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Things which really annoy me: A list

Everyone is annoyed by certain things, not by others. It’s time I made my own list:

  1. News or Movies or TV shows about sports figures. Generally I don’t care about sports at all. Whenever someone mentions the latest triumph by the local sports team, I ask, “Is that the one with the touchdowns?” or “I only follow the Houston Texans whenever they get to the World Series” (intentionally using the wrong sport).
  2. Leaf blowers. Noisy and often powered by gasoline. Unnecessary and a frequent disturber of my naps. At one apartment complex, they started at 8 AM! (Several leaf blowers have come near my window during the writing of this post).
  3. Pre-washing dishes before it goes into the dishwasher. Ok, if it’s really dirty (like caked in), I might prewash or scrape things off, but generally pre-washing dishes indicates that you have fundamentally misunderstood the function of a dishwasher.
  4. People who don’t use the TV remote to mute commercials. I actually hate any space where random sales messages are allowed to punch at my brain.
  5. People who insist that a bed be regularly made. Unnecessary, pointless except on rare occasions (when you have guests, etc.)
  6. People who are always going out to eat or ordering takeout. Ok I stopped eating out mainly out of financial necessity, but now that I’m used to it, I cringe at eating out for convenience’s sake. Once during my year teaching at a public school, I ordered takeout from McDonalds 3-4 times a week, but only because I worked late every day, came home dead tired and there was a MacDonald’s right at my bus stop. But that was a special case (and I haven’t eaten at McDonald’s in years).
  7. Online orders which arrive separately — no matter how small. I recently ordered about $200 of small accessories (computer mouse, razor blades etc.) from Walmart. Every single item was packed and shipped differently on a differently.
  8. Driving to a place 2 blocks away. Apparently it is common for parents to drive kids to school even if the school is 3 blocks away. Walking is supposed to be good for you. So is riding a bike.
  9. People who listen to music or podcasts while walking or riding outside. Besides being dangerous, what’s so bad about having to listen to ambient noises from your surroundings?
  10. Customer Feedback Surveys. I am amazed at how long these things tend to be. Anything more than 2 multiple choice questions is overkill.
  11. TV Weather reports. Most of the time, this information can be conveyed more quickly in a simple graphic or two sentences.
  12. Traffic reports on the radio. Good in theory, terrible in practice. Basically it’s an announcer reading statuses of various intersections. But 95% of this information is irrelevant or something which you can do nothing about. Okay, there’s a stalled car on the freeway ahead of me which is slowing traffic. Great! — and there’s nothing I can do about it! (As an aside, I’d prefer that the announcer simply recite a poem from a dead poet).
  13. Turning off sound notifications on your phone. Geez, why is this so time-consuming? Why do all apps assume that your default answer is “yes” to the question of “We’ll be sending you sound alerts every few hours — that’s totally okay with you, right?” For me, most of the time, the answer is “never.”
  14. Group texts. I hate them — especially since I often am not able to mute them. I have a group text from coworkers which is constantly pinging me with inane remarks or nothing but emoticons. Yet every once in a while I get a text that is important, so I can’t mute it.
  15. Preliminaries to movies. If you watch a movie (especially from a DVD), you have to sit through about 2 minutes of introductions. CR Films Presents — A NiceFilms Production — From GoofyParrots Studio — a Cool Film Series episode — Now for our Feature Presentation. (Presumably each with their own graphic and audio). The problem is more pronounced on DVDs — where you have to sit through piracy warnings and disclaimers and — heavens! — previews.
  16. Gated communities. This is still a thing in Texas. These barriers have a marginal effect on crime, interfere with walkability and cause confusion when giving directions. Maybe people in these communities would just prefer a moat with alligators?
  17. Live” TV reports from the scene of the crime. On local news at 10 PM, there are several live on-the-scene reports about crimes or accidents or important political events. But these “live” reports are done several hours after the fact. Maybe an hour or two after the event it’s good to broadcast live at the scene, but by 10 PM, the scene is deserted, everyone has gone home except the poor reporter and camera crew standing outside. Here’s a better idea: just repeat your earlier video footage! Ok, maybe there is value in having someone narrate the latest live news even at night, but if that’s so, just have them do it at the studio — or better yet, at home.
