high-minded drivel

high-minded (adjective) - refined; cultured; particularly civilized. drivel (noun) - senseless talk; nonsense.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Don't worry, I can assure you of the quality of this post

This morning I'm writing from the coffee house down the street, which is not atypical, but given that we are still in the midst of the 2011 Lenten Challenge I am drinking tea in lieu of coffee.  My selection today was cinnamon spice tea, and it is quite good.  The fact of the matter is, drinking tea the past couple weeks in place of coffee has been kind of nice.  It's lighter, more refreshing, and you don't have a "let-down" 45 minutes after you've finished the tea.  Plus, tea hydrates you, bringing you slightly closer to the recommended impossible daily fluid intake level.  Of course, coffee still does sound good at times.  Over the weekend Mom and Dad were in town, and after-dinner coffee is a staple with them (as well as morning coffee, second coffee, and elevensies), and I believe they may have questioned the legitimacy of my claim to be their son when I informed them I was abstaining for the time being.

Last night was no different in terms of the after-dinner coffee ritual when we went for dinner at the Blackwell.  If you're unawares, the Blackwell is a restaurant they have within the business school complex.  This was actually the second time I'd been back to the business school since picking up my piece of paper allowing me to claim (with questionable legitimacy) that I have obtained a mastery level knowledge of Human Resources.  The first time was actually the same day that I picked up my diploma, as I wanted to find a quiet place to get some work done in the middle of the day, and Fisher happens to be right next to the place where the diplomas were being kept, thus making it a convenient stopping location with which I was familiar.  The place where I picked up my diploma is the Student Consolidated Services Center, or something like that, and is contained within a new building that, by virtue of its waterless urinals, saves an amount of water each year equivalent to the amount that the average American household uses in a year.  I picked up this little factoid because they have it proudly displayed over each urinal in the men's restroom for your reading pleasure while relieving yourself.

Let me just say that I always appreciate when a men's restroom has built-in reading material.  It's a rather nice touch, in my opinion.  We're in an age of multi-tasking, and the fact that it extends to the restroom is fine by me.  Few things make you feel like you're accomplishing more than when you can combine education with emptying your bladder.  It's like a more sophisticated form of peeing.  You know, like having a scholarly piss.

Actually, my thoughts while unzipped weren't so much about the water-saving ways of the Student Consolidated Services Center, but rather on how I would handle that awkward moment when I would step away from the waterless urinal without flushing.  You see, the whole idea of the waterless urinal is that you don't use any water, and therefore there is no flushing mechanism.  Now, I'm not exactly sure how this works, in the sanitary sense, because I'm not up on the latest in urinal technology (I actually cancelled my subscription to Urinal Monthly a couple years ago).  Given my lack of knowledge on the subject, I just have to trust that it works, and frankly, there's not a whole lot I could do about the situation even if I believed the technology didn't work.  But either way, it just feels really strange to step away with no flush, you know (guys)?  It's like getting up from a restaurant table without tipping.  I feel like I need someone there to provide support in that moment and say "Just walk away Jay.  Just walk...away..."

You paid how much?!!
As I sit here typing, I occasionally glance at the various pieces of art that are displayed on the wall of the coffee house, and the one immediately next to me has been here for at least a couple weeks now.  It's a picture of a toucan, and it appears to be done in crayon.  Now, this has never really stood out before, because I would say that many of the pieces of art displayed here could lead to heated debate about whether or not they are worthy to be called "art," unless of course they would be dismissed unanimously, which is certainly a possibility.  However, I didn't notice until today that the tag next to the toucan art/crayon drawing is just a green Post-It note, and the hand-writing on it appears to be a kid's writing.  A number of kids work in the coffee house, I think because they are children or other relations of one of the owners, and so it suddenly dawned on me that one of the kids probably just stuck up his drawing that he brought home from school, with the intent of being funny and/or making a buck.  And when I say make a buck, I actually mean 150 bucks, which was the original price placed on the art.

The kid has since crossed out the starting price and reduced it to only $25  :-)

While Mom was here over the weekend she got a call from someone who had bought one of her paintings, and was calling just to express the fact that they really liked it.  This was obviously an uplifting call to receive, so Mom was pretty happy.  On a few occasions Mom has been told that she needs to charge more for her paintings, but she is reluctant to increase the price because she feels like she would be cheating people.  But the thing she needs to realize is that you aren't cheating people on something like art unless you're actually deceiving them, like if you claim a work is an original and it actually is a duplicate.  Otherwise, you can put whatever price you want on art, and people can choose whether or not to buy it.  The kid at the coffee house clearly grasps this concept.

Artistic interpretation...of pricing
It's interesting how price influences our perception.  Things priced high suddenly seem better and more desirable, even if the quality hasn't changed at all.  There is perhaps no more apparent example of this than a recent discovery I made between Aldi and Giant Eagle.  At Aldi you can currently buy a plastic container of four mini lettuce heads.  Two are a purplish variety and two are a greenish variety.  The package is labeled as "Artisan Lettuce," whatever that means.  At Aldi, this item is sold for $2.  I have purchased it several times, because it provides the basis for a full week of lunches at relatively low cost.  In contrast, at Giant Eagle you can get a plastic container of four mini lettuce heads.  Two are a purplish variety and two are a greenish variety.  The package is labeled as "Artisan Lettuce," whatever that means.  At Giant Eagle, this items is sold for $5.  Now, if you're thinking that there is probably some minor difference in the products, you would be incorrect.  The products are 100% identical.  Same package, same labels, same lettuce.  Different price.  The distributor of Artisan Lettuce sends a portion of their stock to Aldi, and a portion to Giant Eagle, where prices are not set according to the quality of the product, but the quality of the presentation.  

With that in mind, it seems about time to wrap this post up.

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