Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Empty Ham-ded

Hamilton is coming to Charlotte in October.

I know.  I already saw it in Chicago.  But that's why I want to see it again.

It's that good.

Tickets went on sale to the public on August 1, at 8:00 AM.  I logged into the virtual waiting room at 7:05 AM on two different devices.  At 8:00 AM, the powers to be would be randomly assigning numbers to everyone in the waiting room.  

I happened to have a 7:30 AM doctor's appointment that day, somewhat complicating the situation.  I kept a close eye on my phone while Dr. Fravel examined me.  

When he asked, "Are you depressed?"  I responded, "I will be if I don't get my Hamilton tickets."

At 7:55 AM he finished with me and sent me the lab for my blood work.

"I can't go yet," I said.

"Why not?"

"I need to stay put until 8:00.  When I get my Hamilton number."

He rolled his eyes and told me I could stay in the exam room.  The minutes ticked by slowly as I waited for my number.  At exactly 8:00 AM my number appeared.


Say what?

And my laptop at home had an even bigger number.


I read somewhere that there were about 20,000 tickets up for grabs.  If everyone in line bought the 4 tickets they were entitled to, the tickets would be sold by the time they got to number 5,000.

But that was glass half-empty thinking.  

From a glass half-full perspective, not everybody would buy 4 tickets. And some people might only be able to go to certain shows.

At about 11:30 only 16,000 people were in front of me in line.  And according to the progress bar, it looked like about half the tickets were still available.  

I had a chance!

At about 1:00 PM, mean, unwanted messages began to appear on the website.  First, saying there were limited seats available for specific shows.  Then, there were limited seats available in certain sections.  Then, only individual seats remained.  

An finally, the only available seats were for Cats, which was playing at a high school in Gastonia.

My ridiculously high number came up at 3:42 PM and I was invited to purchase tickets.  I was in a near-panic state as I tried to find the best available tickets during the 10 minute window I had to complete the purchase.

This is what I saw:

I did find two VIP tickets for about $500.  But they weren't together. 

I couldn't do it. 

At 3:52 PM I placed a call. 

Hello, Dr. Fravel?  This is Lou.  

I'm depressed.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

The Runaway

They were twins.  Identical twins.  Looked exactly alike.

But they were as different as night and day.

Their names were L and R.

It was impossible, even for me, to keep them straight. 

It was only after R would disappear that I knew for sure who was who.

L was a homebody.  R was full of wanderlust.

The first time R ran away I thought for sure that L would spend the rest of her life an orphan.  It was 5:02 AM.  I was 57 people deep in line in the Phuket, Thailand airport.  I reached for my ear and gasped.

R was gone.

She must have been hiding at the hotel we had left two hours earlier.

But I had hope.  My friend Bob, who had a later flight, was still at the hotel.  I frantically called him but his phone was off.  I then called the hotel, praying that the operator could speak English.  To my relief, the operator told me that they had found the little runaway and would hand her over to Bob when he checked out.

After a close call, the twins were reunited.

It was about two months before the next "incident".  I was in Louisville visiting my sister.  The girls were asleep on the bathroom vanity.  At least I THOUGHT they were asleep.  I actually witnessed R's escape.  She dove head first into the gap between the vanity and the wall. 

I assembled a search party, bringing together the best of the best.  And high tech equipment such as mirrors, magnets, wire hangers, and duct tape.  Unfortunately for me (and L), R was free once more.

About two months later my sister found the little fugitive while doing a bathroom remodel.  R arrived home via first class mail.

I talked to her about her behavior until I was blue in the face.  I thought I had made headway.

How naive.

I was in Russia when she made her final flight.  We were on a guided tour of St. Petersburg, which required earpieces.

The thing is that I was prepared. I understood how R thinks.  Her criminal mind.  I knew an earbud could provide an escape route.  As a precaution, I placed both girls in protective custody in a zippered pocket of my backpack.

I know what you're thinking.  Why punish L?  She hadn't done anything.

How goofy would I look with just one earring?

