Monday, July 31, 2006

To Crank out a Blog, Be Cranky

To be cranky, and not sound whiny is a challenge, so here goes:

Yesterday, Mrs CPB and I met another ten members of our family at a local outlet of a national restaurant chain. No, no anonymity here for that sad, sad food emporium, it was the Olive Garden in our local mall parking lot. Now, many of this group actually LIKE the Olive Garden's food. Not Moi! However, to meet with so many members of our great family, I will go and eat anywhere. (Well, not McDonalds, but the family does not know that.)

The Olive Garden's slogan is: "When you're here, you're family." My family is crazy enough. I don't want to be part of a family that thinks you are invisible, even though you are occupying a large portion of their restaurant. We waited and waited for our orders to be taken. We waited and waited for them to arrive. One of us had ordered an appetizer. It arrived and had to be sent back TWICE, because their family didn't listen to our family.

They brought bowls of salad and baskets of bread sticks and put a salad plate in front of each of us. None of us had ordered lunch yet. If you eat ANY of that salad, you have chosen salad off the menu. I tried to get soup with my pizza. Menu reads soup or salad with pizza. No go. Waitress said you have salad. "I did not order salad," I replied. "You have salad in front of you," she said. "Soup is another $4.95."

I would have walked out in any other circumstance, but I love my family, and I will NEVER visit theirs again.

So lunch progresses at a snail's pace. We get food. "Do you want more shredded cheese on your pizza," their family member asks me. "No, I said." I got it anyway. Some of our family order dessert. Only some of our family get dessert. Their family found some of ours, again, invisible. When it was check time, our family was asked if they still wanted their desserts. "NO."

We split the check. That caused even more delay than ordering lunch. Two hours after we were seated we left. There were still people waiting to be seated. Why they would wait was beyond me. I was really tempted to make a scene and tell those in the queues:

Their family will ignore your family as long as they can. They will think you are invisible; they will not hear your food order; they will delay bringing food as long as they can; they will not get it right.

But I didn't. I love my family and will not embarrass them. But, damn, it would have been so much fun!

And the food. Did I mention the food? Adequate at best. I don't believe any cook there makes a sauce. Sauces must arrive in the middle of the night and fall off the back of a truck. You know the kind: boil it in a bag and pour it over the pasta. Since they have had the same soup for years, same quality, same consistency, it must be made centrally in some factory to industrial standards and shipped to each Olive Garden family.

Also, y'all know that in any of these chain, food slinging, over-priced, under staffed places, parties over a certain number WILL AUTOMATICALLY HAVE A GRATUITY OF 15-20% ADDED TO THE BILL. This assures bad service, bad food, and bad attitude. Delays in service matter not. Now some patrons may add a further tip on their check. In this instance, NONE did.

Not true. I left a nickel in the middle of the table. I doubt that their family even noticed.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

A liberal may or may not respond to the following:

A correspondent sent me the following story. He has either not read this blog, or is trying to proselytize his readers. This ill-written, ill-conceived, and ill-thought out screed follows:

Now I understand……

Two of the most important events in all of history were the invention of the wheel, and the invention of beer. The wheel was invented to get man to the beer. These were the foundation of modern civilization and together were the catalyst for the splitting of humanity into two distinct subgroups: Liberals and Conservatives.

Once beer was discovered it required grain, and that was the beginning of agriculture. Neither the glass bottle nor the aluminum can were invented yet, so while our early human ancestors were sitting around waiting for them to be invented, they just stayed close to the brewery. That's how villages were formed.

Some men spent their days tracking and killing animals to BBQ at night while they were drinking beer. This was the beginning of what is known as "the Conservative movement."

Other men who were weaker and less skilled at hunting learned to live off the conservatives by showing up for the nightly BBQ's and doing the sewing, fetching and hair dressing. This was the beginning of the Liberal movement.Some of these liberal men eventually evolved into women. The rest became known as 'girliemen.'Some noteworthy liberal achievements include the domestication of cats, the invention of group therapy and the concept of Democratic voting to decide how to divide the meat and beer that conservatives provided.

Over the years conservatives came to be symbolized by the largest, most powerful land animal on earth, the elephant. Liberals are symbolized by the jackass.

Modern liberals like imported beer (with lime added), but most prefer white wine or imported bottled water. They eat raw fish, but like their beef well done. Sushi, tofu, and French food are standard liberal fare.Another interesting revolutionary(sic) side note: most of their women have higher testosterone levels than their men. Most social workers, personal injury attorneys, journalists, travel agents, dreamers in Hollywood and group therapists are liberals. Liberals invented the designated hitter rule because it wasn't "fair" to make the pitcher also bat.

Conservatives drink domestic beer. They eat red meat and still provide for their women. Conservatives are big-game hunters, rodeo cowboys, lumberjacks, construction workers, firemen, medical doctors, police officers, corporate executives, Marines, athletes and generally anyone who works productively. Conservatives who own companies hire other conservatives who want to work for a living.

Liberals produce little or nothing. They like to "govern" the producers and decide how to redistribute the production. Liberals believe Europeans are more enlightened than Americans. That is why most of the liberals remained in Europe when conservatives were coming to America. They crept in later, after the Wild West was tamed, and created a business of trying to get MORE for nothing.

It should be noted that a Liberal may have a momentary urge to respond to the above before simply laughing and forwarding it. A Conservative will be so convinced of the absolute truth of this history that it will be forwarded immediately!

