Saturday, February 28, 2009

Greazy Tony: In the Solitaire Zone

After failing to post a new high solitaire score last week, I really had to look deep within myself and refocus. So I really buckled down this week and I had a good Michael Phelps week. This is not to be confused with a bad Michael Phelps week, where you date a big titted Asian stripper and get caught smoking pot. No, my week was the type where you smash all known records again and again and post a hand full of best times. February 22-28 was my Beijing.

As a reminder, my three best scores/times coming into the week were: 1) 6576/119, 2) 6538/119, 3) 6336/123. At the end of this week none of those times stand any longer as I posted three separate times faster then my previous high. First I cut just 2 seconds off with a 6633 in 117 seconds. I was happy with that, but it was early in the week and I knew I had more time. Then I manged a 6893 in 112 seconds, but I made a costly error late in the game that must have cost me at least 7 or 8 seconds.

Redemption came in the form of the game you see above (score and time in the lower right hand corner). I scored beyond 7k for the first time and finished below 1:50 for the first time with a score of 7080/109. I know you're impressed, and frankly, I don't blame you. But I can do better. I must do better. I will do better. I'm like Boxer from Animal Farm.

I still have my eyes firmly set on a sub 100 second game. Its just a matter of getting the right deal and playing a minute and 39 seconds of mistake free solitaire. We live in a world that sometimes seams bereft of goodness and hope. I feel like this one seemingly insurmountable goal stands between the human race and happiness. So I encourage you to start playing solitaire as fast as you can and let me know what your fast time is. And don't feel bad if its not as fast as mine, there can be only one Greazy.

_

Friday, February 27, 2009

Apparently Steroids Don't Shrink Your Balls.

After getting home from work last night I checked the mail. In it, I found the most recent issue of The Sporting News, which serves as part of my shitter reading library. As I flipped though it I came to the "My Profile" section which is subtitled: what you won't find on Facebook... even if you are approved as a friend. They pick a different sports personality each week to focus on and this time around it was... Mark McGwire.

Jesus! It's bad enough that this muscle bound fuckwit cheated Roger Maris out of his record, lied to legions of fans and Congress and helped to usher in a tainted decade in his sport. But now, he also seems interested in being heard from again, which pisses me off royally. After his debacle on Capitol Hill a few years back, Big Mac fell so far off the radar that the only time we had to think about him was in January, when he was being snubbed by Hall of Fame voters. I liked that arrangement, because of all the people who stuck a needle in their ass, he's the one who pisses me off the most.

Now, here he is on page 11 of the March 2nd Sporting News. What's worse is the way he chose to answer a few of the questions that were posed to him. Here are a few examples:

SN: Worst habit?
MM: Biting my fingernails

SN: Favorite value in others?
MM: Honesty.

SN: My Motto:
MM: Never make the same mistake ONCE!!

Wow! Are you fucking kidding me? Hallelujah! Holy shit! Where's the Tylenol? I'm going to address Mark now, feel free to continue reading along:

Seriously Mark? Your worst habit is biting your fingernails? Not shooting horse roids in your ass so you could hit 70 homers in '98. Biting your nails is worse than being a total liar and a cheat? Ok, it's your call, their your habits. But come on. Your favorite value in others is honesty? Really? That would be like me saying my favorite value in others is being able to eat sensibly.

Fine, these are your answers, and I guess you know yourself best, but that last one really stuck with me. First of all it is stupid because a mistake is only "the same" the second time you make it, but that's more nitpicking from me and I did enough of that with Taylor Swift yesterday. How in the world can this be your motto? Didn't you kind make a huge mistake... once, and then compound it by lying about it? So... you're kind of full of shit as well as synthetic hormones... huh?

Fuck you you Popeye looking fuck. I hope you never make the Hall of Fame.
_

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Taylor is Not So Swift

Ok, I've had just about enough. I'm not saying that I was the greatest student of all time or anything, but I know some stuff. I know that the genus and species of a seahorse is hippocampus erectus. I know that Magna Carta was issued in 1215. I know the basics of the Pythagorean theorem. I know why Hestor Prynne had to sport the scarlet letter and perhaps most importantly to this post: I know that Romeo and Juliet is not, repeat not, a love story. It is a tragedy!

