Archive | Stupid Stuff RSS feed for this section

The Problem With Last Names

19 Aug

I am bothered by the most mundane things. That is probably a problem with me, but this is my blog. That means that, in this space, the problem is with that thing. Some of them have long been bothersome. However, this one just cropped up as my life has become more social.

What is this “nails on the chalkboard” thing?

It is calling people by their last name, and it is something that needs to be explained.

Let us say, hypothetically, that a couple wants to invite another couple to dinner. Someone says, “We should have dinner with the Bradys.”

In my mind, using the last name is too formal. I think someone should say, “We should have dinner with Mike and Carol.”

See, it sounds more relaxed and friendly. The dinner is not going to be black tie. It is probably going to be something at the local Chinese place.

What about this?

“Did you hear about the Munsters? They live in that weird house down the street. Their pet dragon is terrorizing the neighborhood.”

They should be asking about Herman and Lily. Of course, there should not be any gossiping going on.   If there is, then it definitely does not need to sound formal. Gossiping is one of the most lowdown things that we can do. Unfortunately, we all do it. Perhaps, I should write about that sometime.

The Phobia of Watching Rented Movies

26 Mar

In many ways, I am strange, and I am certain that the people around me would agree. Certain things bother me. For instance, the volume has to be on a number that can be divided by 5. Of course, I have loosened up on that.  The thermostat has to be set on an even number. The list is longer, but you probably get the point.

This psychosis also includes things that are not numerically based. This is the story of one of those.

I am not a fan of renting a movie and watching it on television. It makes me feel isolated. I am sitting here with my wife, and a rented movie is playing on television. However, it still makes me feel funny.

These days, we have On Demand and all sorts of ways to access movies, but this feeling goes back to the olden times of VHS. It continued through DVD and Blu-ray. Heck, just writing this makes my heart race.

It goes back into my single life. While the bachelor life had its moments, there were also times of being at home alone and not having much to do. This time of loneliness led to times of feeling disconnected from other people. Watching a rented movie made me feel even more disconnected.

When I watched a rented movie, I knew that I was the only person in the world watching that movie at that particular time. Over time, the action of watching a rented movie made the feeling of isolation grow.

If I watched a scheduled television show, then I knew that other people were watching it. That made it an almost communal event. There was a connection through the television. It was the same thing with going to a movie theater. Being in a room with other people, makes the movie experience a communal event.

Renting a movie is a solitary action because it is only happening on one television in the world.

I know that it is strange. I have a family. However, I still cannot shake the old feeling of isolation while watching a rented movie.

Finally, the Definition of Final

2 Feb

This week, I gave tests and noticed a peculiar phenomenon. One of the questions as about the final version of the Fort Laramie Treaty, and, in every class, students asked what that meant. Did it mean the treaty as it was originally agreed upon? Or, did it mean the treaty as it ended up?

I always answered, “Final means final.”final

This issue has been running through my mind. Was the question not clear? Were the students just making sure that they were reading the question correctly? Was final the right word?

I looked it up.

Merriam-Webster defines final as:

a : not to be altered or undone <all sales are final>
b : of or relating to a concluding court action or proceeding <final decree>
: coming at the end : being the last in a series, process, or progress <the final chapter> <final exams>
: of or relating to the ultimate purpose or result of a process <our final goal> <the final product>

Do any of those fit a question that asks about the final version of the Fort Laramie Treaty?

Anyway, it has been bothering me that several students asked if final meant final. It has also been bothering me that the word final is tangling up my mind. To get rid of it, here are some things that are final.

Final Four (March Madness)

Final Exam (which will not have a question about the final version of anything)

Final Countdown (the movie starring Kirk Douglas and Martin Sheen about a modern-day aircraft carrier that goes back to Pearl Harbor in 1941)

Final Countdown (the song by Europe that was inspired by the movie)

Final Fantasy (a video game that I have not played)

Final Destination (a movie series of which I have only seen the first one)

Can you think of anything else that is final?

Finally, the word final is out of my head, but I may never figure out why so many people asked what I meant by final.

I Wrote This Instead of Writing Something Interesting

18 Oct

I had a detailed post in mind, but it involves a lot of writing, and I would rather not get into that tonight. Instead, I could write about Bob Dylan winning a Nobel Prize in Literature. I have seen him in concert a couple of times. He may be a great writer, but I could not understand a word that he said.

I could write about the World Series of Poker. I am watching an episode on ESPN. This is the first time that I have not kept up with the results. I was watching poker back in the days when Stu Ungar and Johnny Chan were winning. However, my interest crashed when the poker fad crashed. I reckon that I lost interest when everybody started watching and playing.

