SHE SAID: Case of the Mondays?

October 25, 2010

Good morning!  I just found out that my six year old son will be having hockey practices on Friday mornings at 5:30 am.  He’s six.  Seems a little insane.  I’m thinking on Friday mornings might be the toughest morning of the week for me from now on.

In the interest of avoiding violated drinks while out celebrating, here is a link on how to not piss off your bartender. Avoid these pet peeves.

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The walkman is dead.  I remember my first walkman and how badly I wanted one.  When I got it, I was able to listen to whatever I wanted on long car trips.  Of course, I had to have the volume up high enough to drown out my mom’s show tunes which might explain my hearing loss….  I also remember getting my “sport” version, and then, once disk players got released, trying to run with one of those and not having it skip.  Which was a pointless exercise (pun intended).

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Oh dear. Who was insane enough to sign on as the ghost writer?  And you know one was necessary.

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Check this out. The New York Times slideshow on the New York City Subway system.

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SHE SAID: Case of the Mondays?

July 19, 2010

It’s stormy here today.  Wish I had a better camera than my phone, but this was all I had to capture the awesome weather that came through.

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Maggie sent this URL to me earlier this week and it has entertained me since. Here is the story that hooked me.

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Amazing.  The fake ankle monitor in support of Lindsey Lohan story didn’t work.

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Samuel Johnson, William Shakespeare, Sarah Palin. One of these things is not like the others …


SHE SAID: Starbucks VIA™

October 9, 2009

starbucks_viaI’ve never been a die hard Starbucks addict or fan, but I have been known to enjoy a cup of coffee and on occasion, that coffee has come from Starbucks.  I don’t think I need to have a Starbucks card or a collection of empty green and white cups littering the floor of my car to have a basic understanding of their goal, but it probably helps that I have read Pour Your Heart Into It, a book that traces the growth and development of Starbucks written by its chairman and CEO, Howard Schultz.

Here is what I don’t understand.  Starbucks was founded in the early seventies as a premier coffee bean company dedicated not only to providing top-quality beans to its customers, but also to educating them about great coffee.  In the early days, they bought their beans green from Peet’s, until they could buy directly from the growers (I’m a Peet’s fan … had to find a way to get the name in this post).  Clearly this company was striving to enlighten a Maxwell House drinking, Folgers ingesting country about the delights of a decent cup of coffee.

When Howard Schultz joined the company in the eighties, he brought a new vision.  After experiencing the coffee houses in Italy, Schultz was the motivating force behind the Starbucks transformation from a small Northwestern coffee bean company into the corporation we know today.  Interestingly enough, when Peet’s Coffee went up for sale, the original Starbucks owners jumped ship and left Schultz and Starbucks to run Peet’s, a company who’s mission statement more closely resembled their original plan for Starbucks.

I’m getting a little long winded here, but I felt the background was necessary for this question: Why would a company that has spent decades meticulously building an educated and picky customer base release a new line of … instant coffee?

VIA™.  Why?  Why.

Yes, we Americans are in a hurry.  We pick up our meals at windows staffed by paper hat wearing counter staff.  We drink coffee in our cars.  If we want a good cup of coffee, there are many places we can quickly pick one up, and in cities bigger than the podunk town I live in, you don’t even have to get out of the car.  McDonalds is brewing organic coffee and Starbucks has drive through.  I don’t even know anyone who drinks instant coffee.

Did Starbucks see the Keurig revolution and want a piece?  Because I’ve had Keurig coffee and it’s terrible.  It’s water.  People rave about Keurig’s ease of use, not the quality of the coffee.  Starbucks sold itself as a high-quality coffee company, not a quick fix coffee company.  You cannot have both speed and quality.  I expect Maxwell to try and convince consumers of it’s quality.  I don’t expect a company that prides itself on it’s quality to stoop to trying to oust the gravel selling instant coffee makers in the world.

