Don’t be an Ass at the Grocery Store

Since I seem to be using this blog primarily as a way to vent my frustration with little everyday annoyances, here’s one more.

Image by bluedaisy, from www.sxc.hu

Image by bluedaisy, from http://www.sxc.hu

Unless you’re super-rich and have your own personal grocery shopper (if you are, don’t read my blog – I hate you), we all have to go to the supermarket/natural food store/grocery/whatever. Sometimes it is crowded, sometimes you’re in a hurry… there are many variables that might put you in a less-than-pleasant mood. But that’s no reason to be an ass.

“What?!” you may say, “I’m a wonderful human being and the sun not only shines out of my pooper, it actually revolves around me! How could anyone take issue with my grocery store behavior?” Read the rest of this entry »

Toilet Etiquette

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I know, I know. Do adults really need advice on toilet etiquette? In my experience, yes. Plus, it is kinda funny. If you personally don’t need this, just skip reading it, or forward it to someone you know who does.

  1. The seat, up or down? Usually down, but when in doubt, leave it as you found it.
  2. Hands. Always, always, always wash your hands. There is no excuse for not washing your hands. No towel? Wipe your hands on your pants. No soap? Warm water is better than nothing. No water? Make sure the toilet flushed.
  3. What’s your number? Generally speaking, try to avoid dropping a bomb at someone else’s house. If you absolutely cannot make your bowels wait, poo considerately. Turn on the fan or open a window. Use a little air freshener. And by all means, if you’re known for the, er, size of your deposits, engage in a little preemptive flushing midway through. It may be embarrassing to be heard to flush twice, but it is mortifying to be heard using the plunger. Read the rest of this entry »

Reading list for Informed Citizen 101

I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately on politics. Yes, some of that reading is about the candidates in the upcoming election (my local elections — my presidential vote was decided long ago). But what interests me most is material on the whole underlying structure of American politics, the underpinnings of our democracy.

These are things I (presumably) studied in high school history and government classes. I was so bored out of my mind, though, that I didn’t retain any of it. The material was sooo dry, and ancient, and I didn’t see how it applied to me, so I didn’t pay attention past the point of passing the tests. I didn’t realize that things like civil rights, freedoms of speech and press, right to due process, checks and balances, etc., were relevant even today. Not only that, but they’re not sure things. These freedoms can be taken away from us, but only if we allow them to be. And by being complacent, uninvolved, and ignorant, we’re basically saying, “Here! Take these freedoms, I’m not using them!”

In the early days of our country’s history, everyone was involved in political discourse. Farmers debated issues, shopkeepers wrote and distributed essays, because they realized that if we give our leaders power and then leave them alone, unobserved, that power will corrupt. These days most people just vote a straight-party ticket (if they even vote) and go about their daily business without really knowing where the candidates stand on issues that will affect our lives far into the future. Overall, we are an ignorant poplulace.

But we don’t have to remain ignorant. In this spirit, I’ve been compiling a mental list of required/strongly suggested reading for anyone who wants to understand where our freedoms come from, and what could happen to them. I’m not a political expert, and I haven’t read or even heard of every book on the topic. These are my suggestions of books I’ve read recently, books I need to read again, and books I plan to read as soon as I get can them from the library. I’ve taken the synopses/reviews straight from the retail websites (just follow the link).  Please leave your own suggestions in the comments!

