Friday, April 20, 2012

Is It Me, Or...

Photo: BP icon, from its Wikipedia page.

I used to have a column in my college newspaper with the above title.  I didn't care much for the title--or, as it turns out, looking back, for my writing abilities--at the time.  And I don't care much for the title now, either, but I'll let it stand because I can't currently think of anything better.  (My writing abilities are a little bit better.)  Anyway, the column was a random series of thoughts, in the same vein as those you'll see below.  If it sounds like I'm questioning my sanity a little--well, hell, any reasonable person today, in this current culture and climate, would have to, wouldn't he?  Oh, and if you can think of a better title for such snippets, please share via the comments, and I'll consider.  As always, thanks.

Is It Me, Or...

--does anyone else feel the compulsion to scoop up the change--often of many dollars--that you see below the cashier window at any major drive-thru?  (For me, it's the local Dunkin' Donuts windows.)  I mean, I know that sounds like I'm cheap (I'm not, I'm frugal.  No, really.) but for me it's a matter of waste-not/want-not.  I'm a little more relaxed about this since I asked a cashier if homeless people scarf up the money.  She said Yes, and they don't even wait until the place closes sometimes.  Most of the window people leave the change as they drop, though they admit to picking up bills.  So lately, like Foster in my novel Cursing the Darkness (see my website address above for a sample chapter), who's in the habit of dropping empty beer cans, filled with an occasional bill, down to the alley beneath his office for the homeless guy, who recycles the cans and, hopefully, notices the occasional bill, I've been in the habit lately of tipping the window person and then dropping occasional change beneath the window for the homeless.  By the way, redeeming empty cans is no longer allowed in my state.  Someone needs to explain the reason for that to me.

--does anyone else wonder if maybe we're sold products on television we don't actually need?  I'm talking big-ticket items here, like allergy meds.  My genius ENT suggested I completely lay off the daily Claritin I was taking for years, saying that now they do me more harm than good, because they dry up and inflame my sinuses.  So I haven't taken one now in about seven weeks.  The result?  Almost no congestion, or bad headaches, or sneezing, or red eyes.  (I did sneeze and have a little red-eye today, but not too bad.)  Now, I used to have to take allergy shots every week for about eight years.  I got the needle test on my upper arm and I was allergic to 41 out of 43 things.  I used to be that guy in high school who sneezed 17 times in a row.  I used to get nosebleeds.  I mean, I had allergies.  Now?  Not so much.  But the commercials make it look like everyone suffers in the spring and summer and it's just one of life's things.  I think now: What if it isn't?  What if that's just another example of our culture of fear?  I feared an allergy attack for so long...Did I really need to?

--is it obvious that liars are lying, exponentially, by the number of times they don't say Yes or No to yes or no questions?  I had this minor epiphany recently, thinking about a conversation I recently had with someone.  This conversation ended with her saying that she says whatever she thinks I want to hear so that I stop asking questions.  My response to this was: Just be honest with me; I ask these questions because you never give me a simple Yes or No.  And then it hit me.  That's what liars do.  They let you surmise from their insinuations, so if you end up catching them in a lie, they can say, "Well, I didn't say I wasn't doing that..."  Liars don't actually lie, per se, especially if they think you're smart.  But they will insinuate, and let you incorrectly conclude from that.  Maddening.

--shouldn't we be more concerned with how quickly a car can go from 60 to 0 rather than from 0 to 60?

--does everyone think that global warming means that temperatures only get warmer?  It doesn't; it's just easier to spot when it's warmer, like this past winter over here.  And, as I pointed out recently, warmer in the winter might mean more snowfall, not less, as it snows much more when the temps are in the mid- to high-twenties than it does when it's lower than 25 degrees, cuz the air is too dry for snow when it's colder.  (I point this out to my readers in Florida, in California, and in other parts of the world, where the local leaders cancel school and call for a state of emergency when it's snows maybe two inches.)

