On a Cup and a Prayer

Jennifer did a lot of research before my birthday to find free or cheap things for us to do. She found a $5.00 off birthday deal for Jason’s Deli. Yesterday we decided to go and use the coupon.

Sunday afternoon at Jason’s Deli, Springfield, MO, is a very busy place. Not that we knew this before going there. The staff and management were friendly enough. But one of the first things I noticed was that the place smelled of mildew. As with most Jason’s Deli restaurants, this place was cramped up with many small, two person tables. That caused us a lot of stress. We like our privacy and our personal space. So that was the first problem, but we figured we could put up with it.

Once seated, however, people kept bumping into my chair as they walked by. Not because they were seated beside us. Not because we were next to the salad bar. Not because we were near the cash register, nor the drink machine. The problem was that instead of walking around the main aisles, people were cutting through by our table to get to the ice cream machine. That was the second problem.

I maneuvered some tables and chairs around to keep that from happening. It worked, for the most part. Still, one guy walked up and scooted a chair out of the way to keep from walking around it. Oh, and he hit my chair. This was to avoid walking a whole 10 feet out of his way – to reach an ice cream machine.

Watching the people hitting the ice cream machine was pretty entertaining, or it would have been if they wouldn’t have kept bumping into me, my chair, and our table. You see, the line at the ice cream machine would back up at times. Some people think it is cool to let their kids get their own ice cream. Newsflash, some people may think it is cool, but the majority of the people in the line behind them do not think it is cool. I for one did not think it was cool for strangers to have their butts in my face while waiting in line. I guess it could have been worse. Nobody farted, at least not audibly or olfactorily (is that a word?). And everyone was clothed sufficiently. Also, there were none of those nude stretch pants that I have seen in those People of Walmart videos.

But none of these problems caused me as much distress as what I saw at the drink machine.

Unlike our previous experiences at Jason’s Delis across the Southeast US, this Jason’s had Styrofoam and paper cups instead of the usual red or clear hard plastic cups. When asked, they responded that they ran out of cups (whatever that meant) and were waiting for the supply truck. I’m not sure if they have switched to paper cups since the last time I visited. If they have, then my story isn’t as impressive as I hoped it would be. If they haven’t switched to using paper cups exclusively, then why were they waiting on a truck for more cups?

Anyway, the most distressing part of our Jason’s Deli experience is what happened at that drink machine. I saw a woman, who was old enough to be my mother (or at least my aunt), as she approached the place where the cup dispensers were located. She pulled off a stack of small paper Jason’s Deli branded cups. They were coffee sized cups.

After pulling the cups out of the dispenser, the woman did something that I never expected. It was certainly something that I hoped never happened in polite company. What I saw the woman do was the stuff of bad dreams. I’m not sure if anyone else has ever even thought of this scenario. Well, actually, I do know at least one other person that is horrified at the prospect of someone doing exactly what I saw this woman doing.

The woman pulled the stack apart and then did the unthinkable. Well, unthinkable to anyone other than me and one other person in the world. But she did it anyway.

The woman actually ran her hand inside one of the cups! And I don’t mean that she ran her hand around the rim of the cup. This woman, for whatever reason, felt the need to put her hand all the way inside the cup and rotate the cup. Her fingers had to be at the bottom of the cup. What on Earth was she getting out of this? Her behavior wouldn’t have been that bad, if this were going to be the cup she used for her own drink. But it wasn’t the cup that she ended up using for her own drink. To make matters worse, the woman separated more of the cups and then ran her hand inside of another cup! I was so upset at this point that I became a little vocal about it. I don’t think she heard me, but I told Jennifer what was going on as it was happening.

The woman then finally selected a cup for her own use. It wasn’t one of the cups she ran her hand inside of, as far as I could tell.

If anything that had transpired so far was unthinkable or even mildly distressing, the thing that happened next ruined our dining experience. The woman actually put the cups that she had felt up back into the cup dispenser. Remember, she felt up the inside of numerous cups, and then she put the cups back into the dispenser.

What kind of person does this? Why would a person feel that it is ok to stick his or her bare hand into a cup, and then put it back into the dispenser? A person with a problem? I don’t know. I’ve watched a lot of people. It’s what I get paid to do. I have seen people do things that you wouldn’t believe. Ok, maybe you would. I’ve seen people pee themselves when caught stealing – puking isn’t uncommon either. Praying to their god of choice isn’t uncommon either (too bad they didn’t pray before they were caught). I’ve seen people steal using their kid’s stroller to hide the stuff. I’ve seen people use their kids to steal stuff so that the parent doesn’t have to suffer the consequences if caught. I have never seen anything like this, but I haven’t worked in the food industry either. I have seen people lick things that other people are going to touch, but not in something destined for the mouth.

