. Due to the cost of fashion, the purchaser is no longer able to afford lodgings and is forced to convey their possessions and all necessities with them at all times? Has our world and society become such that all inhabitants should have a bug-out bag with them at all times? Maybe they actually live in there? Now that would be a trick. I might actually take up the habit of carrying some sort of baggage when they manage to harness some sort of mystical force or scientific breakthrough to create Timelord type technology that makes it bigger enough on the inside for me to crawl into it or possibly a bag of holding capable of also serving as my residence. At that point, we can talk. Until then (and without chiropractic services on retainer), I’m pretty certain that I shan’t be able to join the tribe of the giant bags.

Prepping for Surgery and a sense of the absurd

anesthesia

I know I’ve been quiet for a while. Seems like time got away from me, and a severe case of writer’s block apparently required surgical interventions or at least the threat of them to budge.

Surgery is a funny thing. I don’t mean funny “Haha,” but funny peculiar. Think about it. In order to fix something in our body, someone with letters after their name and hopefully a lot of impressive training is going to actually injure and go poking around inside what is generally supposed to be a closed and intact system. Now, I’m not knocking medical procedures. We’ve accomplished some astounding things, and it seems like every day they are improving the methods to prevent complications. Modern surgery and the accomplishments thereof are a far cry from the near butchery of the antecedents. Still, I wait with great impatience for the days when I can take a pill and grow a new kidney (or any other organ for that matter… Points to the people who get the reference).

And yet… there are parts of the process that still cause me to ponder, ruminate, become anxious, and aye, even cause me to shake my head with humor and irony. If you haven’t yet figured it out, I’m no stranger to the surgical theater. Due to a number of genetic quirks and other accidents, I’ve been the recipient of quite a number of procedures, mostly to my skull… No, they still haven’t found that brain they have been seeking. All the operations in question were to my jaws and dental structures. In fact, after one surgical procedure, I could walk through a metal detector stark naked and set it off. I quite enjoy to this day the look on the faces of x-ray technicians when they see the odd collections of wire embedded in my jaw hinges. But, I digress… I do that a lot, which is why this blog even exists, when we come down to it. If my brain always stayed on an expected track with normal and logical thought processes and zero tangential traipses through the ether, none of this rambling nonsense would be out there.

The interesting part of all the surgical curiosity is the instructions that the patients are given before (and after) the processes to insure the best possible outcome. Honestly, even understanding the reasons behind the directives does not always alleviate my perpetual ruminative escapades. Without fail, my mind will wander about after reading or hearing specific instruction and think about various aspects including what would happen if one didn’t actually follow the directions given. This last bit is frequently not really a good idea if one is, in fact, the patient. While I have been privy to a number of surgeries and recovery wards as observer or clinician, my imagination can still become quite creative enough to depict scenarios that are not only completely unrealistic, they would put the best of the horror directors to shame. So, as I said, not the best mental occupation for the intended target… I mean subject of the surgeon’s skill.

What brought on this recent rambling through my cranium is, as you might have surmised, that I am once again going under the knife. Nothing terribly serious, but as they do say there are inherent risks with all surgical procedures. It is another oral surgery, and I’ve become, after nearly three decades of experience with this form of intervention, somewhat inured to the general angst… but not entirely immune. I will occasionally and inexplicably have bouts of anxiety that are only relieved by contrarily imagining the worst possible situations and outcomes and making a complete farce of the whole ritual of instruction. Today, for instance, I receive the call (Like ya do) from the surgeon’s office reminding me of my appointed time and confirming that I had not left the state, country, or planet accidentally. I assured them that I was Earthbound and in the near vicinity still. As the caller was about to ring off, I asked if there were any instructions. To which, the lady gave me the usual “Nothing to eat or drink 6-8 hours before. Wear short sleeves. Bring someone to drive you and all your money.” Ok, I might have exaggerated the “all your money bit.” I think they only want most of it. Honestly, health costs in America… but I digress… again. I’m just a digressing fool today.

