I’m the Grumpy Old Man Yelling at the TV

I'm a Grumpy Old ManI’m not exactly sure when it happened, but the shift is coming to my becoming the grumpy old man who yells at the TV. In the past it usually seemed to happen with the election cycle, but then the yelling would wane after the dust settled. This time, though, I can’t stop. When I brought it up my wife just shook her head and agreed that I have been doing it for a while, way before the last election.

The thing is that I only seem to be doing it when she is around, and rarely does she listen to me!

I wish I could blame politics, Donald Trump, bad sports teams, or general grumpiness with the world, but in general I’m a happy guy, a guy who can see the best in things, but just about anything on the TV lately can get a rise out of me, from the news to a sitcom.

Examples include:

  • “Why are we hearing about a story about a hospital in Sweden that is closing?”
  • “What, now a comedian can’t even perform with out being protested?”
  • “Why didn’t she just make her own speech instead of quoting someone else?”
  • “Who would steal his jersey?”
  • “How in the hell can Agent Ressler not die? And how in the hell did they get there so fast?” (You have to suspend a lot of disbelief while watching “The Blacklist,” I’ve decided.)
  • The proverbial “Don’t these people work?”
  • “You can’t complain that’s all they pay. That’s all they pay you.”
  • “I’ll bet it was a shiv.” Wife, “What’s a shiv?” (She was listening this time) Me, “You know, a prison knife.”
  • “What a horse’s ass. He gets pulled over because the police are doing their job, and gets all ‘Don’t you know who I am?’ on them,” and my wife goes “Talking to the TV again?”

The list goes on and on.

It’s funny, though, because I talk as if the people are actually listening to me, and sometimes I think they might reply. I’m also giving them tons of advice, little nuggets of wisdom, and yet they still don’t listen. I mean, what’s wrong with these people on TV? Don’t they realize how foolish they look?

I know it drives my wife crazy, especially as we are watching one of her shows, but what is a man to do? Sure, I could head to my office, but what fun would that be? At least with her around, even though I’m seemingly talking to myself most of the time, at I don’t think I’m the crazy one.

I used to make fun of my mom when she would be TV talking while any Cleveland sports team was playing, usually combining her analysis of the action with a “That’s it!”, meaning the game might as well be over now because Cleveland screwed up again. Now I wonder who might be making fun of me. Oh yea, it’s my wife!

Maybe it’s just something that we do as we get older and want to share our infinite knowledge of the world with others, especially when no one listens to us, but it’s getting bad for me, especially when I catch myself doing it, or now, find I’m also starting to talk to the radio. I suppose it’s okay until the day the TV or radio actually answers back, then I know I’m really in trouble.

While On a Conference Call

The Conference Call Doodle
Someone I know likes to doodle while on conference calls.

One of the many things I’m grateful for in most of my work is that I am rarely on a conference call. It’s also one of those things that while I understand their necessity at times, in hearing most people talk about them, they generally seem to be some of the least productive uses of people’s time, ever.

I recall one conference call I was a part of. It was five other people when I was doing some contracted, iPhone development. The client was very nice, and we set up a conference call to get things started and filter ideas between the other people in the company who needed to be involved. I wasn’t the one leading the call, which was my first mistake, and there wasn’t a set agenda, which was another mistake. The call quickly shifted from some thoughts about the design of the app, to other company business that I didn’t really need to be on the call for, back to some iPhone stuff, back to company stuff, and about an hour later I realized that conference calls are generally a waste of time.

I say this not only with my own experience on, well, that one conference call, but in listening to stories of, and being in an office of various people on, the conference call. Generally there is the “I have a conference call at 2PM,” followed by joining the conference call, followed by waiting for everyone to join the conference call, followed by deciding if the conference call can proceed without one of the people, I’ll call him Mike, who was also supposed to be on the conference call but didn’t seem to call in.

