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The Introvert’s Guide to Partying

Since I’m an introvert, I don’t really want to go to a couple Christmas social gatherings that are coming up this week. Parties are okay, but there are other things that I want/need to do. I know, I know, it would be poor manners not to go, especially since others took the time to invite me. I like the people who will be at the gatherings; I just don’t like parties.

A few months ago, I wrote out some guidelines for situations like this. I might not always want to go to parties, but if I attend them anyway, I know what I need to do in order to have a good time.

Dysfunctional Literacy

Somebody in this picture isn’t having fun. (image via wikimedia)

Partying does not come naturally to a lot of introverts.  Getting wild and crazy in public seems easy for an extrovert, but staying in a loud, crowded environment for a long period of time can be a burden to an introvert.  I should know.  I’m an introvert, and I despise parties and social gatherings.

Since I don’t want to become a recluse, I’ve had to develop a game plan for parties.  It’s taken time, but I can now manage going to parties without getting bored or stressed out. Keep in mind that I began developing these strategies decades ago. Things have changed since then, especially technology.

When I started going to social gatherings, it was considered weird or rude to read a book, magazine, newspaper or anything while you were at a party.  If you stood alone, you were a…

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The Ten Worst Bad Words, Ranked in Order (U.S. Version)

(image via wikimedia)

People have been ranking the worst bad words for generations, and nobody has ever quite come to an agreement.  I should know.  I’ve been around for several generations, and I’ve heard the arguments. Even George Carlin couldn’t settle the argument, partly because he didn’t include enough words and partly because times have changed since then.

When I was a kid, the only objective way to rank the bad words was to match each one with the severity of punishment given for saying it.  Some bad words meant getting beaten while others simply got you sent to your room (which for me, wasn’t a punishment).  There was no cable or internet back then, so all we had for reference was our parents’ reactions.

Racial/ethnic slurs weren’t argued about because some of us were taught that slurs were worse than profanity, but the punishment for racial slurs was inconsistent in the 1970s.  Some parents (like mine) punished all racial slurs worse than they would for profanity.  Other parents didn’t punish their kids at all for slurs.  Don’t get me wrong.  I didn’t have the urge to say racial slurs.  I did, however, love yelling out profanity if I could get away with it.

Please don’t read any further if you’re offended by profanity.  The term “bad words” is used in the title, so that should give you fair warning.  I’m not using symbols in place of letters to hide the profanity.  Sh*t means shit, and everybody knows it.

I’ve left out some words because I don’t hear them often.  The words below are commonly written or said or thought of.  At the very least, everybody knows what each word below means:

(Honorable Mention)

Hell- Hell is a four letter word, but it’s a place, not a body part or body function.  I have a tough time making a bad place a profane word, so if it’s bad, it’s the mildest of bad words.

Crap- Crap was considered a bad word when I was kid, but I don’t think it should have been, so it’s not on this list.

Ass- Ass can be a jerk or a donkey, and even with context it can be tough to tell, and that’s why it ranks as honorable mention.

10.  Bastard- You have to be an elitist jerk to think having unmarried parents is grounds to insult somebody. But there are a lot of jerks out there, and using this word is still frowned upon.

9.  Damn- Damn is short for damnation, and damning somebody is pretty bad. It’s so commonly used, though, that it’s lost some of its effect.

8.  Dick- Any variation of dick (cock, shlong, prick, etc..) should be ranked about the same as dick. Dick can be a person’s name.  Cock can be a male rooster.  Shlong is just a shlong, but it’s cool because it has the word long in it.

7.  Asshole- Being an asshole is worse than being an ass because you have to dig deeper to get to the asshole. As ass can do stupid stuff unintentionally.  An asshole is a jerk on purpose.

6.  Shit- Shit is bad because it refers to a gross body function and it’s four-letters. This is the best word to say when you’re in sudden pain because it’s bad but it’s forgivable (if you’re around reasonable people).

5.  Pussy- This is the female version of dick, but it’s worse because it refers to a female body part.  Pussy is usually used to an insult a guy, implying that he’s a wimp.  Most guys would rather be called a dick than a pussy.

4.  Bitch- This is the female version of bastard, except being compared to a dog is worse than being told you don’t have a legal father, and insulting a female is worse than insulting a male. Calling somebody a son of a bitch is more acceptable than calling a woman a bitch for the same reason.  It’s also worse to call a woman a bitch than it is to call a guy a pussy.

