Stories, Poems and Other Stuff...

Monday, October 11, 2010

Writer's Block

Sometimes I think it is hard to stare at a blank screen and try to come up with something, a story, a point of view, inner ramblings, anything that shares what goes on in my head.

This is and isn't one of those hard moments.

Writers throughout history have been plagued from periods of writer's block. I would like to say that I am in that group of writers that have been besieged brain constipation, but I am not. No, my problem is not in my lack of brain regularity, but in my lack of time. You see, life is hindering my desire to progress as a writer. For whatever reason, my wife, children, landlord, utilities companies, garbage man and others require that I have an income in order to either feed them or pay them for services that I need. I could go the way of Thoreau and move to some pond and build a crude log cabin and live off the land. However I am pretty sure that my family wouldn't go for it. Sure I could initially lure them out under the guise of a family camping trip, but by day three they would think somethings up and bail on me and my Euell Gibbons lifestyle.

So I work to make money.

Over the years I have done this in a variety of ways. I started out working in auto parts and as a mechanic. I worked as generator mechanic while in the army and continued working as a mechanic a couple of years after being discharged. During this time I found my voice, so to speak, in writing. I knew that the hard work of being a mechanic was not conducive to writing on a regular basis. So I embarked on a career change. House painter.

I painted for about a year with a friend of mine in and around Chicago. During this time I wrote like a crazy man. I wrote about everyday things that amused me. My problem during this time was my living situation. I had been couch surfing and never really had the ideal place to work on my craft. This resulted in some very incomplete stories that, when in a fit of religious fervor, made it into a fifty five gallon filing cabinet never to be seen again. Sometimes I find myself entertaining the thought of archeologists digging up these discarded papers and I become famous once again (after being famous while alive of course) to a whole new generation of readers.

Ah, megalomania.....

Somehow I made it to Southern Indiana to live with my father, in a cabin, on the Wabash River. This was the start of my Bohemian period. During this time I wrote with such a fervor that at times I was unable to read my scribbles. I also went to college studying radio and television broadcasting. I ended up working at a radio station in Olney Illinois, a town made famous by white squirrels. I think my radio career lasted eight months. I was fired for telling someone that I wasn't paid enough for what they were asking me to do. Back to couch surfing I went.

This period of my life lasted a few years and, after the birth of our first child, I found myself in need of money. I took the first job I could find, working at a group home for developmentally disabled adults. I loved that job. We eventually moved to Champaign Illinois where I took a job at a group home for the mentally ill. It was there that I realized that I like mentally ill people. The job was great, a little demanding time wise, so I was unable to write anything larger that poems during that time, all of which got filed into some landfill.

Eventually I stumbled into plumbing and construction. Since then I have had periodic bursts of writing, even being published on a couple of online magazines. But, I have never reached the pace I would like to see my writing reach. With all of life's tugs I have come to the realization that my form of writer's block has nothing to do with having nothing to write about, but more about economics. My family must eat; they like to live in a modest home; they don't like walking to the grocery store.

I am not saying this in an attempt to garner pity form the few of you who read this blog. However, if anyone reading this feels compelled to finance me for say, six months, while I finish my novel I would not turn you away. Nope, I share all of this to give me hope and lead into what it is that has given me hope as a writer.

I recently came across a television show called , No Reservations. This show is based on the travels of a writer named Anthony Bordain who happened to be a chef, who happened to write a book while working as a chef. This guy travels the world writing about common places and local cuisine. What! You mean that it is possible to hold down a job and write? Genius.

I am reminded of the writers that inspired me to write. I think of Jack Kerouac working odd jobs and essentially couch surfing while writing On The Road. I think of Charles Bukowski spending years working for the Post Office before he was able to make any real money as a writer. There are countless other writers that made their living at something else while spending nights and weekends typing away.

I am inspired once again...

Still, I am not opposed to financial backing......

Writer's Block

Sometimes I think it is hard to stare at a blank screen and try to come up with something, a story, a point of view, inner ramblings, anything that shares what goes on in my head.

This is and isn't one of those hard moments.

Writers throughout history have been plagued from periods of writer's block. I would like to say that I am in that group of writers that have been besieged brain constipation, but I am not. No, my problem is not in my lack of brain regularity, but in my lack of time. You see, life is hindering my desire to progress as a writer. For whatever reason, my wife, children, landlord, utilities companies, garbage man and others require that I have an income in order to either feed them or pay them for services that I need. I could go the way of Thoreau and move to some pond and build a crude log cabin and live off the land. However I am pretty sure that my family wouldn't go for it. Sure I could initially lure them out under the guise of a family camping trip, but by day three they would think somethings up and bail on me and my Euell Gibbons lifestyle.

So I work to make money.

Over the years I have done this in a variety of ways. I started out working in auto parts and as a mechanic. I worked as generator mechanic while in the army and continued working as a mechanic a couple of years after being discharged. During this time I found my voice, so to speak, in writing. I knew that the hard work of being a mechanic was not conducive to writing on a regular basis. So I embarked on a career change. House painter.

I painted for about a year with a friend of mine in and around Chicago. During this time I wrote like a crazy man. I wrote about everyday things that amused me. My problem during this time was my living situation. I had been couch surfing and never really had the ideal place to work on my craft. This resulted in some very incomplete stories that, when in a fit of religious fervor, made it into a fifty five gallon filing cabinet never to be seen again. Sometimes I find myself entertaining the thought of archeologists digging up these discarded papers and I become famous once again (after being famous while alive of course) to a whole new generation of readers.

Ah, megalomania.....

Somehow I made it to Southern Indiana to live with my father, in a cabin, on the Wabash River. This was the start of my Bohemian period. During this time I wrote with such a fervor that at times I was unable to read my scribbles. I also went to college studying radio and television broadcasting. I ended up working at a radio station in Olney Illinois, a town made famous by white squirrels. I think my radio career lasted eight months. I was fired for telling someone that I wasn't paid enough for what they were asking me to do. Back to couch surfing I went.

This period of my life lasted a few years and, after the birth of our first child, I found myself in need of money. I took the first job I could find, working at a group home for developmentally disabled adults. I loved that job. We eventually moved to Champaign Illinois where I took a job at a group home for the mentally ill. It was there that I realized that I like mentally ill people. The job was great, a little demanding time wise, so I was unable to write anything larger that poems during that time, all of which got filed into some landfill.

Eventually I stumbled into plumbing and construction. Since then I have had periodic bursts of writing, even being published on a couple of online magazines. But, I have never reached the pace I would like to see my writing reach. With all of life's tugs I have come to the realization that my form of writer's block has nothing to do with having nothing to write about, but more about economics. My family must eat; they like to live in a modest home; they don't like walking to the grocery store.

I am not saying this in an attempt to garner pity form the few of you who read this blog. However, if anyone reading this feels compelled to finance me for say, six months, while I finish my novel I would not turn you away. Nope, I share all of this to give me hope and lead into what it is that has given me hope as a writer.

I recently came across a television show called , No Reservations. This show is based on the travels of a writer named Anthony Bordain who happened to be a chef, who happened to write a book while working as a chef. This guy travels the world writing about common places and local cuisine. What! You mean that it is possible to hold down a job and write? Genius.

I am reminded of the writers that inspired me to write. I think of Jack Kerouac working odd jobs and essentially couch surfing while writing On The Road. I think of Charles Bukowski spending years working for the Post Office before he was able to make any real money as a writer. There are countless other writers that made their living at something else while spending nights and weekends typing away.

I am inspired once again...

Still, I am not opposed to financial backing......

