Let’s Get This Over With

To be clear, I am in no way ready or willing to try the spike-laden hamster wheel that is a long-term relationship again anytime soon.  Having removed myself from a toxic vat of goo, I have no desire to wade back in. Besides, the whole friends with benefits thing isn’t a bad gig and I like having my own space.  Hanging out with someone and then saying you can go home now is just my cup of tea. And I enjoy that cup of tea in my fortress of solitude, thank you very much. Honestly, I’m not sure I’ll ever want to share my space on a full-time basis again. It would have to be a true fellow weirdo and soulmate extraordinaire for me to give up my peace and quiet.

Now and then, though, I get an itch, a feeling like I’m missing something. My monkey brain decides that perhaps a round of “dating with purpose” would do the trick. Then I have another go at Bumble or Match. A quick foray into this world is all I need to remember that I’m not missing a damn thing. Putting pen to paper, I’ve come up with some quick mostly sorta accurate stats to share with you, my dear readers… in case, you ever feel the need to venture into the online dating world hell yourselves.

95% of male profiles have some version of “no drama please!” or “no baggage!” What the hell is no baggage? How am I supposed to take those weekend trips to the wine country you’re touting as your fave thing to do if I don’t have luggage? But seriously, what is baggage? Kids? An ex? A dog? A broken washing machine? WTF? We’re in our 40s and 50s and maybe 60s. We ALL have baggage at this point in our lives. If you’ve made it this far into life without baggage… well, I don’t think we have much to talk about anyway.

And no drama? That’s a vague request. What does that even mean? Is that a Gaslighting 101 way to say they don’t want women who know their own minds? I have clear boundaries and am not afraid to use them. Does that count as drama? Opinions, passionate political views, an ability and desire to speak up for myself, is this drama? What are we talking about here? I kinda get the idea they mean more than just no As the World Turns viewers allowed.

99% of men mention their height. In their profile blurb. Right alongside their favorite holidays and unexplained dislike of baggage and drama.  They would have you think that it’s because women are interested in that particular statistic, but I’m not convinced. Admittedly, I’m still working this one out.

And the pictures they post! Okay, so this one isn’t a stat per se, but seriously, what are they trying to prove? Men are holding dead fish while wearing a ghoulish grin, kayaking, running (which makes me wonder, is something chasing them?), biking, hiking, mountain climbing, or the less-impressive alternative, indoor climbing. And, of course, the obligatory “hey, I clean up well” shot (wearing a tux or spiffy outfit). Their pictures look like stills from a Viagra commercial. I mean, I get it. They want people to know they’re active and whatnot. But, where is the photo of them bingeing Netflix or Hulu and stuffing a pizza in their face? You know, like real life? And if the Viagra-esque stills ARE their real life, then good grief. Who has that kind of energy? It’s exhausting just perusing their photos. Don’t even get me started on the dead fish. Oh, hey, here’s a stat I just made up calculated!  92% of men have a photo holding some kind of a dead fish somewhere in their online dating portfolio.

90% claim to be young at heart, but they look older than I am (I mean, we can see their photo, it’s right there). Or the poetic, old soul, young heart. Who are they trying to impress with this line? Do they think it makes them seem hip? A bit more palatable to the twenty-something age range they are secretly or not-so-secretly trying to entice? Quick question… we do still say hip, right?

You know how people will say “looking for a unicorn”? Some men call THEMSELVES a unicorn because they’re a “nice guy.” Haven’t we outgrown the tired motif that nice guys are rare? I’m not sure niceness qualifies one as a unicorn. This same unicorn is most likely a member of the 86% who are in open marriages that are doing just fine, thank you very much, looking for a side piece with no strings attached. While we’re on that topic, what about men who make a point of saying that they want a woman who gives and wants a lot of affection? Maybe it’s just me, but that just sounds like someone looking to get laid (someone should point them in the direction of Tinder).  And I swear, 93% of men say their love language is touch. Go figure. Maybe I’m cynical, but… No, you know what? I am cynical. I’m not sure they created the world of dating apps with women like me in mind.