I could write about Dolly Parton. My wife just turned the channel to 9 to 5. However, I have already written about the time we saw Dolly in concert.interesting

I could write about Jamaica. We are going there in a few weeks for my wife’s cousin’s wedding. Was that confusing. There is a waterfall in Ocho Rios where they take all of the tourists. Years ago, a bunch of us climbed it. My friend fell on a rock and broke his tailbone. Is tailbone a medically correct term?

I could also write about the presidential race. No, I do not think I will.

I could write about the weather. That is what people usually talk about when they cannot think of anything else. It is still hot in mid-October. We no longer have four seasons. We have two.

Here is something that I can write about. Today, I learned that Howlin’ Wolf, the great bluesman, once lived in our town. This is something that I had never heard. Being the city historian, this disappoints me. Now, I am going to dig around and find out all I can about his time here.

That is all I have for this evening. Soon, I will write that post that involves a lot of writing.


The Problem With Gas Pumps – Revisited

29 Aug

In the early days of this blog, I wrote a post about gas pumps and how they think humans are stupid. Now that I think about it, I may have started this blog specifically to write that post. For a long time, that one post brought people to this site, and it still leads as the most read thing that I have written. To understand this post, I encourage you to read “The Problem With Gas Pumps.”

I was hoping that the years would bring gas pumps that thought more highly of us, but, alas, that has not happened. My regular gas station just installed new pumps that are slick. You can even watch television while standing under the bright neon lights. Unfortunately, they have not learned anything about the intelligence of people.

When you get to the pump, this is the first screen that you see.image-50

That is easy enough. I am using a credit card, so I hit the button that says “Pay Here with Credit.” Now, the pump knows my intentions. That is when the next screen pops up. It says “Insert Credit Card.”image-51

That makes sense. I told the gas pump that I was using a credit card. Now, it wants my credit card. I put the credit card in the slot.

Now, this screen pops up.image-52

Wait a minute. It is asking “Debit Y/N.” Why is it asking this question? I already told the gas pump that I am using a credit card. I inserted the credit card. Now, it is asking if it is a credit card. Do people go through the credit card process only to insert a debit card? Does it happen enough that the gas pump has to ask this question of everyone?

That is my problem with gas pumps. They think humans are too dumb to know the difference between a credit card and a debit card. They think that we would go through that entire process to only use the wrong one. I have a real problem with gas pumps thinking we are that dumb.

I have written about this before, and I will probably write about it again.


The Evolution of a Room

5 May

The building in which I work was built in 2004. Actually, it was a gymnasium built during the New Deal and was remodeled into an academic building in 2004. Therefore, it has some old, and it has some new. It also has a room that has constantly evolved over time. As it happens, that room is directly across from my office door.image-13

In the early days, it was a classroom. In fact, I taught in that room a couple of times. As a classroom, it was a disaster. There were no windows, and it was like going to school in a cave. I do not suffer from claustrophobia, but this room gave me the feeling I was trapped. I cannot imagine how trapped students felt when they had to sit there and learn how properly cite a source. It must have resembled something in the mind of Dante.

We stopped scheduling classes in the room, and someone must have noticed. It was not long before it became a storage room for the bookstore. A massive lock was placed on the door because, as all students know, books are worth their weight in gold. People came in and out with boxes of books, stacks of books and dollies of books. There were times when I could hear people working hard. The sounds of those books being moved around could not be mistaken.

However, there were also times when I could hear people watching television. When the classroom was abandoned, no one thought about taking out the television. We may have been the only campus in the country that had a television in the book storage room.

At some point, someone decided to change how our bookstore operates. Instead of selling books in the same place where we sell t-shirts, caps, hoodies, license plates and other things that have our school’s name and logo, we split that up. Now, we have a spirit shop for that stuff and a bookstore for books. Yep, the room across from my office door became the bookstore.

It is like working in the El Paso train station.

In the first weeks of each semester, people are lined up out the door to buy books. This means they are lined up outside my office door. Of course, bored people standing in a line are going to talk. This means they are talking outside my office door. When there is a long wait, the talking turns into complaining. This means they are complaining outside my office door.

However, that does not compare to when the bookstore is closed. Like all good stores, the hours of operation are posted, but that does not stop people from trying.

Do you realize how many people will stare at a locked door?

Do you realize how many people will pull on a locked door a couple of times just to make sure?

Do you realize how many people think the teacher in the office next to the bookstore is also the receptionist for the bookstore?

I cannot count the number of people who have pulled on the locked door and asked me if the bookstore is closed. Of course, some people ask me if it is open.

I have been thinking about this because the bookstore is now open for book returns. It is the end of the semester, and students want to get some of their money back. As a side note, I have never sold back a book. You never know when you might need it.

The end of the semester does not have the long lines. However, it has people pulling on a locked door and sighing with disgust because the bookstore may not be open at the exact time they decided to show up. What do they expect? Bookstore workers are like book storage room workers. They need time to shut the door and watch television, too.

