My tagline, let me show you it.

Black Knight Of The Highway

I had an incident a couple of years ago where I was involved in a collision on the highway.  I was going full highway speed and got rear-ended by someone going much faster.  This morning, I had another collision, with slightly different circumstances.

I’m doing my usual morning commute to work and just about ready to turn off at my exit.  Something catches my eye and I look in the rear view mirror and a semi truck is right on my ass.  The truck had moved into my lane to pass another semi that was to my left.  I look in the mirror and say, “You motherfucker.  Why don’t you get a little closer.”  So he did.

Now, I’m saying, “Whatever, fucker.  You can wait until I get off in a few seconds.”  But he didn’t seem to care.  He got even closer.  Even more pissed off, I put on my turn signal to let him know I’d be out of the way soon.  What I did not consider is that I am a tiny, tiny car.  He is a massive semi truck.  Not that it’s any absolution, but he probably never even saw me.  His huge hood probably blocked me from his view entirely.  And so, it’s probably no surprise what happened next.

I got bumped.  My car swerved to the right, into the exit lane and he pulled up alongside me.  I’m still not sure if he even noticed me at this point.  I sped up alongside him and blared my tiny, tiny horn at him, but I doubt he even heard it.  The median guardrail was coming up quickly, so I had to abort and stay in the exit lane, leaving him to go on his (probably) oblivious way.

At the stop light at the end of the exit lane, I immediately jumped out and checked the damage to my car.  It’s just some very minor scuffing on the bumper that can probably be polished out.  I went the rest of the way to work and it was at that time, I realized I left my phone at the house.  This will be a great day.

But you know what?  I have a dash cam.  Granted, it doesn’t have a rear-facing camera, but I still have evidence I was hit.  Just as an aside, a rear dash cam would be outrageous.  Everything scary and crazy always happens behind me.  So, in the parking lot at work, I saved the segment of the incident and later, I reviewed the video.  The quality is pretty good.  I am able to make out the trucking company name and their DOT license.  Hopefully that’s enough of a lead to make this guy’s life miserable.

In the time I’ve had to think about this, my thoughts on the event have changed.  My initial thought was that I got bumped because I was going too slow for this truck driver and he was impatient to pass this other truck.  As I’ve thought more about it, it’s probably just that I was invisible to him.  Again, that doesn’t make him any less at fault here.  But, it does make me extremely lucky that when the truck moved into my lane, I was in the position I was.  If I was in his blind spot when he changed lanes and he was that close to my rear when he came in, it’s not unfathomable that I could have been a foot or two farther back and he would have clipped my rear bumper, sending me into a spin.  Things could have been far worse.


Let me be clear.  I don’t hate you as people, I hate you as drivers and the people you become when you start driving.  Seriously, you do not think of what the consequences could be.  Every time you change a lane, that is an opportunity to sideswipe someone.  Each time you are checking the lane you want to get into, you are not checking the lane you are in and the cars in front of you.  Every time you speed up into a passing lane (especially to the right), you have the chance of finding traffic stopped in front of you in that new lane.  If you’re a large truck, you need to look beside you and not just behind you when changing lanes.


And you, Mr. Red Truck, working for Trimac Transportation Inc., you’re going to hear from me very shortly.


Cosmetic Surgery

What seems like forever ago, BMW added halos to their car’s headlights and the world went apeshit.  They had a poignant ad campaign focused on the headlights with a deep message like, “The eyes are the window to the soul.”  Oooooo.

I recently changed out the headlight lenses on my car because they were completely fogged over; they were almost useless.  And let me stop you here, the fogging was on the inside of the lenses, so buying one of those polishing kits would not have fixed it.

The lenses were not cheap – at all.  A little over $800, if you’re wondering.  They took a significant amount of time to even get shipped to me, then they sat in my garage for weeks until I had a free weekend to do the work.  And the work has now been done and I couldn’t be any more pleased.

I never noticed that I am constantly looking at other cars’ “eyes” to gauge how old they are.  After I changed out my headlight lenses, it was like the car was brand new again.  And I say that with a lot of sincerity – it is really that big of a difference.

Back in October, this is what the car looked like (photo courtesy of AK):


She was dressed up for Halloween as a vampire.  See how the lights are a dull, matte finish?  It gives the car a lifeless look, which may be fine for a vampire, but when someone is checking out your car and they see those dull headlights, it really shows the age.

