Archive for February, 2008

Stupidity in Numbers or Trying to Purchase a Roast from a Stuper

Wednesday, February 27th, 2008

The world is full of wits, half-wits and dimwits. I came across yet another esteemed member of the latter category yesterday when I paid a visit to the Butcher. Alas, this writer found herself standing in front of a counter manned by a profoundly stupid person (stuper, for short).

My mission was to purchase two, two and one-half (2 1/2) pound roasts. Do any of my dear readers not understand this last statement? For the Butcher most certainly did not. The following is a verbatim transcript of our conversation:

Me: I would like two, two and one-half pound chuck roasts, please. Do you have any?

Butcher: We have a lot in the back. I’ll go and get them. Two, two and one-half pound roasts, right?

Me: Yes, please.

(Butcher left and returned promptly with the goods).

Butcher: Two, three and one-half pound roasts here for you.

Me: No. Two, two and one-half pounders is what I requested.

Butcher: Three and one-half?

Me: No, two and one-half.

Butcher: Three and one-half?

Me: Two and one-half.

(Butcher suddenly pulled himself up, rearing up in his baggy, white, slightly blood-stained pants and waved his hands, one of which held a cleaver).


(I counter gestured, firmly holding up two fingers).

Me: Two and one-half.

And so we played verbal ping-pong and reached a stalemate while providing a ludicrous sideshow for spectator-shoppers.

I did not want to squander any more time or energy on what had become a vexing, time-consuming attempt to buy two roasts, yet I wanted what I’d come for. It was the last day of the chuck roast sale.

I steadfastly remained indifferent to his insistent cries of “Three and one-half!” A simple request had spiraled into a bizarre battle of the wills.

Finally, the exhausted Butcher disappeared into the back once more and soon returned, holding one roast.

Butcher: This is two and three-quarters. Is that okay?

He was offering me a compromise of sorts. A peace offering. I nodded my agreement.

Butcher: Only one?

I glanced at the cleaver sitting on the worktable behind him.

Me: Yes, thank you.

I’m certain there are those of you who may think that the above tale was possibly imagined or even exaggerated by me, but you must believe me when I say it is the truth. This was not a farce. I was hoping I’d have some evidence to offer you, but we ate it for dinner last night.

Take time to think.


There are more fools in the world than there are people. ~ Heinrich Heine

Recourse for When A Relative Acts Stupidly

Monday, February 25th, 2008

I received the following e-mail about a problem with a stuper (short once more, for an unflappably stupid person). This particular stuper was a relative whose stupidity showed no signs of diminishing:

Dear Keli,

I’m upset. I need relief from a dose of stupidity. I am a forty-year-old real estate agent. I have a thirty-five -year-old cousin, Darin, who’s a doctor. He moved to my area, and I sold him his home. Everything went smoothly. We’ve always been friends as well as family. We got together quite a bit. One year later, Darin decided to list his home for sale, but didn’t bother to mention it to me. I read about it in a mass e-mail to family and friends. I called him and asked if I could help him sell his house. I thought maybe he wanted to sell it on his own. He said his new “best friend” from Church was going to list it and sell it. I was not happy, and I told him. He did apologize, but I still feel hurt. He no longer sends me any e-mails. I rarely hear from him now. I’ve only known him his whole, entire life! I resent the fact that he went to some one else. How could he do this to me? I’d like to beat the cr*p out of him. I think that might make me feel better. Am I being bit**y or was he being stupid?

Mad as Hell

Readers, what one trait openly distinguishes human from beast? I ask because it’s a flaw that marks most stupers. Read on to find out: 

Dear Mad:

There is one obvious attribute that separates man from beast (and I’m not even sure if this is always a telltale sign): the ability to effectively communicate. You feel let down by Darin’s lack of communication with you as well as his unexpectedly shoddy behavior. But from your letter, it appears you’ve been harboring ill-will towards him for over a year. That’s at least 364 days too long. Ill-will is a scrubbing brush that wears away the hand and heart of the holder.

