Halloween

halloween 3“There is nothing funny about Halloween. This sarcastic festival reflects, rather, an infernal demand for revenge by children on the adult world.”  – Jean Baudrillard

When I was a young kid, I liked Halloween.  I liked the dressing up, I liked the parties, I liked the candy…I even liked the shaving cream fights with my friends.  As I got older, the Halloween “traditions” just got more and more tedious.  Dressing in costume became less fun and more chore-like.  There was increased pressure to find a party or something fun to do, or look like a loser.  AND, instead of getting candy, I was expected to give it out to kids…FOR FREE!

halloween 2Living in New York City taught me to hate Halloween.  Invariably, every year, on November 1st, I was treated to an impromptu, early-morning car wash to get the dried egg and shaving cream off.  The worst years were the years when Halloween did NOT fall on a weekend because I’d have to leave extra early for work the next day to get to the gas station and use their hose, getting wet in the process and looking a mess when I finally arrived at work.  There were always more eggs and shaving cream on my house to clean when I got home, and even on the sidewalk in front.  All this while getting by on 2-3 hours of sleep because of all the noise outside all night.

Halloween is used as an excuse for people to behave like complete asses.  It’s a day when people try to be as moronic as they possibly can because they feel it’s warranted and excusable.  I don’t excuse any destructive vandalism no matter what the tradition or the “holiday.”  Granted, I used to melt the nozzle on Barbasol cans when I was young so they would shoot further, and pack my “trick-or-treat bag” with a little toilet paper, but I’m not making excuses for myself.  I was an ass!  I was caught up in the peer pressure of Halloween.  That peer pressure causes completely normal people to turn into morons on October 31st.

halloween 1First, let’s talk about the peer pressure to dress in costume.  When you’re a kid, the school usually “forces” you to dress in costume by sponsoring a Halloween parade, or some kind of costume contest.  If you’re not dressed in costume on Halloween, you’re ostracized and made to feel like you don’t fit in.  So, every kid dresses in costume, no matter whether they want to or not.  The peer pressure doesn’t stop there.  As you get older, the pressure continues.  The “Halloween zealots” all have crazy Halloween parties and INSIST that you come dressed in costume.  It’s just easier to tell them that I’m “going to another party” on Halloween now than to actually have to try to find a costume.  People don’t understand that the whole history behind dressing for Halloween is rooted in the idea that the dead that rise from the grave should not be able to find you, so you disguise yourself from them.  The cute “slutty cat” and Ninja Turtle costumes were not what the medieval Europeans had in mind.

Second, I have to talk about the vandalism that occurs on Halloween.  I’m pretty sure this is only an American tradition, so international readers can skip this paragraph.  When did Halloween become associated with throwing toilet paper on houses, spraying shaving cream on unsuspecting kids or tossing eggs at passing cars?!?  When I was a kid, there were people that would spray Nair (a hair depilatory) at kids out of a fire extinguisher.  This would cause the kids to lose their hair!!  How is this not assault?  Why is this given a by on Halloween?  I know the police are out there saying they are “on extra watch,” but most policemen were Halloween hoodlems, themselves (as most teenagers are), and I’m sure they let many a vandal slide each year.  All these people that throw eggs, spray shaving cream or in any way vandalize someone else’s property should be prosecuted.  But, you NEVER hear about any prosecution or fines stemming from “Halloween mayhem.”

halloween 4Third, let’s talk about costumes, in general.  Is it me, or have costumes become less and less about what the person is pretending to be and more about how much the person can show off their body?  I’ve seen men dressed as Borat in his wresting singlet or Chippendales dancers and women dressed as ANYTHING (as long as it’s slutty).  Of course, there are still people who work hard to create a fun costume that’s not just a tight t-shirt and short-shorts, but they are becoming far fewer.  Even “older” people, who should not be wearing these types of costumes seem to be holding fast the slutty/beefcake costumes that have pervaded the past 20 years of Halloween.

