Saturday, February 14, 2015

Happy Valentine's Day

     So here it is - Valentine's Day.  And in much of the eastern half of America it is pretty cold and awful outside weatherwise, which of course means that there will be a lot of new people coming into this world in mid-November. 
    All enjoyable recreational pursuits aside, Valentine's Day really is a holiday that has something for everyone.  For all of you people out there who are in love and it is still sort of white hot, you have all the romantic traditional Valentine's Day stuff, right?  Vermont bed & breakfasts, flowers, poetry, etc.  For those of you who are still in love but maybe it's been awhile and the slings and arrows - non Cupid - of daily life have broken down some of the romance and white-hotness of the whole thing, you have the opportunity to stoke the fires as it were.  For all you singles out there, well, sucks for you.  Suck it up and deal with it, okay?  If you are a conspiracy theorist, you have the whole "this holiday was created by the gift card companies" line of though, which might be true but let's be honest, they have developed a gift card for every situation and personality, they don't need a special day.  It's also a big day for anyone who is into mob history.  Yeah.  Or maybe you are a big fan of celebrating various feat days of the saints.  Enjoy whatever it is you are doing.
     But please, please, Company.  Remember to be safe, alright?  If you are going to go out to dinner make sure that you have brushed up on your Heimlich skills.  You don't want a tragic incident on such a special day.  If you are going to get just blackout drunk make sure that you have a bartender who will make sure to roll you over on your side when they find you in the opposite sex's bathroom.  If you are a conspiracy theorist, make sure that you do your finger exercises before you type that treatise on your web page so you don't get a painful sprained ring finger.  It can happen.  And if you are a floral delivery person, well, make sure to have a nice comfortable place to sit down at the end of the day, because you are going to need it.
     Happy Valentine's Day everyone!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Stacking Up

     Stacking is all the rage these days, apparently.  I am being serious, Company.  My niece is involved in some sort of competitive cup stacking.  She is eight.  And she can stack and unstack red solo cups like nobody's business.  I can only flip them.  And fill and empty them of liquids, of course.  And let's not forget about Jenga.  We are Jenga-ing everything now.  But those are easy and uniform items.  Child's play I tell you.  In our everyday lives most of us deal with a far more difficult stacking issue, and we don't even bat and eyelash at it.
     The issue occurs at the grocery store, and it comes because, well, groceries are not uniform.  It would be great if it were possible.  There are heavy canned goods, there are light but bulky boxed goods, all manner of frozen goods, and don't even get me started with the fruits and vegetables.  Most of them don't even have packaging at all.  And things like bread and eggs are dentable and breakable.
     As a consequence of all of this stuff, there is sort of a hierarchy of where stuff needs to go in the cart, right?   The canned goods go into the bottom because they are the heaviest Same goes for the milk.  You don't want to get into a situation in which you have - say a can of tomato soup lying on top of your multigrain bread.  That is bad juju.  Then comes the boxy stuff because it can still support some weight.  By the time you get through all that stuff you are in the frozen and dairy areas and they can go next.  Meat and fruits and veggies go back on the top.  The bread and the eggs, of course, go into the seat where your child should go.  That child, as we all know, should remain safely locked inside your vehicle while you are shopping. (Editor's Note:  That was a joke.  DO NOT ever leave a child unattended in any vehicle.) 
     And that is the same order they teach the baggers, or at least it should be. Because of all of the same reasons.  The heavy stuff goes on the bottom.  And the same in the car, too.  The heavy stuff on the bottom of the trunk.  It all makes such perfect sense, and that is why we all do it.  Except, of course, for me.  When you are a media mogul, Company, you can just take a bigass moving truck to the store so your bags can lay out in one layer.  But you get the drift.  The heavy stuff goes on the bottom.
     Problem with all of this common sense is that the process is not laid out in a way that supports it.  You go through the store and do an awesome job loading your cart with the heavy stuff on the bottom.  Then, you roll up to the register and it is time to unload.  Well, unless you are really and overachiever, the cart is sort of a FILO affair.  That is First In Last Out.  So as you unload your items onto the conveyor belt that always makes me wonder if it is a long enough distance to really require a conveyor belt, all the light stuff goes on first.  And since it passes through the checkout person FIFO (First In First Out) all the light and breakable stuff gets to the bagger first as well.
    The problem here is that what the bagger needs first is the heavy stuff - all the cans of stewed tomatoes that are still lined up on the conveyor.  So now he has a situation where he has to flip the whole group that is coming in.  In approximately four square feet of space.  But he does it because he is a professional.  Unless it is a woman, then she does it because she is a professional.
     Now let's assume that things are in your cart correctly.  Or as correctly as the bagger gets it.  Truth be told, baggers get a bad rap, and I think that it is because of the system.  They do pretty good most of the time with the job that they are asked to do.  So let's give them the benefit of the doubt and say they get it right.  Now you have a cart loaded with the same things that you loaded in it earlier, albeit in a different order.  But the same general order.  Heavy stuff is on the bottom.  Oh, and don't forget the beer on the way bottom rack.  I seriously think they put that there just so you forget shit.  So now you get to the car and have to unload the cart.  But all of the heavy bags are in the bottom of the cart, so now you are in the same boat as the bagger was.  Except that you are mobile out in the field.  In the snow.  Maybe you live in Arizona.  Now it is a sandstorm.  And that kid you had locked in your car has probably escaped and is running around the parking lot.  Oh, and now you have a dog too.  So have fun with that.
      The point here is that the system is broken people.  All of this flipping and flopping back and forth.  Maybe we need some innovative solution like a circular conveyor belt.  Or a reversible one.  I don't know.  I am not a grocery conveyor belt expert.  I am a media mogul.  I guess that I just don't stack up.