In order to maintain your sanity, you must take refuge in thoughts of good-will any time you think of Darin. Negative thoughts do more harm than good. And it does sound as if you have some pleasant memories to call forth. Granted, he let you down, but so what? People, especially those who subscribe to the minimalist school of thought, can behave contemptibly. It appears that you told Darin how you felt. That should have given you some satisfaction.  However, if you still feel remnants of hostility towards him, I have a suggestion. This is a tactic I’ve utilized myself, and it works. Here’s a list of the items you’ll need:

–  At least three clear photos of Darin, preferably showing him smiling;

–  A pair of recently sharpened, sewing scissors; and

–  One small wastepaper basket.

Find a quiet spot at home and make yourself comfortable with the above materials. Pick up a picture of Darin and commence to cut. Take your time. Start with the head, if you like, and snip away until Darin (pieces of his photo, that is) could fit neatly inside of an ant colony. Continue until you can find the humor in what you’re doing or until you become exhausted, whichever comes first. Laugh away or wear down the grudge you’ve been cultivating.

Don’t grudge the people who pushed you down. They could be the ones to help you up the next day ~ unknown


Do Not Be Ashamed of Your Own Stupidity

Saturday, February 23rd, 2008

We all slip up once in a while by either saying or doing something stupid. This is nothing to be ashamed of. I say this, recalling that when I was a neophyte attorney, I once asked a seasoned lawyer an irregular question. The mere recollection of my query still makes me wince; it was so prodigiously stupid of me. Don’t ask me to repeat it because I won’t. (However, rest assured, that for a small fee, I can be convinced).

The more we speak and act without thinking, the greater the risk of appearing, and actually becoming, stupid. Sometimes, words or situations escape our grasp. We may be distracted, tired, naive (as in the case of my own wayward question) or otherwise mentally distraught, causing us to act like stupers (short, again, for soberingly stupid persons).

Authentic humans should acknowledge their own stupidity. But we rarely see this practice in action because of the fear of being permanently branded a stuper under the rules of polite society. Being viewed by others as a stuper can imperil our self-image as well as the image we convey to others. I plummeted several feet in the eyes of the seasoned attorney upon posing my idiotic question, and never again regained my footing in his eyes. I know what I’m talking about.

Words and actions depict us, furnishing the elements of our personalities. These same words and actions can also deform us, if not properly presented. I experienced a near miss yesterday while volunteering at the library. I was placed in charge of tracing missing books, a task for which I seemed to have an uncanny knack. The head librarian gleefully patted me on the back because I’d located books they’d been seeking for weeks.  I became known as the Book Hunter.

Soon after, I found yet another missing tome, and then did something that could have smirched my reputation. I put the damn book down somewhere and suddenly found myself a victim of ROA (Rapid Onset Amnesia). I retraced my steps (or what I thought could have been my steps), and thankfully, the matter of my stupidity remained private; I’d inadvertently shelved the book while pausing to skim a few paragraphs of another. I do that sometimes; just enough to give me an opinion of the book so I can converse intelligently about it. Anyway, I emerged untarnished.

Stupidity happens. But if we train ourselves to learn from stuper moments and not repeat ludicrous actions, we have nothing to be ashamed of.

Think first, last and always.


Stupidity Stands Too Close for Comfort and Sometimes Wears a Safari Hat for No Apparent Reason

Thursday, February 21st, 2008

I’m afraid I must revisit the topic of stupidity and the violation of personal space. The world appears to be littered with stupers (short, yet again, for inherently stupid persons) who have no qualms about intruding into the private zone of others. Since they have no concept of personal space, these meager minds excel at being personae non gratae – unwelcome visitors.

My husband, who’s always on the lookout for tales of the idiotic for me, spied a stuper in the parking lot of a deli. I asked Husband how he knew the fellow fell in the inane category.

“The chin strap gave him away,” he replied. “He was dressed in a safari outfit, and his hat had a strap under the chin. The only items missing were his elephant rifle and binoculars. He was obviously an oddball.”

Keep in mind that this took place in a nearby beach town where the closest thing to big game is the bushy-tailed tree squirrel.