Lastly, I’d like to talk about the hype that surrounds Halloween.  I will never understand the people who spend thousands of dollars buying moaning ghosts, moving vampire coffins, wailing pumpkins or screetching witches.  These people over-decorate their homes and pour time, effort and money into NOTHING!  What’s the point?  It’s going to be there for 1 day and then it comes down…make room for the next holiday!  Carving pumpkins, buying candy, just trying too hard…why?!?!  I’m one of “those” people who, on Halloween, turns all the lights off and pretends he’s not home.  I don’t want to be bothered every 5 minutes to run to the door and hand out candy, that I bought with my money, to people who threaten me with a trick if I don’t give it to them.  Call me a Halloween Scrooge if you will, but I don’t see the point in this “holiday.”  The only thing good that came from Halloween is It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.  It’s kind of nice to think that Halloween isn’t all about scary noises and slutty girls, that there is a benevolent spirit out there who will bring toys to all the good boys and girls.  Unfortunately, that’s not true, and the Great Pumpkin doesn’t ever come.  Halloween is all about hoodlems with eggs, annoying doorbell ringing late into the night and women showing their cleavage.

BAH HUMBUG…or rather…BAH HUM-BOO!!

 

Advertisements

Not Being More Productive at Home

prod 3I take pride in my job.  I like it, I think I’m good at it and I work hard at it.  I can be highly productive at work.  I know how to prioritize and I make daily lists of things that need to get done.  I do not allow myself to leave until the list gets completed or, through no fault of trying, can’t be completed.  I am efficient, and I make the best use of my time.  This is why I think I’m good at my job.  When a person’s productivity is high and their output is decent, they are a good worker and they will be happy at their job.

prod 1I am not always overly busy at work, but being busy doesn’t necessarily makes you productive.  You can be busy and be highly disorganized.  In this case, the reason you’re busy is because your disorganization causes you to constantly revert back and forth between projects without ever actually finishing one.  If a person is productive, then there will be times when they can afford to rest a bit, and they won’t be too busy.

Unfortunately none of this productivity carries over to my home.  It’s like night and day with me.  At work I am organized, efficient and energetic.  At home I am haphazard, sluggish and a mess.  When I return from my productive day at work, I no longer want to be productive.  I know there are things to do, but I choose not to do them.  Most of the time I just forget that there’s something I need to do.  If you read yesterday’s post about not having a dryer, you’ll know that I have to stagger my laundry loads…well, I’ve been home for about 90 minutes now, and I just remembered that I have to do another load of laundry!

prod 2I have read the 8 habits of highly productive people, and it has become my mantra at work.  I just simply can not adhere to it at home.  Sitting here now, writing this blog, I can remember about 5 things I was supposed to do today that I didn’t do.  The reason that there are some days without a post here is because I just forget, and by the time I remember, it’s too late and I’m ready for sleep.  I forget to take things in the morning.  I have very often forgotten my watch or my keys and had to rely on others for help during the day.  Those incidents I hate, because my inefficiency at home has now encroached on my efficiency at work.  When there’s a crossover like that, I have to think it’s time to change.

The only problem is, I don’t know how to change.  There’s no Microsoft Outlook for life!  It helps at work to keep track of my time, and the ability to red-flag things is brilliant, but I don’t have that at home.  I suppose I could write myself notes in the morning before I leave so I will see them when I return home in the evening, but I’ll just forget to look at them or ignore what they say.  The inefficiency and lack of productivity at home really has a negative effect on my homelife and my personal life.  I can’t tell you how many times I have made appointments only to forget about them and be awakened on a Saturday morning by the doorbell, or how many times I have ordered food for delivery (here in Singapore it takes, like, 2 hours for it to be delivered) only to forget and order more food an hour later.  It has become a real problem!  A bigger problem is that I don’t know how to fix it.

Right now I should be packing for a trip to the States, but I haven’t unpacked from the last trip yet because I’m waiting for the laundry on the drying rack to dry so I can put the dirty laundry that’s in the suitcase into the washing machine.  Then I’ll be able to pack the suitcase!  I will also need some of the clothing that I will be washing after I publish this post…ugh…I guess I can always pack tomorrow night, the flight doesn’t leave until 6AM on Saturday morning!

Not Having a Clothes Dryer

dryer 1I know this is going to sound strange, but I actually like doing the laundry.  I like the cleanliness of it.  I like feeling the clean, dry clothes on my skin and folding them into nice, neat little piles.  I can’t explain why, but I like the entire process.  The only think I hate is the ironing…so I have a housekeeper who does that for me!  When I lived in the United States, I hade a clothes dryer.  It was such a convenience to be able to put your clothes in the washing machine and then dry them quickly when it was finished.  My dryer was even stacked right on top of my washer, so the movement of the clothing was minimal.

