The Weekly Rant with Gary Patella

Thoughts and ideas on various grievances that are relevant to everyday life.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

On Text Messaging

In today's modern age, practically everybody has a cell phone. And even the most primitive cell phones around have some sort of text messaging feature. This feature is extremely useful when only a single sentence needs to be sent. When a question requiring only a one word answer needs to be asked, it is also good to use a text message. But can texting be taken too far? I not only believe that it can, I believe that it already has.

In my opinion, people have become so obsessed with texting that the cell phone is now rarely used as an actual phone. I know of many people that try to have entire conversations via text. For me, this simply doesn't work. After three back and forths, I call the person. The frustrating thing is that far too many people now completely avoid talking on the phone. These people don't even respond to a phone call, and simply let it go to voicemail. Yet a text message is answered anon. I don't get it.

Some people are so stupid that they try to text message and drive at the same time. When one of these idiots dies, I never feel bad. I just consider it social Darwinism. Those stupid genes will thankfully not be passed on. But here's the problem: it is not only the texting idiots that die. Innocent people in that moron's vicinity are also put in danger. So states had to come up with laws to prevent texting and driving. Unfortunately, people have become too stupid to realize that they can't both observe the road and the cell phone screen at the same time. Hence the laws.

Also in the world of text messaging retardation, we have those that text each other while being right next to each other!! Maybe this can be used if you don't want to convey the message to a third party that is present, but that is about it. If the person is next to you, then you should speak!

In summary, text messaging has gotten way too out of hand. Although everyone, including myself, uses texting as a form of communication, it is certainly not the only form of communication. Unless you have laryngitis, pick up a phone every now and then. Texting an entire conversation is just plain stupid. As is texting while driving and texting a person next to you. Be conservative with your text messages. Other forms of communication still exist.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Can I Have Some Beverage With That Ice?

People often eat somewhere other than home. Sometimes this entails going to a nice restaurant for a night out. Other times, it is grabbing something quickly during a lunch break at work. Regardless of the circumstances, the concept of eating a meal away from home is a very familiar one.

In many places, with varying degrees of quality, there is a disturbing trend. A beverage is ordered with the meal (e.g. an iced tea, a soft drink), and this beverage is shockingly consumed in only a few sips. Immediately, the main culprit is detected. The amount of ice cubes in the cup or glass far exceeded what would be considered a reasonable amount.*

The extremely ridiculous number of ice cubes has always bugged me. Although this practice is often associated only with fast food places, it definitely occurs elsewhere. Many diners and restaurants fill the cups with an unnecessary amount of ice as well. And the motive for doing such a thing is questionable at best.

Certainly, in a very short-sighted view, the establishment is saving a few cents per order by giving less drink. Keep in mind that it may even be less than one cent per order, since the beverages are bought in bulk and therefore the amount saved is very minimal. And I say that the view is short-sighted, because it does not account for repeat business. It may take a while, but customers will eventually associate a place with hardly getting anything to drink. At that point, the customer takes his or her business elsewhere. So in the long run, the practice may actually be detrimental, despite the immediate savings of a penny or two.

In some cases, I have seen the cup filled completely with ice. In diners and certain restaurants, the ice is sometimes stacked higher than the rim of the glass! It is absolutely ridiculous, and it makes me less inclined to visit the place again.

In summary, these places need to stop using so much ice. It has gotten way too out of hand. If I pay for a drink, I think I'm entitled to more than two sips!

*Apologies to my European readers. I know this is a problem that does not exist in Europe. Simply be grateful that you don't have to deal with such nonsense.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

On Selfishness

It is completely normal for everyone to have some self interest. And sometimes being concerned only with oneself is perfectly acceptable. But selfishness can go too far, and there are too many people that don't know when to draw the line.

In Ayn Rand's works, she constantly emphasises her view that it is good to be selfish. Her philosophy is probably best summed up by quoting John Galt from Atlas Shrugged: "I swear by my life, and my love of it, that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine."

I have no problem with those few individuals that live by this quote. But Ayn Rand was clearly delusional if she felt that this is the type of selfishness existing in the world. Selfish people are not following a life philosophy, and they are nothing at all like Rand's protagonists. When it comes to the real world, selfish people follow the quote only up to the point where they vow to never live for the sake of another. But the remainder of the quote is clearly thrown out the window.

The problem with selfish individuals is that they constantly ask others to live for them. These people will constantly burden others by asking for favours. They will stab people in the back, stick others with a bill at a restaurant, and try to take as much as they can. The selfish people that we encounter in everyday life are nothing like the John Galts and Howard Roarks that Rand created. They are outright human parasites!

Trying to get as much as you can out of others is simply wrong. People are not around to serve you. This doesn't mean that you can never ask another for a favour. But it does mean that you can't live your life relying on others, and never giving anything in return. Constantly taking and never giving is a very poor trait. There comes a point where you have to either give something back, or start learning a little self-reliance.

In summary, if you are selfish, try following the quote. Although, changing your parasitic nature at this point is probably close to impossible, so in that case use someone else. I have no desire to be sucked dry, so leave me the hell alone. As it says in the Nirvana song, "If you ever need anything, please don't hesitate to ask someone else first."

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

On Pointless Traffic Direction

There is a job market trend that has always frightened a number of workers. Improved technology sometimes leads to a situation where the technology can replace a human. Supermarkets now have self-service checkouts, eliminating the need for cashiers. Airlines and movie theatres have kiosks that eliminate ticket agents, and factories obtain machines that assemble parts. Whether this trend is ultimately positive or negative is something I will not discuss. The trend is what it is, and most people believe it to be inevitable.

But there is a case where the trend is going in reverse. Something that has always been carried out by machines now is being replaced by humans. And in many ways, it is completely absurd. I am referring to police officers directing traffic.

There are now many areas where a police officer stands in the middle of the street and directs traffic. This used to be a rare occurrence that would take place when the street light was broken. Now it seems to take place where there is a fully operational street light! Are we completely free of crime? Aren't there still plenty of dangerous areas? It's bad enough that we have serious crimes occurring while officers are busy violating the fourth amendment, rifling through people's bags. Now we get even more wasteful by having officers direct traffic.

And if you have ever observed this traffic direction, you would see that it is completely stupid and unnecessary. The fully functional traffic light turns green, and the officer starts waving traffic through the green light. The light turns red, and the officer holds up his or her hand telling cars to stop. If people need a human to tell them that a green light means go, and a red light means stop, then that person should not have a driver's licence.

It is true that, every now and then, the officer will wave an extra car through a red light (consequently having another car wait for a few seconds at a green light). But this pitiful attempt to justify the assignment has no effect. Everyone can plainly see that the police officer is a wasted resource in this scenario. Perhaps I shouldn't really care. It doesn't actually affect me (other than the tax dollars paying for it). But stupidity in any situation always gets to me. And using an officer to mimic the traffic light is definitely stupid!

I think it's time that the decision makers in high positions stop making such retarded decisions. I would bet that many of the officers directing traffic also think the assignment is stupid. But if a cop is ordered to stand in the street, wave people through a green light, and hold up a hand to stop people at a red light, that cop has no choice. It is a completely useless assignment. But the brilliant minds that make the decisions seem to think otherwise. Perhaps it's time for some new decision makers.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

On Buffets

Over the years, I've noticed a trend when it comes to food. The quality just seems to get lower and lower. Of course it is possible that I have simply refined my palate, and therefore dislike more and more foods, but I don't think this is the case. Food nowadays does really seem worse than food years ago. At times, I can truly sympathize with Kafka's hunger artist, that claims at the end of the story that he never found a food that he liked.

Going hand in hand with this decline, many places have all started serving the same low-quality food. And it is all served in a buffet style. Buffets may seem like a good concept at first-- every person gets to put the food that he or she wants on the plate, and gets to leave off the unwanted items. But problems crop up when this method is used.

First off, because of the manner in which the food is served (i.e. self service), the food has to be cooked in bulk. Large quantities of each dish must be prepared to go into giant trays. By cooking so much at once, there is little to no care that goes into the dish, and consequently the flavour winds up lacking to say the least.

So we are already starting off with crappy food. Now add to that the fact that people are disgusting and inconsiderate animals, and we have another problem. The sanitary quality of the food at a buffet is sure to decline in proportion to the amount of people. People most certainly will use their hands for certain items (e.g. rolls), talk with "spray", or sneeze over the food while serving themselves. So now we have a big gross out factor as well.

But even assuming that everyone at the buffet is hygienic, and keeps the area sanitary, we still have the problem of stupidity. Each item in a buffet has a separate serving spoon or pair of tongs. But people are often so retarded, that they forget where these items go seconds after they use them. So now we have peas mixed in with corn, corn mixed in with mashed potatoes, salad pieces on the meat tray, etc. People are simply too incompetent to ever get it right.

In summary, there are too many buffets and they need to be stopped. The food is often terrible. The people are disgusting and stupid, and have shown time and time again that they are completely incapable of serving themselves. The only time I ever find a buffet even remotely acceptable is for breakfast, and that is only because the mountain of bacon I take somewhat compensates for the downfalls. But buffets for lunch or dinner are out of the question.

