Anhydrous Wit

Are you pondering what I'm pondering?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Babies & other Hazards of Sex

Since I mentioned a precursor to sex in my last post, why not also mention one of the consequences?

While eating lunch at a restaurant today, my mom had her first encounter with a woman breastfeeding her baby in public. I told her it's now socially acceptable in the U.S.A., as long as the, ahem, "object" is properly covered. It was, more or less, according to my mom.

I think just the act occurring in public was a shock to my mom, and she breastfed three children. I used to have a friend who once fed her child in a restaurant, while I was at the table next to her. My friend excused herself, went to the ladies' room to "connect" as it were and, discreetly covered by a blanket, continued our conversation at the table. When her child was finished, she returned to the restroom to "disengage".

It probably wouldn't have disturbed my mom if the patron today had acted similarly, but this woman all but whipped it out in public. I wondered if my mom (or other women) merely scheduled their trips out of the house around feeding times. My mom said there probably wasn't a place to sit in the restroom, since we know how tiny they are at this establishment. (So that's why there are sofas in ladies' rooms!)

My mom then pondered what my brothers (who were seven and nine at the time) thought when they saw her breastfeeding me. That is something I'd as soon not know, thank you very much.

Truth in Advertising

Tonight, I saw a commercial for an auto dealer that sells minivans and SUV's. It portrayed a mother who found her teenage son and his girlfriend making out in the family car. "You said not the backseat, Mom. This isn't the back seat. The back seat's over there."


That's what you get for buying your car from Beaver Toyota.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Maybe I can convince myself it's summer vacation.

We got the letter this week. "Dear John...." Oops, wrong letter -- but it still reads the same way. Our contract will not be extended. We need to find new jobs as of July 1.

I've started looking, but there aren't many options available for horticulturists in this economy, let alone any in Las Cruces. I could go elsewhere within the company. I could look for other jobs in the area. I could move in with my mom again. I could sell my condo. I could live with my mom and keep up the mortgage on my condo. I could work in another city, keep up the mortgage on my condo, and fly to my mom every so often. The possibilities are endless! (I'm trying to convince myself to think positively. Does it work for you?)

In the meantime, I'm already looking at ways of saving money. That's right, me, the guy who already buys store-brand everything and stocks up only when items are on sale. What else can I cut out? Sorry to say, my snack foods are on that list. (On the brighter side, I should be able to lose weight quickly once there's no food in my kitchen!) I came up with a rhyme like the, "No more classroom, no more books, no more teacher's dirty looks," from our childhood.

No more ice cream.
No more chips.
No more sodas twixt my lips.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

I'm not a doctor, but I play one in real life.

Over the course of 24 hours, I have diagnosed myself.

It started yesterday morning, when I realized that I'm not tired; I'm lethargic. My sleep patterns are within the "normal" range for me. However, I'm listless and lack the motivation to do anything.

Last night, I overate. This is a symptom of a depression-like state for me. (I think this dates back to my first grandmother's funeral and wake, because we Polacks celebrate our life events with food, but I'll leave Freud and childhood out of this.) Even though I had a complete dinner, and even though I knew it was wrong, I still had an apple and far too many Cheez-It's while sitting on the sofa, watching one of my Animaniacs DVD's. (But I had an apple!)

By the time I was preparing for bed, I had realized that I need to do something. I won't go to counseling because, based on my past experience, all the talking in the world won't solve my problems. Only taking action for myself will solve my problems, so why should I waste my money? The key is convincing myself to put that box of Cheez-It's back on the shelf -- and not to buy another one in the future, even if it's on sale. (But I still may have an apple.)

Also last night, I had trouble falling asleep. It wasn't just that I was thinking about work. Specifically, I was telling off Sub for everything I think he's doing wrong. (By "wrong", I don't mean he's making silly mistakes. I mean he's not following company or client policies, and he's taking actions without informing those of us who have to work with him, so we end up cleaning up messes that could have been prevented if he had sought counsel beforehand.)

This morning, it all fit together in my mind. I formed a diagnosis. I'm not depressed; I'm stressed. I've been overeating as a response to my displeasure with work. So, physician, it's time to heal thyself. What's your prescription?

