THE OTHER DAY A FRIEND MENTIONED TO ME that she had a decision to make. It seems that she has a jar that she has used to hold crackers and, for reasons unknown to me, she has evicted the crackers and now fills the jar with cat treats. The decision part of this is whether or not she should tell anyone. It seems that one member of the family is a regular customer of the Cracker Jar.
I don’t make up these things. I don’t have to.
OK, so I don’t really know anybody named Lucy, but we are home – back in lovely Terre Haute (That’s French for “You don’t have an accent anymore.”)
After about ten days in the deep south we have crawled our way back north, into the land of, if not milk and honey, then Half and Half and Sweet n’ Low.
SOMETIMES THERE IS A BENEFIT when the conversation takes a turn to something boring. This morning over coffee one of the Usual Suspects started to talk politics. My brain glazed over and my eyes began to wander. It was then that I saw a teeny-tiny mention of no import.
“McDonald’s opens restaurant in 120th country.”
Sonovagun. I never would have guessed it was that many.
While voices muffled by politics faded in the background I read on.
The newest nation to allow Ronald the Clown to cross their borders is – (Fanfare!)
I do have to admit that my knowledge of Kazakhstan is rather limited, but as a McDonald’s stockholder for the last 30+ years I feel obligated to learn what I can. So, here goes.
Kazakhstan is the largest landlocked nation on earth (ergo: not much of a navy).
It has a population of about 18 million souls, and now, 1 McDonald’s. The Capital city is Astana. The President of Kazakhstan is Nursultan Bazarbayev. He is generally considered to be an authoritarian ruler (read “dictator”). It is unknown at this time whether or not he likes the McRib Sandwich.
That’s it. That’s all of the relevant information about Kazakhstan I could dig up.
McDonald’s, with its new restaurant in Kazakhstan, has well over 36,000 sets of Golden Arches worldwide. They employ 1.9 million people. I would wager that most of them are either teenagers, senior citizens, or people who were just not Taco Bell material. I may be wrong, but my personal observation of the McD’s here in Terre Haute (That’s Kazakh for “Where’s my Shamrock Shake?”) tell me that I’m not wrong.
In my own personal experience I have been in McDonald’s all over this country and in Ireland. I have no intention of trying to visit all of them. There are people who try to do that, traveling all over the map in a quest to visit them all. These are people who will eventually work at McDonald’s. Who else would hire them after looking at a resume with a twenty year gap during which they ate breakfast, lunch and dinner next to Ronald the Clown.
In an effort to gather information for this snippet of reality I went to the McDonald’s Corporate website to learn more about their worldwide operations. Fascinating.
McDonald’s has blanketed Europe. There are more than 50 Mickey D’s in Ireland. While I’m there (leaving for Dublin in just a few days) I may visit one to satisfy my need for fries (chips), but I think we will eat at home most days.
The one glaring gap on the world map is on the continent of Africa.
There are about 23 McDonald’s in Egypt – more than I expected.
There are 200 stores in South Africa. That is way more than I would have guessed.
That’s it. Egypt on the north coast of the continent and South Africa at the other end. In between – nada.
If you live, let’s say in Burkina Faso (another landlocked country) and you have a craving for an order of Chicken McNuggets – you are SOL – Snack Out of Luck. You are going to have to hoof it across the Sahara to Egypt or, if you’re not in a hurry, pack a sandwich and head south, way south.
I admit that I have not delved deep into the subject to determine if there might be a Burger King or even a Subway (Sans Jarrod) in Burkina Faso. If there is – all I can say is “You deserve a break today. Boy, do you ever.”
WHO SAYS WE DON’T KNOW HOW TO BE SOCIABLE? We can be just as sociable as any other group of semi-civilized men who spend their Golden Years discussing the important issues of the day: Which was better – “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” or “The Bionic Woman?”
The “Usual Suspects” as I call them, or my “Play Group” as my wife, the lovely and sarcastically fine tuned, Dawn, calls them, hold our meetings in the Chapel at St. Arbucks almost every morning over coffee.
Laura gathered up the dishes as Davis toweled himself dry in the bathroom. She had showered first, standing under the steaming water for fifteen minutes, crying there so Davis wouldn’t see her fear manifested yet again.
“Davis, while you’re getting dressed I’m going to take the dishes back to Vivian.”
“Okay,” he called from the bathroom, “and thank her for me too.”
Vivian saw her coming across the parking lot and hit the door buzzer to let Laura into the small office.
THE WEATHER IS BEAUTIFUL RIGHT NOW and I am longing for Springtime. You know what they say – “Springtime when a young man’s fancy turns to thoughts of Chimichangas.” No, that’s not right, but then again…
Las Vegas, the Disneyland for Adults, is always striving to top itself. It all started out as a dusty desert gas station and has transformed itself into the tangible definition of “Will you look at that!” It is the only town where Elvis, Howard Hughes, and Liberace all felt at home. And they’re all dead.
Throwback Thursday from January 2016
I know a person with a graduate degree in finance from an Ivy League school. He can squeeze so much value out of a dime that it makes FDR get up and walk.
