Presumed Stupid Until Proven Otherwise

washhands

As citizens of the world, we are forced to touch doorknobs, shopping carts and all sorts of community property every day.  That’s why I’m happy to see these signs popping up in more and more public restrooms.

This is a good start, but the sign doesn’t go far enough.   Here is some much-needed clarification.

1) Wet your hands

Use water.  Make sure it is CLEAN water, which is found in a sink sink.  Do NOT use the water in the toilet.toiletbancartoon

 

Turn faucet(s) until water comes out of the spout.   The water should be hot enough for effective cleansing, but not so hot it burns you.  If your skin begins to blister, turn the “hot” faucet down.

Hold hands under the spout, directly in the path of the running water.  Leave hands in this position until all hand skin achieves desired nondryness.

2) Liquid soap

Hold one hand under the spout of the dispenser with the palm facing up and cupped.

Use other hand to press, flick or otherwise activate the release mechanism on the dispenser.

soapLeave cupped hand underneath dispenser until a  quarter-sized glop has been received.  If you have  only a nickel-sized glop (or penny or dime), continue press/flick motion until quarter-sized glop is achieved.   Susan B Anthony dollar or Sacagawea dollar-sized glops are equally acceptable.  However, if a Kennedy half-dollar sized-glop is accidentally dispensed, you have gone too far.  Wipe hands free of soap and repeat step 2.

3) Lather and scrub – 20 Sec

Lathering is best achieved by rubbing 2, soapy hands together briskly. As the pictures show, each hand should belong to someone with a different skin tone.

If you are African American, locate a Swedish American lather-buddy.  If you are Asian American, partner with a New Yorker who has retired to a seniors-only community in Boca Raton.  This unites us all in a Rainbow of Cleanliness.

20 seconds is the recommended time for the lather and scrub portion of the process.  This is the length of time it takes to whistle The Star Spangled Banner or say an Our Father.  For non-religious/non-patriotic American washers, recite the “what is your quest?” bit from Monty Python (just the part with King Arthur.)

4) Rinse – 10 sec.

See step 1 for a description of the proper liquid to use.  This is the amount of time it takes to sing 3/4 of the chorus of “Mairzy Doats”  Sing out loudly so you don’t lose track of time.

5) Dry Your Hands.

The sign appears to suggest the hand-washer is using a paper towel.  Since these are no longer available in public washrooms, washers should use any clean piece of beige paper or cloth.  Savvy public-washroom-users make it a point to wear beige clothing with long sleeves or really full skirts so they are always prepared.

faucet6) Turn off tap

You should NEVER turn off the tap with your freshly cleaned hands. That is because the washer just before you may NOT have actually washed.  Some just wet their hands to give the illusion of cleanliness, without going to the bother of finding a lather-buddy.  Then they turn off the tap with hands full of staph germs that have been merely moistened.  All that does is make the germs mad and even more potent.

See #5 for a discussion of how to locate a beige cloth.  If you do not have a beige cloth, you may be able to turn off the tap with the force of air generated by the Xcelerator hand dryers found in many modern washrooms.  Merely aim the air stream toward the faucet until it has been turned the desired amount.  Be careful, however to turn the stream away before it totally shears the faucet from the sink.  NEVER let your hands interrupt the air flow produced.  This may strip the skin right from your bones.  Always use ear protection when using this method of faucet-turning.

Don’t Forget To Wash

A few last words on this topic remind us to clean between the fingers, under the nails and on the tops of the hands.  Washing wrist skin is recommended, but not required.  This depends on the bathroom activities you participated in prior to washing.  Wash up to the shoulders if you think you will be called upon to perform surgery in the next 10 minutes.

What’s next on the horizon for instructional signs?

“How to Poop”

Coming soon to a public restroom near you.

 

 

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Sorry, Did You Say Something?

tellingmystory2

 

People are rude.  By which I mean they won’t drop everything and listen when I’m talking.

Family members are the worst offenders.