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Three Openings (Part 2)

     So Melodie Peil has been driving around for fifteen years with thirteen pounds and a half pounds of pot stowed in the door of her 1990 Chevrolet conversion van, unbeknownst to her.  And the previous owner of the van.  Oh, and the US Customs and Border Patrol.  Yeah, the Border Patrol.
    Peil, of New Mexico, bought her van used thirteen years ago from that aforementioned used car lot to tote her and her family around.  No big deal, right?  Roomy, comfortable, probably not great on gas but who cares, right?  So off she goes, all over the place, including Mexico.  Ten times.  Ten times she passed INTO the us through legitimate border stations with DRUG SNIFFING DOGS and the huge amount of pot hidden in her van, packaged for transport, was never discovered.  That's fucked up, okay?  I have known people who have had their cars literally taken apart by the Border Patrol coming back from Canada JUST BECAUSE.  Okay, usually because the people were day tripping to Canada and were drunk because you can drink really strong Molson there at age 19.  But still, CANADA!  And those people didn't have thirteen and a half pounds of pot packaged for transport in the front passenger door of their van.  But Melodie did, and she never got caught.
     Which is probably a good thing, because, well, she would have been fucked.  Like, royally.  There is no way that you are not going to prison when you get caught with that much marijuana PACKAGED FOR TRANSPORT in the door of your van, even if you really didn't have anything to do with it.  So how did they find it, Big Dave?  How did they discover this treasure trove that would have made her kids the most popular and rich kids in school?  Because the locks didn't work.
This 1990 Chevy conversion van is basically begging to be searched for drugs.
      Or at least one lock.  Melodie was having trouble locking the front passenger door of her 1990 Chevy conversion van, which most people would attribute to the fact that it is a 1990 Chevy conversion van, but when you have thirteen and a half pounds of marijuana packaged for transport stowed away in your 1990 Chevy conversion van, I would suppose that you want the locks to work.  So she calls up her family friend, Bryan Reyes, to get the lock fixed up.  Now I assume that he tried jiggering it, and maybe smacking it, and probably slamming the door really hard a couple of times, and probably some WD-40 like any guy would do.  And when all of that didn't work, in lieu of saying "Hey, it's probably broken because this is a 1990 Chevy conversion van," he went the extra mile and actually tried to fix it right.  So he started to pop the inside door panel off of the door and, well, we will let Bry-guy explain it to you.
     "When I first pulled out the brick, it was a two-pound brick."  You seem to know a lot about marijuana packaged for transport, there Bryan.  Go on. "I was like, holy cow!"  You did not say, "Holy cow."  There was an expletive involved.  Go on. "So I put it on the chair, and I looked and there was [sic] like six more bricks. I thought, this is a lot of marijuana."
     Yes it is, Bryan.  Yes it is. So a phone call to the police and a spot on the local news and that is all she wrote.  Police went ahead and did some extrapolation, and figured that if fifteen years ago some stoner left thirteen and a half pounds of pot in that door, God knows what else he forgot about in there.  And when they figured out that Melodie isn't all that great at, you know, noticing stuff, they decided that they had better give that van the once, twice, and probably three times over.  They even gave the US Customs and Border Patrol an out, saying that the dogs and agents probably couldn't detect the drugs because they were so old. 
     Which is probably what saved Melodie in the long run.  That and the fact that she called the cops instead of them just sort of catching her.  Because, really, if you call the cops to tell them you found a shit ton of pot in your van you have either a.) smoked a shit ton of pot already or b.) it's not your pot.  Also, most people aren't going to carry around thirteen and a half pounds of fifteen year old pot packaged for transport, because it is not exactly like wine, you know?  All I know is that once the police are done with it, Melodie is going to need a new van.  And maybe she will check it out a little better this time.

