Thursday, June 30, 2016

Are you being served?

We went to dinner with our good friends the other night.  We went to a local place, which I like because I really don't care for the chain restaurants with their corny names that are supposed to connote eating, drinking and being merry (they all sound like they're called "T. J. McFunzones" or "PizzaLicious").

Good news/bad news: food was top-notch and they gave even more than I could wolf down! But the service was horrible.

The server did not greet us with any salutation other than handing us menus and asking, 3 seconds later, if we "need more time."  She took our order without comment and was back with the salad in no time at all.  And then...

We weren't quite finished with our salads when she was back with entrees.  Seems to me, you would want to wait with the entrees until people finish grazing on the greenery, but she just stood there looming over us with plates of dinner until we admitted we really didn't want to finish our salads anyway.

And then did she come back in a few minutes to see if everything was cooked ok, or did we need anything?  No.

But she did show up before we even finished eating, trying to lay the bill on us.  I admit, I was a little exasperated with the rush she was giving us, especially in view of the fact that there were only two other tables in business and we were the ONLY table she was waiting on, so I said, "Are you in a hurry or something? Are you getting off duty now and need us to go?"

(From where I sat, I could see that she was involved in a conversation at another part of the place with a guy who works for a food-delivery outfit, and was rushing to get back to her discussions with him.)

We told her we would like to have some dessert and coffee.  She came back with a tray full of desserts and took those orders, and then came back with desserts for all and coffee for none.  

And then she came back with the check again. Boy, she wanted that money for the meal! We were 1/2 way through dessert but reminded her we had ordered coffee. She did not say she was sorry for forgetting or claim that a fresh pot was brewing. She just turned and stomped away.

Image result for coffee
We finished dessert and sat around waiting for coffee, and then at length she came around with coffees, and I said to just cancel the coffee; we were through with our meals, and she gave me a look that would curdle milk, I tell you.  We paid her and we sat and chatted for a while, in an empty restaurant, with our dirty dishes still in front of us...and we hope she didn't wonder why the place was devoid of customers at dinnertime on a nice evening.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Meat the press

So there we were in the upstairs dining area at Wegman's, the grocery store that's actually like a tiny city.  You can buy chow downstairs and go up and chow down on tables that overlook hoi polloi as they shop and push carts about.

We were there as a family to have lunch to birthday-salute a beloved family member who shall remain nameless because I'm too modest. 

Some of us had subs, some had sushi, some had salads or noodle salad.

That last sentence is one syllable too long to be a haiku, but you have to like the alliteration.  

Peggy made my favorite German Chocolate Cupcakes and we were just about to move along when the noonday din was calmed by someone hollering, "May I have your attention please?" down below.  Well, he got everyone's attention, all right.  It was hard to tell at first why he wanted it, but he had it, and soon enough it came out that he was standing in the meat and delicatessen department, hollering about animal abuse and the need not to eat them.

This is a conflict with which many of us wrestle. We love animals, and yet we love ham and salami and roast beef and pork and bacon and pepperoni and chicken and chicken salad and shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo, pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried. There's pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich. 

Image result for don't eat meatOh, excuse me.  You see the conflict? I love animals. Just yesterday when Eddie the cat was lost in my closet (please don't ask) I was beside myself until we found her beside the dressing chair in my closet.  And I really don't think I could raise a calf on a farm I don't own and then enjoy him in hamburger form, unless I was hungry enough.

Nothing but conflicts here between the love of animals and the love of pit beef sandwiches, and someday we will sort all that out.

But I went to the balcony and looked down on the roiling scene below just in time to see the guy who was hollering about not eating meat being hustled out the door by two beefy butchers.  

And there you have a slice of current America - yes you do have the right to say what you think, and the people who own (or work for) the place where you choose to annunciate have every right to show you to the door.  PETAman didn't destroy anything, hurled nothing but invective, and it all was over in a matter of minutes.

Some people got a bit nervous and wanted to leave the store at once, mindful of global terrorist incidents, but since I view every citizen except for my family and Jerry Lewis as potentially lethal, I decided to hang around to see if there was a second act to this play, but there wasn't.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Hue Jackman

We know the colors of the rainbow as Roy G. Biv - the old red orange yellow green blue indigo violet spectrum.