I love coffee.  I love good, strong coffee and was recently castigated for admitting that I will only drink gas station coffee in an emergency. Given my love of and reliance on coffee, this sounds more drastic than it is.  I cry “uncle” easily and have been caught in numerous gas stations trying to determine which brew is the strongest.  Usually while trying to get somewhere in a rush due to the fact that I’m late.  And yet, I think I have had more gas station coffee than Starbucks.  Somewhere in there, the small company that started out with such admirable intentions became everything it initially rallied against.

But I guess it’s yet another reason why I’ll opt for something other than Starbucks.


HE SAID: Starbucks VIA™

October 9, 2009

Unfortunately Nifer, I think this is merely a case of your naivety.  I don’t mean that in a bad way…there is a sense of eternal optimism in your post that while endearing, is simply not realistic.  Back to that in a minute.

First I’ll launch my defense of the Keurig One Cup coffee maker, which is something that has changed my life along the lines of Netflix, satellite radio, and DVR.  In other words, the Keurig has really helped develop me as a person (ok, a bit strong, I’m trying to make a point).  The key with the Keurig is brewing the right amount and using the right kind.  Most of the Green Mountain Coffee cups suck, however there are many other brands making the single cups nowadays.

For example, while I type I’m enjoying a cup of strong Tully’s Italian Roast right now.  In addition, you can even buy a reusable filter for them and use whatever type of coffee you want (not to mention, that option is much better for the environment)!  Finally, I will admit that if you brew the largest cup available, it is a bit weak…so if you need a big travel mug, much more convenient to brew back to back jacks of the small or medium option (which still takes less time than a regular coffee maker).  Clearly, I’ve digressed.

“Starbucks was founded in the early seventies as a premier coffee bean company dedicated not only to providing top-quality beans to its customers, but also to educating them about great coffee” (Knight, 2009).  By the way, APA Format and MLA format can go eff themselves.  Nifer, I think what you meant to say was, “Starbucks was founded in the early seventies as a premier coffee bean company dedicated not only to providing top-quality beans to its customers, but also to educating them about great coffee. making shitloads and shitloads of money.”  I don’t care what the book you read claimed about the founding of Starbucks, if the underlying theme wasn’t about getting rich, it was a lie.

Small businesses are created for two reasons…typically passion and money.  More often than not, it is a combination of the two.  Living in Vermont, we have been exposed to this.  Ben & Jerry were clearly passionate about their ice cream, and social justice, and using the money they made from ice cream to promote social justice…and finally selling the business for millions of dollars.

It’s the same with Starbucks, and that’s the reason for this new instant coffee…I’m sure they have done research and think they have the potential to make even more money.  And you know what? I’m ok with that.  Mainly because it does not affect me one way or the other.  Although, I hope this does not drive them out of business, because while I am not a fan of their coffee, their MEDIUM Tazo Chai Tea Latte really gets my engine going.


SHE SAID: Weddings

September 6, 2009

I too went to a wedding this weekend.  And while the one I attended was not lucky enough to have the humbly titled band Jeremy heard, it was also an amazing and memorable wedding.

For the most part, I enjoy going to weddings.  Impressive because I’m pretty cynical and not the most on board about the whole love lasting thing.  But how can you complain about free food, booze, and if no dancing, then at least the chance to sit on the edge of the dance floor laughing at the groom’s father’s cousin’s wife drunkenly dancing, arguably inappropriately, to some badly covered 80’s song?  I mean, I much prefer dancing, but the people watching is a good alternative.

And no matter how cynical or jaded you are,  weddings are awesomely positive.  You can’t help but appreciate how excited the couple is and how willing the guests are to toast to their love. People are there to have a great time, they want to smile and laugh and celebrate.  I love the toasts about how awesome both the groom and bride are, the stories about how they found one another, the crying parents, the drunk bridesmaid’s toast, being in high heels and a dress and maneuvering in a port-o-potty without sitting on the seat or touching anything … weddings are fun.

I’ve attended coming out parties, graduations, christenings, birthday parties and funerals and weddings are the most fun by far.  Even the quickie wedding with the pregnant bride that we were all terrified was going to end in divorce in mere minutes was an unforgettable celebration.  And when you are present at one of those weddings that makes you believe in love again.  When even you, as a guest and not one half of the couple saying their vows, believe that those two people are meant to be together and love one another in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer … it’s remarkable.  And most definitely cause for one hell of a celebration.


