Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Love is a Many Splendored Thing... Scratch That: It's Hellish.

This isn't a rant. I don't hate men. But I've lived long enough to realize that love isn't as easily defined as I thought it was when I was growing up. In fact, I'm writing a book about it (but more on that another time).

Love can be a rather painful process, overall, unless you're exceptionally lucky. I've been through two marriages which ended in two divorces and actually I'm very positive about my future. Yes: I still want to be married and live happily ever after. Will that happen for me? I simply don't know, and I'm OK with that. But it took me a long time to get there.

A Case Study

Some people are still on that journey. Take Trevor, for instance.

Trevor and I had gone on a couple casual dates and then I found out that he was a severe alcoholic (in the one to three percentile of the disease). By then, he'd decided he was in love with me. And by then, I'd decided I would never be in love with him.

I didn't lie to him: I told him the cold, hard truth with compassion. There is that certain something that is missing and I can't define it: I only know that it's not there. And yes, of course, his alcoholism is a disaster.

Will Trevor ever meet The One: That woman who is perfect for him? I doubt it. He would have to change more than he's willing to change in order to be The One for someone else and if you're not willing to be The One, certainly you can't expect someone else to be.

People Are People

When I was younger, I was willing to assume that people were these wonderful Chinese puzzle boxes. Instead, I've learned that most of them are as complicated as Tupperware: What you see is what you get. And just because I took steps to be a better person and change what needed to be changed in my life doesn't mean that others will do the same thing. In fact, I find that most people remain appallingly content with dysfunction and mediocrity.

I learned these lessons the hard way and, unfortunately, most people will have to do the same. Very few of us learn from watching others' mistakes.

Society Doesn't Help

As if the usual issues aren't difficult enough, modern society has now introduced even more things designed to damage relationships. New trends have emerged that should alarm all of us, like the hookup culture on today's college campuses. And sexual permissiveness and promiscuity has bled into our daily lives, encouraged by TV/movies and badly written but well-received erotic literature like 50 Shades of Grey (I'll talk about our lowered standards in literature another time). At the same time, we're fed ridiculously high standards: You have to always feel you're in love with your spouse or it's time to pack up and get that quickie divorce that's so easy to come by these days. Feelings mean everything: Commitment is so passé.

How do you find The One?

Dating sites are pitiful and plentiful. I've never had any success in any of them. Like a good job, you won't find the right one advertised online: you can only find it through word of mouth. If someone is worth having, they soon grow tired of dealing with creepy people and shut down their account. The ones that remain are desperate in one form or another: Maybe they're co-dependent. Maybe they're looking for a free meal. Maybe they're looking for a Sugar Mama. Maybe they have issues that make them so damaged that they are incapable of carrying on a genuine relationship in the real world. Are there exceptions? Of course. But by definition, an exception is rare.

As a Christian, I know that I can leave the selection of my future husband in God's hands, even though I'd like to help the process along at times.

Some people are lucky and meet each other when they're young, and weather the storms of teenagers and middle age and roof repairs and dog vomit on the carpet. Other people go most of their lives before they meet The One. Some meet through friends, others meet through coincidence.

My father, a cynical scientist, compares falling wildly in love with getting the flu: You can only hope you get over it quickly. And yet, he remains very much in love with his wife of 52 years: My mother, whom he met on a blind date.

So how do you find The One?

I have no clue.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Was Michelle Obama Really Born as a Man?

God save us from conspiracy theories. No, really. Because it will take an act of divine intervention to stop such idiocy.

Let's have a look at the latest assertion. Read it aloud in a breathy voice with a Valley Girl accent: It's much more entertaining and realistic. Then read the very last sentence in tones of righteous indignation. If you can, read it for an audience. Expect clapping.

I realize this probably has a great appeal to the uneducated masses. As I'm an independent with a conservative bent, it pains me to admit that studies show that conservatives test out lower when it comes to education. Yup. Liberals are more educated: Not always smarter (though that often correlates with education) but certainly more educated. Which is why I suppose we never had to endure such nonsense about Laura Bush.

But let's not dismiss this immediately! No. Let's take a serious look at each assertion:

1. "She refuses to wear a bathing suit." There is nothing I can find that documents her refusal to wear a swimsuit. But I know that as the First Lady, it would be unnerving to wear one in front of TV news crews who follow you doggedly from the bathroom to the bedroom. And although I can't find any genuine pics of Michelle in a swimsuit, I can't find any of Laura Bush in one either. They may exist. But just because someone hasn't been photographed in a swimsuit doesn't mean they're hiding anything. By that logic, you could claim that Michelle has three breasts, also.

2. There are no pics of Michelle pregnant. Well, I admit I couldn't find any either. Once again, however, that doesn't prove anything. Apparently her pregnancies were well documented and both girls were delivered by Michelle's friend and OB/GYN, Dr. Anita Blanchard, at The University of Chicago Medical Center. That's pretty specific, isn't it? It should be enough to counter the adoption suggestion.

