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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Pet Peeve: gum popping

Everyone has a sound or two that they just can't stand. One of mine is popping gum.

Frankly, if you're over 13, you should begin to break this bad habit. If you're over 21 and still popping your gum, everyone will think you're thirteen. If you're very obviously well over 13, you just look like a moron.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Happy Holidays and Peace on Earth

There are people, and you know who you are, who seem to want to use the Christmas season to get bent out of shape. When I was a kid, the Big Bugbear was using Xmas for Christmas. I can still hear my Sunday School teacher intoning, "X means unknown, and you don't want to say Christ is unknown, do you?" We all solemnly shook our little heads.

A few decades later people remembered that X was the Greek letter Chi, the first letter of Christ, which is why people used it in the first place. You don't see Xmas very much these days, but no one seems bothered by it anymore when it does pop up.

For the last few years the Big Bugbear has been Happy Holidays. "It's a Plot! Leave the Christ in Christmas!" the bent-out-of-shapers are screaming, vowing to get in the face of anyone who says Happy Holidays to them instead of Merry Christmas. What on earth brought this on?

Happy Holidays has always been shorthand for Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, sometimes including Happy Thanksgiving. It's appeared on Christmas cards since their beginning in the 1890s, along with Season's Greetings. It has been most popular after the Irving Berlin song "Happy Holidays," which was released in 1942 and included in the film Holiday Inn. In the business realm, Happy Holidays (spoken or written) or Season's Greetings (usually written) have been considered a polite version when you don't know what religion the person you're addressing is. In a country with over 308 million people and freedom of religion, you've got a lot of different practices. While Protestant Christianity is in the majority, there are upwards of 200 different denominations in that alone, some of which don't observe Christmas. Plus you've got Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Pagans, and a lot of atheists. So in a non-religious setting, a generic greeting is used to not offend.

But people being people, some get offended anyway. Frankly, I don't see the point in getting angry at someone wishing me well because I don't like the words used. You can wish me a Happy Thor's Day and I'll say "Thanks! You too!" even though I don't celebrate that. Happy Hanukkah? No problem! Right back at you, and please invite me for latkes. I'll bring chocolate gelt, if I can find it, and get down to play the dreidel with the kiddies. It's a fun game.

Me, I wish everyone Merry Christmas unless I know they celebrate something else. If someone pops back with "I don't celebrate Christmas, I'm a ____", I'll wish them a happy whatever their holiday is, or just "Then have a great day," if I don't know. And smile, because this is the season when Peace on Earth took human form, and getting offended over nothing just isn't Christian. Or human. Or Peaceful, for that matter.

Just my humble opinion.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Tobacco is for fools

People who started smoking/chewing tobacco before we learned how bad it was for us are addicted, and I feel for them. People who started since then are idiots. Period.

This is a habit that does nothing positive for the person indulging in it. It's expensive, it looks ugly, and it makes you, your clothes, your hair, your home, your car all stink. This is before we get to the health aspects.

90% of all lung cancer occurs in smokers. Yes, some nonsmokers get it, frequently from secondhand smoke. Yes, some people live to be 90 while smoking daily. Trouble is, you don't know which you'll be: one of the lucky ones or die young from a useless habit.

Lung cancer kills more women than breast cancer.

1/3 of all cancer deaths worldwide are from tobacco. There are 4 million tobacco-caused deaths per year worldwide.

Besides lung cancer, this stupid habit causes: bladder cancer, pancreatic cancer, laryngeal cancer, oral cancer, esophageal cancer.

Besides cancer, it can give you heart disease, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), and emphysema.

Pregnant women who smoke are more likely to miscarry, more likely to have an undersized baby that grows slowly and is prone to dying before its first birthday, and have assorted lung problems such as asthma and emphysema. If you smoke while you're pregnant, your baby is smoking too. Thanks, mom.

Parents who smoke at home have children who smoke, from birth, even if that child never picks up a cigarette. Secondhand smoke is just as toxic as if your child was puffing away. By smoking around your children, you're giving them all the assorted health risks above. Have you poisoned your children today?

So: to all those young smokers out there: You don't look like a rebel, or a risk-taker. You don't look hot or cool, sexy or dangerous. YOU LOOK STUPID.