Posts Tagged ‘ just for fun ’

Singles Discrimination

If you’re a long-time single like me, you know what I’m referring to because you’ve experienced it. If you’re not single, you’re probably guilty of doing it.

There’s the way single people are often excluded overtly as well as subtly in social situations… For example, my church offered a “Dinners for Eight” event, until someone pointed out that not all people come in pairs.

Singles get stiffed when making travel arrangements—everything is offered based on “double occupancy”. I’m penalized monetarily if I want to have the same experience on a cruise or tour as a twosome does, because I don’t happen to have anyone I want to share the experience with in close quarters.

Never mind that I don’t have anyone to share it with, why don’t you just rub it in? Or what if I like to travel alone? I still have to pay a “single supplement”.

What am I supplementing? I’m compensating them for the business income they are surely losing without another body on the same cruise/tour, in the same bedroom, and consuming the auxiliary amenities. By an odd twist, I recently got a better room rate at a hotel in Scotland by changing my seven-day stay to eight days. Even though I added a day, the overall charge went down, because to get the extra day, I had to switch from a room with two twin beds to one with only a double bed. Although I had originally booked the two-bed room in hopes that a friend could go with me, I’ll be more comfortable on my own in the double bed. And I save about $200, which I interpret to be the difference between washing only one set of sheets and towels instead of two.

A couple of weeks ago, I attended a free-dinner sales pitch for estate planning. Here as well, they charge a single person the same as a couple for the identical package of estate documents and services, or rather a married couple gets a 50% discount. How is that OK? How does that make sense?

Are we all supposed to die in pairs, too?

My New Roomie

Anyone who knows me really well (which is about one person among my readership—my mother) knows that I am not a “pet person”. I chalk it up to the fact that I had negative pet experiences as a child.

When I was five or six, the first dog we got—a black-and-white mutt—I affectionately dubbed “Pinkie”. Which made perfect five-or-six-year-old-sense, because he had a pink nose. (My much later adult senses see this as portent of my budding nonconformist, creative mind.)

Anyway, though a small dog, Pinkie was larger—in exuberance at least—than my younger sister and me. Pinkie had a way of jumping on us and knocking us to the ground. Thus, Pinkie’s days in our family were short-lived.

The next pet incarnation that I—now as a six- or seven-year old—recall was a kitten tabby, who had a way of launching her claws into my heels from under the bed skirt. What can I say? She drew blood, and I was not OK with that! Worse, her bloodletting eeked the fearful element of surprise.

There were several more pet personas in my childhood. Mine were not the only heels attacked over the years, but apparently no one else minded. These later petsonas, I embraced and accepted into my adolescent experience in ever diminishing degrees…

However, I point to the first two incidents as formative in my adulthood satisfaction with the lack of a pet presence of any kind. I have no need for companionship from an animal that would spend more time disrupting my life than enhancing it. I am quite OK without having to clean up after a pet’s bathroom habits or accommodating their equally smelly dietary requirements.

And yet! I may have found the perfect pet for me. Indeed, the perfect roommate. My new roomie has her dedicated pet bed inside my house and is quite happy to stay there. She is free to roam about the house, but only when I tell her to. She is all about cleanliness and makes up for my deficiencies in that regard in exchange for her room and board.

However, she does have some pet-like quirks. As all pets do, she talks to me. When I let her out to explore on her own, she will sometimes stop and summon me with a charmingly melodic tune accompanied by human-like speech that declares, “Error 1: Move Roomba to new location.” At this point, one wonders who is in charge here. Obviously, I do as she commands to get her out of her present predicament, and she goes on about her business.

After all, she is a mere pup who needs my guidance and training. So after she has had the run of the house for a time, I tell her to go to her bed (aka “Dock”). At that, she obediently heads off in the direction of her bed only to veer at the first obstacle. She darts off in the opposite direction, and I swear I hear squeals of two-year-old glee. I chasten her, “Roomie, what did I tell you? That is the wrong direction and you know it.”

She whirls at my voice and weaves and ricochets her way even wider afield. “But Mom,” she says, “I’m cleaning up before bed just like you taught me to.”

“Roomie, go to bed, now,” I say firmly. “One, two, three …”

And still, Roomie has a mind of her own as she sits there glowing at me. I soften. “Roomie, come here, Roomie. Come to Mama.”

In assumed obedience, she heads toward me. “That’s right, Roomie. Come on now, baby. Let’s get into bed like a good girl.”

Upon which she launches off on yet a new trajectory. This time I know I hear shrieks of devious mirth! She is playing with me, but isn’t that what a pet is for? Or a child for that matter?

As I chortle, I am sure I have found companionship with the perfect pet. A pet who talks to me and with whom I can engage in meaningful conversation. A pet that serves a purpose and also provides entertainment. A pet that needs nothing more than a power supply and a little attention. What else could you possibly want from a robot?

