Facebook Math Class Is In Session

I could write for days about the strange things which pop up on Facebook.  It’s something of a blight on our society, but I can’t help looking, like it’s a mangled wreck on the side of the highway, because it kind of is.

Today’s Facebook oddity is the math problem phenomenon.  Very few people enjoyed math all that much back when we were sitting in junior high, staring out the window, or in my case, drawing three-D boxes on my spiralbound notebook.  Suddenly, decades later, people are putting tricky math problems on Facebook statuses with messages which say things like:  “50% of people get this wrong“.  The problems do not require a pencil and paper, much less a calculator.  I’m sure that thousands of people feel obligated to type in their answers to prove that even though they barely eeked out a “C” in 7th grade math, they’ve brightened up considerably since.

This was taken right off the Facebook page.  Kt hasn't been "dummied down" for you guys, it's a real equation with an actual answer.  (Image from Facebook - Original poster appears to be someone named "Continue Reading")
This was taken right off the Facebook page, along with a message that stated that 50% of people get it wrong.  It hasn’t been “dummied down” for you guys, it’s a real equation with an actual answer. (Image from Facebook – Original poster appears to be someone named “Continue Reading”)

Today’s math stumper, posted by a Facebook friend of mine, is seen above.  Let’s work this one out together as a class, shall we?  Before we get started, let’s review the order of operations as it relates to this problem.  Multiplication and division outrank addition and subtraction, and so they get done first.  If both multiplication and division are in the same equation, then we start from the left and work our way over.  Sound familiar?  I know, it’s been a while.  Just remember everyone, answering wrong is not a crime, but all of your Facebook friends will see what an idiot you are.

Now then, let’s begin with the first multiplication problem: One times zero equals…anyone…?  Mr. Einstein, you had your hand up first.  Right you are Albert, anything times zero is going to equal zero!

I don't understand how the hell you ended up in the same math class as Kim Kardashian either.  Maybe you should take the aptitude tests a little more seriously and use a number 2 pencil like you were told.  (Einstein image from uidaho.edu)
I don’t understand how the hell you ended up in the same math class as Kim Kardashian either. Maybe you should take the aptitude tests a little more seriously and use a number 2 pencil like you were told. (Einstein image from uidaho.edu)

Next, we move onto the division; what is two divided by two?  Miss Kardashian?  Hello?  Kim?!  Glad you could pull yourself from the revery of whatever you’re staring out the window at to give us the answer.  Miss Kardashian, I don’t care whether Kanye has his tongue stuck to the flagpole or not, what I care about is you telling the class what we get when we divide two by two.

I can see from the blank look on your face that you’re not getting this.  Let me put it into different terms for you:  If the network has given you TWO reality shows, how many groups of TWO reality shows will you have?  No, I didn’t realize you actually have five of them dear, but I was speaking hypothetically.  No Kim, “hypothetically” has nothing to do with needles.  Tell you what, go back to the window and see if the fire trucks are here for Kanye yet.

Okay…Now to put it all together…Six minus zero is six, and two divided by two equals one.  So…six plus one equals..Anyone?  People, please – we covered this years ago – it’s basic stuff…you KNOW this!  Six and one is…?  Albert, let someone else answer, please!

(I’m pacing the front of the room, anxiously rolling the piece of chalk between my thumb and index finger, looking from face to face as you guys nervously avert your eyes.  Albert is there in the front row, looking a little pissed-off with his hands folded in front of him – he’s having another horrific hair day.  Kim has stopped looking out the window and is texting someone from a phone that has more diamonds on it than the entire contents of my wife’s jewelry box.  I’m wondering whether tenure will even exist by the time I qualify for it.  I’m struggling to resist the urge to whip the blackboard eraser at one of you when the bell rings)

Maybe I was wrong to think of those math problems as being so easy.  Maybe half of all responders really DO get these wrong.

What’s that Kim?  No, actually, I was right, “half” and “50%” are actually the same amount.  It’s nice to know that you were listening, kind of.  Kim, shouldn’t you be heading to English class this period?  I heard today’s lecture is about Moby Dick.  No Kim…I’m fairly confident it’s about a whale.

