An Observation: Outdoors Should Stay Outdoors

If you’re anything like me (my apologies and best of luck if you are), you’ve probably noticed an uptick in two activities recently: eating and cleaning. You’re probably learning a lot more about the ingredients and products you use as well. I started looking at the box on my dryer sheets one day and began to wonder if I should be using this particular scent.

Fresh, huh? You been outside lately? There’s lots of stuff out there that isn’t quite fresh, especially on trash day.

Things that typically stay outdoors aren’t always the most pleasant things, are they? Who has ever had an outside dog? They don’t always smell April fresh. In fact, they like to seek out the opposite of fresh, roll in it for a leisurely afternoon, and trot home to give your family a hug.

I live in an area where the outdoors seems to really want to come indoors right now. As the weather has grown warmer, it’s usually been flies.

flying adult swim GIF
Umm…they don’t look…yeah.

Another outdoor bug made its way into my home recently, though, that I hadn’t been expecting.

It was a Saturday night (I think). I was in the process of changing from my daytime pajamas into my nighttime pajamas. I had only stepped away from the living room for about fifteen minutes or so. When I returned to resume wearing the contoured dent into my sofa, I saw something on the rug. I wasn’t wearing my glasses, and I wondered if I’d dropped some food from my fourth snacking session of the evening.

As I looked closer, though, I realized that I didn’t have anything in the pantry of that shape, consistency, size, or that moved by itself.

Wait. It’s MOVING?!?

Shocked face GIF

I took off towards the pantry to get a fly swatter. At first glance, it looked like a night crawler. As my vision came into slightly better focus (and after I poked at it), it curled up into a tight coil.

A millipede.

bbc madagascar GIF by Head Like an Orange
Not in my house. No, sir.

A couple of scoops, some shrieking, and a flick out the front door later, I set it free to roam the neighborhood.

Those darn millennials. Thinking they can come into my house uninvited. The least it could’ve done was knock on the door or ring the doorbell. It has enough feet to do both.

Some things are just meant to stay outdoors, though. And if that’s part of what represents “outdoor fresh,” I think I’ll switch to new dryer sheets.

An Observation: Soft Kitty, Smart Kitty

I’ve had some time on my hands lately; therefore, I have overthought.

Oh, who am I kidding? I would have overthought of this eventually, regardless of whether or not social gatherings were taking place…largely due to the fact that I didn’t take part in tons of social activities in the first place. Throw in a few germs of ANY KIND during your run-of-the-mill cold and flu season and I was going to avoid the plague like, well, the PLAGUE, finding my own socially-distant activities to pass the time.

Streaming The Office GIF

So, in the course of my regularly-scheduled overthinking, I came upon something that has been mildly annoying to me for years–but fun for lots of other people, apparently–and decided to analyze it until it wasn’t fun anymore. (That’s how it works. I don’t make the rules. Sorry.)

I have always liked cats. I was around cats in my home until an unfortunate allergy that surfaced in college left me in tears (and hives) every time I found myself within a mile of a cat.

Animated GIF
Kind of like this, only with a lot more sneezing.

While I can’t help but think that some of them are out to get me (knowing that their dander and my weakness for their cute little faces are my kryptonite), I know they aren’t devoid of intelligence. They’re very smart creatures, in fact, even if they choose not to listen to people most of the time.

Which…brings me to my current overthought:

Hooman.

Somewhere along the way, someone else on the planet who thought cats were as cute as I do began to create memes about them. For some reason that I can’t quite determine, the word “hooman” began to emerge as part of the central tenet of cat vocabulary/language theory. It’s a theory that contends that if cats could speak, they would speak in terms…like that.

And it bugs me.

I’ve finally figured out why.

Sure, I’ll explain!