3.  Fuck- This is bad because it’s a blunt four-letter word for sexual activity. Saying “motherfucker” or “Fuck you” doesn’t make fuck much worse than when it’s used by itself.

2.  Goddamn- Maybe goddamn isn’t a word because it’s a form of damn, but people say this a lot, and god is not usually added to other bad words. Nobody says “Godshit” or “Godfuck.”  It’s just Goddamn.  Goddamn is worse than fuck because you’re invoking eternal damnation by the ultimate deity, and that’s worse than wishing fornication (even self-fornication or fornication with one’s mother) on somebody else.

1.  C***- Whoa! When I was a kid, you’d never say this word in front of adults.   In fact, I don’t know anybody who says this word on a regular basis.  Plus, it’s the female body part, and nobody with any respect is going to call out the female body part.  Plus, it ends with –unt, which is almost as bad as –uck.  C*** was worse than pussy because it’s four-letters and is usually directed at a female.  I’m not even willing to spell it out because I know if I had said it as a kid, I would have been disfigured by the punishment.  As an adult with a blog, I might be brave, but I’m not that brave.

Some might argue c*** shouldn’t be on the list because it’s rarely used.  I understand that, but I think it’s rarely said because it’s so bad.

*****

There it is!  The ten (or more) worst words ranked in order.  What do you think?  What words do you think should be added to the list?  Which words do you think are ranked in the wrong order?

“Don’t Quit Your Day Job” vs. “Follow Your Dreams”

It’s tough to find the ideal job situation when you’re creative. If you use up your creative energy at work, your employer usually gets the credit for it. If you’re not creative at work, then your job is probably a drag and it saps your creative energy, even though you’re not using it.

I’m not being negative; having a job is good. It’s just that sometimes I daydream about having lots and lots of time to focus on the stuff I want to work on.

I don’t want to risk my income by doing anything impulsive. I’ll do what I can to hold on to my day job and focus most of my energy on that. But not everybody thinks the same way I do.

Dysfunctional Literacy

(image via Wikimedia) (image via Wikimedia)

“Next month, I’m quitting my job and writing for a year,” a friend of mine said at a party.

He’s not really a friend.  He’s the husband of a coworker of my wife.  I hardly know the guy, but I don’t have a lot of friends, so I just say he’s my friend.

Anyway, his wife is going to support him while he sits around and writes a novel all day every day for a year.  It’s been a dream of his all his life to be a writer, and for a year he gets to live his dream.  He says maybe he’ll be successful and get to continue living his dream.  He has a good job now, and he knows they won’t hold it for him, so after a year (if he’s not successful writing), he’ll have to start sending out resumes and get ready for…

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Old Things That Are Tough To Explain: Why Did So Many People Smoke Cigarettes?

When I was a kid, if you could take down a couple packs of cigarettes a day, you commanded respect, even from people who hated smoking. To become a smoker, to join that club, you had to endure coughing fits and the embarrassment of your smoker friends laughing at you as you got used to the poison in your body. It was a rite of passage. Nowadays, you just blow out water vapor.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not necessarily anti-vaping. If vaping had been around as an alternative to cigarettes decades ago, a couple friends of mine might still be alive. But every once in a while I see a bunch of young people standing around vaping, seemingly trying to look cool, and I think:

What a bunch of wimps.

Dysfunctional Literacy

This old ad would probably be considered to be in poor taste today. (image via wikimedia) This old ad would probably be considered to be in poor taste today. (image via wikimedia)

Back when I was a kid, almost everybody I knew smoked.  My parents smoked, and my friends’ parents smoked.  My brothers smoked, my friends’ brothers/sisters smoked, and even a couple of my friends got started in their early teen years.

Things have changed.  Now, nobody in my family smokes.  The relatives who had smoked when I was a kid either have either quit or… you know.

Yesterday my youngest daughter asked me for permission to use her own phone to look up what a lit cigarette looks like.  She said she didn’t know how yellow/orange the lit end of the cigarette would be, and she wanted to get the color exactly right for a poster she was making for a school project.  I thought it was strange that she asked me for permission, but…

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Annoying Words in English: Soulmate

(image via wikimedia)

When it comes to annoying words in the English language, soulmate doesn’t get enough credit.  I’ve never seen it on any list of top ten annoying words.  Moist is supposedly the most annoying word.  Slacks is right up there.  My own least favorite word is share, but soulmate has always gotten on my nerves too.

It’s not a new term.  I remembering hearing it when I was a teen in the 1970s, and it made me cringe even then.  I don’t cringe easily.  I didn’t cringe during The Exorcist or the first Alien movie.  I was a little disturbed, but I didn’t cringe.

