Friday, May 22, 2009

I am just like you, only giant

Charlotte, NC -- Do you like the dateline? I think I will try it out when I travel. I am in Charlotte for a wedding of a person I don't know, but that's not really relevant to the post. Free food for a weekend is pretty excellent, though. So far only one sporadic reader friend of mine got married and invited me; the rest of you disgusting, unmarriable people need to get it into gear, because who doesn't like free stuff? I will invite you to my wedding when (if) it ever happens. I even promise to write about it and give you free advertising! With a dateline! Spread the word to your friends, and that many more people will hear about how your aunt is loud and the open bar was great.

The prompt for me to write today, though, was that I decided to join Sam's Club this morning, but that was back in Augusta. That place is a strange experience. You can spend a lot of money on junk you don't need and that you might get sick of before you reasonably consume it all. I bought a box of granola bars and it comes with thirty (30) packs of them, for $7. The normal one at the grocery store comes with six (6), for like $2.50. My tastes could change before I eat the last one. I also bought Honey Nut Cheerios, even though I have mixed feelings about cereal. It was like half price, so I am ok-er with it.

More interesting was the sort of shoppers you see there. You see old people who are thrifty to comic absurdity, a lot of moms with 3 teenage boys (or fat girls) who need an endless supply of cokes and mallomars (I actually didn't see any mallomars, but I think it's a funny word), and restauranteurs (hopefully bbqers, another class whose ranks I have recently joined). It kind of blows me away that small restaurants can go get their cooking supplies from the same place that soccer moms get their diet cokes and old people get their oddly large tins of metamucil. For some reason, I thought that there was some secret cabal of restaurant stuff that provides plates and ketchup to cafes and steakhouses with all their needs, painfully unavailable to us mere mortals. Between that and Hell's Kitchen, it doesn't seem like there is any reason I could not open a pretty kickass restaurant myself. I think it would be a gastropub. Maybe even in Charlotte?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

It is the green eyed monster which doth mock

My eyes look particularly green today. I don't mean that in the sense that they are buying reusable bags at Publix and using compact fluorescent light bulbs instead of incandescents (which raises [does not beg] the question, is the mercury used in a CFL less destructive than CO2?). I mean green in the sense of British racing green and green means go. I think I have narrowed the cause of this phenomenon down to two suspects:
  1. I am wearing a green shirt.
  2. My eyes are always greeen.
I have wondered for a long time about how the green shirt business works. Scientists everywhere agree that clothing color impacts perceived eye color. Is this just an effect akin to choosing the proper matte for your print of Dogs Playing Poker? (Why is that painting such a punchline?) It still seems weird to me, though, because the way people talk about it ("Oh your eyes look really pretty brown today") carries some implications, like something caused that to happen an that they are normally not that way. Just to clear up any confusion, my eyes are indeed always green and that is pretty spectacular.

Just to muddle any confusion further, the first choice leads to one of those dilemmas that allows crazy into the world, a la Pandora's Box. You know, if you say, "You look pretty today," that sounds like it is a change in condition. "Wow, you are normally easily confused with an angry warthog, but not today. Today you are worthy of appearing on a cardboard standee advertising chewing tobacco or beer." I am making a ruling: try to avoid fixating on the modifier in a case like that, unless it is especially insulting. For example:
  • GOOD: You smell nice today.
  • BAD: Did you finally decide to bathe?
  • GOOD: The dinner tonight was great.
  • BAD: How come your other food is way crappier than this?
  • GOOD: Nice hit!
  • BAD: Going 1 for 10 still means you missed 9 times.
  • GOOD: You look nice in that dress.
  • BAD: You're fat.
I think we can all accept that this is the way things should be. Although, the prospect of having shapeshifter eyes is a little unsettling, sure, it would be cool at first, but it could lead to trouble. ("Is there a problem officer?" "Son, this license says your eyes are green, but they are clearly blue.") What if they decided they liked some other color better, leaving some crappy color combination like garnet and black? Let's hope we never have to find out.

Friday, May 08, 2009

And down the stretch they come

I had a pretty fun weekend last week -- I attended an event across the river in South Carolina known as the Aiken Lobster Races. The thing is, I never made it to watch lovable crustaceans in their novel competition because we ran into the tragic experience that can challenge the excitement of any lobster race: the Poorly Run Restaurant (or PRR). I guess I should say, in the interest of full disclosure, that the PRR is new, but quite frankly, I am not convinced that should be an excuse. I have been to hundreds of restaurants in my short time here on God's Playground and I am pretty sure of the things that need to happen for the experience to be an enjoyable one. Good food is definitely a necessary condition, but not a sufficient one. (Steve Buscemi appearing in a movie is a sufficient condition for it to be good, but not a necessary one. Although it is close.)

The biggest clincher for my lobster party was the crappy waitress. The food came out slowly, and when it did it came out one order at a time. (In the PRR's defense, they claimed to be a tapas restaurant. To their discredit, only like 30% of the menu was actually tapas.) That was not necessarily her fault; the rudeness about being slow to show our IDs, getting infrequent water refills, and making inappropriate comments about how our decision to sit outside seemed to be an inconveniece for her were what convinced me of this conclusion: she sucks.

It also reminded me of one of the most illustrative and terrifying discoveries I have made so far about the human race: there are a lot of people who suck at their jobs. I know you are probably thinking, "Gee, Engineer, very insightful. What's next? Grapes are both nutritious and delicious?" Well, yes, that is also true. (Red grapes for ever!) But think about this on a large scale: there are people who suck at every job, ones you count on, like plumbers, water treatment guys, car makers, doctors, investment bankers, politicians, and even engineers. To quote George Carlin: "Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that." If you were one of those people who bought a Pontiac Aztek, sorry about your bad luck.

Even the high barriers to entry cannot keep some of them out. The head of AIG was not a dummy, you know? People had to elect Barney Frank, and the doctor from the Octomom nonsense got into and graduated from a medical degree granting institution. Soometimes having the capital, drive, and chef to open a restaurant is not enough to run it well, either. So remember all those jackasses in your classes and be nice to them because they might keep you from seeing lobsters race. Jerks.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Sometimes I nuaaowkk qiesa

A silly thing happened to me last week at work. I know I promised not to talk about work here before, and this will not be too much about that. You do not want to hear me talk about my job because engineers are boring, right? At work, I am an engineer. Here, on the internet, I can be anything! A swashbuckling writer who just does not care what the world things -- I am going to continue observing! You are welcome, internet.

Anyway, I got a reply to an e-mail I sent to a colleague that went something like this:


Do not worry about the content of this message. Rest assured that it was technical and boring yet still reaffirmed how awesome I am.


Normally, I sign with just my first name, but somehow my fingers managed not to land on the homerow exactly right and my otherwise superlative typing came out a little confused. Colleague had the good manners not to ask, "Who the hell is Engubrrt?" but if I know him, he probably showed everyone in his cubicle row while saying something along the lines of, "Get a load of this guy!"

This is not the first time I have confused my own now in communication. I remember one time I called a Tall Friend in elementary school to ask him about Command and Conquer or whatever we talked about in those days and left him a message along the lines of, "Hey Engineer, this is Tall Friend. I don't remember what this said but it was probably me calling you out as a crappy C&C player." He was both amused and bewildered by my nontraditional approach to trash talk.

The moral of this story is that even I cannot escape my powerful observations. I must continue my swashbuckling. My observations cannot esoy!