Back At The Cat

We’re back in the live music mode, at the Spotted Cat Music Club.  The music educators said these guys and their traditional jazz set the bar at new heights.   They were terrific.

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Live At The Spotted Cat

We can’t get enough of the live music in New Orleans.  Last night we hit multiple venues on Frenchman Street, which has just about the best collection of live music venues within a small geographical area that you’ll find anywhere.  We started at one of our favorites, the Spotted Cat Music Club, where this band deftly covered some classic selections from the Great American Songbook.

As always on Frenchman Street, the music options are diverse — from torch songs at the Spotted Cat to roots blues music at the Apple Barrel to a kick out the jams, move your feet horn band at Cafe Negril.  We enjoyed every one of them, and tonight we’ll be back for more.

Oysters At The Acme

We’re in New Orleans for a family gathering, and last night we hit the Acme Oyster House — a Big Easy institution.  Astonishingly, our group of seven was seated immediately, and we promptly ordered some pitchers of Abita beer, two dozen raw oysters, and the house specialty:  char-grilled oysters.

It’s not easy to describe how good the char-grilled oysters were, and how spectacularly they kick-started our weekend.  They’re topped with Parmesan cheese and are melts and crusty, all at the same time.  They were so good we ate four dozen of them, and probably could have polished off 100 more.

For dinner, Richard and I split the seafood platter, which was a mound of crunchy fish, crab, shrimp, French fries, and hush puppies.  It was the perfect food to consume before heading out for a little live music crawl.  Thus fortified, and with the lip-smacking goodness of the char-grilled oysters still freshly in mind, our hardy band ventured forth into the New Orleans night.

Flippy’s Takeover

Out in California there’s a “fast casual” restaurant called Caliburger.  As the name suggests, hamburgers are one of the staples on its menu.

448b016b00000578-4905576-image-a-2_1505977728222Caliburger’s Pasadena location has a new worker called Flippy.  Flippy is a quiet, methodical, highly reliable worker who doesn’t take up a lot of space, because Flippy is actually a robot.  Made by Miso Robotics, Flippy’s design is simple — it’s a robot arm, bolted to the floor in the restaurant’s kitchen next to the grille.  Flippy has a spatula where his hand should be, and he’s programmed to flip burgers and then put the cooked burgers onto buns.  A human assistant puts the meat down, Flippy does his burger-flipping thing, and then the human worker finishes dressing the burgers to fit the incoming orders.  The fact that Flippy has only a spatula hand make it easy to clean and maintain.

Flippy sells for $60,000.  Caliburger was one of the investors in the company that manufactures Flippy, and it got one of the first devices.  It has pre-ordered others, and it plans to install them in a number of its restaurants.  And, of course, Miso Robotics will look to sell Flippy to other burger-oriented restaurants.

Each burger-flipping robot will be performing a job that used to be done by a human being.  At about $60,000 a pop, Flippy seems expensive — until you figure that, with many states and cities raising the minimum wage, it wouldn’t take many months of operation before Flippy starts to pay for itself.  And Flippy is never going to miss work, or show up late, or complain about its hours, or become distracted by talking to a co-worker.  And Flippy is not going to need health insurance, or file a claim against his restaurant employer for violating a federal or state statute, or advocate for wage increases, either.  Until legislators start legislating about treatment of robots, Flippy is a lot easier for employers to deal with.

Welcome to the future.  And good luck finding that entry-level job that pays the ever-increasing minimum wage that is supposed to be an economic panacea and allow a fast food restaurant worker to support a family of four!

Dreaming A Big White House Lawn Mowing Dream

Recently President Trump got a letter from Frank Giaccio, a sixth-grader from Falls Church, Virginia.  The youngster said he admired President Trump’s background in business and that he was starting a business of his own:  mowing lawns for $8.  He had a proposition for the President — he’d come and mow the White House lawn for free.

white-house-lawn-mowed-02-pol-jpo-170915The President heard about his letter, and last Friday he gave the 11-year-old his wish.  Frank came to Washington, D.C. with his Dad, mowed the Rose Garden lawn, posed for pictures with the President, and said a few words to the media.  The President even sent out one of his famous tweets about Frank, thanking him for a lawn-mowing job well done.

We’ve heard similar stories before, about a young kid with a dream who dared to think big, and found out that sometimes thinking big gets rewarded with big results.  And in this country, we traditionally want and encourage our young people to dream big.  It’s a classic American feel-good story, right?

Not so fast!  No, some people in the Twitterverse pointed out that, by allowing a young kid to mow the lawn — even equipped, as young Frank was, with safety goggles, ear plugs, and gardening gloves, by the way — the President wasn’t sending “a great signal on child labor, minimum wage and occupational safety.”

Seriously?  Have we really reached the point in this country where a young boy who wants to start his own little business and make some money can’t mow a lawn under the supervision of his father without somebody invoking the great National Nanny State that has to control everything people do?  Have we really reached the point where we feel that mowing a lawn is just too dangerous a job for a kid to undertake?

I’m critical of most of what President Trump does, but I’m with him on this one.  Show our young people that they should dare to dream, even about something like mowing the White House lawn, because sometimes those dreams come true.  And stop the incessant hand-wringing and caterwauling about perceived risks everywhere that discourage kids from doing anything other than hunching over their video games in the living room.

Waiterspeak

I was a waiter once, back in the day.  I feel a certain kinship with waiters, and always give them the benefit of the doubt.

But when I’m by myself in a restaurant, please . . . just leave me alone to read my book and eat my dinner in peace.

Sure, it might just be the milk of human kindness– or it might be a desire for a tip.  But every time I eat alone these days, the wait staff annoyingly gloms on to me, asking what I’m reading and making irritating chitchat when I ‘m just trying to read and eat my dinner.  It makes the dinner intensely irksome.  I don’t want to hear what waiter  X has to say — I just want to read my book.

Here’s a tip for the wait staff.  Sometimes, at least, the solitary diner with a book isn’t lonely and craving your company.  They just want to read.  Leave us alone, already!

Neighborly Sentiments

Recently, signs like this one have been cropping up around German Village.  In these troubled times, they express a worthy and noble sentiment that I wholeheartedly endorse.  Yet I feel that the message is somehow . . . incomplete.

I’m perfectly happy to live next door to anybody, no matter where they are from, what they look like, where they work, their religion, national origin, or sexual orientation, or for that matter what they do with their lives.  If they’re willing to live next to the likes of me, I’m willing to live next to them.  My focus, instead, is much more narrow and admittedly self-interested.  I only want to know whether they will perform very basic property maintenance — mow the grass, weed from time to time, not put a crappy couch on the front porch, slap some paint where it’s needed — keep their dogs from barking and biting, and not be obnoxious, intrusive, or noisy at 3 a.m. when I’m trying to sleep..In my view, these are the acid tests of neighborliness — the straightforward, but crucial, measuring points on the good neighbor scale of behavior.

So I think I would amend the sign as follows:  No matter where you are from, so long as you keep your place up and keep the noise down we’re glad you’re our neighbors.