Over the weekend I got to work., this is what my car looked like, mid-procedure.  WP_20180303_09_47_57_Pro

A couple of close-ups of the lenses before they came out.

WP_20180303_09_48_22_Pro WP_20180303_09_48_13_Pro

And even more surgery,

WP_20180303_10_10_36_Pro WP_20180303_10_10_45_Pro

Now, after the change, the difference is amazing.


And just look how happy she is!  Young and pretty again.  Sometime in the future, she deserves a fresh coat of paint, since the fiberglass surfaces of the roof and retractable hardtop deck have faded and lost all their shine.  But for now, the light is bright and clear, and the eyes reveal a well-travelled soul.

Minty Fresh

It’s been four years since my last attempt at creating a bare minimum Linux Internet machine.  I figured I would give it another try.  All my previous attempts were either failures, or they left me with a laptop that I didn’t know what to do with.

This time, I am creating a travel laptop that is just for Internet.  And for anything else, I’ll connect to my home machine with TeamViewer.  So that limits the installs I have to make down to:

  • Web browser – Now that I use Vivaldi for everything, I don’t have to worry about the differences between IE and whatever else I have available on Linux.
  • KeePass – I need to log in to websites, of course.  And the KeePass database is held in the cloud, which means I need…
  • DropBox – I had the foresight to use DropBox instead of OneDrive when I first set up KeePass.  Although there are OneDrive clients for Linux, none are official MS products.
  • IM – A chat client for keeping in touch when I am on the road.
  • VLC – For playing music and videos.  Fortunately, it is cross-platform.
  • Some image viewer – Still evaluating which one to use…

And that’s all.  I’m pretty much in Netbook territory here, but this is a spare laptop and I should make some use out of it.  It won’t be my bedside laptop, since I need some other software there that isn’t Linux friendly.  But anyway, this post is about Linux Mint.

In my prior adventures with Linux, both Ubuntu and Mint, the install process and compatibility issues were an absolute clusterfuck.  This time around, I blindly installed the latest Mint version on a USB stick and ran with it.  The Mint OS loaded up without a single hiccup and I had sound and network in the Live CD desktop.  That is a very positive sign.  So without any other testing, I chose to install the OS, completely erasing the hard drive.  That’s usually when things go south, but to my amazement, within 15 minutes of starting this whole process, I was on a functional Mint desktop with no strange errors, warnings, or bugs.

I started right away downloading and installing the software I needed, which wasn’t much.  I learned quickly what worked well and what I should not bother investigating further.  Some things I will eventually need to learn more about – the things that Windows makes so easy, like setting a program to launch at startup.  Some things involving permissions were a pain, but I also have an appreciation for security, so it’s ok.

And now, I’m writing this post on my Mint laptop, connected to my Windows desktop via TeamViewer.  It’s been almost pleasant.  And while I still can’t recommend Ubuntu or Mint to a neophyte, because I wouldn’t be able to assist them if they had issues, I applaud the Linux teams for the progress they have made in the four years since I last attempted this experiment.


I don’t know why I have this little hangup about posts where I feel if I don’t have at least a certain wordcount, it’s not really worth posting at all.  I’m pretty sure I’ve talked about how different social platforms are optimized for different message lengths, but blogging is supposed to be for the longest form of writing.  Well, not today.  Story time!


I’m out at lunch at Hungry Howies, enjoying my usual small pizza with light sauce and pepperoni, when I notice a wasp out of the corner of my eye in the window.  I can immediately tell the wasp is agitated, but that is sort of a moot observation because wasps have no chill and are always agitated. 

Without trying to cause too much alarm and make myself a target, I visually confirm which side of the glass the wasp is on.  It’s my side, the worse of the two available sides.  I watch the wasp carefully, without making direct eye contact.  I want to know what his plans are, maybe to continue pushing against the glass or maybe to go elsewhere, like my face.

After a while of watching, less than a minute for sure, I decided the wasp must be killed so I may eat in peace.  So I get up from my booth and go up to the counter to get a killing implement.  A woman meets me at the counter and I ask, “Do you have a fly swatter?”  She says sure and disappears.  The woman took longer than I would expect, but eventually comes back with a paper cup and a lid.  I’m thinking to myself, “What the fuck.  You want me to trap this thing in a cup?”

She holds the cup and lid out to me and says, “That’s the best I could do.”  I make no move to take the items from her and I must’ve had the strangest expression on my face, because she pulled back and asked, “You said you wanted an ice water?”

