Stay Off The Grass

This post will take me back to my new series on things that make you go hmmm. And this one not only makes me go hmmm, but also makes me shake my head.

We must be living in a society that has solved all the big issues. We no longer need to worry about poverty, racism, fatherless children, war, terrorism, the threat of a nuclear winter, famine, drought, the outbreak of an incurable disease, or an alien invasion.


We are able to use our free time to make and enforce laws that keep dogs off the grass of public areas in our suburban cities.


Yes, the grass. No, I am not talking about keeping the droppings picked up. I am literally saying, they cannot step on the grass with their doggy feet. Not even one foot.

We love to take our dogs for walks around the neighborhood and even down to the beach. Our daughter, Ellie, loves getting out as much as we do, and she even loves walking the little dog, a black & white Bichon-shih tzu hybrid mix. Sometimes this little dog walks our daughter. She is trying, but the dog has a lot of heart and energy.

This really becomes a problem when we get to the little grassy patch between the street and the parking lot in front of North Beach by our house. This patch includes a trash can and a picnic table, oh and a small stretch of grass. I want to say decoration rather than grass with the zeal in which it is protected from getting denigrated.

When we walk the sidewalk that touches this grass, we have to be sure that Ellie keeps her dog from touching the grass which prompts her to ask the famous three-year-old question, why?

We try to remind her that we could get in trouble, big trouble.

This all goes back to one day. One day as we were walking along this path, and the dog stepped “over the line”, we were warned. Yes, warned against allowing our dog on the grass. I was shocked. I wondered if there was a practical joke going on. I wondered if video cameras would come out to say I was punked.

This is how it went down. At that exact moment, the pet patrol was driving by. I am not sure the actual title of this nice, middle-aged man. He was so gracious, almost as though he really did not want to enforce this ridiculous city ordinance. He told us we would have to pay $150 if our dog even steps foot on the grass. That is right. It is not a matter of defecating on the grass that would get us in trouble. Nope. Just the threat of making a mess will get us in trouble. And, no I am not talking about some cranky miser living next door who wants us off his grass.

This is public grass. Did I say grass. This is not a marble floor in the foyer of a mansion. This is not a plush carpet in the living room. This is not some posh neighborhood. NO, this is grass next to a picnic bench and public receptacle for trash. And if a little dog even steps on the grass, we could receive a ticket, a pretty hefty ticket.

Just say this out loud. We do not want dogs walking on the grass. Say that again. How does that sound coming out of your mouth? It almost feels inhumane. But let’s protect this grass, this precious grass from doggy paws.

This makes me want to bring a character from late night TV down here to my neighborhood to protest with me. I am reminded of the Conan O’Brien sketch of the insulting dog who would take things and insult them by saying this is good…good enough for me to poop on. But in fact, this grass is exactly that to a dog.


Maybe that is why dogs are prohibited from the soft place for their furry paws. Why not insure their doo-doo gets picked up? Nope, lets draw the line bright and distant from anything resembling sanity. Now, the strong arm of the neighborhood posh patrol has extended once again into silliness. Well, it is what it is, so we insure that our daughter and little dog stay clearly on the sidewalk and not the grass.

I am just curious, what person is so worried that a dog’s feces could be the undoing of society that they pass a policy that needs to be enforced. Are we really without a backbone to stop such invasions of our freedom?

I am not saying that I want dog doo all over my neighborhood. Is it not good enough to enforce people picking up after their dog? Now, we must enlist more draconian laws to keep dogs off of public grass.

What is next? No smoking in public?

But seriously, Could we do something about the foul language that gets spoken in public? Now, that filth gets into my daughter’s ears when she walks in the parks with me. That is hard to  clean out once it has gone into her ears.

For real, what is next?

No dogs in public?

What did these nice dogs do to mess with these people? Dogs are man’s best friend. Dogs are so kind, and in tons of YouTube videos just being cute as can be. Can we please have some sanity, and let our dogs walk on the grass once again.

What are some of the crazy ways that your neighborhoods have exercised their authority?

Voicemail Instructions And The Silliness Of Them

Let me continue to step into this new category for my writing—things that make you go hmmmm. This one however, makes me want to get a little vocal in the moment. Only in the brief moment, and maybe for a few moments as I write this post. You will think it is silly at first. And maybe a little outdated on second thought, because who really cares anymore. I am talking about voicemail. And not the topic of voicemail no, I am talking about the voicemail prompts that cell phone companies created to help people know what to do with technology.

man-with-phone-troubleI barely have time to make phone calls, much less for somebody to not pick up the phone. Now, if I wait through all of that and still have something essential enough and long enough that it requires more than a text message to convey, I have to wait another moment for the lady to tell me what to do.

Hold on. I know… I know; that sounds a little sexist, but usually the voice is a manufactured female voice that explains the procedures of voice mail. Which if you think about it, who needs to be given the procedures of voice mail in the year 2014. Maybe learning a VCR was hard, but don’t we know how to use voicemail by now. Wait for the beep. Yes, that is the key. Wait for the beep. Wait for that thing that indicates the recording will begin…now. And at that point, go. Begin saying anything you want. Okay, that seems basic enough. Is this still new for people? Is it important enough to still be included in the beginning of voicemails? And yes, I know that the instructions go further than informing people of the beep that is coming to indicate the point in which a message can be left. And maybe some of my angst in these special prompts comes from the fact that it is harder to fake out the incoming caller that you are actually picking up their call. Perhaps the instructions serve one if muted, vital service to the community. All righty then, After the beep instructions, there are other things that can be helpful. Now, when you are satisfied with your message, you can either hit a button to do more things with your message or merely hang up. It might be nice to have options for how to leave your message, urgent, important, hilarious, serious, Quixotic or whatever options these newfangled cell phones do with my voice mails.