As the conference call continues, the leader of the call will talk about what is supposed to be discussed, and in general everyone on the call will now put their phone on speakerphone and mute so they can go about trying to do other things while listening if something they are involved in finally comes up. Out of the corner of their not paying attention they will hear something they are supposed to chime in on, take said phone off mute, ask “I didn’t catch what you just said. Can you repeat the question?”, the question gets repeated, said person answers their question with another question for a different person, that person chimes in “I didn’t catch what you just said. Can you repeat the question?”, to which that person is now doubly-perplexed because they weren’t paying attention to any of the conversation prior to the question directed at them because they were elbow deep in reviews of material, thickness, and the sweat absorption of warm socks they are thinking of buying on Amazon, liking a dog video on Facebook, helping Mario rescue Princess Toadstool, or simply doodling, as one person near and dear to me is known to do.

An answer is finally given, only now there is a signal “Mike has joined the call.”

“Hi Mike!”, “Hello Mike.”, “Glad you could make it, Mike!”, and Mike’s “Sorry I’m late. Can someone fill me in on what I missed?” The sound of muteness occurs as a synopsis is given to Mike which is somehow actually longer than the call has been so far, Mike asks a question, and a “Can you repeat the question?” reverberates on everyone’s speakerphones.

This cycle repeats until a conversation that should probably have taken ten minutes has now surpassed an hour and a half, but at least socks were purchased, Princess Toadstool is saved, and some awesome doodles were created.

We’re not done, though, as the follow-up conference call is set for one week to give updates no one will have because they weren’t really paying attention to what they were supposed to do on this conference call.

At least there will be more doodles, thankfully not by me.

That’s it for this one! L8R!!

I Need an “I’m Weak” Emoji

When is the worst time to completely lose your desire to eat healthy and exercise? Yup, right before the holiday season, and for me that’s exactly what happened. Earlier in the year, when faced with food temptations, I was strong. I stuck to my slow carb diet, had my cheat day, and I would even text my wife how strong I was by texting her the food choice in front of me, and using the “I’m strong” emoji 💪, and profess my awesomeness for not eating it. Slowly “I’m strong” fell apart, and what I really needed was an emoji to say “I’m weak” that I could text to her as I was stuffing my face with a brownie.I'm Weak Emoji

I think my initial loss of desire started with our trip to Costa Rica in early May, but thankfully the summer activity helped my weight overcome some of the bad food choices as cheat day started to turn into cheat weekend. A vacation in the fall didn’t help, and by the time Thanksgiving came I was in full-blown “I’ll eat anything, and if it involves chocolate or beer, even better!” I was weak. So weak. And I wanted to express it. My iPhone didn’t have it. 🙁

I’m Weak

I know some of the face emojis are supposed to signify weakness, or something like that, but usually I look at most of them and they either say “I’m happy 😀,” “I’m sad 😕,” “I’m mad 😠,” “I’m sneaky 😉,” or some variation 💩. None of them expressed my weakness the way I imagined it, but thankfully my nephew understood what I was thinking, and drew up  the “I’m weak” emoji, complete with cookie. Does anyone have the phone number of the emoji people so I can petition them to adopt it? I mean, hell, they added bacon and a clown face lately, why not the wiggly arm of weakness?

I would like to say that with the new year things are different, that I am back to being 💪, but although I may have tried to walk a little bit more than I did in December, January has still had instances of weakness. Take yesterday, for example. There I am, at Starbucks, ordering my venti, iced, nonfat latte, and I spot a brownie in the display. I didn’t text my wife, but if I did it would have been I'm Weak Emoji.

Yes, I had the brownie.

I’m weak. At least right now.

I’m Sorry, Cleveland, I’m a Chicago Cubs Fan

Dreaming of SummerI tried. I honestly did. I’m sorry, Cleveland, I’m a Chicago Cubs fan.

For years and years, even since I moved to Chicago, I questioned my allegiance, wondered who I would root for, in the end, if the “End of the World” scenario would happen, a Chicago Cubs vs. Cleveland Indians World Series. The world is still spinning yet here we are, five games into the World Series, with Cleveland up 3 – 2, and I finally know where I stand. It occurred firmly during game five when I announced on Facebook I had cheered on the Cubs for the first four games, but I was all in for the Tribe in game five.

