The Walk Won’t Kill You

At this very moment, or at least at the very moment I begin this blog post, I’m watching some of the second shift people arrive here in the parking lot at work. The jockeying for “prime” parking places is beyond comical. It should be noted that as they do this those spaces are still occupied by first shift people, and they won’t be leaving for over a half hour. And these second shifters are more than an hour away from beginning work.

They are queueing up to grab the parking spaces right near the door while there are empty spaces within seven spaces of them. Seriously, two spots are empty just seven parking spots away. How much time in their lives are they really saving if they have to show up at work over an hour early to save less than 15 seconds of walking? If it was raining I’d get trying to park as close as possible, but it’s a beautiful sunny day.

You see behavior like this everywhere. How many times do you see people circling parking lots looking for a space right near where they’re going. They have no problem walking for hours in a mall, but there’s no way they’ll walk for a minute to get through the door after parking.

Sure, if you have some medical condition that makes walking taxing and you don’t qualify for a placard I get wanting to park close. But what’s everyone else’s excuse? It’s not like they’re walking through hip deep snow or mud, or being pelted by hailstones, you see this silly behavior on even the most gorgeous of days.

And besides, if you park far away from the building very few people will know you aren’t a good enough driver to park your car correctly within the space.

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Most Common Denominator: Food

Over the last couple of days the boys at work have given me a bit of the business over my hatred of Ruby Tuesday. Well, one of them was and a few others have joined him. It’s all in good fun.

But it was another post I made that inspires this one. I posted of my addiction to potato chips, and a few of us were having some laughs over that as well. They all often eat bags of chips at lunch and I’m occasionally threatening to steal them. One day the joking continued after lunch, and because the young kid I’m training wasn’t in on the joke I had to briefly explain. We then continued to talk about snack food, and when the subject of shelled peanuts came up the kid went wide-eyed. Turns out they’re his favorite.

I love shelled peanuts. I don’t buy them often, mostly because I possess enough willpower to not purchase them. But when I do it’s usually the huge two (or five!) pound bag. Once I bought a huge bag and sat in front of the TV and ate nearly the whole the whole thing. The only reason I stopped was Trish yelled from another room “you’re not eating the whole bag, are you?”. Truth was it was up until that point that’s exactly what was happening. So I put the rest away for later…like three hours later.

The kid, whose English is pretty good but not perfect, mentioned he loved a restaurant “near Tacoma St” where they bring you a huge bucket of peanuts before you order. I know the place he was talking about, it’s Texas Roadhouse. For the next half hour we talked about Texas Roadhouse. It’s one of my favorite restaurants, and one of his also. From the hot rolls with the cinnamon butter to the chicken and steaks between the two of us we’ve likely ordered everything on the menu.

It dawned on me later that day that food was probably the only thing we have in common. He’s closer to my grand-daughter’s age than mine, so we have essentially nothing in common musically, socially, or pretty much any other “ly” you can think of. But when it came to good food we were both squarely on the same page. And perhaps we’ve found a way to help people settle disputes.

Just share a big bag of shelled peanuts.

HorhiroCon 2016

This past weekend was the usual summer gathering in Belchertown of some of the Total Confusion Convention Battletech regulars. It’s always a great day of conversation, food, and gaming. This year was no exception.

Belchertown is an hour or so west of where I live, so Scott and I leave pretty early in the morning to get out there by 8am or so. After a stop for some ice for the cooler full of soda I bring every year we were off going west on Route 9. Our tradition is to stop for breakfast at the McDonald’s in Spencer. As happens every year, after having breakfast there I realize why I don’t eat breakfast at McDonald’s.

We’re usually among the first to arrive at the cookout, with only the contingent from southern New Hampshire consistently beating us there. The crew from NH was just one person this time, and he beat us yet again. Once everyone arrived we began the first game, which was a series of two-man team battles on random map boards. In each of the battles we had a different teammate, and in round one I was teamed with Scott on a canyon map against John and Adam. Adam was a new player but picked up on the game pretty quickly.

(All photos are clickable to show larger photos–or at least they should be, you may have to close the tab/window and click again for my free host to show the larger version)

In this picture I’m in the center of the map, hiding behind the pillar. Scott is the red ‘mech against the wall in the center, while John is in the open at the top and Adam is to the right using the level dip as cover. Putting Scott and I on the same team is unfair most of the time so we had no troubles beating the other pair.