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Three Openings (Part 1)

Okay, Company.  I have one of those articles I write about a crazy news story, but I have three separate openings that I want to do for it.  So since I am unable to choose, what I am going to do is write all three openings here, and then write the rest some other day.  Sound good?  I hope so, because that is what I am doing.

Opening One

     Fifteen years.  Fifteen years.  Do you know how long fifteen years is, Company?  That is a long ass time.  That is almost how long you go to school from kindergarten through senior year.  That is slightly longer than the maximum amount of time an American President is allowed to serve.  That is long enough to conceive and raise a fourteen year old child.  In short, that is a pretty long ass time.  So the fact that someone could go for fifteen years with something totally unknown right below their noses, or more particularly right next to their right leg, is a little bit astounding...

Opening Two

     Have you ever watched the movie Bad BoysBeverly Hills Cop? The TV show CSI: Miami?  Or NCIS: Los Angeles?  Or any other CBS crime drama with a colon in it?  If you have, then you would know that drug dealers and drug runners will go to any length to recover their product.  Like, they will kill eleventy billion people at a party to get the couple of kilos that their mule took.  Or they will rob the Miami Police Department and piss of Martin Lawrence.  So how is it that they couldn't be bothered to retrieve it from a 1990 Chevy Van at a used car lot...?

Opening Three

       In the fantastic show Futurama, Bender and Fry are walking along past a construction site when the excavator digs up an entire, intact, Volkswagen Bus.  So Fry asks if he can have it, and the excavator operator says that if he wants to dump the corpses out of it he can have it, to which Fry responds "Yeah, yeah, I've gotten used cars before."  Classic.  Because in a lot of ways it is true.  Go down to your friendly but slightly dingy and slightly more than slightly sleaszy corner used car dealer, and there is no amount of pine scented air freshners that can be hung from the rearview mirror that will take the smell of the former owner out the outrageously priced Chevy Corsica that you are about to test drive.  And unless you go over it like one of the nerdy lab coated people in one of the shows from Opening One (did I just cause a rip in the space/time continuum by referring to my original opening in an alternate opening?), there is always liable to be something strange that comes to light the first time you try to go for that donut spare under the trunk floor.  Or it could be somewhere else...


Sunday, February 01, 2015

Super Bowl Sunday

     So it is Sunday, February 1, 2015, and 96.7% of America is watching Super Bowl XLIX, which somehow is one less than Super Bowl L, which doesn't make much sense, because Super Bowl L sounds like the brand name of a base model toilet.  I, personally, would spring for the Super Bowl LX, which is actually going to happen XI years from now, since in ancient Rome they didn't do numbers XLIX meant 49, L meant 50, LX means 60, and XI means 11. 
    Anyway, all this math will have to wait until later, because right now the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots are playing football in between commercials and a Katy Perry concert.  And Lenny Kravitz is her special guest because the Super Bowl halftime show always has to feature at least one artist who hasn't been relevant for at least seven years.
     And it has to be boring as hell.  At least to be there in person.  Once, a guy I know described football as being boring because there was action for ten seconds then everyone just mills around for thirty seconds before something happens again.  At the Super Bowl, there is a three minute break every five minutes or so, and an extra long halftime.  And you get to pay thousands for that business.
     Truth be told, it is pretty boring on TV, too.  That is why we all have to throw huge parties to watch the game.  The problem, truthfully, is that no one is ever in it for the whole thing.  The football people are in it for the football, which is completely disrupted by the million billion commercials and the extra long halftime.  The commercial people are in it for the commercials, which are interrupted by football and all the sixty-five hours of pregame.
     If you are, however, one of the people who doesn't give a shit about either, then this is the day for you.  On Super Bowl Sunday in just about every place in America, you can go out wherever you want and do just about anything you would like and not be in anyone's way.  You can hear a pin drop in every grocery store.  You can go to the amusement park and ride every ride without waiting in a single line.  Seriously, I have had the occasion for a whole bunch of the last few years to be driving long distances during the Super Bowl, and the highways are a ghost town.  Just me and a bunch of semi trucks.  The trick, however, is to make sure that you are home by the time the game is over, because by the time The Blacklist comes on, there will be approximately 150 million people drunken driving home.  So watch out for that.
    But anyway, whatever gets you excited about today I hope you enjoy it.  And if you are an employer, I would not bother to plan on getting anything done tomorrow.  In 2008 a study estimated that 4.4 million people are late to work on the day after the Super Bowl, 1.5 million don't show up at all, and productivity losses are in the millions of dollars.  So it sucks to be you.  Enjoy the game!