  1. One would assume that if a cat picked up the English language, they would do so by listening primarily to their owners, right? Okay, then. How many times a day–in normal conversation–do you refer to another person as a “human”? You’re more likely to call them by name, or perhaps refer to “people” or “a person.” You might even say “you” relatively frequently. But I can’t think of the last time I called the person sitting next to me “human” as a way of getting their attention. Therefore, they would be far more likely to pick up on the other terms before anything would have the opportunity to morph itself into “hooman” form.
  2. I know we’re living in a meme land where we assume cats can speak, but cats, in general, would probably say “meow” anyway. Why? Well, it appears to be easy for them, and it’s part of what makes a cat a cat. Plus, they’re stubborn. They’ll revert to what they know. “Meow” is familiar, and it’s succeeded in keeping cats fed and warm for many years now.
  3. As for the other grammatical errors that generally appear as part of these memes, sure, not every person speaks in grammatically-accurate language all the time. However, I’m doubtful that cats listen exclusively to conversations that mangle subject-verb agreements. Remember, they’re putting this language together based on what they hear, and conversations not directed towards the cat will likely be taking place in their presence. And, finally…
  4. Well, I didn’t quite think this far ahead. So…yeah. Overthought complete-ish.

I don’t know about you, but based on my observations of cats, they would probably place themselves more in a “cat”egory of perceived intellectual superiority above all other creatures, including their “hoomans.”

That is, until they fall off a ledge or something during a cat nap.

A Minor Obsession: Word Games and Other Puzzles

I have made plenty of jokes over the years about my math skills. However, I’m happy to sit down and work a Sudoku puzzle, despite the fact that I know I’ll be looking at lots and lots of numbers that I have to arrange into a logical sequence which only looks logical if you know how to work a Sudoku puzzle. (Meaning…the numbers all balance out in a way, but you don’t have to add them up; therefore, they are usually out of sequence and look a lot like trying to win a spelling bee by dividing your last name by the number 9.)

I suppose the part of my brain that makes turning complicated musical rhythms into actual music has helped shape my desire to figure things out in new and creative ways, even during the times that the puzzles start to look number-y and math-y based. Take, for example, the Rubik’s Cube–the bane of any 80’s kid’s existence.

This one’s all solved and stuff. Kudos to them.

I spent hours and hours trying to solve a Rubik’s Cube until I realized that the little colored squares were actually stickers. Sure, they never quite stuck back to the toy itself quite the same way once you peeled them off and moved them around, but I had found my creative loophole–or, in this case, loop-cube.

Okay, so the Rubik’s Cube wasn’t my forte, but Sudoku is something I can manage well. My absolute favorite games, though, are word games (for obvious reasons). I don’t get cross with crosswords (haha…see what I did th…never mind), and I enjoy a good word search.

I believe that participating in word games results in the exponential maturation of your vocabulary at a relatively formidable progression so as to create a exceedingly superior external representation of intelligence. Because, as you all know, sounding knowledgeable, well-informed, perceptive, astute, and brilliant helps you to attain a reputation as a illustrious and authoritative expert on a subject matter.

(Yeah, you learn big words. Or something like that.)

Playing those games also helps you develop your best puns and “dad jokes.” Even if expanding the ol’ vocabulary isn’t your goal with word games, everyone should have a few good puns in their back pockets.

jokes lol GIF by Michelle Porucznik
Umm…I said a few GOOD puns.

Whatever your motivations, I think that exercising your brain–be it through puzzles, games, advanced calculus–is always a good idea. What are your favorite brain games to play? Be sure to chime in and let me know. I’ll just be in a corner somewhere trying to figure out the best glue for the stickers on my Rubik’s Cube.

An Observation: Coffee and a New Camera

I’ve seen “Sling Blade” at least 147 times. I can say that I wholeheartedly agree with one statement by Karl Childers.

“Coffee kindly makes me nervous when I drink it.”

Surprised?

You shouldn’t be. After all, in my “About Me” section on this very blog, I have described that I generally tend to take my coffee in the decaf flavor. I had a doctor once tell me that I should cut back on the caffeinated variety to control things like heartburn and…well, nervousness. Mmmhmm.

I LOVE coffee, though. I love the taste, the smell, and the warmth of a good cup o’ joe.

coffee winks GIF
Right back at ya.

So, I save the caffeinated type for things like weekends. You know, when I have time to be nervous and suffer from heartburn.

I’m going to need a BIG cup, though, if I’m going to figure out all the bells, whistles, and doohickeys on my new camera. I’ll also need to stay awake to read the entire manual.