The popularity of the buffet has always baffled me. From any culinary perspective, they downright suck! Stop going to buffets and start eating some quality food. The trend needs to end.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

On Vacation Requests

Working every day can certainly take its toll upon a person's well-being, both physically and mentally. In order to ensure some degree of mental health, a break from work is sometimes necessary, even if it occurs very rarely.

Taking some days off from work was frowned upon in centuries past. But nowadays, we have come to realize their importance. In some cases, the days that are not spent working are used simply to relax. But many people like to take a vacation (or holiday) to some location away from home.

The choice of vacation spots is almost countless, and there are a variety of different vacations. People about to set out on a journey are often excited, and tell others about the impending trip. Whenever someone tells me about an upcoming vacation, I say something along the lines of "Good for you. Have a great time!" If they are going somewhere that I wish to visit someday, I may also tell them "I've always wanted to go there."

Unfortunately, many others give a different response. Rather than simply congratulating the person, the parasitic nature of humans comes out. This person's vacation is suddenly seen as an opportunity. Rather than the simple "Have a good time," a person going on vacation is bound to hear "Oh, you're going to ______. Pick me up some ______ while you're there." Whether or not you realize it, this is highly inappropriate.

A person going on vacation should be allowed to enjoy the vacation. He or she should not be inundated with various shopping requests. People go on vacation to get away from work! Now you want to give them some work to do while there? While on vacation, one should have the freedom to go wherever they wish. They cannot and should not be bothered with some stupid checklist. Also, one must consider the fact that to cater to all of these requests is virtually impossible.

If you are one of the many extremely rude and stupid people, thinking that everyone else's vacation is cause for you to hand that person a shopping list, you fail to realize a key point-- you are not the only rude and stupid person. There are many others. So this individual, ready to set out on his or her vacation, is going to receive numerous requests. You won't be the only one handing over a shopping list. Other idiots are sure to do the same. And to fill all of these requests is either impossible, or would involve that person sacrificing the entire vacation in order to shop for others.

But even if someone was willing to sacrifice the entire vacation, what happens to all of the items? The person would probably have to buy an extra suitcase, and therefore pay an extra fee to the airline, just to bring all of the crap back home. Even the most selfless individual would have to be a moron to agree to such a thing. And people being the shady, underhanded, sneaky, blood-suckers that they are, you can rest assured that the individual will lose a fair amount of money catering to these requests.

Recommendations are entirely separate. If you have been to the place before, and wish to tell the person the name of a great restaurant, exhibit, park, or anything else, that is perfectly acceptable. But when these places entail a request, even when there is zero cost, it does impose upon the person. For example, saying "You have to take a picture of _____ for me" is actually a bit of an imposition. The person may not have wanted to go there, even if it is popular. Not everyone is like you, and different people can have different agenda in the same area.

To sum up, a person's vacation is not a means of obtaining something you want from that area. If you want it that bad, you can either go there yourself or order it on-line in this day and age. Requesting only one small thing may seem like nothing to you, but it adds up. If twenty people all request only one small thing, the person will spend the vacation running around like crazy and not relaxing. Simply put, it is rude to make such requests.

So the next time someone tells you about an upcoming vacation, a simple "Have fun" should suffice. Keep your shopping list to yourself!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

On Home Fries

The potato, a starchy tuberous crop in the Solanaceae family, is known throughout the world. It was domesticated in Peru approximately 9,000 years ago, and since that time it has been introduced around the globe. There are now hundreds of different potato recipes, and potatoes can be prepared in numerous ways.

Furthermore, potatoes can be served at breakfast, lunch or dinner. Although it is rarely an entree, it is one of the main side dishes and is the world's fourth largest food crop. Despite the fact that most of the potato dishes are good, there is a dish that is notoriously terrible. I am referring to home fries.

In most diners, home fries are the typical complement to breakfast. But their popularity has always baffled me. It is almost as if a whole group of restaurants and diners got together and said "OK. We have some perfectly edible potatoes here. How can we turn them into something completely terrible?" And the answer to that question was home fries.

I will admit that, on rare occasion, one can stumble upon a place that has edible home fries. But by and large, they are absolutely dreadful. Smashed up potatoes, microwaved first, then placed on a grill for a short time doesn't really cut it for me. "Enhancing" them by sprinkling on some crappy seasoning doesn't do much to help. And mixing in some rotten pieces of bell pepper only makes the dish worse.*

I know the restaurants serve potatoes like this to save time. But I think hash browns or french fries wouldn't really take that much longer, and it would probably lead to happier customers. So here is my suggestion to the restaurants and diners: think of a new side dish for breakfast! Because those home fries have got to go.

*Note: I know that technically the addition of bell peppers changes the name of the side dish from home fries to potatoes O'Brien. But both are similar themes on the same disgusting dish, and there was no need to distinguish between the two in this rant.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Friendly Stranger

Socialization is the means by which social and cultural continuity are attained. Socializing is a part of life, and it comes in many forms. It starts with family, then progresses throughout school. From there it can branch out to socializing with peers, coworkers, or groups. In short, the majority of people learn how to socialize by the time they reach adulthood.

For some, the need to socialize is very great. Any activity such as going to the movies, going to dinner, or simply going into a bar, require the presence of another for these people. Those that are a bit more independent can sometimes go to these places alone. In any case, going out involves interacting with others on some level.

When it comes to places such as bars, cafes, and clubs, people will often interact with strangers. In many cases this is perfectly normal. Typical chit chat at a bar with the stranger next to you is not uncommon. But in some cases it leads to problems.

At times, I find myself in a conversation with a stranger at the bar. Initially, everything seems normal. But after a while, something seems a bit off. Suddenly the reality of the situation becomes apparent-- this individual is latching on. What started out normal turned out to be a clingy individual in need of new friends. I'm always weirded out by this.

Although most people have learned how to socialize, this guy apparently has not. Sure, the conversation started out normally enough. But then it becomes apparent that he has no friends and is looking for you to fill that gap. It gets even weirder when he asks to exchange numbers. What the hell is up with that? Now I have several choices, but none of them make me comfortable.

First off, I can exchange numbers with him (but this is something I really want to avoid). I can also give him my old, non-working cell phone number. Or I can be honest and say that I'd rather not. Most often, I choose the latter. It may make me look mean, but I really don't care. Just because we spoke for a while at the bar in order to pass the time, it doesn't mean that I want you calling me to hang out.

In summary, I'm not looking for a new friend. If you are, then you're going to have to look somewhere else. If you want to talk at the bar, I'm okay with it. If you think that means I'm your new best friend, you have issues that you need to resolve.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

On Mispronunciation

On average, a baby will speak his or her first word between 10 and 11 months of age. Between the ages of two and three, children obtain a vocabulary of approximately 300 words. From there words are linked together, sentences are formed, and speaking becomes a primary form of communication.

Yet after years and years of speaking, there are many that still corrupt many words through mispronunciation. Perhaps this shouldn't bother me at all, since it really has no effect on my life. But with certain words, I can't help but cringe when I hear them pronounced incorrectly. Creating a whole list of such words would take far too long. Furthermore, complaining about words that are rarely used in everyday conversation would be too extreme. So I will briefly mention a few commonly mispronounced words that get to me.

First there are those people that replace a letter "n" with a letter "m." Of course I still know what they are talking about, but it infuriates me. If you ever tell me that "Valentime's Day is coming", know that I will probably lose all respect for you. The swapping of m's and n's occurs quite frequently as well. In some cases I will let it slide, and in others I find it unforgivable. If you tell me that the clown fish hangs out in a "sea anenome", I will simply let it go. After all, anemones are not encountered on an every day basis. However, if you tell me that the clown fish is an "aminal", I will correct you and probably show signs of frustration.

Another commonly mispronounced word is supposedly. For some reason, many people falsely subscribe to the belief that it is pronounced supposably. But if you think about it for just a little while, the correct pronunciation is clear. It is normal to say "That plant is supposed to go by the window." But saying "That plant is supposab to go by the window" sounds wrong to any one's ears.

Then we come to the place filled with books, where people can borrow and return them for free. This place is known as the library. But to a great many it is known as the liberry. What the hell is a liberry? The opposite of a truth berry? Are you going to make a smoothie out of it? It's a building, not a fruit. Get it right!

Finally, there is a word that is mispronounced by many people I know. A large number of them are even highly educated. Yet this word has slipped through the cracks and is always mispronounced in the same manner. I am referring to the word "anyway." Anyway is a term that is used quite often and is synonymous with the term "in any case." Yet as popular as it is, far too many people feel the need to corrupt this term by adding an "s" to the end. "Anyways" is not a word. By the rules of grammar it cannot be a word. The word "anyway" is an adverb, and adverbs cannot be pluralized!