No.  That isn’t what I wanted.

Keep It Going

Happy After-V-Day.  So, how did it go?  Did you brave the crowds or stay home?  Did you feel yourself up or were there others involved?  Doesn’t matter.  The day for that is past, now it’s just normal life again.  Well, except for the bros out there just tapping their feet waiting for Feb 21 – Steak and Blowjob Day.

Me, I spent a lot of it in airports and in the sky and on the road.  My V-Day dinner was alone at Wendy’s.  Not really alone, there was a family there.  I’m not sure if there were celebrating V-Day by fighting or arguing or disagreeing or just having an intense conversation.  Everyone has their relationship rituals.

But, there a secret that the marketing firms don’t tell you about V-Day, and it’s not that there is such a thing as Steak and Blowjob Day.  It’s that you don’t have to wait until February 14 (or 21) for you to get your candy, flowers, attention, steak, blowjob, or arguments.  You can do it as often as you wish, every day even.  Buy a bag of gummy bears.  Every day, eat one, give a blowjob and have a fight about it.

Or you can be normal humans and just care about each other every day.  Or whenever you feel like it or whenever it is required or appropriate.  Do it in your own way.  Some people show love with food, some with fighting, I guess?  Here’s a few random ideas for you and your partner.  Stupid kids who have no relationship experience like to call bullshit like this #RelationshipGoals.  Don’t make it a goal, just do it as something.

First off, have a movie night.  But give it an edge.  Make it slightly dangerous.  Go to a pawn shop.  Wait, hear me out.  If you haven’t been to a pawn shop before, you would be floored at the number of DVDs they have.  And they want to get rid of them, badly.  They are cheap as hell.  It’s cheaper to buy than to rent.

And when the price is so low, there’s no emotional investment in choosing a good movie.  The emotional investment should be with each other, anyway.  So here’s the deal.  You each choose one or two movies each and you must watch them to the end, together.  You’re going to find some weird stuff at the pawn shop, for sure.  If the movie sucks, have sex while it’s playing, it still counts as watching.

Maybe movie night is an all-day thing, maybe not.  But here’s an idea for daytime.  Do you think you’re well-grounded in reality?  Do you think you’re pretty run-of-the-mill normal?  Do you want to challenge those impressions of yourself?  Maybe have a fierce battle with inadequacy?  Well, this date idea will do it.

Go on a model home megatour at some housing developments.  Maybe you’re not living in a place that has a lot of real estate booming going on.  That makes it even better, drive to one and you’ll be able to resist the siren call easier.  But if you haven’t been home shopping, it’s like going shopping for Maserati’s.  See, because no one makes cheap homes anymore.  Cheap homes are used homes, older homes.  Builders can’t make money on starter homes.  Even if they could, and maybe they would try, they are not going to make a model house show you what you can get for bottom dollar.  That’s not how things are sold.

So tour a bunch of model homes.  You’ll see excess and grandiosity and features and fixtures that will leave you shaking your head.  When you get to the 4,000+ sqft house with multiple game rooms and a bathroom that could be a studio apartment in itself, you will have a new appreciation for the simple life and a fresh disdain for the metaphorical Joneses you’re supposed to keep up with.  And hopefully, if your partner is of the same mindset as you, which I would hope so, you will walk away collectively stunned and grateful to have each other and that you share the same values.

Finally, and this idea is simple, generic, and simply honest.  Do something together that exposes a vulnerability.  You always want to show your best side to your partner.  You always want to be perfect.  But, it’s healthy to let your guard down occasionally.  Let your partner know you really are human and can do embarrassing things, or can fail to do something correctly or well.  Couples painting?  Wall climbing?  Ice skating?  Karaoke?  These are things that don’t have to wait for V-Day or Steak/BJ-Day.  You can do them whenever and as often as you want.  And it’s perfectly fine to suck at them, because those things are not your relationship.

The Business Life

Recently, I was given the opportunity to go on a business trip for my employer.  The event required a technical person for the upcoming work and this was supposed to be training and exposure.  I had done business trips in the past, but this gave me a whole different perspective on “the life”.

Another aspect of this meeting was that the host of the event wanted to show off their brand new building.  I didn’t really give it much thought.  An office building is like any other, right?  Nope.  And that all played into the discomfort I felt.  So let’s start at the beginning.

