The Cynics Workshop

Where I can try to influence the world, one word at a time.

Month: October, 2012

I saw this great letter today that I wanted to pass on. I have a soft spot in my heart for people who have Down Syndrome and so it makes me feel great to see things like this. I haven’t been around anyone who has had Down Syndrome, but I do know that they always seems to be so sweet, and always seems to have the biggest heart so i’m glad when I see letters like this. Enjoy…

The World of Special Olympics

The following is a guest post in the form of an open letter from Special Olympics athlete and global messenger John Franklin Stephens to Ann Coulter after this tweet during last night’s Presidential debate.

Dear Ann Coulter,

Come on Ms. Coulter, you aren’t dumb and you aren’t shallow.  So why are you continually using a word like the R-word as an insult?

I’m a 30 year old man with Down syndrome who has struggled with the public’s perception that an intellectual disability means that I am dumb and shallow.  I am not either of those things, but I do process information more slowly than the rest of you.  In fact it has taken me all day to figure out how to respond to your use of the R-word last night.

I thought first of asking whether you meant to describe the President as someone who was bullied as a child…

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Head Scratcher of the Day

Lance Armstrong took drugs to win the races, then they stripped him of the wins when everyone realized he took drugs…so Lance, why take drugs in the first place?  Was it worth it?

Travel

It has come to my attention recently, (primarily because I talk to myself and so I told myself this), that a majority of people are not cut out for travel.  Now, this doesn’t mean that people shouldn’t leave their house (although in some cases that is an excellent strategy to follow), they just don’t seem to be prepared to leave for extended periods of time.  In addition to my commute from home to work and back using the worst company in the world (Long Island Rail Road), to my extensive use of airlines due to my business travel, I have the joy displeasure of being witness to many people who seem to struggle with a seemingly easy task…getting from point A to point B.  Allow me to share with you some of the interesting stupid people I’ve run across during my travels.

The tourist – First we’ll start with some of the morons who ride the Long Island Rail Road.  If you’re unfamiliar with my love affair with the LIRR, you can read about it here and here.
The first rule you should follow is that if you don’t know where you’re going, you should ask someone.  A few months ago a woman got on the train at Penn and she had to go to Mineola.  Now this was around 8.30pm so it was a local train, which meant she was in for around a 40 minute or so ride.  When she gets on and sits across from me, does she ask me how far, how many stops, how long the ride will be to Mineola?  No.  When the conductor comes by to collect the tickets, does she ask him?  No.  Does she grab a map from Penn or use her smart phone to look at a map online to see how long the ride will be?  No.  Does she proceed to talk on her phone for the entire ride?  Yes.  Does she then freak out when we pull into Jamaica Station (which is the first stop after Penn) because the thinks she missed her stop because she has no idea where we are because she couldn’t hear the 15 announcements telling everyone what stops the train makes?  Yes.  Is this woman cut out for travel?  No.

The rolling suitcase person – If you’ve ever been to Penn Station, you’ll know that it is pretty much the last place anyone would want to spend any substantial time.  If you’re looking to see 250,000 people moving as fast as they can at all times, come to Penn during rush hour.  When we get to Penn in the morning, we leave the train and try to either hit the streets, or the subway’s as fast as possible, and when we arrive at Penn in the evenings, we try to rush to the platform, so we can stand like zombies waiting for our train, as fast as possible.  What slows us down?  The answer is the second person you do not want to be…and that is the person who walks with their rolling suitcase/briefcase behind them.  If they have a traditional suitcase, it is almost a guarantee they have no idea where they are going, and instead of following the crowd like a smart person, they walk as slow as possible trying to read and decipher all the signs to figure out best where to go, somehow not knowing that we are all trying to go to the same place.  If the person has a rolling briefcase, well this is a special kind of person.  This person could be a local, probably in some kind of sales, more than likely middle aged, probably immune to the outside world, but definitely an idiot that needs to be quarantined.  When you have a crowd of people all moving in unison, say approaching a staircase, and all of a sudden 1 person decides to stop at the top of the stairs to lower the handle on their portable desk so they can carry it down the stairs, only to stop again at the bottom of the stairs to lengthen the handle on their portable desk, what do you think that does to the crowd of people all moving in unison?  You do not want to be this person and if Darwinism ruled, you would probably get pushed down the stairs…but for some reason that doesn’t happen and so you always seem to be in front of me as I head down to catch the 7 train…*sigh*.

