Monthly Archives: September 2012

Should I Go or Should I Stay

I have a high school reunion coming up. Many, many moons have passed since I’ve seen or spoken to any of my former classmates. I was not popular – more like invisible. Most of them probably didn’t even know who I was. I considered going because I was curious: whatever happened to the people who spent 12 years in Catholic schools with me, being tortured by bizarre rituals like “lent” and daily mass? Were they left scarred and twisted into something unrecognizable?

Then I saw pictures from the last reunion. I didn’t recognize anyone. In a panic, I sent copies to my friends. “Please,” I begged, “please tell me I don’t look like this!”

Being good friends, they did the only thing any good friend could do. They lied.

I decided to go even though I didn’t know anyone in those pictures. I could combine the 800 mile trip with a visit to my brother’s family and then to my daughter who had recently moved to the east coast.

I exchanged emails with the self-declared head of the reunion committee. Who refused to identify any other committee members. Or allow me to communicate with them.

And thus commenced a battle which reinforced two indisputable laws of nature: 1) you can’t go home again; and 2) you can leave the high school, but, for some people, the high school never leaves you.

June 6th The “save the date” announcement:

The cost is going to be between $85-$100 per person … the cost includes:  Hors d’oeuvres, main entrees, cold displays, fruits, veggies and dips, cheese board, deserts, coffee and tea. For those of you who thought the last reunion was too expensive, I am truly sorry. We are trying our best to have a nice event at the best price we can.

Dear Lord, that’s enough food to choke Godzilla! What is she thinking? If people are worried about the cost, why doesn’t she just cut out some of the food and lower the price? Or have a pot-luck?

I try to be diplomatic.

June 8th Me: I wasn’t at the last reunion so don’t what the cost was or why people were upset about it – but the price you listed seems fair if it includes beer/wine. (my SIL had her reunion a few years back – it cost $75 per person and included a buffet dinner, full bar, DJ, Photographer, and organizer costs for the mailings and supplies).

Where will the reunion be held? In looking over the description, the only thing that struck me was that it did seem like an awful lot of food – I wouldn’t mind less food. Most of us are struggling with our weight.

June 10th The QB (as in Queen Bee, not football): The reunion will be at [Fancypants] Manor.  More info to come. Prices have gone up.  Couldn’t find anyplace for $75 this year.

August 8th The QB announcement: We have tried to keep the cost down to the best of our ability, taking into account the direct and indirect costs of putting on a reunion gathering. $95.00 per person. Menu: fried, fried, sauced, and fried with six entrées. Cash Bar. Please respond no later than September 13, 2012.

Seriously??? That’s keeping the cost down? $95? For an array of food in a quantity and assortment that causes a coronary just looking at it? Six entrées? Who needs six entrées? Plus hotel for anyone who can still afford the bar and has to get a room???

Is she insane? People just won’t come!

I still try to be diplomatic.

August 10th Me: I’m writing to ask you to reconsider the menu and price for the big event … you said that people thought [the last reunion] was too expensive and that keeping the price down was important. So I was surprised to open my email and find the price would be $95 plus a cash bar. That seems a little pricey. I’m asking you to consider changing the menu to reduce the price and make it more appealing (and affordable) to a wider number of people. I think more people will be willing/able to attend.

August 13th QB: We try to take in everyone’s concerns into consideration for the next time around, if there are voiced concerns. In regard to the menu, we picked the best options. We did try to keep the price down the best we could. The last reunion was $80 per person, and an increase of $15 over 5 years is really not too bad.

Whoa! That’s almost a 20% increase! What planet is she from where “that’s not too bad”???

I sense diplomacy is about to go out the window.

August 14th Me: With just a few simple changes the event will be more accessible to more people. Which means the turn out would go up. Isn’t that the real goal? An event that many people can attend and enjoy? I doubt most people will say anything on the subject … I fear many will simply choose not to attend.

August 14th QB: I am truly sorry you are not happy with the choices. We will be keeping your ideas that you presented for the next reunion in 5 years.

Ha! Like I’m ever coming back to one of these things! I try anyway.

August 14th Me: I’m willing to not eat and instead pay my share of the non-food expenses you listed (set up, renting the place for the night, taxes, maitre d’) and the indirect costs (phone calls, form printing, postage, paper for the printing of the class directory and updates, ink for the printing, name tags, and table decorations) which, added to the food, brought the total to $95 per person. I’m assuming since you were able to calculate the final price you must already have an itemized list of those expenses. Can you tell me what that would be? How many people do you think will come?

August 14th QB: Actually we have a lot of people that have said they were coming.  We have also not had anyone else voice concerns about the menu.