When I was told about the trip, I was also told that the company travel coordinator would handle everything.  So, right off the bat, I’m a little out of my comfort zone.  You know, if I was tasked to go somewhere, I would be looking for the cheapest flight anywhere.  Well, that’s not how business travel works.  I end up on a top-tier airline in what I assume is a decent seat.  As you know, you don’t get decent seats for cheap.  They cost extra.  I don’t know, my airfare was around $500.  That’s more than I would be willing to spend.  And also, there’s six of us going.  Yeah, six.

So we all get to the destination and we Uber to the hotel.  I’m not really a fan of Uber, but that’s for another post, and it’s not my decision to make anyway.  And the hotel is a Staybridge Suites hotel.  Everyone gets a suite!  Now, I don’t expect us to bunk together, but I don’t need lodgings this fancy.  No way.  It’s our first night and we all go out to dinner.  Company expense, of course.  Steakhouse?  Sure.  Longhorn?  Outback?  Fuck, no.  It’s not our money, let’s go to Perry’s.  You can’t eat there for less than $60/plate.  And of course, everyone drinks.  It was easily a $600 bill, I’m certain of it.

Day one at our host’s new office building.  This is not an office building, it is a goddamn resort.  It has a cafeteria, an exercise room, a balcony garden, another café with barista on the upper floor, a game room, and technology that would make most humans gawk in amazement.  Maybe it’s the new modern standard for a national company, but like Perry’s, it’s way out of my league.

The conference goes all day.  We get catered lunch and we get a tour of the building.  They’re quite proud of it.  At the conclusion of the tour, there is a social gathering with beer and wine and snacks too fancy and weird for me to even eat.  I’m watching all these people chatting and mingling, and the cute girls in the short skirts sitting on the bar counter with their wine, and I’m wondering, this is business?  In what world is this business?  This one, apparently.

Our group got dinner reservations for Del Friscos, another $60/plate steakhouse.  I man up and say, fuck all y’all, I’m staying in my room (no, my fucking SUITE) and ordering pizza.  It was a great pizza and only put the company out $25.  I was ordered to save the receipt for reimbursement.  It would have been fine, guys.  You know, you pay me pretty well already.

My point of this rant, which I’ve done before, is that there is this executive life that is not available to normal folk.  I’m kind of in it, right on the cusp, but I don’t agree with it.  I don’t like it.  It’s living in a fantasy, where you get to feel like you’re super rich, but you’re not.  And you only get to act and feel that way because of your employer.  The employer that is putting out gobs of money disproportionately for a select few, when it could be spent on others in the company who are nowhere near that sort of lifestyle.  And who would appreciate it more?

The Worst Developer

I think it’s a universal truth that no matter where you work, you hate the software that you have to use.  And it’s even more true when that software is written internally, meaning not store-bought or otherwise 3rd party.  As someone who writes this type of software that everyone hates, I can understand the frustrations.  But this story is about the software that I didn’t write, but was written by and for the company I was working for.

The particular software was primarily written by one person, who had been with the company since the start, which was decades.  I was supposed to create the software that would replace it, but the company went under before that came to fruition.  However, I did have enough of an opportunity to shed a ray of hope that better things were coming, at least software-wise.

The purpose of this maligned software was order entry and contact management.  It was used by the sales force to create quotes, sales, credit memos, and also to track membership for the company’s special program.  For as long as I could discern, there was friction between the sales team and management.  Aside from mutual distrust, there was also resentment in that the company wanted to micromanage how things were done on the floor.

The company came up with a very precise, very specific way of selling from which no one was to deviate.  And the software was written entirely to enforce that specific methodology.  The people on the sales floor obviously didn’t subscribe to this methodology and simply felt that they were being treated as human robots, without any free will to conduct the sales transaction in the way they felt comfortable doing.  The software developer constantly complained that the users were not using the software correctly and were always figuring out loopholes, which became bugs.

I have a lasting impression from my first few days working there when I was in training for that software.  That impression was validated by another user near the end of my time at the company.  After sitting through the training session, I felt like a complete idiot.  I didn’t understand anything.  Nothing made sense.  And it was all because the software was written so terribly.  And that feeling made me question my capabilities for working at that company.  I tried to reassure myself that it was just because I was unfamiliar with the industry, but the user that confirmed my feelings was an industry pro and couldn’t understand the software either.

