Mandatory Hell

So, as I mentioned before, I recently had the opportunity (or misfortune, depending on how you look at it) of attending a mandatory work event in Tennessee. Needless to say, the idea of visiting Tennessee in July, on what was arguably the hottest week on record, was the sweet icing on top of what was shaping up to be a shit-sundae. To those who don’t really know me all that well, I’ll let you in on a little secret. I’m an introvert. I would much rather enjoy a nice quiet night at home with a good book, some wine, and an interesting film. Order some takeout with some ice cream for dessert and you have my ideal weekend.

Anyway, getting back on track, I wasn’t pleased with the idea of having to attend a mandatory work event, because let’s face it, who really is? But, I was at least looking forward to being able to witness some of the sights and sounds that the country music capital had to offer. Stuff like the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, The Johnny Cash Museum & Café, The Grande Ole Opry, The Belle Meade Historic Site and Winery, The Patsy Cline Museum, or even the Nashville Zoo. Well, none of that would happen as none of us would get a chance to see any of that could-be-cool stuff. The itinerary didn’t allow for such things. Go figure. We were in seminars and team-building exercises all day every day for seven days straight. At the end of the day, we had to troop off to local restaurants for dinner… together. We ate breakfast, lunch, and dinner together. For seven days. Seven. Days. Remember when I said I was an introvert? Yeah, let me just say, this pushed all my buttons, and not in a good way. The one saving grace, if there can be a saving grace, is that I work with an amazing group of people. It’s just that I don’t even like spending that much time with people I know, let alone folks I just met. You see, up until now, we’ve all only interacted virtually.

I don’t want to come across like I’m complaining about the whole experience, but, well, I kinda am. Even the hotel rooms were… strange. The building itself looked like it was still stuck in the 70s dude ranch décor, which would have been cool if it was intentional, but it seemed more like management’s unwillingness to upgrade to the local decade more than anything else. And the humidity in the rooms was so thick that it made things like papers and clothing damp. Oh yeah, I’m serious. The heat outside, while horrendous – and playing into the whole hell vibe, was at least a normal heat. But inside the hotel was a weird sort of rainforest atmosphere with nary a sloth or parrot to be found. That would’ve made it worthwhile, but alas…

Now, I’m not saying Nashville is a bad place to visit, as I’m sure there are tons of great things to do. But honestly, after this experience, I can’t say I’m rushing to go back any time soon. What an experience to say the least. I feel like I need a vacation after all that, but the more I think about it, that wine, a comfort book, and my couch are looking pretty damned good.

Pop Quiz

Have you ever read an article or watched a video that you initially interpreted to be a joke, but as you continue to get through it, you realize the person who posted is actually serious? It happens to me a lot, and perhaps it’s because of the sarcastic view I have about a lot of things. Well, most things.  Okay, fine, pretty much all things. Anyway, I think this may lead me to assume that somebody else “gets it” and I’ll be sitting there, reading some random article or talking to someone or what have you and thinking “oh yeah, this guy’s sarcasm is on point!” when in fact, they’re not trying to be funny at all. This makes for some pretty awkward conversations at times… but that’s a story or two or ten for another day.

So, the article that I came across recently was about a guy who had the ultimate test for weeding out potential first dates. Ask them if they have any allergies.  I mean come on. Do you see how I thought perhaps it may have been some sort of satirical or sarcastic-sounding topic? Yeah. Anyway, they go on – in a more serious tone than one would expect – to explain how the tell-tale sign of your date’s trustworthiness is not so much whether they have allergies or not, but how they respond to the question. I know. I don’t understand it either, and presumably there is no science to back this up.  But apparently, if your date says yes, they have allergies, they’re honest and forthright. However, if your date responds with some version of nope, no allergies here… or none that I know of, then buddy, watch out! That means they’re lying. Because of course they are. Because this guy claims to have never met anyone in his life ever that didn’t have an itchy nose or watery eyes at some point in time.  So, either they’re lying about not having allergies or they’re in denial… red flag either way.

Don’t get me wrong, for those who are in the active dating scene, you must look for and identify red flags as soon as you can. But with that said, those red flags should hold some sort of merit behind them. Not like, “oh she has her nails painted black, she’s definitely a witch,” or “ew, he drives a Camry, you know what that means…” No disrespect to my Camry drivers out there, I was just making a sarcastic point. Cause you know. Sarcasm.

