A Dog’s Love

Rufus’ only job is to love me. He thinks he has to protect the house from the mail carrier, the cat across the street, the leaf blowing down the sidewalk, and anyone who happens to walk past our door… those who have the audacity to knock must die of course, and if it weren’t for me foiling his plans, goodness knows how many notches he would have on his belt by now. But in reality, his only job is to love me, and he does it very well. The below is evidence of this.

I’m not sure whether I should feel guilty for leaving him out in the cold, as it were, impressed with his staying power (he apparently stayed this way for 30 minutes), or comforted at the idea that someone loves me so unconditionally that they would willingly stand guard awaiting my return from the bath.

Rufus the Invincible

Caught in the Matrix

No-one will believe me, I know, BUT … while driving to work today, I saw a car that looked just like mine. Now you might say, “Really, Wendy? Wow. It’s not as though there are thousands upon thousands of Kia Spectras in the country...” Just hear me out. It was the same exact model and color, with similar wear and tear. It had the same exact black and white paw print “spay/neuter your pet” magnet on the back … in the exact same spot as mine. I couldn’t tell what humane society it was from (I was on a highway in morning rush hour traffic doing about 60 mph at the time), but still. It had a short-ish woman with blonde hair driving.  Again, I didn’t get a good look at her because I was trying to not crash at the time. But I would like it noted that I am a short-ish woman with blonde hair. Here’s the kicker … the license plate was almost identical. Do you know, that was the one thing that made me realize I wasn’t in some sort of time loop where I was early (or late) and passing myself on the highway?

I know they say “pics or it didn’t happen!” Frustratingly enough, I was unable to snap a pic or even get my cell phone out cause, you know … driving.  I swear, I’m not crazy. I’m not.

I’m not.

Riding the Waze Wave

In the good old days, we had these things called maps.  I’m not saying I knew how to use them, just making light conversation.

I am both geographically and navigationally challenged.   When my daughter came in to the world, Mother Nature gave her looks, talent, and brains.  Then, looking down on me desperately trying to find the dairy aisle in a grocery store, Mother Nature decided to even the odds in my favor and give her an insanely accurate sense of direction.  My daughter could go someplace one time, and it is permanently ingrained on her brain map.  If, however, I am driving, and we end up three states away from our destination (due to my innate inability to follow directions), my daughter has fantastic technology in the palm of her hand to bring us back on track.  I was forbidden to touch the device, however, after that one time I tried to fold it back up and put it in the glove compartment.

With my daughter off to college and busy with her own life … too busy to help her old mother find that Starbucks two towns away that has that awesome white mocha latte that we’ve only been to 500 times (and I still can’t locate on my own), I figured I would never be able to find anything again.  I had visions of being lost in my own home, unable to find the bathroom or kitchen.  Luckily for me, she had an awesome solution called Waze. If you haven’t tried this app, you should. I swear by it now … and no, I don’t get paid to say that. It’s just as a person who routinely gets lost in my own hometown, I appreciate any little bit of help I can get to stay on track and on time.

Waze is more than just directions.  This amazing free app is powered by its users and allows them to enter alerts for police, traffic, accidents, road hazards, and so forth.  For some reason I do not understand, my car shows up on fellow Waze user’s screens as a blinking neon blip, with people regularly posting updates as to my whereabouts and adding absurd emoticons next to it. I’m sorry fellow travelers, but if it’s any consolation, I really don’t want to be doing what I’m doing either.

Waze has saved me time and frustration on more than one occasion by steering me away from traffic and into a smooth flow of backroads and little-known detours (at least little known to me).  I’ve been into neighborhoods I didn’t even know existed.  Every day driving is now an adventure!  At times, I like to feel in control and will deliberately ignore Waze instructions so that it realizes it is not the boss of me.  I mean, seriously, what the hell are you sending me this way for, you stupid app??  Needless to say, I’ve regretted it every time, because I’ve subsequently run into standstill traffic which has significantly delayed my road trip, not to mention added to my road-stress level…which, in all honesty, is about maxed out on a good day.

Waze doesn’t have the snark delightful repartee that accompanies my daughter’s route-finding directions, but it gets me where I need to be.

Now, speaking of lost, enjoy this news story about a family lost in corn maze who called 911 for rescue.   I may be a get lost in my own hometown kind of person, but I will never be the “lost in a corn maze calling 911 instead of cutting directly through the corn or flagging down the corn maze lifeguard” kind of lost.