Soul mate, however, just got on my nerves.

First of all, the words soul and mate don’t go together.  Something about them together just doesn’t sound right.  Maybe it’s just me. The word soul goes together with trainCheck goes with mate.  But soulmate sounds like it’s trying too hard.

Even worse, soulmate sounds pretentious.  Couples who claim to be soulmates act like they’re superior to other couples.  Soulmates tend to be young couples in the early stages of their relationships and have no clue about what kind of hell is about to rain down upon them.  Any couple can be soulmates in the first six months of a relationship.  Try again after six years.  Maybe 20.

Maybe the term soulmate is annoying because soulmates can be annoying.  The average schmuck doesn’t like being around couples who are too into each other.  Soulmates can remind us of the problems we have within our own relationships.  Or remind us that we aren’t even in relationships and we really want to be in one.  Seeing the bliss that soulmates share just kind of pisses off the rest of us.

So screw you, soulmates.

It won’t last long anyway.

My wife and I aren’t soulmates.  We’re just married.  We had to work at it.  We had to fix some things and work on issues.  But we’ve been together over twenty years.  Both of us have made mistakes, but neither of us have made the kind of mistakes that spouses see as unforgiveable.  After all this time together, I think we might make it.  We’ll probably make it.

If I ever start a divorce blog, then you’ll know we didn’t make it.

My daughters claim that I’m triggered by the term soulmateAnnoyed is not the same thing as triggeredAnnoyed is a negative reaction at the sight/sound of something but moving on.  Writing a blog post is not triggered behavior (unless I use all-caps and exclamation points).  Triggered is shouting people down, trying to get people fired, putting hands over ears and shouting “Blah!  Blah!  Blah!” or curling up into the fetal position in a corner.

I’ve never told anybody to stop saying soulmate.  I’d never do that.  If somebody followed me around saying “Soulmate.  Soulmate.  Soulmate.  Soulmate.  Soulmate.  Soulmate,” I might have to do something about it.  But otherwise, I’m okay.

I promise, I’m not triggered by the term soulmate.  And if I were, I’d just rant to my wife about it.  She can always calm me down about these things.

*****

If you’re triggered by soulmates (or anything else), these two books from Dysfunctional Literacy can help you to calm down and relax.

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5 Ways Reading Habits Can Change Over Time

The book collection that once dominated my house is now gone. It was a proud collection. I showcased hardcover classic novels in the living room to make guests think I was more well-read than I really was. The guest bedroom was stocked with paperback bestsellers, just in case our overnight visitors couldn’t sleep. Several closets had shelves stacked with books in the back. Whenever the power went out, there was something to read.

Now, the collection is gone. I’ve sold or donated most of the books and kept only a few that I might read again. It’s not that I have anything against books. In the last couple years, my family has gone through a decluttering phase, and now we have more space.

A few years ago, I wrote a post about how reading habits change over time. Since then, I’ve stopped keeping books. I guess that is my most recent habit change.

Dysfunctional Literacy

20 years ago, this book didn't exist. 25 years ago, this book didn’t exist.

This struck me as weird.  One of my kids came home from school with a “Making Connections” chart for a reading activity.  Students were to write down a fact or an event from what they were reading and then write down how they related to it.  It was kind of like showing your work in math, except it was for reading, and I just thought everybody made connections when they read, but I guess a lot of kids don’t, and the kids that don’t make connections probably aren’t good readers.  Anyway (after I worked through all that internally), I realized I’m probably lucky that I just naturally make connections when I read.

For example, I just read an article in the USA Today that shows how reading patterns have changed over the last 20 years by comparing its bestsellers lists of 20 years ago with current lists.  When it comes…

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Awkward Moments in Dating: The Coworker

Dating stories are usually interesting because something almost always goes wrong.  Even when the dating turns into a long-term relationship, something is going to go wrong at some point, and that makes a great story.

It’s been over twenty years since this incident with my coworker happened, but there are some things you don’t forget, no matter how long ago they occurred.  This dating story centers on an awkward breakup, and I still cringe a little when I think about it.  I’m not talking about stuff like “We’ve grown apart” or “It isn’t you, it’s me.”  In this case, a woman broke up with me because I said something stupid.

