Archive for January, 2009

Stupidity and Health

Thursday, January 29th, 2009

I have been accompanied the past few days by a team of strolling violinists everywhere I go, playing the same sad, woe-is-me tune. This melancholy melody played particularly loudly yesterday when I dragged two trash cans to the end of the driveway as the sun set in the bitter cold. Then I returned for two more heavily loaded recycling cans which I heaved panting, sneezing and coughing for a total distance of well over 600 yards. I know this last fact because I took the liberty of bringing a yard stick with me the second time and measuring to ensure accuracy. I have the flu with all the nasty symptoms which I firmly believe were brought about my own momentarily weak mind and stupidity.

First, in all fairness, none of my homeboys were…well, at home;  I could have waited, but didn’t. One son came home just after I manually hauled the last two, particularly cumbersome, cans down. He waited and offered me a ride back up which I declined, just so I could display my prowess at grabbing myself by the scruff of the neck and dragging my limp body up our dirt and pebble studded driveway to make my point. But of course, such points go completely unnoticed by children.

What is the purpose of this melodramatic, somewhat affected post? It’s to remind us, myself in particular, that our state of mind affects our health. Whenever I’m angry, upset, or bothered, almost immediately, I get a sudden rash, headache, or in this case, succumbed to a cold. What we carry around in our minds and what comes out in our words can impact our health. I have no carefully gathered statistics or conclusive studies on this matter. Only exhibit A: myself.

Last Sunday, I was stuck doing tasks I absolutely did not want to do. I maintained a bad attitude throughout and at one point, even muttered, “I’ll probably make myself sick.” I was successful.

Physical conditions are largely determined by mental states. The body is what a person creates by the form of his/her thoughts. Unworthy thoughts = negative emotions. Negative emotions need an outlet.

I believe the body and mind can be renewed and even transformed through clear vision and thought as well as spoken words. Hence, the importance of choosing thoughts and words carefully.

Just think.

The wise man gathers worthy thoughts and deeds; bit by bit he builds his pile of happiness ~ Buddha


Waiting in Line Stupidity

Saturday, January 24th, 2009

Ah, the things we martyrs mothers do for our children! Last week I got up at an unholy hour, braved sub-zero temperatures (please note, dear readers: to a Southern Californian native, such as myself, anything below 60 degrees Fahrenheit is sub-zero. In this case, the temperature was actually a quasi-frigid 41 degrees), and waited in line for over two hours, along with a few hundred other cold, sleepy, bored and increasingly annoyed souls.

I was not waiting to get the last seat at a sold-out rock concert; nor did I await the sale to end all sales at Saks Fifth Avenue. I was seeking to enroll my high school attending son in an Art 101 class that he wished to take at the local community college.

Waiting in line is not too traumatic as long as one is not stuck between a rabid key jingler and a neck and knuckle cracker. I would suggest one long shriek under such circumstances (after warning those in close range to insert earplugs) to relieve the irritation. But I knew, if I, or any of us line waiters gave in to irritation, we’d then rapidly become stupers (short, as you may know, for ignobly stupid persons). Anger can make us stupid.

To combat this potential path to stupidity, I conversed with other line waiters, mostly about the detriments of queue rage and the illuminating case of the MIT University professor who’d gone to a store to buy a bicycle for his son and grown furious when he was made to wait 40 minutes to pick up his purchase in the inventory area, while other people who came after him quickly received their items.

“It took me three weeks to calm down after that,” the Professor said. “I realized, I’m a professor at MIT; I’m usually such a sane, rational person.”

Oh, the ravages of line waiting!

When my turn arrived to register, I battled anxiety, impatience and my quarrelsome side. My goal was to be in and out…in record time. Alas! It was not to be. I became my own worst stuper nightmare…the registrant who monopolizes one of only three open registration windows.

I had accumulated and exhaustively filled out all relevant applications. When I got to the window, Janet, the registrar, said,

“I need to see the student’s actual social security card.”