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Generally Speaking

I like broad generalizations because they usually piss people off and it forces them to form a hasty opinion. Usually after vocalizing those opinions they will reflect on what they just said and give even more thought to their opinion and maybe so something other than opine.

All Christians are narrow minded and are going to beat me down for using the word 'piss' in the second sentence along with this sentence, and at least one more time before this generalization is finished. That is fine. But you need to come to terms with a God who allowed a prophet to cook over fecal matter and let this make it into the Old Testament: 1Kings 16:11 “And it came to pass, when he began to reign, as soon as he sat on his throne, [that] he slew all the house of Baasha: he left him not one that pisseth against a wall, neither of his kinsfolks, nor of his friends.”

It was painfully obvious this week that broad generalizations are alive and well in our world. Saturday marked the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on our country. This week also showed us how the idiots and narrow minded can monopolize the media and create more hostility in an already hostile environment.

Reverend Terry Jones, a pastor of a tiny congregation became the foot in mouth spokesperson for all Christianity this week when he announced that his church was going to have a Quran burning on the ninth anniversary of the terrorist attacks. Not only did he make all Christians look like idiots, he snatched Pat Robertson's platform from under his feet. To be fair I do not know what Pat's thoughts on this whole issue are, but I am sure it involves assassins and fiery judgment. Reverend Jones did what most loud mouths do and backed away from his plans after he felt the heat. Now, if Reverend Jones had gone through with it I would have still thought he was an idiot, but I would have admired him for standing by his convictions. Now he's just a weenie idiot.

On the anniversary of the attacks I worked. I was working on a water well in rural Illinois on the day of the attacks. As I was reflecting on the events of that day I came to the realization that, up until that day, I did not really give any thought to Islam, Muslims or terrorists. Yet after that day it seemed that we all had it in our heads that all Muslims are terrorists. All of a sudden we are all experts on this group of people. And all of our assumptions stem from the actions of a few extremists.

We saw this at the beginning of the AIDS epidemic when all of a sudden some extreme fundamentalists claimed that the disease was a gay disease. Again, another broad generalization based on half truths and little fact brought to us by the ill informed lunatics with an agenda of hate.

So, nine years later, are we any less safe? Are we more paranoid? Are convenience stores and taxi cabs blowing up? No... We are all living life, paying bills, raising kids, and getting older. We know more about Muslims now than we did nine years ago. We know that radical fundamentalists are everywhere, in every religion and society, and that they are without question idiots...Will they ever leave us?

Probably not..

I really need to do something about these idiots that are supposedly speaking for me.

Generally Speaking

I like broad generalizations because they usually piss people off and it forces them to form a hasty opinion. Usually after vocalizing those opinions they will reflect on what they just said and give even more thought to their opinion and maybe so something other than opine.

All Christians are narrow minded and are going to beat me down for using the word 'piss' in the second sentence along with this sentence, and at least one more time before this generalization is finished. That is fine. But you need to come to terms with a God who allowed a prophet to cook over fecal matter and let this make it into the Old Testament: 1Kings 16:11 “And it came to pass, when he began to reign, as soon as he sat on his throne, [that] he slew all the house of Baasha: he left him not one that pisseth against a wall, neither of his kinsfolks, nor of his friends.”

It was painfully obvious this week that broad generalizations are alive and well in our world. Saturday marked the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on our country. This week also showed us how the idiots and narrow minded can monopolize the media and create more hostility in an already hostile environment.

Reverend Terry Jones, a pastor of a tiny congregation became the foot in mouth spokesperson for all Christianity this week when he announced that his church was going to have a Quran burning on the ninth anniversary of the terrorist attacks. Not only did he make all Christians look like idiots, he snatched Pat Robertson's platform from under his feet. To be fair I do not know what Pat's thoughts on this whole issue are, but I am sure it involves assassins and fiery judgment. Reverend Jones did what most loud mouths do and backed away from his plans after he felt the heat. Now, if Reverend Jones had gone through with it I would have still thought he was an idiot, but I would have admired him for standing by his convictions. Now he's just a weenie idiot.

On the anniversary of the attacks I worked. I was working on a water well in rural Illinois on the day of the attacks. As I was reflecting on the events of that day I came to the realization that, up until that day, I did not really give any thought to Islam, Muslims or terrorists. Yet after that day it seemed that we all had it in our heads that all Muslims are terrorists. All of a sudden we are all experts on this group of people. And all of our assumptions stem from the actions of a few extremists.

We saw this at the beginning of the AIDS epidemic when all of a sudden some extreme fundamentalists claimed that the disease was a gay disease. Again, another broad generalization based on half truths and little fact brought to us by the ill informed lunatics with an agenda of hate.

So, nine years later, are we any less safe? Are we more paranoid? Are convenience stores and taxi cabs blowing up? No... We are all living life, paying bills, raising kids, and getting older. We know more about Muslims now than we did nine years ago. We know that radical fundamentalists are everywhere, in every religion and society, and that they are without question idiots...Will they ever leave us?

Probably not..

I really need to do something about these idiots that are supposedly speaking for me.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Routine

I am going to be a bit vulnerable here giving a bit of insight to how my mind works, and giving ammunition to those who would like to trip me up and see me frustrated. The key to the inner workings of my mind hinges on one thing......routine.

Okay, there it is, I said it. It is out there for the world to see. I like routine. Now, this is not in the, ‘Definitely time for Wapner’ kind of routine....That would be OCD. There is a fine line between having a daily routine and OCD, and I walk that tightrope daily.

For me a typical day starts with waking up five minutes before the alarm clock. I get out of bed and head to the kitchen to make my coffee. This point is pivotal in how my day will be. If I am able to make a pot of coffee easily it will be a good day. If, say, I have to look for filters, or grind coffee, well then, my day is up in the air and if I am to salvage it I will have to work at making it a good day.

The same can be said for taking my morning shower to putting on my shoes and walking out the door.

Now, before someone out there feels the need to tell me to stop being a prima donna and get over it, please don't. It will mess up my routine.

Routine is not a bad thing. Routine makes one more efficient. Say, when you get home you place your wallet, car keys and cell phone in the same place everyday you are following a routine that enables you to leave the house quicker.

I met a guy the other day who happens be a retinal surgeon. If anyone should follow a routine this guy should. After all he is working on eyeballs! Imagine if he approached each procedure differently. What if he started the operation before the pain killing and scrubbing up? What if his approach were spinning a roulette wheel?...hmm, that sounds like a routine, albeit a scary one.

There was a day when I lived a more carefree, where the wind takes you life. Fifteen or so years ago the only routine I had was going to sleep and waking up. Sounds fun, and it was. However, the routine ticking of time dictates that one gets older and grows up. After our first child was born, immediately after, I found that we are all born with the desire for routine. This was made painfully evident when our oldest wanted to eat. He was on a schedule and you better not deviate from that routine.

Some of us try to push the need for routine down, only to have it surface some time later. That bit of denial is even a routine. In denial one has to routinely deny that there is an issue.

I, for one, am embracing my need for routine...I will continue to have my coffee at the same time every morning, place my keys in the same place everyday and walk around my car three times backwards before getting in to drive.

I will not deviate. I will not deviate. I will not deviate.

Routine

I am going to be a bit vulnerable here giving a bit of insight to how my mind works, and giving ammunition to those who would like to trip me up and see me frustrated. The key to the inner workings of my mind hinges on one thing......routine.

Okay, there it is, I said it. It is out there for the world to see. I like routine. Now, this is not in the, ‘Definitely time for Wapner’ kind of routine....That would be OCD. There is a fine line between having a daily routine and OCD, and I walk that tightrope daily.

