Rate My Rant

Have you noticed lately that every time you do business with someone, they ask you to complete a customer satisfaction survey, or write some sort of review? At one time, not too long ago, I encountered this only occasionally. Once in a while I’d get a survey in the mail to rate my family physician. Or I’d be asked to write a review of a product I bought online. But only once in a while.

Now it seems to happen every friggin’ time.

It seems survey mania has crept over us, and now the solicitation of a survey after every transaction or interaction has become standard business practice.

Back in the day, when this only happened once in a while, I had no problem completing surveys. In fact I felt delighted at the chance to rate someone like my doctor. Until he sent me a letter begging me to always rate him with 10’s on every category.

That’s when I became cynical about surveys. It seems that if you give someone anything less than a 10, even if it’s a nice generous 9, it jeopardizes their job security, and puts them under heavy scrutiny from their superiors.

So I just stopped doing them. I chuck them in the trash. I close their pop-up boxes online. Fuck all those bastards who expect their employees to be perfect.

Besides, I just don’t have time to fill out all the goddamned surveys everyone wants me to complete.

Now that I’m finished with this rant, I need your feedback. How good was this rant? Did I express my complaint clearly? Did you feel my passion? Were my writing skills up to par? Please rate me on a scale of 1 to 10 in the following categories. But remember, any rating less than a 10 could result in my suspension from WordPress and banishment from social media altogether. And you wouldn’t want that to happen, would you?

Overall ranting effectiveness (1-10):
Clarity of this rant (1-10):
How moved were you into joining this rant? (1-10):
Display of technical skills in this rant (1-10 ):
Willingness to recommend this rant to a friend (1-10):

Rating Equivalents:

1=Completely insincere or incompetent.
2=I’ve got better things to do than read this crap.
3=Such feeble effort. You sound like Don Knotts.
4=You whine like my 3-year-old grandchild.
5=Okay, so you’ve made your point. Yawn.
6=I’m gonna write my Congressman! Just as soon as I . . . zzzzzz.
7=Wow, you rant like a grumpy old man!
8=Where’s a straitjacket? You insane, man!
9=You’re Hitler incarnate!
10=You’re a Trump-Tweeting Tyrant!

Thank you for taking the time to complete this godawful long survey.

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How to Hide on the Internet

Big Brother is watching you!
The internet seems to thrive commercially through Big Brother tactics. Everything you browse or click on is recorded and digested by commercial websites, whose sole purpose is to figure out who you are.

This leaves me feeling nervous. Hell, I myself don’t even know who I am. So how dare someone else nose into my business and try to figure me out.

But I’ve come up with a way to fool them. A way to hide my identity, and keep Big Brother off my track.

My method is based on the theory that we are all enigmas. And we are enigmas not by how we hide ourselves, but by what we show about ourselves. When I observe other people, they all seem crazy to me. And I’ll bet when others observe me, they think the same thing. So it seems we’re all crazy by everyone’s perspective.

Except for Big Brother’s perspective. With all of Big Brother’s algorithms and data-crunching programs, he’s knows us much better than we know ourselves. We’re not crazy, to Big Brother. We each fit neatly into patterns that only a computer can understand.

So if you want to hide on the internet, you must find a way to confuse Big Brother’s computer. Here’s what I do to accomplish that goal:

I don’t want BB to know I’m retired, so sometimes I pretend I’m a manager of a Del Taco who moonlights at Sea World cleaning shark tanks. I do this with internet searches such as, “how to hire hard workers for low pay,” and “safe ways to fire underpaid disgruntled employees.” Also, “workers comp for shark bites,” and “how to secretly free a killer whale.”

I want BB to think I’m a woman. So I sometimes search for best buys on bras. I’ve bookmarked overstock.com. And I click on ads for pregnancy test kits.

I sometimes shop on Amazon for random items I have no intention of purchasing. Then later I delight in watching ads for these unwanted items pop up on various websites I visit.

I’m skinny, but BB doesn’t need to know my body size. So I search for fat farms, and peruse dieting websites such as nutrisystem.com and jennycraig.com.

BB doesn’t need to know my real name either. So sometimes I fill out online forms using the name “Laura Knotreely.”

I’m an atheist. But as far as BB is concerned I’m a First Southern Baptist who googles Bible verses like a Sunday School teacher preparing a big lesson.

And I don’t belong to any political party. Which is why I make sure to check in with nationalreview.com at least once a week.

So as far as BB is concerned, my name is Laura Knotreely, and I manage a Del Taco while moonlighting at Sea World. I have eclectic tastes when shopping. And I’m also fat, religious, and very conservative.

Now you know none of this is true about me. But please don’t tell Big Brother.

