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Thursday, August 31, 2017

The Early Days of Technology

The Early Days of Technology
In the early days of computers in the work place, the IT people were Gods who worked miracles.
IT people used this and were reticent to bestow any of their God-like abilities to the lowly “Users.” 
I worked in an order and execution department of a large brokerage firm.  Clerks filed orders in what we called “flip-flop racks” and then matched executions manually to those orders.  The matched reports were then sent to teletype operators to send the reports back to the order entering office.
In the early 70’s this process was automated.  Orders were filed on a mainframe computer and executions automatically matched with the report.  The execution information was sent to the office by the computer.  Clerks had to research and resolve messages that did not match for one of several reasons from an application on a terminal at their desk (we called them CRT’s, for cathode ray tubes.)
If a message needed to be sent to an office, it was written on a message pad and dropped off to a key punch operator to be wired to the office from their own CRT.
If an account needed to be researched or a trade adjusted, there was a separate “Dumb” terminal (CRT) for that process.
We had dumb terminals on each desk for researching trade issues.
We had a few dumb terminals in a separate area that were used for account research and trade adjustments.
We had dumb terminals used by teletype operators to send messages to the offices.
There was often a wait to use the account research terminals.  There were often errors made because teletype operators misread messages.
Our department operated this way for years.  One day I was watching an IT person trying to solve a problem.  He was on a dumb terminal which we used to resolve mismatches.  I saw him clear the screen and type a message to send to someone in his department.
“WAIT…What did you just do?”
“You can send a message from the order match terminal?”
“Sure, it all connects to the mainframe, you just clear the screen and then send the message.”
“So, we can send a message to an office ourselves?  We don’t have to write it out and then give it to a teletype operator to send?”
“Sure, their terminal is no different than yours.”
“WHAT? Could we also use all the terminals to do account research?”
“Sure, just clear the screen and type “PC” and the account research application will pop-up.”
“So, we don’t have to stand in line waiting for an account research terminal?”
“We can send our own messages?”
“We can do everything we need to do at our own dumb terminal?”
“Why have we been standing in line waiting for a terminal, and needing a special operator to send messages when we can do it all from the terminal at our desk?”
“I don’t know, no one ever asked.”
It took me several weeks to convince those in my department that they could perform all operations from one terminal by clearing the screen and entering the correct application code.  Some people still refused to send their own messages and they continued to use the separate terminals for account research.
Change is difficult.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Frozen Pretzels

Frozen Pretzels
I may have complained on this blog from time to time that Mrs. C has trouble throwing things away.  Don’t even get me started on the storage unit I pay for every month that holds crap that neither she or her children care to sort through and determine if any of it has any value.  It is just one little flaw that you need to overlook in a relationship, and I know the good stuff by far outweighs this one flaw.

Still, occasionally this flaw is the aluminum foil on my filling.  I just cannot convince Mrs. C that space has value. 
The latest battleground? 
The fridge.
We bought a new fridge a few years ago and I thought my fridge problems would be over.  Problems?  Yes, problems, like finding stuff.  Mrs. C packs the fridge so precisely in order to not toss anything that still has value, that it is almost impossible to find anything.  I have to empty the fridge to find a frozen steak and sometimes it is so old I am afraid to cook it.  Placing everything back is to rebuild a Jenga Puzzle that is beyond my pay scale.
When we purchased a new fridge, we moved the old one to the garage and I thought there would now be plenty of room.
When you have someone who is reticent to toss anything, space is quickly taken up.  If I built a warehouse, it would soon be jammed full of crap.
What brought on this anti-Mrs. C-hoarding rant? 
Frozen Pretzels.
For the past several months whenever I have delved into our packed kitchen fridge I have had to move a large package of frozen pretzels.  Who freezes pretzels?  OK, maybe for a week or so, when you expect to need them for some occasion, but for six months or more?
“Kar…can I toss these Got-dang pretzels, they take up half a shelf…why do we have them?”
“Don’t you dare, I like them.”
“But they are over six months old, when are you going to want them?”
“I’ll eat them, don’t you touch them.”
“If you want pretzels, I can run out to the store and get some before these things will thaw.”
“Don’t touch them!”
“They only cost a buck fifty for crap sake and they are always in my way.”
Hmmm, I put up with her friggin storage unit that cost me every month, do you think she would toss me aside if I trashed these pretzels and did not tell her?
Neither do I.
I guess I’ll find out in a month or two when she decides she wants a pretzel and can’t find any in the freezer.
Don’t say anything…OK.

