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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

What Good Readers You Are! Yes You Are! Read On.

Before we celebrated DoN Poetry Month, I wanted to clean out some Tupperware that was taking up some room in the Brain Fridge. So here are some little bits of This-n-That--leftovers of Thought Casserole and IdeaRoni that have to go before they get green and fuzzy.

After reading The Story of Edgar Sawtelle years ago, I became fascinated by dog training. I studied up on it--all kinds of it--and watched videos online of various techniques. Especially fascinating to me was the method known as The Woodhouse Way, which has been the subject of some controversy. Anyway, as I studied, I eventually formed a method of my own that made sense to me. (Why, I have no idea.) I must be prescient, however, for dear Zydrunas, Jared and Sam's dog, is now a star pupil of The Nance Method and a Very Good Boy. He (and Jared and Sam) are well trained in The Basics, which makes Everyday Life so much easier for everyone. And yes, I do happen to have a picture of The GrandDog.



Remember my rant about dog beds? Not too terribly long after that, I went to my favourite local grocery store and closeout mecca and found dog beds stacked to the ceiling (almost), and they were of wonderful quality, comparable to the hundred-dollar ones. For less than fifteen dollars. Yes. That is correct. So. I immediately purchased two because previous to that, just days earlier, I received via text message the following picture:


Sigh. This was obviously before my training. This is after:




I had occasion to reread an earlier post of mine and was horrified to note a glaring subject-verb agreement error. How mortifying and how terribly common, too. Stuff like that makes me afraid that, little by little, all of my SmartyBrains are slowly leaking out of my head and trailing off into the ether like old radio waves. Pretty soon I'll be using random apostrophes, saying "have went," and spelling probably like this--prolly. Remember way, way back when I swore I'd never send text messages or use the word text as a verb? Sigh. Those were the days. Back then I had Real Standards. I'm so afraid of what I've become. This, below,  used to be me!

 RHYMES WITH ORANGE by Hilary Price

Finally, I am sorry that I have been neglectful in my blog-reading as of late. Despite my best efforts, my life got quite busy there for a bit, and some odd things presented themselves and had to be sorted. I am spaced out on getting used to new migraine meds and haven't quite been myself. Better not to tap away in someone's Comments when I'm not sure what I'm saying. I promise to catch up soon.

I'm looking forward to Poetry Month, but for those of you who are decidedly not, I promise to  write other things as well.


(Isn't the comic at the top of the post so immediately identifiable as M. Crawford's from The New Yorker?)

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

O Me! O Life! O Well! How Apple Reminded Me To Celebrate Myself And Sing Myself And, Belatedly, Some Poetry

Today I realized that April is National Poetry Month, and that I had missed it entirely. Worse than that,even, I couldn't recall if I had bothered to mention or commemorate it last year or, heaven help me, the year before. I have turned into a terrible excuse for a lover of les belles-lettres.

The catalyst for all of my self-loathing was Apple re-airing their commercial in which Robin Williams reads a fragment of Walt Whitman's poem 166. O Me! O Life!. (The voice-over is actually from Williams' role in the 1989 film Dead Poets Society.) In the narration Williams' character is earnest and energized. He quotes loosely from the poem, but leans heavily upon the last stanza, which Whitman has subtitled Answer. It is this stanza which offers the sweeping last line with the lilting cadence. The first stanza, which doesn't get into that ad, is quite different. It is plaintive and despondent. It trudges and stomps along heavily and resignedly. It is downtrodden and sad. I love this poem. It reminds us of our place in the chaos and the teeming crowds. It soothes our despair. It answers our wailing question, "Why, oh why am I here?"


166. O Me! O Life!

O ME! O life!... of the questions of these recurring;
Of the endless trains of the faithless—of cities fill’d with the foolish;
Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)
Of eyes that vainly crave the light—of the objects mean—of the struggle ever renew’d;
Of the poor results of all—of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me;                  
Of the empty and useless years of the rest—with the rest me intertwined;
The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?

Answer.

That you are here—that life exists, and identity;
That the powerful play goes on, and you will contribute a verse.


