Category Archives: Rants

2012 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner can carry about 250 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,100 times in 2012. If it were a Dreamliner, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

I’m disappointed in myself in that I only had 8 new posts last year. That is a major fail as a writer! I should have at least 8 posts a month! On that note, time to get writing…

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Posted by on January 13, 2013 in Rants


Always an inconvenience. Always.

By now, most women have seen Wendi Aarons’ infamous open letter to the brand manager of Proctor and Gamble, which circulated through email forwards. Years ago, they came up with a tagline for Always maxi pads: Have a Happy Period. As Aarons put it, “Are you fucking kidding me?” (I couldn’t have said it any better.) How could a man, despite countless hours of research, possibly know what females go through each month for 30-some years? Just like we women will never know how painful it is to get kicked in the nuts, men will never know how awful periods are.*

I am a consumer of Always and I have seen no signs of the ill-conceived “Have a Happy Period” campaign as of late. However, as I gazed at my Always Infinity box this morning, I scratched my head in wonder. I was thinking of Aarons’ letter, as I often do when the cramps set in, and wondered if P&G ever learned their lesson. So I took a closer look at the box in my hand. The first thing I noticed was a random conversation bubble unattached to anything, human or otherwise. The bubble read, “I love how my girlfriends know me so well they can finish my sentences”. Perhaps the marketers at P&G were trying to be clever and not end the sentence with the proper punctuation (they had no punctuation in the English text but did in the French). So my mind filled it in for me, “Period,” I thought. Oh, how clever! Period! Like the tormentor that is currently invading my insides! Ha ha ha!

If this is what they really wanted me to think when I read that bubble – and I really hope it wasn’t – then they are equating periods with my girlfriends. Um, no. Sorry. Not happening. A period is not a friend, just like it is not a happy time in one’s life. Maybe they did intend to put punctuation on the end of the sentence but their proof-reader was just too stupid to realize that sentences needed a full stop, whether or not they are floating in a conversation bubble. If that is such the case, then WTF? Who the hell is talking and what the hell does it have to do with periods? This is almost just as insulting as the alternative. It’s like they’re trying to sympathize but don’t know how to relate to a woman on her period. I can just picture a bunch of suits sitting around a conference table, saying, “Let’s throw in something about girlfriends to make her feel better about all the cramps she’s having!”

Moving on to another side of the box, I came across another conversation bubble that said, “You may even forget you’re wearing a pad”. Again, no punctuation. But more disturbing is that this conversation bubble is pointing to none other than the pad itself. How creepy is that? I don’t want a pad talking to me about what I’m about to do with it. Ugh.

That’s it for the conversation bubbles so to have just two (one disjointed and one from the pad) it seemed rather random. How much thought did the marketing team put into this? In my opinion, not very much. It seemed as if they have the same people designing boxes as they did when they thought up, “Have a Happy Period”, which, by the way, may not be on the box in those exact words, but are there in a sense. Above the talking pad is a line in cursive that reads, “Enjoy being a woman…every day”. AGAIN with the punctuation!

I do enjoy being a woman, thank you very much, but getting to wear an Always pad isn’t one of the reasons why. Plus, the way they emphasized “every day” makes me think that they think that they’re solving one of the many awful problems women have when on their periods. Yes, not having a pillow between my legs is nice, but what have you done for me lately, Always? Do you cure cramps? Mood swings? Deliver chocolate and flowers at the door? I didn’t think so, so quit acting like you’re fucking Superman, here to save Lois Lane from the torments of being a woman.

And get a fucking editor while you’re at it.

*It’s not really a fair comparison as women are guaranteed to have periods – and on schedules, no less! – whereas men’s chances for getting kicked in the nuts is slim (unless, of course, they are around a woman on her period).


Posted by on July 3, 2012 in Rants


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Disappointment and aggravation

I finished two books this year that were both second installments of trilogies: Crossed by Ally Condie and A Million Suns by Beth Revis*. The first books in each series (Matched and Across the Universe, respectively) had the same effect on me. I didn’t want to put either down and I was excited and anxious as the release dates for the sequels drew nearer. Crossed came out first, in November of 2011. I asked for the day off work so I could download and read it without interruption. Like most books, I knew I wouldn’t be able to finish it in a single day, but I figured I would get a good chunk read.

How wrong I was.