Let’s say my husband is tippity-tappeting on his computer when I approach to share a truly fascinating anecdote.  As I launch into said anecdote, he drags his eyes from the screen (with unbecoming reluctance) and fastens them on my face.  This kind of full-on, direct, eye-to-eye contact lasts about 10 seconds.  Then his eyeballs commit the initial look-back at his computer screen.   Not a long look; just a brief glance.  But this is the beginning of the end.  The no-attention-for-me stone has started rolling down the hill.

I talk faster and start gesturing.

He’s looking at me once more, but his eyes dart away again, even quicker this time.  It’s now about a 5-to-1 ratio of seconds-looking-at-me vs glances-at-the-computer.  The attention stone is rolling faster and it’s gathering no moss.

This is my cue to talk even faster and put more enthusiasm into it.  I’m dropping exclamation points all over the narrative and practically baton-twirling lit sparklers in the fading hope that we will achieve full conversational engagement.

But his attention-to-glances ratio has dropped to 1-to-1.  Even worse, he’s started making the Noncommittal Grunt of Supposed Attention.

“u-huh, u-huh”

Not really signifying agreement, not really a question, it’s a sound that is supposed to indicate he is with me all the way on this.  Clearly, he is not.   He’s looking at the computer now.   He’s gone back to HIS big, important stuff and is no longer even pretending to listen to me.   Once they give you the Noncommittal Grunt of Supposed Attention, you’ve lost them.

Tippity-tappety, tippity-tappety.

The flip side of this rudeness-coin is when somebody starts babbling at me when I’m obviously in the middle of something.  Can’t these people see that I’m busy?  What is WITH that kind of self-centered oblivion?

Bottom line, if you want people to think you have good manners, you need to follow these rules:

  1. If I’m reading/watching/listening to something, zip it.
  2. If I start talking to you, drop everything and listen up.

It’s a simple matter of being polite.

 

 

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A Brief History Of WordPress As It Pertains To Why I Rarely Get Freshly Pressed Anymore

A chart can simplify complex ideas.

Graphs can help simplify complex ideas.

The beginning

Whiz kid Matt Mullenweg sits in his parents’ garage, hunched over a computer he crafted from salvaged parts.  He is anxiously looking for signs of activity on his newly launched blogging site, WordPress.

“Hey, we have a subscriber!” he says excitedly to his companion, Mrs. Feebles.  “Somebody named Peg-o-Leg posted something!”

Matt stares intently off into space, lost in an interior dialogue only he can hear.   He snaps his fingers decisively.  “I know!  We’ll put our best posts up on our homepage and call it Freshly Pressed.  Today’s lucky blogger will be Peg-o-Leg because… she’s all we got.  We’ll leave her post up for, um, let’s say a week.  Or until we get more bloggers.  Make it so!”

Mrs. Feebles does not reply because she is a cat.

A year later

The fledgling WordPress operation has moved into a storefront in a strip mall in Van Nuys.  It is conveniently located next to a Thai take-out restaurant.  Sadly, Matt Mullenweg suffers from a severe lemongrass allergy.

Business has expanded to the point where he has been able to hire a human assistant, Charleen.

“Freshly Pressed options today are a free-verse ode to belly button lint, something from Peg-o-Leg on talking to herself, and an advertisement for genuine, Christian Louboutin handbags and shoes,” Charleen tells Matt.

Matt stares intently off into space, lost in an interior dialogue only he can hear.  He snaps his fingers decisively, a move he is becoming known for.  “Read me the one about the knock-off designer handbags again.”

“You can’t choose that for Freshly Pressed!” Charleen protests.  “Besides, you picked it last week.  Better take this Peg-o-Leg post.  It’s not too horrible.”

“Well, if we have to…OK.” Matt says, reluctantly. “Make it so.”

“Make it so? MAKE IT SO?  Do it yourself, Captain Picard, I’m not your flunky,” Charleen says, indignantly.  “I’m only helping you out because Mom said I had to.  You know she likes me best, right?”

Now

WordPress Worldwide Universal Industries, Inc has taken over the top 50 floors of the tallest skyscraper on the eastern seaboard.  The task of selecting Freshly Pressed posts now falls to a bullpen of talented Story Wranglers.  (Did I mention that they are all really, really good-looking?  Stunning, actually.)

