Worth a Second Thought?

While surfing the Net one day I came across an item on the Yahoo! Finance website that struck me as pretty dismal.  The pessimistic headline read, “The Ten Worst Majors for Finding a Good Job.”  (Tuesday, June18, 2013)  Here’s my take on the first five; for the rest, watch for Part II.  If you’re just starting your college career—and even college can become a career; believe me—you may want to rethink your decision if you plan on majoring in any of these categories.

1.  Business Administration/Management.  An MBA in this field has been the be all/end all for many years but the number of openings for Wall Street banker positions is “very, very small” says this report.  Besides, the perp walk quotient in recent years has been increasing so the luster of the financial professions has been tarnished a bit.  Still, one way to better your odds in this business is to “[D]evelop a concentration in quantitative courses such as statistics or finance.”  By now I’d have lost all interest.

2.  Criminal Justice.  If you’ve set your sights on such “glamour” jobs as FBI agent or intelligence analyst, remember, it takes years of experience, technical knowledge, and often the all-important influential contacts that you just don’t acquire on campus.  But, then, revelations surrounding events in Benghazi and Boston haven’t done much to enhance the reputations of these types of government agencies.  Criminal justice majors often end up as police officers, paralegals, and security guards (careers for which college degrees are not required).

3.  Drama/Theatre Arts.  Casting call for executive assistants and customer service reps!  Those are the roles often filled by aspiring stage and film stars.  This field is notorious for people whose major experience with lines is at the unemployment office.

4.  Anthropology.  Judging from this report, anthropology may one day need to be unearthed by future anthropologists.  Not much going on here except for some corporations needing “a small number” of experts who can help them understand human behavior, i.e., how to get consumers to believe advertising campaigns and buy stuff they don’t really need.

5.  Liberal Arts and Sciences.  Now this really hurts because I’m one of these.  It’s designed for those of us who don’t know what they want to do.  The report’s explanation for this under-utilized major says it all:  “An assortment of humanities courses might round out your intellect, but it could also confuse employers who don’t understand what kind of job a liberal arts major is supposed to prepare you for.”  Hint:  Not real life.

If these five majors are deemed useless, then maybe they should be eliminated from the curriculum of universities throughout the country.  There’s an upside to this:  There’d be fewer instructors (and teaching assistants) to pay for all this useless information.  The savings could then be realized in lower tuition costs across the board, thus benefitting all the other students.  Such a deal!

Next, in Part II, we’ll explore even more ways to reduce the costs of a college education by eliminating even more useless majors.


©  2013, The Wits End Scribbler


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Catching Up

Despite memories of his disastrous arrival in north Texas for Thanksgiving seventeen months earlier (see my post of January 16, 2012, “Driving Miss Crazy”), my son Jake appeared at the DFW airport the Wednesday before Easter this year for a visit with his mother.  Between the former fiasco and the Dallas/Ft. Worth highway system, aka the “Perpetual DFW Construction Project,” (I’m really getting to hate the color orange) it’s a wonder he bothers to come here at all.  The only glitch this time, though, was a baggage carousel breakdown that caused some delay.

For an entire week I reveled in the company of my favorite son as we caught up on our various activities, discussed current events, and savored lots of home cooking.  Jake dutifully performed several maintenance chores around the house.  (He’s so thoughtful; he bought me a bunch of new tools at Home Depot so I could do those chores myself next time.)  When not busy with chores he entertained me by playing his guitar which he had brought with him.  He also had brought his new electronic “tablet” and his “smart phone” (at his age, technology is fun; for me, not so much).  Anyway, this phone has a particularly dubious feature, or app, with hideous propensities.   It’s called the ZombieBooth.

Shock Theatre

We were sitting on the sofa one evening watching some apparently forgettable TV program (most of them are, after all) when Jake handed me his phone with some pictures he had taken.  There on the screen was a nice close-up shot of The Mutt in all his cuteness.  I beamed with pride, taking pleasure in The Mutt’s portrait and my son’s hankering for a memento of his trip.  Then Jake took the phone, pushed some buttons, and handed it back to me.

A-a-a-a-ck!!!  Looking out at me was not the charming face of my champagne-colored cockapoo of a moment ago.  My favorite dog had become an unearthly freak of nature, a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde transformation of nightmarish proportions.  See for yourself.