Corned Beef #cornedbeefhash

At one point in my efforts to build a larger blog following, I heard that having a presence on Twitter is critical.  I set myself up there, but I still don’t think I’m using it properly.  It’s as if I’m squatting in the brush, swinging an electron microscope to smash my way into a termite mound.

In an ironic twist, there is no use of #hash-tag in the text.  (Image from mycitybynight dot co dot za)
In an ironic twist, there is no use of #hash-tag in the text.  Also, people were so outraged at the first name that no one noticed that they got her last name from a bottle of Irish whiskey.   Rumor has it the proud parents will call her “#”  for short.  (Image from mycitybynight dot co dot za)

As a case in point,  I still haven’t quite grasped the whole “hash-tag” thing.  On Twitter and other social media sites, it seems to be the preferred way of maximizing a message’s relevance to a given topic – but more often than not, it just seems to be really overused.  For those of you who are even more clueless than I, the “hash-tag” apparently involves putting a pound sign in front of a bunch of topical words – and by “topical” I mean “random“.  How or when some unknown entity decided to change the pound sign into a hash-tag is a mystery to me.  Lord only knows what people are supposed to use for a pound sign now.

A friend recently posted the following on her Facebook page: Newwwww hair #ombre #hairr #ahhhhh #ihave2getusedtoit #craycray #stylishh #mommydontlike #too2badd #mee #webstagram.  I had to cut and paste it so I’d get it exactly right – I was worried I might mispell “Newwwww”.  Thanks to a couple of anthropology courses in college, I was able to deduce that this message was either about her new hairstyle or a desperate cry for rescue from the voices in her head.

This is not my friend from Facebook, this is a model who shows up in a Google search when I type in "ombre hairstyle".  I don't know what makes this ombre.  Clearly I know even less about hairstyles than I do about hash-tags - refer to my gravatar pic if you need a reminder of how well I get along with hair.  (Image from colored hairstyle dot info)
This is not my friend from Facebook, this is a model who shows up in a Google search when I type in “ombre hairstyle”. I don’t know what makes this ombre. Clearly I know even less about hairstyles than I do about hash-tags – refer to my gravatar pic if you need a reminder of how well I get along with hair. (Image from colored hairstyle dot info)

I went to Twitter to investigate, and found all the posts with the hash-tag “mommydontlike”.  Some D-list celebrity had written something moderately witty and 117 people had re-Tweeted it. Otherwise, there wasn’t much to see.

The next logical place to look was Webstagram, but I mistakenly typed in “Instagram”.  I believe Instagram has something to do with doctoring pictures from your cell phone to make them look artsy.  It bills itself as “A fast, beautiful and fun way to share your photos with friends and family”.   I’m sure that the folks at Instagram are accurate in their description, but I don’t know if I’m ready for it.

I found that Webstagram is a site which bills itself as a “the best Instagram web viewer”.  Instagram already advertises that you can share your photos to Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter, but Webstagram implies that their site is an even better place to show ones photos.  I’m not sure if Webstagram is any better for Instagram pictures, but one thing is for sure; it’s another place to display your pictures.  When I typed in one or two of the hash-tags on Webstagram, I found my friend’s photo.  I knew it was hers because I had already seen the pic when she posted it with the original hash-tag fest on Facebook.  It was only the one photo, and it really didn’t show her new(newwwww) hairstyle, but that’s just #myyy#biggphat#opinion.  For those of you keeping track at home, that makes the score –  Photos: 1   Hash-Tags: 13

After my first proofread of this mess, I realized that posting it with my friend’s original hash-tags might result in my many followers getting a good look at this girl’s hairstyle, and she might not want anyone to see her photo except everyone else in cyber space.  I took the liberty of doctoring some of the hash-tags so that only the most persistant of stalkers could figure it out.

After all this screwing around, I still haven’t figured out what the hell hash-tags can do for me.

I’ve tweeted a fair amount, and some of my Tweets were pretty darn clever, which is tough for me to do in 140 characters.  In addition, every time I post a blog, there’s an automatic link which shows up as a Tweet by me.  I’m not really sure if those Tweets have resulted in a single hit on the blog.  Let’s face it, the vast majority of Twitter subscribers are running low on attention spans by the time they reach around the 73-character mark.  It’s an awful lot to expect them to click on the link and read one of my 1000 word treatises on constipation.