Before she finished her sentence, my blood began to simmer, heading for the kind of full boil beloved by devoted pasta chefs in high caliber Italian restaurants.

All sorts of creative expletives raced through my head, as I do not routinely carry my son’s social security card, nor anyone else’s. I began silently repeating my mantra of the day, “Every person who crosses me deserves a sound beating my path is a golden link in the chain of my good.” I stood steadfast and serenely stated,

“I’ve talked to numerous counselors and admissions officers. Not one advised me of the need for the card.”

Janet said, “I’ll be right back.” She turned to a woman sitting behind a computer. The woman eyed me and spied the beginnings of steam tendrils escaping my ears. She quickly nodded her head.

“Okay,” Janet said.

I breathed again. Why is it that stupers thrive on digging up stumbling blocks to thwart our small ambitions? Does it make them feel unstuperlike? Is there a certain thrill behind the momentary feeling of power? Or are they honest idiots following some unwritten stuper code? Only a stuper knows for sure.

When placed in an unknown situation, it is of utmost importance to control one’s wits and temper. Had I been uncool and uncollected, I either would have stormed out (which would have made my son, who needed this course to graduate shortly, quite unhappy) or returned home to retrieve the notorious social security card and resumed line waiting.

The more tranquil a man becomes, the greater is his success, his influence, his power for good ~ James Allen

Keep thinking.


Stupidity at Seminars

Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

It is a phenomenal irritation to be an audience member at a large seminar when the room is littered with stupers (short, once more, for soberingly stupid persons). The inane, instead of listening intently to the speaker(s) onstage (some of whom may also be stupers) or drifting off in their own thoughts (virtually nonexistent as they may be), are often found engrossed in activities typically saved for more private moments, such as clipping one’s fingernails.

Husband (H) and Brother-in-law (B) attended a free two day seminar given by TJ Putts about investing in real estate. They found themselves lodged between a serial fingernail clipper and a stuper who had somehow ended up at the seminar when he really should have been at the nearest revivalist meeting. Between somersaulting thumbnails and sudden claps and shouts of “Hallelujah!”, H nearly lost his sanity. However, he remained, curious to uncover the purpose behind the free seminar.

When the potential exists for being stuck among stupers, one must plan ahead. Arrive early. Carefully scrutinize attendees and place yourself among those that appear and act least like meager minds. A few choice questions may be asked and answers assessed for listening capabilities. Also, perform a quick once over for bulging pockets and purses (containing diversionary tools such as nail clippers, hand-held video games, small pets, dice or bubble gum).

Before breaking for lunch, audience members were asked to fill out a brief survey asking how much money they had to invest. As an experiment, H stated zero; B put down a rather large amount. Then members were lectured on the importance of saying “no” to displeasing requests. During said lecture, H briefly left the room. Upon his return, a slightly agitated B whispered,

“What should we do? The fingernail clipper guy asked if he could join us for lunch, and I couldn’t say no!”

H and B grudgingly graciously had lunch with the fellow who, thankfully for all, did not clip during the meal.

After lunch, TJ Putts sent several stooges assistants out among the audience to pick a privileged few who’d be dining with him that evening, after the seminar. B was a chosen one.

“You’re coming with me,” B informed H.

H finagled an invitation, realizing it was no coincidence that B, who claimed to have a rather large sum ready to invest, was extended an invitation.

During dinner, Putts gave a brief talk on the importance of being a good listener. Then he asked a few of his guests questions. While they answered, he whipped out his iPhone and proceeded to send text messages. Once the guest was done speaking, Putts would say,

“Okay, uh-huh, now I want to know…” moving on to another guest with a completely different question, fully proving that eclipsed minds are incapable of listening, as well as following their own advice.

H, awaited his turn to give Putts a piece of his mind, but because of H’s poor potential pecuniary standing (no $ to invest), he was ignored. One woman commented on the fact that TJ wasn’t listening, but since TJ wasn’t listening, he failed to respond and moved on to his next query. H and B left early.