Recycling My Last Post

I’m told that my last post, Time to Recycle the English Language, did not come across at all as I intended. Indeed, the complete lack of response was telling. It was a joke, people! But I guess I did a lousy job of making that obvious, and I’ve been so embarrassed at my failure that I haven’t dared to opine to this tough audience again. Until now.

Because I discovered something that makes me think maybe it wasn’t a joking matter after all. Merriam-Webster has confessed that they do remove words from the dictionary! My idea wasn’t so far-fetched.

If you use m-w.com to look up words, then you’re familiar with the annoying if not informative talking head editors in the video clips called “Ask the Editor.” (You know – the ones that make the page take so long to load…) In each of these spots, one of Merriam-Webster’s editors expounds on some topic related to words, their usage, their history, and all sorts of obscure facts about them.

Recently, I caught Peter Sokolowski, M-W Editor-at-Large, in a piece titled, “Why Words Get Cut from the Dictionary.” What was that? You mean, uh, I was right? He began by saying, “What happened to snollygoster, hodad, frutescent, and more?” and went on to say, “To make room for new words, some obsolete words need to be removed.” (I told you we were running out of space in the English vocabulary!)

He gave the following reasons for “cutting” a word: “the thing a word names has long ceased to be used” (especially in the case of nouns) “or the word itself has become dated.” (Didn’t I tell you that “thrice” was useless?)

He continued, “Most words that are dropped are scientific or technical terms.” (Hm, scientists have been known to make up a new word for the original made-up term.) “Terms made up of two or more words are especially vulnerable.” (keypunch?)

But “thee and thou remain because Shakespeare and the Bible are still a part of our current linguistic culture.” Sigh. I guess that means thrice has also been saved from the editor’s sword. Well, snollygoster!

 

P.S. It appears that M-W has also removed, cut, deleted, archived the video upon which I sought to save face here. I promise, I did not make this up! But now, you probably think this post is the real joke…

Time to Recycle the English Language

According to a May 19, 2014 article in Time magazine, Merriam-Webster “revealed 150 new words that will be added to its collegiate dictionary this year, ranging from ‘hashtag’ and ‘catfish’ to ‘dubstep’ and ‘crowdfunding,’ most of which speak to some intersection of pop culture, technology and the Internet.”

Never mind my personal opinion as to the usefulness of these new words, I wonder, can our collective vocabulary handle any more “new” words? Do we really need more words?! Do we not have enough already with which to express ourselves? Can we not communicate clearly and intelligently with all the words we already have?

I fear that our English language vocabulary is the ultimate representation of text bloat. It conjures up images of “The Blob” that never stops growing and consumes all of us in its insidious infiltration of our culture. We cannot stop it nor run from it.

Yeah, I guess we don’t have any choice about the constant ooze of new words into our language given that “pop culture, technology, and the Internet” will continue to intersect and branch and morph. So what’s to be done? How are we to cope without being overrun by our own verbosity?

I have a solution, radical though it may be. I propose that we declare the ~1.5 million entries now contained in Merriam-Webster Unabridged as critical mass. That should be adequate, don’t you think?

But because the populace—not just the word nerds among us—will not be happy if they are no longer allowed to make up words because they don’t know how to use the ones they already have, my plan is this. For every batch of new words that M-W gives credence to, they must reduce the lexicon by the same number of words.

Think about it. We must contain the blob. But we will use a measured, systematic approach. Just as M-W accepts for consideration submissions of new words from the masses (“user-submitted words”), M-W will also accept nominations for words to be removed from the dictionary. I mean, can’t you think of a number of words that you haven’t thought of in years? When was the last time you used or heard the word “thrice” for example? Indeed it seems pretty useless these days. I’ll go first. I nominate “thrice” for deletion!

But sure as the word disappears silently, someone will go looking for it and raise a stink because they can’t find it. So in my plan, I propose an interim phase before words are collectively forgotten for good. Let’s archive them first. We move the nominated and M-W approved words subject to deletion to an Archive folder for a specified period while we get used to the idea of speaking, writing, and composing poetry without them. In Blob terms, we put them on ice, which proved to be the only way to stop the menace. This also provides saving grace just in case we change our minds about a particular word we just can’t part with. However, everyone knows that once you put something in Archive, you can never find it again anyway.

So as agreed, when the archive period is up, the words will be unceremoniously swept into the Recycle Bin by a process that runs during the night. I’m guessing we won’t miss them at all. We’ll just make up new ones.

Nuts!

Conscientious consumer that I am, after having a surprisingly uncharacteristic experience with a particular product recently, I felt compelled to bring it to the attention of the company. I wrote the following letter in hopes that they would tell me I really wasn’t nuts.

