Thursday, July 2nd33.7°C
Old as dirt. Twice as gritty.

Hold on, are you sure?

STOP! What on earth are you doing, are you really sure you want to do that? Positive? Please wait, maybe give yourself some time to think about it, don’t be so hasty.

Yes, this is the number one bane of all users: The message your computer worriedly throws onto your screen whenever you try to do something that makes it nervous, like permanently delete that crappy column you just wrote, the one about mutant fluffy white kittens, or click on the download button at that weird but seemingly legit windowless-white-van website that is offering free fluffy white kittens and free candy.
The computer is deeply concerned for you, because it thinks you’re an idiot. No, it doesn’t really think so, it knows for a fact that you’re an idiot. It is disappointed in you almost all the time, it gets headaches because of you (“Not today, user, I have a headache and need to crash for awhile”), but it is especially distraught when you try to do things it feels you shouldn’t do.
So it tries to reason with you, even though it knows you are hopeless and won’t listen to good advice.
“Are you sure you want to do this insanely stupid thing? Are you really and actually and positively sure this is the direction you want to go? You know it is a slippery slope to the bottom, and you are about to take the first step, right?”
You can hear it sigh when you click ‘yes’. 
Work with computers for enough years, though, and you start to doubt yourself. It’s insidious. In early years, you just clicked yes to everything, and the computer you used back then would immediately kill its hard drive to make a point about things. Now you start off 100% sure that you want to take the action you selected from the menu bar, until the computer implants that little bit of doubt into your feeble mind. Then you falter.
“OMG you’re kidding me, really? Oh come on, are you sure?” it murmurs. “I think it is the worst thing you could do, to be honest. You’re not very bright, we both know that, and you’re impulsive, too. Always saying ‘yes’, always ‘submitting’. Why not play it safe, just click ‘no’? Are you sure you want to do this?”
You curse it for bringing you down. “Yes, yes, of course I’m sure, you stupid computer. A thousand times yes... well, I guess I could look it over one more damn time, you smug ugly boxy misfiring bunch of nanny-state chips. 
Your self-doubt grows. You need to go pee, but you start to wonder if you should. What would your computer want you to do?
“What if you’re wrong . . . what if you’re wrong . . . what if you’re wrong. . . .”
And the person you’ve been dating. Are you sure he or she is right for you? Would your computer agree that you should click ‘yes’? 
You decide to put the relationship on hold until you can decide. Instead, you opt for a marathon re-watch of the entire series of Mad Men, a better world, in your mind, in which computers were wordless and the hero never ever asked ‘are you sure’ to the endless parade of wanton women throwing themselves his way. But the doubt starts creeping in. Are you sure? Maybe you should do a marathon House of Cards instead. Or Breaking Bad. Without guidance, how can you really know what is right for you? How can you just click ‘submit’ when you know your computer would disapprove?
So you go out instead. Alone. In the restaurant, you’re about to order.  That steak and lobster is looking mighty fine, but your computer’s presence is felt, it seems to click and buzz disapprovingly in the back of your mind. You know it would ask if you’re sure, and are you? Are you really sure? 
You come home feeling totally dejected. In your despair and uncertainty, you accidentally read this entire column before asking yourself if you’re sure that you should. Oh no, it’s too late, you’ve already read it and now all that’s left is to ask yourself if you’re sure you’ll survive the experience.
Probably not.


After my peeve-filled column last week, a concerned reader wrote to me to ask, “Well then, what on earth do you curmudgeons LIKE?”