In Madrid, I didn’t have a dryer, but my washing machine was so small that it didn’t matter because I was doing laundry almost every day, and setting them outside to dry in the desert-like Madrid climate was easy and fast.  I could sometimes bring those clothes in after only a couple of hours.  My washer in China was a combination washer/dryer.  I could set it for 3 hours, and when it was done the laundry would not only be clean, it would be dry as well.  The only problem with this is that it left enormous wrinkles in the clothes that were very difficult to iron out.  But…I had a housekeeper for that!

dryer 3Now I live in Singapore, once again without a dryer.  Only now my washing machine is normal size.  I have a drying rack…like the one I had in college…that barely fits a full load of laundry on it.  I have to stagger my loads every other day so I can be able to hang the laundry out on the rack and have it dry before another load is ready to be hung.  The drying rack just doesn’t do it for me.  It’s on the terrace, so it doesn’t take up too much space, but the Singapore air is very humid, and it takes very long for the clothes to dry.  It’s not like it was in Madrid.  Also, while the clothes dry, they are being beat upon by the damaging rays of the sun, and some of my clothing has started to fade in the areas where it crosses the bar on the rack.  It’s ruining my clothes not to have a dryer.  It’s also making something that I usually enjoy an unbearable experience because of the excessive waiting and waiting I have to do between laundry loads.  I recently got back from a trip, but there was laundry in the basket and there were towels to do.  I still haven’t gotten to do the laundry from the trip because I’m waiting for one load to dry on the rack.

dryer 2I know you’re going to say “just go buy a dryer,” and I know there are some inexpensive “makeshift” dryers out there, but my apartment is fully furnished and I don’t want to buy a clothes dryer just to “donate” it to my landlord when I move away.  I don’t like my landlord that much!  Also, the cheaper, makeshift dryers are not of good quality.  They are made of plastic, and have a drying hose that needs to be placed near the clothes.  Then you zip them up into this plastic tube that inflates and dries your clothes.  The problem with this is that it only dries 5-6 garments at a time and there’s a chance of burning the clothes.  These dryers are not for me.

I need a dryer, though.  The drying rack is ruining my clothes and it’s making laundry time into a chore instead of something I like doing.  It takes too long for my laundry to dry, and there isn’t enough room on the rack for everything I want to dry (I don’t even try to get sheets on there any more).  I don’t know how anyone can live without a dryer.  These people must have quick-drying clothing, or they must not do so much laundry that hey need their drying racks to be immediately available.  Whatever it is, I’m glad they can do it because I can’t.  I will never move into an apartment without a dryer again!

 

What I’m Reading and Watching About Barack Obama

I know I’m going to get some serious backlash for this one from the so called “Obamatrons,” who love everything he does and will defend him until the terrorists blow something up.  I don’t care.  I have been reading many news articles and news posts, and watching TV reports about some of the crap that the “commander in chief” has been doing, and it’s just really irking me.  Before I go any further, I’d like to say that I’ve been looking at things from both sides (the liberal left and the conservative right), and I’m seeing negativity towards Obama from both sides now.  It used to be the right that harangued him and pointed out his (many) flaws, but I think the liberal left has just about tired of the crap he pulls.

First, it’s the golfing.  I give the man some credit for trying to stay fit and playing a sport.  As the president of the United States, he must not have much time for exercise, but I’m reading too many things about his golfing occurring at times when he should be running the country, or at least acknowledging that things have happened.  Let’s face it, the man can even have a press conference from the golf course if he wanted to, I’m sure the press are there (they follow him like puppies).  If he did, it might give the important news the sense of urgency that it deserves.  He was playing golf while riots were happening in Missouri, he was playing golf when an American was beheaded by ISIS, he was playing golf when MH17 was shot down in Ukraine.  He was playing golf, he was playing golf, he was playing golf.  I could forgive his being on the golf course when those things occurred because it’s impossible to actually know when they will happen, but don’t finish the game!?!?  You stop right away and address the matter at hand.  You chose to take this job as US president, Barack, it’s a 24 hour job!!

Next, it’s the “executive orders” that he has put into play.  Just because people disagree with him doesn’t give him the right to circumvent those people.  It’s called “checks and balances” for a reason, Barack!  It’s a government, not a monarchy!  He can’t go around making his own decisions and enacting laws without having the support of the government.  Now look, because of his “executive order,” impoverished public school districts all over the United States will have an influx of illegal immigrant children that don’t speak English and don’t even have parents to take care of them.  These kids are going to be flooding already overloaded schools.  Is “His Highness” planning on increasing funding for these schools so they can have the resources to handle the influx of illegals that he’s flying around the country on the taxpayers’ dime?  No!!  He just expects it to get done.  He’s like a horse with blinders on…he gets one thing in view, and nothing else matters, not even things that are adversely affected.  Then he goes to play golf.

