THERE’S A CODE FOR EVERTHING – Marilyn Armstrong

There is a code for everything these days. Every item in the shop, every village in the world.

There’s a code for every telephone. Bar codes float through the air like fireflies. We are all zipped up. Where once we needed our name, today we need a passport, email address, social security number, and zip code.

But, life on earth existed before codes. Before zip codes, cable television, and calling codes. Before bar codes were printed on every product. We used dial telephones which worked pretty well as telephones than the phones we use now.

In small towns, you only needed the last four numbers to place a call.

We mailed letters and remarkably, they got delivered. Television was not as diverse or intense, but it was interesting and often funny. We enjoyed it, or at least some of us did. If we didn’t, we could read a book!

We had conversations with each other. That’s right! Imagine it, for a moment, groups of people getting together and talking about all kinds of stuff. History, books, and the state of the world. No one became enraged and charged from the room with blood in his or her eye.

Oh, did I mention that most of us were polite?

We said things like “excuse me” and “thank you” and “please” … and no one felt diminished or belittled by talking like this. Politeness made many of the small things in life easier to manage.

Not that the world was perfect. Far from it … but manners helps smooth over some of the rough parts.

Much was broken and is still waiting to get fixed, but as a whole, we were nicer to each other. Personally, at least. We weren’t nice because we were whiter or browner or some shade in between. We were nice because we were taught to be like that. By our parents. Because civilized people were taught to be polite to adults and each other. It was the grease on the squeaky wheel of civilization.

As I watch kids today sitting together in groups busily texting each other, I have to wonder how they will develop human relationships with any depth.

If they don’t know how to have a conversation, how are they going to build a life? Maybe the passion for electronics will fade with time. After which, folks will remember how talking and laughing used to take up that space in their world.

You never know. It could happen! Of course, walking around with loaded military-grade rifles and murdering people who you think are the wrong color is both uncivil and extremely rude. We might try doing something about that while we are busy worrying about manners.

Civility is all well and good, but killing people is worse.

REMEMBER WHEN YOU WERE HAPPY TO GET A PHONE CALL? – Marilyn Armstrong

“Holy shit,” I said to no one at all. “That really HURTS.”

I was referring to my back and left hip (aka “the good one”). It was early. Although morning often is accompanied by stiffness and pain, I don’t normally wake up with quite such a jolt.

Rolling slowly out of bed, I tried to remember what I’d been dreaming about. Something about cats made of smoke and a clothesline that was part of a computer game. And a shrink who offered to scratch my back, but couldn’t find the right spot.

I took a couple of Tylenol and a muscle relaxant. I rearranged the bed and tucked myself in for a few more hours of sleep.

The phone rang. Of course.

I looked at the caller ID. It showed a local number. It was not a local call. Scamming technology shows local numbers on my Caller ID including my own number. I’m pretty sure I’m not calling myself.

I answered the phone in what has become my typical surly morning greeting: “Who are you and what do you want?” There was no response. A bit of crackle on the line, but no voice. Not even a recording. I hung up. More accurately, pressed the OFF key.

It has been a long time since I expected a ringing telephone to herald a call from a friend. I don’t even expect it to be a return call from someone with whom I do business. I expect all calls to be scams, surveys, or sales pitches.

All the calls I get are recorded messages. I can’t even insult the caller or his company. That used to be the only positive side to these endless calls from anonymous people. Even that small pleasure is gone.

I have utterly abandoned good telephone manners. Telephones are not a way to communicate unless I’m making the call. Otherwise, it’s annoying and intrusive — another attempt to steal personal data so someone can hack our accounts, steal our identity, or scam us in some other way.

I can’t make them stop calling because they never call from the same number twice and the number that shows on the Caller ID is fake. There’s nothing to report. NOMOROBO dot com has considerably limited the volume of calls, but nothing eliminates them. Somehow, they get your number. When I ask how they got it — assuming there’s someone to ask — they tell me they got my telephone number from a form I filled out “online.”

Except, I never do that. I do not fill in forms online and anything which requires I include a phone number. I tell everyone I don’t have a mobile phone.
I actually do have a smartphone. I just don’t use it.

As part of the day’s epiphanies, I realized how technology steals pieces of our lives. There’s nothing wrong with the technology. It is neither good nor bad; it is what it is. It’s what people do with it that’s can be life-stealing. Those People have ruined telephones for me, probably forever.