Electrical Safety Tips

I’m no electrician, but I once learned about electrons and protons in high school science. I’ve also had a bit of “hands-on” experience with electricity, and learned a few rather shocking lessons. My concern for humanity has overcome my embarrassment, and leads me to warn others not make the same mistakes I’ve made. So here are a few safety tips concerning electricity. Please read them carefully. They could just save your ass:

  1. Always use a wood-handled knife when making toast.
  2. “Ground” isn’t just dirt, it’s also water. And it even includes your bare feet standing in the water.
  3. Never clean your breaker box with a garden hose.
  4. Aluminum conducts electricity. Who would’ve thought? Never set your soda can on top of exposed wires.
  5. Never, I repeat, never, use copper wire for kite string.
  6. Always drain the swimming pool before trying to change a burned-out pool light.
  7. When taking a bath, always set the Boom Box on the floor and not on the tub ledge.
  8. You can’t escape lightning by climbing a tree.
  9. If a toddler shoves a nail into an electrical outlet, put on a leather glove before pulling it out.
  10. Some house wire insulation is colored black. This denotes power. It also symbolizes loss of consciousness.

BE AWARE & BE SAFE!

Bonus Tip: If you hire an electrician, don’t try to assist him while he’s out on his lunch break.

Contractor Language

How did this get so complicated? All we wanted was a contractor to run a gas line to our kitchen, so we could replace the electric range with a gas range. But I suspect that’s how many home remodels begin.

A home remodel is like cancer. It starts out tiny, just one little thing, then spreads to every nook and corner of your humble abode. Now we’ve remodeled the kitchen, the den, the hallway, and a bathroom, and it’s starting to metastasize into another bathroom, the bedrooms, and our living room.

Maybe I could have stopped this if only I knew from the start, how to understand contractor language. I’m learning though. The more I deal with this class of business person, the more I find myself picking up their patois.

I wrote this post to protect you from what has happened to me. I want you to learn their language, too, so that you can effectively deal with the next unintelligible contractor who shows up at your door.

What follows are ten common phrases spoken in contractor language, followed by a translation in layman’s language. If you let this be your Rosetta Stone, you could save a truckload of money:

Contractor: I don’t like written contracts.
Translation: I prefer to argue over who has the best memory.

Contractor: I thought that’s what we agreed on.
Translation: You should have insisted on a written contract.

Contractor: I’ve been doing this for many years now.
Translation: But I can’t say the same for those I hire.

Contractor: As long as you’re doing this much, you may as well spend a little extra and do that, too.
Translation: As long as I’m making a little money on this, I may as well be making a lot more on that.

Contractor: It won’t cost much more if you do it like this.
Translation: Just multiply by 2 or 3.

Contractor: This is a rough estimate.
Translation: Expect to pay no less than this.

Contractor: I have some bad news.
Translation: I have great news for my wallet!

Contractor: You don’t have to pay me now.
Translation: We’ll put your house back together some other day.

Contractor: We should be finished by next week.
Translation: We won’t be, though.

Contractor: This should last forever.
Translation: I’m pretty sure in a year or two you’ll be sick of it, and asking for another remodel.

And now for a slide show. Here’s some of what my unintelligible contractor has been up to . . .

Our den before the remodel. Perfectly nice den, right?
According to my contractor, this den is much better.
We thought the only major thing wrong with this kitchen was the electric cooktop and tiny oven.
Somehow our contractor convinced us that our kitchen needed to look like this. Do you agree, or have we needlessly enriched this bastard, with his hammer and saw?

Why I’ll Never Be Published

Apparently, writers must have a target audience.

Sometimes in moments of reverie, I sprawl supine upon my bed and daydream about becoming a published author. Wouldn’t it be cool, says my ego, if I, Tippy Gnu, got a book published?

But it will never happen. Problem is, I’ve got no book sense. Nor am I disciplined. And I sure as heck don’t know what to say, to convince any publisher to memorialize my scrivenings into the great American novel.

If I ever did meet with a publisher, manuscript in hand, here’s how I imagine the interview would go:

PUBLISHER: Who’s your target audience?

TIPPY GNU: Anyone I manage to hit.

PUBLISHER: I mean, who is this book intended for?

TIPPY GNU: Whoever wants to read it. Do you want to read it?

PUBLISHER: Maybe.

TIPPY GNU: Then maybe this book is intended for you.

PUBLISHER: Well, what is your demographic?

TIPPY GNU: I’m neither a Demographic nor a Repugnantan. I vote Independent.

PUBLISHER: Let’s just talk about the genre. This is a romance, isn’t it?