Matched was told entirely by Cassia’s point of view but Crossed took on a different format. Chapters alternated between Cassia and Ky’s points of view. Each chapter was marked by who was speaking, as books with alternating storytellers often do, but other than that, there was nothing to distinguish who was speaking. I found myself often flipping back several pages to find whose chapter it was that I was reading. The characters didn’t have their own voices. It all sounded like Cassia’s from Matched.

Then there was the action – or lack thereof. The mystery and intrigue that Matched had (who put Ky’s name in the system? Why did Grandpa have forbidden poetry? etc.) were missing largely for Crossed. Cassia and Ky are in search of each other, far from the Society where they first met. About half the book is taken up by this search, which is a lot of walking in deserts and hiding from Society spy planes. Once they find each other, the search continues for the Rising. It wasn’t until about 75 pages from the end that I started to feel that grip of intrigue pull me into the story. Something interesting was finally happening.

Despite taking the release day off to read it, I didn’t finish the book for three months. I didn’t feel the pull to not put it down. Instead, I felt the dredge of picking it up again. I had very little interest in it to keep me going. What would have taken me about a week to read took me months instead and that says a lot about the content.

But there’s still one more book in the trilogy, set to come out this November. And even though I was disappointed in Crossed, I am still curious to see what happens to Ky and Cassia and, therefore, will still download a copy of Reached. I just won’t bother taking a day off work so I can read it.

*Stay tuned for a review of A Million Suns.


Posted by on June 27, 2012 in Literature, Rants


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My utopia is dystopia (part 2)

My most recent delve into dystopia fiction was Possession by Elana Johnson.

In the book, Vi, short for Violet, is whisked off to Lock Up after being caught walking with a boy at night.  Such things are forbidden in her world.  She is thrown into a cell with Jag, a boy with dyed hair and tan skin – an obvious rebel.  Soon and with some effort, Vi and Jag escape Lock Up and flee toward a “freer” land, miles away.

Since Vi can feel “tech buzz” and Thinkers always use tech, she can sense danger.  It doesn’t always work though and she and Jag keep ending up having to fight for their lives.

Later, Vi finds out that she can control things and people with just her mind.  She also finds out Jag can control people with his voice.  Still, they hae to fight Thane, the one who controls everything.

***Here begin the spoilers***

When the book opens, Vi is walking with Zenn, her Match.  She loves him deeply, as she reiterates time and again.  But less than 50 pages later, after Vi makes Jag, she falls in love with him.  She knows little about him, yet knows that she loves him.  And, amazingly enough, he loves her back!  Did I mention that these characters are only 15?  Yeah, Vi, that’s just the hormones talking.

As previously mentioned, Vi and Jag are forced to share the same cell when in Lock Up, yet no other cells on their floor are being used.  As I read, I found this hard to believe.  I can stretch my imagination pretty far, but that was too far-reaching.  Vi lives in a society where you can’t walk with a boy yet will force occupancy with one?  Sorry.  Not buying it.  Johnson explains this away later in the book when Vi realizes that Thane wanted her and Jag together to see if they would use their powers.

Ah, yes, the powers.  Once Vi finds out she can control people and things with her mind, there are no more obstacles to overcome.  She can escape any imprisonment, win any fight without so much as breaking a sweat.  Creative Writing 101: take away conflict and you take away any reason to read.  Now, Vi hates being controlled so Johnson could have used this in Vi to have inner conflict.  Instead, Vi whines about it for a few sentences and then continues on.  Some rebel.  She hates what is not useful to her.

Then there’s all the coincidental stuff that happens in the back half of the book.  Vi’s dad had gone missing years before, but then she sees Jag with a book with her dad’s picture on it.  Only, she doesn’t recognize him and only knows it’s him because of the name underneath.  It’s a rebel book about how people can use tech to fight those in power.  Later, as she mentally yells at Thane, the one voice that can enter her mind and someone who has great power, she realizes that it is actually her dad.  Confused?  I’d be surprised if you weren’t.  Oh, and Vi’s older sister died after a year working for the Society.  But lo and behold, she’s alive and working with rebel forces.  She’s using a pseudonym so that no one can find her, especially Thane.  Now, let’s not forget about Zenn, Vi’s Match that she’s totally in love with, even though she’s in love with Jag, too.  It turns out that Zenn and Jag know each other and have for quite some time.  They’ve been working together to get a rebel (Zenn) on the inside.  He passes information along to the rebels to help the fight.  However, at the beginning of the book, he is the one who betrays Vi so that she is arrested, tags her with a homing device, and leads Thane to her.  So is he a rebel or not?  It’s hard to say and when it’s all over, it’s still unclear.