Sure enough, the bitch got away.  She made a clean getaway from the backpack. And it was zippered shut.

I asked L how R got away but she was tight lipped.  (Probably mad about being locked up.)

I was full of emotion: anger, frustration, despair.  But after my second glass of wine my attitude improved.  R was gone.  I'd probably never see her again.

And I accepted the fact that R is like Curious George.  She should be free.

The next morning I took my seat in the tour van, ears naked.  I placed my backpack on the floor and saw something out of the corner of my eye.  

Yes!  It was R.  Hiding behind a water bottle.  I grabbed her and gave her the biggest hug ever.

And we had a little heart to heart.

Please don't judge.  I used to laugh at people who tethered their children in public.  

Not no more.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Brain Dead

It was a long, drawn-out death.  Painful to witness.  There was little we could do about his suffering.

He had no health insurance.  Too outrageously expensive.

The groans.  So loud.  And agonizing.

I hate to admit it, but sometimes I would close the door so I didn't have to listen.

He was so young.  He had just turned 5.

That's 45 in washing machine years.

We did what we could to help with his pain.  When the wails became loud, about a year ago, we lightened his load.  Medium.  Then small.

By the end he could barely handle a gentle load.

He still howled.

After a few dozen gentle loads, paralysis set in.  We declared him brain dead at 9:21 PM on Thursday, June 21, 2018.

Dave was the one who ultimately pulled the plug.  I couldn't do it.


It was heartbreaking.

Now we have just our memories to help us get over the loss.  Actually, I believe that you never get over a loss.  You get through it.

Thank God we have so many good memories.

He was quite the trickster in his youth.

Like the time he dyed  my clothes pink.  (I shouldn't have yelled at him.)

And when he would hide socks.   LOL.  I never thanked him for inspiring me to develop the world famous  Nerdling Orphan Sock Prevention Program..

I miss him.

But we're moving on.  We have to.  (Laundry is piling up.)

A new one is being delivered on Monday.  We've decided to try a front load washer this time, in hopes that she will live past 45.  (In washing machine years.)

As I was checking out of the Lowe's adoption agency yesterday, the clerk asked me if I would like to purchase health insurance.  I asked how much it would cost.

$119.97 for 5 years??????!!!!!!!!!

Nah.  Too  outrageously expensive.

Hope she has better genes than her deceased siblings.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

The Moose Mistake

When the Groucho's Deli waitress brought my moose sandwich to me I took one look at it and knew I had screwed up.

It was roast beef.  I haven't eaten red meat since 1980.

That's 38 years.  XXXVIII in Roman Numerals.

See?  I may be old but I still remember my Roman Numerals.

(Except L.  Is that 50 or 500?)

I looked at the menu and quickly discovered my error.

"I messed up," I announced to Dave.  "There are 2 kinds of moose sandwiches and I ordered the wrong color.  This is the Brown Moose."

So I went to the counter and told Groucho Girl about my mistake and that I should have ordered the Pink Moose.  I had my moose within minutes.

I was halfway through my Pink Moose when Dave said, "That looks like ham.  Maybe you should have ordered the White Moose."

I stopped chewing.  I didn't know whether to swallow the pink moose in my mouth or spit it on the plate.  The pink glob went down my throat like a bowling ball. 

I looked down at the plate.  OMG.  I had eaten half of a damn ham sandwich.

My stomach suddenly hurt.   And Groucho Girl was headed my way.

"Don't tell her," I whispered to Dave.

But Dave was having too much fun with my moose mess.

"She ordered the wrong moose," he told Groucho Girl.   "Again."

"I forgot my reading glasses," I said, as I slipped my reading glasses into my purse.

Dave and Groucho Girl enjoyed a laugh.  At my expense.  She offered to make me a White Moose, but I told her I was no longer hungry.

After all, I had just eaten half of a cute, little, piggy sandwich.

I hoped that I wasn't going to get ill.

And I didn't.

Big sigh.

It has been 38 years since I have eaten roast beef.