How about an app called “let’s get this over with” designed for people who occasionally need a reminder of why they are single? A place for people who’d rather binge Netflix with their animals on the couch than have to sift through a ridiculous montage of phony, celebratory bios that don’t mention how they chew with their mouth open or smoke menthol cigarettes like it’s the mid-90s.

This app would allow only photos of people in their pajamas, the rusty bike in the bushes that they never ride, or the sketchy spaghetti dish they make every Monday. Required for the bio would be a list of recently binged shows, favorite reads, and a multiple-choice question on how well they tip servers. Then, those of us who occasionally feel like we’re missing out on the dating world could scroll through and (without having to weed through ridiculously curated dating profiles) remind ourselves of why it’s better to avoid the apps in the first place.

Although now that I think about it, I could really get on board with that kind of a dating app. Those are my kind of people. Called it! My idea. No stealing. Okay… so how do you create an app?  Anybody?

No Time for Beauty Routines

We all see them, those people so well put together we know they must have a team of beauty professionals tucked away in a closet somewhere, ready to spring into action any moment they need to leave the house. Flawless skin, perfect hair, and make-up that looks like it was done for a photoshoot. I’ll admit, I’m envious. But I do question their methods. How do they find the time, the energy, or the motivation?

I am in awe of these individuals. I often wonder what led them down the path of an involved beauty routine. And how can I join them? Every night I drag myself to the bathroom sink to brush my teeth for the required two minutes. Even that seems like an annoying, time-consuming chore at times. I can’t imagine finding the will to scrub my face and apply an array of creams and moisturizers before crawling into bed.

Sure, I could try it. Test out my discipline and start with a bottle of moisturizing night cream. I could spend a lot of money on it too. But you know what would happen? Every night, after slogging through brushing my teeth, I would look at the bottle of cream and argue briefly with myself. Then I would hang my head in defeat, abandoning the cream and the potential benefits of its magic, before crawling into bed, dry skin and all. Don’t even ask me how I know this.

I recently learned about face rolling, the act of literally rolling a specialized jade, rose quartz, other types of stone, or metal across your face. Some of the rollers even have little pins on them—Ack! Who the hell decided that this medieval torture device was a beauty tool?  The idea of the roller is to help spread skincare products, increase blood flow, soothe your skin, clear sinuses, and activate lymphatic drainage. This is all with the intended result of reducing puffiness, contouring your face, possibly decreasing anxiety, and inspiring a tightening of the skin. Right.

Could I use all of these things in my life? Yes, absolutely! I’d rather not watch the lines deepen on my forehead or stare into the mirror at eyes that look like they’re embedded in pillows. I do love the idea of a facial massage to help relax and tighten my skin. But am I going to spend the recommended five minutes rolling a stone across my face? Every damn day? No.

How do they keep it all straight? Is one supposed to exfoliate before bed or when they wake up in the morning? How do they choose which face mask to use and how often is too often? What happens if I use my neck cream under my eyes or exfoliate something meant to stay smooth? I often find myself exhausted just taking a shower. These people find the time to apply toner, moisturizer, under-eye moisturizer, neck moisturizer, primer, etc. They know the difference between cream, serum, and face oil and are not afraid to use that knowledge.

These skincare routines seem like a science to me. I would need a chart or a diagram, laminated and hung on my bathroom wall, to remind me what order to use my products. Each one would need a little blurb reminding me what they are used for.

These beauty routine folks are capable of incredible feats of organization and determination when it comes to caring for their skin. Add to this the precision and patience of make-up application, foundation, concealer, bronzer, then the 1500 things needed for the eyes to “pop,” and we’re talking Olympic athlete type dedication.

There are those who exist in a state of beauty and vibrant skin. Then there are others, like me, who struggle to convince themselves that conditioning their hair is a worthwhile endeavor. I’m lucky if I wake up with enough time to brush my teeth (again?) before heading out the door. If I can throw a quick hair combing into the mix and look partly presentable, then I feel I can say I’ve accomplished something for the day.

What’s Next?

I’m thinking of a career change. For many years now my job has involved… people. Everyday I’m confronted with people. I’ve decided that I want to try something new, challenge myself, break free from the tethers that bind me, spread my wings, and see just how far I can fly. Also, people tend to annoy me, and I’m tired of fake smiling.