TIPPY GNU: (backing off) Look Buster, just because I’m talking to you, it doesn’t mean I’m in to you. Besides, we’re both men, and I don’t swing that way.

PUBLISHER: Just describe the plot, would you please?

TIPPY GNU: Oh, it goes kind of like this: Boy meets girl. Boy and girl fall in love. Boy and girl get in a big fight. Time passes, until it seems they’re going to hate each other for the rest of their lives. But suddenly boy and girl make up and get married. The end.

PUBLISHER: And where did you get the idea for this plot?

TIPPY GNU: I’m very imaginative.

PUBLISHER: Sir, we get an awful lot of manuscript submissions like this. Why would we want to publish your manuscript over anyone else’s?

TIPPY GNU: Because mine’s the best! Because I’m so unique! Because I poured my heart and soul into this! Because I’m willing to travel all over the country and promote this book on radio and TV! I’ll blog about it! I’ll do book signings!

PUBLISHER: N-no, I’m sorry.

TIPPY GNU: (falling on the floor and groveling) PLEEEASE, PLEEEASE! Publish my boooook! I’ll do anything! Anything at all! Hey, maybe I really do swing that way–I’m willing to give it a try! Just publish my book! PLEEEASE!

PUBLISHER: Sir, let go of my leg.

After security drags me out the door and boots me into the street, I’ll have the confirmation to support my conviction: I can never be published.

But there is one thing I know I can do.

I can sure lie in bed and daydream about being published. For hours and hours upon hours. And that’s way better than writing any book.

Roommates I Don’t Need

Note: My Dad passed away about six years ago. A family member recently sent me some memorabilia, and buried within a pile of photos was this short story. He wrote it back in the early 1970’s while on a job assignment in Australia. I felt delighted to be reunited with this little manuscript, and be able to enjoy my father’s humor again. I thought you might like it too. Here is a true story of something very scary my father encountered, while in the land down under . . .

ROOMMATES I DON’T NEED

There I sat last week, after work, working on my daily reports at my desk in the motel room. It was really hot, and I had all of the windows wide open, trying to capture any breeze that happened along. (The air conditioner is off because of the strike at the power plant.)

Anyhow I’m typing away, and frequently taking a swig out of the ever handy good “Victorian” beer. It’s about 8:00 at night. I reach over and take the last sweet guzzle out of the can, lifting my head up high to capture the last drop, and “JEEEZZZZ” what do you think I see right up there on the ceiling next to the light fixture?

Well, I just happened to gaze upon the biggest, hairiest, SPIDER, I’ve ever seen in my life. I’m not kidding you a fraction, that bastard was as big as my outstretched hand. Big, light brown, and as hairy as a hippie. Well, by God, I don’t mind telling you, I just about swallowed that beer can, and broke my chair at the same time.

Not the same arachnid that my dear old Dad encountered, but perhaps a reasonable facsimile.

So, I made my way to the trusty telephone, and rang up the dainty little receptionist. The conversation went something like as follows:

“Hello there, I would like to speak to the manager immediately, if not sooner.”

“I’m sorry sir, the manager is not in at the moment, can I help you?”

So I commence to describe the situation, and also the size of it, and she very calmly explains that . . .

“It’s just one of our HUNTER TARANTULA SPIDERS, and they are very harmless and only eat flies.” She further exclaimed that she really didn’t care much for them either, so it would be up to me to find my own solution to the problem. She suggested that I just “Shoo” it out with a newspaper.

“Shoo it out with a newspaper,” I said, “Holy Christ, that thing looks like it could eat the damn newspaper right along with my arm!”

Well, no help in sight, so I start looking around the room for some kind of weapon. Meanwhile, this creature is just quietly hanging there, seemingly not moving a muscle! It might be my imagination, but I swear I could see him flex as he breathed.

Anyhow, I spots this pressure can full of fly repellent (probably similar to Black Flag). So, I figures out my strategy . . . (I know the stuff won’t kill him, it would be like trying to kill a horse with a BB gun.)

I go over to the front door and open it wide. (All the time wishing there were more than one door to these damn motel rooms.) Then, I quietly move over to the other side of this monster, so that he is between me and the door. The range of the spray should be about six to eight feet, and I figure maybe I can move him toward the door and hopefully OUT . . .

I get in position, and give a short blast in his direction . . . . . . . “nuthin” . . . . . maybe he shakes one leg a little . . . . . .

I give another blast (a longer one). This time he shakes a little, like a puppy getting rid of some water on his back . . . . . . .

I lets out another longer blast, and he moves two feet across the ceiling faster than a speeding bullet . . . then stops. (At least it was in the direction of the door.)