       The Mutt                                     The Mutt Zombified

 Second Feature

You’d think that defacing my dog was enough but, no.   Jake wasn’t done yet.  Taking the phone again he set to more tweaking and the results this time were just as ghastly.  Another freaky result of modern technology.  Jake had applied the same ZombieBooth technique to a picture he’d taken of a plush toy hanging in my TV room:  Bugs Bunny, one of my all-time heroes.  (At least the others, including Winston Churchill and Teddy Roosevelt, were spared this indignity.)


          Bugs                                                   Bugs Zombified

Can you imagine Jimmy Stewart striking up a friendship with Harvey if that rabbit had looked like this?  As I groaned Jake laughed and sent this grotesque snapshot to a friend, wishing him “Happy Easter.”  I haven’t heard yet whether they’re still on speaking terms.

This ZombieBooth business is enough to give air-brushing a bad name.


Just the same, the following incident got me to thinking that it could prove useful.  My next door neighbors have a new puppy, a Chihuahua-mix.  She is the friendliest—if a bit hyper—little thing.  All she wants to do is kiss and play.  My dog should be thrilled to have a new playmate, right?  Well, not quite.  As soon as little Sophie saw him she broke into a giant (for her) Chihuahua smile and ran toward The Mutt in a frenzy of excitement, ready for a good romp.  What did my dog do?  Turned tail and ran around in circles trying to get away from this fearsome beast who is all of about one-fifth his size.  What a wuss!  My chicken-dog!  No matter where he ran—to the back door (closed), to the backyard gate (closed), into the garage (dead end)—there was no escaping little Sophie.  She really, uh, dogged him.

As you might imagine, this whole scene was most embarrassing for me and, I think, even for Jake.  (Of course, he could go back to Florida; I’m still here living with the humiliation.)

But here’s where the ZombieBooth app, dubious as it is, comes in.  Maybe The Mutt could benefit from a little ZombieBooth facelift after all.  With a mug like that he just might turn the tables on Sophie and send her running.  Then my “chicken-dog” would have something to crow about.


© 2013, The Wit’s End Scribbler

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Made It by a Hair

Whew!  I had a close call recently.

I was at the vet’s office to pick up some medication for my cat who suffers with inflammatory bowel disease.  Seems she now needs to supplement her other meds with probiotics.  (That’s right, probiotics.  Even animals are concerned about their core health these days.)

Anyway, as the vet assistant was searching for said probiotics I amused myself by watching the monitor on the counter.  Here in momentary glimpses were photos of various cats and dogs of various pedigrees (or none), each identified with a name, such as “Misty,” “Champ,” “Brutus,” and such.  A minute or so into this slide show a message displayed on the screen announced, “National Hairball Awareness Day, April 30.”  (I kid you not.)  Startled, I checked the calendar on my watch.  There displayed in that little magnifying bubble was . . . 30!  It was still April!  Saints be praised, I still had time to commemorate this momentous occasion.  What to do?  The only thing I could think of was to rush home, grab “The Hairball” (coincidentally one of my cat’s several aliases), and give her some firm whacks on the back hoping she would hack up the real thing.  Of course, that would mean she’d be living up to one of her other names, “Miss P.I.T.A.,” which stands for “Pain in the A–,” invoked when she leaves some revolting mess for yours truly to clean up.

Of course, it’s not unusual for there to be a day designated by the government or some other, more reputable, entity to promote a favorite cause—or “just because.”  But hairballs?  Any cat owner is already aware of hairballs and, let me tell you, it’s nothing to celebrate.

Still, if hairballs are to be so honored, what other wacky things are there to merit our awareness?

A bit of web surfing reveals there are plenty to satisfy even the most compulsive “we-need-a-life-any-excuse-for-a-party” crowd.  That there are those who actually put thought into such things tells me some people have way too much free time.


In a Daze

Just the same, here, in monthly order, is a sampling of some of the weirder dates you may want to circle on your calendar.