About half-way through the 400 plus page book, I started to get discouraged.  I kept going, though, because I’d gotten so far, I might as well have finished.  Really, the only saving grace in the last half of the book was the end.  Johnson could have made it a happy ending, one that would calm the reader and let her know everything would be okay.  But she ended the book with Thane conquering Vi’s mind, erasing her memory of Jag and forcing her to live a “happy” life with Zenn.  Though she has the feeling that she’s forgotten something important, Vi is content.  The end reminded me of the end of 1984 by George Orwell.

Still, overall, the book was a waste of time.  My theory (as well as a few other people who’ve noted online) is that this book got published because anything dystopian will sell right now.  It’s a shame because I love giving suggestions to teens and parents alike when it comes to books, but I sure as hell don’t recommend this one.

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Posted by on September 19, 2011 in Literature, Rants


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Game, set, and lose

What’s more fun than gathering some friends and playing a rousing board game? Not much, at least to me. So when my store expanded our game section, I was excited. Not only could I keep up with the latest board games, I could also buy them at a discount. (We also expanded our toys section to include Legos but don’t get me started on that.)

Since the store had a stockpile of demo games, we set them in our cafe. Patrons took to them right away and our cafe sales reflected the extra time people were spending there. Kids especially enjoyed it, even if they couldn’t fully grasp the concept of some games, like Blokus.  This past Friday, a group of teenagers set up a game of Monopoly and spread out across the floor by the teen section.  Much of the staff didn’t think twice about it, figuring that they probably got the game from the cafe. I thought that they’d purchased it to play it because it looked new, unlike the games in our cafe. Surely, I thought to myself, four teens would know not to open product that wasn’t theirs.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

When I came back Monday morning, I saw that the Monopoly game was sitting in receiving, used and unable to be sold again.  I was pissed, as were several other coworkers who realized what’d happened too late.  What made four teens think that it was okay to open something that wasn’t theirs and use it?  Where did they learn such behavior?  I pondered this question to one of the children’s department staff and she answered simply, “Their parents.”  I nodded.  “I see it when they’re young,” she went on, “how the kids will use our product as if it’s theirs and their parents let them.”  She was right.  We’ve seen kids throw books, rip pages, take stickers, and put plush in their mouths, right in front of their parents who don’t tell them to stop and behave.  So, of course ten years down the road those same kids are going to think it’s okay to use something that doesn’t belong to them so can I really blame them for their shortcomings?

Yet I can’t quite grasp why a parent would think that it’s okay to do this, either.  My parents certainly didn’t let me behave that way (and I continue to respect product when shopping in a store).  I want to think it has something to do with the suburb in which our store is located.  It’s a wealthy suburb and sometimes I get the feeling from customers that they feel entitled to certain things.  But only a small percentage of people actually are like this, so it’s not necessarily that.  Also, I’ve been able to spot others who’ve never worked a day of retail in their lives and don’t understand that damaged product means loss to the store.  Sure, the company takes a hit, but the effects are felt most closely at the store.  As a manager, if we don’t make our sales plan, we can kiss our raises goodbye.*  And one thing that cuts into our profit is store damaged items.  That’s right.  Those four teens partook in a fun game called, “Let’s not give the managers any more money” or “Monopoly”.

*Wouldn’t you be pissed, too, if it meant the difference between making the same crap pay or making an extra $1040/year?

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Posted by on March 2, 2011 in Rants


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Lost: Etiquette. Reward if found.

Bookstores are a fun place to browse and relax.  You can go in, cruise the aisles for a few books, pick up a warm drink, and then sit down in a large, cushy chair to enjoy said books and drink.  It’s most relaxing.  That is, until some jerk on a cell phone decides he has to talk at the highest decibel to be heard on the other end of the line (and, apparently, the store).  Suddenly, you’re jarred from whatever imaginary world you were visiting in the pages before you.  Your muscles tense and your eyes narrow as the guy just keeps on talking, not realizing he’s disturbing those around him.

