A Peaceful, Easy Birthday Everyone Forgot, and I Like It That Way

At my age it is a lovely thing when everyone forgets your birthday.  Jerry can’t remember his own birthday without either straining to read the fine print on his driver’s license, or by checking with the BMV, so I forgive him for that.  His family doesn’t bother to recognize birthdays, likely for two good reasons.  His Dad and his Dad’s fourteen other siblings were born at home, deep in the hollers of rural WV, and none of them have birth certificates.  The date- and year- listed as his Dad’s birthday on his Dad’s driver’s license is likely not his Dad’s actual birthday, but someone’s best guess.  Since his Dad got a social security card and driver’s license long before you had to have a birth certificate to acquire either, his Dad is grandfathered in.

I wonder if he would be able to get a passport?  If he were really pressed could he prove he is an American citizen?  Our friend Bob is an American citizen but he was born in London (his Dad was American but his Mom is English) and his birth certificate is in London.   Bob can’t get a copy of his birth certificate unless he goes to London to get it, but you can’t go to the UK without a passport.  Thankfully the Social Security people recognized his honorable discharge from the Marines as proof of citizenship.  Bob still can’t get a passport though, because when he tried he was told that one has to have a certified copy of one’s birth certificate.  Then again, I highly doubt that Jerry’s Dad would really need a passport for anything, unless they make it mandatory to have a passport to cross the border from WV back to Ohio.  The birth certificate requirement to acquire a passport is probably a blessing in disguise to keep old rednecks from traveling abroad and perpetuating the “Ugly American” stereotype.  Then again, maybe our foreign friends have never tried getting rid of hemorrhoids by soaking them in kerosene.

When you have so many family members that every day is someone’s birthday or so it seems, it’s a lot harder to remember every one and a lot harder to afford to buy gifts for every one.  So, I can see where Jerry gets the idea to  simplify his life and just celebrate all his family’s birthdays every day with a 12 pack of Natties and a couple of packs of smokes.

I do find it entertaining how some people remember my birthday sometime in the middle of March and then send sheepy, belated wishes.  It’s OK to forget.  I don’t really want to be reminded that I’m one day closer to death anyway.

Over time one gets a new appreciation for bodily functions functioning as they should.

Admittedly not everyone forgot my birthday. The BMV doesn’t forget.  I renewed my vehicle registration last week.  No way do I want to drive around in the Central Ohio suburb with the largest number of cops per capita with an expired tag.  I don’t even remotely want to give law enforcement any reason to approach me for anything.  Cops make me nervous.  My Facebook friends remembered, because your friends get reminders automatically.  I appreciate everyone who wrote on my wall today.  My friends from my church group remembered for the same reason- all of our birthdays are on the contact sheet.  But my family all forgot, which is funny as hell.  Steve-o remembered to call- to remind me he needs money.   Jerry acknowledged me coming back after I’d gone in to work this morning with a rousing, “Where’s my breakfast, woman?”  So the world remains the same.

The Precious Only Male Child Phenomenon


I have to deal with three men who are precious only male children on a regular basis- Dad, (and he was the least indulged or mollycoddled of the three) Steve-o, (who was a precious only male child simply by default- he’d have been an only child regardless of his gender) and Jerry, who was the long awaited “male heir”- coming after three older sisters.

Of course Jerry was by far the most indulged, mollycoddled and downright pampered of the three.

Old traditions die hard.   We aren’t that far removed from Henry VIII’s mentality even in today’s politically correct atmosphere.  If you must procreate, society places more value on sons.   Most men are not terribly thrilled about the arrival of children to begin with, and even if they don’t admit it, daughters are particularly disappointing for them.  I would say ask my Dad, but he won’t admit it- at least not in front of me.   A man wants his offspring to look and talk and swagger like he does.  He wants a man-child to carry on his name and all that happy horseshit.

Mothers of only sons tend to be more protective of their precious only male children.  I hate to admit it but I am guilty of it too. We defend them, we indulge them, we let them get away with far too much because we understand that testosterone short-circuits their brains and makes them unable to cook, clean, pick up after themselves or remember to wash their bits and pits while showering.  We assume that other females are too capable and able to tend to their own needs for us to cater to them- and besides, they have to learn Life Skills sooner or later.  We need not explain to other females that if you don’t cook you starve, if you don’t clean you drown in squalor, and if you want something, get off your ass and get it yourself.  Women do learn faster than men.  The testosterone-addled minds of male children, (probably a good number of adult males as well) however, can’t seem to grasp the concept that meals do not cook themselves, shampooing while showering is not “optional,” and we do not choose which pair of pants to wear based on whether or not the crotch passes the “sniff test.”

I have actually said this phrase out loud, and with all sincerity:

“Steve-o, if you wore them they’re dirty.  Don’t sniff the crotch.  Put them in the wash.  NOW!”

Steve-o has actually become somewhat functional in the self-care department.  He cares too much about his sex life to neglect his hygiene. The bad point about this is he cons his girlfriend into washing his laundry for him. She’s going to get really tired of that stinky chore.

Jerry I must say has good personal hygiene for a man, but his commendable life skills pretty much stop there.

I think his brain would explode if he had to:

Brew a pot of coffee (he doesn’t drink it so he wouldn’t bother anyway)

Wash a dish

Make his own Dr. or dental appointment

Get his own scripts

What is it about precious only male children that renders them helpless and unable to function without all sorts of high-maintenance interventions?No, I don’t dress him.  Not anymore.


