Annoying People

Why are people so annoying? Seriously, what has happened to us? Where are our morals?

Annoying is actually not a strong enough word. Both of these items that really annoyed me involve petty theft. Why do we have people who think stealing someone else’s resources is a reasonable thing to do?

Spam Users
I created a new website called Cruiseaholics – my wife and I are addicted to cruises (Latitudes Platinum on Norwegian), so I thought it was a cute name. I’d like to have people join and discuss their cruise preferences and experiences. Now, I’m not planning to be CruiseCritic (although some of their restrictions are just annoying and some of their users tend to be very argumentative), but I thought it would be a nice alternative for what I assumed would be a very limited group.

This morning, I had over 200 users registered for my site. 200! Wow! You know what they all had in common? They were all spam users. Not a valid one in the bunch. While this should not surprise me (I’ve had web sites since the dawn of the World Wide Web), it still pisses me off. Why are you wasting time registering fake accounts on somebody’s website? I suppose the only hope is that the default user limit is set to “contributor”, so they can try to sell shoes or Viagra or whatever.

I turned off user registration on the site this morning. So, I’m not building a community any longer. If somebody wants an account, they will have to email me. It’s sad, but I just don’t have the time to weed out all the real users from the crap. If it were a money-making site, then, perhaps, but for a hobby, it’s just not worth the time.

Warnings That Shouldn’t Be
I learned about a self-service library system this weekend from a neighbor. It’s called Little Free Library. Basically, you have a large bird house (go look at their site – it’s the first thing that came to mind) full of books on your front lawn, and anyone can take a book or leave a book. I see this as a way to build community – if I had one in my lawn, most of the books would come from neighbors on the cul-de-sac. Also, I don’t think people would drive to one, so you will have foot traffic, which means people are walking in the neighborhood.

Here’s the issue – the first thing someone mentioned was preventing people from clearing out the library and going to Half-Price Books for some quick cash. (Having sold an obsolete record collection and then an obsolete VCR tape collection, I can tell any potential thief that it’s barely worth the time.)

It distresses me that something that should share the joy of reading and build community would have to protect itself against theft. I know there are bad people everywhere, but this also pisses me off.

Both of these cases involve community and how easily that community can be broken by someone taking advantage of openness. Seriously, can’t we just have good in the world without having to worry about someone taking advantage of us?

Dream Sequence

Yesterday, I woke up and realized that Rocky the Chihuahua was sleeping next to me, curled up by my head. He loves sleeping on the bed, as do all of our dogs.

However, his sleeping on the bed was a bit disconcerting, since we had put him in his crate the night before, when we went to sleep. I just assumed my wife had let him out, although most of the time when she lets him out while I’m still in bed, I get a Chihuahua on the head.

So, I rubbed his back, since he was sleeping peacefully, instead of jamming his tongue in my ear, as usual.

Two things happened at once, so it’s difficult to write and portray the scene:

— I started realizing that Rocky had lost all of his hair during the night. This was alarming, as with five dogs in residence, the last thing I needed was more vet bills, and a possible Chihuahua toupee.
— My wife asked why I was rubbing her arm to wake her when her alarm was set for twenty minutes later.

Rocky was asleep in his crate, peacefully. It was all a dream. Whew.

OK, it wasn’t exactly a “Bobby Ewing in the shower” quality dream, but they had more writers. Plus, I don’t want to be dreaming about guys in showers.

No animals were harmed in this dream, although the wife was slightly annoyed.

Super Bowl. Meh.

The Super Bowl is this afternoon – actually, this evening, so it can bleed into prime time. It’s our annual “once in a lifetime” event. A lifetime event that 30/32nds of the universe don’t really care about, because their team isn’t playing. So, why is everyone so whipped up? (Besides the ones who actually went to Vegas or online and have money riding on the outcome.)