So if you are one of the culprits that mispronounces one of these common words, try pronouncing it correctly in the future. It will not only sound more pleasant to the ears of the listener; it will also be able to raise your status in the eyes of others.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Leaning Sleeper

With the rare exception of those that live a completely sheltered life, there will be occasions when we travel. There are various ways to travel. But unless you are traveling by car, there is a problem that will crop up every now and then. On buses, trains, and planes we often have to sit next to a complete stranger.

Human nature being what it is, there are many problems that can arise from this situation. I cannot run the gamut and discuss all of the problems ranging from body odour to lack of consideration for personal space. I will only discuss one.

During a long journey, many of us are susceptible to somnolence. At this point, many people commit an act of extreme discourtesy. I understand that the person next to me is tired, but that person next to me should understand that we are strangers! As such, there are certain lines that should not be crossed. And one of those lines is definitely crossed when the stranger decides to use me as a pillow!

When you are a complete and total stranger, you have to come to the realisation that my shoulder is not near you for your convenience. It is merely what happens when two people sit next to one another. Attached to that shoulder is me, and I'd appreciate it if you leaned your head in the opposite direction.

Sleeping on a stranger takes the disregard for personal space to a whole other level. It is more than mild rudeness. It is simply unacceptable. Now I have to spend the entire trip nudging some random person's head off of me. Times like that make me wish that seats came with personal dividers between them. Obviously the arms rests are not sufficient enough.

So the next time you're traveling and you feel yourself getting tired, mind which way you lean. At the point where drowsiness sets in, you can still make a conscious decision to lean away from the person you have never met or seen before. I don't know what behaviours fit into your understanding of etiquette, but I can tell you that most people would consider it rude to drool on a total stranger. Keep that in mind for the future.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Enjoy The Show!

Gone are the days where entertainment was nothing more than a group gathered around to hears stories or listen to a radio. In today's high tech world, people need a combination of visual and audio stimulation. We now go to the movies, watch clips on the internet, or occasionally go see a live performance.

Live entertainment is still very much appreciated. Whether the show is a play/musical, a comedy act, a variety act, or a concert, there are always people that will go to see others perform. As an audiophile, I am particularly fond of concerts. Live music is often far more entertaining than listening to an album. But there are many people that attend concerts and never enjoy the show.

In order to fully enjoy a concert, one must take in all of the visual effects, all of the bands' antics, the lighting, any videos being shown, and the sound of the music all at the same time. To sit and absorb all of this at once is what makes the concert experience so great. Unfortunately, we may now be too advanced for our own good.

Almost everyone's cell phone is now more like a miniature computer with various functions. One of the many functions offered on many phones is a video recorder. Now when everything is happening on stage, my view suddenly gets blocked. Rather than watching the concert, I wind up watching a whole bunch of arms held up in the air holding cell phones. These idiots decided to go to a live concert in order to watch a video of it instead! Why wouldn't they just rent a DVD?

Perhaps this shouldn't frustrate me so much, but I can't help it. I want to enjoy the show, and therefore I want to see the stage. And I want to see the stage through my own eyes, not through the small screen of some moron's phone. What is wrong with everyone? Do you really think that your cell phone video is going to capture the experience? If you do, you are sadly mistaken. Ironically, by trying to immortalize your concert experience, you miss out on the concert experience entirely!

If you are one of these people that says to yourself "I don't feel like watching the concert right now. I think I'll just watch it later on my cell phone," you need to seriously examine your logic. You have to understand that what you are doing makes zero sense. If you really want to enjoy the show, shut your cell phone off! Have you ever viewed your concert video and thought that it was great? I've seen the videos that people have taken many times. It is always low quality, and the audio is horrendous. So for the future, leave your cell phone alone. Just sit down, relax, and enjoy the show. I guarantee that it will be a far more rewarding concert experience than trying to capture everything on a crappy cell phone camera.

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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

How To Make A Cup Of Coffee: Another Guide For Morons

Coffee is one of the most consumed beverages in the world. Billions of people drink it, and even those that don't are certainly familiar with the beverage. It has been cultivated for almost 1,200 years. Yet making a cup of coffee to order seems to be a task that very few can handle.

Brewing a pot of coffee is certainly simple enough. But my gripe is not with those that are unable to brew coffee. I am only frustrated with the countless many that already have a brewed pot of coffee, try to pour it into a cup for someone (sometimes with cream and/or sugar depending on the person's taste), and screw it up horribly. It doesn't seem like rocket science to me. But apparently it is extremely difficult since so many can't handle it.

Due to the staggering number of people that cannot fix a proper cup of coffee, it is clear that instruction is needed. I will not go into the steps involved in brewing coffee. If you can't handle simply fixing a cup of coffee, brewing would obviously be too much to handle. We have to take baby steps. So we will start the instructions assuming that someone already brewed a pot of coffee.

Step 1:

Ask the person how he/she would like his/her coffee

Step 2:

Now pay attention, because this is the tricky part that most people mess up. I will guide you through several scenarios, and hopefully that foundation will help you to handle a variety of other unmentioned requests.

If the person says:

"I'll have it regular"

This means cream and two sugars. Now to make the cup with cream and two sugars here is what you do. Pour the coffee in the cup. Pour in some cream/milk. Add two sugars. Two sugars would either be two teaspoons of sugar or two sugar packets. Since you are clearly incompetent, let's stick with sugar packets. That way we don't have to go through the task of teaching you how to use a spoon, or the even more difficult task of teaching you the difference between a teaspoon and a tablespoon.

"Cream/milk only, no sugar"

In this case, you start the same as before by pouring the coffee in the cup. Then you add cream/milk. This may be a difficult concept to grasp, but if the words "no sugar" are in the request, you actually leave out the step of adding sugar.

"Two sugars, no cream/milk"

For this request, you pour the coffee in the cup (hopefully you're catching on that this is how it starts). Then you add two sugars. If you think you're brave enough to learn how to use a spoon, then go for it. Otherwise, stick to sugar packets.

For these scenarios, I am doing something very rare. I am giving you the benefit of the doubt in assuming that you know how to count. If you don't know how to count, learn that first. Then when you've mastered counting up to five, you can start tackling coffee.

I can't go through all of the possible requests, but note that the number of sugars requested can vary. If the request is for three sugars, use three. For one sugar, use only one.

Finally, we get to the most difficult request. This one is almost impossible to get right. For people with intelligence, it seems like the simplest request. But I know from experience that this order is the one that always gets screwed up.

"Black, no sugar"

First off, we have to understand what is meant by the word "black" when using it to discuss coffee. This means that no cream or milk is added. I should point out that the previous scenario could also be phrased "Black, two sugars." Hopefully, this can be learned after reading through thesse instructions a few times.

So for this request, there will be no milk or cream added. The request "no sugar" means that no sugar is added either. So to make a cup of coffee "Black, no sugar" here are the difficult steps involved:

Pour the coffee into the cup.

This is extremely difficult for most people. You do not add anything to the coffee in this case. You simply pour it into the cup. Maybe, with practice, you can master the art of making this most difficult cup of coffee. I've seen people that I thought were intelligent screw it up, so don't be fooled by the one step. Most people get this order wrong.

Step 3:

Finally, we get to the final step. After you have taken the order and made the cup of coffee, there is one thing left to do. You give the cup to the person that requested it. If by some miracle you were able to navigate through the complexities of Step 2, then this final step should be easy for you.

Keep practicing and maybe, some day in the distant future, you too will be smart enough to give someone a cup of coffee.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

On Scaffolding

Scaffolding is defined as a temporary structure on the outside of a building, made of wooden planks and metal poles, used by workers while building, repairing, or cleaning the building. Nowadays, this definition does not seem suitable. The main reason being that the word "temporary" should probably be removed. It may be that, once upon a time, scaffolding was something that remained only temporarily. But with today's poor work ethic, lack of accountability, and lack of caring, scaffolding has become quite permanent in many locations.

The appearance of scaffolding is always an eyesore. It covers up the architecture of the building, which is often impressive, and greets the eyes with a pile of blue painted boards resting atop some rusty metal poles. In fact, the only decent thing to say about scaffolding is that it can sometimes serve as a temporary umbrella to protect people from either the harsh sun or precipitation. But this minor attribute is greatly outweighed by the negatives. Personally, I'd rather get wet sometimes and walk down clear streets.

Besides the aesthetic atrocity, there is a negative practical implication-- the sidewalk becomes congested. The sidewalk is suddenly divided into two lanes, and one can only cross over at certain intervals. It's hard enough walking behind slow-paced idiots on a clear sidewalk (see my third rant Now with the scaffolding serving as an impediment, it is even harder to maneuver around these people.

The few that were actually intelligent enough in their youth to learn how to walk now have to suffer. We have to scope out the openings, spot the next one coming up, and then patiently wait for a half hour to pass while the moron in front of us moves ten feet. At last we get to the opening, cross over, move quickly for about ten paces, and then wait behind the mental midget on the other side. This practice used to be semi-bearable when it was only for the distance of one block (one long, slow, tedious block). But now with scaffolding popping up everywhere, and remaining there indefinitely, weaving in and out of metal bars has become the norm.

