Monthly Archives: January 2014

Why Aren’t We All Italian?

I was pulling up my jeans (yeah, one of the new pair) yesterday, and I’m not sure why, but this thought crossed my brain, if Darwin was right with his “theory of evolution” why aren’t we all Italian?  Over the millions of years that man was evolving, wouldn’t the hairiest of the species have become dominant?  The hairier of the species should have taken over the world, because they had more protection from injury, insects and the sun and were insulated against the cold.  And yet here we are, all seemingly on equal footing survival-wise, and all of us, even the Italians, wearing clothes. (1)  If there are any anthropologists out there who can explain this to the Pony and me, I’d appreciate hearing from you.

Since I personally am losing more hair every day, thereby relying ever more on clothing and warm temperatures, nothing has been going on out in the garage.  Thursday morning it was 7 degrees here which tied the record low for the day.  Sheesh!  This year’s super-low temperatures have now been explained away as having something to do with the catch phrase of the 03/04 winter, “polar vortex.”  How did we ever get along before, on those cold days in winter, without being able to blame the pv?  I’ll tell you how, we all blamed God.  “God, it’s cold out here.” or “I hope to God it gets warmer,” or “What in God’s name is up with these cold temperatures?”

Just an aside, but in this year of the polar vortex, would you ever have guessed that there would be two major news stories where a vortex took center stage.  Well, it happened right here in Raleigh folks when even before the polar vortex slid into town an amusement ride at the NC State Fair named…The Vortex…malfunctioned and seriously injured a bunch of folks.  Since stuff tends to happen in threes, I’m anticipating something else yet of a vorticular nature, maybe a cult of folks that like nothing better than to run around in circles, oh wait, that’s called congress.  Oops, sorry, not going there….

Before I leave weather altogether, you folks in the north will absolutely fall off your chairs.  Snow was predicted for us for sometime late Tuesday.  They cancelled school that afternoon, even though the sun was still poking through the clouds, and it didn’t start snowing until about 10:00 that night.  When it did snow, we got a total overnight snowfall of one inch, and I’m being generous there.  Holy Moses!  Schools have been closed now for two additional days.  If schools up north acted similarly, I’m thinking kids in Minnesota, Wisconsin, etc would be illiterate.

In keeping with this week’s Super Bowl mania (and this being the last day of January) I’m ready to report on the final score of the Super Mug.  That was the game that pitted Starbucks against me in a contest to see who’d make out better monetarily from my drinking “free” coffee from their $75 mug for the month of January.  Drum roll please…  Over 31 days I filled the mug 43 times, so at an average cost of $4 per refill I got $172 worth of coffee, plus the mug, for which they ordinarily charge $20.  So, the final score:  Idiotic Author $192-Starbucks $75.(2)  As I sit here sipping that 43rd refill a few observations, thoughts and musings:
1.  During the month I drank everything from cappuccino to their latest coffee extravaganza, the caramel flan latte, but never just plain brewed coffee.  My favorite turned out to be the Americano, with an extra shot of espresso.  So, my earlier bias for strong, unsweetened coffee was confirmed.  The only time I enjoyed a sweetened drink like the caramel flan latte was when after “the morning 40” I was craving lots of calories.
2.  I noticed a couple of disturbing trends that if they continued could tilt the longer term more in favor of Starbucks.  Although in the past I’d simply order a “tall” (small) brewed coffee and sipped on it all morning, for the last month I have been ordering “grande” espresso drinks and slamming them back within an hour or so of purchase.  That’s more coffee, stronger coffee and more expensive coffee.  Uh oh…  So the question is, have I won the battle, but lost the war?
3.  I’ve become a Starbucks “groupie” having taken to hanging-out at my favorite Starbucks.  I bring a crossword puzzle along and try to fill-in the little squares with my caffeine jittery hand.  So now the puzzles are both mentally and physically challenging.
4.  One day I was standing around waiting for the barista to make my drink and I saw this little scenario play out.  Two guys come in.  They snag two of the most comfortable chairs in the place, and then one of them goes up to the barista and asks for some hot water in his used Starbucks cup.  He takes the cup back to his friend and shares half the water with him.  Then he reaches into his back pack, takes out a jar of instant coffee and stirs some into both cups.   Crazy!  What good does it do, to go to a Starbucks and drink your own crappy coffee?  Is the flavor of the crappy coffee somehow improved by the placebo effect of drinking it in a Starbucks?  If I was scoring this one I’d call it a 0-0 tie.

Due to the pseudo-scientific nature of this post, you will have observed notations in the text which refer to footnotes found at the end of the post.  Read them at your peril.