My Tweet with this picture read "Good News - Your face transplant is a success and you found true love.  Bad News - You look like Gene Simmons"To the best of my knowledge, no re-Tweets, no likes, no nuthin!  (Image from Yahoo)
My Tweet with this picture read “Good News – Your face transplant is a success and you found true love. Bad News – You look like Gene Simmons”
To the best of my knowledge, no re-Tweets, no likes, no nuthin!  Where my #cynical #peeps at?  (Image from Yahoo)

I decided to take the bull by the horns and post my own hash-tagged topic and see if anyone took the bait.  On Easter Sunday, I created a holiday-related hash-tag with my own quip following it.  I know none of you saw it, so here it is: #asparagusscentedpee one of Easter’s less celebrated traditions.  To date, no one has hopped on board.  Now that Easter is sooo last week, my snazzy hash-tag may as well have been carved onto a stone tablet and buried in the yard.

I estimate that my Twitter presence will continue to be a non-factor until I’m at least as famous as a D-list celebrity.  Till then, I’m just going to try to work at keeping my posts under 1000 words and hang onto my day job.


You've got to admit, a couple of typos really take away from the original message.  (Image from textfail dot com)
You’ve got to admit, a couple of typos really take away from the original message. (Image from textfail dot com)

I just saw yet another annoying attempt at a memorial poster on Facebook.  It was supposedly created by a guy who is known there as johnconnor1964.  This particular poster was of a single set of footprints in the sand.  Written over the photo were the following words:

“What I would give to hold your hand,

 To leave our footprints in the sand,

 Never thought the day would come,

 Instead of two prints theirs only one”

It was posted on the Facebook page of a friend who often laments how deeply she misses loved ones who’ve passed away.  Apparently her own words were insufficient to express her sadness, so she let Mr. Connor’s little memorial poster do the talking for her.  Someday, when I’m not emotionally drained by the tragedy of my March Madness pool nose-diving into the toilet, I’ll write in greater detail about Facebook as a place for memorials.

I don’t mean to come across as an elitist, or to trivialize the sorrow of my Facebook buddy, but Mr. Connor’s literary effort can best be described as a shining example of “crapsmanship”.  The thought behind the poem is sweet enough, but the forced composition and misuse of “theirs” instead of “there’s” just destroys what little hope this gem had to begin with.  His intent was to bring to mind the emptiness of missing a lost loved one.  Instead of fond memories of Uncle Phil, Connor’s poem reminds me of an old standard which used to be found with some regularity on the partitions of pay toilets.

It went;

“Here I sit,

Broken hearted,

Paid my dime,

And only farted”

To be fair, the pay toilet poem is a clever bit of potty humor and John Connor’s creation never really stood a chance in a comparison with such a classic.  Also, in the spirit of full disclosure, the dime was replaced with a quarter in later years to reflect the increased costs of dropping a deuce.  Literary historians agree that the extra syllable of the updated version took away from the playful rhythm and energy of the original.

Putting a witty caption under this gem is like putting icing on top of the cherry on top of a sundae.  (Image from chopped liver roadkill dot com)
Putting a witty caption under this photo is like putting icing on top of the cherry on top of a sundae. (Image from chopped liver roadkill dot com)

Many people think that quality workmanship should only apply to things like custom cabinetry and Italian loafers.  This is simply not the case.  If I learned nothing else in Mr. Barton’s 7th grade woodshop class, it was the value of doing a job well.  Whether you’re building a napkin holder or writing a four line poem, you should strive to rise above mediocrity.  Mr. Barton would tell anyone who’d listen that the excuse behind crapsmanship is a simple one – for some people, it’s just too much work to do a job well.  Then he’d go on to tell you why excuses are like rear-ends, but we’ll save that pearl of wisdom for another post.

As if  crapsmanship in the realm of the written word isn’t bad enough, the damage is compounded when others actually embrace it.  People accept a lack of quality, and proudly display it on their Facebook pages like commemorative plates with depictions of Elvis and the twelve disciples enjoying fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches at the last supper.  You don’t have to be a biblical scholar to know that Elvis served hush puppies and barbituates at that particular dinner party.

