Area Restaurant Implementing Controversial Ideas in Effort to Go Green

8 03 2010

Elmer Huggest, owner of the restaurant, O’Grady’s Garden in Indiana, plans to do his part to save the planet by implementing some new policies at his eating establishment.  Some are pretty basic; others are a little more radical.

“It’s time we take a stand and do the right thing,” Huggest stated.  “There is so much food and energy waste in restaurants in this country, and I’m going to do something about it.”  Huggest, a retired gold prospector purchased the restaurant in 2005 and has been trying to come up with ideas to “go green” ever since.

O’Grady’s Garden will be closed this week as the staff makes major changes to the place.  The first work done will be to change all lighting to energy-saving flourescent bulbs.  The restaurant will also use significantly less lighting.  Huggest admits that some patrons may complain the restaurant is too dark but believes his customers will understand once they are informed of the new “green” policies. In addition, all the cooking and refrigeration appliances are being replaced with more energy-efficient models.

Other changes, however, may be more noticeable to customers.  In an effort to save paper, menus will be printed on small, playing-card sized menus.  Huggest realizes that these menus will be more difficult to read but believes this will not be a problem because a magnifying glass will be placed on every table to assist customers.

The napkins are changing as well.  Huggest proudly proclaimed, “We were fortunate enough to find a supplier in China who makes edible napkins.  They are made of some sort of plant fibers and come in two flavors:  Banana and Plum.”  This will cut down on washing costs and may also serve as a sort of replacement for dessert for our patrons.  I tried one, and they are very filling.”  Along the same lines, silverware will not necessarily be washed after each use.  “We’re going to have our staff inspect each piece of silverware when a table clears, and pieces that are deemed to be ‘not that dirty’ will simply be wiped once and placed back on the table.  This is a true ‘green’ innovation.”

Huggest also believes that restaurants waste energy in the form of heating and air conditioning.  “We’re going to go as natural as possible.  The heat will only come on if the restaurant temperature goes below 50, and the air will only be used when it’s above 85 in the dining room.  We think this can be comfortable as long as customers dress appropriately to the season.”

Servers will save paper by no longer writing down customer food orders and instead will be required to memorize them.  “We’ll probably have a few more mistakes on orders in the beginning since most of our servers are young and from the local community college,” Huggest admitted.  “I realize some of them are not the sharpest tools in the shed, but it’s all going to be worth it once they get the hang of things…eventually.”

Huggest also is removing the restaurant’s sound system meaning there will be no light music for ambiance.  He believes that is a waste of energy but has other ideas to provide a pleasant dining experience.  “My 14-year-old daughter plays the piccolo and will be available to sit in the corner and play most evenings.  Also, we’re very proud to announce that Corey Hart will play in the dining room on the first Thursday of every month.”  Corey Hart had the 1980’s hit song, “I Wear My Sunglasses at Night.”

Previously, O’Grady’s had a policy of handing out coloring paper and crayons to children diners.  This will be cut out, but children will have an opportunity to play in a large sandbox in the middle of the dining room while waiting for their food.  “I think they are going to just love that,” Huggest said.

Not all of the noticeable changes will be confined to the dining room.  Public Restroom policies are also being affected.  “The water faucets have been programmed to provide running water for only two seconds.  When it shuts off, it will not be able to be turned back on for a full minute.  We’re very proud of our efforts to cut out the unnecessary waste of water.  We also ask that our customers follow the old addage, If it’s yellow, let it mellow; if it’s brown, flush it down.”  Huggest added that the restaurant is considering having servers check the toilets immediately after customers use them and reserve the right to evict anyone from the restaurant who flushes “only urine.”

There will also be some big changes relating to the actual food.  For example, the restaurant’s signature steaks will no longer be available “well-done.”  Huggest stated that cooking meat for an extra couple of minutes to get them “well-done” is simply a waste of electricity and will not be allowed.  “We feel that medium is plenty done enough.  People will get used to it.”