Unwanted telephone calls may seem a minor detail in view of the many awful things going on in our world these days, but I can remember waiting with pleasant anticipation for the phone to ring. It wasn’t that long ago.

Or was it?

THE WONT OF WIT, THE BATING PLACE OF WOE – Marilyn Armstrong

Share Your World 6-24-19

Are you more a thinker or a doer?   

Either I just do it and then have a lifetime to think about how I — if I’d thought about it more — could have done it better or preferably, not at all.  As an alternative, I think about it, decide not to do it, then spend years wishing I had done it.

As a third choice, I think, rethink, change my mind, begin the process, stop — write something or take a few pictures — while completely forgetting what I was going to do. When finally I remember my original intention, it doesn’t seem all that important so I read a book.

Why is beauty associated with mortality?

Because dead people putrefy? Because rotting bodies aren’t as attractive as live ones? Even when that individual — when alive — wasn’t beautiful they look worse when dead.

As proof of this statement, I have yet to see a single advertisement for anything using rotting corpses. I mean — seriously — dead people don’t enjoy beer and don’t look good in snug jeans. I’m pretty sure if advertisers aren’t using corpses (who would probably not need to be paid, so it would definitely be to their advantage to work with the dead), it’s probably because corpses are not attractive.

But when I die, hey, if you think this is a good idea, by all means. I’m pretty sure I won’t care.

If everyone spoke their mind (told the literal truth), would this world be a better place?

No. It would be just like it is but worse. Life would be harder, colder, and even more full of blowhards who don’t bother to give a moment’s thought before running their mouths. It’s bad enough now. That would make it oh so much worse.

It would finally and completely eliminate manners (such as they are). It would dispose of any remaining civility, kindness, politeness, delicacy, and good taste.

Your mouth is not supposed to be where random crap just falls out. We are supposed to think. That is why we have brains — which are supposed to be in charge of our mouths. Ponder that.

In the toilet, things just “fall out.” When they stink, you flush them away.

Sadly, once said, you have put it into the world and can never make it go away. There’s no flushing your words. They sear permanently on the minds of whoever is unlucky enough to hear them.

Your mouth isn’t supposed to be the verbal end of your anus. What comes out of it is supposed to have polish. Class. Wit. Elegance. Kindness. Compassion. Love. Maybe even brilliance. Toddlers say whatever flows into their unkempt young minds and that’s okay. They were born to learn and we teach them to not grow up and continue to act like toddlers.

Remove the training in manners and civility and the world would be all adult toddlers. The idea is nauseating. We have one of those in the White House. Isn’t that guy our national huckleberry?

I am sick to death of people who think they are “special” because they don’t know when to shut up.

We went to a party (left early) where one (drunken) woman was blathering endlessly about how proud she was to have started smoking again now that she was done with chemo and cancer. She was proud of this. She has a daughter. What’s her message?

The first amendment protects free speech. It isn’t a license for everyone to say anything, anytime, anywhere, under any and all circumstances.

What happened to class? Grammar? Elegant phrasing? Facts before opinions? Where went wit and cleverness? Concepts based on research? Has intelligence gone completely out of style? If it has, we are doomed.

Can religious beliefs affect scientific thinking?

Amongst the stupid, yes. Brighter people don’t seem to have this problem.

An attitude of gratitude: If you’d like to, share some gratitude in a photo, written, or song. 

The day is bright and sunny and for this small thing, praised be the rain gods for going somewhere else to do their thing.

Now, I’m going to put on a pair of sandals and go take a few pictures before the sky goes gray and the next rain comes.

PROUD TO BE CIVIL – Marilyn Armstrong

Politically correct. What outrage that term produces! How dare anyone tell me how to behave, how to speak? I can say anything I want. I mean … look at our president!

Yeah. Look at our president. Take a good look.

To be politically correct means to tread carefully on other people’s feelings and sensibilities. I’m for that.

Around here, “P.C,” means you can’t go around spewing racist epithets thinly disguised as humor or these days, as pure hatred. PC is designed for all the morons, bigots, racists and the socially challenged. It is a simple rule: “DON’T SAY THAT,” works much better than sensitivity training.

So many amongst us have no sensitivity to train.

Even if the morons who insist they don’t mean it — in which case why are they saying it? — I feel any rule or law that protects me from having to listen to hate is political capital well spent.


I would not call it political correctness.
I would call it civility.
Good manners.
Common decency.

If anyone feels that not calling other people insulting names is cramping their style, these are the exact people for whom these rules were intended. These are precisely the folks who most need them. Normal people have enough intelligence and good manners to know when to shut up without being told. They don’t need those rules. They already “get it.”

