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Category Archives: rant

This, Too, Shall Pass

I would like to just say a word about passwords. Only I don’t like to use those words in my blog.

You need passwords everywhere these days, at work, at home, on your computer, on your cell phone. There’s the PIN for your bank card, and if you only have one of those, congratulations. I HATE PASSWORDS!

You must not use the same password for different places. You must not use the same password you had used before. You must have a secure password: caps and not, numbers and symbols. Don’t use your pet’s name or your spouse’s name or your anniversary date or your birthday. How can I remember all these “strong” passwords at all, let along remembering which password goes to which place?

The answer, and this is what makes it a Monday Middle-aged Musing, is: I CAN’T! My middle-aged brain is not that supple. So I make up these super strong, secure passwords, and write them down on a piece of paper next to my computer, in a most unsecure fashion (the computer is underlining “unsecure.” I KNOW the word is “insecure,” but my insecurities could fill a whole other blog post).

I know, somebody else would do something clever like write down the password but leave off one letter. Or mix up where the capital letters go. Or maybe even write it in Arabic (I know the Arabic alphabet, but that, again, is a whole other blog post).

I offer this rant as my Monday post, because, as you may have guessed, I did not write a post while at work today. I trusted to my brain (why in the world I even thought I still had one remains a mystery) to come up with something. First I checked my email. I currently have two emails, since I am in the process of switching from Hotmail to gmail (I could give you a whole other rant about Outlook, but I don’t really want to get the computer honchos mad at me). I just barely remembered the respective passwords and in doing so realized I did NOT remember my WordPress password. I’ll tell you what: I was not in too bad a mood to start with but it just about became Wrist to Forehead Monday!

Be all that as it may, I see that my word count is over 300. Quite enough from someone who is only here to kvetch (then again, I always say, go with your strengths). I must go now to seek out a Mohawk Valley adventure to write about tomorrow.

Pedestrian Rant

This has been bothering me for a long time, and I thought I would write about it before it segued from rant to tirade to incoherent noises of frustration (think of that noise Cary Grant used to make).

LEFT SIDE FACING TRAFFIC. Don’t they teach that in elementary schools these days? And for heavens’ sake, when there’s a sidewalk, use it!

I know runners make the argument that the road is smoother, and in some cases I suppose it is. However, the smoothest road in the world still has sewer grates and manhole covers. You always have to watch where you’re going. If a smooth, regular surface is so important to you, I suggest you run around the track at an area high school or college. I believe there are several readily available.

At least if you must run in the road (and I know some of you feel you must), left side facing traffic. For one thing, most runners I see these days run with headphones. If you can’t hear oncoming traffic, it is a good idea to at least be able to see it.

But leaving runners aside for a moment, let’s talk about pedestrians, who have no excuse. Some of them are IDIOTS! This morning I saw a young lady scorning a perfectly smooth sidewalk to walk on the right side with traffic with her head studiously bent over a device she was texting on. At 4:30 in the morning! For those of you still sensibly in bed at that hour, I’ll tell you if you don’t already know: it’s still dark out. In fact, by some standards, 4:30 a.m. is still the middle of the night. What the hell are you doing walking in the middle of the road in the middle of the night? (said in a loud, frustrated voice, not really expecting an answer)

OK, this girl was not exactly in the middle of the road. My point remains: get on the sidewalk if there is one. Left side facing traffic when there’s not. As they say, it ain’t rocket science. If you don’t reliably know your left from your right (I don’t), just make the L with the thumb and forefinger of your left hand.

I suppose I should be happy people are out walking for health and/or transportation and not sitting home demanding the universe provide them with a car or gym membership. I ought, perhaps, to be impressed that people are out running in the world instead of on a treadmill while they watch DVDs of rolling hills. Well, for starters, regular readers know that I think “should” and “ought” are dirty words (and if that’s not widely know, perhaps it’s material for another post).

And speaking of material for other posts, I’ll get to headphones and electronic devices another time. Stay tuned.