Drink spills by customers will be handled differently as well.  Servers will quickly try to “scoop” any amount of drink that can be saved back into patrons’ glasses.  There will be a “fine” added on to the bill for every ounce of drink that cannot be saved.

“Fines” will also be applied when customers do not finish all their food.  The price of the “fine” will depend on the type and amount of the food.  Huggest says a reduced “fine” will be applied when customers ask for take-home boxes for leftovers.  “It’s all well and good if they want to take leftovers home, but we can’t be sure they won’t throw the food away at home or even accidentally leave the carry-out box on top of their cars when they drive off.  Therefore, a small fine is in order.”

Huggest believes that children are the biggest wasters of food.  He is changing the kid’s meal as a result.  “The kid’s meal will now consist of a few slices of prune, one saltine cracker and a 1.5 ounce juice box whose container is made completely of recycled material.  Since the meal is a lot smaller than it used to be, customers will be happy to hear that we are reducing the price by ten cents.”

The restaurant will also attempt to reuse some food left behind on customer plates.  Huggest realizes this idea is “different” but believes it is necessary in today’s world.  “We’re going to cut out any bite marks and inspect food to see how much can be recycled.  We’ll then put it on our ‘second chance’ buffet which patrons can eat from for a reduced price.  We think we are pioneers and that many, many other restaurants will be doing this type of thing in the near future.”

When asked if this is sanitary, Huggest stated that the restaurant is committed to providing a healthy environment.  “Since we will be reusing some food, it will be necessary to take the temperature of every customer as they arrive.  Anyone with a fever will be denied entrance.  Also, our host staff will be taking a good look at every customer who is trying to come in, and only clean-looking people who look like they don’t have any diseases will be admitted.  Additionally, servers will go around the dining room and spray hefty doses of Lysol every ten minutes.  We want our customers to know we care about their good health.”

Finally, the restaurant’s popular frozen margaritas will no longer be available.  “It just wastes too much ice,” Huggest said.

Jenna McQuire, a long-time patron of O’Grady’s is not happy about this last change. “If I don’t get my Friday night mango margarita, I’m going to kill someone,” she ranted.

Customers are certainly in for some changes at the establishment.  “I think they’ll understand in the long run,” Huggest said.  “What good is a restaurant if we end up living in an post-apocalyptic world where people are beating each other with sticks trying to get at the last drops of water on earth.  Now you think about that.”





Technology Is Scary Unless You’re 4

1 02 2010

Saying that my four-year-old daughter does not come from a long line of technologically advanced people is an understatement.  I offer the following true stories as proof.

In the early nineties, I acquired my first personal home computer of my very own.  It was exciting, but I felt a little intimidated.  I know that I resisted going to any sites such as Playboy.com for the first few days.  At some point, however, it was time to find out what all the internet fuss was about.  Fate played a cruel trick on me that day with a strike of malicious, unfortunate timing.  Not more than ten seconds after going to such a site for the first time, I received my first on-screen message of “Your computer has performed an illegal operation and must shut down.”  I now know this has nothing to do with the government or decency laws.  At the time, however, I experienced momentary panic and even unplugged my computer.  I thought the police had been watching my online movements.  I realized a little later that I was just being an idiot.  Years later, I admitted this faux pas to a couple of friends and learned that I am not alone.  One friend’s father was once trying to play some sort of online game when he received this message.  He ended up hiding in his garage, thinking law enforcement was on the way to grab him.  This made me feel slightly better.

But back to my blood relatives.  My own mother and father were very afraid of technology.  One time, many years ago when I still lived at home, a twenty-something family member had come over from his apartment to use my parents’ hose and driveway to wash his car.  He left his beeper (yes, this was back in beeper/pager days) on my parents’ table.  It’s unfortunate that I was not home and that he was outside when the beeper went off.  My parents were alarmed and first did not realize from where the beeping was coming.  Once they located the thing, they of course had absolutely no idea what it was and grew nervous.  Long story short, they literally picked it up gently and set it in the middle of the back yard in case it was “going to explode or something.”  At some point later, my other family member came in and asked if my parents knew where his beeper was, thus solving the mystery.