As my dear readers know, I place myself in the path of stupidity, willingly, practically every day, in order to offer you suggestions to help you maintain your sanity. When I can’t make it myself to stuper fests, H generously takes my place, as he and B did in today’s post. This is not to say that seminars can’t be useful places to glean information. They can. Just be sure stupidity doesn’t get in your way. If you feel a stuper is leading the group, then perhaps a different seminar may be in order.

Legitimate seminars state clear goals, offer impressive references, fact-based information and emphasize that hard work and determination are necessary ingredients to achieving success.

Use your mind.


Stupidity at the High School Level

Friday, January 16th, 2009

Some questions are so thought provoking that intelligent minds could possibly explode if they contemplated them for too long. For instance, who created God? Are there life forms outside of our universe? Why are bureaucrats often idiots of epic proportions? And finally, two questions I pondered yesterday:

First, why does the robust athletic director of my local public high school convincingly resemble a pregnant walrus in her sixteenth month? I mean, shouldn’t an athletic director set a stellar example for students, bolstering their belief in physical fitness? Secondly, why does the principal of this same school inform a student from a small private school, without benefit of a competitive athletic program, that she will not allow him to play on the high school team even though, per state laws, he’s allowed to as long as incidental and simple state guidelines are followed? Why am I discussing this? Because said student is my son.

Son met with Principal yesterday. All six members of the school’s golf team and the coach stood behind him as he requested permission to play on the team. Son met all requirements; he only needed approval from the Principal. She told him she couldn’t let him play for two vital reasons:

1. There was too much paperwork involved; and

2. If she allowed him to play, she’d have to allow other students in from all neighboring schools (two total) that lacked an athletic program.

Note to self: contact the IRS without delay and tell them I’m not filing my tax returns this year because of the excess paperwork involved. But wait; isn’t paperwork part of the Principal’s job? And would it be such a dreadful act to permit students from other schools to participate? Aren’t we all part of the same , community, city, region, world?

Son, though prepared for being turned away, knowing our local high school has a very flimsy reputation, still felt a bit dejected. His hopeful teammates, however, insisted the Principal could change her mind. I shook my head with a sigh when I heard this. I am no pessimist, but how can a stuper (short, once again, for an inordinately stupid person) change her mind when there is no working mind to change? I ask you!

I’m glad to report this story has a happy ending. You’re familiar, no doubt, dearest readers, with the adage: when one door closes, another one opens. The very afternoon following this incident, Son received an invitation to play in the Toyota Tour Cup Junior Golf Series, a string of tournaments for elite junior golfers all over Southern California.

Take heart when stupidity rears its empty head. It typically presents temporary roadblocks. Irritating and annoying to be sure and oh, so exhausting at times, but impermanent. Step around and far away from the stupid among us. Remain steadfast and your goal(s) will be successfully met.

People become really quite remarkable when they start thinking that they can do things. ~ Norman Vincent Peale

Think first, last and always.


Overlooking Postal and other Varieties of Stupidity

Saturday, January 10th, 2009

The small, bucolic, yet highly sophisticated valley (population 5000) where I live, boasts three post offices, all of which are practically registered epicenters of stupidity. During the holidays in particular, the amount of idiocy engaged in by postal workers is akin to the energy necessary to operate 23 cell phones on the planet Pluto. That’s no small feat. Postal employees make it a habit to keep one worker behind the counter per every twelve patrons in line, keeping employee #2 within view, reading the local paper or braiding her hair. By the time I reach the counter, I’m ready to pull the safety pin out of the nearest hand grenade.

Much to my surprise, I encountered an entirely different post office last week.

I entered our main branch (I know it’s the main one because it’s open for limited hours on Saturday, and it sports its own parking lot with four whole parking spaces). The moment I stepped inside, I was immediately sucked into a Hallmark film.