First off, pills are right out. I refuse to shell out money for something that I might end up "needing" for years, even if they're not addictive. Second, it's a psychological problem, not a psychiatric one, so medicine wouldn't help in this case anyway.

Obviously, a change at work would be the most effective solution. I could always quit my job. That has the double benefit of eliminating my source of stress and cutting out the income that allows me to buy ice cream and snack foods. Unfortunately, it also has some really nasty side effects, such as loss of income, depletion of savings, and mental stress for other reasons.

Surely, there's a prescription out there that will help me.

Curses, foiled again!

I went back to the grocery store last night. I wandered the entire store twice to find the leftover Valentine candy before I finally asked for help. (The same manager was on last night's closing shift as on Sunday's opening shift. What kind of insane schedule do they have him on?) The table was not at the doors, as they said. It was off to the side, tucked into a little alcove made by a special display of sale items, with an access point so narrow that a wheelchair couldn't fit into it. (Not that I use one, but it would be nice if they made it so all customers could get to their products.)

Moreover, one couldn't actually tell that it was a table of leftover Valentine candy because all one could see was two huge, stuffed bears (I didn't hold them up against me for comparison, but they must have been three feet tall) atop the table, obscuring everything under them (including the table).

Worst of all, all that was left was dozens of bags of those little, hard, sweet but flavorless candy hearts with messages on them. Oh, and three or four boxes of Pirates of the Caribbean classroom Valentines.

No chocolate, and candy not worth the 50%-off rocks they're chipped out of. At least I got the bananas I needed.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Suburban Squint

At least, that's what it's called in the Philadelphia area, where commuters from the western suburbs drove into the city, facing the sun, in the morning -- then again when they went home at night. My dad was lucky; we lived east of Camden, so he never drove into the sun to get to/from work. Well, not until the division he was in moved to Voorhees.

On Wednesday, Gym Rat told me about a new pizza place near the gym, and he was amazed that I didn't even know buildings had been constructed there. "I never drive that way. How should I know?" was my defense. So, after my workout, I headed down that street to see where the place is located. I didn't see it. In fact, I didn't see any buildings. It was all I could do to see where the road was supposed to be and any cars, which were more-or-less less blindingly bright than the sun.

This time of year, I leave the gym just before sunset, and with no trees (in the desert?) nor tall buildings (in Las Cruces?) to block it, the setting sun is right in my face. It's not "suburban squint" so much as it is "suburban yeow-that's-bright!"

Yes, thank you, I know that my car has sun visors, but I can't use them. Well, I can use them, but then I couldn't see through the windshield. Yes, I am that tall. In fact, the rear view mirror, helpful though it may be, blocks a third of my view out the right side of my windshield. I have to duck my head and look under it to see if there are any cars to my right. (That's a lesson you only need once!)

It's probably better off for me to hang out at the gym until sunset, so I'm not a hazard on the road. It's probably better that everyone in town does the same -- well, not at the gym, because it's not big enough to hold everyone in town...

Monday, February 16, 2009

At least when God closes a door, He opens a window.

I overused my legs this weekend, and it was only partly intentional.

I ended up working late on Friday -- late enough that I had to skip the gym before my cheeseburger, but early enough to get in a half-hour ride on my exercise bike before Monk and Psych started.

I did my usual 1.25-hour walk Saturday morning, made myself a breakfast burrito, then went to the gym (weights and another half-hour on a bike) to make up for missing the day before. By this time, my legs were thinking about feeling sore.

I decided, for my late lunch, to try the relatively new (open a few months) barbecue place that's just a bit past the library. (I had walked the equivalent of there and back nearly four times already that day, so what's one more?) The big "Closed" sign out front started to tick me off. "Aren't restaurants ever open in this town?" I asked myself aloud. (Really, are these people so well-off that they can afford to be open when they want to, rather than when potential customers are hungry? This is the third place I know of with very limited seating hours.) The hours posted on the door said they are open from 11 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. I checked my cell phone for the time; it was 1:59 p.m.