Once I moved away from home, I had to return there any time the power had gone out because their VCR would reset in such a way that their cable tv was no longer coming in.  There was a better chance of my mother accidentally discovering a cure for cancer while making chicken and dumplings than there was of them being able to navigate the VCR menu and fix the settings.  I’m hoping that either Heaven is technology free or that you get some fantastic tutorial from St. Peter himself upon arrival or they may be floundering around up there.

I have an older sister who just recently added texting to her cell phone usage.  She sent me her first trial text (which took her about a day to “type out”), and I responded with what I thought was a very simple reply, just to let her know I received it.  I sent, “Texting rules!” back to her, as in “Texting is cool” or “Texting is good.”   I did not hear back from her but instead ran into her at a grocery store the next day.  She said, “Oh, it wouldn’t let me read the text you sent back. I think it thought there was something lewd in your text…it said something about breaking texting rules.”  It took me a second before I realized what had happened.  She thought my statement of “Texting rules!” was some sort of warning from her cell phone company police.  So, I explained it to her.  I want to make it clear that these are intelligent, sensible people otherwise.

So, you would think my daughter would be in trouble when it comes to technology.  However, she is not.  I think maybe God decided to add some technology savvy into the DNA for any children born after, say, 1985.  She seems to inherently understand devices.  She can easily navigate through my mp3 player to use album cover art to pick the song she wants.  I gave her a used digital camera to play with, and it took her no time at all to figure out how to switch between photos and recording moving video.  I’m telling you; I dread the day when she can read everything on the tv guide screen because I’m never again going to get to watch anything other than children’s animated shows once that happens.  I’m considering holding her back from kindergarten for just that very reason!  Then again, I should send her because you never know when my laptop could stop working, and maybe, just maybe, she’ll know how to fix it.





#2, and I’m Not Talking about Pencil Lead

30 03 2008

If you want to know anything about what my family is like, I don’t think you will be disappointed if you go here. My nephew’s story of having to use the bathroom in the woods is priceless, as is the cartoon drawing by another nephew. (Adult nephews, not kids). Warning: Don’t click on the link if you despise reading about poop. I’m sure no one who visits my blog falls into that category, but just in case…





The Incredible, Expirable Egg (How to Keep Neighbors From Having a Fight)

21 03 2008

There are two types of people in a marriage. Those who heed food expiration dates and those who disregard them.

One of the laws of the universe is that an expiration heeder (EH) always marries an expiration disregarder (ED…not to be confused with erectile dysfunction). EH’s and ED’s tend to argue about these dates. EH’s find themselves secretly throwing away food (and stuffing it way down in the bottom of the trash can so that their ED partner will not see it) in an effort to save their family from the pain and suffering of botulism. ED’s make a fuss about wasted food and money and talk about how expiration dates are not real and the food is still good.

My name is Matt, and I’m an EH. My wife is Allison, and she’s most definitely an ED. We have spirited discussions about our food perceptions and the potential lack of safety of various foods that have occupied our fridge for some length of time. Who is right?

There are variables that muddy the picture. Some of the time, food is clearly marked as having an expiration date. EH’s love this. It is clear and concise and tells you the exact moment an egg becomes fraught with danger. ED’s do not like this, as they wish not to be told by anyone when a food has reached the disgusting point. ED’s much prefer their food to say either, “Best before” or “Sell by” dates. This gives them the leeway they crave. ED’s believe that eggs, for example, are still good weeks after the “Best before” date. Apparently they are satisfied eating a egg that is “not at its best” but is still probably not going to kill you. EH’s wish that manufacturers would just grow some cojones and put a definitive date on the things. If you give an ED an food inch, they’ll take a mile.