Steve Harvey and Me

12 Apr

A few months ago, Steve Harvey made headlines for all of the wrong reasons. As host of the Miss Universe pageant, it was his job to announce the winner, and he announced the wrong person. They put the crown on her head. They put the sash around on her shoulder. She was making her victory walk. Then, Steve Harvey came out and said he had made a mistake.

(Sidenote: I do not know how you can hold a Miss Universe pageant without including the green women from Star Trek. They would win all of the time.)Green Girl

It was a huge mistake that will follow Steve Harvey for the rest of his career.

Tonight, we held the awards banquet for the School of Humanities, Education and the Arts, which we affectionately call SHEA. This meant that it was time to pass out the awards for the best students of History.

This morning, I went to my cohort’s office to confirm what awards I would be presenting. He explained that I would present two awards. I heard what he said, but, apparently, that is not what he really said.

As the day progressed, I prepared for my presentation. I listed the awards and what they signified. I wrote down a few things about the recipients. In other words, I was ready to go.

The first award went smoothly except for the fact that the kid did not show up to receive it. I have often wondered why that happens. If you are honored with an award, then you should make an appearance. After all, they are not Marlon Brando or George C. Scott turning down an Oscar.

The second award also went smoothly. I talked about the award. I talked about the recipient in glowing terms. Then, the award was handed to me, and I saw that it was a different one. I called out the right name, but I tried to give the wrong award to him. He was supposed to get something else.

This meant that my cohort had to ad-lib and announce the wrong award to give to the next student. In other words, it was a mess. Luckily, we were all smooth enough that the audience did not realize what had happened. The only people wise to the situation were me, my cohort, the two students and the lady handed the awards to us. Well, I guess you all know it since I have written to post about the entire thing.

I am just glad that we did not have to go out and rip off their crowns and sashes.

Let Them Eat a History-Themed Cake

5 Dec

Last night, my colleague and his family graciously hosted a “End of the Semester” dinner for the History Department. Faculty and students got together for great food and great times. My job was simple. I was in charge of the dessert.

My wife said that she would order a cake from our local Publix because they make awesome cakes. However, she needed to know how to have it decorated. That is when I came up with what I considered to be a clever idea. Have it say, “This Semester is History!”

Get it? The semester is over, and we are the History Department. Funny, right? At least, that is what I thought. When my wife told the ladies at her boutique, they apparently thought it was corny.

It had to have more than words. We needed something more decorative. That is when I came up with what I considered to be another clever idea. We would put a $20 bill on the cake. Now, this one needs some explaining.

Our students wanted the teachers to have a debate about who should be on the Twenty. Actually, they just wanted to see the teachers argue, and a debate was the only way they could make that happen. Anyway, we held a debate that was open to the public.

The debaters included our resident expert of the Jacksonian Age, who defended Andrew Jackson’s appearance on the bill. There was also our other historian, who championed the image of Eleanor Roosevelt. Our anthropologist, a member of the Choctaw Nation, argued for the inclusion of Wilma Mankiller, former Chief of the Cherokee Nation.

I served as moderator because I study prostitutes of the Old West. As much as I would love to see Big Nose Kate on money, it will probably not happen.

Anyway, the students asked the questions and thought it was awesome to see the teachers go after each other. The debate was serious and funny at the same time. It was certainly the highlight of the semester for the students.

Because of the debate, I everyone would get a kick out of seeing the $20 on the cake.image-4

I have no idea what my wife and her coworkers thought about that addition, but I can imagine.

It is too late to make a long story short, but, to make a long story short, the cake was a big hit. Everyone thought it was clever and funny. Now, I am wondering what that means about the humor of historians.

Long Pants and Socks

9 Oct


A few weeks ago, my nephew and I were at a football game when he asked a simple question.

Why are you wearing sandals?

Unfortunately, that simple question did not have a simple answer. If I could boil the answer down to one sentence, then I would say, “Because I like socks.”

Allow me to explain.

I know that my wife would like for me to wear loafers with shorts. However, I cannot bring myself to do it because of something that happened in my childhood. My dad had a friend who wore loafers with shorts, and I thought it was the strangest looking thing I had ever seen. It got more strange when he took them off. His feet were swollen, blistered and caked with dead skin. In my mind, I knew what was up. If he had been wearing socks, then his feet would not be destroyed.

Shoes that encompass feet are meant to be worn with socks. If that was not the case, then socks would have not been invented. I like to wear socks with shoes. I also like to wear socks around the house. Rarely do I go around barefoot. Do you know why? Because that is how feet end up swollen, blistered and caked with dead skin.

When we were dating, my wife really wanted me to wear loafers with shorts. She thinks it looks good. I do not agree, but I was willing to give it a try. Coincidentally, that same night we had the biggest fight ever. I acted like a fool, and I am certain that the shoes played a huge role. I did not like the look, and I definitely did not like the fact that my feet were swollen, blistered and caked with dead skin.

