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The Kitchens' Sink - April 2009 Archives

Everything you did and did not want to know about what I see and think.

Amateur Drivers
Posted Monday, April 6th, 2009 by James Kitchens

“Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac?”

--- George Carlin

As many of you know, I work at home. I like this arrangement, and not only because of my commute. It brings many benefits beyond my gas bill for the car. I get to wear bunny slippers to work (although right now, I have red and pink polka-dot slippers). I can even work in my underwear if I want. For the record, I am NOT typing this blog entry in my boxers. I haven't worked in my underwear in quite a while, to be honest. In addition to working at home, I also work at night. Like right now, as I type this, I am "working". Needless to say, the pace of the makets right now is s-l-o-w.

While all this is great, since it means that I have a nice work setup for myself, it also brings certain heretofore unknown byproducts. For example, lack of sleep. Trying to sleep during the day can be hard, especially with your neighbor's driveway right next to your window. Although, I have to admit that they don't make all that much noise thankfully. Even when I do manage to wrap up at some point during the night, I still have a 5yo kid waking me up early to go to school. I'm starting to wonder if schooling is truly necessary for our young people.

However, even with that sleep-deprived reality, the thing that was probably the biggest and unknowable byproduct was the fact that I have to drive against amateurs during the day. The professional drivers are all at work. The remaining drivers are soccer moms on iPhones, old people who stop randomly, foreigners who drive like they are in Mexico or Italy or Turkey, emergency vehicles, or contractors in a hurry. Just to be clear, old people are not good drivers. Although, I hear Bakes is a excellent driver. I had one older woman literally stop in the middle of a major street here and...just stop. I waited for about 10 seconds, then started to wonder what was happening. I considered just going around her, but thought "What if something is really wrong?" So I drove into the median lane (no one was behind us thankfully) and rolled down my passenger window. She rolled her window down after looking up, and I asked her if she was OK. She gave me a puzzled look and folded her paper (newspaper, map, or something) and kind of gave me a sideways knod of the head. Completely floored by this, I simply said "OK" and drove off. She promptly followed by re-starting her driving trip to whatever early bird buffet special she was going to that afternoon. Let's just make this as clear as possible --- SHE STOPPED IN THE MIDDLE OF A MAJOR STREET, STOPPED IN THE LANE TO READ AND WAS CURIOUS WHY I ASKED IF SHE WAS ALRIGHT.

We also get those drivers who stop right at the white line in the left turn lane when the light is green. You know, the ones who don't pull into the intersection even though they could turn left on the green light. Now, understand that I don't consider this to be such a big transgression. Maybe they have a history of getting run over by a slow-moving steamroller if they pull into an intersection. Plus, I think legally, you aren't supposed to pull into an intersection you can't clear. Fine. No problem. But when you wait for THREE ####ING GREEN LIGHTS LIKE THAT, then I have an issue. Like the woman who did that the other day.

As Danny (SmokedChub) recently pointed out, I seem to have some deep-rooted psychological issues with other drivers. Maybe I'm just too much of a Rain Man when it comes to driving........


He's A Superfreak
Posted Tuesday, March 17th, 2009 by James Kitchens

Normally, I hate the use of the word "freak". My wife quite often says "It freaks me out". And I really don't like that. However, in this case, the fellow I am about to meet for the first time makes use of this word in his forum name (Thickfreakness). And since Mr. Chadwell is appreciably larger than I am (who isn't really?), I am in no position to mention my aversion to this word. So, please don't mention this blogpost to him. Thanks.

Now, I've heard the rumors that Mr. Chadwell is rather.......tall. Like freakishly tall. Not sure if he has "carny folk" in his family, but the pictures I've seen show him either hunched over to get back down to normal size or just standing and being that tall. I think I'm a shade over 3'6" with high heels (allegedly, I was never convicted). So I suspect I might be able to jump up and kick Mr. Chadwell in the ankle when he gets here.

Another possible tactic I have devised is that I might take a surprise attack and jump him when he arrives from the second "floor" of my daughter's playset. That might get me up to his shoulders. If I jump up from there....

