I admit that I have indeed been feeling cantankerous.  In fact, my new boss, who I speak with for all of 27-29 minutes each week, recently asked me if I had considered scheduling some of my vacation time.  Maybe that was a hint?  I dunno.  My employer is doing this weird thing now where they actively concern themselves with the mental health of their employees.  I guess at some point employers realized that screaming, twitching, anxiety disorder-ridden staff on the verge of violent self-harm wasn’t good for business.  I missed that memo.  I’m not sure when the collective transition took place.  I wish I knew how to emotionally handle groups of other people concerned with my wellbeing.

So obviously, I started causing some trouble.

But first, some background.

At our townhouse, the prior resident most definitely had a cat.  And you know that bullshit apartment complexes do in times of high demand where they let you tour the model but you don’t actually see your specific (and much less appealing) unit until after signing the lease?  Oh sure, you could demand to see it first.  But the prior tenant hasn’t left yet, so you get the next available unit, and if you choose to wait, someone else will the sign the lease and you’re stuck apartment-hunting again.  As a consequence, we moved into a townhouse with cat pee smell and battled it for 5 years.  Carpet shampooing and bowls of activated carbon in the closets mostly solved the problem inside, but every time it rained, the back patio enclosure reeked so bad we couldn’t go out there until it dried.

Now, comfortably relocated to our home in the suburbs, those days are behind us.  Except cat people seem to exist everywhere.  And many cat people, as you are probably well aware, through whatever misguided concept of how cats should be treated or perhaps due to sheer laziness, decide to simply send their pets outside to pee on their neighbor’s property.  It baffles me greatly why these people think this is acceptable, and to which there’s no parallel.  Sure, there’s a certain degree of acceptance that people walking their dogs may end up with those dogs peeing in your lawn at the end of the road, but that’s a far cry from leading their dog through your gardens to pee on your house, or letting it run over and dig holes in your yard.  There’s an understanding that unchecked dog behavior is offensive to others.  But apparently, not so with cats’.

So it was when I found a black cat frequenting my shade garden that I had flashbacks to the townhouse days.  No way in hell I’m going to let my cozy retreat be forever rendered unusable.  Liz contacted the neighbors we knew had cats, and both claimed ignorance of the cat in question, stating that theirs were inside at the time.  Fair enough.  Due diligence completed.  It was time for a more direct approach.

I took to social media (yes I know–shudder), and frankly announced that whoever’s cat was loose had the chance to reclaim it or…there would be a loud bang.  The immediate public reaction was, as you might expect…what you would expect.

Not certain why she deduced I didn’t have a hose. When people attempt sarcasm and fail, it’s kind of sad.

One person told me to spray it with a hose.  She then asked me if I had a hose and, before I could respond, say that if I didn’t have one she would be happy to take up a collection.  I found the attempted condescension amusing.  Proper condescension would have also questioned if I possessed the skill set required to operate a hose, but she was an obvious amateur at this.  Years of customer service has made me an expert at such banter (amazing how many computer scientists and programmers there are suddenly once you tell them that there must have been a glitch in the system somewhere) and has armed me with a variety of ironclad responses to the typical snark.  Had she questioned my ability to use a hose and I rebutted with the assurance that I did know how to use a hose, she would have no doubt escalated to her credentials in hose-usage; how she was a professional hose manufacturer and performed testing on hoses for 30 years, in the process receiving a Ph.D. in Hose Theory from MIT, and that I truly didn’t know how to properly use a hose.

Another gentleman chose to inform me that it was illegal to shoot a cat, apparently ignoring the more fundamental laws against discharging firearms in city limits, but okay.  I assured the man that I wasn’t really going to shoot any cats, as he seemed of the more sound minded and had correctly assumed I wasn’t serious.

Another woman, jumping into the conversation late and an obvious troll, snapped at my suggestion that I would be shooting down the street.  Choosing the ignore her comment as I had already addressed the fact that I wasn’t really going to be doing any shooting, I chose to call out her obvious pseudonym–complimenting it in fact as it was “Karen Manager”.  It genuinely made me laugh and deserved praise.  I was rewarded for my levity by her then calling my wife fat.  I admitted that we do have a weakness for foie gras, caviar, and bourbon; but her posts and profile were shortly deleted.  I think someone (not me) reported it and had it removed.

Again with the hose bit? Was that really the only thing she was getting out of the conversation?

Eventually the trolls and those filled with righteous indignation lost their interest and lessened their comments (except hose lady, who again asked me why I didn’t own a hose).

