Friday, September 30, 2011

It's Time!!

 On Wednesday night at Buffalo Church, our after dinner speaker was Representative Howard Coble. Howard represents the Sixth Congressional District of North Carolina. He was elected to Congress in the 1984 election. If my math is correct, he is serving his fourteenth term now.

Because districts change almost constantly, Howard has represented parts of Guilford and different surrounding counties over the last 26 years. I have voted for Howard several times. I think that he's a good conservative. He has done a good job representing this area.

Having said all of that, after watching Howard on Wednesday night, I have to say that it is time for him to retire. Howard is obviously getting older and is showing some of the effects of that. He sat on a stool at the podium during his presentation. His remarks tended to ramble more than any other presentation that I have heard him deliver. His chief of staff was on hand and helped him by prompting him on a couple of statements.

When he opened the floor to questions, I asked him a couple of questions. Okay, maybe it was three or four questions. Anyway, while Howard responded to my questions, I can't say that he answered my questions. My questions were not asked in attempt to embarrass Howard, I asked them to get his opinion. After the meeting ended, Howard approached me and told me that he wasn't sure if he had answered my questions, but that he felt that we were "on the same page". I agreed with him.

Howard needs to make this term his last. He should make a decision not to run again and make it now. The Republicans need all the time possible to find a candidate to replace him. Howard needs to go out on top. Like athletes, actors and musicians, politicians hang on too long. Examples that come to mind are Thurmond, Kennedy, Biden and Byrd.  The time comes for all of us to realize that we need to move on and let some one else take our place. For Howard, that time has come.

The years ahead will be difficult. While experience is helpful, so is a high energy level and a fresh perspective. Let's find a quality candidate to take his place!!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Deep Fried Friday

I'm doing a little multi-tasking as I write this. I'm watching the Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction from Las Vegas on Speed Channel. I put enough plugs in that sentence to sound like a NASCAR driver. I love to watch Barrett-Jackson. It combines two of my favorite things, auctions and old cars. My only problem is sitting in front of the TV for several hours. I'm getting up for popcorn in a minute.

I cooked my first Wednesday night fellowship dinner of the season at church on Wednesday. Everything went pretty well. "Whipped Cream Annie" arrived too late to help, but in time to complain about the whipped cream portion on her dessert. I dragged out the pastry bag and corrected the shortfall on her dessert. I passed up the opportunity to garnish her hairstyle with the whipped cream.

I received an explanation of benefits from the insurance company on my recent visit to the dermatologist. The doctor charged $940.00. The insurance company paid them $286.08 and they wrote off the rest. Can someone explain why doctors will charge someone without insurance three times as much and require payment up front while they will take much less from an insurance company thirty days later?? Shouldn't the person paying up front be getting a discount?? This is a system in need of  serious work. This won't be fixed by Obamacare.

I just saw an ad for a new television show called "Rocket City Rednecks". I am fascinated already. I have set the DVR for Wednesday.

There are those who read this blog who question my self-control and my ability to manage my temper. Here's an example of both of those things. After a four day string of 16 to 17 hour days, I was planning to sleep until 5:00 AM. on Thursday morning. Yeah, that's late for me! At 3:45 A.M., my wife woke me up to tell me that her dog was barking in the living room. I got up and to the best of my recollections, took the dog out. I'm not sure what I was wearing when I took the dog out, but I took the dog out. We were outside about ten minutes and then came back in. I went back to sleep quickly.  What this have to do with self control and temper management? The dog is still alive and I'm still married.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post that dealt mainly with sports topics. A friend and trusted advisor sent me an e-mail expressing a little surprise that I was that knowledgeable about sports. Are you serious? At age 13, I published a sports newsletter for family and friends. I bought an old AB Dick Ditto machine and printed it monthly. You didn't need to wait for the Web to get my opinion on sports (or anything else).

Growing up in Tampa, we used to go see the Reds play in the spring training season. We were Dodger fans. My mother would get me out of school to see the Dodgers play when they came to town. When I was fourteen, I started working as a vendor at Tampa Stadium. I watched the University of Tampa football team play lots of games. I have had plenty of experience watching sports.

Have I written much about sports? In the ninth grade, I was the sports editor for our junior high school newspaper. I once interviewed Rick Casares, who had played for the Bears and Redskins, for our school newspaper. He owned a nightclub in Tampa, where I interviewed him. At fourteen, when you get to go to a bar to interview a football player, you are the envy of all your male friends. Yes, Gil knows sports!!

