Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Multitasking Revealed

Turns out that multitasking is not the boon to efficiency its practitioners would have us believe. Nope. It's not the key to getting more done. In fact, multitasking slows you down and increases the likelihood that you will make a mistake.

That means that multitasking is itself a mistake. If you elect to multitask, you are making a mistake right out of the gate. Who knew? Shouldn't someone be sending out memos declaring multitasking to be a violation of company policy? Should I go to training on how to reduce or prevent multitasking? I don't even know what to call a person who is guilty of multitasking.

I guess whether or not multitasking is bad depends to some extent on how you define it. According to one definition, multitasking is the concurrent operation by one Central Processing Unit of two or more processes. I like this definition because I like to think of myself as a CPU. That way, I can blame any problems on an overfull or faulty hard drive.

There is multitasking all around me. Every morning I see drivers simultaneously applying make-up, talking on the cell phone and eating breakfast. The mistake you're most like to see here? No turn signals. Apparently, getting the eyeliner on straight is more important than signaling your intentions in rush hour traffic.

Campus is awash with multitasking. In classroom after classroom, students follow along with the lecture while texting friends, maintaining Facebook pages, playing Tetris on cell phones, reading the campus newspaper, and/or sleeping. Two of every three students you pass on campus will be on the cell phone, reading something on a phone or blackberry, or texting a response to something they just read. They walk slower than everybody else and are always apologizing for running in to things. I suppose they are less of a menace on foot than behind the wheel of a car.

Multitasking rules at the workplace, too. Most people you see on Facebook at any give time (excluding students), are at work. The blogosphere comes to a screeching halt Friday afternoon, with few if any new posts appearing until bloggers return to their day jobs on Monday. Most of the participants in any meeting I attend these days are busy doing something else. Multitasking rules!

Multitasking is what we do so we won't feel like we're wasting time on whatever it is we're supposed to be doing. Talking on the phone, enjoying a bacon-egg-and-cheese biscuit, and putting the finishing touches on today's face beat listening to traffic reports on the radio. The time passes more quickly, too.

In the end that's what it's really about. God forbid we should be bored for even one little minute. Nope. We live in the era of constant entertainment. But I guess that would depend entirely on how you define entertainment.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Who Knew I Couldn't Do It?

I said I was going to let it go. I tried. But in the end, I couldn't stand the thought of first-time visitors to the house having to poke through weeds to see the permanent residents of our garden. So I took off this afternoon and got most of the weeds pulled. As is often the case, it wasn't as bad as I thought.

Knowing I didn't have time to pull each and every weed, I focused on the most visible areas. With the weeds pulled, the edges cleaned up (I'm all about clean lines), and the yard mowed (thanks babe!) everything looked 100 percent better. I'll spend an hour or two here and there sprucing things up so that by the time guests arrive on Saturday, it should look just about perfect (as long as you don't look too close).

I say it should, and it will, unless some of my half-done projects reveal themselves for what they are. My early vision was a pine needle path that meandered through assorted and sundry blooming shrubs and perennials. The path is more or less in place, in places just waiting for the teaming shrubs and perennials to spring up beside it.

This year we ended up with 15 extra bales of pine straw than were needed to replenish the path to nowhere. The path just ended under a cherry tree because I couldn't decide which way it should go. Had enough pine straw to give both ways a try. Ended up with two extensions that connect with the street. Folks that have to park at the end of the street can come up through the garden instead of having to walk in the street. Very cool.

The catch is that I just tossed pine straw on top of whatever was growing there. I did pull some of the larger weeds--if they poked through enough to mess up the look. And today I went back and pulled out still more weeds. That helped to make it look almost as settled as the oldest section of the long as nothing else grows up through it. I laid it on thick and am keeping my fingers crossed. it's time to start getting the house ready. Ain't nobody going to say that anything in our house is other than spotless. I'm hoping that with the yard looking so nice, the house spiffed up to the max, and all the bf's wonderful food spread out in abundance, nobody will notice how much weight I've gained since last years' party!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Anal Lets Loose

We're expecting about 50 guests at our house next weekend for our second annual Kentucky Derby Party. It's no small undertaking...especially for a crotchety old man like myself. Friends are coming from all over the place, including several I haven't seen for 15 years.

I started planning months ago. The early focus is the yard. The one-acre lot--nearly all on the west side of the north-facing house--is entirely too much for us to manage. We make a noble effort every year despite the drought, the deer, and the long, hot summers with varying degrees of success and quite a lot of failure.