Monday, August 28, 2017



A headline I spotted the other day reminded me of an incident many years ago.

"Wine tastes better if you think it's expensive, says study"

Years ago, my good friend, Frog, visited the cranky home and brought with him a bottle of Merlot.  This bottle was a gift he had recently received and he was assured it was a very good wine, as a matter of fact it was a $30 bottle…this when most wines we drank were less than $5 per bottle, and a $1.50 bottle of Boone’s Farms Finest was more than acceptable.

It was with much anticipation that we sampled this $30 bottle of fine wine.

“Mmmm, that is really good…I think.

“It is different, a little dry perhaps.”

“Yes, that’s it, very dry and with a hint of fruity acidity.”

“Do you want another glass?”

“Oh no, I think I’ll just savor this, that is what you do with a fine wine.”

The truth is, the wine had gone bad.  It was basically vinegar.  That is what can happen to wine, especially older expensive wines.  If they are not maintained correctly they go bad. The reason you get a small test taste at a restaurant is to make sure you have not been served wine that has gone bad.

We never even finished that bottle.  Four people at dinner and the bottle of wine went unfinished…that alone will tell you it had gone bad.

Many years ago, we were not very sophisticated, so we spent a whole meal discussing the wonderful qualities of this fine bottle of wine which tasted like vinegar.

We do tend to judge things by the price. 

I now have my own gauge for the quality of a wine.

1.    Taste

2.    Price

3.    How do I feel in the morning?

When you ask me to rate a wine I cannot do it until the next morning.

If I find a bottle of wine that tastes very good, is under $12 a bottle and I do not have a headache in the morning it is an excellent bottle of wine.

A bottle that costs over $20, darn well better taste great and have me still feeling good in the morning.

A bottle that costs over $30, better taste fantastic and I should be able to get up the next morning and play a round of golf under 90.

If the wine taste bad, it is bad at any price.

If the wine gives you a headache in the morning, it is bad at any price.

Any wine that costs over $40 a bottle simply cannot taste good enough to justify that price.

And that is the cranky wine index…your welcome.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Ray’s Mini-Golf

Ray’s Mini-Golf

 This cranky re-run is from August 2012

In the summer, during my college years, I worked with my friend Charlie Widmer for his cousin.  We installed underground sprinklers.  Charlie’s cousin paid us the handsome sum of $1.35 an hour.  I think the reason he paid so much was that the law said he had to at least pay minimum wage.

To supplement my income from this lovely job, I tended the till at Ray’s Mini-Golf Friday and Saturday nights.  Ray’s Mini-Golf was a subsidiary of Ray’s Gun Shop and Range which was right next door.  The Mini-Golf course was in North Plainfield, New Jersey, on Rt. 22 East, directly across from Bowcraft Amusement Park (for you Central Jerseyites.)

I worked from 6 to 11 collecting the 50 cents it cost for each round of golf.  It was a pretty boring job except for the occasional flirting with groups of pretty young girls.  It was surprising how the pretty young girls never seemed too attracted to a loser clerk behind the counter of a mini-golf course.

The most fun I had was when a family finished up their round.  I would watch for the littlest child in a group to fire the 18th hole shot.  If you hit the clown’s mouth you won a free game.  When the child’s attempt inevitable failed and fell harmlessly into the gutter, I would trip the free game bell.  Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding.  The little one would jump up and down all excited.  Dad would just look all confused, and mom would applaud with great enthusiasm.