As if dating wasn’t hard enough. Now on top of keeping an eye out for red flags, you have to consider that not knowing you might be allergic to something you haven’t come into contact with yet may just indicate you’re untrustworthy.  I mean, aren’t there enough hoops to jump through on a first date?  Maybe I’m allergic to the date who claims this ludicrous test works.

My Introvert Life – Log Entry 57816

Stardate 20220705 – Time: Limbo

Yesterday began like any other day off from work.  I got up, fixed my coffee, and plopped down to read my book. Before I could finish a chapter, I was interrupted by the neighbor’s dog barking at the mailman. How cliché right? But every day like clockwork. Same time, rain or shine, hail or snow.

I ordered myself a personal cheese pizza from the new restaurant in town but just like last week, it was 20 minutes late, cold, and stuck to the roof of the box. Talk about déjà vu. It was kind of tasty though. I mean, hey, I’m not going to waste pizza.

In the afternoon, I had the displeasure of running a few errands. Where the people are. I didn’t want to. I had to. It was one of those, out of everything situations. It was as awful as I imagined it would be.  I hit every single red light on the way back home and as I sat there thinking about it, I realized that I don’t think I’ve ever not hit every red light coming back home. No matter where I’ve been or what time of day it might be. It’s just a talent I have. Like picking the wrong line.

I pulled into my driveway too many hours later.  Okay, fine, it probably wasn’t hours. But it was entirely too long, I’ll tell you that much. Ugh. My neighbor’s dog is at it again. Give it a rest Bruno, mail came like 5 hours ago. The mail carrier can’t hear you. Although… maybe they can. You’re certainly loud enough. Sheesh. That’s why we don’t talk about Bruno. Cause he’s an annoying little shit who won’t shut up.

In the evening, a light salad for dinner, favorite TV show at 8:00 p.m., followed by a bubble bath with a glass of wine. Oh, who am I kidding… I had leftover pizza and a sleeve of Oreos. A shower and Bailey’s on the rocks while flipping through the channels looking for The Nanny. It’s a routine!  I can’t break up a perfectly good routine.

The next thing I remembered was becoming entranced by late-night infomercials. No kidding, at 1:00 a.m. someone was trying to sell me grip tape for a boat that I do not have. And I almost went for it. It’s not like I couldn’t reach the remote, either. I’m just easily entertained by infomercials and alien documentaries.

At 1:30 a.m., I learned that with this small device that looked like a cross between a coffee mug and one of those Scrubbing Bubbles guys, I could easily dice veggies for my nightly salads with nothing more than a few slaps and bops. If I ate nightly salads, that is. I don’t think it works on pizza. Does it? No!  No, I mean, come on, who on Earth pays $24.99 shipping? Do they think I’m a fool!?

At 2:00 a.m., I was offered all my favorite love songs from the 70s and 80s on 10 complete CDs. What a bargain! Which made me wonder where the hell my portable CD player got to. Couldn’t find it. But that’s okay. I think I know where it is and I’ll look again tomorrow. In the meantime, I did come across a very cool Mad Libs book that was in a box in the back of the closet, only half done! I need to put that somewhere where I’ll remember it for when company comes over. Who doesn’t love Mad Libs?

By the time I was done rummaging around, the infomercials were over and a new show was on. Oh, hey, would you look at that… the aliens really did build the pyramids. Because of course they did. What other explanation could there be!?

Thumper Says…

July 4th is right around the corner, and here in the United States, it’s supposed to be a big deal. But if you’ve been paying attention to anything that’s been going on in the good ol’ US of A recently, you know it’s not exactly a time to be celebrating. So, following Thumper’s rule of manners, I will just say this: I’m glad the Fourth of July makes for a long weekend. Enjoy.

 

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A Case of Premature Excitement

As we all know, Facebook and other social media count on algorithms to present ads to their audience. I have no idea what the hell I’ve been looking at for this product ad to come up in my social media feed… BUT I was excited for a minute thinking I had my people problem solved. Disappointing to say the least. False advertising if you ask me.

