Saturday Endurance at IKEA or The Running of the Ikitarod

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It seemed the most apt picture for this post. © Copyright Bill Boaden and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

The Boffin and I spent the morning at IKEA. A Saturday morning. This is something we rarely do for good reasons. He has more patience for the IKEA Saturday crowd than I do. Me? I call some of them IKIDIOTS, an isolated group of shoppers who ruin it for the rest of us.

For people who are not familiar with IKEA, it is a furniture/home store originally started in Sweden but now based in the Netherlands. Its business model is based upon lower cost, modern design furniture that you put together. (My in-laws called this suppository furniture because you put it up yourself. Fantastic!)

IKEA has grown massively worldwide and is a staple in Europe and in U.S. metro areas. So, the reason IKEA is especially crowded on the weekends in the States is because that is when those who live further afield have the time to get to the stores. I understand that, and I make allowances for people who do not know how IKEA works normally.

But some people are just…um…yeah.

Saturday, Sunday, and holidays are when the IKIDIOTS commence the race that I call The Ikitarod.

Like any endurance race, The Ikitarod has several phases.

  1. Revolving Door Obstruction – The IKIDIOTS always manage to hamper the sensors of the huge revolving door at the entrance causing it to stop. Then they just look around and not actually move their bodies in order to deactivate the sensors. The door actually does not move again until about 5-10 minutes later when the IKIDIOTS figure out they are the cause of the problem.
  2. Atrium Gazing – Once they get past the door, they stare all around at the huge open atrium while standing right at the foot of the escalator, once again, blocking any forward movement. At this miraculous moment is when they realize that they need the pencil, blue product slip, and yellow bag. Then they will go retrieve the items.  Take advantage of your chance to get up the escalator because the IKIDIOTS will return to the same spot to stare at the dining table and six chairs on the floor display.
  3. Sign Search – Upon finishing the ride up the escalator, the IKIDIOTS proceed to look for signs directing them where to go next even though there are arrows on the floor guiding the path. Looking for these signs requires them to stand directly in the middle of thoroughfares, including right at the top of the escalator.
  4. Cart Procurement – Next on the agenda for the IKIDIOT is cart procurement because why block pathways with just their bodies when they can use a portable hunk of metal in an awkward way too? And they only need to push around a pack of napkins, a bag of tealights, their yellow bag, and a dustpan apparently. But don’t worry that is not the end of their purchases because…
  5. Restaurant Stop – The IKIDOTS must stop in the restaurant, having left their carts on the periphery to take up the cause of customer obstruction. They grab the dining tray carts and bash them into your ass when all you want to do is order some meatballs in peace. Then they leave the dining carts around at random while they go off and accidentally grab other people’s shopping carts because everyone else’s has napkins, tealights, yellow bags, and dustpans.
  6. Shopping – Shopping for IKIDIOTS usually means a lot of wandering, trying to figure out tags that give complicated product locations like AISLE and BIN, and wondering what those funny names for those coffee tables actually mean. These activities are very engrossing because…
  7. Sprog Search – Their kids get bored and wander off. They usually end up in the Children’s section on the spinning egg chair.
  8. Large Furniture Pick-Up – Now the fun part comes when the IKIDIOTS either exchange the shopping carts for the flat carts or try to handle both kinds when it comes to picking up the large furniture. They forget how physics really works. At least they forgot how two different kinds of matter cannot occupy the same space, and some things are just too large and dense for certain spaces which leads to…
  9. Customer Injury – They will hit someone as they get that BILLY bookcase off the shelf and/or…
  10. Property Destruction – They will knock over the plants in the nursery section as they look for one last thing even though they have a full HEMNES entertainment center in tow.
  11. Checkout Annoyance – Being too cheap to buy the blue shopping bags, the IKIDIOTS get all butthurt, complain, and try to sneak out of the store with the yellow ones.
  12. Loading– Then they leave the store and come to the realization that the sofa they purchased cannot be adhered to the top of their Volkswagen Passat with twine and Blu-Tack. Then they hog a loading space for an inordinately long time while other people are needing to get in to take care of their purchases.

The cinnamon rolls can wait for mid-week shopping, my friends.

Merry Christmas and the “Magical Macy’s Christmas Tree”

This post is courtesy of Cher from her blog, The Chicago Files.  I thought it was the perfect way to wish everyone a Merry Christmas because this tree is one of the best things about My Fair City during the holidays.

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macys-christmas-tree-2016-2Well isn’t this absolutely spectacular! I took this photo today while strolling around Macy’s Department store in downtown Chicago.  I absolutely love this tree! It is breathtaking and reminds me of a winter wonderland! How beautiful! I had to share it with you of course!

Source: Magical Macy’s Christmas Tree!

Skyline Chili…Finally

Lunchtime in West Harrison, Indiana provided an opportunity to check off a box on my national culinary list.  Yes, folks, it was a stop at Skyline Chili.

Of course, The Boffin and The Sprog were most of the way toward the restaurant while I was faffing around with this picture of Horace.  To my pleasant surprise, the manager came out and told me, “Go on!  Get in there!”.  How could I say no?

