Sunday, January 31, 2010

Hamilton Square

Recently I was walking through Hamilton Square. The Chrysler dealership was gone. The Chevrolet dealership had died. The Blockbuster was closed. The recession has come to Hamilton Square.
Editor's note: The bar where people bring their dogs was still there.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Hanging out in bars

I was leafing through the catalog of a community college last week and the thought occurred to me that one course that they didn't have was one on the art of hanging out in bars. I have been researching the subject and have come up with the outline of a ten week course on the subject.

Week 1: Choosing a bar
This week we will talk about the fundamentals in choosing a bar. Location (on the way home from work is ideal). Prices (Low enough to be affordable and high enough to keep out the rif raff.)

Type of beer available. Type of food available. Specials. Attractiveness of the staff and clientele.

Week 2: Having chosen a bar, this week will examine the rudiments of becoming a regular in a bar. Where to sit. What to order. How to find out the bartender's names.

Week 3: Buy backs and bar ettiquette. When to buy someone a beer. When someone should buy you a beer. Tipping. How to determine when you are not wanted at a bar. The art of getting into a football pool. Darts and billiards dos and don'ts.

Week 4: Surprisingly, women are often found in bars. When you can approach them. How to talk to them. When to avoid them.

Week 5: The rudiments of computers and automobile mechanics. Bar talk is not all sports. A good bar patron can discuss computer problems, cell phone features, fuel pumps, and drive shafts.

Week 6: The fundamentals of construction. A bar patron should be able to know how to use terms like drywall, sheet rock, as well as general terms used in plumbing, electrical work and boilers. These topics come up in most bars and you should be able to join in the conversation.

Week 7: Travel and casinos. A good bar patron has been to Las Vegas, Atlantic City, racinos and Indian casinos. Florida also comes up a lot in most bars. You should go to these places and spend a few dollars.

Week 8: Legal aspects of drinking, driving, and smoking will be discussed.

Week 9: Commenting on the game. This week we will discuss ways to keep up to date on the controversies and strategies in sports. We will discuss when it is appropriate and not appropriate to comment on a game.

Week 10: For the final week we will go to a couple of bars and test our theories.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Changing toner

In the working world, toner is one of those items that separate the sheep from the goats. Sheep complain about the printer or the copying machine when the pages are too light or they get an error message about toner. Goats get the job of replacing the toner.

"Oh *%^()&%!!" your boss or co-worker exclaims. I'm out of toner! Oh I wish somebody would do something."
The goat walks into the office, a smile on his face. He has just finished his sandwich and has five minutes left on his lunch hour. "&%*(&#&%" he says to himself. "Oh You want me to change the toner". If he is lucky there is extra toner in the supply cabinet. If he is unlucky there is no toner in house. Then he has to make phone calls, perhaps fill out an order request.

"But what am I supposed to do in the meantime?" he is asked.

"&*&^%%& why did you wait until we are out" the goat says if the employee is not above him on the food chain. If the complainer is higher than him on the food chain the goat is pleasant and reassures the complainer that it won't be long until we have our toner.
Five days later, two minutes before the end of the workday on Friday afternoon, the toner arrives. The goat can't wait until Monday because he is at a meeting all day so he stays late to put toner in the machine.

There is an art to installing toner. Too light a touch and the thing won't go in right. Too heavy a touch and the thing will get bent. Then there is the matter of recycling the toner. Sometimes the unscrupulous goat will pocket the old toner to get a discount at Staples.

Ever since I have collected a W2 form I have put toner of one type or another in a machine. I have put toner in photocopy machines, microfilm machines, computer printers and scanners. I always end up with black on my hands, my shirt, my tie, my trousers. Luckily if you act quickly you can get most of the toner off.

Toner installed, now is the test run. Some machines insist on doing a printer allignment check. Finally you get a decent copy and you can go home. Perhaps to a nice dinner of curried lamb.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Yemen and the rule of three

The schoolteacher gets a request from a student for a special favor. She grudgingly says yes. She gets a second request from a different student. She says yes again. The third student asks for something. Now the teacher gives a firm no.

The supervisor gets a request from an employee to have Valentine's day off. The answer is yes. The second employee asks to have the same day off. The supervisor grudgingly says yes. The third employee has to work Valentine's day, even if his wife is having her liver removed.

It is the rule of three. The third person to ask to borrow money will always get turned down. The third problem in your house will always be deferred. The third son has to pay for his own college education.

Hence the problem with Yemen. We sent troops to Afghanistan. We sent troops to Iraq. America is overextended now and Yemen will be ignored. We have no more money and no more troops to deal with any more problems. It's the rule of three.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Vegetable identification

One of my favorite activities is going to the supermercado. Back in the fifties men were not permitted in such places. It was a place for your wife and sister to go while you, if unmarried, were supposed to be confined to dinner at the diner while receiving dinner invitations from the lucky women you had in your life. Then it became acceptable for men to shop for food and even cook.

I love going to such places and it always is the high spot of my Saturday morning. Checking my own groceries is a special pleasure. Still my regular supermercado is entirely dependent on the old fashioned check-out lines.

An experienced shopper, I have learned over the years how to guess the shortest line. I have also discovered that if you put your food in a basket, you can give the impression that you have under twelve items when in reality you do not.

If I was to train staff at the check out line, however, I would add a class in vegetable identification. If I buy any vegetable beyond carrots I always have to tell the checker what the item is. Fennel or anise they never know. Yesterday I had to tell the (what should I call her? girl seems natural but is sexist, lady is cute but also sexist, woman seems so sterile) female individual at the cash register that I had a turnip.

"Is that a white turnip?", she queried.

"Yes" (I looked at the turnip and it was white. I also figured white turnip sounded plain enough to be cheaper than something with a more exotic name) "It is a white turnip."

I guess training emphasizes the intricacies of the cash register and management assumes that women are taught by their mothers the difference between a white onion and a Spanish one. Apparently not true.

I also notice that the workers at the checkout lane always use more bags than I do when I bag groceries myself. Perhaps she is trying to save time. Enough about the supermarket already.