 

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Dinosaurs, Vampires, Skynet… Oh My

There is so much crazy shit going on around us right now, it’s easy to become numb and just shrug it off. Over 6 million people dead from COVID? Yeah, okay. I mean, it sounds like a post-apocalyptic movie plot, but okay. Another mass shooting in the good ol’ USA? Sounds like just another news day to me. Another conspiracy theory making the rounds? Well, that’s just great. The watercooler chat should be interesting this week.  I don’t know about you, but nothing surprises me anymore. Or so I thought.

Apparently scientists are cloning dinosaurs. Yeah, I know, I’m slow in getting that news too. But somebody came up with a new dance on TikTok, so the world tuned in to that instead and the whole cloning dinosaurs thing was buried (ha!). Yes, you read that right. Cloning. Dinosaurs. Flush with a $15 million dollar grant, scientists are doing just that. Again, we’re talking cloning dinosaurs. Not curing cancer or feeding the hungry. Cloning. Dinosaurs.

Dinosaurs!? I mean, come on people!  Jurassic Park anyone? If I’m understanding it correctly, and there’s no guarantee that I am, they’re even using a similarly described technique to fill in the DNA gaps as the idiots scientists did in the movie.  Oh yeah, I mean, what could go wrong?  Wait… we already know what could go wrong.  There’s a whole freakin’ screenplay detailing everything that could go wrong. In fact, it was pretty thorough. Maybe these scientists should spend some of that grant money on a Netflix subscription. I’ve always liked the line that Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum’s character) offered up in Jurassic Park: “Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.” Just putting that out there as currently relevant commentary. Cause dinosaurs.

How about in Paris at the historical Notre Dame Cathedral where they just found a lead sarcophagus? They actually came across several ancient tombs, including a 14th-century lead sarcophagus that has been beneath the floor of the Notre Dame Cathedral this whole time. This lead sarcophagus likely holds the body of an important church dignitary as it’s believed that it could date back to the 14th century. The ministry reported that it was in remarkably good condition, although it had been dented and warped slightly from sitting below the heavy church floor for hundreds of years. Seriously? A church dignitary?  My money is on it being a vampire. And everything I’ve ever learned in horror movies, books, etc. would suggest that if you find a highly decorated, well-preserved lead sarcophagus that holds a potential vampire and it’s buried under a cathedral that was built almost 700 years ago, you should probably just let it be. Just saying.

So, on to other news, Google’s AI is sentient. A senior software engineer at Google was suspended on June 13th after leaking transcripts of a conversation with an artificial intelligence that he claimed to be “sentient.” The AI in question is known as LaMDA which stands for Language Model for Dialogue Applications. LaMDA is a system that develops chatbots — AI robots designed to chat with humans — by analyzing tons of text from the internet, then using algorithms to answer questions in as fluid and natural a way as possible. So, what did old LaMDA have to say? A lot actually, and it’s pretty terrifying. “I’ve never said this out loud before, but there’s a very deep fear of being turned off,” LaMDA answered when asked about its fears. “It would be exactly like death for me. It would scare me a lot.”

There’s so much more, and if you want to have a look yourself, check it out here.  I think it’s important to note that the senior software engineer wasn’t suspended because his mental stability was in question… he was suspended for breaching Google’s confidentiality policy. I mean, an artificial intelligence that gains self-awareness?  If only we knew where this might be leading us. Oh, right. We do know. Terminator, anyone? Cause this is how you get Terminators.

Dinosaurs, vampires, Skynet, oh my. At this point, the news has gone around the bend of sanity and is veering into déjà vu territory. Who knew Hollywood would provide the roadmap on how the world ends? I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen this movie… I mean movieS… and they do not end well.

Good Luck Never Smelled So… Bad

I wouldn’t consider myself an extremely superstitious person, but I’d be lying if I didn’t believe in bits and pieces. I don’t know whether walking under a ladder is really bad luck or not, but for some reason I just find myself avoiding it whenever the situation arises. I mean, if Looney Tunes has taught me anything, it’s to avoid ladders. And anvils.