Now, I don’t want to make the typical career change; swap my current desk for one in a different office. I don’t want my choice to be a lateral shift into something mundane. I want to dig deep beneath the façade of human importance and, as they say, ‘Go Big’ (or go home – which would be nice too, but, hey, somebody has to pay the bills).

To help sort out my options, I’ve made a list of possibilities.

First off, there’s always Queen of the Underworld. I could greet souls on the final leg of their journey, witness the torment of those who brought destruction and pain to those around them, become an arbiter of justice for the evil doings of individuals, and have access to all the pomegranates I can eat. Unfortunately, that’s a lot of time in the dark and not a lot of fresh air. I wonder if souls smell as much as their human counterparts. A gathering of that size, in that space, could be an olfactory disaster. Moving on…

I could be a menacing, horse-riding, arrow-slinging, two-breasted (yes, the whole cutting off one breast thing was just Ancient Greek propaganda) Amazon warrior. Living in a community solely comprised of women would certainly cut my annoyance with humanity by at least half. I’d probably be in the best shape of my life. And I could use my strength for good, fighting the good fight and beating down injustice with my incredible archery skills. I wonder how long it takes to acquire that skill.

Sticking with Greece, I’ve thought about heading straight into the business of snake-haired creatures who can turn men into stone. Imagine having the power to transform a man into granite with just one look. I mean, that’s what he gets for looking at me, right? Creeper. Walking around with a head teeming with hissing, slithering snakes would take a bit to get used to. I wonder if I would have to feed these creatures or if they ever rest at all. What if I want to wear a hat? Would they be containable? Too many unanswered questions for this one. Next…

Maybe I should try for something more straightforward, perhaps more pleasant and homey. I could take over for Deipneus, the demi-god of meal preparation, in particular bread-making. The thought of living in a home with the scent of warm bread permeating the air sounds delightful. To wake up each morning and have delicious warm bread slathered in butter could be a dream. Until I remind myself that I would be the one getting up before the sun to make the bread, then it doesn’t sound so wonderful. Can a demi-god outsource labor? I’m also reminded of my attempt at making homemade seitan and the subsequent vow to never see another bag of flour.

Then again, maybe I should try something with more of a passive income. I could fill in for Kokytos, the river of wailing. Specifically, the current that pushes the perpetrators of homicide to the Akherousian Lake, where judgment and punishment are meted out. I love the idea of witnessing divine justice… and wailing. I do love wailing. But again, there lies the issue of darkness, never seeing the sun, and a possible locker-room-smell situation.

Perhaps I should try for something more manageable, more in line with my tolerance and skill set. Animals. I love animals. I think I’ll look there. Maybe Cerberus needs a pet sitter. Three good doggos for the price of one… that’s a win-win if you ask me.

A Day in the Life…

I went into the office again today. I can’t say it was much different than yesterday or the day before that. I thought I’d share with you all a little glimpse of the dream, just to cheer myself up… you know how it goes.

At the usual time, I made my way to my office, thankful for the door between my desk and the rest of humanity. Before I could make it to my sanctuary, I ran into my colleague, whom I privately refer to as the “Over-Sharer.” She wanted to apologize for being 5 minutes late (I hadn’t noticed) and proceeded to give me a rundown on her medical history and the most current ailment (the reason for her lateness). Next thing I know, I’m offering solicited, unprofessional advice (I’m not a doctor, I just play one on … never mind) on whether or not she should take those antibiotics now or wait to see if she feels better in a few days. Despite any appearance of paying attention on my part, not only do I not know what her ultimate decision ended up being, I have no idea what ailment we were even discussing. I zoned out after she mentioned milky discharge. Anyway, I delicately peeled myself away from that conversation and hid in my office for an hour.