For everyone else, we have rules. Call it whatever you want. PC, good manners, civility, sensitivity, or politeness. It’s the same thing.

When we are amongst friends and we know each other well, we relax, let out guards down. Especially when we are a minority among others like us with similar culture and history, it’s all good. We are family, we act silly like family. But if you are not one of us, leave your mouth outside. I don’t need to be insulted. I don’t want to be made to feel uncomfortable or unsafe.

Many people still think racism is sort of cute. I think they should be eliminated from the gene pool.

BRUTAL HONESTY IS ALWAYS MORE BRUTAL THAN HONEST – Marilyn Armstrong

72-Quincy Harbor_036

Rules of criticism:
      1. Brutal honesty is always more brutal than honest. It is never well-meant. There are plenty of ways to be honest that are not brutal.
      2. Honesty lacking kindness is merely spite and malice flying under false colors.
      3. When criticism is given without affection or humor, its aim is not to inform, but to wound.
      4. Be wary of anyone who starts the sentence with “Trust me.” To me, that screams “The guy is a liar.”

Anyone can tell the real intentions of someone who is “only telling the truth for your own good.” Mostly, it’s a lie with a wash of “honest” on it.

Usually, it’s an outright lie. I wish people who have a bone to pick would say so and stop pretending it’s for “my own good.” It’s for their good if any “good” is involved. Personally, I doubt it.

brutal honesty

Some people really can’t handle criticism, no matter how gently given — or even a suggestion there might be a better way to do something. For these people, quit trying. Sometimes, they have good reasons for reacting that way, but you’re in a lose-lose position. Move on. You cannot make the unreasonable see reason.

On the whole, people who constantly criticize other people enjoy it. They should shut up and look in a mirror.


So, to sum this up, are you suggesting I don’t take criticism well? Who do you think you are, anyway? I take criticism fine. You are out of line. I am the soul of restraint and patience and if you don’t agree, I’m going to shout at you until you apologize.


There.

Now I feel better.

CRITICISM – Marilyn Armstrong

Mostly brutal


Brutal honesty is always more brutal than honest and is never well-meant.

Honesty without kindness is meanness under false colors.

When criticism is given without love or humor, its aim is not to inform, but to hurt.


Anyone can tell — by the tone of voice and facial expression — the true intent of someone who is “only telling the truth for your own good.” Most of the time, it’s a bald-faced lie. I wish people who have a bone to pick would just say so and stop pretending it’s for my own good. It’s for their good if anyone’s good is truly involved.

brutal honesty

Some people really can’t handle criticism, no matter how gently given — or even a suggestion there might be a better way to do something. In which case, give it up. Whatever you feel you need to tell them? Don’t bother They’ll always take it the wrong way and no one will benefit. Sometimes, they have good reasons for reacting that way, but it doesn’t matter. From your point of view, it’s a lost cause. Give it up.

On the whole, people who like to criticize other people get a kick out of it. I would like to kick them back.

So, to sum this up, are you suggesting I don’t take criticism well? Who do you think you are, anyway? I take criticism fine. You are out of line, sir. I am the soul of restraint and patience and if you don’t agree, I’m going to shout at you until you apologize.

There. Now I feel better.

ATAVISTIC DOESN’T MEAN RUDE – Marilyn Armstrong

ATAVISM, ATAVISTIC

I really liked the Cambridge dictionary definition better:


ATAVISTIC – atavistic meaning: happening because of a very old habit from a long time ago in human history, not because of a conscious decision or because it is necessary …


That sort of sums up the world we are seeing these days. A world where behaviors and patterns of behavior from the past are overtaking modern civility. Although I’m pretty sure back in Rome, they were pretty civil even then. Our rough incivility and crudeness aren’t atavistic. They are merely crude.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

I maintain that much of what is wrong with the world pertains to the way we treat each other. If we are kind, generous, and civil, the world remains a fairly well-oiled machine and it’s possible for everyone to hold their opinions without turning every disagreement into warfare.


These days, people seem to have forgotten the things we learned in elementary school. Like “please” and “thank you” and “excuse me” and most important, “I’m sorry.” Along with “no bother ” and “I forgive you.”


There’s no point in going on about this. Our world is becoming a crude and ugly place inhabited by people who would not be accepted in any civilized society, now or long in the past.

We aren’t being atavistic. We are simply ill-mannered.