In summary:

– Your recommendations will be taken into great consideration for the next  reunion
– I am sorry you are unhappy with the choices of food.
– We cannot change the menu at this time.
– We cannot decrease the price of the event for you

The decision is now yours as to whether you want to attend or not.

Double ha! She won’t tell me how many – I bet it’s what I said in the first place: people aren’t coming! I wait.

September 11th QB: (two days before the due date) To all alumni … For those that have not responded, please do so as soon as possible.

I find out the numbers from a different source. Number attending (including spouses): 30. Guaranteed minimum: 75. Graduating class size? 200+

September 21st QB: Alumni reminder … There are many people who mentioned that they were attending, but I still have not received anything. [Surprise, surprise.] Please respond ASAP.  If you are attending, please send your check to me no later than September 28th.

****

So the question remains: do I want to buy a meal I can’t eat in a room full of people who don’t know who I am?

It would be just like high school!

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World’s Scariest Headline

(If you eat pork): “Global Bacon Shortage.”

Ethical Dilemmas

You’re driving along and notice an empty car off the road. The engine is running. The windshield wipers are on. It’s 4 a.m.. No one is around.

Naturally you think, “Hmmm. How strange. And suspicious. I should call the cops and report this.”

You clearly lack the correct criminal attitude. What you should do is take the keys out of the ignition, open the trunk, and try to steal the car’s speakers. That way you’ll find the dead body hidden there.

Now comes the dilemma. Do you:

a. take the speakers, wipe your prints, and continue on your way;

b. take the speakers, wipe your prints, and then call the cops as a concerned citizen to report the car knowing (after watching C.S.I) that they’ll find your DNA, but you don’t know nothing about no speakers;

c. not take the speakers and then call the cops as a concerned citizen to report the car knowing (after watching C.S.I) that they’ll find your DNA;

d. call the cops and tell them you found a body while trying to steal some car speakers.

Stupid criminal response: a, b, or c.

Really stupid criminal response: d. Seriously: Looking for something to steal, man finds body in trunk.

Don’t go in the water. Or on the land.

When I think of vacation destinations, the state of Arkansas is not the first thing that comes to mind. Or the second. Or the third. Because honestly, it actually never does. Instead, I think of places with sandy beaches and ocean views – places like Florida.

I mean seriously – who wants to go to a place located somewhere down there (no one is really sure where other than it’s nowhere near Florida), full of people with names like Bubba and Billy Bob, none of whom graduated from high school but all of whom talk funny and live in a single wide with a busted washer and a couple of rusting cars on blocks as lawn ornaments with a pick up truck on steroids parked out front.

This is the place famous because Bill Clinton lived there until Walmart bought it and turned the Mitt Romney supporting Walton family into gazillionaires by  paying wages  that place employees with families below the poverty line where Mitt Romney doesn’t have to worry about them.

If that wasn’t enough to keep it on the list of Top Ten Places Never to Visit (after Libya and before Somalia ), it also spawned Mike Huckabee, a former governor who is now, not surprisingly, a Fox News host who supports both Todd “Legitimate Rape” Akin  and Chick-fil-A “Lets-hate-gays” restaurants, because nothing says “family values” like sexual assaults, forced childbearing, and intolerance.

This is the same guy who is saturating the home-schooling market with a “Learn Our History” video series offering a revisionist version of history designed to teach children that America is really a white, Christian nation where Reagan was just part of God’s plan (“celebrate faith, religion and the role of God in America’s founding“).

But that’s not all that “The Natural State” has to offer. (Yes, that’s the motto, but only because all the good state nicknames, like “Beaver” and “Yellowhammer” were already taken.) This state also has numerous other reasons never to go there. Such as the eight foot long, 800 pound Hogzilla, the monster wild hog which may or may not exist and which may or may not have been shot in Arkansas if not Georgia or some other place down there but nowhere near Florida.

Even if it wasn’t, the wild hog population has gotten so bad that state officials are begging citizens to get out there and kill them because they are going, well, hog wild, a problem that has launched a thousand videos and a private company with the name (this is no lie) The Hawg Stopper, which (of course) is located down there. (Seriously – what other state would think up something like that?)

But that’s not the worst of it. Nope – it turns out that Arkansas has an even bigger problem: gators. Like the 1,380 pounder that one man caught last week in southwest Arkansas.

And it’s not just one: they are distributed over most of the state.

Which is not a good sign, because only two years ago, the state record was just 680 pounds.

Which means, as was recently revealed by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission in a secret video, that the gators have more than doubled in size as their population exploded.

Giant Gator reports are flooding in – even though this isn’t anywhere near Florida where gators are supposed to live, thriving on an abundant food supply of aging golfers.