Just like the Story Wranglers bullpen, except they are much hotter.

This looks just like the Story Wranglers bullpen, except they are smokin’ hot studs and studettes.

The dedicated staff is criminally overworked now that WordPress has grown to encompass 60,000,000+ bloggers.  Story Wranglers wade through an average of 1.3 million posts every day to select Freshly Pressed winners.  I am not exaggerating.

Matt Mullenweg’s assistant, Mrs. Vandenpoop (a human,) enters his mammoth corner office.

“I’m sorry to bother you, Mr. Mullenweg, but it’s about the email I got from Peg-o-Leg today.” Mrs. Vandenpoop gestures to the tablet in her hand as she crosses half of an acre of silk carpet to reach his desk.  “She says she has been with you practically from the start.  That half the bloggers she started with have dropped by the wayside, but she remains loyal.  Yet you don’t write, you don’t call.  She wants…”  she begins.

“I know what she wants.” Matt explodes.   “To have that comment etiquette post she wrote made into required reading for all new bloggers,“ he ticks off on his fingers as he continues, “to be Chairman of the Board, and to have her own, permanent spot on the Freshly Pressed page.  She sends the same damn email every day!  That’s why I had my Sadness Engineers create a special, lead-lined spam folder just for her rants.  And why I told you never to read them to me.”

“I thought you’d want to hear this.” Mrs. Vandenpoop worriedly scans the message. “Let me see…”ungrateful…people who knew you when….” oh, here it is.  “I am at the end of my rope.” she says,  “If I don’t get Freshly Pressed again soon, I am going to climb to the rooftop of the tallest building I can find and throw myself off.”  I think she means it.”

Matt Mullenweg.  Or it could be P. Diddy. They hang together so much people get them confused.

Matt Mullenweg on his way to Nova Scotia to see the total eclipse of the sun. Or it could be P. Diddy. They spend so much time chillin’ together, people get them confused.

Matt stares intently off into space, lost in an interior dialogue only he can hear.   He snaps his fingers decisively, a move he has become known for.  “That reminds me.  When the chopper sets down on the rooftop, tell the pilot we have to swing by and pick  Diddy up on our way to that party in the Hamptons.  Make it so.”

“Yes, Mr. Mullenweg.” Mrs. Vandenpoop says as she backs out of the office, bowing.  “Whatever you say, Mr. Mullenweg.  Right away, Mr. Mullenweg.”

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Bag Ban Scofflaws May Soon Be Saying “Sack It To Me”

Dateline: Chicago

June 2014

Three months into Chicago’s total ban on plastic bags, pundits are examining its effects.

Having successfully addressed such petty issues as sky-high crime rates, sinking school test scores and potholes big enough to park a Buick in, city fathers turned their attention to the more pressing need for legislation vis-à-vis plastic bags. Read the back-story  here:  Chicago Plastic Bag Ban Has Enough Support To Become Law, Sponsor Claims

Supporters say they are pleased with results so far, but the law doesn’t go far enough.   As this secret footage shows, environment-hating shoppers still abound:

The Chicago city council will meet in emergency session tonight to discuss ways to put teeth into the law.  Tough, new penalties are expected to be put into place.  Suggestions to be considered include reintroducing the practice of displaying scofflaws in stocks on the village green (Daley Plaza.)  Law-abiding citizens would be encouraged to spit on or pelt offenders with (heirloom organic) tomatoes.

Next on the city council’s agenda: legislation to address the unexplained explosion in the amount of doggy doo-doo on city sidewalks.  As summer temperatures climb, the steaming piles are fomenting a Canine Crap Crisis.

stocksindaleyplaza2

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It Is A Happy St. Patrick’s Day, Indeed!

The Irish Sea- she's a hoary bitch

The Irish Sea- she’s a hoary bitch

Five years ago today, my sister Lib had to cancel her annual St. Patrick’s Day party.  Our hometown always has a big parade, and her apartment is right on the parade route, the perfect location for viewing and celebrating.  She couldn’t have the party that year, because she and I were on our way to Ireland.

