Thursday, December 30, 2021

The email riles up Curmudgeon... again

I have a number of email accounts, personal and professional, and they all get clogged with garbage. But some of the emails get my goat more than others....

This one hacks me off every single month: I have a DirecTV dish and a ginormous AT&T bill each month that goes along with it. Which I have faithfully, if never cheerfully, paid when due.

This never stops AT&T though. It insists on treating me as if I were a habitual deadbeat. From today's email:

For the record (although, as a long-time solo practicing lawyer I know this is one of the oldest lies in the history of commerce) my check to AT&T is in the mail.

And was, moreover, before I got this insulting notice.

I can't imagine ever sending such a notice to a client, huffing about payment on a bill not yet due!

Didn't we used to have antitrust laws in this country? AT&T was broken up during my lifetime -- how was it allowed to recombine, like a Ray Harryhausen skeleton in Jason and the Argonauts, only bigger and more evil?

Slightly less aggravating was the email I received from an auto dealer. (A couple of years ago, I was compelled to buy a new van to replace our old one. Indeed, it was at the repair shop referred to in the linked post, on a subsequent visit, that the repair technician came, someberly, into the waiting room -- I think he was clutching his hat with both hands in front of him, eyes downcast -- to tell me, "You know, Curmudgeon, we all have to go some time....")

Anyway, the dealer (separate and distinct from the repair shop) showers me with emails, touting new models or service on my van. I don't answer them. And I don't feel bad in not answering them.

It's not like they're paying for postage.

But the dealer, apparently, is becoming slightly peeved, as this excerpt from the dealer's most recent email would indicate (edited to remove identifying details):

Hello [CURMUDGEON],

I have attempted to reach you, but I've had no success.

Either you have been eaten by alligators or you are just plain swamped. If you have been eaten by alligators... my deepest sympathy goes out to your family members. If you are still alive, one of the following is more likely to have happened. I hate to keep pestering you, but I do want to express my desire to work with you.

Please pick one response, email or phone (773) xxx-xxxx letting me know what our next step should be:
1. Yes!, I have been eaten by alligators. Please send flowers.

2. No, I have not been eaten by alligators but you may wish I had been because I have decided I have no interest in your service. Sorry, you are sunk (Thanks for your frank honesty, I can handle it.)

3. Yes, I have some interest, but here are my challenges:..............

4. Yes, I have some interest. Let’s talk and get together on:...........
Please be as open as possible. Thanks for your response.

Doesn't that seem a tad peevish to you?

I have not, and will not, respond to this email, although the temptation to choose option 1 is pretty strong.

But I, of all people, should be sympathetic when an attempt at humor falls flat.

Least aggravating, for purposes of this review, but still, in my opinion, a nusiance, is this reminder from Walgreen's:

Yes, I am cheap. (I prefer to say frugal, but I won't argue with cheap.)

But would I really venture out unnecessarily in the midst of a record COVID-19 surge just for the sake of 83 cents?

I'll have to get back to you on this... I'm still thinking it over.

Meanwhile, have a safe and healthy New Year's holiday.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

A creature from your worst nightmares: A millipede as big as a car

You're looking at a picture of a Giant African Millipede, this one from the Happy Hollow Park & Zoo in San Jose, California. (Do you know the way to San Jose?) (Sorry... couldn't help myself.)

Anyway, if you look at the stats thoughtfully provided by the zoo at the link in the preceding paragraph, you'll see that this creepy critter is typically eight to 12 inches long... and can get up to 15 inches long. If your stomach is strong enough, you can click around the Intertubes and find pictures of these slimy devils crawling on peoples' hands... and sometimes their faces.

Yet this guy is a midget. A piker. A Lilliputian.

At least by comparison to the nine-foot long fossil millipede found recently in England. The link is to a USA Today story, by Jordan Mendoza, reprinted on Yahoo! News.