January 19 is “National Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day”(Pop, pop, pop, pop, pop.)  February 22 is designated “World Thinking Day” (we need a lot more of these).  March 8 is “Dust Bunny Appreciation Day” (observed every day at my house).  March 22 is “National Goof Off Day” (we need a lot fewer of these).  Besides April 1—”April Fool’s Day” (why celebrate this growing demographic?), there’s April 3—”Blame Somebody Else Day” (the fools are getting tired of all the credit) and April 15, “Rubber Eraser Day.”  (Anybody else see the irony of this falling on Federal Income Tax day, the biggest mistake in our national history?  Now there’s something that should be rubbed out.)  May 3 is “Lumpy Rug Day,” (created for the intolerant sort who tend to sweep pesky facts under the rug), while May 5 is “National Lost Sock Memorial Day” and May 14 is “National Dance Like a Chicken Day,” which must be done to the “Chicken Dance Song.”  June 8 is “Name Your Poison Day.” (Arsenic/ should do the trick.  Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)  July 13 is “Celebrate Your Geekness Day,” which must be related to “Race Your Mouse Around the Icons Day” on August 28.  (Just how computer addicted do you have to be?)  On September 28 there’s “Ask a Stupid Question Day,” i.e., “Did it hurt when the brick fell on your head?”  Duh!  October 3 is “Virus Appreciation Day” (for the hypochondriacs among us).  “National Dunce Day” is November 8 and December 12 is “National Ding-a-Ling Day.” (Really, now, all the Fools, Dunces, and Ding-a-Lings are getting way too much calendar space.)

Oh, yes, there’s even a “National Mutt Day” on December 2.  That’ll make mine happy.  Now that he knows about it, he’ll probably expect me to throw him a party.


Just Lump It

There are lots more, not including the more familiar, legitimate ones.  In fact, there are more “awareness” days than there are actual days in the year, even in a Leap Year.  Faced with that we have two options as I see it:  1.)  Extend the normal year by a few hundred more days to handle the surplus.   2.)  Schedule a “National One-Size-Fits-All-Anything-You-Could-Possibly-Imagine Awareness Day” to be observed on the extra day of every Leap Year, right after February 28, “National Public Sleeping Day.”  That could be risky, though.   We might just snooze through the whole thing unaware.


© 2013, The Wit’s End Scribbler

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If you’ve ever played Trivial Pursuit you may have been surprised at how many useless bits of information you have (or not) picked up during your lifetime.  I’ve played the game myself and am pretty good at it.  Still, it doesn’t hurt to continue one’s education, which is why I have a couple dozen trivia books lining my bookshelves.  One, The World’s Greatest Book of Useless Information,* is a great source of little known nuggets of highly questionable importance.  Herewith, some of the things I learned recently.

1.  According to the author of this book, Americans in 2007 consumed more than 868 million gallons of petroleum per day.  I don’t believe it.  Why?  I have all I can do to force down the recommended eight glasses of water a day, let alone my share of that much petroleum.  Let’s just hope none of these people gets near an open flame.

2.  In ancient Cambodia, it was illegal to insult a rice plant.  (And you thought PETA was a modern innovation.)

3.  It’s said that a turtle can breathe through its bottom.  Now who would even bother to test that theory?  (Oh, right, someone with a federal grant.)  Who in his right mind even cares?  I’m more concerned whether I’ll still be breathing tomorrow.

4.  Supposedly people are the most irritable between 4 and 6 p.m.  Even I could have determined that (without a federal grant).   The reasons:  (a) They’re stuck in traffic during “rush” hour on the Dallas/Ft. Worth freeway system; (b) they’re hungry and know they won’t be able to get home for dinner during that two-hour time frame; and (c) the jerk in the car in the next lane has his radio playing (c)rap “music” so loud that the other drivers are contemplating justifiable homicide.

5.  Your brain asleep is more active than when watching TV.  Well, duh!  Most of the stuff aired on the boob tube today is just mind-numbing.  (The appalling amount of bad grammar alone gives this writer apoplexy.)  The worst are the “reality” shows where people of questionable sense, taste, and maturity make complete horses’ patooties of themselves in front of millions of people. Nowhere else can you see so many obnoxious, ill-mannered, self-centered, attention-seeking narcissists.  Where do they find all these losers—Louts ‘R’ Us?  My son Jake says he can feel his I. Q. drop a point for every second one of these shows is on, which is why he—and I—have remotes equipped with automatic “Gag Reflex” buttons.  By the way, if you could witness my REM sleep visions you’d know there’s more going on there than on any six TV shows combined.  I could keep a blog running for years recounting the Technicolor dramas, adventures, and, yes, nightmares I experience every night.  In fact, I could write a downright fascinating TV series based on my dreams (and with better dialogue).  Of course, no one would watch it.  My characters are mostly normal.

