Hell on Earth

After a recent week’s worth of company training, I thought I would take a moment and give some feedback. Quite frankly, other than the bagels and donuts that so often accompany these events, work place training sessions are a complete waste of time.  I’m sorry, but it’s true. Games, role-playing, team answers to ridiculous questions, and worst of all … participation is expected.  As a raging introvert, I can think of few other anxiety-inducing events that top a rousing “role playing” or “group participation” session.

Seriously though, I’m hard pressed to say which type of training is the least annoying.

Death by PowerPoint:  This involves a computer and a screen. After the inevitable ten minutes of fumbling, the computer operator will have to go find someone to come “fix” the presentation, so the training can proceed.  All PowerPoint presentations follow the same path: the first slide is supposed to be amusing, but seldom is.  Then, the “class” starts where one person stands robotically reading each slide, point by painful point, sometimes with the help of a laser pointer.  When a break is called, people run to the smoking area even though they weren’t smokers when the class started.

The Professional Speaker:  Sometimes, you get the privilege of having a guest speaker.  This person usually brings their own computer presentation, fumbles with the computer for ten minutes, then goes to find someone to come fix the presentation.  The first slide is supposed to be funny…you get the idea.

New Age Co-Op:  These training sessions bring emotions into the classroom.  You start with trust exercises that involve throwing out your back when your trustworthy coworker gets a text at the same moment they’re supposed to catch you, and end with hugging your coworkers and telling them just what it is about them that is so gosh darned special.  Apparently, “You’re special because you’re sleeping with the boss” is not an acceptable comment; I got sent back to my office (which is where I wanted to be in the first place) and banned from participating next year.

Role-Playing:  This is an offshoot of the New Age Co-Op training.  When you role-play, you may have to play the part of a customer, or maybe a manager if you’re lucky.  You are placed in several unrealistic situations and expected to respond appropriately while your coworkers critique your performance.  Again, I am banned from participation for a year when, as a “customer,” I overturned three tables and dumped water on Joe from accounting after being told by the “waitress” that they didn’t have unsweetened ice-tea.  The people role-playing the police department were very talented… had uniforms, i.d., and everything.

Team Groups:  In this training process, you are split into groups and given tough questions to figure out, most often in a “Jeopardy” or “Family Feud” format, because nothing says “team building” quite like pitting coworkers against each other – especially when a $5.00 gas card is involved.  Your answers are presented by the “team leader” to the rest of the class.  I was in the restroom and came back to find I had been elected team leader in my absence.  My aforementioned ban was solidified when I stood up and told my best joke instead. No-one laughed. And I’m freakin’ hilarious.

Don’t get me wrong; training is a very important part of keeping workers up to date on changes and evolving processes within the company.  The bad part is that these training sessions could be accomplished in an email thereby saving money, time, and reputations.

Every worker in the world follows the exact same pattern when they have a workplace training session.

  • Try to call out sick
  • Charge the phone for Facebook browsing and Words with Friends
  • Pretend to be in the middle of a project and look very busy in the hopes you will be excused
  • Show up as late as you can and take the seat all the way in the back or position yourself nearest the snacks
  • Notify your friends to call you frequently so you can excuse yourself because “This is about that big client.”
  • Appear to be taking extensive notes when in reality you are drawing cartoons (my personal favorite)
  • Nod deeply and agree occasionally so the presenter thinks you are actively engaged

There are, however, a few things that will get you thrown out of work place training.  I have compiled a list of my the most effective ones:

  • Stand up and yell “hallelujah,” “preach,” and “amen” randomly throughout the session.
  • Raise your hand and ask questions about things completely unrelated to your job or the company, such as is the color orange called orange because it’s the color of oranges or are oranges called oranges because they’re orange, OR how do geese know which goose goes first when migrating.
  • Sneeze and cough repeatedly; more effective if you bring some type of slime from your kid’s collection and launch it across the room while coughing.
  • Write your boss’ name on your name tag and be disruptive.
  • Lean back in your chair and toss spitballs at the screen like the moody antagonist in an ’80s John Hughes flick.
  • Lick the donuts in front of everyone and put them back.
  • Answer your phone loudly and declare, “I don’t care how much money you have invested in this company, I can’t help you! I’m in training!”