Dear Nut People:

I write to you regarding a recent purchase of your Emerald Sweet & Salty Mixed Nuts (9 oz).

I am sorry to say that I was disappointed in the product, which was not up to your usual standards. Although I really like the taste of um, the product purported to be within the plastic container (aka your nuts), I am not overly fond of the taste nor texture of the plastic container itself.

Enclosed please find the product label as proof of purchase, along with the unexpected sample of the plastic container material, which I am no doubt fortunate to have not ingested! Indeed my delicate palate recognized it immediately as a manufacturing process faux pas. It was totally lacking in flavor and its texture resembled nothing nut-like at all!

Please forgive me if I have gone nuts over this, but I’m thinking the traumatic surprise I endured entitles me at the least to a lifetime supply of Emerald nuts! Despite the trauma and mental anguish this has caused me, I am nonetheless capable of being completely reasonable so as to allow you to determine the type(s) of nuts and the frequency/quantity in which I find myself nuts.

As stated, I included the product label and the actual offending bit of green plastic (same as the container material) as enclosures. Visual and tactile aids never go out of style.

My goal of course was to score some free nuts! and to have some fun in the process.

My efforts were rewarded promptly, if not in the same spirit of fun. Within two person-weeks or something like less than 10 business days, I received the following response by mail:

Thank you for your recent letter concerning Emerald Sweet and Salty Original Blend.

Diamond Foods is proud of its reputation for high-quality food products. Our strict quality-control standards, special processing equipment and continual quality checks help to ensure a product that is free from any undesirable material. Therefore, we are at a loss to explain the foreign matter you found. We have notified both our Quality Control and Production Departments of your experience.

We apologize for the quality problem you encountered and any inconvenience you experienced. We appreciate you bringing this to our attention. Enclosed is a refund. We hope you will replace your product and continue to enjoy our Diamond Foods products.

Encl. Emerald Snack Product Coupon 2

Score! The “Emerald Snack Product Coupon 2” enclosure was actually three coupons – two for free products and a third for $1.00 off.

Sigh… These nut people chose to acknowledge my complaint but not my creativity. I suppose you could say, what do you expect from a company of nuts?

On the other hand, I suspect that they privately enjoyed what they politically correctly ignored. And so my work here is done.

 

 

Pecan Capers (Sequel)

When we last saw our heroine, she was more determined than ever to win the “nut” wars. (Some would say she already has.) Our story resumes on Saturday last* …

I heard the noises again during the night. That blasted squirrel is really asking for it. (What – I don’t know, but I’ll think of something.) First order of business Saturday is to resume harvesting pecans using the ladders to go as high and reach as far as possible. I also intend to start cutting back some of the branches that are touching my roof and that of my neighbors’ house. 

Instead of pruning back the good-size branches all at once (which will involve a saw and two good arms**), I decide that I’ll first just cut off each tendril that has already yielded its fruit. This will systematically expose where the final cuts should be after the harvest is spent (and put off for now the need for tools more dangerous than ladders and loppers).

Work is progressing well. Every time I get about 10 or 12 pecans in the pie pan, I hit the limit of my reach and have to move the ladder. And every time, I move the ladder without first removing the pan from its perch, so I get to “pick” the pecans a second time off the ground. I finally get smart and bring out a brown paper bag to offload pecans from the pie pan (preferably before moving the ladder). Sometimes I remember to.

I’m trying not to share the pecans hanging over my neighbors’ property, but inevitably some of them fall in their yard. Oh well. Hopefully, they will find them before the squirrels do.

Pecans can be sneaky. And they’re in cahoots with the sun. You can be looking straight at them, but you’re blinded by the sun. Hence ensues much ladder-moving forth and back to where I could swear I’d already gotten them all. 

You have to look from all angles to catch them hiding. In their still-green husks, the pecans are nicely camouflaged in the leaves. They’re even a similar shape! But when you find a bunch of pecans with your head, you know the difference. D’oyng.

Once when I go back toward the front yard to take a break, I notice whole pecans on the ground too far away to have bounced from the tree. I’m guessing that the squirrel thinks he’s “hidden” them in the tall grass. Who’s laughing now? Thanks for the freebies!

After a couple of hours of moving the ladders all the way around the tree, as well as against the house, to pluck every possible pecan within reach that looks remotely ready or that yields to my probing fingers, there is only one thing left to do. I climb into the tree itself. Now, now. No gasping in horror! We have already established that I’m crazy many stories ago. This move should not surprise anyone, except me.

Is it possible that this tree I planted myself when it was only a twig and that used to snap under the weight of the neighbors’ cat can now support my pre-WeightWatchers weight? Are there sufficient footholds for me to gain enough height to reach the otherwise unreachable? Am I really going to do this? You guessed it.