At 10am, I had a zoom meeting with out-of-state clients. While in the middle of my meeting with out-of-state clients, “Clueless” found his way into my office.  He burst through the closed door without knocking, loudly finishing a complaint he had apparently started while still outside my door. The “Passive-Aggressive Note Writer” had struck again, posting a typed letter on the printer that stated, “We can ALL work more efficiently if we do OUR part. Loading the printer with paper HELPS! Thank you for being a good office mate!”  I tried to shush him with my eyes while holding a smile for the meeting. Unfortunately, he didn’t see and continued, “Can you believe these stupid &@!%#* notes?” I spoke to him discreetly, pointing out the meeting I was in, and silently cursed him and his firstborn as he dramatically crept out the door.

I recovered quickly, finished my meeting, and spent a solid five minutes at my desk pondering the many creative ways I could quit this job. I thought longingly of that scene in Jerry Maguire until I remembered that I’m not a Tom Cruise fan.

More accounts to look through, more steering my straying thoughts to the work at hand and counting down the minutes until lunch. Finally, the hour arrived. I made my way to the communal kitchen with lunch in hand, my food needing a brief foray in the microwave. I walked through the door but was impeded by none other than “Cooks a 3-Course Meal in a Kitchenette” chopping vegetables on the counter. And yeah, I’m trying to come up with a shorter name. I excused myself, leaning across shards of broccoli and carrots and what looked like homemade seitan (and no, I wasn’t jealous, why do you even ask me that!?). My co-worker chef also happens to be “Close Talker.”  Hey, multitasking, amirite? I suffered through 2 minutes of chit-chat (the time it took for my lunch to finish getting radiated) trying desperately to avoid looking at the lunch sample in his front teeth as he effervesced over the deliciousness of his homemade seitan. If you ask me, I think he did the whole seitan thing on purpose. The beep of the microwave saved me, and I retreated thankfully back to my office.

The post-lunch hours were spent busy with work, punctuated by random thoughts of “Kill me, please,” “Am I too old for a career change?” and a simple “Fuck this,” while I waited for an impending staff meeting. At least I could go home afterward.

We all shuffled into the conference room, offering each other bored smiles and conspiratorial eye rolls for the task at hand. These meetings were often quintessential “this could have been an email” scenarios. It did allow me to peruse the faces at the table and come up with some fun nicknames for colleagues who had – as yet – remained nicknameless.  Did I mention, I hate staff meetings?

Across from me was “Slink,” the person who could never be found when something needed to be done. Next to him was “Passive Aggressive Note Writer,” though she would never admit it. Oh, we all know it’s her!  On my left sat “The Gossip,” perhaps the most compelling character in the show, though I make sure to never divulge too much of my own life lest I become fodder for her water cooler trysts. Now, I have made up some stories though, and believe you me, it’s fun when those come full circle.  In front of us all, the executive manager… the not-so-heroic captain of a damaged ship limping to port. It was a struggle to stay focused. 

Finally, the meeting wrapped up, providing no more clarity about expectations than when we had begun. Back in my office, I stuffed files, notepads, and laptop into my bag to head home for the weekend.

There was no catchy closing-credits song à la The Office to accompany me as I trudged past offices and through the lobby. So, I hummed my own little tune as I exited the building out into the promising light of a setting sun. 

Get Thee Behind Me, Seitan

Just so you know, it did not end as I had hoped. I envisioned myself sitting peacefully at my kitchen table, sunlight streaming through the window to gaze upon the masterpiece gracing my plate. Instead, the way it ended was with a kitchen that looked like the setting for a flour-bomb testing site and a tragic case of mistaken identity. 

Seitan, (with the unfortunate pronunciation of say-TAN), referenced as far back as 535 C.E. in China, is a meat substitute made from wheat gluten. Basically, rinse the heck out of some flour, rinse again, stretch, braid, and cook. Voila, seitan. Simple, right?

There I was, nine cups of flour in a bowl, three cups water, and hands ready for a marathon of mixing. Have you ever noticed how rebellious flour can be? How sometimes when mixing, a little renegade cloud puffs out of the bowl? That’s okay, maybe a little annoying, but when it’s two cups of flour, it doesn’t make much of a difference. Try nine cups of flour and notice the level of containment possible. Right away, my counter and hair were covered. 