The rules don’t apply to me person – The Long Island Rail Road is one of the only transportation systems that doesn’t require you to pay before boarding.  They place a lot of trust and responsibility in their riders (this could potentially be why it is such a screwed up company) and so naturally, this may cause a problem or two.  To put it into perspective, it costs around $300/month for my monthly ticket, and when you divide that by 30 days, to keep the math easy we will say it costs around $10 to ride the train.  If you don’t buy the monthly ticket, and choose to buy on board, it will cost you more, let’s say around $20 for 1 ride.  Now since we are located near New York City, you can appreciate that $20 is not really that much money, yet you would be shocked with the number of people who don’t seem to have that much on them, and thus try to ride the train for free.  The other day a woman got on at Jamaica and when the conductor went to collect her ticket, she handed him her ticket and he said he couldn’t accept it, she asked why, and he said “because it expired 2 years ago.”   2 years ago!  This woman had been carrying around that ticket for 2 years!  But worse, she tried to pass it off to the conductor.  When he said she would need to buy a ticket, all hell broke loose.  She went on a rant for the ages.  She accused him of being a racist, of purposely charging her higher prices than anyone else on the train, and basically causing such a scene, that the conductor eventually just left…letting her ride the train for free.  I guess the conductor didn’t know that the rules didn’t apply to her…geeez.

In spite of all this, the train continues to operate at the junior varsity level.  If you want to really see some pro’s, head to the airport.

If I was a comedian (insert your own joke here), I could just observe people going through the security line at the airport and have enough material to make a decent living.  When you are in an unfamiliar place, announcements can sometimes be your best friend.  Take for example someone going through security at the airport, and maybe there are announcements that tell you what you can and can’t take through the security gates, and maybe you should listen to them.  More often than not, you dress yourself in the morning, so you should know whether or not you have a belt on when you go through security, and since the announcement just told you to “remove all belts before going through security”, is there any special reason why you are leaving yours on?  When the announcement says “please remove all shoes”, is there any reason why you are leaving yours on?  When the announcement says “remove everything from your pocket”, why do you leave stuff in your pocket?  For some reason, when people leave their house, their hearing seems to diminish.

Once they actually get on the plane, things don’t improve.  You know those announcements the flight attendants make, the ones about stepping into your seat instead of standing in the aisle while you shove your oversized bag into the overhead compartment…those are directed at you.  I purposely choose to sit in the back of the plane, and once I encountered a flight attendant who was feeling kind of spry, so she actually made an announcement that started off as the generic “please move into your row to allow others to pass”, but then she actually said “will the woman in the blue top and jeans please move in to allow others to pass”, and not surprisingly, the woman didn’t move.  It wasn’t out of disrespect, it’s just that no one listens.  Why you ask?  Because that woman is not cut out for travel.

You would think that once people actually sit down in their seats, things would improve…no.  To the person who likes to recline their chair all the way back so they can sleep, you are not at home, this is not your lazy boy, there is actually someone sitting behind you, and he is 6’4″ and he does not want your head in his lap, so wake up do like everyone else does, recline your chair about 20-25% of the way it goes and we’ll get along just fine…otherwise be prepared for me to get up and accidentally dump my water on your head…ooops, it was an accident.

On a quick side note — to the family who actually decided to bring a bag of onion bagels on the JetBlue flight from JFK to Ft. Myers…are you kidding me?  Have you smelled how potent onion bagels are?  Do you realize you are in a confined space for the next 3 hours?  What planet did you grow up in that it is ok to bring something as pungent as onion bagels onto an airplane?  Wherever that place is, please go back.

The point here is this, 95% of the people in this world should not leave their house, for any reason.  There is no need to go to the grocery store, fresh direct will come to you.  There is no need to travel, chances are the people you are going to see don’t want to see you.  There’s no need to go to work, you can work from home now…don’t you have an iPhone that gets work email?  But if you do need to go out for whatever reason, just remember 2 rules:

Common sense is king, and everything in moderation.

Thought Provoking Question of the Day

I had some decaf this morning, so it obviously got me thinking:

How do they get the caffeine out of the bean?  Then once they get it out, where does it go?

Columbus Day?

Can someone please tell me why today is considered a holiday?  Please.

I mean I understand why it is a holiday, I understand Roosevelt wanted to gain more of the Italian vote so he made it a holiday, but I don’t understand why it is a holiday.  Why are we celebrating the life of a man who was a mass murderer who got lost trying to go to China?  What’s next, Charles Manson day?  Bernie Getz day?

I never met Chris Columbus, but he doesn’t really sound all that bright to me.  He set sail trying to find a shorter route to China, lands in the Caribbean (where there are no Chinese), and thinks he accomplished his mission?  He brings with him disease, and instead of trying to make peace, he kills the natives.  Wow, this sounds like a great man to me, let’s honor him in every way possible.  After all, he does have that go getter American spirit in him.  That get-out-of-my-way-or-die mentality that defines who we are.

I really don’t understand how someone can say with a straight face that Columbus discovered America.  How is it possible to discover a continent that already has people living on it?  How is it possible to discover a continent when you never actually step foot on that continent?  That would be like me saying I discovered Iceland.  I’ve never been there, and there are already people living there…so it clearly fits in with the Columbus method of discovery.  Have we really run out of people to honor?  I urge you to contact your local representative to end this madness.  I’ve already taken the initiative to write Obama to have him abolish this day as a holiday (I’m fine if you want to keep the day, but you need to honor someone else).

