Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Toilet Paper: "Buddy, Can You Spare a Square?"

Years ago I read a novel by Margaret Atwood: Cat's Eye, published in 1988 so I probably read it around that time. It was Atwood's next book after The Handmaid's Tale which I had loved.

Cat's Eye, however, was a book I did not like AT ALL yet one part has always stuck with me: the father of one of the characters maintained a strict rule, allowing the use of only 3 squares of toilet paper per event.

It has been over 25 years since I read this book so it's possible my memory on this is faulty. But I didn't like the book so I never plan to go back and check. It had a disappointing ending so I did not read another Margaret Atwood novel (The Year of the Flood, which turned out to be book 2 in a three book series) until a few years ago. Except for The Handmaid's Tale, her books are not for me.

I also read a novel a few years back about the family of a polygamist and he had like 27 kids and he also restricted toilet paper use as 30+ people probably go through a LOT of TP. (The book was probably The Lonely Polygamist by Brady Udall.)

Is this a thing? Do other people restrict the use of toilet paper in their homes? I like to joke that toilet paper will be the currency of the apocalypse.

Not to get too descriptive, but even three squares seems like a puny amount, depending on the level of usage. A number one? Okay, barely, but a number two?! Only three squares is just crazy talk.

And what about feminine hygiene products? (What do other women do?) I always wrapped everything in TP so that it wasn't visible in the trash can. This generally takes more than three squares because no one needs to see used FHPs.

The character Elaine Benes on "Seinfeld" famously asked, "Can you spare a square?" in a public restroom. She is ignored and has to do without even a single square, much less three.

I did a quick search on "toilet paper restrictions" and it came up with a few gems:
  • The New York State lawmaker who restricts everyone to 6 rolls per month for their offices.
  • School bathrooms where users need to sign out the roll of toilet paper in the main office and return it when done. 
  • Several examples of restricted TP use as austerity measures. When the budget is cut the first thing to go is the toilet paper.
  • And, of course, when you visit national parks you may bury your poop but you need to carry out your used toilet paper. It's a fun souvenir for the scrapbook, right? Eeeew.
  • And this classic: a horror novel printed on toilet paper!
    • According to the website selling it:
      • "It will scare the shit out of you!"
      • "It will have you on the edge of your seat!"

Friday, August 26, 2016

Do we WANT to be Carrie, Charlotte, Miranda or Samantha?

If you don't know who those women in the title are, they are the four main characters of HBO's comedy show "Sex and the City" which aired from 1998 to 2004.

Carrie is a newspaper columnist, writing weekly about, you guessed it, sex and the city (Manhattan specifically). She meets a man in the first episode nicknamed "Mr. Big" and then obsesses about him for the entire series. Big is portrayed by Chris Noth, also a regular on "Law & Order" before SATC and "The Good Wife" after it. He is a very attractive man but his character is kind of an asshole so it gets frustrating that Carrie keeps after him for so very long.

As for the other three, Miranda is a lawyer who is cynical about romance. She has an on-off relationship with Steve. Samantha runs her own public relations firm and enjoys lots of casual sex. Charlotte, who works at an art gallery, is a romantic who is searching for the perfect husband.

All of these women are white, wealthy and have no problem getting men to sleep with them. They are in their early 30s as the show starts except for Samantha who is about 10 years older. Carrie constantly pleads poverty but she lives in a fabulous Manhattan apartment, buys $400+ shoes regularly, drinks in bars constantly and eats in trendy restaurants every episode so she is "poor" compared to her friends but not poor compared to regular folks. All on the salary of someone who writes ONE article per week! No wonder everyone wanted to be Carrie!

I have been watching the show the last few weeks and I am through the 3rd season so far. I know how it all ends up (12-YEAR-OLD SPOILER ALERT: Carrie ends up with Mr. Big), it's not laugh out loud funny, and I'm more irritated by the women, especially Carrie.

There are several quizzes on the Internet that will tell you which character you are: in one I was a Charlotte, in another "you WISH you were a Carrie but alas, you are a Miranda".