Well, with a chair in one hand, and the bomb in the other, I gives him a good long dose . . . he kind of weaves a little, like he’s dizzy, then lets go of the ceiling and floats to the floor right side up, just like he had a parachute. He bobs up and down a couple of times like he’s doing push-ups, then starts racing directly towards me.

I’d love to jump right through the bay window, but instead I just hold a steady spray right head-on into his oncoming mass. It slows him to a stop with about two feet to spare, and he starts staggering toward the open door at last . . . . .

Several times along the way he deviates from the path, and tries to head for the bed, but I head him off with a stronger blast in that area.

With a sigh of relief, I finally watch him struggle out the door, and onto the parking lot. Once in the fresh air, he seems to get a second wind, and gain his strength back. He’s making his way across the lot pretty good, so I jump in the rental car, and catch him in my headlights . . . .

I run him down with my first attempt before he reaches the other side of the lot, even if I did take out one row of pansies and a rose bush. That was only because of this damn left-hand drive . . . In order to get him, I had to catch him with the right hand tire.

So anyhow, I come on back inside and get back on the phone. I tell the sweet little receptionist that the “little problem” is taken care of, then I also tell her that if any more little problems develop like that, to tell the manager to rent them their own damn room, or I’ll stuff the next one down his neck, dead or alive. (Probably be dead with tire prints.)

Anyhow, she thanked me for calling about the final developments, said she would pass on the information to the manager, said she would have to hang up, and find out what the complaints were from the guests concerning some NUT out in the parking lot, swerving around with a car.

I wished her luck and hung up.

Does Not Work Well With Others

This vehicle, at the outdoor museum in Goff’s, California, does not work well with others.

I usually got good grades in school. But there was one grade I never scored well at. I never achieved an “O” for “Outstanding” at working well with others. In fact, some of my teachers criticized me for this lack of social skills. Damn you Miss Durklemeyer!

But now that I’m much older I realize that it isn’t just me. Nobody works well with others. Not even Miss Durklemeyer.

This has been very evident to me while dealing with some recent challenges. Early this month my father-in-law, Jake, passed away. And he passed away at an inconvenient time. Damn you Jake! Had Jake been more cooperative, he would have stuck around to deal with the aftermath of an uncooperative tenant.

This tenant had been evicted from one of Jake’s rentals just a week before Jake died. You can read more on her by clicking this link. She was evicted because she wasn’t being cooperative with paying the rent. And she was a hoarder, and she left behind a house and yard full of junk. Damn her!

My wife and I are in the middle of dealing with Jake’s estate. And on top of that we must clean up the property that the evicted hoarder left full of junk. Thus far we have spent nearly $3,000 of estate money on this cleanup, and have hauled away four 30 cubic-yard dumpsters full of rubbish.

But we’ve had help. Help from workers whom we’ve hired. Or are they tortoises? Help from workers who’ve required rides to and from the cleanup site. And help from workers who said they were coming back to help more, and never showed up.

We pay well, but money doesn’t always overcome the human condition. That condition of not working well with others. Damn you condition, and damn you, workers!

We need Jake’s death certificate to handle a number of paperwork issues for the estate. But we’re going on a month since Jake’s uncooperative demise, yet still no certificate. I understand this is normal for our underfunded county. Apparently nobody is allowed to die here, because the county can’t afford it. Damn you, taxpayers, and damn you bureaucrats!

Property appraisers get the value all wrong. Relatives get angry about being left out of the will. And doctor’s offices continue to call, to remind us of upcoming appointments for Jake, even though we’ve told them he’s dead.

Tenants don’t pay the rent. Handymen gouge us when charging for repairs on rentals. And visitors stop by when we’re busy, then stay too long. Damn you all!

Nobody works well with others. This is not my own jeremiad; everyone has this problem. There is no such thing as teamwork. We humans will never cooperate fully with each other.

But maybe it’s a good thing. Maybe this keeps us independent, unique, and interesting. Otherwise maybe we’d be a bunch of robots, slaves to conformity, and dull as dishwater.

I’ve learned that if I want to work with others I must have patience and a sense of humor. Meditating on my omphalos also helps. It calms me down, and prevents me from throttling my uncooperative compatriots.

And as I relax and settle down I reflect that I, too, can be a pain in the ass. I’m not so easy to work with, myself. I demand much from others, and get pissed off when they don’t cooperate. I try to hide my anger, but apparently my red face and creased forehead give me away. Damn my face!

Sometimes I give up and just do the job myself. Yeah, that’s teamwork, right?

I realize I’ve been this way since grade school. At least according to Miss Durklemeyer. And still, I have not learned my lesson.

I’m like everyone else. I do not, and will never, work well with others.