How to piss off a bunch of people in 342 words or less

If nothing else, this article proves how quickly a story can travel. I saw it in its original form, on Sunday as part of a collective “ways the government could save money” piece. The idea of it is not new; I remember being a yearling and going to the dayroom with my companymates to watch a 60 minutes piece about closing the academies. As much as we complained about our cadet lives, it was entirely different when the criticism came from the outside. We scoffed, we laughed and we claimed the suggestions being made were conjured up by people who clearly had no clue about being in the military. The dollar amount for graduating someone in four years was thrown around too. The value of the education is about $50K more now, but the argument remains the same: It's cheaper to develop officers through civilian schools, so let's close the service academies. My response to that is this: what the academies offer is an intangible thing that can only be understood by people who have gone to one of them, or those who are familiar with the every day routine. If you don't get it, maybe you never will, and that's not intended to be mean, or smart assed or pat. To some people it really boils down to money (and let's not even discuss how anyone arrives at the $300K bill).

And because we all know I'm petty, let's address some specific criticisms:

The title--
It’s so simple, and I don't mean the cleaned up, stylistic way of writing. Basic would be a better description, basic like the title of the essay you wrote at the start of third grade:
“What I did last summer”

Some of the comments regarding cadets themselves--

“They are crackerjack smart...”

Can someone please explain what “crackerjack smart” means exactly? If I’m “crackerjack smart,” then how is it that I have never heard this term before? Is there wisdom in that caramel coated popcorn/peanut mix that I haven’t discovered yet? Why not discuss Crunch ‘n’ Munch and Fiddle Faddle while we're at it? Out of the three, which is the smartest? Is there a prize inside the skull of every cadet and West Point graduate?

The glaring inaccuracies—

“…we should send them to civilian schools where their assumptions will be challenged, and where they will interact with diplomats and executives, not to a service institution where they can reinforce their biases while getting in afternoon golf games.”

Golf games?

Golf games?!


Evidence that I work with geeks

I received the following in an email message:

Dr. Stephen Hawking is sick and in the hospital. The current news today is that he is feeling better and is resting. I was entertaining the idea of sending the good Doctor a get well email but I don't want to swamp his mailbox. Why doesn't one of us volunteer to collect all the good wishes and send them off in a single email. I don't know if he will get to read it or ever respond but its the thought that counts as Stephen has proven so many times. Being locked up in that body has given him much time to ponder things

Here is his email for those who care...

PSA: If you're sending out information on someone considered to be a public figure, for the love of all that's holy do not put "Sad News" as the title. I held my breath before opening it.

(Stephen Hawking fascinates me; I wish him a full recovery.)


"These are not the droids you're looking for."

I was socking away money consistently, finally getting my act together. My account was starting to look pretty decent too. Then we did taxes. Do you ever feel like you’re trying to go upstairs using the down escalator? Once you get your act together, chaos comes along and wipes you out. It’s like an ant rebuilding its hill after the little kid stomps on it. It’s like piling up the sandbags and barely keeping up with the rising floodwaters. Too many similes for you? Okay, then, it sucks.

“They” say it’s better if you owe taxes on April 15th. If you got a refund, then it means you gave the government an interest free loan. And conversely, if you owe, the government gave YOU an interest free loan. See? It’s actually a good deal.


It's Complicated

When you complete your Facebook profile, there are certain categories you can fill in, either by typing, or selecting the options from a drop down menu. I totally get why someone who is single would want to put “in a relationship” to throw off people sniffing around the internet for a relationship (*cough* change your security settings *cough*). If you don’t use that option, there are plenty of others, including “Married, single, in an open relationship (this is a new one, must have been added in the recent upgrades) and so on. All of these are okay. It’s a diverse world with diverse people and diverse relationship options. That being said, nothing make me say “Whaaaaa...?” like when someone selects “in a relationship and it’s complicated.”

1) Isn’t every relationship complicated? Or should there be an “in a relationship and it’s really pretty basic” option on the menu as well?

2) Does anyone else agree that this offers a little too much information? When someone’s status changes to this option, it means they did it on purpose. Is it a cry for help? I am dying to ask the details because I’m nosy, but also--I can’t help but feel like selecting “it’s complicated” means the person WANTS you to ask because they are openly advertising it.

I don’t ask. I would never ask unless I talk to that person enough outside of Facebook world to have a clue of what’s going on in the real world.

What I also don’t understand is why people fill out every little thing in their profiles. Just because there’s a blank space or a drop down menu doesn’t mean that you have to put something. A little mystery can be welcome, even if it makes you seem, well, complicated.


Trolling for attention

What are the saddest four words in the English language?

No, no, it's not "The buffet is closed."

Okay, let me clarify--what are the saddest four words to a blogger?

Take a guess. Come on!