There were many issues that I took with the software.  The first was the ridiculous color scheme and color choices throughout.  It screamed “amateur”, and when I’ve been formally trained to write professional business software, this was not acceptable.  Required fields were highlighted – in yellow.  And not pastel yellow, the eye-bleeding danger yellow.


Taking that issue further, there were many dialogs that used “folksy” language.  There was no “Cancel” button.  Instead, you had a “Forget It” button.  Unless it was a “Never Mind” button (which has a keyboard shortcut of Alt-V, because Alt-N to suggest “No” would be too much for a user to understand).


You had an option to “Undo Previous Whoops” on a dialog that asked specifically, “What Do You Want To Do?”


Here’s some messages the application could pop up:

  • Programmer Goof – Trying to use Add code for something else!
  • This Credit Memo will result in a net credit to the member of $x.xx. Is this what you intended?
  • Does Member desire a refund check from Corporate?
  • Is this Credit Memo being created to “Undo” this Sales Order as though it never existed?
  • Whoops — too many windows are open.  Close some windows and try again.
  • You have tried to pick up more than was ordered. Please RTFS and re-enter valid amount in correct box. (The application’s name started with “F”, which was a convenient out if he was ever accused of telling the user to “read the fucking screen”.)

I mentioned that the software was written to enforce the sales procedure as defined by the company.  This actually caused a big headache at one point because they changed policy one time which required a lot of code changes to support it.  But anyway, when you would start a new sale or quote, you would be prompted with question after question about how the sales was to take place.  These questions were supposed to be asked to the customer, which would prep the sales form with certain data.  As you would suspect, the questions were all worded folksy and unprofessionally, and most were pointless, only nagging at the sales person to upsell this or that and don’t forget to ask about this.  Some examples:

  • Don’t forget SUNDRIES!!!
  • We’re Pushin’ Cushion!!!
  • How ya gonna Cut it, Glue it and Dress it Up???
  • Whatcha gonna put it on?  How you gonna seal it?
  • What’s gonna keep it down?
  • How you gonna keep it quiet?
  • How you gonna cut it, glue it and finish it off?
  • What’s gonna keep it from slidin’ around?

Because the entire process was so drawn out and pointless, the sales staff started memorizing the keystrokes that would let them fly through the popups and just get to a blank sales form.  The developer, when he learned of this practice, was furious.  They were skipping over all the hard work he put in to make them do their job correctly – the only way to do it correctly.  So he took action.  To keep them from skipping through the screens, he randomized the buttons on the popups.

Yes, it may sound absolutely incredible, but this developer literally made the application more difficult to use on purpose by changing the interface to require the user to read the screen.  What was lost on him was that the user wasn’t reading the questions on the screen, they were only reading the buttons to find out what they had to click next.  And if they misread anything, they got a sales form that wasn’t what they needed and had to start over.

And this developer was very proud of his work.  He had defeated the users.  And that really was his only goal.  Not to make things better; only to win.  And when he wins, everyone else loses.

The Eye in The Sky

There’s a lot of people that are really paranoid, scared, and angry about “the police state”, government surveillance, and loss of privacy.  I’m sort of in that group, but not really at the level some people are at.  There are other people who just sit back, point their finger and say, “Hey, you asked for it.”  These people are referring to technology like GPS, cookie tracking, integrated Facebook everywhere (that goddamn Like button on every web page that tells FB you’ve been on that page without you doing anything), and more recently, bullshit always-on microphones like on Alexa, Google Home, and Apple Home.

Those are all personal privacy invasions, and they are all opt-in.  You have to buy the devices that snoop on you.  You have to visit the websites that track you.  The other level of privacy invasion is at the societal level.  Things like security cameras, traffic cams, EZ Pass in your car, GPS on your phone.  Things that monitor and track you while you are in public.  At no point did anyone really opt-in to being monitored while in public.

Advocates will argue that these systems provide a great improvement in public safety (albeit reactive and not really proactive).  Detractors will say it’s not worth it to be watched all the time for the rare case something bad happens.  And the finger-pointing starts – If you’re not doing anything wrong, why are you opposed to it.  So, security by this means is naturally controversial.

And with that lead-in and disclaimer that I understand what I’m going to get into, I’m going to propose more surveillance.  And it’s for a very specific police use that would piss off some people.  But you know what?  I don’t fucking care, because you people need to be shut the fuck down.