Image result for 241773
Image result for 9E7C0C
But with everything needing its own special color, and cars and sports teams and products having to be just ever so in design, people in charge of colors have set up systems such as Pantone to name and differentiate the hues.  You could ask an art major how this works, but there are people whose job it is to say, "The official colors of the Baltimore Orioles are DF4601 (Orange) and 000000 (Black).  You can see your favorite teams here so if you, say, wish to paint your bedroom in Baltimore Ravens colors, you'll need a couple of gallons of 241773 (purple), 000000 (black) and a quart of 9E7C0C (that gold on the edges of the bird and the numbers).

We all know we have responses to colors, and we all have our favorites.  I love anything in brown or red and avoid green like it would set me on fire. But some people like green.

The colorful powers have decided that no one likes a color called 448C, which is sort of the color green-brown that people associate with the words "death," "dirty," and "tar."

448.  I think I have a shirt this color.
I just don't know why.
In Australia, they are trying to get people to stop smoking cigarettes, so they have decided to wrap packs of smokes in this unappealing shade so as to discourage people from buying them. Starting this fall, Aussie ciggie packs will have large print health warnings and small print brand names and this yucky color all over.

We'll see soon enough if fewer people light 'em up down under. But if they had asked me, I would have shown them the most repugnant colors of all:

Monday, June 27, 2016

Doggone it

I'm more a cat person than a dog person, but there are some dogs I like a lot. The cranky ones that are the size of a Buick, not so much. All they want to do is growl and bite my asterisk*


And I'm all for a good time, lotta laughs, Mr. Sociable.  But may I throw a caution flag in the air long enough to ask a question:

What good does it do to have a contest to choose The Ugliest Dog In The World?

I know, they put it on the TV news, not long after the Westminster Dog Show, which always seems to be won by some pooch with an odd name.  I was going to say it's always some name like "Prince Oswald's Ruby of Kankakee" before I decided to look it up in order to report to you that the winner...of this year's Westminster Dog Spaniel Clussexx Three D Grinchy Glee.

Well now, I mean, really.  What happened to "Fido," "Rover," "Chief," and "Donald," the traditional names for canines?

ABC's Cecilia Vega
with SweePee
I got sidetracked.  What's on my mind is, why do humans get a boot out of dragging their dogs into a contest to find the less attractive among the pack? Does that make us feel better about ourselves, to find an "ugly mutt" to scorn?

What if SweePee Rambo of Encino, CA, this year's winner of that dubious doggie distinction, is actually a nice, affable, happy little dog, and Sussex Spaniel Clussexx Three D Grinchy Glee, in all its supposed beauty, turns out to be a nasty little ankle-biter?

Not trying to sprinkle on anybody's dog biscuit, but I think there are much better criteria for us to use in judging our animal companions.

But I don't want to hound you about it.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Sunday Rerun: So you shouted!

"Every time I go to a ballgame, I always get the same seat: between the hot dog vendor and his best customer," said American philosopher Alfred E. Neuman. 

We go to lunch or dinner and the same guy is always there.  This is really weird, the way he can morph into being an old guy or a young guy or a guy in a lawyer suit or a guy who is the subject of lawsuits. He is always just a table or two away.  He is never alone. He is always male, for He is Mr. Loud Talking Man.

At first, when I was confronted by having to hear one end of a conversation from ten yards away (the other people at LTM's table never raise their voice, if they even manage to chisel a word in edgewise) in which I have no interest, I thought well, this poor fellow must have been born and raised in a machine shop, indoor gun range, or in the foundry where they made Hell's Bell.  Hearing loss would seem to be the only reason why a person, otherwise completely civilized, would bellow, hoot and holler like a guy rooting home a hoss down the backstretch at Old Hilltop.  

But as I came to see these people more and more, and saw that they did not employ ear trumpets to hear what their beleaguered dining companions had to say while Mr LTM paused to catch his breath, I ruled out deafness, and remain puzzled.

The other night was a good example.  We went to OMFGLOLFriday's with some good friends, and in the next booth was a guy belting back the Jack while bragging to some poor woman unfortunate enough to be his lucky date for a magical evening.  He bragged about how much he a) drank and b) screwed things up royally while attending college and yet here he is, enjoying great success as Regional Second Assistant Vice President for Corporate Sales, Baltimore Division, of a Fortune 4,000 firm specializing in industrial adhesives and solvents.  I think the company name is HiDryCloNoMoCo, Ltd, but I could be wrong. His whole sales approach to the young lady, for whom I felt more pity than any woman in the world since when I found out there is a Mrs Bill O'Reilly, seemed to be "I'm a lovable scamp with a drinking problem; you gotta love me!" which she clearly was not going to do in any sense of the word.

