Saturday, April 30, 2011

And now, some curmudgeonly grumbling...

Get ready for bitching, moaning, grumbling and grousing. Apparently I am much closer to old farthood than I thought possible. This morning as I was driving home from Burger King with my Croissanwich, I heard a classic rock station playing More Than Words. AND I OBJECT MOST VOCIFEROUSLY! What the hell? I have heard some 1980s tunes from U2 creeping onto the Arrow playlist (103.5, Utah's most popular classic rock station), but I have to object to this. Admittedly it's a little older than I thought; it was released on single in 1991 (I was thinking more like 1995, mostly because it sounds like most of the crap that came out after Kurt Cobain died during my freshman year of high school). And the band that made it, Extreme, definitely had the look of butt rockers. And I get that it's been twenty years, and I'm not that young any more (I'll be 32 on August 25), but I'm not that old, dagnabbit! And to be honest, More Than Words only barely qualifies as rock anyway. If I start hearing Breakfast at Tiffany's or Blues Traveler's Run-Around, or Kiss From a Rose, or God help me, anything by Green Day or Weezer on classic stations, I'm gonna start handing out compound fractures like a Chinese lady handing out free Szechuan chicken samples at a shopping mall food court. I will do it. I expect at least another decade before I have to start feeling middle aged. That is all.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Why I Love Barter

Most of you know what I do for a living... kind of. I own what's called a barter exchange (mine is called All Business Barter), which way too few businesses are utilizing, and many don't even realize exist. The short and skinny of it is that I help bring new business in that almost drops into my clients' laps because it's being offered on trade, and help them spend it on things they need that they're either using cash for or that they'd like to do and don't necessarily have in their budget. It's really quite magical. You can get a $1300 couch or a couple grand worth of dental work for much less in actual cash cost. Business used to be done that way almost exclusively (as in "I'll trade you that there mangy ole mule fer that sack of flour and a wagon axle"). I just use technology to facilitate the whole deal, safeguard against one party getting the short end of the stick, and broker their needs and wants. I've been in the biz for over five years, and in addition to making a real difference in the lives of others, have gotten some amazing things for myself and my family. Meals at restaurants, carpet cleaning, auto repair, furniture, and new tile for our kitchen, and more than I could probably even remember. At any rate, the video below is from Saturn Barter in the Seattle area and is a pretty good quick sum-up of what I'm all about. I'm hoping in the coming months to get a videographer to do a similar video for my website (on trade, of course). Hopefully this is something that will be of interest to many of you who haven't quite gotten a firm grasp of what I actually do, and be interesting at the same time. I promise, this post is not a phone-in. It's one I've been meant to do for a long while, and if even one person gets some ideas of the possibilities that are out there, and is able to incorporate it in some way, through an exchange or just being more active in trading on their own, I'll consider it very worthwhile. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Tales of the White Trash

So there I was... last Friday, we got our tax refund, which had been due February 25. Amy had a hard week with Jackson home from school with a cough three out of five weekdays (and no coinciding sick behavior like sleeping and giving his poor mom a break). We were able to pay off a couple of significant debts, and I thought it appropriate to take Amy out. I had in mind something at least relatively nice... honestly, Texas Roadhouse is the one chain I love above all others, and my blood count was low on steak. Buuuuut, our babysitter arrived later than planned, and we didn't even leave the house until 7:15 (shut up, that's late. This will all come into play. Shut up). What I was really hoping for was to let Amy shop to her heart's content, since she seems to often get shafted on clothes and shoes in our family budget. And you should also know that everything in Layton, Utah, even our mall, closes insanely, inexplicably, retardedly early. Yeah, I said retardedly, and I meant it. Even on weekends, most of the mall stores are closed at 9. Anyway, we tried to get in at Outback, and there was a 45-50 minute wait. When I get hungry, it makes me 1. grumpy, 2. stupid, and 3. overly optimistic about potential deliciousness. So I did something terrible. I settled for the restaurant right next door. The Golden Corral.

I honestly don't know where some of these people come from. Outside what is actually a pretty good salad bar (and come on, as long as it's fresh and there is a selection, how do you mess up salad?), the Corral provides a smattering of fried food and obese patrons that can only be rivaled by state fairs. Dinner buffet is a little over $10 per person, but after taxes and tips for the so-called "waitress" who is responsible for nothing but bringing you drinks, we spent $28, and I find it amazing what a difference of maybe five or ten dollars would have gotten us at a real restaurant. There are a few less greasy options, most of them edible but none done particularly well. The most egregious offense was Amy's chocolate "truffle." Such lies! It had the flavor and consistency of chocolate frosting. Although to be honest, it had sprinkles on it, which is usually not the sign of gourmet anything. What can I say, Amy is a trusting person. There were a few similarly misled young couples and families, but for the most part, this is what the customers look like:

In fact, the woman pictured above is probably in the top 3 percent of persons frequenting the Corral. She at least has the appearance of respectability, and may be highly intelligent and very pleasant to interact with. On this gal, it's just the size and frumpiness I'm pointing out as a general idea of the Golden Corral dining experience. I truly don't have a lot of prejudices, but I have two exceptions I make no apologies for: gypsies (who are mostly in Europe, so I don't have to deal with them) and white trash (basically American gypsies). The reason? I believe you can be poor and dignified. On my paternal side of the family, I come from rural Southeast Idaho stock that definitely knew hard times, but they were also strong, clean, hardworking people. I suppose if I were being fair, I would expand the term white trash to include hatred for trash of all races, since we're talking mostly about behaviors here, although who am I to lie that appearance isn't a major component? It totally is. But there is definitely black white trash, and Asian white trash if you've ever seen the movie Gran Torino, and as I mentioned, gypsies could probably be considered Europe's answer to white trash, and other than geographical distance, as far as I'm concerned, we could use the two terms interchangeably. But it doesn't pack the same punch without the word white attached to it. Do I qualify as racist? And am I going to hell? Perhaps. Frankly, if hating white trash is wrong, I don't wanna be right.

At any rate, we ended up not shopping after running into Amy's sister at her workstation at the mall JC Penney, so the entire nice evening out I'd pictured came to naught. I am fortunate to have parents who volunteer to watch our kids once a month, so this Friday, I'll be able to get the Golden Corral experience rinsed from my mouth, and even if we get fast food, or go to enjoy the overt redneck-ness of Cracker Barrel, we can hold our heads high, and never see this brand of trailer cuisine again, at least until the next time I sell my soul for convenience and cheap steak.