Here’s when things really get fun. Sometimes, an egg carton with have only a date with no words. This, of course, is interpreted by EH’s as a strict “Expires by” date while ED’s believe this to clearly be a “Sell by” date. In these situations, separate vacations may be needed to help cool things off.

Well, I was faced with an interesting spin on this whole food thing last weekend when we were dog-sitting for our neighbors, who had gone out of town. On Saturday morning, my toddler made it clear to me that she would eat an egg for breakfast, and ONLY an egg. This was a small problem. We were out of eggs. After trying to tempt her with a variety of edibles that we actually had in the house, such as cereal, hash browns, waffles, pancakes, etc, she reiterated that she would not even consider eating anything other than an oval thing that comes out of a chicken.

The easy solution hit me! Our neighbors were gone, and we have a key to their house in case of emergency, such as needing an egg! Surely they had them. I wouldn’t have to make a quick trip to the store in my sweatpants (many of you know what happened the last time I tried that.)

I made my way over there, whistling a happy egg and toddler tune. In no time, I’d have a yummy scrambled egg whipped up, and no more would I have to listen to the early-morning screams of “I DON’T WANT A WAFFLE!! IT’S YUCKY!!!”

I entered their abandoned abode and went directly to the fridge. I opened it, and *GASP* I was immediately faced with a dilemma. They had two egg cartons. There were four eggs remaining in the first carton, and they had an expiration date (that’s right EXPIRATION, not BEST BEFORE, at least in my opinion) of a few days prior. Since I am an upstanding EH who cares about preventing food poisoning in my only child, I could not take one of those eggs. The problem, however, is that the second carton, with a beautiful expiration date well into the future, was full. If I took one from that carton while a few eggs remained in the top carton, it would be obvious at some point to my neighbors that one had been used, which could lead to a case of mistaken identity and a huge fight.

I know my neighbors well, and I am certain that one of them is an EH while the other is an ED. Once one of them realized that an egg had been used from the bottom carton, either the ED would be angry with the EH for not using one of the older, “still-good” eggs, OR the EH would be angry with the ED for being a hypocrite and taking one of the EH’s new eggs after endlessly preaching that expiration dates were for fools.

I like my neighbors, and I could not be the cause of marital discontent. I stood there, with the fridge door open (I can picture my parents in heaven admonishing me for letting all the cold air out.) What was I to do? I closed the fridge and decided I was going to have to mull this situation over for a bit. While thinking, I did what anyone would do. I walked about the house eating some of their potato chips, found some old love letters my neighbors had written to each other (they were buried at the bottom of one of their closets), plopped down on their couch, put my feet up on their coffee table, and started reading. At some point during an “I miss you so much” letter, the solution finally came to me! I would just take the whole, full egg carton home, go the grocery later that day, and give them a whole new egg carton before they ever got home. That way, my toddler would get her much-needed and completely safe egg. We would have all the eggs we might need that day. My neighbors would have an even newer dozen of eggs to go along with their decrepit, expired partial carton, and they could work out what to do with the 4 rotten eggs themselves!

Satisfied with my decision, I stuffed a few of the love letters in my pocket, brushed the chip crumbs off my shirt, grabbed the unspoiled dozen eggs, and headed home. They’ll never even know how I saved them from an argument. Man, I’m the best neighbor ever.

p.s. My kid didn’t want the egg once I had made it.





How to Scare People at Wal-Mart

7 03 2008

Those of you who come here often know that I am hobbling around with swollen legs and feet right now. Mostly, I’m stuck in the house, except for fun-filled trips to various radiology places for MRIs, CTs and other interesting initials. Basically, I’m able to make one little outing a day before feeling pretty wiped out. Yesterday, however, was a test-free day. Since a winter weather blast was soon to pummel nearly the entire Midwest, I made the decision to hit the Super Wal-Mart. We needed just a few items to tide us over, and this was the one store where I could get everything I needed in one place.

