I want a half pound of Black Pepper Ham.

Yesterday I went to the grocery store to get some sandwich fixin’s.  This grocery, a chain, had a large Deli Meat/Cheese section and a bakery section nearby.  I have shopped here for years.

A few years ago, I ran through a short period where I ordered Black Pepper Ham, but when I got home, I had something else.  I don’t know why I didn’t check after the first time, but now I normally check, and that problem has not re-occurred lately.

So I come to the counter and shortly one of the attendants, a young black man asks if he can help me.  I say, “I would like a half pound of Black Pepper Ham.”  He nodded, and started to reach for the ham.  I started to walk down the display and I think I tried the sample cheese that was on toothpicks.  I look behind the counter and he is telling me that he needs to go back to the walk in refrigerator to get the ham.  I say, “Okay,” and I turn to go to the bakery to get sandwich bread.

There is a bakery person behind the counter, but I walk to the back where the “day old” bread is located.  I look for the Whole Wheat loaf is that actually has the whole grain in the bread.  There is an Organic Wheat Loaf that doesn’t have the grain.  I get the loaf I want, but stop to ask the attendant what the difference is between the two.

I come back to the meat counter and the young man is beginning to slice my Pepper Ham order.  He appears to be moving slowly, but I just step back and let other customers walk past, in front of me.

The young man takes the slices of meat and places them on the scale.  He then appears to go back to slice some more meat.  I have to squint at the weight showing on the digital scale, but I see that it is showing .68.  I know that .68 is well above the .5 that I have requested.  I step up and ask a woman attendant how much the scale is showing and she affirms that it is showing .68.  I tell her that I only asked for a half pound.  She fiddles, and apparently can reset the amount that is actually charged for, from the actual amount on the scale.  She printed a label and handed it over to the young man who is still at the slicer.

In a little while the young man comes back over to the scale and puts the meat on it and generates a label.  He sticks it on the package of meat and hands it over to me.  I take a look at the label.  The price is over $10 and when I make out the weight, it is about .98 of a pound.  I immediately hand it back to the young man and tell him that I asked for a half pound of Black Pepper Ham and this is almost a pound.  *The woman says something to him.  Apparently, that she had handed him a label previously and they sort of look back to see where he might have put it by the slicer.  A new label is generated and affixed to the meat and I look at the price and it is under $5.  *I also get a third of a pound of the cheese special, which I think was called Baby Swiss.

When I got home, and was putting the sliced meat into my refrigerator, I realized that they must have put all the sliced meat (even the overage) into my package.

Still, I’m not trying to “get over” on them.  I asked for a half pound of meat.  Even if he had stopped at .68 of a pound I would have paid for that without a problem, but that it appeared that he had no clue as to what a half pound of meat was.  Or even though he had repeated back to me, “a half pound,” he had in his mind he was going to give me a pound.

**Why do I stress a half pound of meat, and normally a third of a pound of cheese?  It is because I have found over several years that if I order more than a half pound of meat, it turns green & slick (spoils) before I can use it all.

Butterscotch AMC Pacer

1979 AMC PacerI was reading online this morning and came across an article about the 10 Worst Automobiles that should have never made it on the road.  There at #1 was the AMC Pacer, and the photo illustration could have been of the very one that we (my mother) had purchased in 1979 in Jacksonville, NC.  I don’t recall the exact name of the dealership, but it was something like “Coastal Motors” and Jere Pelletier was the owner.  The dealership was located on the north end of town on Highway 17/Marine Blvd.

I believe one sales slogan for the Pacer was, “the first wide small car.”  We bought a butterscotch colored vehicle.  The rear had a hatchback and there was alot of glass all around.

One odd event that I recall happened on a Saturday morning.  My mother and I got up early and drove the Pacer to the dealership.  We rolled up to the front door and stopped.  We both got out of the car, and there was a newspaper on the ground.  We picked up the paper and walked into the showroom (the door was partially open) and went over and sat down in a couple of chairs along the wall.  Mom gave me a section of the paper, and/or we traded off the sections.  I don’t think either of us thought that it was unusual that no one had come out to greet us.  We probably thought they were in the back doing whatever it takes to get ready for customers.

