Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Supermarket Etiquette

Life here in the handbasket always provides me with a rich source of stories that I can share with you all.

Sometimes I wonder if I will ever run out of things to write about, and then some event happens through the course of the day and…ta da!

We’re getting used to not having to stand in line at the checkout for most stores these days, because they seem to be very proactive when it comes to maintaining short wait times. After all, they know that if you have to stand in line for 20 minutes while your milk sours and your frozen foods become naught, you will probably be finding someplace else to shop.

My tale begins while standing in an unusually long line at Albertsons.

The lady in front of me is reading one of the impulse magazines while waiting for her turn to checkout. Her little girl is swinging on the candy bar-filled “closed” rack that can be used to shut down a checkout line, and her son is playing some hand-held Gameboy device. The son, in between rounds on the Gameboy, was running from isle to isle, grabbing handfuls of candy bars and other health foods and tossing them in the basket.

Once the belt became free for her to start placing her groceries onto it, she bends over slightly and picks up one item, and slowly places it on the belt. While she is performing this ballet move, she has not taken her nose out of the magazine.

Obviously it was a good article, because she repeated this maneuver over and over as her items moved down the belt like an episode from “I Love Lucy” where her and Ethel were working in the chocolate factory. One piece at a time.

Now the checkout lady was watching her since she had a line of folks and this lady was slowing her down, as she had to wait for each item to make it to her little scanning device.

Finally, we thought relief was on the way when she backed up, still reading I might add, and let her son load the groceries on the little belt.

You know how they say you set the example for your children? Her son began placing items, one at a time, onto the belt while playing on his Gameboy.

The rest of us in line began sharing those looks that people do when you all want to just scream at someone, but you’re being polite. Have you ever just felt like yelling at the top of your lungs, “Oh c’mon lady!”?

Apparently she had finished the article, because she had reached back and placed the magazine back in the rack. No wonder she did not want to stop, she had no intention of purchasing the magazine, she just wanted to read it all in the store.

As the cart emptied out, I noticed an empty can of Cherry Pepsi sitting on that little seat where kids sit. I can only surmise that one of this carefree group drank it while in the store and did not include it in their purchase. You know the type. The people you see grazing on things in the produce isle.

By this time, checkout lady was trying to get their now empty basket pushed through the walkway so they could start loading it up on the other side. Which was great because they had just left it between the conveyor belt device and me.

Her focus finally on the matter at hand, this lady was intently watching the total as the last pieces of her groceries made the conveyor journey. Can you guess what happened next? That’s right, she exclaims in a surprised voice, “Oh, this is going over $200”.

With a great show of patience, the checkout lady began removing items so that the total would make it under $200. Since she had a limited budget, why on Earth did she just sit there and watch her kids throw armloads of candy into her basket?

I’m sure many of you have been in the situation where you did not have enough money to pay for something and had to go through the “put it back” scenario. This was not really what made this situation amusing. The amusing part was the entire series of events, and watching it all unfold right in front of me like a well rehearsed sitcom.

The scary thing is that this lady goes forth from the grocery store and functions every day, all day long, just like this. I can’t imagine her dealing with driving.

Most people in the front of a very long line will show a sense of urgency. Most people who know they only have a certain amount to spend at the grocery store would not just throw tons of extra stuff in their cart. Most people would be controlling their kids at least a little.

This was my shopping experience last night.

Sunday I take off for Baltimore, MD for a week, and I can almost guarantee that I will have things to share with you from my trip.

Monday, July 19, 2004

Big Whoopi

Let’s get something out in the open before I begin.

I think everyone is a fair target for comedians, and I for one love to laugh at not only political figures, but movie stars and all manner of people that are representative in our society.

Sure some jokes may be rude, crude, and socially unacceptable, but funny is funny. I firmly believe that everyone needs to lighten up now and then, and yes, even laugh at themselves!

One day at work I was working on some computer systems at the Canadian border. I was wearing some Eddie Bauer jeans (which I will never buy again I might add), when they ripped down the inseam of the leg. I have since had several pair of these type of jeans all rip near the same location. Other jeans do not do this, so I figure it’s a weakness in the Eddie Bauer jeans.

