The Mess Of The Desk

clutteredI have a drop-lid desk.  It’s very small and sits in the corner.  When I go away for any length of time, I organize it, shut my computer off, push it back in its place and close the lid.  My desk becomes an attractive piece of furniture — until I get back.  Unfortunately, once the lid is closed, nobody knows what goes on in there, and every time I come home and open it up, all hell breaks loose.  This is what I invariably find.

Mail — Here’s the deal: my bank pays my bills, my job is electronic and my friends (normally) live in the 21st century — so — I don’t get mail (except one monthly magazine that hasn’t figured out my subscription ran out in the 80s.)  However, the minute I leave my desk for more than one sleep …
Every pizza joint, realtor, Sham-Wow salesman, car dealership and landscaper has a burning need to tell me how cool they are.
Junk food throughout the known universe is on sale.
The federal government suddenly has two new pension options they want to share with me.
Tony, from high school, found some old photos he thought he’d just “send along.”
Great Aunt Vera got the dates mixed up and sent, not one but two, birthday cards — three months early.  (Yay!  Lottery tickets!)
And the whole stack, teetering on self destruction, just needs the vibration of my footsteps to slide backwards into, and get irretrievably tangled up with, the other evil — paper.

Paper — Clearly, the 3 or 4 hand-written notes-to-self I left neatly in the corner were overcome by separation anxiety and panicked — ’cause there’s paper everywhere.
Post-it notes, in colours I don’t even own, stuck in places I never stick them.
Telephone numbers, written on scraps of paper — without names, area codes or explanation.
A napkin with the address, 1641 Vine #202, written in scrolling script.  (Holy crap! The “i” is dotted with a heart!)
Receipts — lots of receipts.  (Who bought the toilet paper, mushrooms, ice cream scoop and hand sanitizer?)
The warranty card from a can opener that broke two Christmases ago.
A refund cheque from Costco.
The airline itinerary I couldn’t find.
And one cryptic message (in my handwriting) that just says, “Freeze the meat!”

Then, after fighting with the paper for hours, I make the mistake of turning on my computer.

WTF? Nobody gets 282 emails in a week!

Day Of Blame (2016)


What this world needs is an International Day of Blame.  A single day, set aside each year, so people could legitimately blame all their various misfortunes on anyone who’s ever done them a dirty.

You don’t have to be Stephen Hawking to realize that grievance has become a growth industry in this world.  That’s right: there’s an entire industry built on the premise that everything is somebody else’s fault.

The most visible proponents of this are government agencies and the uncivil servants who dwell there, but they’re just the tip of the iceberg.  There’s another whole layer of NGOs waiting down the block to back them up.  Then there’re activists.  Remember when activists were real people who saw misfortune and injustice and took time out of their lives to try and right a social wrong?  Not anymore; contemporary activists are permanent employees of the grievance industry.  It’s their 9 to 5 job.  Their children’s lunch money and school clothes depend on it.  After that, there’s a whole strata of sub-scum hangers-on who feed off grievance as if it were manna from the gods.  There are harassment officers, community organizers and various advocacy groups.  There are also the legal-fecal lawyers who perch like vampires, waiting to sink their fangs into any social complaint that used to be settled with a harsh word and a rude gesture.  And of course, there’s the media.  In the history of civilized behaviour, no other collection of ne’er–do-wells has played The Blame Game with such ruthless tenacity as journalists.  Media personalities wake up in the morning blaming the sun for shining if it’s a hot day and either Obama or Trump if it’s cloudy – and they make millions doing it.  It’s no wonder I blame Phil Donahue for ruining journalism.

Anyway, since finding fault has become an international pastime, it’s time we had a day for it.  The Day of Blame could be March 1st — halfway between St. Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day.  The sugar shock feel-good of Valentine’s Day has worn off, and the pre-Celtic alcohol run-up to St. Paddy’s hasn’t kicked in yet.  Spring is coming, but it hasn’t arrived, and the late days of winter are still cold and miserable.  It’s a perfect time to sit around and bitch about who’s been nasty to you since birth and the reason your kids are ugly.

