Archive for the Observations Category

Voice Immodulation Syndrome And Customer Service

Posted in Observations on July 9, 2012 by bigfatfurrytexan

So my wife and I were out running around the other day, and she needs to stop at a convenience store.  I pull into the next one we see, and she runs in.  While she is going in, I notice a sign on the door.  It is printed from a computer, and it says, “IF YOU WANT TO BE CHARGED REFILL PRICE YOU MUST SHOW YOUR CUP TO THE CASHIER!!!  IF YOU DON’T IT WILL BE FULL PRICE!!!!!!!!!”

It reminded me of another sign at another convenience store around the corner from me.  “ALL CREDIT CARD PURCHASES MUST BE FOR MORE THAN $3!!!!!”

Why? Why all the exclamation points?  Are they yelling at me?  Do they just mean so much business that they have to show it?  Is that how they would talk to me if they were explaning their policies to me?  I feel like I am being provided customer service by this guy:

In a past job several years back I had to work with a lady from corporate to get some things accomplished.  Every time she typed, she ended her sentences with exclamation points.  Reading what she wrote was almost like having to cover my ears.  For example:

Me:  Amy, did you get the list of employees I sent over?

Amy: Yes!  Thank you for getting that today!  I will try to get it back by Thursday!

Me:  Very good.  I would like to roll it out next month if possible, to be included on the first paycheck.

Amy: Ok!  I think that should be possible!  Let me get on this and get back to you late Wednesday!

Me:  Cool.  Thanks.

Amy: Not a problem!

Why?  To make the exclamation point you have to press Shift AND 1.  Two key strokes.  It isn’t like it is easy or anything.  Why?

Even more, why do it in customer service?  When you make a sign, should it not speak politely to your customers?  Or is yelling and demanding the way businesses typically operate?


What Pisses Off The Working Class

Posted in Observations on June 30, 2012 by bigfatfurrytexan

So tonight I went to the store to get some “Carb Smart” ice cream for dessert.  After the heat today, some ice cream is definitely called for.  I grabbed my ice cream, along with 2 other sundry items, and headed to the express lane.  As I walked into the lane, there was a lady in front of me paying for her items.

As she was settling the total bill, she was told that her food stamp card wouldn’t cover an item that had a cost of about 79 cents, so she responded with “its ok, just take it off”.  As she tried to leave, the clerk had to ask her to give the item back, and she said, “Oh yeah”, and went to digging out a small bag of pinto beans.  She gave these to the cashier, and left.

I did my business, and ended up walking out right behind her, in her hip pocket so to speak.  As I got to my truck and unlocked the door, I glanced up and noticed that she was unleading her government subsidized groceries into a brand new, 2012 Cadillac Escalade truck.  I put my items into the back seat of my 2003 Ford (although, it is a very nice 2003 with under 50k miles on it), grumbled to myself, and came home to tell you all about it.

I pass no judgement on her personally.  I don’t know the circumstances behind her vehicle, or food stamp card.  I just know it is hard for me to imagine how you need help buying food when you drive a $60,000 truck.

Building Their Own Homes

Posted in 1776, Observations on June 25, 2012 by bigfatfurrytexan

My wife and I had occasion to wander around the more remote portions of this speck of a West Texas town.  On our wandering, we took note of the new police station/detention facility that is being built in one of the lesser financed neighborhoods.  They got a real steal on the property, as it is being built in connection with the brand new sheriff’s office and county jail.  I will leave my lamenting of this intermingling of municipal and county enforcement agencies, and move on to the comments my wife made.

Our relationship is unusual in that we have very little of interest in common.  Despite this, neither of us can make it without the other.  She is more into celebrity gossip, real and local level news stories, and general media.  I am more into non-fiction writings and works from prior to 1900.  So it is unusual that she would say something that sounds so much like it came from me.

As we drove by the law enforcement center, I glanced over and noticed that they were, as reported, ahead of schedule for completion.  I mentioned this to her, and she looked at the workers and said, “Yeah, they are working fast and furious to build their own home.”

I was caught off guard entirely.  I had to ask her what she was talking about, and she said, “Well, who is going to be in those cells if not the working class, the guys who are swinging a hammer over there.”

Damn.  She is right.  Like lambs to the slaughter, all of us.  We work to build the systems that will be used to oppress us.

There’s A Sucker Born Every Minute

Posted in Observations on June 18, 2012 by bigfatfurrytexan

So my wife’s father is an employee at a local rent to own store.  As such, my wife has always felt obligated to maintain an account there.  Since we have no interest in the quality of rent to own furniture (especially when I was 200 lbs heavier), the only real way to do this was to keep a small loan open through them (about $500) that we refinance every few months (usually spending the money on something that one of the kids want).

So I was in the aforementioned business the other day and noticed that they had some laptops, PS3/Xbox 360’s, and a couple of off brand tablet’s.  Being a bit of  geek myself, I decided to look at them and see what they priced them at.

I was shocked.  The laptops were, after all payments made, about $1500, the PS3 and Xbox were about $800 each, and the tablets (worth only $250) were about $900 each.  The tablets in particular seemed to be priced to exploit an uninformed customer wanting a vanity purchase.  But every single one of those electronics items could have been purchased for the same $500 loan that I was making a payment on, had the cash then been taken down to Wal Mart.  Instead, people were getting stuck paying a 200% to 300% markup, all because of their own lack of insight.

And THAT, my friends, is where the term “there is a sucker born every minute” comes from.  In any event, my father in law will be retiring soon enough, and I can then remove myself from the ranks of “sucker” as well.

