Monthly Archives: March 2016

The Curmudgeon Chronicles

Although I believe in putting less negativity into the world, sometimes you just need to bitch a little. So today I’m going to sound like an old fuddy-duddy (a wonderful expression that first appeared in print around 1871) and share some observations that trouble me.

1) The dumbing-down of language. I should first admit that years of writing advertising copy have destroyed my prior knowledge of grammar and punctuation. (I now rationalize any errors as part of my “style”.) Some pet peeves:

  • The inability to differentiate “its” (possessive) from “it’s” (contraction of “it is”) and “lose” from “loose”
  • “I’m bored of…” vs.“bored with” – and why are you bored? You’re 22!!
  • “A couple” days/fuddy-duddies/etc. Where’s the “of”?
  • “Thanks for having me” vs. “inviting me”, unless it was indeed a sexual encounter
  • The overuse of “awesome”, which should be reserved for references to Yosemite, the pyramids, or God—not a latte with an extra shot

Check out the following job requirements I received from a recruiter:

“…High intellectual curiosity and hunger to learn in ambiguous environment.” Does this mean I’d be working in a place that looks like a dry cleaner but is actually a front for organized crime?

“Excellent written and vertical communication.” Are they asking the candidate to write while standing on a ladder? Having sex in a shower?

Also, when did “work stream” become a thing? Let’s reserve that for trout fishermen and gold miners.

2) The sorry state of education. In a recent survey, students at a Texas university did not know the name of our current Vice President, who won the Civil War, or when the American Revolution was fought (one student suggested 1677). However, all of these students knew the names of Brad Pitt’s current and former wives and what show Snooki was on. (Oops, I’ve ended with a preposition. It’s not easy being the Word Police!)

3) Breathless weather reportage. Haven’t we always had floods, snow, etc.? Today’s descriptions remind me of olives: “huge”, “gigantic”, “colossal”….

4) Hold times so long I could bake a cake from scratch while I wait for my utility, bank or Internet “provider” to pick up. Adding insult to injury, when I finally reach a human, he or she usually can’t “provide” a solution so I have to call back.

5) AT&T. You sign up for a monthly plan. Yet somehow every bill remains different, despite the fact that we never order a single movie or call exotic countries. WTF?!

Whew; venting is hard work! Please share your own pet peeves below and once you’ve gotten them off your chest, let’s all enjoy another glorious day!

Getting There Isn’t Half the Fun It Used to Be

I love to travel. But it occurred to me on my latest trip that it all used to be much simpler.

Here’s what I needed when I was in my twenties: sneakers, heels, slip dress, sweater, jeans, birth control, a couple of t-shirts. Hotel toiletries took care of the rest.

Here’s what I need now:

  • Prescription meds
  • Heartburn/diarrhea/constipation prevention
  • Allergy pills, melatonin for jet lag, vitamin supplements
  • Wet wipes
  • Airborne
  • Biofreeze for aches and pains + acetaminophen day and PM
  • Gold Bond powder and blister pads for my shoes
  • Cleanser, day and nighttime moisturizer, sunblock, eye cream
  • Wood handled Q-tips (hate those flimsy paper cotton swabs)
  • Color safe shampoo and conditioner
  • Sleep mask
  • Straightening iron
  • Comfortable shoes
  • Glasses, reading glasses, sunglasses

Luckily, clothes are less of an issue. As a native New Yorker I dress like a Sicilian widow. Hence, my travel wardrobe consists of black cargo pants, black jeans, black pullover, black cardigan, black boots. Plus two gray tee shirts for a splash of color.

All packed? Now, off to the airport. Allow two hours minimum to navigate airport security (thank goodness for TSA pre-check so I don’t have to unlace my hiking boots) and wait in line to board the “aircraft” (doesn’t that sound unsettlingly homemade?)

Hold on… I know my butt has gotten a bit larger over the years but the seats have definitely shrunk as well! These days, First Class is what Economy used to be and Economy is pretty much “grit your teeth until you land”.

Anyway, we settled into our pods for the overnight flight to Europe, looked at the dinner menu and waited for takeoff. And waited. And waited some more until we were told there was a “mechanical issue.” After an hour we were told to get off the plane because they were “waiting for a part.” Long story short, four hours later instead of flying from Houston to Munich for our connection to Lisbon (and don’t even ask how United figured that going 3 hours further into Europe made any sense)—a connection we would clearly miss—we were re-booked through London. I’m told the Munich flight did eventually take off that night, though everyone had to scramble if they were continuing somewhere else.