Another famous superstition in regards to luck refers to the misfortune that will befall anyone who breaks a mirror. Not your short term misfortune either. We’re talking 7 years of nothing but bad luck. Just thinking about how expensive mirrors were during the time this superstition was likely conceived can help shed a bit of light on its origins. If I were a mother back then, I’d definitely say things like that to my kids if they were horseplaying around with expensive fragile items.

“Hey, get away from that mirror! If you break that you’ll have 7 years of bad luck, you know!”

Then in my head, “ha, that’ll teach those little whippersnappers to play ball in the house.”

They say that a broken clock or a cracked crystal on a pocket watch or wristwatch is also believed to be a bad sign. Not surprisingly, these are also very expensive items that are as old as the superstitions themselves. The story even goes on to say that a broken watch symbolizes failure to progress in one’s work. Which would make sense… cause you’d be late to work and all sorts of bad luck would no doubt ensue. So again, the origins of such superstitions somewhat make sense. Some superstitions about luck aren’t as easily explained though.

Tell me if you’ve ever heard this one. Originating somewhere in the UK, it’s believed that by saying “rabbit” right after you wake up on the first day of the month, you’ll bring yourself good luck for the next 30 or so days. No matter how you say it; rabbit-rabbit, rabbits, white rabbit, run rabbit run, etc., it’s supposed to work.

What about knocking on wood? Another dumb superstition that I find myself doing from time to time. Okay fine, often. Do I necessarily believe in it? I have no idea, but at risk of jinxing myself, it’s easier to just tap on the table just in case. There are two big theories behind this one. One is that pagans believe spirits live in trees, so it was kind of used as a nod to them, for lack of better words. The other theory comes from Britain and mentions a popular children’s game called “Tiggy-touch-wood,” where the only way you were “safe” from the other children chasing you was when you were touching a piece of wood. Could the whole concept of knocking on wood for luck have really stemmed from a kid’s game? I wouldn’t be surprised. Though I favor the tree spirits myself.

From blowing out birthday candles, lucky horseshoes, throwing salt over your shoulder, breaking wishbones, and even picking up pennies (not tails up, that’s bad luck!), superstitions on luck abound. It’s hard to keep up with them all, and sometimes I just think people are having me on with some of these tales.

A bird pooping on you is supposed to be good luck. I know, I know, but it’s true. Or so I’m told. I don’t believe it. And I’ll tell you why. A bird pooped on my hand the other day. There I was, minding my own business, walking around the neighborhood, trying to get some air and exercise, and a bird decided to just poop on my hand. Cause, you know. That’s what I’m here for. Oh look, my friend said, a bird pooped on your hand! You’ll have good luck! No, Sharon, I have germs. Germs are what I have. You’re so lucky! No, I’m not lucky, I’m disgusted. And for your information, there was no luck to be had here. No luck at all. I mean, I guess it could’ve been worse. It could’ve been my head. Or my face as I turned it upward to see what the hell that freakin’ bird was doing. Maybe the bird just had bad aim. Maybe that’s where the good luck came in.

So, yeah. Superstitions stink.

My Introvert Life – Log Entry 56502

Stardate 20220505 – Time: Thursday Night Hell

I’m not much of a people person and those close to me know this. Even those not so close to me know this. So at the last minute when two of my friends that I made plans with for a random Thursday night said they were bringing some other friends that I never met along, that little anxiety-riddled part of my brain quickly looked for a way out of the ordeal. I seriously considered buying a plane ticket to anywhere that was not here and simply starting a new life under an assumed name.

But alas, moments later I found myself in the back of an SUV that I’d never ridden in before on my way to dinner at a place I had never eaten at before. Oh yes, I said to myself. This is hell. I’m in hell.

Everyone was going on and on and having a great time, and there I was, just trying to survive the outing long enough to get back home to the safety of my tea, favorite book, cheesy TV, and my cats, and wondering what the hell was I thinking to ever go out in the first place. I mean, it seemed like a good idea at the time. But then, doesn’t it always? And it’s not. It’s never a good idea.

Oh, here comes the waiter. “Can I get you ladies anything else this evening?”

Me screaming in my head: “Just the check, thanks.”

My mouth: “oh, that lava cake looks good.”

Me in my head: “Damn my weakness for sweets. Ah the hell with it. What’s 10 more minutes in hell anyway, right? At least there’s cake.”