For me a typical day starts with waking up five minutes before the alarm clock. I get out of bed and head to the kitchen to make my coffee. This point is pivotal in how my day will be. If I am able to make a pot of coffee easily it will be a good day. If, say, I have to look for filters, or grind coffee, well then, my day is up in the air and if I am to salvage it I will have to work at making it a good day.

The same can be said for taking my morning shower to putting on my shoes and walking out the door.

Now, before someone out there feels the need to tell me to stop being a prima donna and get over it, please don't. It will mess up my routine.

Routine is not a bad thing. Routine makes one more efficient. Say, when you get home you place your wallet, car keys and cell phone in the same place everyday you are following a routine that enables you to leave the house quicker.

I met a guy the other day who happens be a retinal surgeon. If anyone should follow a routine this guy should. After all he is working on eyeballs! Imagine if he approached each procedure differently. What if he started the operation before the pain killing and scrubbing up? What if his approach were spinning a roulette wheel?...hmm, that sounds like a routine, albeit a scary one.

There was a day when I lived a more carefree, where the wind takes you life. Fifteen or so years ago the only routine I had was going to sleep and waking up. Sounds fun, and it was. However, the routine ticking of time dictates that one gets older and grows up. After our first child was born, immediately after, I found that we are all born with the desire for routine. This was made painfully evident when our oldest wanted to eat. He was on a schedule and you better not deviate from that routine.

Some of us try to push the need for routine down, only to have it surface some time later. That bit of denial is even a routine. In denial one has to routinely deny that there is an issue.

I, for one, am embracing my need for routine...I will continue to have my coffee at the same time every morning, place my keys in the same place everyday and walk around my car three times backwards before getting in to drive.

I will not deviate. I will not deviate. I will not deviate.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Five Questions with Chuck Scott

*Some days I have lots of time to daydream. This is a result of my daydreaming of being a published novelist/essayist/blogger of great renown. Bertrand Russell once said, "The megalomaniac differs from the narcissist by the fact that he wishes to be powerful rather than charming, and seeks to be feared rather than loved. To this type belong many lunatics and most of the great men of history."

I don't know, I think that I would like to be charming too.

In this megalomaniacal thread of thought I am being interviewed by some writer from Redbook, or maybe O magazine. I can't remember, though I don't really think that I would be on Oprah's Book of the Month reading list.

I think I will start the degaussed video now. ****

Interviewer: I recently had the chance to talk to Chuck Scott, author of, “Broken Stuff and Things” at his trailer on stilts by the river. When I got there I found him eating a banana while staring at the water. I asked him what he was thinking about and his reply was, “Nothin.”

As we sat down in his kitchen to start the interview he made me promise to take a kitten before we started. I really wanted the interview, mostly because I spent all day getting lost on back roads trying to find the engineering anomaly that passes for Mr. Scott's house, so I obliged and am now the proud owner of one inbred cat.

Things that I left out were his frequent bunny trails and the occasional shooting at the neighbors dogs. All in all I found him to be a crank, but a friendly one. He offered me a Pepsi numerous times in spite of me telling him I liked Coke better. To which he would reply, “Oh, sorry, I forgot.”



1.You seem a bit pensive at times. Why do you think that comes out in your writing?

CS: Uh, because to write one must think, ponder, you know, ruminate. I have been wired in such a way that makes me see the funny in the sad and the sad in the funny. Most people only see one or the other. I have ambidextrous thought patterns. It doesn't hurt to see everything through the lens of absurdity.

2.How long have you been writing?

CS: Some of my earliest memories are of sitting in front of a 13” Philco black and white tv with my crayons, paper and a glass of milk. I think that would have been 1969, so I have been writing since I was three. I have good penmanship. Do you want a Pepsi?

3.Why do you write?

CS: If I did not write I would literally explode. No, I would puke up random words strung together in unintelligible sentences. Come to think of it, it would look like my Facebook, or blog.

4.One reading your blog would assume that you don't believe in editing. Do you ever edit?

CS: As little as possible. Can't be bored with the details. Jack Kerouac wrote his novel, On the Road on a continuous roll of paper. Imagine the conversation at the publisher's office the day that arrived. Somehow my little grammar and punctuation mistakes seem dim when compared to a friggin roll of novel.


5.Can you define your writing process?

CS: I try to steal away as little time as possible to hone my craft, and I think it shows. Usually I have an idea and go with it. This faux interview was an idea that I had about fifteen minutes ago. I thunk it and just started writing. I probably wont edit this one either.


Interviewer: One last question. What are you working on right now.

CS: I am writing a novel that involves absurdity, buffoonery, and time travel with a bit of mental illness thrown in.

Interviewer: Sound interesting. When should we expect to see it in bookstores.

CS: Somewhere between when I finish writing it and finding a liquored up publisher.

Interviewer: Thank you for your time.

CS: My pleasure. Do you want a Pepsi?

Five Questions with Chuck Scott

*Some days I have lots of time to daydream. This is a result of my daydreaming of being a published novelist/essayist/blogger of great renown. Bertrand Russell once said, "The megalomaniac differs from the narcissist by the fact that he wishes to be powerful rather than charming, and seeks to be feared rather than loved. To this type belong many lunatics and most of the great men of history."

I don't know, I think that I would like to be charming too.

In this megalomaniacal thread of thought I am being interviewed by some writer from Redbook, or maybe O magazine. I can't remember, though I don't really think that I would be on Oprah's Book of the Month reading list.

I think I will start the degaussed video now. ****

Interviewer: I recently had the chance to talk to Chuck Scott, author of, “Broken Stuff and Things” at his trailer on stilts by the river. When I got there I found him eating a banana while staring at the water. I asked him what he was thinking about and his reply was, “Nothin.”

As we sat down in his kitchen to start the interview he made me promise to take a kitten before we started. I really wanted the interview, mostly because I spent all day getting lost on back roads trying to find the engineering anomaly that passes for Mr. Scott's house, so I obliged and am now the proud owner of one inbred cat.

Things that I left out were his frequent bunny trails and the occasional shooting at the neighbors dogs. All in all I found him to be a crank, but a friendly one. He offered me a Pepsi numerous times in spite of me telling him I liked Coke better. To which he would reply, “Oh, sorry, I forgot.”



1.You seem a bit pensive at times. Why do you think that comes out in your writing?

CS: Uh, because to write one must think, ponder, you know, ruminate. I have been wired in such a way that makes me see the funny in the sad and the sad in the funny. Most people only see one or the other. I have ambidextrous thought patterns. It doesn't hurt to see everything through the lens of absurdity.

2.How long have you been writing?

CS: Some of my earliest memories are of sitting in front of a 13” Philco black and white tv with my crayons, paper and a glass of milk. I think that would have been 1969, so I have been writing since I was three. I have good penmanship. Do you want a Pepsi?

3.Why do you write?

CS: If I did not write I would literally explode. No, I would puke up random words strung together in unintelligible sentences. Come to think of it, it would look like my Facebook, or blog.

4.One reading your blog would assume that you don't believe in editing. Do you ever edit?

CS: As little as possible. Can't be bored with the details. Jack Kerouac wrote his novel, On the Road on a continuous roll of paper. Imagine the conversation at the publisher's office the day that arrived. Somehow my little grammar and punctuation mistakes seem dim when compared to a friggin roll of novel.


5.Can you define your writing process?

CS: I try to steal away as little time as possible to hone my craft, and I think it shows. Usually I have an idea and go with it. This faux interview was an idea that I had about fifteen minutes ago. I thunk it and just started writing. I probably wont edit this one either.


