Closing Windows

closing windows

There’s an old saying about windows.  It goes something like ‘when a window closes, another opens’ or a door opens, or something – and it’s usually linked to a picture of a bunch of unicorns and rainbows or a stream with woodland creatures or something you’re supposed to like.

The idea is that there’s always good news to follow an ending of something, so we should happily embrace the ‘closed window’ because something great will happen when a new window opens.

Well, there’s one new window that keeps trying to open and I want it closed.

Windows 10

Frankly, I’d nail it shut if I could.  I’m resisting the Windows 10 ‘upgrade’ with great effort, but the unwelcome folks at Microsoft seem to be on the other side of my computer screen pushing it open every chance they get.

It started out friendly enough; ‘Hey computer guy, how’d you like to upgrade to our new operating system for free?’.  Then, after some time of ignoring them, their tactics became a bit more direct:  ‘Would you like to load your new Windows 10 now or later?’.  The ‘if’ part of the offer seemed to disappear.

It’s not that I’m against change – heck, I LOVE change!  I have a drawer full of change.

The trouble with this particular change, however, is two-fold.

First-fold, I hate the idea of something being forced on me without my consent or permission.  It just showed up one day and it won’t leave.  I want to be able to decide what operating system I work with.  Who are they to tell me that I need to change how my home screen looks and feels, and I sure don’t want to have to ask ‘Cortina’ where all my files went.

Full disclosure; I’ve been accused of being a control freak, demanding that things be done my way.  Shocking, I know!   But I don’t really need to control things…except maybe how the dishwasher is loaded, how shopping carts are driven, how groceries in those shopping carts are organized, how the grass is cut, how other people drive, grammar…really nothing at all.  But my computer, my personal computer, should absolutely be controlled by me.  If not my computer, then what?

The second problem is that I spent 2 years figuring out where the stupid ‘shutdown’ button is on my current operating system.  What contortions will I have to go through with Windows 10?  Will I have to ‘control-alt-delete’ to do anything?  What other ‘new’ things will take up hours of otherwise good web-surfing time?

Why can’t I choose to keep this window closed?  I’m not buying the bunnies and unicorn thing on this new window idea.  This is a change for them, not me.

I can picture those pasty Seattle-tanned autobots smiling fakely at me like the Borg, telling me that ‘resistance is futile’ and ‘I will be assimilated’ into this new world of Windows 10.

resistance is futile

But I will resist as long as possible.  I will force computer shutdowns instead of allowing this evil new system to invade my safe world of Windows 8.1, risking that 1 in 100 chance that I could lose everything. No, Mr. Microsoft, I will not go quietly into the night.  You can keep your new window closed, thank you very much.

The ‘Spork’ – Making Good Things Worse

spork

What is it about us humans that drives us to take a great invention and make it worse?

Take the ‘spork’ – half fork, half spoon.  Did mankind really need to streamline the eating utensil process to the point where we couldn’t handle using different implements to stuff our face?

Forks are great.  They hold the food down while you cut it, or stab the food so you can pick it up and eat it.  Spoons have that nice concave shape that cradles your favourite soup or pudding.  Beautiful and simple.  Then someone ‘Frankensteined’ them together.

Now fast-food restaurants have made the messy, guilty pleasure of eating crappy food and turned it into a horrible sport.  To save a couple of cents per thousand  on spoons, they came up with a blasphemous cross-breed utensil that doesn’t fork OR spoon well.

What they maybe didn’t calculate is the huge increase in paper towel costs because of this bastardization of two perfectly working eating utensils.

gullAbout the only winners in this failed experiment are the seagulls hovering around outside as your ‘spork’ tries in vain to spear your french fries.

Seagulls probably LOVE sporks!

Don’t even get me started on trying to eat soup with a spork…maybe dry cleaners like sporks as much as the seagulls.

This planet was just not made for ‘multi’ tools.  There’s an order to nature that we just need to stop trying to mess with.  Everything has a purpose and when we combine more than one together, we end up with less than the sum of their parts.

How about sofa beds?  Same thing – they took two perfectly working pieces of household furniture and turned them into something awful.

They’re uncomfortable as hell as a couch, and is there ANYONE on this planet who thinks they’re a great idea for a bed after spending the night on one?

back

I guess if you don’t have a spare bedroom, you might consider one, but I can guarantee that you won’t have any long-term guests with that torture tool sitting in your living room.

