!!!Things That REALLY Piss Me Off
Among the many things in life that piss me off are those that to a degree are comical, or at least things that we can step back from and laugh at. However, there is a second group which also really pisses me off but are of such a nature that it is difficult, if not improper, to discuss in a humorous light. That’s not to say that you can’t get the occasional laugh at the expense of these topics, but rather that the occasions which present themselves to have that laugh are much less frequent. And mainly for that reason, I have divided this book into two separate volumes: Volume I which takes a largely humorous look at life’s less consequential pains in the ass, and Volume II which looks at both a few of the more serious things in life as well as those with potentially the greatest impact on our lives. 

While Volume I should provide some laughs for just about everyone regardless of whether or not you’ve experienced the same outrage, frustration and/or bewilderment as I have for those topics. But the same is not true for the contents of Volume II which reflects many of my political and religious points of view. I fully recognize that there are those of you (and perhaps many) who may be at odds with my observations and opinions on these topics, and if you turn out to be one of those people and become offended at what I have written in Volume II, don’t hesitate to put it down and walk away. My primary objective in writing Volume II was not to educate others or convert them to my points of view, but rather to accomplish a very simple end which was to vent my frustrations on the selected topics. It was quite successful in that regard and, if for no other reason, that in itself made it a worthwhile effort in my eyes.
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Beginning back when I was a little kid and continuing well into my twenties, my Mother was always telling me that I never finished things (whatever “things” were), and that I was always changing my mind and my priorities. (Isn’t that what adolescents are supposed to do?) She told me that I needed to finish whatever I started and that I shouldn’t continually be changing my focus and direction. (Back when I was a kid, I was well known as one of the truly great all time focus changers. It was one of the few things I really excelled at!) And while my Mother may have seen that as a character flaw, I viewed it as unprecedented “flexibility”….you know, the ability to adjust to changing times and conditions. (It’s a gift!) And if you don’t believe me, ask my family or friends….they’ll tell you how “flexible’ I am!

Initially, the writing of this book began with a somewhat different focus (there’s that word again!) than what the finished product contains between these covers (maybe Mom was right….you know, about the focus thing.). For way too many years I have been annoyed, dismayed, disconcerted, taken aback and frustrated by the inconsiderate, thoughtless, nonsensical and/or stupid acts of others who routinely committed those acts with no thought whatsoever of how their actions impacted other people. You know exactly who I’m talking about because they’ve almost certainly victimized you as well. Then one day while witnessing one of these heinous acts, it all came into perfect focus in what I guess you could call a rude awakening or a moment of absolute clarity, or perhaps even an epiphany. Anyway, because of this great revelation, I knew then what I had to do. What I felt at that very moment was a calling of sorts probably not all that different than what is experienced by members of the clergy when they hear that deep baritone voice from on high telling them that it’s time to suit up and grab a collar….you know…. join the clergy club. Similarly, a higher power (or perhaps it was just the meatball hoagie with peppers and onions I had for lunch) was calling me to a higher duty and, well, you know me (or maybe you don’t), but I’m one of those people who just can’t say “no”.   

The vision I had at that moment was crystal clear. I would write a book about all of those insidious acts of thoughtlessness that I had personally suffered at the hands of others over the years (or at least bore personal witness to) and share it with all of you whom I knew would be sympathetic to and understanding of what I had to say. The book would be about….oh, you know….how do you say it in a clear and concise manner without beating around the bush? Wait….that’s it….I got it! It would be about things that piss me off! Or better yet, things that really piss me off! (I’m big on superlatives.) You can’t get any more concise and direct than that! Now that’s what I’d call focus. Mom would be proud