Okay, where to go next? What, indeed, was nearby? I wasn't sure if Day's was still open (and I had eaten there the night before), and I knew the new pizza-like place also closed at 2:00, so I decided on Roberto's. That was a walk uphill, with a detour around the new federal courthouse construction site that had eaten up the sidewalk and part of the road -- and another detour on the other side for the same reason. When I got to Roberto's, the parking lot was so empty (much like my stomach), I was afraid they were closed, too. Thankfully, they weren't, so I was able to satisfy a whit of my frustration. At least I could point out to my legs that the walk back home was downhill, but that didn't stop them from grumbling.

Sunday morning, I did only half my usual walk then walked to the grocery store to compensate for the second half. As I approached the supermarket through the parking lot, I observed that the sign for the new dollar store next door wasn't centered on the wall. I then noticed that there was a for-lease sign in the window to one side of the store. It appeared that the store took up only part of the previous tenant's space. I then wondered how the rest of the space could be accessed and used. I presume that they put up a wall inside to block off the area needed by the store, but there wasn't a new door added through the outside wall or window area for the smaller space. (Insert post title here.)

Upon entering the store, the first thing I needed was bread. It's next to the produce section. I always go to that aisle first to get my salad, bananas, oranges, and/or bread then work my way east through the rest of the store. All I saw was a wall of juice. "Excuse me," I said to the manager, who just happened to be walking by, "where did you move the bread?" (After years of items in the same aisles, indeed after my visit just the previous week, they decided to rearrange everything?) So, I went to aisle 12. (Since it was adjacent to the lunchmeat case, it was oddly appropriate to see the hot dog buns across from the hot dogs.)

Then I went back to get mustard, which is still in its usual aisle with mayonnaise, ketchup, and salad dressings. (Why on earth do they put mustard and mayo on the bottom shelf, so I have to squat down to reach it, but ketchup, which I eat once in a blue moon, is on the upper four shelves, spread halfway down the aisle?) Incidentally, the chips and pretzels are now in this aisle, rather than with the sodas. (I didn't go look to see what was put in their place.)

Valentine's Day candy (and other "seasonal" stuff) should have been where the bread is now, so by the time I found it (can't remember where; I was lost by this point), it had been replaced by Easter candy. (Had I been in the store that long?)

I went to where the manager and an employee were dismantling the Valentine's floral/balloon display and asked where the discounted candy was. (Yeah, it makes me sound cheap, but I was too frustrated by this point to bother with polite euphemisms.) He called over to the asst. mgr. at the service desk, who told him that the employee who will mark down the candy won't be in until 7 a.m. Seven? You expect me to wait until seven? I want my freakin' 50% off candy now, darnit!

Ahem. Sorry.

I was forced to use the electronic-self-checkout-from-Hell lane, since they don't find the number of customers at that hour worth posting an actual cashier. (Actually, I used the second electronic-self-checkout-from-Hell lane, since the first one had plastic bags over the scanner and display, but they didn't bother to turn off the light which indicates the lane is open for service.) Then I had to ask the asst. mgr. for assistance. This store gives a 5-cent discount for every bag you bring in to reuse, and the cashiers know this, but the automated scanners don't, and I'll be darned if I'm going to give up my 10 cents off. Then I had to ask her for help again because the automated change and receipt machine isn't set up for their promotional game pieces, and she had to unlock the spare cash drawer to get them.

As I walked out the door, I wondered if they were glaring daggers at my back for being irritating and needy. I pondered if they had voted me Annoying Customer of the Day -- and they hadn't been open for an hour yet.

I still have to go back for my discounted candy. I wonder if they'll have any left tomorrow afternoon, when I stop by after work for fresh bananas.

Friday, February 13, 2009

You are a lamp unto my feet.

We're in a recession. The economy is tanking. You need to spend more money to be patriotic and save the country. (Or so the media and government would have you believe.)

The government is doing its part. Postage prices are rising again. (As before, I inform you as a public service, since these things never get announced to the public any more.) Here's the entire text of the e-mail from NMSU's director of mail services.

Here is the update on the prices that will go up on May 11, 2009. Please go to the first link to view the pricechanges, and if you cannot access the hyperlink from this email, please cut and paste the link into your internet browser. Page 10 of the ratefold lists the new prices for FC letter mail.