At some point, when I had finished reading the paper, I got up and looked around the corner to see if I could see anyone.  The light was on in a back office, and as I walked back to it, I saw that there was a safe, and near it was a green Acetylene tank & torch.  I noted that the safe had been turned on its side, and broken into with part of it peeled back.  It was then that an odd feeling came over me.

I must have come back to my mother and told her what I had seen.  We went outside and got into the Pacer.  We had to go down the road a little to find a telephone.  I don’t recall now if we stopped at a phone booth, or if we stopped into another business and called from there, but we talked with Law Enforcement.  We reported what we had seen and then drove back to the car dealership to wait.

We waited and no one came.  We then went back to call and then were told that because the dealership was outside of the town (Jacksonville) that no officer had been sent out.  *We must have talked with the City of Jacksonville Police Department first, but because of a jurisdictional issue, they had dropped the ball.   I guess we then called the Onslow County Sheriff’s Department, and went back to wait.

My mother died in December of 1980, and I continued to drive the Pacer even when I went up to Louisville, KY to attend Southern Seminary.  At some point, while at Seminary, the Pacer’s steering started to go bad.  Apparently, the Pacer had a “rack and pinion” steering system and I think it was explained to me that some of the teeth had either broken off or worn down and this allowed for great play in the steering wheel without much motion in the wheels.

When I finally took the Pacer to see what it would take to get the steering repaired, the cost must have been something like $400 then (1983 or so).  I decided to get a new car, and I asked my dad (living in Stockbridge, GA) if he wanted the Pacer.  I put the $400 in to get the steering fixed on the Pacer and then drove it down to Georgia and gave it to my dad.  I don’t recall how I managed to give him the Pacer, but have a replacement to drive back to KY.  *This must have been about the time that I purchased a white Mazda 626.  In 1988 I bought a new white Chevy S-10, with bumpers included;-)  The dealers were actually selling these little trucks without bumpers so that the cost to the customer would be less.

I don’t recall how long it was before I visited my dad again, probably the next major holiday.  But, when I rolled up into the yard, I looked over to the right and there parked, was the Pacer and it had a bunch of junk in it.  I don’t know what had gone wrong, but I always attributed it’s demise to my dad’s intention.  *I once counted the number of “junk” cars he had dotted about his yard, and I think it was about 14.

The Bronco Fountain – Re-Imagined.

broncoPhoto240Several years ago when Chancellor Anderson was relatively new to the FSU Campus, I sent an email suggestion that the Bronco Fountain add “misting” nozzles where the thin streams of water now flow out.  I always thought the pencil thin streams of water looked “rinky dink.”

Why misting nozzles?  Here is a Bucking Bronco, raring back on his hind legs.  If misting nozzles could spray a fine mist of water upwards it would give the appearance of dust being sprayed into the air by the Bronco.

Apparently, the idea didn’t fly to the Board of Trustees… but I still think the concept works!

Jay’s Seafood Restaurant – Albemarle, NC

I’ve been to Jay’s Seafood Restaurant at least twice, before my visit yesterday.

The first visit, the food was good, but I was seated in a large room with poor acoustics and the crowd was terribly LOUD!  The second visit, I was seated in a smaller room and the food was good.

I am guessing that I hadn’t been diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes on those first visits because there is little at this restaurant that a diabetic could eat and not put themselves in danger of a coma, and that’s not counting the number of items that are fried.

The slaw and beef chunks had good flavor.  I spooned some good looking corn kernels on my plate, but they had little flavor (little or no salt).  The fried shrimp were very small and I think the batter overpowered the flavor of the shrimp so that wasn’t that enjoyable.