A Well-Deserved Rebuke, Losing Perspective, and Whiny Minorities

I got a very pointed reminder today from one of my closest friends (who I’ve not seen in years) that I have been pathetically lax in doing the things that friends do- i.e. communicating…   He didn’t come right out and say that in so many words, but the correspondence he sent me certainly implied it, and I get the point.  I can count on one hand the people I actually consider to be friends versus casual acquaintances or family I have to tolerate because they’re blood, and he is one of the two human beings on Earth who know me better than anyone except for God Himself.  There really is no good excuse for me being so distant.  I can say that my health issues or work or Jerry’s high maintenance demands are the culprits, but to do that is a cop out.  It’s been over a year since the hysterectomy so that’s not an excuse, (my health has improved most markedly since then)  I used to work a lot more hours than I do now, so it’s not really about time, and Jerry always was and always will be high maintenance and jealous of every second I fail to spend kissing his ass.

So the thing that’s holding me back is the thing that always holds me back.  Fear.  I am afraid to make a simple phone call to my closest friend because I am afraid that he will tell me what I already know.  I’m getting used, abused and ran like a railroad, I allow it to happen, and I’ve allowed it to happen my entire life.  He has told me that for years even though I know it already and I’ve failed to do anything about it.   I am a rather pathetic specimen in more ways than one.  But I did make the call, and at least had the courage to leave a voice mail, for what it’s worth.

I’m tired of living in fear, and I need to break that particular bad habit.  I also have to have the decency and the just plain humanity to maintain the relationships and the people who have maintained me and grown my soul.   The caveat here is to maintain such relationships in an honorable and good way.  Running from them is not an answer.  Since when did I give a rat’s ass what anyone else thinks of me except for God Himself?  The touchy part of this is that in my quest to “do the right thing” I’ve gotten so hung up on morality and rules and conventions that I ignore people.  I’m afraid to maintain a dialogue with my friends- especially those of the opposite gender- because I am afraid that I will fall down the slippery slope.  I guess it’s hard to be bad to other people when you avoid them, but it’s also bad to avoid them because then you’re not doing any good.  I admit, I use Jerry as an excuse because he does make things difficult for me, but he will always do that.  Sometimes I forget that socially and emotionally he has a mental age of about four.  I’m not saying that to criticize because I am an emotional cripple myself.

I have lost my perspective and have come damned close to losing whatever honor I ever had.  I know emotions are a really difficult area for me, but running away from them and failing to be honest with myself regarding how I feel and who and what I deem to be important is not working. 

I have to admit, nobody does apathy like I do.  Then again, if I get something in my craw it’s hard for me to do or think of anything else.

Especially when the large groups are trucked in from Michigan and West Virginia to protest at the Ohio statehouse, so the media will think that most of the people in Ohio are all for continuing the status quo instead of actually addressing the graft and waste in state and local government.  Nice try, but I hope that the Governor as well as the General Assembly have enough sense to understand that the union protesters are a very small but very whiny minority. 

The tail has wagged the dog long enough.

That goes for every other whiny minority out there too, including any racial group who thinks they are owed reparations because their distant ancestors were slaves, including the litigation happy trial lawyers, including the special rights for gays contingent, and anyone else out there who believes they are entitled to special protections or perks that the majority is not entitled to.

The bottom line:

Anyone who goes back far enough in their genealogy will find ancestors who were slaves.  I have a good number of Scots in my lineage, but I really don’t feel compelled to go back on Great Britain to seek reparations for the Scots in my ancestry who were enslaved, oppressed or killed back in antiquity.  Nor do I feel compelled to go to the US government to seek reparations for their treatment of my Cherokee ancestors.

Anyone who feels compelled to sue someone else because of their own stupidity and negligence (remember the lawsuit over McDonald’s coffee being hot?) should be 1. laughed right out of court, and 2. fined for wasting the court’s time with bullshit.  The bottom feeding trial lawyers who make a killing on insurance fraud and frivolous, bullshit litigation should be fined also, and then required to make restitution to the honest part of society by picking up trash along the freeways and serving the homeless  who come to the soup kitchens.

I don’t really care what people do in the privacy of their own bedrooms, and I really don’t care if a person is gay, straight, bi, furry, whatever, as long as they abide by the rules and contribute to society.  However, getting special treatment because of one’s lifestyle choice is not only unfair, but it has been proven by medical science that the gay lifestyle leads to a  host of serious health concerns.  We also know from history that rampant homosexuality led to the decline of both the Greek and Roman societies in antiquity.  Do we really think that sanctioning homosexual partnerships and claiming them to be as good if not better than heterosexual marriage is a good thing for society in general?  How about a legal process in which one’s partner-be it a roommate, a business partner or a homosexual lover- is given the right to legally act in many of the ways that a spouse automatically is?  Marriage is for a man and a woman, with the implication that there may be breeding going on, but any two people can choose to be “legal partners” or something of that effect.  That sounds like a viable compromise to me.

I think I’ve ranted enough for today, but the lesson lingers on.  I cannot forget about and/or neglect my friends.  I don’t have that many to begin with.

Definitely Not Normal, So Adjust, (and Learn When to Say “Tough Titty!”)