I’m supposed to “read this manual thoroughly before using the camera.” Okay. Sure.

I tried to flip through the manual on a Friday evening when it wouldn’t have been a good idea to have a cup of coffee. Why? Because…sleep. Caffeinated coffee is generally a morning delicacy for obvious reasons. So, I spent a Friday evening lethargically pressing buttons and leafing through the instructions only to give up and decide that the task was better suited for a Saturday morning fueled by my good friends at Folgers…and Green Mountain…and Starbucks.

Even with their help, though, I think I’ll be better qualified to fly a mission to Mars than ever figuring out all of the buttons on the camera. I’m beginning to think that some of them are just there to create the illusion of superiority to other models.

Perhaps it’s premature to feel that way about it, seeing as how I had ten years with my previous camera in which to learn about all of its functions.

Of course, it could also be a sign that it’s time for me to learn how to paint. I’ve heard things about some guy who teaches by video…

bob ross inspiration GIF


A Confusing Post: Writing About Confusion

Umm…who’s that guy in the middle?

Every few months (days) or so I find myself in the middle of some type of minor existential crisis (thought spider web) of sorts. They’re not necessarily serious. It’s just usually a run-of-the-mill random string of thoughts that send me off into some kind of weird tangent.

For instance, one day I was sitting at a stoplight. (I spend a lot of time doing that.) My next thought was, “Why did they choose this color scheme for stoplights?” That thought inevitably snowballed into, “Well, color is just perception anyway, based on the way our eyes and brains process the information in front of us and the way the light reflects and I’m just sitting here obeying a color scheme that was set up by human beings to encourage order. Dogs would see it differently. I mean, I think they would. While I’m here, though, why am I here? I mean, I watched a video a few days ago explaining some laws of physics related to the concept of free will and I wonder how many atoms are in my pinky fingernail and why they chose my pinky in the first place when there are so many other deserving pinky fingernails in the world and why are those people honking at me?”

Occasionally, these spirals lead to some interesting stories that I put down on paper. (Yes, actual paper.) Most of the time, though, they’re just confusing and I know more than a few people who are convinced that I’ll have myself a small stroke trying to count protons and electrons in my pinky fingernail with no scientific equipment.

Author’s Note: I’d like to remind those people that I survived my philosophy class in college–with an A–and I’m just prone to extended thinking spells. I might also point out that the scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz was excited at the prospect of getting a brain so that he could think of things he’d never thought before. Thinking is a popular, accessible, sought-after hobby.

wizard of oz GIF
Dancing’s fun, too.

Now comes the part where I tell you I’m not exactly sure where I was going with all of this, because the theme here is confusion. Maybe I was just looking for some inspiration. Maybe I was looking for motivation. Maybe I was hoping for some ideas that will send me on another tangent that will help me create more interesting stories. I could also be procrastinating.

Who knows? I’m a tad confused by it all.

A New Decade/Year/Whatever: Looking Forward

I have largely avoided the debate about whether or not the new decade begins on January 1, 2020 or January 1, 2021. At least one teacher I had when I was a kid was adamant that a new decade began on a year ending in 1, so I usually went by her logic. However, unlike many other subjects, I have no strong opinions about this issue, partially owing to the fact that I’m not much of a math surgeon and most of what I say having to do with numbers should probably be reviewed by an outside source.

For the sake of this entry, however, I’m going to say that we are ending the current decade on December 31, 2019, and that we probably don’t have to worry about any Y2K type of fiasco. Moving forward, moving on…thank goodness.

So is hindsight.

Why do I say that? Well, the last decade has been interesting. Granted, it had its highlights; everyone liked “Uptown Funk” and you can buy a car from a vending machine nowadays if you’re so inclined.

A lot can happen over the course of a decade.

Still, I have to hope that something good will come of the next year and decade. 2020 is an election year, so…yeah, okay. (Skip that one. Let me check my notes.) 2020 is an Olympic year, so I’ll be expecting Simone Biles to bring home at least two dozen gold medals–possibly three. (Wouldn’t want to put too much pressure on her.) Hopefully the ’20s will be prosperous without the ensuing worldwide market collapses and Great Depression that followed the last set of ’20s.