As I stamped the card for a free game the dad would invariably confess, “It never did go in the clown’s mouth!”  Mom would smack him on the head, “Shut up…the bell rang, he gets a free game!”  I would just say, “I don’t know, the bell rings I gotta stamp a freebie.”

At the end of the night, I would call Ray’s mom who lived in an apartment above the Gun Store.  She lowered a can from her window, I filled it with that night’s receipts, and she hauled it back to her apartment.  It was a high tech operation.  This job also paid minimum wage, plus all the free games I wanted.  I thought the free games were a big deal.  

Looking back, we didn’t have a cash register to record the nights take.  Holding back four or five bucks from the can and putting it in my pocket would have been very easy.  Ray probably expected it.  It never even occurred to me.  I thought the free games was stealing enough.

In the summer of 1967 I was working a Friday night at Ray’s.  I received a call from Ray. “Close up the mini-golf right now.  Clear the course, give everyone their money back and get the hell out…State Trooper’s orders!”

“Why are the State Troopers concerned about a mini-golf course?”

“There are riots in the streets in Plainfield.  Twenty miles east there is rioting in the streets in Newark.  People are being shot, stores are being looted, and you are right smack in the middle.”

“Why would anyone loot from a mini-golf course?”

“Joe, look to your left.  What do you see?”

“I see the sign for Ray’s Gun Sho…EVERYONE OFF THE COURSE!!!  NOW!! Bye Ray.”

I refunded fifty cents to all the golfers, and filled the can that Ray’s mom dropped out of the window with the remaining receipts.  As I got into my car to leave I saw Trooper car after trooper car running up and down rt. 22.  The Trooper’s cars were filled with troopers and the troopers were hauling shotguns.

The Race Riots of 1967 never expanded outside the streets of Plainfield and Newark, but those cities were left with over thirty five killed and store after store burned to the ground.

For $1.35 an hour I was not going to stick around to see if the riots would spread.

I did stamp a few freebies for myself before I left.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

This is where we are going

This is where we are going

I just read this. 

There is an ESPN football announcer, I’ve never heard of him I guess he mostly does college games, name of Robert Lee.  He was to do a game this week in Virginia, but his name was deemed too controversial due to the recent hoo-ha over Confederate Statues.  He is being moved to announce at a game in a less controversial location.

All because his name is Robert Lee. 

I think he is Asian or at least part Asian, and Lee is a fairly common Asian name.  Apparently the football listening audience is deemed too stupid to listen to a person named Robert Lee and not assume he is a descendant from the confederate General, Robert E. Lee.

I don’t blame ESPN for this decision, it is probably a correct decision given the wack-a-doodles these days that find offense under every rock they turn over.

You know what; lets censure anyone or anything with a name that might remind us of a sorry time in history.  I won’t buy “Arnolds” bread, I will not definitely not use Adolph’s to tenderize my meat.

We need to take down all the statues that anyone finds offensive, eventually that will be every statue.  I have no idea why, but I’m quite sure eventually the Statue of Liberty will be pissing people off. 

I don’t care, take them all down. 

Change the name of any street that offends you.  We have Elm, and Sycamore, and Pine, there must be enough trees to name all the streets we need named, unless you are offended by trees.  There is no need to name streets after anyone who it may be found offensive to some people.  

There are quite a few towns we will need to rename, Washington comes to mind as wasn’t he a slave owner?  Lynchburg?  You have got to be kidding me…change that right now. I live in Sayreville N.J. I have to look into Mr. Sayre, I’ll bet he was a bit of a prick 220 years ago, if so I am offended.