In all seriosuness, most of us know that Mr. Chadwell is on his own Tour De Midwest right now. He's making a guest appearance in Chicago on his way to better beer hunting grounds in Grand Rapids, MI and Kalamazoo, MI and beyond. Such is the reality that we have so little quality beer here in Chicago. It is our curse. I just hope the Minnesotans and Madisonites didn't spoil him before he gets here. Otherwise, I might have one bummed out giant on my hands.

No matter. Because his time here is limited, I think we'll only have time to take a tour of the South Loop Binny's and a quick dinner before he heads to greener pastures in Flossmoor, IL and Munster, IN. Can't blame him really.

Uh oh, I just got a text he's getting close..... Better get into position. Oh wait, never mind, he's here..... And jesus he's tall. He better duck so he doesn't hit his head on the trees out front. If you guys don't hear from me later tonight, then just assume that I failed in my mission to appease the gentle giant that approaches as I type. And pray for me.



From Jackrabbit to Jackass
Posted Wednesday, March 4th, 2009 by James Kitchens

Here he comes JA
Here comes Speed Racer
He's a demon on wheels
He's a demon and he's gonna be chasin' after someone.

He's gainin' on you so you better look alive.
He's busy revvin' up his powerful Mach 5.

And when the odds are against him
And there's dangerous work to do
You bet your life Speed Racer
Will see it through.

Go Speed Racer
Go Speed Racer
Go Speed Racer, Go!

He's off and flyin' as he guns the car around the track
He's jammin' down the pedal like he's never comin' back
Adventure's waitin' just ahead.

Go Speed Racer
Go Speed Racer
Go Speed Racer, Go!

--- Speed Racer theme song

I can't believe it's March already, and I have not even posted ONE TIME in 2009. That is simply irresponsible on my part. Although, for the record, I did not get even one piece of hate email threatening me for my deliquency. Such is the life of us struggling arteests. That's French for "artist". Or "idiot". I forget which one.

The theme of this post, however, is not to malign myself for my lack of posting. The title above is meant to highlight another of my many pet peeves (notice the correct spelling, Gator). I was sitting at a stop light this morning, one which had the train tracks crossing right in font of you if you are the first car in line. I was the first car in line to go straight at the light. A car pulls up beside me, in the left turn lane. A nice and clean, relatively new BMW 328i. Nice leather interior, black I think. I could almost smell that new car smell. In this car was a man, I'd say 40s-ish. Now, this man was clearly an important person. After all, he was on his iPhone. Talking about some extremely important worldly business, or some other high-level decision making.

Something obviously well above my level of comprehension. I know this because of his car. Now, understand that I can appreciate a nice car. We have an Audi A4. It's a 2000 model year, so it's not new. But I can still appreciate German engineering, and the attention to detail. So I know that those Germans think of everything. Including the utterly nonsensical cost of things like a wireless car lock/key receiver that is apparently in the trunk and costs over $900 to fix, possibly plus labor (not sure). But I digress.....

Now, the thing that really caught my eye about this obviously important man in the nice and clean BMW 328i, was not in fact the car or the iPhone. It was the fact that he kept creeping up onto the train tracks. So he was clearly an important man, on an important phone call making important high-level decisions and driving an important and clean new car. And he had places to be and no time to wait the extra two minutes at the stop light. So on he crept. At first, he only crept past the big white line you are supposed to stop at for the light. Then he was past that line. Then literally onto the tracks. And crept up a little more. A not-so-small part of me wanted a train to come along, if only to have the train gates fall on the top of his car. Hilarity would have ensued. Although, I was hoping it would come from the right, which meant it would stop at the Wilmette Metra train station BEFORE slamming into the front of his car, which was about 1-2 feet onto the tracks. I would have assumed that he would simply pull through the tracks to avoid that fate, but then again his attention was obviously distracted by the high-level decision making he was involved in at the time. So I'm not sure.

That was the Jackrabbit part of the title. He kept popping forward in small but somewhat rapid fashion. As far as the Jackass part.......well, when the light finally changed, he sat there. Just sat there. Long enough for the car behind him to honk at him. Not once, but twice. And as I pulled all the way through the intersection, he was still sitting there. Maybe he thought a predator was after him, and if he froze like a rabbit, then they might not see him. Until they get too close. Then he can start creeping back into the intersection. Then again, maybe at that VERY MOMENT he was actually solving our banking problems in this country. Or figuring out a way for Obama to actually cut the deficit within four years. Or any number of other high-level problems that are well beyond the unwashed masses like you and me. I am anxiously awaiting the next press conference for Obama, Geithner or Ben Bernanke. I assume the self-important guy next to me at that light will be right up there on stage with them.



