Thursday, January 29, 2009

The year of the Snuggies

Cabbage patch dolls, leisure suits, Tickle me Elmo. Every year has its fads. This year, the year of the recession and Obama, is the year of the Snuggies. With people going out less and snuggling up more, what with keeping the thermostat low and all, Snuggies have been selling like hotcakes.

The beauty of them is that you can snuggle and they also act like a natural contraceptive. His and hers Snuggies, unlike a shared blanket, provide additional protection against those unexpected tax deductions.
Editor's note: Photo from a mildly humourous Uncyclopedia entry.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Shovel ready

Now we have a new president. The new president wants to use Keynsian economics to rev up the economy. Library directors, school superintendents, physical education coordinators, hospital administrators, etc. are being asked to submit projects that are "shovel ready". That means when the billions of dollars come barreling up from Washington the largess may help our own communities and causes. If they are "shovel ready".
I could use a new sofa. I should pick out one so when I get the call, I'll be "shovel ready".
The new president has two cute children. Perhaps one of them will one day ask to be appointed to the Senate.
Editor's note: I wrote a cute piece on the Kennedy election and inaugural for my Sixties Blog. Til that time.

Sunday, January 18, 2009


One casualty of the recent economic recession is flexible hours, casual hours, or in my job, awp or the alternate week program. It is a scheme where workers work longer hours some days and get a day off as a reward in a specified period. It saves on gas, cuts into traffic congestion, and makes it easier for workers to do chores like fixing a telephone or having their dogs spaded because it gives them the occasional weekday off. The day off is affectionately called an AWP.

AWP is the most frequent vocabulary term I hear at work.

"I'm sorry I can't sit in for Mary tomorrow because it's my AWP.

"I'd love to go to that training session but it's my AWP."

"I can't go to lunch tomorrow because it's my AWP."

What with staff cuts and retirements coupled with increased demand from the public, we are being asked to give up our AWP's.

What will we ever talk about without AWP's? Oh yes, we'll complain about not having AWP's.

A bachelor apartment

Recently a lady friend visiting my place remarked, "My, your place is starting to look like a bachelor apartment." At first I thought she was complimenting me on the masculine decor and the interesting tchatchkes inhabiting the place. Later, I realized that no, she was remarking on the dust on the table, the magazines on the floor, the shoes in the kitchen, and the dirty sink.

And then there is the furniture. It is what we used to call "Salvation Army Modern". An old couch and chairs that looked dowdy when they were in my friend's grandmother's attic. Of course in this economy I have an excuse. It's hard times.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Coffee to go

The economy is at a standstill but should come back eventually. If you read American history even the "Panic of 1893" didn't last forever. One observation I have about money is that people who have money and people who don't have money are easy to tell apart. It's not the yachts or the cars but it's the coffee to go and breakfasts that give people away.

People who always complain about not having any money buy coffee and a donut on the way to work. People who have money make coffee at home. People who don't have any money take the family to MacDonald's for breakfast on Saturday morning. People who have money make breakfast on weekends at home. People who don't have money took out big loans to buy SUV's. People who have money payed cash for their Toyota Priuses.

One thing about this recession is that it is making poor people adopt the lifestyles of the rich.


Last weekend I went on a hike with an outdoor group and when I got there everybody pulled out their GPS's. Long the only one with a GSP in a group I was curious. I always take my GPS with me because I have a lousy sense of direction. I get lost in mall parking lots and tend to get lost when I try to take a trip to any new environment or try to park at a computer show. I have learned to take my GPS and make my car or hotel room a way point so I can return later. It was nice to discover even seasoned hikers get lost on hikes in county parks but I soon discovered I was completely off base.

Rather, they were looking for Geo caches. The new hobby that I was about to discover. Apparently the GPS has engendered a new past-time involving putting stuff under rocks, finding the coordinates with their GPS's, putting such info on the Internet, and then having men and dogs tromp through the countryside to find them. It's amazing how excited people get when they find a cache.

A harmless hobby, I suppose. They could have used GPS's when they wrote the storyline for My Man Godfrey.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The insouciance of youth

When I graduated from Rutgers in 1974 there was a terrible job market. First there was the gas crisis, then the unemployment rate went up. But young people in my circle approached the crisis with the insouciance of youth. Unemployment was approached as a goal, not a predicament. You would find a crappy job, work a few months, get laid off, and then you would live within the comparitive nirvana of unemployment insurance. Making more money than you did in the job, you would be free spirits, travel, drink or eat sandwiches (thanks to How I met your mother) hang out, work on your guitar chords, and be happy as clams at high tide.

Two people I know bypassed unemployment insurance all together and applied for welfare the day after graduation. From the college rolls to the welfare rolls. Food stamps were the currency of the hip young unemployed.

Somehow when you get older, looming layoffs are not as much fun as they are when you are younger. From the insouciance of youth to the paranoia of middle age.

Editor's note: Music sung by Oscar Brand, who still does a radio show on WNYC - AM on Saturday nights.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

the Hard Rock Park

I always have had a sense of guilt about the Hard Rock Café. As a baby-boomer who remembers when Chevy Chase hosted Saturday Night Live, my life should have revolved around visiting Hard Rock Café’s. I like to travel and have been to Amsterdam, Vancouver, Tokyo, London and Lisbon and never visited the Hard Rock Café’s in any of these places. I always felt that as a hip baby boomer I had an obligation when I arrived in a town to find out where the Hard Rock Café was and buy hundreds of dollars of t-shirts there. Souvenirs that I could then display on my wall and give as Christmas presents. It is one of my moral failings.

I’m not surprised that the Hard Rock Amusement Park in Myrtle Beach failed. For a town to have a successful Hard Rock establishment it needs a certain cache of edginess. I don’t believe Myrtle Beach ever had that. I used to bring my parents there for Army reunions. Nice town. Nice beach. Nice bars if you like drinks served out of airline bottles.

But I don’t see David Bowie or Lou Reed playing golf or going on a Ferris wheel in Myrtle Beach. My father and his army buddies yes but not David Byrne or Amy Winehouse. And that, along with the bad economy, was the essential problem with the venture.

Monday, January 5, 2009


One of the nice things about this recession is it allows people to gloat. All the brag-inskies got their come-upance and many of life's ne'er do wells can feel good. That is if they can hold onto their jobs.

Mr. Brag-insky lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in the stock market. Mr. Ne'er do well could never afford to buy stocks so he lost nothing. Mr. Brag-insky ran out and bought a Prius to save money on gas. Mr. Ne'er do well is holding onto his old gass guzzler and paying $1.33 a gallon for gas. Mr. Brag-inski bought a house that was more than he could afford thinking he'd make a fortune when he sold it. Mr. Ne'er do well is still renting and so lost nothing when real estate values plummeted. Gloatiing can be fun.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Hard Times

And so with a new year, a new blog. A blog about the hard times that we are going through. Christmas is over. From now on, it's hard times. This blog will dwell on the present more than the past although the past will inevitably creep in. Now that I own a camcorder, more videos might find their way to the blog. Yes I will use the passive voice. But with authority. Happy New Years! Welcome to Hard Times.