What's funny about these men is that when they finally shut up for half a mo to breathe or shove some food down their necks, the room quiets down and you look around like when the refrigerator stops running and that's when you notice the refrigerator had been running.

It's my bet that when he went to drop her off that night, she said, "I'd love to invite you in for a cup of coffee, but drove me crazy all through dinner, so why don't you just drive yourself on home and forget we ever met?"  At least I hope she did, and then had a blessedly quiet night.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

The Saturday Picture Show, June 25, 2016

Everywhere but here, they call this game "football." Here it's called "soccer."  Manbun hairdids are just as silly in Europe as they are here, though.
This picture was posted by someone who said his girlfriend complained that her dryer wasn't working so well anymore. That was the bad news.  The good news is, he got enough lint out of that trap to insulate a nice-sized birdhouse.
Prime rib, shrimp, mash. Pass the horseradish please!

Nothing special about this parking garage, but I do like that use of orange paint instead of something drab.  It brightens up the day!

Without these giant machines, we wouldn't have wheat. Wouldn't you love to spend just a little time up in the cab of that thresher?
Summer is here so I thought you'd like to see a picture of a snowy dark road.  
The day will come that all the architects of our beloved rock 'n' roll will be gone.  Jerry Lee Lewis, Fats Domino, Chuck Berry and this man, the one and only Little Richard, are still with us and deserve great thanks for rescuing the world from songs like "How Much Is That Doggy In The Window?"
It's been a while.  Quick -  where is the closest pay phone? Haven't seen one for years.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Company's Coming!

I love people, people of all ages.  And kids are some of the best people I know, because their minds are still open. 

We "adults" can learn a lot from kids, if only we would listen to them.  Here's my latest reminder:

The other day, a lady came to our house to do some work.  She was in a jam, though: school is out and she had no one to watch her nine-year old daughter, and would I mind if she just hung around the house?  Well of course not, I said.  Peggy was about to leave for her art class and my only plans for the morning consisted of working the Jumble© ("That Scrambled Word Game.")

So we got Victoria a granola bar and a bottle of water and asked what channel she liked to watch.  Big surprise!  I would have thought she'd say, "Turner Classic Movies," but no.  We went right to Disney Channel and settled in for a morning of conversation, mixed in with the comedy of "Liv & Maddie," "Austin & Ally," "Phineas and Ferb" and a movie about a little girl who was a good baker and moved to Paris for a while and then came home to win $100,000 in a baking contest. 

Those who spend a lot of time with fourth graders already know this, but they have a special muscle in their vocal mechanism that allows them to talk for four hours straight without getting a sore throat, or even needing to breathe.  I know now that the same woman plays both Liv AND Maddie, that Austin shouldn't be jealous of Elliott, and that Phineas and Ferb are both supposed to be humans, even with their oddly-shaped heads.

And I learned that the little girl baker probably doesn't make her own dough for the scones, but she's a good actor so it looks like she does.  And, from the Real Life Adventures of a Real Live Soon-To-Be Fifth Grader, I know now that if you get confused about Math and get a D, the teacher will work with you so you understand the numbers and you can get straight A's, just like Victoria did.  And I learned that although she feels she is too young to date (!) there are six boys who "like" her but don't "like like" her.  I think they are all named "Aaron," except for one whose real name brought him the unfortunate nickname "Fruity Pebbles."  She ranked them in order of how much they liked her and how much she would like them if she did.

Ms Victoria enjoyed playing with the cats, and I have to tell you, Eddie and Deanna, who are normally napping from 9 am until noon to be ready for their afternoon nap (noon - 3 pm) were just great with her! Victoria loved the cats so much!  She tossed balls to them, she blew bubbles on them, she dangled their fish-on-a-string toy off their noses, she chased them up and down the stairs, she gave them their treats...and good cats that they are, they played their parts, never snapped or acted bothered, and enjoyed the attention.

