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  Offices can be inefficient, productivity-killers, especially with old-school managers and their outdated management styles at the helm.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.”  

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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.

Looney Logic

So, most cartoons are made for kids, right? And obviously, someone like me would never watch cartoons for fun—unless it’s Looney Toons, which is hilarious, by the way. But that’s beside the point. Where was I? Oh, yes, I never watch cartoons. Except sometimes. Sort of like that old letter “i” rule. You know the one… i before e except after c – and sometimes. So, yeah, sometimes it is.

My question with all of this is, why does all logic fly out the window when it comes to cartoons? Okay, anvil drops. Character survives. That’s no big deal. I get it. Physics and mortality rates are a whole different ballgame in the cartoon world. But why is Little Bear naked when no one else around him is? And nobody in his cartoon world acknowledges his nudity? Weird.

Then, there are the animals that walk around half-dressed. A cute tee shirt is totally appropriate. No pants, that’s fine, too. Think about it. Everyone is okay with Pooh Bear letting it all hang out, not to mention Micky Mouse, Donald and Daisy Duck, Roo, and Woodsy Owl. Oh, and Smokey the Bear even accessorizes with a hat and belt — but apparently his jeans are enough. If he were a shirtless human, those “protect the forest” ads would read a lot differently. I’m just saying.

What makes it even weirder is that in those same cartoons with the half-dressed animals, there are fully naked animals and fully dressed animals. Like Pooh gets a shirt, but Rabbit and Tigger are nude. And Mickey Mouse gets pants, but Goofy, Minnie, Pete, and Clarabelle are modest enough to be fully clothed. Or, in Tom and Jerry, Tom is naked all day. But when he visits the beach, he wears a swimsuit. Excuse me?

The examples are overwhelming. Next time you watch an animal cartoon, just pay attention.

Oh, but that’s not where the weirdness of cartoon logic stops. Animals will own other animals as pets. And all the other animals are fine with it! Or, there’s some strange animal kingdom hierarchy that makes no sense at all. Just look at Pluto and Mickey Mouse. A mouse owns a dog.

In Little Bear, Tutu is a pet dog who doesn’t speak. Her owners are humans who befriend other speaking (and clothes-wearing) animals. What?

Then, there’s Peppa Pig, who owns a goldfish, who she takes to the vet, who happens to be a hamster.

Have you ever seen Alvin and the Chipmunks? Well, in one episode, they visit the zoo. The plot thickens when Alvin gets put in a cage in a case of mistaken identity, and everyone is outraged. But where is the outrage for the non-speaking, non-clothes wearing animals on display?  What the hell is that about?

And this broken cartoon logic transforms into the downright ridiculous when you think too hard about it. There’s one scene where Donald Duck is sitting around the table with his three nephew ducklings. On the table for dinner is a roasted chicken, for fuck’s sake. Something seems deeply wrong about this.

Or the classic scene where Minnie Mouse is afraid of… a mouse.

So, the hierarchy here isn’t even based on what type of animals they are. It’s totally arbitrary. Some animals are like humans. Others are treated like animals. Or, you know, food.

Cartoon logic is, well… illogical.

Why is Road Runner just a very fast bird, while Wile E. Coyote has the wherewithal to mail order jet-powered roller skates and hand out nifty business cards? Yes, I get it, he’s a suuuuper genius.  Still.

Elmer Fudd has regular conversations with Bugs and Daffy yet tries to shoot them — and presumably eat them, anyway. Okay, well, yeah, that one I understand. I have a few coworkers I feel that way about.

As it stands, I think the incongruous nature of the cartoon world needs to be studied further. And tomorrow is Saturday. You know what that means.  Saturday morning cartoons. So, if I’m sitting in front of the t.v. with a big bowl of cereal watching cartoons all morning, it’s research, people. Research!

Valentines and Self-Realization

The older I get, the more I realize that my mother was right after all. I am just like my Grandma Mooney.

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Grandma Mooney & the Case of the Vinegar Valentines

Valentine’s Day always reminds me of my Grandma Mooney (more specifically, she was my Great-Grandmother). That may seem odd to some people (to think of grandparents around a holiday meant for couples), but there’s a reason behind it.  She was actually quite a colorful character… and then some. And one of her favorite things to do centered round Valentine’s Day.

It’s not really observed much anymore, but back in the day people would give out what were called “vinegar valentines.” They were basically insult cards with a caricature drawing on the front and a small acidic poem on the back that tended to call people out as being either foolish, a spinster, a loser, etc. You get the idea. They were pretty unflattering for the recipient and not exactly the heartwarming valentines we give out now covered in hearts and roses. Grandma Mooney absolutely loved giving these out to so-called loved ones and friends.

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It was one of her favorite times of year because, while she may have been thinking these evil thoughts all year, now she was able to put those thoughts to paper. And let me tell you, she got serious pleasure out of poring over who would get what card. If memory serves they were sent out anonymously so the person receiving the snail mail insult couldn’t be sure who thought they were an idiot, but rest assured, someone out there in the world did. The ironic part is that Grandma Mooney would get super pissed if she ever got one. She sent them out by the bucketful but getting even one in return was blasphemous.