The pre-game show is four hours long. The game itself is four hours long. This shows immediately that something is amiss. A football game is one hour in length. So, you expand that by 300% just because it’s on TV? The weekly NFL games are three hours long on TV, but this one is an hour longer. What takes that extra hour? Hmm. Perhaps the commercials are the reason to watch the Super Bowl. Why does it take four hours of pre-game to set the stage? There are only two teams. Are you going to do a biography of each player? Does it really take four hours to remind people who the team with the most points wins?

I don’t get it.

I admit, if I start watching, I will get dragged into it, because there’s just something about watching competition – it’s the same reason people (including me) watch chefs try to make something edible from a mystery basket. But at the same time, it’s a bit silly. One game. For everything. Until next year.

Maybe instead of the pre-game “banter” and “reporting”, they should just re-run last year’s Super Bowl, since nobody remembers who played in it. (Quick! Who won last year? Was it the team in your city? Did you lose money on one of them?) You know who remembers last year? 2/32nds of the universe. And half of them are still pissed.

Enjoy the game. Or the commercials.

Christmas Newsletter 2013

Editor’s Note: The physical Christmas cards are a wee bit late this year. We plead vacation. Every year, my wife demands a Christmas newsletter, because all our friends have one, and every year, I realize I just don’t have the energy or creativity to do one. So, I’ve decided to let the pets take turns. This year, Rocky the Chihuahua drew the short straw. However, he seems to think it’s a privilege, so it may become his job permanently.

Feliz Navidad!

Hola, everybody!
RockyMy name is Rockford J Gilhooly, and you can call me “Rocky.” I am the newest member of the Gilhooly clan, Galemeadow chapter, and my very wise Cocker Spaniel brother Murphy told me that the new guy receives the honor of writing the family Christmas newsletter. He was giggling after he told me that, but I’m not sure why. Dad told me I wasn’t supposed to make the newsletter all about me, so I guess I will talk about some of the other people around here, too. It’s just I’m the most important.

I have never actually been in a family where the pets write the newsletter, but I heard that Murphy’s newsletter was much better received than Dad’s.

So, this is the 2013 (semi-) annual Christmas newsletter, but the story actually begins on April 30, 2012. That morning, Mom was at the vet with one of the other guys when a lady carried me in. I had been hit by a car, and both my back legs were broken. The lady was very nice, but she technically was not a Good Samaritan, since she didn’t pay for my operation. Sparky’s Pals (and some of their very generous donors) did, and Dad took the corporate checkbook away from Mom after that. I had a femoral head ostecotemy on both legs. Dad said that my surgeon, Dr. Mountain, removed the heads of each femur and that scar tissue (hopefully) would grow up and replace the joint. (I don’t know what’s he’s talking about, either, and they’re my legs.) Dr. Mountain thought one leg would heal well enough to let me walk. He wasn’t sure about the other one.

Well, I can run and jump and climb on Mom’s head when she’s sitting in her chair or lying in bed, and I even climbed over a baby gate to say “Hola” to Uncle Stephen one day, so I guess the operation worked! Mom and Dad tried very hard to find a family that would adopt me, but eventually, I wore Mom down, so I’m staying here, with the rest of the PsychoPuppies. Dad said even if I left, I would still be here because I shed. Ha ha. So, now, I get to write the newsletter! (Dad said they named me “Rocky” since I fought a Cadillac and almost won. I don’t know what that means.)

Enough about me. For now. Let’s get on to the other news, even though there isn’t much happy to report this year.

Dad said this was probably the first Christmas newsletter that has an obituary section, but some years are like that. He said if I knew basic Latin, 2013 would be Annus horribilis. I think he was just trying to remind you, my dear readers, that he and Uncle Stephen went to prep school.

Mom’s Aunt Lucy Veccia died in December, 2012, just before Mom and Dad left on their annual vacation. They were with her the night before she passed away. On the day Aunt Lucy passed away, Mom found out that she had been appointed the executor of her estate, and she’s hoping to have all the paperwork done before the end of the year. Aunt Lucy would have liked me, because she was a dog person. Dad said her dog was named Rags. Mom and Dad created a memorial website for her at www.lucyveccia.com for her family and friends to visit.