So if you're using scaffolding to clean a building, then clean the damn thing already! If you're using it to fix a building, fix it already! I'm sick and tired of seeing some horrendous monstrosity composed of boards and poles on every other block. And I'm even more fed up with the physical constraints these structures have on walking around slow pokes. Scaffolding was created to do certain jobs, not to become a permanent display.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

On Daylight Saving Time

Most countries have had in the past, or still have today, a form of daylight saving time. Although there are many that support the idea, as a purist I am against it. Changing standard time to some fake time just seems wrong.

There are a lot of sources out there that mention Benjamin Franklin as the first to propose daylight saving time. What Franklin actually proposed was that people should wake up earlier. During his time as an envoy to France, he thought the people of Paris were sleeping too late. But waking people up early is far different from actually changing the clocks.

The true first proposal of daylight savings was in 1895 by an entomologist named George Vernon Hudson. But this was a selfish motive, since it seems his only desire was to have more daylight after work so that he could collect insects. Furthermore, he wanted the clocks pushed ahead by two hours.

William Willet proposed daylight saving time in 1905, and that proposal went to the House of Commons and was shot down in 1908. However, the idea was put into effect only eight years later. Germany started using daylight saving time in 1916 in order to save fuel for the war effort during World War I. Britain then adopted the policy shortly after, and then the United States used daylight saving time in 1918. After the war, most countries simply reverted back to standard time.

During World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt instituted War Time which was essentially year-round daylight saving time. It lasted from 1942 to 1945. After 1945, daylight saving time was used without any real rules. Different areas were using it at different times, and so the Uniform Time Act had to be created in 1966 to specify when daylight saving time is used. It was stated that it begins on the last Sunday of April and ends on the last Sunday of October.

Nowadays, we have daylight saving time most of the year! It now begins in early March and ends in November. I think it is ridiculous to have the fake time on our clocks for 2/3 of the year. I don't wish to entertain any of the pseudointellectual philosophical views on what constitutes time, statements like "My time can be just as real as your time," and other such nonsense. Living on a planet that revolves completely around the sun every 365.243 days, we have enough validation in using mean solar time. Changing the clocks to some other time is absurd.

Furthermore, the arguments for actually using daylight saving time are rather weak. Upon analysis, the energy savings seem to be nonexistent. The reduced lighting costs are typically offset or even surpassed by the higher air conditioning costs on hot afternoons. In 2007, the California Energy Commission published a statistical analysis on the effect of an earlier daylight saving time (i.e. changing from the last Sunday in April to early March). This study showed that the change had no effect on electricity consumption. I believe that if the study were conducted for daylight saving time in general, there would also be no real effect.

Besides the argument that daylight saving time achieves nothing, there are other reasons to avoid changing the clocks. The first three weeks after the transition to daylight saving time sees an increase in heart attacks. When switching back to standard time, fewer heart attacks are reported. It may seem strange that pushing the clocks ahead an hour can create that much stress, but the correlation does exist.

Furthermore, sleep patterns and chronobiological rhythms are disrupted by switching the clocks. For the first few weeks after pushing the clocks ahead an hour, work productivity has been shown to go down in most industries. People are forced to get up an hour earlier, and this obviously leads to a lack of productivity.

There are also problems with people using medical devices that have clocks. This is especially relevant to devices that give doses of medication at specific times. Incorrect doses, missed doses, or extra doses of medicine could all result from daylight saving time. This is especially true when the standards for changing the clocks are constantly being changed.

In short, there are no real positives to daylight saving time and a number of negatives. It is time to end this useless practice. Thanks to the increased months of daylight saving time, we can't even use the old expressions of "Spring forward, fall back." We now have to say "Winter forward, fall back," which obviously doesn't quite work. Daylight saving time is not the real time. It's time to end it.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

On Cockblocking

Sexual attraction is part of nature and Homo sapiens is no exception. The courting process can take place in various forms and locations. But there can often arise a particular problem when one tries to woo another, and the problem is ubiquitous. It is so common that almost everyone is familiar with it. I am speaking of cockblocking.

Although the term is now used in reference to any interfering behaviour, I shall only deal with the original use (i.e. prevention of sexual behaviour or chemistry). A cockblocker is an individual that obstructs another from having sex, making out, or even getting a phone number. For the purposes of this rant, the intervention does not have to directly block one from engaging in coitus. It can serve as an impediment to any type of sexual connection, and in that sense it indirectly prevents sexual intercourse.

The strategies of the cockblocker are numerous. I will try to describe as many methods as possible, though I may not get to (or know of) all of them. Let us begin.

The Taker:

This individual is quite common and very well-known. The Taker is an individual that simply walks up to two people that are starting to hit it off and then takes one of them away with a particular excuse.

The excuse can be vague such as "I need her for a second." There is also the quite pathetic strategy employed by extreme losers whereby a karaoke duet is entered. This guy will certainly not get any action with his blatantly desperate method, but if he continually takes away the girl to sing some stupid songs, he could also stop you from getting anywhere. I suppose in this guy's mind some magical connection will occur while singing the song together. He obviously lives in fantasy land, but the fact that this method has NEVER worked doesn't seem to hinder him.

Also a Taker is the infamous "We've got to go" girl. The "We've got to go" girl is the friend that is typically less charming, less attractive, and therefore jealous that her friend is being hit on. They are known by their famous motto "We came together and we're leaving together!" I need not say anymore about them, for they are very well-known.

The Sleepover:

Although this method is a bit rare, it does deserve mention. To the best of my knowledge, this method is mostly used by females. This happens when a male is talking to a female that by chance happens to live nearby. A friend of the female will sometimes intervene by saying "I think I'm just going to sleep at your place tonight." And that spells game over. It seemed too good to be true with the girl living right in the area. And apparently it was.

The Latcher:

This person is a typical third wheel with a twist. A third wheel is not necessarily a cockblocker. There are many third wheels that feel uncomfortable and excuse themselves in order to slip away. The Latcher does the exact opposite. He or she latches on and never leaves the other two alone. Without any alone time, there is often no chance of anything happening. And trust me, this person does not grant ANY alone time.

The Latcher can be a real problem. There are, however, two methods to dealing with an individual latching on. The first method is to play the waiting game. Wait until he or she is finally gone. But this method is not that reliable, especially when the Latcher has all of the time in the world. The second method is extreme bluntness. This is rude, but can be very effective. You must tell the third wheel that he or she is, in fact, a third wheel and should probably leave. This takes the Latcher by surprise, and shortly thereafter the person is gone.

I will note that the latching on method has been coined The Wet T-shirt method by Paul Garcia.

The Shadow:

Similar to the Latcher, the Shadow also has a tendency to latch on. The difference is that the Shadow is attached to one of the two individuals rather than the couple. It will either be a guy following the girl everywhere she goes or a girl following the guy. More often than not, it is a guy that follows a girl. This is because a woman can have a male friend that she has no interest in. But for whatever reason, women are often clueless to the fact that that male friend has the hots for her. So he will follow her around constantly, not leave her side, and prevent anything from happening. And for some reason the girl always seems confused as to why she can't hook up.

If you're one of these women with a male friend, here's a clue: don't bring him with you and you'll have a much better chance of romance.

The Commentator:

This person has the ability to hinder someone's game by throwing out little remarks every now and then. The remarks will sometimes poke fun at something said, or sometimes they seem to negate and outright dismiss what was said. They can also be comments that bring up negative information from the past, or comments that try to point out negative things about one of the individuals. There are many types of small comments that can be made, but the one uniting factor is that all of these comments are malicious.

The individual carefully chooses the comments at the appropriate times, and inserts them casually into conversation. Although all of the comments are meant to stop any chemistry, they do not need to all be negative. For example, a friend of the female can make negative comments about the guy but still throw compliments at the female. Whatever the situation, the Commentator is an outright deliberate cockblocker, and quite a pain in the ass.

The Wedge:

The name gives the description. This person inserts him or herself in between the other two individuals with hook up potential. The presence of this person can be a hindrance, and even if he or she leaves the damage is sometimes already done. The Wedge can occur at a critical moment. For the time being, it seems that there is nothing happening and no reason to stay away from those three individuals. And then this allows others to simply engage the potential couple.

It should be noted that although it is often intentional, the Wedge can be performed accidentally. It sometimes happens when a drunken friend goes up to the two and says something like "This guy is a good guy." And then he lingers there drunk for a while before walking off. This changes the mood. A talkative individual could also insert him or herself in between the two to say something. And these methods serve to cockblock without being malicious.

Courtus Interruptus:

This is when an individual does something that makes the two people take pause. The person can drop something heavy to create a bang, shout something that makes everyone turn around, or break a glass. If done at a critical moment, it can be devastating.

In a sub-category of this method is the Flatulator. A well-placed fart can definitely change the mood and stop any potential chemistry.

The Alcohol Provider:

This goes along the lines of "If I can't have you, no one can!" To the best of my knowledge this method is only used by men on women. This guy will continually buy drink after drink (typically in the form of shots) until the woman is drunk to the point where she will no longer hook up with anyone. In all likelihood she goes home alone and pukes when this method is used.