And yet the state tourism website says nothing. Not: “Watch out for Giant Gators!” Not: “Warning! Giant Gators might eat you!” Not: “We’re begging the gators to eat the wild hogs!” Nada. Zip.

You’d think that a topic like gator infestations would come up in casual questioning, like on the “Ask the State Park Guy” page. I mean we’re not talking bed bugs here. But once again – nothing.

Because if I want gators, I’ll go to Florida – where, as I’m trying to not be eaten, I can at least enjoy sandy beaches and ocean views.

Thought for the Day

If you’re going to go off the beaten path, you better know what Poison Ivy looks like.

Kafka Was Here

I went to visit an elderly relative in an assisted living facility. Everyone who lives there is an elderly person with varying degrees of hearing, visual, physical and/or cognitive impairments. In other words, they generally are not safe to be on their own. Which is why they live in an assisted living facility.

Today was flu shot day. The residents were urgently rounded up at 12:45 p.m. and herded to the common dining room because “the people” (no – I never learned who they are) were there to give them their shots. The shots that had been scheduled to begin at 1 p.m.

Keep in mind that these are elderly, infirm people who don’t have time to waste (they don’t have much left) and should never be asked to urgently do anything.

I went with my relative and sat waiting with the group. The shot people didn’t come. At 1:05 I went searching for them.

I asked a staff member where they were. She told me they’d already finished.

I explained no, they hadn’t even started.

Then she told me they were on their way.

I returned to the dining room. They hadn’t arrived.

At 1:15, I heard the squeaky wheels of their cart rolling down the hall.

They began to process the residents.

Processing involved asking questions:

1. Have you ever had an anaphylactic reaction to latex?
2. Have you ever had an anaphylactic reaction to eggs and/or egg products?
3. Are you allergic to Thimerosal?
4. Are you exhibiting symptoms other than mild coughing, runny nose and/or diarrhea?
5. Do you have a history of Guillain-Barré Syndrome?
6. Have you ever had a serious reaction after receiving the influenza and/or pneumonia vaccine?
(for women) 7. Are you pregnant?

The shot people asked the questions with a straight face.

Did I mention that most of the residents can’t see, hear or remember a damn thing?

Answers: What? Huh? What’s that? What? What’s that? Huh? (pondering) I don’t think so.

Then came time to sign the consent form.

You need to sign here.
Where?
Here.
Where?
See that line?
No.
The line right here where my finger is pointing.
No, I can’t see it.
Can you put your initials here?
Where?
You really can’t see that?

Did I mention some of them are legally blind?

Immediately after receiving a shot, each resident left the area.

The shot people watched them go.

In fine print at the bottom of the form which none of the residents could read: “I agree to remain in the general area for at least 15 minutes after receiving the vaccine.”

One of the Great Mysteries

We can put a man on the moon and a Lego Rover on Mars, but when it comes to underwear, women can get either wedgie free OR no panty lines.

But we can’t get both.

You want the truth?

Once upon a time long, long ago, most people told the truth most of the time.

Even politicians.

Lying was considered a bad thing. Reporters were called “journalists” whose purpose was to search for and report the facts in an unbiased, fair and impartial way. Edward R. Murrow persevered in the search for truth, even exposing Joe McCarthy’s fanatical fear-mongering. Walter Cronkite was the man America trusted.

People learned critical thinking skills which they used to process incoming communications, winnowing and sifting, questioning with a healthy dose of skepticism what they saw and heard. “I wasn’t born yesterday,” and “You can’t fool all of the people all of the time” were heard throughout the land.

Thankfully that’s all over with. Karl Rove was born, Rupert Murdoch transformed the Fox Network into a “We just make stuff up because we can if we’re in the U.S., even if that kept us out of Canada because (unlike the U.S.) it has a sensible law which forbids lying on broadcast news,” and the Supreme’s hit single “Citizens United” topped the charts.

Now anybody with money can say anything and the vast majority of people will not only accept it as true, but endlessly repeat it to others via any and all possible methods of communication.

Meanwhile, anonymous “non-partisan” entities with no identifying information (no location, no phone number, no names of any human beings who could possibly be connected with it or funding it) proliferate more quickly than cockroaches in the dark, spreading disinformation.

I know what you’re thinking – you’re thinking, “completely anonymous people or entities with a name like ‘Words Matter 2012’? Nobody would pay attention to them! I mean, why should they? For all we know the person behind it could be an escapee from an asylum with his head wrapped in aluminum foil who believes his instructions come from Planet Zyborg!”

You are right. And very, very wrong. Because the masses did not question the anonymity. They did not say, “for all we know this could be an escapee from an asylum with his head wrapped in aluminum foil who believes his instructions come from Planet Zyborg!”