I began to mix. More tiny puffs of flour escaped, getting onto the floor, the stove, even up on the cabinets. So. Much. Flour. Everywhere. Finally, I had my shaggy ball of dough and began the relentless fifteen minutes of kneading. So. Much. Kneading. My fingers felt like uncooked seitan strands by the end. But I finally did my time, covered my doughball with cold water, and let it sit.

I wish I could say I had done the hard part. I went outside, shook out my clothes, and readied myself for round two. Pour out the water, cover the doughball with fresh water, and knead… again.

I’m not sure if there is a graceful way to knead dough in a bowl of water. If there is, I’m not aware of it. Puddles of milky water now joined the flour patches on the counter. Streams managed to squirt up into my hair and onto my forehead so that I then had streaks running down my cheeks. I was almost as messy as the kitchen.

Once you’ve kneaded the dough a ridiculous number of times and changed the water almost as much, you then squeeze out the liquid and let the dough rest in a colander. Here’s where I should have been sitting on the patio enjoying a cup of tea and the warmth of near success. Instead, I popped the cork on a bottle of wine, reminding myself it was 5pm somewhere and wiped the now sticky streaks from my face. My hands were cramping and shriveled like rotting berries, and I still had more steps to get through.

The next step was to stretch out the seitan 12-15 inches, cut it into three strands, and braid. Simple enough. I managed, surprisingly, to pull this part off with only minor cursing and fumbling. It wasn’t the prettiest braid (if that’s what you could call it). I was to let it rest. Again? So. Much. Resting. More wine.

Here’s where things went decidedly worse. After letting the seitan rest, it now needed to be stretched and tied into a knot. Now, I’ve done difficult things in my life. I’ve managed to raise children into adulthood, after all. But tying knots into the supposedly braided dough with shriveled, aching fingers is not on my list of skills. My braid kept unraveling at the ends, and I just couldn’t quite get all the strands through the same loop. This may seem like an irrelevant step in the directions but trust me it’s not. They asked for at least three knots, and I couldn’t even get one good one.

I looked around my kitchen, the flour splattered across the cabinets like a piece of modern art, the splotches of dough drying to my counters, the empty wine glass, and the patches of stickiness beneath my feet. Like any mature woman in extreme duress, I decided to throw a tantrum. Right there in my kitchen.

I slapped the dough back onto the counter, pounded it with my fist, and let a string of curses fly from my lips. Unfortunately, I had miscalculated the invoking power of my words and the unfortunate pronunciation of what I was cursing. HE arrived in a burst of black smoke and, with a booming voice, threatened, “HARK MORTAL, I’M HERE FOR YOUR SOUL. IT’S TIME TO—”

 “Wait, what… what the hell is that?” he asked.

His eyes trailing from my matted starch-water hair to the sad pile of water-logged dough in front of me, he gave me a look of disappointment – and strangely, pity – and then disappeared in that same puff of black smoke, leaving my soul right where it was.

I wish I could say I did the same with the seitan, but somebody had to clean up the mess. It took a few hours, another glass or two of wine, and a pizza delivery. From now on, I’ll be buying my seitan from the store like ordinary people.

Telling Off the Grammar Check Troll

So, the other day I was writing a blog entry (as I do), and I was using some very colorful language (as I do). Nothing out of the ordinary. However, something unusual happened.

My grammar check program called me out. That in itself wasn’t the unusual thing that happened… I often draw the ire of the grammar check algorithm. Sometimes it gets so flustered with my writing that it has nothing useful to offer in response. It’s like “yep, I got nothing.” But this time, it wasn’t telling me that I used “their” instead of “they’re” nor was it warning me that a participle was clearly in danger of dangling. No. It was telling me that some readers might find my language offensive.

First of all, I’m not out of line. You’re out of line, grammar check. How exactly am I supposed to write about assholes if I can’t use the word asshole? To be clear, asshole was in fact the word that was flagged here. I’m sorry dear grammar check, but “jerk” just doesn’t offer the same believability of tone my readers have come to expect.

I mean, anyone who reads my blogs knows how I write. Most of my readers have even come to expect colorful sentence enhancers. And if you haven’t caught on by now, well, you will.