Like it matters! As I watch I think I am temperamentally more of a Carrie --- obsessing over men was definitely a specialty of mine (somewhere my best friend Lady Chardonnay is snorting coffee through her nose as she reads this!) --- with a dash of Charlotte and Miranda, thus obsessive and romantic yet cynical. I don't seem to have much of Samantha in me but I find that she's the character I'm drawn to most as I watch in 2016. She is so comfortable with herself and her sex life that you have to admire her. Except for Samantha these women seem to define themselves only by the men in their lives.

At the time it was considered risque' how Samantha's sex life was portrayed and discussed but that was then. Now we have "Girls", another HBO comedy with 4 leads who are white women with little in the way of financial difficulties. But they are even more free with the sex talk and situations than SATC ever was! And of course lip service is paid to how broke or jobless they sometimes are but they manage just fine.

The differences between "Sex and the City" and "Girls" are that the first takes place mainly in Manhattan while the second is based in Brooklyn. The girls in "Girls" are in their mid-twenties instead of their early 30s. (I assume the next HBO show with 4 white women will be about teenagers in The Bronx, Queens or Staten Island about 10 years from now.)

The character I seem closer to in "Girls" is Hannah, the lead role. She wants to be a writer and she is considered chubby. There the similarities to me end. I am nothing like Carrie or Hannah in any ways that count --- my life couldn't be farther from a young, single woman's in New York City in any decade --- but I think one is drawn to them because they are the leads. Since we "play" the lead roles in our own lives so it would make sense to identify more closely to the lead in a TV show. I guess I am just as self-centered as those characters after all?!

So the point is this:
  • Which "Friends" character am I most like? 
    • Obsessive Monica! (The quiz agrees!) I'd add a bit of sarcastic Chandler too.
  • Which is your favorite Beatle?
    • In my childhood it was Paul, the cute one. Then it was John. Then it was George. Now I'm back to John again. Sorry, Ringo!
    • The quiz tells me I am most like Paul. Whatever that might mean!
  • Which "Girls" character are you?
    • According to the two quizzes I took I am either annoying Marnie or a combo of Hannah and Jessa.
  • Which Harry Potter character are you?
    • I would choose Hermione but the quiz said Bellatrix. Hmm...
  • Which "Game of Thrones" character are you?
    • I say Margaery but the quiz says Cersei. Hmm...
  • Which Middle Earth (Tolkien) character are you?
    • I say Hobbit; the quiz says Hobbit.
  • Which character from "Lord of the Rings" are you?
    • I choose Arwen, a beautiful elf who pines for Aragorn, but the quiz says Merry, a supporting Hobbit.
  • Which "Star Trek: The Next Generation" character are you?
    • I am definitely a Wesley, sayeth the quiz.
  • Which "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" character are you?
    • Quiz? Jadzia Dax.
  • Which "Star Trek: Voyager" character are you?
    • I am the captain now! Kathryn Janeway it is!
  • Which astrological sign are you? (Yes, there are quizzes for EVERYTHING!)
    • I am actually a Pisces and the quiz guessed Taurus or Pisces.

It's all ridiculous, isn't it?

Friday, August 12, 2016

Anniversaries!

Seven years ago today we moved into our current house. It is the second longest time I have lived in any one place, tied with my childhood home in Louisiana where I lived from 1967 to 1974. First place still goes to our previous house where we lived for 11 years. Until 1998 I moved a LOT.
It looks mostly like a big garage, doesn't it?

Today is also the 27th anniversary of my very first date with CPA Boy! We went to dinner at an English restaurant that's long gone and then we played mini-golf.

Two days ago was the anniversary of the birth of my very best friend of almost 36 years: Lady Chardonnay! We met on September 21, 1980, on the first day of college and were best friends by the end of the month.
The brunette in red and the redhead in black, circa 1982

Next month is also the 25th anniversary of CPA Boy and me. The 23rd anniversary of Lady Chardonnay and Mr. Lady Chardonnay is two days later.