Interviewer: One last question. What are you working on right now.

CS: I am writing a novel that involves absurdity, buffoonery, and time travel with a bit of mental illness thrown in.

Interviewer: Sound interesting. When should we expect to see it in bookstores.

CS: Somewhere between when I finish writing it and finding a liquored up publisher.

Interviewer: Thank you for your time.

CS: My pleasure. Do you want a Pepsi?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

10 Things I Noticed While Shopping at Walmart

It is inevitable, if you are middle class, lower class or no class, you are going to shop at Walmart. Sure, you could be a snob and shop at Target (pronounce tarjay in france) but if you live in the midwest, the south, or if you currently live in or have lived in a trailer park you are forced to shop at the House of Walton. Face it, it's cheap, convenient and dare I say again, cheap.

I will make a confession that I would have denied just minutes ago. I find myself at Walmart many times during the week. This usually involves walking through the store as my wife does the serious shopping. In my boredom I have had time to notice some things about Walmart and marketing outside the obvious tube top and price signs.

Now, keep in mind, I notice lots of things all the time. Most of the time I keep it to myself which explains my laughing out loud (LOL for those under 30) while walking around....anywhere. I am easily amused and people amuse me. I say all that to say that I could keep a running list of observations from Walmart alone. That list would be infinite if I were to add Starbucks, any grocery store and Home Depot. So, to keep this list at a acceptable readable length I have narrowed my list to Walmart (works with the title of this article) and only 10 (again, working with the title)

10. Socks at Walmart come resealable packaging. Do socks have a shelf life that warrants a resealable bag? I am not too sure what to do with the bag. Do I keep it to store my unused socks?

9. Great Value branding of everything. O.K. , most everything. I remember a day when you could find more name brand items at Walmart. Now some marketing genius thinks he has to remind me on every aisle that I am getting a “great value”. To said savant I say this: I am shopping at Walmart because I have a genetic predisposition towards being a tightwad. I would not be at Walmart otherwise.

8.I am pretty sure that all Walmart customers are NASCAR loving, American Chopper watching, Dickies wearing lemmings. This is not by choice, but by suggestion. I am pretty sure that Walmart is paid by the companies for exclusive rights to sell their wares. Think I am nuts? Have you ever seen NASCAR at Target?

7. Am I the only one offended by Pepsi's recent Throwback campaign? They have the audacity to use “Made with Real Sugar” and “Limited Time Only” as selling points. Alas, they will be forced by economics to replace the real sugar with high fructose corn syrup and water from the Ganges.

6. Miley Cyrus has way too much merchandise.

5. The “If this restroom is dirty,” switch doesn't really work. I tested this one day. I flipped the switch and stood by the T.V.'s waiting for someone to show up and clean it. I was there for 20 minutes and nobody showed. I think the switch is still on.

4. All the “Rollback” clothing is the size of a two man tent. This would be cool if I were a hip hop dancer, but I am not. It would be equally cool if I were a size requiring a two man tent sized shirt.
3. There is a lot of rotting fruits and vegetables in places where you wouldn't expect to find rotting fruit and vegetables. One time I noticed fruit flies hovering around a garment rack. “This is odd,” I thought. I looked under the rack and saw a rotting peach with a couple of bites taken out of it. I am still unsure as to when the bites occurred. Thinking about it makes me queasey.

2. No matter what time of day it is there are never more than four cash registers open. This can be overcome if you have a child with you to send over to the bank to get free Dixie cups full of popcorn.

1. All Walmart greeters are robots. They move just like any Disney robot I have ever seen. Don't believe me, go to Disneyland and check out the Lincoln robot. Same mannerisms. I am sure it is on Youtube. Check it out. I have a little test for you. The next time you go to Walmart pay attention to how the greeter greets you. Then walk down the aisle along the end of the registers to the exit/entrance and walk around to the exit/entrance you just went through moments before. Not only will you hear the exact same greeting you will notice by the glazed over expression on the greeters face that they did not remember that you just came through. One day I had some time to kill so I walked the big exit entrance circle twenty times. They are robots I tell you!


There you have it. Like I said, I have many more observations. But I have bored you enough for now.

10 Things I Noticed While Shopping at Walmart

It is inevitable, if you are middle class, lower class or no class, you are going to shop at Walmart. Sure, you could be a snob and shop at Target (pronounce tarjay in france) but if you live in the midwest, the south, or if you currently live in or have lived in a trailer park you are forced to shop at the House of Walton. Face it, it's cheap, convenient and dare I say again, cheap.

I will make a confession that I would have denied just minutes ago. I find myself at Walmart many times during the week. This usually involves walking through the store as my wife does the serious shopping. In my boredom I have had time to notice some things about Walmart and marketing outside the obvious tube top and price signs.

Now, keep in mind, I notice lots of things all the time. Most of the time I keep it to myself which explains my laughing out loud (LOL for those under 30) while walking around....anywhere. I am easily amused and people amuse me. I say all that to say that I could keep a running list of observations from Walmart alone. That list would be infinite if I were to add Starbucks, any grocery store and Home Depot. So, to keep this list at a acceptable readable length I have narrowed my list to Walmart (works with the title of this article) and only 10 (again, working with the title)

10. Socks at Walmart come resealable packaging. Do socks have a shelf life that warrants a resealable bag? I am not too sure what to do with the bag. Do I keep it to store my unused socks?

9. Great Value branding of everything. O.K. , most everything. I remember a day when you could find more name brand items at Walmart. Now some marketing genius thinks he has to remind me on every aisle that I am getting a “great value”. To said savant I say this: I am shopping at Walmart because I have a genetic predisposition towards being a tightwad. I would not be at Walmart otherwise.

8.I am pretty sure that all Walmart customers are NASCAR loving, American Chopper watching, Dickies wearing lemmings. This is not by choice, but by suggestion. I am pretty sure that Walmart is paid by the companies for exclusive rights to sell their wares. Think I am nuts? Have you ever seen NASCAR at Target?

7. Am I the only one offended by Pepsi's recent Throwback campaign? They have the audacity to use “Made with Real Sugar” and “Limited Time Only” as selling points. Alas, they will be forced by economics to replace the real sugar with high fructose corn syrup and water from the Ganges.

6. Miley Cyrus has way too much merchandise.

5. The “If this restroom is dirty,” switch doesn't really work. I tested this one day. I flipped the switch and stood by the T.V.'s waiting for someone to show up and clean it. I was there for 20 minutes and nobody showed. I think the switch is still on.

4. All the “Rollback” clothing is the size of a two man tent. This would be cool if I were a hip hop dancer, but I am not. It would be equally cool if I were a size requiring a two man tent sized shirt.
3. There is a lot of rotting fruits and vegetables in places where you wouldn't expect to find rotting fruit and vegetables. One time I noticed fruit flies hovering around a garment rack. “This is odd,” I thought. I looked under the rack and saw a rotting peach with a couple of bites taken out of it. I am still unsure as to when the bites occurred. Thinking about it makes me queasey.

2. No matter what time of day it is there are never more than four cash registers open. This can be overcome if you have a child with you to send over to the bank to get free Dixie cups full of popcorn.

1. All Walmart greeters are robots. They move just like any Disney robot I have ever seen. Don't believe me, go to Disneyland and check out the Lincoln robot. Same mannerisms. I am sure it is on Youtube. Check it out. I have a little test for you. The next time you go to Walmart pay attention to how the greeter greets you. Then walk down the aisle along the end of the registers to the exit/entrance and walk around to the exit/entrance you just went through moments before. Not only will you hear the exact same greeting you will notice by the glazed over expression on the greeters face that they did not remember that you just came through. One day I had some time to kill so I walked the big exit entrance circle twenty times. They are robots I tell you!