We arrived in Lisbon 5 hours later than expected and – surprise – discovered that our luggage had not. Sure enough, it had journeyed to Munich. Luckily, we were all reunited the following day and embarked on a delightful visit to Portugal.

Good thing I’d worn the hiking boots, as I had no idea the country is so mountainous. For any of you who haven’t been there, the cities aren’t easy to stroll around because, as my husband says, “There is no downhill in Portugal”. Nonetheless, the people are warm and friendly, the streets are clean, the tiled buildings are gorgeous and the food is fantastic.

But one other downside of getting older: Used to be, I could sleep anywhere and hotel rooms (and beds) were a luxurious upgrade compared with my cramped apartment. Now, though, no hotel bed is nearly as comfy as my TempurPedic.

After ten days of touring Lisbon, Porto, Belmonte and Coimbra it was time to head home. Once again, we were connecting through Munich and once again I was reminded of how much more pleasant air travel used to be:

We flew Lufthansa for the first leg and had seats A and C; the explanation being that they had taken out the middle seats in the business/first section. Hah. It turns out that B is still there; it’s just covered over with a permanent tray table! So not only do you have the same cramped seats as Economy but now you can’t even use both armrests or stretch over into the middle seat.

Have you ever come home from vacation feeling like you need a vacation?


Hype and Hypochondria

Are you starting to wonder if every ache and pain is an indication of something more serious? I blame the evening news.

As if climate change, screeching political candidates, the ricocheting stock market, and dwindling honeybees aren’t troubling enough, within the space of an hour’s broadcast you’ll see at least a dozen dramatic commercials for symptoms you might have, symptoms you probably have, or diseases with cute initials you’d never heard of but are now sure you definitely have.

It’s enough to give anyone chronic constipation or diarrhea or at least a migraine.

I’m not really a hypochondriac; I’m more the Queen of De’Nile type, blindly optimistic that my test results will turn out fine. My husband, on the other hand, is easily persuaded that anything “off” is symptomatic of something dire and dangerous.

Bear in mind, he’s an empathetic guy. But these days he identifies a little too closely with the suffering actors on TV. When he wakes up with elbow pain does he think, “That’s because I slept with my arm sticking over the headboard” or “Too much time at the driving range”? Nope, he’s positive it’s elbow cancer. Could his back pain have any connection to lack of exercise or an overly-soft mattress? Nah. Can’t find his keys? Don’t blame his messy desk. Must be early onset Alzheimer’s.

I don’t mean to be flip; all too often, warning signs are ignored and illnesses that could have been caught early are allowed to progress. But maybe we’ve all become a little too educated and need to find a happy and healthy balance between sticking our heads in the sand (as in, ignoring a mole that’s changing) and paranoia that every minor ailment is life-threatening.

Here are the commercials that got him hyperventilating last night:

  • Macular degeneration
  • Toenail fungus
  • Laxatives
  • ED
  • RA
  • Circadian Rhythm Disorder (no, I did not make that up!)
  • Fibromyalgia
  • COPD
  • IBS
  • Joint pain
  • Psoriasis
  • Dry eyes
  • Memory loss
  • High BP
  • Depends

I swear, a Midol ad could probably convince him that his post-burrito bellyache was menstrual cramps.

Hypochondria must be a modern development. After all, ancient civilizations had bigger fish to fry– like worrying about pestilence, famine and rampant body odor.

Consider the original Paleo Diet. Who had time to fret about high cholesterol when your dinner might eat YOU first? Did cave mamas make sure everyone ate five servings a day of ferns and cattails to stay regular? I think not.

Fun fact: When ancient Vikings failed to attract the ladies they didn’t yammer on about erectile dysfunction; they bleached their hair and beards blonde with strong, lye-based soap so they’d look hot. As a bonus, this also helped kill off head lice. Win-win!

And I’ll bet that if you lived through the Inquisition, a little memory loss helped you sleep better at night.

My conclusion: Stay informed, watch the news if it doesn’t give you indigestion, and remember to toss your sweaty socks in the laundry bin so your toes don’t rot. But just in case you’re currently in good health (knock wood) keep your fingers crossed, say a kinehora to ward off the evil eye and turn to the right when you sneeze. You can never be too careful.