Due to my current condition and the fact I was going in the middle of the day on a work day for most people, I made the bad decision to venture out of the house in the following condition:

- I did not shave

- I made only a half-hearted attempt to fix my morning hair

- I wore my relatively out-of-style glasses instead of bothering with contacts.

- I wore a sweatshirt and sweatpants. The sweatshirt is decent. The sweatpants, however, are awful. They are very worn. They are baggy. They are the homeless-man, mentally-ill man, “Ma’am-can-you-spare-a-dollar”-man kind of sweatpants.

[My wife sketched it here.]

As if this was not bad enough, one of the few items I needed to buy was a package of small girl’s underwear. Our toddler is in the potty training phase, and we needed more.

As if this was not bad enough, you need to know that I take shopping seriously. I’m not a just-grab-what-you-need-and-throw-it-in-the-cart kind of guy. I’m married to a CPA so I compare prices, quality, etc. In addition to this, our toddler is a bit fussy about clothing. This was not a simple decision. I had to find primarily pink ones, or she might throw a fit about it. I had to weigh the options between tagless or not. I looked at the material, etc.

So, there I was, scary and all criminal-looking, in the middle of a normal work day, standing, unshaven, in the little girls’ underwear aisle, with a couple of packages in hand, studying.

After a minute or two, I began to notice mothers steering their children away from me. I decided I better just pick one before I had to have a conversation with a dreaded Wal-Mart security person. I wanted to shout, “It’s okay. I have a daughter and a job. I’m just sick.” However, I’m afraid it would have been only the last three words that would have stuck out.

I made a quicker-than-I-would-have-liked selection and got out of there.

Luckily, the other items I needed were not at all suspicious (milk, bread, etc.) Can you imagine if, by chance, we had also needed things like rope or binoculars? Yikes, I think I would have been detained.

I’ll just stay home today.





Police Putting the Kibosh on Lusty Teenagers in Thailand

16 02 2008

Thailand police planned to crack down on teen sex on Valentine’s Day. I wonder how that went? I’ve got a daughter so I’m not trying to be glib about teens having sex. However, I found the planned methods of the Thai police to curtail raging hormones a bit disturbing and humorous.

“We will send patrols to check out public parks, restaurants and shopping malls, which are the starting points for potential sexual activities that will be done at home or motels,” Bangkok police spokesman Suporn Pansuea said.

Obviously, my favorite part is that the Bangkok police spokesman has porn in his name. It’s not often that a legitimate story about police trying to stop sex has bang, kok, and porn all within four words of each other.

Once you get past that (which took my immature self a long time to do), you have to picture Valentine’s evening in Thailand. Two 17-year-olds are dressed up and out for an evening of spending their hard-earned McDonald’s paycheck at a semi-expensive restaurant (probably serving authentic Thai cuisine). The boy says something funny, and the girl giggles. Two police officers quickly descend upon the table and take the girl downtown for having a “come hither look.” The boy is forced to go home to his Playstation fantasies about Lara Croft or some other video game babe.

How about the police plan to leave all the lights on in public parks that night? I can smell a combined opossum/raccoon class action lawsuit about the detrimental effects of taking away park darkness. That had to make it tough for the little critters to ransack various garbage cans. The Thai police better hope the animals don’t have top legal representation. (Maybe PETA can step up.)

I can’t help but wonder what else the Thai police have in the works to reduce problem teen behavior. Here are five suggestions:

1. Detain any teenager who buys matches the week before New Year’s Eve. This should decrease the use of dangerous fireworks.

2. Outlaw phone use by teens on April Fool’s Day. This would, no doubt, put an end to those awful prank calls such as: Innocent answerer: “Hello?” Delinquent Caller, “Can you page Mike Hunt?”

3. Arrest any seamstresses who make prom dresses that are not extremely difficult to remove. Many a teen male may just give up if more prom dresses used combination locks instead of easy-open snaps and buttons.