I wish I could’ve seen her face as she was picking out the cards and sending them out. It’s hard to picture without having seen it up close, but anytime Grandma Mooney was up to trouble, she’d laugh… not out loud… but sort of an internal laugh so that her massive bosom shook like jelly. Watching her go through her stash of valentines with an intensity more often seen in a tax auditor and the inevitable intervals of shaking as she came across just the perfect one for say… Georgie or Carlene… would’ve been a hoot. Although I’m just guessing that these two were among the lucky recipients.  Grandma Mooney always kept her list top-secret so no one could rat her out.

In truth, though, I almost wish more that I could’ve seen what she did when she opened up one that she had received. I’d be observing that from a very safe distance of course.  I mean, there’s just no sense in poking an already pissed off bear. Grandma Mooney would’ve made Sherlock Holmes proud though… because after receiving one of these heart to heart communiqués in the mail, she suddenly became a resolute and determined investigator, examining handwriting, postal stamps, and whatever else would give her a clue as to who sent it.  She’d wander around the house muttering names for a week as she narrowed down the list of suspects. And when she finally had that “eureka!” moment and was convinced she knew the perpetrator of this horrible crime, she immediately began planning the coming year’s list, editing it accordingly, and putting that person’s name in the top position. Ahh… it’s the simple joys that mean the most.

When I was young, my mother used to tell me that I was just like my Grandma Mooney. I’d take offense at that if I could only figure out how to argue the rationale. Admittedly, I can see the similarities — though not to the extremes of my enjoying sending anonymous insults. But I do share some of her ornery eccentricities. In some respects, it may seem like an awful comparison — but along with her cantankerous quirks, my grandmother had a heart of gold and took care of her family above all else. So I guess when all is said and done, I’m pretty happy to be compared to her.

 

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?

An Open Letter

Dear Colleagues, Friends, and Office Compatriots,

It’s been some time since I’ve delved into the riskier side of the fashion scene. Unfortunately, today was the day I decided to wade into the shallow end of the fashion faux pas kiddie pool. Oh, who am I kidding, I took a dive into the deep end.  It could be argued that I’m rebelling against the establishment.  A coup against good taste, one might say. But no. It was more just a dim moment of a girl, standing in front of a closet, desperately trying to find something clean to wear.

You see, I’ve forgotten that my *ahem* ample thighs and corduroy don’t mix and, together, they become quite symphonic. Though not in a good way, say like Pentatonix.  I wish. The only item of clothing I can think of that might be noisier would be an outfit fashioned entirely of SunChips bags. (I mean, honestly, have you tried opening a SunChips bag on the sly?  Not gonna happen.) But alas, all I have are my corduroys … and thighs.

And for someone who hates drawing attention to oneself, well, you can perhaps see my dilemma – and shame.  On a side note, the heat generated from the friction of these corduroy pants rubbing against my Rubenesque thighs could very well be the solution to the world’s renewable energy needs. I’ll have to study this further – or in other words, examine the rash at home later. For in addition to sketchy fashion decisions, there is a definite lack of talcum powder.

It didn’t take long for me to realize that unless I stand motionless in one corner of my office all day (à la Blair Witch) and never move (which is sort of creepy unless you’re really really into uber-eccentric performance art), I will be creating the sort of noise that slowly drives people insane. You know what I mean. Like hearing your child trying to slurp up the last bit of milkshake through a straw… over and over and over. You just want to yell… “It’s GONE! FFS!”  But you don’t. Because it’s your child. And that would be wrong. I’m hoping you have the same patience with me today. I may not be a child, but I do sometimes make the same bad decisions that result in a similarly irritating noise. **waving at my outfit**

I would offer noise-cancelling headphones, but those are hard to come by right now, because, you know, Christmas.  And COVID. Tech products remain elusive at best. The Sharper Image is sold out.  I checked.

Instead, all I can offer are my apologies and beg for your indulgence. Have no fear – that loud “VOOP VOOP VOOP VOOP” isn’t indicative of something terribly wrong with the heating system. Nor is it a ginormous itchy dog scuttling along the corridor… dragging his you know what.

It’s just me. In my corduroys.

Delusions of Grandeur

When I have what I think is an awesome idea or an incredibly hilarious story that I would like to share or a dream that could win me the next Pulitzer (or more likely, a horror fiction award), I’ll write myself a note or I’ll text myself a brief reminder of my brilliance. My memory being what it is and all.

Well, I found a text to myself today that said, simply, Delusions of Grandeur. Capitalized just like that. Now, there was a surprise. Because I didn’t remember texting myself. That in itself is not all that surprising – or uncommon. My ability to retain my own thoughts, as I may have already mentioned, is not all that and a bag of chips… hence the notes in the first place.