Whitman wanted so much to be the voice of America's Journey. I read him and I get tears in my eyes. His feeling is so profound, whether it is joy or love or pain. It will comfort me always to read his promise in Song of Myself #52: "Failing to fetch me at first, keep encouraged,/Missing me one place search another,/I stop somewhere waiting for you."

And he does.  This morning in my Plain Dealer, I saw this--

FRAZZ  by Jef Mallett


--and I smiled.  O Me! O Walt! O Life!

I am giving some serious thought to declaring the month of June "Dept. of Nance Poetry Month." Each week, I'll toss up a poem by a different poet and chat about it, then invite you to comment and share your own favourites. Perhaps those among you with your own sites might like to join in. Tell me your thoughts on this proposition and Walt Whitman's poem in Comments. Or talk to me about poetry, poems, a poet/poets or a favourite poem or poet. It all sounds lovely to me.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

A Matter Of Opinion

In addition to flinging my opinions about for free here at the Dept., I've been getting compensated for them for years now from the ever-curious people at Harris Polls, a branch of the Nielsen Family. Every so often, in one of my designated inboxes, an invitation appears for me to participate in one of their polls. I get to click and click and click away on various topics such as gas stations, cat litter, financial institutions, grocery store shelf placement, oil companies, floor sweepers, you name it. The compensation doesn't come directly in the form of cash; I earn reward points that translate into gift cards. I get Amazon cards, which are, to me, the same as cash.

Recently, the Harris Polls released the results of a survey I was not invited to participate in. From March 12-17, over two thousand adults were surveyed regarding annoying behaviors of others in various situations. The full results are here. The behaviors themselves are not surprising. They are the same old tired things that keep annoying everyone. What I find enlightening and amusing are the breakdowns in demographics. As a Baby Boomer, I am positively delighted that the Gen Xers are so tightly wound. They were the ones who blamed every little thing on us and were going to save the universe. The Millennials, who present themselves as so coolly hip and tolerant and laid-back that they might be close to slipping into a coma, aren't all that different from the rest of us.

Let's take a look at just a few of the categories and tease out what I feel is particularly interesting or germane to a discussion regarding gender and age.

LOUD MOBILE PHONE TALKERS VS. CONSTANT CHECKERS
By Generation, Gender, Children in Household
"For each pair of common annoyances below, please choose the one that annoys you the most."

Total
Generation
Gender
Children in HH
Millennials (18-36)
Gen Xers (37-48)
Baby Boomers (49-67)
Matures (68+)
Male
Female
Yes
No
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
People who have loud conversations on their mobile phones in public places
65
59
66
67
74
67
63
60
67
People who repeatedly check their mobile phones while having an in-person conversation
35
41
34
33
26
33
37
40
33

I love how the perception of rudeness rises as the age of the person does. Notice, however, that more women than men do not feel that this is as bad as someone ignoring them during an in-person conversation. As I looked at the results, I noticed this common factor. Women seem to rate lower anything that compromises direct communication. Personally, this question would have been tough for me. In the end, I'd have gone with the second one. I find it hideous to be second fiddle. I am there. Put your phone on vibrate, in a perfect world.

ALL CAPS VS. OVERLY TERSE EMAILS
By Generation, Gender, Children in Household
"For each pair of common annoyances below, please choose the one that annoys you the most."
Base: U.S. Adults
Total
Generation
Gender
Children in HH
Millennials (18-36)
Gen Xers (37-48)
Baby Boomers (49-67)
Matures (68+)
Male
Female
Yes
No
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
Emails written ALL IN CAPS
60
67
59
57
49
62
57
63
58
Overly brief or terse emails
40
33
41
43
51
38
43
37
42

The age breakdown in this is predictable. Millennials hate the all caps email. "Why are you shouting at me? Don't you know anything about Netiquette?" they probably mutter through their clenched teeth while tapping their stylus against their Starbucks cup. Everyone else has moved on to more pressing concerns, down through the ages, and the Matures, who are the Usual Suspects, are still trying to figure out what ALL CAPS means or why it would be an annoyance to anyone. Matures really dislike the overly brief emails which are devoid of explanation, detail, or newsy, helpful items. Millennials totally get the no-frills emails. Who uses email anyway? Can't you just text? Ugh. Men in general are Big Fans. The less you say, the better. But women are bothered more by the bare, spare email. We want more. Be thorough, communicate fully. Tell us everything.  I dislike both of these intensely.  If asked to choose one, I'd rather have all in caps.  At least I'd have what I need to know and be able to avoid more back and forth with a bad communicator.

