Posts tagged ‘humor’

Paper, Paper, Everywhere!


I am staring at a pile of assorted documents, and I’m confused. Am I supposed to read and retain the information in this 29-page Important Notice Pertaining to Changes in Your Homeowner’s Policy? Am I really required to hold onto the fifth 10-page Claims Report I’ve received from my health insurer this month? Or the eight pages of mumbo jumbo stapled to the prescription I’ve been taking for the past twenty years? I mean, is someone monitoring me? (There is that little camera lens implanted in the frame of my computer screen . . . )

In last week’s mail, I got a 22-page Summary Plan Description from the Star Tribune Media Company. I worked for the Strib for seven years in the early 90s. I get a whopping $38.15 monthly pension from them now. It hardly seems worth the ink and postage to provide all this material to ‘lil ol’ me, since I can’t decipher it anyway. (Not absolutely sure, but I’m thinking it may be written in Hungarian?)

Yes, I know. I enthusiastically chose to return to the land of 10,000 government regulations; the reach of this State’s intrusion into the lives of its citizenry is numbing to contemplate. And yes, I know. This degree of oversight generates miles of Required Disclosures for the brave corporations who choose to wade through it all. But even techno-idiot that I am, I check my email daily. Think of the savings in paper pulp and postage if all this stuff at least got delivered to me electronically instead.

But apparently that’s not an option. So the same government that nags us incessantly about conserving natural resources also issues so many mandates that businesses have to sacrifice a tree branch or two issuing the requisite Important Notices. Ironic, isn’t it?

The seeds for all this ranting were sowed in my brain last March. You can thank the IRS for planting them. That’s probably all you can thank the IRS for, but—another subject, another day.

Not having done taxes for a while, I was horrified when I sat down to report the October 2018 sale of my Texas house. I have a college education. I read a lot, with a good level of comprehension. I do much of my communicating using the written word. But the “written words” in those hundreds of pages of Federal Income Tax Instructions might as well have been Sanskrit.

What does this mammoth agency have against the simple declarative sentence? I asked the cat. (He doesn’t know either, by the way.)

With infuriating frequency, form 1040A directed me to supplemental booklets, appended worksheets, and related schedules. Each time, I reached out to a patient acquaintance who deals with this institutional insanity regularly. She doesn’t speak governmentese, but she understands it. Without her, I would have been sunk.

I would love to spout on a bit longer about this, but today’s mail included an 11-page questionnaire to fill out before I see a new doctor next week. Based on previous experience, I’d better get started on it now.

September 13, 2019 at 11:57 pm 1 comment

Don’t Be a Dumb Bee



I’m about to date myself. Just clacking that phrase onto the empty page is weird. Sounds like I’m getting ready to take myself out to dinner and a movie. And truth be told, a lot of my expressions probably reveal my age anyway. I mean, who says and truth be told these days?

But back to the subject, which is Romper Room. This classic children’s television program first hit the airwaves in 1953 and was aimed at teaching preschoolers to be good little citizens—all part of a lost culture not to be found in mainstream children’s programming today. It must have been effective, because certain elements of the program remain engraved in my memory.

There was the changing roster of former teachers—Miss Nancy, Miss Francis, Miss Bonnie—who, surrounded by a gaggle of in-studio tots, peered through a Magic Mirror to “see” and name specific children in the viewing audience. Other daily staples included The Pledge of Allegiance, stories imbued with moral messages, games, exercises, background music from Mr. Music, and milk and cookie time, always preceded by a short table prayer. (Sigh.)

Hovering over these activities was Mr. Do-Bee, a freakishly oversized striped insect who delivered messages with such scintillating lyrics as:

Do be a sidewalk player, Don’t be a street player; Do be a car sitter, Don’t be a car               stander; Do be a plate cleaner, Don’t be a food fussy; Do be a play safe, Don’t be a match toucher.               

Simple but sensible. I know I took this stuff pretty seriously at age four.

Jump ahead to 2019, when a little simple but sensible would be refreshing. I’ll cite two recent examples.

January 12, Layton, Utah. A 17-year-old pulls her beanie cap over her eyes in blind obedience (forgive the pun) to the internet-promoted Bird Box challenge based on the apocalyptic Sandra Bullock thriller about a mysterious force that must not be looked upon at risk of death.

Well, talk about risking death. The girl crashed her pickup truck into another vehicle. Who’d of thunk? Obviously not this teen. Nor the dozens of others who joined the same craze after 22-year-old YouTube celebrity Jake Paul walked across a busy Los Angeles street while blindfolded, because, hey, what could go wrong?

But it’s not only generation z-types modeling insane behavior.

March 10, 2019. A 30-something woman climbs over a safety fence at Arizona’s Wildlife World to take a selfie with the zoo’s resident jaguar. She survived, but this stunt cost her claw gashes to one arm, an ambulance trip to the hospital, and some public disdain.

“When people do not respect the barriers, there’s always a chance there might be a problem,” said a zoo spokesperson. Uh, duh?

Society has always produced daredevils, of course. In the computer age, our ability to interconnect can quickly become either an international stupidity virus or a global object lesson: Don’t be a Dumb Bee. Let’s all hope for less of the former and more of the latter.

April 13, 2019 at 4:11 pm Leave a comment

What Color Is Your Happy Place?


Gray. It’s the color of . . .

-The clouds that hang low and dark and heavy overhead on a dreary day.
-Those unwelcome and rebellious wiry hairs that spring up to announce advancing age.
-That ugly, murky “area” between good and bad, and truth and falsehood, that leaves room for moral wavering and political double-talk.
-The dingy shade of your favorite white T-shirt by the time it’s ready for the rag bag.
-That cold, dirty, crusty apron of receding snow that resists the arrival of spring.