Read these books

  • Selected Federalist Papers : Brilliant essays comprising a masterful exposition and defense of the proposed federal system of government and of the Constitution’s carefully architected system of checks and balances. This volume contains 35 of the most famous pieces — concerning impeachment, dangers from foreign arms and influence, the need for a power of taxation, freedom of the press and much more.
  • The Declaration of Independence (and others): Thirteen compelling and influential documents: Patrick Henry’s “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death,” Declaration of Independence, The Constitution of the United States, James Madison’s The Federalist, George Washington’s First Inaugural Address, The Monroe Doctrine, Lincoln’s First Inaugural Address, The Emancipation Proclamation, Gettysburg Address, and more.
  • The End of America: A Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot: This latest offering from best-selling author Wolf, The Beauty Myth, is a harbinger of an age that may finally see the patriarchal realm of political discourse usurped. Here is Wolf’s compellingly and cogently argued political argument for civil rights, not women’s rights. She contributes this call to action to a canon that from Plato and Aristotle to Hobbes and Locke and forward, with a few exceptions (e.g., Hannah Arendt), has been largely populated by men. Wolf’s work is actually closer to the agitated, passionate polemics of Emma Goldman than the ponderous, philosophical musings of Arendt. Readers will appreciate her energy and urgency as she warns we are living through a dangerous “fascist shift” brought about by the Bush administration. Her chapters outline the “Ten Steps to Fascism” citing historical corollaries (as well as the pigs in Orwell’s Animal Farm), with headings like “Invoke an External and Internal Threat,” “Establish Secret Prisons,” and “Target Key Individuals.” In other words, fascism can exist without dictatorship. Her book’s publication through a small press in Vermont that is committed to “the politics and practice of sustainable living” rather than through a large trade house is itself a political act. Highly recommended for all collections. -Theresa Kintz, Wilkes Univ., Wilkes-Barre, PA
  • Give Me Liberty: A Handbook for American Revolutionaries: As the practice of democracy becomes a lost art, Americans are increasingly desperate for a restored nation. Many have a general sense that the “system” is in disorder — if not on the road to functional collapse. But though it is easy to identify our political problems, the solutions are not always as clear. In Give Me Liberty: A Handbook for American Revolutionaries, bestselling author Naomi Wolf illustrates the breathtaking changes that can take place when ordinary citizens engage in the democratic system the way the founders intended and tells how to use that system, right now, to change your life, your community, and ultimately, the nation.
  • Animal Farm: Anti-utopian satire by George Orwell, published in 1945. One of Orwell’s finest works, it is a political fable based on the events of Russia’s Bolshevik revolution and the betrayal of the cause by Joseph Stalin. The book concerns a group of barnyard animals who overthrow and chase off their exploitative human masters and set up an egalitarian society of their own. Eventually the animals’ intelligent and power-loving leaders, the pigs, subvert the revolution and form a dictatorship even more oppressive and heartless than that of their former human masters. — The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature
  • 1984: Thought Police. Big Brother. Orwellian. These words have entered our vocabulary because of George Orwell’s classic dystopian novel, 1984. The story of one man’s nightmare odyssey as he pursues a forbidden love affair through a world ruled by warring states and a power structure that controls not only information but also individual thought and memory, 1984 is a prophetic, haunting tale. More relevant than ever before, 1984 exposes the worst crimes imaginable-the destruction of truth, freedom, and individuality.
  • A People’s History of the United States: 1492 to Present :Consistently lauded for its lively, readable prose, this revised and updated edition of A People’s History of the United States turns traditional textbook history on its head. Howard Zinn infuses the often-submerged voices of blacks, women, American Indians, war resisters, and poor laborers of all nationalities into this thorough narrative that spans American history from Christopher Columbus’s arrival to an afterword on the Clinton presidency. If your last experience of American history was brought to you by junior high school textbooks–or even if you’re a specialist–get ready for the other side of stories you may not even have heard. With its vivid descriptions of rarely noted events, A People’s History of the United States is required reading for anyone who wants to take a fresh look at the rich, rocky history of America.

I’ll be adding more as I come across them.

I’m OK. You’re OK. But not as OK as me.

Due to the number of people I interact with on a day-to-day basis, the following topic has been on my mind very frequently: I don’t like most people.

Now, before you get all riled up about what a sad and lonely person I must be, let me set the record straight: I have many good friends, people I care about and enjoy spending time with, and who I think feel the same way about me. My social calendar is just fine, and my life is not devoid of love or meaning.

That being said, I don’t really like most people I come into contact with each day. I don’t dislike them, but I don’t particularly like them, either. I can’t imagine hanging out with them, or wanting to be their friend on Facebook, or really even sustaining a mildly interesting conversation with them. I honestly would rather avoid them altogether. Maybe I have prudent and discriminating taste in friends. Or maybe I’m an ass.

A few days ago, though, I had an epiphany. There must be people who feel the same way about me! “WHAT!?!,” I thought to myself, “How could anyone not like me?”

It is true, though. I probably interact with several people each day who don’t really care for me. Not because I’m a bad person (I’m not), or because I stink (I have excellent hygiene, thank you), or because I’m obnoxiously loud (I’m actually rather soft-spoken). It’s just because we have wildly dissimilar interests, beliefs, senses of humor, world outlooks, choice of books, clothing styles, or whatever. It could be ANYTHING! Or nothing! When I meet someone I don’t like, I have to remind myself that they very well may not like me either, and there’s very little I can do about it. Sure, I can be polite and attentive, but good manners don’t instantly forge a bond of friendship. All I can do is try my best to get through the encounter with grace and professionalism, and not get upset that we’re not BFFs or that his/her voice grates on my last nerve. It’ll be over soon and I can go home to the one who truly understands me and never annoys me — my dog.

5 reasons to bring your own bags to the grocery store

1. You won’t have to add to the giant wad of plastic bags you already have.

2. Love your planet! You won’t be adding waste to the landfill, or pouring more money into the oil industry — it take petroleum to manufacture plastic and to power the trucks that deliver the bags!

3. You just look like a really cool, eco-friendly granola girl/guy, which is very attractive to people you want to find you attractive. Green is the new black.

