People Who Walk Up or Down a Moving Escalator

escalator 2Living in Singapore, I’m told I have to stand to the left on the escalator so that the people who want to walk up or down can get by me on the right.  In Madrid, I had to stand on the right, so the people could get by me on the left.  Does anyone see the issue with these instructions?!?  Why are people walking at all on a MOVING STAIRCASE?  There’s a reason the escalator moves; so people don’t have to.  That’s why the escalator moves!!

I’ve heard all the hype about exercise and how little changes can mean a lot.  I understand that, and the people that choose to walk up the stairs are making those little changes.  Notice I said UP THE STAIRS!!  Why do you think the stairs are always next to the escalator??  So that people who choose to walk up or down can do so on the stairs, not on the escalator.  I’m tired of having to squeeze myself over to the side with my packages in hand so some idiot can get by me on the escalator.  Really!?!?!  Where are you going that you can’t wait the 15 seconds it takes for the escalator to reach the top?!?!  What’s wrong with you?!?!

Everyone over to the left so one lone man can walk up...ridiculous!

Everyone over to the left so one lone man can walk up…ridiculous!

 I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been on an escalator with bags, only to have some moron walk past me and knock into my bags.  Often, they are food bags containing things like eggs, and I get nervous that their carelessness has broken them.  More often than not, when I reach the bottom or the top of the escalator, that same “climber” is right in front of me again.  They have not gotten anywhere faster by annoying everyone around them and walking up or down.  They have ended up in the same place as I have, and in the almost the same amount of time.  Unless they’re running for a train or bus, there’s no reason to walk up or down the escalator.  USE THE STAIRS!!  That’s what they’re there for!  Stop annoying the people who know how to use the escalator in the manor for which it was invented!

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Ikea’s Rolled Up Packaging for Their Pillows

ikea 2I recently took a trip to Ikea for some household items.  I love Ikea, but not for the showroom.  I love it for the Marketplace, where you can find almost anything for the home.  I found a potato masher at Ikea!!  I couldn’t find a potato masher anywhere in Singapore…but Ikea had it!  I love Ikea…even their food market (the lingenberry jam and papperkokers are awesome)!

ikea 1I needed new pillows (in addition to the potato masher).  Mine have finally gotten too flat and unfluffy for me (they lasted a while, considering I got them in China) and I can’t sleep on flat, unfluffy pillows.  I have had just about enough of folding them over so I can get some head support at night (https://michaelinmadrid.wordpress.com/2014/03/29/pillows-that-lose-their-fluff/).  When looking through the Ikea Marketplace, I found some excellent pillows that weren’t too expensive, and were just fluffy enough for me.  They were packaged rather weirdly, rolled up and in a plastic bag, but that couldn’t hurt the pillow, could it?

It could!!  When I brought them home and opened them up, the pillows didn’t flatten out fully, and, even when I put pillow cases on them, they have a concave shape.  I tried fluffing them up, punching them, even squeezing them between my legs, but nothing works to make them flat.  Ok…so I have curved pillows, they’re soft anyway.  Well…the softness is not as great as it was in the store.  The packaging of the pillows has also segmented the fiber fill so that it’s not uniformly soft.  The fiber inside has broken into fluffy clumps, and the pillow has hills and valleys when it’s laid on the bed.  The pillow in the store was perfectly flat and wonderfully, uniformly fluffy.  Not at home!

ikea 3I know the reason for the packaging is to save space and to make shipping of the pillows easier and cheaper.  I do live in Singapore (probably as far from Sweden as you can get), so I’m all for making the shipping cheaper and, in turn, making the pillows cheaper.  But, maybe this time Ikea dropped the ball.  They are known for being a less expensive, kind of “warehouse-y” option for household buyers, and I have never had a problem with anything I have purchased from them before (my potato masher works great).  In fact, I have moved with a lot of my Ikea stuff around the world.  However, this time, I have to say that Ikea disappointed me.  What was initially praise and admiration for their ingenuity in packaging design has turned into disappointment in a lackluster product caused by that same packaging.  Maybe, in this case, Ikea should just package their pillows like everyone else.  It would keep them fluffy and flat, and make the consumer happy!

 

Chris Kattan

kattan 1

One of the movie channels here has been showing previews for Corky Romano, a stupid comedy from the early century starring Chris Kattan as a reluctant member of a mafia family.  I get nauseated every time the preview comes on, and have to quickly change the channel.  Chris Kattan is my least favorite actor (if you can call him that).  He’s right up there with Jimmy Fallon, Johnny Depp and Charo.  His unfunny, pathetic turn in anything he does leads me to think that this is just another comedy actor who got his start because of his daddy.