I also get annoyed by his secretiveness.  He didn’t tell a soul when he traded several known terrorists who threatened the United States and its citizens time and time again for 1 prisoner of war.  How many other prisoners of war are there, what makes this one so different than all the others that you have put the United States and its citizens in danger by releasing evil terrorists to bring one back.  Nobody was consulted, he just did it on his own.  I’m also a firm believer in the idea that Obama ordered the IRS to target his opposition, and the people that oppose him.  If you read about all the agencies and “charities” that were targeted, many of them have Conservative or Tea Party affiliations.  How serendipitous for him that the IT department at the IRS are a  bungling group of complete fools, that they can destroy hard drives and lose not a couple, but hundreds of e-mails that could shed light on this scandal.  Way to cover your ass, Barack!  Thank goodness for senators that don’t take crap in the hearings and are actually trying to get to the bottom of this.  I don’t think that many e-mails from that many hard drives for that specific amount of time could be lost, and I agree with the senators on the committee…I don’t believe them!  And don’t get me started on that whole affair in Benghazi!!

I know that the news is skewed, and not everything that is reported is actually the whole story.  I’m not naïve, I wasn’t born yesterday.  But, I have been hearing just too many negative and stupid things about this man FROM ALL POLITICAL SIDES that I’m believing a lot of it.  This man has changed the United States for the worse.  I sincerely hope that he hasn’t ruined the careers of those that have been associated with him.  I actually like Joe Biden and, while I’m not a big fan of Hilary Clinton, I don’t think she’s horrible.  I hope hitching their wagons to Obama hasn’t ruined everything for them in the future.  I know if I were a politician, I would definitely NOT want to be associated with this moron!

There are so many other things about this administration and “the man who would be king” that just get on my nerves and make me realize that he is destroying the country little by little.  He was not ready for this presidency, and he acts like a little child whenever he meets any resistance.  In fact, he acts like a child all the time.  Take a look at the photos of the world leaders from the recent NATO summit in Wales…who’s that moron in the middle that has to wave at the camera like “look at me mom?”  Why it’s the leader of the United States of America!  And it’s not the first time he felt the need to wave at the camera.  I guess he really DOES think everything is about him and damn anyone who doesn’t agree with that…then he goes to play golf!!

obama wave 1

Photo of the NATO world leaders in Wales recently. Who’s that idiot waving in the center?

obama wave 2

It’s habitual! Check out this 2011 official UN photo!!

 

“Irregardless”

irregardless 1“Irregardless” is not a word.  I don’t care what people say, or how many times I hear it (like nails on a chalkboard), it will never become a proper word.  If you look “irregardless” up in the dictionary, it’s called nonstandard and colloquial.  It actually dates back to the early 20th century, with a link to colloquialisms in Indiana (USA).  Recently (early 21st century) it has begun to get more and more use.  IT’S STILL WRONG!

Let’s take it apart.  To “regard” something is to give it merit, to take it into account.  If I hold something in “high regard” I feel very strongly about it, and I respect it.  “Regardless” means that you do not give something merit.  It is not something that matters in the conversation, or in your thought process.  To put the prefix “ir” in front of “regardless” actually makes it a double negative…which, in turn, makes it positive.  So, “irregardless” is actually saying that you don’t disregard something.  So, in actuality, you give it merit and it matters greatly.  Do you see the idiocy behind this word?!  So, when people use “irregardless” in conversation to mean that something doesn’t matter, what they’re actually saying is that it matters a great deal.  So “irregardless of your feelings” actually means “taking your feelings into account.”

Etymologists believe that the word is a bastardized portmanteau form of the words “regardless” and “irrespective,” which fundamentally mean the same thing.  But, when you combine the two, the meaning changes completely.  Some people will say “this is the evolution of language, and this is how languages are born.”  Well, there’s bad words (anyways), which weasel their way into everyday conversation that could one day become regularly used, and there’s bad grammar (irregardless), which will always be bad grammar!

irregardless 3“Irregardless” gained popularity in the early 2000s when the likes of Lacey Chabert and Jamie Pressley used in their movies Mean Girls and Not Another Teen Movie.  Just like the sheep that everyone is, people started using the word (first mockingly, and then for real) because it was used in popular media at the time.  Well, it’s wrong!  It’s not a proper word, and it’s a double negative anyway.  Even the Merriam-Webster dictionary (which hales it as a colloquialism or nonstandard word) says “use regardless instead!!” (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/irregardless)

irregardless 2

 

Description of How I Live My Life…by Meryl Streep

I recently read a FaceBook post by a friend of a friend in which she quoted something from Meryl Streep.  Not only is she a gifted actress (she learned how to speak German with a Polish accent for Sophie’s Choice), but she’s a good person.  So, today, I am letting Meryl speak for me.  Thank you, Meryl, you’re a classy lady!

