Thursday, July 29, 2010

Dog shifts and automatics

Starting with the first car I ever bought, a 1979 Toyota Corolla and on through my two Ford Escorts, I have always had a manual transmission in my cars. I was a terrible shifter the first two months of the experience but in past years I have become quite good (methinks) at using the clutch. My friends and family have always disputed this fact and long held the belief that I was a terrible shifter. My parents hated when I shifted my car. My female friends have always closed their eyes when I reached for the dreaded gear shift.

Today, partly due to arthritis, I have faced the ravages of time and admitted that I am middle aged. I bought an automatic. I am now like everybody else. Driving is easier, I admit. Still I miss the manual transmission. Shifting is fun, dargon it.
Editor's note: 1999 Ford Escort, manual, in photo.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Batteries to the rescue

One of the nice features of summer in the listening range of WXPN Philadelphia is that for three days you can hear the live music festival from the waterfront park in Camden. You get to hear bands with names like Big Head Todd and the Monsters. Unlike the people hearing the show live you don't have to bake in 90 degree weather. I'll leave that pleasure to the young.

Saturday night, the Felice Brothers ended the evening. Minutes before they were scheduled to go on, my place was struck by a power failure. Being an old Boy Scout, you might think I had boxes of batteries and radios and flashlights but well, I wasn't that prepared. I fumbled around in the dark like most civilians. Finally, I remembered an old Radio Shack radio I had and good lord willing, it might have functioning batteries. It did.

It was a great live performance. Adding to it was the sense of adventure of listening to the band in the dark on a crummy radio.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Hamas bans smoking water pipes for women

This story struck my eye this morning. The theory is that women smoking water pipes in cafes leads to them divorcing their husbands. Which I can see. Many of the women I smoked water pipes with at college ended up becoming divorcees.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Leaving ala 2010

LeBron has created a new art form. The resignation video.

This new form will inevitably be repeated by normal people not in sports. Instead of a terse letter to a landlord or a boss or a wife, people will now issue videos.

Say you are vacating an apartment. Instead of a terse letter to a landlord, people will now make videos. It will start with a history of the life of the apartment, a moving in video, videos of the renter socializing with neighbors, sitting on the couch, followed by interviews of neighbors explaining what a great tenant he was. Then the video will conclude with a question and answer session. The tenant will speak of himself in the third person. He will speak of the many happy years he spent in the apartment and will then talk about seeking new opportunities, an easier commute, a roach free kitchen. Perhaps the tenant will speak of the desire to make toast and coffee in the morning at the same time without worrying about blowing a fuse.

Leaving a job will no longer mean a letter of resignation. Instead you will give your boss a documentary of your life as a trusted employee, ending with a question and answer session where you'll talk about how Joe Smith is seeking new opportunities and desires to spend more time with his cat.

A surprised wife will have to watch a forty five minute video complete with wedding pictures, the trip to Vegas and cuddling on the couch. Then the inevitable question and answer question where friends will shout out questions and the husband will give a tearful response and tell how he is moving on to other people and friends but will always have fond memories of his wife.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Lousy jobs

There is an old country song that goes, "the girls always get prettier at closing time". This can also be said to be true for people who desperately need a job. An article in the Times opinionates on how even having a lousy job is better than no job at all. According to the piece, even a crappy job presents the recent graduate a valuable learning experience.

I graduated into a lousy job market in 1974 with a BA degree in English. I finally landed a job selling hot dogs at Two Guys on Route 4 by concealing my degree. I did learn a lot at that job.

The most useful thing I learned is how to steal money. The secret is not to be greedy and make your pilferings moderate. You wait for the hurried customer who rushes away after giving you exact change. You give him his hot dog but you don't ring it up on the register. Then you discreetly pocket the money. This information is invaluable later on if you find yourself supervising clerks in an environment where money changes hands.

I also worked for temporary agencies. Here some of the jobs were okay and some were pretty awful. The worst jobs are the ones where you show up at the agency (I fondly remember Handy Andy in Hackensack) for the early morning shape-up. Nobody feels more miserable than a hung over 21 year old college graduate sitting in a hard chair waiting to be put on a crew.

Finally I found a job courtesy of family connections through CETA. Family connections are the deux ex machina of modern life.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


The past two days I have been wearing corduroy pants to work. They make that swishing sound wherever I go. You are never lonely when you wear coruroy trousers. That swishing ghost is always with you.