Questions: How many people even use these options when leaving a voice mail? And Does anyone pay attention when they are   given an urgent voice mail. Shouldn’t every voice mail I leave be urgent for my friend, family member, co-worker or random person I met at the meeting from yesterday? I mean I have important information to pass along. At least it is important to me. But I don’t have time to push a special button to convey the urgency of my message. Okay, so there are unnecessary, but interesting options that I can be informed of regarding my voice mail. And there might be one helpful one. This is what to do when I am not satisfied with the message I want to leave, which happens a lot. Okay, Okay, there might be a slight but unessential need for the voice mail manual. I might want to know what to do when I leave a rambling, unintelligible voice mail. In that case, why can’t we get something uniform, so that every direction can be the same. Press 2 if you are interested in changing your voice mail. Then we could get it into the common practices of every one using the phone. Maybe this is why the kids these days are bypassing voicemail altogether and going straight for texting.


But really, the time wasted waiting for the menu of options and instructions on how to use a simple piece of technology could be used for far better things in this world. If we added up all the time flushed down the drain while we wait to leave a message, we could probably quantify the number as unimaginable, which raises other far more important questions. Questions of the utmost importance beginning with this one. What could we do with this time:

  • Save the world
  • Stop sharks from being over fished for the fins.
  • Put an end to terrorism.
  • Bring down the price of higher education.
  • Produce renewable energy.
  • Pass out shoes to everyone in the inner city in need of shoes.
  • Find healthy families for the growing number of unwanted kids in our country.
  • And the list goes on.

I mean we could do some incredible things if we did not have to waste our time waiting to leave a message. Oh, but you say, you can push a button to skip those instructions. Can I? First, I have to wait to listen to what number I can push, if that cell provider even offers a short cut key. Then I have to memorize which number works for which company, and which friends use which providers. This is just too much work. I want to begin something new. I want to change the world. And this is where I am going to start. Could we start a movement that would call for the elimination of pointless instructions?

What else is overly pedantic or pointless when it comes to instructions?

Things that make you go hmmm…Dress Shoes

I want to begin a category on the blog that maybe answers no specific question other than those little things in life that make you go hmmm.

Let me illustrate through this post.

Dress Shoes.

Blucher alden atom

What is the deal with dress shoes? I am not talking about the dress codes or formal events that bring the requisite nature to these shoes. I don’t even mind dressing nice or looking the part. Well, I should not fully say I don’t mind. I like looking the part, but by the end of the day I loathe my shoes, or at least my feet do.

This has gotten me wondering, wondering several things in which all come back on the maker, proprietor or inventor of these shoes. And ladies, don’t even worry. I know you have it way worse with your shoes than us men will ever have it.

Nonetheless, I want to ask the question on every medium I can, or at the minimum this one, who thought dress shoes was a good idea?

For starters, I can’t even fit my foot in my shoes without cramming, jamming and even using extra utensils (shoe horn) to get my foot squeezed into these fashion-conscious, dress-appropriate footwear.

Who thought it was a good idea to make a shoe that takes such vigorous work to get onto the foot?

Okay, but good things come to those that wait. I get that. Having a difficult time getting into something should not on its face make it a bad invention or creation. I get that. But the lack of ease to sliding on a dress shoe only begins the questioning.

Beyond the fight to put on the shoes I don’t like, once it fits onto my foot, the clock starts ticking . With my silly feet and chicken legs, I only have so much time I can wear them. I choose not to say comfortably as it is not a limited time of comfort I have. It is a limited time of well-being. I am starting to think of how I can utilize the stool more in the classroom, sit more often in the office, or simply stay off my feet that do look so handsome with these fancy shoes. My feet and legs just can’t take too much. The other day, after changing out of my shoes into my flip-flops, I wobbled around for about 10 minutes as the strength came back into my muscles and ligaments and stability into my joints.

Is it possible that the man or woman behind the dress shoe is really a sadist? Surely, they are a capitalist.

No one can deny the money-making that flows in from dress shoes. Who do “they” aim the dress shoe market at but business people, professionals, and fancy-pants men of all makes and models. In other words, they aim the shoes at the people who can afford to pay for the shoes that have little practically to offer beyond fashion and appearance of professionalism.  Thus, they are not marking down prices to help the blue-collar worker, or the student scrapping by. No, they mark it up for the white-collar guy. Interesting that the clergy gets the white collar even as they make far less money, but that is a story for another day.

Here is one way to illustrate what I mean about the ability to afford shoes. My dad worked for Motorola who suggested a professional attire. However, most people wore comfortable tennis shoes or loafers. When my dad asked if they would provide dress shoes that looked the part and wore comfortably (a rare find indeed) he was told no. When he countered that they provided work shoes for the factory workers, they did not budge. The factory workers boots needed to be up to specifications for safety sake. When safety gets involved, corporations will spare no expense. But dressing up can be afforded by those who make the money to look the part.

So with the reality proven sufficiently that the designers of dress shoes are sufficiently capitalist, I still wonder if they are just messing with people.

Do they laugh at home behind closed doors at what uncomfortable shoes people are willing to wear day-in-day out. Do they collaborate with one another on how to make it worse and not better. So many questions and so little time.

Maybe I am just a professional in a beach bum body wishing to get away with flip-flops. Maybe, I just need to shop more to find better shoes? Or maybe as I am getting older, I am feeling the aches and pains more.

Finally, WWJD? Would Jesus have worn dress shoes?

Well, I think I have sufficiently scratched the surface of one of those things that makes me go hmmm.

Help me understand this thing called dress shoes?