It's not: "For never was there a story of more happiness then that of Juliet and her Romeo" because not only does that not rhyme, but it's also not what happened. Sure, love is one of the unifying themes in the story, but its not used to celebrate love. Rather, the love that they have for each other is a juxtaposition of the hate their families have for one another. The ultimate tragedy isn't just that they both kill themselves, but that they couldn't be together in the first place.

That brings us to Ms. Swift and her song "Love Story." Some may say: "come on Greazy, its just a cute little song about love, don't be a nitpicker." Well, my response is that there are some nits that must be picked. You can't just go around co-opting famous stories and changing the ending. If you want to do a reimagining of a story, like the Wiz, then that's cool. But there is no way you should ever be allowed to fuck with an ending like Taylor has done.

In her song (find the lyrics here if you can't stand to listen to the above link) Taylor goes through the first three quarters of the song in the general spirit of Shakespeare's work, but then does a 180. In the songs last stanza she has the star cross'd lovers meet in a field where Romeo surprises Jules by telling her that he's sorted out all the problems with her dad and that he had a ring for her. Ugh!

Really Taylor Swift? Really? If you wanted to rip off an old story to write a love song, why not just rip off an actual love story? Plus, not only have you shat on Will S, but apparently, unlike me, you don't know what Hester Prynne did to get that letter. Otherwise you wouldn't have used the line "You were Romeo I was a scarlet letter and my daddy said stay away from Juliet." That is, unless you are saying the female in your story not only loves Romeo, but that she was an outcast in her community because she fucked a married man and had his bastard. If that's what you were going for, then I retract this part of the rant, but I somehow doubt it.

Maybe Taylor Swift would have a better grasp of literature if she had payed more attention to High School and less attention to becoming famous and dating a Jonas brother. Obama said it the other night: failing to get the basic high school education is "not just quitting on yourself, it's quitting on your country." For shame Taylor Swift. I can't believe you let the country down like that.

_

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Fat Tuesday Indeed

Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday and that means that today is: Fat Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday, Pancake Day and/or Fastnacht Day depending on where you are in the world. I live in York PA (although I sometimes wonder why when reading the comments section on the local newspaper's website) so for me it is the day of the Fastnacht. A fastnacht is a ridiculously bad for you doughnut made from any amalgam of flower, honey, butter, potatoes, lard, sugar, milk, yeast and eggs.

Once you've decided on what you are going to put in these little killers, you have to decided what shape they will be, and if they will have a hole. I can go out around York County today and find fastnachts of all size, some round with a hole, some square with no hole but all defying the laws of physics. They look like a normal doughnut but when you heft them the feel like a whole dozen. They are just as heavy in your gut, too, causing you to feel as slow as molasses all day after you eat them. Molasses! There's one ingredient variant I forgot above.

As with so many other bastardized traditions, this one no longer holds it's original significance. In all it's forms the Shrove Tuesday splurge was a way to rid the home of all these indulgences in order to ready the family for it's Lenten sacrifice. Now people give up other things for lent like:

"I'm not going to drink soda for a month"
"I promise to go 40 days without eating Whoppers"
"I'm giving up TV for Lent"
"I'm swearing off anallingus till Easter."

You know. The normal stuff. It's not exactly commensurate with the suffering of your Messiah though, is it? He spent 40 days in the desert fasting and being tempted by Satan, its not as if he just stopped eating candy or anything. It's the classic lip service of most American Christians that I find deplorable and comical at the same time. I'd rather they just be honest with us, and themselves, and eat one regular doughnut a day for 40 days
_

Sunday, February 22, 2009

An Off Week on the Solitaire Front

There are no excuses in the high-stress, high-reward world of competitive solitaire. So, I'm not going to bore you with tales of how little time I had to play this week, or how I forgot to bring the mouse for my laptop home from work this weekend, causing me to have to play with the old roll ball mouse on the home computer. I'm not going to tell you about any of that. Rather, I'll take my lumps for not bettering my high score yet again.

