Anhydrous Wit

Are you pondering what I'm pondering?

Monday, November 30, 2009

Better than Leftovers

My friend Betty occasionally posts "random" links on her blog. I haven't seen these two yet, but I'm guessing it's because she has more refined tastes than the people I met at a party this weekend.

Whatever Martha - a TV show co-hosted by Martha Stewart's daughter, in which she MST3K's old episodes of her mom's show. It sounds almost like a reason to subscribe to cable TV.

People of Wal-Mart - a site loaded with photos of actual Wal-Mart customers (photographed without their permission, most likely). Yet another reason not to shop there.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.

One of my employees has called me an Egyptian more than once. He claims he feels like a Hebrew and I’m flogging him with a cat o’ nine tails. (I think he likes it, though, so I half expect him to give me one as a Christmas present.)

Today, I grabbed a rake and helped the guys with the leaves. I was bored just standing around watching them. Quite frankly, I think Skippy’s (my boss) rule that I should be on the grounds with my crew “most of the day” is a waste of time. Most days, they didn’t have any extra rakes, so what good was it for me to be there, watching them? I mean, if I’m going to be paid for doing nothing, at least I could be in my office, playing pinball on my computer.

And, yes, the song “Walk like an Egyptian” always gets stuck in my head when the employee calls me that.

Poor Sports

Because the restaurant I wanted to go to last night decided to close early during this week, I tried a sports bar on the same road. In fact, I tried two sports bars, less than a block apart, on the same road.

The first thing I noticed about Christy's was that the patrons don't give a darn about parking in an orderly fashion. The second thing I noticed was that it's a bar. With few tables. With nobody there but black men smoking. Okay, I'd gotten that far without being killed, so why not order dinner? Because the woman who cooks didn't come in to work, that's why. "Have you eaten here before?" the bartender politely asks, as if he gets 6'3" white customers all the time. "No," I replied. "Well you should, it's really good," he replies. Yeah, thanks, but that doesn't help me now.

Okay, on to plan C: Playoffs. Again, it was a bar with few tables. Both white and black men were smoking at the bar. Country music played on the jukebox. There was only one TV. (I guess, since nothing else exists but University of Tennessee and Tennessee Titans football games, who needs more than one TV?) However, they did serve food, and there was one table with enough light to let me read my book, and, after about five minutes, I could focus on the book rather than the green, laser dots swirling around the place.

I don't know about your experiences with sports bars, but I'm accustomed to Spectators in Albuquerque and one (which seemed like a franchise) in another city. You walk in, and the first thing you notice (after your eyes adjust to the darkness) is lots of tables and lots of TV's, all tuned to different versions of ESPN. Then a hostess greets you, seats you, and gives you multi-page menus with lots of calorie- and cholesterol-laden food. Then you drink and eat to your heart's discontent.

When I walk into a bar, I expect alcohol. When I walk into a sports bar, I expect TV's, food, and alcohol. Maybe they do it differently in The Noog.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I hang around people fatter than me.

That's more (see also 11/11/09, "Garfield Was Right.") sage advice from the comic strip cat. Or, if you prefer Rodney Dangerfield, take Thornton Melon's advice from the movie Back to School.

"Lou, do I look fat?"
"You could lose a few pounds."
"I need to get bigger actors."

Later this week is my 20-year high school reunion, and I'm not going. I went to my 10-year reunion, and I was glad to see other men also losing their hair or starting to go gray early (but not both like me, alas!). I couldn't work up any enthusiasm to go to this reunion, though -- even if I could walk around and see how much weight everyone else has put on.

The only reason I could think of for attending would be to flaunt that, as of last Friday's official weigh-in, I am at 192 pounds, just three pounds heavier than my high school weight. Then, when you consider the muscle mass I've put on, I must be thinner than I was 20 years ago.

If I haven't mentioned it before, I carry my weight differently than most men. Guys typically develop bellies that hang over their belts. I, however, carry my weight lower: around my hips (a polite way of saying my belly is lower and I have a huge rear end). I noticed, while sitting on the sofa last night, that the fat I do carry above my waist is almost gone, but lower down isn't disappearing as fast. (I look totally awesome lying on my back.)

Yeah, looking down on my rotund, former classmates and thinking, "You wish you could have some of this," isn't a good enough reason to go to the reunion.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Save a bundle.

I'm in the process of selecting a television provider (yes, I have lived without TV for nearly five months, and it doesn't bother me a bit) and an internet provider. I checked what is offered by the phone company, the cable TV company, two satellite TV companies, and the local utility (which just installed fiber-optic service in my neighborhood).

It's tough to make any direct comparisons (especially price for a particular level of service) because the choices aren't identical. Then they tout that I will save money if I order more than one type of service from them ("bundling"). That's only true for certain packages.