There's not a single planned purchase in my landscape. Nope. That's not how I roll. Other than the many dogwoods, tulip poplars and pines that were here when I moved in, it's 100 percent impulse. Every single specimen obtained on a whim. I've been doing it for years--eleven years at this location, resulting in an eclectic collection of more than 500 different varieties.

For the last two years, the focus has been spiffing things up for the Derby Party. You can't plant several flats of annuals and couple of potted plants in the yard the weekend before the party. It's just not done. You have to get most of the planting done by the end of March so the new arrivals have time to settle. By then we need to focus on spiffing up the house. We can't have anyone saying our house is dirty, now can we?

Right now the garden is full of teeny tiny little weeds. I don't have hours and hours to crawl around pulling them, so they're just going to have to be there. I strongly suspect I'm the only one who will notice. So I'm going to try to let it go. Try. I'm pretty sure I can.

Monday, April 20, 2009

For Candy

An old pal of mine that I've hooked up with on Facebook asked me to write something that would make her laugh on my blog today. I'm not very good at on-demand writing. I've been trying to think of something funny I could write about all afternoon without success.

Rather than let her think I'm just lazy and was pulling her leg, I thought I'd write about her. We've been almost friends for years and years and years. The truth is that we've never really been friends. In fact, I barely know her!

We did go to school together for a really long time, but we weren't friends then. Nope. We got thrown together once or twice a year several years after graduation when a mutual friend of ours blew through town.

Despite the realities of our past, I really like Candy. Candy is and always has been upbeat, positive, and fun to be around. She laughs all the time and seems to really enjoy life. I'm very glad to have reconnected with her again.

I doubt this post made her laugh, but I'm hoping she enjoyed it. After all, not everyone gets their very own posting from...

The Crotchety Old Man

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tempest in a Tea Party

Want to know who in your community lacks a basic understanding of economics? See who attends your local tea party today. Pay particular attention to any elected officials on hand. Support of this movement is a clear indicator they are not qualified to lead given our current economic crisis.

The chief complaint is the massive deficit from all the government spending. Our government is out of control, or so the organizers of this nonevent would have us believe. The truth is that President Obama and his high-caliber team are very much in control and if you ask me, doing everything they can to end this downturn as rapidly as possible.

The simple economic truth is that spending by consumers drives our economy. The more we spend, the better it is for business. When businesses do well they retain or even add employees, continue buying raw materials to make products, and pay taxes to fund our government.

When consumers stop spending, businesses stop production. If spending slows long enough, factories close, employees are laid-off, and the downward spiral begins. More lay-offs mean even less spending by consumers, which leads to more unemployment, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

Huge numbers of consumers have stopped or reduced spending. To keep the economy alive, the federal government has significantly increased spending to offset the decline in consumer spending. The big question is whether or not the increase in government spending is large enough to not only stop the downward spiral, but to turn the economy around. Cutting government spending now would just make a bad situation much worse.

Yeah, we'll all have to pay more because it's not realistic to cut taxes with a big deficit. The Taxed Enough Already acronym for the tea party today suggests to me that the very wealthy are behind this movement. After all, they are really the only group facing tax increases. When they make 400 and 500 times as much as the average worker, as is the case with most CEOs today, they should pay more. And until all the Bush tax cuts, they did.

Another possibility is that the anti-Obama movement is hoping to scare elected officials enough that they will cut spending, thereby guaranteeing that our President will fail. Careful what you wish for. If you think things are bad now, let this movement succeed and see how bad things get, fast. It's enough to make anyone...

The Crotchety Old Man

Friday, April 10, 2009

Doctor Stomping on Your Time? Fire Him!

Today I had a 9:00 appointment with my dermatologist. The nurse called me back to the exam room at 9:15. The doctor strolled in at 9:40. I know, because I told myself that I was going to walk out if he didn't come in by 9:45. I knew to set a deadline because I've had to wait as long as 60 minutes in the exam room before seeing this doctor.

The reason for my visit is an area on my back that itches like crazy. It's bothered me for a long time--a good five years and probably longer. The dermatologist has given me about 60 different creams, lotions, and ointments to try without success.

Two visits ago, he excised a knotty spot in the middle of the itchy area that he thought was the likely cause. I went back to have the stitches out. The wound popped open a day or two later. Methinks perhaps the stitches should have stayed in a few days longer. I didn't call him. What was he going to do?