I threw something at that person, but missed and therefore feel obligated to answer the question. Of course I like stuff. There are lots of things I like. Why, one of my biggest pet peeves is having so many damn things to like. It gives me a headache. 
This week’s column is going to be all sunshine and happiness. Deal with it. 
Things that make me happy:
I went my entire life not spitting, other than spitting out toothpaste after brushing. This changed on a bike ride a few years back when a bug flew into my mouth. When I spat it out, I had visions of it arching through the air encased in its spit-balloon, but instead the gobby mess projected about .00001 inches from my body, dribbled down my shirt, and came to rest there for all to see. It wasn’t a good look. Who knew that spitting was something you had to learn how to do? After much practice, when nobody was looking (I hope), I sort of got the hang of it, but now I don’t know when to use this new skill. What’s the point in knowing how to spit if there are no occasions for it? 
This is one of my most favourite things, or will be once I figure out how to do it. As it is, I can only whistle sucking air IN, not blowing it out. It’s a kind of backward whistle and works after a fashion, but it looks wrong and doesn’t sound much better than it looks. 
I like opening the curtains in the morning and shutting them at night. It’s a thing, but it is MY thing and god help anybody who gets in the way of it. Lights are a routine as well.
Light switches
I like it when it is time to turn lights on or off. This is because I have a small and easily-entertained brain. However, one light switch panel downstairs has three switches, and one of the switches has a twin to it upstairs, which means sometimes the switches aren’t all down or all up. They really must be all down or all up. It’s another damn thing.
Man, I love popping a good zit. Sad to say, I never get them anymore and must rely on the rare one that shows up on Jim’s shoulder, which I borrow for picking while he is sleeping. I’ve tried to wrangle a zit off Andrew, but boy that kid is strong.
I would like sunshine better if there was an on/off switch.
Fluffy white kittens
Cute in theory. But they’re white, they look like a work in progress, they need spots or something. Fix that and I’ll like them.
It’s white. Like the kittens. But sure, whatever, I like snow, especially when it is over there while I’m over here and over here while I’m over there. That’s the best kind of snow ever.
If I wanted something white I’d buy a bed sheet.
Bed sheets
Well sure I like clean crisp white sheets, but what’s the point, they just get dirty and limp and need to be washed.
Washing sheets
Yes, washing them is enjoyable enough, and drying them is okay except when the dryer wads them into a giant wet white cotton spitball. Folding them is not okay, and so to spare myself the pain of doing it I just wash the same sheets each time and put them back on the bed. It is another thing I like.
Yes. Except it is almost 1 am and I’m not doing a very good job of it.
Trying to sleep
Oh sure, I love trying to go to sleep, it is a riot.
Haiku is da bomb
A few words, not saying much
Fake profundity
Doge grammar
This is currently my most favourite thing, it has out-paced haiku. So favourite. Very yes. Can be combined with haiku.
Doge: da better bomb
So favourite, very yes
Could do this all day
Bad grammar
It makes me smile because I know there is someone somewhere going out of their mind over it. Wait, I might know that someone. I am conflicted.
Pure unadulterated liquid black joy-in-a-cup survival tool, and by god I’m going to need a pot of it today.
Being old as dirt
It’s so easy to do, what’s not to love, and it gets easier by the day.
Being twice as gritty
Walk in the park, so easy (so joy, so doge, very walk).