I understand that a lot of guys like the look and the feel of wearing loafers without socks. There are a ton of guys I know who do it all of the time. I just do not know why.

The other day, we were tailgating at a Tennessee Titans game, and one of the tailgaters was wearing sneakers with socks. Before going into the stadium, he took them off and slipped on loafers. One word entered my mind.


His situation brings me to another point. For a while, I tried to get by with wearing some high dollar running shoes with shorts. They are super comfortable, and I wore socks that did not go above the shoe line. In my mind, this was a good compromise. However, the next time we went shopping my wife pointed out a pair of sandals. It turns out that they are a better compromise, and that is why I was wearing them to the football game. They encompass my feet, but the airiness makes the socklessness bearable.

All of that is well and good, but this post is about more than socks. The entire issue about the shoes is created by the issue of wearing shorts. That is why people can see if there are socks or no socks.

When it comes to shorts, I must make a confession. I like wearing long pants a lot better. This probably comes from the fact that my dad – the man I respect and admire more than any other – has never worn shorts. At least, if he has, then I have never seen it. For years, his comfort clothes of choice were khaki pants and Hushpuppy shoes – with socks. That probably shaped my opinion that men should wear long pants. As a result, I wore long pants, and they became my most comfortable clothes. While most people put on shorts or pajamas to lie around the house, I wear jeans…and socks.

When I talk to my wife about the uncomfortable aspects of wearing shoes without socks, she counters with the argument that women have to wear uncomfortable shoes. In other words, we all have to sacrifice.

I agree and have an idea of how men can sacrifice just like women have to sacrifice.

Instead of going around without socks and wearing shorts, men should dress more manly by wearing long pants and shoes with socks.

Wyatt Earp never wore loafers and shorts.Wyatt

George Patton never wore loafers and shorts.Patton

Genghis Khan never wore loafers and shorts.Khan

The list goes on and on.

Anyway, the issue is solved. Women have to sacrifice for fashion, and men should do the same by wearing long pants and socks. The fact that those things are more comfortable for me has no bearing on the situation.

Garage Sale People and the Rules They Should Live By

28 Sep

This weekend, we had a garage sale. Actually, my wife had a garage sale. I just took the stuff to the garage and stood around while she used her salesperson charms. That means she had to deal with those known as Garage Sale People – the ones who scour newspapers for sales that might have a hidden treasure.Garage Sale

Some Garage Sale People like to show up early. When they read that a sale starts at 7 a.m., then they show up at 6:30 a.m. After all, you have to arrive first to get the best stuff. On Friday morning, I went outside to put my stepdaughter’s lunchbox in the car and found people roaming around the driveway.  During our conversation, I learned that they thought about knocking on the door but decided against it. If they found something before we came out, then they were going to leave money on the table. However, that brings me to a trait of most Garage Sale People.

I took my stepdaughter to school, and my wife came out to help them. Whenever they picked something up, they asked her if she would less for it. She politely said, “No, ma’am.” In reality, she should have said, “I put $2 on it because I wanted $2. If I wanted $1, then I would have priced it at $1. By the way, we paid $30 for it, and it has hardly been used. If you feel the need to haggle over a dollar, then watch me throw it in the trash. I would rather throw it away than sell it to someone too cheap to hand over $2.”

Garage Sale People see a garage sale as a challenge where bargaining is the rule of the day. That is too much like a car lot. We did not drag this stuff out of the house to play a game of wits. Everything should be straightforward. $2 means $2. If you do not want to pay it, then put it down.

Other Garage Sale People are busy and cannot make it during the prescribed time. Our sale ended at noon. My wife put the stuff in the garage; closed the garage doors; and took a nap on the couch. She was tired because of the Garage Sale People who showed up early. Anyway, someone knocked on the door at 1 p.m. and asked if the garage sale was still going on.

My wife explained that it was over, but they asked if they could see what was left. She took them to the garage, and they looked around. Of course, late arriving Garage Sale People like to skim the items before leaving without buying anything. They would probably haggle, but, in their eyes, the good stuff is gone. Those are the same eyes they could have used to see that the garage sale is over, which means the good stuff is most assuredly gone.

I write all of that to write that Garage Sale People are usually rude. They are so blinded by the prospect of getting something for nothing that they lose sight of proper behavior. With that being said, here are some garage sale rules that I think should be followed.

  1. Arrive at the sale during the scheduled time of the sale. If the stuff is there 30 minutes before it starts, then it will be there at the starting time. On the other hand, the stuff will not be there an hour after it is over.
  2. Pay the price. If someone does not want to pay $2 for something, then they do not really want it.

There you go. Two simple rules for Garage Sale People to ignore.