Okay, fine, the words are:

"No Unmoderated Comments Found."



There was a recent commercial that depicted a young redhead shopping for a laptop. The shopper is in search of a 17” laptop that costs under $1000. Any normal person would have shopped online for something like this, but that doesn’t translate into good television. So they showed the redhead walking into an Apple Store and cut to her exiting, as if she had entered through a revolving door and kept on going.

“Maybe I’m just not cool enough to be a Mac person,” she mutters as she pulls away. The story ends with her in Best Buy giddy over scoring the laptop of her dreams for $699.99. The end.

Except it wasn’t. Some of the Mac lovers were so totally insulted. “They’re not telling the full story!” was the biggest complaint. They don’t have time to delve into a full comparison of service plans, operating systems and hardware. They gave the basics (17” screen, laptop, under $1000) and went from there. 30 seconds is just enough time to convince people not to bother with the Apple store, since you won’t find a computer that fits all three of those requirements. Therefore it’s not worth considering. As a Mac person, I get that.

I also get that no one wants to be told they paid too much for what they have. I know this from experience. It’s painful to see something I bought at the full price marked for less than what I spent. It actually hurts to see the same exact thing for so much less. You feel like you lost. You feel like a loser.

So then the Mac people come back with all of the reasons why their machine can kick the ass of the $699 Best Buy special. You have to do that to feel like you won. It’s why someone will ask for laptop or computer recommendations and there’s a 99.9% chance that at least one person will squeak in just to say “get a Mac.” Or worse, if someone is having issues with Vista, someone else will say “You should have bought a Mac.” As a Mac owner, I cringe a little when I read these. It really does come off as too cool even if I agree. It's not the message that's annoying, it's the “I told you so” tone. So now the person is expected to trash his or her computer and run to the Apple store? Junk it and start fresh? There’s a snideness--a smugness about the whole thing—a superior attitude because Mac people think they’re evolved and enlightened, as they sit on clouds high above the unwashed proletariat that bangs away at the any key while faced with the blue screen of death.

Part of the appeal of a Mac is just that. If everyone really did go out and buy a Mac, the “I’m cool and you’re not” selling point would cease to exist because the whole point of being cool is that there are others who aren't, and if everyone gets a Mac, then what? Some of the people buying Macs are doing so just so they can think of themselves as elite. I still remember the outrage people had when Apple switched to Intel chips. The purists were beside themselves. “Now it’s just another PC,” was the biggest complaint.

I enjoy my laptop. Most of the time it’s problem free. I don’t love everything about it, and I wouldn’t marry it, but it works. The beauty of this country is that we have choices—sometimes it’s overwhelming—but at least they’re there. It was a good commercial because it put the Mac people on the defense--it worked. It didn't even air that often and in no time people were all atwitter. Well it was an ad for PCs--a successful one after the countless "I'm a Mac" ads beat the hell out of Microsoft & Co. Mac owners: if you show that the commercial upset you, then the terrorists have won. Okay, no, but you've only proven their point about the stereotypes of Mac owners. If you want me to list some of the reasons why I prefer a Mac, then I’ll be happy to give them to you. If you go out to Best Buy (to buy a PC, yes I know they sell Macs too), there’s a 99.9% chance that I won’t follow you, screeching that you’re making a mistake--doing that is just not cool.


Look away, I'm hideous!

When do you get hit on? It happens you're feeling cute--enjoying the trifecta of perfect make up, good hair day and a well put together outfit? Right? Right?

Let me start by saying not only did I have a bad hair day, I also had a bad face day. Yesterday my face broke out with not one, but two--Two zits! one was on the side of my face, and the other? The other was positioned at the lower left corner of my left nostril. You just can't hide a zit like that. And what did I do? Squeeze. No matter how often this has happened to me, I can't seem to grasp that it's better to leave the little bump alone than piss it off by picking and poking and pushing. No good ever comes out of that. When you squeeze a zit, you're literally making a mountain out of a mole hill. In fact, zits are so common they would make for a better metaphor. (Making a zeppelin out of a zit?) Who here has seen a "mole hill" anyway?

This morning I woke up to the horrible aftermath. Mind you, I did everything I could do undo the damage I inflicted. This meant facial washes, exfoliating scrubs, pure tea tree oil, Rite Aid's answer to neosporin, and yes, hemorrhoid cream. None of these things did anything to improve the horror that greeted me in the mirror this morning. I actually consisdered taking a sick day it was so bad. Plan B was to cover the damage. I dug up my powders and lamented the great train case purge of 2007. I had thrown out perfectly good concealer tubes, the skin colored stuff and the minty green tube that gets rid of redness. Tossed! I hardly use them, so why keep 'em around, I told myself in a fit of trying to cure my own packrat-ism. Besides, I said as I held the doomed tubes above the trash can, these things expire.