Lame Rant

Well, here it is Lame Post Friday, my day when I take it easy by blogging about random observations and half-baked philosophy. And let me tell you, today I am feeling pretty damn lame.

A voice in my head says, “WHAT do you people WANT of me?” With a wrist to the forehead, of course. Every day I make a post. Every day I try to think of something to entertain or inform. I CAN’T TAKE THE PRESSURE!!!

OK, take the wrist off the forehead and stop being so self-dramatizing. This blog posts every day because I challenged myself to post every day for one year. Nobody is holding a gun to my head. The worst thing that will happen if I fail my challenge is that some of you will point and laugh (you know who you are). I must remind myself, it is my own damn fault if I am stressed over the daily postings so I need not complain to you, dear reader(s).

Then again, I always say, go with your strengths (half-baked philosophy?). One of my strengths, apparently, is being self-dramatizing (random observation?). And can’t drama be entertaining? How about that wrist to the forehead? Isn’t that Academy Award caliber acting? No? OK, I’m back to what do you people want of me.

The fact is, I’ve had a tremendously horrible day and I’m feeling quite limp and useless. Tomorrow I plan a whole blog post detailing my travails (I will say: also self-inflicted, but what are you going to do?). I’m not up to it today.

For today, you get a singularly lame post. Live with it, as I must. Happy Friday.

Lame Grammar

This morning a guy reporting on sports said a team “could not rest on their previous laurels.” The expression is “rest on one’s laurels” and does not include the word “previous.” A laurel in this context is something you did well and were lauded for. All laurels, therefore, are previous. It is redundant to say so.

Welcome to Lame Post Friday. The only thing I can come up with today is certain things people say that bother me. I thought it might make a fun read, and it will certainly do me good to get some things off my chest.

One of my biggest peeves: Very unique. Nothing is very unique. It is unique or it is not unique. Unique does not mean the same thing as unusual. Something can be very unusual or even the most unusual. Unique means there is one. You can’t be the very only one. I know some people use the word “onliest,” but it is not really a word.

Unique even sounds better without the very. There is an ad for the Bank of Utica on television in which a man asserts, “Utica is unique.” I believe him. Actually, now that I think of it, the word “very” does not help in a lot of circumstances. Just find a better adjective.

Here’s another peeve: “different than.” The correct usage is “different from.” “Than” is for quantifiable comparisons: A is bigger than B. You can measure it. Different is qualitative, which is different from quantitative (see what I did just then?).

How about using “myself” when you mean “me.” “The committee consists of Harold, Caroline and myself.” People seem to think it sounds more formal, but it’s wrong.

I could go on to talk about there, their and they’re, or it’s vs its. However, those are only a problem in the written word. Today I’m being bothered by the spoken word. Perhaps on a future Lame Post Friday I shall tackle the written word. Actually, these days it’s usually typed, and that opens up a vista of initials, abbreviations etc. that make my head ACHE. Ah, something to look forward to. Happy Friday, everybody.

Christmas Carol Rant

I’ve actually ranted this rant a number of times. Most recently I went off on this stuff Christmas Eve, then said to my nieces they didn’t need to read my next blog post; they’d just heard it. The next day one niece asked if I had indeed blogged about it. I had not. So here it is.

I love Christmas music. I think it is one of the best things about the best time of year. I love Christmas music so much, sometimes it makes me cry. That said, I really REALLY HATE what some singers do to Christmas songs.

I like peppy, happy Christmas songs. I can be-bop to Brenda Lee’s “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” all day long. I don’t like ballads in the best of times. And what I really can’t stand is a drawn out, slowed down ballad that you have no idea when it is ever going to end.

Singers, like all of us, can be self indulgent. Sometimes they indulge themselves with long, drawn out notes in ballady, emotional songs (my computer is telling be ballady is not a word, but I think it is descriptive). Sometimes they sing as if they are being paid by the hour, adding syllables where none existed or making the syllables that are there last way beyond their natural life.