Low Carb Ice Cream

Posted in Observations, Slapdash on June 3, 2012 by bigfatfurrytexan

So I took to trying to find a way to make low carb ice cream.  I have had success making “milkshakes” using heavy cream, ice, and just enough carbs to keep it from freezing. But true, scoopable ice cream was something I didn’t have in my arsenal, until I Googled up “low carb gelato almond milk” and found a recipe I could work with.  Wanna hear it?  Here it goes:


8 egg yolks

2 cups heavy cream

2 cups almond-coconut milk (find the Blue Diamond variety for lowest carbs, but just plain almond milk works, too)

1 1/4 cups Splenda (always go with the one that has fiber in it)

1/2 cup erythritol (all other sugar alcohols have a significant blood sugar impact)

4 squares Ghirardelli 100% cacao chocolate

2 tbls vanilla

In a sauce pan warm the heavy cream, almond milk, erythritol, and vanilla over medium low heat.  While this comes to temperature, place all egg yolks in a bowl (make sure it is large enough to hold the entire recipe, and use something that can withstand boiling water temperatures like metal) and whip until it forms ribbons (Google it so you know what that means, it is important).  Then slowly whip in 1/2 cup Splenda.  This should make it look like a shiny, beautiful, thick pale yellow bowl of wonderful.   Set it aside, and check the liquid on the stove, and make sure you stir it frequently.

Allow this mixture to come to a simmer, then turn off the fire.  Throw in the 4 chocolate squares, broken up into several smaller pieces each, and stir profusely until all the chocolate is blended in smoothly, with no more little dots of chocolate peppering the surface.  If you need to, turn the fire back on to return it to that point just before it simmers.  I prefer to use my immersion blender, as it blends it up very nicely once I have melted the chocolate.

The mixture needs to be cooled a little so you don’t cook the egg yolk mixture.  But the next step is to “temper” the eggs into the cream.  To do this, just add a spoonful of the cream into the egg and mix well, then repeat a few times.  Once you start to have a warmer, more creamy looking egg mixture, you can then pour the remaining cream into the egg mix bowl.

Rinse out your saucepan, and put some hot water in it.  Just enough water to make a double boiler.  Put it on the stove, and place the mixture bowl on top (drain some water if need be to allow it to sit securely).  Stir the mix, monitoring temperature.  The goal here is to hit 170 degrees to make sure we don’t get salmonella.  Once you have a homogenized 170 degree mix, take the bowl off and chill it.  The goal here is to get the temperature lower quickly, and then to cream it using the directions from your ice cream machine manufacturer.

Labor intensive?  Yeah, somewhat.  But what other way will you get a rich, creamy, chocolate ice cream that is low carb?  You are looking at about 2.7g per 4 oz scoop.  That is a harsh calculation, as I am counting each gram of carb from erythritol at 0.2g (per my prior posting).  Without this it comes in a little lower (2.4g).

Some other ideas are to omit the chocolate, and just double the vanilla to make vanilla flavored.  Or include your own home made peanut butter chips.  Last night we made a vanilla gelato with lemon curd folded in, like a spumoni.  It was outstandingly good, and prompted me to go ahead and write this post.


Honk If You Love Jesus

Posted in Observations on May 31, 2012 by bigfatfurrytexan

Today I was discussing an upcoming music festival with a coworker.  The festival is usually pretty big, and we have quite a few heathens around that will be well into 12 beers before the festival ends.  Drunkeness will abound, let me tell you.

The coworker, who has been involved in some of the behind the scenes stuff, mentioned that he thought some of the bands were Christian type.  My revulsion was obvious, and with him being a fairly traditional Catholic, he was obviously puzzled by my revulsion.

This is a fairly new coworker for me, as the business has only recently started.  So we have not really spent a lot of time conversing about the great mysteries of life.  Thus, he was (and still is) mostly ignorant of my viewpoints on faith (you could most easily just call me a “deist” and be done with it).  So I explained, “Christian music is mostly formed out of people with little musical or vocal talent.”  He agreed with this, and I went on, “It would seem to me that it is a forced type of music, with songs of praise simply for the purpose of making songs of praise.  It lacks inspiration, and when you see Christian musicians begin to get mainstream success, they generally tend to cease identifying as “Christian”.”  For examples I gave Amy Grant and Creed.

I have no problem with someone singing songs about their faith.  I think it is beautiful to be so moved by your faith that you feel a need to express it outwardly, be it music, art, or just living “right”.  What I DO think is a shame is to churn out pseudo-spiritual music recanting predictable rhythms and lyrics that are (for the most part) rehashed from the prior 25 years of the genre. Don’t be fooled…the Bible is a commercial product.

It seems possible that the secular nature of our culture has created a perception of spirituality only in the abstract sense, combined with a whole slew of people who proclaim their religiosity as a matter of convenience, carefully timed to disassociate words from actions.  If you ask someone if they believe in God, what you usually get is a summary of someone else’s ideas and thoughts regarding whatever religious predilection they have.  And with music, it is more about the “clique” you are in than taste.  If you are a cowboy, you listen to country music, so on.

Which brings me to the punchline here, if there could really be one.  As I perused the internetz after work, I happen upon this gem, which reminded me of the conversation earlier with my coworker;

If you live near the south, you know them.  Folks who wear Jesus like a badge of honor for all to see on public display.  Too bad it isn’t a badge that is earned rather than given upon baptism.

Banksy on Advertising

Posted in 1776, Observations, The Pulse on May 1, 2012 by bigfatfurrytexan

Very interesting perspective this Banksy has.  Worthy of conversation: