Tag Archives: rant

Rant: “Don’t tell me I’m pretty…” Huh?!?

And just like that, a multitude of responses just popped into the mind of anyone reading that simple statement.

She’s fishing for compliments.

That’s some really low self-esteem.

You are beautiful. Everyone has beauty inside them.

Why should you wish to conform to the unrealistic expectations of society…?

Why not smart or strong…?

I’m probably going to get my feminist card revoked and someone will kick me out of the club, but I have a serious beef with some of the prevailing attitudes of media, bloggers, and spewers of what I might call the social-justice-warrior-theme.

Recently, I read an article that said (and I paraphrase) even the positive messages given to women are actually negative. This incredibly oxymoronic (with emphasis on the moron) and confusing diatribe proclaimed that our new body positive mantras proclaimed far and wide were detrimental to women because while appearing to be empowering statements are undermined by subtle phrasing that “privileges male pleasure above all else.” What?!? So… no matter what you say to compliment, empower, or just give someone a compliment (well, a female someone, that is) is merely supporting the patriarchal overlords and stamping upon the spirits of the sisters… oh, my stars, really?!? While I’m thinking about it, just because you want to be perceived as attractive, why assume that it is the opposite gender that someone is trying to impress. Does a preference for same gender somehow make one immune to the desire to be attractive to them? I don’t think so. But I digress. Most of us enjoy hearing “You look awesome” or “That is especially ravishing” or even “Dang, you look hot!” We like it. We get a little zing in our swing. And apparently… that’s not ok?

From this particular perspective comes the inability to appreciate appreciation… Yes, I said that. I’ve never quite understood why some people bristle when given compliments (or having doors held or chairs for that matter). I mean, I completely understand how it might get a little tiring and frustrating to never be appreciated for your intellect or talent as a female (which begs the question, do men get tired of being praised for the masculine non-physical traits instead of physical attributes?). However, just because someone tells you that you look amazing in your outfit doesn’t mean they think your appearance is all you have to offer. Well… I mean, some people are just objectifying jerks, but they are likely to treat everyone that way. They very likely see everyone on the planet as objects with which they interact. It’s called narcissism. That doesn’t mean that all compliments from all people are bad, demeaning, or undermining the empowerment of your individuality and self-confidence.

And what, pray tell, is so wrong with wanting to be found attractive?!? The overall tone of the piece I read (mentioned above) was that somehow, in some way, I was flawed for wanting to be perceived as attractive or sexy. Um… hate to tell the author, but this is one of those evolutionary drives that is programmed into our DNA. Being desirable from the perspective of Og and Uma (those two get a ton of mileage in my blogs these days) meant that they had resources… they possibly got to replicate their genetics via procreation. Og didn’t get bent and say to Uma “but you don’t appreciate the way I knap the flint…” and Uma didn’t get upset because Og wasn’t appreciative of her ability to count the days in a moon cycle. So, we evolved to get the warm fuzzies and tinglies when someone thinks we are pretty or sexy. That is part of our genetic make up. It’s ok, really it is. It is nice to be told that someone finds us attractive. Or at least I thought it was until the media and various opinionated social bloggers and whoever else told me that it wasn’t ok for me to like that.

I think I get where they are coming from, and I believe it has good intentions. The desire to feel attractive is very different from the overwhelming pressure to adhere to a particular image. Being objectified by appearance rather than appreciated as an individual; that, my friends can get super unhealthy… But boy howdy does the message miss the mark somewhere. Where did it go so very wrong? I dislike these hopped up pseudo-psychologists who think it is somehow very wrong to like being perceived as pretty, sexy, or attractive.

So, where was it supposed to go? I’m just guessing, but I believe that the idea is that we can be self-empowering and feel good without any external judgment. That’s pretty awesome. What isn’t so awesome is that people got the idea that in order to have this internal sense of positive well-being we can’t appreciate the appreciation of others. And that just sucks and is a horrible way to live in a social interactive environment. If you are trapped in isolation having no other humans with which to interact, groovy. Telling yourself that you are good enough and smart enough is what you need, but there is still the “gosh darn it people like me” part that speaks to a social component. As humans we are programmed to get good vibes from being liked and appreciated by others.

Now, the pervading and sometimes overwhelming sense that I get from media and various and very vocal groups is that women are more susceptible than men to this whole objectification and self-image issues. That… is a crock. I have many male friends who are as much or much more body conscious than I am. The idea that societal expectations of physical beauty are only a detriment to those of us with lady parts is a fallacy.

My friend to whom I vented a large blast of frustration and ire on this topic this morning took it to an equality place. He remarked that many of the “third wave” feminists label compliments as objectifying in attempt achieving equality by oppressing the oppressors… or something along those lines. In other words, at some point, being equal was not so much about actual equality but in being superior. And that brings up another problem I have. I am not equal. Chances are, I never will be equal… to anyone. I am unique. I do not have the same talents or abilities of my friends. I lack the knowledge and experience of my elders. It has nothing to do with my gender but my self. I am different but no less valuable, and that is awesome. I am neither superior or inferior due to my genetics and biology. I strive every day to be the best I can for myself and for those I love.

So, does that mean that I’m undermining myself because part of my desire to accomplish is for others? If I buy into the claptrap of the article that set me off on this rant, the answer would be “yes.” By their standard, I should only work towards betterment for myself and my own satisfaction. Maybe that is true, but in doing for those I love, I am also serving myself. So, because I feel good about making people I care about feel good, does that make it bad? Ok… off on the spiral I go, bringing up the concept of altruism and the selfish gene theory and all that jazz. Trust me, we don’t have time for that here.

Back to the original issue. I’m tired of people telling me and everyone else that wanting to feel attractive or working towards a goal to please someone else is wrong and unhealthy. It’s not. It’s natural. Being owned or dominated by the perception of others is a different matter. We should all be free to be who we are and feel good about those things that make us feel confident, healthy… and yes, sexy. So, if someone tells you that you look good… it’s actually pretty awesome to say “Thanks” and believe it.

Rant: No one is safe from the fat-shaming media


So, I totally got sucked in the other day, like Alice down the proverbial rabbit hole of the interwebs. It started with a perfectly innocent article about iced coffee popsicles (that is innocent, I swear by all that is holy… and by the first bean of the blessed caffenation… ). However, as frequently happens (well, as happens to me that is) a side link caught my attention “GORGEOUS STARS THAT GOT FAT AND HIDEOUS!” (or something along those lines). Try as I might I could not resist the temptation to see this travesty of modern celebrity, and so, I clicked. And I found to my surprise that my temper flared. Once again the paparazzi and media hounds have pissed me off to an extent I didn’t think possible outside political arenas where they have no knowledge and generally speak from their posterior orifices.