This battle is the other round one matchup, which was brothers Mike and Tom against Merl and Dave. I was busy playing my match (and helping to teach Adam) so I’m not sure who is who on the map (and the opposite matches of mine in the other rounds will be the same below). I’m also not sure of the specifics of the map board, but I do know that red splotch is lava.

This is my round two battle, and I thought I had a full board picture but it appears I have just this one of the battle. Adam and I are the bluish ‘mechs toward the top, Adam’s has the d6 behind it. Our opponents were Tom (directly in front of us) and Dave (on the elevation trying to use the hill as cover). Adam and I played pretty well together considering it was his second game ever, but we couldn’t overcome Dave’s firepower. We did have a chance to win the battle early with me just needing to roll a “3” on two rolls of a d6 to eliminate Tom, but a 1 and a 2 rolled didn’t help much.

Again not sure who is who on this board, but the match was Scott and Merl against John and Mike. This is an interesting board to play on because wall rise and fall randomly making planning from turn to turn very difficult. If you’re an aggressive player you can do well on that board. If you’re not, you need to get lucky. Based on some of the things I heard coming from over there, Merl didn’t get very lucky.

My third round battle I was teamed with Mike against Tom and John. This board is a mud pit, and if you don’t have the perfect ‘mech selected to fight in it you’ve got issues. As luck would have it none of us had anything that would be good to fight on this board. In this pic Mike is in the blue ‘mech in the top center heading toward John in the upper right corner. I’m toward the left, moving toward the top hex lane as fast as I could (which wasn’t very fast). Tom is sniping at us from the right edge. By the time I got close enough it was all but over for my side.

I’m not even sure what the teams were in that other third round battle. I think it was Scott and Adam against Merl and Dave. Every map board has special rules, but I don’t recall ever playing on that board so I’m not sure what the hook is on that one. I do know that at the end of the battles and the scores tabulated Scott was the overall winner. I believe I was fourth, and considering I was only on the winning side once that’s pretty good.

We then took a break for lunch, and once again Mike killed it with the spread he put out. Bacon burgers, hot hogs with chili (and I think there was some sauerkraut too), potato salad, corn…I’m sure I’m forgetting some of the stuff that was there. If you walked away hungry from that spread it was your own fault.

In the afternoon we skipped what was supposed to be the second game, AeroTech. I have no idea how to play the game. We played it at TotalCon last February and I had great fun being totally lost as to what I was supposed to do to have any chance of doing well in the game. And I really didn’t care. Despite the stumbling and bumbling at TotalCon I suggested it again for HorhiroCon. But with the first battles running a bit long (it tends to happen when you see some of these folks only twice a year) it was voted that we instead play the other planned Battletech game.

The game was supposed to be on a board the players build, with each player given some terrain to place on an otherwise blank hex grid. I suggested we use an oversized “basic” map that Mike used once for a previous HorhiroCon battle. I thought it worked out perfectly, with the scenario Mike designed on the familiar basic board. Here are some pictures of the battle. My side (Merl, Tom, Dave, and I) with the red ‘mechs, and the other side (Scott, Adam, John, and Mike) with the green units. People familiar with the Battletech will know what each of these are as they all represent the actual units played.

Now it would appear from that last picture that my team was victorious. Well, that was not the case. Scott’s team came back and defeated my squad after we made a couple of silly errors.

After that battle the event broke up, but not before Mike claimed all the grape soda that was left. I’m not sure why I buy grape soda when it’s available, because with the exception of a can or two Mike drinks it all and then takes whatever is left in the cooler. On second thought, I’m actually very sure as to why I bring grape soda.

Thanks for a great event again Mike. Despite Scott talking of holding one here in the fall and knowing we’ll all get together next February, I’m already looking forward to next summer’s cookout…

Goodbye, Ruby Tuesday

I know, not exactly an original title. Last week it was announced that the restaurant chain Ruby Tuesday was closing a large number of their underperforming locations. That news didn’t shock me in the least. I’ve been to Ruby Tuesday twice, and each time the same thing happened…

They messed up my order.

It’s not like I wanted anything special. Both times I ordered a cheeseburger straight off the menu. In fact, both burgers had pictures of the item on the menu so it wasn’t like I misunderstood what I was ordering.

