December 21, 2008

An Embarassment To Society

It has come to my attention that the absence of consistent posts within this blog has upset some of my loyal readers. As such I am going to make it my goal to increase posts and thus increase morale among cubicle and office workers worldwide. So make sure you save that revenue forecast you’ve been working on for weeks. Make sure your door is closed and free of intrusion. Make sure no one is peeking over your shoulder and get ready to delve into one my most passionate blog topics to date….

The embarrassment to society that is Costco!

Why do I refer to Costco as an “embarrassment to society”? Have you ever been there?! Actually, let me embellish. Have you ever been to this warehouse? Or how about this - have you ever rummaged through this overstuffed, excessive trough?

Stop. Stop right now. I don’t want to hear people stick up for Costco. I don’t buy it and nor should you. Literally and figuratively. Are there some good deals at Costco? Yes. Is it worth buying a bag of chicken for .10 cents, which can last you ‘til Labor Day ’09? Sure. Are you hosting a party for 700 people and need a 96oz bottle of Ketchup? If so, fine. I guess you can go to Costco. But you won’t see me there. That’s for damn sure.

Why wont you see me there? Well that could be for many reasons. I’ll break it all down for ya’ with some thoughts….

1) Maybe I am there but you can’t see me because my cart is the size of a Chevy Silverado.

2) I can’t shop at a place where the only thing bigger than the 400lb bag of dog food is the person loading it from pallet to cart.

3) The people who forage for food there resemble squirrels hoarding their winter stock just before first snowfall. Judging by their single-minded determination backed by a dogged devotion, it seems like this snowfall might closely resemble a nuclear winter.

4) One should never shop where you can find sofas, TV’s, ketchup, whiskey, T-bone steak and mattresses under the same roof.

5) …underwear, jewelry or garage doors. I mean seriously? SERIOUSLY!

6) As I read this, I realize Costco is one giant garage sale. That’s it actually. It’s a garage sale. Mr. Costco, whoever the billionaire is, had the brilliant idea to simply buy every single product he could. Package it in bulk so it looks like a great deal. Ship the food on pallets and store it in an airplane hangar. Open up the doors, give people membership cards so they feel special, feed them .50 cent rubber pizzas and watch the rats come!

7) Speaking of membership cards. This was always one of my biggest pet peeves. I’m sorry but no red-blooded American should have to pay a fee for the right to buy groceries…or mattresses, etc. If I want to buy ketchup I shouldn’t need to show ID at the front door.

To sum it up people, please just go to Shop-Rite, Kings, A&P or Foodtown and purchase normal sized goods. Use coupons, use price plus cards. If you truly want to save that extra few dollars, then scour the Sunday newspapers for great bargains. But don’t go to Costco. Don’t sacrifice all things decent and get lost in the feeding frenzy that is Costco.

Btw, Sam’s Club and BJ’s should be off limits as well.

Ok gotta run. My Costco turkey burger is burning on the grill! I may not go there, but that doesn’t mean my wife can’t…and every other member of my family!

December 7, 2008

Proper Tipping Etiquette

In the spirit of the holiday season, and since this blog has become somewhat of an afterthought, I have decided its time to get back into the thick of things. Heck it’s the season for giving.

And thus the topic – Proper Tipping Etiquette.

As in with money not cows. For all my Pennsylvania readers.
(Not including the Ghetian’s of course)

A person should always leave a 20% tip. Unless the waiter/waitress is a blatant dirtbag than please – 20%. I don’t want to hear 15% or 18% arguments either. Look at it like this, if you can leave 18% than you can leave 20%. That extra dollar or two will make the server’s day and also make you look good and not like a schmuck. Do you wanna look like a schmuck? Didn’t think so. (keep in mind this is coming from an unemployed person so no one is allowed to cry broke more than myself. And thus this is why I can make these rules!)

I also don’t think you should stop at 20% either. There is no reason you can’t venture closer to that next plateau, 25%. Don’t be shy. Heck it is the season of giving!

Another situation that arises is the 8-person table where the establishment tends to add 18% gratuity. Here’s a revelation, how about adding to that a little? And again what a nice surprise for your server. Lets say you have a table of 10 people. Is it such a big deal if each person shelled out an extra $2 and you add $20 to that tip? Is that honestly going to kill you?. Didn’t think so. And it’s a nice little gesture you can put in the “Accomplishments” section of your resume.

Now lets talk about change. If you’re paying cash you should never ask for change if it’s less than $4 you want back.

