Thursday, April 24, 2014


Place: Burger King
Lunch: Big King, Chicken Big King, Fanta Fruit Punch

We have a new Burger King locally that just put up the Grand Opening signs.  If the interior designers of this one were honest with themselves, they'd call this decor package "Cave".  Grey walls, grey seat padding, black open (no false) ceiling, off-grey wood trims, and some reds (hanging light fixtures, some seat padding, and some accenting).  It's darkly lit and as dreary as anything you've ever seen.  What were they thinking.

They have a Coke Freestyle machine, so your favorite flavored soft drinks are at the ready, as are the standard drinks which everybody says "taste funny" in the Freestyle machines.  And they're correct.  There's a long and boring explanation for that, but my posts are long and boring enough.

The Big King, BK's "Big Mac" clone, is back, and this time is a true double-decker.  Sometimes BK puts this out with the middle bun (which makes it a double-decker), sometimes they just make it a double patty.  In a new twist, they've expanded the line to include chicken and fish versions.  The chicken is ALSO a double-decker, but the fish isn't.  It's just a single.  All three versions have the King sauce.  I like the Fish version a lot.

So on Saturday morning, I got new tires on my six-year old Nissan.  On Saturday evening, I happened to be driving by the Infiniti dealership where they were prominently displaying a stunning copper 2010 FX.  It was love at first sight.

On Tuesday, I took it home, leaving the Infiniti dealership with a 239,999 mile-old car with a caution pole paint scrape, a damaged rear wiper, an increasingly loud exhaust, and brand new tires.

To be fair, the FX has new looking tires.  And about 205,000 fewer miles.

Emptying out the Nissan was sort of bittersweet.  I almost didn't want to let go of it.  Six years and not once did the "Check Engine" light come on.  I never had to replace a single light bulb.  Not a headlight, tail light, brake light, turn light, NOTHING.  The suspension was so solid that the set of tires I just replaced lasted 110,000 miles.  The only mechanical failure I ever had with it was a bad wheel bearing.  The thing just did what it was supposed to do, faithfully and reliably.

Seeing it sitting there with the license plates removed, knowing it was goodbye, was really sad.  It's funny how we can get attached to our vehicles as if they're living beings.

Speaking of getting attached, I'm naming the FX Chester.  Or Chester Car.  Because it looks just like Chester Cat when he's about to pounce on something.  Sure, it doesn't perform the preliminary butt-shaking ritual before launch, but that'd probably be a bad thing on a car.  It'd be a fun visual, though.  You hit the gas, the back end wiggles, then you take off...

Haven't had time to take it anywhere aside from between work and home.  Been a very busy week.

That'll change this weekend.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

The Joker

Place: Taco John's
Lunch: Three hard shells, small Super Ole (no tomato, no guac), Pepsi

It's April Fools Day.  Apparently, the April Fools joke at this particular Taco John's is to do everything reeeeeealy slooooowly.

I've been seeing the usual April Foolery in the form of fake news stories and social media shenanigans.  Then there was the big CBS show swap, where Craig Ferguson and Drew Carey swapped shows.  But I don't count that because it was heavily promoted and acknowledged.  If Carey had just shown up on the Late Late Show and Ferguson had just shown up on TPIR with no explanation...maybe even using each other's would have counted.  Having said that, Carey did a phenomenal show last night.  As far as I'm concerned, Carey just became the beginning and end of the list of people who should eventually replace Letterman.  Carey and Ferguson would be a knock-out late night punch.

My April Fools joke?  I left my office calendar on March.  In related news, I'm not much of a practical joker.  In fact, I can't even think of any good practical jokes I've ever planned.  Except for that one time where the payoff came completely by accident.

We lived on a remote island of 13,000 in my teenage years.  There was no road access to the place, so reliance on boats and aircraft was big.  My family fell somewhere between 'poor' and 'middle income' and generally we either didn't have a washer and dryer, or we had a broken washer and dryer.  When I got my drivers license, I ended up alternating laundry duty with my mother.  Every two weeks, one of us would haul about a half dozen ginormous garbage bags of laundry down to the laundromat and take up an entire row of machines.

The laundromat was in a strip mall next to the biggest harbor in town.  Big boats, small boats, yachts, fishing boats, house boats, hundreds of every sort of privately owned boat you could imagine were docked here.  As a result, this laundromat got a lot of 'boat people' business, be it from people who lived on their boats to transient traffic passing through.  Like all laundromats, this one had a community bulletin board on the wall where people posted "for sale" or "wanted to buy" items.  This board was always packed with 3x5 cards.  As you would expect, the majority of items were boat related.

So I'm sitting there with the washing machines running, bored out of my mind, reading the bulletin board, thinking about how weird all this stuff would look like on the bulletin board of any other laundromat in the civilized world.  And I decided to write up a card myself as a joke.  Something that people would question, but just be plausible enough to let it pass.

WANTED TO BUY: Shower head for 50hp Mercury outboard motor.  Must be rust free.

I put the phone number of a public radio station 150 miles away as the contact with no name.  I figured nobody'd actually call because they'd have to pay long distance, and even if they did, their receptionist at best would just put a note on THEIR bulletin board in an effort to get the message to whoever of their fifty volunteers might have posted such a thing.

People would just look at it, maybe question it, then let it go.

And that was the end of that.

Or so I thought.



"Yes, Mother?"

"Did you put something on the bulletin board at the laundromat?"

She was standing in the dining room of our palatial double-wide, mixing bowl with spoon in hand, making dinner.

After a pause, I asked "Why?"

And then she told this story...

"Well, your brother and I were doing the laundry, and he was reading the bulletin board, and he said  "Mom, doesn't that look like Sam's handwriting?"

"Yes it does."

"Mom, why would somebody want a shower head for an outboard motor?"

"Well, fisherman want some pretty strange things sometimes."

I FELL ON THE FLOOR laughing.  Probably into a fetal position.  Tears streaming down my face.  Hysterical laughter.

I could not have envisioned this payoff in a MILLION years.

At some point, I looked up at her.  She was standing over me with this completely dumbfounded look on her face.  She had NO idea why this was funny, and I was making NO effort to explain it.  Eventually, she just shrugged her shoulders and went back to the kitchen.

It's probably ironic that the best joke I've ever pulled off was something only I laughed at or even understood, and that it happened completely by accident.

But even today, it still makes me laugh.