It’s like multi-tasking.  Anyone who tells you they can multi task is a liar!  All they do is more than one thing really badly.

I know – my wife calls while I’m typing.  I can’t do both even though I think I can.  She knows when I’m doing something else while talking to her on the phone, too. She’ll ask about what we’re going to have for dinner and I say “Sure – sounds good“.  Huhh?

So, next time someone tells you they can multi task, stab them with a spork!

Optimist Prime

WAY TO GO

You know that feeling you get when you see pictures of yourself at a party and you gasp at how old and flabby the photographer made you look?

It shakes the soft foundation of your fragile ego.  Well, this blog isn’t about that….at least not directly.

I’ve been reading back on some of my older material, and decided that I’ve been a bit bitter lately.  Not ‘Ben’s Bitter Bog‘ bitter, but at least pretty sarcastic with a touch of nasty thrown in.

But that’s not me!  Like those terrifying photos, where I try to convince myself it was bad lighting or the camera put on 10 or 40 pounds, I want people to know that this guy is actually pretty light-hearted and fun.

I can tell jokes, and smile at strangers.  I even used to whistle, until I heard on the radio that no one whistles anymore….except for old people.  That sucks, but what song would you whistle to now anyway?  ‘Wrecking Ball?’  ‘Uptown Funk?’  Not exactly whistling music. Even older stuff by my standards wouldn’t do.  ‘Black Dog?’ ‘One Scotch-One Bourbon-One Beer?’ They wouldn’t work either….maaaaybe ‘Hotel California’.

Anyway!  Back to me.

I thought about how I might be perceived based on my blogs, and after reading them, I figured it was time for a change.
grave

So, I had this epiphany about being a bit too negative, and realized that I don’t want that to be etched on my gravestone.  I mean, that’s the one thing in your life that really is written in stone, isn’t it?

Oh, boy – now you probably think I’m being morbid and obsessed with death.  Not true!  In fact, I typically take stupid risks believing that I won’t get hurt.

Alright – off topic again.  This self-realizations stuff is harder than I thought.

Back to the blog.  I think I need to start being more positive.  More glass-half-full, as they say.  I need to share the silver lining in life more often, and leave people smiling and happy.  And, dammit!  That’s what I’m gonna do, even if I hate it, and have to drag my family along kicking and screaming on this impossible mission!

For starters, I’m going to stop commenting on all those political attack ads.  They are poison to the soul, and I for one, will not be a party to such negativity.  Of course, if it’s against someone I support, it would be wrong to just allow malicious comments go unchecked.

Springtime has not been my favourite season.  You may have even read an earlier blog from me, attacking this very important part of the year.  In fact, it’s my second favourite season – right behind the other 3.  But, I’m a new man, and I will embrace the spastic weather, the frozen then thawed dog poop stuck to the bottom of my shoes, and those annoying little bugs that show up and get into everything.  Yup – I am Mr. Spring Sunshine and Rain!  I’m almost even looking forward to allergy season.  Bring on the pollen!

Traffic is another area where I will transcend road rage and frustration, and will endeavor to find peace and harmony even if that dingbat in the left lane won’t move over. People who cut me off are simply poor heathens who aren’t as developed as I am.  So, I will wave a finger at them in show of support of their growth opportunities.  And I can’t forget to smile while doing it…it’s important to repeat actions until they become habits.

Telemarketers are brothers, sisters, children, parents and friends, just like real people.  Why should I add to the misery of their scum-sucking jobs by yelling at them for interrupting my supper, or TV, or staring at the wall?  No, from now on, I’m going to engage them in a fully detailed account about my colonoscopy.  If they give me their email address, I can even send them some high-res pictures.   Who else but a complete optimist would be happy to share a bit of their personal lives with a total stranger?  Now, that’s sharing with my fellow man!

I’m already feeling very in tune with nature, just by opening up and sharing with you, my faithful blog-groupies.  The sun is shining a little bit brighter as the glare blinds my path.  Birds that nest in my dryer vent sound all the sweeter as I try to dig them out with a broom stick.  I even feel healthier and lighter, particularly since I switched to stretch-waist pants.