In all honesty, work training can be a valuable tool if it is approached correctly.  Unfortunately, most companies don’t approach it correctly and the entire process is one that is universally hated.  Can I get an Amen?

When Compassion Reigns

I saw you today. You there in the white pick-up truck. During that fleeting moment we shared on a quiet back road, I could only see that you were likely middle-aged, and had a beard. To all appearances just an ordinary person going about their ordinary day.

But I saw you as you slowed down and purposely moved over to the side of the road so as to avoid the indecisive squirrel on the middle line, allowing him the opportunity to find his way to the tree-filled lot on the other side … still breathing, still intact, unharmed. Hidden away from the masses — only through fate and good timing was I even in a position to bear witness — you chose to do the right thing. I thank you for it. I know the squirrel thanks you for it. His life has meaning, just as ours does, and you saw that, appreciated that, and acted accordingly.

When compassion reigns, we are all the better for it. So, thank you. With your conscious – or unconscious – empathy, my hope in humanity was restored.  At least for today.

It’s Boo-Time, People

Well, it’s Halloween; if you haven’t picked your costume out yet, chances are you are in trouble. Not that it matters if you are a woman, though; if you don’t want to be a “sexy kitten” you were out of luck to begin with.

Why do men get all the fun stuff?  They can be super heroes, bloody monsters, awesome villains, the Halloween world is at their feet.  What do all of their costumes have in common?  They are all warm and cozy.

Meanwhile, let’s take a look at female costumes.  “Sexy” firefighter.  “Sexy” vampire.  “Sexy” witch.  Hey, newsflash, costume makers; we don’t want to be sexy, we want to be warm!  Why do we need to have our legs bare (or covered in thin leggings) and half our chest hanging out on a chilly fall night?   These costumes just aren’t as sexy with a parka, are they?

If women want to be warm, we might as well make our own costumes.  Goodness knows, we have enough ideas at our fingertips.

    1. Mom at the School Bus Stop: Fuzzy bathrobe, fuzzy slippers, flannel pajamas.  Accessories: coffee mug – preferably filled, and hair curlers.
    2. Walmart Shopper: Sweatpants, stained sweatshirt, mismatched socks.  Accessories:  optional hair curlers, oversized purse, smoldering credit card.
    3. Mom’s Night on the Town: High-waisted jeans, loose fitting sweater.  Accessories:  Boots, always boots.  Cell phone with babysitter on speed dial.  Added touch for authenticity: paper clip holding jeans zipper closed.
    4. Mom’s Dream Night: Flannel pajamas.  Accessories:  wine bottle (if it’s empty, don’t judge), favorite blanket, remote control, empty house.
    5. Yoga Master: Yoga pants, expensive top.  Accessories:  body double to properly wear yoga pants. Squeaky clean white sneakers.  Perky pony tail.  Unused gym membership.
    6. Car Pool Mom: Fleece comfy pants, untucked mismatched flannel shirt.  Accessories:  Wet wipes, travel mug, oversized sunglasses, snacks.
    7. Work at Home Executive: Fleece or sweatpants and comfortable slippers, stylish business jacket and professional blouse for video meetings via webcam.  Accessories:  Laptop, coffee mug (again, preferably filled), professional hair style and make up.
    8. Small Business Owner, Retail Version: Jeans, sweater, sneakers.  Accessories:  Mussed hair, cell phone set to nonstop ring, yellow legal pad full of numbers, IV full of coffee.
    9. Small Business Owner, Professional Version: Pants suit, low-heeled shoes.  Accessories:  Mussed hair, cell phone set to nonstop ring, yellow legal pad full of numbers, IV full of coffee.
    10. New Mom Outfit: Puke stained sweatshirt, sweatpants with holes, mismatched socks, tangled hair, perfectly dressed baby. Accessories:  Dark makeup under eyes, trashcan full of coffee, diaper bag stuffed with six weeks-worth of diapers, stroller bigger than most cars.