The best I could manage this week was a 6086 in 129 seconds, good for a bronze on my all time list; clocking in behind my 6576/119 and last week's 6538/119. While I'm not even thinking about backing down from my self imposed goal of 90 seconds, I think I have to start thinking about this challenge like eating a 5 pound hamburger: I have to set small goals and achieve them. To wit, I'm going to start focusing on the 100 second barrier and see if I can make it to the two digit scores before I think about a minute and a half.

It just isn't plausible for to consider that I can't do this. I am an American for fuck's sake, and does winning WWI and WWII even mean anything if I back down in the face of this most torturous challenge? I don't think so either.

_

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Footy is Back!

The last time I watched Australian Rules Football, things didn't exactly go my way. But as sure as the calender flips each year, so too does the sports world. With a new year comes a new season, and a new chance to take the field in quest of a title.

It was with all that hope and enthusiasm, tempered with the realization that this is just preseason, that Inky and I sat down to watch the Geelong Cats kick their way back into action this morning. The Cats dominated the Adelaide Crows by a final of 1.17.8(119) to 2.9.12(89) to move on to the second round of the preseason NAB Cup. And they did it with one paw tied behind their backs, as stars Jimmy Bartel and Gary Ablett Jr. sat out large portions of the game.

When Ablett was on the field he did nothing to diminish his title of best player in the league. There was a three minute span toward the end of the first quarter where Ablett was, quite simply unstoppable. During that portion of the game, Ablett channeled his famous father by putting on a goal clinic in Geelong's forward line. He had 3 goals including a 9 point "supergoal" and moved as if everyone else on the field was in slow motion. It was fantastic viewing, and almost enough to erase the stink of last year's Grand Final let down. And, the shock of seeing him deprived of the Brownlow medal for the second straight year. Almost.

Now, we await the winner of Sydney v. Port Adelaide game to see what the second round match up will be. But really, we're waiting till the end of March when the regular season will kickoff and the Cats will again embark on a 6 month long quest to win the sport's holy grail.
_

Friday, February 20, 2009

Talk About a Walk of Shame

Sometimes we as a culture sit up and take notice of something that should probably just go quietly by wayside. Our public conscienceless opens and makes a place for this oddity of pop culture, and we are never the same for it. Such is the case with the Snuggie, which first popped up as one of those late night two minute long ads but has become a tour de force.

I may never understand why you can't just put a sweatshirt on and cover your legs with a blanket when you are cold. But, the marketplace has spoken, and loudly at that, as the company that makes snuggies had to send out letters to some customers before Christmas to say that the reverse-robe was on back order due to "overwhelming order volume." I'm sure a large portion of these orders were joke gifts due to the snuggie's relatively affordable gag-gift price, but some were people couldn't wait to get their hands on this blanket with arms. However, a large enough number of these orders were people who couldn't wait to ensconce themselves in feux-velvet.

Now, a group of these snuggie enthusiasts, call them snuggites, have decided to take to the streets in support of the backwards Obi Wan vestment. Of course the only way I'd ever be seen in public in a snuggie was if I was off my ass drunk, and as fate would have it, the organizers of this gathering have thought of that. They are doing a snuggie bar crawl in a town near you. You read that right, a snuggie themed bar crawl in some of the biggest cities in the country.

Hey! What was that sound? Did you hear it?

I think the terrorists have finally won.

_

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Craig Robinson is Everywhere, and Damn Funny

While in New Jersey last week I saw the movie Fanboys, which featured a cameo by Craig Robinson. The actor, not the President's brother in law. Then on Thursday I watched the Office, which has an ensemble cast that includes Craig Robinson. Monday I watched the new HBO show East Bound and Down, which... you guessed it: features another cameo by Robinson. Then I realized that not only does Craig Robinson keep popping up all over the place, but that he offen steals the show.