Wow!  Being a positive, optimistic blogger has been a life-changing process.  No more crabby weather complainer, or disgruntled customer service guy.  From now on, it’s all good!

Even today, while watching the hockey game, I was overheard saying,  ‘Good call, ref!’. Ahhh…peace and harmony.

By the way, there really is a ‘Ben’s Bitter Blog’ – it’s really depressing!!

http://bensbitterblog.com/

 

Bone-head New Years Resolution

screw upBy now, all of you should know that my actions have pitched me a bit off course a few times.  Most of the time, these things happen out of my control, but occasionally I’ve deliberately and single-handedly been a total bone-head.

But hey!  Every new year allows us to clean the slate and start fresh.  An amnesty of the soul if you will. How refreshing.  How inspiring. How delusional.

Instead of setting myself up for failure with resolutions to lose weight, call my mother more often, and being more organized, I thought that this year maybe I’d just try not to do the same stupid stuff I’ve done in the past.  That seems more realistic.

With that in mind, and with a nod to the 12-step programs, I thought I’d share some of these less-than-stellar moments of my life so that you, dear reader, can help me to steer clear of the shoals, make amends for my past indiscretion’s,  and maybe avoid them yourself.

BUT, just for the sake of plausible deniability, one of these things did not involve me (unfortunately though, they are all very true).

WHAT’S THAT SMELL?:  I once conducted a business review with an owner, all the while standing there with a big pile of dog poop on my shoe.

TALES FROM THE DEEP: For a stunt, I once ‘borrowed’ a ceramic swordfish off a front lawn, threw it in the lake then nearly drowned myself trying to get it to swim to the surface….alcohol and peer pressure may have been factors.  And I brought the fish back.

OOPS!: While doing work at a grocery store, I completely tipped over a 40′ aisle of groceries by mistake.  The crashing merchandise missed a mother and child by a couple of feet. I never went back there again.

THE PURGE: After a night of celebrating for the completion of my job training, I arrived bright and early at my first customer sales call and threw up at their front door…while they were standing there to meet me.

CAREER SUICIDE: Golfing at a company event, one of our executives would hit the ball into the woods and immediately run in after it while the rest of us waited to tee off.  Late in the game, when this happened for the 15th consecutive time, the others assured me it was okay to go ahead and hit while he was rooting around in the foliage.  Just as he stepped out of the woods,  I sliced the ball hard, directly at his head.  Only a small branch saved his life and my job.

FLAME-OUT: For Christmas one year, I accidentally caught the yard on fire after throwing a flaming turkey about 10 feet into a snowbank.

DID YOU GET THE LICENCE OF THAT JACUZZI?: I ran myself over with a bathtub on the lake.  We were entering it in a ‘bathtub’ race and while testing it, the front dipped in a wave and threw me over the front.  It kept going, right over me.

YES, DEAR: At a convention, I accidentally pocket-dialed my wife while a group of us were making ‘comments’ about a model search going on in the adjoining hall.

BYGONES: I took my best friend snow skiing once.  It was his first time, but because I was such a jerk, I took him down the double-diamond run.  He still talks to me.

9-11:  When I was training for a low-risk sales job, I was admitted to the hospital 3 times on 3 separate occasions – once for severing an artery.

WHAT AN ICE HOLE!: One winter when I was a kid after a freezing rain storm, my friend and I strapped on our hockey skates and raced around our block on the frozen sidewalk.  As we got to one stretch, I saw that one of the driveways had been cleared of ice.  I stopped but didn’t warn my friend, who raced past me.  You could see the sparks for miles.  He had to buy new skates.

EXPLETIVE EXCUSE: Coaching a kids soccer team, I had one troubled player who had a real potty mouth. At a tournament, I told the other coaches that he had Tourette Syndrome so we wouldn’t be disqualified for swearing.

INAPPROPRIATE GIFTING: Yes I did.  For either Valentines Day or Mother’s Day (I’ve blocked out much of it), I bought my beautiful bride a………wait for it………gym membership.

Whew!  That feels better already.  Achieving my New Years goals should be dead easy with that kind of history.  Can you guess which one if these true stories didn’t happen to me?  No fair for those of you who were victimized in one or more of them…I will block your responses.

Wish me luck!

PS:  The statutes of limitations has expired for most of these, so don’t call the cops.