I never really liked the word “normal,” because “normal” is a most subjective word.  What is normal for me is probably not normal for most other people, and vice-versa.  That’s OK, because I’m comfortable with the way I’m wired, and I can navigate with it pretty well.   The problem for me is that the rest of the world isn’t wired the same way, so I have to modify my methods and approach accordingly in my interactions with the rest of humanity.  My peculiar wiring gives me some advantages (for instance, for me, speed-reading has always been a mechanism that is both automatic and near and dear to my heart) but my wiring also gives me disadvantages when the only route I’ve been given is not the well-traveled road.   I see much that others miss, but I miss much that others see.  I miss the subtle cues of facial expression and body language that most people cue in on automatically.  I have to make a conscious effort not only to read non-verbals, but also to be sure that I’m sending the right non-verbals, both of which are vexing for me.  I’d much rather communicate in print so I can revise as necessary and say what I mean to say.  I also have to make a conscious effort to do anything requiring gross motor skills.  I didn’t learn to ride a bike until I was almost 8 years old, and in spite of intense physical therapy when I was 3-4 years old, and my mother’s misguided attempt to force me into ballet lessons a few years later, (too bad they didn’t have video cameras then, because my abysmal attempts at ballet dancing would have been a hoot to watch) I’m still doing good to walk without falling. 

A better term for “normal” in my world would be “neurotypical”- meaning the vast majority of humanity, i.e. people who can walk across a room without tripping on their own feet, and whose perception is not perennially “cranked up to 11.”   Neurotypical people have to learn to read the written word the hard way (something I still don’t understand, because I can’t remember a time in my life when I couldn’t read) but for the most part they automatically pick up on empathy and relating to others, while I have to consciously develop and practice those skills- the hard way.  I also have to train myself to narrow my focus, otherwise I would be kept awake by a star’s reflection in my window or by the whistle of a far off train.  The danger in this is if I turn down the perception knob too much or hone in on one tiny spot for too long I truly do shut off the rest of the world.  One of my greatest talents is the ability to ignore. I have to consciously keep a balance between the two extremes.   I can go from near-catatonia to panic attack in a heartbeat if I fail to keep the “need to shut down” and “need to experience everything” parts of my mind balanced. 

I have suspected for a long time that I have Asperger’s Syndrome- the description of Asperger’s explains much about my rather “abnormal” intellectual and social development.  I understand how easy it is to simply shut down.  It’s hard for me to describe, but I can see both how and why autistic people do shut down.  It’s easier than the constant fight to maintain the balance, and it beats panic attacks and/or manic rages.  Leave me alone in the ivory tower, because it’s a lot easier that way.  Yes, that I most certainly understand.

I remember all too well Mom used to backhand me for “being rude” or “staring” when I couldn’t see what was wrong with a.) stating the obvious, or b.) making an observation.  Then again I may have had some advantages in such a harsh upbringing.  Mom was a big believer in operant conditioning, and more specifically the negative reinforcement component of operant conditioning.  She would backhand you for a dirty look, or for missing a response whilst doing the Catholic calesthenics during Mass.  In her economy one’s behavior better be appropriate at all times, and to flying hell with any reason you might provide for behavior she deemed inappropriate.   My sisters had a different MO for beating the hell out of me, (unless they could beat me and make me scream so Mom would also beat me- for screaming) and they beat me a LOT more often than Mom ever needed to.  They beat the hell out of me because I was an easy target and it was something to do when Mom locked us outside and cranked up the volume on the TV.  Who knew sadism could be so entertaining?  Today they have video games for that, but not back in the 70’s. 

In my opinion, “telling it like it is,” is simply being honest.  You can be honest and tactful, but tact is an acquired skill, and not necessarily one that I excel in.  I acquired a good measure of tact with the quickness when I was about five- after I commented that one of Dad’s friends was getting really fat. Gotta love that operant conditioning. You will shut up after being backhanded into next week- but it didn’t change the fact that Dad’s buddy was getting downright lardy.  One of the nice things about cougardom is that I don’t have to be as tactful as I was required to be when I was five.  Age buys one at least a slight bit of gravitas in some ways.  I can call a lard ass a lard ass and get away with it, though if I must comment on someone’s superfluous girth, I generally just say “large” and move on.  I’m not consciously trying to be rude, but I do call it as I see it.  I can make commentary as much as I want to at my age without having to be as paranoid about offending people. 

One of the reasons I really hate political correctness is that it gives people excuses to be wussies.  I was never allowed to simply follow the path of least resistance and shut myself down to the point of being cloistered away in a padded room with a stack of adult diapers (though I think I would actually have to leave my little private enclave to at least use the toilet and bathe) and vast selection of reading material.  No one catered to me.  I had to adjust to everyone else and if I didn’t like it, it was tough titty.  I was held to a higher standard because of my IQ scores, with no mercy or accommodation for my motor deficits or emotional and social deficits.  My family forced me to be social and to function in the neurotypical world whether I wanted to or not.  I was not given the choice to withdraw from human interaction.  The best metaphor I can think of is that I was thrown in the pool and left to sink or swim.  No water wings, no instruction, no floatie for me.  Use what you have and figure it out.  I probably could have done without all the beatings and likely the attempts at ballet lessons too, but for the most part I don’t think that I would have the ability to function in the “normal” world today had I not been forced to do so. Sadly, today no one has the audacity to require kids to adjust and to learn how to navigate the world with the wiring they’ve been given. 

Granted, I am probably not an exemplary picture of mental health.  I freely admit I have Issues.  Then again, had I not been thrown into the fire I can guarantee my Issues would be far more profound and limiting.

So, just shut up and make it work.  That’s what has to be done sometimes.

Government, Unions and Common Sense- Finally?

 I’ve said it many times.  I am not a fan of Obama.  I think he is the worst American President in history so far- so much so that he makes Jimmy Carter look good, and almost makes Bill Clinton look great.  That is not meant as praise for either Carter or Clinton- they were both abysmal, and they both did tremendous amounts of damage.  My comparison is meant to illustrate just how much worse Obama is when compared to either Carter or Clinton.   I am also not a fan of forced unionism.  My disdain for unions is not  primarily a conservative or a Republican thing.  I am both a conservative and a Republican, for a host of good reasons, but my opposition to forced unionism comes from what I witnessed first hand growing up. 

I know that every story has two sides.  I also know that there were myriad factors that went into the death of manufacturing in the Rust Belt- foreign competition, poor management practices, the cost of materials, the oil crisis, and even environmental issues.  But the most visible and direct contribution to the failure of heavy manufacturing in Ohio can be traced back to fear of union violence and actual incidents of union violence that took place.

I don’t have a problem with a person’s choice to organize with others of like mind.   There is strength in numbers and there are times when it is both necessary and commendable to stand up for basic human decency.  There was a time when unions had a good purpose- to ensure that workers had decent working conditions and fair wages.  Had employers seen their employees as assets that need to be maintained and grown rather than as being expendable or disposable, there would never had been a need for workers to organize to begin with.  Ultimately the root cause of union abuse goes back to poor management practices.  Every action has a reaction.  The reaction to poor working conditions in the late 19th and early 20th centuries evolved throughout the second half of the 20th century and became a monster- especially in states such as Ohio that allow forced unionism. 

Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely (Lord Acton, 1887)

For those who don’t know how forced unionism works, basically what happens is that a shop or a government agency, etc. holds an election and votes to see if a majority of people in that workplace want to be a part of a union or not.  Even those who voted against the union must either join or pay the union a fee (up to the cost of full union dues) for “collective bargaining services.”  So even those who are ideologically or morally opposed to what the union stands for, and who are opposed to who the union contributes financially toward are forced to support it- even if they don’t technically join.

I have argued for years that forced unionism violates the 13th Amendment (no involuntary servitude) by forcing people to pay into an organization as a condition of employment.  In many cases workers’ 1st Amendment rights are violated as well, as many (though not all) unions contribute to organizations and causes that many are morally opposed to.  For instance, a union’s support of “pro-choice” (I think pro-death is more accurate, but I digress) candidates (the Democratic party in general…) and contributions to far-left organizations such as NARAL or GLAAD may be seen as being morally wrong by Catholics and most other Christians.  Yet a large part of their union dues are being funneled into dark places that have little or nothing to do with “collective bargaining” and into causes they would never voluntarily contribute to.

Another side of union corruption and graft is in the wrongful manipulation and exploitation of employers, especially in the public sector, when the employer is a branch of government.  Everyone has heard the legends of grandiose pay plans, three people paid to do one job inefficiently, health insurance benefits that rival those of Congress, and paid leaves and vacations that would make a sane person wonder if any work ever gets done. 

I am all for an honest wage for honest work.  I am all for people being able to get the health care they need- without having to do what I do, which is decide from week to week if I can have groceries or scripts, and skimping or just plain going without certain things because I can’t afford them.  The problem I have is that people like me are (involuntarily) forced to pay not just for government waste and redundancy in human resources, but for the entire welfare state too- and as a result, people like me go without things like scripts, or food, or underwear that don’t look like the dogs played tug-of-war with them, that they need- so that some people can get their food, scripts, glasses, cell phones, fancy designer sneakers, and medical devices (including pecker pumps??) for free.

The bottom line here is a simple economics lesson.  You can’t pay someone more than they’re worth.  In order to pay an employee $5, you need to get at least $5 worth of work out of that employee.  That sounds obvious, but in reality it doesn’t always happen, especially when there is no accountability and no structure in place to ensure that taxpayers’ money is spent responsibly.   Part of the problem in the public sector is that many (though by no means all) jobs are grossly overpaid.  The taxpayer is being overcharged for the benefit or the service offered, and in the grand scheme of things, as in the private sector, this cannot be sustained. 

I have often wondered why there is such opposition to Right-to-Work, in which an individual chooses for him or herself whether he or she wants to belong to or pay into a union.  If unions are so great, then why is there so much legislation and so many loopholes in the law to shelter them?  If everyone wanted to be in the union, then why would anyone be required to join or to pay into them?

Elected officials and others within the government bureaucracy have forgotten that it is the private sector who picks up their tab.  The private sector is tapped out.  Those of us who keep the private sector running are tapped out.  Business fails to be competitive in part because so much is exacted out of business from government in the forms of excessive regulation and taxation. 

As much as the lunatic fringe in NE Ohio is screaming, I am convinced that our new Governor has struck a nerve.  Say what one will about Kasich- he can be rude and crass, and he’s definitely not “warm and fuzzy”- but finally, about 40 years late  (late is better than never!) we have someone in public office willing to address the obvious, and who is not owned by the unions.   The main question I have at this late hour is whether or not Ohio’s manufacturing cities are too far gone to save.  I watched my hometown shrink in size by more than half over the span of a decade as I was growing up.  I drive past the ghosts of what were once world-renowned manufacturing companies every time I go back home.   The images- and the ruined lives- haunt me.

There has to be some common sense injected into government.  Taming the public service unions is the first step. 

What the media and the common person have lost sight of is that nothing is free.  Taxpayers- people like me- are paying for the salaries, perks and benefits of government workers.  Government is not an entity and means in and of itself.  It needs the private sector to survive, and the private sector has been sucked dry.  Anyone who doesn’t believe that, I can take you on a nice little tour of the industrial ruins of Marion that might change your mind. It may not be popular with some, but the beast that government on all levels has become must be restrained.

This was once part of the Marion Power Shovel assembly line, etc.  It extended for almost five miles down the west end of town, and one can still see most of the ruins of it today.  Someday, before even more of it decays and is hauled away, I need to take a walking tour and take some close up pics.  It really was quite an amazing thing at one time.