Now, I’m going to digress a tad. I’ll try to keep my tangent to a brief ramble. So, bear with me. I have never been what might be considered a willowy sort. I was, at one time called a skinny kid by a grandparent here or there or others of a generation that knew The Great Depression years and thought that being able to see certain bones in a child meant lack of nourishment. I was never emaciated and I was certainly never without enough food to eat. We didn’t have a lot of money, but we had gardens and my mom’s magical abilities to make quite hearty meals appear on the slimmest of budgets. At any rate, I was never one that would blow away in a good wind. I was a solid, athletically built youngster that probably fell in the lower to middle range of those damnable BMI charts… in other words average. That being said, I was never what might be considered thick, either. I tended to be on the long scale. However, with age comes wisdom… and then it presents some more unpleasant gifts. One of those less positive side effects of age is what I will call the thickening. I’m not talking about mere weight gain and adipose tissue acquisition. I’m talking just the pure and simple fact that some of us just get visibly and measurably wider/thicker/whatever as we get older. I believe it has something to do with hormones and genetics and such (at least that’s what all those required biology and human physiology courses I took said), but it is just a fact of life. Neither diet nor exercise will fix it. Some lucky folks seem to dodge this bullet in comparison to their peers, though even they show some change from their own earlier years to some extent. They tend to be those willowy types that no amount of childbirth, years, or desserts seems to change (yeah, I want to stab them, too. It’ll be ok. Just put your head between your knees until the urge passes), but for the rest of us, there is just no avoiding the middle aged spread. We can impact body fat percentages, how we feel, our physical health, muscle tone, and energy levels with judicious dietary choices and appropriate exercise, but despite the efforts we will still never become a bean pole (even if we were in youth). Whether I like it or not, without surgical modification, I am never going to be what I was in my younger years. And with that foundation… on we go.

So, this article/slide show that I happened upon had a title at the top of the page: “Celebrities that Couldn’t Stop Eating and Got Fat…” I started paging through the side by side comparisons of various examples, “Before” and “After” as it were. Both genders were represented. However, the more I paged through the some 30 plus slides, the angrier I became. First of all, there is that misleading title. It brings to mind images of lazy bodies shoving bon-bons in their mouths. At no point was there any evidence presented to support the claim that all of the changes pictured were the product of overeating or food addiction. Secondly, the majority of the comparisons were literally years apart and sometimes decades. Additionally, the “After” shots were by no means grotesque in the majority of instances. They looked like normal people who had traversed spans of time and life events and aged… pretty well actually. For instance, if I was male, I personally would not mind having the physique that Lawrence Fishburne has kept. Aside from that, the disparity between the studio publicity photos and other posed examples given as the “Before” shots and the more candid, spontaneous, and natural “After” shots was glaring. So, I was baffled. Why were these celebrities being shamed? And what exactly is being said by all the negativity?

I also noted that often the females presented not only were “victims” of time, but also had the photos taken after delivering children. Um?!? Yeah! Shame on them for embracing motherhood and pregnancy! I know that some people claim to bounce back, but I dare say there is a LOT of work and self-denial that goes into attaining pre-baby physique, and most NEVER DO! (Think Mammy’s conversation with Scarlett O’Hara who could not attain her former figure with the aid of a corset!) Many of the photographic comparisons were with 30-plus year differences, too. Seriously, people?!? Are you saying that in order to be safe from ridicule, one must maintain the body of the 20-year-old? One that surprised me by truly getting me to the boiling point was a caption in which the author/blogger/snarky-social-commentator made the “witty” chastisement of Gerard Butler on his deteriorated physique stating “Hugh Jackman can do it, why can’t you?” That sent me over the top, and I don’t even like Gerard Butler. Now, for one thing, I follow Mr. Jackman in the social media world (Of course, I do! I am female, appreciate the male form, and still breathing). I witness what it appears to take for him to maintain his Wolverine-like physique. He frequently shares images of his training sessions and dietary choices. This is not your average physical fitness routine. He puts a LOT of time, energy (and likely funds) into looking like that, despite any natural biological gifts and predispositions. Aside from that, who can say what additional differences there are in genetic makeup or body chemistry between these two compared leading men. (Not to mention all those government experimental mutation programs… just kidding). Not that Mr. Butler is any less capable of putting in the same efforts and resources to attain similar physical outcomes, but comparing one to another is just not fair. Besides, the picture showed as the “Before” for Gerard Butler was from the Spartan days… seriously, a still from the movie. Hello? Again, I say “Bad shot!” Let’s see? Movie magical film still with lighting and whatever other special effects vs. photo caught by sneaky photo-stalker with the long lens; not exactly an even playing field. Additionally, that was a bloody acting role people! I’ve seen, read, and heard about what some actors and actresses do for different parts. Look at Matthew McConaughey, Christian Bale, Robert De Niro, Charlize Theron, and Renee Zellweger. That is just to name a few of the performers who have literally changed their bodies by gaining and losing and putting themselves through physical metamorphosis for the purpose of assuming a character. Do you really think that given the timeframes of filming, deadlines, and such that they did that in the healthiest way possible? I can answer that one: NO THEY DID NOT. For many of the stars out there, the physiques and image that they portray come at a sacrifice to their bodies and health (and sometimes minds). Alas, they chose that lifestyle and career, and we have to assume they knew the risks when they signed up. The pressure to fulfill certain expectations and ideal appearance is something that Hollywood has been rife with since the advent of moving pictures. Gerard Butler is no different. He bulked up and got ripped to play a part. Now, because he is not maintaining that same exact body form some little paparazzo/wannabe journalist is shaming him. Did he somehow become morbidly obese since playing King Leonidas? No, he just looks… normal (well, in truth the guy is considered by most to be quite handsome and probably not average, but you get what I’m saying).

So, why do I give two rips about whether the media or one of their vulture-like representatives is bad-mouthing the A-listers? In all likelihood, those celebrities are probably thinking “Hey, attention is attention. All press is good press.” It keeps them in the public eye. So, they probably don’t care that some little whiner is saying that they aren’t brick @#$%houses anymore.