The real disappointment was the clam chowder.  There were several whole clams in a thin, watery, milky broth, but there was little or no salt.  It smelled good, but was horribly bland to the palate.  But, there was nothing else in the soup.  No potatoes, no onions, etc.  I don’t think I’ve ever had clam chowder (New England Style) that didn’t have some potatoes.  And, I dipped the ladle a couple of times and only came up with the broth and a few whole clams.

A very disappointing visit, and probably my last.

Trip

 

Johnson City, TN

Mangum, Weaverville, NC

Young clerk just graduated from Mars Hill College music in a Christian band

Gravity

Oblivion

Firehouse Restaurant

Jonesboro, TN

Kingsport, TN

$3.12 /gal

Food City

Bristol, TN/VA

The Free Learning Conference at ASU in Boone, NC

I am just about 10 minutes from lunch time and after lunch will be heading to Boone, NC.  I am attending a free conference tomorrow at ASU.  I am planning to stay at the Best Western Motel in Boone tonight.  After the conference, I plan to head to Johnson City, TN (about 1.5 hours from Boone, and 1 hour from Asheville) and stay at the Red Roof Inn there for two nights.  On Saturday morning, I plan to have breakfast in Johnson City and then head to Asheville.  Depending on the time I arrive in Asheville, I may either go to the Farmers’ Market or Dobra Tea.  I want to go to both, then have lunch at the Stoney Knob Cafe and then probably drive up to the Blue Ridge Parkway and then stop at the museum/crafts shop to maybe get babies’ presents.  Then maybe to the crafts stores near the entrance of Biltmore (Biltmore Village?) and then head back to Johnson City for the night.

Give me the Lunch Special!

It’s nothing major, but it just changes a pleasant experience to a mildly unpleasant one.

Red Lobster has several lunch specials for $7.99. The one I like is the Bar Harbor Salad, with chicken. You get a goodly portion of chicken and assorted salad toppings (nuts, dried blueberries & cranberries, blue cheese, tomatoes) and lettuce. There is a dinner size to this, with more of everything, and it is $9.99 (I think.). I usually go to Red Lobster once a week for either the salad or blackened catfish, and I’ve been going there for quite some time.

At some point early on, I realized that I was being charged more than the lunch special price and I asked about it. That is when I found that there was a lunch & dinner price. So, I almost always make a point that I want the “lunch” special. That’s what I did today.

I entered the parking lot and noted that there were many more empty spaces than usual. I walked inside and there were hardly any customers. The hostess, whom I know by sight, but not by name came up and sat me up front. I sat there a few minutes and a soldier walked by and was seated in the corner booth. I waited a little longer, but it dawned on me that someone should have come to my table already so I pulled out my phone and started the timer. It took about another 2 minutes until my waitress came to the table. She asked what I wanted to drink and I said, “water.” Would I like lemon. I hesitated but said, “no.” She hurried away. *I could have ordered if I had stopped her.

About a minute and a half later she returned with my water, and a slice of lemon in it. *No problem. I think I really wanted lemon, even though I said no lemon. She also brought a basket with four biscuits. I don’t think these come out until after the meal is ordered, at least that seems to be the routine I am normally use to. I ordered the Bar Harbor Salad, the Lunch Special, even tapping the placard with my finger as I pointed to the $7.99 special. I asked for oil and vinegar dressing, and a small bowl with yellow mustard. She nodded in understanding and left the table.

I pulled out several packets of sweetner and made lemonade. I don’t recall exactly when the waitress asked, but she asked if I wanted the blue cheese crumbles, to which I replied in the affirmative… and said the dried fruit and nuts also. The soldier started to wave and his lunch date walked past my booth and they stood to greet one another.

The waitress brought my salad, with the vinegar and oil dressing. It was a large, well made salad with plenty of nuts, fruit, cheese crumbles and croutons. I caught her before she left and asked for the yellow mustard. I waited, but devoured most of the croutons before she returned shortly. She returned with a small bowl filled with yellow mustard.