There you have it. Like I said, I have many more observations. But I have bored you enough for now.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Grandpa Eck

The summer of 1975 in Southern California my brother Andy and I, as latch key kids, had roaming rights to most, if not all of Orange County. Our day started as Mom left for work at the Bank of America building. She didn't work for Bank of America. She worked for Traveler's Insurance. Monday through Friday she would peek her head into our room to tell us that she was leaving for work. We would make a bleary eyed, grunt like acknowledgment and she would leave. We usually waited to hear the sound of her VW bug chugging away before we got out of bed.

Our routine involved roaming around looking for something to do. Sometimes we would fly kites at the school yard. Sometimes we would roam up and down the tree lined suburban streets looking for new friends. Aimless days of summer, nothing to do except to do nothing.

It was how we met Eck. Eck was his last name. He was an 80 year old man that we came upon while walking around. I remember that we were walking exceptionally slow that day, so slow that Eck called us over and offered us a drink. Back then we didn't have McGruff to warn us about strange old men offering drinks or candy so we accepted two Pepsis. Pepsi with real sugar. Good stuff.

That summer we made it over to Eck's house almost everyday. He would load us up with Pepsi, we would stay around just long enough to annoy him. Eck would sit in his worn out lawn chair chewing plug tobacco and telling us about the good old days when there wasn't much more than orange groves and dirt roads. He would tell us about the old trolleys and how, when he was our age, he would hop on the trolley and ride as far as he could for free. “Now don't get any ideas about hopping on a bus without paying. They'll haul you in for that,” he would say.

It was too late. We already tried it successfully.

We would sit there on his concrete driveway and listen to his stories about watching moving pictures being made in the hills, stealing oranges and watching Disneyland being built as he drove by on his way to work. Every couple of minutes he would spit tobacco juice towards a shrub, which he would always miss. He would continue his story, always a bit of spittle running from the corner of his mouth down his stubbly chin. He would also discard his plugs around the same area, warning us to not touch such a filthy thing.

As life goes, so does time. School started back up and we lost touch with Eck. That summer we had the closest thing to a grandfather we would have until our mom remarried and we inherited Grandpa Joe. I wish we stayed in contact after school started, but we were kids and easily distracted. Anyway, thank you Eck for humoring a couple of latchkey kids. After 35 years you are not forgotten.

Grandpa Eck

The summer of 1975 in Southern California my brother Andy and I, as latch key kids, had roaming rights to most, if not all of Orange County. Our day started as Mom left for work at the Bank of America building. She didn't work for Bank of America. She worked for Traveler's Insurance. Monday through Friday she would peek her head into our room to tell us that she was leaving for work. We would make a bleary eyed, grunt like acknowledgment and she would leave. We usually waited to hear the sound of her VW bug chugging away before we got out of bed.

Our routine involved roaming around looking for something to do. Sometimes we would fly kites at the school yard. Sometimes we would roam up and down the tree lined suburban streets looking for new friends. Aimless days of summer, nothing to do except to do nothing.

It was how we met Eck. Eck was his last name. He was an 80 year old man that we came upon while walking around. I remember that we were walking exceptionally slow that day, so slow that Eck called us over and offered us a drink. Back then we didn't have McGruff to warn us about strange old men offering drinks or candy so we accepted two Pepsis. Pepsi with real sugar. Good stuff.

That summer we made it over to Eck's house almost everyday. He would load us up with Pepsi, we would stay around just long enough to annoy him. Eck would sit in his worn out lawn chair chewing plug tobacco and telling us about the good old days when there wasn't much more than orange groves and dirt roads. He would tell us about the old trolleys and how, when he was our age, he would hop on the trolley and ride as far as he could for free. “Now don't get any ideas about hopping on a bus without paying. They'll haul you in for that,” he would say.

It was too late. We already tried it successfully.

We would sit there on his concrete driveway and listen to his stories about watching moving pictures being made in the hills, stealing oranges and watching Disneyland being built as he drove by on his way to work. Every couple of minutes he would spit tobacco juice towards a shrub, which he would always miss. He would continue his story, always a bit of spittle running from the corner of his mouth down his stubbly chin. He would also discard his plugs around the same area, warning us to not touch such a filthy thing.

As life goes, so does time. School started back up and we lost touch with Eck. That summer we had the closest thing to a grandfather we would have until our mom remarried and we inherited Grandpa Joe. I wish we stayed in contact after school started, but we were kids and easily distracted. Anyway, thank you Eck for humoring a couple of latchkey kids. After 35 years you are not forgotten.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Rough Draft Excerpt

Harry



The sky is bright today. I am not too sure if this is intensified by my cars missing sun visor or not, but it sure is bright. I like days like this...as long as I have sunglasses. Bright days like these, along with the popcorn clouds give me something to do while driving. There is a slight breeze today and it is pushing the clouds south; which is the direction I am going at the moment. The sun is casting shadows from the clouds down onto the road. I am finding myself chasing them as they go. I speed up, chasing a cloud, the wind picks up and I have to play catch up. I am not too sure what this is doing for my mileage, but it sure does pass the time as I am driving.

“In point three miles, exit right, then turn left.”



Wow, I forgot that was on. I wonder how Harry the Mormon is? I haven't seen him in a couple of days. I'll have to call him when I get back.

I don't know why I just thought of Harry.



O.K. what was I just thinking about. Clouds, driving, left turn that I just missed....I can turn around...oh, GPS...A couple of days ago I had a talk with Harry about getting a GPS. The conversation makes me smile now, but I remember being a little aggravated.

I usually see Harry every other day, but we have made it a point to get together for coffee at Starbucks every Tuesday. Last Tuesday I had been waiting almost an hour for our weekly meeting when Harry finally showed up. “Sorry I am late. I got lost,” he said as he threw his bag down by the table and, in one smooth seamless motion walked to the counter to order.



Harry is always getting lost. Harry is directionally challenged. If there is ever a drug for it Harry would be the poster boy....I smile thinking of the commercial and all listed side effects. I can hear the announcer, “side effects include, vomiting, blindness and in rare instances inter-cranial bleeding leading to death.” I picture some middle aged, former hand model trying his chops at acting coming on the screen acting like some real person carrying on with life oblivious to the camera, then turning towards the camera and saying, “I may be dying, but thanks to Direcstra I know where I'm going.” and then totally going back to the bad acting that is supposed to make me think they are real people.

I continued the conversation with Harry as he orders his triple mocha latte with non fat milk, “You really need to do something about this late thing Harry.”



“What do you mean?” He asked as if it were his first time hearing about this.

“Have you ever thought about getting a GPS?” I asked, knowing that Harry would be the most punctual person if he knew where he was going.



Not too long ago Harry had told me about his two year mission with the Mormon church. He confided that he had lost count of how many partners he had gone through during that time simply because he insisted on leading the way to prospective homes. This probably wouldn't have been a bad idea had Harry not been sent to rural Illinois. I am sure those poor souls got tired riding their bikes on long dusty roads occasionally stopping on the road only to hear Harry say, “It's gotta be around here somewhere,”.

But with age comes wisdom, and Harry, along with all his friends, know better than to trust him when it comes to directions.



I'll have to call him when I get back.