And so, with my mission clearly defined, I spent the next several months creating a master list of all those things that pissed me off. As you can well imagine, I went through reams and reams of paper! These were not things that merely perturbed me, or annoyed me or caused me to take pause and say, “Mmmm”, but rather things that really lit my wick and really pissed me off, and you may not be surprised to find that there were significantly more of these things than I ever thought possible. As I spoke with a number of friends and acquaintances about my writing project, I was surprised to learn that many of them were carrying around with them similar frustrations and annoyances that they had previously kept to themselves, but upon hearing of my writing project they were only too happy to share with me their own lists. Interestingly, the topics suggested to me by others were remarkably similar from one person to the next and to those items already on my own list. In other words, we all seem to get worked up mostly about the same things. Among all of those items was a reasonable number of offensive actions that seemed to be the main touch points for almost everyone, and the heavy focus on these major annoyances seemed to some extent to have marginalized the other less visceral issues. Regardless, I definitely did not suffer from a shortage of material, a fact so obvious that it was even recognized by my thirteen year old granddaughter who also knew that I had penned a few other books.
“What are you writing about, Pa?” she asked me one day while I was busy typing away at my computer. (The first of my grandchildren, Pa is the name she had given me when she first began to talk.) 
Without the slightest hesitation I proudly responded, “I’m writing a book about things that piss me off.” 
“What are you going to call it?” she asked quite innocently. 
I really hadn’t given any thought to the title, but again, and with no hesitation, I answered, “Things That Really Piss Me Off,” It seemed so obvious. You know….why beat around the bush! She appeared to be singularly unimpressed, so I just assumed that was the end of it. But apparently not because when she returned home later that afternoon she gave her mother (my daughter) the big news. “Guess what?” she said to her mother. “Pa is writing another book, and do you know what the title is going to be?” “No,” responded her mother with an apparent lack of interest. “Things That Really Piss Me Off,” she said almost pleased with herself. And then, over her shoulder while walking away she added as an afterthought, “Boy, Mom…. that’s gonna’ be a really long book!” Did she have my number, or what?

And so, over the next several months I methodically put my thoughts about things that really piss me off down on paper, a process that was as enjoyable as it was cathartic and which helped to leach the accumulated venom of many years of frustration from my body. But there was one unexpected outcome I had not anticipated. As I wrote about my various frustrations such as politics, the media and the almost endless inconsiderate acts of others, I began thinking about other tangential topics that I had always found interesting though not necessarily annoying or offensive. (Not a bad thing!) So I started to do a little writing on the side, unrelated to “Things That Really Piss Me Off”, about other topics which I found to be fun or interesting and perhaps even provocative in a positive way. Just as a side note, one of the most pleasurable things about writing is that it often requires that you spend time thinking about things, mostly interesting things, which might otherwise have never passed even close to your brain, let alone through it, and been the subject of its workings.

When I was more than half done writing the book, I was struck by another lightning bolt. Why not combine “Things That Really Piss Me Off” into a single book along with “things that really get me to thinking”. No, that wasn’t a title I was considering for another book, but it does make it clear what was pulsing through my brain at that particular moment. The more thought I gave it, the more it seemed to make perfect sense. These were all things I thought about, so instead of writing a book dealing solely with my frustrations in today’s world, it would be a book that would also embrace the many things that stimulate my mind….things that make me think and wonder, things that interest me, things I question, things that puzzle me and make me scratch my head in bewilderment and at times great wonder and, of course, “Things That Really Piss Me off”. The other thing all these subjects have in common is an underlying, unexplained need I feel to share my thoughts on these topics with others, and this was one of the previously unseen forces which motivated me to write this book. 

I guess a brief word of caution is probably also in order. While I have tried to use humor as my main story telling vehicle, there are admittedly some portions of this book where humor is much more in evidence than in others. The parts where it is somewhat harder to find are the chapters dealing with politics, politicians and the media. These are subjects which piss me off the most and, at times, do so in a visceral way. In these instances humor is much more difficult to find, and I think it’s fair to say that in chapters dealing with those topics I was probably more concerned with venting my frustrations than I was with being humorous. Furthermore, as you read this book, if you find that your political views are not in concert with mine (entirely possible), by all means feel free to skip ahead to the next chapter. I don’t want one of these chapters to end up as a chapter in your book about things that really piss you off!

The section of the book titled “Head Scratchers”, contains short essays of a much less intense nature which, for a variety of reasons, have caught my attention but do not (at least not yet!) qualify as things that piss me off. They are topics I find to be of interest and which I have given a fair amount of thought to over the years. I’ll grant you that the “Things That Really Piss Me Off” section is of a disproportionate size to the rest of the book, but I think you’ll agree that the two topics that take up the majority of space in that section (politicians and the news media) require and deserve the disproportional attention and space I have given them. 

I noted earlier that I was a bit surprised to find how many people out there share with me many of the same touch points of frustration and even anger for some of the things and people they encounter in their daily lives. So you might say that I’m doing this, at least the “Things That Really Piss Me Off” section, not just for me, but for all of you as well. I also view this book as a rare opportunity to notify the various offenders of their misdeeds and to let them know how displeased we are with their thoughtless actions. I expect that many of you will be able to relate as well to the other parts of the book which deal with what you might call some of life’s philosophical questions. You know, the really big things in life like religion, death and selecting the right whitening toothpaste. This writing effort has given me the opportunity to share with you my general wonderment about the world and those strange beings we call “people” who inhabit it while also serving as an excellent soap box for me to pontificate about what I perceive to be some of the great inequities and ills of the world. And so, with that bit of an introduction to the genesis and evolution of this book, let the games begin!

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