Chris Kattan’s father is a former member of the Groundlings comedy troupe from Los Angeles.  Funnily enough, this is the same group Kattan got his start with when he was younger.  Kattan’s father acted in several television and film productions, his most memorable as Larrie Plum in Reno 911.  His dad is fairly funny, albeit predictable and an over-actor.  Kattan seems to have inherited the overacting from his father, but none of his marginal funniness!  Chris Kattan is just not funny!

kattan 2I have seen Corky Romano, and I have seen Night at the Roxbury (where he teamed up with another marginally funny comedian, Will Ferrell).  They were both horrible travesties.  Chris Kattan ruined those pictures (not that there was much there to ruin)!  He has lousy timing, horrible line inflection and he does physical comedy that just isn’t laughable.  Wait, change that, it IS laughable, but because of how bad it is.

How Kattan remained on Saturday Night Live for as long as he did is totally beyond me.  The program is usually very funny and cutting-edge.  Many of the comedians from that program have gone on to do much bigger and better things.  The fact that Chris Kattan was on that program for 5 seasons is a testament to how bad it got in the 1990s.  Some of the episodes in the 1990s have the lowest ratings of any of the episodes since the show began.  Chris Kattan is only one of the comedic duds they employed then (Will Ferrell was another).

kattan 3Kattan’s main recurring character on Saturday Night Live was a male exotic dancer named Mango.  He played Mango with a Hispanic accent, and very effeminately (although protesting that he was not gay).  Mango has to go down in history as one of the worst recurring Saturday Night Live characters ever (along with the Copy Machine Guy and Phillip, the “hyper hypo”).  Again, Kattan’s overacting ruined what might have been a funny premise.  In a character like Mango, you kind of have to overact, but Kattan even messed THAT up!

Chris Kattan’s turn in The Middle, recently, created some of the worst scenes of the show.  He overacts and tries so hard to steal the show, but all he stole were the minutes of my time that were wasted watching him on screen.  Some more of my life wasted by watching horrible acting and badly performed dialogue!  I love Patricia Heaton and I think the show is funny and quirky, but Chris Kattan was the worst thing about it.  Luckily, the producers realized that too, and summarily dismissed his character, and him from the show (and the town of Orson breathes a sigh of relief).

Personal problems aside (his arrests for drunken disorderly conduct and drugs), Chris Kattan does not deserve to be in any spotlight.  He ruined some very good characters and brought a program further down by being unfunny and a horrible over-actor.  How he keeps finding work is beyond my ken of understanding.  Luckily, not much has been heard from him since his boot from The Middle, maybe people have just had enough of him!  We can all hope….

 

Rummage Sales That aren’t Really a Bargain

rummage 1As a self-professed pack-rat, I love rummage sales.  I like to look for that “diamond in the rough” item that I can flip on EBay the next day for 500% profit.  Unfortunately, the corner-of-the-basement, dust-collecting Faberge Egg is very hard to come by, but I still like to check out rummage sales to look.  Maybe there’s something there that’s old and cool!

I also like the prices at rummage sales.  Often you can get something cool for less than $1, or at least less than $5.  It’s the same reason I like to go to swap meets and troll through the back rooms of antique stores…to find that unbelievable bargain!  Recently, I found a used book sale at the local mall.  They had hundreds and hundreds of used book for sale, and the money raised would go to some charity or another.  I thought I would check it out, give something to charity and buy some books (it beats dumping ice water over my head).

When I began to sift through the books, I noticed that the discount wasn’t that much of a discount; most of the books were only a few dollars below their original list price.  Many of the books were in pristine condition, and could have been worth that little of a discount, but many were old and tattered (as a book should be), and should have been substantially marked down.

rummage 2I began to rummage (as one does at a rummage sale) and found a couple of books I had been interested in reading when they were released, but never got around to it.  When I got to the counter, the total came out to $9.50.  For 2 paperback books?!?!  I realize that when they were new, they both would have cost me about $20, but this is a rummage sale, and the books were donated, for goodness sake.  There should be more of a mark down!

