Archive for October, 2009

A Break

Sorry for the lack of columns. I have decided to take a break from column writing while dealing with some family issues. I will be back when it makes sense and I feel like writing again.

The Day to Day Grind Tim 12 Oct 2009 No Comments

Hot Flashes

Some random things that either happened or occurred to me:

Back when I got my debit card from my bank, the fact that it had the MasterCard symbol on it was a selling point. I could use it like a credit card, without any actual credit being involved! Wow!

But, it seems that vendors aren’t so very thrilled about the whole thing. In fact, many of them seem downright unhappy about the idea, and I’m sure it’s because they have to pay the credit card vendor. When I first got the debit card, if I didn’t use it as a credit card I had to pay a non-approved ATM fee, so using the card became a bit of a tug of war with the vendor over who had to pay.

The last time I was at Wal-Mart, they simply refused to allow me to use my debit card as a credit card. When I asked for an explanation they gave me some spiel about lawsuits and company policies. Other companies allow me to use the credit feature, but they are a bit sneaky about the whole thing; probably because they are more concerned than Wal-Mart is about losing my business.

The grocery store just puts up a number pad for my PIN, without any apparent option for me to choose credit. I can, however, choose Cancel and charge the food.

One of the local liquor stores adds a small amount to my total when they see me pull out my card; they do it very casually and never mention it. If they see me pulling out a card while ringing up my order, they just slyly add it onto the total, but if I wait, they add it on later. I asked about the extra charge once and they explained that they exact a fee to use the card. I complained about it and they removed the fee, but now I try to shop elsewhere.

Many gas stations program their pumps to ask me straight out, “Is this a debit card?” If I am honest and press “Yes,” then I have to spend a pre-determined amount and enter my PIN. If I lie and press “No,” the pump allows me to use the card as a credit card. The whole thing puts me in a very weird position: I want to fill up my tank, but I hate lying, even to a gas pump. I wish they just asked, “Would you like to use this as a debit card?” It would do wonders for my conscience…

…I was walking out of a nice restaurant recently and realized that I had something stuck in my teeth. The restaurant didn’t have any toothpicks available at the front desk, but there was a little box with business cards. I have to say that, in a pinch, a business card makes a mighty fine toothpick. As my wife says, stand back ladies, he’s taken…

…Everyone has seen those cell phone commercials – the ones where there is a crowd of people standing there with some bespectacled dude who says, “You’re good!” to the person who is worried about cell coverage. That company is so great that they even cover notorious dead zones like the scary motel with the scratchy towels and the house with crabgrass. The message is clear: There are no dead zones for that company!

This was exciting news for me. My house is located at the bottom of a hill, and my old cell company just couldn’t give me any bars at my house. When my wife wanted a new phone, we changed providers to use the company with the snappy commercials.
Excited, I raced home with my new phone, turned it on, and waited for the dude with the glasses to show up and give me coverage. And waited. Eventually, I went to bed – but left a glass of milk and cookies out in case he showed up while I was asleep. He never did.

Apparently hills are just too much of a natural obstacle for the new fangled cell phone technology. I can understand, because with so few hills in the world, the cell companies can’t be expected to develop the ability to overcome such a rare and powerful phenomenon. Until they do, though, I am left with crabgrass and scratchy towels but no cell service. Not good…

…In my house, I’m the cook. I’m certainly not great, but I enjoy it and I manage to muddle my way through a number of different recipes. I have recently found, however, that I am unable to properly hard boil eggs.

Now, hard boiling eggs should be the easiest thing in the world. To be sure, I asked my friend – a culinary school grad – to write down his special recipe (which doesn’t give you a green sulfur ring around the yoke). Put the eggs in a pan and cover them with water. Bring the water to a boil, take the pan off the heat, and let it sit for 10 minutes. Then, put the eggs in a cold water or ice bath to stop the cooking process.

Easy, right? Not for this idiot.

The first six eggs went into the pan. I brought them to a boil, and then let them boil for 10 minutes because I apparently can’t read.

The next six eggs went into the pan. The pan was still hot, so a couple of the eggs cracked a little. I ignored this, turned on the heat and walked out of the room. I got distracted, and ended up talking to my mailman for a bit. Next thing I knew, it was 20 minutes later and what little water was left in the pan was boiling furiously. You would think that at this point I would try to cook just one egg rather than waste them in such large bunches. Nope.

After a trip to the store, six more eggs went into the now cool pan. I brought them to a boil and took them off the heat. I let them sit in the hot water for 10 minutes and then took them out of the pan and put them into a big bowl full of ice water. I let them cool for a while, then took them out of the bowl and patted them dry.

I cracked one of the eggs and started to peel it, and the egg white stuck to the shell. It stuck so much, in fact, that huge chunks of white were coming off and the egg was basically disintegrating in my hands. I tried peeling all of them and it was the same story. Each egg ended up as a mess, with huge chunks taken out of it. I have no idea what I did wrong, but I know one thing I did right: There was no green sulfur ring around the yolk.

The Day to Day Grind Tim 01 Oct 2009 No Comments