However, those celebrities are often the representation of our ideals in many ways. Even those among us who have been graced with wonderful ego strength, self-esteem and experience no twinge of doubt in the face of external recrimination can absorb some of the societal expectations and approbation to occasionally observe a paragon of physical virtue and think “I want my body to look like THAT!” That sentiment is typically the primary motivation for the majority of people to diet, exercise, and (yes) have surgical procedures. We have an image of our ideal body in mind. We want to look like the modern gods and goddesses of the public eye. We want to be attractive, and to be considered attractive and successful (yes, an attractive physical appearance often results in the assumption of success) according to the cultural norms. So, when some little hopped up photo-blogger or tabloid hack starts bashing someone who wasn’t prepared for a photo shoot and merely looks age-appropriate or like a normal, average human, what does that do in our subconscious and preconscious? Well, if you are a confident specimen who is happy in your life, it may do absolutely nothing… or possibly you believe that it has no impact to your self-perception. You may be correct. However, for the rest of us, it plants a little irrational seed that to be attractive, beautiful, desirable, loved… you have to achieve physical perfection. You cannot age. You cannot participate in the natural human milestones of life. You must conform to the image that the media has designated as acceptable, and the risk is there for making some supremely unhealthy choices just to avoid being too normal.

Health, wellness, fitness, and diet should not be something that is dictated by negativity or the avoidance of external negative perception. It should be something that we choose because it brings us more satisfaction in our lives. So, I say to the nasty little scandal rag jerks out there who love to put other people down (even if it is the Hollywood “royalty”)… Bug off! Or I might start a movement to encourage the victims of those long lenses to return the favor. How will you vultures bear up to the intense scrutiny and critique of your physique?

Here endeth the rant… at least this one (y’all know me too well to think it’s the last).

Physical Fit: Scathing Rant Commencing in 3…2…


So, I have tried not to become one of those people when it comes to my physical activity and fitness regimen, but today truly tested my metal.

I’ve recently changed up my routine workout schedule. A few different circumstances contributed to the adjustments. The primary reason was my move to a telecommute status for my job that put me within five minutes of my gym. Whereas previously my workout waited until the end of the workday when I stopped on the way home (because my office was inconveniently far from the gym to go during the day), I now have the ability to run to the gym for a mid-day workout break during my lunch hour. Another reason for the schedule shift was that my former choice of the after-work-workout was popular with a lot of people. The gym was crowded starting at around 5:00 P.M. If I didn’t get to the gym before that time, it was very unlikely that I would find any of the cardio machinery (elliptical, treadmill, stationary bicycles, or stair climber) free. The same could be said for the various resistance and strength training machines, and don’t get me started on the circuit training area. Needless to say, with my late in the day meetings, project, and door-knob questions from staff, I rarely got to my gym in time to get my turn at the necessary activities. It was frustrating, to say the least, and a recipe for fitness failure if I allowed it to be. Therefore, my change to a mid-day workout was an unexpected blessing. It is glorious. I practically have the whole place to myself, and I get in a full workout in the time most people get through lunch.

I fear that even this brief period of blessed freedom and isolation in my fitness has led me to a sense of complacency. I’ve become accustomed to my privacy and freedom of the unpopulated daytime gym. I have taken for granted that I have the run of the place. I mistakenly assumed that my frustrations of the gym-etiquette-deficient were behind me. Today, that cherished feeling has been decimated … decisively.

First, I got rather a later start than normal, but I was still at the gym shortly after the normal lunch hour. As usual, my chosen temple to physical fitness was practically empty. I was immediately able to get an elliptical machine for my run (yes, this is how I run because I’m old, and I have knees that still haven’t forgiven me for the mistreatment of my youth). So far, so good. After my usual three miles, I moved to the circuit training area.

  1. I just heard the groans from some of my more dedicated fitness experts among my readers, but here is my defense:
  2. I don’t do the circuit training every day or even every workout.
  3. I do practice “muscle confusion” and switch things up between leg day, torso, abs, etc.
  4. When it comes to a lunch hour workout, circuit training is a great way for me to get in a full body workout to start my week.

Back to my tale… I went to my blessedly empty circuit training area. There is absolutely nothing more frustrating than trying to do circuit training during the busy times of the day. Sadly the circuit training area is the one place in a gym where, for some reason, people tend to congregate and socialize after work (which was one of my frustrations with the after-work-workout). This is a serious problem for someone who is trying to stay in their groove (“Beware the groove… beware the groove…”).

For those that are unfamiliar with the circuit training, it consists of a fenced-in area with a series of resistance/weight machines interspersed with steps or other cardio activity that are laid out in a particular order allegedly to maximize the muscle isometrics (the science jury is still out on that one). The point of this is to work on strength and tone while keeping the heart rate in a target zone. There are arguments in the fitness community about the value of this, but for me, it seems to be a good option (especially, again, when pressed for time). My approach to circuit training, and why it is the perfect solution to a lunchtime workout for me, is to do the resistance machines in order (as one is supposed to do). I generally do three sets of 12-15 repetitions on each one, but I don’t do the steps in between every machine. I usually just monitor my pulse and use the cardio to boost it if it drops out of the target range. The exception to this would be when the circuit training area is totally hoppin’. I then follow the prescribed routine to keep from disrupting the flow for others… or I just avoid the circuit training all together and opt for the other machines or free weights available outside the area.

There I was, in the circuit training and starting to work my way around the area from machine to machine, checking my pulse and using the interspersed steps in between… I had worked my way around to the military press machine and just finished it. I took my pulse and found that I was still in the target range. Completely in my groove, I moved with determination to the next machine. That’s when it happened…

He walked into the circuit training area with loose, saggy (and probably more-expensive-than-they-should-have-been) basketball shorts. Ball cap on backwards and sporting a t-shirt with the sleeves cut out. Before I realized what had happened, he stepped between me an my next machine. That’s right, he skipped the rest of the circuit completely, just cut me off in traffic and sat down to do some bicep curls accompanied by impressive huffing and grunting. At this point, I had the option of skipping past this machine to the next in line or use the cardio step. As I paused to reflect, another of the species came over to stand next to the first and slid into place at the machine as the first finished his set.