This has happened to me at many rummage sales and flea markets.  The owner of the object sometimes puts a value on it that includes the owner’s personal feelings about the object.  This concept, I can understand, but the concept of not marking down material that was donated and does not hold any type of sentimental value whatsoever I do not understand.  I can comprehend the fact that they want to maximize the profits so more money goes to charity, but they are going to be left with a lot of old, tattered books if they keep those prices high.

I will still frequent rummage sales, flea markets, swap meets and antique shops.  I like “the search!”  I like to look at all the old stuff and think about a different time.  A lot of these things hold history and memories, and I enjoy that feeling of holding something in my hand that’s actually older than the hand holding it.  I think this is also why I enjoy watching television programs like Antiques Roadshow, Pickers, Storage Wars, Baggage Battles, and Cash in the Attic.  I like the discounts at rummage sales and flea markets as well, but those kinds of finds are getting fewer and further between.  The time of the miniscule discount and the non-negotiable price is here.  I don’t like it!

Copy-Cat Cronuts

cronut 1

The cronut was invented by Dominique Ansel in New York in 2012.  It is only sold at Dominique Ansel Bakery, on Spring Street.  This glorious hybrid of a croissant and a donut is quite possibly the most deliciously decadent pastry I have every had (and I’m a pastry connoisseur).  I had a cronut for the first time in 2013, when I visited New York City on one of my holidays to see a friend.  We went down to Dominique Ansel’s and bought a couple of them.  They were a little steep, at $5 a piece, but I soon realized that they were worth it!  There is only 1 flavor each month, and when I was there the flavor was lemon maple.  Now, you may not think lemon and maple go together…but they really do…amazingly.  These things are so good that, when they were first introduced, people would buy a dozen and sell them for as much as $100 each, because they would sell out very quickly.  Luckily that madness has ended, and I was able to get mine for the $5 price!

First, a little primer.  The cronut is a layered butter pastry dough (like a croissant) that is fried in grapeseed oil, and then filled and finished like a donut.  They are everything a donut could be and more…because they’re also everything a croissant could be.  These things are amazing.  Here is the website for Dominique Ansel Bakery: http://dominiqueansel.com/cronut-101/, it describes the cronut in all its glory. 

cronut 2As with any glorious creation, the fakes ensued, and now it seems like everyone in town has got some kind of cronut.  It got so bad that Dominique Ansel had to file a trademark suit to keep the name “cronut” for herself and her bakery.  That didn’t stop the “doughssants” and “croughnuts” from coming about.  After a while, people just gave up on the ridiculous portmanteaus and started calling them “croissant donuts” or “donut croissants.”  I have tried some of the imposters, and they are not cronuts!!  They are cheaply-made, less flavorful lesser products that don’t deserve to even be in the same category as the cronut.  I guess it’s a testament to her ingenuity that so many chefs and large companies have now copied her idea.  Even my favorite place, Starbucks, has their own version.  It’s horrible (and you know how difficult it is for me to say that about ANYTHING at Starbucks).

cronut 3When doing the research for this post, I came upon dozens of do-it-yourself cronut recipes for the home bakers.  I guess some people might be such great bakers that they can mimic the taste of the original cronut at home, but those people are very few and far between.  The cronut is a marvel of ingenuity and taste.  People need to allow it to remain that.  Flooding the market with cheap knock-offs is only going to diminish the original product into obscurity and cause people to associate it with those tasteless “faux-nuts!”  I’m happy that Dominique Ansel trademarked her name, so we know that anything called a “cronut” is actually HER cronut and not some mass produced, frozen for distribution hockey puck!  I would love to have one right now, but I’ll have to wait until I’m in New York in a few weeks.  It’s worth the wait!

Having a Black Cat

IMG_20140302_101931My cat’s name is Squeaky.  I adopted her from a woman I met through the American Club who adopts out young strays.  Most of them she finds at the SPCA and tries to find homes for them through that organization.  When I met her, I told her I was looking to adopt a cat, and that I wanted a black cat.  The only reason I wanted a black cat is because I read an article several years ago that said, because of superstitions, black cats usually go unadopted in shelters.  People are too “spooked” by black cats to adopt them, so they live their lives in shelters or, worse, get put to sleep.  It must be true because I’ve had a few people ask me if it’s strange to have a black cat, and has anything bad happened to me.