Because, like many a sports fan, I assumed my actions actually influence a team in some way, I blamed the Cubs being in their losing situation as my fault because I was on their side. I also didn’t want to be on the side of the loser so I announced on Facebook that I was all in for the Tribe, and in doing so I was either helping out the Cubs because my flipping sides would cause them to win, or I would at least be on the side of the winner and could revel in a glorious World Series victory. That “flipping” lasted about 1/2 pitch.

Firmly implanted in the couch, with beer on my left side, the Indians came to the plate, and I quickly began to drive my wife crazy as something good would go the Cubs way, I would express my glee, but then quickly say “No, wait, I mean ‘Bad, bad, bad!'” For that first inning, with every action, my wife had no idea who was doing better, and try as I might to switch my happiness or disappointment to an action by Cleveland, I kept finding myself happy or disappointed in the actions by the Cubs, and when Cleveland scored in the second inning, and I was pissed at the sign of impending Cubs doom, I realized right then that it had finally happened, I was a Chicagoan. I was a Cubs fan.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised as I’ve lived in Chicago for about 31 of my 49 years now, not including my short stint in middle Illinois, and as the years have gone by, and never being able to actually watch a Cleveland sports team, I’ve gotten sucked in by the generally suckiness of Chicago teams, with a few glimmers of hope in the White Sox World Series, and if I were a bigger hockey fan I’ve always got the Blackhawks.

Don’t get me wrong, I still root for the Cleveland teams, just not when they are playing the Chicago teams.

So here I am, the morning of game six of the World Series, and it’s time to accept it, I’m a Chicago fan. I will accept my fate in this World Series, either being happy for my Cleveland fans who for years, up until the Cavs, wallowed in suckiness, but from the first pitch tonight I’ll be all in, oh way, I can’t be “all in,” that’s a Cleveland thing, so I guess I’ll just be cheering on the lovable losers, the Chicago Cubs, and pray they won’t be losers any longer.

As my mom would say, “Go Cubbies!” She would have loved this series, though it might have killed her, but as much as she like the Cubs I have no doubt she would be cheering on the Tribe because she never left #Believeland.

Bad Winter Rising

A squirrel at the ready for a bad winter.There is a bad winter rising this year here in Chicagoland. That is my prediction, and I’m sticking to it. Mind you I have no scientific evidence, no empirical data, and no analysis of current weather patterns and how they relate to past weather patterns that would predict a harsh winter. My prediction this year is based solely on the squirrels.

The Wooly Bear

I understand some people may use other methods, maybe the prevailing winds at the time of the autumnal equinox, or the timing of the leaves falling from the trees, or the Farmers Almanac, or, in the case of my childhood, the famed weatherman from Cleveland, Dick Goddard, utilizing the wooly bear caterpillar, but I wasn’t paying attention to the wind, and haven’t seen a wooly bear since my youth in Ohio. What I have been paying attention to, lately, are squirrels.

Let me explain a little more.

Out of the Palm of My Hand

In my attempt to try not to balloon to 300 pounds my general version of exercise is going for a walk. For the past few years my favorite walking areas are a park near my day job, and a park near home where we walk our dog, Milo. Both parks have a stable amount of trees, nothing crazy, it’s not like I’m walking in a forest, but with the trees comes the occasional squirrel.

I’m a fan of squirrels, find them kind of cute, and remember being that young lad in Ohio when we would leave peanuts for the squirrels on our patio to the point the squirrels became comfortable enough to take the peanuts out of my hand. Maybe it is that fondness that causes me to notice them while I walk, and smile, but lately I have noticed something.

Scared Squirrels

I do recall the past few years seeing squirrels foraging as Fall arrived, but there weren’t that many, and the past couple of winters haven’t been that bad, all things considered. This year, though, I have been noticing a lot of squirrels, to the point at one time I saw about five of them all in this area of the park. They seem to be scrambling, they seem to be on a mission, and they seem to be scared.

