Milking the new year

Look, I’m as tolerant of lactose as the next guy (Disclaimer: maybe the guy after that — I don’t really know the next guy), but this time the damned pro-lactose activists (“lactivists”) have gone too far!  Nogging up perfectly good rum for Christmas is one thing, but I say we put the carbonated grape juice and drunken louts back in New Year’s Eve!  What’s next?  Wine mixed into cheese?  Who’s with me?

Drinking to a long shelf life

I was at Starbucks this morning, and there was a sign up on the board for their new hand-made sodas (some assembly required). I’m not sure exactly what the appeal of making sodas to order could be — it’s not as if the carbon dioxide (now with TWICE the oxygen of regular carbon monoxide!) can go bad. And it’s not as if the baristi (baristovians?  baristites?) have nothing better to do with their days than lovingly hand-craft something that sits on the grocery store shelf for weeks at a time.  But I have surprisingly little hands-on experience running a coffee empire, so I’m sure there’s some logic involved. (Disclaimer: I’m not so sure there’s some logic involved.)

But with all the possible advertising hooks Starbucks could come up with (“Twice the Oxygen of Carbon Monoxide — 50% Less Lethal!” or “More Fun to Watch Being Made than Sausage!” would be my suggestions), the Starbucks near my house chose this one:

Made Right Before Your Eyes!

I find this very off-putting.  My eyes were made in 1961, lovingly hand-crafted from only the finest rods and cones.  (Disclaimer: some of them have gone bad.)  I’m not sure I want to drink soda made right before that.  Wine or cheese is one thing.  (Disclaimer: Wine and cheese are two things, unless you put port wine in your cheese.  Never put Camembert in your merlot.)  But 53-year old soda has probably gone flat by now.  Although I feel bad about the Starbucks Corporation storing soda pop for over half a century, without even asking me if I wanted it.  (Disclaimer: I probably would have ordered 7-year old root beer when I was 6, if Starbucks had had the foresight to be founded in 1967.)

(Author’s Note: This is the kind of stuff my brain pulls on me all the time.  I often wonder how the rest of humanity functions.)

Meeting my non-obligations

About 6 months ago I was at a Catholic men’s conference.  The priest who was speaking happened to mention that whenever he is in line at Starbucks, he always pays for the person behind him.   As I am a long-time proponent of giving simply because you can, I decided to adopt this policy myself.  (I have since learned from friends at Starbucks that it is not uncommon for people to do this at the drive-thru.)  Whenever there is someone in line behind me, I will tell the baristperson that the next person’s drink is on me.  I don’t do this for any deeper reasons than 1) I can, and B) it makes other people happy, and I enjoy happiness.  It’s a good return on the investment of a few dollars.

The reactions I have gotten are varied and usually positive.  There’s usually a moment of “What?!” when the baristette tells them their drink is already paid for, followed by a look at me and the question, “Are you serious?”  (Disclaimer: That would be a really mean thing to do.)  Once they realize I am serious, then comes the smile.  Most people thank me two or three times, as if I had just rescued them from the Cybermen.  One woman did a little dance.  Once on a Saturday morning, a teenage girl beamed at me and said, “I’ve been up since 4AM, and everything has gone wrong today.  This is the only good thing that has happened!”  I floated through the entire weekend on that one.  That is why I do it, so someone can go through the rest of their day knowing that something good happened.

But every once in a while, someone will look at me apologetically and say, “Oh, you don’t have to do that!”  I never know quite how to respond to them, because that statement is both obvious and irrelevant.  And it puts me in a quandry, because it kind of defeats the purpose of making people happy to mock them while doing it.

Here are some of the things I want to say, but don’t:

  • “I don’t?!?!  Oh, thank God!  Now I can go buy that wooden hip for my grandmother!”  (Disclaimer: Yes, wooden hip.  As I was writing that line, the terms “wooden leg” and “artificial hip” collided in my mind like those chocolate and peanut butter addicts in the old Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups commercials of my youth.  Coincidentally, a peanut butter/chocolate pileup on the interstate is why my grandmother needs a wooden hip.)
  • “Of course I do!  They’re watching!”

