Tag Archives: lists

There Is Definitely Such a Thing As a Stupid Question

18 Apr

You can find Bart and his mockery at giyf.com

If I could have a time machine to go back and stop any event in the world, it would be to back up and slap the face off of whoever said “There’s no such thing as a stupid question” before they have a chance to articulate it into the universe.

I know, I know: if I had a time machine, I should go back and do something far more grandiose and far-reaching, like prevent huge acts of genocide or help avert the deaths of major icons and leaders of thought.  But let’s be honest – if a time machine is made available to mankind, the first things everyone will go back and take care of are the major atrocities of our existence.

At least I hope so.  I’d really like to think they’re being taken care of while I tend this whole ‘no stupid questions’ fellow, who must be abolished because he is a downright filthy rotten liar and he’s ruined my life.

There are indeed stupid questions.  I get asked at least three every single day.  I think it’s because the whole ‘ask any question’ culture has gone a long way to eliminate shame in the asking.

I’m a fan of shame.  I think it’s good for society.  Let’s bring back the shame.  So here, for the reference of humankind, I offer you a sampling of totally idiotic questions, many of which I face on a daily basis.  Share.  Tell your friends.  Email it to a moronic office mate.  “Accidentally” send it to your boss.  Let’s start a shame revolution.  It will make us better people.  I promise.

Examples of Stupid Questions

  • Asking a place of business a question that was answered in the greeting.  Example: “Hello, thank you for calling Happy Llama Mart, this is Jackie; How can I help you?”   Stupid questions would include “Who is this?”  “Who did I call?” “What’s the name of this business?”
  • How to do anything on a computer that you haven’t first Googled.  I’m serious about this one.  So serious.  I can’t tell you how many times I’m interrupted at work just because I’m in my 20’s and everyone assumes I can fix any computer-related issues.  Google it.  Somewhere out there in the magical interwebz, someone else couldn’t figure out how to get their tabs to align or how to change their margins or get rid of that pesky blank page that haunts them on Word.   I don’t interrupt your generation’s workdays to ask them the lyrics of popular 70’s songs; don’t interrupt mine to fix computer problems. (My favorite place to send offenders:  http://lmgtfy.com)
  • Asking if you can ask a question. If you don’t see the problem here, keep trying.
  • Asking for the time.  There are few – very, few instances where this is not a stupid question.  If, for example, you left your phone at home and you’re trying to catch a bus and are without any time telling devices.  If you’re a nomad and you’re still honing your skills at telling the time of day by the position of the sun in the sky.  If you’re scurrying around on New Year’s Eve and trying to make sure you get the wine poured before the ball drops.  For all other unsimilar instances, please make an attempt to reference any of the hundred devices surrounding us at all moments of the day that tell us the time, including your own phone.

Now, in what may seem a contradiction of my rage, I would like to note that I still think it’s a worthy investment of our time as human beings to discuss legitimate questions before referencing our smart phones for the most commonly accepted answer.  Sure, I know the burning in your cerebrum is killer when you can’t remember the name of whats-her-face who was in the movie with the guy with the nose. But remember how good it feels to sort through those dusty old files in your brain and come up with the answer?   I’m pretty certain that studies two decades from now will show we’re less intelligent beings for having defaulted to the device in our pockets in favor of our memories. 

So enough of my annoyances: what are yours?  Tell me all about the questions that set you off.  Get grumpy in that comment section; let’s start the shame revolution.   We’re bringing back the belief in stupid questions. 

After all, I don’t think anyone’s making swift progress on those time machine blueprints. 


How to Be a Good Houseguest

31 Oct

Well, we’re staring down the barrel of November, folks. That means that in what will seem to only be a few short days, we will fly through the holidays season with every moment full of angst, hurriedness, and guilt. I’m so looking forward to it, arent you? So allow me to address a holiday matter before the holidays are truly upon us: How to be a good houseguest.

Being a good houseguest is a crucial skill. Not only do you want to ensure you have a place to stay when you’re away from home so you don’t spend your holidays in a hotel, but you would also like to not completely ruin your relationship with the host. And having had a plethora of folks shack up at my place, I am deeming myself an authority on the matter. Heed my words, oh wonderful and knowledge-seeking followers.

How to Be a Good Houseguest

1) Leave it how you found it.  Doesn’t that seem simple? But that means everything. It means making the bed to the best of your ability before you leave. It means cleaning up after yourself when you put your feet up and have a snack somewhere in the house. It means that if you use their towels or washcloths or anything else they offered you that you give them back at the end of the run and even offer to throw them in the washing machine.