So, I ask you: How did this unworthy and depressing hue ever become the New Neutral in virtually every interior designer’s palette in the country in 2017?

You may think that’s an overstatement, but I see it on cable T.V. every time I work out at my friendly neighborhood SNAP Fitness Center. Each day, I climb onto the same treadmill (I think it actually has my name on it somewhere), insert my ear buds, and listen and watch as the national experts on HGTV lead me through house after house after house dressed in calming shades of the non-color that defines as resting somewhere between white and black.

Oh, and definitions two and three? “Dark, dismal, or gloomy; dull, dreary, or monotonous.”

Yes, whether it’s Love It or List It, The Property Brothers, Flip or Flop, or even many of the recent remodels on Fixer Upper, the affinity for cool and clean with “pops of color” has reached epidemic proportions.

I get the Zen of it all. And I get wanting a restful, uncluttered environment to return to at the end of a busy workday. What I don’t get is how the trend toward Industrial Sterile, with enough stainless steel to equip an operating arena, has so thoroughly supplanted the concept of home that people once yearned for—a comforting cocoon to provide shelter and a sense of being cosseted from the cold and impersonal outside world.

Guess I’m just a sucker for the cozy, inviting feel of earth tones and nubby textures. Call me old-fashioned. (No really, stop that; it’s just a figure of speech.) I also object to vaulted ceilings and enormous entryways that lead to cavernous great rooms more reminiscent of a commercial property than a family residence.

And while I understand that tastes differ greatly, give me an earthy sage-green bedroom with cherry wood furnishings, a boring creamy-beige den with lots of rich umber accents, and a buttery yellow sunroom any day. Unfortunately, a search of available properties on the internet isn’t offering up anything of the sort right now. Wonder how many years—or decades—I’ll have to wait before warm and comfy gets popular again?


October 28, 2017 at 5:14 pm 1 comment

Thundershirts for All!


Pulled up from the archives, a revised version of a post from a few years back, with my best wishes for a happy Independence Day.

Some days, it doesn’t pay to tune in to the evening news. Between rogue doctors shooting up hospitals, raging wildfires in Central California, escalating murder statistics in Chicago, and urban gang violence closer to home, the fear and trembling can be tough to shake off.

Turn to the internet and you learn that common-sense efforts to protect our citizenry from preventable terrorism threats are being fought at every level of the judiciary system. So now I’m afire with indignation. That’s hard to shake off, too.

Yes, sometimes the world seems like an upside down and backward place, where staying sane and tranquil plays out as Mission Impossible. The ads between news segments—or yahoo headlines—offer plenty of pharmaceutical solutions for the disquiet caused by too much exposure to the raw facts of modern life. But I don’t fly that way.

Enter the pet care industry. I’m serious. Semi, anyhow.

A few years ago at about this time, I was complaining about the dreadful effects of booming fireworks on my eight-pound chihuahua-papillon pup. (Quaking like partially-set Jello in a 6.3 earth tremor and panting with anxiety—highly contagious responses, I might add—the clock had blinked 3:00 a.m. before I finally convinced her that the evil noise gods had retired for the night.)

That’s why my ears pricked up when, shortly afterward, I saw a promotion for the ThunderShirt®–a swaddling garment designed to calm and comfort your furry companion through storms and other loud events. Since I’m not big on drugs for my pets either, I made a point to look into the merits of this product.

Bottom line: My vet’s office offered it for a lower price than online outlets or pet warehouse chains, and the goofy looking little spandex kimono proved to be quite effective. We survived both the following year’s July 4th celebrations and seasonal thunderstorms with very little trauma for Muñeca or her owner, and sailed into the next day better rested and much less angry at the pyrotechnics industry.

Lessened anger is a good thing. It clears some emotional space for the angst that goes along with those nightly news reports.

But wouldn’t it be great if we could come up a human equivalent of the Thundershirt®? Maybe a stretchy, velcroed version of that ultimate in fad Christmas gifts, the Snuggie®? Please contact me if you are interested in a little joint-entrepreneurial effort in this area. I have plenty of ideas, but I’m a bit challenged in the action department.


July 5, 2017 at 12:38 am 1 comment

Weather Watching and Fanciful Feasts

fresh peaches 002  Last weekend we enjoyed an evening of classic Minnesota-style entertainment:  ninety minutes of sitting on the basement exercise equipment, tracking the progress of local tornado warnings on a 12″ television screen.  Cut loose on a Saturday night?  You betcha’, by golly.

Actually…while I’m sure that scanning weather maps can be intriguing, twenty minutes into this session I found my mind drifting.  Nothing new about that, but this particular episode of mental meandering actually had some logic to it:  What if the electricity goes out long enough for the freezer to fail, and I’m forced to cook everything at once or lose it?  Visions a neighborhood potluck followed by an ice cream binge danced in my head.  What was lurking behind the frost that could contribute to such a banquet?

By the time I refocused, the warnings were being lifted and my husband was herding pets back up the stairs for a return to our evening “as previously scheduled.”  But I had been irreversibly set on a course of menu-planning, my thoughts congealing around a meal based on the bargain of $2.00 organic chickens found at my local Cub Foods store a few weeks ago.  Thus, the next day found me busy in the kitchen preparing Oriental Grilled Chicken, Corn Fritter Patties, Mango-Avocado Salsa, Shake Potatoes, Sliced Beefsteak Tomatoes, Steamed fresh Green Beans with Raw Almonds, and Fresh Peach Ice Cream with Oatmeal Raisin Cookies – a meal as good on the table as it had been in my imagination. (more…)

August 11, 2009 at 1:48 am Leave a comment

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