My wish for you is that Groundhog Day fulfills your hopes for global, scratch that, I meant gradual warming and that your Valentines Day brings the heart warming we all long for.  If neither of those work out, head on over to Starbucks and order a grande Americano with and extra shot (it’s now called the Brucio) (3), hell do it anyway, can’t hurt.  Thanks for reading.
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(1)  The Idiotic Author has no proof whatsoever that Italians are hairier than any other nationality, but he’s sure they are anyway.
(2)  Some might argue that the Mug bowl should be scored based on the cost that Starbucks has invested in the coffee and the drink, not the prices it charges for them.  The author disagrees, it’s his game, and he’ll score it anyway he wants.
(3)  Brucio is pronounced the hairy, Italian way like this:  brewcheeoh.

Starbucks Files for Chapter 11?

Happy New Year.  I’ve managed to wrest control of the blog back from that conniving Pony.  He thought he was pretty hot stuff after doing the December post all on his own, but it’s a pathetic cowboy that can’t control his horse, so I  forced him back into his stall in the garage.  Talk about kicking up a fuss!  Good news though, it looks like warmer weather is on the way, so I too may be back in the garage shortly.

In the meantime, various stuff for your consideration.
1.  From Bruce’s Book Corner, a recommendation.  Based on her reading of my blog, one of my loyal readers suggested a book that I have now read and thoroughly enjoyed.  I’m fairly certain that if you read this blog on a regular basis, you’ll enjoy the book “Ordinary Grace” by William Kent Krueger.  It’s a novel set in small town Minnesota in 1961 and tells the story of what happened there during that summer.
2.  For most of my life I’ve had two pair of jeans.  A nice pair for things like going out to dinner and then a ratty pair (really just the last nice pair) for dirty work.  I can’t count the times over the years I’ve stood by the dryer waiting for one of those two to come out, never mind if the rivets are so hot they leave little burn marks around my waist.  Last week, I don’t know what came over me, but I told The Princess, “Come on, life’s too short, we’re going to Kohl’s and I’m gonna buy some jeans.”  I walked out of the store with not one, but two pair of brand new Levis.  I’m wearing a pair right now, and I’m telling you, I now know what it feels like to be rich.  For the rest of my days on this planet, I will have a clean pair of jeans whenever I want them.
3.  Public Service Announcement.  Yeah, you know what’s coming…that’s right, I’ve discovered another great donut shop.  It’s a cute little place in downtown Durham called Monuts Donuts.  Early on a Saturday morning when I stopped in, the place was a hub of activity.  I brought an assortment home for sampling purposes, and I found several of the raised, glazed and frosted ones to be outstanding.  In particular I’d like to applaud the maple bacon bourbon donut with bacon bits sprinkled on top as being far superior to the bacon donuts I used to get out in Saxapahaw before the baker out there quit.  Can you imagine a donut with more fun stuff in it and on it than that?  Well maybe, if you’re in Colorado.  And don’t forget, as mentioned in my nutrition post, like all donuts, they’ve got lots of vitamin D (as in donut), so they’re good for you.  Ok, ok, so they’re not actually good for you, but by golly I sure feel better after eating one!
4.  This is what a $75 coffee cup looks like.

Starbucks cup

Now, I know you’re thinking, this guy doesn’t just feel rich, HE IS RICH!  No way, but in this cup I saw a real opportunity.  First, it’s a really great coffee holder.  It keeps stuff hot for a long time and it seals so tightly that if it slips off the roof of your car (not saying that actually happened) it won’t spill a drop.  Now here is the beauty thing.  All during January I can fill it up as often as I want with whatever drink I want for no additional charge.  At an average cost of $4 per refill, as of today (Jan 14), with 19 refills I’ve more than paid for the mug.  So for the rest of the month, I’m “in the black,” and Starbucks is “carrying me.”  Woo hooo!  Thus, the headline of this post, which was actually suggested by son Andrew.  Of course, another headline might read something like,  NORTH CAROLINA MAN SUES STARBUCKS OVER COFFEE ADDICTION!  Because when this month is over, I’m guessing it’s going to be pretty hard to ween me off that stuff.
5.  I was wandering around in the Kohl’s store waiting, and waiting, and WAITING…while The Princess shopped.  Rarely has this ever been a profitable way for me to spend time…until now.  I was in the middle of the Jennifer Lopez clothing section, don’t ask me why, and I looked down and there on the floor was a crumpled up dollar bill.  Thanks J-Lo!  I picked up the buck and continued…WAITING…and then had an idea.  I took the crumpled-up buck over to a sale rack in the men’s department, found a shirt with a pocket on it, and tucked the buck nicely down into it.  I told The Princess what I’d done, and she said, “Boy, that doesn’t sound like you.”  But I don’t know; what I was thinking about is the expression on a guy’s face some day in the future when he wears that shirt for the first time and finds that buck.  Just imagining that is worth a buck to me.

Finally, as we sit on the door step of a new year, don’t you wonder, what’s in store for us?  To me it’s mind-boggling, scary, but also kind of hopeful, like having a present and wondering what’s inside.  Here’s hoping that next December after you’ve read yet another Christmas post penned by the Pony, you’ll be able to say, “Ya know, that was a pretty good year.”
Thanks for reading.