Saturday, August 27, 2011

Flo-Rida Adventures Part 4

Large, dumb people; here, they prevail; there, they reign. As a species, wal-mart oxen south of the border are huskier and far bolder! While walking into any number of big box stores in Florida, you risk sobering flashbacks to frightening video images of Pamplona.

Unabashed, at the top of each store aisle, they openly snort and paw the ground and each oxe, as it inconsiderately stands and grazes directly in your path, knows with supreme bovine certainty, it is alone in the world. It has no inkling, clue or care that its behavior might affect other animals around the watering hole.

Know this; had Archimedes floated in a pool with wal-mart oxen, he would have formulated his theories of fluid displacement and buoyancy far more quickly! Of course, instead of shouting, “Eureka!”, he would have likely shouted, “You reek, ugh!”

Below our border and here, wal-mart oxen are obstinate, obnoxious and oblivious and you can say that right to their dripping snouts because they have no idea what those words mean.

The huskier American oxen are successfully enticed with dazzling product selection. Witness the jaw-dropping assortment of Oreo cookies my son photographed in a Cocoa Beach grocery store, seconds before a drooling, smelly herd thundered down the aisle in our direction!

At great risk to life and limb, we did manage to snatch a package of creamsicle Oreos to sample on the drive home!

Here, wal-mart oxen graze greedily on the Plain of Bargain (see November 21, 2010 blog, entitled “Poop on Publi-Sac”). There, you’d be wiser to find another plain altogether and, whatever you do, don’t fall in front of one!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Flo-Rida Adventures Part 3

I love the ocean. I love the ocean except when it goes all tsunami! I love watching the infinite surge of nature’s tide against the shore. I like walking along the beach at night.

Susan's not so big on beaches at night, but I certainly enjoyed having her clutch my arm last Wednesday night as we made our way past oncoming strollers and twitchy crabs that quickly criss-crossed our path. Tristan snapped this picture of a crab with his iPhone 4.

We decided to walk to Ron John’s over-stuffed, over-advertised and stupidly self-promoting beach store at night, to pick up some chimes a friend had asked us to find for her. Wicked adventurers, we be!

We bought a flashlight and, once darkness had fallen, headed out.

Most of the crabs dash and dart, while a few of the more strategically minded, just sit motionless as we walk past.

Tristan figured out when it was time to head up across the sand to the parking lot and, as we left the beach, a couple of guys who were standing around, said, "Hey, how are you doing?"

I replied, “Fine” and then, remembering the courteous principle of reciprocity, I added, “What about you?”

As we kept walking past, he said, “Good, as long as the rescuers make it to the soup bowl.” Once we had gone a few steps more,  I, quite puzzled, repeated what he had said under my breath. Then, speaking louder, I asked Tristan and Susan, “What did you guys hear, because I heard, ‘Good, as long as the rescuers make it to the soup bowl’?”

Thankfully, Susan eventually figured out “Super Bowl” and then, I figured out “Redskins” and the rest is history. Man, my ears are hearing strange things these days! Maybe it was the heat.

During a daylight walk along the beach, I snapped a few photos of this bird, which, at the risk of  underscoring my ornithological ignorance, I’m going to refer to as a heron.

From our balcony and from the waves, we would watch pelicans dive bomb the water. Since we were on the top floor, pelican squadrons would regularly skim over the hotel roof! Ace photogtapher Susan caught this squadron on approach.

Then, they came in for the rooftop skim, rather odd looking creatures, huh?

Susan also managed to take some shots of the poolside lizards.

The only other wildlife we spotted during our stay, prompted a retreat from the ocean almost as hasty as the lightning and thunder incident that royally freaked us out that first afternoon!

Tristan stood up in the water at one point and said, with remarkable calm,“There’s a stingray swimming toward us.” By the time the last syllable had left his mouth, I had flown up on to his shoulders, twisted his torso around to face the shore and was heartlessly digging my spurs into his ribs, screaming, “Faster, son! Faster!”

Yep, adventurers, we be!

Some of our previous trips to Florida have left us with jellyfish stings but, this time around, the only jellyfish we saw were baking on the sand one afternoon as the tide went out.

Before entering the ocean, we would always assess AFS content. We rarely ventured very deep into the waves unless Alternative Food Sources were in there with us! High AFS and we are good to go! High AFS, of course, means nasty creatures of the deep will have to choose between several possible meals, lowering the probabilities of our being selected. We think of it as basic Darwinism.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Flo-Rida Adventures Part 2

If it pumps, they will pump it. If it bounces, they will bounce it. If it sprays, they must spray it. No matter what ill-fated product presents itself in their path, Tristan and Susan seem to be in complete agreement that commercial items have been placed on store shelves specifically for their sensory stimulation and amusement.

Thankfully, I don’t shop with the two of them very often. When I do find myself wandering through store aisles with this pair of compulsive product probers, I quickly become painfully aware they are one in the same. Florida only confirmed what I already knew.