Suddenly, I had a completely overwhelming urge to be an ass… or kick one. I pictured myself delivering a champion, thermonuclear wedgie accompanied by a firm flip of the reversed baseball cap perched on the head of the original douchebag. I also pictured walking over and just standing there without saying anything. If either of the Neanderthals asked what I was doing, I would calmly explain the purpose of the circuit training area and excuse their ignorant rudeness as “I am certain that your egos have cut off the blood supply to the part of your brain that governs your ability to read or think or have manners.” My final fantasy option was to go over to one of the empty bicep machines that were just outside the circuit training area and visible to the pair of them proclaiming loudly as I did so, “I wish there was a bicep curl machine somewhere outside the circuit training area!!!”

I, of course, did none of these things, satisfying though they might have been.  Instead, I heaved a great sigh, gave them a patented Ginsu-knife-eye-of-the-basilisk-witch-whammy glare, walked to the abdominal area to do some oblique work, and then finished up with another mile on the elliptical. Somehow, while much more righteous and mature, I’m pretty sure the imagined actions would have been a good deal more fun. BUT I would like to be able to continue using my gym, and taking the high road probably was the wiser option. However, for any of you out there reading this, be aware of the people around you and have some bloody manners!

Here endeth the rant… As you were.

Do you even… bruh? A naturalist’s study of Ductusscchetto vulgaris: The common douchebag

I speak now of the common white-sunglasses-wearing variety of human… they smell of vinegar and water. We’ve all encountered them. They exist in many different regional habitats, and sometimes they even migrate. They are hip. They are chic. They are “too cool for school.” They are full of swagger and superiority… so much so, in fact, that they feel compelled to inflict their superiority upon the rest of the world, whether we like it or not. They are the kings (and queens) of the must-have trends, and they have mastered the art of the selfie. We know this, (why?) because they take about a blue-billion of the things every day and share them with the world and all their dearest friends and followers on social media that they have never met in the flesh.

Size & Shape

Though mannerisms and verbiage would incline one to believe that this species is of a large and imposing stature, it is not always the case. While having some very specific and discrete characteristics that identify the species, there is a vast range of size and shape associated with the Ductusscchetto vulgaris. The size of the species is often inversely proportional to the extremes of behavior. However, this is not universal and there have been instances of larger examples of the species behaving quite outlandishly.

Color Pattern

As with size and shape, D. vulgaris presents in any number of natural skin tones (some of which were obtained in a no where close to natural manner). However, this particular species does ornament themselves with external accessories and does provide a great variety of presentation interesting to the observer. Often, these ornamentations appear to give the individual some sort of connection or status within the social grouping they have chosen. While not always what might be considered flattering, they are generally always very trendy. As noted, they seem to be drawn especially to white-framed sunglasses (especially of a highly priced nature) and hats with flatten brims that do not fit well (as evidenced by the fact that they will not stay straight on the head).


As noted in the physical characteristic description, D. vulgaris comes in many shapes and sizes, but the universally recognizable characteristics are in the behavior. Frequently imposing, though not in stature alone, D. vulgaris inserts himself (or herself, not to be gender biased) into most circumstances without invitation or welcome. Most actions are calculated to garner the greatest amount of attention possible. Negative or positive bears no weight. All attention is good attention. D. vulgaris uses vocalization, physical presence, proximity, and occasionally motor conveyance to make sure that they achieve the goal of notice. Loud and raucous conversation, usually about perceived superiority in various activities is used in posturing ritual to establish dominance. Verbalizations are rife with buzzwords and colloquialisms with which they seem only to have a passing acquaintance with definition and actual syntax. Often, there are mating displays with various forms of physical and verbal proposition and proximity violations that can be compared to the physical posturing of the mountain gorilla or various unguent species such as deer, elk, and moose. D. vulgaris frequently appears to have perceptual deficiencies or maladaptation that prevents them from understanding hints or subtle indications from targeted individuals that they are not receptive to their advances.

Additionally, D. vulgaris makes attempts to eliminate competition and secure territory by making the area around them completely intolerable. Additionally, certain members of the species feel the need to be voluble in a non-verbal way. This includes grunts, growls, and incomprehensible vocalizations (much like those of other simian species) during tasks requiring physical expenditure, fitness activities, and reaction to members of their sexually targeted population. Additionally, these individuals utilize tools such as motor vehicles to stimulate the auditory senses and draw attention. This includes revving engines as well as the addition of accessories to their form of conveyance that produces vibrations to imitate the sounds of bumble bees in a coffee can. (We can only assume that this somehow stimulates the species sexual drives or possibly is a way to flush out their food source, it is a mystery and serves no apparent purpose for the motor conveyance.)


The behavior attributed to mating habits has already been addressed for the most part, but additionally, it might be noted that the male of the species appears to use the least eloquent verbiage in their attempts to woo the targeted individual. Frequently, “How you doin’?” is an opening gambit. However, these attempts seem to change with other sociological and entertainment media influence. The female of the species can be identified by the call, “I’m so drunk!”


Much as other invasive species have taken over territory and nearly eradicated the native indigenous specimens, D. vulgaris has invaded most habitats and can be found in a wide variety of geological and sociological environs. However, they can be found in greater numbers in establishments where there are “SHOTS SHOTS SHOTS” or a vast supply of the beverages made of barley and hops. It is possible that they congregate in these settings due to some biological drive and migration pattern, or it may be a phenomenon like that of watering holes in the savannah. D. vulgaris also can be found in temples dedicated to the physical fitness. While the native species tend to focus on the benefits of movement and activity for health reasons, D. vulgaris generally attends this type of worship more for the benefit of attention seeking and ornamental posturing with the overly loud vocalizations to emphasize their prowess. This has often deteriorated into territorial disputes resulting in indigenous species attrition in many of these haunts.


While not much is known about the universal diet of D.vulgaris, the individuals of the species are more than willing to dominate conversations and social gatherings with trendy dietary choices that are guaranteed to change their physical composition, regale terrified groups of people with intestinal woes related to various intolerances, or brag of the copious nature of their appetite and carnivorous habits. Generally, it can be said that if there is a particular type of food that is unpalatable or sickening to the audience in question, that will be discussed at length without any particular perception of negativity on the part of listeners. On occasion, D. vulgaris will take food from other species uninvited, especially if it inserts them to the notice of the group in question.

Similar Species

Ductusscchetto vulgaris or the common douchebag is similar to the jerk, misogynist, egoist, narcissist, bore, braggart, musclehead, skanks, mean girl, and egomaniac. There are subtle differences as well as gender specificity for some categories. The population sadly appears to be growing and terribly invasive, as stated earlier. Measures need to be implemented to control the population growth and promote conservation of more useful organisms.