First off, the "savings" are that the price for TV (for example) will be lowered if I also buy internet or telephone or both from that company, kind of like a "value meal" at a fast-food chain, which is less expensive than ordering each item separately. It doesn't mean they are cheaper than a competitor. If I go that route (which I will), the least I'll pay is phone from Company A, TV from Company B, and internet from Company C.

Second, the "savings" become greater the more you order. Sure, I could save $60 a month if I buy the options with all the bells and whistles, but I don't want to ring any bells or blow any whistles. (In this example, it's like the double cheeseburger value meal is cheaper than a double cheeseburger, large fries, and sugary drink ordered separately, but what I want for dinner is the single cheeseburger, smaller side of fries, and water.) I'll save more than that amount by not choosing that option in the first place.

I'm going to stick with my current telephone provider and go with the cheapest TV package. My only dithering point is for internet. For equal service (15 Mbps download speed), do I go with the cable TV company (which I dislike and which will not be my TV provider), or do I go with the fiber-optic service (which is more expensive)? There's a price difference (fiber-optic is more expensive), but will it be outweighed by my opinion of the one provider or the future of the two different technologies used?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Deplane, deplane!

I usually take no notice of the plane that always passes overhead when I'm walking laps in the morning. However, today I imagined that one of the passengers, a businessman, suddenly had an epiphany that this (whatever it is) isn't what he wants to do for the rest of his life.

"It's frickin' 5 a.m., and I'm about to land in Chattanooga, Tennessee. What the H-E-double hockey sticks am I doing here?"

Mind you, it's probably better that you decide to take your job and shove it in the airport terminal. I mean, if you refuse to get off the plane and do your job, you might get tossed in federal prison with suspected terrorists, and that's more of a life change than you anticipated.

How was your day, dear?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

So high tea is out then?

When new mats were installed in the wrestling room this autumn, a sign was posted on the door. "Absolutely no food or drink allowed. Demerits will be given if you are caught. Thank you." Naturally, I have issues with this warning.

No drink whatsoever, not even water? What do the wrestlers do when they get thirsty from practice? Do they go outside for water, or do they just pass out on the new mats?

Demerits? I'm a staff member; do I get demerits? Does this mean only students aren't allowed to have food or drink in the room?

Aha. They put the big "if" in there. They just told me it's okay to serve a twelve-course meal in the room, as long as no one catches me.

At least they said thank you.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Ever the Rebel

Every so often, I tire of people telling me to do things. For example, Microsoft wants me to press CTRL-ALT-DELETE every time I start up my computer. I don't, though. I found a way around that. Ha!

I press ALT-CTRL-DELETE instead. Or, I press the three keys simultaneously. It still works. Take that, Microsoft!

Interestingly enough, DELETE-CTRL-ALT and DELETE-ALT-CTRL don't work.

Friday, November 13, 2009

"The South Butt" probably didn't do very well in marketing tests.

I'm probably way behind the curve on this, but I've never followed popular culture too closely, so pardon me for stating what might be obvious to you. I've noticed clothing trends on campus. This happened back when I was in high school (anybody else remember Coca-Cola brand shirts?), but I don't think so many public school teenagers became fashion clones as they do at this private school.

First off, I see labels and tags for a brand called Under Armour. It has nothing to do with hot dogs, and since they make caps and jackets and gloves and expensive sunglasses as well, they are a poorly named company (although they do sell underwear). Still, they're expensive and fashionable, so all the boys must wear something by them.

Second, and this has just happened over the past few weeks, when the temperatures started falling, everyone but me seems to be wearing a jacket from The North Face. The web site's home page says they offer, "technically advanced, innovative apparel, footwear, and gear that inspires athletes to Never Stop Exploring." I don't know about athletes, but every advantaged kid has been inspired to buy something from them. It's akin to all those SUV's you see driven by soccer moms or yuppies drinking Starbucks and not by people who actually go off-roading.

If these trends are new to you, as well, I'll keep an eye out. Anything else I need to know, I'll just look at the students and pass them along to you.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Garfield was right.

Since Friday, two guys have started showing up at the weight room just at the end of my workout. They put on an exercise DVD with some thin, muscular guy, and start exercising. They keep the sound off, so I don't have to hear some chipper schmuck tell me to lift my knees higher or "feel the burn".

I'm a morning person. I get up early and get things done. However, I respect the feelings of everyone who is a night owl, so I don't put on a phony smile and try to cheer them up first thing in the morning. (Not only is that not my nature, I also prefer avoiding grievous bodily harm.)

As Garfield once said, "It's easy to be cheerful in the morning when you're pre-recorded."

Monday, November 09, 2009

The Maul

After three weekends of adventure, I decided to stick close to The Noog this weekend. The only time I went out was on Saturday, when I rode with a bus full of students (mostly freshmen) to the Hamilton Place Mall. Beware.

It was only November 7, and the mall was already decorated for Christmas, carols were playing, and Santa Claus and the Salvation Army were there already. (Since I want you to come back and read me again in the future, I will spare you from knowing which Christmas song is stuck in my head, lest it become stuck in yours, too.)