And III days since I last ate ham.  

Which looks a hell of a lot better than 3.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

The Meeting

I have obtained a secret government document which sheds light on how those annoying Medicare Supplement plans are designed.

The following transcript, received from an anonymous source, is from a Medicare Supplement Planning meeting held sometime between 2004 and 2016 in Russia.

Please do not alert Robert Mueller.  Or the FBI.  I prefer to remain an anonymous whistleblower.

PATRICK: Let's charge the people who contributed the most into the social security system 3.2 times the average premium.

CONSTANCE:  Brilliant! 

PATRICK: We have Plans A, B, C, D, F, K, and M.  Do you think anyone will notice that we skipped a few letters?
KARL: Nah.  By the time they finish reading the plan descriptions they'll forget their ABC's.

Indeterminate laughing.

KARL: Can we go back to the blood coverage for a minute?  

CONSTANCE: What don't you get?  Plan F covers the first 3 pints.  Plans K and M cover 50% and Plan L covers 75%.

KARL: If someone in Plans K or M gets attacked by a mountain lion they could go bankrupt.  Just sayin'.

CONSTANCE: If they don't die first! 

Indeterminate laughing.

CONSTANCE: Now, we have room for one more plan.  And remember.  We're trying to maximize profits.  And how do we do that?

KARL/PATRICK: By shortening lives.

CONSTANCE: Very good.

KARL: Plan F covers skilled nursing.  How about a plan that covers unskilled nursing?

CONSTANCE: I like it!  What else should it cover.  Besides unskilled nursing?

PATRICK: How about free skydiving, bungee jumping, and flights on Southwest Airlines?

CONSTANCE: And discounts at Cracker Barrel and Pizza Hut.

KARL: Let's throw in Medical Marijuana.  Just for grins.

CONSTANCE: That could work in our favor.  Especially if they imbibe while skydiving.  We need a name.  D for (giggling) Death?

PATRICK: D's already taken.

CONSTANCE:  Okay.  K for Kill!

PATRICK: K's taken, too.

CONSTANCE: Shit!  All the good ones are gone.

KARL: H isn't taken.

CONSTANCE: Plan H For Homicide. Now we need to come up with the premium.

PATRICK: Let's keep it simple.  How about their monthly social security payment minus the square root of the sum of the digits in their social security number?

CONSTANCE: Perfect.  Great job, team.  Meeting adjourned.


Friday, April 27, 2018

The Black Olives

I suppose it was my own damn fault.

But I was worried about getting the wrong kind of olives on my pizza.  The last time I had ordered black olives, my pizza came with some kind of weird-ass nasty looking olives. 

That. Were. Not. Black. Olives.

I just wanted to be sure that I got the right kind of black olives this time.

My BFF Becca and I were at lunch at a very nice Pizza/Sandwich shop that begins with a B and ends with an S and has two L's in the middle.

We were ordering personal pizzas from the counter guy.  Let's call him "Buck".

I told Buck that I would like black olives and tomatoes on my pizza.  I then added, "Are your black olives black olives or the other kind?"

"Black olives," said Buck.  "They are black olives."

"But are they black olives?  Not the other kind of olives that I got on a pizza once?"

"They're black olives," Buck said, enunciating the word "black."  He gave me the look you would give a two year old who was asking too many questions.

I told Buck that I had a pizza once with black olives and they weren't really black olives.

Buck sighed, turned around, and proceeded to the topping area, where HE PICKED UP A HANDFUL OF BLACK OLIVES WITH HIS BARE UN-GLOVED HANDS.

He brought them back to the counter, held our his hand and said, "These are black olives."

I was stunned.

"Yeah," I said.  "Those are them.  They are certainly black olives."

I turned to Becca for help.  Becca, who never leaves home without a back-up bottle of hand sanitizer, looked completely unscathed.  Like there was nothing unusual for a pizza counter guy to hold out a handful of black olives.

In the meantime,  Buck turned around, and headed back to where he had obtained the black olives.

