Taco Bell to Mike Andersons with "What I Did This Week" In-between

March 11, 2007

One day recently at work, Tyler went to the restroom and found that someone had printed out articles from the Sports Illustrated web site, read them on the can, and left them in there. That has nothing to do with the long and eventful week that I'm about to share, but this is a rather long post. So those of you at work might want to go ahead and print this one out. Save it for "private concentration time." And if you do that, please shoot me a quick email to let me know. I would be so proud. And one more thing -- be sure to leave it for the next guy.

Let's start with my friend Shelly in New Jersey. I need to reach out to her other friends and see if an intervention of some sort is necessary, because it's obvious to me that either the boredom of school and work or the enduring northern winter is taking its toll. I fear that she's going to lose it all in the not-too-distant future.

There are strong signs of boredom. Exhibit #1 -- the email links I get to oddball news every day. Here's a sampling of her comments, along with the links. To be honest, her comments give you all the good stuff, and I find that it's often not worth following the links.

Mom taught her 2 kids to fake retardation A woman admitted Monday that she coached her two children to fake retardation starting when they were 4 and 8 years old so she could collect Social Security benefits on their behalf. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17360272/from/ET/ When fake bull testicles are outlawed ... Fake bull testicles and other anatomically explicit vehicle decorations would be banned from Maryland roads under a bill pending in the state legislature. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17302498/from/ET/

I had just turned off the projector after completing a presentation when this popped into my Inbox with a subject line featuring "bull testicles." I have to admit that this would have been hilarious -- and mucho embarrassing -- if the message had come up while I was in view of the whole room.

Wouldn't it be better to just slug hubby? A Chinese businessman has advertised on the Internet for a stand-in mistress to be beaten up by his wife to vent her anger and to protect his real mistress, Chinese media reported on Monday. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17342230/from/ET/ What is with the Thai people and elephants? Man claims record for most squat thrusts New Yorker Ashrita Furman looked around for a record he could break, and settled on doing the most squat thrusts in one minute. Then he decided on a place _ the back of an elephant in northern Thailand. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17283620/from/ET/

I had always thought that the comments were generated automatically by msnbc when she clicked some sort of "send this story to a friend" type of button. But I'm doubtful that the link authors would put, "What is with the Thai people and elephants?" in their message. That just reads in Shelly's voice to me. And also, it didn't originally have the question mark. So perhaps she's even summarizing all of these articles for my benefit.

Some are barely newsworthy:

I guess this is the equivalence of saying "Kangaroo spotted in Louisiana" 1st Beaver spotted in NYC in 200 years - Yahoo! News http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070223/ap_on_sc/bronx_beaver

The jist of this one is that some beavers moved in to some river or stream in the Bronx for the first time in a zillion years. Clearly the beaver isn't as hardy as their Louisiana cousins, the nutria, who might be seen in any urban polluted ditch in the state.

Speaking of big giant rodents, one day, I was finishing lunch at my desk. There's only one place where I can grab lunch and get back in a 10-minute span: the Kentucky Fried Taco Bell. I had just finished a bean burrito and spicy chicken burrito when an email popped in about the rat infestation at Taco Bell's in New York.

I wadded up my burrito wrapper, hit the trash can, and replied with something similar to, "Fuck you. I just finished my Taco Bell lunch. There's no way I'm reading this article."

The cover story about Taco Bell rats that I received in the mail.

I failed to estimate Shelly's love of being a pain in the ass, and I failed to factor in her boredom. A couple of days later, I got a letter in the mail. I opened it up, and it's a small newspaper cutout with the article about the rats at Taco Bell. But Shelly is hard-core, and that wasn't the end of it. A week later, a letter arrived with a full page cover photo and a long writeup about the rats. And I got another email about "Taco Bell's new menu items":

Gordita Rata Grilled Rat Burrito Ratchos Bell Grande Rati Melt Rat Droppings and Cheese

As far as I know, Shelly is still planning to come to Louisiana next weekend for St. Patrick's day. I have to think that it will do her a lot of good.

If you either live in mid-Baton Rouge or have been paying careful attention to my posts over the years, March is truly the most wonderful time of the year. And it all culminates this week, for a whole lot of reasons. First and foremost, it's hard for me not to put up a boring post every single day that reads like this:

"Another wonderful day in Baton Rouge. The high was 68, but the bright warm sun made it seem 8 degrees warmer. I drove around in the Jeep with the top down, and was dazzled by all of the explosion of color, flowers suddenly everywhere that was barren just a few weeks ago."