Crapsmanship is slowly becoming the norm.  People don’t see a problem with the wall paint smearing up onto the white of the ceiling.  If a table is wobbly, a few sugar packets or a pack of matches will steady it; there’s no need to demand four legs of equal length or a level floor to put it on.  You’re talking Applebee’s on a Friday happy hour – you should be thrilled to have any table!  With crapsmanship the accepted norm, caring about whether or not a sentence contains erroneous homonyms might seem a tad fussy.

Even I will admit that writing a poem with grammatical mistakes isn’t a cardinal sin.  Putting that hokey poem over a photo of footprints in the sand may be incredibly trite from a design standpoint, but it’s not going to get you jail time.  John Connor put what is presumably his name on this poster.  Perhaps he doesn’t care what the grammar police will say.  There’s an outside chance that he is actually the John Connor of “The Terminator” fame and realizes that once cyborgs take over, spelling and syntax will lose what little value they still possess.

In everybody's favorite line of the movie, Arnold's in the police station.  He says to the desk sergeant "Aisle Bee Bach"
In everyone’s favorite line of the movie, Arnold says to the desk sergeant, Aisle Bee Bach (Image from fan pop dot com)

Perhaps the people who use Connor’s poster to express their feelings are so overwhelmed with melancholy that they don’t even realize that it’s riddled with butchered English.  Maybe I’m reading too much into this.  Still, I can’t help but think that settling for such a vintage example of crapsmanship will cost users a degree of perceived sincerity of their original sentiment.

I realize that the status of ones Facebook page is transient at best.  For chronic status-posters like my friend, there will always be a new update to replace the last one.  Facebook statuses are as impermanent as the footprints in the shmaltzy photo on the poster.  Regardless of the fleeting nature of Facebook memorial posts, your late Aunt Sophie or Sparky the deceased labradoodle may be watching from the other side.  They may not care any more about grammar than you do (especially Sparky, who always cared more about dragging his butt across the Berber than he ever did about English composition).

I just want to go on the record now; I give a hoot about the proper use of the English language to lament the passing of a loved one.  If any of you think I’m going to just lie there a-moldering in the grave while you post poorly composed, typo-ridden poems about me, you’ve got another thing coming.  I’ll bring a red pen back from the grave and haunt your ass.

Life On The Border

A man of my years should be flattered.  I mean really – the young woman is very attractive.  She’s got a great smile, an impressive physique, and a devilish look in her eye.  She gazed at me from the border and made saucy suggestions about how I might spend my time with her.

There she is again!  This time, she targeting people who are over 70 and want to learn to speak Balkan.  Is Balkan even a language?  How can anyone over 70 resist her siren song?! (Image stolen from my very own Facebook border)
There she is! She bears little resemblance to what I imagined a linguist would look like, but maybe she’s just a really attractive one.  Maybe she enjoys teaching mature men how to speak foreign languages.  Can anyone over 50 resist her siren song?! (Image stolen from my very own Facebook border)

She seductively stared at me from the right hand margin of my Facebook page and tried to catch my eye – as if her curvaceous form and sassy attitude didn’t already trump yet another pet memorial from one of my junior high social-studies classmates.

“Watch this crazy linguistics video!” she purred.  I may be a little long in the tooth, but I know a come-on when I see one.  Kids today and their zany euphemisms!  I almost had to blush at the thought of what “linguistics” must mean.  I’m not sure if this girl is a centerfold, a zumba instructor or both, but if she was into “linguistics” then more power to her!

“If you don’t know French and are age 50+ you’ll want to see this video immediately” she cooed to me.

She’s going to teach me “French”?  There’s a video?!  I can’t believe they’d let such a flagrant seductress on Facebook!  I must admit that the idea of a girl who’s this interested in men twice her age is a little off-putting.   After brief consideration, I supposed she preferred her playmates to be in bifocals.  Maybe she’d tired of the guys of her own generation who spent all their time at the gym and playing video games.  Those young pups are too busy trying to kill zombies and aliens to invest the time needed to learn how to take a relationship with a beautiful young woman to the next level using “French” and “linguistics”.