If anyone takes offense from my fucking language, they’re on the wrong blog.

Second of all, who the hell does this grammar check troll think he is? Really, who does this grammar check troll think I am? Listen, I write, but I’m no Shakespeare.

I can’t just pull previously nonexistent elegant insults out of my ass whenever I feel like. I can’t command language with the precision and poise of the great Bard himself — and I don’t want to. Sometimes, a good “fucking” is exactly what you need to communicate your point. Yeah, okay, so that didn’t sound right, but you know what I mean. And now that I think about it, Shakespeare wasn’t all that prim and proper, either. His work was pretty scandalous for his time, and the people loved it anyway.

I get that this advice to avoid colorful words may be helpful for some grammar check users. Like if you’re writing an essay for school or working on your resume. Employers might not like to see “organized the fucking files” under the list of duties. And teachers might have aneurysms if they saw “this book was fucking great because” as an essay introduction. Though personally, I’d find that book report a hell of a lot more interesting than most – and probably more accurate to boot, wouldn’t you?

But grammar check, this is my blog. My blog. And it’s the 21st century. After what we dealt with in 2020, I think it is entirely appropriate to call some people out for the assholes they are (and don’t even try me, grammar troll!). I get that my insults are more of the garden variety and not as powerful or as graceful as they could be.

But I’m okay with that. It’s fine with me that my insults are more like homegrown tomatoes instead of wild berries. They taste and feel different, but the job gets done either way.

Sorry, Grammar Troll. I’m not interested in you’re advice. Just kidding. Sheesh, yes, I know it’s “your.” Please don’t inundate me with helpful hints. It was a joke, grammar check. A. Joke.

And yes, readers. I know that he can’t really hear me. Still…

The New Business Casual

Here in the U.S., we just hit an improbable milestone:  one year in quarantine. For those of us who had to adjust from office life to the work-from-home grind, it wasn’t easy at first. What even is the work day without an office? What about happy hour? What about lunch with my coworkers? What about happy hour? What about those gossip sessions by the water cooler? What about happy hour?

Well, I learned pretty quickly that I am just fine in my PJs all day. To be honest, I wonder why we don’t just go ahead and embrace the future and make pajamas the new business casual? When we hop on those Zoom meetings, we know damn well our coworkers are not in fact wearing pants. They threw on a shirt and the rest of the so-called outfit be damned.  Out of sight, out of mind, as they say. At this point, are we even sitting at our desks all day? Probably not. So, why don’t we get rid of the office altogether and work from home in our robes forever?

During the last year, a lot of businesses realized they could do just fine – or even better, without the office setting. Working remotely was always a good business model, it’s just that now the corporate powers that be are starting to appreciate it.  Working from home keeps employees happy and happy employees are loyal employees, and loyal employees are long-term employees. Allowing folks to work from home reduces overhead, ensures talent longevity (a cost savings in itself), and it’s surprisingly productive. Though, maybe not all that surprising after all.  Offices can be inefficient, productivity-killers, especially with old-school managers and their outdated management styles at the helm.

Maybe too, as the talent, we’re starting to realize we don’t have to tolerate the daily grind. Were you afraid to apply for that job across the country before? Well, now not only can you apply, but you might not even have to move. Working remotely has made workplaces more inclusive, and they can hire from anywhere. You’re also going to save a bunch of money if you continue to work remotely. No more commuting, buying business clothes or going out to lunch every day. No more ‘happy hour’ with those coworkers you hate, either. Okay, well, maybe we’ll keep the happy hour.

In the before times, many people spent at least an hour commuting to and from work. Not to mention getting up early to get ready to go into the office and face other human beings all day, every freakin’ day.  Spending less time preparing for and getting to the workplace gives us more time to do the actual work. And at the end of the day, it gives us more down time.

When you’re working remotely, your office can be anywhere. You can decorate it however you want, and when things become safe again, you can pack up those pajamas and hit the road for some travel without taking any time off. The world is your office when you’re working from home!

If you’re chomping at the bit to get back into the office, good for you. Working from home definitely isn’t for everyone.  For those of us who have embraced a life of robes and slippers with no commute, we hope work from home is here to stay.