Husband said he forgot about the oddity until he waited in line with our son to pay for lunch. As Son and Husband stood chatting, the safari guy suddenly appeared directly next to them, instead of behind, as the others did who were waiting in line. Then the chap opened a newspaper and positioned himself practically between them while he read. Husband claimed one side of the paper rested on his shoulder. As he and Son talked, the stuper stopped reading, lowered his paper and looked at them as if ready to join in. Husband said,

“He stood so close, I wasn’t sure whether he needed to be hugged or slugged. I was certain he was going to join in our conversation any moment. In fact, for a few minutes there, I thought he was part of the conversation; he was that close. What should I have done?”

There are stupers who unconsciously yearn for physical closeness… from anyone who crosses their path. Short of bending backwards at the waist, one must back away from those who get within necking distance until a respectable space is established. For most people, that’s about two to three feet. For others, five or ten feet may be comfortable. Sometimes, a prolonged look of disapproval may give the stuper a hint, if he’s not too thick in the head.

Think for yourself.


How Not To Appear Stupid When Subjected to Severe Boredom During Lengthy Meetings

Tuesday, February 19th, 2008

Confrontations with stupidity often occur in the workplace, one of the most vexing being the times we’re expected to stay awake during meetings of questionable merit and interminable length. Long and boring. But, there are ways to appear intelligent even while nodding off.

I’ve sat on several boards of directors for minuscule, but nonetheless worthy, organizations, as well as for my place of business. At one of these board (or is it bored?) meetings, I was once asked to give my opinion of the topic being bandied about. The subject matter was so absurdly tedious, that to this day, I am clueless as to what everyone was discussing. I’d tuned out.

“What do you think, Keli?” asked the President who sat, without blinking, in her high-back, leather, throne-like chair, giving me the feeling that she was rarely wrong.

She didn’t have to ask twice. Upon hearing my name, my pulse raced and little beads of perspiration formed on my forehead (fortunately, I wore wispy bangs at the time so without close examination, the sweat remained hidden beneath my hair). I don’t like to be caught unprepared. Especially when no one’s to blame, but myself. The setting suddenly appeared unreal, possessed of its own laws. I paused, as if carefully pondering, then replied, “I think this matter should be given greater thought before any decisions are made.”

The President nodded her head in approval; I had successfully extricated myself at no great cost, by a somewhat vague, non-committal response.

Changing the subject would have worked also, but that must be handled with greater skill as it could get out of hand should anyone suspect the true purpose behind the abrupt shift. Not easy to do in front of a weary audience eager for some real action.

I could have confessed that I’d drifted off into faraway mental frontiers, but that may have led to undesirable consequences as well as to my embarrassment, even though it was what I deserved. Or was it? For heaven’s sake, if these meetings moved along at a proper pace and were accompanied by palatable eats, who wouldn’t gladly give greater attention? Serving M&Ms or donuts does not promote good health or alertness. Delicately prepared hors d’oeuvres would keep me happily occupied and awake. Such meetings should not scrimp on sustenance.

In order to emerge unscathed from these situations, it’s important to carry an unfailing sense of self-assurance around, or at least appear to, as in my case. Had I folded, I surely would have been branded a stuper (short for an openly stupid person). Not being mentally present at a meeting should not be an impediment to being a successful participant.

Why not think?


Winners Stave Off Stupidity

Saturday, February 16th, 2008

Some of the greatest lessons I’ve learned about managing stupidity have been while out on the golf course. Lessons on how not to behave like a stuper (short once again, for an unsparingly stupid person). And I don’t even play golf. Thanks to child #2 (in birth order), I’ve spent many hours watching the game and its notables.

Yesterday was spent in Los Angeles, with my teen, observing the world’s greats play at the LA open. Even when these stellar athletes make stupid mistakes, they handle themselves winningly.