His part in Pineapple Express was by far my favorite part of the movie. His role in Zach and Miri Make a Porno was second only to Justin Long's portrayal of Brandon St. Randy. And that's saying something because I love that movie, and I think everyone in it was gold. Add to all of these turns in Walk Hard, Prop 8 the musical, The new Night at the Museam Movie and Knocked Up and you have a pretty amazing resume.

Plus, the hits just keep coming. Just today, I saw this trailer for the new movie from the guys behind the show The Whitest Kids You Know, which is a laugh riot. In Miss March Craig plays a famous rapper and his considerable skills appear to be well utilized once again. It's only a matter of time before he gets to star in his own show or movie.

_

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

At What Cost Soda? No... Seriously

I'm not a cheep guy by any stretch of the imagination. I'm more than happy to pay a fair amount for goods or services, and I abhor the thought of driving 30 miles out of my way to save a few bucks. I used to watch with horror as an old friend of mine would drive to the other side of town to pay 92 cents a gallon for gas rather than the 99 cents at the one near our high school. I tried to tell him that the 7 cent a gallon difference only added up to 70 cents in a 10 gallon tank which was not worth the extra time, but he wasn't having it.

I'm not being whimsical here by waxing nostalgic about the days of sub dollar-a-gallon gas (which in New Jersey they pump for you too.) I mention all this as my rock solid proof that I am not being a curmudgeonly old fart when I make this next statement:

What the fuck is the deal with the price of soda at restaurants these days? Inky and I went out to dinner tonight and the place we went to got $2.29 for her Iced Tea and $3.00 for my soda. Today at lunch, the sandwich place I went to asked $2.75 for a carbonated beverage. This is highway fucking robbery! Even when you factor in refills this is a ludicrous amount to ask for soda.

These places are paying for the box of syrup, the water and the compressor after the first few dozen sodas, then its all pure profit. To make matters worse, most places don't even put the price of the soda on the menu anymore, as was the case at the eatery Inky and I patronized this evening.

My father used to tell us about highfalutin restaurants where there were no prices on the menu, because if you had to ask then you couldn't afford it. I guess that's the case with a Coke or a Pepsi these days. If you look down at the beverages section and don't see a price and you have second thoughts, just order a water.

_

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A Joke From My Past

I love technology and all the things it can do for us. For instance, I spent two years at a boarding school in the early 90's. Over the last week or so, I have been reconnecting with many of the guys I went to school with via FaceBook. We all went our separate ways when the school closed it's doors in May of 1992 due to years of underwhelming results, but now, thanks to the web, we are getting back in touch.

We had a pretty unique set of circumstances when we were all together just outside of Princeton New Jersey. We weren't rich kids, and we weren't being prepped to go on to Ivy League schools. No, we were just a bunch of kids who thought we might be interested in becoming Catholic priests. That's right. I, Greazy Tony, was in the seminary. Over the years most people who know me have a had time believing this, and it may have to do with my propensity for telling jokes like this one:

A man was kneeling in a pew at his parish church when out of the blue, a priest burst out of the confessional. He shuffled over to the parishioner and said "My son, I need you to do me a huge favor, will you hear confession for me?" The man was shocked and said "Father, I can't do that, confession is a sacrement."

The priest reached under his vestments and pulled out a BlackBerry, and as he handed it to the man he said "it's all automated these days, all you have to do is type in the sin and it'll give you the penance to give. Add the prayers up and give them to the person, you'll be fine. Now, I really must go." And off the priest ran holding his butt as if he was about to crap himself.

Reluctantly the man got up and walked to the center door of the confessional. He sat there going through the menus on the handheld device for a while before he got his first taker. The man came in and knelt down saying "bless me father for I have sinned. It's been 1 year since my last confession..."

The man's confession went on for a bit with the usual taking the Lords name in vain and the like. The mock priest found on the blackberry and tallied the prayers needed to make penance. He though the confessor was all done, so he asked "is that all?" at which point the person on the other side of the curtain began to hem and haw. After a few moments he finally said "well... there's one more thing father. I... I... I had anal sex."