If I were to reply to this label-slinging, ill-written, ill-thought out, piece of mis-history, it might sound a little like this: But I may not reply:

Be very, very careful how you label yourself or your heros.

Conservative religious leaders have started crusades, inquisitions, and Salem witch hunts, trials and executions. They invented jihad. They send wired-up children to blow up other innocents. They used to rule Afghanistan.

Conservative industrialists have given us 16hr workdays, sweatshops, child labor, monopoly capitalism, migrant workers, illegal aliens; and because they could not behave themselves they have given us trade unions and thousands of laws and regulations to correct their behavior. (See Enron)

Conservative educators want to take away religious freedom for kids by teaching one religion, one theory of beginings, and one way of thinking.

Conservative governments and political leaders have given us the biggest federal deficit in history, the Great Depression, lobbyists, Hitler, eroded personal freedoms, buy our phone records in the name of national security. We've had Jim Crow laws, McCarthy hearings, actors in the White House.

Liberals have the same problem. The label, liberal, can be applied to Franklin D. Roosevelt and Susan Sarandon, which is absurd.

This is why I don't like labels of any kind. They generalize, trivialize and minimize the individual and any accomplishments by them.

I may not respond. I think I have lost my sense of humor over this one. Also, it took a liberal to dream up the idea of beer in the first place. Both can enjoy it, if I buy into that theory of beer and the wheel!

Perhaps Frank will send more blog fodder.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

On Being Liberal

This is not a manifesto. Liberals will do that: We will tell you what we are not about. This is just some random thoughts on being a small l.

I have to share the same label as Susan Sarandon, Rob Lowe, Michael Moore, and other "celebrities." Heavy sigh. As my friend Linda used to say: "We need people out on the left and people out on the right to shove everyone into the middle." I just wish they weren't such idiots outside their professions.

My left includes Senator Ted Kennedy, who, in spite of all the jokes, gets it about our responsibility to our soldiers who are dying doing our bidding. He goes to funerals of soldiers from his state. No press, no aides, no photo ops. He just supports the grieving families. Certain Texans should do the same.

Real liberals listen to a wide variety of radio programs. Redneck radio as well as NPR should be on the presets, NPR on the left buttons, Johnboy and Billy on the right. We DON'T listen to Rush.

Real liberals read Anna Quindlen and George Will. We read Mark Steyn and Johnathan Alder. We weigh the words and thoughts and come to decisions: Anna Quindlen is always right, and George Will can argue an umpire into changing his call. Mark Steyn is always entertaining and Jonathan Alder is always well researched.

Real liberals never use positive, declarative statements such as this one, or all the statements in the previous paragraph. We couch things in relative statements. Neither positive nor negative be.

Real liberals never claim to know what real conservatives are about. We just know them when we see them.

Real liberals participate in the great democratic experiment far more than conservatives. Registration records, voting records, all support this claim. If you call Democrats liberals, and some of us do (reluctantly), we out participate the right field by a wide margin. We just cannot agree on anything substantial to get anything done. But we in the left field are a presence that cannot be ignored.

Real liberals raise their children to think for themselves. That's why this liberal, un-reconstructed hippie, has offspring that are: One liberal working for big-time capitalists; one small-time capitalist who cannot be labeled, but has guns, votes, thinks farm subsidies are part of the communist conspiracy, and loves his dogs and cats; one former educator who thinks being a chef or policeman would be cool.

Real liberals are comfortable working in committees. I guess that's why we make lousy managers, administrators, dictators. Jimmy Carter was the archetypical liberal administrator. He said he'd never lie to us, and he didn't, and that greatly hampered his effectiveness.

Real liberals don't seek the limelight. That's why no one takes all those celeb/one day fasting/photo oping/ dough heads seriously. We work quietly to arrange protests, poor peoples' marches and sit-ins, and let the Pros speak.

Real liberals don't write blogs.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The Fourth of July

If I keep waiting for holidays to post, I'll never get to all the stuff that's in my head. (which may not be such a bad thing)

I like the Fourth, in my own way. I don't much like special programming on tv, except baseball games. I don't like movie channels running nothing but war movies. I can live without concerts from Washington D.C., Boston Pops, etc. Band concerts in the park with fireworks are good for my spirit. I went to a few in the past; a few good ones, even if it was Canada Day in Cobourg, Ont. Same deal. We are have only ourselves to blame and to congratulate after independence from colonial powers.

I like charring meat on the grill, hotdogs, salad and beer. How much more American can you get? Here's how:

Work 10+ hours on the Fourth in your own store to give your employees a break. Wish someone would bring you a hamburger, not really because you are hungry, but because it is so Traditional!

Cut the grass on your private property.

Call a talk-show on the radio and vent against your opposition; blast away at targets; take the kids to the water park.

Use your freedoms. Dissent, peaceably assemble for your cause. A lot of blood was spilled, lives destroyed, lives enabled for these freedoms. We can call our government any name we want to! No reprisals in law need deter us.

Independence Day we called it; short form, The Fourth. Independence sounds a lot better. Sometimes I think that we lose sight of the reason for the Holiday. Independence of thought; independence of religion, independence from oppression.

Sometimes I think that my conservative friends and family think that freedoms were individually won and preserved for individuals. But independence was a collective effort. The Constitution begins "We the People."

These are just some thoughts I get during all the flag-waving holidays. Wave the flag, but don't forget why you are waving it.

And don't let the flag hit the ground when you are through with it.