Stupid Games. Stupid Prizes.

This post was originally written way back in 2014.  I thought it was worth revisiting. Not because the show in question was re-aired recently but because in a general conversation I was having with someone this week, they mentioned that they’d like to travel to another country and they gave the exact same answer mocked in this very postBefore you roll your eyes at me and make excuses for them, you should know they live in the United States just like me. I weep for the future as we descend ever deeper into the plot of “Idiocracy.”  

———————–

Family Feud, Where Facts Need Not Apply…

Sometimes the best way to win a game isn’t by swinging for the fences every time. Occasionally getting an answer “wrong” turns out to be the best way to the top of the leader board. It’s called strategy. Having trouble thinking of the kind of game that would reward not getting “correct” answers? I have one for you that my daughter and I would absolutely demolish if we ever got picked to participate.

Family Feud.

Not only are our minds deep, vast reservoirs of completely useless information, but we also understand how stupid the human population can really be. That’s really the key point that would give us an edge on the show we love to binge-watch. You see, Family Feud is not based on correct answers, it’s based on what other people think are correct answers.

If you’ve ever watched TV since the 1970s you’ve probably caught a show or two and know how it’s played. But just in case, here are the rules: 100 people are surveyed on pointless questions (If your house caught on fire what would be the one thing you’d save? What are the most relaxing things to do on vacation? When you get on a plane what is one of the first things you do? On a scale of 1 to 10 how pretty do you think you are without makeup?) On one episode I saw, five (yes, five) of the 100 people answered a question thinking Hawaii was a separate country. The question was this: Name an exotic country?

Now it bears repeating… five people (presumably Americans) out of 100 thought Hawaii was a country.

So you see how my daughter and I might etch out some wins. To succeed at Family Feud, you can’t simply give answers that make sense, because as it turns out, not all of them will. What you want to do is give answers based on what you think 100 people off the street might say. Doesn’t matter if it’s right or wrong, just that someone said it. For instance, name an exotic country. Answer: Hawaii. Yeah, we know that’s not true, but according to the survey that doesn’t matter. A wrong answer can garner you $20,000 and a brand new car.

And this is our strategy for winning. Don’t presume that everyone roaming around out there isn’t grossly misinformed about the world they’re living in. Sad, but profitable.

Midsomer Revisited

Once again, I find myself binge-watching the last couple of seasons of Midsomer Murders. Ahhh, yes, Midsomer… where the most creative murders ever known to man take place.  Squashed by a wheel of cheese? Yep. Covered in truffle oil and eaten alive by wild boar? You’ve got it.  Boiled in a vat of brewing beer? Shaken by an apple harvester? Check and double check. This idyllic English county has a knack for homicide, that’s for sure… and Wi-Fi service worth killing for.

———————–

Originally written May 23, 2017

Midsomer Lifestyle

Have any of you ever seen the show Midsomer Murders? It a great show from England about two detectives, The Barnabys (first there is Tom, played by the incomparable John Nettles, who protected and served Midsomer for 14 seasons and then Tom’s younger cousin John, played by Neil Dudgeon, who takes over when Tom retires) and their varying Sergeants who assist in their crime-solving routines. If you haven’t seen it yet here’s the basic premise: Set in the fictional county of Midsomer, the Barnabys take on and solve murder cases, which are never in short supply given the area’s shockingly high murder rate. I. Love. This. Show. I’ve been binge-watching (or rather, re-binge-watching) this week to my daughter’s dismay.  To say she isn’t into languid, picturesque British detective shows is an understatement.

the cousins Barnaby

The villages of Midsomer — many named Midsomer something, as in Midsomer Florey or Midsomer Worthy, or perhaps something as delightful as the jaunty Badger’s Drift — are so tranquil and charming that I don’t see how anyone would be angry enough to commit murder there. But murder they do, and the perpetrators never seem satisfied with just one, either; more often than not, there are multiple per show.  It’s like potato chips with these people. There was only one episode in the history of the series that had zero murders, and from what I understand, fans were outraged with that singular murder-free storyline…go figure. Who knew there were such rabid viewers addicted to rampant violence running amok amid an idyllic backdrop?  If you’re a fan of fun crime dramas this is for you. There’s no shortage of material. The show started in 1997 and as of right now, 21 seasons have already aired.

