People Who Take too Long to Set Up Their Photos

I recently went to Kusu Island, off the south coast of Singapore.  It’s a little island, but it’s nice for a day trip, and the beaches are clean.  Since it was a holiday in Singapore, there were fewer people than usual for a Monday.  However, I think they all must have been related because they all shared the same affliction.  Many of them would set up their photos (whether on the beach, near the turtle statues, in the Chinese temple or on the ferry pier) for way too long.  There was even a group of young people setting up a photo on a “selfie stick” before actually taking the selfie.  All the while holding up the people who were waiting to cross the bridge they were blocking with their set up shot.

I am usually courteous to the photographers.  If they’re taking a photo in front of me, I wait to cross in front of their camera, but I give them a maximum of 10 seconds to set up and complete their shot.  After that 10 seconds is up, I’m walking through.  It’s an excessive amount of time to take more than 10 seconds to set up and take a photo.  The worst one is when there’s one photographer who thinks he’s Ansel Adams (or Robert Mapplethorpe, rather), and he gives direction to the people in the photo.  These are the people who tell you to move slightly to the right, or to smile bigger.  These are the people who waste everyone’s time before they press that damn button (even the people in their photo)!  Once I see an “Ansel” with the camera begin to set up his/her shot, I walk right through.  There’s no way I’m waiting for this wannabe photog to get the perfect shot.  It will take forever.

Then there are the people that take the shot, check the photo, then take another shot because they didn’t like the first.  They can go on like this forever until they find the perfect shot.  This is just as bad as the “Ansel” that has to set up the perfect shot because, although they take the photo quickly, they take several photos and hold up everyone around them who might want to take a photo in the same spot, or who just want to walk through.  All they’re going to do is post the photo on Facebook with some stupid caption and change it in about a week.  It doesn’t need to be the perfect shot!

These people that need to set up long photos and make sure their shot is perfect are excessively annoying to those of us that have to wait for them while they’re setting their shot up.  Some of us want to take a photo of the same object, or in the same place, and these people are hogging the photo spot with their perfectionism.  It’s a family photo, not a contest entry!  At least people at Kusu today were using their phones and real cameras.  I didn’t see one iPad used for a photo today….and that’s a good thing!

Coffee Shop Squatters

table 4I’m addicted to Starbucks.  I know that sounds cliché and that a lot of people have a coffee/caffeine addiction, but I’m not really addicted to coffee, I’m addicted to Starbucks.  I love the Starbucks cafes, with their jazzy music and strange sandwiches.  It’s a nice place to spend some time with a friend, or even by yourself.  Sometimes I’ll grab a latte and a sandwich and read the newspaper.  I like spending time in Starbucks, but I am always mindful not to spend too much time.  After all, I’m only one of hundreds of patrons in a day, and everyone needs their Starbucks time.  I’m usually out within 30 minutes.

table 3Not everyone is as considerate as I am, and I am overwhelmingly annoyed by the coffee sop “squatters” that order a regular cup of coffee and then pop out the laptop and suck up the free wifi for hours on end.  These people take over entire 4-person tables for themselves, with their computer, papers, books and backpacks.  They make it hard for other customers to find a seat during peak moments, and they spend nothing, but expect everyone to respect their right to be cheap-ass morons and use the free wifi all day.  It’s gotten so bad in many places that coffee shops have had to make “laptop free” zones in the stores to make sure people don’t stay longer than 30 minutes.  There are also rules in many coffee shops that if you’re not actually drinking or eating anything, you have to leave.  These companies have created these rules because they were losing customers to overcrowded restaurants…overcrowded by coffee shop squatters and their paraphernalia!  Unfortunately, they’re not always enforced.