Squirrels in the Family Tree, the Cat Lady, and Everyone Has an Uncle Bob

Every family has its skeletons in the closet.  This is an encouragement to me, knowing I have ancestors who were crazier than I am.  Then again, heredity explains a lot.

Part of the fun in genealogy research is finding all the squirrels in the family tree, and I’m discovering I have more than my fair share in mine.  It’s been a bit of an adventure finding out which family members had issues with mental illness and to what degree.  Let’s see, for starters, Mom is bi-polar.  Her biological father was certifiably crazy- most likely he was bi-polar (with an emphasis on bizarre manic episodes) also as well as being an incorrigible alcoholic.  He died at age 53 of cirrhosis of the liver.  Thankfully Mom never had a taste for liquor.   Mom didn’t need alcohol to go off in a frenzy.  Her manic episodes were bad enough without it.

Mom and her biological father are not the only ones by a long shot though.  One of my great-uncles was institutionalized most of his adult life, after he had a severe head injury while working for the railroad. It was really quite tragic.  Oddly enough on his death certificate the cause of death was listed as pneumonia resulting from “Huntington’s Chorea,” or Huntington’s Disease, which is (99% of the time) a genetic disease.  In almost all instances, one of your parents has to have it in order for you to get it.  He was 46  when he died, but neither of his parents had it.  However, the tremors, violent outbursts and general insanity this poor guy suffered from was more than likely connected with brain damage.  I would be curious to find out, but I would guess that rather than Huntington’s Disease, he probably had damage to the frontal lobe of his brain. That wasn’t inherited- which is sort of a relief, but still sad.

Alcoholism is a big character flaw on both sides of my family.  My great-grandfather and another great uncle were notorious for boozing.  Being a drunk isn’t necessarily what I would call mental illness, but way too many drunks drink to drown their depression and despair.  I was enough of a binge drinker in my youth, but thank God the whole binge drinking thing lost its charm for me.  Dad for all practical purposes is a tee-totaler (he likes a very occasional beer) and Mom is a complete tee-totaler, so we never really had to deal with alcohol at home except when my oldest sister came home wasted from time to time in high school.   I was smart enough to crash where I partied when I got wasted.  She is still somewhat of a casual drinker but not a real boozehound.  Of course Mom thinks drinking a social beer now and then will turn you into a lush, but it really depends on the person.  If you’re drinking every night or downright getting stupid with the binge drinking then you need to evaluate your relationship with booze.  I don’t have much use for it other than a very occasional glass of wine.

Then there are the relatives you just don’t want to claim because their behavior makes you really wonder how much DNA you share with them.  I had some really interesting ones.  Aunt Frances, for instance, was a 400# cat lady with a deep disdain for all things foreign (especially my old Subaru,) a loathing of ear piercings and earrings (thankfully she never got to see Steve-0’s 7/8 gauged earrings, or the SS helmet for that matter) and a general distrust of females who insist upon wearing makeup.   I have nothing against cats- I have three of them- but having thirty five of them wandering in and out of your house, eating you out of house and home and breeding uncontrollably is not the proper way to keep cats.  Sending half of your Social Security checks to Jimmy Swaggart probably wasn’t the best decision either, but she just couldn’t resist the televangelists when they appealed for cash.

Uncle Jack was actually one of my great-uncles.  He was a tiny dude, about 5’5″ and slightly built.  He had a withered hand, a taste for whiskey and he chain smoked unfiltered Pall Malls.  Every time I saw him, he always seemed to be either getting ready to go to jail for something or had just got out of jail for something.  He had some really hideous tattoos,  and used language that would make a trucker blush.

I had twin great-aunts- Glenna and Gwendolyn.  I don’t know for sure if they were identical twins or not, but they had the identical horrible bleach-blonde hair do.  I remember when Great-Grandma died (their mother) they got in a fist fight over her stuff, none of it worth a whole lot.  Gwendolyn was married to Uncle Bob- the one with the nudie pics all over his garage- who gave my sister a Budweiser when she was six or seven, and who would look up girls’ dresses if he got the chance.  They had a miniature poodle named Jacques who liked to hump people’s legs and piss on everyone’s hub caps.  Jacques went to the groomer, had his nails painted blue, and always smelled like girly perfume.  Dad always wondered why anyone would prissify a male dog like that, but they were kind of strange.

Everyone has an Uncle Bob- the family pervert.  Thankfully I only got to experience Uncle Bob once a year or less (Dad didn’t want us kids to be around alcohol, especially after the Budweiser Incident) but that was enough.  Everyone wondered why I would not run up and give him a hug.  First of all I am not a hugger by nature.  I am very selective about who I want to hug even today.  As a child I tried to avoid physical contact as much as possible.  So be happy with a handshake- and I was that way with most people I encountered.  I’m not being rude, but I don’t want you looking up my dress or trying to slip me the tongue.  Something about the nudies on the garage walls creeped me out.

This is NOT the Subaru DL I had, but it is the same model.  This one is a 1978, mine was a ’79.  Mine was also red -or at least it was painted red at the factory, before it oxidized, rusted, and ended up covered in fiberglass body filler, primer, duct tape and bumper stickers.  Either not many of them were built, or they just couldn’t handle Rust Belt winters.  It took a lot of duct tape to hold those marker lights in the fenders.

Bumper Sticker Wisdom, Annoying People, and Staying Out of Mischief

I love it when I get a good pic of a good bumper sticker – or even better- multiples.  It’s not always easy to get pics from in the car, and I usually won’t even try unless I have the camera handy and I’m stopped at a light.