No – they all nodded their heads in compete agreement and hit “forward” then immediately shared and reposted it a gazillion times on facebook, twitter, and youtube.

Including people like:

crazyup inhurr ‏@Crazyupinhurr Shut your mouth, Hippie. Political Correctness and Liberals are the Herpes on the crotch of this great Country.

Patty Foster ‏@PATTYFOSTER53 53 yr old grandma…Independent, Conservative, God fearing woman..who loves her family..and i Love my Country the greatest in the world…I LOVE FOX NEWS…

Linda Hobart ‏@Ga5mom Mom,wife, grammy,Texas transplant, Constitutional Conservative, IT networker, TEA Party member

Ms.Jeffry Douglas ‏@MsJeffDesigns Republican,Conservative.Pledge of allegiance,in God we trust.Tired of PC. Love family,love my children.

linda e ‏@MRSEMOND Pissed Off American, Proud Responsible Conservative, God Fearing, Gun loving Married Mother of two from Southern California.

Judson Phillips ‏@teapartynation Tea Party Nation – A Home for Conservatives

TEAMPACUSA ‏ @TEAMPACUSA TEAM PAC USA is dedicated to Obama’s defeat  Watch our Documentary detailing Obama’s Deception and Failure on Youtube

Hmmm … do we sense a theme here?

We start with “Words Matter 2012.” An anonymous something (no one knows if it’s animal, vegetable, mineral, or none of the above) which claims to be a “non-partisan” 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation, yet is exclusively dedicated to bashing President Obama 24/7/365 on:

its website  (registered anonymously);

facebook (no identifying info);

twitter (no identifying info);

and its own youtube channel (where, as of September 14, 2012, twenty-nine expensive, well-edited, professionally produced attack videos were being endlessly watched by thousands of Andrew Glenn Breitbart Beck wannabees who then re-posted them on internet websites across the galaxy faster than you could wrap your head in foil.

So an anonymous something located who knows where run and financed by who knows who can take your tax-deductible donation and spend it trying to defeat a candidate by making lots of stuff up in a frenzy of fanatical fear-mongering and claim it’s non-partisan.

Edward R. Murrow, where are you?

Karma

Rapper tweets before dying in car accident.

And now, it’s time for another installment of “Miss Manners”

DEAR MISS MANNERS: You are a shining beacon of hope in dark times where courtesy and consideration are in short supply. Take last week. There I was, minding my own business, just trying to run a country, when suddenly I’m being verbally abused and berated for things I never said or did. What’s a guy to do when rich people, stupid people, and Fox News spend all their time just making stuff up?

GENTLE READER: Miss Manners agrees with you that these are dark times indeed, but even so would hesitate to describe others as stupid, even when they are ignorant, misogynistic, pebble-brained, Ayn Rand loving morons perhaps lucky enough to be born the son of a governor. Such talk abandons manners in favor of flagrant self indulgence. She does, however, wonder what would happen if their campaign plane was “accidentally” re-routed to Somalia.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I don’t understand it. I’m a regular guy. Everyone on my staff tells me so. But for some reason people just can’t take a joke. Dogs on cars? That’s funny. Pretending to be a cop? Hilarious. Bullying a classmate? Hysterical.

I say things and people take them all wrong. I mean, who doesn’t like being able to fire people? But I say it and get painted as someone who sends jobs to China!  It’s not fair. How can I get these people to stop misunderstanding me?

GENTLE READER: I sympathize. Nothing is worse than people with no sense of humor. The best way to be rude and completely self-absorbed without being criticized for it is to claim “I was just joking” thereby making the other person look bad for being so uptight and overly sensitive that they don’t get that you were just being funny. Try saying it after “I’m not familiar precisely with what I said, but I’ll stand by what I said, whatever it was” or “I’m not concerned about the very poor.”

Whenever anyone accuses you of being insensitive the only necessary response is to ask “What’s the matter, don’t you have a sense of humor?” You should also consider improving your image through travel, perhaps to someplace like Somalia.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I donate millions to worthy causes but people still think I’m a selfish, greedy bastard out to control the universe. They’re right, of course, but achieving my goals means I have to eat dinner with morons like Ron Johnson. Why don’t these oblivious peons understand the price I have to pay?

GENTLE READER: World domination sometimes requires no small sacrifice. Such a plan relies on manipulating the ignorant and uninformed. Those who are neither might object but ultimately you have the upper hand and when you prevail  will be able to destroy them, a process which should be handled with the discretion and dignity appropriate to your status. You also might consider relocating to a place with more like-minded persons. A place with no government, no taxes, and no regulations. A place like Somalia.