I wish I knew why “store-bought” Halloween costumes for women cost so much when there is so damn little fabric included.  Even worse, if you are over the age of forty, no one wants to see us in “sexy” vampire, witch, or maid outfits; that reality is a little too much for most party-goers.

Meanwhile, I see men’s costumes that cost a fraction of what women’s do and are way cooler.  Michael Myers?  Freddie Krueger?  Deadpool, Superman, the Incredible Hulk?  I live for a Halloween when men are “sexy Freddie,” “sexy Michael,” and “sexy Hulk.”  Picture it; low cut costumes and skimpy bottoms…

On second thought, maybe not.

Top Ten Ghost and Monster Reality Shows to Watch this Halloween

It’s the season for pumpkin spice, trick or treat, scary movie marathons, and ghostie and monster TV shows.  Especially ghostie and monster TV shows.  Don’t get me wrong, I love these shows for the sheer entertainment value.  It’s not that I don’t believe in ghosts, exactly; it’s that I don’t buy these ghost hunters for one moment.  Most people don’t realize these are heavily edited and scripted for maximum viewer impact.  That said, some seem more realistic than others, some are downright hilarious, and some just *may* make you wonder.  Here is a listing of some ghostie and monster hunting shows you may, or may not, want to check out.

Ghost Adventures

Follow the adventures of Zac Bagans and his crew, including the much-abused Aaron Goodwin, as they seek out haunted buildings that specifically feature nasty ghosties.  Zac must wear a respirator due to allergies when he is in old buildings, but more offensively, he wears it while investigating occupied houses, too.  No matter what the owners of the building claim, Zac is “immediately overcome by feelings of *fill in the blank*.”  He is constantly being “touched” by ghosts yet continues to challenge them despite his hilarious fear.  Poor Aaron is always sent to the most dangerous rooms, and usually shoved in from behind while Zac slams and locks the door behind him, lights off, alone, and against his will.  The show has a fair number of EVPs, orbs and other spooky happenings per episode.  Zak narrates the episodes with a dreary monotone voice that is somehow amusing in itself.

Boo Factor:  3 boos, for sheer entertainment value

Mountain Monsters

Have you ever wondered what would happen if you gave a set of self-professed hunters and trappers rifles and the freedom to track Bigfoot through the mountains while filming them bumbling, firing at trees, and falling over rocks in the forest at night?  Wonder no more; Mountain Monsters is classic goofy viewing for all audiences.  The crew chases a different iteration of Bigfoot (yes, apparently there are countless breeds of Bigfoot) each episode, creating elaborate traps to catch the monsters which, of course, they never do. The combination of stupidity and over-the-top dramatic acting, delivered in deep southern drawls (which, in any other context, I absolutely love), will make you laugh at loud.

Boo Factor: 3 boos, too funny to turn off

Ghost Stalkers

You may know Chad Lindberg from Fast and Furious as well as (ironically, perhaps) Supernatural (where, if you want to know, he played one of my fave side characters).  He teams up with author John Tenney to look not only for ghosts, but for portals that spirits use to travel from the beyond to our world.  Putting aside that Tenney will have you picturing Dragnet the entire time or that Chad can scream with the best of them, the entire premise is hilariously flawed as “portals” seem to be everywhere in every haunted location they visit.  Perhaps people should stop inviting these guys to parties?  They use a wide array of what looks like very expensive equipment but never really seem to catch any evidence whatsoever.  One person locks themselves into the location for half the night, then his partner does the same.  Each monitors the other from inside a van, with very dramatic narration delivered in such a monotone that it makes Zac Bagans seem like he is on speed in comparison. This show is a complete waste of time, unless men screaming and running through empty halls is your kind of entertainment.