I studied music in high school. I know that the different shaped notes mean you hold them for specific lengths of time: this note lasts a quarter beat, that note lasts two beats. How long a beat is may vary, but within those confines we have a specific rhythm which the songwriter intended. This is comforting to me. It means that a song, however many verses it may have, will eventually end. There is one — only one that I know of — symbol which placed over a note means you can hold it a little longer. This symbol usually is placed on one only one note in a song, often the last note. Many singers behave as if this symbol is over every damn note in the song.

I hate it! You never know when the song is going to end — you never even know when you are going to get to the next line! I listen to the song saying, “Get on with it! Go to the next note already!” I imagine there are songwriters turning over in their graves, or at least cringing as they cash their royalty checks.

This happens in music all the time, but I tend to notice it most often at Christmas. I believe it springs from a number of factors: I listen to music more at Christmas, and many Christmas songs tend to lend themselves to this sort of emotional self-indulgence. Christmas is an emotional time (hence my crying over Christmas songs).

One may ask, why am I being such a Scrooge or Grinch about this (choose your favorite fictional reference)? This person would say to me, “Let the singers sing how they want to sing! Some of us like to hear it that way!” Oh well, to each his own as the old lady said when she kissed the cow. If you like that sort of thing, listen away. You have plenty of opportunity. For myself, I will make some more mix tapes of my favorite peppy, happy tunes and dance and sing the rest of this Christmas time away. Happy days, all!

Another Christmas Rant

I get a little stressed at Christmas time. There, I’ve said it.

I don’t like to admit it. I love Christmas, and I get a little impatient of the bah humbuggers. Of course, people have a right to like or dislike what they want. But that’s my point. If you don’t like Christmas, don’t celebrate it! I’m talking about all the nasty people crowding the stores. They have made themselves quite miserable and all to no purpose. I say enjoy Christmas! So I feel just a little hypocritical when I start to feel the pain myself.

My problem may be that I take things to an unhealthy extreme. I love Christmas so much, I feel I should be blissfully happy at all times from Thanksgiving through the Epiphany. This is not realistic. Sometimes I worry that I can’t be truly happy when it’s not Christmas. I know in my heart that’s not true, and I do realize it’s a little neurotic.

I feel stressed first because I usually plan my season with an overly optimistic estimation of my talents and capacities. I’ll make this present and this present. I’ll decorate this and attend these events and watch all my Christmas movies and listen to all my Christmas CDs (the last of which I have never done in one season; we have a lot of Christmas music). Then I start to feel down and I feel stressed because I’m not happy.

“Where’s your Christmas spirit?” that voice in my head yells. “This season only lasts a short time and you’ve got to enjoy ALL of it! Get happy NOW!”

Have you ever tried to order yourself to get happy? I can never make it work. Finally, a little common sense kicks in. I tell myself to just relax, feel what I feel and drive on. I look at my list of things to do and decide what I can realistically handle. Actually, sometimes I have to first make an actual list, which is a lot less intimidating than the never ending scroll that runs through my head. And I sing a Christmas carol for good measure.

So today I’m waiting for that common sense to kick in. I sang a few Christmas carols at work, and I may start writing that actual list. First on the list will be Write Wednesday’s Blog Post. Then I can get the ineffable satisfaction of crossing it off. Hope you’re enjoying your December.

Snowman Rant

I suppose one could find a metaphor for life in my problem. One could say, with a philosophical shrug, you snooze, you lose. One could say sententiously that you have to take advantage of the good things in life when they are available, because you never know when they will be taken away from you.

Frankly, I think the last mentioned person is overstating the case, and is a trifle obnoxious to boot. We’re not talking about spending time with my parents or taking my dog for a walk (both of which I ought to do more often, but that’s another rant). It’s just… we want one of those plastic light up snowmen for the front of our house.

These plastic light up decorations have been around for as long as I can remember, which is pretty far back, because I have not lost my entire mind yet. My family never had one when I was growing up. For one thing, the guy that plowed our driveway used to pile all kinds of snow in our front yard. Great for minor sledding, King of the Hill and other fun in the snow. For decorating the front lawn, not so much. And we almost never used our front door, so there was no compelling reason to shovel the front porch and decorate that.