IMG-20140216-WA0000She told me of this black cat that she found on a road in Singapore, who was very friendly.  The cat had even been spayed by the SPCA (you know because they clip one of their ears after the surgery so they don’t catch the same cat again) and released back into the streets.  She told me the cat was so friendly that it had come and sat in her lap, and that it was very sweet.  She was also about 8 months old.  A couple of days later, I had an adorable black cat with a clipped ear and a stubby tail (a genetic defect that many Singaporean cats have).  Her name is Squeaky because she could not meow properly when she first came home, she made noises that sound like small squeaks.

IMG-20140401-WA0002I love having her around, and she really is a sweet cat.  My problem with having a black cat is that all black cats blend in when it’s dark.  Her fur is the color of night, so it’s difficult to make her out late at night when I get up to use the bathroom or go get some water, or when I roll over in the bed and she’s laying there next to me.  I have kicked her, stepped on her, tripped over her, rolled over on top of her, closed the door on her and trapped her in the bathroom.  It’s to the point now where, at night, I am afraid to move for fear of crushing her, and I wait until the absolute last possible moment before getting up to use the bathroom because I think I’m going to step on her.  She has a collar with a bell on it so that I will know where she is, and I can be more aware of her in the dark, but that doesn’t help when she’s not moving and just laying there sleeping.  The collar is pink so I can see it better, but that doesn’t work!

IMG-20140331-WA0000I love Squeaky, and I love having her around.  It’s nice to have someone to talk to when there’s nobody around (yes, I’m THAT person).  She doesn’t answer back, except to squeak once or twice, but it’s nice to have her.  I just wish she hadn’t invaded my nights so horribly.  I know it’s not her fault, but I’m afraid to get out of bed, or, when I do get out of bed and I hear that little jingle, I’m afraid of tripping over her or kicking her.  Last night I locked her in the bathroom because, of course, she has to follow me in there every time I go, and I turned off the light and didn’t know where she was.  I finally got up 10 minutes later, after hearing the incessant squeaking from the bathroom, and found her locked in.  It’s very annoying having to watch my step or shuffle across the floor because I can’t see my cat at night.  I wish there were a better way to make her visible…I’ve considered spray paint…

People Who Arrive Late for a Movie or Show

cavaliaThis weekend I went a great show here in Singapore.  It’s called Cavalia, and it’s billed as “Cirque du Soleil with Horses.”  That’s exactly what it was!  It was awesome; acrobatic, funny, amazing….a great time.  Of course, as with all shows of this type, there was a slew of people who obviously didn’t get the memo that the show began at 7:30PM.  As soon as the lights went off, that familiar glow of the mobile phones came out with people looking for their seats.  These people walked up and down the stairs and shone their mobile lights in everyone’s eyes as they fumbled with their tickets and tumbled into their seats.

This is not the only time I have been in a situation like this.  Virtually every time I go to a movie or a play like Cavalia I am “treated” to about 15 minutes of fumbling and shining lights as the chronically late people inconvenience everyone around them to get their seats AFTER the show has started.  These are invariably the people who have seats in the middle of the row, and have to make everyone in the seats ahead of them stand so they can get to their seats.  This, thus, causes several rows of people behind them to lose their view of the film or show and ruins it for a lot of people.  Usually in a movie, there are important plot points that happen in the first few minutes, and missing them would cause a lot of confusion later.  As it was, last night, I missed the first group of horses running onto the stage because the people a couple of rows in front of us had to stand for some latecomers to get to their seats.  Ridiculous!!

When people come late to a movie, not only do they use the light from their mobile phones to find their seats, but they usually whisper loudly to each other, or take a few minutes to silence their phone (continuing the annoying light until they’re finished).  Or, they’re not sure where to sit, so they argue (in loud whispers, mind you) over where they should sit while their mobile phones are still lighting their way!  If they’re meeting someone, they whisper loudly to find that person, or shine their phones down each row to see if their friend is there.  These people are rude and don’t think about other people at all.  If they did, then they would have made certain that they arrived to the film or show on time!

I never stand for these people.  I make them step over my legs and have to work harder than usual to get to their seat in the middle of the row.  These people don’t deserve my courtesy because they are not courteous themselves.  They disturb everyone’s show by rudely arriving late and expecting everyone to take time from their enjoyment to ensure they get to their seats AFTER the show has begun.  These people don’t deserve our concern over their seats.  The only reason any of us deals with their crap is because we want it to end as quickly as possible so no more of the show or film is ruined for us.  There should be a rule…if the house lights are off, you don’t get in!  It’s as simple as that!  You are late, you can’t see the show…maybe you’ll be on time next time!