Anyhow, the caller ended the conversation at that point, and left me to my usual mental calisthenics about all of the foregoing… and of course the impending doom. I was so caught up in all of it that my usual morning conversation with my friend was the recipient of the overflow. I expressed to him that the worst part (aside from the monetary extortion) was that part about not eating or drinking. This is normally not a problem for me. It would be unlikely that I am imbibing or participating in a repast after midnight, but now… I will be thirsty as hell at 3:00AM. It’s true, and totally psychological. I consume more than enough liquid to keep myself hydrated (water, of course… a woman cannot survive by coffee alone, but without the blessed bean everyone else might die), but because someone told me I could not have anything to wet my whistle after the appointed hour, I will develop cotton mouth that would make the Mojave look like a lush oasis. Additionally, the eating thing… I’ve been in an appetite lull for a few weeks. That is the pendulum swing from the periods of time when I can’t seem to sate the empty cavern of my gut and want to eat ALL THE THINGS. For whatever reason, I just haven’t really been neck deep in the trough. I continue to eat small meals and snacks and consume protein shakes in an attempt to keep the energy stores going, fuel the physical machine, and avoid metabolism shut down, but otherwise… meh, just not that hungry. However… now, because I have been told I am forbidden to eat after midnight, I will very probably become quite ravenous at 12:01AM and nothing will do but to eat an entire wildebeest. Maybe it isn’t surgery that is so odd. It might actually be the perversity of my own mental nature. Nah! Surely that cannot be it…

On top of all the cogitating about the instructions for all good patients, I also, due to my years of experience, know what to expect in the aftermath. Again, this is where we have advanced beautifully from days gone by when I would have been laid up for hours or days in recovery and med-surge units while the anesthesia worked its way slowly from my system, groggy, nauseous, and grievously hung over (I usually try to reserve that for New Year’s Day). Now, the modern cocktail they use wears off very quickly with very few lasting effects. There is one, however, and it is a doozy. Because this is, as I said, oral surgery, one of the things they use is atropine. For those who don’t know, atropine dehydrates. In other words, it dries up everything. This makes it more convenient for people trying to deal with any and all things inside the saliva factory that is the human mouth. The natural consequence of using this tool is that there is a rebound effect when it wears off. It rather seems like everything on your face (and sometimes the rest of your body) is trying to liquefy or melt. Combine this with the local anesthesia that they use, and voila, snotty, drooling, tearful mess… I feel like a toddler left for the first time at daycare. On top of that, I cannot actually feel from my nose to my chin and so all attempts clean up aisle 4 are rather like Gumby trying to wipe the nose of a latex Richard Nixon Halloween mask. Super sexy, right?

And just like that… sense of the ridiculous appears to be my saving grace from rising anxiety levels. It is just virtually impossible to be scared of something that turns me into Tim Conway’s dentist routine or my own one-woman sitcom. See ya in the aftermath…

Grant me serenity… nope, time for your 4th reboot

RebootYourLife-CruiseandTourPlanners

Technology, the bastion of science and engineering, brain children of visionaries that see options for taking away the burden of the menial from busy modern working people… I don’t think it’s working. We have wonderful things in the world these days. Pieces of electronics that allow us to talk to people on the other side of the planet face to face. We have magnificent gleaming, sleek equipment that perform complicated mathematical calculations in nano seconds. We have incredible gizmos that can see into the human body and identify problems before they become catastrophic. We have space-going vehicles that travel to other planets and even to the ends of our galaxy and beyond.

It’s amazing to me. Maybe I’m showing my age. I can remember a conversation that I had with my father over a decade ago now. We were talking about a prequel of a science fiction franchise and wondering how they would address the issue of technology since we had at that time many of the things from the original version of said series. How would they have technology that was ahead of what we already had but still having room to grow for the original (which was at that time filmed over 30 years prior).

So, with all the advances of modern technological miracles, tasks that once would have taken great effort and time are now completed in the blink of an eye… and, why in the name of all that is holy am I consistently plagued by technology that takes up way too much of my day? Things that should take an instant with the marvels of our electronics now take even longer than I could have managed manually and menially because of glitches, freezes, and generally unpleasant gremlins in the works.

What is especially perplexing to me is the sheer number of updates that seem to be pushed out through the wires and wireless signals of the internet and networks to effectively shut down all productivity while various changes are made in operating systems and other software. The timing is a bit baffling as well. It always seems to happen when the process will cause the most amount of bottleneck, slowdown, chaos possible. I can understand when security concerns or “backdoor” issues present that there must be a correction for the safety and security of our data and privacy, but seriously why can’t this be scheduled for a time when I don’t need to actually be performing a function on the machine.

windowsupdateremindercountdownOne of the most baffling situations is my work computer. We have an IT department that will push out updates to all the different systems and software on our machines through the network. So, I totally get that it depends on my machine connecting to the network. However, I’m not entirely sure why, for instance, my entire week was plagued by the update-reboot two step. I might even be less irritable if it would tell me that the reboot thing needed to happen as soon as I got logged into the system. Just a little “Hey, don’t get too deep into anything because we’re gonna be asking you to reboot about 17 times in the next hour.” But nooooo, it waits. It waits until I’ve opened multiple applications and projects and am hip deep in spreadsheets and reports that took their sweet time to open, let me tell you. Then, it says “Reboot in 57 minutes…” Really?!? 57? Not an hour? Or possibly any round number? The point is, it’s not like I’m going to get anything accomplished in that 57 minutes. Truthfully, it will probably take me that long to save and close all the crappola I have open. So, I manage to get it all buttoned up and if the timer has not run out, I click the “Reboot Now” button. Go get coffee.

