Stop with the “Super Moon”

When we sensationalize everything, we trivialize the truly sensational.

Tonight’s full moon isn’t all that “Super”. Tonight the moon will be full and at perigee.
This happens once every 14 lunar cycles (basically yearly). It will appear almost imperceptibly larger and a bit brighter than usual. Can we please stop acting like it’s some rare and spectacular event?

Let’s be honest, if no one told them it was “super” most folks wouldn’t notice the difference.

An open letter to the makers of panini presses

Dear panini press makers,

It would be nice if you made the grill ribs run at a 45 degree angle, rather than perpendicular. I like for my panini to have aesthetically-pleasing diagonal grill marks. Food just tastes better when it looks nice.

I can achieve this with perpendicular grill lines, but it means putting my sandwich in catty-corner and sacrificing valuable grill real estate (grill estate?) thus making it nigh on impossible to prepare two sandwiches at the same time. I shouldn’t be forced to make this concession. Just make the grill ridges run at a 45 degree angle and we’re one step closer to panini perfection, and one problem closer to solving all the world’s problems.

Thanks.

Your friend,
Greg

Checks: Are people insane?

As I do almost all of my banking online or via debit card, I use, at the very most, 3 or 4 checks per month. This means that an order of checks lasts me a very long time. After writing the check for my rent (the only check I write every month, I discovered/remembered that I’m almost out of checks. I had noticed this some weeks ago, but since I was still using the freebies from when I opened the account (literally 3+ years ago!) I couldn’t just re-order online and would have to talk to a “customer service represenative”.

So, I call the 800 number and navigate through the menus until I get “Troy” on the line. Troy was quite personable, making chit-chat as he gathers the necessary information (evidently, the weather in Manila, Philippines is quite nice now). Troy asks me if I want the same checks as before, “sure, that’s fine” says I. Then Troy dropped a bombshell; 250 of the rather ordinary-looking checks I’ve been using will cost $77!! First of all, I do not need 250 checks, it’s taken me 3 1/2 years to use 150. Secondly, $77 for checks? That’s fucking crazy!

So, I politely explain to Troy that there is absolutely no way I’m paying that much for checks. With little fanfare he hooks me up with plain-old, regular-ass checks, yellow, I believe, for a much less angina-inducing $21.50 per 150. Assuming I don’t move (or die) I should still be using these checks 5 years from now.

$77 for checks! That’s just crazy talk!

How hard is it to buy stamps?

In the wee hours of Friday morning, I found myself in need of a stamp. Sadly, the Post Office half a mile from my house mysteriously removed their stamp machines some time ago, so I’ll have to turn elsewhere.

No problem, I think, the US Bank (an account I’ve kept open for no reason other than occasional fee-free ATM usage) is just as close and the ATM sells stamps. And so, off I go. After I go through the dozen or so steps necessary to purchase stamps the ATM informs me that my card has expired and asks if I want another transaction. Another transaction? WTF? No, thank you, just give me back my useless card.

So, I return home to search for the ATM card which I assume came, unnoticed, in the mail. No luck. If the card came, it apparently made its way, unnoticed, into the trash. OK, plan B. I can use the debit card for my primary account, pay a fee to everyone involved, and get my stamps. I return to the ATM, only to discover that neither of the possible PIN’s which come to mind will work so I’m thwarted once more.

Dejected, I turn for home and when I’m almost there I realize Fulmer’s (the very conveniently-located grocery store which I hate and never shop at) is open 24 hours and sells stamps. I turn around, zip over to Fulmer’s (which looks suspiciously dark) and head for the door. As I approach the doors a man inside meets me and indicates that they’re closed, they don’t open until 6. Huh, apparently they are no longer open 24 hours.

So after all of this, I head to the Kroger across town where I normally do my grocery shopping, which I know for certain was still open 24 hours as recently as last week. It is open. Victory is mine! Naturally the only cashier working is taking her break, and naturally, the guy filling in for her is unfamiliar with the stamp selling protocol, but after a few false-starts I finally have my stamps.

I place a stamp on my envelope, drive back across town to the Post Office right by my house (you know, the one where they took out the fucking stamp machines) and drop it in the mail. A mere 2 hours after I started this little adventure, I was safely back at home.

And that, friends, is how hard it is to buy stamps.

Contact points

Why is it that my hobbies punish me for neglecting them? Too much time off the bike means a sore ass as I start to ride more. Playing my mandolin too infrequently means seriously painful, bordering on blistered fingertips upon picking it back up. I really need to get busy building up (and maintaining) some calluses.

The Tardiness Conspiricy

Why is it that when you’re running late and in a hurry, everything possible seems to conspire to slow you down? Last night I was running a bit late, getting ready for work. I grabbed my hair brush and it immediately self-destructed. The rubber part which holds the metal bristles divorced itself from the handle and flew off. It only just avoided splashing down in the toilet (wouldn’t that have been a nice touch?).

It’s surprisingly difficult to brush your hair with a floppy piece of rubber studded with metal bristles, particularly given the wild and desperately in need of cutting condition my hair finds itself in. So of course this added more time which I didn’t have to spare to my preparations. I finally made it out the door only to be thwarted and delayed by every red-light I came to, random cops rolling with radar, and an abundance of cars driving 5 mph below the limit.

Really though, if this is all I can find to bitch about, things aren’t going too bad. You know?

Stupid, stupid DST

Guess who was tricked into thinking he’d overslept, got ready in a mad dash, and arrived at work only to discover he was 57 minutes early?

Yeah, it was me. Thanks a whole fucking bunch, George W. Bush. Thanks for turning my ‘never has to be reset CD alarm clock’ into a ‘has to be reset four fucking times a year torture device’.

Fucker.

Stupid Groundhog

So, the groundhog saw his shadow, which supposedly means six more weeks of winter. Bah!
At least the New York groundhog (Chuck) fulfilled a long-time wish of mine and bit someone (not just anyone, New York’s Mayor Bloomburg!)

Remember when I said that I didn’t much care about the snow and ice that was forecast for us? Well, I lied. We got it, it’s still around, and I hate it. But I am still taking some solace in my cheerful little Shamrock’s reemergence.


Shamrock 2009-02-05 (1)

Spring Arrives (in my kitchen)

I have a potted shamrock that I received as a birthday/Saint Patrick’s Day gift a few years ago. It thrived in my kitchen window, producing blooms almost continuously. Back in September, though, it seemed to be becoming less vigorous and I decided that maybe it needed a rest. Being essentially a bulb (actually a rhizome, I believe), it made sense to me that it might need a dormant period, so early in November I snipped off all of its leaves and flowers, stuck it in a paper bag and tucked it away in the back of the refrigerator.

After I did this, I did a bit of Googling and discovered that apparently I should have withheld water until it died back on its own, then put it away for a nap. I really worried that I might have killed it with my impulsiveness, but I stuck to original plan and hoped for the best. I took it out just after Christmas and started watering it. A few weeks went by and nothing was happening, reinforcing my fear that I’d killed it. Then, last Friday, I thought I detected new growth, but feared it was just wishful thinking. Suddenly, Sunday, three leaves shot up! Hooray! I’m hopeful that this means it will begin producing blooms in time for my birthday, as per my plan.

There may be a winter storm warning in effect through Wednesday and we may get another six inches of snow, but I don’t care (much). It’s Spring in my kitchen!