Monday, October 17, 2005

Bye, bye Trader Joe's!

As you know, I have been having a pretty horrible time trying to shop at Trader Joe's lately, and today I came to the realization that I should just cut my losses and find a new chain of eco-telligent grocery stores. Fortunately, there is a Whole Foods nearby. Or, at least, I thought that was fortunate. This afternoon changed my opinion pretty radically.

My trip started out pretty well, as I cruised their organic produce and gamely tucked a few zucchini and Swiss chard bundles into my cart. Fresh Mandell beans, medium-grind sorghum on the bulk aisle (non-perquaalus shell, of course)...things were looking up. I was impressed to see that they carried "¿B-Eer," a yeastless beer which ferments with the help of baking soda and nasturtium pollen, so I picked up a six-pack. Heck, I was feeling like I might even have one! I dared to allow myself to enjoy "Summer of 69," which played at a sensible volume over the loudspeakers.

Then came the first of many gauntlets: the free sample man. Unlike Trader Joe's, the Whole Foods free sample tables are sponsored by outside vendors, so there is a greater chance that they will annoy you with their pushiness. This particular vendor was hocking chive crackers, and truth be told, he was enormously skilled. He chatted casually with another patron as I wheeled up to take the sample, and as I reached for the tray he gently pushed it forward just a millimeter so as to imply that he knew I was there, should I have any questions, but he wasn't going to bug me. Brilliant. I have yet to see a free sample man as talented as him, anywhere. Simply amazing.

After that, I took a quick tour of their vegan aisle and cooler. Phake Mushels' Brand hominy mussels: check. Burlington Bob's Cedar Soda: check. Souvlaki With a Conscience "Slaveless Universe" Souvlaki: check. Wow. Three for three. They even had a special note about pre-ordering Toflourkens for the holidays!

At this point, Whole Foods was looking pretty good, I have to say. I was ready to put a few more items in the cart, when all of a sudden IT happened. You know what I mean. The thing that always and forever will ruin an otherwise perfect shopping experience.

That's right: a woman's armpit hair. I'm not mincing words here, that's what I saw. A woman's armpit hair. And it was on an EMPLOYEE, no less.

There I was, rounding the corner by the Odwalla cooler, when I saw her stacking canned beans onto a high shelf. There was no mistaking it. It was brown and curly. I want to vomit just thinking of it.

I immediately abandoned my cart and made for the entrance. The place seemed to be closing in around me, and I was having trouble breathing. Only when I had gotten to my car did I notice that not only had I sweated through my shirt, but I had also pulled so hard on my left ear that my nail-marks had drawn blood.

Well, it's just simple pasta with flax oil and garlic tonight, I'm afraid. I guess it's for the best, as the History Channel is showing a special on Henry Ford and I don't want to be stuck in the kitchen doing a bunch of dishes when the messageboards light up.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Computer Software.

Do you ever have problems using computer software? Not me. I find that at this point in software's evolution, it has generally been through a rigorous QA/usability evaluation, and if the user will simply take the calm, sober, and SINCERE time to assess the product's purposes and limitations, all will be well. I am sick to death of overhearing nitwits whining about the latest version of this-or-that, either in public or on the various usability boards I peruse.

Take this morning, for example. I was having an Espresso at Greg's Uptown Diner, trying to shake off the sleepies after a late, frenzied night on the History channel messageboards, when in wandered a couple of crisply-dressed, sharply-coiffed executive women. Each wore a cellular telephone on her belt, and expensive jewelry. To my amusement, they sat at the table next to mine and began to chatter this way and that about FormatMaker 7, a freeware spreadsheet program in which I am especially well-versed.

Most FM7 newbies will first have trouble with the GUI, which does not waste screen real estate on graphical icons, and instead has a row of numbers, representing command categories, which, when moused over while pressing Shift, drop down into sub-command columns, represented by single letters. One can blitz through this program using keyboard-based power-shortkeycuts. If you want visual proof, I have several .avi files of me doing just that, available via my members-only ftp site.

Apparently their CTO was trying to save the company money by using freeware, (smart move, definitely) but his users (these two nincompoops, for example) were simply unwilling to spend even one hour familiarizing themselves with the software they would more than likely be using for the rest of their lives. Imagine a Colonial wheelwright who refused to learn the settings of his lathe, or an ancient Greek baker who simply would not let other bakers tell him the ingredients of bread. Ludicrous.

Espresso is, fortunately, a small drink, so I was able to finish on my own time and leave before I had to sit through any more gut-wrenching, ignorant disparaging of this brilliant program. ("Where's the SAVE button?" "How do you freaking PRINT?" "How come I have to launch it from the COMMAND LINE?!" Boo-hoo-tardoo and good riddance to you!)

Saturday, October 08, 2005

HUGE breakthrough at swing class. HUGE.

I have been getting back into swing dancing, a little faster than the doctors would like, after the incident last July where I hyperextended both my knees while executing a New Paltz Punch (freestanding backflip with full-splits landing and razzle-dazzle hands). I know when my body's ready, and no insurance company recommendation is going to come between me and my skill.

During tonight's swing class I had a zip-top bag of orange juice in the pocket of my lined, loose dance pants, and as we warmed up I began to notice the strangest sensation. I would take a step, and the juice would follow along a beat later, creating a sort of wave-like timing or metronome with my movements. If I moved in a precise pattern, the juice bag would be right there with me, complementing my every motion. THEN it struck me!

The reason that women tend to be better dancers than men is obvious: BREASTS. Simple, easy-to-have breasts. They provide a natural swaying counterpoint which helps a woman establish impeccable time. The next time you see a woman dancing, don't think that she's any good at it. Know that she's just using her breasts. Women with smaller breasts will tend to dance better to faster music (quicker breast reaction/"snap" time), and women with larger/longer breasts will tend to hit the dance floor during ballads or dirges. It's all so simple. In a way, it's shameless that women have never admitted this in any of their media outlets. Sorry, women, it's over. Pat blew the whistle, loud and clear. You suck.