Isn't funny how all our anniversaries ended up in August and September?

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Clickbait Run Amok

I have noticed these ads constantly as I browse the Internet and they annoy me because, well, many things annoy me. (CPA Boy will vouch for this.)

Here's a screengrab of one:


Here's the second:

I don't know if they will be legible enough for my readers to see. Both feature a black & white photograph of the actress and both say: "Melissa McCarthy says her goodbyes at 45, Messages pour in after fans realize she's gone..."

For the record, Melissa McCarthy has "gone" nowhere.

I have seen these for Judi Dench and Meryl Streep. They also exist for Betty White, Sandra Bullock, Julia Roberts and many others. Apparently these actresses are the most click-worthy. (I haven't seen any --- yet --- featuring men. Sexism runs rampant everywhere, I guess.)

When I first saw one for Judi Dench I was sad because I love her work. But I was skeptical and instead of clicking the link I chose to do a Google News search to discover that Ms Dench was not "gone" at all.

There are several iterations of the Melissa McCarthy ad. Many of them are related to the cancellation of "Mike & Molly".

I did a search on "What's with all those Melissa McCarthy ads" and found out that if you click the links it will take you to a weight loss supplement ad with before and after pictures and purported quotes from Ms McCarthy related to the product. It seems rather obvious that the "after" photo was years ago, probably around the time she was on "Gilmore Girls". As one blog author commented, not only does the product make you lose weight but it takes you back in time!

Others actresses pictures will take you to ads for youth creams or other beauty-related products.

There is another type of ad, mainly featuring Ellen deGeneres and Oprah Winfrey and how their "lies" are leading to their downfall, or something along those lines. There are usually GIFs of Ellen and Oprah looking like they are crying, maybe from a segment of a Barbara Walters interview?

If in doubt head to your favorite news site or Google News. If any of these extremely famous people pass away they will be featured on the front page of a reputable news site.

You can also see the phrase "You May Like" in the second photo. These are ads sponsored by Taboola, a company that places them. Apparently they are infamous for these ads of misdirection. And clickbait is everywhere!

And don't get me started on "listicles": a numbered list which requires you to click through every item individually while the pages themselves are loaded with other ads. "Item #17 will SHOCK you" as the listicles often promise. It won't.

Add in all the the phone calls some people receive threatening arrest because you ignored jury duty or didn't pay your taxes --- unless you forward them cash card information, of course --- and it's another facet of our crazy world. The IRS tax return ones are especially hilarious as I am close to three CPAs: retired Pops, my good friend CPA Shell, and my hubs, CPA Boy himself.

I have to say though, since switching our phone number and using the Ooma device instead of Comcast, we have received only a small handful of telemarketer calls in over a year. We used to get 10-12 a week. The phone rang only four times in July! Bliss!

I personally receive trolling scams from being connected with the Creative Memories company. My e-mail address is accessible in case a customer wants to find me (I created a separate Gmail account for it). The scam e-mail goes to many of us at the same time.

It usually has an order request for multiple quantities of items. This is unusual because people rarely purchase, say, 12 blue albums and 12 identical paper packs. It is misspelled with randomly capitalized words while the e-mailer is always deaf and her boss will send a check to pay for her items. Sometimes they use the old "check will be for more, send back the difference" ploy.

Since all things Creative Memories are accessible on the Internet it sends another red flag: deaf persons should have no trouble ordering from any CM Advisor.  Who has a boss that will buy scrapbook items for her?! Again, deaf persons are perfectly capable; they can use checking accounts of their own. And who wants to accept checks from strangers these days?!

But several CM Advisors have fallen for it. They receive the (fake) check and mail the items before it clears (and it will bounce back as fake). I looked up the address of one scam e-mail. It was a rural Pennsylvania road with no houses. The assumption is the scammers get the merchandise and then sell it on eBay.

One needs to be alert and skeptical about everything on the Web! Don't click on ads. Google search --- or whichever search engine you prefer --- is your best bet!