And now, hopefully, the machine has finished its preparations and is now ready to be productive with me. However, I failed to take into account the passive-aggressive nature of the beast. Apparently completing all the updates and downloads and everything that is needed in one happy session and reboot is just not part of the programming. Once again, the hateful system waits and lets me get complacent enough to open projects and start into my work before… “Rebooting 57 minutes…” It won’t do it immediately, just waits for me to be in the middle of things. “Oh look! She’s opened all her @#$%. She’s really getting in the groove. Tell her to reboot now.” Yes, I know there is usually a feature to postpone the cycle, but honestly, you can only postpone it for so long and it annoyingly will continue to pop up and remind you. It’s often just better to just get it over with.

chickenclickyesApparently the gremlins that live in the computer network also like to play this game when there is a meeting, teleconference, WebEx, or presentation to be done. On these occasions, it seems that you cannot even delay the situation until the end of said meeting or presentation. “Rebooting NOW!” because we know that there are a bunch of people waiting for you to share a PowerPoint display or explain with visuals why targets are off and reports are screwy.

There are days when I take it all as a sign that perhaps I was supposed to take the day off. Wouldn’t that be nice? “Hey there. Sorry. I know that you need me to get that project completed by close of business today, but the computer has told me that I have to take the day off so it can reboot 173 times. How does tomorrow work for you?”

There are days when I question whether the convenience of our modern technology truly outweighs the frustration and delays that occur while they are babied and maintained. While a part of me knows that with extremely rare exception the technology we use do not have sentience or personality, it is difficult to resist believing that there is something in there just messing with me. It is at those moments that I find going to get a cup of coffee is a better choice than chucking the machine out a convenient window.

Technology deity…
Grant me the patience to deal with random errors,
The strength of will to wait for ridiculous boot time (and multiple reboots),
And the wisdom not to take a hammer to the piece of equipment that would take too much of my finances to replace.
Amen.

Why am I awake?!?

0530wakeup

I seem to have a certain peculiar ability to awaken well before my alarm clock. I do this most of the time, regardless of what time it is set to bring me to consciousness with rudely elevated decibels. Some of you will feel me on this. You wake up and with bleary eyes roll over to look at the timepiece that is likely somewhere in the vicinity of your bed. It registers not yet time to get up (but likely too close to said time to allow for return to blissful somnolence). My response to this mechanism that I have named my “internal torturous awakening function” is “Why the @#$% am I awake?!?” Sadly, no one seems able to give me a cogent answer to this question. The process appears to have no relationship to the actual hour. If I need to be up at 6:00AM, my body will wake me at 5:47AM. If I need to be up at 8:00AM, it seems I will awaken at somewhere between 6:30AM and 7:45AM. Trying to sleep the full planned time appears to be an impossibility.

Associated with the phenomenon of pre-alarm wakefulness is the sad fact that when this occurs on days when I do need to be awake and alert and productive by a certain hour, I feel as if I could actually return to the land of Nod and sleep for a week (I know it is patently untrue, but it does feel that way). However, on days when I have no alarm set and no need of one because I am at my leisure… I will awake with the dawn and be unable to return to slumber without the assistance of a sleep aid (like maybe a sledge hammer or iron frying pan to the cranium). It seems that I have lost the gift of being able to sleep in. What makes it baffling is that it seems to matter not one jot how much sleep I’ve actually had. I have been known to lay my head upon the pillow at 3:00AM only to come to a full roused wakefulness at 5:30AM when I needn’t be awake until 8:00AM (if at all). Unless I am actually ill, I seem to be doomed to being an early riser now. Oh the shame of it!

There are some benefits to the curse of early waking. I get things done while most of the population is still slumbering peacefully. I can take this time to get in workouts before the gym is populated, run in the dawns early light on a deserted beach, greet the day on summer mornings before humidity and temperature closely resemble the surface of the sun… It fails to make me truly more productive however. Just because I’m awake, does not mean that I am willing to deal with people or make noise. So, many of the tasks that I don’t have time to do during the day generally don’t get done in the early hours of said day (like running the vacuum or mowing the yard… neighbors get cranky about that stuff too early). I do get a jump on things like bills, filing, running reports, organizing, and planning.