4. Fire any police staff who have any of the following words in their names: “Porn, Smut, Dick, Johnson, Cooter, Harry, Bush or Tallywhacker” Can you imagine any amorous teen taking the following warning seriously? “The Thai police are dedicated to reducing dangerous teen sexual activity,” said official police spokeswoman, Smutlan Tallywhacker. (Oh, and it goes without saying that no officer should have the title of private.) They also should fire anyone with the name Wolfgang because I just don’t care for that name.

5. Put a close watch on anyone who writes blogs such as this one and immediately list them as an enemy of the state.

Good luck in your noble attempt, oh Thai police force. Keep us informed of your progress, Suporn!





How To Be a Terrible Emailer

11 02 2008

Just follow the simple steps below, and you’ll be well on your way to joining the ranks of awful emailers across the world! We’ve all experienced them. We’ve all been tempted to send a rage filled polite response saying, “Please don’t email me. I mean it.”

It’s very exciting when one gets their first email account with visions of love notes and fun pictures and messages from family and friends filling one’s inbox. It does not take long before one realizes that many other forms of email (and I’m not even talking about actual spam) begin trickling in and eventually clogging up space like nacho cheese in an artery.

Have you ever wanted to be the one sending these instead of receiving? Look no further. This is what you do.

1. Send A LOT (I mean try to hit all of your family, friends and coworkers at least once per week) of forwards of the following:

a) Adorable photos of kittens/and or stranger’s babies making funny faces.

b) Good luck chain emails that promise a check for $44 billion will come by mail in the next month as long as the recipient bothers sends it to all of their friends.

c) Scary warning emails that let the recipients know something extremely terrible will happen to them (like a flesh-eating disease) if they do not forward it to all of their friends. It’s nice to put a little personal note at the top saying, “I doubt this is true, but I sent it to you just in case. Keep the chain going! Oh, and how’s your family?”

2. Be EXTREMELY dramatic even in your relatively trivial emails by USING LOTS OF CAPS. Here is an example: “WOW, I can NOT BELIEVE my JERK of a boss told me I HAVE TO STAY a few minutes late TOMORROW. DO YOU THINK I SHOULD QUIT??” Everyone will understand how important this subject is to you, and they will be sure to respond in a serious and timely manner.

3. You can cuss a lot and even cuss at people as long you cutely misspell the curse word. All are sure to get a kick out of this. Plus, no one can really be angry at you for calling them an “azz.” (Related to this, if you are 18 or younger be sure you send emails that look like this: “hElLO PeoPLez. I’m DoiN’ GoOd. How ARe YouZ PeePz DoiN? ScHOol is MaD AweSoMe DiS YeAr.” Everyone really, really enjoys getting emails like this.)

4. When someone has sent you an email asking a question, wait at least two weeks before giving them a vague response. Even more importantly, make sure your email settings are such that your reply will be sent without the original email question visible. This will make for a good time when the person gets your late response that says, “Yeah, that sounds good.” They’ll be searching through their old sent messages trying to figure out just what sounds good. It’ll be just like a treasure hunt for them!

5. Send very short emails to your friends. Keep it simple. Put, “How’s it going?” This takes you only seconds while at the same time asking your friends to send a much longer, more interesting email back to you. Score! They won’t be able to just say, “Fine” because they’ll know that could sound as though they are angry or are being sarcastic. It’s a win-win for you.

6. Send emails about a funny video you saw on the internet. Talk about how hilarious it is and how the recipient would love it. Here’s the key: Don’t send the actual link. Just describe the video and say, “I think I saw it on Yahoo or something.” Everyone has spare time to go look for videos themselves so they will not mind. (I know for a fact this works as I just did it to a nephew this week.)

Bonus: Another way to be a very popular emailer is to have an email address, tell people the address, and then warn them that you “hardly ever” actually check it. This will put them in the position of wanting to email you and then second-guessing whether you’ll actually see it in the next month. This one seems to be popular with those who are 40 and older and leads to frivolity all around! They are the same ones who can’t figure out how to work their dvd players.

Happy emailing, everyone!








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