This thing could catch fire like a meth lab with a short circuit.  People would be having dinner parties with their exes and blaming them for all their love’s labour lost.  Children would be phoning their parents — collect — and blaming them for every petty neurosis they’ve suffered since puberty.  Grandparents would write letters to the grandchildren, blaming them because they’re lonely.  Students could blame teachers; teachers, students; and on and on.

Hallmark alone would make a fortune on “It’s Your Fault” cards.  Not to mention florists selling dead flowers to anyone who’s ever been dumped and newspapers selling full-page ads to every middle-aged Star Wars nerd who believes George Lucas pooped on their childhood.  Every transgression, every setback, every disaster, calamity and mishap would be fair game — and, more importantly, somebody else’s fault.

But the true beauty of the Day of Blame is it’s one special day — that’s it.  For the other 364, we’d all have to shut up, quit whining and take some personal responsibility.  It would be wonderful.  There would be no more snivelling about how bad life has treated all of us.  And maybe — just maybe — we’d finally realize that, in our affluent western society, we don’t have that much to complain about.   And actually, most of the real blame for screwing up rests on our own little pass-the-buck shoulders and nearly everything else is just life — get used to it.

So I propose a toast to an International Day of Blame.  It might be just what this world needs.

FYI — Day of Blame is the intellectual property of W.D. Fyfe.  If you want to use it, go ahead; but you must give me full credit for the idea and at least 10% of the gross income.  Otherwise, I will find a scuzzy lawyer and make you very sorry.

Warning Labels/Stupid People


Buy anything these days and chances are good it will come with a checklist of “thou shalt nots” longer than the Ten Commandants.  For example, my TV came with explicit instructions not to drop this electronic device, hit the screen with sharp objects or operate it underwater.  Fair enough.  I had no intention of doing anything more than staring at it for hours and hours, but information is always a good thing.

Of course, stupid product warnings have been around since the mid 1970s, when corporations started telling people their coffee was hot and not to drink the Drano™.  Unfortunately, they’ve now accelerated to the point of absurdity.  Here are a few examples:
“Not to be used orally” – on a hair curling iron
“Caution: Do not spray in eyes” – on deodorant
“Do not use internally” – on a toilet bowl cleaning brush
“Choking Hazard: This toy is a small ball” – written in three languages on a small ball
And there are a lot more that get a lot more complicated, but we all know what we’re talking about.

There is a collective idea that we have these stupid warnings because our society is under siege from bloodsucking lawyers who will do anything to initiate lawsuits.  This is not true.  Yes, our society is under siege from bloodsucking lawyers (this, by the way, is a general comment, not directed at any particular bloodsucking lawyer.)  However, we have stupid warnings on products because people are stupid.  I’m not talking about high profile Darwin Award stupidity; just everyday ordinary incredible acts of Dumb and Dumber.

The reason corporations put all those idiot warnings on their products is

people do stand on the last rung of the ladder.  They do spray deodorant in their eyes. And God only knows what they’re doing with that toilet brush — internally. These things happen on a daily basis.

Recently, a family was doing some spring gardening, using a device called the Weed Wand.  The Weed Wand is an advertised alternative to the chemical warfare we’ve been using (and most cities have been banning, thank God) to control weeds.  What it is, is a snout attached to a handheld propane tank that shoots flames directly at the weeds and kills them by cremation.  (I’m not making this up; this is a real product.)  Guess what?  They set the house on fire!  These are ordinary people, but their actions do beg the question: who buys a flamethrower — even a small one — to tidy up the sidewalk?  When asked about it, the guy took absolutely no responsibility for burning his house down.  He said, “In my opinion, it’s not a safe product, and we certainly weren’t using it in a reckless fashion … I don’t think products like that should be on the market.”  Hey, buddy, it’s a flamethrower and you bought it!

The problem is our society is basically benevolent.  We have eliminated most of the dangerous elements in our world and control many of the hazardous ones.  However, in our zeal to make a risk-free society, we’ve created a couple of generations of people who think this is the natural order of things.  They believe the world is a safe place.  They wander around as if nothing on this good green earth is ever going to hurt them.  Then, when something does, they think there’s been a malfunction somewhere.

I’m beginning to think our well-regulated society has beaten the self preservation gene out of our species and survival of the fittest isn’t even an option any more.