Anyway, the woman and her male partner sat down near us. We thought it was funny that they prayed before eating. We didn’t think it was funny that they were praying in general. We found it funny because she had just exposed others to whatever contaminants may have been on her hands, but yet she was also praying (assumingly) to give thanks for the food she was about to consume. I hope that she was praying that the people who ended up drinking out of the cups that she may have contaminated did not suffer any ill effects. Hell, for all I know, she was praying that others may get infected with whatever she might have had on her hands.

This would have never happened on the homestead. On The Gray Homestead, one does not double dip in food destined for the consumption of others, and they sure don’t put body parts into cups from which others will be drinking.

I don’t have a very high opinion of the human race in general, and this incident didn’t make me rethink that opinion.

Here are some totally unrelated Jason’s Deli pics that I found. One announces a soon to be Jason’s Deli drive through. The other is a driver who just couldn’t wait for said drive through to be built. The third picture is an unrelated and completely gratuitous pic of Jennifer in all of her currently pregnant glory.

So, there we go – cups and prayer at Jason’s Deli on a Sunday afternoon.


The Monitor Lizard Who Wasn’t

I’m posting this a little late. I guess you could consider it a “Throwback Thursday” kind of post. I wrote it over a year ago, in the spring of 2013. I was recovering from an almost fatal battle with the flu. That battle gave me a chance to look at things from a different perspective. Life has changed more than just a little for us since I wrote it, but I think the message is still relevant. Here it goes:

Today I managed to get five mounds of cucumbers planted. I’m almost embarrassed to admit that I’m still planting. Still planting? That’s misleading. I’m not still planting; I’m really just getting started.

Not that it is entirely my fault. A mouse problem kept us from starting seeds early inside. A late spring didn’t help any, either. Rocky soil, terrain, and shady trees also contributed to the lateness of my planting. And I needed a fence up before planting to keep Boomer from running through the beds.

Add to all of that the normal day to day activity that it takes just to survive on the homestead. Even if there were 5 of me, I would still be planting.

After the cucumber seeds were in the ground, I had to work on getting more poles up for the green beans. Our garden is about as unconventional as we are. We have beds spread out in different places instead of just one big garden. This lets us work around issues caused by rocks, shade and soil. We are also better able to make use of the natural lay of the land to help naturally irrigate the plants.

When I made it to the green bean bed, I found a monitor lizard observing my approach. Well, it was a regular lizard, not his larger cousin, but he had appointed himself monitor of the green bean bed. Doesn’t that make him a monitor lizard? I mean, he was monitoring, after all.

It was a chore to go get my cell phone, which doubles as my camera. But when I returned, the lizard really hammed it up for me. He seemed as interested in me as I was in him.

This is quite the opposite of the green snake I walked up on yesterday. I almost stepped on him because he looked just like a green stick. He wanted nothing to do with me. He couldn’t move very fast due to the coolness of the morning, so he was stuck with me much longer than I assume he wanted to be. I helped him out by putting him on a sunny rock. He quickly warmed up and was off.

Little lizards are easily overlooked or ignored, probably at least as much or maybe more so than green snakes. However, both play important roles in keeping the insect population under control in a natural way. We like natural on our homestead.

I assume that this type of lizard eats insects. I can’t imagine them eating anything else. Judging from the number of lizards I see in a day, I have an army of reptilian warriors ready to help repel the insect army that is surely coming before harvest.

The little green bean monitor lizard was just one of many that I saw sunning themselves – and occasionally scurrying about – in today’s warm sun. There is no doubt that there were birds on the hunt for those same lizards. Maybe even some snakes would have made a meal of lizard had the opportunity presented itself. Not to mention Boomer, who will swallow anything he can get into his mouth. But the lizards didn’t make excuses. They had things to do and they did them when they needed to be done.

Today, the monitor lizard who wasn’t really a Monitor lizard did more for me than devour some insects – he schooled me in the subject of personal responsibility. He helped me realize that I am the only one to blame for not having my garden planted. No excuses. Just get it done. We admire personal responsibility on our homestead.

For all of the philosophical wisdom imparted by the little lizard, he didn’t make a sound.

On The Gray Homestead, we apparently have lizards who teach personal responsibility. We can’t wait to find out what the frogs have to teach us. There are at least 22,487 tadpoles in the pond; surely we can learn something from at least one of them when they crawl out of the water. We’ll keep you posted.



Parenting Decisions and Free Talking

Today I had the chance to listen to a little bit of radio while I did some work at the office. I find that I am much more productive when I have the opportunity to listen to something. It seems to keep me on track. I don’t drift as much. It’s like the part of my brain that is prone to wander listens to the music or the radio and allows the other part of my brain get the work done. Music is good; talk is better.