We got a great deal by traveling on St. Patrick’s day, and we arrived in Dublin in time for the national hangover.  I started blogging as a travelogue of our adventures for our family.  If you’d like to read all about it, start here. **Warning**  The posts are longer than the actual trip, at least according to my loving family.

Three years ago today, we had to cancel the annual St. Patrick’s Day party.    We gathered around Lib’s hospital bed, instead.

Lib was out of town and I came home to help host the party at her apartment.  My sisters and I were at the grocery store the night before the party, when we got a call.  Lib had suffered a seizure and friends rushed her to the hospital.  CAT scans revealed a shadow on her brain.  My sisters and I made arrangements, packed bags and all hit the road, arriving at the hospital late at night.

It would take weeks of testing before the doctors were sure of their diagnosis; she had a brain tumor, a nasty piece of work called an oligodendroglioma.  The same type of tumor that killed our brother, Pat.

Today, Lib is recovering…from too much celebrating at her annual St. Patrick’s Day party.   I wasn’t able to make it home this year, but I’m sure it was fab.

Lib has been living with cancer for the past three years.    Surgery isn’t a good option for her, so she first did an extended chemo treatment.  She completed a course of radiation less than 2 months ago.   I’m thrilled to report the tumor responded well to the radiation, showing significant shrinkage.  Yeah!

She’s a little worn down by the treatment, but she’s back to work and, most importantly, able to host great parties.  She has her ups and downs, but she’s playing the hand she was dealt with grace and humor.

Next year, I’m sure the annual St. Patrick’s Day  party will once again take place.  I’m volunteering right now to make the beer run.   I like my Guinness fresh, so it’s best to get it straight from the source.   Who’s up for a beer run to Dublin?

Happy St. Patrick’s Day – sláinte!

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Posted in Cancer Schmancer, Ireland - Dublin and Publin' | Tagged , , , , , | 70 Comments

Is It My Bad If I Feel Bad When My Bad Isn’t Very Bad?

balloon artist courtesy of Wobbles The Clown

balloon artistry courtesy of Wobbles The Clown

Ungrateful, angry, discontented…I’m sick of dealing with people with these lousy attitudes.  But how can I avoid myself?

My friend Deb at The Monster In Your Closet got me thinking.  She does that a lot, and I wish she’d knock it off.  This time Deb got me cogitating about gratitude and attitude.  It’s a topic I struggle with, and it’s getting worse as I get older.

I have a ton to be thankful for.  I know it.  Really and truly I do.  And I am grateful.  I have an embarrassment of riches that I have done nothing whatsoever to earn.  Although I don’t think earning enters into the equation.  We don’t deserve good things any more than we deserve bad things.  Stuff happens.  It happens to everybody.  But there’s a hell of a range on the stuff-o-meter, isn’t there?  That’s my problem.

When stuff happens to me, even little, stupid stuff, I want to kick somebody.

Life gave me snow recently, and I made snow cones out of it, blogistically speaking.   Funny, right?  But I wasn’t laughing at the time.   I was fuming.

As my hands were trying to dig my car out of a mountain of snow, my brain was compiling a list of all the lousy things that had happened to me in the previous 12 hours:  “Top 10 Examples Of How Unfair Life Is To Poor Me.”  I was consumed with righteous anger, as if getting stuck in the driveway and waiting 1/2 hour for a salad at a restaurant were tragedies worthy of a Greek chorus.

It was nothing. NOTHING!  What the hell is the matter with me?

It’s not just unreasonable anger; I get swamped with unreasonable despair, too.

Three beloved family members are battling cancer.  My sister Lib, brother Bill, cousin Moe  – all are carrying their crosses with a faith and courage that leaves me shaking my head in helpless admiration.  Yet even as I admire them, the thought of their suffering threatens to overwhelm me at times.  They are moving forward, despite their struggles, and I am getting bogged down with worry about those struggles.  Huh??

I think the best antidote for excessive self-absorption is to look outside oneself.  Since my kids have left home, I volunteer at church, am a tutor for immigrants learning English, and help out a couple of times per month with my husband at the homeless shelter.  That sounds so Braggy McBraggart it makes me cringe.  But I’m telling you so you will understand that I am trying.  And so you will understand the self-congratulation/condemnation see-saw I’m constantly riding.   Because I’m just not feeling it.