The #4 player in the world, Australia’s Adam Scott, hit a ball into the lake. How would the average stuper have reacted to such a displeasing, distorted performance? Probably by laying down in the grass, kicking and screaming bloody murder, and thereby throwing a certifiable tantrum. Or perhaps by hurling a club into the gallery while yelling expletives. Or possibly by breaking a club over the head of his caddie. Adam Scott, however, displayed no such menial reaction. He demonstrated coolness of mind and incredible self-restraint. Remaining calm enabled him to make a remarkable putt on the green.

Great Britain’s Luke Donald hit a tepid chip shot that fell woefully short of the target. Disgraceful for a world class player. His second shot was equally depressing. Yet Luke reacted with pleasant humor and kindness and spoke to his caddie with the utmost courtesy. He went on to shoot a phenomenal round of golf.

How would America’s stupidity specialist, Keli Garson, have reacted while waiting on the tee box in front of a stuper who insisted on spitting out his sunflower seed shells over her shoulder, converting his mouth into a veritable cannon, complete with sound effects, if she’d been a meager mind herself? Slugged the idiot, then taped his mouth shut with a handy roll of duct tape? No, no, no. That would be too much even for the most hollow of heads. As it was, I turned and gave him Look #1. This consists of a kindly stare, (think Mona Lisa), indicating great tolerance and just a touch of exasperation. I usually get successful results with this gaze. And the spitting stuper was no exception, for he quickly apologized and halted his seed assault immediately.

Had Look #1 been fruitless, I would have utilized Look #2, a stern, reproachful gaze; one that subtly promises at least a pinch of action if the stupid activity is not stopped.

Keeping one’s mind in the proper place and state is indispensable to one’s happiness and well being. Losing one’s mind by reacting poorly to a person or situation is a guarantee of distress. Remember: our reactions define our character.



Stupidity in the Guise of College Professors

Wednesday, February 13th, 2008

While listening to my college-attending child complain about a “moronic” professor, I regressed right back to my own school days and found myself wrinkling my nose in rancor as I recalled some of my nutty instructors. Out of almost fifty professors over a four year period, I had my share of stupers (short yet again, for observably stupid persons).

I took psychology 101 my first quarter and, oh, what an unwelcome introduction to a university course. My professor bore an uncanny physical resemblance to a hillbilly-mountain man, convicted felon type, who’d gotten all gussied up for a trip into town. Professor Nutcase appeared as if he hadn’t shaved or untangled his shoulder length locks in over a decade. He wore a heavy flannel work shirt and jeans on a daily basis, be the weather hot or cold, but had the presence (or was it absence?) of mind to balance out his outfit by foregoing shoes and socks. He paced the auditorium stage barefoot while he spoke.

Mountain man reenactor dressed in buckskinsBut it wasn’t his slipshod physical appearance that tipped the scales of intelligence on the low side and repulsed students of delicate sensibilities. It was the fact that he muttered to the point of indistinction while he lectured, swallowing syllables and whole sentences. I resisted the urge to run frantically from student to student, yelling, “Did you get that?” I knew I’d be met by blank stares.

Professor N. did everything in his power to ensure that the few students in the lecture hall who actually listened as he mumbled could not even read his lips. He faced the floor as he paced, and if that wasn’t bad enough, he engulfed himself in smoke from his endless supply of cigarettes so that he moved about in a curtain of brown-gray vapor. These were the olden days, before indoor smoking was banned in public places. I took refuge in the detailed class lecture notes offered in the student store. Notes of this sort were for classes requiring a subtle form of an apology or peace offering to students to make up for less than stellar instructors.

After the first quarter, I learned there were professors that should be diligently avoided, like Dr. Nutcase. How then to determine which classes to take? A tip I found worthwhile was to seek out those courses which college athletes enrolled in. Classes with a heavy contingent of football players had particularly fine teachers and a manageable workload. These courses included: Speeches of American Presidents, Children’s Literature and Psychology of the Sexes.

Unfortunately, in order to fulfill the requirements for my major, I did get stuck with a few more stupers before graduating: Dr. Ihaveahugego, Dr. Idratherbeinthebahamas, and Dr. Ihatestudents. (Do note that each of their names began with the letter “I”). But I realized that sometimes even stupers provide a means to an end.