The Atmosphere Changer:

This can happen one of two ways: either the whole atmosphere of the place changes by means of different music, lighting, et cetera or a whole group wishes to move to a different location. In either case, a change of atmosphere can result in a change of chemistry. For whatever reason, the connection that seemed to be there has disappeared with the ambiance.

The Preemptive Cockblock:

Finally, there is the cockblock that takes place prior to any possible connections. This is done by request. A person will tell a friend "Do me a favour and don't hit on ______. I'm going to try for him/her." This effectively stops the person from engaging the other.

Although the request can sometimes be seen as valid (e.g. the person is in love with the other), it can be a problem. The Preemptive Cockblockers sometimes take it to an extreme. Rather than one taboo individual, an entire list is created. At this point it becomes like the boy who cried wolf. You like everyone? How can that be? Giving into the request should be expected initially. But when the requests become numerous, they have to be ignored.

In summary, if you are one of the cockblockers described above, please stop! It is simply wrong to interfere with the potential chemistry of others, especially when you have nothing to gain by it. If you spent the same amount of time trying to create a connection of your own you'd probably be better off. It is better to build than to destroy.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

On The Pseudo Intellectuals

There are seven billion people currently inhabiting this planet. With so many individuals, there is obviously a great deal of variety present in all human aspects. There are various phenotypes, abilities, religions, fashions, and various levels of knowledge. However, when it comes to knowledge there seems to be less of a continuum and more of a dividing line. On one side there are people that possess a great deal of knowledge and on the other side there are those that know next to nothing.

When it comes to the group of individuals that have very little knowledge, there are two subdivisions: those that clearly have an inferior intellect and those that act and pretend to know a great deal more than they do. It is the latter group that will be the focus of this rant. Because these individuals are not knowledgeable, yet act as though they are, I like to refer to them as the pseudo intellectuals.

True intellectuals have a thirst for knowledge. Information is sought out and soaked up for sheer enjoyment. Pseudo intellectuals on the other hand have no desire to obtain any knowledge or verify any alleged facts. These individuals focus their time and energy to the art of bullshitting. They talk at great length making a large number of false claims in the process. They speak in such a manner that those who are ignorant of the truth wind up believing a host of lies. Therein lies the trouble.

Furthermore, people will actually use this person as a source of reference. The pseudo intellectual will answer questions without actually knowing the answer. But rather than say "I don't know," the pseudo intellectual will make something up that sounds plausible. And if ever the pseudo intellectual is challenged, he or she tends to use a stubborn approach in order to create doubt in the mind of the challenger.

So we are left with a situation where false knowledge is being spewed out and swallowed up by those in contact with the pseudo intellectual. And the only people that can dispel the lies are the true intellectuals, which are few and far between. It may be a foolish pet peeve, but misinformation really gets my goad. And I feel obliged to correct all of the misconceptions that originated with the pseudo intellectuals.

So to all of the pseudo intellectuals out there, please stop bullshitting! If you spent your time actually learning rather than practicing the art of deception, you would be able to dispense correct information. In short, stop talking out of your ass!!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

On Public Displays Of Affection

Public displays of affection are familiar to almost everyone. At some point in time pretty much everyone, including myself, has been guilty of this charge. In the course of life and socialization there are bound to be a few drunken times where people make out (or worse) in an inappropriate place. It would be rather hypocritical of me to not excuse a lot of these incidents.

However, some people have taken this behaviour to another level. There are some people that need no substance to act inappropriately. When a sober couple must spend an entire bus ride or train ride making out, something about it just doesn't seem right. The constant kissing sounds are actually distracting. And these people are fully sober! There is no reason to be locking lips for a non-stop hour outside of the bedroom.

Don't get me wrong. I am not anti kissing in public. I am simply saying that there is an unwritten time limit and quantity. Far too often people overdo it. And the people that overdo it usually seem to be doing it for attention. This becomes obvious when the kissing sounds they make are many decibels higher than the typical volume. It is as if they wish to announce it to everyone. "Hey everybody! Look at me! I'm making out!" That's very nice for you. Now please stop. You're making everyone else uncomfortable.

Why do these people feel the need to make out for such a long time? Why do they kiss more loudly than everyone else? Obviously they must have some psychological need for validation. But this is not only stupid, it is actually counter-productive. The person is already with someone else that is willing to make out. And all of the bystanders are not cheering you on as you make out for a ridiculously long time. They are more likely looking at you with derision.

So if you are one of these people that need to make out non-stop for a ridiculously long amount of time in public, please get some help. You need to have your brain picked by a psychiatrist and get your issues cleared up. It is not normal to make out non-stop in a restaurant. Nor is it normal to make out for an entire bus ride or train ride. Learn to kiss like a normal person! The hour hand on your watch should not move from one number to the next by the time the kiss ends. Nor should the kissing sound be louder than a shotgun. At a certain point, these PDAs become just plain rude.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

On Memory

The mental faculty of retaining and recalling past experience is something with which almost everyone is familiar. Everyone must use and rely on memory for a great many things in everyday life-- too many, in fact, to actually list. Yet despite the fact that we are so utterly dependent upon recollection, most people are really rather ill-equipped to recollect much of anything. This can become extremely annoying.

Having to repeat something over again to the same person can be tedious. It's also annoying to receive the same exact forwarded emails and text messages from the same person. How terrible can your memory possibly be? You just sent me the same message a week ago? But the lack of memory doesn't stop there. As if not remembering anything couldn't become annoying enough, everyone around me suddenly makes up memories every now and then.

False memories are so widespread that I sometimes feel like I'm the only one around who remembers what actually happened. Everyone else just seems to be making shit up. As a person that is a stickler for the truth, I get really agitated whenever I hear someone tell a story and add in elements that never occurred. If I wanted to hear exaggerated phony memories, I'd go rent Big Fish. What is the matter with everyone?

It gets even worse when I'm somehow involved in the story. Suddenly I'm being quoted on things I've never said, performing actions that I've never done, and sometimes I appear in locations where I've never set foot. When the words, actions, and locations are unflattering it makes it even worse. I'm not angered when certain embarrassing moments about me are revealed. But that is only when the said event has actually taken place. Stop putting words in my mouth, making me do things, and whisking me away to unknown places when it is all made up.

So to everyone out there, try harder to remember what actually happened. If you cannot, then please refrain from telling stories about the past. Chances are that those stories contain way too many fictional elements. And if you must tell a fictional story claiming that you remember it, please leave me out of it! I have no idea what the problem is with you people, but it seems to me like the whole world has some form of amnesia. In short, let those few people that can actually remember things be the ones to recall and relate past events. The rest of you just plain suck at it!

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

You're Not That Cryptic!

With people being the way they are, it is not uncommon for many to talk about others behind their backs. Even the best of us sometimes succumbs to temptation and feels the need to make a statement about someone not present. And the comments are usually the type that would not be said to the subject's face. Some people engage in this behaviour more frequently than most while others, such as myself, strive to keep such comments to a minimum.

Now it wouldn't be fair to criticize others for talking behind peoples' backs. Although I don't like to, I have also been guilty of the same action on occasion. But there is a point at which it becomes too extreme. The question is, how do you know when talking about others becomes too excessive? It is very hard to pinpoint the exact cut-off. But if you have become so used to the behaviour that you can no longer wait until the person isn't present, you have a problem.

This occurs a lot more frequently than one would imagine, and it is extremely uncomfortable. Instead of waiting a little while, the person decides to speak in code about someone else present. This is really stupid, and it is not fair to everyone else. When every other person can crack your code, what makes you think that the subject of the joke can't decipher your language? That person understands what you are saying the same as everyone else. Now no one can laugh, even if the comment is funny, and everyone else feels bad that the person knows we are talking about him or her. Of course it is really only one person doing the talking. But since that one idiot decides to talk in a way that includes all but one person, it makes it seem as though all parties are involved.

There are many situations where this crops up. As an example, people may be gathered together and one person may have a toupee. At that point someone may say to me "Hey, check out the oupee tay." Really? Oupee tay is your code? Do you really think that no one else can figure that out? There are tons of other examples, but it is always the same basic story. The person uses some really easy-to-figure-out code in the hopes that no one but the intended recipients of the message can decipher it. Well I have a news flash: you're not that cryptic! Everyone knows what you are saying, including the guy wearing the oupee tay!

Here's some food for thought. If you don't have a code already worked out with someone, what makes you think that you can make one up on the spot and have only that person figure it out? It simply can't be done. If you think of something on the spot, either no one will figure it out or everyone will figure it out. Those are the only two options. So the next time you wish to talk about someone behind his or her back, don't do it in front of that person's face. I assure you, he or she will know exactly what you're saying. And you are making me extremely uncomfortable when you try to include me in your stupid code! Have some patience. Supposedly it's a virtue.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

On Religion

Religion has always been such a delicate topic. Otherwise rational people suddenly freak out when a person wishes to have a rational and logical discussion about religion. The main reason is that when logic and reason come into play, the conclusions that are reached do not favour any religion. And the topic has become delicate due to the extreme offense that so many people take when it comes to their faith. Someone merely asking questions and pointing out very obvious logical inconsistencies is immediately asked in an angry tone "Who are you to question my faith?" There are actually many people out there that question religion in general, but the majority remain silent on the issue. Experience has shown them that people do not take kindly to those that actually think about religious issues with logic.