I made do with the powders I had on hand. I shellacked some face colored powder over a dab of Rite Aid's answer to Neosporin and went on my merry way. I even packed an emergency kit with a few essentials for my time at work. Every trip to the bathroom would include a face check and a touch up if needed. Crisis averted.

Sort of. This afternoon I went in and tried to make another quick repair. I dabbed, powdered and blotted. Then when it looked like I had a white mole on my face, I wiped it off and started over. After three iterations, I wiped it all off at the sink and quit. From distance, it just looked like a little redness. Besides, if I kept my head low at my desk I could get out of there in two hours and no one would be subjected to my hideousness.

Well, I made it. I planned a trip to Target on the way home so I could resupply on both skin-colored and minty green tubes of concealer. I also planned to browse the acne skin wash section to fight off any future breakouts. No one tells you that zits don't end with high school. No one tells you that 30 something year old skin doesn't recover quite like teenaged skin, either.

On the train home, a man waved his hands in my face as I was reading my book with my head tucked down. I pretended not to see him but he was persistent and obvious enough to challenge my acting/faking skills. When I looked up, he complimented me.

"You have a pretty smile."

"Thank you," I said, conscious of the festering sore beneath my nose. He would look away in disgust as soon as he caught a glimpse of that pulsing, glowing caldera, I was sure of it.

He was not thwarted.

I shifted my left hand strategically.

"Oh, is that a wedding ring?"

I nodded. Phew. No chance of being hit on now.

"How long you been married?"

"Almost ten years."

He was taken aback. "You look 20, what you got married when you were 10?"

"Yes, we served Hawaiian Punch at the reception." (No, I'm lying; I didn't say this, remember I don't have the gift of the witty comeback. That line came approximately five minutes later, when I was alone and headed to my car in the parking garage.)

"Ten years. Wow."

Maybe it was my youthful complexion.


I had a weekend to myself and I did what any other person might have done—I went to the movies.

Yeah, whoopity-dee-doo. But the last movie I saw in the theaters was “Notorious” so with that knowledge, maybe now you can understand why it was kind of a big deal; I hardly ever go to the movies.

Despite the complaints that there was no reason to make a movie out of a perfectly good graphic novel, I sat through the nearly 3 hours of Watchmen. Don’t worry, this isn’t going to be a movie review. I won’t tell you what I thought. I did read the reviews beforehand. Rottentomatoes generally serves as my filter when I’m trying to decide whether I want to see a movie or not. If it’s deemed “fresh” I will check out the bad reviews to see if the negatives are worth overlooking. If it’s “rotten” I generally don’t bother. If it’s right before the movie is released and there are no early reviews, it means the film has not been screened, and that’s generally not the sign of a good movie (Tyler Perry, I’m looking at YOU)

Lately movies have been made for the following reasons: Artistic expression (okay, just kidding), because everybody loves a sequel (or trilogy--or fourth, fifth, sixth or however many follow ups are deemed absolutely necessary to complete a story), there’s an ‘80’s era childhood cartoon/action figure legend that has not been capitalized upon told yet, we need a remake because the special effects from the original aren’t scary or cool enough to be convincing anymore, and finally, there’s a novel that would translate into a super-fantastic movie (what you don't hear is the the super-fantastic sarcasm when I say this).

Well, you know what happens when you’ve read the book and then see the movie adaptation. It starts with a D and ends with an "isappointment." If it was a recent reading, you can pick out the parts of the story that got cut or changed immediately. If they make major changes, and you liked the book better, the experience is pretty much ruined. Sometimes it works. People love The Shawshank Redemption—it’s not really based on a book though, it was originally a short story that ended up providing enough material for a two hour film. Sometimes the director and screenwriter tweak the story and make the film a compliment to the book. (The Shining and Children of Men). Sometimes it's just not meant to be. If you take the Cider House Rules and cram 598 pages (paperback) into to a movie, you wind up with something that barely resembles the original. I only discovered this upon reading the book after seeing the movie. I went in thinking I knew the story, and what happened on the pages was entirely different. A whole subplot had been cannibalized to make the movie into a neat little package. The book was so much richer. In this case, a trilogy would have worked, but people only come back to see Tobey MaGuire play Spiderman every two years, not Homer Wells. The trilogy format doesn't work for every story, even if there's enough material to fill 6-8 hours of film time.

Watchmen itself was entertaining, even though I know the man who wrote the story did so knowing that the movie was going to be a bastardized version of his book. He wanted nothing to do with it; even the allure of money wasn’t enough to get him to sign off. The movie was just okay. It was eye candy. I see they went the other direction with the “to pants-or not-to pants” dilemma that occurred when the Incredible Hulk hit the big screen. I went into Watchmen knowing the original work was so much better, which means I won’t be disappointed when I finally read it.