I don’t want to do any of those things.

Oh, I fulfill my obligations.  I go to the shelter and serve food, wash dishes and do other busy work.  But I’m not blazing forth as a chatty, cheery ray of human sunshine.  Part of that is distaste at the thought of coming off like condescending Lady Bountiful dispensing charity to the less fortunate.  Part of it is because that sort of thing is out of my comfort zone.  Bottom line: I don’t want to.

This is how uncharitable I am.  A 12-year old kid and his mom have been at the shelter for 5 months.   How tragic is that?   Of course I do whatever I can to help, right?   Help the lad with his homework, rap with him about Pokemon and such, right?  No.  No I don’t.  I’ve never been good with kids of that age, and this one is hyper, loud and annoying.  I serve him dinner with a fake-but-trying-to-be-genuine, pasted-on smile, and otherwise try to avoid him.

It’s tough enough to be totally honest with others, but it’s even more difficult to be totally honest with myself.   I’m not fishing for reassurance that I’m a good person – don’t go there.  I just want us to discuss a couple of things:

  • Do good works offset a lousy attitude?
  • Is increasing negativity a function of age?
  • Am I the only one who has to give herself these same gratitude/attitude pep talks over and over again, because they don’t seem to take?
  • If we are immeasurably blessed compared to others, are we unforgivably ungrateful to let anything bother us?

To whit…

             Is it my bad when my bad isn’t too bad, but it still makes me feel bad?

Guess I’ll keep plugging along, with frequent “notes to self” to count my blessings.  And if I can’t help throwing myself the occasional pity party, I’ll try to make it a small one.  Just a little cake and ice cream, no gifts, and absolutely no clowns crafting balloon wiener dogs.

Posted in Cancer Schmancer, General Ramblings | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 93 Comments

I’ll See That Wheelchair And Raise You One Prius

Nowadays you have to be a member of a special interest group to park in the same county as your final destination.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t begrudge the bits of concrete reserved for people with physical problems.   But the concept has been expanded to the point of absurdity.  This was brought home to me spectacularly at the local community college.

The college just finished construction of a state-of-the-art addition.  Even more exciting than the new building is the fact that it has its own parking lot, right next-door.  That’s a rarity here.

Whoever designed our community college was obviously not from our community.  If the architect had ever experienced a Midwestern winter, with its bone-chilling winds sweeping mountains of snow across miles of fields, he would never have set it up the way he did.

The campus is located in the middle of acres and acres of Illinois cornfield.  Long, low buildings are scattered artfully among the gently rolling hills, said hills courtesy of a fleet of bulldozers.  We don’t do rolling hills here, we do flat.   The parking lots are sprinkled even more artfully than the buildings, and they are nowhere near one another.  In the winter, the journey from car to building is usually best accomplished via dog sled.  Is it any wonder I was eager to see the new and improved design?

Now I know for sure that the architect is not from around here.

There were plenty of open parking spots right up front, I saw as I drove into the new lot.  When I got closer, I noticed the first 7 parking spots in the first 4 rows had “reserved” signs.

“This school must have more than its share of physically challenged students,” I mused.   Then I cruised close enough to read the signs.

These spots are not reserved for the Handicapped.  Nor are they for Expectant Mothers.  They are reserved for neither Mothers With Young Children, nor Senior Citizens.  Not the College President, not even the Employee of the Month.  None of these worthies is allowed to park in the hallowed spaces.

Who gets to keep their tootsies warm and dry on the short hop to the building?  Who is allowed to park in the 30 closest spots?

Reserved For Low Emission Vehicles Only

You will be relieved to know that they have a row of handicapped parking spots shunted over to the side of the building.  I didn’t measure, but it looks like the first Prius spot is closer to the door.

I guess this makes sense to some folks.  That kind of thinking is not the norm here in small-town, middle America.   We think close-in parking spaces should be reserved for those with medical issues.  And we regard being sanctimonious as more a character flaw than a genuine medical condition.

phone 11-13 to 3-14 068

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