If you’re a fan of breathtaking English countryside, this is also the show for you. The locations in which they shoot are always beautiful, historical, and quaint little hamlets. They’re so quiet and comfortable-looking that I’ve daydreamed about buying a little cottage in one of these villages and living that Midsomer country life. You may be asking, “But what about, you know, all the murders that happen there?” I’ve thought about it and while it would be a disadvantage if my neighbors were getting iced all the time, it just might be worth the view. These towns are REALLY pretty. And you know, the violent crime rate does give everyone something to talk about down at the local pub. So there’s that.

Amazingly enough, while from the outside, these locations seem about as far away from modern technology as one could be, everyone (in the later episodes of course) have a laptop and a smart phone. Flip phones were all the rage in the earlier shows. It’s not just the “old-money” rich, either, in their truly opulent homes, and who seem to outnumber the middle-class residents of the area by a landslide. No, everyone from the farmer down the lane to the Lord who renovated that castle up the street have electronics that make me envious… and the data to back it up, despite nary a cell tower cluttering up the landscape. I mean, I can’t even get service in my local grocery store, let alone when travelling between towns on our rural backroads.

Outside of the steady flow of homicide, I can’t see why anyone wouldn’t want to live in Midsomer. If it existed, that is. With the lovely to-die-for (ha!) scenery AND the possibility of unlimited data, I think I could ignore the rampant carnage.

Seriously though, how is Wi-Fi not an issue in Midsomer? That’s the real mystery I think the Barnabys should spend some time investigating.

Petty is as Petty Does

If I’ve heard it from one teacher, I’ve heard it from 1,000 “Wendy, you’re an underachiever!”  Or “You have so much potential, what is wrong with you!?”  Well. Those teachers would be eating crow today. For today, I achieved a feat almost unheard of in modern times. Are you ready?

I got kicked out of a Murdoch Mysteries discussion group on Facebook this morning. I know, I know, don’t all of you applaud at once… my ears, they’re aching! I don’t blame you for being awe-inspired though, it’s an impressive achievement, if I do say so myself.

Murdoch Mysteries is a show set in late 1890s to early 1900s Toronto. It’s a terrific show, I highly recommend it. My erstwhile Facebook discussion group, not so much.

I’ve always thought that Facebook was full of cliques if not clichés and there is nowhere that this more evident than in Facebook groups, regardless of the topic.

While boasting a large-ish following – and despite a name that implies participation (Murdoch Mysteries Discussion Group), this particular group allows just a small band of people – admins and presumably the admin’s friends – to post or otherwise participate in the commentary. Others are routinely muted or the post deemed off-topic or conversations simply disappear. I get that some group admins can feel an overwhelming sense of power given their seemingly complete control over their realm and its citizens. They smite members and create arbitrary rules on a whim. And yes, I also understand that it’s “their group, their rules.” I suppose I just assumed that a discussion group would have some form of … discussion.

Today, someone who is tight with the admins was bashing the members, as a whole, for constantly asking “when will the show be available in my area!?” A question that they can “basically google themselves if they weren’t so freakin’ lazy.”  It’s an annoying question, I’ll give them that. But bashing members is “against the rules” and besides, it was a stupid, self-serving post. There. I said it.  Anyone else, and it would’ve been gone almost before it hit the interwebs.

My comment of “How does a post like this help to further the discussion of Murdoch Mysteries?” was deemed, you guessed it, bashing a member.  Hence my ouster. It was really kind of funny, actually. The OP (original poster) immediately – but immediately – tagged her friend, the admin, and well, there you go. Tattling, adult-style.

Now, my feelings aren’t particularly hurt due to my ejection from the group. It’s not the first door to hit me in my… well, you know what, and it won’t be the last. Although, I assumed it would be over something a bit more dramatic and worthwhile. I disappointed myself in that regard.

 But it does leave me with one burning question:  Does high school ever end?