--do oil prices skyrocket because oil suddenly become harder to transport and produce when it gets warmer, and more people are traveling?  Hmmm...Next time such a company says prices must rise because a recent hurricane made it harder to transport the stuff, I want someone lookin' into that.

--did this country give BP a mulligan on the whole Gulf thing?  Talking about oil company execs who in the movies would be wearing the black hats and twirling their mustaches while sneering...But, hey, let's point a finger at the American consumer, who made BP so popular that suddenly five of them have popped up in a three-mile radius of my house.  Why haven't we all boycotted this company and driven them out of business, at least around here?  I still make it a point not to buy gas from them.  And I want to throw something at my television whenever one of their smarmy commercials come on, the ones where they say how actually good for the Gulf community they've been, and how now everything is so awesome that tourists are flocking back.  Seriously?  Who's their spokesperson, Joe Hazelwood?

--has everyone forgotten what actual news is?  Top-heavy, bikini-clad women "accidentally" spilling milk on themselves while driving a Scion?  That's news?  A politician calling for its YouTube deletion and calling it "sleazy?"  That's news?  (He got his wish, by the way.  Why should Scion and/or YouTube buckle to this guy?)  I saw the commercial (of course).  It's blatantly silly, and perhaps stupid--but not sleazy.  It didn't exactly make me want to run out and buy a Scion.  I mean, come on, people, that was a politician calling something sleazy.

P.S.--It's been pointed out to me that I need to explain my Hazelwood reference, above.  He's the guy who drunkenly drove the Exxon Valdez aground and leaked billions of gallons of oil into the Pacific.  Perhaps he was guiding the tourist boat that overturned near Italy.  Go to the back of the class if you're over 25 and didn't know who he was.

P.P.S.--If one of these ain't just me, if it's you, too, tell me why!


  1. Lots to reply to here!

    Well, I'm a New Yorker and a non-driver therefore I don't find myself at drive thru's very often; however I do see loose change near counters and at bus stops all the time. I don't scoop it up, but since I do carry change (for the bus) I find myself sharing it with the homeless frequently. Not all the time (let's face it NYC is crawling with panhandlers), but if they are nice, hold the door for me, or call me ma'am...I will give my spare change. Not sure if that answered your question!

    I can't speak for everyone but I know for a fact I suffer from allergies. I was the girl who sneezed (and still does) about 20 times in a row. I am allergic to about forty different items: dust, pollen, grass, flowers, cats, some dogs, paint thinner, paint, fumes, aerosol sprays, apples, pears, walnuts, humidity, etc. This can't be all in my head! Maybe the medication doesn't help but I believe it does therefore I stop sneezing. Whatever brings relief I welcome it!

    If someone doesn't answer my questions or answers with another question then it's usually a sign they are hiding something. It's at that point I usually cease the conversation because I won't tolerate speaking to liars who are masters at manipulation. Maddening indeed.

    80% of the news (if not all) is trash. Someone wants to keep us distracted with the Kardasians of the world. Then we won't focus on how corrupt politicians and this society has become. I would sometimes rather watch TMZ because at least I know I'm watching a entertaining mind-numbing tabloid show instead of the "news" which is the same thing in disguise.

    That's all I got for now!

    1. Diane,

      That's great that you share money with the homeless. I know in your neck of the woods there are a great many, so that's awesome of you to do, in whatever way you do it.

      Ah, yes, the placebo effect. So my question still stands: do the meds in fact make the difference, or do we--because of our culture of fear--just believe that they do, and so we feel better only because of that belief? Can any health care practitioner weigh in on this?

      That's it--just 80%? I think you're being kind there!

      Thanks for the very thorough response!

  2. Exxon Valdez, who could forget? Still, that wasn't nearly as disastrous as the BP mess. With gas prices, automobile industry bail-outs and drunk drivers on our roads you know what I invested in? Sneakers!

    Your thoughts on "Liars" is hilarious!

  3. Thanks, Namzola. I just wish the liars portion wasn't so based on reality...I laugh but that I would weep.