I dipped out most of the mustard and put it on one edge of my salad. I then poured in some vinegar and some oil and added sweetner from a couple of packets, mixed it up and poured it over the chicken and salad items. I did this again to make sure I had enough dressing, and started to eat. The food was good, but I realized that this was too much salad to finish and still adhere to my current mantra, “Eat Less.” I picked out many of the dried fruit, and the nuts and cheese and most of the salad tomatoes. I finished the chicken. I was thinking that she had been so generous with the salad that I would tip her $3. *Maybe not a lot for some, but I normally leave about a two dollars tip.

The waitress brought me my bill and left. I fished out my credit card and looked at the bill. I immediately saw that the total price was over $10. I looked up and saw that the charge for the salad was $9.99. Not the Lunch Special price. She came and took my bill and card to get it authorized, and returned quickly for my signature. She walked away after giving me her pen.

I ended up giving her a $1.00 tip, which was less than 15%. My logic was that if I had been charged $7.99 and given her a $3.00 tip, or charged $9.99 and given her a $1.00 tip, it was the same. Pay attention to what I say, and act accordingly. It’s not like this was the first or second time visiting Red Lobster for lunch.

ADDENDUM:  I returned yesterday (7/7/14) for lunch and happened to have the same waitress as above.  I asked for water, said I didn’t want any bread, and was ready to order… blackened catfish, steamed broccoli and honey-mustard dressing with my salad.  The waitress went away quickly.  She returned with my water and shortly after that, my salad with honey-mustard dressing.  I was about 2/3rds of the way through my house salad when the manager brought my blackened catfish and broccoli.

The catfish was moist underneath the crusty black seasoning and the broccoli warm and slightly buttery.  I finished all rather quickly.

I got out my credit card and shortly my waitress came with my bill, taking my card and then returning in a short time with the receipt for me to sign.  I gave her a $3 tip and wrote on the back of the receipt, “Excellent service!”… and then left.

In a Rush!

Some years ago there was a short story featured in Playboy that caught my imagination, and the thought of it recurs periodically. The main character lived in a high rise apartment building. He was caught up in the hurry about, get ahead, rush-a-day world as Monday through Friday, the alarm went off, and he went through his regular morning routine, getting ready for work, and then out the door, down the elevator, along the sidewalk, boarding the subway and in to work. He reversed the process at the end of the day.

One day he found himself running late, so he buttoned his shirt and took his tie, in hand, and headed out the apartment door and onto the elevator. As the elevator whizzed downward, he lifted his collar, wrapped the tie around his neck, and did the “over the river and through the woods” routine to finish the tie’s knot, pulling his collar down over it and straightening it all before the elevator door opened on the first floor. A sharp looking knot! On to work.

The next day, he found himself a little later, and so his untied tie in one hand and the coffee pot & cup in the other. He managed to pour and drink his morning coffee, and tie his tie, all before the elevator door opened on the first floor. On to work.

As time went on, each day, he managed to fit more and more of his morning routine into the brief trip down the elevator. Ironing his clothes, reading the sports and business sections of the paper, and even working in his complete P90 exercise, all while finishing to tie his tie, just before the elevator door opened on the first floor.

And, then one morning it happened. As he was descending the building, the elevator jerked briefly, and came to a halt between floors. The repairman was called and arriving an hour later, worked on getting the lift’s machinery working again. It was a tedious process of following the path of colored wires, checking junctions of circuits and other components until the cause of the problem was found, and then calling to have a replacement for the defunct part delivered… waiting another hour for the part’s arrival, and then plugging it in and viola, the elevator jerked and continued downward to the first floor.

The whole repair process had taken the entire morning finishing just as the noon day bells began to ring. Several impatient tenants were waiting for the elevator on the first floor, and watched as the pointer ticked counter clockwise, down to 3…, 2…, 1 and then the door opened. There was a brief gasp by all, and an incontrollable moan as each looked down upon the deceased remains of what appeared to be an incredibly old man slumped upon the elevator floor. If it were not for the perfectly tied knot of his tie, they might have never been able to identify him.

Okay, this is the gist of the story, and I have thrown in some items that could not have been written in the original story, but you get the idea;-)

A Poll