An example: Your bill is $40. If you go by the aforementioned law of at least 20% than your tip should be at least $8. You wrestle together $50 from your croco’ wallet. Pay the bill and shame on you if you ask for $2 change. That is just embarrassing. Tell ‘em to keep the change and walk out with a smile knowing you just made someone’s day. You’ll have to skip your Dunkin Donuts coffee for the day if it’s really gonna hamper your budget.

Here’s another situation. Lets say you go to a diner and get a coffee and a grilled cheese. Your bill comes to $10 or so. You should leave a $3 tip. The minimum tip ever left someone who serves you food should be $3. I don’t care if your bill is $6. Leave $10 and go about your day. Are you really gonna sit there and wait for your waiter to return and say to them, “thanks can I get $2 back please?” I mean honestly - $2? (obviously in this example the imaginary person was asking for $2 back because no person in their right mind would ever leave a $1 tip)

There are certain instances where the $1 tip is kosher. Get a beer – leave a buck. I think that’s about it though.

In the spirit of the holiday season here is Greco’s Tipping Guide:

Car Valet - $2 minimum

Mailperson - $10 minimum but if you really like ‘em than splurge for the $20 and some hot chocolate!

Newspaper Delivery Person - $10. Although honestly, if you forget about this one than I can’t blame ya’.

Airport Curbside Check In - $2. A $5 would go a longer way towards making sure you arrive in Miami with your luggage though.

Hotel Bellboy - $1/per bag. ($2 minimum)

Coat Check - $2

I guess the general rule is never tip $1. Is it better than nothing if that’s all you got? Of course. Just try to be prepared for the occasion, please. Also, when in doubt, over-tip. Especially when someone is responsible for your belongings. Do you want someone questioning the character of the person they’re trying to help? Or would you prefer them tagging your luggage or driving your Camry with a little extra something in their pockets?

Now get out there and put the lesson’s you’ve learned into action…and if you don’t than you shouldn’t have gone out in the first place!

September 24, 2008

Warning: Living in a Natural Disaster Area is Not Intelligent

So I recently made a business trip to the lovely (dump) city of New Orleans. Prior to going I had heard such wonderful things about this charming (dirty) and unique (smelly) place. I heard the people were outgoing (seedy) and friendly (beggers). I heard that Bourbon St. was a great (nasty) place to visit. I heard that bars (whore houses) lined the streets as far as the eye can see. I heard you could walk up and down the streets without a care (keep an eye on your wallet and jewelry) in the world. All you have to do is visit all the great (non-Italian…ok fine, the seafood was good although gumbo overload occurred after hour 2) restaurants. The amicable (I don’t know you so stop talking to me like we go way back to the days of hunting ‘gators in the bayou with your cousin Big Al) people say that hurricanes are only a distraction (utter nightmare that forces you to evacuate your city) in September…

…And thus my segue into the real topic that needs to be discussed. The absent-minded idea that one would ever settle down in an area that is prone to natural disasters!

I’ve thought long and hard about this topic, roughly 29 years or so, and I’ve come to the following conclusion: I do not feel bad for you if your life is ruined by Mother Nature. Whether it be a Hurricane, Tornado, Earthquake, Mudslide, Typhoon, Flood, etc. etc. etc. The fact of the matter is that you knew and know damn well that you shouldn’t live there in the first place.

Lets take New Orleans for instance. The city’s foundation is BELOW sea level. I repeat, the city’s foundation is BELOW sea level. Please, for the love of all things pack your bags. Get in your pickup truck and head inland! (not that there is anything else in Louisiana worth habitating but that’s fodder for another blog) For crying out loud if the earth rotates half a degree more one year you’ll be eating your crawfish in Davey Jones’ Locker. It simply makes no sense. And I don’t wanna hear about your family’s roots or money problems. I don’t want to hear it. Move the damn family to higher ground. I hear Denver is nice (and natural disaster free as long as you don’t live on a ski slope).

And, ahem, Florida and The Carolina’s, don’t think you get a free pass either. Let me guess, “Oooh Myrtle Beach is sooo beautiful”, “Ft. Lauderdale is a wonderful place to live”, “Oh my god Hilton Head is gorgeous this time of year.” Spare me will you. Please. Ok let me get this straight. You are willing to sacrifice your life, all your possessions, your family and your home for a few nice beaches? You don’t go to the beach from November through February anyway. And hurricane season is from June – November. So basically you live there worry-free for 2 months. April and May. Those two months are worth the russian roulette you play the other 10 months, ‘ey? Really intelligent way to go about it let me tell ya’.