2020 is a census year, so maybe we’ll get an accurate head count and, in turn, figure out what to do about traffic problems.

confused will ferrell GIF

Nah, maybe not. I should apply the wisdom that the last few decades have taught me and keep my expectations reasonable. Happy New Year, everyone! Let’s give 2019–and the previous decade–a fond farewell.

minions mic drop GIF

An Observation: Deck the Halls and Take a Break

In a few weeks, 2020 will be here.

2020. Who still thinks that 2000 sounds futuristic? And where are the flying cars?!?

Hold that thought.

In any event, 2020 is a census year. I’ve been asking friends what they think the count will be in our fair city this time. My current estimate is “A LOT,” based purely on my observations regarding the infrastructure–specifically, traffic.

Especially during the holidays.

I’m not just referring to road traffic, either. I made the mistake of going shopping on a Saturday and decided that I’m not doing that again unless it’s an emergency, like a sudden household chocolate shortage.

No, the shopping on a Saturday will largely stop, because I was waiting in a checkout line recently when someone decided to place their hands on me to move me out of their way BEFORE offering an “excuse me.”

dont touch me GIF
If I leave the house on a Saturday again, I’ll be wearing a huge “DON’T TOUCH ME” sign on the back of my coat.

As I looked around at all the people and all the holiday “cheer,” I decided that it was time for everyone to take a step back, breathe, and look at something nice for a few minutes.

There. Isn’t that peaceful?

We are BOMBARDED this time of year with a pursuit of perfection in our holiday plans. The perfect party, perfect gifts, perfect everything…when in reality, most of us will have a more Griswoldian experience.

national lampoons christmas vacation GIF

We need to SLOW DOWN for a moment here. (Unless you’re making a right-hand turn, which, for some reason, appears to be incredibly difficult. I suppose that’s a big reason why we haven’t pursued flying cars more vehemently.)

Seriously, though…stop and breathe. Simplify what you can. If it’s worth moving a complete stranger aside in order to create the “perfect” Christmas, trust me, it actually isn’t worth it.

An Observation: Generational Traditions

I’m an observer by nature. It’s what I do. I can’t help but question my surroundings, even if I keep most of those observations to myself.

However, some observations are just begging to be shared. In this case, I feel as though an explanation is warranted.

(Author’s Note: I haven’t done much research into this one, which is where all three of my faithful readers can help me.)

Instead of going into a long, detailed description, I’m just going to jump right in and leave this right here for you to consider:

I. Have. Questions.

Yes, this is bath tissue. Yes, it’s recycled, which isn’t uncommon.

Help me out here, though, with the brand name.

Seventh Generation.

Is it the seventh generation of this particular paper? Is it the seventh generation of a family business involved in the industry? OR…is it a combination of the two? I mean, are the rolls sitting in the bag talking to one another about the generations before them or their current situation?

“Umm…I thought I was going to the Kleenex factory.”

“My great-grandfather went to college. He was in a notebook.”

“I wanted to travel the world as an envelope.”

Sure, I have plenty of questions of my own. I don’t know if I feel like plunging into all of them, though. However, if anyone feels like volunteering an explanation, by all means, I’d love to hear it.

An Ultra-Picky Movie Plot Point Review: First Edition

This is the first installment in what I hope will be a (semi) regular series investigating oddly-written and/or executed plot points in familiar movies.

The first movie is brought to you by a weekend channel-surfing binge and the best in popular entertainment that 1986 had to offer–a sequel to a wildly popular movie that has become interwoven into the fabric of pop culture history.

My weekend lifeline.

Sequels are tricky. Few end up reaching the heights of the parent film that spawned their existence in the first place. Studios–often seeing the success of a particular movie–naturally hope that they might strike gold and end up with an entire franchise out of a particular set of characters and stories. More often than not, though, the result is the dreaded “Sophomore Slump.”

With that in mind, I still found myself rather enthusiastically watching The Karate Kid Part II, thinking that nostalgia might win me over for an afternoon.

What did I end up doing, though? I did what I always do when I’ve seen a movie a million times. I quoted it along with the characters, then I picked it apart. Mercilessly.

the karate kid GIF
Yeah, I know. This is from the first movie. The quote fits in this case, though…so, there.