As a reminder, the USPS will be closed on February 16, 2009 on the Federal observed holiday of President’s Day. There will be no delivery nor will mail be available for pickup.

DMM Advisory
Pricing and Classification — keeping you informed about the prices and mailing standards of the United States Postal Service

May 11 Pricing Change

We have tools at to help you prepare for the May 11 mailing services pricing change. You will find many helpful materials, including the updated Price List with new prices for First-Class Mail, Standard Mail, Periodicals, Package Services, and Special Services. We’ve also posted our Federal Register notices, and downloadable price files will be available soon. We’ll use the DMM Advisory to keep you updated.

The Domestic Mail Manual (DMM) is available on Postal Explorer ( To subscribe to the DMM Advisory, send an e-mail to Simply indicate "subscribe" in the subject line.

Remember, the more e-mail you send, the fewer stamps you buy, which means everyone else has to bear the fuel costs through higher stamp prices. Help keep prices low -- send a letter today!

Would Smurf porn be considered a blue movie?

My daily recycling e-mail mentioned an MRF, which stands for a Materials Recycling Facility. In the World According to Ob, it's pronounced "murf". Ob seems to get a kick out of talking about "dirty MRF's".

Putting aside my distaste for all things Ob, "dirty murf" sounds to me like a pet name for someone in the bedroom.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Back in the Saddle Again

New Thing Two's last day was yesterday -- a week after she started. It turns out she had been looking for a full-time job but didn't bother to tell us. Now it's back down to Thing One, Tweety, and I to try to get everything done in as close to a 40-hour week as possible. Oh. Yeah. Right.

Monday, February 09, 2009

I'm a cheap date... but an expensive drunk.

I ate at The Game this past weekend. (This isn't an official restaurant review, but the pecan-encrusted green chile strips are superb.) One appetizer, one sandwich entree (w/French fries), and one bottomless soda totaled nearly $20, including tax. I'm too used to eating at my every-Friday-night burger joint (single burger, French fries, and soda) for just $7.19. If I ever date someone, they're going to be disappointed with me after a while, when I stop trying to impress them and start paying attention to my bank account.

On the other hand, if you want to get me drunk and take advantage of me, you're going to have to shell out the big bucks for good beer or Scotch.

Friday, February 06, 2009

My subconscious must be telling me something.

Last night was the third time I have forgotten to take my cellular phone home from work. Of course, it doesn't really matter because it's rare for anyone to call me outside of work hours, but normally I'm very good about routine things like that.

When I worked in Alabama, I knew something was wrong with my job the second time I forgot to set my alarm clock. I never forget things like that. Of course, I overslept both days. I couldn't sleep in on the weekends because I'd automatically wake up at the usual time, alarm clock or not, but when I didn't set my alarm....

Thursday, February 05, 2009

I'm a Toys 'R' Us kid.

Do you remember that commercial? Do you remember the line which preceded it in the jingle? "I don't wanna grow up."

I found out a few days ago that my high school class will hold its 20-year reunion this autumn. I don't want to be that old. I can't be that old. When I was in high school, I thought that was old.

I found out last night that one of my aunts died. She can't be that old; she's about the same age as my mom, and she's not old. Is she? Am I really the child of a senior citizen?

I thought of the picture in my mom's family room of my dad's side of the family, from my grandmother down to me. That's the age everyone is imprinted in my mind. My parents, aunts, and uncles always will be in their forties. My brothers and cousins always will be in their teens. (And we all will be thinner than we are now.)

All except for me. I want to go back a few years more, to when I was four. My family went to Walt Disney World. I think that's my favorite year.

Monday, February 02, 2009

A Restaurant Review

This past weekend, I tried Brigid's Cross, a new, Celtic-themed restaurant in (or at least near) Las Cruces. (I say "near" because it was out on the edge of nowhere, and we passed another town's post office on the way there, but Las Cruces's city limits are so strange, we might have ended up back in town.)

My dining companion for the evening was a good friend passing through town. Since the restaurant is new and since it's Celtic-themed and since he has been to Ireland twice and I to Scotland once, I figured we were more than worthy of testing this restaurant -- more than most of the desert rats around here.