It's kind of nice that the school runs a bus every Saturday to take its boarding students (and staff) to the mall, the local movie theater, and Wal-Mart. (Yes, even kids whose parents can afford to send them to boarding school shop at Wal-Mart.) That means I can still make my monthly trek for protein bars from GNC, but I don't have to deal with parking -- especially if I go back next month. (There are other locations in or around The Noog, so I might skip the mall location altogether in December.)

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Uphill Both Ways

I think I've figured it out. You know, when the old man tells the spoiled child that, when he was his/her age, he had to walk uphill, both ways, in the snow, to get to school? He doesn't tell the child the whole truth. He never says that it's uphill the entire way. That's because it isn't.

I walk uphill both ways to and from work each day. In the morning, I walk uphill a couple of blocks, across a block, then downhill two blocks. I end up at a lower elevation than my apartment. In the afternoon, I walk up then over then up some more. I walk uphill both ways, too.

I just hope it snows as rarely here as they say it does.

Monday, November 02, 2009

The devil went down to Georgia...

...but I didn't see him there. Or does that mean I'm the devil? I couldn't tell you, since I didn't look into any mirrors or particularly reflective windows on Saturday, but it was Halloween, after all, so you never know.

Yes, I visited Georgia on the weekend, yet again. It's not that I have a particular compunction to see the place. This time, it's where the train took me. I took the Autumn Leaf Special down to Chickamauga (the town named for the Civil War battle).

Excursions like this are sponsored by the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum. I chose this particular weekend for my trip using a highly logical method. The house where I grew up had a Sugar Maple tree in the front yard. Every year, at Halloween, my mom would make me rake its leaves off the sidewalk. "But, Mom," I complained, "kids like shuffling through the leaves." Her point, however, was that someone might slip and fall and get hurt and then his/her parents might sue us. (And this was in the 1970's, before the U.S. got lawsuit-happy.) Ergo, if the maple tree in NJ turned pretty colors around Halloween, then the trees in TN, farther south, wouldn't turn color until at least that weekend. Given that this autumn has been colder than average, according to my coworkers, I was spot on for the date.

The trip wasn't as pretty as I would have liked, since the railroad tracks were lined with naturalized Privet shrubs (which are evergreen), and the trees along the tracks were pretty good at obscuring the view of anything more than 10 to 20 feet away. There were some spectacular individual trees, though.

It was also the slowest train I've ever been on. We departed the station, on time, at 9:30 a.m. We passed a part of The Noog I remember driving through once. After a while, we passed a part of The Noog a couple of miles from my house. After a while, we passed a part of The Noog I drive through every Friday on my way to and from my weekly cheesesteak (and discovered that those railroad tracks I cross over aren't abandoned after all). After a while, we passed a hardware store where I once got some supplies for work. I finally looked at my watch. It was little more than an hour and a half since we left the station, and we had just reached the city limits! No, the city is not that large.

I had no seatmate for the trip, so when the train made occasional stops (to allow a crewman to get off the train and run up to the crossing to signal for cars to stop, since they don't have the budget to fix crossing signals as rapidly as they'd like to), I entertained myself with a book. I had no seatmates in the dining car, either - for a while, anyway - and I was wishing I had brought the book from my seat. It turns out that the mismatched couple (short woman of Oriental extraction and tall, Anglo cowboy with leg braces and crutches) sitting in front of me in the coach car joined me after I had finished my tropical fruit salad. "Those who are late do not get fruit cup." (Can you guess from which movie that line is?) I mentioned that my friend Gimpy has cerebral palsy and walks with crutches, so we ended up discussing how the cowboy boarded the train, and how the modified steps that the railroad thinks are more accessible because the risers are shorter actually are next to impossible for the cowboy and Gimpy to use because they have no hand rails. We assumed that, since the railroad can't afford to fix all its crossing signals, then they weren't about to retrofit historic train cars with wheelchair lifts.

The lunch was nice: beef (I think) vegetable soup (heavy on the tomatoes, with nearly no distinguishable meat whatsoever), smoked turkey and Swiss on a croissant, cole slaw, crinkled potato chips, and a slice of devil's food cake for dessert. Was it worth $20? Maybe, for the experience of trying to eat soup on a moving train. However, if you come visit, I'll say let's save our 20 bucks apiece and try out the pizza place in the middle of the quaint, touristy, gewgaw shops in Chickamauga.

On the return trip, the train stopped at the Chickamauga Battlefield, where passengers could disembark and either climb a tower to look out over grass and trees or listen to some shmoe in a replica Confederate uniform drone on about the battle. Yes, you guessed correctly; I stayed aboard the train with my book.

The trip was nice, even though I wanted the train to move faster. I figured it out, though. The longer they took, the cheaper it was per hour, so I got my money's worth.