A guttural sound escaped from my mouth when I observed Buck dropping the black olives back into the black olive bin.  He slapped his hands together, presumably to remove any black olive juice, and returned to the counter.

I no longer wanted black olives on my pizza.

But I had just told Buck that his black olives were the black olives that I wanted.

Here's what I should have said.

"Buck, I no longer want back olives on my pizza because you just picked up a handful of black olives and I don't know where your hands have been."

But instead I gulped and said, "Okay.  I want a pizza with black olives and tomatoes."

Thankfully, Buck didn't show me the tomatoes.

When we got to our seats, and I was done throwing up in my mouth, I told Becca that I didn't know how I could possibly eat the pizza.  She reassured me that the germs would be cooked off in the oven.

I was so relieved.

And even more relieved that I had not ordered the Greek Salad.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Consulting with the Airlines

Have you noticed the latest thing in airline travel?

Basic Economy fares.

For the thriftiest of thrifty.  Like me.  

However, these lowest available fares (which aren't that low) have a few teeny tiny restrictions:

-No seat assignment until check in. (Oh boy!  A middle seat!)
-Board last. (Oh boy! Crawl over the aisle passenger!)
-No carry on luggage. (Oh boy! Pay to have it checked!)

Note that if you attempt to smuggle luggage onto the plane that won't fit under the seat, the airlines will charge you $25 to check it at the gate.  And top it off with a $25 gate handling charge.  

And force you to sit in the bathroom for the duration of the flight.  

Okay, I made that last part up.

Since the airlines are committed to nickel-and-diming passengers to death, they may be interested in adopting some of my scathingly brilliant ideas.

In fact, I have identified 3 additional pricing opportunities that will significantly increase an airline's revenue.

Nerdling Idea #1: Additional Carry-on Luggage Fees

Overhead compartment - $75
Under seat - $50
On lap - $25

And for those sneaky-ass passengers who wear their otherwise packed clothes in layers to avoid being charged, there will be a $50 penalty.  Per layer.

Of course, flight attendants will be trained to identify these deviates.

To that end, here are some snippets from my How to Identify Passengers Wearing their Luggage (PWL's) seminar.

Clue #1: Head to body ratio.  The ratio of head to body is much smaller among PWL's than other passengers.

Clue #2: Sweat.  PWL's experience excessive sweating due to their multiple layers and the fear that they will be discovered.

Clue #3: Smell.  Related to Clue #2, PWL's often smell like they are wearing multiple layers of clothing.

Nerdling Idea #2: Repriced Airline Food

Begin charging for snacks that are currently free.  Pretzels should be priced at $5.00/bag, which is approximately $1.00 per pretzel, an excellent value for the Basic Economy passengers.

Peanuts should be priced at $10/bag to help subsidize potential litigation related to peanut allergies.

Implement a $10 surcharge to passengers who bring food aboard the airplane. ($50 surcharge for food containing garlic.)

Nerdling Idea #3: Introduce Middle Seat Surcharge (MSS)

This robust recommendation is based on a sophisticated pricing model that was developed in the Nerdling Consumer Research Institute.

The MSS allows passengers to have control over their "neighbors" while trapped in enjoying a middle seat.

For passengers willing to sit between two passengers with infants, the MSS would be just $25.  Alternatively, if the passenger agreed to sit between a large passenger and one who was bringing on food, the MSS would be $30.

The most expensive MSS would be for the passenger who can afford the luxury of sitting between two Millenials (who are so focused on their devices they never move a muscle during a flight).  That fee is a hefty $250, but may be worth it for the desperate discriminating middle seat passenger.

Passengers who enjoy gambling would have an opportunity to be surprised by their Aisle/Window neighbors.  The MSS Surprise-Surprise option is just $60.

I am fully aware that by publishing this blog, I am releasing my intellectual property and, as a result, will be unable to charge the airlines for my ideas.

But that's okay.

The airlines would likely pass that cost along to the passengers.

And the next thing you know, you would have to pay to use the restroom.

You're welcome.