Have you ever seen a video of a car fleeing the police on a highway, flying through traffic, weaving in and out of the other cars?  Of course you have.  That is what it is like driving to and from work every day for me.  That is every fucking day.  Every day, there are people who drive 15-20+ miles an hour faster than others and cut in and out between 3 and 4 lanes of traffic.  I am sick to fucking death of these people.  This needs to fucking stop.

These assholes cause trouble for everyone else in multiple ways.  The most obvious is that they could wreck into someone and kill themselves (boo hoo) or others.  And when wrecks happen, we all lose.  Traffic comes to a crawl or a standstill.  Do the goddamn math sometime you are in a traffic jam.  Count how many cars you see, measure how much time you are losing on your drive and multiply that by an average wage to see how much money is being lost sitting in traffic that didn’t need to happen at all if people didn’t drive like fuckasses.

There are not enough officers on the road to enforce better driving practices and even when they do enforce them, the fuckasses still ruin it for everyone, because we all have to slow down for emergency vehicles.  An asshole gets pulled over and we all pay for it.  But another issue is that an officer on the side of the road monitoring traffic may not be able to spot a fuckass.  The officers only have a limited view and even if they are running radar, they may or may not catch the driver when they are embedded somewhere in 3-4 lanes of traffic.  So this leads me to my solution.  Aerial surveillance.

Leave some quadcoptors hovering over the highway where they can monitor traffic at a greater level.  You can spot drivers that are weaving through traffic and generally being unsafe.  This is something you can’t do at ground level.  Once a car is spotted behaving erratically or unsafely, a trooper can be dispatched to intercept.  Or it could be handled later.  Record the video and address it in person at their house.

It doesn’t even have to be speeding.  I came up with a formula to calculate a driver’s assholosity based on speed and number of lanes changes per mile.  This targeting could almost be completely automated with machine learning (formerly known as AI).

Does this sound invasive?  I don’t fucking care if you think it is.  This is a problem that affects all highways drivers in both safety and financial aspects.  And while the problem is chronic, it isn’t widespread.  The few are ruining it for the many, and we shouldn’t have to live that way.  There’s a lot of that shit going on right now and I’m pretty well sick of it.

Holding On

I read a recent post by AK that flew right in the face of a hobby I’ve been cultivating.  It’s something I’ve been doing for a little while and is really only one facet of the other side of the Letting Go story.  The hobby (and obsession for some) is “archival”.

First, I’m no stranger to purges and I feel the same satisfaction from downsizing as anyone with too much stuff would.  However, sometimes, regret comes back to haunt me.  It’s not the loss of a blender or a stack of towels that I miss.  It’s usually something less utility and more historically significant, which usually carries some emotion with it.  When I say historically significant, I don’t mean like a piece of the Berlin wall, I mean something that represents a period of your life.  And even though there is emotion and significance behind it, there is also a strong element of uselessness.

I ‘ve read a little on the KonMari method and internally nodded my head up until I got to the point where it was explained that we hold on to things for two main reasons: the future and the past.  In the case of the future, we don’t want to get rid of something because we may have a future use for it.  That’s a rational argument, but I usually tackle that by reminding myself that when I need it in the future, I can buy the latest and greatest version of what I need.  (Ironically, the latest version of most things will probably be made shoddier and overall be worse in quality, so…) That kind of mindset would make older generations freak out.  How wasteful! 

In the case of the past, which is where my archivist neuroses kick in, you are afraid of losing a bit of your identity.  The modern philosophy is to live in the present, which, expressed in outrageous terms, is hedonistic.  If you disregard your past and do not plan your future, what is life?  A day-to-day experience with no permanence. 

And, many would agree, the past is highly important, on a personal and societal level.  I’m not going to go to the levels of psychoarchivists who want to preserve absolutely everything, but I do believe that you need to have a record of your past in more than simple digital records.

I have a box in which I keep all my ephemera.  I have items going back to my teenage years, which I believe are personally socially significant.  One of the most useless things I have is a rubber hand with formable fingers.  Yes, at the time, it was usually used to flip people off and it has literally zero value today, but it’s a part of my part and is a useful prop when sharing my life story with someone.  Everybody loves props.

I have an old horoscope paper which used to be sold in little plastic tubes back in the day.  I have memorabilia from past jobs – old name tags, signs, magnets.  You could find some of these things in thrift shops and consignment stores and that is where the great disconnect happens.  People think these things have value.  They only have value to the person who acquired them.  You can’t buy a memory from a store.  I would never try to replace anything from my memory box from a store.  Like a child’s replacement teddy bear, it’s not the same.