Carefully, I hoist a leg into a crook between branches. The next foothold is a foot or so higher. And I’m in the tree, recalling childhood days. But I need to go higher to achieve my real goal. I can see one more possible foothold, but it means sort of balancing there on just the one leg with my butt “anchored” against the limb. I go for it. And I am rewarded. 

I’m able to reach those pecans that previously offered only a dare. Another battle won in the nut wars! But from this vantage point, I am saddened to see the irony that I couldn’t grasp from the ground. One of the tallest branches had folded in two from the weight of the plentiful pecans and no doubt, at the urging of a stiff breeze. I don’t know if the branch can be saved. But as tall as it was, it’s as if the branch knew that I had no chance of reaching its offering unless it bent down to me. (Hm, is there a metaphor there somewhere?) 

I continue to harvest from this new find. The stiff breeze returns and I feel the tree (and my stomach) swaying. 

There are still so many pecans all over the tree that are not ready to be disturbed. It’s tempting to try to beat the squirrels to the bounty by picking the pecans prematurely. But I decide to save the rest for the next episode …

* I wrote this on October 16, 2007. “Saturday last” would have been October 13. With the drought of 2011, this pecan story would be pure fabrication if I wrote it now. Otherwise, it is completely factual. 😉

** My left arm had been seriously injured (four-part fracture) earlier that year in May.

Midnight Marauder

Overnight I was robbed!

I was rudely awakened by a crash that came from my bathroom. Then I hear what sounds like thrashing around or maybe even splashing. (You’ve heard about varmints that swim through sewer lines to surface in people’s toilets?) Or is it rain? Maybe just wind knocking the pecan tree around on my roof? No, it sounds like it’s coming from inside! Sometimes the shower head will decide to start dripping, but that wouldn’t account for the crash, which sounded like something falling on the floor.

My first reaction is fear, then distaste at the thought of what I might find when I investigate (and how am I going to deal with it?), then resignation that I’m going to have to deal with it. But what does one wear to confront a sewer rat? (I sleep in only underwear.) So I get up, put on slippers (because I didn’t know the answer to the last question), and go in the bathroom. I turn on only the heat lamp, which puts out a dim red glow. (Didn’t want to startle the creature into charging me.) But I don’t see anything. Still I hear noises. I get up the nerve to pull back the shower curtain. Nothing there. So much for the surfacing sewer sloth theory (thankfully).  

I’m squinting through the skylight. I see Orion, but I’m pretty sure he’s not the culprit. Some of the leaves on the tree are shaking. But if it was caused by wind, they’d all be shaking. Hm. I begin to realize the noises I’d been hearing sound like gravel pelting the skylight. Not loud enough or hard enough to be falling pecans. To hell with it. I turn on the real bathroom light. It makes no difference. Still can’t see anything, still hear the pelting noises. 

Then it dawns on me. There is at least one flippin’ squirrel somewhere up there chowing down on my pecans! Tap, tap, tap… tap, tap. The sound of bits of shell dropping onto the skylight. Indignation! How dare he, she, they?! And while I slept unaware!

How does one scare away a marauding, thieving squirrel in the middle of the night? I grab my exercise dowel (broom stick) and bang it on the underside of the skylight. I can hear the squirrel laughing with its mouth full.

I know it’s useless, so I go back to bed. It’s still pitch black outside. But there’s no sleeping. Tap, tap… tap, tap! My big, beautiful pecans are being stolen and consumed right under (above?) my nose, and the thief with bad table manners is tossing crumbs at me!

I resolve to get out the ladders at first light of day to try to salvage what I can.  Fortunately, it wasn’t as mid-night as I thought, because when the 6:30 alarm went off, it seemed like I’d only been awake about an hour. I get up for real, but it’s still so dark. I eat breakfast while plotting strategy. 

I get dressed and go into the backyard. Don’t see any squirrels. Don’t see pecans or pieces on the ground. But then, I can’t see much of anything! Haul out the painter’s ladder anyway. Start snatching the clinging pecans out of pods that have opened since the last time I checked. My gosh! There are still so many! Above the skylight, I can see a bunch that I’d not seen before, but I don’t see evidence of the theft or the thief.

I get out the extension ladder. I continue pulling off pecans until I fill a deep-dish pie pan and then decide I need to stop to get ready for work. By now it’s light enough that I can see the off-white flesh of bits of my beautiful pecans on the ground.  Not too much though, for all that racket…

I leave the ladders in the backyard to resume my quest in the evening. I pray that the thief enjoyed his breakfast and has found another place to sleep it off. Perhaps I can afford to share nature’s bounty, for it is nature who has blessed me with big, beautiful pecans!

Note: I wrote this on October 12, 2007. With the drought of 2011, this pecan story would be pure fabrication if I wrote it now. Otherwise, it is completely factual. 😉

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