This one was probably the best one I was ever able to get a good pic of:

“Stop Bitching Start a Revolution” would have been good enough, but the I (heart) Vagina just sets off the whole mood of this young dude’s car.  I thought of Steve-o when I saw this, but I just can’t imagine Steve-o ever driving a distressed old Lumina.  I can’t imagine Steve-o driving anything domestic or automatic- but I can imagine him with either or both of these bumper stickers.  Had I seen these on either an old Accord or Integra then I really could believe it was his car.

This one is a good one too-

When I had my ’79 Subaru it was so covered in rust and primer that it became a game for me to try to put as many bumper stickers as humanly possible on it.  One came all the way from  St. Louis- KSHE 95, a rock/metal station whose mascot was a guitar playing pig.  I had a Journey sticker from the Frontiers tour, a Led Zep 4 sticker which was way cool, and a host of stickers with pithy sayings such as,  “I Liked Your Arrival, Let’s See Your Departure,”  “Zero to Sixty in Sixty Years” (very fitting for that poor Subaru with its 1.2 liter, carbureted, oil-leaking, high mileage engine) and “You’re Ugly and Your Mama Dresses You Funny.” That car was legendary, largely because it was so easy to spot, and because pieces fell off of it from time to time. Like the exhaust from the cat back for instance.  I had to wire that back up with coat hangers twice- once in the rain, which really sucked.  But at least I had a car.  None of my friends did.

Sadly I have no pics of that poor car to scan.  I wish I did, and if I ever find any I will be sure to scan and post them.

Today I think we hit the jackpot of annoying people.  Usually I try not to let people get on my nerves, because dealing with people when they’re being goofy is part of my job.  Today though, it seemed as if all the squirrels crawled out of the woodwork.

Yesterday I was in a rather vindictive mood.  I don’t know what happened to Old Thunder Thighs, but I don’t wish her any harm.  I do hope she has caught on to the cougar dress code by now.  Then again, she could make a killing at the nursing home.

It’s not just a truck, it’s a Dale Earnhardt Memorial Vehicle.  Never mind Dale’s been six feet under for the past ten years.  Let the Intimidator rest, OK?

Old Lady Catalogs, Changing Times, and Old Thunder Thighs

Don’t click on this page of the old lady catalog if you are a prude, and don’t click on it unless you are away from prying eyes. This is definitely an “over 18” type of page.

It’s amazing what’s available in the magical world of Internet ordering.  One used to have to go to the Lion’s Den or a similar establishment to buy such merchandise, risking embarrassment should someone see one’s car in the parking lot.  Now you can send massagers, other “over 18” items, etc. effortlessly and anonymously to friends and enemies alike.

I admit there was a time when I had a pretty evil streak, and I’ve not entirely lost my appetite for being petty and vindictive in certain situations.

When I was working at a local Toyota dealership (same place where the coke junkie tried to strangle me) they hired a woman to sell cars.  It’s not unusual today for women to sell cars, and some of the best sales people out there today are women, but back then it was quite unusual. 

This particular woman was not very well suited for selling cars- or doing much else outside of dropping her drawers- for that matter.  I’m all for women being in non-traditional career fields (I’ve been in automotive pretty much my entire life) but with one very important disclaimer.  If you think you are going to play the “token” card, or worse, prostitute yourself to get ahead, instead of getting ahead the old fashioned way- by becoming the most skilled and qualified person out there through hard work and merit- I have absolutely no use for you.  I will undermine you and expose you for the fraud you are, every chance I get.

This being said, at first I really tried to help this chick out when I could.  She was very dingy and very clueless, but I did try to help her out and keep her from getting into too much trouble even when she promised customers extra stuff without making sure she had it written into the deal, when she misrepresented either the product or the dealership’s services, and other dumb-assed mistakes.   However, when she made it a point to go back in the shop and bend over while wearing a very short skirt and a very low cut shirt in front of the technicians, I started to wonder what the bloody hell she was thinking.  The techs got a good laugh out of it- because even had she been attractive, her strutting and posing in front of them would have been in poor taste. 

I found out after awhile that she was actually sleeping with guys to get them to buy cars which was sad on many levels.  First of all, she was probably the same age I am now- cougar aged at least- but she dressed like a 17 year old hooker trying to pick up soldiers on leave at the bus station.  I know my cougar aged butt needs coverage and lots of it.  Hers certainly did too, and her dress and her behavior combined to create a most ridiculous spectacle.  Who wants to observe some paunchy, wrinkly old bitty with cottage-cheesy looking bare legs tottering about perched on stiletto sandals, with all her middle-age spread stuffed into a sleeveless low-cut dress which made her torso appear as if she had stuffed too much sausage into a too small casing?  To add insult to injury she wasn’t very good at matching.  Bold patterns and bright colors are fine- I wear a lot of them- but wearing one print on the shirt and a conflicting one on the skirt is not flattering.  Neither are bare legs and sandals when you’re at least 35 and more than a little on the portly side. 

It is no crime to be old or large (and she was both) but dress accordingly.  Coverage is the key word here, ladies. Especially when you work surrounded by men who will make commentary on your attire.

Thunder Thighs was starting to try my patience not only because she didn’t have a clue how to do her job, but she simply oozed sleaze.  She exemplified every bad stereotype regarding women in the workplace.  It was gross enough the way she flirted with customers.  Perhaps twenty years earlier she could have gotten away with her dress and behavior, but it really got nasty when she would come back to the shop and annoy the techs.  At first it was almost funny but it eventually got to be rather pathetic to watch her scatting about like a cat in heat.