Rant: Society’s Humor Deficiency and Terminal Self-Importance

First of all, I want to preface this by saying, this is not directed towards any one individual, and while I am going to address one particularly silly situation (silly, in my opinion), I do not necessarily fail to recognize the feelings and seriousness of actual social inequity or genuine concerns for the public health. This, however, is a rant. Pure and simple. Well, probably not so simple since my brain likes to take side roads and get lost in the woods, but you get the drift. And with that said… on with the show.

At what point in time did everyone in America become so thin-skinned that every blessed thing that is said, done, or even hinted is going to cause offense?!? When did the melting pot of the world become so polarized in thoughts, ideas, and beliefs that casual communication is a constant risk of litigation?!?

I have pondered and written before about hyperbolic opinions and lack of moderation, but things seem to have gotten way out of hand. It seems like every day I hear of something else that has a group of people vaguely bonded by some single common interest getting their knickers in a wad over something that has been said on the television, radio, internet, social media, etc., and said group decides to stage a protest, start a petition, or even go so far as to file a legal complaint. Seriously? Most recently, I have heard yet another completely ridiculous social outrage battle, spawned and nurtured by social media (and other forms of media just to boost ratings, I’m sure). I’m perplexed as to why we are still giving energy and air time to the nonsense that seems to be predominantly fomented by people who are just looking for something to be upset about anyway. I shall use this most recent (to my notice) issue as the example because I am myself one of the people who would be in the group who would find the incident offensive… at least if I felt like it was worthy of my time to get offended.

So, it seems that someone, possibly in an attempt at humor, has once again made some vague mention of gluten. People were so offended by this that they have petitioned to pull commercials from the Super Bowl. This follows the trending topic of Celiac and gluten sensitivity being a figment of the imagination according to some. I’m not going to argue about this one way or another. I will only say that this is something I have been hearing and reading from various people and a whole bunch on social media. It turns out, I am one of those fantastic (as in fantasy) beings who suffers from a gastrointestinal intolerance to gluten, specifically of the wheat variety (there are other types, you know). I’ve heard the arguments. I’ve heard people say, “It is all in your imagination.” I have read an article written by an MD (who turned out to profit by genetically modified food products) who proclaimed that there was no scientific evidence for gluten sensitivity.

And… my reaction? I DON’T CARE! Seriously. I’m not sure why me, my eating habits, my colon, and other digestive organs are any business of the people who seem to be completely offended by my choice to avoid gluten. So, why do they care? ‘Tis a puzzlement; a quandary for the ages. Why do people give two rips whether I or anyone else eats gluten? Why should they care whether there is a gluten free option on a menu or in the supermarket or that said quality is labeled on those particular foods? Sounds like a personal problem to me, and I find it somewhat amusing that my digestive health is of such concern to the people that don’t have to put up with it. I know how my body responds. I know how it has responded for literally years before I removed said protein (yes, gluten is a protein) from my diet. I know how much better I feel now. It is entirely worth the small sacrifice of wheat products from my life. As for science, there is actual genetic testing to support Celiac, so… not sure how or why anyone would debate that one.

The point being, what anyone says or doesn’t say about the legitimacy and truth of my gluten sensitivity doesn’t have any impact whatsoever on whether I choose to eat it or avoid it, and it certainly does not offend me if they choose to believe that my gastrointestinal response to wheat gluten is all in my head. I doubt seriously that my choice of entrée that does not include whole wheat rolls or wheat flour pasta is going to have some sort of psychological impact on them. So, why should I allow their belief about “dietary delusions” impact my own food choices?

On the other side of the argument, however, are a lot of people who are offended by the statements and have taken up the banner in protest of people who choose to believe gluten sensitivity doesn’t exist. Why would you care what they think?!? People! Eat the way that is healthy for you. Their opinions, no matter how loudly or frequently expressed are not going to change your body’s response. Unless that someone is physically forcing whole wheat bread down your gullet, their opinion is not going to harm you. (And honestly, if someone does that sort of thing, their opinions are the least of their issues. That is a pathological somebody to force feed something to a person who could legitimately have an allergy to it. )

I guess what I am getting at is, practice a little planned ignoring people! If you don’t like the fact that my body responds very badly to ingesting wheat products, don’t eat a meal with me (though, chances are you might not even notice anything amiss if you did). If you are one of the people who suffers from intolerance to gluten or worse, Celiac, take the precautions and stay healthy. For Celiac disease sufferers, exposure is a very serious risk that can literally be deadly (bleeding internally is a potential consequence). Otherwise, lighten up everyone! Stop assuming that flippant comments about any given topic are a personal attack on you. Half the time people say over-the-top things just to get an over-the-top reaction and boost their exposure by controversy. Better yet, learn to laugh at yourselves, because point of fact, not everything is about YOU! Here endeth the rant.

Hyperbolic Crap and Other First World Problems

Have you ever noticed that lately everything seems to be way over the top? It is like someone took the expressed passion volume and turned it to eleven, but not necessarily in a good way. It makes me wonder if people really are this emotional about everything around them or if this is a reaction to something more problematic along the lines of a disconnection to genuine humanity and true affective response to each other.

It isn’t really that I think people should be unemotional or contained at all times. Obviously, having passions is what makes us human and involved with our world. But, seriously, let’s take a look at what people seem to get their knickers in a wad about… most of the time it isn’t even impacting them on any intimate, personal level.

Does that mean that I think people shouldn’t be concerned about the oppression prevalent in distant lands, or the outlandish contrivances of various governments to demolish our basic human rights, or even abuses in the systems we use that put those basic rights in danger from each other? No. I do not mean that at all. I just think that so much of what people get completely bent about are distractions from what may actually be very wrong right before their very eyes. It is a bit of that “not seeing the forest for the trees” stuff. I cannot decide if it is that people do not have enough to worry about in their own lives, or what is more likely, that to avoid taking a good, hard look at what is going on in their own lives, they choose to get in a towering fury about issues that in the grand scheme of things do not have a lasting impact on anyone (like whatever Paris Hilton is doing or how long the Kardashian’s are staying married).

