Friday, February 27, 2015

HGTV: Eat Your Heart Out!

We hereby nominate ourselves for the award of Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Reclamation or Salvage or Something. Essentially we're very proud of what we did with our old billiard table.

We purchased this table back in 2001 (from Craigslist no less). We loved the woodwork and although the manufacturer had long gone out of business, we were able to estimate the table was probably made in about 1917.

Alas, in 2009, we packed the table in crates as we made the first of several moves. Unfortunately, previous homes did not have the space or we did not have the inclination to unpack and set it up. (Plus it costs money to have it done right.) But finally, when we arrived at our current house last September, we picked out a room and decided to set it up.

The day before the installers arrived, I went around gathering up the miscellaneous pieces and parts and brought them to the new game room. I picked up the four rails and unwrapped them from their protective cloth. I tried to figure out how they pieced together and that's when I realized there should have been six rails. Uh-oh.

We looked all over the house and garage but could not find the missing rails. I figured we must have left them at our last house in the huge detached garage.

The next day, the billiard guy stopped by, and I told him our tale of woe. I figured somehow we could get replacement rails.

"Your best bet would be to contact the manufacturer," he said. "They could probably make replacements."

"Yeah they've been out of business for forty years."

"Hmmm, well, when you find them give me a call back," he said as he left.

We knew we would never find them or get them back. Now we were stuck with a good looking antique empty shell of a table. Then it hit me, with the walls and the sunken middle, it sure looks a lot like a ...

craps table!  That's right, we now have live Las Vegas action gaming in our game room!  We just put some plywood down, ordered the felt and St. Pauli Girl worked her magic to add padding on the walls of the table.

We used the slate as the bartop for our new bar.
At this point I would like to point out that this table is strictly used for entertainment purposes and all chips used are worth exactly zero dollars and cents.  The owners of this house and craps table neither approve or disapprove of gambling.  If you feel like gambling has devoured your soul, we urge you to seek help from problem gambling resources.

I can assure you that this house runs a very honest, fair game.
So Property Brothers, Rehab Addict, Waco Fixer Uppers, Hilary and David, you can all stick that in your peace pipe and smoke it ... Or wait, you can all get wheelbarrows of cash, I mean, worthless chips, come on over and let's throw some dice!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Should Have Sold It

My father-in-law once told the story of someone trying to dispose of some old furniture. The gentleman put the furniture in the front yard with a sign that said "free." After a week, no one had bothered to grab it so the man replaced the "free" sign with a "$20" sign instead. The furniture disappeared later that night.

Luckily in these modern times, hordes of people are constantly scanning Craigslist ads for free stuff. I am quite certain that I could post an ad for "free case of empty motor oil cans and a box full of used diapers. Act now, and I'll throw in a broken rake." And I would be contacted within the hour. Then I would get email messages for another week asking, "you still got those empty motor oil cans?"

Our most recent house had an old wooden free-standing swing in the front yard:

We didn't much care for it and would probably never use it. We put it on Craigslist, free to anyone who wanted to come haul it away. Sure enough, within an hour, a gentleman by the name of Enos said he would come get it.

A little while later, Enos sent a text asking for directions to our house. This didn't look promising as most people who are familiar with the internet and Craigslist are usually pretty familiar with how to find maps to addresses. An hour later, Enos still hadn't shown up while another dozen responses rolled in hoping to claim the swing. We texted Enos who said he would come the next day.

Since I work from home, I kept an eye out for Enos. At about 10:00, I saw a pickup truck in the driveway and a couple of people messing with the swing. I texted St. Pauli Girl that the swing had been removed so she could take the Craigslist ad down. A little while later, I glanced back outside. The truck and the bench seat from the swing were gone, but the swing frame still stood in the front yard.

"No big deal," I thought. "Probably didn't have enough room in the pickup. They're probably coming back for a second load or getting some tools to disassemble the frame."

But Enos never came back. A flurry of texts went back and forth between St. Pauli Girl and Enos:

St. Pauli Girl: Are you coming back for the rest of the swing?

Enos: No, it wouldn't fit in the truck.

St. Pauli Girl: But I was offering you a swing. You just took a seat.

Enos: We can just put some hooks in the ceiling and hang the seat from there."

St. Pauli Gir: Or... or... or you can take the frame, and you won't have to bother with hooks.

Enos: Oh, well we already sold it.

So I guess we get to test my theory that you really can get rid of anything on Craigslist with our new ad: "Free wooden frame. Would make a great swing. Just needs a seat."

And if that doesn't work, I'll take my father-in-law's advice and put a "$20 for sale" sign on it.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

A Tip for Great Service

I've recently noticed a lot of articles arguing that the U.S. should eliminate tipping in restaurants and replace it with service charges or higher prices. While I mostly agree with the premise, I think most of the arguments against tipping are wrong. For instance, one common argument is that tipping does not result in better service because you tip after the meal/service. Well if you really want good service:

Many years ago, an uncle told me about his trips to Las Vegas and how to live like a big shot. He would go sit at the hotel pool and order a drink. When the server brought the drink, he would hand her/him an extra $20 and say, "Make sure that glass is never empty." You know who got great service? My uncle.

In my youth, I spent one summer working at a convention center setting up rooms/stages/banquet halls/dance floors for various meetings, receptions and conventions. Despite the manual labor, most of the time we sat around in the big easy executive chairs while smoking and running away to hide when the bosses came around. One week, a large appliance convention rolled into town. We met the head guy for the convention, and he pointed out how he wanted the room set-up.

Just as I started to pretend we had another room to go set up, he pulled a wad of cash from his pocket and handed $20 each to my co-worker and myself. "I trust you'll be around," he said.

You know who got great service? That appliance convention.

We pretty much stayed by that guy's side all week and even helped unload two trucks full of dishwashers, washers and dryers, and stoves. By the end of the convention, we had pulled in an extra $100 each in tips which was $100 more in tips than I made all summer. (At this time I'd like to apologize to the family reunion that didn't have enough chairs that week. Seems like we were too busy with the appliance convention to help you out.)

As many long-time readers may recall, St. Pauli Girl and I owned a restaurant for six years. One day I studied our liquor invoices and wondered why we had ordered a bottle of Glenlivet 18 year old Scotch as we already had plenty including the 12 year old Glenlivet. I asked our bartender who said, "Oh yeah, someone called and requested it. Said he would come here more often if we had it. Don't worry, you're going to love this guy."

Later that night, this man (we'll call him Felix), came in with a rather loud, rowdy party of six. When they got to the table, he handed the hostess $20 then went to the bar, ordered a Glenlivet (18 year old) and tipped the bartender $20. You know who got great service? Felix and everyone he ever came in with.

Felix came in almost weekly always with four to eight people. When he walked in the door, the entire front of house staff would practically mob him to say hello, hug him and hopefully get a little cash. Felix knew everyone's name and anyone new on the staff made it a point to stop by his table and introduce himself/herself.

Felix happened to be a very picky eater. In fact, Felix didn't really order from the menu. He ordered one of our pasta dishes with sauce we used on another dish and "absolutely no cheese! If cheese is anywhere on the table, I'll go crazy and never come in here again."

You know who gets to special order their own entrees that aren't on the menu? Felix and anyone else who throws out cash like rice at a wedding.

I never really came to love Felix as our bartender had suggested I would. Probably because he didn't tip me although one of his friends did buy my Guinness necktie from me for $50. But he always made the place more lively, and the staff loved him.

So even if the U.S. does totally get rid of tipping someday, we'll never truly really get rid of tipping because some people just like living large. And it's no different than politics. You know who gets great service from an elected official? The people that gave the politician a lot of money before the politician won the election.