As for me, there are plenty of people in this world that hate me already. So if I add a few more to that number with this rant, so be it. Now let's begin.

Religion always has and always will create many problems in the world. The supporters of religion claim that it is necessary in order to instill morals in people. But if that is true, then why do the non-religious people seem to have more morals and more principles than those that are religious? If it truly is religion that provides morals, one would think that the religious people would be more moral. There should be less rapes, homicides, robberies, and crimes in general committed by the religious. Yet the people that almost always commit these crimes follow some type of religion. Now it wouldn't be fair to simply make that statement without viewing percentages. After all, there are more religious people than non-religious. However, the percentages are far out of whack. While the percentages of major religions in populations pretty much mirror the percentages of those religions in prisons, the percentage of the non-religious in the population far outweighs the percentage of the non-religious in prison. While this does not show that religion causes crime, it still does show something significant: religion is neither necessary nor useful when it comes to morality.

Every religion has a dark past and most continue to have a dark present. Ancient religions regularly practiced animal sacrifice and human sacrifice. The Thuggee cult in India killed about two million people alone. There have been sacrifices of virgins to appease the gods in a wide variety of cultures and religions. And the atrocities committed against those that have a different belief system can be found throughout history. During the 1100's and 1200's there was a religious sect in France known as the Cathars. Pope Innocent III (ironic name) started a crusade against that sect in 1209. Then in 1232 Pope Gregory IX set up Inquisitions (religious courts) in southern France to complete the annihilation of the Cathars.

Other Inquisitions have occurred throughout history, with the Spanish Inquisition being famous for its crimes against humanity. The Italian Inquisition condemned Galileo Galilei for stating the findings through his telescope. Namely, that the Earth revolved around the Sun. For such "heresy" he was forced to retract his statement and was placed under house arrest for the remainder of his life. Sadly, the Inquisitions continued for a period of 400 years under papal authority.

Now we have terrorist bombings also in the name of religion. The problem is that people are very short-sighted. They may blame something on this religion or that religion. But it has never occurred to them that their own religion has probably resulted in many similar things over the years. Today it is one religion that commits some atrocities, tomorrow it will be another. It is religion in general that brainwashes people and causes them to commit unspeakable acts. Right now, Muslim extremists are the problem. A thousand years from now it may be extreme Scientologists or String Theorists. Religion in general is the problem.

But now let's have a look at the problems that are not obvious to everyone. A lot of people see the problems with religious killings, human sacrifices, priests molesting little boys, high church authorities protecting the child molesters, torture, burning "witches," and terrorism. But the obvious problems are not the only ones. Religion now infringes upon progress in general.

Political issues are still very much controlled by religion. No leader in any democracy can possibly be elected if he or she does not follow and claim to believe in a particular religion. Science has also been affected by religion. Scientific progress has been slowed down dramatically as a result of religion. In earlier years, any scientific truth would simply be condemned as heresy and the results usually did not favour the one who spoke the truth. Religion has been chosen over enlightenment throughout history. Nowadays, there are political sanctions on stem cell research. We are also regressing rather than progressing when it comes to other scientific matters. Evolution has so much evidence at this point, it is regarded as a well-established scientific fact. Yet we still have people teaching creationism in our schools. The Scopes trial took place 85 years ago, yet we are back to condemning evolution. This anti-scientific sentiment has never made sense to me. On the slim chance that some deity does exist, how could he or she get mad at the truth? This is logic I've never understood. Evolution exists, the age of the earth exists, and all scientific phenomena actually exist. If there is an almighty creator, then he or she created all of this. How is knowledge of such things evil? I never understood how that could be. But then again, religion is not friends with logic.

One slight point should be made concerning morals as well. I've already shown that religion cannot claim to bring about morality. It should also be noted that being immoral does not necessarily constitute a crime. And when it comes to these immoral yet law-abiding citizens, every single one of them that I've encountered has had a religion. Those that avoid religion have always been more likely to be good people.

In short, religion in general is not good. Science has been stopped at so many points along the way, it is clear that our society would be far more scientifically and technologically advanced if religion had not been stopping the progress throughout history. In the words of Thomas Paine, "Of all the tyrannies that affect mankind, tyranny in religion is the worst." He also said "All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit." I'm inclined to agree with him.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

How To Recycle: Another Guide For Morons

Nowadays there is a big push for people to "go green." I do not wish to comment on the movement itself, other than to say that some people take it to unnecessary extremes. Nevertheless, I suppose the effort should be considered noble since it does aim to try to undo some of the havoc this species has wreaked on the planet for centuries.

In line with this effort, recycling programs have been around for quite some time. The basics of recycling seem fairly simple. Metal, glass and plastic goes in one container, cardboard and paper in another, and regular garbage in a third. Now there are distinctions between which type of products can be recycled and which cannot. There are enough distinctions that I cannot fault someone who accidentally tries to recycle a broken light bulb or a plastic bag. However, the basic items such as beer bottles and cardboard should be fairly easy to figure out.

Yet despite the amount of time the recycling programs have been around, there are a great many people that fail to grasp the concept. Curbside recycling programs have been around for nearly twenty years. One would think that this is enough time to figure it out. But apparently human stupidity even exceeds my estimates.

Now I am not a person that can be considered "green" by any stretch of the imagination. I don't really care if someone doesn't choose to recycle. That is pretty much his or her business. But what does concern me is the mistakes that take place in my own home. If you happen to eat at a person's house, you may come across two separate containers. One container is filled with all types of things: crumpled paper, discarded food, dirty paper plates, et cetera. In essence, one is filled with trash. The other container has nothing but cans and bottles. Into which container should you scrape off your plate when you finish eating?

If you knew that it should be the container with all of the trash, congratulations! You know more than most people. If you did not know the correct answer, take solace in the fact that although you are dumb, you are still part of the majority. We can forget the fact that the garbage bags also have different colours. One is a regular black or white trash bag and the other is a clear blue bag. But we cannot expect the majority of people to distinguish between such things. After all, colours were taught back in kindergarten. We can't expect the average person to remember something from so long ago.

Common sense should let someone know the correct course of action. But the term "common sense" is most likely a misnomer. Sadly, it is not so common after all. And this annoys me greatly. In fact, even when this faux pas of using the wrong can occurs at someone else's domicile I get annoyed. It may not be my problem, but it is the problem of the host or hostess. And I find it just plain rude to soil the recycling bin with gravy, chicken bones, and rice after others have spent the night carefully discarding the trash in its proper container.

So to those violators out there, please be more careful when discarding trash in another's home. The method should really be quite simple. You already fall in with the majority in terms of your stupidity. Now have your trash fall in with the majority as well. If you are discarding a beer bottle, have that beer bottle join the can filled with all of the others. Let him take part of the majority. Don't make him the iconoclast. The same goes for pure trash. Don't let it become isolated and lonely amongst a sea of recyclables. Let it join in the fun with all of the other trash. That way both you and your trash can be part of a majority.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

On Favour Mongers

In each and every one of our lives there are times when we must call upon others for help. Even people that are extremely independent, such as myself, have had situations that required assistance. As Homo sapiens is a social animal, this is not surprising. In fact, it is quite normal and commonplace.

However, the occasional favour request is abused by many. There are people that have become so dependent upon others that the favour requests start to occur with more frequency. Every single task suddenly requires assistance, and what used to be an occasional request now occurs far too often to warrant the term "occasional." This creates a problem.

The trend develops to a point where there are no longer any interactions that take place merely for the sake of socialization. The favour monger no longer calls to simply hang out or make plans. Every phone call from this person will inevitably contain the phrase "Can I ask you a favour?" or something quite similar. Any time this person rings the bell something will be asked. It gets to the point where others will not want to pick up the phone when the favour monger's name appears.

This is simply disgraceful. Whatever status the relationship formerly had is now lost. No longer can the two individuals be considered friends. One starts viewing the other as a tool to be used in a time of need (which suddenly seems to be all of the time) and the other starts harbouring feelings of resentment for being treated as such. The relationship, and in many cases the contact, dissolves.

So to all of the favour mongers out there, I have this to say-- start to learn some self-reliance and self-sufficiency. You do not require assistance for every single task. It may well be that a true friend is there for assistance in times of need. But it is non sequitur to believe that a friend's purpose is to help simply because he or she does help. The friend or relative does not exist in order to serve you. Contacting such people without needing a favour is actually possible. Trust me. I've contacted plenty of people on countless occasions without asking for favours. Perhaps you can do the same.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

On E-mail Chains

In this modern age, very few people use the postal service for correspondence. Writing a letter and having it sent in the mail is now considered far too slow. In fact, what used to simply be called "mail" is now referred to as "snail mail." This is, of course, due to the Internet and the accompanying electronic mail. As soon as the mail is sent, the other person receives the message within seconds.