I wonder why people question why I am hanging out with Harry the Mormon? I like the guy. He's always late, and gets lost all of the time, but he is nice. He doesn't try to convert me, and I don't talk to him, too much, about the Bible. Sometimes I think he knows the Bible better than me though. What is really cool, and it is probably cool only to me is that he lets me introduce him as Harry the Mormon. Most people don't like to be introduced like that.



That reminds me of this guy in town named Bob Williams. Bob is African American. The only African American in town. For a long time everyone called him Black Bob. I was never sure why they did that because there are a few Bobs in town, including one Bob that is pasty white and they never called him Pasty White Bob as far as I know. I never called him Black Bob. I called him Mr. Williams because he was my dad's age. One year at the fair Mr. Williams, an accomplished musician by the way, was waiting just off stage to perform. The MC introduced him as Black Bob Williams. Mr Williams walked to the piano, sat down and pulled the microphone over and said, “My name is Bob Williams. You all know that. For years you have called me Black Bob and I want to say that I do not like that. My name is Bob..Just Bob.”



Bob waited a few seconds and then started playing.

I am sure there is no parallel here. Being a Mormon is not a race. Yet for whatever reason my head is making that connection today.



As far as the rest of my conversation with Harry went, he agreed that he had indeed thought of buying a GPS. When we parted ways that day he was on his way to purchase one. At that moment I made a mental wager with myself. I bet he gets one. I bet he doesn't. If I win I get ten bucks. If lose I still win because I bet myself.

Sometimes I am amazed at my mad logic skills.



I gotta call Harry when I get back.

I manage to turn around and head back towards my sisters new house.

"In five hundred feet, you have reached your destination, on right.”



Rough Draft Excerpt

Harry


The sky is bright today. I am not too sure if this is intensified by my cars missing sun visor or not, but it sure is bright. I like days like this...as long as I have sunglasses. Bright days like these, along with the popcorn clouds give me something to do while driving. There is a slight breeze today and it is pushing the clouds south; which is the direction I am going at the moment. The sun is casting shadows from the clouds down onto the road. I am finding myself chasing them as they go. I speed up, chasing a cloud, the wind picks up and I have to play catch up. I am not too sure what this is doing for my mileage, but it sure does pass the time as I am driving.

“In point three miles, exit right, then turn left.”


Wow, I forgot that was on. I wonder how Harry the Mormon is? I haven't seen him in a couple of days. I'll have to call him when I get back.

I don't know why I just thought of Harry.


O.K. what was I just thinking about. Clouds, driving, left turn that I just missed....I can turn around...oh, GPS...A couple of days ago I had a talk with Harry about getting a GPS. The conversation makes me smile now, but I remember being a little aggravated.

I usually see Harry every other day, but we have made it a point to get together for coffee at Starbucks every Tuesday. Last Tuesday I had been waiting almost an hour for our weekly meeting when Harry finally showed up. “Sorry I am late. I got lost,” he said as he threw his bag down by the table and, in one smooth seamless motion walked to the counter to order.


Harry is always getting lost. Harry is directionally challenged. If there is ever a drug for it Harry would be the poster boy....I smile thinking of the commercial and all listed side effects. I can hear the announcer, “side effects include, vomiting, blindness and in rare instances inter-cranial bleeding leading to death.” I picture some middle aged, former hand model trying his chops at acting coming on the screen acting like some real person carrying on with life oblivious to the camera, then turning towards the camera and saying, “I may be dying, but thanks to Direcstra I know where I'm going.” and then totally going back to the bad acting that is supposed to make me think they are real people.

I continued the conversation with Harry as he orders his triple mocha latte with non fat milk, “You really need to do something about this late thing Harry.”


“What do you mean?” He asked as if it were his first time hearing about this.

“Have you ever thought about getting a GPS?” I asked, knowing that Harry would be the most punctual person if he knew where he was going.


Not too long ago Harry had told me about his two year mission with the Mormon church. He confided that he had lost count of how many partners he had gone through during that time simply because he insisted on leading the way to prospective homes. This probably wouldn't have been a bad idea had Harry not been sent to rural Illinois. I am sure those poor souls got tired riding their bikes on long dusty roads occasionally stopping on the road only to hear Harry say, “It's gotta be around here somewhere,”.

But with age comes wisdom, and Harry, along with all his friends, know better than to trust him when it comes to directions.


I'll have to call him when I get back.

I wonder why people question why I am hanging out with Harry the Mormon? I like the guy. He's always late, and gets lost all of the time, but he is nice. He doesn't try to convert me, and I don't talk to him, too much, about the Bible. Sometimes I think he knows the Bible better than me though. What is really cool, and it is probably cool only to me is that he lets me introduce him as Harry the Mormon. Most people don't like to be introduced like that.


That reminds me of this guy in town named Bob Williams. Bob is African American. The only African American in town. For a long time everyone called him Black Bob. I was never sure why they did that because there are a few Bobs in town, including one Bob that is pasty white and they never called him Pasty White Bob as far as I know. I never called him Black Bob. I called him Mr. Williams because he was my dad's age. One year at the fair Mr. Williams, an accomplished musician by the way, was waiting just off stage to perform. The MC introduced him as Black Bob Williams. Mr Williams walked to the piano, sat down and pulled the microphone over and said, “My name is Bob Williams. You all know that. For years you have called me Black Bob and I want to say that I do not like that. My name is Bob..Just Bob.”


Bob waited a few seconds and then started playing.

I am sure there is no parallel here. Being a Mormon is not a race. Yet for whatever reason my head is making that connection today.


As far as the rest of my conversation with Harry went, he agreed that he had indeed thought of buying a GPS. When we parted ways that day he was on his way to purchase one. At that moment I made a mental wager with myself. I bet he gets one. I bet he doesn't. If I win I get ten bucks. If lose I still win because I bet myself.

Sometimes I am amazed at my mad logic skills.


I gotta call Harry when I get back.

I manage to turn around and head back towards my sisters new house.

"In five hundred feet, you have reached your destination, on right.”


Friday, July 16, 2010

writing about thinking and thinking about writing.....

I have lots to think about and lots of time to think about it. Some of my earliest thoughts revolved around the superficial things in life. In the 1970's one thought involved getting real motorcycle handlebars for my Schwinn Stingray that I bought for five bucks. Heck, that bike was a thought. So was the five bucks, albeit a fleeting one.

So, with all my thinking about thinking I started thinking about what I like to think about most...what to write next. As a child I toyed with the idea Of being a writer. The only classes I would go to in high school were the ones that involved literature and composition. There was the occasional wood shop, or small engine repair detour, but for the most part I ditched all the classes I didn't like and attended the ones I did. The result of this method of education was never graduating from high school. I did finally get a diploma in the Army after they realized the let me in without one. Those were the easiest four months of my Army career.

A lot of writers have influenced me over the years. For a long time I would find myself trying to mimic some part of their style to make my own. Who knows, maybe I was successful in taking bits and pieces of style and made the perfect Frankenstein. Hopefully it wont kill you, just mildly bore instead. The thing is that I don't want to be those writers. They do, or did their job well. Nope, I wanna be me.

I have had stories going through my head because, as I stated earlier, I have lots of time to think. For a while I thought I wanted to write some sort of self help seven steps to a cleaner soul type of book, but recently discarded that idea after realizing I rarely clean my ears. I have started and restarted writing stories that have nothing to do with anything other than people and their stories. Most of it focusing on the absurd things that happen to me daily. In short, telling my story through the story of some guy, or groups of people that I made up. What they do depends largely on what people around me do. Writing what I know, and if I don't know you, don't worry. That is unless you happen to serve me coffee at Starbucks or something like that.