As far as the morons who live on the gulf coast of Texas go – well, your first mistake was ever moving to Texas. Your 2nd mistake was not listening to your governor tell you that you will die if you stay. Your 3rd mistake was thinking that a piece of plywood will protect your new Pella window. And most importantly, your 4th mistake was not comprehending that if you have to build your house on stilts than you should’ve been clued in from the get-go that this was not a good place to call home.

Ok enough with the hurricanes. This blog has already gone on too long. Lets get into the idea of living in the path of a Tornado. What corn-growing, tractor-pulling, brain surgeon thought this one up?! Couple things to keep in mind should you be someone thinking of moving to the “bread basket” of America. 1) If your neighbor is 1.5 miles down the road. Don’t’ live there. 2) If you cant see water or a mountain or a hill or anything resembling a city out’ve your living room window. Don’t live there.

Now, what is rain? (in a literal sense who the hell knows and that’s for a later blog) But in a basic sense its just that – rain. For instance, we here in the tri-state area don’t like when it rains cause we get wet. When you live in Kansas rain indicates a greater problem. When a family in Kansas puts on the weather channel and sees that it may rain later they immediately head to Wal-Mart (47 miles away) and act as though the President just said the Russians are invading. Head to the basement! Bring the dogs in! Put the horses in their stable! Grab your bibles and all your belongings! Head to the shelter!!! It’s like a Michael Bay movie. All this because a simple thunderstorm may and usually does produce a tornado. A funnel shaped cloud that forms out’ve the sky and runs through your state like a, well, like a battalion of Russian tanks run through their neighboring countries.

You surf loving California kids don’t get off that easy either. This just in, don’t buy a home on the side of a cliff. Cliffs are made of rock and dirt. When dirt gets wet it turns into mud. Mud has a tendency to do what gravity tells it to and that’s to go down. I’m no genius but that’s not exactly a bright place to live…

…oh, and those of you in California that decided to buy your home on the largest fault line in the world – no comment. No comment necessary. When you watch tv and they say its only a matter of time until “the big one” hits you should reevaluate your living situation. There are plenty of nice places to live in California let alone the country that should suffice.

Listen I’m not hear to insult anyone. We all know people living in areas as described above. I have family living along the gulf coast. I used to have family living in Florida. (yes their house was destroyed a few years back, btw). All I’m trying to do here is hammer down the idea that some charm, nice beaches or a “quiet and peaceful way of life” is not all its cracked up to be once “the big one” hits. There are other states that got a free pass here. I just highlighted some of the major violators of common sense. When I break it down you really only have a few options for a nice place to live. They include: New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Colorado, Michigan and Arizona. Some other locations are debatable. This isn’t an end all be all list. Just to be used as an example. Maryland is close but some people can argue Lacrosse is a natural disaster as well…

Until next time.

September 15, 2008

In a Perfect World...

1. There was never a 9/11.

2. There’d be no such thing as an expansion team in sports.

3. There would still be 9 planets.

4. People wouldn’t get older but they would get wiser.

5. There would be no such thing as sand traps.

6. Every backyard would come equipped with a badminton set.

7. Every game would use a bracket style tournament to determine the champion.

8. Buying a round of beers at a sporting event wouldn’t cost you $50.

9. Pharmaceutical companies would stop creating drugs that maintain diseases and start creating drugs that cure them.

10. The French would look themselves in the mirror.

11. There’d be no such thing as a Leap Year. What the hell is that anyway?

12. Snow would fall as usual only not on your driveway.

13. People would be less sensitive.

14. People would be more sensitive.

15. Israel would wipe Iran off the map. Not the other way around.

16. The Pope would concentrate on fixing his own nightmare and not worry about someone’s artistic expression…and that goes for all religious leaders and religion in general.

17. There’d be no such thing as garnishing a beer.

18. There would be no “Bounce Rule” in Beer Pong. Just throw the damn ball.

19. Tom Cruise wouldn’t have jumped up and down on a couch.

20. People would come to realize that Oprah Winfrey is not a saint and is in it for the money, fame and power.

21. I would be as rich as Oprah Winfrey and have her money, fame and power.

22. There’d be no such thing as a debate on Separation of Church v. State because religion doesn’t belong anywhere near a public school.