I suppose there are worse things in life than having a natural clock that kicks in (especially during power outages). However, I still occasionally miss the days when I could anticipate sleeping late and being lazy. I will still continue to wonder as I wake at 5:30AM on my vacation, “Why the @#$% am I awake?!?

 

Screaming Hairy Armadillos… and other deep conversations

screaming-hairy-dillo

I get into some of the most random conversations, on Fridays especially. I attribute it to lack of sleep and possible hangovers from Thursday evening festivities… or possibly just because all of our collective brain cells have given up after a long week of travail. Whatever the reason, some of the topics are entirely alien. In fact, I’m pretty sure that it was literally aliens one time… or possibly just Giorgio Tsoukalos’ hair.

Friday a couple of weeks ago was especially vexing to anyone that needed me to stay on a logical train of thought. I blame this on the whole Friday phenomenon and the surgery that prevented me going to the gym for my usual routines leaving my brain with way too many tabs open.

So, what could possibly be wrong with too many tabs open? Well, have you used a web browser lately? On a computer that possibly may be deficient in working memory (RAM)? or possibly processor speed? or… well, haven’t run an antivirus, spam filter, or malware clean up of the drives in a decade or so…? Now you are getting the idea. It’s the mental equivalent to searching for information on quantum computing and having every few seconds a window pop up with “NOW, CLICK TO FIND OUT HOW YOU CAN SAVE ON ELECTRONICS!” or “LATEST WOMEN’S FASHIONS THAT YOU WON’T BELIEVE!” or possibly “FIVE FOODS TO EAT TO LOSE BELLY FAT!” and of course “PORN!!!” After reading the same sentence for the fifth time, you remember something you forgot in a different room, decide to get some more coffee while you are at it, become distracted by the call of the restroom, and totally forget whatever it was you were originally going to the other room to get.

And that, my friends, is what I call Shiny Squirrels Dancing in my office… or as others better know it, Friday.

So, as usual I was having the Friday with all it’s accompanying attention deficits when the most amazing and fabulous idea came into my head about organization, focus, and channeling the energy of my mental channel surfing into something more applicable to success in a material or at least professional capacity. Whereupon, the squirrels began to dance, and off I spiraled into a world of free associations and flight of ideas involving a conga line of storm troopers and ultimately ending up with some creature called a screaming hairy armadillo. Yes, it is a real thing. Look it up. Really. Google it. While you are finding it, you may find something that is called a pink pixie armadillo (or maybe just pixie armadillo), which looks like nothing more than an ambulatory lobster tail… with eyes.

Anyhow, as you can see, at any given time, my train of thought might jump on a different track, miss the left turn at Albuquerque and end up on a different planet or at least a different topic than originally planned.

I suppose the upshot of this entire post was to note that my brain occasionally needs a day to clear out all the underlying clutter and general detritus of trivial information that flows in and out of my senses throughout the week. Fridays seem to be the unfortunate recipients of this mental housecleaning. And for that, we will thank the universe for random topics and screaming hairy armadillos.

Cat Gravity and other magical thinking…

It dawned on me, as I was having one of my days when motivation is in short supply and excuses against productivity and movement are overflowing, the mind has incredible ability to overpower any physical assets or need for assertion. No matter the desire to get done “the things,” it seems that the brain can come up with a plethora of suggestions that undermine any willpower with whispered hints of anything more pleasant than the task at hand. As if by magic, hands will of their own accord shut off alarms, and eyelids will remain firmly in place drawn over the windows of the soul to bar any of the outside world and intrusive reminders of “the things” that must be done.

While I am fully aware of the physical needs of the body for nourishment and rest, I am also sadly not a woman of means that can afford to ignore “the things” and so the occasional force and will must be utilized to push aside the wee devil upon my shoulder that says “You don’t really need to do that now… it can wait. Sure you can sleep until your second alarm. No one will know you didn’t go to the gym…” The insidious influence is even more powerful after a month long death march of quarterly analysis and audits during which travel was a constant and sleep was a distant memory. Seasonal allergies do not help either. In any case, it seems that my body and willpower need little coaxing to leave the tracks of my normal healthy routines and productive lifestyle to transform me into a slug… or a furniture tuber… whatever your choice of moniker, slovenly inactivity become way too attractive.

One of the most devious of the paralyzing agents in my life is the creature who decided to make our home his own about four years ago. The feline (dare I even call him this, because I still feel that he is not quite of this realm) appears to be a normal 10 pound gray tabby. However, looks can be deceptive. After literally letting himself into our home and staunchly refusing to depart, he has become known to most as Gray. Sometimes Gray Kitty or Gray Cat. His full name (finally revealed after a few years) is The Gray Wanderer Dragonsbane, Demonspawn of the Forge… aka The Mighty Toehunter. He has grown quite fond of social media and occasionally shares his thoughts (#TOTTH). He has also mastered the “art” of taking selfies (something I have never managed to do with any skill… see The Unfathomable Idea of the Selfie). I bring up the Gray one as an illustration because every once in while he has this astounding ability to immobilize my body and mind to the extent that I feel powerless.

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The beast rarely takes the role of the lap cat, but when he does… It has the magical ability of removing all desire to move, stand, or engage in productive activity. I’ve witnessed this phenomenon a multitude of times. The presence of the mighty master of the domain has rendered me helpless and powerless to respond to instant messages, the need to shower and get ready for various events, or even to respond to the demands of my bladder.

I can bench press the weight of a small adult, but I cannot seem to lift or otherwise remove a 10-pound demonic cat from my lap, enabling my further progress on daily tasks and responsibilities. I would be more baffled by this, but I did read, a good many years ago, a short explanation of this almost magical power of felines. It was called The Theory of Cat Gravity and it was by an artist/author named Robin Wood.

catgravitybyRobinWood

The explanation was so remarkably thorough and yet simple. It was possibly the greatest cat-physics-theoretical contemplation I had encountered since the Buttered Cat Array. The Theory of Cat Gravity states that cats convert energy into gravity and mass and transfer that same force into any particular individual on which they elect to take their rest, thereby increasing their own mass and gravitational pull of the earth upon their physical form, overriding their normal physical abilities to move and more importantly… get up. Thus, any individual who has a cat curled in their lap has a perfectly reasonable explanation for why they sat on the couch for an hour longer than they were supposed to… and that is why I was late to my appointment. My apologies.

The unfathomable idea of the “selfie”…

I hate pictures of myself. Honestly since the very first one taken (to my knowledge) that was dubbed by the entire family as “The Frog,” I have been quite aware that photogenic would never by an adjective included in the inventory of my personal traits. Without fail, I will be the one caught in mid-sneeze, awkward position, yawning, with a peculiar-looking bulge, or any of a variety of unflattering positions when a shutter (analog or digital) opens and shuts.

Therefore, I developed a habit that some find completely frustrating and annoying. If I actually notice a camera (or phone) pointed in my general direction with purpose, I would immediately adopt a facial expression much like that Milo Bloom, Bill the Cat, or any of the myriad of other characters in that cartoon strip when presented with something rather disgusting. With my features screwed up in a deliberate approximation of Quasi Modo on a bad day, I would face the lens. When the pictures came out looking horrid, no problem… I meant it to look that way.  It wasn’t a happenstance of poorly organized genetic material and my own natural unattractiveness. I had made an effort to look that bad.

billthecat

And this is what has made me feel completely at sea about the phenomenon of the “selfie.” First of all… who does that? That word. Selfie. Really? Adding an “-ie” to the end of the world making it cute? Smaller? More acceptable that you are totally taking a picture of yourself… by yourself… with your own arm… um… I’ll come back to this…

Granted, it is a modern phenomenon because we now have technology where you can actually hold the device away from your body and snap a picture so very quickly. Imagine trying this with some of the original cameras. Aside from needing the strength of Sampson, you would also have to take off the lens cap and hold the thing perfectly still for … how long? Just not feasible. And yet… they existed. These selfies of another era. Painters even did it. Some of our favorite memes have been created using the self-portrait of Joseph Ducreux, apparently in the guise of a mockingbird (seriously, how is this the guise of a bird?).

Ducreux

He wasn’t the only one, either. Many of the old masters used their own likenesses to paint images, get facial anatomy correct, couldn’t get anyone else to sit for them, pure vanity… who knows? But they did it. The first cameras not only required to person taking the photo to be at the camera itself to remove the covering lens cap, but also hold up the flash powder tray. Occasionally, it even required more than one person to accomplish a fine portrait, but the equipment did improve, become mechanized, and photographers became untethered (which may not be a word) from the camera itself. The first photographers, once they had figured out a device to do so managed to take their own portraits with the aid of remote buttons on cords. Eventually, the cameras came with timers, some analog with clockwork and then evolving to digital. The timers would allow the photographer to come around to the front of the lens and take their position before snap, the shutter opened and shut.

So, what is the point? Well… the self-portrait isn’t new. It is just called by a different name because it seems that we cannot leave language in the descriptive without giving it a nickname. Selfie instead of self-portrait. Well… in truth, not many of these could be considered a portrait. It is rather denigrating to the idea of portraiture.

There are, in my opinion, good reasons for taking a selfie. These reasons include proving you were somewhere, showing off a new hairdo, glasses, etc; or taking a remembrance photo of yourself with others when there are no convenient passersby to assist with capturing the moment. Also, in this day in age and with cameras and phones being light and easily slipped into a pocket, no one really wants to hand over their very portable technology to strangers. It just follows that with the absence of extra people to take the shot and technology capable of allowing self-portrait, selfies are the result.

And now we come to the parts to astound and confound my logic… There are people who absolutely seem to have made selfies a new career. They take pictures of themselves ever moment of every day. They take pictures of themselves in a variety of activities and in a variety of costumes. They take pictures using full length mirrors. They take pictures using something called a selfie-stick. They film video tutorials about how to take the “perfect selfie.” Like Narcissus, they appear to be enamored of their own visage to the extent that it is their primary activity of daily living. This is where I tend to veer off from the trends. I see no sense in this, other than pure and unadulterated ego. Granted there are some absolutely breath-taking individuals out there in the world, but they appear to much less advantage (in my opinion) when they also share this stance. While I do not believe in false modesty, vanity and superficial self-adoration is a huge turn-off. Why do people actually feel the need to take and share so many selfies? Is it desire for attention? Is it that they like their own appearance and want to look at it? Is it that they feel that the aesthetics of their own face is a benefit to the well-being of others…?

I don’t know. I know that I have never felt this to be the case for me. As I said, I am one of the least photogenic people on the planet. The “good” pictures of me can pretty much fit into a letter-sized envelope and wouldn’t take more than standard postage to mail. Other acceptable pictures of me are made so by the addition of other individuals who are not only dear to me but usually more pleasing to the eye.

how-i-look-taking-a-selfie-quote-1

That being said, a further obstacle to my joining the ranks of the selfie­-stickers and self-portraiture aficionados… I suck at selfies. I do. It’s true. I’ve never mastered the proper angle or the face contortions that approximate a supermodel (or more likely Mike Myers in the Sprockets skit on SNL). Truth be told, the cat is much better at it than I am (seriously, the cat that lives here has managed to take photos of himself on my phone and they look much better than anything I’ve attempted). There is no part of me that relishes having multiple pictures of my own face on my own phone or available to the public. I recognize that there are “different strokes for different folks.” So, I suppose if that is your thing, then by all means, pucker up and tilt that head at just the right angle… but I must say, I still find it all completely unfathomable.

 

Social Media trolling or screaming obscenities from the safety of a fortress…

frenchtaunting

So, as many of the ramblings posted here have done before, this one takes inspiration from my experiences as well as conversations that crop up between friends. This particular one stems from a couple of different conversations, but the most recent went something like this:

Friend:  Yeah, I think people screwing with my plans is about the second or third most rage-inducing thing in life.
Me:  I sorta had gave up the rage factor on people messing with my plans about the time Saddam Hussein decided to vacation in Kuwait.
Friend:  Never give up your rage, without it, what ever would we do in traffic?
Me:  Same @#$% people do on social media, rage impotence from behind the shield of anonymity provided by computers and tinted windows?
Friend:  No, that’s for amateurs. The pros roll down their windows and make sure the intended target’s attention is well and truly garnered first.
Me:  Funny how so many get super brave and enormous social media balls fueling insults and threats and other bad manners. Yet, in person… they talk behind backs and generally smile and nod when confronted.
Friend:  It’s been a while since anyone threatened me on the social medias <sigh>.

From there we considered our mutual bent towards an unusual nature that is willing to embrace erudite vocabulary, intermittent swearing, and colorful metaphors without the benefit of shielding or anonymity. The friend’s observation is that most individuals are generally afraid of one or two things are likely outcomes in those situations: 1) actual conflict and 2) how it will make them look. For me, I tend to pick my battles. What I’ve discovered is that most of the battles in the virtual world aren’t worth my energy to have a truly emotional reaction. On the other hand, the traffic shyte… I still let rip with the best. It’s cathartic, and as long as my phone is on mute, I’ll remain employed and on good terms with my mother.