4. Bring a non-wafer-thin-plastic bag and you’re less likely to have rips and tears that allow your groceries to escape and run rampant around your car at every turn.

5. Some of those reusable bags you buy at the store, or canvas bags, have long handles. If you shop at Harris Teeter, you can sling those handles over your shoulder, leaving you two hands free to enjoy the complimentary sugar cookies. Mmm, sugar cookies….

Using, without being, a technological tool.

Without a doubt, technological fluency can boost your credentials and desirablility in the job market. Employers are increasingly looking for people with computer skills, whether they be word processing, programing, spreadsheet/database creation, graphic design, or the myriad of other technological subdivisions in which one can specialize.

However, in the absence of a little attention and plain ol’ common sense, your use of technology can quickly turn around and bite you in the ass.

For example, say you’re in the market for a job, and you’ve just sent out resumes to several enticing prospects. Unfortunately, the day you left your phone at home was the day several potential employers chose to call you, requesting an interview. Luckily, they left messages. Unluckily, rather than hearing a tasteful greeting on your voicemail, their first impression of you was one of the following:

  • “WAZZZUUUUUUUUP!” followed by ten seconds of silence before the beep.
  • Your roommate accompanying you on guitar while you sing your rendition of “Hey hey, we’re the Monkees” with the new lyrics of “We’re spanking our monkeys.”
  • A belch.
  • A ring-back tone, most likely a rapper asking where his bitches be.

Looks like you might have to keep donating plasma to make rent.

Ok, a few weeks later you’ve grown-up-ized your voicemail greeting and sent out a fresh batch of resumes. Somewhere, a hiring manager is looking it over, and thinking to him/herself, “This looks like a promising candidate. I’ll send off an email to see if they can come interview next week.” Their eyes travel up the page to the letterhead, seeking your email address, and they see….. jagerbomb69@email.com.

Email addresses are free, in case you were wondering. There is no excuse to give out a vulgar, immature, or otherwise inappropriate email address to potential employers or collegues. You can keep your funny email address to use with friends, but swing by Gmail and pick out something more mature or professional to use on job applications. Your name, or first initial and last name, or last name plus a number, or something similar makes a professional and easy-to-remember email address. With many email providers, you can even get the mail from all your addresses delivered to one inbox, so you don’t forget to check one of them.

Little details like these can be the difference between looking like a candidate for supervisor, and looking like you need adult supervision.

Emotional Outbursts: There’s a Time and a Place….

Part of being a grown-up is learning to deal with adult emotions. As we age, our emotions become more complex, as do the situations surrounding and leading to those emotions. To be a healthy person, we have to learn to deal with these emotions as they come, to move through them, rather than bottling them up and freaking out later. There are numerous ways to learn to handle feelings in a mature fashion, many of which will be talked about on this blog. This post won’t really deal with any of them, though.

This post, rather, is more of a opinion piece. My opinion, based on events that I have witnessed in real life.

I think that another part of being a grown-up is exercising good judgment, having appropriate manners, and knowing the time and place for certain actions. Sometimes you need to repress an emotion or two, just until you’re somewhere where you can deal with it. For example, your chiropractor’s office is not the appropriate place to storm in, throw your stuff across the room, and burst out crying – and I don’t mean a solitary tear leaking out, I mean bawling like a toddler. Nor is it really appropriate to unburden yourself on the receptionist (even if he/she seems so understanding), describing your problems in detail, such as your marital difficulties or that pesky bowel issue.

No, dear reader, these are some feelings that should be reserved for the inside of your home or the sympathetic shoulder of your BFF. Except the bowel issue. That should be discussed with your doctor. (Doctor, not doctor’s office manager. There is a difference.)

Maybe I’m being mean… nah, I don’t think so. I think that if you’re old enough to drive a car, vote, and buy a beer, then you’re old enough to exercise a little discretion when it comes to opening the emotional floodgates. Yes, emotions are good, and no, you shouldn’t usually repress them. But there’s a difference between being emotionally healthy and making everyone around you feel uncomfortable.

So when you’re about to open up to someone, ask yourself a few questions:

1. Is this person being paid to listen to my problems (ie. therapist, psycholgist, hairdresser)?

2. [If the first answer is "no'] Did this person ask me to tell them about my trials and tribulations, emotional upheaval, relationship difficulties, intestinal disturbances, overbearing mother, etc?

3. [If "no" to 1 and 2] Is this person my spouse/partner, mother, dear sibling, or openly acknowledged best friend?

If the answer to any one of these questions is “yes,” then by all means, kick of your shoes and let it rip! But if you answered no to all three, then I would advise keeping your angst to yourself, at least until you’re with someone who does fall into one of the above categories.

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