Now, I like saving money as much as the next guy – maybe a bit more even. I grew up poor with cardboard in my shoes to cover the holes. Even today, at an overripe old age, I still wince whenever I spend money. But, the fellow of whom I speak has elevated money-saving to an Art.
Throwback Thursday from January 2015
I SAW THE FOLLOWING news item yesterday and I thought that it might have repercussions beyond just traffic problems.
“ROCKY MOUNT, N.C. — Authorities closed all southbound lanes of Interstate 95 north of Rocky Mount early Wednesday after a tractor-trailer carrying ramen noodles wrecked near N.C. Highway 4.
No other information about the wreck has been released, but boxes of noodles were spilled over a larger portion of the highway.
The state Department of Transportation said the closure could last all morning. Lanes are expected to reopen by 3:30 p.m.”
I thought that when the word of this crash got out all hell would break loose.
My brain created its own little movie of college students all over the South dropping their textbooks and i-phones and rushing to the accident scene.
The first reel, even under the opening credits, would show speeding traffic along Interstate 95, and then the Semi in question loosing traction and slamming into a bridge abutment. Next comes a slo-mo following shot of thousands of those little cellophane packets of the Ramen Noodles spreading out across all lanes like little flavored migratory butterflies.
Music comes up: Paul McCartney and Wings – reunited to sing: “Food on the run.” I can almost smell an Oscar nomination coming for the soundtrack.
The next shot cuts to hordes of skinny underclassmen and women sensing the possibility of free meals, scattering across the landscape, heading toward the Interstate. It is meals just ripe for the picking. An overturned truckload of gold bullion (not bouillon cubes) would not draw such a response.
Those Ramen Noodles don’t grow on trees, y’know. One must strike while the saucepan is hot.
In my collegiate days (Pre-Ramen) we were limited to making grilled cheese sandwiches with a steam iron or instant soups that tasted like flavored sea water. If an accident like this had happened back in the late 1960s I would have been moving with all imprudent speed to scoop up as many free and easy meals as I could stuff into my backpack.
Most days I can look at news stories and just yawn. Things don’t vary all that much from Six O’clock News to Six O’clock News. If you want to get my attention you’ve got to do something original, or at least really dumb. Spreading several tons of Ramen Noodles across an Interstate highway gets my attention. It also makes me hungry.
Talk amongst yourselves for a while. I’m going out to get some lunch.
It happened again last night, and even though it wasn’t in the best of taste, it was funny.
After dinner, my wife, the lovely and ever tolerant, Dawn, said that we needed to go grocery shopping. I’m all in favor of that because, without it, I’d wither away to a mere shadow of myself. My doctors have suggested that my shadow could use a little whittling down.
IF I SAY THE WORD “FLARP” TO YOU WHAT COMES TO MIND? If you are over the age of 12 probably nothing – I hope. Unfortunately, it does carry a very specific meaning to me and I can blame several children and one adult for that.
“Flarp” is a product that is gloriously described as “Noise Putty.”
OK, WE HAVE CHRISTMAS OUT OF THE WAY. The eggnog has been thankfully disposed of until next year. Christmas carols are over until Thanksgiving – except on the Hallmark Channel. New Year’s Day kind of takes care of itself with football, aspirin and drawn shades. I guess our next societal obligation is the making of New Year’s Resolutions. I suggest doing that before going out on New Year’s Eve. Doing it after that carries the danger of it being a product of desperation, shame, and physical pain.
I LIVE VERY CLOSE TO MY favorite gym. It is only about a five minute walk from my home, but, of course, I don’t walk there – I drive. It has all the latest equipment and a highly- trained staff that can help design for you a really healthy and vigorous workout program. You can also get top notch diet and nutritional planning advice there as well.
I don’t care about any of that crap.
It’s my favorite gym because it is right next door to a Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream store. I can just imagine myself doing a really healthy cardio workout in the gym and then zipping next door for some hand-packed peanut butter and chocolate ice cream. I’m never going to do that, but I can imagine it. I’m so glad that the two places are so close. Talk about your city planning! I should send a “Thank You” card to the zoning board. They got something right for a change.
I really do love going to that gym – really, I do. I just stand outside, with my ice cream cone and watch the folks inside sweating and grunting. Every once in a while someone comes outside and joins me. I think they realize that I’m having a better time than they are.
One time some yutz came out from the gym and started to berate me for my dissipated lifestyle. That was his phrase – “dissipated lifestyle.” – And how he was a much better person than me. I licked my cone and nodded, but didn’t say anything. That really fried his Twinkies. He flexed his muscles and got right up in my face and said that when we both get to 50 years of age I’ll probably have already dropped dead and he’ll still be healthy. I told him my guess was that he’d stroke out on his Stairmaster long before reaching 50, and that, anyway, I’m already way past 50 years old and “you can lick my Rocky Road.”
There is a chap out there in the Golden State, a lawyer himself, who is suing Krispy Kreme Donuts. It seems that he became royally upset with the donut chain when he learned that his Chocolate Iced Raspberry Donut did not have any real Raspberries in it.
Oh, the humanity!
Wait until he learns that The Golden Arches are not really made of gold. He may just faint away.