2)  Be gracious for everything.  If they make you food or offer you a drink or got a different kind of bath soap because they know you are allergic to theirs or whatever they may do to make you feel at home, be gracious. That includes eating whatever they are kind enough to make and saying thank you for it.  Hey, if you dont like it you can sneak out on the town and eat something else. Or pack granola bars for such an emergency.

3) Offer to help.  With anything –  dinner, cleaning, whatever.  If there are dishes to be done and some of them have been dirtied by you, help.  Insist on it. Because no matter what the host says, they’re completely and utterly thankful for the helping hand. After all, they’d rather be spending time with everyone than spending all their time cleaning up after them.

4) Maintain. Sure, you were given a guest room for the duration of your stay, but that room is still part of a house that is not yours. So while you should feel free to make yourself at home you should not feel free to live like a complete slob in that room until your departure.

5) Enjoy yourself.  I know all this seems like a lot of fuss and trouble but it’s really not.  Essentially just offer to help here and there and clean up after yourself. Easy peasy.  Remember: above all the host just wants you to enjoy yourself. So kick back, relax, make yourself feel at home (so long as your home is not a nest of digustingness) and enjoy the stay.
And a sidenote for good measure: If you can’t commit to doing any of the above, you should stay at a hotel.  Because there, people are paid to clean up after you, you don’t have to be grateful for it, and regardless of how you live in the room they provide you, you are always welcome to come back again.

Happy holiday season folks. May all our relationships stay in tact.

Stop Sucking: A Brief Guide to Hiding Your Incompetency in the Workplace

16 Feb


If one more person at work asks me if the email address I am giving them is in “uppercase or lowercase” I will put down the phone, walk to their place of business, smack them across the face, and then report their blatant incompetence to whomever is their immediate manager.

In fact, this repeated incident along with a myriad of other office snafus worthy of a good handspanking has inspired me to compile a list.  It’s called

“Stop Sucking: A Brief Guide to Hiding Your Incompetency in the Workplace”

1.) Your signature line is not a carnival. There are few things that can damage your credibility as a professional more quickly than a long, annoying signature line.  There is no need to include a favorite quotation, a customized background, a large, brightly colored font, buttons with links, a disclaimer or confidentiality notice, and pictures of things that make you smile.   Every time that email is forwarded or replied to, all of those things come with it.  It’s long, and it’s annoying.  So just stick to your contact information and titles and anything required by your company.  The more concise, the better.

2.) Before you forward an email to someone, review its contents. This also counts for hitting “reply” and changing the recipient.  I once received an email from the assistant to a very distinguished woman in the community inquiring as to the instructions for her arrival at an event that evening.  After scrolling down to see which event he was referring to, I saw the email from his boss that prompted him to email me, asking him to inquire because she “didn’t want no crap at the door.”  Protect your colleagues and protect yourself – read, edit, then forward.

3.) Bcc and Cc: Know the power, know the difference. It seems simple, but it is a common mistake.  Cc stands for Carbon Copy and is intended for those whom you want to be aware of information, but who are not required to take any action on it.  These persons will be visible to anyone who receives the message.  Bcc means Blind Carbon Copy, and will result in those persons receiving the message without anyone being able to see that you shared it with them.  Carbon Copy is a great way to keep assistants informed on things that you are sending to the person whom they support; Blind Carbon Copy is a great way to get people in trouble.

4.) Seriously.  Understand the power of Bcc. If you have an enormous distribution list for an email, do everyone a favor and stick the recipients in the Bcc line.  Doing so will eliminate that 50-line-long chunk of text that prefaces your message.  In addition, it will protect others from copying and pasting those emails into their own contacts.   If you are still confused about how this works and want to start to reestablish your credibility as a non-moron, do yourself and everyone you email a favor and check out this explanation.

5.) If you’re going to be out of office, put up a freaking message saying so. We all understand that there is a world outside the corporate jungle with children and trees and puppies and sprinkles and that sometimes you’re going to want to bust out and explore that magical land.  When you finally do, do others the courtesy of listed an Out of Office reply, so that they are made aware of your absence, your return date, and any contacts you can provide for questions requiring an immediate response.