This particular thought on writing and thought got it's start here. It's a contest where one can win a trip for two to Portland, Oregon for a seminar on how to write about your life,and rewriting it to live the life you want to live. Donald Miller of Blue Like Jazz fame is putting it on. I like his writing, but I am not going to enter. Mostly because I think I have writing my life covered and Portland just doesn't seem like a destination point in my life. Sorry Portland. If it helps, you ain't missing much.

So, why do I bother to write about thinking, writing and a contest for a seminar that I am not going to? I am glad you asked. My whole reason for doing this is to sort of kick my self in the butt to write more. For the last year and a half I have written very little. I have attributed it to not having the time which really isn't true. Mostly I think I got burned out on what I was writing about and needed some new fodder. Gone are my thoughts about religion and spirituality. Instead I will think and write more about God and my relationship with Him and others and my relationship with them and Him. Mostly it will be through story, my story fictionalized to protect the innocent and those with good lawyers.

I will share some thoughts and pieces of these stories on this blog, on Facebook and hopefully in book form as time progresses. You are invited to be either entertained, or bored to death. Just remember that I am the messenger so don't shoot me...

writing about thinking and thinking about writing.....

I have lots to think about and lots of time to think about it. Some of my earliest thoughts revolved around the superficial things in life. In the 1970's one thought involved getting real motorcycle handlebars for my Schwinn Stingray that I bought for five bucks. Heck, that bike was a thought. So was the five bucks, albeit a fleeting one.

So, with all my thinking about thinking I started thinking about what I like to think about most...what to write next. As a child I toyed with the idea Of being a writer. The only classes I would go to in high school were the ones that involved literature and composition. There was the occasional wood shop, or small engine repair detour, but for the most part I ditched all the classes I didn't like and attended the ones I did. The result of this method of education was never graduating from high school. I did finally get a diploma in the Army after they realized the let me in without one. Those were the easiest four months of my Army career.

A lot of writers have influenced me over the years. For a long time I would find myself trying to mimic some part of their style to make my own. Who knows, maybe I was successful in taking bits and pieces of style and made the perfect Frankenstein. Hopefully it wont kill you, just mildly bore instead. The thing is that I don't want to be those writers. They do, or did their job well. Nope, I wanna be me.

I have had stories going through my head because, as I stated earlier, I have lots of time to think. For a while I thought I wanted to write some sort of self help seven steps to a cleaner soul type of book, but recently discarded that idea after realizing I rarely clean my ears. I have started and restarted writing stories that have nothing to do with anything other than people and their stories. Most of it focusing on the absurd things that happen to me daily. In short, telling my story through the story of some guy, or groups of people that I made up. What they do depends largely on what people around me do. Writing what I know, and if I don't know you, don't worry. That is unless you happen to serve me coffee at Starbucks or something like that.

This particular thought on writing and thought got it's start here. It's a contest where one can win a trip for two to Portland, Oregon for a seminar on how to write about your life,and rewriting it to live the life you want to live. Donald Miller of Blue Like Jazz fame is putting it on. I like his writing, but I am not going to enter. Mostly because I think I have writing my life covered and Portland just doesn't seem like a destination point in my life. Sorry Portland. If it helps, you ain't missing much.

So, why do I bother to write about thinking, writing and a contest for a seminar that I am not going to? I am glad you asked. My whole reason for doing this is to sort of kick my self in the butt to write more. For the last year and a half I have written very little. I have attributed it to not having the time which really isn't true. Mostly I think I got burned out on what I was writing about and needed some new fodder. Gone are my thoughts about religion and spirituality. Instead I will think and write more about God and my relationship with Him and others and my relationship with them and Him. Mostly it will be through story, my story fictionalized to protect the innocent and those with good lawyers.

I will share some thoughts and pieces of these stories on this blog, on Facebook and hopefully in book form as time progresses. You are invited to be either entertained, or bored to death. Just remember that I am the messenger so don't shoot me...

Thoughts While in the Starbucks Drive Thru





I am beginning to believe there is no such thing as a happy medium. No, I'm not talking about some happy nut case that claims to talk to famous dead people. Really, what's up with that anyway? Why do they claim to talk to famous people? If you want to convince me that you actually talk to dead folks then maybe you should talk to some dead guy who lived his life between a river cabin and a trailer park drinking like a fish and smoking like a coal fired power plant until one day dying from a massive myocardial infarction (I just reached my goal for placing the word infarction into a sentence) I would use the giddy grande (medium at Starbucks) to ask the dead dude if the excess was worth it.

Nope, the happy medium I am talking about is in the service we get each and every day. I long for the day where I can go into any store and get civil service. I go to one store, fast food joint or whatever and the person behind the counter barely looks up to acknowledge that I am there. Or, this is my favorite, they do look at me, but in a way that makes me feel like I just interrupted some deep thought that would have changed the world but will now forever be forgotten because they suffer from ADD and can't think past the last five seconds. Pardon me for thinking that your actual job description includes scanning my items and taking my money, a portion of which makes it into your wallet.

Sometimes I am such an imposition.

I guess I would be happy with consistency. If everywhere I went I got consistently bad service, I would be able to accept that. I would even throw in with attitude and a can of corn at the clerks head. Okay, I wouldn't really throw the can of corn, a loaf of bread maybe, but not corn.

So I am in the drive thru at Starbucks. I pulled up to the speaker and get ready to order.

“Good evening. And how are you tonight?” says the singsong voice in the speaker.

I am thrown off by the slightly effeminate voice and before I can come up with something witty to say back I reply, “I am doing well. How are you tonight?”

Singsong says, “I am doing well, thanks for asking. How may I help you tonight?”

Before I go any further I want to say that at this point in this man love conversation I want to say something like, “My feet hurt, can you rub them? That would really be a big help,” Instead I order a Venti Pike's Place.

I get to the window, pay for my coffee...more pleasantries..ignore the tip box and leave with hot coffee in cup holder.

That bit of uncomfortable human interaction really bothered me. I don't know what that says about me. Hmm, on second thought, yes I do. What bothered me was that the guy didn't seem genuine. The clerk at the grocery store is genuine. They genuinely don't want to be there and it shows. The barista, or is that barister, was obviously following a sales technique that some out of touch Starbucks executive thinks will sell more coffee. Do you know what sells more coffee? Addiction...

I think that the happy medium that I long for would be a real interaction between two people. When I order a coffee, buy corn or talk to a real live person in India pretending to be in Newark I want small talk. I want to do what I set out to do and not feel the biting glare of contempt, or feel creeped out. I want service, nothing more, nothing less. That would be a refreshing, happy medium

Thoughts While in the Starbucks Drive Thru





I am beginning to believe there is no such thing as a happy medium. No, I'm not talking about some happy nut case that claims to talk to famous dead people. Really, what's up with that anyway? Why do they claim to talk to famous people? If you want to convince me that you actually talk to dead folks then maybe you should talk to some dead guy who lived his life between a river cabin and a trailer park drinking like a fish and smoking like a coal fired power plant until one day dying from a massive myocardial infarction (I just reached my goal for placing the word infarction into a sentence) I would use the giddy grande (medium at Starbucks) to ask the dead dude if the excess was worth it.

Nope, the happy medium I am talking about is in the service we get each and every day. I long for the day where I can go into any store and get civil service. I go to one store, fast food joint or whatever and the person behind the counter barely looks up to acknowledge that I am there. Or, this is my favorite, they do look at me, but in a way that makes me feel like I just interrupted some deep thought that would have changed the world but will now forever be forgotten because they suffer from ADD and can't think past the last five seconds. Pardon me for thinking that your actual job description includes scanning my items and taking my money, a portion of which makes it into your wallet.