The Line Starts Here
Posted Tuesday, December 30th, 2008 by James Kitchens

line“I always do the first line well, but I have trouble doing the others”
--- Moliere

I had two separate and different experiences recently that prompted this post. The first, and most influential, was the fact that in the last three days I have seen far too many people stop WAY short of the white line at a stop light or stop sign. And I'm not talking a few feet. I'm talking about distances measured in car lengths. People just plain stopping randomly wherever they are when the light changes. A couple of them even did it when the yellow light first changed. Came to a big-time stop right then and there. I swear that I've seen more of these damn people in the past few days than I have ever seen before in my entire 22 year driving career combined.

What's with these people? Are they simple overly cautious and worried about the old George Carlin line, "My brother drives like this....". From what I've seen they have been caught messing with various gadgets ranging from cell phones, iPhones, iPods, papers of various sorts, books or some combination of these in a few cases.

The other experience happened today at Costco, where I was getting stuff for NYE. Make no mistake, I wasn't the only person with the brilliant idea to go to costco for supplies the day before NYE. Nope. Just me and a few hundred of my closest friends. Or so I thought.

So I got in line, which seemed like a decent line at the time. Three carts in front of me, one of which was getting unloaded onto the belt. And a couple with fairly light loads. And curiously, a woman standing in the middle of them. Apparently buying one item. She also let at least one cart to go ahead of her. Didn't seem too big of a deal at the time. Well, this particular woman starts talking to someone behind all of us in some foreign language that even I've never heard. Maybe Albanian or something. Who knows.

Then she does something utterly insane. She directs us all to part the aisle so that her friend (apparently her mom) can bring their fairly well-laden cart into the #2 position in our line. Well, she didn't really ask as much as tell her mom to push through. Ahead of me and one other person already in line. So basically what this woman did was to get in line early and sit at the #2 spot until her mother got done shopping. And then make us part the lane so she can cut in line.

I'm not sure what kind of queueing experience she has (as they say in England). Maybe in Albania or the Old Country they do in fact have a free-for-all system in the line to get toilet paper from the government. I don't know. But here, ESPECIALLY AT THIS TIME OF YEAR, there are a few simple rules these people should follow. They aren't hard either - (1) Don't cut in line, (2) Don't cut in line, and (3) Don't cut in line. See? That's not hard.

Ahhhhhh. Now that I've said my rant, I can more objectively analyze these experiences. And upon further review......well, they're still annoying. And keep in mind, I'm not simply picking on fuzzy foreigners either. We Americans are well versed in line-cutting and other annoying habits. So next time you are either stopped at a red light or in line at Costco, please either pull up or get to the back of the line. Your choice as to which one you apply to which situation.

And Happy New Year to everyone too. Hopefully 2009 won't be as crappy as 2008.



Say What?
Posted Tuesday, December 30th, 2008 by James Kitchens

"I never said most of the things I said."
--- Yogi Berra

Someone want to explain this to me please. "The exception that proves the rule". Not sure where I saw this one recently. Might have been here or FBG or somewhere else (Yes, there is a Virginia, Santa Claus). Pretty sure it was somewhere in that thread on FBG about the BCS bullshit with OhuhU versus Texas vs the World.

Now, many of you already know my fascination (some would say abnormally so) with these types of mistaken quotes. Ask OC to give you a summary in a "nutshell". And grab a seat, a snack and a beer. It'll be a while...

This new one joins the pantheon with such luminaries as "irregardless" and "I could care less" (often used incorrectly instead of NOT caring less). Seriously, I have no clue where some of you people get this crap (you know who you are). It must be something in your efforts to appear smarter in front of your internet "peeps". I have only one piece of advice (or is it "advise") --- let those of us who actually ARE smart appear smart online. It's our job to give you something to aspire to in your virtual lives. After all that's why I write this stuff. So pay attention.