So there I was, a long way from home, with my leg split from hip to knee on the inside. What could I do? The guy I was working with and I had a great laugh. Heck, we even stopped on the way home to get a bite to eat at a small gas station. Again, more laughs were had at my expense, but it was truly funny! A bit embarrassing, but funny.

Now I admit when jokes are purposely told to be hurtful, then there is a limit. For example, surrounding someone and making fun of them merely to get a reaction directly from them is in bad form. This is more along the lines of teasing rather then telling jokes.

Apparently, the other day at a John Kerry fund raiser, Whoopi Goldberg and some others were poking fun at the current administration. I feel this is perfectly okay to do. After all, what would a comedian tell jokes about if the politicians are off limits.

What makes this a different situation is that Whoopi is also a spokesperson for Slim-Fast. It sounds as though, in the course of the roasting of our current president, Whoopi made some poor choices during her performance. The obvious association with our presidents last name and female body parts did not go unmentioned.

I’m hearing people complain that Whoopi’s right to freedom of speech has been infringed upon, or that this was somehow a racial thing (don’t you get sick of that one?).

Slim-Fast was merely making a business decision, not a political one. When a company hires someone to represent them there is always certain expectations. If a spokesperson goes nuts, or in this case, says things that are not appropriate for the customers, a company has the right to once again evaluate that persons usefulness as a representative for their product.

In Whoopi’s defense she says, "I've done material on every president in the past 20 years, from Reagan to Carter, from Clinton to Bush. I have used portions of the material I did at the fund-raiser in shows, speeches and even on national television and it seems now that people from the other side are using this to further their own agenda,"

Many spokespersons have probably done many things they are not too proud of, or that might get them fired if word got out, or someone made a big deal about it. The point here is that a big deal has been made of her “material” and the public was not impressed.

Slim-Fast knew what they were getting when they hired a comedian to represent them, and I think they really didn’t care what she did during her various acts. The problem came when she chose a very high-profile forum at which to perform her material.

If Janet Jackson would have had her “wardrobe malfunction” in a different venue other then on television at the Superbowl halftime, there would not have been such a backlash in her case either.

Some good can come of these things though. Just like in Aesop’s Fables, these tales have a moral. Do what you want, but in the end, you are the only one responsible for your actions.

If you’re a comedian, tell your jokes about the president in nightclubs and places were people go to laugh about irreverent topics. I would suggest you don’t go to the Whitehouse to deliver that same material. Using that same line of thinking, don’t go to a political rally, where you know your actions will be watched closely and criticized, and then rudely berate our current president.

You know, many of us have just about had enough of the constant lying by the democratic party about the current administration. I get so sick of hearing all of the accusations for which not one drop of any credibility or evidence is brought out, just accusations after accusation. It reminds me of a school yard bully who says, “Oh yeah, well you pick your nose and eat it!”

Okay, that was gross, but you get the idea. If I actually read a decent article outlying ANYTHING that President Bush had done illegal, or morally wrong, then I might consider the wind being blown from the opposition.

When I hear a democrat say they hate Bush, and then when asked why they hate him, they have no answers! Zero! They have no idea; they just spew forth the comment like that alone makes it true!

John Kerry is such a whiney butt that I can’t stand it. He waffles back and forth on important topics depending on who he is talking to at the time, and I love this picture of him with Jane Fonda protesting the Viet Nam war. You remember Hanoi Jane don’t you?

Now I’m not one to hold a generational grudge on someone like Jane Fonda, but many people will go to their grave hating this woman for what she did long ago. How do you think these folks will enjoy seeing Jane Fonda and John Kerry together protesting the war?

John Kerry thanked Whoopi and the rest of the celebrity acts and said they, "conveyed the heart and soul of our country."

In the typical waffling Kerry fashion, the Democratic Party refused to release footage of the event so that the people of this country could hear for themselves what Kerry thinks their hearts and souls conveyed.