The itch continues. Today he decided to scrape off some of the skin for a look under the microscope. Lo and behold, it is (and likely always has been) a fungus. Ewwww! He gave me yet another cream that I'm to put on it twice a day for three weeks. He assured me this will clear it up. We shall see.

Either way, I don't think I'm going back. He told me he wants to see me in 6 months. When I went to check out, the receptionist (or whatever she is) told me they only make appointments three months out. She gave me a card with instructions to call back in July. Huh?

I ranted in an earlier post about a similar experience with another doctor--my regular physician. Dropped him after a very pleasant experience at the office of a specialist. In fact, the experience was so different from what I consider to be normal that I commented on it. The nurse said there's no excuse for that kind of abuse and I should change doctors. I did, and I'm much happier as a result.

Know any good dermatologists? If so, let me know. Getting rid of one more inconsiderate doctor might be enough to keep me from being...

The Crotchety Old Man

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

A Blast from the Past

I got an e-mail from a high school pal of mine Sunday inviting me to see her profile on Facebook. We were in school together from third grade on, had lots of classes together, and were both in a couple of plays together our senior year. I haven't seen her in at least 30 years.

Before that e-mail I'd resisted the urge to become a social networker. Blogging (posting and keeping up with other blogs) is a big enough time waster for me--I didn't feel like I needed another. On top of that, I'd been told that I was too old for Facebook since it was primarily for 20-somethings.

Well, if she could be on Facebook, I could too. So I created a profile, posted some pics, and started looking for FB friends. Facebook is the Internet equivalent of crack. It's her fault that I've been combing through profiles looking for friends for most of the last 48 hours. As I write, I'm up to 47 friends!

Of those 47 friends, 16 are high school pals, 15 are coworkers here in Georgia, 6 are colleagues that work in other states, four are spouses or children of friends of mine, 3 are friends (no connection to work), 1 is a cousin, and I have no idea who in the hell two of them are.

By far, the most interesting are my high school pals. We have a class reunion every five years. So far, I've never missed one. The five year reunion was just like high school--exactly. The 10 year was interesting because I went with a troop of lesbians and a suitcase full of drugs and alcohol. Apparently, I'm the only gay man in our graduating class of 675 students, but we have LOTS of lesbians. To say we were the life of the party would be an understatement.

I went to the 15 and 20 year reunions with hubby #1 and the lesbians. He went to the same high school but graduated a year earlier. Hubby #2, 8 years my junior, went with me and the lesbians to the 25 year reunion. The wonderful man I'm with now (who I fully expect will be my last hubby) went with me to the 30th. He's 22 years younger than me, so many of my classmates have kids his age or older. Was a tad awkward for him but I had a ball.

The last time I caught any flack for being gay was at the ten year reunion from some of the jocks. I was more than a little wasted and with that, perhaps a tad mouthy. Fortunately, the lesbians kept them from beating me up.

Now we're all just glad to see the people we grew up with. Even the jocks the lesbians saved me from greet me with a hug today. Any differences we may have had then or have now pale in comparison with our shared histories. My high school pals can appreciate more than just about anyone the person that I am today, and vice versa. After all, they knew me long before I became...

The Crotchety Old Man

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Careful What You Wish For

After more than a half century on this planet, it's my observation that wishes have an often ironic way of coming true.

Throughout my childhood I complained about cowlicks-- those crazy tufts that refuse to cooperate with the rest of your hair. I had three: one at my crown, and one at the hairline on each side of my forehead. For years and years and years I wished they would just go away. That wish came true when my hairline receded past the two cowlicks on my forehead. The one on my crown has since been replaced by a bald spot.

I always wanted highlights in my hair, too. In high school I used SunIn on my hair hoping for that sandy blond look. Given that my hair is almost black, it ended up turning the color of a brand new penny. It was awful. I probably would have repressed this memory were it not for the school photograph from that year, taken just days after applying the SunIn.

A bit more than two years ago I started wishing that we had a more active social life. Poof! This year we're declining some invitations because we just don't have time to fit them all in. It's a nice problem to have, I'll admit.

For much of the last year I've wished for rain. We had four inches last weekend, and have added another two inches since. It's supposed to rain for much of next week, too. We need it, so you won't hear me complaining...much. After all, if I didn't complain, I wouldn't be...

The Crotchety Old Man
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