My grandpa, John Vincent Gilhooly, died in February 2013. Mom and Dad had dinner with him the night before he passed away, so the last thing Mom did was feed him (the Italian way) and the last thing Dad did was get him a drink (the Irish way.) If I had been there, I would have climbed on his head (the Chihuahua way.) I never got to meet Grandpa, which is sad, because he would have loved me, even though he wasn’t a dog person. Everyone is a Chihuahua person! You can visit his memorial website at www.johnvgilhooly.com for more about him, including the obituaries and eulogies. Mom said that most of the people in the Church laughed during Dad’s eulogy, but they were supposed to laugh, so it was OK. I’m not sure Dad understands funerals very well. (Grandma is just glad Dad didn’t refer to all the priests and deacons as “Men In Black.”)

While Mom was starting to work on Aunt Lucy’s estate, her cousin Donna (one of the beneficiaries) passed away, so Mom got to help deal with that estate, too. So, there were three deaths in the family in about six weeks, and that was just the start of the year. Do not make Mom your executor, unless you want a very cranky one.

To summarize 2013: Mom spent all year doing estate paperwork, Dad spent all year at the office with three new managers in three months, and I spent all year working on the newsletter. I think I did the best job, don’t you?

Sparky’s Pals was pretty quiet this year, except for their stellar failed adoption of me, which started last year. Mom and Dad are hoping to get the school programs going again next year, estate paperwork willing. In the meantime, Dad did manage to get KNON to play public service announcements for Sparky’s Pals, so if they’re not in schools, at least they’re on the radio.

KNON was nice enough to play the PSAs because Dad is President of the radio station! It’s actually a non-profit, community station, and if you’re not in Dallas, you can listen online at http://www.knon.org. Dad said to remind you that you can donate online, as well. They say if you don’t like the station, just wait and they will change it for you, which is true, since most programs are only two or three hours long and then the format changes.

Dad was also Principal for a Day this year! He got to shadow the principal at Dan D Rogers Elementary school, visit all the classes, do the daily announcements, and sing “Happy Birthday” to one of the students. (Dad thinks this may have been hazing.) He also did Sparky’s Pals presentations to two of the grades so he managed to tie most of his volunteer work together. (He went back to the school for their career day and talked about IBM and KNON, so he covered everything he does at the school.) He did not take me, which was unfortunate, since I am a very good enforcer.

Mom and Dad took their annual Christmas cruise a week early this year, so they were home for Christmas. They had also taken an earlier cruise this year, in April, across the Atlantic, on the inaugural cruise of the Norwegian Breakaway. They sailed from Southampton to New York. Dad said it was on his bucket list. Mom’s friends reminded her it was about the same time of year and route as the Titanic. Luckily, they made it home. Mom said they had a cabin with a butler. She’s mad Dad won’t get her a house with a butler. I’m mad that they didn’t bring me anything. I was hoping for some British treats, even if I had to eat them on the wrong side of the couch.

Christmas this year is at Grandma Gilhooly’s house – I’ve already been there, and it’s a nice place, but there are too many closed doors – and there will be a lot of people there! J. R. and Ginger and Caleb and Carson (and a new granddaughter on the way – news if you’re not on Facebook) will be coming down for Christmas, so they will be in Dallas for almost two weeks. (Did I mention J. R. is now teaching in Ohio? No? Are you not on Facebook? J. R. is now an Instructor in Theology at Cedarville University, so the Grand Prairie gang moved from Grand Prairie to Cedarville, Ohio for the start of the school year earlier this year. Mom and Grandma are waiting for Ginger to freeze so they will move home, but considering the Icepocalypse Dallas just had, Ohio may actually be warmer.)

It will be nice to see such a large group, because it’s more likely there will be leftovers for me! I am going to start whining extra early, so Mom will take me along. I am very good at parties, and Dad said if Caleb and Carson are there, most of the doors will end up open, anyway.