When I make a decision, no matter what the audience is, I stick by that decision. My decisions are not always correct, but at least I admit that! Sometimes more frequently then I care to. I just wish Kerry would do the same and he wouldn’t look like such an idiot.

The Democratic Party is always so quick to say people should apologize to the country for remarks and actions made, how about a big fat apology from Kerry for the poor choice of material from the entertainers at his fund raiser?

Just as I thought, the answer would be a “no”.

Now I’ve gone and spun completely off the subject, but I had to get that off my mind as well tonight. The picture just bugged me that bad.

Be careful what you do in the public forum, because if it’s dumb enough, someone may just bring it back up to haunt you at a later date. John Kerry is finding this out the hard way.

Friday, July 09, 2004

A False War?

I have yet to finish moving all of my articles over to the new website, but the news today has prompted me to write an article before the grand reopening of the website.

It amuses me that the big direction of the news today seems to be that the United States went to war under false pretenses.

Their point is that our intelligence was flawed, and if we knew then what we know now, we would not have gone to war. Would we really, or is this just a bunch of political crap spewing forth just before our election?

Let’s skip over the fact that we should have done many things in history different if we knew then what we know now. How many football games have you watched and quarterbacked from home while yelling at the coach and the television? It’s easy when you’re not in the moment making the decisions for yourself isn’t it?

Same thing applies here. With the information that was available at the moment in time that Congress voted to take action against Iraq, it was the best course of action we could have taken. Perhaps we should have analyzed the information we were being fed a little more closely, but we didn’t. It’s time to move forward, not waffle in the past.

Now, let’s take a look at some of the factors that moved us to attack Iraq.

1. So Damn Insane built up the fourth largest army in the world then invaded Kuwait. In a reaction to this the world unceremoniously kicked his butt back into his own country. He was then told to surrender and was given the conditions for that surrender. One such condition was to declare all of his weapons of mass destruction and to allow inspectors to enter the country unchallenged to verify that no such weapons existed.

2. For years Sadaam refused to work with the United Nations, or tried to stifle any effort to properly inspect his country. He was given years of chances to cooperate and failed to do so at every turn.

3. Iraq has routinely supported terrorists, and funded terrorist activities against the United States.

4. When confronted with the United States hitting the end of their patience with Iraq not cooperating with the United Nations, Sadaam still refused to fully work with the U.N. inspectors and basically continued business as usual.

Although the Weapons of Mass Destruction angle was the most publicized reason for going into Iraq, we went into Iraq because Sadaam refused to cooperate with the United Nations.

To second guess our reasons for going to war with Iraq and cleaning out a festering regime is ridiculous.

Perhaps the intelligence that was gathered was not perfect, but it was not the only reason we went into Iraq. To blow this report out of proportion to try and make it look like it was some huge mistake is wrong.

They talk of “connecting the dots” for going to war, and that, “the dots never existed.”

Based on what I have laid out above I say the dots did exist. Having the additional dots of finding WMD’s would have been nice, but not the sole reason for the war.

The information all of the news stations seem to be wanting us to believe, is that the existence of WMD’s was the only reason we went to war. It was the narrow-minded, central focus for going into Iraq with guns a blazing like the cowboys that we are.

We can research why we did things in the past. We can discuss how we may have done things different, or that if we had, speculate on what the outcome may have been. We can do all of this, and we should, so that we can learn from our mistakes.

What we should not do is to study the past, and then try and twist the thinking of the people of this country into a line of thinking to derail a president and his administration. This is what is happening right now. This is not news to learn from our past. It’s news with one purpose in mind. To convince the American people that the war in Iraq was wrong and unjust. That is a load of 100% crap.

They say that television is an idiot box, it rots the mind and is a vehicle of Satan. In this case they may be closer to the truth then they thought. I am planning on addressing television and its contribution to this society in a future article.

Think for yourself people. Were WMD’s the ONLY reason we removed Sadaam from power and liberated his country?

I’d love to hear some feedback from you all on this latest development. Surely someone has a different opinion, or the news would not be so proud of the finding.