And, though it's hard to believe, the author of this nonsense says that he bases his beliefs on an entry he saw in Even if the author's telling the truth, doesn't he realize that is a site that anyone can log onto and claim anything? I have a family tree up on and I disagree with some of my relatives as to our distant relatives and we're not trying to create a new conspiracy theory! Mistakes are made, even with the best of intentions.

3. The allegation that Michelle was born a Michael is outright ridiculous. I believe that most people have no concept about the size and scope of our population. Do they really think that such information would just slip past everyone all these years? That no one would say "Oh hey, yeah! Michael! I remember that guy. I remember him saying he wanted a sex change operation!" Hopefully no one is so gullible that they think that everyone in the press is stupid or bought.

I went on You can do it, too. I checked out Oregon State University. No Robinsons of any kind attended there in 1982. None. See how easy that is?

4. Adam's apples are shared by men and women alike, and the size varies according to the person. Some women have more prominent Adam's apples. Don't believe me? Google Ann Coulter, for one of many. As for Michelle's dimensions supposedly being the same as male dimensions: Nonsense. Pure nonsense.

5. The "protruding male package" that's mentioned is, from what I can see, a maxi pad that was unfortunately showing when she took the stage. Horrid, but hardly a penis. As for her "scratching her privates", I am floored that someone would try to demean her by creating such an outright and pathetically obvious lie. Notice that they don't have pictures to illustrate this and it certainly would have been spoken about the moment it happened. If it wasn't covered in our press, the overseas press would grab it and run with it.

To sum it up: I dislike the Obamas, so I really hate that I have to defend Michelle in this matter. But if we mainstream such idiocy by repeating it, we will damage our credibility to such an extent that when something truly significant occurs, our voices will be drowned out.

So if you know of someone who's repeating this poorly written piece of grade-school mentality, give them a copy of this article. Please.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Coffee, Cream, Kitty I get a huge mug of coffee this morning, throw in a generous amount of cream, place it on my nightstand and climb into bed again JUST as Evil Kitty launches a full-out attack. In slow motion, I see her leaping for my foot, claws extended. And as time slows to a crawl, I react by leaping back, my hand connects to my coffee mug, and coffee explodes in all directions as EK bolts out the bedroom door. Half an hour later, I got to finally try my coffee.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Job Hunting Ain't for Sissies

Job Hunting Thought for the Day: When they tell you "Bring a resume and wear proper business attire" you know it's an entry level job. Any professional already knows this and doesn't need to be told.

I once had openings for instructors and interviewed candidates who looked great on paper. One morning, a woman (who was in her 50s if she was a day) showed up in a miniskirt with unwashed, unkempt hair, no stockings, bruises on her legs, and hollow eyes and yet she had a stellar resume! Perhaps if I had bothered to check her qualifications, I would have found that it was nothing but lies. But I was very glad I hadn't advised anyone to wear proper business attire, because it allowed me to weed her out immediately.

The key to interviewing is to minimize the amount of people who come before you. You don't want to waste your time with just anyone: You want to pick from a small group of people who are the best fit for the position you're advertising for.

Incidentally, that goes both ways.

I got a call from a woman this morning. It was canned and went something like this: "Hello [insert name here]. How are you today? That's good. Well, [insert name here] my boss saw your resume and wanted me to call you immediately. Are you still looking for work, [insert name here]? Wonderful. Our company is 50 years old and we are looking for both sales and management positions. Does that sound like something you'd be interested in, [insert name here]?"

I stopped her at that point. "Hey," I said in a kindly manner, "It's pretty obvious that you're giving me a canned speech. That means that you're calling a lot of people, and that means that you have a high turnover. So I'm assuming that your sales positions are commission only, right?"

Startled, she admitted it. "OK. Well that's something I'm not interested in, although I really appreciate the call," I said to her.

Look: A company pays commission-only when they're selling a product they don't believe in and/or they're exploiting their workers. There are gullible and well-meaning people who fall for this, obviously, or Amway would never have been successful. But I am not one of them. I will only work for a company that truly believes in what they're selling and I believe that, with my background and qualifications, I am entitled to be paid a fair wage.

Sometimes there's a variant: The company pays its sales force commission-only but promises an eventual spot in management if they're "willing to make the sacrifice up front." That means that many people make that sacrifice and it never pays off. After all, not every salesperson can be a manager. This method is employed locally by a "marketing" franchise that works for Home Depot and has their people hoofing it throughout the store all day, trying to upsell customers into allowing Home Depot designers into their homes.

Which brings me to another point: There is apparently a trend that's surfaced where companies are renaming themselves as a "marketing" company, when all they are is a churn-and-burn that gobbles up fresh-faced rookies, works them hard, and spits them out. I suspect sometimes the owners/managers themselves are often kindly people who don't fully understand what they're doing, but the likelihood is that they simply turn a blind eye.

Then there are the companies that give you a phenomenal title, bring you in as the new star player, and then you suddenly find yourself working phone sales in a noisy room under the glare of cheap industrial lighting.