It’s escapism, pure and not so simple, because, what are people escaping? Why are people so adamantly extravagant in their hyperbole about every blessed thing? It seems to be impossible for anyone to have an opinion unless it is extreme, and sadly, it is not possible for anyone to have a differing opinion without causing a schism the likes of which would cause apocalyptic rumblings at the Vatican. I’ve been pondering this for a while. I’m not claiming to have the complete compendium of knowledge or all the answers, but I have come up with a few theoretical constructs and categories, all of which could be erroneous but I’m going to run with them anyway.

Escape Artists

I called it escapism because so much of what people are diving into with all appendages has so little to do with their own physical realities. I can only suspect that their own physical realities are miserable or distasteful to them, and losing themselves in the lives of the rich and famous or fantasy of fiction provides a ready distraction from overwhelming responsibilities and otherwise unpleasant aspects of their own lives. There are also those folks who live in the glass houses, but love to throw stones. They find a good deal of vicarious pleasure in giving counsel to all around them while completely avoiding their own foibles and flaws. These types may legitimately have excellent objective observation skills, but their abilities to critique or provide solution for friends and acquaintances have left them myopic to their own concerns. Bless their hearts! I can understand, truly I can. How many times have I gotten sucked into the wiki-rabbit hole and social media quagmire, neglecting the responsibilities of financial stewardship or household cleanliness in order to argue a point on Facebook or play Farmville, Zombies, or whatever the brain-drainer of the day is? I cannot cast so much as a pebble at this one. Procrastination is my long-time companion, and distraction, the balm for my wounded ego.

Attention-seekers or Social Crusade Warriors

There is nothing wrong with getting a little attention now and then. Everyone deserves a bit of positive attention on occasion. However, some crave it, demand it, and can’t seem to live without it. This isn’t really all that healthy, people. So, perhaps, some of the hyperbole expressed publically (or in social media) isn’t so much about the issues but about getting the attention associated with those issues. It is related to the flawed logic of “If I do not say this loudly with some extreme adverbs or adjectives to define the strength of my passion, no one will notice,” but the notice isn’t so much about the issue but about wanting people to notice them. Yes, there are people who stand on soap boxes merely because they believe the angle makes their butts look better (so to speak… it’s a metaphor, for heaven’s sake!). My rebuttal, why do you need attention for your opinion? Does the issue require this much exposure? If the cause is sufficient, without the grandstanding proclamations to the world by the individual, will the issue languish and subside into the dark and lead to the downfall of society as we know it? There are issues that deserve to be brought into the light, but my question to the hyperbole addict is what are you hoping to accomplish with your expansive, extremes? Are you shedding light on the issue, or are you hoping to have the spotlight directed upon you?

White Knights, Defenders of the Internet and Social Media Realm

This is almost a subcategory of the previous group, but I felt it deserved its own, separate mention. Now, while the nomenclature may be indicative of the masculine, the white knights out there are just as likely to be female as male. These folks can exist on a spectrum of behavior that extends from the supportive to the downright creepy. The defenders of the realm may actually feel strongly about an issue, but what typically happens is that they get a huge boost to their passions about the issue if someone to whom they are attracted expresses their own passionate opinion of same. Sometimes, this can go to the extremes of even flipping the knight’s previous views, but generally, it is more a magnification property than a role reversal. For example, you may have an individual who likes animals well enough. Pets are fine. However, they are not protesting red carpet events about people wearing leather or fur… until… Enter fair damsel in hand-wringing distress. Our maiden in peril is absolutely rabid over the plight of euthanized animals at the animal shelters and the cruelty of carnivorous fare at eating establishments. While our knight has never given much thought to this (and generally enjoys a tasty steak), the charisma of her plea has lit a bonfire within his soul (or her soul… I do not want to be biased). Suddenly, the knight is playing Sarah McLachlan and sharing videos all over the internet of puppies with sad eyes and expounding upon the virtues of tofurkey (“Tastes just like chicken!”), all accompanied by a rousing verbal diatribe upon the special place in hell for unfeeling and complacent people who do not donate to the ASPCA until their wallets scream. That is obviously a little dip in to the hyperbolic on my part, but you get the idea. The knight in question had virtually no opinion or at most a moderate opinion of the issues until expressing otherwise might garner the attention of their lady (or gentleman) fair.


Everyone thinks they know what a troll is. They wait under bridges for unsuspecting billy goats to traipse across, providing dinner for the evening. Well… more or less. They cannot seem to resist poking the hyperbole gorilla with a stick. They frequently attempt to be a check in the system of internet opinion balance. In truth, they probably do not even have that strong an opinion about the issue in question, but they know that the individual proclaiming their passion is overinflated with their social indignation and cannot resist pricking them with the needle of opposing thought. Sadly, trolls often get trapped by their own trollery (yes, I just made that up) and soon find themselves unable to have even their most sincerest sentiments believed in the courts of public opinion. Such is the plight of the terminally cynical and perpetually snide. Even statements of true support become tarnished with the suspicion of sarcasm where none was intentionally placed. Oh well, they chose their path, and truly, they do not seem to mind when people remove them from friends lists. All in all, they are relatively harmless unless the over-inflation in question happens to be in the ego.

So, why do we get sucked into the perpetual drama of the terminal hyperbole? Is it that we haven’t enough real world problems of our own on which to expend our energy? Are we all so overwhelmed by our first world problems that bathing in the iniquity of perceived and manufactured wrongs are our only escape and solace? Has society as a whole been so polarized that no one is allowed to have a moderate opinion? Does it always have to result in “us” vs “them” or “If you are not passionately with me, you are against me and must be destroyed”? I can attest that John Gabriel’s “Internet F#$%wad Theory” (aka Internet Anonymity Theory, 2004) is a reality, and the internet has become a hotbed of mob mentality where people use the shield of anonymity in their mutual hostility about issues that overall… probably don’t matter nearly as much as the relationships that they just torched to prove their points. Unfortunately, we don’t have the face to face opportunity like Scout (To Kill a Mockingbird) to call people out individually and remind them of their humanity to pull them out of the mob and shine the light of respect.

I don’t really expect answers to my rhetorical questions. I’ve pondered this for a good long while now with greater and greater despair, and I expect there is not an answer or solution to this until people can start embracing some moderation in their opinions and have tolerance and understanding that friendship and affection is not necessarily based upon holding the same exact thoughts upon all situations. And no, I will not say “we can agree to disagree” because that is just asinine. I will just say that a little respect for opposing perspectives can go a long way towards peace between friends and less heartburning all around… maybe fewer first world problems.