6.  In 1970 in Graetna Green, Scotland, a German pop star named Ramma Damma legally married a pineapple that cost $16.00.  He said he didn’t want a cheap bride.  This guy sounds like a real fruitcake.

*Botham, Noel, & The Useless Information Society.  The World’s Greatest Book of Useless Information. New York:  Penguin, 2009.



© 2013, The Wit’s End Scribbler

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SHELDON:  I heard you giggling.  What’s so funny?

WES:  I was just reading this list of collective names for animals.  Scientists apparently have a sense of humor.  At least some seem to like playing with words anyway.

SHELDON:  How so?

WES:  Listen for yourself.  For instance, did you know a gathering of buzzards is called a wake?

SHELDON:  That makes sense.  A bunch of old birds hanging around a dead body looks like a wake to me.

WES:  An ostentation of peacocks.

SHELDON:  They got that right.  Those show-offs really like to strut their stuff.  So pretentious.

WES:  Here’s a great one!  A prickle of porcupines.  Hah!

SHELDON:  That is good.  Just so you don’t rub them the wrong way; then you’d really be stuck.  (Heh-heh.)

WES:  Ouch!  You had to reach for that one.

SHELDON:  Where there’s a quill, there’s a way.

WES:  (Ahem.)  This one’s a little odd.  A group of leopards is called a leap.  Because they leap from one place to another, I suppose.

SHELDON:  So they can change their spots, right?

(Bump.  Bump.  Bump.)

What are you doing?

WES:  Following the instructions on my mouse pad.  It says, “Bang head here.”

SHELDON:  Oh, come, now.  I thought my response was quite witty.  Stop rolling your eyes.

WES:  Moving on.  Here’s another:  a cackle of hyenas.

SHELDON:  That works.  They really do have unnerving voices.   Say, a cackle of grackles would work, too, right?

WES:  I suppose.  A romp of otters.

SHELDON:  How about a rump of hippos?

WES:  Very good.  But according to this it’s a bloat of hippopotamuses.

SHELDON:  What happened to hippopotami?  That way both the hips and the pot would be covered.  Hippo-pot–Oh, my.

WES:  Maybe we should stop here.

SHELDON:  No, no.  Go on.

WES:  All right.  Get this.  A rhumba of rattlesnakes.  The way they sway from side to side moving along the ground must have inspired that.

SHELDON:  Cobras sway, too, but they do it to that annoying music, so they may have a better claim to the rhumba title.

WES:  Actually, all snakes are deaf and the cobra just mimics the movement of the snake charmer.

SHELDON:  So the snake is really faking it?  It’s getting so you can’t trust anyone.

WES:  On that note:  a parliament of owls.

SHELDON:  Wait a minute.  Aren’t owls supposed to be wise?

WES:  I see your point.  You certainly don’t hear much wisdom coming from any form of government these days, parliamentarian or otherwise.

SHELDON:  Right; it does have to be other– wise.

WES:  Touché.

SHELDON:  I guess that makes a parliament of owls an oxymoron then—with the accent on moron.

WES:  We’ve probably taken that as far as we can.  Now, a chain of bobolinks.  Brilliant!

SHELDON:  Honestly, I’m beginning to think these scientists must have been a little snockered when they came up with these terms.

WES:  A tower of giraffes.

SHELDON:  Now I know they were drunk!

WES:  H-m-m-m . . .


WES:  Funny.  There’s no name for a collection of muses.

SHELDON:  May I point out that we’re not animals.  Otherwise, it’s obvious.  An inspiration.  An inspiration of muses.

WES:  Very good, Sheldon.

SHELDON:  Thank you.  It just came to me.  But getting back to the animal kingdom . . . .  How about a can of worms or a trunk of elephants?

WES:  Or a hopper of rabbits?

SHELDON:  Oh, this is fun.  A network of gnus.

WES:  I love it!  Wait.  An asylum of cuckoos!

SHELDON:  Splendid!  Let’s see.  Maybe . . .



© 2013, The Wit’s End Scribbler

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