You add to the weather that the brackets for the NCAA tournament come out today, that Thursday and Friday people's brackets get crushed by 32 games in a college basketball frenzy, that you sneak in the Louisiana Derby horse race, and best of all, the St. Patrick's day in Baton Rouge that must certainly be more fun than those in the big cold cities (which actually have an Irish population). There's only one thing that I know for sure that I'm going to do in the year 2010: get really drunk and boil crawfish on the day of the Baton Rouge St. Patrick's Day parade. That's just another thing that makes it perfect here right now: hot, salty, succulent boiled crawfish. Mmmmmmmm. And while I'm thinking about food, we should be starting to have fresh strawberries available too.

Looking at my blog archive page, this week is featured prominently every March. It really is my favorite week of the year, including Christmas. In fact, I think we should decorate and count down days, just like we do for Christmas. We would put up some sort of plant, hang lights, and decorate with little shamrocks, leprechauns, basketballs, and beer kegs.

At this point, you will be surprised to learn that I'm going to miss it all. Miss out on my chance to fill out a bracket, miss the games on Thursday and Friday, miss the parade, miss the crawfish, and miss the green beer. I even got a kick-ass new shirt to wear on parade day this year that will have to gather dust in the closet until 2008. Instead, I will be traveling. I'm not inclined to explain my absence, but it will become clear soon enough.

I don't know whether it's excitement of my upcoming trip, concern about work (where we have more custom software to deliver by April 2 than we normally have in six months), all of personal paperwork that suddenly became urgent this week (Note to Barf: I have a will for the first time, so there's no need to plot the murder of my entire family), or just the natural sleeplessness that I'm blessed/cursed with several times a year, but I've been awake and alert between 4:00 and 4:30 most days this week. Most mornings, I went ahead and went to work. I can get an amazing amount done in the three or four hours before other people show up and the phone calls start coming in.

You know what's even more messed up? That even goes for Saturday and Sunday. I started writing this at around 5:30 or 6:00 on Sunday morning.

The drawback of my early awakening is that I'm wiped out by lunch time. By then, I've pretty much worked a full 8-hour day, and the fatigue is high. So several days this week, I drove to a park very close to the office, parked in either a warm patch of sunshine or in the shade of an oak tree (depending on the temperature), crawled into the back seat of the topless Jeep, and had a power nap. It's unbelievable how refreshing this is, and I vow to continue my naps until the weather gets too hot.

Some time during all of this, I realized that we had tickets for a Billy Joel concert in New Orleans that night. I had gotten to work at 5:00 on Tuesday, and I didn't get a nap that day, but I was still alert and energetic when the concert started at 8:00. I don't really have much to say about the show. It was good -- even better than I expected it to be. He played every hit that I can think of other than "Uptown Girl," and he sprinkled in some traditional New Orleans related snippits here and there. We stayed out in the quarter until 1:00, and then Mrs. theskinnyonbenny and I called it a night. I slept until the monumentally late hour of 6:20, drove back to Baton Rouge, and made it to work not too long after 8:00. Did I mention that I got a whopping 3.5% raise this year?

One night this week, I met my mom, her sister Helen, and Helen's friend Cathy for dinner at Mike Anderson's. There the mentality of older visitors to Baton Rouge that they must eat at Mike Anderson's. I even asked them after we finished our meal, "If they passed a law that said that old people from out of town were no longer allowed to eat at Mike Anderson's, how many minutes would it take them to go out of business?"

The reason that it is old out of towners is that they recall Mike Anderson's from its glory days. It was probably the best seafood place in Baton Rouge for a 20-year span, which probably makes it one of the best restaurants anywhere during that stretch. But then Mike opened a couple of other locations. A fire in the kitchen closed the restaurant for a little while several years ago. It just never recovered its magic. And that goes for both food and service. For the last few years, I would have generously graded it as "above-average."

Meanwhile, other restaurants in town opened, and a lot of them are very good. So Mike Anderson's quit being a destination for the locals.

I will admit that it was better this week than it's been in a while. I would go ahead and grade them as "good" in both food and service. Still not back among the elite restaurants around here, but they've taken a step in the right direction.