But – Delusions of Grandeur? Delusions of Grandeur?  Delusions. Of. Grandeur. What the hell did I mean by Delusions of Grandeur? What was I trying to tell myself? Did I witness it? Did I dream of a King in a far-off land with ostentatious taste? Do I suffer from it?  Was it the basis of the convoluted plot for a best seller?

Don’t ask me. I haven’t a clue.

Karen’s Trip to Target

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I’ve seen yet another article that tugs at my last nerve. I know. Shocking.

In this blog article, the author, Jennifer, tells us about a trip to Target that she claims was ruined by a Karen. The article is riddled with hypocrisy, self-centeredness, and a generally unkind attitude towards a woman who suffered the loss of her child.

If you don’t want to read the article, the gist of it is that Jennifer goes to Target with her very young daughter, admittedly lets the child trail behind her and then turned a corner where the child is briefly out of sight, when a woman looks “at [her] as though [she] had done something wrong.” The woman says something along the lines of “your daughter is far away from you,” which (the author again points out) was said with “a tone that implied [she]’d done something wrong.”

Already, Jennifer is taking this woman’s actions as an extreme personal offense with an attitude that considers only one person (and spoiler, it’s not her daughter).

I will digress for a moment to say that Jennifer claims her daughter was only two feet away from her. I don’t believe that for a moment. Want to know why?  Jennifer explains: “I have the pitter-patter of her steps imprinted in my heart.”  So, she could hear her child, but not see her child.  Jennifer also states this about the woman: “…she could have simply watched her from afar to be sure she was OK and when seeing the child united with a parent, left it at that.” If the child was just two feet away, why would there need to be a reunion in the middle of Target?

To be clear, I’m not mom-shaming Jennifer (god forbid *insert eye-roll here*) but rather, just empathizing with the woman Jennifer encountered.  There was obviously reason for some concern. I also believe that’s why Jennifer was so offended at a stranger approaching her: she knew the concern had merit.

Once Jennifer hears the woman say, “I had a child who was taken,” her thoughts immediately bounce to, you guessed it, herself. She is overly concerned with her own emotions—not her daughter’s feelings, not her daughter’s safety, not this woman’s profound grief, but her own feelings of discomfort in the situation.

Then, she has the audacity to write that “if what she is sharing is true; silence is the kindest thing I can do in this moment.” Wow. Her invalidation of another human’s experience is automatic. And she truly believes that putting a hand in this woman’s face and saying nothing is the kindest thing she can do.

The blog ends on a note urging readers to “always be kind and sensitive” because her day was absolutely ruined by a stranger who she refers to as a “Karen.” The whole piece is meant to vilify a woman who lived through a parent’s worst fears—losing a child to abduction. If you ask me, there is a Karen in this situation, and her name is Jennifer.

As soon as she found out that the woman had her child taken and likely has PTSD from the horrific experience, the author could have shown compassion (as she urges her readers to do). Saying “thank you for your concern, I’ll keep her close” wouldn’t have been hard to do. In fact, it would have been ridiculously easy. Even taking one moment of consideration for this woman’s pain could have resulted in a very different experience for both parties. The concerned woman would have walked away feeling heard and Jennifer could have walked away feeling good about her day and how she helped a stranger to overcome an anxious moment in the middle of Target.

Instead, Jennifer felt violated that the woman “projected her PTSD” and “mom-shamed” her. She felt strongly enough that she needed to write this entire blog about it.

What is wrong with people these days?

It is so obvious that Jennifer is criticizing this woman for not showing compassion or empathy while at the same time failing to glance at her own reflection. If she were to see herself in the mirror for who she truly is, she would recognize her shortcomings in that department.

Instead of lighting a fire within herself full of distaste, shame, and anger, Jennifer could learn about practicing gratitude for her daughter, kindness towards others, and how to not take everything so personally. If she did that, there would be one less Karen in the world.

Grammar Rocks

Why can’t I say conjunction junction like a normal person?  It’s impossible for me to say these two simple words. I sing them. Every. Time. Even if I’m just thinking them… the words are thought in song.

No, I don’t know why this has come up now… it just has. It’s one of those days.

And if I’m being honest, I can never simply say sing conjunction junction. It’s the whole phrase or nothing at all.

Conjunction Junction, what’s your function?

There! You sang that, didn’t you!? You did. You know you did. You can’t fool me.

What is wrong with us?

 

 

My Day in a GIF

Did you ever have one of those days where everything at work is going just great and then, at the very tail-end of your day, when you think you’re safe, it just goes to hell?

Things are moving steadily along all morning and then you hit that personal high round about late afternoon when you realize hey, I’m getting everything on my to do list done! I am on a roll! This is an awesome way to start the week!

And then, just when it’s about time to go home, the office gremlin (à la Twilight Zone) says: No! We will create an unsolvable problem for you to solve that must be solved before you leave!

Well, I mean, it is Monday…

my day in a GIF