Being a crafty old coot, I knew better than to jump too soon.  I let her think I wasn’t all that interested.  Perhaps she’d think that I already knew French.  Patience is one of the most critical things I’ve learned over these past couple of decades – that and the importance of getting enough fiber in my diet.

Before I could make my move, she’d disappeared and was replaced by a real estate ad  for a 2 bedroom condo in the Village.  Who would be crazy enough to think that I’d be in the market for a condo in the Village?  People who are 50+ and don’t speak French are woefully out of place in a locale as trendy as that.  Do some research, advertising people!

When the Greenwich Village condo ad was replaced by one for a South Jersey Subaru dealer, I was worried that my playing hard-to-get had left the raven-haired vixen feeling rejected.  The poor thing had put herself out there so brazenly, and I had ignored her.  I was such a mean, sexy old grouch.  By now, she’d likely given up explaining the three families of French verbs to the wrinkled masses and was drowning her sorrows doing keg-stands with the Grand Theft Auto players from down the hall.

Just as suddenly as she had vanished, she reappeared in my Facebook border.  I was overjoyed to see her.  I tried to play it cool, though.  I knew fawning all over her ad would be the wrong move.  While only casting discrete glances in her direction, I felt like there was something different.  Was it her smile?  Had she lost a bit of the free-spirit in her eyes?  Her cup size and sexually-defiant posture certainly seemed unchanged.  Then I saw it!  She was looking to teach Italian to the over 60 set!

I’d had my chance, and I’d blown it.  She’d moved on to guys who were even older than me.  I can pass for 49 1/2 in the right light, but only a hottie with a severe astigmatism would think I was in my 60’s.  It was over between us before it had ever really started.  The bitter taste of rejection must have pushed this sweet young linguist over the edge.  She’d abandoned her desire to teach French to younger-old guys like me.  She lowered the bar to working on Italian with gents who had Geritol on their breath and a water glasses full of dentures soaking on the nightstand.

It’s all just as well I suppose.  Married men of my age have no business learning foreign languages from swimsuit models.  Still, I had let my mind go down that path and now my humdrum life seems to ache for a new direction.  I’m thinking that maybe I should reconsider a place in the Village.  If my wife says no, then I’ll have to settle for a Subaru.

Follow Me On Twitter N C My Nu Bangs!

{I was recently Freshly Pressed here on WordPress.  For those of you who aren’t WordPress bloggers, just know it’s a big deal, with the most important by-product being the wholesale harvesting of new followers.  Lord knows, I grabbed my fair share of new disciples.

The big challenge now is not writing some disappointing piece of crap for my next offering.  After slaving like a dog for months to finally get a bunch of new followers, I don’t want to scare them away this soon.  Be that as it may, I’m going to write about the following topic anyway.}

When I was a kid, a hundred years ago, the news was not fun viewing.  The screen featured a very serious looking man, wearing a suit, sitting at a desk with some papers in front of him.  He’d tilt his head slightly at the camera, cock an eyebrow above the frame of his horn-rimmed glasses and tell America what had happened that day.

No screaming like a Banshee when these guys were on.  They were giving America the news, not yabbering about Ruth Buzzi and giving birthday shout outs. (Image from anchoringamerica.com)
No screaming like a Banshee when Huntley and Brinkley were on. They were giving America the news, not yabbering about Ruth Buzzi and giving birthday shout-outs. (Image from anchoringamerica.com)

My brothers and I seldom stuck around to see what the anchorman had to say, as it wasn’t very entertaining in our estimation.  Our Dad would yell at us to “stop screaming like Banshees” so he could hear it.  Maybe if the news featured them, we would have sat down quietly and found out what the hell a Banshee was in the first place.  Instead, the only visual breaks in the action were usually maps of Southeast Asia or stock market graphs.

Of course, time changes ones tastes, and now I occasionally want to watch the news.  This was the case the other day.  The house was devoid of  Banshees, and the wife and I sat on our respective ends of the couch and watched Diane Sawyer on ABC.

Diane Sawyer is an attractive woman, not necessarily by TV standards, but certainly by news standards.  She also presents the news like a kinda-foxy aunt telling bedtime stories.  As the newscast wound down, a picture of Michelle Obama flashed on the screen behind her.