Today’s fare was Free Talk Live. I only had a chance to listen to very small part of the show, but I found it extremely relevant and thought provoking. Most daytime radio is nothing more than a Conservative Republican preaching gods, guns, and country. There are usually three other options, all of which are as equally bad. There’s the Liberal Democrat whining about the greedy, evil Conservative Republican and his religion. There’s also a number of actual preachers preaching gods, guns, and country. Then there are one or two sports channels.

So, basically, whatever you listen to is going to be a load of mindlessness. I need something to keep the noggin from wandering. I could listen to 6 ESPN type radio stations at the same time and my brain wouldn’t even notice. Listening to the other stuff just makes me angry, which isn’t very conducive to getting much work done.

Free Talk Live fits me much better than all of that other crap. The hosts of the show are about as Libertarian as it gets. They are borderline Anarchists. I think they may even be described as Minarchists. Anyway, there is more to Freetalk Live than just politics. Today’s episode included an indepth discussion about parenting. The main topic of discussion was spanking.

One of the hosts, Ian, has vowed to never have children, and has undergone the knife to ensure that it doesn’t happen. He is completely opposed to any type of violence, including spanking. Another of the hosts, Mark, is the father of one child. He says neither he nor his wife has ever spanked their child, but he doesn’t rule it out in the future.

Ian seems to have the moral high ground. Don’t hit anyone, including children. Mark seems to have the logical high ground – that one can never say never. When they mixed in the opinions of another host and that of some callers, the discussion became entertaining as well as thought provoking.

Mark ended up asking Ian to explain the difference between hitting a child and forcibly restraining it in a car seat. That really got the discussion heated up. I think Ian said something along the lines that hitting is violent, but restraining is used to keep the child from being harmed. Mark responded by saying that putting hands on a child to pick it up is just a very slow form of hitting.

When it was all said and done, they all agreed to disagree. However, before the conversation was over, Mark raised one last point. Anti spankers are quick to blame and chastise a parent for hitting a child, but they don’t seem to offer many viable alternatives. Ian suggested that if the parent had made better choices, then the parent would not have had to resort to hitting. That statement kind of made Mark’s point.

If you would like to listen to the discussion, click the icon on the left. You’ll have to skip well into the 2nd hour if you are only interested in this particular discussion. I would suggest listening to the whole episode, though, from the beginning.

I have always enjoyed discussing parenting styles, but the subject is even more important to me now that the arrival of our first child is imminent. We have about 40 days to decide on a parenting style, a name, and whether or not we will have him circumcised. It’s been a chore to decide on breastfeeding and cloth diapers. We already know that we will homeschool or unschool. We will raise him on a vegetarian diet, allowing him to decide what to eat once we feel that he is mature enough to make that decision for himself. We are already under pressure to indoctrinate him into religion, but we feel that his beliefs should be his own. These decisions have been hard enough. Choosing a parenting style could well decide the fate of our child.

We are always open to advice. Do you have children? What are your thoughts on parenting styles? Do adults have the right to hit children, whatever the reason? Why can I hit my own child, but not someone else’s? Why, as an adult, can I hit a child, but if I hit another adult, I can be put in jail? What are my alternatives to hitting? How does “time out” work if there is no way to enforce it? What if there is no time for a time out, or what if the child’s behavior is so egregious as to render “time out” impractical?

Really, we value the advice of others. It’s free, and it doesn’t take much effort. Let us know what has worked for you, or what has not worked for you. Let us know what you wish you had done, and what you wish you hadn’t done. We are a clean slate.

If you decide to listen to Free Talk Live, send them an email and let them know that you heard about them through thegrayhomestead.com. We won’t get any money out of it, but maybe they will give us a free plug!

Legalizing Boomer

Since we moved to Springfield, MO, Boomer is now illegal. We need to get him registered and buy him a muzzle.

Funds are pretty tight right now with our recent move and the baby on the way. We need about $100 to get him registered and buy the muzzle. We’ve started a campaign on crowdrise.com to raise money to legalize Boomer.

Anything over $100 will be used for educating people about pit bulls and to fight Springfield’s breed specific legislation (BSL). BSLs are laws and regulations that target a specific breed of animal. These regulations lump all animals displaying the physical characteristics of a breed into one group. Pit bulls are often the subject of BSL. Many people misunderstand what the pit bull is, and why some pit bulls are aggressive. We intend to help educate those people and to fight Springfield’s BSL.

Please donate if you can. We would like to get Boomer registered as soon as possible. Whether or not you donate, please share our campaign with your friends. Here’s the link to our campaign.