There was one woman who was so adamant about buying her own coffee that she tried to force $5 into my shirt pocket, even as I kept backing away from her.  No matter what I said, she insisted on reimbursing me for her drink.  She relented only when I finally told her, “If you give me back the money, I’m just going to pay for her drink instead!”, referring to the person in line behind her.  (I did end up paying for her drink as well, with far less brouhaha.)  But I really just wanted to stop her and say, “Seriously?  Are you so horrible a person that you’re not worthy of a free cup of coffee?  Do you really need to fight back this hard?”

So I’ve come up with a compromise, one that I hope balances my dual obligations to be kind to strangers and still mock them.  Whenever someone says to me, “You don’t have to do that,” I just turn to them, smile, and say, “I’m sorry, did I ask for your opinion?”

I haven’t been punched yet.  Yet.


Better living through warnings

As I have explained before, warning signs are what separates modern humans from cavemen.  If Neanderthals had spent less time doodling on cave walls and more time putting up signs saying “Warning: Cro-Magnons may be hazardous to your survival!”, actuarial tables show that Neanderthals would be approximately 92% less extinct than they are today.

Fortunately for us, modern humans warn the crap out of each other.  This morning, while I was getting my oil changed, I walked down the road to a nearby coffee shop.  (Disclaimer: it was not olde enough to be a shoppe.)  While I was waiting, I glanced up at the menu board and saw a warning in small print at the bottom.  I don’t remember the exact wording, but the gist of the message was this:

Allergen warning: Some of the products here may contain the following allergens: peanuts, tree nuts (which I first read as “tree moss”), wheat, milk, and (wait for it) fish.

Fish. Continue reading

Corrections: Continuity errors

When you watch as much television as I do, you start to notice when the writers or the director miss things between shots or episodes.  The technical term for these oversights is “continuity errors”.

While I have had a spectacular morning today (which you can read about here), I have noticed a surprising number of continuity errors in reality.

1) At IHOP this morning, my waitress (Cori the Zone Bunny — read about her here too) told me that the secret of their sirloin tips was that they were “marinated in Coca-Cola”.  What she meant to say was that they were “marinated and cooked”.  This will be fixed in ADR (additional dialogue recording).

2) At Barnes & Noble, the cover of the latest Justice League of America comic book shows Catwoman as a member.  Catwoman is a villainess (villperson?  person of villainy?), while the Justice League is a loose confederation of heroes.  We will fix this in editing.

3) At Starbucks, the Veranda Blend coffee is described on the label as “blonde”.  Coffee is a brunette, unless you add lots of raspberry syrup, in which case coffee becomes a sultry redhead.  Lemonade is blonde.  We will get the VFX (visual effects) guys to digitally fix the label.

4) Also at Starbucks, my friend Laura indicated that she had been up since 3 o’clock this morning.  This was a typo in the script, and was meant to read “8 o’clock”.  Laura is not to blame.  Again, we will fix this in ADR.

5) Leaving Starbucks, one of the cars in the parking lot had a vanity plate reading “DKTR WHO”.  In the earlier German portion of the morning, the vanity plate read “DKTR WER” (Doctor Who).  In the American morning, the plate should read “DCTR WHO”.  Another touchup for the graphics department.

We regret the errors.

The Rite of Earl Grey

Reposted from Facebook:

A sign at Starbucks said: “Like most meaningful rituals, making a perfect glass of iced tea is easy.” Most meaningful rituals (weddings, bar mitzvahs, dressing for a Raiders home game) are complex affairs that fail the easiness test.  And making iced tea is not a ritual.  It’s barely a recipe. I suspect the dim bulb who came up with this never achieved anything more in life than making iced tea, and just wanted to brag.