So back to the KonMari method.  You might surmise that I would keep everything in my memory box because it gave me joy.  That’s not entirely true.  It rekindles a memory.  And more importantly, the loss of not having those items is greater than the cost of keeping them.  There is a time in a friendship where you finally feel comfortable baring yourself for another person, and that is when the memory box comes out and is shared.  To not have a physical record of your personal highs and lows would be a shame.  You can flash all the photos and videos on the screen that you want, but to be able to touch someone’s past is unique and special.

More Food Updates

In another weekend trip to Touristville, the GF and I ended up at our favorite steakhouse (but at a different location).  The last time I had to write about this, the dining experience was up and down.  This time, it was pretty much a plunge into despair.  I won’t bore anyone with tedious details,  I’ll just sort of hit the high points (which are the low points).

When we got there, 6 pm on a Saturday, we were informed that the wait was 90 minutes.  They actually said, “an hour and a half”, which actually makes it sound a lot worse.  At our last touristville experience, we were told there was a 45 minute wait and we were seated pretty quickly.  So, I agreed to wait.  Well, they kept their word and then some.  We didn’t get to the table until almost 8.

When you’re seated at a community table, it’s always a crap shoot as to who you’re going to be with.  In tonight’s group, we had a Hispanic family that included a vegetarian.  But it wasn’t a cool vegetarian, it was a “I’M VEGETARIAN!” vegetarian.  There was also a man so old he couldn’t do anything for himself.  I actually suspected he could, but his female partner ordered (and I use ordered in multiple meanings here) everything.  He tries to speak up for himself and his other half shouts over him.  So you know, a boisterous party.

The other side of the table had what seemed to be a mother and her two daughters and a dude.  At first it was a little hard to tell if the dude was the brother or the boyfriend of the older girl.  And “older” is really pushing it here; she looked like she was about 12 and the dude looked about 15.  But it was made clear that they were a couple in relatively short order.  At one point the girl wanted her mom to take a picture of them and as they snuggled up, the dude kind of raised the girls shirt or maybe tucked his hand under it.  In any regard, it was all a little weird and uncomfortable.

The chefs at this location were fucking spazzes.  I guess you have to be a little over the top to get the attention of tourists who’ve been at theme parks all day, but holy shit.  So much yelling and banging and fire.  And in spite of that, the chefs seemed to not be engaged with the table and would get distracted to chat with other employees walking around.  As far as quality, my extra side dish was overlooked and the food was very light on the soy sauce.  When I asked for extra soy sauce on my steak, the chef tried to talk me out of it.  And in the end, it was just a couple of drips, nothing to really taste.

And the last anecdote comes from the GF on her disastrous bathroom visit.  As it was told to me, there were three stalls.  One had a pile of shit-covered toilet paper on the floor.  The second held an employee, who had her apron off and laid out on the bathroom floor.  The third had an overflowing sanitary receptacle.  There are no good options here.

The whole 3+ hour ordeal made me miss my personal home steakhouse and turned me off from touristville locations.

The next day, I seized the opportunity to verify that Pollo Tropical had changed their operations chain-wide.  And I have confirmed it.  The location we went to had the same cheap white Styrofoam plates, plasticware, and single-size cups.  There were no onions or limes on the chicken and there was no table service or cleanup.

We also had a slight order problem that highlighted a flaw in their new operational procedure.  When you order a meal, you now wait for your order number to be called.  In our case, we picked up the order and when we got to the table, found a side was missing.  So the GF went to the cashier, who ignored her because she wasn’t in line.  After getting the cashier’s attention and explaining the situation, the cashier yelled to the order picker, who ignored her.  GF came back to the table furious.

I went up and stood where the orders were picked up.  The order picker kept her back to me.  And I kind of understood that.  There’s always a crowd of people waiting for food.  You could say her communication was unidirectional.  She called the order numbers and that’s it.  There was no consideration of a communication coming inbound to her.  And when she turned around and called a number, I caught her eye, but she still turned back around, requiring me to verbally interrupt her.  And then we got the problem resolved.

As I mentioned in my earlier post about Pollo, there’s been a significant decline in the customer service department.  The GF vowed that Pollo would become a drive-thru-only option, and I would agree.  There is nothing compelling about the dine-in experience.

So, that’s the report on dining this weekend.  If there’s news, it’s probably not good news.