table 2The phenomenon is so much worse in Singapore.  In Singapore you have the run of the mill coffee shop squatters as exist everywhere else, but you also have the overachieving students.  These students (usually traveling in packs) pick a table in a coffee shop and, basically, squat there for hours and hours after school and on the weekends doing their homework and studying.  They rarely buy anything at the stores, and when they do, its a small coffee or a cookie.  These people crowd out the true customers who are actually there for food and drink because they are so pervasive that you may find 3-4 groups of these crazy overachievers in one restaurant at any given time.  This phenomenon is not only limited to coffee shops, fast-food restaurants, ice cream shops, even sit down restaurants are not immune to the crazy, overachieving, Singaporean students.  The worse thing is that, although there are signs everywhere that say table time is limited to 30 minutes and you must be eating or drinking while using the tables, nobody says anything to the students.  So, they sit there all afternoon while other customers have to stand in the shop, or take their food/beverage to go, or just walk out without buying anything.  This is a horribly pervasive thing in Singapore and it’s actually turning me off to spending time in my favorite place.

table 1I don’t blame the students.  they want to work on their homework together, and they may help each other in that way.  They have been using restaurants and coffee shops for years without any reprisal.  It’s there that the problem lies…the reprisal.  There isn’t any.  People who work in these places see the poor customers who can’t find a seat and who actually end up eating while standing and they see the gaggle of 10 overachieving students with empty cups sacked out with papers, notebooks and laptops, and they do NOTHING!  I have never seen an employee at one of these places actually go over to a freeloading table of students and ask them to leave to let other customers sit down.  They just let it happen.  Of course the students are going to continue doing the same thing if there’s no consequence.  In reality, these kids should be at the library or someone’s house studying, but they have found a better place where nobody bothers them to leave.

It’s the same for the coffee shop squatters in other countries.  I have never witnessed any employee of a coffee shop asking one of these freeloading pricks to get up and allow paying customers to sit down.  They just let them sit there, empty cup or plate in front of them, using their free wifi.  I like having free wifi in restaurants so I can use WhatsApp to speak with my friends, but I’m willing to give it up if it eliminates the freeloading squatters.  The students will probably still come because, in all fairness, I do see them actually working with pen and paper and studying.  They’re also very respectful if they get too loud and you ask them to be more quiet.  But, something still needs to be done.  The regular coffee shop customer is losing his ability to enjoy the coffee shop experience because they can’t sit down, and there’s so little space for them because of the people who have nothing better to do than sit in there all day on their laptops or doing their homework.  Something has to be done!  When I was in university, they had “Take Back the Night.”  Granted, this was a program of evening marches to support better police support for women when they were out late at night, but I’m proposing the same concept….”Take Back the Tables,” where people come into these coffee shops and physically remove the freeloaders.  Take back your shop, people, before we lose it altogether!!

 

Over Planners

over 1Overplanning is an illness that not only affects the overplanner, but everyone who comes in contact with the overplanner.  These people make the lives of all those around them living hells with their spreadsheets and every minute planned out.  These people are the worst to travel with, they’re the worst to work with, they’re just the worst!

All my life I have come in contact with overplanners.  There are some in my family, close friends and colleagues.  I have learned to deal with their OCD behavior when it comes to their construction of time and the allocation of time that they give to activities and people.  It has become second nature for me to allow the overplanner to do all the planning and take me along for the ride.  Well, this will happen no more!  I’m tired of having my life planned out by other people.  I’m tired of going on a holiday only to have a regimented time for each and every thing.  I’m tired of being sucked into the overplanners’ worlds, discussing and overdiscussing plans for days and days.  I think overplanners are not happy unless they are overplanning something, be it the littlest thing like a visit to the supermarket or a night out.  They do copious amounts of research and create a plan so that every second is filled to the brim.

Whatever happened to “winging it?”  Some of the best holidays are those where I didn’t even know where I was going until the day before.  Throw some clothes in a carry-on bag and ask the concierge at the hotel where the good places to eat are.  This is how I like to travel!  Overplanners can not do this, but it’s invigorating and liberating at the same time.  Just go with the flow and ask the locals.  Overplanners at work are also a tedious nuisance.  Teachers who have their whole years planned out before the first day of school, down to homework assignments and exams are the same ones who throw a fit when the deadline for something changes or a new holiday is created.  These people make everyone else’s lives miserable when they can’t complete their OCD-laden plans.