The impostor stifled a laugh and he began looking up anal sex. He found premarital sex, adultery and masturbation, but couldn't' find a specific listing for anal sex. Wanting to get this right he said "Hmm, give me one moment to reflect on that before assigning your penance." He then quickly popped his head out of the door looking for the real priest.

Just then an older altar boy walked by. He called out to the boy "excuse me, I need your help. What does father Martin give for anal sex?" The alter boy responded "Two Twinkies and a coke."

Have a good day.
_

Sunday, February 15, 2009

High Score of the Week


So as I've detailed over the last few weeks, I'm all about playing solitaire as fast as I can in an effort to win in 90 seconds. My high score is 6576 in 119 seconds, and today I nearly bested that score. I once again finished in 119 seconds, but fell 38 points short at 6538.

I remain undaunted, and In the end I will prevail in my quest to play a 90 second game. If I could just break 119...

_

Friday, February 13, 2009

Song Spotlight: The Temper Trap "Sweet Disposition"



Holy crap this is a great fucking song. I can't say enough about how much I love this song right now, and I hope you all will take a second to listen to it. The Temper Trap are a group from Melbourne who are putting their fist full length album out this year, and I can't wait till it hits shelves. Till then, I'll just keep wearing out my digital copy of "Sweet Disposition."

Sweet disposition, never too soon
oh, reckless abandon
like no one's watching you

A moment
A love
A dream aloud
A kiss
A cry
Our rights, our wrongs
A moment
A love.....

So stay there cause I'll be coming over
and while our blood's still young
it's so young
it runs
and we won't stop til it's over
won't stop to surrender

Songs of desperation
I played them for you

A moment
A love
A dream aloud
A kiss
A cry
Our rights, our wrongs
A moment
A love....

So stay there cause I'll be coming over
and while our blood's still young
it's so young
it runs and we won't stop til it's over
won't stop to surrender

_

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Touching Me-Tuchen You

Once againg my work took me to world's greatest city today. This time around, NYC had a little surprise in store for me as the mercury rose all the way to 65 degrees in the city. It was nice to be walking around The Upper East Side, The West Village and the neighboorhood around the WTC site with no coat while being bathed in warm sun. I had a couple of Grey's Papaya dogs at 6th and 8th and I even got the chance to walk by my father's old office on Church Street. And by the way, I took the train in from Hoboken rather than driving, so there's no need to check my car for evidence of a hit and run.

Once back in Jersey, I decided to spend the night in Woodbridge, which is just miles from where I grew up: Metuchen, the Brainy Borough. After eating most of a huge pastrami sandwhitch at Harold's I decided to go see a movie. I saw the new flick "Fanboys" which anyone who have ever been a little too upfront about their love of Star Wars should see. Right now the film is only showing on 43 screnes nation wide in big cities... and New Brunswick. That's one of the things I miss about living in Central Jersey is the perks that come with having to putting up with the traffic and over crowding.

I drove back to my hotel via Rt 27 which runs from New Brunswick through Higland Park and Edison into Metuchen. Then I drove down Main St. Raritan center. This route pretty much incompassed all the sights I would find myself driving by on any givin day as a late teen with a freshly minted drivers licence. Maybe it was the feel of warm springish air rolling through the open window, and maybe it was all enhanced by the first few tracks of Chairlift's most recent record which I had pumping, but I was tripping on some massive flashback style memories.

Everywhere I looked I got a chuckle as I rememberd some rediculous thing I had done with my friends more than a decade ago. The memories were so potent that I could also feel the residual impact of the emotions that I had then. From excitment to fear and from young lust to unbridaled freedom it was all there. It was like it was all just laying dormant inside me waiting to be unlocked by a slow car ride, with the window down and music blareing.