It sprays, so she sprayed and sniffed.

It bounces, so he squatted and bounced.

Inevitably, as they handle and sample products, they drop items on the floor, creating clanging, squeaking, whining and crashing disturbances! No matter how many times I sternly tell them products have not been placed there for their enjoyment, their questionable upbringings jovially override my expressed concerns.

It’s ridiculous! When I go in a store, I touch nothing; they touch everything! I can only cringe. In the “As Seen On TV” store in Orlando, she had to try on the hi-def glasses and then she tried on this haute mode hat.
What a cutie!

Still, where matters of shopping are concerned, you are best not to trifle with Susan.

We found out from our hotel reception desk, the lightning bolt that sent father and son into each others' arms the day before, actually struck the adjacent hotel, knocking out wi-fi to that hotel and ours. To think, disabled wi-fi might have kept Susan from printing her on-line Hollister coupons! I can tell you, this was a crisis, narrowly averted. Luckily, the wi-fi was restored in time for Susan to spread her unstoppable campaign of shock-and-awe shopping!

The first time Susan strolled up to the counter at the Hollister store in Melbourne, the clerks stupidly ignored sounds of the Ennio Morricone theme music from “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”. The clerks probably chalked it up to coincidence, but the truth is, they had no idea who they were dealing with.

Susan laid her purchases out on the countertop and presented the coupon she had printed at home for shopping on-line. It entitled her to “20% Off” the clothing items she was buying.

At the end of the transaction, the clerks handed her another card and suggested she go back on-line to redeem it. She went back to the hotel, went on-line, printed her next coupon and went back to the store the next day! Once more, she plopped her products on the counter, mostly clothing for Tristan, and pulled out a “$25 Off” coupon. I was there; the clerks literally “ooooed” and “aahhhed” and showed each other this latest coupon. It seems none of them had ever seen such a thing before! They presented her with yet another card and told her to go on-line to redeem it. I had also been given a coupon because I had bought Susan a few items for her birthday. She went back to the hotel, two coupon cards in-hand, printed her next coupon and went back to the store the next day! She plopped her products on the counter, again, mostly clothing for Tristan and pulled out a “25% Off” coupon.

Here she waits in the store for Tristan to try on an item.

She was buying T-shirts, hoodies, jeans, underwear and other items that were already on special and getting the coupon discounts on top of the sale prices. She was getting a pair of jeans that might go for $69 in Canada and $49 in the US, for a mere $19. The savings on T-shirts were even more drastic!

Clearly, Susan keeps her conquests in perspective. Stepping from the strangely dark store into the bright mall after a particularly lucrative round of coupon dropping, she chuckled, “I’m going to frame this bill.” As she finished speaking, a nervous tumbleweed bounced past.

I’ll bet the clerks are still wandering through the dark store, awed and shocked by the irrefutable power of Shopper Susan. Alas, I continue to faithfully attempt to document her shopping savvy (kindly refer to blog dated March 27, 2011).

I know that, for generations, the question, “Which came first, the chicken, or the egg?”, has begged an answer. The more immediate and timely question is, perhaps, “Which came first, the coupon, or the purchase?”

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Flo-Rida Adventures Part 1

Our trip to Florida was great! True, cognitive dissonance would suggest that after a drive of that magnitude, we could have spent a week in rain-soaked cardboard boxes on the streets of downtown Tallahasse and we’d still say the vacation was great. I’m not going to lie, it’s a drive of the most huge order!

We left bright and early Saturday morning! I’m lying. Scratch “bright”; we left very early Saturday morning.

We stopped for the night in North Carolina. The last few years that we drove to Florida, we discovered satellite radio in our rented car. This year, there was no satellite radio, so Tristan provided our in-flight music. As a result, I am up on all the latest tunes. Go ahead, quiz me!

He did wield a rather massive hammer, repeatedly threatening to lay the Skrillex bomb on his mother, if she failed to comply with his wishes! 

Once, when MC T-Dot took a break, the self-dubbed DJ Snoozby herself, stepped up and kicked it, laying down some smooth tracks from her own iPod, as we travelled south across South Carolina. She hit us with Hot Chocolate, Linkin Park, Semisonic, Jack Johnson, Killers, Justin Bieber, Sola Rosa and, as we started across Lake Marion, famous for its populations of landlocked striped bass, she spilled out some Jessie J.

As I contemplated the early morning South Carolina fog and strange river names, DJ Snoozby lit-up our rhythm centres...and outdid herself!

Yesterday, as MC T-Dot watched a movie, she assumed in-flight music duties again, as we travelled north through South Carolina, on our way home.

Drivers notice way more than passengers! I must say, several lonely crosses and stacks of flowers on every major roadway are grim reminders that death lurks amid the speeding vehicles.