6.) Learn how to leave a voicemail. Absolutely nothing should come out of your mouth before list your name, your position and company, and a number at which you can be reached.  I repeat – Absolutely nothing should come out of your mouth before you list your name, your position and company, and a number at which you can be reached. Doing so will save the other person from listening to 3 minutes of your flustered gobbledygook over and over until they are sure the number they wrote is correct.

7.) Master phone number rhythm. 1-2-3/ 4-5-6 / 7-8-9-10.  If you have any confusion about this whatsoever, please refer to this 3-minute tutorial provided by Kevin James.  He also covers my peeve in number 6.

8.) Do not answer the phone for your place of business with “Hello?” When you order pizza, you expect to hear a confirmation of the business name when you order.  Or a thank you for calling them.  Or perhaps even the name of the person to whom you are speaking.  I suggest working all three into one.  An efficient, concise greeting like “Thank you for calling ______, this is ________; how may I help you?”  In addition, allow me to add that unless you are prepared to answer your cell phone in a similar fashion, you should not have it associated with your place of business either.

9.) Dont be a grumplepuss. People can hear whether or not you are smiling on the phone and they can read tone in an email.  They may not always be accurate, but that will never matter.  What will matter is that you have made them grumpy and defensive and that in the close quartered corporate jungle, that grumpiness is likely to reverberate with anyone they meet throughout the day.  So be nice.  Fake it if you have to.  Because I don’t want your grumplepuss ‘tude.

and finally…

10.) Don’t ask if an email someone is giving you is in uppercase or lowercase. It doesn’t matter.  And if you don’t believe me, please send yourself an email with “I’m an idiot” in the subject line – once to your “correct” email and once to your correct email with a letter capitalized.  Enjoy your double affirmation.  


10 Reasons You Should Give Obama a Break

26 Jan

Last night, President Barack Obama delivered the State of the Union address.   Today, millions of Americans will attack him.    And  so today I present to you a common-sense guide entitled:

Reasons You Should Give Obama a Break

1) The man spends his workdays genuinely attempting to solve issues for not only America, but the world.  Big things.  Things like immigration, foreign policy and international relations.  Things like education, the economy, job growth, and sustainable energy.  Now think of what’s on your daily to-do list.  I don’t know about you, but some days I have a hard time just convincing myself to take a shower.

2) Chances are, he’s not the one you should be mad at.  It isn’t just the President who runs the country, folks.  He’s just one branch of a three branch system.  And by the way, we vote for those people.  Well, kind of.  Quite frankly our voter turnout is pretty pathetic.  About 30% of Americans don’t even bother.  Malta rocks a 95% turnout.  Malta! Do you even know where that is?!  And for non-presidential elections, that number is even more frightening, in spite of the fact that it’s our local legislatures who make the most difference in our daily lives.

3) He’s just one guy.  Yes, a big important guy that we expect to perform when we put him in office.  But one guy nonetheless.  It takes an entire government to make legislation.  Even if Obama agrees with every single belief and agenda that you do, he is unable to get those things accomplished without the help of others.  And those others tend to argue.  A lot.

4) We have a lot of problems.  And we can only work on so many at one time.  Yes, immigration needs addressed.  Yes, we need better education and a higher percentage of high school graduates.  Yes, we absolutely need sustainable energy and jobs and infrastructure and lower national debt and on and on and on.  Unfortunately, we can only do so much at once.  Think about all the things you need to improve about your life and all the things on your to-do list.  Aren’t you incredibly overwhelmed and amazingly ineffective if you go at them all instantly and with equal fervor?  Now increase the urgency on them by 1000%, add millions of people who think you should start their action item first, and only give yourself 4 years (minus campaigning) to accomplish all of them.

5) He has an incredibly difficult job.   Have you ever considered that in the midst of all this, he’s just a human?   He’s just a dude.  A regular dude trying to solve the problems of an entire country and somehow find time to be with his family.  Every single thing he does is scrutinized.  Even his iPod playlist.  That’s right: We got on Clinton for sex in the Oval Office, and we go after Obama for his affection for Lil Wayne and Nas.  

6) He has to know a lot of stuff.  Because we pretty much expect him to know everything, don’t we?   Think about how much you paid attention in your Civics, World History, and Politics classes.    Everything you ignored you expect him to know. 

7) He can’t fool around.  If he doesn’t do what the President is expected to do, no one else can step up and complete the task for him.  Think of all the things you put off at work.  Think about the time you spend browsing on the Internet or checking your phone or having a headache or being cranky.    Think about the tasks you are assigned that sit on the back burner or hide in a drawer or you convince someone else to do.  A lot of those things just simply aren’t options when you’re the leader of an entire nation.