"REPLY ALL" OVERUSE VS. NO REPLY AT ALL EMAIL
By Generation, Gender, Children in Household
"For each pair of common annoyances below, please choose the one that annoys you the most."
Base: U.S. Adults
Total
Generation
Gender
Children in HH
Millennials (18-36)
Gen Xers (37-48)
Baby Boomers (49-67)
Matures (68+)
Male
Female
Yes
No
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
People who overuse "reply all" on emails
51
41
54
54
64
55
48
46
54
People who don't reply to emails
49
59
46
46
36
45
52
54
46

This one is easy for me, because I have zero trouble deleting emails. I learned it from my former colleague Roger. He simply looks at the subject line, then the sender. From there, if you cannot gauge the likelihood of its importance to you, then you are incompetent. We called this "The Pink Tape System." One year, near the end of school, an email appeared in everyone's inbox with the subject line PINK TAPE. The sender was a particularly ditzy special ed. teacher. Roger said that anyone who read that email was an idiot. I miss Roger.  He was good for me.

Anyway, my point--and I do have one--is that I would easily respond "the non-repliers" to this question. It was a toughie for everyone else, though; it almost split evenly half and half. The Millennials don't care about the "reply alls", however; they either don't use email much, or they are so used to collaborative work that they send emails as a group anyway. The Matures really hate it, though. Let me tell you why. Tons of Matures still don't get how email works. So, when they fire off an email to Bessie, and they mention how, at the last Reunion, Norm and Cora looked real fat, they don't realize that Norm and Cora are on the email list, too. And that they hit Reply All instead of Reply. And now Norm and Cora know how fat Eunice thinks they look. And so does every member of the class of 1933. And once again, women are more irked by not hearing from someone than hearing from everyone. That's why women are great communicators, for the most part. We like to keep the channels of communication open and moving. How many men are on your blogroll? Just asking.

I'm including this last one because...well, you'll see.

WORD MISUSE VS. UNSOLICITED EDITING
By Generation, Gender,  Children in Household
"For each pair of common annoyances below, please choose the one that annoys you the most."
Base: U.S. Adults
Total
Generation
Gender
Children in HH
Millennials (18-36)
Gen Xers (37-48)
Baby Boomers (49-67)
Matures (68+)
Male
Female
Yes
No
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
Misuse of common words (e.g., there/they're/their, its/it's, overuse of "literally")
57
62
54
57
54
54
60
57
57
Unsolicited grammar/wording "editors"
43
38
46
43
46
46
40
43
43
Percentages may not add up exactly to 100 percent due to rounding

Hey! If everyone hates all of these Language errors, then why do they persist? The Millennials' eyes are rolling permanently to the back of their heads! We Boomers still aren't over it. And, as a Woman, I am about to Lose It.

Basically, people are bugging the Crap out of me. And you. Even when we are Mature, we will still suffer the annoyance of others. The nice thing is, I will be paid in Amazon cards to tell people what I think about it.

In reality, not a whole lot bothers me these days. Most annoyances are petty and short-lived. I can usually think of something that balances them out, or, as a friend of mine always says, "I just play Mozart in my head." In my case, it's usually Rachmaninoff, but you get the idea. If something is bothersome or annoying to you, feel free to get it out of your system in Comments.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Dog Days

While away On Jaunt, if you will, Dearest Readers, I met a new dogfriend named Stella. She is a delightful canine torpedo of a Boston terrier. Before I arrived at Stella's house, considerable talk had occurred along the lines of What To Do Since Nance Was A Cat Person. I was horrified to discover that a contingency plan had been made to stow Stella away with her Grandmother in the adjoining "Mother-in-law Suite" in case I didn't appreciate her presence.