First of all, I probably shouldn’t have been going out with this woman at all.  I had just gotten out of college, and this woman and I worked together.  Even early in my career, I had a strict rule about dating women at work.  There’s a familiar saying, “Don’t defecate where you eat,” and defecation might be a crude way to describe dating (I don’t treat women like that, I promise), but I understood the sentiment.  Too many things can go wrong when you date somebody from work.

There were a couple reasons why I broke this rule.  First, she was a couple years older than I was, and she had a high position at the company/firm/corporation but wasn’t my boss.  This was the early 1990s, and sexual harassment was already a nation-wide social issue.  At the time, our company was aware that even women could abuse their authority, and so a dating situation like the one we were in would be frowned upon.  In other words, she wasn’t going to make an issue out of our dating if something went wrong.  She had more to lose than I did.

Plus, she had money.  It wasn’t just that her salary was higher than mine.  Her family had money.  She had gone to a prestigious university.  I had gone to a state school.  When we first met, she had looked down upon me (maybe not because of the state school; I simply didn’t carry myself with much authority).

Her opinion of me changed after I bailed her out of a bad situation at work.  She had made a careless mistake, I caught it and fixed it before anybody else found out, and I kept my mouth shut.  Professionally, that lack of self-promotion is my weakness.  I’m reasonably intelligent, but I lack ambition.  When I fix other people’s mistakes, I don’t care if anybody else knows about it.  I think she liked that quality, intelligence without the arrogance.  Plus, I looked pretty good in my 20s.  I wasn’t top ten material, but I was in the top half of my age bracket.  Some social awkwardness made me seem more unattractive than I really was, but I had my good moments.

Other guys disagreed with each other about how nice-looking this coworker was (I never participated in these conversations, but I overheard them at work).  She had a couple features that some men don’t care for but I find attractive.  Maybe she could tell I was mildly infatuated and that made me more attractive to her, especially after I had bailed her out.

Once she started talking to me on a regular basis, she caught on to my sense of humor.  She invited me into her lunch group which went out to really slow expensive restaurants, so the 5-7 of us (depending on the day) would always get back from lunch late.  I caused a stir within the group by suggesting that we get back to work on time since we were getting paid to work, and though it was controversial, the coworker took my side, and we changed our lunch habits.

Anyway, there was good chemistry and banter between the coworker and me.  With my monotone voice, others couldn’t tell our conversation was banter because my banter sounds like clinical reading.  Maybe that was another reason she didn’t mind dating me; nobody at work could tell we had banter.

Nobody at the company knew about us when we started dating.  Like I said, it would have been frowned upon.  Plus, a lot of her friends/peers probably would have thought I was socially beneath her, and I would have agreed with them.

I knew this relationship wasn’t going to last long.  Before I got married, I went into most relationships knowing that they wouldn’t last long.  I always expected the breakup to happen.  That probably caused the break-up to happen in some instances.  But not this time.

This time, the woman broke up with me because I said something stupid about her name.

And I’ll get to that in the next episode.

Best Mystery Novel Ever! The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett

Calling a novel the best ever in its genre is a bit hyperbolic because nobody has read every single book in any given genre. Plus, there’s no way to prove that a book is the best ever in any category because no matter what book you choose, somebody is going to disagree. For example, some mystery lovers think Murder on the Orient Express is the best mystery novel ever, and I heard this opinion several times when the movie came out a few weeks ago.

I like Murder on the Orient Express, but I don’t think it’s the best mystery ever. If there is such a thing as a best mystery novel ever, I think it is The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett.

Dysfunctional Literacy

Nick Charles with Asta instead of his wife Nora

Determining the “best mystery ever” can be difficult because so many mysteries are so similar.  Despite various sub-genres (the whodunit, the hardboiled, the “think like a killer to catch a serial killer”), once you’ve read a couple within each category, you’ve read them all.

But a BEST MYSTERY EVER should be a unique book.  It should combine all elements (except for the “think like a killer to catch a killer” because those suck).  It should be both a hardboiled detective story and a whodunit.  It should be so good that it can’t be copied (though it might have been tried).  And that book is The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammet.

NICK AND NORA

The Thin Man is known for Nick and Nora Charles, the first (that I know about) husband-and-wife detective duo.  Maybe by 1930s standards, Nora was considered part of the sleuthing team, but by today’s criteria, she just…

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Literary Glance: The Midnight Line by Lee Child

The Midnight Line by Lee Child starts off with a breakup.  I hope that’s not a spoiler.  I try to avoid spoilers, but the relationship(?) breakup is on the first page.  I don’t think something on the first page of a book is a spoiler.  Maybe page 50 is a spoiler.  But page 1?