We each ordered a beer: a Smithwyck's for him and a Smithwyck's black and tan for me. My friend ordered a half dozen oysters for an appetizer, and I had the French onion soup. (Okay, so now it's a Euro-Celtic themed restaurant.) The oysters were satisfactory, except one of them tasted fishy. (I, as a non-seafood eater, expected this, but I was told that it should not have been so.) The French onion soup was served with diced green onions on top (not standard fare in my extensive, French onion soup rating experience), and the flavor was uneven, tasting sweet in one spoonful and peppery in another. I would rate it satisfactory (certainly not worth going out of your way for), and the melted cheese on top didn't even drip over the rim of the crock, another minor negative in my book. I hope to go back again to sample the Scotch eggs and see if they are worthwhile.

My companion ordered the shepherd's pie. He was delighted to see that it was made with ground lamb instead of ground beef and was very pleased with the flavor. I tried a spoonful and definitely would recommend it.

I, the non-seafood eater, ordered the fish (cod) and chips. Two of the three pieces of fish were rubbery, indicating that they were overcooked, but they were served flaming hot. There was little or no fish flavor. The chips were overcooked (most were browned and dry). I was not given any malt vinegar to dash onto my serving, nor did I ask (most desert rat restaurant staff will go "Huh?" when asked for it). On the right day, I'm sure this entree could be excellent.

For dessert, my friend recommends a pass on the creme brulee. He believed it was encrusted before serving but prepared hours (or more) before, as it was watery on the bottom. My chocolate tart was very unpleasant (it tasted like an ashtray), but we think it was the fault of the chocolate manufacturer for over-roasting the beans, and not the fault of the restaurant. The baseball-sized scoop of vanilla ice cream on top had an average flavor (neither generic nor gourmet) and was crystallized in parts.

I do have one suggestion for the chef: I don't care if you're in Las Cruces and expect average desert rats as your patrons; green chile doesn't belong in Celtic food! (How many cultures can you add before it ceases being a Celtic restaurant?) Overall, the selections on the menu were generally appropriate for the style of restaurant, but the menu itself needs help. There was only one misspelling ("chesse" instead of "cheese"), but the flowery descriptions of the choices sounded strange. (Hint: a "brick" of duck might be accurate, but not appealing.) The beer list was wildly inaccurate, and I suggested that, when it was sent to the printer, perhaps the printer thought "crap brews" was a typo and lumped everything from that category in with the "craft brews".

The service was average for college-town staff but below standard for that expected by typical diners. Our waitress checked on us fairly often, but my soup should have been served at the same time as the oysters, and we waited a long time for the appetizers. (Maybe the kitchen was backed up.) The hostess appeared to not want to be working that evening, but she smiled at other customers. (I guess my friend and I just are not young enough and handsome enough any more.)

The ambience was nice, and considering that the establishment was newly built and not fit into an existing space, they must have spent a packet on the furnishings. The dark-wooded bar was very fitting, and our portion of the restaurant had copper on the ceiling, which might have been real. There is a separate, glass-enclosed room for patrons who wish to smoke (and I saw one of our city councilors in there, enjoying his cigar). The wooden chairs were pleasant enough at first, for their capacity to encourage good posture, but by the end of our meal, I was sliding around, trying to find a position that was comfortable -- or at least not like last week's bicycle seat.

I probably will return at some point, but I will take more money with me. Two beers, two appetizers, two entrees, and two desserts cost $52 plus change. I had just enough in my pocket for my half (Dutch treat, if you will) and my share of the tip. It's definitely not a weekly hang out with your buddies establishment, but it was a pleasant enough place, and I wouldn't mind going back on occasion.


Truth is Stranger than Fiction.

Read this comic. Now let me tell you how close this piece of fiction is to reality.

My first two years at college were at a small university (which I won't link to because I don't want you to assume everyone there is like this). In my sophomore year, I took a music history class to satisfy one of the curriculum requirements. One of my classmates was a divorced woman. Her ex-husband was our professor. He was dating my English professor, the head of her department. She also was my classmate's mother. Yes, the guy was dating his ex-mother-in-law. Now tell me how that comic couldn't possibly be true.