Mom and Dad both said 2014 is bound to be a better year than this one, and Mom is going to kiss a stingray for good luck while she’s on vacation. This annoys me greatly, since she doesn’t like doggie kisses (they’re the best!) but she’ll kiss a big, flat fish? I don’t understand her sometimes. There is probably rum involved. (Update: Mom’s stingray trip got canceled, but she still won’t kiss me. Species predjudice, I guess.)

That must be all that’s important this year, because Murphy said the newsletter had to be three pages or less or people stopped reading it.

I’m Rocky, and I approved this newsletter.

Funkytown

Just found Funkytown by Lipps, Inc. on #SoundHound for Android.
http://www.soundhound.com/?t=0379c77712baa43f313cd8cc2f139dda

I posted this more for myself than anyone else – it was playing on whatever generic radio station the dentist’s office was playing (seriously, there’s a reason KNON was voted Best Radio Station for Music two years running by the Dallas Observer), but hearing it gave me a flashback to college.  Specifically, to Fiesta San Antonio and the beer stand I was working that was right next to the carnival ride that had this as the background music. Twelve hours of Funkytown a day, for four or five days. Wow.

I always assumed Lipps, Inc. was a one-hit wonder because some carny  ran their van off a cliff after hearing Funkytown twelve hours a day at work while trying to sell hot dogs or get people to lose their life savings at the ring toss.

Baseball for Baseball’s Sake

I’m becoming an old fart. Some will say I’m already there. Specifically, I’m an old fart baseball fan. They’re the worst kind, actually.

You would think the most annoying part of a baseball game to an old fart baseball fan would be the umpires. You would be incorrect. The most annoying aspect is other fans.

Why? Because they are not fans. They are barely spectators.

I do not understand why people pay good money to purchase a ticket to something they don’t care to watch. If you don’t care about baseball, why do you go? You can find beer in other places that don’t have an eight-dollar cover charge.

Because people don’t want to watch the game, the team does all sorts of things to entertain the crowd. This includes having a blob mascot run up and down the top of the dugout to get the crowd into the game. My seats are just behind the dugout. So, I can’t see the game since the blob is right in front of me. So, I’m being punished because other people won’t watch.

Do the fans a favor. If you don’t care about the game, DON’T GO. You’re loud, you’re distracting and you’re wasting your money. Don’t take your kids to teach the teamwork. You’re teaching them ignoring the game is fine.

Baseball is the only major sport that has predictable pacing. Other than the teams changing sides at the middle or end of innings, an injury or a pitching change, the game goes on. It is easy to follow. You know where the pitcher is going to pitch. If you’re fanatical, you can keep score. You can keep yourself immersed in the game. You just have to pay attention.

This is especially true in the minors, where games aren’t usually televised. There are no TV time-outs. The game just plays.

So, I don’t think true fans need mascots. Or t-shirt guns. Or beer barrel races. They need the game to unfold in front of them, so they can enjoy it.

If you don’t understand baseball, watching the game will help you learn. Watching the mascot will not.

Can’t we go back to a time when fans watched the game? Maybe “in the old days”, people paid attention because they had to skip work to go to a game.

I miss those days, and I wasn’t even there. (That is the definition of an old fart, by the way.)

True Blues

I listen to KNON a lot. Partially, because I’m the President of the Board of Directors and mostly because I like the music we play (pledge drive coming up in May – get your online pledges in early!) In fact, I’m President because I like what we play.

So, when I was coming home from my check-up this morning, I had KNON on the radio. Gregg Smith’s Blues Review, to be specific. (Every Friday, nine until noon. Heeeey.)

We play a lot of blues, and the longer you listen, the more you realize pretty much all blues is about sex, unless someone just died in the song. I was listening to someone moaning about not riding in his girl’s automobile this morning and after a couple of verses, I realized “He’s not really talking about her car.” Well, duh.

I’m sitting at a stop light, and I had just had this realization, and I thought “Blues artists can make anything into a sexual euphemism.”

There’s a basic blues premise “I don’t want to be your ——–, baby.” where the blank turns out to be the song’s specific euphemism for some sexual organ. That’s when I heard “I don’t want to be your pastrami, baby” in my head (yes, I probably should see someone about that.)