Things that bug me (but probably shouldn’t)

Bugs meDon’t know if it’s just that I’m getting old and crusty, or I’ve been reading too much of ‘Ben’s Bitter Blog’, but there’s a bunch of stuff that drives me nuts.  Stuff that really shouldn’t:

  • People who call water heaters ‘hot water heaters’….you don’t need to heat hot water!
  • Running out of soap in the soap dispenser and pumping the thing like crazy and finally giving up but not going and refilling it and doing it again later
  • Opening the door to let the dog out and having a swarm of flies come buzzing into the house like they’ve been waiting there all along
  • Cars blocking the right turn lane at an intersection because they’re going straight even though it’s a right turn lane and the 6 cars turning right behind it have to wait until the light turns green…
  • People who don’t have any spacial awareness with their shopping carts and block the aisles in the stores while reading the ingredients on a soup can and no one can go around them and they don’t even notice or don’t care 
  • That smudge on my glasses that I can’t get rid of and it’s dead center in my line of sight
  • Having the coffee maker shut off half way through making a pot
  • Filling the car with gas an hour before the price drops
  • People who mis-dial you and leave a message for someone else even though you clearly identify yourself on the outgoing message
  • People who leave an outgoing message on their answering machine by only providing their phone number – the one you just dialed!
  • Putting your garbage out on a really windy day and by the time the garbage truck comes, the recycling box has blown down the street then you have to go on a search mission to get your recycling boxes back
  • Nose hair….on anyone
  • Dog owners who let their pets ‘go’ on my lawn
  • E-bikes, mopeds or scooters that go too slow to follow, but are on streets that don’t allow you to pass
  • Cars parked directly across from each other on narrow streets, making it nearly impossible to navigate
  • ‘Continental Breakfasts’….bring me bacon!
  • Button-fly jeans.  I’m over 50…buttons are for shirts, not pants
  • 3 ring binders – I’m left-handed.

Ahh!  Now that feels better….

Anything bugging you?

Social Networking might be killing my social network

unlikeI never seem to learn from my mistakes, so learning from others is clearly out of the question.

My plunge into social media is a good example.  I should have left it alone, knowing what others were posting for the world to see, but I guess in today’s highly electronic, ubber-connected, instant update world, social networking is a lot like food.  You need to have it (arguably), but if you do too many rounds of the McDonald’s drive-thru, it might just kill you…metaphorically speaking.

Finding old friends online has been fun and a heck of a lot safer than showing up at a 30th High School reunion with more gut and less hair.  On the web, they only see what you want them to see.  Some folks should close the curtains a bit more than they do, if you know what I mean.

My problem with being on Facebook is keeping my big yap shut.  It’s like poker in a way.  I’m one big ‘tell’. ‘Eww!  Two aces!’…everyone folds.  My lips flap away uncontrollably and everyone else leaves the table – usually with my money.

Social media outlets like Facebook are an all-you-can-eat buffet of opinion, idealism, voyeurism, fear, stupidity and anger, and it’s too tempting for me to step away from.  All those topics your mother told you polite people don’t discuss – religion, politics, selfies, are open season on the internet.

Well, this social buffet is filling me with nasty cholesterol and gas, and it’s making everyone else yell ‘Cheque please!’.  But I can’t help it – too many tasty tidbits to nibble on and not enough self control.

Opinions are like….well, you know the saying.  Everyone’s got one.  They’re also a double-edged sword.  We share them, thinking everyone will climb on board, cheering and supporting us.  If we’re really lucky, we’ll get an obscure retort from someone that our friends will attack like a fat kid on a Smartie.  All we get mostly is a couple of ‘likes’ and that’s it.

That’s my problem.  Someone posts an article about how processed cheese is a secret plot by the government to make us fat and lazy so we’re easy to control, and BAM!’  I’m diving in like it’s free crab-leg night at my favourite buffet.  Strap on the bib and keep the melted butter coming!  I’m writing in a flurry of quips, commentaries and rebuttals that are driving huge chasms between me and my online friends.

I know I should leave it alone – just shut it off, but it’s not that simple.  My social networking ‘work’ is very important you know…analyzing the latest ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’ fail videos, or watching cats falling off of furniture.  Very intellectual stuff.  It’s no different than eating a healthy salad, then someone putting out a platter of bacon sliders.  What’s a guy to do?