Hoping for more company soon!
The time Peggy got back and Victoria's mom was finished her work, I was sad to see my time with a soon-to-be fifth grader come to an end.  But she finished her water, gobbled another granola bar, and bounded off with her mom to more fun in a world where bright colors and vivid music
live vibrantly and long division is the biggest hassle and little girls with their hair done up in little curls with bobby pins are some of the sweetest people on earth. 

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Behind the velvet rope, please

I'm not trying to blame an entire educational movement for the foolish actions of some people, but I am puzzled by the tendency of our fellow citizens to do what they damn well please at any time in any situation.

Many teachers follow the Montessori movement, which allows children to be "at liberty to choose and act freely and act spontaneously for optimal development." Theoretically, this means you leave someone in a kitchen with a package of bacon, some green leafy vegetables, a tomato and a loaf of good bread, and if you give them enough time they will learn to make a BLT.

Or, give a person a block of wood and a whittling knife, and they will cut away everything that doesn't look like a duck.

That's the theory, but there is a problem with the "Let 'Em Figure Out How To Do It" school of leaves people feeling that they can just do as they please when they please.  This is why people - not talking about kids here - climb over bars and ford streams to get into the lion's den at the zoo, why they go for boat rides without personal flotation devices, why they play with fireworks, why they run through the streets of Pamplona being chased by bulls, why they jump out of airplanes that are still aloft.

People love to take risks, probably because at some point in their lives, they were encouraged to "think outside the box" and "push the envelope" and "go for the big picture."  

Sometimes, the rules are there to say "don't think outside this box because doing so might mean sudden death in a boiling acidic pool of water."

"No significant human remains were left" to recover after Colin Nathaniel Scott, from Portland, Oregon, decided that his visit to Yellowstone National Park would be best enhanced by going off the designated pathway near a geyser basin.  He and his sister wandered 225 yards off that boardwalk before he lost his footing on gravel and tumbled to his quick death. 

In boiling acidic water.

Of course, there are regulations and rules and signs, the same kind of sign that tells people not to try to engage in civil intercourse with bears, and look how many people break that rule. 

Last year, 4.1 million visitors went to Norris Geyser Basin, where water boils at 199° at the park's high elevation.

Lovely. Fatal.
Please avoid any area where you are likely to fall into a pond of 199° acid. Leave the lions alone, wear your life preserver, attend fireworks shows put on by trained professionals, avoid Spain when the bulls are on the run, and stay in the plane until it lands. 

It might not be as thrilling to live that way, but you'll live longer that way.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

There should be Forever Cards to go along with Forever Stamps

I despise gender characterizations such as "men should be the ones to cut the grass" and "women should cook and clean in the kitchen." They don't make sense in a modern world, never really did. I guess they just used to be accepted, but that didn't make them right.

The fact is, lots of men enjoy cooking and working things out in the kitchen, and plenty of women don't. And there are women who love to get out there on the lawn with the Toro and shape up the back 40 nicely, so what the heck?  Do what you want to do! A lot of people can't boil water without burning it (or burning the house down) so it's best that someone fix dinner or it's gonna be takeout vs delivery every night.

There is one area in which I think, at least from what I've seen, the sexes tend to stick to their own behavior, and that is what happens when looking for greeting cards. These are true for MOST cases, so don't get too mad...

Women go to Hallmark or some other store whose primary business is selling cards when they need a greeting card.

Men head for Dollar Tree, Dollar General or Dollar Bill's, where cards are 2 for a buck and you can also get some peanuts, blank DVDs or a tire brush while you're there.

Women look through at least 67 cards before settling on one. They check them for humor, the picture, they read the verse aloud, they match it up with the perfect pastel color envelope, and then - this is key - they buy a backup just in case they change their mind about sending a humorous card vs a serious one with bluebirds tying ribbons around a little girl's hair.

Image result for time bomb gameMen find the one card that meets the occasion. The first one they find is fine, no matter if it's for a 38-year-old sister-in-law but it says "Happy Birthday 6-year-old!" They will grab any envelope on the rack and fold and bend the card to fit in it later. Men will not read the verse out loud or ask anyone if the words convey the depth of their love for Aunt Cecilia or Cousin Ursula. In fact, men act as if they are playing Time Bomb while they're in the card aisle, and if more than 17 seconds go by, they will be blown to smithereens.

Image result for blown to smithereens
But don't worry.  There's a card for that, too.