Hospital Absurdities

I’ve been thinking a lot about illnesses lately.  About how some of them take your loved ones away, piece by piece, until there is nothing left of the person you once knew.

My grandmother’s mind was ravaged by Alzheimer’s. Such an insidious disease. She went from the fiercely strong woman I knew to someone who no longer even knew herself.  And as some of you know, my dad is currently struggling with cancer; he’s doing everything he can to kick its ass.  I’ve often wondered: is it better to lose your mind and keep your bodily health or retain your intellect yet have your body waste away? A twisted kind of lottery if you ask me, no matter which way you go. Terminal illness sucks, of that there is no doubt.

While I would drop everything to be at their beck and call, from day to day I try to keep a light heart and not dwell on the reality that is my dad’s illness … if I did, I’d go down that rabbit hole and never come back up. Instead I show my love through food and treats and stupid jokes and gossip and stupid jokes. Did I mention stupid jokes?

The tangled mess that is my mind wonders about so many things and since we’re discussing illness, naturally, I wonder about hospitals. So here is me … dealing with an ugly reality in a very not so mature way.

Why can you never find a doctor?  It’s a hospital, for goodness sake.  Doctors swarm around there like ants on your kitchen counter, so why is it you can never find one when you need him?  Pinning a doctor down for a visit to your hospital room is like planning a visit from your cable company, only a lot less fun.  “I’ll be there between 8am tomorrow morning and 11pm next Tuesday.”  Are there hidden golf course in the basement of the hospital?

Why are so many surfaces white?  Sure, I get the concept.  White equals cleanliness and sterility.  But what’s the point when the janitors are playing “Guess That Body Fluid” every time they make rounds?  Do you think janitors and housekeeping play fun games behind closed doors?  “I’ll see that pee puddle and raise you a vomit pile.”  “BINGO!”

Why do they wake you up to give you a sleeping pill?  Look, Mr. Baker is finally asleep.  Let’s run the floor polisher, set off all the alarms, and wake him for a sleeping pill.

Where do they hire the cooks?  Is there a testing process the cooks have to go through to be hired?  “Yes, Mrs. Smith, I see you worked in the High School cafeteria.  Serving cardboard pizza and soy hotdogs is great experience for this job.  However, I’m afraid you failed the test when you made the chicken taste like meat.”

How do they change the hallways to ensure you get lost every time you leave the floor?  This is some kind of engineering feat to rival anything NASA accomplishes.  From the moment you step out into the hallway, the room changes sides and moves to the opposite wing of the hospital.  The hallways reconfigure themselves, and the elevators disappear completely.  I swear, it’s like Hogwarts on steroids (if you don’t get that reference, go read the Harry Potter series … it’ll be good for you). The cafeteria moves multiple times to ensure no one will ever be able to find it, or its tasteless chicken.  I tried to leave a trail of breadcrumbs, but they disappeared when the janitor swept them up, excitedly marking his Bingo card.  Apparently, breadcrumbs are double or nothing.

Why have a call button at all?  Admit it, we all do this.  You hit the call button and immediately go out to find a nurse.  This is similar to the person hitting the up button on the elevator when it’s already been pushed.  Of course, once the call button is pushed, all nurses and technicians play hide and seek.  Well, all except for that poor nurse who’s always standing at the medication cart, paper cup in one hand, looking like a deer in the headlights.

Can we try happy words instead of procedure names?  “It’s bubbly yum yum time” sounds so much better than “It’s time for your chemo treatment.”

In all seriousness, I hate disease, and the way it robs us of all we hold dear.  The treatments sometimes seem worse than the illness they are treating, and it is hard to stay strong when you are watching someone begin to lose parts of themselves.  Some stories have good endings – thankfully, my Dad appears to be veering off into this direction – some, unfortunately, don’t.  The best you can do is reassure your loved ones that you have your seat belt on, and you’re coming along for the ride.

In the meantime, it doesn’t hurt to try to find some small doses of humor along the way.

Oh, and I’ll bring the snacks.

 

Can You Spell That, Please?

Before I get into the heart of today’s rant, I’d like to share a video with you.  Most of you have probably seen this, but it’s still funny every time.  Warning, there is some language in this video.