With great appreciation of Harper Lee for her brilliant understanding of human psyche and the dangers of social pressure.

Gabriel, J. (2004). http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2004/03/19

Landing the Job… It’s Only The Beginning

I’m going to go on a tiny little bit of a rant. It isn’t something I plan to do frequently in this “column,” but it is something that has been on my mind for a while. So, bear with me… I’ll try not to type too loudly.

I have been witnessing a trend for the last decade or so of people who see the acquisition of gainful employment as the finish line of their entry into the rat race. The people desperately putting themselves out there on the job market consider the welcoming job offer as the ultimate goal of their efforts.

This is possibly the most inaccurate attitude prevalent in the workforce of today. Over and over, I have seen people who put on their best face, clothes, and most professional behavior for the interview process, drop it like it’s hot when they are accepted into a position. The job that they worked so very hard to obtain loses the “shiny” once employment is achieved. The job that the employee was so excited to take on becomes unworthy of the effort to retain. Sadly, this attitude seems to mirror the thread of ingratitude prevalent in other parts of society today. The broad sense of entitlement is virulent in the hearts and minds of too many individuals trying to earn a living. People who were so grateful to have a job too soon lose any sense of believing that opportunity could just as easily gone to someone else… and still might.

It is not necessarily a matter of carelessness, incompetence, or even laziness. Most of the time the individuals in question will absolutely put in the amount of effort to do their job… but just that amount. And that is pretty much it. That is the extent of what they are willing to do, the bare minimum of job requirements. “Above and beyond” is not really part of the vocabulary. Again, this isn’t a matter of laziness, but these folks do not have any passion for their job, nor do they have any attachment to the organization for whom they work. As an employer, I see these as gypsy vagabonds… just passing through. They are not getting anything formative from the job, and they probably are not going to provide anything earth-shattering to any program, department, or company. No ill will harbored. This is just the nature of the individual. They are there until they are met with the first obstacle or any other offer comes along that might provide them sufficient reward. Lather, rinse, repeat. They move from gig to gig with no real sense of anything more than “Meh, it’s a job.”

Sadly, there are degrees of this type of worker. At the mildest level, they do no harm, but they do no amazing good either. They are going to put in their 40 per week and are working for the weekends. They are passing through life, and work provides the funds to pursue their other activities and interests. They are not looking for promotion. They aren’t necessarily looking to move on. They are not looking towards the future, and certainly not planning for any sort of retirement. They will likely not stand out in the crowd around the water cooler. They live to make the fewest ripples. They live from paycheck to paycheck. It really doesn’t sound so bad, right?

There are others, however, who seem to be unable to exist without making waves. They fail to grasp the fact that just because you managed to get the position, doesn’t mean that you can stop working to keep the job. These people are your complainers, pot-stirrers, or drama induction specialists. They frequently request (or demand) special treatment, and they generally do not make any effort to get along with their coworkers. Sometimes, they deliberately sew the seeds of discord within the office to divide and provide a hotbed of drama on which they feed (but this usually requires more effort than they are willing to expend). Occasionally, this can go so far as to be reflected in a disrespect for the workplace culture, regulations, and even employers. They are quick to perceive slights. They are doing an extraordinary favor to employers and coworkers by merely showing up. Most of the time, these people are not deliberately malicious, just incapable of seeing past the tight circle of their own perception. It is more a lack of empathy. It is a perceptual myopathy that prevents them from understanding how anyone else might be impacted by their attitude or behavior. They simply cannot see things from outside their own perspective. Every action is formulated on the premise of “What will this get me?”

Sadly, these individuals seem to go through life with the attitude of “I was looking for a job when I found this one.” That isn’t a bad approach to avoid spiraling into a despair if a job ends. However, it also reflects a lack of appreciation for the job at hand. The end result for many individuals with this attitude towards their job is a remarkably checkered job history with a lack of any longevity or stability. While that might not seem so bad so long as there are no particular breaks in the employment history, many employers will see the lack of any duration as a less than stellar recommendation for employment. Most employers are looking for reliable workers who will contribute in a positive way to the work environment. Contrary to some misbelief out there, most employers are actually looking to benefit the company, organization, and the many that are dependent on the success thereof, rather than providing sole benefit and comfort to one individual.

I am the last person to suggest that anyone should put up with mistreatment at work. Bullies in the workplace do exist. Harassment is intolerable. People should never have to work in a toxic environment, but there is a difference between taking productive actions to improve your situation and defuse intolerable work conditions and merely adding to the negativity by complaining and badmouthing to others in the office.

There is an extremely fine line between confidence and arrogance. However, despite the arrogance and entitlement that leads people to believe that obtaining the job was the last challenge they will face in the pursuit of wage, sometimes a little effort put into keeping a job is of greater benefit. Every job has challenges, and everyone (no matter how much they love their job) will have days they just do not want to go to work. It happens. It is normal. Hopefully, it is an exception rather than a constant. Truth is that while there are some very rewarding occupations in the world, every single job has some aspect that may not be fun. In the world of occupation, it is my hope that you all can find something that is rewarding and provide you the opportunity to grow, learn new skills (or at least perfect skills you have), and provide the resources to support your way of life. It isn’t always the case. Sometimes, things are going to be difficult. Sometimes things may be unpleasant. There are tasks and jobs that are not pleasant, but they still have to be done. The job you have may not be the best job in the world or even a job that you are thrilled to hold for extended amounts of time. Coworkers may not be that pleasant, and the boss may be a complete jackass; but, in truth, is a bad attitude or lackadaisical approach to your job duties going to improve relationship with coworkers or employers? Will negative, complaining behavior make the job less tedious or less unpleasant? The point is that our attitudes make up well more than half of our own job satisfaction. Having a positive attitude can actually improve your job experience.

If all jobs were a constant party of social, leisure, and entertainment activity, it would not require payment. It wouldn’t be work. Getting a job is not the end goal. It is just the beginning. Any job accepted is worth some effort to keep. There are other people in the market who may value that job more and could easily fill the position. And who knows? Approaching the job with a positive attitude and good work ethic might make the job itself less of a chore.

Hollywood: I Have A Bone To Pick With You

I am going to rant for a bit. I was on a long hiatus from entertainment, specifically television and movies. I finally broke my movie fast and started on a somewhat extensive list of flicks that I had been recommended over the hiatus by friends and family with varying degrees of vehemence.

