Category: Gripes

Nov 23, 2015
By Michael Rupured

No Tipping?

The latest trend in upscale dining is to do away with tipping. Instead, fine dining establishments say they will pay staff a respectable wage. Of course, they’ll also jack prices up by twenty percent or more to cover the cost of higher wages. Many moons ago, I waited tables. For more than a decade, I pasted a smile on my face and did my best to please often surly customers. Although I did my time in a dive or two, most of the restaurants where I worked were high end. For much of that time, the money I made waiting tables was my only source of income. I was paid $2.01 an hour (eventually it went up to $2.10) without any …

Sep 21, 2015
By Michael Rupured

Home-Grown Tomatoes

The older I get, the more I appreciate the taste of a good, home-grown tomato. Back in Kentucky the plants went in the ground toward the middle of May with hopes the first fruit would ripen by the Fourth of July. Without buying big plants or cherry tomatoes, the first ripe tomato rarely appear before the end of July. Within a week or two everyone I knew had baskets of tomatoes, squash, and cucumbers they couldn’t eat. My first summer in Georgia I had a Kentucky-style tomato harvest. Coworkers and neighbors welcomed the surplus. That was almost twenty years ago. Since then, thanks to deer, drought and/or excessive heat,  I’ve had precious little luck growing them. A few years ago, I bought a …

Jul 20, 2015
By Michael Rupured

90 Days My Ass

Ads promise anyone can have a killer body in ninety days. All it takes is thirty minutes of exercise, three or four times a week. Results are guaranteed, or your money back. In the eloquent words of my father, may he rest in peace: horse shit. A perfect body has never been my goal. Not that I’d mind, of course, but I exercise for my health. Staying off medications is the goal. Any other results are just icing on the cake doughnuts I shouldn’t be eating. Nonetheless, I was sorely disappointed after joining the gym three years ago that three months of working out had produced so little change. Seriously. I almost quit. Eventually, getting to the gym became a priority for me. I’d like to workout …

May 25, 2015
By Michael Rupured

Where There’s a Will…

Do you have a will? A lot of people avoid estate planning — as if not talking about death will somehow keep it from happening. Wrong! Moreover, the worst thing you can do to your heirs is die without an estate plan. In recent posts I’ve mentioned my plans to retire in the next five to seven years. I’ll get a small pension from a previous employer plus Social Security. The bulk of my retirement income, however, will come from the money I’ve saved (including the match from my employer). At this stage of the game, the balance in my retirement accounts is significant.   God willing, my life force and my account balance will zero out at the same time. If I die before the …

Apr 13, 2015
By Michael Rupured

Busted Routines

I’m very much a creature of habit. Toodles and I move through our days like well-oiled machines. Routines drive our actions from the time our feet/paws hit the floor in the morning until our heads hit the pillow at night. Doing things in a particular order helps me get more done and keeps me from having to think about what’s next. Disruptions push my needle into the crotchety zone, and sometimes, flat out piss me off. Shocking, I know, but true. Routines have always worked for me. I could be wrong — wouldn’t be the first time — but that’s how I remember things. Lately, instead of helping me get everything done, my well-established routines too often get in the way of what I want to do. My …

Nov 24, 2014
By Michael Rupured

Social Network Fatigue

Once upon a time, the only social networking options were snail-mail, rotary dial telephones, and face-to-face. Travel costs and long distance telephone charges made letters the preferred means for keeping up with out-of-town friends and family. When not in class or hanging out with local friends, I spent hours on the telephone talking with them. Yeah. I can be kinda catty chatty. I got my first email account in the 1980s through work. In those early days, all messages were business-related. Spam hadn’t yet been invented. Gradually, folks stopped worrying about nosey employers. For family and friends with an addy, email became the preferred means of communication. My first home computer, purchased in the 1990s, came preloaded with AOL. Dial-up access ruled out …

May 26, 2014
By Michael Rupured

My Cable Bill

The ability to retire a few years earlier than planned has provided an incentive to pay a lot more attention to my monthly bills. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve always been vigilant. But the emphasis has shifted from checking for errors to looking for (painless) ways to cut back. As they’re based on usage, I expect bills for water and electric to vary. In the past, I’ve been on “the budget plan” with my utilities to spread the cost of high months across the year. Not anymore. Mostly the budget plan kept me from noticing how much setting my thermostat to 68 in July was costing me. Anyway, variability with these kinds of expenses is to be expected. My cell phone service and my …

Mar 30, 2014
By Michael Rupured

Poisoned!

A whopping case of food poisoning has made for a rough week. I should have known better, but misplaced trust and my inner cheapness conspired against me. I have nobody to blame but myself. The nasty little beasts hitched a ride into my gut last Friday. I’d paid a pretty penny for a thick ribeye steak the previous Sunday. No oven-broiling or pan-frying for me. A steak that nice has to be grilled, but the weather didn’t cooperate until Friday. With few exceptions, I hate putting proteins in the freezer. Not for taste reasons, but because I have to think about what I want to eat far enough ahead of time to thaw something out. And if I change my mind, …

Mar 17, 2014
By Michael Rupured

Pet Writing Peeves: Pop Culture References

A good writer makes the reader feel like he or she is a witness to events in the story as they unfold. Keeping the reader’s attention focused on the action and dialogue is the goal. Errors and mistakes, when noticed, take the reader out of the story. Ignorance is bliss. Before getting published, as long as the story kept me interested, I could enjoy the most poorly written of novels. Not anymore. Now all kinds of things I never noticed — my personal pet peeves — take me out of the story. If this happens often enough, I quit reading and never finish the book.  I’m in the middle of a book by a favorite author who has had a …

Feb 17, 2014
By Michael Rupured

Pet Writing Peeves: Adverbs

Adverbs top the list of my Pet Writing Peeves. These little words modify actions and usually end in -ly. They’re perfectly acceptable in lots of different situations, but should be used sparingly in novels. Paragraphs riddled with -ly words — like the one above — are fine in blog posts, status updates, conversations, tweets, news stories, and lots of other places. The occasional use in novels — especially in dialogue — isn’t a big issue with me either. But lots of adverbs in the narration are an indicator of lazy writing. A novel is supposed to show the story, not tell. Adverbs are tell words. They’re fine in conversation and in dialogue because talking is all about telling another person …

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