People who overplan need to allow for life to happen.  They need to realize that stuff happens that can’t be planned in.  There are millions of other things that can happen to throw a wrench into their meticulously designed plans, and they have to accept it when that happens.  They also need to realize that not everyone is like them, and some people will resent those people that try to plan out their lives for them.  They have to be sensitive to other peoples’ feelings and maybe lay off the Sharpie-soaked calendar for a while.

 

Drug Expiration Dates

meds 1Drug expiration dates are virtually meaningless.  All my life I have had people look into my medicine cabinet and laugh at the fact that I have expired drugs in there.  Sometimes the expiration dates go back more than 5 years.  I don’t see any reason to toss these absolutely fine medications simply because the date on the outside of the box/can/bottle says they are not good.  They ARE still good.  The drug expiration date is a farce.

Ok, people will say that the drug loses its potency over time, and they wouldn’t be wrong.  But, in 1976, the FDA of the USA began to require drug companies to put a date on their products “beyond which they could not guarantee the absolute potency and safety of the drug.”  Drug companies placed dates on their drugs based on a study that the FDA performed for the US Army, and many did not do their own studies to develop a more realistic expiration date.  Drug companies went very conservatively on their expiration date for fear of being sued or exposed as having weaker medications.  The truth is, most drugs are fully potent well past their expiration dates.  Many can be used as much as 15 years later without losing any potency at all.  Certainly, there are some that should not be used after the expiration because of safety issues (tetracycline and insulin are two of them), but 90% of drugs are completely safe to take after their expiration date.  (http://www.health.harvard.edu/fhg/updates/update1103a.shtml)

meds 3Whether they’re over-the-counter or prescription, the story is the same.  Drugs can be used past the expiration date.  I have medication in my medicine cabinet now that expired in 2009.  I still use it, and it still works.  Others expired in 2010 or 2011, they still work just as well as the day I bought them.  I think this “conservative” medicine expiration date of a year or 2 is a way that pharmaceutical companies can ensure that they continue to make money.  Most medication does not get completely used before its expiration date.  Let’s face it, that bottle of 90 aspirin that you bought that expires in 2 years might have 30-40 left in it when the expiration date hits.  If drug companies had to wait until medicines were actually completely depleted before people went to buy more, they would lose a lot of sales and make less money.  So it pays for them to place a sooner, rather than later, expiration date on the medication.  Even non-medications like body lotion, hair products and vitamins do not really “expire” when the companies say they do.  They are completely usable years and years after the expiration date.

This drug store has the right idea.

This drug store has the right idea.

It is also legal for drug stores in the United States to sell medicines and pharmaceutical products after the expiration date, but it’s virtually impossible because people believe that the medicines are no good.  Laws favor the drug companies because the drug companies have the deepest pockets and donate a lot of money to the right campaigns during election time.  Don’t be fooled.  Keep your medications as long as you want.  Take them after the expiration date, it won’t hurt you.  There’s no guarantee of full potency, but you won’t be able to tell the difference until many, many years past the date.  Don’t the drug companies make enough money each year without us having to constantly replenish medications that we’re not finished with and that are just as good as the day we bought them?

 

When Actors Can’t Do an American Accent….But They Try and Try

Poppy Montgomery

Poppy Montgomery

I have been watching a new program called Unforgettable.  It’s a cop show, but it is interesting, and it has decent storylines, so I keep watching.  Something, however, is making it more and more difficult to return; Poppy Montgomery’s American accent.  That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, she’s Australian, and her true accent permeates through lots of times.  Sometimes I think she’s got a Southern American accent and is trying to hide it, but then a distinctly Australian word will escape and I know (take my word on it, I work with a lot of Australians) that she’s not an American girl.  This phenomenon is not limited to Poppy and, in all fairness, she’s a pretty good actress on the series.  Her suppressed Australian accent, however, makes her slightly less believable.