This brings me around to my thoughts for the day.  Why do some parents feel it is hip to name their children bizarre names?  Never mind that the kids themselves won’t know how to spell them and their teachers can’t pronounce them, the worst part is that they will never find a Coke can with their chosen names on it.

My friend worked as a Paramedic for many years.  She told me the story of a mom who had called 911 for her son, who had a minor cold.  My friend was filling out the paperwork, and asked the child’s name.  When the mother told her the name, she hesitated and asked, very politely, “I’m sorry, could you spell that for me?”  The mother got very flustered and said, “I don’t know how to spell it.  It just sounded good.”  My friend took her best stab at spelling the complicated name, and life went on.  I couldn’t help but wonder what the child’s name was on his birth certificate, and why the mother would choose a name that she didn’t even know how to spell herself.

Celebrities try to outdo themselves with bizarre names for their children every day.  Directions, vehicle models, street names, trees, and celestial bodies are frequently used sources for the monikers they eventually bestow upon their offspring.  At what point does being hip and unique come full circle to the point where it is considered hip and unique to name your child “Mark” or “Sally” again?  Will celebrities run out of hip name sources and start using medications, like “Tylenol” or “Motrin” as baby names?  “And now, hitting the stage, it’s Nyquil and the Insomniacs!”

Names roll in and out of fashion like ever-changing tides.  Some names are forever linked with decades, like “Brittany” or “Madison,” while other stand the test of time, like “David” and “Matthew.”  Other names should just be avoided out of common decency, like the New Jersey parents who named their child Adolf Hitler.

What I find even funnier is the put-upon parent who names their child an old-fashioned name or something that isn’t on the most popular list but still isn’t all that crazy … yet they think they’re being unique. Which isn’t a bad thing, except the “I’m-way-hipper-than-you” parent complains to everyone who will listen how difficult their lives are because no-one pronounces Blaise correctly and little Augustine’s teacher has no idea how to spell his name.

Parents are free to do whatever they want, but if you choose a strange name for your child, you shouldn’t be angry when it is mispronounced or misspelled.  You knew there were risks when you named your child something like “Shabquellitaze” or “Nbtyxkz.”  Whether you were being cute or think you’re being edgy, you have doomed your child to life as a set of initials in class – and as that poor kid who constantly repeats and then spells their name a gazillion times a day. More important, you’ve kept them from the joy of finding their name on a novelty souvenir plastic license plate.

Stupid Is As Stupid Does

As Instagram has evolved from a place to post adorable kitten pictures to a place to proudly display stupid decisions, incidents like this are becoming so common place that even the most avid Instagram followers yawn and keep scrolling.  Well in advance of shark week, a beautiful Instagram model decided to swim with nurse sharks for an impromptu photo-op, and was – surprise, surprise! – summarily bitten and dragged under the water. Apparently, she saw a school (herd?) of sharks milling about and thought, “this is the perfect opportunity for an action shot.”  Now so much is wrong here, from her “Everybody else is doing it” attitude that led her to her predicament to the article’s emphasis that she is due to start nursing school and had been raised around the water.  The former is, as my mother always taught me, no reason to do anything while the latter is completely inconsequential; intelligence is completely useless if it is ignored.  Besides, after being attacked by a nurse shark, maybe she needs to rethink her future choices.

I wonder if the shark posted the pics to his own Instagram account.  “I was so thrilled to meet her, but when I tried to shake her hand, she freaked out.”

Katarina is proof that all the beauty in the world can’t protect you from regrettable decisions.  Or nurse sharks.

From liars to cheaters and all manner of stupidity in between, Instagram takes all that is dumb in the world and displays it for everyone.  Why do people continue to do these things?

I will agree, it never crossed my mind to tell my own daughter not to swim with sharks.  I also never told her she shouldn’t run in front of a speeding train or drive with a blindfold on.  I think there comes a point when some things are as obvious as the sun in the sky on a bright summer day.  There are already incredibly stupid warning signs everywhere, indicating that people have actually done the things listed.

My personal favorite is the one on roller coasters cautioning people not to stand up on the ride.  Is this a common problem in amusement parks?  I saw a fan belt for a car with the cautionary warning to make sure the car isn’t running when the belt is being installed.  I mean, seriously? “No diving,” urges a sign at a two foot deep inflatable kiddie pool.  Have we become so absent-minded that we need to be told to turn off the electricity in the house before installing a light socket? If we’re not there yet, we’re certainly on our way.

