Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Ednas Radio

Shamelessly stolen from CodeProject (and probably the poster over there stole it from elsewhere).

Dear Thorsby School.

God bless you for the beautiful radio I won at your recent senior citizens luncheon. I am 84 years old and live at the Sunnybrook Assisted Home for the Aged. My family have all passed away and I am alone so thank you for your kindness to a forgotten old lady. My roommate is 95 and has always had her own radio, but she would never let me listen to hers, even when she was napping.

The other day her radio fell off the nightstand and broke into a lot of pieces. It was awful and she was in tears.

She asked if she could listen to mine but I told her to feck off.

Thank you for that opportunity.



Monday, April 20, 2009

7 minutes of fame

if that much!

You might remember this post[^] a couple of weeks ago.

The journalist concerned contacted me and we had a bit of a talk on the phone about my misguided attempts to locate Adams Ribs. I note that he seemed to know a lot about me before we even started! I have, it seems, left a fairly easy trail to follow on the internet. Good thing I have no known enemies in the USA.

Given that he seemed to know a lot about me before we even spoke I took the precaution of searching the internet for info about him! Turned up bugger all but then again, it was only a half hearted attempt at best. Life is, after all, too short to spend ferreting out the home address of someone you've never heard of.

Thus to the phone call aforementioned. I'd taken the precaution of rolling a couple of smokes before returning the call and smoked em as I walked back and forth chatting on the phone. As an aside, I've never mastered the art of staying put when on a mobile phone. Possibly because I hate being tethered to a land line.

A week or so later a sub editor from the Chicago Sun Times called; doubtless to reassure himself that I wasn't an invention of the journalist. My story (and his) confirmed, they went to press. You can find it here[^]. Umm, for the record, I don't recall saying that 'I took it as gospel that the restaurant really existed' but who knows; perhaps I did. *shrug*

By amazing coincidence that episode of M*A*S*H ran on cable at midnight on the day of publication; I've recorded it for old times sake. I might even DVDify it!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

I have no pointy objects

I had occasion today to visit the local Social Security Administration. Call it an exercise in making sure that, when I retire, a decade or so hence, my entire 2008 income is factored into their calculations. Should make for an extra 3 bucks a month!

This was my third visit to the SSA. The first was the day after I arrived in the US, to show them the immigrant stamp in my passport and get my social security number and card, with the all important *lack* of an endorsement, the one that says 'not valid for work authorisation'.

The second visit was to show them my newly minted citizenship certificate and get moved off the non-citizens list.

I have to say that, as government departments go, they're not bad. Reasonably efficient for a walk in and the waiting times aren't astronomical. They compare very well with any of the motor vehicle departments I've had to deal with, here or in Australia.

I don't think I've spent more than half an hour on any occasion with them.

As one walks in through the door one runs the gauntlet of the ubiquitous uniformed fat guy who fulfills the role of security. Pretty friendly so far as it goes, one explains the purpose of ones visit and he touches a few areas on a computer screen and out pops a ticket. Then you go sit and read whilst waiting for them to call your number.

Except that first he asks a few other questions. You understand that there's no metal detector; no rectangular frame to walk through. Nope, just the questions. 'Do you have a cellphone?'. The answer is affirmative. 'Does it have a camera?'. The answer is negative. The guy in front answered yes to both and was told to turn it off. Since mine doesn't have a camera I was permitted to leave it switched on. I imagine they don't want you photographing the staff.

And then they ask 'do you have any sharp objects?'. Now I want any NSA or FBI or CIA wonks finding this via google to understand that this is said in the spirit of sarcasm, as an illustration of a point! I have every intention of sticking this blade in my pocket into the neck of the person behind the counter, but, being asked that question, I realise the futility of my plan and run away! 'No'. 'Ok', he says, 'take a seat and wait till they call your number'.

So just what is the point of even asking the question, if you're not going to verify the answer *before* allowing the suspect into the waiting room? A legal out? 'Yes, your honour, we did ask the fiend if he had a sharp object'.


Friday, April 10, 2009

I need to learn to speak English!

at least according to one deli worker.

This happened a few weeks ago and I didn't feel much like writing about it at the time, but on further reflection I think it's worth relating, if only so I can come off as a complete bastard!

I've related, a few times, the things that can happen when trying to communicate here. I speak, fairly obviously, with a strong Australian accent and, given that I was 48 when I moved to the US, I think it unlikely my accent is going to change. Partly that's stubbornness. I speak the way I speak because that's part of who and what I am, US citizenship notwithstanding.

I avoid certain words that are 'dangerous' due the possibility of misconstruction; I don't say can't for example, always using the full form of cannot, even if it's grammatically awkward.

I'll even, when necessary, pronounce the last letter of the alphabet as zee instead of zed.

So a few weeks ago it was time for the Sunday afternoon purchase of deli products for the forthcoming weeks lunch. I fronted up at the counter, grabbed the ticket[^] and awaited my turn. When it came I asked for 'a pound of Boars Head roast beef, sliced thick'. Got the usual non-comprehension. So I tried again. same non-comprehension. So far, par for the course. I don't really blame em either; I certainly wouldn't want to be standing for 8 hours dealing with the people who buy stuff at the deli counter, dickering over the thickness of beef and cheese. It's not as if the conversation we hold as part of the purchase is scintillating stuff.

I usually have to repeat myself thrice. *shrug*.

At the end of the third repeat, faced with the same non-comprehension, I'm wondering what I can do to make this easier? I have considered printing up the request and handing it over on a piece of paper, feigning muteness.

At the end of the fourth repeat the person behind the counter suggested that I 'should learn to speak english'.

Now I probably should have just ignored it. Nonetheless, this was rudeness beyond the acceptable. I've spoken English all my life and know no other natural language.

I asked for, and spoke with, the manager. He did a much better job of coping with my accent and offered to waive payment for my purchases. Nope, that's not the point and not the reason I'm complaining. This is America, the country so proud of it's melting pot immigration background. I completely understand that pride; we Australians are also proud of our immigration mix.

I insisted on paying for my lunch material. I fear he thought I was planning on suing but not a bit of it. Sue the company because of one ignorant person?

I've been back there once or twice and strangely, never seen that person behind the deli counter again. If they lost their job then I'm sorry about it, but I'm not going to apologise (much) for being offended.

Meanwhile, I've learned to appreciate it when the black girl, or the hispanic guy at the deli serves me; they actually listen and I never have to repeat myself more than once!