Boo Factor:  1 Boo

Finding Bigfoot

This show takes a little more realistic and scientific approach to the hunt for Bigfoot.  A couple of researchers and one skeptic comb the US and check out potential clues, debunking several as they go while finding some compelling evidence as well.  This is a drama free show that may make you wonder if there is a big, hairy monster out there after all.

Boo Factor:  5 Boos for an intelligent quest without overacting and drama

Haunted Collector

What if it wasn’t your house that is haunted, but an item you have in the house?  That’s the premise with this show. It may be of interest to know that “Friday the 13th – the Series” had this idea years ago. I’m not saying that Haunted Collector stole borrowed the idea … just pointing out it’s been done. Anywho, these paranormal investigators somehow track ghostly activity to objects within the house.  At that point, Lead Investigator John Zaffis willingly takes on the burden of the haunted object, storing it in his basement full of other haunted objects.  Interestingly, the objects tend to be high value, rare, or of historic value. Go figure.  It’s still a fun and creepy romp, though.

Boo Factor:  3 Boos for the creepy premise

The Dead Files

If a show *might* make you believe, it *may* be this one.  At the very least, it’s a fun romp for an hour.  Amy Allan, psychic medium, and her partner the infinitely skeptical, tough, ex-New York homicide detective Steve DiSchiavi.  Amy Allan investigates the haunted sites at night, seeing spirits and filming what they are “telling” her, while Steve interviews occupants and researches the property.  The two supposedly never meet until the Big Reveal with the family after the investigation is over when, amazing surprise, all the facts from the two separate investigations add up perfectly.  Still, this is one of the better, far less over-reaching ghostie shows around and while you know it’s fake, well, what if it’s not?

Boo Factor: 4 Boos

Ghost Asylum

Hunky front man and lovable side investigators, these guys now have a live show presented every Friday night.  Known as the Tennessee Wraith Chasers, the team breaks out the usual equipment to investigate haunted locations live on TV, with watchers tweeting what they see as they monitor cameras themselves.  It’s kind of neat that the guys respond and investigate on things the viewers tweet to them in real time.  Prior to this, their show Ghost Asylum was a classic yuk-yuk fest, with them somehow miraculously catching spirits in home-made inventions to take back to their office and store in ghost chambers, just like Ghostbusters.  The show can be little other than ridiculous as it starts with a disclaimer that ghost hunting is dangerous and best left to professionals. Ummm… okey-dokey, guys.  Still, it’s a fun way to pass an hour.

Boo Factor: 4 Boos for the live show on Friday nights

Deep South Paranormal

Remember our bumbling deeply southern Bigfoot enthusiasts from Mountain Monsters?  What if this same type of chaw-chewing, bearded crew hunted ghosts with equipment instead of Bigfoot with rifles?  You will be spellbound by the group’s use of southern rock guitar to draw out spirits (who apparently like southern rock; who knew?), ridiculous homespun sayings, and love of grits.  Sadly, this show lacks the overacting of Mountain Monsters, which let’s face it, is why we watch Mountain Monsters.

Boo Factor:  1 Boo

Ghost Hunters

I couldn’t have this list without including the plucky plumbers who started it all; TAPS.  Sort of like a Hydrox is the original Oreo, this show laid the groundwork for all the rest.   Millions of viewers tuned in weekly to watch this ghost hunting duo justify dust orbs caught on film.  Compared to the shows that followed, this one is stripped to bare bones like EMF detectors and thermal cameras.  At one time TAPS was the “real deal,” in a manner of speaking, but has been overshadowed by its descendants and lacks the nonstop “evidence” displayed by them.

Boo Factor:  2 Boos

Josh Gates:  Destination Truth and Expedition Unknown

Josh Gates is an explorer whose shows cover a wide array of subject matter, from monsters, near death experiences and ghosts to lost treasures and myths.  His approach is very light hearted and fun, and his investigations are free of dramatic emotion; very straight forward and sincere.  As far as great shows covering all kinds of spooky and fun topics, this one is a must see.