Here is a story – with video – of a family who got out of their cars at a Safari park.  Now this went down in several layers of stupidity.  First, the husband opens his car door to get a picture of the cheetahs.  The wife decides this is a great time to put something in the trunk of the car.  A little farther down, they decided that some resting cheetahs would be an amazing photo-op (they’re not wrong, but still …), so they all get out of the car for a family romp amongst the wild cats.  The cheetahs were not amused, frankly, and start to charge the family.  I think the thing that gets me more than anything else is that the article states that the woman “Shooed” the cheetahs while walking back to the car.  Recap:  Your family is being chased by cheetahs.  You scoop up your younger child and casually stroll back to the car.  You wave the cheetahs away with your hand, scolding them with “shoo!”  Heck, “shoo” doesn’t work on the feline demons we invite into our homes to live, why on earth would it work for cheetahs?  Did she think they would stop, reconsider their actions, admit they acted hastily, and offer the family tea and a biscuit?

Now, I’ve been told that walking slowly and not running was the exact right way to deal with that situation as it makes you seem less like “prey.” The only thing she did wrong was turn her back on them … or so say the zoological experts in my circle. I’m not going to say they’re wrong, but I will interject that, in my opinion, had the cheetahs not been so utterly shocked and taken aback at the audacity of this family, the cats might’ve recovered a bit more quickly and the situation would’ve ended differently.

Personally, I don’t think I could forgive the men in my life if they simply took off like bats out of hell and left me to fend with the cheetahs while holding my (and one of theirs?) offspring. But that’s a topic for another day.

For whatever reasons dangerous selfies and stupid photo ops have gained popularity, people need to stop and think before they act.  My friend went on a beautiful road trip along Skyline Drive in the West Virginia mountains, and saw many bears walking along the side of the road or perched along the stone walls lining the drive.  The one encounter that stuck with her was the car full of people in front of her who rolled their windows down about three feet from an admittedly surprised black bear and her two cubs.  The people then half-stood out of their car windows, phones in hand, to get a selfie with the mama bear.  The bear was, my friend believes, too shocked by their stupidity to do anything at all for the entire five minutes they “posed” with her.  My friend isn’t a rocket scientist, but even she knows you don’t mess with mama bear and her cubs.  She had her own phone in hand to video the mauling she fully expected, and maybe to consider calling 911 as Darwinism played itself out in front of her. Sadly though, as has happened too often in the past, it would have been the bears who paid the ultimate price had they reacted to the idiotic tourists, like, you know, bears.

Evolution works to thin out the numbers.  Instagram is just there to record it when it happens.

I sincerely wish Katarina a speedy recovery, but dear Katarina:  We all hope that if you are ever offered a sight-seeing trip in Africa that you politely decline.  Lions don’t like cameras. And they might not be as forgiving as the nurse sharks you encountered.

Big Brother is watching … No, really, he is

I’ve read the memes and I’ve heard the jokes about “big brother” and how he is ever vigilant in watching what everyone does. However, I’ve never really experienced it until this week. Oh, sure, I’ve been known to look at “must haves” on Amazon or Etsy and then suddenly, up pops an ad for the very same thing on my Facebook feed. I think everyone who spends any amount of time online has faced that disturbing scenario.  But … to ramp up the surreal nature of targeted ads, not to mention creep factor, “big brother” upped the ante this week.

My daughter and I were talking … TALKING … about mochi ice-cream (a yummy Japanese ice cream confection made with a traditional mochi outer-layer) in the grocery store as we stood in front of the refrigerated section staring at said product. I’ll admit, we discussed the topic at length, comparing flavors, deciding which was our favorite from past forays into the mochi dessert menus at various Japanese steakhouses, and waffling back and forth as to whether we should buy some now. Not being telepathic, our conversations were verbal. I know that may seem like an odd distinction to make, but it’s important for me that you know that, because I’m convinced it plays into what happened next.

Our phones were off as they dwelled deep within our pockets … there wasn’t a computer to be seen … I didn’t catch sight of a grocery clerk with a clipboard taking notes or a men-in-black representative lurking about, yet the next day, what pops up on my Facebook feed? You guessed it. An ad for mochi ice-cream. And not just ANY mochi ice cream – but the very same brand and two flavors we were looking at in the grocery store.

You tell me. WTF?