But the best part was the people coming to my defense, proving that I was not alone in this sentiment, but so far the only one willing to call it out.  In fact, their comments were quicker than mine, giving the feed its own life and no longer requiring my input to keep it going (except to occasionally poke at the bible lady who was convinced of my sociopathy).

But ultimately I had to end it before the conversation devolved into a Reductio ad Hitlerum fallacy.  I truthfully admitted my post was intentionally inflammatory, having used a little social engineering to bring out people’s true feelings on the topic (or apparently their true feelings about animals, killing, and the bible, in some cases), on a topic that might otherwise have gone completely ignored, to instead result in a lengthy discussion and prove that there are many people in this world that don’t appreciate your fucking cat peeing on and damaging their property.  And with that admission also exposing to the commentators how easily they had been manipulated, the conversation instantly died.
This. If you responded angrily with irrelevancy, this is you.

Yes, if you jump into a discussion with angry comments only vaguely related to the topic, you’re stupid (or a child).  And if you think no one cares that your cat is running around their property unsupervised, you’re stupid (or just really naive?).  Or, if you don’t care that your cat is damaging other people’s property, perhaps you’re just an asshole (you’re an asshole).

(Also, I have a garden hose.)



I present to you a mental image:

I’m wearing a Speedo.

This. This is exactly what I look like.

…Don’t get caught up in the details there.  Just conceptualize it.

I’m wearing a Speedo in my backyard and tanning, within obvious full view of the neighbor’s large living room window.  Is your reaction to do a double take, snicker, and maybe snap a photo and share it?

Now instead, envision a young woman in a bikini sunning herself in the nextdoor yard, within full view of your own living room window.

Implications on the obvious forfeiture of the reasonable expectation of privacy guidelines aside, is it wrong?

Or is it merely a yet another double-standard?  Is it another scenario in which an action perceived to be unfair by a woman is sexist, yet its inverse is “just the way it is”?  And any attempt to argue to the contrary results in the privilege discussion, thereby invalidating by contemporary social conventions the entire argument?

A few years back I attempted to find an answer to this broader question (in short, I didn’t):

Reddit: Sexism

But the criticism I received from my sister reminded me of this old dialog.  In fact, the criticism I received actually made it a sexism issue–something that really wasn’t at the forefront of my mind at the time.  I just thought it was funny.  But my sister seems to have a giant chip on her shoulder in these matters, and all too easily either takes something out of context or re-interprets it for a different discussion.  I’m usually pretty good at determining that ahead of time.  Guess I was just feeling cantankerous myself.  Must run in the family.

The original post probably isn’t worth the effort to revisit, but it’s good to know how very little progress we’ve made as a society in this field since then.

Also, I do snicker (every time–it’s a routine occurrence).


My Decade [Nostalgia (Part 3)]

This post is, indirectly, the intended part 3 of the time period nostalgia review started here.  It began under more positive times.

It was supposed to be my decade, in the idolized retro 1950’s way.  I had finally achieved a rather decent salary, in fact putting me in the top 17% of Americans–not bad for an Ohio resident/History major.  I have my house.  I have my family.  I have my car.  I have my gardens.  Possessions might not define the man, but they remain an integral variable in the equation of life’s material existence.

Yet the victory is bittersweet.  Not all are so fortunate, and it dampers the elation to see so many of my contemporaries struggling.

Business closures will reduce consumer choice and consolidate markets.  Schooling taught from home will hold a generation’s academics behind.  Record unemployment will again permanently damage the lifelong earning potential for those impacted.  Collapsing equity values will damage retirements.

It was not the hopeful predictions I had planned to write for this installment.


Garbage Pile

I have a backlog of stuff that I’ve failed to post due to life’s distractions.  So here’s a summary of what I’ve been up to:

1. Quarantine Breakfast

I’ve begun a Sunday ritual where I make a more time-consuming brunch.  This family is not one to rise early of our own accord, so weekday breakfasts are often skipped or consist of premade options.  And since Saturdays are packed with accomplishing chores, there should be at least a few relaxing hours once a  week.

2. Home School

The kid’s had to adapt to completing her schoolwork remotely.  Her focus, however, is still that of an 8-year old’s.  I’ve taken to creating a temporary workstation for her in the basement so I can keep an eye on her, but the visual scene is rather spartan and sad.  Do what works I suppose.

3. Garden Trellis

Each year I make a stronger tomato trellis, and each year it collapses by the end of the season.  This year I decided to build an ultimate trellis, of treated lumber, 3 inch deck screws, and 2-foot deep settings.  It won’t fall down this year, dammit!

4. Victory Garden Planted

The victory garden from earlier this month got planted for the first time.  It’ll be a squash garden with some sunflowers.