So why don't I like about sports today? It's all changed. In baseball there are pitchers making $5 million a year who wouldn't have been given a jockstrap in the 1960's, much less a contract. How about showboating? This is a huge problem in football and basketball. Some guy making millions a year to play a game, finally makes a play, and jumps up and struts around like he has cured cancer. Watch those guys when they score a touchdown. Obama didn't react that way when a bunch of idiots elected him President. By the ways those guys act, you would think that they had solved the Arab-Israeli thing!!

Forget the NBA. Naismith would not recognize the game today. I gave up on the NBA more than twenty years ago. In a post game interview, it might have been Moses Malone, who said, "I mama-ed the ball over to Dominique so he could get his shot." They still don't have any players who speak English. We won't get into the "traveling" thing.

What would happen if we all acted like that at work? Can you picture everyone at T&S trading high fives every time an order of pancakes goes out? Will the waiters dance in the middle station every time they make a pot of coffee?  Let me know when your waitress starts high stepping to your table because she sold a glass of orange juice. Athletes are all making insane money for playing games. They need to act like they have done it before.

How about NASCAR? If you think that I am going to criticize a bunch of little guys and one girl driving rolling billboards around in circles and who cannot answer a question without the word "awesome", you're right. These guys all came out of a cookie cutter somewhere. Can we pay extra for different personalities?? The Random Moments of Lunacy car ran an awesome race tonight!! We had something for them when we needed it. The swill goes on and on..........

Here's my pick for sporting event of the week next week. It's Spirit Week at Grimsley. Representatives from several Grimsley High School sports teams will compete in a pancake eating contest at Tex & Shirley's at Friendly Center. Wednesday, 8:00 A.M., be there! I have an impartial referee lined up, The Queen. She's a graduate of Bessemer High School, so she won't care who wins from Grimsley. Go Whirlies!!! (Maybe next year, Page High School can find the time to compete)

Friday, September 16, 2011

Grimsley-Page

The biggest rivalry in Greensboro area high schools is Grimsley versus Page. Grimsley is located a little more than a mile from the restaurant and Page is about a ten minute drive away. As a result, we get lots of students from both schools, particularly on Wednesday. That day is All-you-can-eat Buttermilk pancake day. Yep, load 'til you explode or slop 'til you drop for only $2.49 per person.

We are a corporate sponsor for the Grimsley football team. That means that we furnish the pre-game meal for the team for one game. I chose to feed the team before the Page game.

This year, I decided that we should expand what we do for the big game. So I thought that we would stage a pancake eating contest on the Wednesday before the game. We would have three representatives from each team and give them five minutes to eat as many pancakes as possible. The winning team would get a plaque and a donation to their athletic fund. In addition, we could get some media coverage that would benefit both programs and the restaurant. Sounds like a winner, right??

I spoke to the Grimsley coach and he was all for it. A friend who teaches at Page spoke to the Athletic Director there and told me to give the AD a call. No problem. I called the AD and spoke to him. He needed a written proposal to run by his folks. I promptly e-mailed him the details. I waited for a reply, and waited, and waited..........

TEN days later, I e-mailed an inquiry into the status of the alleged decision making process. At least this time, I received a response. They were concerned that the time of the contest would interfere with football practice. He also questioned whether Grimsley had agreed to that time for the contest.

I responded promptly and pointed out that the time for the contest was set as a time that it could be done at the restaurant. I also pointed out that we only needed three(3) players for the contest. I was sure that they had three guys that they could spare for thirty minutes. Apparently, I was wrong. Is everybody on that team crucial to practice? Do they not practice if three guys are out sick? Surely there are three scrubs somewhere on that roster. If not, how about going to the lunchroom, watch people eat, and pick out three ringers to send. It's not like we were going to check eater eligibility before the contest.

In his e-mail questioning the time, the AD copied the coach and AD at Grimsley with his questions about their agreeing with the contest time. A few hours later, the Grimsley AD sent a terse reply, "Grimsley is in!" I thought that given the intensity of the rivalry, Page would quickly agree. Wrong again!!

FIVE days later I received an e-mail from Page telling me that they couldn't participate because of the conflict with practice time. Okay.

What did I learn from this experience? First, "Educator" may be a misnomer in some cases. Second, despite the continual appeals from the school system for community involvement, their people are not prepared to deal with businesses trying to get involved. Third, "Think outside the box" is not a phrase widely used in the school system.