While electronic mail (or e-mail) may be quite useful, its flaw is that it is almost too easy to use. E-mail has become ubiquitous, and the very efficiency and speed that make it so wonderful has also lead to another effect. Now instead of people sending messages of importance, as they would with regular mail, any message or thought is immediately sent to numerous parties at once. The people sending these e-mails have no capacity to filter out the trash. It doesn't matter if the people have any interest in the material; they'll receive it anyway! They're on the list of people to e-mail.

This leads to a problem for many. Any message of importance or significance can not always be accessed in a timely manner. The inbox fills up with extreme rapidity. And why and how can people send messages that fast? Simple: the e-mails are usually chains that are simply forwarded to a large group of people without any discrimination. It is a huge pain, and someone needs to speak out about it.

First off, there are the chain letters. These are the dumbest things I've ever seen. Some say that you must forward for luck, some for money, and some for love. Regardless of the spiel, they all claim to have been passed around for a long time and then contain stories of people that did and people that did not pass it on. Well I've never passed one on (excepting one bulletin on MySpace to test my ability to copy and paste-- I'm quite computer illiterate). And in all of the chains I've received, I have never gone bankrupt, been hospitalized, or had a giant sea monster kill me. None of the claims about not passing the chain letters are true.

There are other chain letters that claim to have some magical tracking device. Why do people still believe in this? NO! Not Microsoft, nor Apple, nor any other company is going to give you any money for forwarding this e-mail! Nor will the Red Cross donate money to help Sicky McGee in the hospital! Nor will some crazy video or image come up after forwarding to X number of people! There is no such thing as any tracker to continually follow and keep track of how many forwards, and so on, to launch a program that will come back and reward you with a video (or an image, or money, or a donation to some sick kid). These e-mails have been around for years, and people are still stupid enough to fall for them.

Then there are the political e-mail chains. These are fairly clever, because someone had to take some information, scramble the details, and rewrite what happened while making the story seem plausible. Every single one of these e-mails that I've read have contained some type of lie. Whether it was something that Obama said or refuses to say, something that George W. Bush has done, something Clinton did, or easily checked facts like members of The United States Senate Select Committee or things that people have said on tape or video makes no difference. Someone makes a story up, sends it in an email, and then I get an inbox filled with misinformation! If you're going to send this crap, at least verify the so-called facts.

I've also received religious e-mail chains. Anyone familiar with my religion (or lack thereof) should realize that I don't want to receive an e-mail chain preaching any type of religion. It doesn't matter if the religion is Christianity, Judaism, String theory, Islam, or Scientology. I don't want to read it!

In closing, I would just like to tell everyone that sends these chains to please stop! I guarantee that there are many people out there that feel the same way I do. They are just too nice to tell you that you are being a major pain with all of these e-mails. But here's a clue: when you ask someone if they read a particular forwarded e-mail and he or she says "I haven't had a chance to go through all of them yet," you're forwarding too many e-mails! Now cut it out!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

On Children In The Workplace

The productive members of society all have a means of generating income. While there may be various ways to earn money, I believe the vast majority of individuals earn income through employment. In this day and age there are now various jobs that can be performed from a remote location through the internet. However, the majority of jobs still involve the individual traveling to a workplace.

Regardless of the job setting or the position held, I believe it is fair to say that most jobs should require at least some modicum of professionalism. Even when the job atmosphere is very laid back, some order should be maintained. But this is not always the case. From low level jobs to high corporate positions, there is an occasional disruption that should not exist. I am referring to children in the workplace.

A lot of businesses and organizations may sometimes have a "take your child to work" day. These days are already known well in advance, and a bit more work can be done on the preceding days in order to compensate for the fact that less work will be done with children present. Scheduling such days do not really pose a problem. The foreknowledge provides the employees with an opportunity to plan ahead. But many employees with children are unconcerned with planning ahead.

There are times in every job where a child is unexpectedly brought into work. This creates a potential problem for everyone else that works there. In some cases, though few, there is no problem. A parent that brings in a well-behaved child does not really create a disruption. In the cases where the child does not run amok, the parent has usually brought some activities to keep the child busy. Unfortunately, not all children are well-behaved and most people are too inconsiderate to bring something to occupy the child's time.

In a great many cases, the employees have to suddenly become baby sitters. The children run around creating a major disturbance and prevent any real work from getting done. Suddenly the workplace turns into Romper Room and everyone has to suffer. This is just plain rude and inconsiderate. The parent obviously knows how the child behaves. Yet not only was that child brought into the parent's place of employment, but furthermore he or she is given carte blanche to run around disrupting everyone.

I think that this is inexcusable. With a handful of exceptions, the employees did not sign up to baby sit someone else's child. The burden should not be on them to keep the kids out of trouble. Regardless of the job setting, there is work to be done. It cannot be completed with a screaming child running around like a maniac.

So if you are the parent of a disruptive child, don't bring that child to work. Or if you really must, then you should be the one keeping his or her behaviour in check. Don't pass on the responsibility to coworkers. The onus of watching your child does not fall on their shoulders. Let's try to keep the workplace at least a bit professional.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

How Did You Get My Number?

Since its invention in 1876, the telephone has become extremely popular. Nowadays, the phones that people use are so well-equipped for other tasks that the actual phone feature is sometimes neglected. Nevertheless, the phone is still used for conversing with someone at a distance by practically everyone. We all have numbers of friends and family with whom we keep contact.

All of this is well-known. The concept of a phone number is universal. We all have the phone numbers of our friends and relatives, and they also have our numbers. This is normal and creates no problem. However, many people don't realize that there is an unwritten rule that goes along with the possession of another's phone number. The rule is simple: share it with extreme caution.

There are many situations in which a number can be safely given to someone else. There are often groups of mutual friends, and common sense can usually dictate when it is acceptable to give out someone's number. A common example would be a lost or broken phone. A person that already had the phone number, but can not retrieve it due to a lost or broken phone, would certainly not be a threat. In many cases of this sort, it is already known that the two people are friends and that they've always had each others' number.

But then there is another situation. This is where a person that is not considered a friend requests a phone number. In some cases, it is well-known that the person making the request is not liked by the other individual. But this doesn't matter. Despite the fact that any reasoning or logic would prevent the number from being divulged, a great many in this world will occasionally receive an unwelcome phone call. For some type of reasoning that is beyond my comprehension, there will always be people willing to share your phone number with anyone that asks.

Perhaps these people are very passive and wish to please everyone. Unfortunately, this desire cannot be fulfilled by such means. For pleasing the requester in this case will most certainly displease the recipient of the phone call. I will admit, it is an uncomfortable position. The request of a phone number seems simple enough and it is probably hard to say no. But there are ways around it. If the simple "I don't feel comfortable giving someone else's number away" doesn't sound appealing, there are always ways of placing the blame on the would-be recipient. One way is to say "_____ specifically told me to never give out (his or her) number to anyone." The other method is to say, "I'll give _____ a call right now and tell (him or her) to call you." This way the person can decide. He or she can either make the call (perhaps with the option of blocking the number) or not.

To reiterate, there are instances in which it is okay to give away someone's number. In fact, it is probably okay most of the time. The situation is usually clear cut enough to see that there are no issues. But once the situation is no longer clear, then caution should be used. When the relationship between the two individuals is vague, it is best to avoid giving away the phone number.

In conclusion, people have to learn to stop catering to these phone number requests. I have received unwanted phone calls far too many times. I'm sure many others could say the same. So if you are one of these people that don't think twice before giving away a number, please stop! I'm sick and tired of receiving calls from people I try to avoid!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

On The Flu Shot

Viruses of the family Orthomyxoviridae have been around for quite some time. Prior to medical advancements, influenza was a serious disease. Nowadays, the majority of those that come down with the flu merely get sick for about a week or two. In a world of seven billion people, about 100,000 die from the flu each year. This may sound like a large number, but it is really only one out of 70,000. That is a percentage of approximately .00143% (a very small number by any standards.)

Yet each year around this time, everyone is told that the flu is coming and we all need to get vaccinated. This is a load of crap! If you are not in poor health, you need not fear the flu. We cannot live our lives in fear of something that poses no threat. I am not living in the 1800's and I'm not living in a third world country. If I get sick, I'll recover.

Some people may look back to the influenza pandemic of 1918. It is true that many have died from the virus back then. But look at the time period. It may seem like it was not long ago, but consider what we have today that we did not have back then. Back in 1918, we did not have:

-Contact lenses
-Organ transplants

Furthermore, tobacco was not considered unhealthy and we had no clue about the structure of DNA. Of course, many of these things cannot be directly correlated with the various influenza viral strains. But nevertheless, the list does show that we have come a long way since then. Go back in time early enough and the common cold was a threat. We still have no cure for the cold, but that doesn't classify it as a major threat. My main point is this-- advancements in medicine and general living conditions can convert things that were once threats to mild annoyances.