So, what is special about Skyline Chili?  Skyline Chili is a Cincinnati institution.  Nicholas Lambrinides, a Greek immigrant, opened the first Skyline Chili in 1949 and named the restaurant after the view of the city’s skyline.

And it is not just about the tastiness of the chili.  Of course, you can get a bowl of chili, chili dogs, and chili fries.  But, the grotesquely American dish on offer is a 3-way which is chili and a megaton of cheese on top of spaghetti.  The Sprog and I chose that option after the drug pushers gave us free samples.

The Boffin got the 4-way which means you get the above with the addition of either beans or onions.  He chose beans.  He only mildly hates us. If he truly hated us, he would have gotten the 5-way with beans and onions.

The oyster crackers seen above are a Skyline tradition.  They actually are good at counterbalancing the heat.

This meal will probably kill me, but I will die happy.

Some of the Reasons Why I am on Twitter

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Mazel Tov, Mr. Dylan!

I procured the latest edition of the Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago’s news magazine at our temple when I picked up The Sprog from Hebrew school. Of course, this tidbit of information is not the most timely, but I love how its caption was basically my reaction almost verbatim.

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I wonder if any of his relatives gave him a good quality pen for his endeavors.

So Dame Maggie Needs to Eat.

Apparently, Dame Maggie Smith admitted on The Graham Norton Show that she occasionally shops at Waitrose in Storrington in West Sussex.  It is to be expected as she lives close by.

Now I really don’t understand how this became news considering that, while Waitrose isn’t the Harrods Food Hall, it is a pretty solidly middle class supermarket in which to shop.  I could see Dame Maggie picking up her provisions there very easily.

What would be newsworthy would be if she announced that she were a Tesco Clubcard member.  Even better if someone caught a snapshot of her in Tesco loading her trolley full of Carling Black Label.

No, I want a photo of her with the beer in the trolley while in the snacks section loading up on crisps too.

No, even better, she should be busting open a multipack of Walker’s Cheese & Onion crisps and getting started on the binge while filling the rest of her cart with Monster Munch and other essential sundries.

Hang on, one more detail, she should be dressed as The Dowager while she is stuffing her face with cheese and onion crisps in the middle of the snack aisle at Tesco with a trolley full of Carling Black Label and filling the remain space with Monster Munch and other snackables.

Because she is Dame Maggie, and she doesn’t give a shit.

Image courtesy of The Associated Press
Image courtesy of The Associated Press

Yeah, that would be cool.

The Shipping Forecast to American Ears

Not that The Victory is going anywhere, but it is a ship, and it is cool.  "Victory Portsmouth um 1900" by Unknown - http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsc.08801. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons
Not that The Victory is going anywhere, but it is a ship, and it is cool. “Victory Portsmouth um 1900” by Unknown – http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsc.08801. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons

Audio media is still a critical part of British culture, and being an island nation, the BBC provides a valuable service by broadcasting the weather report at sea.  Produced by the Met Office on behalf of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, the Shipping Forecast has become a staple on the British communication since the telegraph days.

But that does not mean I understood a word of it when I heard it on Radio 4.  Stephen Fry created an accurate representation of what most outsiders hear when encountering this mystical broadcast.

Was this part of the citizenship test?  Was this code left over from the war, and the powers that be just kept it around for tradition’s sake?    Was this an elaborate game of Mornington Crescent that the U.K. was in on just to baffle foreigners?

But I developed a certain affection for the Shipping Forecast even though I had no clue about it.  It was very hypnotic and soothing.  It started with its theme “Sailing By” by The Perry-Gardner Orchestra, and the mood is set.  Then you had the reader say these cryptic words with a rhythm that was almost nautical and definitely soporific.  Insomnia was never an issue after the Shipping Forecast.

I ended up looking it up in a book in the Newmarket library because I was too embarrassed to ask anyone.  I shouldn’t have been.  After all, how is an American supposed to know how to decode the Shipping Forecast?

I am going to try to give a general summary of how it works.  When broken down, it isn’t that bad.  As you can see by the Stephen Fry graphic above, the water regions are divided and named.  There are also inshore waters that are named and coastal weather stations that are numbered, and they are mentioned in the broadcast too.

Then the readers give the wind direction (south, southeast, etc.) and whether it is veering (changing clockwise) or backing (changing counterclockwise).  You will hear a number from zero to 12 in there.  That’s from the Beaufort scale and that measures wind speed with zero being calm to 12 being hurricane force.  The announcers usually give the weather forecast and then the visibility (good, moderate, poor, fog).  Under winter conditions, they will also grade the icing (light, moderate, severe).  Oh, one more thing, they also keep track of pressure areas in millibars, so you will hear things like “Low Humber, 960, deepening rapidly.”

Back in 1993, the BBC aired the Shipping Forecast on TV and radio, and somebody was kind enough to post it on YouTube.  For some, this could be meditative.  For others, this could be pencil-in-the-throat boredom.  If you are awake after this video, you are one very strong soul.

It is probably easier to just go to the Met Office website to get a visual, but where is the challenge and fun in that?