Why should the schools have participated? It was a fun event that many of their students would have enjoyed. I was offering a trophy and a donation to the winning school's athletic fund. It was a chance for the schools to "expand their brand". It was a chance to make it about more than a football game. It was an opportunity for favorable media coverage for both programs. It was a chance to start a new tradition.  All down the tubes because there weren't three guys available for thirty minutes!

But there is a happy ending. Yesterday, I received an e-mail from the Grimsley AD suggesting that we have the contest among representatives of each of the fall sports at Grimsley. I called him and agreed to that. Since Grimsley starts school later on Wednesday morning, we are going to do that at 8:00 A.M. on Wednesday. They are working it into their "Spirit Week" schedule.
GO Whirlies!!!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Monday Moans and Groans

The NFL started their season over the weekend. The Bucs lost, the Panthers lost, and the Colts got creamed. Sorry about the Colts, Jeff !! I lived in Tampa when the Bucs started and I lived in North Carolina when the Panthers began. Is it my fault that they are both monuments to mediocrity??

I was at Tampa Stadium in 1977 when the Bucs beat the St. Louis Cardinals for their first home win in the last game of the season. The crowd tore down the goalposts for a 2-12 season. I sat in the stands, drank a Coke and watched.

The NASCAR regular season ended at Richmond Saturday night as I slept. I was able to hold on for about the first 15 laps, but I don't recall much of the next 385 laps. I can't wait to sleep during the Chase.

I hear that they are still playing baseball, but I'm not sure. When they moved the World Series to night games in November, I gave up watching baseball.

A friend was telling me about watching the Cowboys game on Sunday night. I used to think that I was a Cowboys fan, but I was wrong. I was actually a Roger Staubach and Tom Landry fan. When that **##@@**  Jerry Jones bought the Cowboys, I went back to reading books on Sunday afternoon.

I found the video of my appearance on the CBS Evening News in 2002. I watched it, but had trouble spotting myself in the tape. There was some fat guy with brown hair who sounded like me and wouldn't shut up. HMMM!!!

My wife bought her dog a Mickey Mouse ball to play with in the house. It's entertaining to watch, but she's  still not a candidate for doggy Mensa.

My wife is on the phone making plans with our children for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. I'm planning on eating at home, I'm not sure what everyone else is doing. Since I have cooked those meals for the last twenty years or so, I'm pretty sure that they will be here. If not, I won't have to fight for seconds on the Maple Pumpkin Cheesecake.

They waited too late to turn on the A/C on Sunday at church. It was a tad warm in there. Thank God that I wasn't in the choir loft!! My pocket thermometer was reading 86 degrees. If the sermon had gone another minute, the loud noise would have been my head ricocheting off the pew in front of me as I nodded off.

At church yesterday, the Queen made an announcement/commercial during the service trying to recruit choir members. I will probably have to promise NOT to join the choir to remain in her good graces. Yes, my voice is that bad. People cry when I sing.

Time to go. Pawn Stars is on TV.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Saturday, the day after Friday

Having spent all of my adult life and most of my formative years in the food service business, I have never quite understood the term T.G.I.F. In the restaurant business, Friday just means that you will be working harder the next two days as you struggle through the weekend.

The best thing about today is that it has been two days since Obama unveiled his latest brainstorm and boondoggle. He wants to cut payroll taxes by 50%. For those who didn't follow that, he wants to cut Social Security taxes by 50%. Let's see, they keep telling us that Social Security is almost bankrupt and now they want to cut the flow of funds to Social Security by 50%. Is it making sense yet?? Raise your right hand if you understand this.

I do like his idea about a $4000 tax credit for small businesses that hire individuals who have been unemployed for more than six months. When an employee asks, "Why are you firing me?", the answer is easy. "The government is giving me a $4000 tax credit to replace you." Will that make them eligible for unemployment? Probably. I knew that there was a catch.

I told my favorite customer that if the tax credit program passes, she should look for lots of new faces at the restaurant. If you work for me and irritate me, the government wants to give me $4000 to fire you and replace you. What a deal!!

The good news is that this program will give me a raise. Let's see, I am waiting for Obama and Congress to pass a law allowing me to keep more of what I earn. I have to call the doctor!!  Time to cut the dosage.

In short the Obama program may not reduce unemployment, it will just change the faces of the unemployed. It's kind of like government funded musical chairs.

The big question is whether Congress will have time to address the issue between the Labor Day recess and the Thanksgiving holiday. I think that there are a couple of work days in that period!