When Steven and I bought our house, we hung lights on the front porch for the holidays almost as a matter of course. I’m pretty sure we didn’t discuss “should we?” Actually, when it comes to Christmas the word “should” rarely arises, unless it’s a the sentence such as, “Of course we should; it’s Christmas!”

We got a plastic lighted Santa when I saw some that looked old fashioned. The one I picked looks similar to a Santa candle my Mom has had as long as I can remember (as I said: a long time). I surprised Steven with it one day when he was at work and I was off. I walked to the store and walked home with Santa under my arm and felt pretty cool doing it. We were content with our Santa for a number of years (probably five; who counts these things?), but this year, Steven suddenly conceived the desire for a snowman to keep Santa company. I liked the idea.

Do you think we can find a plastic light up snowman anywhere? Nobody has them! We’ve checked department stores, hardware stores, consignment stores, thrift stores, every place I could think of. It’s all huge blow up things or wire with little bulbs. Both very nice in their own way, I suppose, but Not What I Want. One place had two plastic light up decorations: Snoopy and a penguin. Neither is right as a companion for our Santa.

As to why we did not buy a snowman when they were readily available, I have no reason. It never occurred to me to want one till Steven suggested it this year. And now I WANT one!!! And it’s not like I want one only because we can’t find one: we got the idea before we started looking.

A voice in my head says, “It’s no fair!” A singularly useless observation. We all know that Christmas is not fair. Look at all the rotten brats that get lots of great presents. And some well behaved angels get crap. OK, I don’t personally know any well behaved angels (I’m certainly not one), but I’ve heard.

I can’t even make a real snowman, because there isn’t any snow. I’ve only made about three snowmen in my life. The most memorable was when I was a little girl. I needed my Mom’s help, because I rolled the snowballs too big. I named him, with no sense of irony, Mr. Snowman. He lasted a long time, especially since my little brother (no angel himself) did not knock him down.

We will not have a completely snowman-less Christmas. We have, in fact, a rather extensive collection of indoor snowmen. And it may snow so I can try my hand again. But for the rest of my life, I’m afraid I will recall 2011 as The Year We Couldn’t Find a Plastic Light Up Snowman.

Just Be Nice

I try to keep this blog positive. It’s not that I have a problem with negative. In fact, sometimes when I read the reviews in Entertainment Weekly, I skip anything higher than a C+ (sometimes I don’t read any; when did movie reviewers get so easy to please?). But my purpose here is to be a booster for the area. I want to highlight something my readers might like, not warn them away from things they might not.

That makes it difficult when I go to a local business and do not have a good experience. I’m not going to warn anybody against any places where very possibly the staff was merely having a bad day. But I am also not going to give a positive review where one is not deserved.

Under these circumstances and given some recent experiences, I can only offer, without naming names or using identifying characteristics, is a rant about Dealing with the Public. I will preface this by saying I’ve been there! I know. In fact, I could do another whole blog post on what stinkers customers can be and you should be nice to service personnel (ooh, that can be my topic for tomorrow).

The first thing I have to observe is that it is not too hard to smile. You don’t have to gush, give compliments, chat me up, etc. You don’t even need to make recommendations or give positive feedback on my selections. But maintain a pleasant demeanor. Maybe you hate your job. Maybe you just helped the absolute worst customer in the world. Or your boss yelled at you for something that was not your fault. Or you just got horrendous personal news. Or you have a raging sinus headache or other physical pain. We’ve all been there (and if you haven’t been there, please go away; you have led too charmed a life to consort with us mere mortals). But here’s what I found: if I somehow, some way managed to be nice to the next customer, very often that customer would be nice back to me. And that would make me feel better.

To all retail and restaurant people out there who are doing your job to the best of your abilities and striving to stay pleasant: THANK YOU! To those of you who are being unpleasant, or neglecting to ask my husband does he want more coffee (he almost always does) (too specific?), or committing other infractions against good customer service, I doubt you know who you are. But I hope you start having better days soon. Then maybe I can give you and your employers a positive blog post.