Anyway, after she had cursed us with her presence for about six months or so, I had gotten wind that she had decided to take off and shack up with a client or something of that nature (in all honesty I don’t trust rumor mills, so who really knows why she quit, I’m just glad she got away from me) so I simply had to get her a parting gift.  I’m not into flowers or Tupperware or hinky stuff like that.  As an example, I once bought a particularly annoying service advisor an inflatable pig and put it right on top of his computer monitor on his last day.  It was well-deserved, and therefore, hilarious.

I bought her something I figured she could get a lot of use out of, and that the guys up front would enjoy seeing her open up.

There’s a chain of stores in Columbus and vicinity called Waterbeds ‘n Stuff, which is sort of like Lion’s Den, but with more of an emphasis on gag gifts and cards and trinkets, though they have a formidable “over 18″ section.   It’s the place where I found the inflatable pig.  Waterbeds ‘n Stuff was the perfect place to find this sleazy old cougar a parting present she- and the guys at the shop- would never forget.

$37 later I got Johnson.  Johnson is, well, a 24” johnson.  I had it all boxed up and ready to go, only to discover that Thunder Thighs had cleaned out her desk and beat feet without even bothering to formally say goodbye.

Good riddance.  The bad part of the story is that almost 20 years later I still have Johnson.  I should have put it in one of the techs’ tool boxes or something, but back then $37 was quite a chunk of change.

Oh, well.  In retrospect it would have been a rather cruel, though appropriate, prank.

On Maudlin Sentiment, Man-Clean, and Dirty Laundry

I don’t know what motivated me to take this pic but I find it interesting.  A couple of years ago I went with Steve-o to tour a technical school in Connecticut (thankfully he ended up in Lima, OH, which is sort of a long story, but the Connecticut foray was an interesting road trip.)  Just outside of Hartford CT, there are small family farms and it really is somewhat picturesque.  I took a pic of the compost pile above because I found it such a contrast- lovely scenery, a beautiful sunrise, and- boom-  a steaming pile of shit.  What an appropriate metaphor for maudlin sentiment.  I am not the type of person who responds well to flowery diatribes and superfluous praise.  In fact, I see right through it.  Cut to the chase and tell me what you want.  I have learned the (easy to me, at least,) lesson that no one butters a piece of bread without intending to take a bite out of it.   Nobody butters me up unless they want something from me.

It’s better to tell it like it is so that people know exactly where you stand.  Of course I don’t think Jerry has washed a dish in his life- which is OK with me- I eat off of those dishes and utensils too,  and I would rather have them clean and in one piece (tremor disorder and wet, soapy, slippery, breakable dishes do not go together well) than to attempt to drive home a point.  Perhaps the general laissez-faire attitude toward caution and cleanliness that is prevalent to the male of the species is the reason why so many mothers fail to train boys to do domestic chores.  I have to admit I didn’t usually press the issue of washing dishes with Steve-o either, not because I was afraid of him breaking dishes, but because I know where his hands have been.  Anyone who can jam his index finger up his nose up to the third joint and pull out a worm-like, amazing green, streamer of snot should not be fingering things I’m going to be eating off.  I know his hygiene has improved in the past few years but still.  No matter how much soap is in that dish water,  the snotty visual remains.

There is such a thing as “man-clean.”  Man-clean is when something is sort of cleaned up, but not very well. 

This toilet is man-clean, because you can actually see some white porcelain here and there, and there is clear water in the bowl.   Before the man “cleaned” it there was no toilet paper, and the bowl was full of used chili dogs and processed Natty Lites.  Putting toilet paper on the roll is a Herculean undertaking for any man, so he’s going to want brownie points for that, even if he used up most of the roll blowing his nose in it.  Flushing deserves even more points, especially if the plunger was involved.  Of course this level of clean is not acceptable to any woman, so when a man would report that he “cleaned” the above bathroom, a woman would don a pair of gloves, grab the Clorox and get to scrubbing.

I think men are allergic to Clorox.

Man-clean as it applies to keeping young children remotely sanitary is especially scary.  “Hosing off the big chunks” is not an acceptable approach to bathing kids, or dogs for that matter.   If it still smells like puke or shit, or it still has snot encrusted on it, you didn’t finish the job.

I got to experience man-clean as it applies to laundry last night.  In a rare and daring stretch of ambition, Jerry decided to put a load of laundry in the washer all by himself last night.  Jerry and his attempts at using any household appliance scares the hell out of me, especially after he caught the microwave on fire several years ago.  Handy hint: if you put popcorn in a 1200 watt microwave on full power for five minutes, the result is FIRE.  Just so you know.

Anyway,  Jerry didn’t make the typical man mistakes with laundry which generally include: washing whitey tighties with red t-shirts (leads to pink undies,) overloading the washer (leads to all kinds of potential fun) or putting too much soap in.  He didn’t do it right though.  He forgot the fabric softener, which you don’t do in beautiful Central Ohio for two very good reasons.  The hard water here is legendary.  Failure to use both liquid fabric softener and a dryer sheet will leave your clothing so incredibly crunchy it will crinkle and crunch and almost stand up by itself when it dries.  This time of year is especially bad because you not only get crunchy clothing, but crunchy clothing with static cling.

I put in a dryer sheet when I put his stuff in the dryer for him, but I am not responsible for his jeans standing up all by themselves.  He’s going to have a very scratchy day.  I buy liquid fabric softener for a reason. 

I hate ironing.  I admit it.  That’s why most of my clothes are knits.  Of course Jerry has a thing for oxford shirts rather than t-shirts or knit shirts, and most of the time (unless you hang dry them or retrieve them from the dryer right away) oxford shirts need to be ironed. 