The first time I ordered some sort of multi-patty burger that was supposed to have a variety of toppings. What I got looked worse than a McDonald’s Quarter Pounder. What angered me the most was they insisted that was what I ordered despite it not matching the picture or description of the burger I ordered. They seemed oblivious to the fact someone else in our party ordered the same burger as me and ours didn’t look anything alike.

They did finally agree to take it off the bill when I told them to just throw it away. I guess up to that point they thought I just wanted a free meal by complaining.

The second time my mother took us there after a movie. I was not real happy she chose to go there, but she was paying so she gets to choose. And they messed up my order again. Having learned from the first time I ordered a basic bacon cheeseburger. I pointed to the item so the server would be totally clear what I wanted. I also ordered it “medium well”, which is more than I like but gives a wide margin of error.

It’s came rare and without bacon.

From that point on I’ve refused to set foot in their restaurants. There’s absolutely no excuse to mess up in either of those cases. If you can’t remember to add bacon to a bacon cheeseburger you’ve got issues. I won’t even get into how any person could confuse “rare” and “medium well” or make the wrong thing.

I’m not a complainer at restaurants. You can count the number of times in my life that I’ve complained about food served to me on one hand. I’ve always followed the comical mantra of diners, “order what you want, eat what they serve”, and it usually works itself out.

I was just recently reminded of a time at my favorite diner (Lou Roc’s on West Boylston St) when Trish and I were sitting at the counter joking with the waitress when I ordered a homemade hash and cheddar omelet and was served a meat lovers omelet. I have ordered that lots of time in the past, so I just dug in. I was about halfway through when the waitress suddenly realized she wrote the wrong thing down and she felt horrified. I just laughed and kept eating. To me it was no big deal.

To give me something that isn’t remotely compatible with what I ordered and to have it look like crap when I get it is certainly a situation where a polite “Hey, I think this is wrong” isn’t out of line to say. But to then say I’m the one that made the mistake and then ignore that someone else in my party ordered the same thing I did and our food looks completely different isn’t an issue with a server or cook, that’s an issue with management.

So while I feel badly for the hard working people that will lose their jobs over the closings I can’t help but hope the people that run the chain and who set policy like that manager said he was following also find themselves unemployed.

I like to end my posts with a humorous line, but Ruby Tuesday is such a joke I can’t think of anything funnier than them.

Let The Chips Fall Where They May

I have a confession to make. It isn’t really much of a confession because pretty much everyone who knows me knows what I’m about to say, but they say the first step is admitting you have a problem, and it’s time for me to take that first step…

I’m addicted to potato chips.

Yeah, I know. Of all the things someone could be addicted to potato chips are not exactly high on the list of stuff that causes eminent danger, but it still can be a big issue. Although I’m not really certain what any of those issues could be, I need to make sure I nip this in the bud before it gets completely out of hand.

I should also clarify my addiction and mention it’s not all potato chips. It’s specifically ridged chips. Plain is preferred, but some of the cheese flavored are also acceptable. Sour cream and onion are good in a pinch. I’ve never seen a good BBQ ridged chip, so as far as I know they don’t exist. The rest I can easily avoid with no issue.

It’s one of the reasons I don’t go shopping with Trish very often. We inevitably end with a bag or two in our cart. And it’s not like it matters if I go into the store hungry or not, nor if we need to go down that aisle at all, chips end up in our cart.

Lots of folks are into these kettle chips now, but to be honest unless they’re straight out of the fryer like some restaurants do they aren’t any better than normal non-ridged chips. Sure they’ve got some awesome flavors, but make regular chips in those flavors and they’d taste the same.

I once mentioned to my mother that buying those big bags of chips is bad for me because I tend to eat the whole bag in one sitting. She said that it would be a good idea to place some of the chips in a small bowl and just take the bowl into the living room instead of the entire bag. And when you think about it, that’s a great idea…

…now I can get a little exercise while eating the whole bag.

Sunday Funday: Recap and Tidbits 3

We’ve hit another Sunday, but this time we’ve also hit a bump in the road. I tried to make a “scheduled post” yesterday as I was unsure of my internet availability, and I failed to do that correctly. So I missed yesterday, theoretically penalizing myself in the contest/challenge to post for 30 days in a row. But seeing as I’m lagging far behind in the scoring anyway it’s not like it really matters that much. I’m throwing that post back in the hopper and it will go up sometime over this week.