After reading further, I can see why the breakup happened.  The protagonist Jack Reacher is kind of a jerk.  He’s a jerk with a sense of honor, but he’s still a jerk.  He probably has a reason to be.  I’m not sure because I haven’t read many of his books.

Jack Reacher is also a bad ass.  I don’t mean that sarcastically.  He talks like a bad ass and gets himself into bad ass situations.  So far, The Midnight Line is one of those books where all the characters talk tough.  Every character is a bad ass or thinks he/she is a bad ass.

To be fair, it’s tough for me to relate with Jack Reacher.

I’m not 6’5, I don’t have Special Forces training, and I can’t beat up 99% of the population without breaking a sweat, so I can’t relate to Jack Reacher’s thought processes.  As a reader, I try to sympathize with protagonists, but it’s hard when they intentionally put themselves into unnecessarily bad situations.  In the following scene, Jack Reacher walks into a bar to interrogate a biker named Jimmy Rat who’s hanging out with seven of his biker buddies.

If I had to interrogate a biker, especially one with a tough name like Jimmy Rat, I probably wouldn’t do it by myself, and I definitely wouldn’t walk into a bar full of bikers either.  I’d get to the biker when he was by himself or at least with fewer of his buddies.  But I’m not a bad ass, not like Jack Reacher.  Here’s an excerpt of Reacher’s bad ass behavior in a bar filled with bikers.  The parenthesis are my opposite of bad ass comments:

Reacher waited.  One of the bikers drained his glass and stood up and headed for the restroom corridor.  Reacher crossed the room and sat down in his vacant chair (I wouldn’t do that, but I’m not a bad ass).  The wood felt hot (I wouldn’t worry about that right now).  The eighth guy made the connection.  He stared at Reacher, and then he glanced at Jimmy Rat.

Who said, “This is a private party, bud. (Uh oh.  When a biker calls you “bud,” you know the biker means business).  You ain’t invited.”

Reacher said, “I need some information.” (I probably would have introduced myself first.  Or I would have left after I’d been called “bud.”)

“About what?”

“Charitable donations.”

Jimmy Rat looked blank.  Then he remembered.  He glanced at the door, somewhere beyond which lay the pawn shop (and everything else in the world), where he had made assurances.  He said, “Get lost, bud.” (“bud”? plus “Get lost”?  I don’t know why any sane person would still be there).

Reacher put his left fist on the table.  The size of a supermarket chicken.  (It’s important to show the bikers, and remind the readers, that Reacher has big hands)  Long thick fingers with knuckles like walnuts.  Old nicks and scars healed white against his summer tan.  He said, “I don’t care what scam you’re running. (I wouldn’t imply to Jimmy Rat that he was running scams)  Or who you’re stealing from.  Or who you’re fencing for.  I got no interest in any of that.  All I want to know is where you got this ring.”

(Maybe Reacher should have implied that Jimmy Rat was running a legitimate business instead of calling him a scammer and a fencer.  Maybe Jack Reacher is a bad ass, but he could work on his negotiation skills.  Dale Carnegie could give him a suggestion or two.)

*****

When you read a book in a series like Jack Reacher, it’s tough to decide which one to read.  Do you read the early books, which were probably better written but feel dated because they happened 20 years ago?  Or do you read the current bestseller that was probably churned out to meet a deadline?  I’m not sure.  But when you’re not sure, just take a glance, a literary glance.

Books That We’ll Keep Forever

The books that we keep forever aren’t necessarily our favorite books. I’ve enjoyed many books in my life, but I don’t hold on to them anymore. I store a bunch of books on my kindle or my phone, but they don’t take up much space, and phones/ereaders are disposable anyway.

A book that we keep forever has to have a special quality, one that probably has nothing to do with the author, cover, or plot/topic of the book.

Dysfunctional Literacy

This might be beat up, but it's been in my family for over 50 years. This might be beat up, but it’s been in my family for generations.

I don’t keep many books anymore. Up until a few years ago, though, I used to be a book hoarder.  I was proud of my collection.   But then my wife and I had kids, other stuff accumulated in our house, we started moving around a lot, and books became digitized.

With all that was going on, it was more convenient and practical to sell or give away most of my books.  I don’t miss them.  But there are a few books that I kept, and I’m glad I did.  Each book that I kept has a story behind it, and those stories are more important than the stories in the actual books.

Book With Sentimental Value- The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain (pictured above)

Tom Sawyer isn’t my favorite book ever, but I like it, and…

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