Then, a flash. Who’s ever written a blues song about a deli?

I thought, “There would have to be a verse about pastrami and rye bread. What else? A pickle. How could a pickle sound dirty?”

I know you love dill pickles.
But don’t you grab my pickle spear.
My woman said that ain’t kosher,
You better not come ’round here.

That came to me almost as it was written. Same with the verse about pastrami. Other than not being able to find a rhyme for “rugelach” or “knish”, the song almost wrote itself. Based on the quality of the final work, it did write itself, because that way, I won’t get blamed for it.

Inspiration strikes in truly bizarre ways at truly random times.

NaPoWriMo

So, beyond half-way through National Poetry Writing Month, and I’ve still managed to write something every day. In fact, today’s entry was written yesterday evening, so I’m a day ahead. I suppose it’s true that the more you use something, the easier it gets to use. This is as far as I have ever gotten in a multi-day challenge to be creative.

I still can’t rhyme to save my life,
Which caused the family untold strife.

My poetry is formless (sometimes meaningless) – let’s face it, there aren’t many rules for poetry, so if you say it’s a poem, it is. Still, I’m hoping the quality has improved over the month, although that’s probably questionable.

What have I learned?

  • I can write something every day as long as it doesn’t have to be good.
  • Something will inspire me every day, even if it was annoying.
  • Poems that mention Rocky the Chihuahua get more hits than anything.
  • Blind John Ellsworth may have a book when this is all done.

A long, long time ago, two kids sat in a room with plastic electric-look guitars and sang along to Beatles records. One became a musician. One did not. Listen to Jim’s records. Read my poetry. It all worked out for the best, don’t you think?

 

Pets

I’ve never been able to understand people who think any deceased person can immediately be replaced with a dog. Perhaps it’s because I’ve spent twelve years in and around animal rescue, but the worst possible gift for anyone is a living being that requires constant care and feeding. It is the gift that keeps on costing. (I have five dogs. I love my dogs. The costs never end.)

A pet as a gift makes no sense any time, much less as a distraction from grieving. A pet is a living being with a unique set of needs and a unique personality. It is not a fashion accessory. A pet owner makes a commitment to a pet to care for him for his lifetime. This should not be a commitment by proxy. It should not be an arranged marriage,

Pet owners require the ability to find their pets. Hopefully, this will happen at their local rescue. The human-pet bond is a magical thing, but it cannot be forced or assumed. If you’ve decided to adopt, go to your local Adopt-a-Pet and meet the pets. If your dog is there, you will recognize him. If he’s not, try again the next week. Your dog is waiting for you. However, your friend’s surprise pet is not.

You can divorce a hastily-chosen spouse. You can’t divorce a pet. Divorcing a pet means leaving him at the shelter – which depending on his age, size and breed could be a death sentence.

The next time one of your friends is widowed or divorced or dumped, just drop off another person of the proper sex and age and say “Here’s your new partner. You have to clean him and feed him, but I’m sure you’ll get along fine. Forever.” If you think that seems insane, why would you do it with a dog?

There’s a National Poetry Writing Month?

So, there’s a National Novel Writing Month (NaNoMo) which I knew about. I’ve actually been on the mailing list for years, but while I have the first paragraph of my novel done, I’ve never progressed beyond that. Sad. I restart every year. It’s a fictional biography based on my life. Apparently, I haven’t done enough interesting to get beyond the first paragraph.

Today, I found out April is National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo.) One poem a day for a month. That, perhaps, I can do. Especially since it doesn’t have to be a good poem.

A poem is either a song without music, or it’s prose that isn’t very prose-like. How hard can that be?

While some poems have rules (like sonnets and haiku), most don’t. In fact, you can call almost anything a poem, since there don’t appear to be any poem police anywhere.

So, follow Blind John Ellsworth this month and see if I can actually produce a poem a day. It should be interesting. One is done. How hard can the rest be?