Yes, in their eyes I see worry, and there aren’t many things a squirrel worries about. I know, I’ve asked them. They mention the snakes and raccoons are a pain, most dogs they can get away from by scurrying up a tree, but the hawks generally worry them the most. This year, though, their squirrel-sense is tingling, and the tingling is because they sense snow and cold, which leaves to no food, which for a squirrel is worse than a hawk, or so they say.

Snow Blower

I used to enjoy winter, but lately, as I get older, that enjoyment tends to go away after the first, beautiful carpet of white turns into a dirty mess. Maybe I should return to my youth this year and go back to building snow forts and making snowmen, but first, I suppose, I should get the snow blower out of storage soon, I have a feeling I’m going to need it a lot this year. The squirrels are telling me so.

 

When Siri Fails

As I get older I rely on Siri, on my iPhone, to remind me of things. Okay, fine, it’s not because I’m getting older, it’s mostly just because she is there. I remember the old days just trying to plant in my memory banks the reminder of something to do. It usually worked pretty well, but then technology came along. One of the things I got in the habit of doing was calling myself and leaving a voicemail. It didn’t go off at a certain time, but there would be the small memory trigger of “Self, there was something I wanted to remember, do you remember what it was?” “No, Self, I don’t, but I remember leaving myself a voicemail, so let’s check that.” “Okay, Self, let’s do that….” (check voicemail) “Oh, yea, Self, take the chicken out of the freezer.”

Then came Siri.

Than came “Remind me at 8PM take the chicken out of the freezer.” Sure enough, at 8PM, my iPhone or Apple Watch would signal I was supposed to do something, and Siri was there with “Take chicken out of the freezer.” “Remind me when I get home water the plants.” I would get home and there it was, Siri’s gentle reminder so that plants wouldn’t die.

Siri fails me. I don't know what I need another of.Usually Siri never lets me down, but there it is, in my reminders, amongst the items to keep our dog, Milo, healthy, mixed with the quarterly reminder to change the air filter, and some other things I either have coming up or, yea, I keep neglecting, a completely obscure “See if I can get another.”

Siri failed.

I vaguely remember taking my phone, holding down the Home button, hearing the little chirp, and saying “Remind me see if can get another…”, and then something I don’t remember because, well, I wanted Siri to remember for me. There had to be the Siri’s reassuring reply of “I’ll remind you.” because the reminder is in my list, sort of, but I’m sure I didn’t look at my iPhone to see if she got the reminder correct because, well, I trust Siri. The problem is that I wanted another something, and Siri was only half-listening. Maybe she was looking at her emails, or checking her friend’s Facebook update. I trusted Siri to remind me to get another of something, and Siri failed.

Bad Siri.

As I troll through the recesses of my brain to try to remember what I wanted another of, alas, it isn’t there. I really hope it wasn’t important because it will be kind of odd saying, “It’s Siri’s fault.”

There are times I think I should just go back to pen and paper, jot down the things I want to do, maybe something I need another of, and review the list at the end of the night. I suppose I could “Hey Siri, remind me at 8AM tomorrow put paper and pen in my pocket,” but now I’m a little worried Siri might not really be listening – She might be putting a selfie with fireworks in the background on Snapchat, and at 8AM I’ll get a reminder to “Put” and be left in my head with “What?”

Maybe I should just buy a wall calendar.

That’s it for this one! L8R!!

Why Do I Have These Pictures?

When I win the lottery I think one of my projects will be to finally sit down for about a week or two and organize all of my pictures. I guess I don’t really know why because, really, one hundred years from now who will be looking at any of them, but I have a lot of pictures, and now that some are digital they pop up in the weirdest places, and without explanation. Why do I have these pictures?

An example of this: A folder on my cloud drive is labeled “Turkey Day Pix.”

