Thursday, November 10, 2011

Time on My Hands

Now that the extended tax return deadline (October 15) has passed, I have a few months during which everything is much less hectic at work. There is, of course, the holiday season to contend with, but since I discovered that a) the girls only really care about turkey, mashed potatoes, and pie at Thanksgiving, and b) the Internet makes Christmas shopping a breeze (Amazon Prime, yo), the holidays are nothing but fun. Of course, the holidays have always been predominantly fun for me. Family, food, and singing: what's not to love?

With an attitude like that, you might well suppose that no one is less qualified than I to take up the mantle of curmudgeon laureate so recently fallen from the shoulders of Andy Rooney. (To be honest, I haven't seen an episode of Sixty Minutes in years, and I had no idea that the dude was still alive until I'd heard that he'd died.) And you'd be right: I don't see the need for professional curmudgeons. And if I did perceive such a need, there are so many people more qualified than I to whinge about life's inconsequential insults.

Nevertheless, when I saw the above sign affixed to the new shopping carts at the supermarket closest to my house, I had a moment of curmudgeonliness. Or maybe it was just disbelief. I took a quick look at the wheels on my shopping cart, and I'm pretty sure that they wouldn't really lock if I were to push the cart beyond the yellow line in the parking lot. I have not, of course, tested this: why would I want to steal or even appear to be stealing a shopping cart? I wonder whether Andy Rooney would have been similarly skeptical. Regardless, a week or so later, I saw a few shopping carts that had been abandoned five or ten yards beyond the yellow line. I didn't bother to investigate, but I'm pretty sure a number of other people decided to test their suspicions about the so-called locking wheels, got beyond the yellow line, verified that the carts still rolled, and then abandoned the carts because, well, they didn't have any better idea than I what to do with them.

Ok, so you may have a fancy iPhone 4 or 4G or whatever the hell the latest version is, but did your kids give you an iPhone case with a llama in a yellow cab on the back? I didn't think so. I win.


Speaking time on my (or anyone else's) hands, I heard the other day that American GDP had rebounded to pre-financial crisis levels. Yet unemployment remains at 9%. Does it not occur to anyone that there's only so much work that the economy can support and that if some combination of technology and increases in worker productivity mean that it takes fewer workers to do that much work, there can't help but be fewer jobs? This doesn't seem all that complicated a notion to me. The obvious thing to do here is to have people who do work work fewer hours so that more people can work.

The slightly less obvious answers are to end the wars and tax the rich, but, truly, those answers are only slightly less obvious. I don't feel like getting into it right now, though.


So one of the ways I've been spending my temporarily somewhat more available free time is on the very popular iPhone (and, I'm sure, other smart phone/tablet/whatever) app Words with Friends. I don't like to brag, but most of the time I kick ass at this game.

I especially love it when I'm trailing coming into the last round, and I pull a humongous score out on the last word to take the game.

But I also like leading from start to finish, crushing the hopes and dreams of my opponents. Yeah, I'm a little bit ruthless when I play.

I win somewhere between 85 and 90 percent of my games I reckon (Hey, app developers, how about some better tracking of my record and statistics? I paid the $0.99 for the non-free version of this game, and I realize it's only a pittance, but the only thing I got was an absence of ads. Maybe come up with some features and more people will buy? It seems reasonable to me.), but I'm sure that much of my success is due to playing random opponents. Some of y'all must rule at this game: challenge me!