Sometimes I am such an imposition.

I guess I would be happy with consistency. If everywhere I went I got consistently bad service, I would be able to accept that. I would even throw in with attitude and a can of corn at the clerks head. Okay, I wouldn't really throw the can of corn, a loaf of bread maybe, but not corn.

So I am in the drive thru at Starbucks. I pulled up to the speaker and get ready to order.

“Good evening. And how are you tonight?” says the singsong voice in the speaker.

I am thrown off by the slightly effeminate voice and before I can come up with something witty to say back I reply, “I am doing well. How are you tonight?”

Singsong says, “I am doing well, thanks for asking. How may I help you tonight?”

Before I go any further I want to say that at this point in this man love conversation I want to say something like, “My feet hurt, can you rub them? That would really be a big help,” Instead I order a Venti Pike's Place.

I get to the window, pay for my coffee...more pleasantries..ignore the tip box and leave with hot coffee in cup holder.

That bit of uncomfortable human interaction really bothered me. I don't know what that says about me. Hmm, on second thought, yes I do. What bothered me was that the guy didn't seem genuine. The clerk at the grocery store is genuine. They genuinely don't want to be there and it shows. The barista, or is that barister, was obviously following a sales technique that some out of touch Starbucks executive thinks will sell more coffee. Do you know what sells more coffee? Addiction...

I think that the happy medium that I long for would be a real interaction between two people. When I order a coffee, buy corn or talk to a real live person in India pretending to be in Newark I want small talk. I want to do what I set out to do and not feel the biting glare of contempt, or feel creeped out. I want service, nothing more, nothing less. That would be a refreshing, happy medium

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Thoughts While in the Chip Aisle

You can't teach an old dog new tricks nor can you trick him with slick marketing.

My wife says that I was old and set in my ways before my time. I say I know what I like so why change it.

I became aware of this many years ago when juice companies started blending juices together. As I look back however, I can see the first rumblings of curmudgeonry when Coke came out with New Coke. My question whenever a company tries something new with something that has worked well for all these years is: WHY?

Of course the question is rhetorical. I know that the real reason they change things up is to boost sales of the same product by changing it slightly because really, the only reason a company is in business is to make mo money, mo money, mo money. Current business models don't allow for the board of directors to be content with what they have; which is a consistent cash flow.

If you ask me they waste more money on advertising the new products instead of relying on the brand name that has been trusted for decades. Most, if not all companies, do this. However, for sake of time I will use Doritos as an example. It always amazes me just how big supermarkets have become. Our local bodega of sundries actually has an aisle that is close to 150 feet long with one side devoted to nothing but chips. They have potato chips ruffled, flat, bbq, sour cream and onion, salt and vinegar. Oh and then there are pretzels honey mustard, regular salty, low salt. But what caught my eye the other day were the Doritos.

Now Doritos have been around for roughly 45 years. For the longest time the only flavor I remember was the nacho cheese flavor. Cool ranch came along later on, but that was fine because they didn't delve into anything else and still made money. Good for them. What I noticed this time was that there are like a bazillion new Doritos flavors!

I am a simple man. I like things to stay simple. If something ain't broke, don't fix it. What I saw that day sent my head spinning like Linda Blair's in the Exorcist. There they were, right next to the nacho cheese and cool ranch, cheeseburger and taco flavored Doritos! I get the connection, sort of, with the taco flavor. I am at a loss when it comes to cheeseburger flavored corn triangles. I am pretty sure that if I had a hankering for a cheeseburger then I wouldn't be reaching for a bag of cheeseburger flavored Doritos. I do admit that I have tasted these chips after they somehow made their way into my home. I will give them credit for making them taste like a cheeseburger. Although the thought of how they do it scares me. I am not alone in saying I wont buy them. They will fall by the wayside and something new like fish taco flavor or something equally disgusting will take it's place.

Am I living in a dream world, or am I right in saying that I remember life being a little more black and white? We used to get just apple juice, actors were actors, not people we looked to for sage advice. Guys were guys, and girls were girls. People talked to each other face to face. The English language wasn't yet reduced to a bunch of acronyms and emoticons. The other day my daughter had to leave the room and actually said, “BRB,” as she left. Really, as I get older will I be able to communicate with anyone?

When I think about it I guess I don't mind too much that things are changing and being mixed together. I just wish it were a little bit easier to find my apple juice. For the sake of texting space I don't mind the acronimical use of language, even when it causes me to reply, “huh? wdym(what do you mean)” I just want to have a conversation once in a while. As for Doritos, I will stick with nacho cheese.

Thoughts While in the Chip Aisle

You can't teach an old dog new tricks nor can you trick him with slick marketing.

My wife says that I was old and set in my ways before my time. I say I know what I like so why change it.

I became aware of this many years ago when juice companies started blending juices together. As I look back however, I can see the first rumblings of curmudgeonry when Coke came out with New Coke. My question, whenever a company tries something new with something that has worked well for all these years is: WHY?

Of course the question is rhetorical. I know that the real reason they change things up is to boost sales of the same product by changing it slightly because really, the only reason a company is in business is to make mo money, mo money, mo money. Current business models don't allow for the board of directors to be content with what they have -- which is a consistent cash flow.

If you ask me, they waste more money on advertising the new products instead of relying on the brand name that has been trusted for decades. Most, if not all companies, do this. However, for sake of time I will use Doritos as an example. It always amazes me just how big supermarkets have become. Our local bodega of sundries actually has an aisle that is close to 150 feet long with one side devoted to nothing but chips. They have potato chips ruffled, flat, bbq, sour cream and onion, salt and vinegar. Oh and then there are pretzels honey mustard, regular salty, low salt. But what caught my eye the other day were the Doritos.

Now Doritos have been around for roughly 45 years. For the longest time the only flavor I remember was the nacho cheese flavor. Cool ranch came along later on, but that was fine because they didn't delve into anything else and still made money. Good for them. What I noticed this time was that there are like a bazillion new Doritos flavors!

I am a simple man. I like things to stay simple. If something ain't broke, don't fix it. What I saw that day sent my head spinning like Linda Blair's in the Exorcist. There they were, right next to the nacho cheese and cool ranch, a big bag of cheeseburger and taco flavored Doritos!

 I get the connection, sort of, with the taco flavor. I am at a loss when it comes to cheeseburger flavored corn triangles. I am pretty sure that if I had a hankering for a cheeseburger then I wouldn't be reaching for a bag of cheeseburger flavored Doritos. I do admit that I have tasted these chips after they somehow made their way into my home. I will give them credit for making them taste like a cheeseburger. Although the thought of how they do it scares me. I am not alone in saying I wont buy them. They will fall by the wayside and something new like fish taco flavor or something equally disgusting will take it's place.

Am I living in a dream world, or am I right in saying that I remember life being a little more black and white? We used to get just apple juice, actors were actors, not people we looked to for sage advice. Guys were guys, and girls were girls. People talked to each other face to face. The English language wasn't yet reduced to a bunch of acronyms and emoticons. The other day my daughter had to leave the room and actually said, “BRB,” as she left. Really, as I get older will I be able to communicate with anyone?

When I think about it I guess I don't mind too much that things are changing and being mixed together. I just wish it were a little bit easier to find my apple juice.

For the sake of texting space I don't mind the acronimical use of language, even when it causes me to reply, “huh? wdym(what do you mean)” I just want to have a conversation once in a while. As for Doritos, I will stick with nacho cheese.