The place seemed brighter, out of the ordinarily cheerful, surprisingly welcoming. I looked around. There was a glow about the room despite the same drab walls, same dull interior cement floor. Granted, I was pleased that only one customer stood between the postal worker and me, but not pleased enough to hallucinate. Then it hit me. It was Chris, the jolly and exultant, late twenties or so, government issue employee.

His smile was so bright that he could have lit all the candles on an octogenarian’s birthday cake. He looked so happy, so ecstatically jovial, that he’d made the place come alive.

My turn came early because the lady before me kindly offered to step aside to an empty counter to properly lick the hundred or so envelopes she planned to mail. Typically, post office patrons do no such stepping aside, but do all their licking, lamenting or labeling right there at the counter making all behind them wait. I knew it had something to do with Chris and his luminous smile. I do not exaggerate. His winning grin and benevolent words could have made the moon weep for joy.

At the counter, I told Chris that I needed postage for my oversize envelope #1 as well as the self addressed large envelope #2 folded inside #1 which was to be sent back to me by the recipient. Proper procedure is to weigh each separately because envelope #2 usually weighs less on the return trip. Chris only weighed envelope #1, holding his smile of contentment and sheer delight the whole time and muttering sweet sayings. How could I quibble over a quarter or two with the very personification of bliss? It was easy to overlook his negligence and mild stupidity. I dared not rain on his happiness.

When I returned to my car, I told Husband about Chris. Husband asked,

“You mean that big, fat guy?”

“Was he fat? Maybe pleasantly plump…”

Chris’ cheery demeanor blinded me to his physical and/or mental imperfections. He encouraged me to overlook and treat stupidity with patience. If every person in our society was benevolent and grateful or ready to, in a small way, reciprocate the kind feelings shown him or her, then this place would be quite pleasant for all of us.

Just think.


Stupidity, Recycling and the Giving of Impromptu Lectures

Tuesday, January 6th, 2009

You may be strolling toward your car in a parking lot and suddenly get one of these from a passerby. Or perhaps you’re sitting in a movie theater, patiently awaiting the start of the film while munching on a bucket of buttery popcorn, and you’ll be subjected to this by another moviegoer. I refer to lectures. The unplanned, uncivilized kind. Not the ones given in museums, universities, bookstores or the type engaged in by doting parents and friends, but the variety offered up by stupers (short for avowedly stupid persons). They give lectures when lectures are totally unnecessary.

I innocently stood in line at the grocery store. Beads of perspiration began to form on my forehead. Not because the winter temperature soared. I wasn’t in the middle of panting from jumping jacks or rigorous sit-ups, but I did overhear this heated exchange between the cashier and a customer:

Cashier (sweetly): Where are your reusable shopping bags?

Customer: Oh, I left them at home today.

Cashier freezes mid scanner: You WHAT? Don’t you know how many trees you’ll be singlehandedly murdering?

And so continued a lengthy, finger pointing argument between the two. The customer, at first, took the pontificating cashier for a joker. But she soon proved otherwise as her pulpit emerged beneath her sneakered feet.

I believe in recycling. I do. I bring reusable bags whenever shopping, but alas, on this occasion, I was returning home from a short trip and left mine at home. Hence, the glistening beads of sweat and the missing halo over my head. I felt like a felony suspect sitting beneath a 10,000 watt, naked light bulb, soon to be interrogated by ominous figures sporting crew cuts and bulging, bloodshot eyes.

Customer #1 stormed out and Cashier continued the pointed line of questioning with Customer #2 who’d also egregiously neglected to bring his bags. This conversation heated up faster than microwave popcorn:

Customer #2 (angrily): Does the store know you’re harassing shoppers?

Cashier: Do YOU know you have a serious problem? You have a responsibility…

I was harboring genuine concerns about moving forward. I know. My dear readers are asking, “Why didn’t Keli go to a different line hosted by a peace-loving, Buddhist monk style cashier (this is a health food market) instead of one manned by a tree activist, so bent on pushing her agenda, she was about to split in two asymmetrical pieces?” I was determined to stay the course. I am not one to easily give up on stupidity. Besides, the other lines were longer.

