Do You Have Any Tips For Me?

Tips -1

I was reading an article the other day, about how, many fine dining establishments, are doing away with the long-honored tradition of tipping your waitress or waiter. Owners and management say, in an effort to address long-standing inequalities, including wage disparities between kitchen staff and servers, they are now paying wages that reflect an employee’s skills and seniority, while eliminating tipping. One upscale restaurant in Portland, Oregon, called “Le Pigeon,” which specializes in French food has completely done away with any type of tipping. The providing of gratuities has been replaced with a 20% surcharge added to your bill.

Do you really think that the service provided under this arrangement will meet your expectations? What if your server shows up at your table with a half-eaten tray of food, is loudly belching from furiously consuming a large portion of your pate de foie gras, her breath smells like frog legs, she has a huge smelly cigar sticking out of the corner of her mouth, you’ve been waiting twenty minutes for a coffee refill, and she sneezes on your food, after wiping her runny nose with her sleeve? I guess that big surcharge is going to go down about as easy as the food dumped on your table.

Oh, I almost forgot. If you happen to be in Portland, love French food, and visit the famed “Le Pigeon” restaurant, I have one caveat. If you raise or race pigeons, are an avid birdwatcher, or enjoy frequent trips to your local park to feed bread crumbs to our fine avian friends – don’t eat what looks like a very tiny, and scrawny chicken.

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A Hard Habit to Break



A few weeks ago, I received an unexpected call from an old college friend. She would be in town for a day or two, and wondered if I’d like to meet, and reminisce about the past. I asked her, how in the world did she find me after all this time. She laughed, and said she was surfing the internet, when she came across a blog site called, “Simple Observations.” After seeing my profile, she read a few of my posts, and concluded, I was still a nerd, extremely strange, and incredibly weird. Since she’d be in my hometown for a conference, she figured it would be fun to get together. We hadn’t seen each other in over twenty-five years, and I was curious to see how her life had turned out.

Looking back, and shaking some of the cobwebs from my brain, I remembered her as an arts major, very outspoken, a little wild, loved to laugh and have fun, liked to party, and could hold her own against anyone, when it came to drinking games, and shot competitions. I vaguely recalled, she had also done some nude, artistic modeling for a few art studios, to help pay her tuition.

My wife, and I have been married for almost twenty-three years, and are open and honest to each other about everything. When I broached the subject of meeting with a female friend from college, she said, “Sweetheart – I trust you completely, and I know in my heart and soul that you would never cheat on me.” My first thought was, “Wow, what a wonderful wife. I can’t believe how lucky I am.”

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Are We There Yet?



Hey, guess what? I just got home from the store, with a new Garmin Drive Assist 51 LMTS-1 GPS, advanced navigational system. I’m told it has a built-in dash cam, advanced driver alerts such as forward collision warning, a 5.0-inch capacitive touch, pinch-to-zoom display, and detailed maps of North America with free lifetimes updates. Add to that, real-time services such as traffic and weather reports, and live view parking availability information as you approach your destination, and I may never get lost again! Well, to be honest; I’ll probably still get lost. On the bright side – I’ll have this amazing, talking, computerized marvel to keep me company.

Now, if I can just get thissss…..  uhhhhh….., darn box open. Sorry. Just a second, while I get my wife. “Honey, can you come help me open this box? If you don’t mind, could you please find the scissors, a box cutter, our hedge clippers, and my new ax. Oh, and bring Adam along. If I ever get this thing open, I’m going to need you and our sons formidable, combined brain capacity to put this thing together, figure out how it works, program it, get it installed in our car, and teach me how to use it.”

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You’re Killing Me Man



I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but it seems every day we hear about something new that is slowly but surely killing us. Do you know that according to medical experts, microwave popcorn can cause severe respiratory distress, resulting in the possibility of death? When I was a kid we made popcorn on the stove, in a big pie plate covered in aluminum foil. We would shake it vigorously over a stove burner until it expanded into a huge mountain of popcorn. The only dangers we faced, where cracking our teeth on rock hard kernels, or losing an eye, when an exploding piece of popcorn flew out of the bag at the speed of a streaking meteorite. Now, we cook a bag in the microwave, and five minutes later the grim reaper shows up at our front door saying,

“I was just passing by, smelled butter, and figured I’d stop in just in case that darn popcorn kills you.”

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That’s Why They Call Them Pets



A few nights ago, I was relaxing in my favorite recliner, drinking a strong cup of dark roast coffee, and watching reruns of Cesar 911 on television. Also, commonly called “The Dog Whisperer,” it’s one of my favorite reality television shows. It features, Cesar Millan, a dog trainer, who uses behavior modification techniques, and a philosophy that exercise, discipline, and affection are the keys to having a happy and healthy dog. My dog, Chase was lying next to my chair, and periodically, I would reach down and gently rub his head. I had done my best to follow the dog whisperer’s advice concerning dogs. I believe that affection, is definitely a key part of having a happy dog. Chase, for his part, can never get enough attention and petting. He has a special place, behind his left ear that he particularly enjoys being caressed.

As Cesar, swiftly pulled apart two fighting dogs, I became distracted by a loud meow on the side of my chair opposite to Chase. It was a signal from my cat, Harper that he needed to be fed, have his litter box changed, or required a small bit of human interaction. Harper has learned that if I raise my arm up level with the palm facing down, it’s his signal to jump up on the arm of the chair. I’ve learned that when Harper rubs against my hand, and softly purrs, he’s looking to have a few moments of petting.