The thing that caught me most off gaurd was when I drove by one of the Dinners my buddies and I used to hang out at. There I remembered all the nights we spent talking about our future. We didn't know what lay ahead of us or what paths our lives would take, and that was truely exciting. I really miss that feeling, because to be honest, I kind feel like I know exactly what I have in store for me over the next few decades. It's not that I'm not happy to be alive and living the life I have because I love my life with Inky. Its just that we all have to lern as adults that the road ahead is not quite as boundless as we once thought, and that sucks.

_

Monday, February 09, 2009

Sadly, Plywood and Paint Doesn't Have Spell Check

There has been a lot of hubbub in my town about this sign, which a local resident hung out of utter frustration. He says that the drug and sex trade go unchecked outside his home, and after becoming fed up with local officials he decided to make a statement. Albeit a misspelled statement that has now apparently focused the ire of the street toughs on him, but a statement none the less.

In the above linked article he says one of the local crack dealers flashed him the thumb and finger gun the other day, which probably doesn't bode well. You and I might hurry home to take the sign down, but you and I haven't reached our breaking point after having witnessed countless drug deals and shootings on our block either. Different strokes for different folks, you know.

I have become increasingly negative about the state of our nation, and I am rapidly reaching the point where I don't think we're fixable anymore. Our problems are just too big and complex and the nation its self just has too many moving parts. Add to that the fact that many of our citizens are so anesthetized by iPhones, Blue-Ray players and Truck Nutz that they don't seem to care either.

I think we are in the last throws of our greatness, because we don't care to do things the right way anymore. We don't make anything here anymore, instead relying on banks and real estate to prop up our economy. Also, we have so little respect for education and social betterment that as soon as anyone talks about programs which might make the next generation better people scoff and cry socialism. At the very least, if we invest in education, this guy would have known that "deer" is the animal and he should have started his protest shingle with "Dear Crack Dealer".

_

Sunday, February 08, 2009

This is Only A Test

I don't know anyone who doesn't think that they are a good person. And why not? If even you thought you were a piece of shit than life wouldn't be worth living. I also don't know anyone who couldn't give you a list of about 30 dozen pricks if asked, so obviously there's something off with the tally. In other words, there are a whole lot of rotten assholes running around out there that think they are princes among men.

Let's face it, the world is lousy with lousy people. They are out there to ruin any situation from work to parties and from trying to watch a movie to air travel. This is a classic human conundrum, and, as with so many other highly nuanced problems the solution still escapes us. Sure, we could always round-up all the tools, douche-nozzles, pricks and Red Heathers so that we can ship them off to Gitmo and rid our lives of them... What's that? Cuba is too small to hold all of them? How about Greenland then? Antarctica? Anyone?

Fine, we may never be able to get rid of all the pricks in our midst, but it is important that we contain them, and their cancerous impact. So I have come up with the one sure fire way to tell if someone is a rotten hemorrhoid or just a good person having a bad day. Because let's face it, sometimes we all act awful when we are having a tough go of it, but that doesn't make us all bad. The test is easy, show the subject these photos, and await their reaction:



If they automatically go "awww" then they are a good person. I'd also take: "that's the cutest thing I've ever seen" or "look at that lil guy" where you say lil and not little. Any other reaction and you are dealing with a sub human ass-clown put on earth just to annoy us normal people.

I think it's tough but fair.

I'm no lover of animals, ask anyone who knows me and they'll tell you that's the case. I can't abide calling your pets kids, and I think spending hundreds of dollars a month on food, vet bills and "doggie sweaters" is pure lunacy, but I'm not made of stone. In fact, I think the proof of this methodology is that I don't like animals and yet can still have this reaction when I see these photos or hear about why they were taken.

These Koalas are all looking for any respite they can find from the oppressive heat and savage wildfires that have descended on South East Australia. Just looking at the pictures you can almost hear the roasting little marsupials saying "It's so damn hot. Eucalyptus was a bad choice" and so they went and found buckets, dog bowls and pools to get a drink and cool off in.

Awww....