That reminds me, I need to get his dress clothes to the dry-cleaners before somebody dies.  It’s been over a year since we’ve had to go to a funeral (Grandma’s, sadly enough) and unfortunately odds being what they are, someone’s going to die and then I’ll catch hell for not having his clothes ready for him.  I don’t know why he bothers dressing up to go to the funeral home when these days guys show up in Dale Earnhardt t-shirts and cutoffs.  I know it’s tacky to show up at the funeral home looking like the Grateful Dead, and I am somewhat old school about that- I have black dresses for funerals and other formal occasions- but he’s a dude.  Nobody expects dudes to dress up unless it’s absolutely required any more.

Motivation Comes from Within, and Try It On at Home

My favorite instructor in college taught me the most important and fundamental rule of management:  Motivation comes from within.  The only thing that a manager can do is provide incentives.

Fear is not technically motivation, but it can be a powerful incentive when it is used in the proper context.  Some people are afraid of everything (sadly, I fit in that category most of the time, as I am a horrible coward) and others fear little if nothing at all.  If you can find another person’s fear and harness it to your advantage, (sounds a bit like blackmail, and it is) you can for all practical purposes own that person.  He or she will have sufficient motivation to honor your requirements and requests with very little effort or oversight from you, other than a threat now and then if things aren’t getting done to your liking. 

Fear as an incentive can backfire big time if you don’t have any currency to back it up.  If you lack the power to carry out your threats then you no longer engender any fear in your subordinates and you have to find another incentive.  Some people like to be made to feel important.  I know I’m not important, so telling me how much you like me, (most people tolerate me at best and very few actually like me, I know that already) or how “essential” I am to you doesn’t mean jack unless you have some dead presidents to go along with your vapid praise.  Money as an incentive works very well for a good number of people, yours truly included, but you have to be able to provide the money if the person fulfills your objective.   Money fails to be an incentive with the quickness if the person fulfills the objective and then is cheated out of the money in some way.  I’ve been there and done that too many times.

I don’t like to manage by fear.  I’ve had too many people control me that way and frankly, it pisses me off.  Fear has ceased to be an incentive for me most of the time.  Money is fine, as long as the other side delivers on their promises.  I like certain other material perks as well such as dinners, clothing and other assorted goodies, but money is generally the favorite.

Some people are big on recognition and status and titles.  Titles and status don’t impress me at all.  As the saying goes, money talks and bullshit walks.  I could care less about authority unless I have been given a responsibility to carry out a certain task.  Don’t ask me to do something or to be responsible for something and then not allow me the authority to carry it out.  It is amazing how many organizations hobble their employees and even low to mid- level managers by giving out responsibilities without granting the needed authority to carry them out.  How many times have I seen a network of people rendered completely useless because the only guy who is authorized to make a decision can’t be reached because he is out in the Bahamas on a cruise somewhere?  What the hell do you even need him for if he has time to fart off on an expensive and likely company-funded cruise?  If you don’t trust people to make decisions, don’t make them responsible for outcomes.  In fact, don’t make them responsible for anything- unless they also have the authority to make a decision.

Human nature is said to be such that we pursue pleasure and avoid pain (another little nugget from Psych 101) which in most instances is true enough, unless you’re a sadist or a masochist, and then pain is pleasurable which makes no freaking sense to me.  Then again-I do find the humor in disappointment and emotional pain- does that count as masochism?  Or is that just a coping mechanism?

Jerry should never be allowed to shop for clothing alone again.  Yesterday he decided of his own volition to go to Old Navy and get another shirt like the one he already has.  So he goes to the Old Navy, picks out a shirt, tries it on, (which is something I absolutely refuse to do in public) buys the size large he tried on, only to discover the shirt he had at home is an X-large.  These shirts are 100% cotton and will shrink when washed, which is why the large fit in the store, but probably would not fit after being washed.  Logic would tell me, look at the tag on the shirt at home before leaving to go to the store, then go get another one exactly like it, in the proper size.  That way you neither suffer the indignity of undressing in public fitting rooms, and you get a shirt that will fit after being washed. 

There are numerous reasons why I absolutely refuse try on clothes in public fitting rooms.  The oldest and most primary reason is because Mom always made us try on everything.  If she liked it (and she liked some pretty ghastly stuff) you had to try it on.  Generally if she wanted you to try it on you didn’t want it to begin with, but most of the time she just wanted to see “how it would look on you.”  Who gives a rat’s ass what it looks like if you aren’t going to buy it?  The way I always looked at it is I would find out soon enough how bad I would look in my sisters’ old clothes without ever having to try them on in public in front of the two-way mirror that some pervert is monitoring. Unfortunately I could never win her over to my point of view- but if I can’t try it on in the comfort and privacy of my own home I didn’t need it anyway.

Today is even worse because of the video cameras.  Back in the 70’s and 80’s video cameras were too expensive so all you had to worry about was the one or two perverts watching the two-way mirror.  I know full well there are cameras in those fitting rooms, and they are being monitored by some pervo in India or somewhere who is taking all that scrumptious footage of you in your old bra and threadbare granny panties, recording it, and putting it on a video montage for pervos around the world to share via YouTube.

Somewhere in Siberia some pervert is watching Jerry try on that shirt at Old Navy, and making commentary in a foreign language regarding Jerry’s  thin arms and very hairless chest.  I can only hope he didn’t try on jeans, although I just bought him some new whitey-tighties.  I bet older guys fumbling about in whitey tighties would be funny in Siberia too.