23. Texas, aka the Lone Star State, would get what they want and leave.

24. Chuck Norris really did do all those things that email said he did.

25. People would realize Madden Football stopped being good after ’94.

26. Life would be fair

27. People would see the forest for the trees

28. People would realize that the idea of Noah’s Ark is ridiculous

29. PETA would find something better to do with their time.

30. More girls realized that ponytails were hot.

31. There was never a Regis & Kathy and always a Regis & Kelly.

32. The day after the Super Bowl would be a national holiday.

33. Fruits and Vegetables tasted like chocolate chip cookies and brownies.

September 4, 2008

Ongoing Debate – Baseball v. Lacrosse

The seemingly new fad of boys growing up choosing to play Lacrosse over Baseball thoroughly bothers me. Bothers me to the point of taking the debate to the blog world. Quite frankly, the fact that I am writing this blog is an insult to all things good and right with the world, baseball being one of them.

Now I’m sure I’m going to have guys and girls alike (you know who you are) find this argument absurd. They may find this argument to be dumb because they’ll say “who cares”. They may say, “what does it matter anyway?” They may even say, “I’d rather be shopping at Abercrombie & Fitch right now” or “ooooh, big sale at J.Crew on green pants with yellow mini-boats on them!” Alas, that’s the whole point (and what the comment section is for).

What they should be saying, however, is that this is something that should’ve been said about 5-10 years ago. This is something that should have been stopped long before this blog and my opinions ever made it to the net. Before, quite frankly, any Birkenstock-wearing kid from Maryland ever picked up a “Lax” stick.

We now know that it obviously bothers me. But why? Here is why…

Because it’s a shame. Yes a darn right shame that there are families allowing their children to grow up choosing Spring Sport #2. Baseball is the American Pastime for christs sake. Whatever happened to meeting up with your buddies to go play home run derby or stick ball? Whatever happened to the thrill of buying your first glove and oiling it up and wrapping rubber bands around it to soften the leather?

As a kid, as true red-blooded American, you grow up watching Baseball. You root for your favorite team. You root for your favorite player. You play little league with your friends. You grow up having a catch with your father, mother, uncle, cousin, friend, whomever. You get the point. You eagerly anticipate watching the Fall Classic. You try to stay up late to catch the whole game. You don’t and you shouldn’t grow up trying to catch ESPN6’s encore of Loyola v. Hofstra or Princeton v. Brown. Its not natural. Its not what life as a young kid is supposed to be like. It is, quite frankly, embarrassing.

I mean here is a sport that really doesn’t even have their own fields. They play on football and soccer fields. That should tell you something right off the bat.

I’ve had this argument/mature debate several times with several different people. The lacrosse player’s defense always tends to go the way of they elitist and “lacrosse players are better athletes than baseball players.” Now, this one is laughable. One sport has a bunch of guys running around “cradling” a ball throwing back and forth. The other one has 9 different entirely different positions that require entirely different skills. The idea of different positions in Lacrosse is the size of the sticks. If you’re on defense you get a longer stick. Wow. Whoever thought up that plan was a genius…no wonder the ivy league schools tend to revel in this sport.

While we’re at it – if you did make the unhealthy decision to play Lacrosse why in gods name would you choose to be a defender?? Have some guts and try to score at least. Lord knows there is plenty of opportunity for it since the scores are usually 37-36. (what exactly is the point of a goalie...and those long sticks on defense obviously dont help much)

Quite frankly, I blame Maryland.

August 29, 2008

Inaugural Post and a Wedding Grievance

In my initial blog posting I will try to accomplish several things. I will of course offer up some recent life observations and things that drive me crazy but I will also lament on having given in to society’s pressure to become one with the internet. I have resisted Facebook and MySpace thus far but the blog industry has pulled me in…

I’m gonna makes this first post short and sweet. At least I’ll try. Who knows, once I get started its hard for me to apply the brakes.

So I was at a wedding this past weekend and something absolutely drove me crazy. I couldn’t understand it. There was a guy at my table who did not for one second take his suit jacket off. The worst part is that he did not even unbutton his suit jacket. How in the hell do you sit for 6 hours at a table and not unbutton your suit jacket?

This drove me crazy!

Its one thing to not even remove your jacket. Fine. Ok for whatever reason you like keeping your jacket on. I have no problem with that. Do I support that – not necessarily. Do I get it – sure. Whatever floats your boat. But to keep your three-button suit jacket all bundled up screams a need for therapy.

He seemed like a good guy. Polite and all. I had no problem with that. Probably a great guy. His fiancĂ© was very nice as well. She seemed to have her life in order and unlike her man knew how to dress. The question is – if you took her aside and asked her what the hell her man was doing with his jacket on and buttoned from 5:30-midnight what would she say?

I think she’d say it drove her crazy!