Yet there are now commercials and posters everywhere advising all people to get a flu shot. Why is everyone now advised? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have decided this year that everyone needs a flu shot. They deferred to the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) for this decision. And how did they arrive at this decision? Scientific evidence that changes our opinion of the flu? A large increase in the number of people that get the flu? Not at all. They decided by voting! That's right, they voted on it! Basically, the question was asked "How many people here believe that everyone should get the flu shot?" When more than half of the ACIP agreed, they decided to push the flu shot on everyone. How can you argue with such a sound scientific method?

In closing, I would just like it to be known that the flu shot is unnecessary. It actually makes people sick. This is logic that I cannot follow. Let me get a shot that makes me sick, that way I don't have to worry about getting sick. Well, if this argument makes sense to you, then chances are you are already the head! So back off with your flu shot propaganda! I don't want it, nor do I need it. Stop telling me that I should get one. It is never going to happen. So kindly take all of your flu vaccines and shove them up your ass! I'll have none of it.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

On Predictions

There are many scenarios in which statements are made about the future. In some cases, predictions may actually be valid. Certain polls have accurately predicted election results. Meteorologists may accurately predict the weather. And any valid scientific theory makes testable predictions. It is not these valid predictions with which I take issue. Those visions that claim to be inspired by some supernatural forces are another story entirely.

Looking back through recorded history, there have always been those that claim to be prophets. They may use other names for themselves, but whether they wish to be called soothsayers, fortune tellers, or psychics, they are really all the same thing: bullshit artists. In truth, I don't actually have a bone to pick with these people (with the exception of those that actually believe in their so-called powers). My real issue lies with the stupidity of so many that believe in this hokum.

We have come a long way since the days when natural phenomena were still unexplained. Science has progressed to the point where we should no longer turn to psychics for answers. Yet we still have many that wish to believe in all sorts of made-up nonsense. Fortune telling, omens, water divining, and numerology are all fake. Not to mention the obscene amount of people that still believe in astrology.

The fact that people still believe in such things is bad enough, but the problem becomes worse. Television stations such as the History Channel, the Discovery Channel, and National Geographic are supposed to educate others with documentaries on valid information. Yet all of these channels have had shows on the paranormal, and the documentaries take the stance that this stuff is for real. Shame on all of them!

One of the biggest topics on these shows seems to be Nostradamus. For those that don't know, Nostradamus was a moron that claimed to be a soothsayer. He wrote his predictions in cryptic four line poems that he called quatrains. He organized these into groups of one hundred and called those centuries. Out of the thousand approximate predictions, a handful of them can be applied to events that have happened. I believe anyone can make a thousand cryptic short poems and have a few things, kind of sort of, apply to events after they happen. His supporters claim that the prediction is crystal clear and that there can be no ambiguity. But if this were truly the case, why do none of his supporters ever know about the event until after if happens. If the event was really as detailed in the prediction as is claimed, one would know about it beforehand.

Many other people do not believe that they are psychic, but still believe that they have had a prophetic dream. This is where a dream predicts something that will take place in the near future. Such dreams are actually not at all shocking. They mostly seem to involve death. If one knows of a person that is dying, that person may dream of the death before it happens. This does not mean that the dream was in any way psychic once the person does pass. It is simply the sad, but obvious, outcome of the situation. No supernatural forces are needed for an explanation.

At the present time, there are many that are freaking out about the year 2012. There are supposedly a number of prophecies that show that the world will end in this year. Haven't we done this routine enough in our history to know by now that the world is not going to end with each apocalyptic prediction? The world will still be here in the year 2013. Trust me.

In conclusion, please stop being so feeble-minded. Psychics, prophecies, and other such things are all balderdash. Educational channels that perpetuate the belief in such nonsense should be ashamed. Not that this rant will change anyone's mind on the topic. For I too have a prediction. I predict that no matter how advanced our society may become in the future, the majority of people will always be morons.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

On Subway Annoyances

In the past, I have written about poor subway etiquette. But there were many points that were overlooked in that previous rant, and it is high time that such things are brought to light. In large cities, public transportation has become one of the primary means of travel. Traveling by subway inevitably involves coming into contact with a large group of individuals. People being as rude, stupid and worthless as most of them are, there are bound to be a number of annoying individuals.

For starters, there are those that just purchased a new cell phone. In and of itself, purchasing a new cell phone creates no disturbance. However, many of these morons sit on the train and suddenly feel the need to try out every single ring tone that the new purchase contains. This asshole will sit there for the entire train ride playing his ring tones for the entire subway car to hear. No one else wants to hear them, and no one is impressed with his new toy.

A similar culprit is the person that plays extremely crappy music for the entire subway ride. Rather than splurging on a cheap pair of headphones, this idiot uses the speakers on his little hand-held device and subjects everyone to a monotonous and uncomplicated "song." These individuals seem to think that they are showing off somehow. The only thing that they are showing is that we can double their IQs and still not hit three digits.

When it comes to these noise infractions, there is still a third individual at fault. The no-talent guitar guy is no stranger to subway riders. This person will enter the car and start playing a single chord over and over while adding to the torture by incorporating a terrible singing voice. It is true that on rare occasion, the person is actually talented. But such individuals are few and far between. For the most part, the people anxiously await for the song to end. Then this person has the nerve to request money for disturbing everyone. Perhaps a better method would be to play for five or ten seconds, and then request money in order to remain silent.

And it is not only passengers that can be annoying. Every now and then, people have the honor of being on the train with the announcement-happy subway conductor. This conductor will just talk non-stop and try to throw out every slogan in the arsenal. Even on the more modern cars with the automated announcements, there are times when the conductor feels the need to just keep playing every announcement ever recorded. I'm sorry that the conductor is trying to overcome his boredom, but that is no excuse for annoying everyone else.

Finally, there seems to be an increased amount of body odor in the subways lately. Either my nose has become more sensitive, or more people are refusing to shower. Well here's a newsflash: you people stink! Go buy a bar of soap and take a friggin' shower. We are no longer living in the middle ages where people bath but once a year. Take a shower and use deodorant. My olfactory senses are sick of being assaulted on a daily basis.

In closing, if you fall into the category of one of the people above, please remedy the problem. You can either stop the annoying behaviour, or you can go kill yourself. Personally, I'd prefer if you chose the latter.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

On Unseen Television Characters

Back in 1897, Karl Braun invented the cathode ray tube oscilloscope. This paved the way for inventors like Jenkins, Farnsworth, and Zworykin to develop the television. The television has gone through many changes over the years, and many of the individual components used came from a wide variety of sources. In short, it was a collaborative effort and has become one of the most popular forms of entertainment.

Through the years, many shows have come and gone. When looking back, one can see that the storylines and the plots of shows have become a bit more intricate and engaging. Many shows that were big hits a few decades ago now seem rather silly. Shows have matured, developed and grown over the years. Yet not every aspect of the show has grown. One particular trend still remains, and I don't quite understand why.

When writers come up with a new show, there will be two basic elements-- there will be a concept and characters. The characters each have their own personality and habits, and eventually work their way into the hearts of viewers. The various antics displayed by the characters can be quite amusing. The variety of personality types can often be used to drive the plot forward. The characters become the main focus of the show while the actual plot takes a back seat.

But then there are other characters. On many shows over the years there have been characters that have very simplistic personalities. Perhaps only a single trait is ever known. The character falls into a single stereotype and is never developed further. The reason: the character is never seen.

Some may find it rather clever or witty to insert a character into the show that never makes an appearance. I assure you, it is nothing of the sort. Whether we discuss Vera Peterson on Cheers, Maris Crane on Frasier, or Wilson on Home Improvement makes no difference. Vera is Norm's wife, the end. No personality added, yet receives constant mention. Maris Crane in Frasier had some traits mentioned, but still not terribly witty to never see her. Only half of Wilson's face was seen, and he played the role of the wise advice-giver. No other development of the character.

There are many of these characters throughout television history. There is Sparky in M.A.S.H., Peg Bundy's mother in Married...With Children, and Howard Wolowitz's mother in The Big Bang Theory. Many others could be named, but I am not writing to merely construct a list. My point is that leaving a character unseen does not add any wonderful element to a show. Some of the shows that use this device are very good or even excellent programs. Why would even hit shows resort to such gimmicks? It makes no sense.

In some cases, the unseen characters are seen in the final episode. If you need to use such a ploy in order to get viewers to tune in to the final episode, your show probably sucks. If a show is well-written, no great mystery needs to be revealed in the finale. And don't mistake my gripe with the unseen characters. I am not upset out of curiosity. I do not sit restlessly wondering what the character might look like. What upsets me is the pretentious pseudo-intellectual thought process that is responsible for creating an unseen character. It is a writer shouting "Look how clever I am! I can create a character that no one sees."

Well I'm sorry dear writer, but you are not brilliant or clever for coming up with such a concept. Get rid of the gimmick! Who is writing these scripts anyway? Samuel Beckett? I don't get it. So my message is this: when coming up with characters, come up with a full character. Don't simply come up with one trait, add a name, never show the person, and call it a character. And if you must do so, please don't feel like you're now a witty modernist writer. You are not!