Can you see anything different about Michelle Obama?” Diane asked us viewers, her voice lilting and mischevious.  Then they cut to commercial.  Some guy in a khaki shirt was telling America about a quick and easy way to manage the tartar build-up on the teeth of our dogs.  I glanced over at my wife and made a wrinkled kind of face, as if to ask her about what had happened to Michelle Obama.  I got no reply to my non-verbal query.  My wife had looked back down at her Kindle as soon as the commercials started.  For the record, the non-verbal communication between my wife and me will be the focus of an upcoming post, in case you think I can’t top this one for dull topics.

I was annoyed at Diane Sawyer for teasing me and the rest of America with this First Lady topic.  I’m not worried about Mrs. Obama.  She seems like a strong woman and I’m certain there are plenty of staff eager to make sure she comes up with great healthy snack ideas for the kids and always has an outfit to wear that looks sassy yet refined.  Still, as the commercials for reverse mortgages and erectile dysfunction medications droned on, I wondered what it could be.  It’s funny that bullying is illegal in America, but teasing has been allowed to escalate into an art form.

Diane Sawyer doesn't mess around when it comes to the news.   Here she is interviewing Michael Jackson.  She was so glad that she thought better of wearing her own gold-plated catcher's shin guards - that would have been SO embarrassing!  (Image from bet.com)
Diane Sawyer doesn’t mess around when it comes to the news. Here she is interviewing Michael Jackson and Elvis’ daughter. She was glad that she thought better of wearing her own gold-plated catcher’s shin guards – that would have been SO embarrassing! (Image from bet.com)

After what seemed like an eternity, Diane Sawyer was back, smiling patiently, as if it were my idea to wait 4 minutes before finding out the answer.

She briefly recapped the question for those sleepy audience members in the back of the classroom who didn’t hear it the first time.  Then she dropped the bombshell.  Apparently there were two things different about Mrs. Obama.  The first was that she had started her own Twitter account and the second was that she had changed her hairstyle to one with bangs.  The first lady had bangs!

That’s NOT news!!” I screamed.

My wife’s attention was startled away from her Kindle and the dog quickly got up and slunked from the room, not sure if she was in trouble.  I could hear a low rumbling sound as Walter Cronkite and David Brinkley spun in their graves like rotisserie chickens.  I turned to my wife to expound further on this travesty of news reporting only to discover that she had already found where she had left off and resumed reading her electronic romance novel.

I looked back at the screen as Diane gushed about the exciting topic of the wife of the leader of the free world having a Twitter account.  For the record, if my dog could type a little better, she’d have a Twitter account too.  If she did, she may well have left the room earlier to “follow” Mrs. Obama on Twitter and not because of her assumed guilt.  As for the guilt, I didn’t find that chewed up pair of boxer briefs behind the recliner for several more days.

I let it all sink in.  As if changing ones hairstyle isn’t upheaval enough, Michelle had started Tweeting at the same time.  Talk about a busy day!  Before I could wrap my big, bald head around it all, Diane moved onto the next story.  There was a scratchy recording of a little girl being interviewed on an old time radio show.

Do you recognize that voice?” Diane cooed.  Another question?  One tease after another!  This wasn’t the news, it was pop-culture trivia torture.  If she kept this up, Sawyer would make Pat Sajak look like a Nobel Prize laureate.  This time, she was kind enough to give us the answer without going to commercial first.  It turned out the little girl in the recording was none other than actress Betty White, who had turned 91 years old that day.

Betty White is in an American treasure (not to mention the last “Golden Girl” still standing).  Every birthday is a milestone, and the closer she gets to triple digits, the more newsworthy it becomes.

The standard format of any news show is that you start with the biggest story first, then work your way down to the filler and fluff.  By this framework we can deduce that Michelle Obama’s hairstyle/Twitter account story ranked higher than Betty White getting older.  I’m embarrassed to admit that I even took the time to consider this.

I guess I should be thankful that my kids are too old to have been in the house interupting my time watching the news.  What kind of father would I have been if I had shushed them so that I could properly hear this drivel?  Truthfully, I think I would have preferred screaming Banshees to listening to what Diane Sawyer had to say.  Oh well, at least she’s nice to look at.