Also because I was away yesterday and spent some time getting ready for the gathering (there will be a post about it soon) I didn’t get to do a whole lot of news reading over the past few days, so this will be a lean posting. With baseball being over for the local team I’ll be back on my normal schedule this week and hopefully will get some interesting stuff up. I guess we’ll both see together.

Now, on to a few tidbits…

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Lots of my friends watch Criminal Minds and are talking about Thomas Gibson’s firing. Based on what I’m reading online there’s a lot more going on there than just Gibson having a physical encounter with writer-producer Virgil Williams. With so much money on the line for all parties a fight on-set between two people is almost always worked out somehow, so the fact Gibson was fired says to me this could be the latest in a long line of issues involving Gibson.

It stinks for fans of the show, and I get why they would be upset over what’s happened. But if you look at this from a “real world” perspective (because we all know things that happen in Hollywood seldom qualify as “real world) starting a fight with a coworker gets you fired from the vast majority of jobs, and this situation shouldn’t be any different. I’m sure we haven’t heard the last of this.

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This is the first time I can recall going a full week of an Olympics without watching more than a handful of seconds of it live. With highlights available on the internet nearly instantly after the event is over watching on TV isn’t that important any more. NBC has paid over $12 billion to broadcast the Olympics until 2032 games, and executives there surely must be worried about the ability, legally or not, of people to watch events on the internet.

I haven’t seen any TV ratings for the games, but I’ll be a bit surprised if they’re as good as the 2012 games. When you figure that those games were in London and not in the same time zones as the US it’s not a good sign for NBC’s investment. I could be totally wrong and they’re raking in the viewers, but at least those I’m talking to are watching a whole lot less of the games on TV. Time will tell.

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When it comes to video games I’m pretty much just a Diablo 3 player. Several of the guys at work were talking about Fallout 4 a few weeks back and I was intrigued, but it’s not the kind of game that really interests me so I didn’t get it. After reading about No Man’s Sky I am once again thinking about buying a new game to play, although if I do I’ll be waiting for them to work all the kinks out. It seems the version for PlayStation4 works great but there are some issues in the PC version. Will be waiting for the “all clear” on that before deciding.

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My favorite headline of the week: “Apartment set on fire by homemade cockroach-killing flamethrower.” – UPI. Guess he should have gotten one at the store…

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For last week’s recap, just in case you missed any of my posts from the last week…
Monday: The Silliness of Sports Motivation
Tuesday: Very Superstitious, Writings on the Wall
Wednesday: Thirteen Month Old Baby, Broke the Lookin’ Glass
Thursday: Some People Just Like To Complain
Friday: Hot Time, Summer in the City
Saturday: It didn’t post 😦

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And finally, your moment of Zen… (and what else could it be this week?)

Hot Time, Summer in the City

I make it no secret that I don’t like the heat and humidity. Anything over 75°F and I’m really uncomfortable. I’m more into cold temperatures. If it’s cold, I can put on more clothes. When it’s hot there is a “socially acceptable” limit to what you can take off. And for those that don’t know me, I’ll tell you that when it comes to covering my body, more is better.

It annoys me when I say I prefer the cold that many immediately reply they hate the ice and snow. Well, so do I, but it’s not like it snows every day it’s cold out. It would be like if someone says they prefer it hot and you reply you hate the rain. Sure you could have a cold rain while a warm snow isn’t possible, but that’s not the point. The fact I don’t like thunderstorms plays no role in me not liking the heat. You can have “thunder snow”, and that doesn’t deter me from liking it cold.

(As an aside, for something to laugh at go to YouTube and search “Cantore Thundersnow Montage”. It’s Jim Cantore going nuts during a thundersnow episode. No, really. Yes, I’ll wait while you do that)

OK, back to my rant…now I’m not talking about extreme cold. I’m talking about your average winter day. Even a few degrees colder is fine. If you talk to people who love the heat they still have a point where it’s too hot for them. I get that if you’re a fan of the beach warmer is better. But most golfers and softball players I know would rather it not be blazing hot like the last couple days have been. Heck, even hanging out at a pool is still better when it’s not 90° and humid.

Yes, there are some things you can only do in the summer months, but it doesn’t have to be so hot and humid to do them. But there’s also lots of stuff that is better to do when it’s on the cooler side. Outdoor sports is better to play when it’s cooler. Yardwork and household chores are a lot easier when it’s not so hot out.

And let’s be honest, there’s a reason why September is the most common month for birthdays…