Think first, last and always.


MotherTalk: The Natural SUPERWOMAN – book review

Tuesday, February 12th, 2008

Stupidity gets the boot today so that I may indulge in a book review.

When I learned that the good people over at MotherTalk were seeking reviewers for a new book on women’s health, I was mildly interested. I’ve read loads of books on that very topic. I’m almost surprised I haven’t written my own by now (key word, almost). I know what to do to stay healthy: exercise regularly, eat organically and take every supplement known to man (or woman in my case). Or so I thought.

Then I discovered that the author of this “groundbreaking” new book believes that one doesn’t need to endlessly exercise, give up favorite foods or stock walk-in size closets with expensive supplements and vitamins; I quickly signed-up. And I’m glad that I did.

Clear. Concise. Chock full of common sense advice. These aren’t necessarily words normally associated with a book written by a physician. But they were the first words that came to my mind upon reading a chapter of The Natural Superwoman by Uzzi Reiss, M.D., OB/GYN and Yfat Reiss Gendell, a knowledgeable father – daughter team. Their professionalism is nothing to be sneezed at. Everything is underscored by scientific research.

The Natural Superwoman: The Scientifically Backed Program for Feeling Great, Looking Younger, andEnjoying Amazing Energy at Any AgeDr Reiss believes that focusing on four basic principles or “pillars” enable women to manage and maintain health and well-being in meeting the challenges of everyday life. These four pillars are:

1. Nutrition 2. Activity Maintenance 3. Hormone Balance 4. Mind and Mood

The chapter on osteoporosis caught my immediate interest as my sixty-six-year-old mother was recently diagnosed and advised to begin a strong, conventional treatment program. After some research, Mom decided the abundant and unpleasant side effects outweighed the potential benefits of the treatment. Her physician had not bothered mentioning the downside of the medication. Dr. Reiss not only ably discusses the serious side effects of conventional treatments, but also offers a viable, safe and alternative method for battling osteoporosis, consisting of a practical “regimen of natural supplements and exercise.” Additionally, he suggests activities to prevent and treat osteoporosis. Valuable information for those seeking choices.

I’ve read extensively about nutritional supplements for osteoporosis. But Dr. Reiss offered a first in explaining the benefits of a higher than usual dosage of magnesium and Vitamin D.

The book is presented in a genial, conversational tone. I can almost feel the patient doctor sitting next to me on the couch, chatting while sipping tea…mineral-rich green tea, of course, per his recommendation.

I greatly appreciate books written by physicians who encourage patients to explore alternative, less invasive and less intrusive means of treatment. This is just such a book. Dr. Reiss believes the patient knows more about her body than anyone else. And he attempts to help her along by asking a series of questions regarding symptoms.

Another chapter explores strategies for “proactively preventing and treating breast cancer,” through weight management and diet, among others. I was surprised to find that iodine deficiency was associated with breast cancer. Needless to say, I immediately went to my supply room and took a Kelp supplement the moment I finished that section.

What makes this book particularly innovative is the doctor’s stance on bioidentical hormones as a safe and effective alternative treatment. Bioidentical meaning an exact replica of what our own bodies produce. Unfortunately, I have not had enough time to give this section a proper read, but I’d like to and will as this type of therapy has been controversial in recent times.

As Dr. Reiss explains, to be a “natural superwoman” simple lifestyle changes enable women to reach their maximum potential. He believes our bodies can run “glitch-free,” hence making us superwomen. After reviewing much of this book, I find it easy to believe that we can indeed become superwomen.

Keep thinking!


Many thanks to Marjorie and Melissa for generously making this review possible, through the courtesy of Mother Talk.

Stupidity is a Distracted Driver

Sunday, February 10th, 2008

How many of you have glanced, while driving, in your rear-view mirror, only to find that instead of viewing the face of the driver in the car behind you, you see the back of his/her head? This could be because said motorist is engaged in a 90 – 180 degree head turn in order to converse with a passenger… in the backseat. You have just encountered a case of distracted, inattentive and consequently, dimwitted driving.