SHE SAID: Houdini Exits

May 8, 2009

disappearI love “Houdini Exits”.  From bars, from parties, from anything, really.  Definitely more feasible if one has been in the company of drinkers, and more exciting, if one has also been drinking.  Because you think people care enough about you leaving that you have to sneak out. Which is really quite ridiculous, but very easy to believe at certain times, late in the night, when you may or may not have been drunk enough to have decided bootleg whiskey shots were a fantastic idea.

There are certifiable reasons to pull the Houdini Exit that no one is going to argue with:  You’re at a bar in New York with your friend who has hit it off with a guy and things are looking like they might work out for her (before he pulled out the winning line, “I hate animals”); a creepy person is hitting on you and is not getting the hint that you want nothing to do with him/her; a hot person is hitting on you and gets the hint that you’re really quite into him/her (in which case, the double Houdini Exit is necessary).  And then there are Houdini Exits that seem perfectly reasonable and defendable at the time, and there is no need to explain either then or the next day.

Plus, it’s also exciting when you get the Houdini Exit pulled on you.  I respect someone who pulls the slip on me.  Sometimes you end up having to find a new way home, end up staying later than you would have and hopefully creating some fun memories, or being told about great memories that you’re having trouble recalling.  Good things happen in the chaos that follows a Houdini Exit.

The beauty is that it spares all parties the belabored goodbye.  The “oh you’re leaving already”, the “but we’re just about to go to [blank]”, the guilt trip about playing wingman to your friend who hasn’t quite sealed the deal and really doesn’t care if you’re there but needs you to talk to until they don’t need you to talk to anymore, the saying goodbye to people you’ve met there at the bar or event that you’re not going to see again, and so does it really matter if you say goodbye?

Instead, the excitement of figuring out how to best go about sneaking out the door, the sound of solo footsteps on the pavement of the parking lot: freedom.


HE SAID: Houdini Exits

May 8, 2009

It’s not often we agree, but here I have to.  Houdini exits are amazing, and perfect for every scenario in which you described – if you are an insecure college kid.

Leaving a bar, or frat party early in college is really fucking hard.  There are no excuses.  If you are so drunk you can’t stand up straight – have some frat dawgs hold you up, Weekend at Bernies style.  If some really ugly, fat girl is hitting on you and you can’t get away – perfect, you are definitely getting laid tonight. 

Here’s the problem – we aren’t in college anymore.  We are in our 20’s, or early 30’s (embrace it, Nifer).  If it’s 11:30 at the Rusty Nail, and I’m not interested anymore in getting drunk with a woodchuck crowd watching Last Kid Picked, you better believe I’m getting the eff out of dodge.  And before I go, I’ll say goodbye to all of my friends.  They’ll probably say things along the lines of, “you fuckin homo,” “you fuckin loser,” “you fucking____.”  The females might say something like “oh come on, it’s been sooooo long since I’ve seen you,” when, in reality I’d probably been drinking with them all afternoon and evening, and we are meeting for brunch the next morning anyway.  Basically, I’m not so insecure that I still give into peer pressure, like some apparently, are.

A hot/ugly/run of the mill female hitting on me? I’m all for it, even if I have no intention of making out with her in the parking lot.  Maybe our train of thought on this aspect is different because I’m a male and you are a female, and there is the whole safety issue to think about.  Let’s face it though, if there was ever a male in danger of getting sexually assaulted, it’s me.

A houdini exit is acceptable in only one situation – a temporary one.  An example would be really needing a pack of cigarettes, or maybe really needing to take a dump.  Maybe the bar you are at doesn’t have smokes, or comfortable shitting stalls.  In that case make a quick, houidini like exit to the nearest convenience store, buy some Marlboro lights, take a shit, and get back to the bar.  If done properly, friends won’t even notice.  And if they do, they’ll just assume you were making out with the ugly girl you were trying to escape from in the first place.