This folder has been there since November of 2014, which kind of makes sense for the folder label, but for the life of me I don’t recall putting it there, and I’m usually pretty good at that kind of stuff. Then there are the pictures saved in it, and all I can come up with right now, as my wife is sleeping, is they must have been some kind of backup, maybe for a slideshow, and probably for her, because most of the pictures have to do with her family, although there are some personal gems that made me smile this morning as I was scrolling through them.

In the folder was one of my favorite pictures, a picture of my niece and me, from a visit to see them in Houston. I’m not sure why my niece would ever want to stab my with a fork, I mean, it’s not like I ever flipped her off or anything. I mean, I’m sweet Uncle Andy? Yet there she is, fork in hand, ready to jab me in my temple, with me oblivious.

Then, for whatever reason in this folder, was a picture of my sister. There she is, reading, I’m sure some technology manual and not some trashy piece of fiction, and I’m happy to see that she is ready for a sneeze with the box of tissues, likes Snoopy and M&M’s, seems to be ready if she needs a pen, and likes to keep dust away with the can of compressed air.

So there area a couple of pictures that make sense being part of my backups, but there it is, a picture of my brother-in-law, Paul, after a trip to the Sears Tower, I mean Willis Tower SkyDeck. Sure, he appears to be having fun, as he is wont to do, but why is it in my backups? What I’m also not posting are more pictures of my wife’s side of things, things like photos from my father-in-law’s party, my mom-in-law at a Costco, my sister-in-law with a bunch of her nurse co-workers, and my other brother-in-law holding a giant carrot.

Back to me. Along with the picture with my niece, there was also another picture of me. I’ll tell you there aren’t a lot of those as I like to be on the other side of the camera, taking the pictures, instead of having the picture taken, but there I am back when my ankle OCD, a.k.a. osteochondritis dissecans was flaring up, and was relegated to cruising the Wal-Mart in the motorized cart. Not my proudest of times.

I will ask my wife is she might remember why I have this folder of random pictures. She’ll probably recall, but for now it was just a fun trip through memory lane this morning, which, really, isn’t that what pictures are meant for?

That’s it for this one! L8R!!

I’m All In and Will Take Credit for a Cavs Championship

All in or All Out. It's a Cavs Championship game.I’m “All In.” That’s right, it’s time, but I just hope I don’t curse the Cleveland Cavs Championship by being “all in” for the last game of the championship series.

See, I’m originally from the Cleveland area, spending my formative years in the city of Lorain, Ohio, about 25 minutes from downtown Cleveland. Back then Cleveland seemed like forever away. Hell, my Aunt who lived 10 minutes from our house, seemed like forever away, especially in a city where it took about 5 minutes to get anywhere. But, the Cleveland Cavaliers are in the NBA Finals, fighting back from a deficit against the Golden State Warriors, and forcing a game 7 in the Warrior den of the Oracle Arena, in Oakland California, and the city of Cleveland is out of its mind, and frightened.

See, part 2, it’s been almost forever since a Cleveland team won a championship (I’m ignoring the Lake Erie Monsters who won the Calder Cup recently because, well, they don’t have “Cleveland” in their name, they are in the AHL which is like the step-child of the NHL, and there is almost no one who thinks “Cleveland” when they think “hockey.”). Okay, it’s not as long as the Chicago Cubs, but it’s been since 1964 since the Cleveland Browns won a championship for the city and it wasn’t even a Super Bowl because it was before the Super Bowl was born. The problem for Cleveland is they have been teased. There was a baseball tease by the Cleveland Indians in 1997, the Cavs teased in 2015, the city had football, then lost football when Art Modell stole the team to Baltimore (but thank God had to leave the Browns name in Cleveland), and then every year is a football tease, at least until the first game.

All along I have lived with the tease.