“I no longer have patience for certain things, not because I’ve become arrogant, but simply because I reached a point in my life where I do not want to waste more time with what displeases me or hurts me. I have no patience for cynicism, excessive criticism and demands of any nature. I lost the will to please those who do not like me, to love those who do not love me and to smile at those who do not want to smile at me. I no longer spend a single minute on those who lie or want to manipulate. I decided not to coexist anymore with pretense, hypocrisy, dishonesty and cheap praise. I do not tolerate selective erudition nor academic arrogance. I do not adjust either to popular gossiping. I hate conflict and comparisons. I believe in a world of opposites and that’s why I avoid people with rigid and inflexible personalities. In friendship I dislike the lack of loyalty and betrayal. I do not get along with those who do not know how to give a compliment or a word of encouragement. Exaggerations bore me and I have difficulty accepting those who do not like animals. And on top of everything I have no patience for anyone who does not deserve my patience.”

It kind of sums up a lot of my annoyances in one place.  Thanks, Meryl!

meryl 1

Having to Be the “Grammar Police”

I am constantly correcting my students’ bad English.  They make basic errors, and they should know better (considering most of them are 16 or 17 years old).  I know I’m a science teacher (not an English teacher), but bad grammar hurts everyone and it makes the people who make the grammar errors look stupid.  My students are not stupid, so I don’t want people thinking they are because of their grammar errors.

grammar 1I was taught good grammar when I was in school, and I always felt it was important to put your best foot forward when conversing (not “conversating”) with another person, or when writing to another person.  It can get a little tedious, though, when I’m constantly reading and correcting my text and chat messages or poring through my e-mails to make sure there aren’t any glaring errors.  I don’t like to seem stupid or uncouth, so I make sure that my communication is as grammatically correct as possible.  I also tend to be super-critical of others’ communication with me, and can easily pick out grammar errors in most of them.  That being said, my communication in Spanish or Italian is far from grammatically perfect, but that is because I have so little practice with those languages these days and have not studied them for many years.  For the same reason, I can forgive the grammar errors of my students who do not speak English as their first language.  It’s difficult learning a new language, and all the nuances can be a real bear to remember.

Well, today, one of my students corrected another teacher with one of the grammar tips I had given her.  She told the teacher that they should use an apostrophe after the “s” in a name that ends in “s,” and not add another “s.”  I wasn’t aware of this act of “grammar policing” until the other teacher came up to me in the hallway and called me the “grammar police.”  I asked him what he meant and he told me about his “correction” by one of my students.  He also said that this led to a discussion about grammar and the English language and that most of my students were spouting off grammar rules of which even he was unaware.  I immediately started to beam with pride.  I was proud of my students for remembering the rules I had taught them and I was proud that they weren’t afraid to pass those on to another teacher; an authoritative figure.

I don’t like being the grammar police, but I can’t stand idly by and allow people to use bad grammar when it’s so easy to study up on it and follow the rules.  I have posted several times here about people and their bad grammar because it annoys me when people don’t take the time to try to understand the rules of the English language.  Links to some of those posts are listed below.  So, call me the “grammar police” or a “grammar Nazi,” but know that I revel in my grammatical correctness!  I just wish I could get my students to USE those grammar rules I taught them, rather than just spout them off when asked!

The Word “Anyways: https://michaelinmadrid.wordpress.com/2014/01/22/people-who-use-the-word-anyways/

Expresso: https://michaelinmadrid.wordpress.com/2014/05/31/expresso/

Their, They’re, etc.: https://michaelinmadrid.wordpress.com/2014/06/11/there-their-theyre-its-its-your-and-youre/

I and Me: https://michaelinmadrid.wordpress.com/2014/01/12/people-who-cant-use-i-and-me-correctly/

Using “Z” to Make Words Plural: https://michaelinmadrid.wordpress.com/2014/07/08/pluralizing-words-with-a-z/

grammar 2