_

Friday, February 06, 2009

All it Takes is One Slip

Last week I told you about a high water mark in my solitaire playing career. I hit a score of 6576 in a time of 119 seconds. Last night I was playing on the home computer while listening to the awesome new single by the Temper Trap, and I almost did it again. I was moving at a furious clip, and I could sense I had a quickly unfolding game going. Plus the pace of the song "Sweet Disposition" seemed to be in time with my movements, and I thought it was all going to add up to my greatest solitaire achievement ever.

So close, but it was not to be. The song was winding down and I saw the end of the game was only a few clicks away, but at the last second I hit a bit of a roadblock. I had moved a red 10 to the top pile before I used it to move the black 9 that was covering the last unturned card. So I had to pull the ten back down, move the nine, flip the black 8 and then proceed. It was that mistake that cost me another sub 2 minute game. As you can see from the above screen cap, I finished in 123 seconds. This must be the way Michael Phelps feels when he finishes a race .01 seconds slower then his fastest time. Or, how he feels when he eats 6 3/4 bags of Cheetos after hitting the bong, rather than his usual 7 full bags.

I guess I'll have to soldier through my Friday knowing I missed out on setting a new personal best. This temporary setback will not keep me from one day achieving my dream of a 90 second finish. I remain undaunted! I know you all would be disillusioned and lost if I ever gave up this dream, that admittedly, you have only just heard about now. But never worry faithful reader, I will not... nay, must not let you down. Yes I can!

Yeah, it may be time for me to see someone.

_

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Monday, February 02, 2009

Super Showdown

As a general rule, I try to be as nice to the people behind the proverbial counter as possible. I took my fair share of abuse in my short time as a customer service rep for what was at the time the nation's largest credit card company. So the last thing I ever want to do is put that crap on anyone who's just trying to earn a buck, but there is an exception to every rule.

Yesterday I ran out to lay in some last second supplies for the big game. My first stop was Turkey Hill which is a Central PA convenience store. I picked up some snacks and a six pack of Mt. Dew 20 Oz bottles and laid them on the counter. The girl behind the counter told me that the six pack was 4.11 but they had a two for $6 deal on them, so I grabbed another one. That was where my "world class customer service" ended for the day.

From there I went to a Quick 6 beer distributor to get some Yuengling for Inky. I pulled a cold sixer from the case and slid it on the counter where the girl rung it up at $6.35. I handed her my Visa Check card, at which point she informed me that there was a minimum of $8.50 to use plastic. She followed that with all the things I could get for a buck each to put me over the limit, saying "Most people get a bag of pretzels or something to put them over" going on to basically admit that the minimum had been set just above the highest priced six pack on purpose to get people to buy more.

At this point I had a few options. I could: A) Buy a bag of pretzels and some candy cigarettes and charge $8.75 and go on my merry way. B) Leave and get my beer at a store that doesn't try to make you buy things you don't want/need, or C) Inform the counter girl that minimum charge amounts are against the Visa merchant agreement and have a protracted discussion with her and her manager. I chose C.

After I told her that, having worked for a credit card company, I knew that minimums were against the rules and subject to a $10,000 fine she pretty much told me that she didn't care. She reminded me that it wasn't her policy, but one set by the owner of the store, who I got to meet after a few more moments of back and forth. He started his portion of this exchange by saying that it was only a few bucks and I should just buy something else. By the end, he was offering to give me the beer for free after I pointed out that he had admitted to knowingly breaking the rules.

He told me that he hadn't posted a sign saying that there was a minimum because, as he understood it, that was what got most people fined. I responded with something like "so you think that the sign is the problem, not the policy" which he apparently did. Shortly thereafter, he offered to ring me up for the six pack, and I told him that it was a moot point, and that I'd still be reporting him, at which point he told me to just take the beer.

What happened next might surprise you. I didn't take the beer, and I drove to the other side of town where I spent $9 on a 12 pack, because they were out of cold 6 packs. It was a clear cut case of principal winning out over inconvenience and added cost. Frankly, I'd make that decision every time, because we as a country too often take the easy way, when the hard way would make us a better society. I'd like to think that I did my part in changing that yesterday.

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