  18. Old Video footage for news reports. Honestly I don’t mind seeing video that are days or even weeks old on an accompanying news report. The problem is: it creates the illusion that the action is still happening or gotten worse (when in fact nothing may have taken place during the intervening time). For video footage more than 48 hours old, I suggest putting in red blinking lights: NOT LIVE — RECORDED FEBRUARY 2019. Speaking of which, I’m amazed at how often news reports will loop the same footage several times during a single news story. Do they think we are idiots?
  19. Searching for a good parking space. People spend way too time hunting for the best parking lot (and too much time backing the car into the space to allow for a speedy exit). I’ve always believed that the time you save from having a slightly better parking space is marginal. Instead you should park in the first empty space you see and walk the rest of the way.
  20. Music track with speech in it. Some tracks on an album contain extended speech — often in the middle of a track! Having spoken words in the middle of a song is incredibly distracting for people who use music to increase concentration or help to fall asleep. Only rarely does speech integrate well with the song (possibly this beautiful intro by Haelos, and this musical soundscape on Mark Farina’s Mushroom jazz albums).
  21. Having a Christmas fetish. I’m no Scrooge, but I’m always horrified by how much money people spend on Christmas gifts and decorations. I am not impressed by or even impressed in your Christmas decorations (and turn those Christmas lights off unless you are using a renewable electric plan). Sure, it’s fun to do these things for children, and it’s a nice nostalgic ritual, but every time I hear a Christmas song before December 23, I smell the fetid odor of conspicuous consumption. A special section of hell is saved for people who buy the ultra-tacky Christmas decorations that people put on their front yards. I once was involved in an altercation with a family member about whether an attic should be used to store my books or a shitload of tacky and oversized Christmas decorations. Guess who won?
  22. Stock photo/stock footage. Many corporations and commercial ads use generic photos to present bland and cliched messages (something parodied mercilessly here). Besides the fact that it is a lazy way to convey a message, the people in these images are good-looking in a bland way.
  23. Messages turned into images. It’s a way to show something and get around paywalls. It’s also a way to display a message or slogan and dominate the reading space. Another variation: using animated gifs functioning basically as emoticons. I’m all for judicious use of images online, but text-as-image is the equivalent of shouting slogans. I would have heard you anyway, and all you have really demonstrated is that is that you don’t value other people’s reading experiences. It’s no secret that Russian trolls used visual memes to stir up anger and prejudice. It takes minimal effort to share this “visual catcall” — yet it rescues the sharer from having to utter an intelligible thought.
  24. Email: “You just received a message from John. Log in to linked/facebook/wherever to read it.” Linkedin sent me 10 messages like this. Turns out they were “messages” to a thread one of my friends started. But they weren’t really messages; most were just bland statements like “I agree,” “Good point” and “smiley icon.” I cannot think of a single time when I want social media to send me an email.
  25. Anything about football. I have lived most of my life inundated with random messages about football. Family members talk incessantly about it, it was on TV in the other room while I grew up, and it continued to suck up money and attention from intellectual and artistic pursuits. It even dominates the newspapers — with athletes making money, beating up people, becoming celebrities. If you want to distract the world from reality, put on a football game, with lots of commercials, and no one will have an intelligent thought — ever! It’s not only an intellectual and economic distraction, but it’s actually destroying human brains of those who play it!
  26. Bland Bureaucratic Form Letters which are really threats. Twice in the last year I’ve received bland bureaucratic notifications that seem to have no particular subject. The first informed me of what I needed to do to continue receiving employer-sponsored health care. The second was a reminder letter to schedule an orientation appointment for Texas Workforce. Let me decode what these really were: The first was actually official notification that the agency would speedily cancel my employer sponsored health coverage unless I followed two steps! (Silly me, I thought I need only pay my monthly premium; apparently I also needed to mail by normal post a signed form saying that I wanted to continue receiving health coverage). The second note was actually a threat to stop unemployment insurance payments unless I telephoned before a certain day. (Silly me, I assumed that because I had already successfully scheduled this appointment well before the deadline that it was unnecessary to call them also). Because these organizations benefit financially by this unclear language, they have no incentive to make themselves clear. If you didn’t interpret this bland form letter correctly, it’s your fault — not the organization’s fault.

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