I got word from the doctor yesterday that the growth on my arm was not melanoma. I wasn't expecting it to be melanoma, but it was growing fast enough to worry me. If you are one of those folks who have asked me about it, thanks for your concern. I'm calmer now.

If you are a regular reader of this swill and are wondering about how my wife's dog is doing, wonder no more. Dolly is alive and well. She appears to be a little retarded, but who's perfect? Here's a link to a dog even dumber than Dolly. See for yourself.
http://www.wimp.com/throwstick

Traumatic experience!! I am writing this while I am at the surplus store "working". I had to stop when a couple came in a few minutes ago. As I was talking to them, it took about two seconds to realize that this woman had the worst case of body odor that I have been near in years. I'm telling you that Mr. Clean couldn't kill this stench. It was tough talking while I was fighting the gag reflex thing. I should have brought some of the "dumpster deodorant" that we use at the restaurant and turned the hose on her.

Actually "working" is a little misleading. I actually do work on some days. Saturday is my day to clean the store. This morning I got the brush and squeegee and washed the windows. Before leaving this afternoon, I will sweep and mop the floor. Yes, it's a lot like being at home. Most people won't believe this, but I have great domestic skills. It comes from a lifetime of cleaning up after people at the restaurant. I once told my wife that if anything happens to her, I am auctioning myself off to the highest bidder in a group of women looking for a house husband. Yeah, she didn't laugh either.

Ending on a sports note, both college and pro football have started. There is a rumor that they have an NFL team in Charlotte. We will have to wait and see.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

What I learned on the way....

Last week one of my employees was sitting on the bench outside the restaurant listening to his CD player. I went out and asked  "What are you listening to?" He said "Gospel." So I asked him who it was. He wouldn't tell me and after I asked repeatedly about it, he finally told me that it was a bootleg CD. "You're listening to stolen gospel music? Are you serious? What's the hypocrisy level in this?"

The GOP Presidential hopefuls appeared in a "debate" last night. I had to settle for watching the highlights this morning. I once had high hopes for Newt Gingrich. Here's a guy with great ideas and plans, but he's never going to be President. He's also a great writer. Unfortunately, I don't think that he can bridge the gap between ideas and action. I'm not sure of his leadership skills. Combine that with the fact that he has enough personal baggage to fill a circus train and you have an unelectable candidate. As long as I am taking a shot at Newt, here's another. Hey Callista!! Either get Newt to drop 75 pounds or get a tailor who can fit a suit on a fat man.

My Scoutmaster, Rick, recently brought me an article out of Backpacker magazine. He claims that the subject of the article reminds him of me in hiking shorts. The article was titled "Madman walking". Go figure!

I received an e-mail from someone last week who described me as a "sweet guy". I responded with a plea not to use the "S" word again. I'm now a "good and decent man". I may be able to live with that.

An employee called in on Sunday, claimed to have a headache. She told me that she didn't know how to get rid of a headache. I suggested that the first step would be to stop sleeping with him.

For those wondering about my arm, I had a squamous cell carcinoma removed last week. "Squamous" is obviously derived from the word squeamish, which is how you feel after watching them scoop a large piece of your arm out. They also froze about seven spots on my head. As a friend said, "Talk about a brain freeze." Yes, I had a headache for several hours after that.

My doctor, actually a nurse, Ann, who comes into the restaurant on Sunday examined my arm and approved. I'm going to wait for the test results anyway.

Two blondes were sipping their Starbucks when a truck went past loaded up with rolls of sod. "I'm going to do that when I win the lottery," announced Blonde #1. "Do what?" asked Blonde #2. "Send my lawn out to be mowed."
Thanks to The Queen for that one!

I attended a family gathering last weekend in Charlotte. While I enjoyed myself, it was a reminder that you can pick your friends, but you can't pick your family.

I spent a considerable amount of time trying to get a speaker for the church men's group meeting in September. I finally got Danny Harnden from Fox 8. Thank you, Fox 8. Channel 2 failed to respond to e-mails or phone calls. I told someone that if it had not been an event for the church, someone at News 2 would have already received a sampling of my finest vocabulary!

I am constantly reminded that it is better to have one good friend than a dozen so-so friends. There are times when you have to have someone to vent your issues to. Being my friend requires good listening skills. I would write a rant here, but I'm not sure if that friend is going to read this. Thanks!!

We are trying to have a pancake eating contest at the restaurant later this month between representatives of two high schools. Grimsley is on board, apparently it takes more discussion at Page. I'll keep you posted.