I’m sure you’ve noticed, astute readers, that in the movies, the driver of a car often fixes his/her gaze everywhere, save the road ahead. This typifies behind the wheel acting in a film. Unfortunately, this also illustrates stupers (short once again, for unfailingly stupid persons) driving a car in real life.

Cell-phone use aside, stupers in vehicles are those who eat full course, buffet style meals, complete with tablecloth and silverware spread out on the front seat or dashboard while driving. Additionally, stupers floss their teeth, read novels or insert contact lenses, all of which have been actually spotted being done by moronic motorists while driving, according to a recent Automobile Association of America study. Why just drive when you can fax, shave or knit?

Is it too much to ask that drivers keep eyes on the road and hands on the wheel? I believe the foolhardy actually assume they are in a private space and may do as they please. Other motorists? Where?

I read of a woman playing the flute with both hands while driving. How did she control her steering wheel? With her knees, of course. I also read of an incident where an older woman brushed her teeth while driving her car about fifteen miles per hour (mph) in a forty-five mph zone. A long line of cars formed behind her. As she approached a red light, she stopped. The problem was she stopped about 300 feet before the signal in order to give her teeth a very vigorous brushing. She completely ignored the cars behind her, who commenced honking. The woman snapped out of her dental hygiene routine and stepped on her accelerator, speeding off… through the red light.

In a culture that appears to be time-starved and always on the go, the mentally unhinged readily give in to the temptation of completing tasks at inopportune and potentially unsafe moments…such as while operating a motor vehicle. They’ve dipped their toes in the rusty waters of alert, single minded driving and decided to remain on dry ground. Welcome to another episode of sheer stupidity.

Safe driving requires mental awareness. Since stupers seek out distractions while driving, how should the rest of us deal with dithering drivers? By steering clear of them. If you come across a distracted driver, and it’s a single lane road, slow down and give them space. If you’re in front, get out of the way.

Just think.


Love Thy Stuper Neighbor

Thursday, February 7th, 2008

One of the stickiest stuper (short for a patently stupid person) situations occurs when the meager mind lives in your neighborhood. Here’s an e-mail I received regarding this very matter (edited to remove profanity):

Dear Keli,

My neighbors are stupers who think (or don’t) that it’s ok for them to drive through my yard and use my driveway.

About ten people moved in the house next door a few months ago. At any given time, there are no less than nine cars in their yard. If their driveway is blocked and some one wants to leave, they have no problem driving through their yard, into my yard and out my driveway. They never do it when I’m around (at least they’re smart that way). But I’ve come home many times and seen mud tracks coming from their yard over into my yard and then down my cement driveway.

I read your post about anger and neighborly stupidity. Should I ask them politely as you suggested or can I just call the cops?

Really Sick of Idiots in Mississippi

If only we could all have the likes of Mister Rogers living next door to us. Ever so genial and courteous. Alas, it is not so. Here’s my response:

Dear Really Sick:

Calling the police should be a last resort, and only if you require protection or are considering legal action. Sounds like you are currently saddled with stupers who are taking advantage.

Neighbors are a fixture, for the most part. Therefore, it’s essential to maintain good rapport. You do, after all, see quite a bit of each other, even in passing. This is particularly true when it comes to those of the directly next door neighbor variety.

If you feel comfortable enough, you may want to talk civilly to them or write a letter. By civilly, I mean, do not threaten to plant land mines or trick wire the place. Be honest and let them know that you value privacy and an unsullied driveway. 

However, the simplest, most effective remedy requires a monetary expenditure…by you. To wit: a fence. Fences were invented for a very good reason. I suggest you put one up. If this is not cost efficient for you, try shrubbery or other plants. In fact, any type of border will do. Boulders or large rocks, for instance. Even clearly visible, metal stakes will do.

In your case, it appears a fence would be a worthwhile investment to keep stupers at bay.

Some people get stuck in thinking there’s only one way to solve a problem. Managing stupidity requires a bit of tact, planning and in neighborhood situations, clearly defining your borders for the stupers among us.

Great minds like to think.