When I over-eat, it’s only me and my belt that suffers.  But when I can’t resist challenging every opinion on the internet, I pull back another sour layer of the onion that I am, and no one wants to see the layers of my onion….and it’s making my ‘friend’ list smaller.

‘Like’ if you agree.

Grumpy Gus

grumpyI know I keep promising to write a witty, funny, sunny sort of blog soon, and I will – I swear.  It just won’t be this one.

I’m starting to amass a list of things I don’t like.  Not a real list, like the ones my wife sticks on the fridge, computer, front door, toilet seat, or wherever I can’t pretend I didn’t see them.  This is a mental list, and it’s growing.  Not good when your brain cells are dying off faster than you can say ‘Old Fart’.  There’s limited space in the old gray matter cavern, and it’s mostly taken up with computer passwords, anniversaries and peoples names.

Most of you know how I feel about Spring and cats (notwithstanding the hilarious feline antics that some fellow bloggers post), but I have a couple more things to add to my ‘dislike’ list.

The first addition has been pending for quite a while now, but I’m sure after the last couple of weeks, it’s a permanent member of the ‘things I don’t like’ mental list.  It’s also, like springtime, nothing I can do anything about – at least not practically.

It’s Tuesday.  That’s right, the day after Monday.  You might think it odd that the most despised day of the week is not on the list, but the day after is.  I have my reasons.

We already know what to expect on Monday.  First day of the work week for most of us, so everyone’s tired and burned out from the 2 day fun marathon we call the weekend.  Monday sucks, but we all know that, so there’s a grace period for sloggy, dumb behavior. It’s like a goof amnesty.  You’re late, or say something completely stupid, and you get a pass on it – it’s Monday after all.  It’s a life version of a Mulligan.

Tuesday though.  Oh, boy! You better be on your game, buster!  It’s down to brass tacks on Tuesday.  No forgiveness, no Mulligans.  Heavy, brain-sucking meetings take place on Tuesdays.  Traffic is ALWAYS the worst on Tuesdays.  And no one is gonna let you in!  You would’ve gotten the polite wave on Monday, but Tuesday?  Suck it up, Buttercup!

It’s usually also the worst day for weather – in fact, around here, we’ve had tornadoes touch down twice this month – both on Tuesdays.  Even if it’s sunny, it sucks, because instead of being out there in it, you’re stuck in your dull cubicle, having the life-force evaporated from your soul.

Bills are always due on Tuesdays.  I have no way to prove this, but I’m pretty sure it’s true.

Tuesdays suck – and there’s nothing we can do about it, unless we move the weekend forward or back a day or two.

The second thing that bugs me is a little more seasonal.  No, it’s not the weather exactly, but what happens when the weather is nice.  On all of our roads and streets, they have hatched in huge numbers – maybe because of the excess snow we had last winter, or possibly because of the late spring, but it’s undeniable.  There’s a plague of them out there.

Of course, I’m speaking of scooters.  Mopeds, Vespa’s and the like.  Annoying, buzzing little traffic snarlers, blocking lanes and impeding the civilized flow of vehicular traffic around town.  They’re even worse than cyclists!  At least with bikes, you can flip them off based on the way they dress in those ‘leave nothing to the imagination’ smug biking shorts.

scooterWith scooters, it feels like you’d be making fun of people in a wheelchair or something.  They ride around at the speed of government, with over-sized bodies and over-sized helmets, tiny little tires, and usually carrying something that has no business being on something that small.

I actually saw a guy on a Moped once, carrying home a Christmas Tree! No lie!

No one in a car knows how to deal with these uber-slow traffic cones, either.  Can you pass them?  I don’t know.  So, most of us follow along at idle speed, hoping they turn into a driveway or onto the sidewalk.  Usually, they’re headed exactly the same way you are, so you eventually have to veer around them like Mario Andretti, hoping not to be seen by the police.

There should be a minimum speed limit law, like they have in Quebec.  You know things are bad when you use Quebec as a standard for logical legal examples.  It’s like the Canadian version of Texas.

I guess I should stop now.  I think I’ve managed to annoy enough groups, one province and the Lone Star state, but I feel better…until I have to add to my list again.