I will say that I have now caught up on plethora of various  entertainment offerings of many different television and movie production that have provided me with a good deal of validation for my self-imposed fast from the movie theater based entertainment. Not that everything I watched was bad. There were a good many movies that were actually entertaining and a pleasant way to enjoy an evening in from the cold. However, that being said, I have a bone to pick with the Hollywood soul-eating machine.

1. Why can no one seem to come up with an original concept?

Seriously. I saw several movies that were released within the same season. At least one of every two movies of the same genre had the exact same plot. Only the names were changed (of the actors) and occasionally minute details in the story (frequently fictionally dramatized details), but the gist of the stories and the overall plots were identical. Back in school, we got in trouble for cheating off each other’s tests, people.

2. How many times will Hollywood like to piss on my childhood?

This actually ties in with #1. The new thing in the Hollywood, money-grubbing machine appears to be “take a popular television show, and make it into a full length feature.” While this is not all bad, I have been sorely disappointed by some of the efforts made while completely getting many important details so very, very wrong. Oh, and don’t even get me started on the directors who say “I’ve never actually seen the original. I have my own vision, and I do not want to be influenced…” Um, what?!? That being said, if one approaches some of these with the attitude of seeing the movie as a movie unconnected with anything you formerly loved, you might be ok. Otherwise, it really feels a bit like someone has taken your most beloved security person or item from your childhood and peed all over it. Again, I was actually pleased with some of the efforts. For instance, I actually liked the A-Team movie. I was a huge fan of the original series (at least the first few seasons). While the movie diverted from the original with some of the details, I thought it was great. I loved the casting choices, and I thought that the actors chosen did a magnificent job with the characters. I had great hopes for a second movie (unusual for me, as I typically dread sequels), but apparently my feelings were not echoed by critics or box office returns; although, I did hear that the box office was more impacted by the opening of the moving coinciding with the World Cup.

3. How come an author can write one book (and some people skip past parts in it) but it takes three @#$%ing movies to tell the same story?!?

This is one of my biggest peeves of recent movie production, direction, etc. While, I can appreciate the effort to be true to a story and the accompanying details, and I absolutely appreciate that the days of Gone With The Wind and the mid-movie intermission are over… THREE movies to tell one story?!? That is ridiculous. They are only doing this to get more of those $17 admission fees. Yes, I am a little bitter. Once upon a time, going to a movie was actually something that young people who were not particularly wealthy did on a date. Now, unless it is the dollar theater, I’m not independently wealthy… we’ll be going Dutch or renting from the Redbox! I would actually say that the increasing cost of tickets has as much to do with my avoidance of the theater as any of my time constraints. I don’t know how anyone affords going to the movies these days, unless they go to the dollar theater.

4. What ever happened to traditional animation?

It really isn’t that I do not appreciate CGI. I honestly am amazed and astounded by the new developments that have been brought to the big (and small) screen. I still have a soft spot in my heart for models and stop action animation, but I do appreciate the greater smoothness and realism of the new 3-D animation techniques and motion capture technology. That being said, some of the old school  2-D animation was true artwork that actually made efforts to capture features and characteristics of performers and integrate them with the respective items, animals, and characters for the stories presented. The artistry is somehow missing with the computerized versions. On the other hand, there are still cartoons out there being produced in the 2-D medium. My problem with these more recent offerings is that they still lack the depth and artistry of the old fashioned studio versions. I am just not entertained by the generic anime appearance that seems so prevalent with television and movie versions. Nothing against anime. Many people like it. I’m just not one of them.

5. Why can’t you geniuses make some of the movies I really want to see?

Sticking with the animation and technological advances available in the movie industry these days, I’m going to finally get to what prompted this particular rant. For years (YEARS! I tell you), I have been waiting for someone to make the Dragonriders of Pern into a series of movies. Not only are there multiple novels and side stories that are part of the Pern universe, they provide multiple era/genre interests (space travel, fantasy creatures, feudal society, psychic phenomena, love interests, spy intrigue, time travel). Anne McCaffrey was an author that captured my imagination and my heart. I wanted to ride a dragon! We have waited all these years for the technology to catch up to the imagination. We now have the ability to design and artistically present the dragons in a fluid and realistic (yes, I know they are not real) manner. Rumors abound on the internet that there are talks, screen plays being written, and production to start… two years ago?!? And yet, no movement. It saddens me that while we have this glorious ability to render extraordinarily realistic images through computer generation to the extent of full feature films, this is primarily wasted redoing the stories done before or pulling half-assed plots onto a shaky frame of a first person shooter video game. Really?!? With all the stories and imagination available in the world, the Hollywood machine once again focuses on the almighty dollar and seeks to draw in mouth-breathers to come experience (without interactive ability) the same basic imagery and minimal plot that they have already spent weeks without showering or eating real food to play for hours on end. At least with the gaming, they were actually contributing some movement or brain activity (albeit minimal) to the action on screen. When you take this onto the big screen, all they really have left is to stare and drool. Surely, there is something better to divert production dollars towards? But, wait, this doesn’t have the marketing options for gaming and cosplay and … um, hello, you sure about that? Maybe not first-person shooters, but I could imagine some significant story-based RPG options, and check out one of the Cons (Comic-, Dragon-, Gen-, etc.), the McCaffrey tracks still get an awful lot of interest.

Another series of books that I could see transformed to the big screen would be Robert Lynn Asprin’s Myth Adventures (or even Phule’s Company). In that case, costume and make-up design might play a bigger part than the CGI, but still… It would make a very nice option. There are several books in the series, and that would provide plenty of material for sequels, prequels, and the like without even breaking up each individual book into three parts. In fact, I could see Joss Whedon take on the characters of these series with a great deal of acumen. His style and ability to bring humor, witty dialogue, and dark twists would be brilliant to bring the members of M.Y.T.H. Inc. to life in Technicolor (or whoever we reference these days). So, I realize is an unrealistic dream, but a girl has to have some dreams that don’t have to end with a cold sweat and screaming.

I realize that I’m not really the viewer demographic that the producers and money-makers are trying to target. Middle-aged, professional, workaholic, female doesn’t really seem to be anyone’s desired market share. However, I just think it would be nice to see something previewed or advertised that I might get excited about seeing. Is that too much to ask? Anyhow, that ends my rant for today. My apologies. Verbal, written rants are not really my preferred method of communication, and it is a very different entry for my blog, but I needed to get that out. Very cathartic! Thank you for your patience. Smile