Monthly Archives: October 2012


Hotels – I hate staying in them.

In the corporate world, hotels can be a status symbol of having made it. If you went on business trips, it meant you were vaguely important, and certainly as a young fellow, I marveled at the guys and gals who got to fly around and stay in fancy lodgings.

Now, of course, I know differently. I know that getting on a plane and checking into a hotel is neither fun nor exotic. It’s 10 hours in a metal tube followed by 10 hours in a small box. On a side note, I read the other day that planes nowadays are made up of “CREP” – Carbon reinforced plastic. If you are a cynic like me, that’s WAY too close to “CRAP”. In any event, I’m not sure I like the idea of flying in a slightly modified sprite bottle.

Hotels are strange and odd species. Buffet breakfasts, complete with scrambled eggs that are either more a soup than a scramble, or cooked for what must be days to get them as close as I imagine a diced rubber tire would look and taste like.

The mini sausages and mini glasses fascinate me. I suppose it’s a way of restricting consumption – to have shot glasses for your morning orange juice – but why the micro sausages? People just take 8 of them, so why not make a proper size one?

The rooms are designed as a place of rest – they are not designed to have people over – unless you’re a rock star, and the bed is the central attraction.  For the rest of us, they are to sleep in, with the bare minimum necessities, maybe a minibar and not much else.

Just on that subject, beware – the minibar is your enemy. On business trips, after the obligatory dinner and drinks with friends or colleagues, it’s way too easy to stumble in late at night, only to wake up the next morning surrounded with the remnants of US$50 worth of cashews, pringles and kit-kats.

So when you check in, leave your wallet on the bed and put the contents of the minibar in the safe. Shut it, close your eyes and set a combination you can’t possibly remember. Sure the hotel may charge you a small fee to open it next morning, but it will be cheaper than leaving late night temptation out, trust me.

Funny Business

Ok, folks, tell me your funniest engineering joke… That’s right, there aren’t any. Sorry to my engineer friends, but you have to face reality. But then again, I was at a stand-up comedy night recently, and before the show, I was indulging in a spot of eavesdropping (note, If you ever see a guy leaning surreptitiously into your group, pretending not to be listening in, but clearly listening in – It’s probably me). The group was obviously made up of engineers. How could I tell? One of the guys made a cantilever joke. What’s more disturbing – is everyone raucously laughed. Perhaps it was a “dirty” cantilever joke?

“Two equal length beams were cantilevered in rotational equilibrium. The first beam dropped its pants and lost radial vector …” Oh, stop it! Too funny!

But then, industries do have their own “in” jokes, so maybe it was funny. Humour is a funny thing in itself. Different jokes make different people laugh, and what I find funny – you may not. Rarely is humour universal. “Funny” even drills down on sexual lines. (Men, commence giggling at the word “sexual” and “drill” in the same sentence. Women, roll eyes and discuss how lame that innuendo was.)

But really, Find a bloke that doesn’t laugh at a fart joke (or an actual fart) and I’ll show you a dead man.

Girls, I think, tend to like clever jokes (of which I know none). Toilet humour usually goes down like, well, a blocked toilet.

I suppose that’s why places like comedy clubs exist in the first place. You don’t do your own electrical repairs (I hope) so don’t do your own comedy (unless you are one of the few gifted stand-up artists). Comedy clubs generally appeal to most people, especially if there are several acts on.

The point is, (yes, it may be heavily disguised, but there is a point), that if you want a decent laugh, find out if there is a stand-up comedy club nearby, and support it. Trust me, even if the comics are a bit lame, you will have a fun night, just watch out for under-employed bloggers looking for material.


Supermarket Sweep

Before launching into the super important topic of item placement in supermarkets, I firstly need to shamelessly gloat. Last week I successfully NAILED the US presidential debate tie colours. There they were, Romney in red, Obama in blue. A day to be proud of. For my next trick, I will accurately predict the next President of the United States, simply using a bucket of chicken entrails and a yoyo.

So, enough self-congratulating, it’s kind of pathetic anyway. On to more urgent matters:

Who decides shelf placement in a supermarket? Who is this person? How did they get this job?

I was in a supermarket the other day, when I noticed the baby formula section was situated right next to the alcohol section. Any parent will tell you, that’s an inspired placement.

Putting the cause and solution close together makes perfect sense. One probably caused the other but then when you have one you need the other. It’s a win/win for everyone, but what about everything else? I know impulse buys are at the register, chocolate, sweets and condoms – although I am not convinced condoms are an impulse buy. Who goes to the checkout with a bag of potatoes and a tube of hemorrhoid cream thinking, “mmm, yes, maybe a roll of mentos and a pack of “sexy suzie’s super stimulating condoms” for me”. I just can’t see it.