I’ve titled this blog to target actors who can’t do American accents, but I’m really annoyed by actors who try to do ANY accent and fail (I call it the Kevin Costner Syndrome, because of his notoriously bad (mostly absent) British accent in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves).  There have been some who do an American accent very well; Bob Hoskins in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Hugh Laurie in House and Yvonne Strahovsky in Chuck and Dexter.  For 2 British guys and an Aussie lady, you would think they were American to the bone!  But, for every Yvonne Strahovsky, there’s an Ed Westwick (Chuck on Gossip Girl) who so obviously should not be trying to convince people that he’s American.  His British drawl constantly popped out while he was trying to maintain the posh, upper East Side speech that he needed for the role.  Also, Steven Moyer and Ryan Kwanten of True Blood, both come from other countries (Steven from the UK and Ryan from Australia), but they have varying success with the Louisiana drawl they need to put on for the show.  Ryan is definitely the better of the two, but his Aussie twang radiates time and time again.  Sam Neill tried his American accent in Jurassic Park and Jurassic Park 3, only to make Dr. Grant sound like a masquerading Kiwi.  It’s not limited to the men either, Anna Torv (Olivia in Fringe) might as well be living in a different dimension because her Australian comes out more than her fake American.  And, I know  I’m not going to make any new friends with this, Hugh Jackman makes Wolverine sound Australian…which is a travesty to the genre and to the graphic novel (yet people love him).

Hugh Jackman as Wolverine

Hugh Jackman as Wolverine

Don’t get me wrong, Americans are just as bad when they try to do the accents of other English-speaking (or even non-English speaking) countries; Leonardo Di Caprio as a white Zimbabwean in Blood Diamond, Mel Gibson trying on his Scottish in Braveheart and Robin Williams as an old Scottish woman in Mrs. Doubtfire.  These Americans embarrassed themselves trying to make themselves sound like they were from somewhere else for their role.  But, there are some in this category that pull it off to high acclaim.  Meryl Streep sounded exactly like Julia Child (accent and all) in Julie and Julia, and you would believe Robert Downey Jr was Sherlock Holmes because his British accent is very good.  Also, the entire cast of This is Spinal Tap were American, but you would think they were all from the London suburbs (special props to Harry Shearer)!

The bottom line is this.  If you’re making a film, and considering hiring any actor who needs to put on an accent for a role, make sure they can do the accent.  Don’t try them out for 30 seconds and give them the part.  Make them live a day in that accent.  Follow them and see if people believe they are from where they say they are.  This will make the film or television program so much better and so much more believable.  Plus, it will make actors work harder on perfecting their accents.  It’s a win-win-win situation.  Now if we can only get Arnold Schwartzenegger to try it out…..

“Sponsored” Posts on My Facebook News Feed

Facebook has found an even more effective way of annoying its members.  Instead of running those mind-numbing advertisements on the right side of the screen, they have decided to plop them right into the newsfeed.  So, now, when I’m reading about the new status update of my cousin, or looking at my friends’ holiday photos, I am treated to an advertisement for Tic-Tacs or KFC.  not only that, the advertisement is disguised as a newsfeed post, completed with a list of my friends that “like” the products page, or have mentioned this product on their Facebook pages recently.  There are even people listed that I have blocked from my newsfeed.  Let’s face it, most of the crap that people post on Facebook is just that, crap!  So I block most of my “friends” from my newsfeed.  I don’t need to see every photo of someone’s son’s little league game, or read how enthusiastic someone is to cook quinoa for the first time.  I have my “special” friends and family in my newsfeed, and others I check out when I have the time or want to chat.  Recently, those blocked people have been showing up in my newsfeed in these “sponsored” posts.  The only way you know these posts are not legitimate is the small, grayscale word “sponsored” in the upper left corner.  Other than that, it looks like a regular newsfeed post.

Thank you, Facebook, for making my daily check on my friends and family even more tedious by putting this crap in front of me.  I would drop out of Facebook if I had another way of keeping in touch with people.  I think Facebook knows they have people by the short and curlies because most people these days keep up with their friends and family there.  That’s why they felt they could unknowingly experiment on a million people by showing them depressing news posts from friends and then seeing if they posted depressing things.  Now it’s this business with the fake news posts.  This has to stop.  There are other ways to keep in touch, but they aren’t as easy as Facebook.  We need to find a way to eliminate them from our lives before they take over everything!