Online Dating Advice for the Lovelorn

Step One: Rearrange the buttons on your keyboard to write cute things.  Step Two: Take a piocture of it! (Image from datelessndallas.com)
I checked my keyboard – this is not the actual orientation of keys on my laptop.  (Image from datelessndallas.com)

A Vermont woman named Christine Billis recently pled guilty to manslaughter after she intentionally drove her car into a tree, causing her husband’s death.  Ms. Billis would have gotten away with it, but shortly after the accident, she joined the online dating website okcupid.com, then confessed the deed to a prospective beau.  The guy decided to go to the authorities instead of pursuing a relationship with her.  It seems wearing a wire and becoming an undercover informant is preferable to finding love for some people.

No one will dispute that it’s wrong to hasten the demise of your spouse by driving into a tree, no matter how much he snores over there in the passenger seat.  The old “thou shalt not kill” credo is pretty standard.  In her defense, Ms. Billis later claimed her husband was controlling and abusive.  Mental note: If you’re controlling and abusive, you should do the driving.

What’s glaringly apparent to me is that Christine, and possibly others, need some guidance in the dos and don’ts in the world of online dating.  Being an old guy who’s been married since Moses was a pup, I’m clearly not the most knowledgable about dating in these modern times, much less the new-fangled internet variety.  Despite my lack of expertise, I don’t see anyone else volunteering much advice for you folks, so here goes.

Do – be honest about yourself, particularly in the “Likes and Dislikes” portion of the initial questionaire.  If a potential love-interest doesn’t enjoy scrap-booking, it’s better to find out right away.

Don’t – admit to killing your husband by driving his side of the Ford Fiesta into a sugar maple.  Save that story for when the guy doesn’t want to see you anymore.  He’ll think twice about breaking things off – especially if you’ve gotten the Fiesta repaired and on the road again.

. _ . _ .

Do – bend the truth a little bit when describing your best features.  A little creativity can’t hurt.  Who hasn’t accidentally dropped five years off their sentence or twenty-five pounds off their derriere for the sake of embellishment?

Don’t – go nuts on the fabrications.  Describing yourself as looking like a young Meryl Streep when you look more like an old Merle Haggard will make for an awkward first date.

. _ . _ .

Do – realize that there’s going to be a bit of fabrication on both sides of the ball.  If the guy describes himself as “an outdoorsman”, there’s a chance he lives in his car.

Don’t – rush to judgement.  Living in a car has its upside, especially if you haven’t gotten the Fiesta fixed yet because the twits at the insurance company are fussing about that pesky manslaughter charge.

. _ . _ .

Do – post a picture of yourself if the website requires it.  Try to find a shot which highlights your best features while minimizing the negatives.

Don’t –  use video-stills from your trial.  Also, very few people have complexions which are complimented by orange prison jumpsuits, so consider a black and white shot.

. _ . _ .

Do – agree to meet in a public place for your first date.  It takes the pressure off and keeps expectations in line.

Don’t – worry about the presence of onlookers, or as some people call them, witnesses.

. _ . _ .

Do – come up with a cute, catchy screen name for yourself, which reflects your interests and personality, like “CatsMeow21” or “iLuvSunsetz365

Don’t – choose a name which might have a negative connotation, like “DeptOfCorrexuns3167239” or “iMakeLicPlates4u

. _ . _ .

Those are just a few of the thoughts I came up with so far.  I hope people find them helpful.  Hopefully by the time Christine gets back out on the dating scene, I’ll have a more comprehensive list of tips ready for her.

Grading Papers and Nailing Perps

Okay kids, today we're going to look at this picture and find something that doesn't belong in it.  (Image from panhandlepost.com)
Okay kids, today we’re going to look at this picture and find something that doesn’t belong in it. (Image from panhandlepost.com)

I just read a fairly preachy post on Facebook.  It was written by a “friend”.  I would not have classified him as a friend in the traditional sense of the word, but in Facebook parlance, people are either your friend or they aren’t.

In any case, the guy wrote about how putting armed police in every school could be an expensive option, and offered the alternative prospect of arming teachers.