I had this happen to me once, and then I discovered that it was a business run by Scientologists. Scientologists are famous for exploiting workers because bad management skills were taught and codified by the head of their religion, therefore it's actually a part of their faith. You will always be happier working for anyone else, because even Satanists will most likely be using proper management techniques rather than the infamous and ineffective Wise Management that is touted by the Scientologists.

Hey: In the workplace, I don't care if you're a Scientologist. I don't care if you're Mormon, Catholic, Jewish, or if your deity is The Flying Spaghetti Monster. But if you bombard me with your faith and I don't agree with it, nothing good can come from it. That's why the EEOC was invented. Secular employers need to remember that. If you want your brand of religion in the workplace, fine: Hire only those people that agree with you.

My specialties are marketing, public relations, and business-to-business sales. But I live in Florida, specifically the Tampa Bay area, where the majority of jobs are low-paid service jobs unless you're an illegal immigrant who's getting paid under the table: Then your job is an even lower paid service job. But if you have a degree or do white collar work, competition is fierce and many people are willing to settle, even if it's just temporarily. That's never a good idea.

Ultimately, job hunting is very much like dating. If you find the company is not a good fit, walk away or you'll regret it later.

Friday, April 18, 2014

The World's Most Unusual Dollar Store

When I was a teen, I well remember my mom saying once "I am not the kind of person to commit suicide. I am the kind of person to cause others to commit suicide." She was kidding. I think.

Mom is a unique cross between Martha Stewart and a Marine drill sergeant. Ask anyone. They'll tell you I'm right: If they dare. So when we started to plan for Easter, and I mentioned that I wanted to invite another family, she was more than happy to invite them: She loves to entertain. When I asked if we could add another last minute guest, she was happy to do so.

And yet, never being a slouch at using a situation to her advantage, she called me this morning to say imperiously "Because you are adding people to my guest list, you are now my slave. Go find me a tablecloth. It must be 144 inches long and be pale pink or green or something Easter-y. Bed, Bath and Beyond will have it. Do you have a coupon? If you don't, come on over and get it."

Seeing a long trip to the local mall to battle yuppies for the latest in pastel tablecloths the size of a football field, I tried suggesting an alternative: The World's Most Unusual Dollar Store on Ulmerton Road in Largo, Florida. There's a reason it's called that. When you first enter the store, you're hit by a curious mix of mothballs and incense. It's cavernous and slightly dingy, chockfull of "bargains" such as rows of expired food, large and eerie dolls, and huge flags that are likely to shred when the first blast of wind hits them.

It also has a seedy rattan chair that's been spray-painted white. The forbidding handwritten sign warns everyone that they're not allowed to sit on the slightly frayed cushion, but can rent out the chair for a mere $30/day with a $100 deposit:

Apparently they buy things no one else wants in large quantities, and then try to sell them. Sometimes I'm amazed at what they decide to put out on the shelves. This entire shelf held nothing but about 70 copies of a soft porn movie called Erotic Aquatics 2. It appears to have been filmed in the late 80s, which is about the same time a lot of their food seems to have been manufactured. OK, I'm kidding about the food, but I once looked over their food aisle and found that there were items that had expired by years, not months, but years.

Their sheer volume and assortment of plastic tablecloths is astounding. And they can produce the tackiest themed table decorations this side of Jersey Shore: Snookie would be in heaven.

So is it any wonder that I went here in search of tablecloths?

There's always hope.

I found a cloth one. Only one. It was sitting there sadly, thrown in amongst the shower curtains and plastic bed covers. It wasn't 144 inches. It wasn't pastel. And yet I stood there longer than I should have, trying to calculate how I could make it work so that I could avoid the crush at Bed, Bath and Beyond. Giving up, I went once around the store, past the mass produced plastic figurines with paint bleeding haphazardly down their features, past feather boas and cheap lace trim, past the handbags that they import for $5 and sell for $55.

Returning to the sole table cloth, I looked down a nearby aisle and saw an assortment of placemats. Many were plastic with bright gilding, fit for a sit-down dinner with the cast of My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Other plastic ones sported Catholic characters in lurid 3D with blazing halos. But among all those exuberant placemats were these demure cloth ones:

Excitedly, I called mom and sent her this photo. Twice. And both times she didn't get it. So I walked resignedly to the front of the store to ask the tired, petite little sales clerk if I could return them if they weren't what my mom wanted. No, I was told. I could only get store credit. Reasoning that I could always spend the store credit on a cheap samurai sword reproduction for one of my young cousins, I bought the placemats.

Once I arrived at Mom and Dad's, Mom looked over the placemats critically. "Here," she said, thrusting one at me, "Take off the top and let's see how these look."  So Mom arranged them about the table and declared them to be satisfactory, as she fretted over the table's finish which wasn't quite perfect and needed to be polished to a warm gloss.

"Well that's taken care of," Mom finally said after a great deal of agonizing. "Now...what shall we do for a centerpiece?"