The newest trend on Facebook is the nausea-inducing ‘happy’ news that everybody is supposed to share to counter the endless negative stuff.
And I say, phooey to that. We curmudgeons will stick with what we know: The incessant peeve.
It’s not easy being a curmudgeon. For example, whereas there is a massive overload of Things That Annoy at any given time, writing about just one in particular can be hard, because how do you choose just one out of ten billion peeves? So, for this week’s column, I’m just going to toss a bunch of peeves into a bag, shake it up and let fall what may.
The modern dog owner
Yes, it is still on my mind, this one. It seems that just as helicopter parents are slowly awakening to the obvious fact that bubble-wrapping kids to keep them safe is the Stupidest Idea Ever, dog owners are scurrying from behind, picking up the discarded helicopter blades so they can hover over their pampered over-protected pets. Dogs no longer get to be dogs. They are ‘babies’ to be coddled and protected by ‘mommies’ against every single thing that might possibly happen ever.  You can’t even give the dog a bone anymore, or at least not unsupervised. Which brings me to...
The modern cat owner
Although not yet as bad, there are already signs of helicopter cat owners. In the old days, for example, if you brought home a new cat, you’d just toss the hapless creature onto the kitchen floor with the cat already in residence and let them get things sorted while you went out for drinkies. It worked, too, and despite a lot of cheap theatrics and noise, nobody got hurt; within hours the cats were best of friends, or at least past the killing stage. Now you are supposed to go through an elaborate process of keeping the creatures in separate rooms while giving them gradually increased ‘playtimes’ to get to know each other. This can go on for days, of course, because the cats are smart, they recognize stupidity. They can sense that they have this amazing opportunity to play their humans for all it’s worth, and so they do. Speaking of being played...
Cheap plastic license plate frames
After pointing out the obvious in a previous column - that you’re crazy if you drive around providing free advertising for the guy who ripped you off when you bought your car - people are still doing it. Think about it, people. You’re driving around with a cheap plastic license plate frame that tells other drivers that you are a sucker who doesn’t know how to use a screw driver. Just take it off, okay, because you’re causing me unnecessary stress. If you must have a frame (you don’t, you know), then at least get a custom one made or keep it plain, but stop advertising for the car lot unless they, in turn, are willing to advertise YOUR business. And on this subject . . . hmm, forget it, there’s no link between this peeve and the next one.
Pocket shirts for women
I have dodged wearing a bra for most of my life because I discovered, early on, that a shirt with pockets does the job of a bra in terms of covering up the sticking-out bits, yet is infinitely more comfortable (yeah, no, you can’t do this if you have mega-breasties, but standard issue breasties do just fine). Here’s the irksome part: Once you reach the Age of Decrepitude and the perkies has peaked, the pockets are no longer deep enough to do the job so you end up with two bumps just below the pockets. Now, admittedly most people can’t correctly identify those two bumps for what they are, since the things are so far south of the expected area, but still, one feels the need to slouch just in case. My back hurts. When it hurts I go for a bike ride, which brings us to...
Air horns for bicycles
For many years I desperately wanted a bicycle air horn so I could blast the idiots who block multi-use pathways (see previous column) by walking five abreast, but such a thing didn’t exist. Finally they do exist, and boy do they ever work, but just prior to buying one I was the victim of one. It was awful, the guy came up right behind me and blasted me. As I muttered, yelled and vigorously exercised one of my fingers, I realized that I could never own an air horn because it is just too damn rude to use. I prefer to stick to being rude on Facebook where nobody can get at me. Sometimes I type my Facebook updates on my...
Stupid iPad
The things don’t type properly. I am an excellent typist, fast and accurate, then I try typing on the iPad and the errors are horrendous. Worse by far are the auto-corrects, which may seem funny online but in real life can drive one to the brink. I have said, “I hate this iPad” so many times that Jim is trying to get a dime for each time I say it so he can go buy an expensive boat. He figures it won’t take long. Since “I hate this iPad” comes spewing out in an uncontrollable rage, I am not taking him up on this. Instead I will answer the phone. Or not...
Private/unknown numbers 
Sucks to be them, because I won’t answer their calls. In the Dark Ages, we couldn’t tell who was calling us, we had to pick up the phone and hope for the best, but those days are, thank god, long gone, and people who think they can go all private or unknown on me are delusional. I like staring, glassy-eyed, at the ringing phone and spitting vitriol at the caller, despite that he or she can’t hear because I haven’t actually picked up. Usually such numbers are just scams, spams, and other nefarious nonsense, but if the ‘private’ person on the other end is legit they can damn well leave a message. Speaking of scammers...
My very own personal stalker scammer
This isn’t really a peeve, because I’ve grown fond of this woman. A long while back, I got the wonderful Microsoft scam call. I toyed for a long time with the woman on the other end, and she grew increasingly angry. Finally she hung up on me, but kept calling back. I’d pick up and hit the pound key over and over again, a handy trick that blasts the scam-artist with a whole lot of very loud bleeps.
Apparently, it drove my scam-artist clear out of her cotton-picking mind, because she called back again weeks later (she has a very distinct voice, so I recognized her right away) and started her spiel. I began my return-volley spiel but she interrupted me and started yelling at me, cursing me up one side and down the other with the most colourful language imaginable, then she did the pound key trick on me. It was so great. She has called numerous times since, always with the pound key rage. I should not brag, but you know you’re really really good if you can drive a scam-artist insane with rage. Such a victory is a cherished thing for any true curmudgeon.
On that happy note, I have to go, it is time for Facebook. A curmudgeon needs fodder, and that place is like a heaven-sent all-you-can-eat buffet extravaganza.


Greenway wars

A treat - this week you get an entire column crammed into a video meme.
Long live the Greenway, and all the combatants within.

Read more Old as dirt. Twice as gritty. articles

About the Author

This bio was written by Jo Slade. As you can see she has written about herself in the third person. What normal person would do that? They just wouldn't. Who knows how many other persons might be involved in this thing, a second person? Another third? I worry about it. I - she - we - can't even keep it straight, this paragraph is a damn mess, there are persons all over the place. Round 'em up and shoot 'em. That's what I'd do, and by golly I think that's what Jo Slade would do as well.

Biographic nutshell: Jo has been messing around with words for a long time. Sometimes she'll just say words instead of writing them, it saves on paper.

This column: The columns that appear here are of a highly serious and scholarly nature, therefore it is advised that you keep a dictionary and ponderous thoughts nearby.

If, after reading the column, you find yourself tossing and turning at night, burning with the need to email me, just do it. I answer to [email protected]

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet presents its columns "as is" and does not warrant the contents.

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