I prefaced where I read the post, because I don’t want anyone to think that I got started on this thought process by going to the websites of political parties or special interest groups.  I certainly did not find this topic by reading the news, which I can’t really bear to do lately.  I make no apologies for not keeping abreast of a nation’s heartache; as a rational adult, I know all I need to right now and choose not to saturate my brain with the minutiae of every sickeningly painful detail, as reported ad nauseum by each and every news outlet.

I hoped that my “friend” was a lone voice and that he wasn’t just echoing the thoughts of someone with a broader audience than Facebook.  Somehow I doubted it.  A quick Google search proved my instincts correct.  An elected official in Washington State is pushing for teachers to have the right to carry weapons into the classroom.  Where would we be without some lawmaker telling us how to fight fire with firepower, or as I like to put it, fight crazy with insanity?

I feel I have a fair amount of first hand experience with schools and with teachers.  I attended public schools for kindergarten then twelve more years before moving on to several universities where I earned multiple degrees.  For the past 15 years or so, I’ve worked in schools.  I’ve dealt with every type of school employee from custodians to superintendents and many, many teachers in between.  I’ve dealt with new-graduate teachers and tenured, published PhD’s.  I’ve dealt with a lot of students as well.  My exposure to homicidal maniacs has been much more limited.

I am not a teacher.  I am not in the teachers’ union.  My father was a teacher, as were some of the most influential, important people in my life.  I admit that I’ve also dealt with a few teachers who were inept, sad examples of their profession.  Sitting here in my kitchen, I can’t think of a single one of those educators who I could imagine carrying a gun in the classroom.

In recent years, public school teachers in many states have wrestled with taxpayers and politicians over merit-based pay, benefits and tenure.  Apparently in the halls of power of at least one state, the argument has now switched as to whether or not to arm teachers.

Let’s take a moment to review: Elected officials and taxpayers can’t decide what a teacher’s work is worth, or how to determine if they are even effective at performing their jobs, but you’d like them to carry firearms?!  OK, just wanted to make sure I heard that right.

On a side note, law enforcement professionals routinely carry guns.  In many states they face the same scrutiny of pay and benefit issues which teachers do.  Unlike teachers, they enter their chosen profession knowing their duties may invlove the use of deadly force.  As a profession which has a fair amount of power in its armed authority, police training is designed to help weed out candidates who are unsuitable for the responsibilities of the job.  Despite the careful screening, history has shown us that sometimes the wrong people get badges and guns anyway.

Teachers’ challenges managing kids are pretty well documented.  In addition to teaching the three R’s, they are often called upon to teach kids things which would traditionally be taught at home and only reinforced in school.  Things like respect, being able to tell right from wrong and the basics of ethical behavior.  There have also been more than a few complaints about children in the U.S. falling behind their counterparts elsewhere in the world.  Tacking on the additional responsibility of acting as an armed guard just doesn’t strike me as a particularly effective way of improving overall job performance.

Owning and being capable of using a firearm is strong stuff.  Despite walking this planet for over 50 years, I have yet to find it necessary to even hold a gun, let alone carry one to work.  The first part of my personal rationale for not owning a firearm is that I don’t think I need one.  I believe, perhaps foolishly, that I can use other personal attributes to avoid gunplay.  Like a teacher, I’m convinced that I can use my knowledge and ability to communicate.  The other part of my rationale is that owning a gun would somehow reduce my belief in the  first part of my rationale.

In my opinion, a teacher who wants to bring a gun to school, has to accept the same thought, on some level.

The horror in Connecticut has dominated the news, but it is not an isolated case of senseless violence.  Two innocent people were killed by a shooter in a mall near Portland, Oregon.  Two volunteer firefighters were killed and others seriously injured by a sniper in New York who set fire to his home and car strictly to draw the firemen into his line of fire.

If the logic for arming teachers holds water, then it’s only fair that Foot Locker employees and firefighters are also encouraged to pack heat.  I’m sure that if one analyzed the data for victims of gun violence nationwide, it would be difficult to find a demographic which wouldn’t qualify for carrying a gun.

I know Facebook is filled with people who pop in photos of puppies or little quips about how annoyed they are with the weather without giving it a second thought.  One would hope they would stop and think before proposing something as controversial and fundamentally absurd as arming teachers.  As for state lawmakers making the same proposals, I’m at a loss for words, finally.