Of course, that was a Gracious and Hospitable thing to do, but the idea of separating a loving pet from her owners would have made me feel like the worst sort of villain. Besides, I already have a Dog Niece, a cute little Corgi mix named Abbi, for whom I carry tiny biscuits in my car at all times. Truth be known, I like dogs very much as a Spectator Sport. I simply know that owning one is not for me. Dogs, as I have stated many times before, are too worky. I view all dogs as a sort of Grandchild Entity: I enjoy them for purely temporary entertainment purposes and selfishly. Then they can go home with their pet parents and I can retreat to my cats, who, except for Hair Maintenance and Shitboxes, require little of me.

It seems, however, that now I will indeed have a Dog Grandchild, a Granddog, I guess. Sam and Jared, housemates now, have adopted a dog. Did I offer lots of Motherly Advice and do My Part, pointing out the various pitfalls of dog ownership at this stage in their lives? La, it is to laugh. I brought up their odd work schedules, the fact that they live on the second floor, the expense of vet bills, the way a dog needs to be exercised in all kinds of weather--even lousy NEO weather--and yada yada yada. Sam, as usual, said nothing. Jared said, "Mom. Do you think every dog owner in the USA is at home with their dog 24/7 and has a million dollars? This won't involve you at all. We're not kids anymore. It's okay."

So much of that is true that it hurts. It hurts because he is right and I am being a big fat idiot. Who needs to butt out.

You will all be happy to know that I did precisely that. I butted out, and better than that, even, I Got On Board With The Dog Happening. We all went--even St. Patsy--to buy food, dishes, collar, lead, toys, and treats at the store. And can I just say something about the topic and item known as a Dog Bed?

Whoever is in charge of Dog Bed Pricing is a genius. This cartel is making money hand over fist and making it in skyscraper-like stacks. I have never seen something so outrageous as the price of Dog Beds. When I bought cat beds, I spent no more than ten dollars ($10.00 US currency) per cat bed. You cannot buy a large Dog Bed for less than FIFTY DOLLARS ($50.00 US currency). I'd like to quote the clerk in the pet store when I say, "Right? Like...why?  For...what?" And that is for the most basic, no-frills, bigass pillow on the floor type thing. Any decent Dog Bed is going to run you at least EIGHTY BUCKS. I could not contain my outrage nor my incredulity. One Dog Bed we looked at was simply a cat bed on steroids. Period. IT WAS ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS. FOR A DOG COVERED IN DOG HAIR TO LIE IN. POSSIBLY AFTER POOPING OUTDOORS AND LICKING ITSELF.

When did this happen? Who did this? And, more importantly, how do I get a cut?

Anyway, the best thing ever was a Pet Store employee who told us to go to a local buyout outlet. "It's ridiculous," she said. "You'll do much better there, at least half off, and get a brand-name bed." We went, and we got a Serta Dog Bed with a washable cover. A Serta. For a Dog. And it was still a ridiculous price, in my estimation, although way cheaper than anything we'd seen anyplace else.

Listen, if there is anyone out there who wants to go into business with me and sell affordable, good quality Dog Beds at a reasonable price, I am IN, one hundred percent. You be the seamstress/tailor, and I'll research and design/develop. We will rake in the cash; I am not kidding. The world needs high-quality Dog Beds at a fair price. Go ahead and check out Dog Beds online. You'll see what I mean.

Oh, and yes, like all good grandmothers everywhere, I do have a picture. Here he is. Meet my new one-year old Granddog, Zydrunas. He will be joining the family as of Friday, 9 May, rescued from the Cleveland APL, where he is being neutered and vetted before coming to his Forever Home and ridiculously overpriced Dog Bed.




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Saturday, May 03, 2014

Why I Love Grocery Shopping Now

Oh, Dear Readers. What a wonderful gift I have for you today!

I grocery shop at a small, locally-owned store with only a few in its chain. It's a quirky place that not only has wonderful produce at ridiculously low prices, but it also has several aisles of Closeouts. These items range from furniture and bicycles to clothing and dog beds. I often get awesome deals on Target clothes that are regularly priced at say, $17.99, but at Marc's are $1.99 or less. If you don't block out at least an hour and a half for your grocery shopping, you might miss something amazing.

Anyway, back to your gift. While shopping at a Marc's earlier this week, I came upon this sign. It is Magnificent in its Deep Confusion and Wrongness.


You're welcome.
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