See, part 3, I love my Cleveland teams, and then moved to Chicago. When did I come to The Windy City? Let’s just say “Monsters of the Midway,” and the Chicago Bears winning the Super Bowl. Yea, yea, that was fine and all, good for Chicago, but I couldn’t find a reason to really celebrate. Football, blah, but then came the Cavs, back in the game, except for one problem, and that problem’s name for Cleveland was Michael Jordan. I remember that playoff final game, in 1989, and watching it, in my college room, on my tiny TV, by myself, as the rest of the people in the fraternity house were watching the game. The Cavs had it, they should have won, but there it was, “The Shot,” and the hopes of Cleveland crushed again, and a lot of taunting by my friends, and myself, and Cleveland, only to be crushed again in a few years. At least, as the years have been kind to Chicago, with some White Sox World Series wins, the Chicago Bulls dynasty, Chicago Blackhawk hockey awesomeness, and the eternal hope of that is the Chicago Cubs, I have been able to enjoy some championship celebration, but alas, at the end of it all, was Cleveland.

And see, part 4. I always cheer on my Cleveland teams yet somehow knowing they will probably let me down. The Browns show small glimpses of goodness, then blow up; The Indians ride the roller coaster of baseball, getting good, becoming bad, and even though there are thoughts they might be good again, along comes the implosion. Then come the Cavaliers. So close. So far. So close again. Here comes LeBron James! Yay! They must win! Nope, it’s Cleveland. They lose.

And see, final. I haven’t watched one, full Cleveland Cavalier’s basketball game this season. I would look at the box scores every now and then; I would see some highlights on the news; I would catch part of a game hear and there, and I would see the prognosticators saying how Cleveland had no chance, yet here they are, in Game 7 of the Championship game, with the only thing stopping them from breaking the “curse” is Steph “I’m going to whip my mouthpiece at a fan” Curry, and Steve “Ghost of the Chicago Bulls” Kerr.

So, I’m all in. That’s the slogan for the Cleveland Cavaliers this year, and it’s finally time I watch a game. I just hope I don’t fall asleep before the game is over, after all, I have to work on Monday. I also hope I don’t curse the team. If they lose I suppose you can blame me, but just remember that if they win, I’m taking the credit.

That’s it for this one! L8R!!

Dónde Está el Baño?

Finally.

A monkey at Dreams Las Mareas resort in Costa Rica.Many, many years ago I took Spanish in high school. I did fairly well although I still think my Spanish teacher gave me a slight pass sometimes as I was also involved in yearbook, and she was yearbook advisor. I wish I could say my Spanish learnin’ has served me well, but I don’t remember much of the language any longer, although I can still read it out loud if something is written in Spanish. The issue there is that I probably wouldn’t know what I’m saying, so it’s probably best I stick to English.

Through all of my forgetfulness of the language there have been two phrases I can speak with authority, well, okay, three if you count “dos cervezas frias, por favor,” but mostly I know “No hablo español,” which is simply “I don’t speak Spanish,” and it oddly comes in handy if a person assumes you speak the language, but the coup de grâce of my knowledge is being able to ask where a bathroom is located. The thing is I’ve never been able to use the phrase as everywhere I’ve traveled, well, English was widely spoken. Finally, though, after all of these years, on a trip to Costa Rica, I was able to rattle off “Dónde Está el Baño?”, and the dude pointed me in the direction of relief!

I have never been so excited not to really know how to speak a different language!

A weird tree at Dreams Las Mareas resort in Costa Rica.The thing is that as we were preparing for our trip I really wanted to brush up on my Spanish. I kept thinking I should pull out my Duolingo app and start the lessons, but I would usually keep thinking about this when I was in the car and never followed through when I could pay attention. Eventually the time came to head to Costa Rica, most of the reviews about the Dreams Las Mareas resort mentioned you could get by without knowing Spanish, and although sometimes a challenge, most of the staff could figure out what you wanted, and they would always end with “It’s a pleasure.”

It was a nice trip though I wish it were longer. We saw some monkeys, and we opted not to go on any excursions, instead just to relax a lot, which was nice, but I will say that it was really hot and humid, especially just coming off a Chicago winter. Nothing really mattered, though, because all I know is that I finally got to use “Dónde Está el Baño?”, and I pulled it off like I knew Spanish!

Finally!