So, contrary to the behaviors of others, I’m least likely to stir the pot in the social media arena. I tend to avoid the hyperbolic and generally take a wide berth from flame wars and general trollery. Very unlike my behavior in person where my filters seem to be perennially blocked, and I’m likely to just let fly with whatever snark is lurking between my ears. The outcome is frequently unfortunate given any situation where observation will lead to less than complimentary commentary. The results are that my internal dialog choses to make itself externally present… fatigue often weighs into the balance towards a more likely chance of this occurrence. I haven’t decided if it is my general disapprobation of the cowardice inherent in that anonymity and safety of the keyboard diatribe and polite silence or if it is just a basic lack of self-preservation on my part. Given my father’s commentary on my usual modus operandi as “snatching defeat from the jaws of victory,” I’m going with the latter. Whatever the underlying cause, I would be the child at the side of the road pointing and saying “But he’s naked!” Honesty is not always the best policy. I’m learning, and it helps that frequently the overriding indolence will prevent my announcements as much as any prudence. It just simply isn’t worth my time or energy for the most part.

What IS it about humanity that they grow very large gonads when they feel they have the protection of invisibility or invulnerability? And why is it when these same types are confronted with their own flavor of incivility that they tend to run crying to whatever level of protector they can find pleading bullying and crying “FOUL”. Seriously, I’m astounded at the amount of nasty, hurtful, and semi-libelous (it is technically in print) bullpucky people fling at each other on the book of faces or twits. I cannot imagine most of said asshats having the actual (rather than virtual) cahones to say the same to someone’s face.

In the same way, I’ve actually observed people in traffic and on interstates having verbal and nonverbal seizures in response to our fellow travelers on the road. It’s times like these that make me rather wish for installed loudspeaker systems so that the targets of their ire can truly appreciate the creativity (or lack thereof). I would also like to install little electronic scoreboards so that we might give appropriate feedback. “Excellent use of extemporaneous verbiage. I give it a 8.7. Had to deduct points for lack of feasibility.”

What is completely dissimilar about the two different venues of diatribe is that most of our fellow journeymen (and women) on the road are unlikely to be aware or suffer any of the slings and arrows we spew forth in their general direction. Except in the most spiritual of ways, that verbal badinage of ill will hovers in a cloud around our own head and, for the parents in my readership, is occasionally reflected back from the mouths of babes who have overheard. The targets drive blissfully on in ignorance and probably dangerous levels of driving incompetence. On the other hand, the witting or unwitting target of hateful vocabulary flung upon the interwebs of social media and commentary are readily visible. Whether they know from whence the attack arises or not, that person is generally able to read, peruse, and commit to memory every ugly subject and predicate. Additionally, the verbal abuse flung from a car window is momentary, passing, and passes by as the car and the moment. That stuff on the webpage or text screen can be preserved for evah!

Now, for those of us healthy enough to realize that people flinging nasty at each other behind the mask of technology really should not make lasting impact on our self-esteem or psyches, it is possible to ignore…unfollow… block… and move on. But the old thing about sticks and stones isn’t entirely true. Our bodies tend to heal a good deal more quickly than our egos when words scar and threats scare. Lives have been ruined over what seems to be silly online commentary. Freedom of speech (or typing) is not freedom from consequences.

Personally, I do not think that censorship is the answer. I think common sense (which is not so very common) is a better solution. If you wouldn’t say it where someone could actually face or possibly reach you, then don’t say it. If you don’t want it recorded for posterity and possibly flung back in your face like a monkey defending territory, don’t put it on the internet. Seems pretty simple to me; which means that it will be ignored the whole way ‘round, my best guess. So, back to the end of that conversation at the beginning… it pretty much dissolved into the much more important topic of a team name. What do y’all think? Should we be the Slaughter Monkeys or Rioting Llamas? Decisions… decisions…

Random hair incidents…

I woke up this morning and looked like a crested crane. That is truly the only way to describe it. It didn’t have the fauxhawk majesty of a cockatoo, and yet it appeared to fan out around my head like I had inadvertently attempted to plug flatware into the nearest available power outlet. Whoever came up with the trend of “bedhead” has obviously never encountered my own follicles or their delight in creating what I might call… um… a “fright wig” out of the stuff on the top of my head.

Oh, I hear what you all are saying. What does it matter first thing in the morning? It’s not like your coffee is going to judge you (you just don’t know, do you). However, when one is facing the chock-a-block calendar o’ fun and the early morning gym is the only option you have, having Phyllis Diller’s Homely Friendmaker hairdo is not helpful. See… I heard you again. What does it matter? You are going to the gym. Well, that is entirely accurate, and I’m not one of those perfectly-groomed-going-to-work-out sorts with their fashionably matched Lycra, makeup, and hair-ties. However, I don’t want to traumatize any of the other patrons or staff. I’m telling you, the hair is terrifying. My mirror screamed.