I constantly get confused trying to find food and other items in supermarkets that hide where my admittedly illogical brain, can’t find them.

Crisps, nuts, dips and nachos mix should be placed directly next to the beer section, or even better, all five items in a sturdy box marked “football match”.  That way, there is no mucking around, you just tell one of the lads, “Hey Dave, let’s watch the game at my house. Can you just pick up a box of ‘football match’ on the way?” Oh, how uncomplicated life would become.

I am sure placement in supermarkets is a little industry of its own, and people toil for aeons to come up with the “perfect” spot for everything.  Quite probably for women, location is crucial. Logical positioning entices and delights. The promise of untold riches inside beckons the ladies in. Here’s the fresh, inviting, fruit and vegetables, so crisp and colourful. Oh, and a bit further in, is that the deodorant section? I can hear the squeals of delight. Yep, once inside, the aisles tease you with the promise of shopping heaven, each turn opens up a galaxy of items to buy. Every now and then, impulse items are strategically placed to tempt you in further.

Of course for us guys, all they need is a piece of cardboard, with big black marker pen writing: “Cold beer out the back”.

I’m in.

Mitt v Barack: It’s a Tie!

Mitt Romney loves America. THAT’S why you should vote for him. Here’s what his wife, Ann, says:

“You can trust Mitt. He loves America”.

I don’t doubt that for a second.  But hang on; according to Michelle Obama, Barack also loves America, and you should vote for HIM! What a dilemma!

Some other people who love America are:

FEAR – an anarchist militia group “- Forever Enduring Always Ready”. According to their webpage they are “true patriots”, and their aim is “to give the government back to the people”, violently. They love America, apparently.

Adolf Hitler – In February 1942, (weird, given they were at war) made a speech praising America and it’s industrial strength. OK, He may not have loved America, but he seemed to like it.

“Love”, therefore, seems a bit of a tenuous reason to vote for someone. Well then, how about something much more likely to influence voters – say, their choice of tie?

I’m not an American, so I am not going to espouse the virtues or highlight the deficiencies of either Mitt or Barack, that’s for people closer to the action to do, I’m just a casual observer.

Politics is all about perception. As such, I have casually observed the dress style of both blokes. Look at either candidate: Speeches are made by both of them in comically appropriate attire.

  • A serious suit and tie is worn when it’s a bit more of a solemn speech (you can trust me, I have a nice suit on).
  • Pants and shirt (with sleeves, “I’m ready to work”, rolled up), when it’s a more casual affair.
  • Shirt and tie (no jacket, sleeves rolled up) when on the campaign trail.
  • A shirt, no tie, with just the cuffs turned up once, for sort of weighty, impromptu speeches, (I’m hard working folks, but still want to look nice).
  • Check shirt, jacket and no tie for weekend speeches: (look at old semi-casual me, working on the weekend!)

It’s important stuff people.

Seriously, if you took pictures of both of them and put them side-by-side, they dress identically for their various scripted engagements. It seems to me, blue ties are by far the most popular, although I think Barack can pull off grey, pink and purple. Mitt needs to stick with blue, with an understated pattern. Bold stripes just enhance his “I’m all about money” issues. Red “Power” ties for State of the Union, or when addressing the people on serious issues is a sort of a given.

Am I too shallow for focusing on this rather than policy?

Absolutely. But elections in any country are about bagging the other guy, and less about bragging about what you can do/have accomplished.  Elections are all about appearances. As a Stockbroker, I use to joke that if I gave my boss a lovely chart, well presented and formatted, it was almost irrelevant what information it contained, or what it said, or didn’t say. “Colour over Substance” was my motto.

So we boldly go to the upcoming first Presidential Debate. Here it is people; you heard it here first:

Mitt – he will be in a red power tie. He needs to look Presidential. He has to create an image he is a man with authority. A man who can lead the Nation.

Barack – Blue. Good old dependable blue. “I am in control – just ask my tie”. He want’s you to trust him; He’s got the job and doesn’t need to project his power. He wants respect.

I just hope we don’t see the “red on red” debacle from George W and Al Gore’s debate in 2000.  Power  tie v Power tie – it was terribly confusing.

Mitt, Barack –  get your wives to talk and sort out the neckwear beforehand. Or at least have a spare in your pocket to slip on during an ad break.

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