Although I'd prefer to believe that Mendoza is just joshing with us, I am obliged to report that the story is also on CNN, Live Science, and NPR.

England was closer to the Equator 326 million years ago and this beheoth, called Arthropleura, flourished in the warm, tropical conditions that then prevailed.

Arthropleura now displaces Jaekelopterus rhenaniae, a giant sea scorpion, as the largest invertebrate currently known to science.

(Of course, who knows what tomorrow may bring?)

I don't want anyone to think that I knew all this off the top of my head. I didn't. In fact, until I saw the linked Yahoo! News article, if asked, I probably would have said that the largest invertebrate known to scinece was a centipede that Long Suffering Spouse once saw on the living room ceiling one cool autumn morning. If the fur on that creature could have been preserved, it might have made her a fashionable-looking jacket. Or at least a stole.

Not that she would have worn it.... Long Suffering Spouse has a particular aversion to centipedes (or anything else that trespasses on the premises but belongs in the Great Outdoors).

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Beware! Earworm ahead

At least, the above and foregoing sign will trigger an earworm if you are of a certain age.

And, if not, you can 'tuck in your hair up under your hat' and ask an elder why this is funny.

If the elder of whom you inquire has access to the song, and offers to play it for you, run -- do not walk -- away quickly.

You have been warned.

Friday, December 10, 2021

16 years of blogging?

It seems hard to believe, but I started this blog -- which was actually my second effort at blogging (get it?) -- in December 2005. We have just passed this site's 16th anniversary.

I still had a kid in grade school in 2005. In the years that followed all five of my children have graduated from college and gotten married. Three of my five children have children of their own at this point; Long Suffering Spouse and I have been blessed with 10 grandchildren so far. I have chronicled some of these events here.

I have no doubt written some things in the course of those years that I would disagree with today. Thinking people modify their opinions and revise their views as new information becomes available. As they (hopefully) grow in wisdom and experience. My wife or my children or grandchildren might wince if they were ever to read through the archives here in any depth. Certainly there have been occasions were I have griped about this child, or that one, or written some things that might have been embarrassing for them. Then.

Then again, this has been an anonymous blog. So the members of my family did not know what I wrote about them when I wrote it. If they ever do read it -- perhaps when I am gone -- they may enjoy it. I hope so. Even when they see where I have occasionally exaggerated for comic effect or narrative clarity. Or given Long Suffering Spouse the most cutting lines.

In my writing I have always tried to avoid saying anything that would embarrass me if read from the pulpit at church. I think that's a good rule for anyone who writes, online or off. In the course of 16 years I may have been better at it some times than others.

My first blog was created when Older Daughter was studying in Spain, during her junior year of college. I found it convenient to create a Blogger account (a different one than the ones I use now) in order to leave comments on the blog that Older Daughter created while she was overseas. At some point, probably because my comments on her blog became too lengthy, I created a blog of my own. Things sort of evolved from there.

So, in a way, this is all her fault.

Sorry. Inside family joke: Older Daughter feels that she is blamed for everything. Which is absolutely not true. I blame her siblings for things, too. Sometimes I even blame myself... probably nowhere near as often as I should... but such is life.

Anyway, Older Daughter came back from Spain and at some point thereafter I started this blog without telling anyone at all.

And I was shocked to find that I had no readers. Hmmmmm.

From those inauspicious beginnings, I actually built something of an audience. I was totally geeked in 2007 to welcome my "20,000th visitor" -- 20,000 page views seemed like a lot to me, then. At my peak I probably had two or three dozen regular visitors, most of them generous with their comments. It was a little community.

But time marches on. Some readers moved on with their lives. Some passed away. By 2013 I stopped posting as much. From 136 posts in 2013, to 40 in 2014, to 20 in 2015. In 2020 I did not post at all. (I was too busy, I suppose, hoarding toilet paper.)

And I was shocked to find that I'd lost the little audience I'd had. Hmmmm.