Enough already.  I actually got ‘happy holiday’d’ in Penn Station this morning, I looked at this woman like she was on crack.  It’s clearly not a holiday for all the above reasons, but if you need further confirmation, if the stock market is open, it’s not a holiday.

Congratulations…you’re an idiot

At least the Weather Channel thinks so…because starting this winter they are going to start naming their winter storms. Their rationale for this:

  • Naming a storm raises awareness.
  • Attaching a name makes it much easier to follow a weather system’s progress.
  • A storm with a name takes on a personality all its own, which adds to awareness.
  • In today’s social media world, a name makes it much easier to reference in communication.
  • A named storm is easier to remember and refer to in the future.

Can someone please let me know how simply naming something raises awareness of said issue? I realize our society is label obsessed, but this point is ridiculous. If a crazed lunatic is running around my office with a gun, I don’t think I will be more aware of the situation just by knowing it is Chester from the mailroom who is said lunatic. We were all pretty aware of the DC sniper when he was targeting people pumping gas when we didn’t know his name as we were when his name was revealed. Do you honestly think there was someone out there who said “oh shit, Lee Malvo was taking people out? I though all those people dying due to an un-named assailant was a joke people were playing on me down at the office…now that I know it was Lee, it makes sense.” And the last point is this, all I really need to hear is that a hurricane is headed toward Long Island and it has the capacity to rip the roof off my house to scare the crap out of me, it actually sounds better than hearing that Irene is headed up the coast packing a punch.

Attaching a name makes it easier to follow a weather system’s progress? No it doesn’t, turning on the television makes it easier to follow a weather system’s progress. Having a degree in Weather from Brown University makes it easier to follow a weather system’s progress. Being Sam Champion makes it easier to follow a weather system’s progress. Looking out my window makes it easier to follow a weather system’s progress. Having access to ABC’s super Doppler makes it easier to follow a weather system’s progress. Although I do remember talking to my friend Tim who said that while he was vacationing in Myrtle Beach that it was easier to follow Hurricane Mark’s progress once they named it Mark…I mean can you imagine the confusion that would be caused by having two people try to follow a major storm as it moves up the coast without being able to refer to it by name?!? I don’t even want to try to visualize that scene…it would be chaos, bedlam, the end of the World, Ahhhh!!!!!! Sorry, I’m back now…I was hiding under my desk.

Their third point – a storm with a name takes on a personality all its own, which adds to awareness. Isn’t this just a longer way to restate their first point? Who writes these things? Do they think we’re idiots?

Fourth – In today’s social media world, a name makes it easier for reference in communication. Really? First of all, only the village idiot is on Twitter, so that rules that one out. What are we really concerned about, Facebook? So you’re saying that the highbrow community of Facebook users are so advanced, that sending out a post that says “there is a hurricane headed your way, it is a category 5 storm, it is going to destroy everything it touches, you are probably going to die” would fall on deaf ears? But this post – ‘Hurricane Andrew expected to make landfall by Monday’ would grab their attention and not let go? I think what they are really saying is that people who use social media are stupid…listen people, I’m not making this stuff up, I only interpret the data.

Their last point – A named storm is easier to remember and refer to in the future. They may have something here. I mean really, no one remembers the great San Francisco earthquake, but there is not a person out there who would have forgotten Earthquake Bill! Bill took everything from me…he destroyed my life, I lost my family because of Bill…that bastard!!! The great Chicago Fire, what is that? Fire Jane…who could ever forget that one? She came in and torched me, she moved so fast around the corner, I couldn’t get away. Her flames were so hot…they may have something here.

I think what they’re really trying to say is that they’re out of ideas, they’ve pretty much taken weather as far as they can, this is all they have left. The article goes on to say “This is an ambitious project. However, the benefits will be significant.” After reading that, what can you really say? Is the Weather Channel hiring community school dropouts? In what minimalist society is naming a storm an ambitious project? Now granted I’ve never actually named a storm, so take this with a grain of salt, but my guess is that it would be about as ambitious a project as deciding which beer I was going to have tonight, PBR or MGD. It might be as strenuous as sitting down on the couch and deciding between putting my feet on the coffee table or on the cushion next to me. Apparently this is taxing the people down at the Weather Channel and taking them to the edge.  If this is really the case, someone is going to go postal down there in the very near future.

I am already looking forward to Winter Storm Alice…she sounds so nice.  Alice wouldn’t hurt me, she wouldn’t dare make my commute treacherous, she wouldn’t hurt my back from shoveling snow, she wouldn’t produce slippery ice that would make it difficult to walk…or would she??

Head Scratcher of the Day

When our internet goes out at work, why does the help desk send an email to let us know?

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