8 ) He can’t stutter.  How are you in front of crowds?  How about big ones?  How about big ones full of important people, some of whom hate you before you even speak your mind?   The number one phobia in America is still public speaking, and that typically refers to speaking up in small crowds, standing in front of auditoriums, or simply stating ideas aloud for criticism.   Now think about all the words you mispronounce, the pressure you feel when you have to answer a tough, unexpected question, and how difficult it is for you to write a speech.  You don’t expect him to have those problems.

9) Americans aren’t doing much to help.  Well, some are.  Are you?  When you were upset about health care reform (either its enactment or its repeal), did you complain to your friends and neighbors or did you call your representative?  If you think illegal immigrants should get the boot, have you done any sort of research to realize what that entails? Have you come up with any ideas? Because I don’t know if you’ve been listening, but the President has been asking for ideas ever since he entered the office. 

10) No, really – Americans aren’t doing much to help.  Not just with ideas, but with doing our part.  Volunteer locally.  Donate or rally for causes you support. Go get some exercise and help cut down your state’s disgusting obesity rate (which is hanging at above 20% unless you’re from Colorado or D.C.).  Pick up a piece of litter.  Recycle.  Don’t drive somewhere if you can walk there.  Help someone.  Encourage others to do the same.  We’re all suppose to be trying to make things better, not just staring at a bunch of old farts on Capitol Hill and waiting for one of them to turn into our nation’s fairy godmother.  


12 Tips for Not Completely Sucking at an Open Mic

7 Jan

I’ve been spending a lot of time at open mics lately.

Let me rephrase that.

I don’t really ever go out, but when I do, it’s usually to an open mic.  Mostly because I have a musician for a boyfriend and an apartment that chucks a hippie in your face upon entry and my life has just sort of developed into this strange, artsy, music-y strangeness.  Yes, I said strange strangeness.  It’s technically legal to say that.  Just one more sign that English is failing us.

So because I tend to harbor unnecessarily strong opinions about things that I have little or no expertise in, I’ve decided to stay true to my nature and compile a list of tips for Open Mics.  That is, if you want to play at them.  If you want tips for being in the audience – I only have one: drink.

So here I give thee,

How to Not Completely Suck Playing an Open Mic

1)   Don’t have an expression on your face that is more intense than your song.  It’s a one-way ticket to douchebaggery.

2)   Tune.  And not into the mic, doofus.

3)  Try to avoid “jamming.”  There are few people in this world who can bring anyone joy with jamming: people who are already rock stars, and grandmothers.

4)  Pay attention to the sets that are played before you’re up.  Don’t follow a cover of  “Closer” (originally by Nine Inch Nails), for example, with an original song entitled “Lollipops, Babies, and Kitten Kisses.”  Which brings me to…

5) Consider your venue.  Consider your genre.  If they don’t match up, stay in the audience.  It will save you 10 minutes of performer’s hell. 

6)  Know when it’s your turn and have your big sack o’ stuff ready to go.  There is absolutely no excuse for lugging your guitar case up front in a crowded bar, unlatching it all the way around, taking out your guitar, and (ugh) tuning  [refer to tip 2]. 

7) Get to know the other folks playing up there.  Like their stuff or not, they’ll be your biggest supporters.  Even if you suck really, really hard.

8 ) Do not, I repeat, do not get drunk before you get in front of the microphone.  If this proves difficult for you, show up earlier and get higher on the list.

9) Write new songs.  People who go to open mics enjoy hearing fresh music from up-and-coming hopefuls.  Chances are you’ll get a group who comes every week, and after the 4th week in a row of hearing your working rendition of “Lollipops, Babies, and Kitten Kisses,” they’re going to get tired of your face.

10) Tell the audience if it’s an original.  Sometimes….rarely… but sometimes, someone actually writes an original song that’s really good and the audience will chalk it up as a cover unless you tell them otherwise.  If you’re lucky enough to be able to write something people want to listen to, make sure you take credit for it.

11)   There’s a difference between good musicians and good performers.  People want to watch someone who is both.  So make that happen.

12)   If you like something you see someone else do, figure out what it is and make it your own.  Sometimes, that’s what seeing the up-and-comers is all about.

So there you have it: my list of how-to’s, written from the perspective of someone who’s never done it.  But hey, I watch it a lot.  And I have a public medium with which to express my uneducated opinion.  And I’d like to think that counts for something. ♣

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