SPOILER ALERT: If you’ve never seen the movie (I mean, seriously…where have you been for the last three decades?) and you’re worried about finding out an important (ha) plot point that will ruin your future viewing experience, just stop here and visit my Etsy shop. (Visit anyway, because I could use the business. Please and thank you.)

If you’re ready to pick apart a few things, by all means, keep reading. I’m really only going to focus on one scene. I just couldn’t let this one go, even though I’ve watched the movie a gazillion times and didn’t think too much about it until…well, until I thought about it.

I’ll be talking about the storm scene.

Most of the village has taken refuge in a shelter to wait out what I can only assume is a typhoon, given Okinawa’s location. As the villagers are running for cover, the viewers watch as a small girl perched atop a ladder is ringing a bell to alert everyone to the impending danger.

Why I never thought about this, I don’t know, but my immediate reaction during my most recent viewing was, Why isn’t an adult doing this job?

Meanwhile, everyone piles into the shelter, and within a short time frame, the bell stops tolling.

My next thought?

Wait. Uhh…something’s not right here.

Rocky Sylvester Stallone GIF - Rocky SylvesterStallone NoBell GIFs

The girl? Nowhere to be seen. Not in the shelter, not ringing the bell, not running through the rain to get to safety. Of course, this does set up the hero scene to come, but no one in the shelter appears to be frantically searching for this child. No one in this small village really seems to be thinking, Hmmm. Wasn’t someone ringing the bell earlier? Where did she go?

Only after Sato’s house collapses (which leads to a Miyagi karate chop of monumental proportions–another plot point to explore at another time) do we find out that the girl is STILL AT THE TOP OF THE LADDER SCREAMING FOR ASSISTANCE. I guess we couldn’t hear her screaming earlier because of, you know, the RAGING STORM.

Daniel saves the day–even using his belt to fend off a renegade power line–to rescue the girl who has been hanging on for dear life through the wind and rain.

When they return to the shelter, only then do we see someone take the crying child into their arms to comfort her.

I’m no filmmaker, but I would think someone might have mentioned this set of details during the editing process.

I’ll admit, the movie is a guilty pleasure that did well at the box office back in the day. I will probably watch it again, but I just couldn’t help myself this time when it came to documenting my findings.

If you have any suggestions for future ultra-picky plot point reviews, please feel free to leave me a comment. I’m sure I’ll find another one on my own during my next channel-surfing expedition.

An Observation: When?

As part of my public service to the universe, I have tried my best to keep everyone aware of oddities in the way we use words.

If you’ve never visited my blog before, welcome! (What took you so long?!?) You’re about to rethink an expression you probably use all the time.

How many times have you been trying to think of when something occurred in the recent past–be it an appointment, a vacation, or one of your thumbs falling off for no good reason–when you simply shrug your shoulders and realize that your mental calendar has gone kaput?

I knew I had something going on…sometime…

What did you say next?

In all likelihood, you referred to it as–are you ready?

The other day.

Besides being vague (because, hey, it’s vague to you as to when it happened in the first place, although if you can’t remember the exact date that you lost a thumb, your insurance company will), the expression has a few other problems. The biggest problem I have with it is that it implies that there are “other” days other than the ones we’ve already established.

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday. We’ve set up seven days per week to work with here. The calendar issues them on a repeating basis across twelve months, further breaking the process down to a series of numbers and month names. Therefore, we have a set number of days available in which anything can happen.

In short, there are no “other” days.

best gif wow GIF
Yeah, I know. Amazing, isn’t it?

Yes, it’s an expression. I get it. For some reason, though, it’s my self-appointed job to point out expressions that need some assistance. (I took on this burden out of the kindness of my heart. It’s tough, but someone has to do it. I think. Even if they don’t, I felt like it, okay?) This one is a challenge sometimes, because you could try to name the day you think the event in question happened, but if you’re wrong, then you know you’re not being truthful.

Just know that you do have choices, however, and that you don’t have to go out and create “other” days.

I just felt I needed to bring it up since I was thinking about it the other day.