Below are the “sponsored” newsfeed posts that I encountered in 1 hour of Facebook this afternoon.  Remind you….this is only in 1 hour!!

This one came with someone's name attached to it as a friend who had "liked" the page!

This one came with someone’s name attached to it as a friend who had “liked” the page!

Apparently, several of my friends had "liked" this page as well.

Apparently, several of my friends had “liked” this page as well.

sponsored 3

sponsored 4

sponsored 5

Apparently, some of my friends had also "liked" this page!

Apparently, some of my friends had also “liked” this page!

So, 6 of these fake newsfeed posts in about 1 hour on Facebook.  If I had gone back through my “wall” history, I could have found a dozen more, just from today alone.  This is ridiculous, Facebook!  Find another way to advertise!

Blaming Malaysia Airlines for MH17

I know that this is the 2nd disappearance of a Malaysia Airlines jet in 4 months, but this wasn’t their fault.  I’m tired of hearing people blame the airline for some moron separatist terrorists and their asshole leaders who told them to down a civilian airliner.  The real people who should be blamed are the “rebel” cowards and the Russians who support them.  These people have lost whatever shred of respect they ever had.  And, believe me, it was very little to begin with.

There’s something to be said about rebelling against your government because it’s oppressive or because your beliefs do not match up.  That’s a noble cause, and sometimes it’s the right thing to do.  These Ukrainian separatists are not noble.  They are not rebelling for the right reasons.  They are rebelling because they’re supported and incited by a government thousands of miles away, in Moscow, that just wants to scoop up land that will make it more powerful.  They don’t care about the “ethnic Russians” in Ukraine…..they care about the natural resources and warm water ports that Crimea and eastern Ukraine will give them.  Ethnicity is a red herring that the Russian government is pushing to hide its true agenda.  Also, the Ukrainian government never suppressed ethnic Russians, nor did anything to make them feel oppressed.  The government was looking for new allies and, because it was looking to the west, in Europe, the Russians felt they would lose their influence over them.  In fact, it’s now being said that the “rebels” shot down MH17 because they were using a RUSSIAN missile system that doesn’t identify military and civilian aircraft differently, and they thought they were shooting at a Ukrainian transport plane that was supposed to be in the sky at the same time as MH17.  So, now the excuse is “my bad?!”

Comparison between the MH 777 and a Russian Antonov transport plane

Comparison between the MH 777 and a Russian Antonov transport plane (from ChannelNewsAsia.com)

So, don’t blame Malaysia Airlines.  It’s just the airline that got caught up in coward terrorist bullshit.  It could have been any plane at any time.  Singapore Airlines uses the same flight-path dozens of times per day, as do many Asian airlines.  This was not the fault of Malaysian airlines.  All airlines flying that same path were given the green-light by Ukrainian air traffic control and told that it was “unrestricted” to fly 10,000 meters or higher above the war zone.  Hell, I flew over Northern Iraq during my recent flight back to Singapore, and that’s a horrible warzone as well.  You don’t hear about any civilian planes being taken down in that area, do you?

Flight MH17 was shot down by militants who shouldn’t be able to run their own lives, let alone a rebellion.  As for MH370, the missing flight in the Indian Ocean, we can’t be certain what happened until we find the wreckage.  That may be the fault of Malaysia Airlines, but we can’t place blame yet.  One thing that is certain, however, is that the fate of MH17 was not their fault, so stop blaming them.

Below are some interesting graphics about MH17, and a link to an editorial from the Malaysian Insider.

http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/stop-blaming-malaysia-airlines-for-downed-mh17

Map of air space around Ukraine 2 hours after MH17 was downed.

Map of air space around Ukraine 2 hours after MH17 was downed (from The Guardian)

Explanation of events leading up to the tragedy of MH17 (From The Guardian)

Explanation of events leading up to the tragedy of MH17 (From The Times)

Link to the article with the above graphic: http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/world/europe/article4151987