After driving through what felt like all fifty states, we arrived at our beachfront hotel in Cocoa Beach Sunday afternoon and sweatily moved into our top floor room. The temperature was above 90 Farenheit every day. In fact, it was so hot, that throughout our stay, the mercury in Florida thermometers was constantly being treated for altitude sickness!

That, right there, is my own sparkling gem.

We foolish kids were actually in the ocean that first afternoon, casually watching a storm creep ever closer. It was at the back of our hotel as we frolicked in the waves. Tra la la! We watched the dark clouds slip closer, along with the lightning forks and rolling thunder. Tra la la! At one point, we jumped over a wave and as we wiped the sting of salt water from our eyes, mighty Thor tossed down one, big, friggin' forked bolt that flashed directly over our heads and then, a millisecond later, there was  a series of thunderclaps so intensely loud, we thought they'd spilled from our swimsuit pockets! We were in each others' arms, father and son, saucer-eyed and craving life; then, a millisecond later, we made for shore as though chased by Poseidon himself, threatening to fry our various body parts with a high-voltage cattle prod!

Now kids, please remember, let's not stay in the water as a lightning storm approaches. That would be dumb and dangerous and nobody wants to be referred to, thusly.

Speaking as a former lifeguard, I'm not sure which one of us is "dumb" and which one "dangerous"; at any rate, we sprang for the ocean view and by the first night, it had paid for itself! After spending time in the pool and ocean Sunday, we watched the remainder of the storm from the balcony, admiring spectacular lightning flashes over the ocean and listening to sometimes-deafening thunder pound the air.

Real-life Skrillex, Susan might say!

At night, we’d leave a thick room curtain open and every morning, the rising sun would shine in through one of our room windows.

A fine beginning to a fine vacation! Ahead in “Flo Rida Adventures - Part Two”, shocking evidence, untold confessions and the juicy photos to prove it! Plus, Susan causes store clerks to cower...stay tuned!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Shorter Fuse, My Butt

As pleasant as my days are, meeting Susan for lunch is often the most pleasant part of my day. Today, we met for lunch downtown and decided to walk through the bright sunshine to Dagwoods to eat a couple of submarine sandwiches. There was a line-up when we got there and it progressed well until the man directly in front of us ordered ten sandwiches.

Yank the hand brake.

Part way through the extensive slicing, one of the employees looked at Susan and offered, "It won't be long." I muttered to Susan, "It's already been too long." She agreed. I think fast food outlets should, especially during the lunch rush, delay inordinately time-consuming orders until there's a lull. Again, Susan agreed, but insisted the delay was not the fault of the employees.

To cut and lay out the proper bread, to slice and lay out the multiple varieties of meats, to garnish each sandwich with the proper toppings, to package all the subs, cookies and chip bags took close to fifteen minutes! By that point, the woman behind me in the line-up had grumbled twice in French about the delay. Susan grumbled about the delay.

Finally, we were asked for our orders. We gave them.

Then, there was a problem with the cash! The cashier came over to the employee who was slicing meat and told him that she had apparently overcharged the guy with the big order. The meat slicer promptly went over to the cash and began assertively pressing buttons and discussing with the customer, until the problem was solved.

He came back and, again, after all that waiting, asked about our orders.

I snapped. I demanded he change the plastic gloves he was wearing and suggested that after poking away at the cash register, the dirtied gloves were no longer fit to handle food and, more precisely, my food! I told him that was the whole point of the gloves, to make sure the handling of food is done as cleanly as possible. We glared at each other and he changed the gloves.

He began slicing and assembling our sandwiches.

After making us wait close to twenty minutes now, the cashier suddenly seemed to be in a huge hurry, impatiently waiting for Susan to pay for her completed order. My sub was not yet completed and I was about to choose my toppings. I looked at the cashier and said, "The orders are together, give me a minute, I'm almost done." I chose my toppings and got to the cash, where I explained that I didn't appreciate having to spend such a huge chunk of my limited lunch time waiting to be served!

We sat down to eat, at which point Susan suggested I had gone too far. I pointed out I am normally quite reasonable and the wait we'd endured was anything but reasonable. I also admitted that I'm fed-up of restaurant employees who wear plastic gloves while wiping counters with rags, opening stove doors, opening refrigerators, food bags, filling condiment containers and poking at cash registers.

If you're going to do all those things while wearing plastic gloves, you might as well take them off, just so you know I know wearing them is no more sanitary than not wearing them at all. Let's just end the charade!

I argued the employees should know when to change the gloves and stop insulting the intelligence of customers. Susan then suggested the employees may be suffering from diminished intelligence, or drastic indifference.

She ended today's lunch by declaring my fuse shorter than ever. Her consternation may be warranted but, in my defense, your honor, how is a reasonable human expected to respond to the growing lack of consideration to which we are subjected?

I maintain the whole wonderfully perfect concept of reasonableness allows for unreasonable responses by reasonable people to unreasonable situations.