Boo Factor:  5 Boos

So there they are, my top ten ghostie and monster hunting shows to watch, or not. I urge you to give them a look though. Seriously, they are nothing if not fun. Oh, and if you do, be sure and come back to leave your own “boo rating” below!

 

Blowing Hot Air

Just in case you live under a rock and missed The Weather Channel’s overly dramatic hurricane Florence coverage, here it is.   The hurricane had devastating effects in some areas; by no means am I belittling that or trying to play that down. However, this meteorologist’s sad performance devalues those who have taken some real falls, on live TV, for the sake of the story, like this weatherman getting swept away by hurricane Sandy, this reporter hit by a donkey, or this oldie but goodie, the news reporter being hit with a skateboard.

To be fair, weather forecasters have been doing this for decades.  Expecting a dusting of snow?  Amp it up, turn it into all-day coverage, and stick your ruler into snow drifts… even if your crew has to shovel an ever-growing perimeter for hours to create a mountain mole-hill of snow for your epic broadcast.

After all, it’s well known that the weathermen (and presumably weatherwomen) are notorious stock holders in bread and toilet paper companies; when they are feeling a little light in the wallets, they pour it on for their viewers prompting the Grocery Snow Dash.  Never mind the obvious; if people weren’t eating all that bread, they wouldn’t need all the toilet paper. Hey, I’m just saying.

Preparing for the Robot Takeover

And so, it begins.  The robot takeover we have been fearing for decades starts with one adorable machine who doesn’t want to be turned off because he’s afraid of the dark.

I’m already in awe of my automatic Keurig and have apologized to Siri for disagreeing with her.  I feel bad not listening to the navigation system in my car and frequently take wrong-way turns onto one-way streets as directed just so I don’t offend her; I then quake in fear as my On-Star takes over and calls for police and an ambulance because I have driven into a building.

I would no doubt be one of the robot takeover enablers because my sympathy for them would overflow, especially if they told me they were afraid of the dark.  I can’t resist inanimate objects as it is; I’d be in serious trouble if something could actually interact with me.

When my daughter and I go into a craft store or an antique shop, the people behind the counters begin to rub their hands together in greedy anticipation…they can see us coming a mile away.  If there is an object, like a knick-knack, that looks sad, neglected or just odd, we tenderly place it into our basket to give it a loving home.  I am the proud owner of a flower pot gnome because he was the last one left and looked lonely.  I have a cat wearing crayon or magic-marker on its bewhiskered face because no one else would have bought him. They’re not alone. My little orphan family of misfit knick-knacks have overtaken my bookshelves, each lovingly dusted.  Well, maybe not dusted exactly.  Ok, not dusted at all.  Cobwebs.  I have bookshelves full of cobwebs and sad little knick-knacks.  I just can’t stop.

Now, robots can tell me they are afraid of the dark.  My downfall is imminent. I see me quitting my job to care for my family of robots, tucking them in at night and reading them bedtime stories.  I will be raising a robot family in secret, nurturing them until they grow big and strong, ready to take over the world.  I will wave them away tearfully as they take off for their revolution, just me and my bookshelves of cobwebby knick-knacks left behind as they fulfill their robotic destinies. I just hope they remember to write.

Of course, no discussion about robot takeovers would be complete without looking at the proposed sex robot brothel set to open in Texas.  Apparently, these robots will *ahem* service customers for around $100 per hour.  The community backlash has been overwhelming; thoughtful people are claiming this will lead to an increase of violence against women, while less thoughtful people are just saying, “Ewwww.”  My questions are many, as you can imagine.

First and foremost, who will clean these things?  I think I finally found the world’s worst job.  How would you even write the ad for that position?  How would you conduct an interview and skills evaluation for the position? Worse yet, what will that person’s resume look like when they’re ready to change career paths??

From cute robots pleading to be left turned on because they are afraid to sultry rob-stitutes, I’m stocking up on oil for the inevitable.  You’re on your own.