When my turn came, I didn’t allow her to speak. I did all of the talking.

Me: I’m so sorry I forgot my bags today. I really do regret it. I’m returning home from a trip, and it’s just not the same being in here without them. I had such a nice time…

Cashier: No problem..

Me: When I get home, I’ll keep a large stash in my car, not only for myself, but perhaps, for other forgetful shoppers…

She nodded in wholehearted agreement.

Of course, by the time I reached the poor, misguided woman, she was exhausted by the three disgruntled customers before me. My timing was quite good.

The cashier suffered from the misguided sense of superiority only a stuper could have. Her grievance was not necessarily illegitimate. But she lacked the knowledge that such dialogue should be saved for a public forum.

Stay aware so you can stay on top of stupidity.

Thinking is an asset.


~ As far as I’m concerned, I prefer silent vice to ostentatious virtue ~ Albert Einstein

Stupidity and New Year’s Resolutions

Thursday, January 1st, 2009

Tradition dictates that many of us make New Year’s resolutions. As your resident stupidity specialist, I encourage you to add one vital and surprisingly reasonable, goal to your list to ensure that none of my dear, intelligent readers accidentally fall into the stuper (short, as you may know, for a plausibly stupid person) category.

Here it is: Clear out your clutter. Fairly simple, eh? No, I don’t mean the clutter sitting haphazardly in the top of your closet created when you toss your sweaters, hats, t-shirts and random belts, or the books, paperwork and notes you shove and pile under your bed…oops; that’s my personal junk I’m talking about. The clutter I refer to is housed in the same small space for all of us: the six or so incredible inches between our ears.

When our garbage cans are full, we non-stupers empty them. When our puppies need to learn proper manners, we train them. So why not do the same with our minds? It is a bit more difficult because we can’t physically view the content of our minds as we do the overflowing rubbish and the doggy poop deposited beneath the kitchen sink poised to be stepped on with, hopefully, a slippered shoe. It takes effort to decipher the makeup of our minds.

When I notice my thoughts, I am sometimes appalled by useless and trivial content. Why was I thinking about how I longed to strangle or at least soundly pinch the idiot bagger at the neighborhood grocery store after she placed my crisp tortilla chips at the bottom of the shopping bag followed by the egg carton and two large glass bottles of juice thereby crushing the chips and a few eggs to smithereens? Such negative thinking makes us irritated which makes us vulnerable to acting stupidly ourselves. I should have focused upon how grateful I am to have such a valuable little market so close to my home and vowed to patiently assist the misbegotten bagger or taken over the bagging responsibilities completely myself after kindly elbowing said bagger aside. That would have replaced the unattractive scowl dimming my face with the beauty that only contentment can bring.

I had (note the past tense) an irksome habit of worrying about every little thing. “What ifs?” cluttered my mind immeasurably, leaving little space for the “how wonderfuls.” Worry is a state of mind, popping up, at least for me, most often, in the dead of night. The moment I notice such thoughts I switch gears and immediately attempt to replace troublesome thoughts with the kinds that bring me happiness. I imagine myself, my loved ones, my home, my sociopathic Australian Shepherd, all as I’d like them to be, sketching in the little details and providing plenty of adjectives to describe my feelings.

Clutter prevents progress. Imagine trying to walk across a room stacked with piles of chairs, boxes and spare tires. You’ll be in a sweat and sporting a few bruises before you make it through. And so it is with the messy mind. But it doesn’t have to be when we take control.

Remember, we can’t keep two opposing thoughts in the mind at once. One set always drives the other out. If your mind is completely occupied with an unselfish desire to help another, for instance, you can’t harbor worry at the same time. It takes a bit of practice to unclutter the mind, but think of all the space you’ll have to arrange and fill with excellent thoughts.

Whatever things are beautiful, whatever things are of value, if there is any virtue and if there is any praise, give thought to these things.

Happy New Year!