As is talking on the phone while in the bathroom (especially a public one), talking loudly on a phone in a retail establishment is a pet peeve of mine.  I find it utterly inconsiderate.  The reason people come to stores like mine and stay for hours is to relax, get away from the office or home, not to hear one side of a stranger’s personal conversation.  A coworker of mine once heard an older gentleman explain to his grown daughter why he left her mother for another man. Apparently, the pet section of a bookstore is a great place to have that phone conversation.

Another time I overheard a man telling his friend on the other line that all his checks were bounced and he was afraid to go back to the hotel because his credit card might get rejected at checkout.  He said he was tempted to steal food at the grocery store so instead he decided to hide out in the bookstore.  This guy had the conversation rather loudly, right in front of me as I worked (wearing a name tag, handling product, etc.).  Not only was he rude in talking so loud but also rather stupid.  I went around, first to each manager and then to each cashier, and told them not to take any checks from this guy.

Let’s not forget those people who stand in line and talk on their cell phones.  We see this a good deal of the time, but I imagine it happens in grocery stores and the like as well.  There is nothing ruder than this, I believe.  First of all, it’s a distraction to everyone around, even for the person on the phone.  A cashier may be calling and calling for the next in line but the jerk on the cell phone is oblivious and continues to hold up the line, pissing off everyone around.  Then, when the cashier is helping him and he continues to talk on the phone, the cashier cannot ask the required questions she is supposed to ask.  Not only that, but the cashier is trying to be of service and the customer is essentially ignoring the one person required to help him.

If the cashier is lucky, this is the end of the incident.  But I’ve on that side of the register before and seen that a complete transaction does not mean a complete interaction.  Once a lady came up on her cell phone and practically threw her book at me.  I rang it up and hit total and she swiped her card.  As the receipt printed, she took the phone away from her mouth (but not her ear) and asked if I got her discount card.  Let’s see.  Threw the book at me, check.  Threw discount card at me, no.  Apparently I was supposed to be psychic and know that she had a discount card and look it up for her by somehow knowing her phone number.  How dare I be so rude!  Of course, I had to completely redo the transaction and it further held up the line because one lady couldn’t put down the phone long enough to buy a book.  How long would it have taken?  Thirty seconds?  A minute?  Not as long as it ended up taking, that’s for sure.

So, next time you’re out in public and your phone starts playing “Baby Got Back,” alerting you to a possible booty call, think twice before answering it.*  Is the potential conversation one you want to be shared with strangers?  Especially strangers who will gladly put said conversation on the internet for others to read?  I thought not.

*Really, the why doesn’t matter.  The point is, the people around you are not your friends and family and should not be privy to your life.

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Posted by on October 23, 2010 in Rants


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Validation now comes in an upbeat song

According to you
I’m stupid, I’m useless.
I can’t do anything right.
According to you
I’m difficult, hard to please,
forever changing my mind.
I’m a mess in a dress,
can’t show up on time,
even if it would save my life.
According to you.
According to you.

But according to him,
I’m beautiful, incredible.
He can’t get me out of his head.
According to him,
I’m funny, irresistible,
everything he ever wanted.

These are some of the lyrics to the song According to You by Orianthi.  It’s a catchy and upbeat tune.  The first time I heard the song, I liked it (I still kind of do).  But the lyrics bother me.*  She’s thinking leaving a guy who is unappreciative of her (positive) but seeks validation from another man in order not to feel bad about herself: “I need to feel appreciated, like I’m not hated.”

Young women have so many mixed messages coming at them from the media and I think this could be a damaging one.  They should know they don’t need a man to make them worthwhile, that what they think of themselves is every bit as and even more important than that.  Growing up, I didn’t have many boyfriends and the few that I did have were very, very short-lived.  I was lonely and wanting a boyfriend and there was no public figure around telling me that it was okay if I didn’t have one.  It wasn’t until after college that I grew comfortable with the person I was when I was alone.  I don’t think that what I experienced is all that uncommon.  What I would really like to hear, and I think thousands of teen girls need to hear as well, are lyrics that go something like this:

According to me,
I’m beautiful, incredible,
everything you think I’m not.
According to me,
I’m funny, irresistible,
everything I want to be.

What a positive message!  Get out of a relationship with someone who does not appreciate you and be happy with who you are!  That’s what teen girls in this generation and the next (and the next, etc.) need to hear.  Men do not validate women.  We validate ourselves.

*In the music video, she rocks out really hard on the guitar, which is kick-ass, positive female imagery.  Hooray for her!

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Posted by on October 22, 2010 in Rants


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