S’ok, you would think this is easily remedied. Stick your head under a faucet and wet the stuff down. Oh… no… for whatever reason, my hair defies all attempts to tame. Water, gel, mousse, pomades… my hair just laughs. I’ve seen industrial adhesive types of hairspray whimper and cower away from my hair. The only thing that will occasionally remedy the situation is a rather long shower and shampoo. This is not always the option first thing in the morning, nor is it something I want to do before the gym just so I can do it all over again after the sweating.

Regardless, I cannot imagine why anyone would actually choose to style their hair in this fashion. Yet, I see it all the time; products to make your hair look like you have “bedhead.” So, apparently there are actually people out there in the world that deliberately work to make their hair look like how it allegedly appears when they get out of bed. Baffling.

While we are on the hair subject, I’m going to probably push it a bit to far and discuss other hair. I will try not to get too graphic, but what is it about hair on the human body that wants to grow where it shouldn’t and not grow where it should. I listen to friends of both genders complain about thinning hair and degrees of receding hairlines that eventually decided to just retreat in a full-out rout looking more like a reverse Mohawk than any other description. While I have not had the experience of losing all my hair, I have had some of the thinning occur due to various issues… including age. I’ve never quite felt it was fair that as we get older, most of us thicken in body and thin in hair.

And yet… we still grow hair. For those of you out there who have reached that age of wandering hair, you know what I’m talking about. Ears, nostrils, eyebrows… They all start sprouting like someone hit them with Miracle Grow. Not that people should be ashamed of what seems to be a natural occurrence, but serious nostril spiders should definitely be tamed back a bit.

In my own case, it is the eyebrows. I can’t fathom why they decide to wander. I’ll have them all groomed and in place with the appropriate curve and balance and, for me, just a hint of snarky arch. Then… BOOM! There it is… that little hair that seems to have gotten lost entirely from the group and is now trying its best to be an eyelash. Seriously?!? Where are you going little one? Get the hell back up there where you belong! No? Fine. I’m sorry for your shortened life. 

Now, I’ve told you that I was not going to delve into the overly graphic. I won’t, but just a brief word about the -scaping thing. Whether it is man or woman, keep it neat. It is my personal opinion that hair down there is appropriate and more importantly a secondary sexual characteristic of an adult. In other words, I think it is a little creepy to shave it bare. To each their own, but I just don’t think we should groom to look like pre-pubescents.

That being said, though, take a moment to groom. If the jungle is taking over and presenting to the world outside your bathing costume, it’s time for a trim. As for our guys out there… (again, sorry for dipping into the graphic) if your partner needs a machete and a native guide to find the twig and berries, it might be time to prune the shrubbery.

Ok, whew! I’m glad we’ve dealt with that. Back to safer subjects. Let’s talk extremities and the pits. Yeah. So, I know it is very un-liberated of me, but I’m not an au naturel gal myself. Again, to each their own, but I just really do not think that the arm pits are places to grow luxuriant locks. It’s a hygiene thing for me. Again, call me old fashioned or societally submissive, but an attractive woman in a fashionable sleeveless ensemble raising an arm to reveal BUSH!!!!! is not attractive. If you feel that is discriminating, fine… it’s distracting as hell! It disturbs the line of the attire. There. Also, the gorilla look is a little bit overwhelming as well. Now, to firmly put me in double standard mode, I don’t like the whole bare body thing on dudes. The guys who wax everything and are baby smooth all over… not a turn-on. I think it goes back to a couple of paragraphs ago for me. I like guys who have passed puberty. So, I’m ok with those secondary sex characteristics, like chest hair, hairy legs and arms, and the facial fuzz… within certain limits. For instance, I don’t want to sleep with Chewbacca. I don’t need a pelted guy, and back hair is just a little bit off-putting. It’s cool, though. They make procedures for that, and I think it’s only fair that occasionally guys have to experience a little of the discomfort we girls have been putting up with for years in the name of beauty.

And speaking of the facial displays, beards have come into fashion. I’m not sure what precisely influenced this, except the entertainment industry managing to put male leads in various versions of manly facial fuzz. As a young woman, I really never liked the facial hair on men. I liked clean-shaven, smooth faces. However, as I’ve gotten older, my tastes have changed. Now, I see a clean-shaven face, and all I can think is “Is he 12?!?” Nothing wrong with the clean face, but I have become more accustomed to men with mustache and beard. That said, Grizzly Adams or any of the Duck Dynasty crowd need not apply either. There is such a thing as too much beard.

Well… that about covers all I felt the need to say about the follicle struggles and wayward coifs. May your hairs be ever in place and may no random incidents ruffle your day.