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What do you mean I’m Not Cool?


This post, is for all you rapidly aging parents out there, who once, in the very far and distant past, were considered fairly cool. It’s also for all those young people, who think their parents are: unbelievably old, technologically inept, have one foot in the grave, are out of touch with today’s music and culture, don’t understand the pressures of being young, and have no concept of what it means to be a young adult in today’s world. Oh, I almost forgot – and constantly embarrasses them, in too many ways to count.

I’ve racked my brain over the past few days, in a futile attempt to determine the exact moment when I lost my cool. I can recall a time, not too long ago, when my kids thought I was the greatest man in the world, a powerful superhero with unbelievable powers, and a towering giant, who could protect them from even the most frightening monsters. Until recently, I had always thought I was pretty cool, hip, groovy, and up-to-date on the latest trends in fashion, music, and popular culture. Do you know how I found out I wasn’t cool anymore? My teenage son told me. To be fair to him; he didn’t just come out and say it. He told me that we needed talk. He then said,

“Dad, I love you, and I still think you’re the best, but sometimes you embarrass me in front of my friends. I know you don’t mean it, and you often can’t help yourself, but you’re kind of a big nerd.”

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Little House of Horrors




Have you ever wondered why film companies spend millions of dollars making horror movies? A few months ago, I watched a film called, “Life.” The plot revolved around a single-celled creature, that grows aboard a space station from soil samples taken from the surface of Mars. The alien life form, given the name, Calvin, swiftly grows into a large, intelligent and rapacious monster, with a taste for human flesh. I heard the total cost of the film was around 58 million dollars!

Even a recent, low-budget horror film called, “It Comes at Night,” using B actors, and with a bare-bones budget, had a final production cost of nearly 5 million dollars. I haven’t seen the movie yet, but it seems pretty expensive for a film about my mother-in-law’s last visit to my house for Sunday night dinner.

Today’s horror movies seem to get more and more expensive each year. If you include the cost of hiring well-known actors, filming in exotic locations, or expensive man-made sets, gruesome makeup, and computer-generated images of hideous and grotesque monsters; the costs can be astronomical. I’ve been thinking about going into the horror film genre myself. I think I can provide a movie experience that will not only cost much less, but scare, terrify, and disgust even the most ardent horror movie fan.

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Facing a Cat-astrophe



I just read a fascinating story about what’s called a “Cat Café.” No, it’s not what you may think. I made the same mistake, in thinking it was a fine eating establishment run by food-loving feline entrepreneurs, with a desire to test their culinary skills on a human population. A cat cafe, is actually a coffee and pastry shop, with a separate area containing cats. Customers pay an hourly fee to relax with delicious food and beverages, while either watching, or playing with our wonderful feline friends.

The first cat café was opened in Taipei, Taiwan in 1998. The idea quickly spread to Japan, Europe, and finally to North America. Even Australia, has a selection of cafes catering to the needs of people looking for a little comfort from our furry friends. I understand, the first endeavor in the land down under involving human animal interactions, was a “Kangaroo Café.” The idea was scrapped about two hours later, after the male kangaroos, kept punching and kicking the living daylights out of customers. I guess that’s killed my idea of a “Hyena Café.” I heard someone tried one once. Not only were the hyena’s hard to handle, ravenous eaters, and didn’t like to be petted, but they kept laughing at the customers.

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My Journey to Grumpiness


I have to admit, I’ve been a little bit grumpy lately. Who wouldn’t be with the state of the economy, crime in the streets, rising taxes, and that rotten little Peterson boy, who uses my flower bed as a short-cut to the school bus stop. I guess, I should mention the guy who walks, what is either a large dog, or a small Clydesdale with bowel movement problems by my house every day. Do you think it would kill him to bring a shovel, and a thirty-gallon trash bag along?

I just returned from the grocery store, where it seems the packages are getting smaller as the prices go up. Have you seen the price of a can of coffee, and a tiny jar of peanut butter? Right now, I’m sitting in front of a huge stack of bills, and a politician on television is telling me that the economy is turning the corner. I wonder what corner he’s talking about. If I peek around my corner, I see a gigantic sinkhole ready to swallow me up. What’s this? Can you believe it. My cable bill just went up again! My wife says I need to relax, and not get so upset with things. Just yesterday she said,

“If you keep this up, you’re going to one day become a grumpy old man.”

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The Stuff Dreams are Made of


This may sound a little crazy, but I think my wife is trying to drive me insane. I know, I’ve been saying for years that she makes me nuts, but this is something totally new and different. The other night, right around bedtime, she was watching a nature show. I asked her what it was about. She said it was a documentary on polar bears, and their valiant struggle to survive in a rapidly changing environment, due to the effects of global warming. The strange thing is, after I yawned and said, “goodnight;” she looked me in the eye, and in a quiet, eerie, and should I say, spooky voice said,

“Do you know that polar bears like to……… eat people?”

“Won’t all species of bears, consume humans if given the chance, and if they’re hungry enough?” I replied. She didn’t answer. Instead, she just gave me a strange, unsettling smile, as I left the room, and headed up the stairs to the bedroom.

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