Actually, last month I had 1,957 page views here, according to Blogger. That would have thrilled me in 2007. Perhaps the Blogger counting system is more generous than the old Sitemeter. But I doubt they are that different. But the 40 or 50 or 60 daily visitors I have now don't give me that same 'community' vibe I had here in 2007 through about 2012.

At this point, 16 years in, what I've got here is inventory -- 1,982 published posts and counting. Maybe I can yet build something on or from this.

Seems to me to be worth a try. After all... 16 years... I've had this site open now for about a quarter of my life.

Happy Blogaversary to me.

Thursday, December 09, 2021

Very Peri? I dunno... looks kinda purple to me

We are entering the Silly Season now -- or, more properly expressed in 21st Century America, the Even Sillier Than Usual Season. A whole bunch of "end of the year" stuff makes it into the news, mainly because those charged with gathering real news, those few that are left, are busy with Christmas preparations (and/or Winter Solstice or some other Winter Holiday preparations) just like the rest of us.

Thus, for example, in December, various groups announce what the Word of the Year Is -- three I've heard so far are "Vaxxed," "Vaccination," and "Boostered" -- and these announcements are solemnly reported.

Surprised?

Me neither. But it was on the "news." You probably saw or heard it, too.

This morning's revelation is that the Pantone Color Institute has announced its Color of the Year for 2022.

The real story, it seems to me, is how somebody dreamed up a company, and apparently made money in so doing, that makes and sells colors. Apparently by licensing said colors.

But that's not the story being reported today by Time Magazine or CNN. Nope. The story these outlets (and several others besides) are reporting is the creation and selection of the color itself, described on the linked Pantone website as "[e]ncompassing the qualities of the blues, yet at the same time possessing a violet-red undertone, PANTONE 17-3938 Very Peri displays a spritely, joyous attitude and dynamic presence that encourages courageous creativity and imaginative expression." The Time Magazine article says Very Peri is "a dynamic periwinkle blue with a vibrant, violet-red undertone designed to evoke the glowing touchscreens of the digital world and the creative possibilities of the future."

Sounds very deep, doesn't it?

Obviously, if Very Peri is in the headlines today, all the serious problems of the world have been resolved, right? COVID-19 is no longer even a nuisance -- Putin has pulled back from Ukraine -- the Palestinians and Israelis have resolved all their differences -- and poverty and hunger have been eliminated from the entire globe. Right?

No?

None of the above?

Well... casting about for a silver lining here... several of my granddaughters say that purple is their favorite color. Perhaps they'll be happy to learn that this shade of purple is the Color of the Year....

Monday, December 06, 2021

Did you put your shoes out last night for St. Nicholas?

(Photo credit: nestfullofeggs.blogspot.com)

Today, December 6, is the Feast of St. Nicholas. When we were kids we'd put our shoes somewhere where St. Nicholas could fill them with candy or other sweets. Depending on how the religious calendars coincided, St. Nicholas would sometimes bring marked down, post-Hanukkah gelt. (If Hanukkah came late in a given year, the Hanukkah gelt would wind up in our Christmas stockings instead.)

Very ecumenical and economical.

Naturally I tried (at least once) to leave my boots out for St. Nicholas, as opposed to mere shoes. My parents vetoed the plan.

The thought -- now -- of eating something that had been left to linger in my shoes overnight strikes me as awful. What were we thinking?

But, of course, what we were thinking -- then -- was that this was an opportunity to get candy and we really didn't care if it had to marinate in our stinky gym shoes for some hours before we could get at it. Chocolate is chocolate.

Nor were we overly concerned with whether St. Nicholas was or was not the same guy as Santa Claus. I suppose if we thought about it, we might have wondered why the same old guy would come by on both the 6th and the 24th. With a different modus operandi on each occasion. But no self-respecting kid wonders long about where candy is coming from, as long as it's coming in sufficiently copious quantities.