We need to change our money.  Quite a few bills have pictures of slave owners and nasty people.  Maybe we could put Mr. Rodgers on the $100 bill, and Bob Hope on a twenty…oh wait, was Bob Hope a misogynist? I’m not sure, he did ogle women a lot in his act, maybe not a good choice.  Oh well, it doesn’t matter, I’m sure we could have a committee to decide which names are appropriate to name all our streets and states and towns, and what face can be shown on our money or statues. 

We can change our history text books, most of them don’t tell the real story. 

History has left out a lot of bad stuff.  I think it needs to be rewritten.

Who should rewrite it?

I don’t care; I’m old, not my problem.

 I sure as hell do not want to listen to a football game announced by someone named Robert Lee.


Monday, August 21, 2017



As I sit at my computer awaiting the 75 percent eclipse that is expected in New Jersey I am in awe.

Am I in awe of the moon blocking out the sun?  Not really, as a matter of fact I am staying inside afraid to watch the spectacle as I have been bombarded with warnings about going blind from watching the eclipse. 

Yes, I could get those special glasses which were sold out a week ago, but there have also been warnings about how safe some glasses are.  Some have been certified falsely…which ones?  I don’t want to find out.

I could watch it through a box with a pinhole or something, but isn’t that just a shadow?  I don’t know, to me it is not worth the chance of hurting my eyes.  I vaguely remember a partial eclipse many years ago where there was none of this buildup.  It was interesting, but it was not a big deal.  The news, the internet, whatever is responsible for the hoopla, I still think the excitement has been overdone and is quite frankly a little silly.

So why am I in awe?

I get the moon blocking the sun thing; cool, but I understand the principle. 

I am in awe of the mathematicians that can take the size of the moon, the size of the sun, the distance of both from the earth at any particular phase of orbit, then use the speed of the moon circling the earth and the earth circling the sun plus the earths spin on its axis, and then predict to the second when and where there will be a total eclipse.

They have been able to do this for many years, even many years before computers, and they are even telling us when and where it will happen next in the US, several years from now.

The eclipse; very cool for sure.

The mathematics that predicts the exact track and time of the total eclipse…UNBELIEVABLE!!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

RIP-OFF…maybe not

RIP-OFF…maybe not
 Last year I bought three solar accent lights for my backyard.  I have several small lights in the front.  The front ones are small and were pretty cheap, maybe $6 per light.  The ones I bought for the back were much bigger and brighter, and cost about $15 each.
Of the three lights in the back, only one worked.  Two did nothing from day one.  I was a bit pissed about this and was determined to take them back.  Of course, I kept putting it off as I hate returning stuff, and with being away several weeks in the summer it also slipped my mind.
Mrs. C had to ask a question which tested my intelligence. 
“Did you pull the tab?” 
These lights have a tab that blocks the battery from the contacts.
“Yes, of course I pulled the tabs, how do you think the one works?  That is the first thing I did.”
Anyway, today I was planning on taking the lights back to Lowes where I bought them, and was ready to do battle because I don’t have any receipts.  Before leaving though, I thought maybe the batteries were just no good, so I decided to first test them with batteries from lights that worked.
I took out several working batteries and changed out the batteries in the non-working lights.  It was then I noticed a little switch by the battery contacts that was set to OFF.  I’m guessing the switch should be set to ON in order to work.  Why anyone would want to switch off solar accent lights that only go on in the dark I’ll never understand.
My dilemma now is, do I tell Mrs. C that the batteries just needed changing, tell her I exchanged the lights at the store, or fess up that I’m an idiot?
I think I need to make a fake visit to Lowes tomorrow.  Don’t tell Mrs. C.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Gol Dang Corn-Shuckers

Gol Dang Corn-Shuckers
I run into these Corn-shuckers every summer and they really are the fingernails on my blackboard (GIY).  No, that is not a euphemism for a different type of despicable person, I am talking about actual Corn-shuckers…shuckers of corn.

OK, I guess I have to explain, and lest I offend a Corn-shucker who is not aware of this indiscretion, if you are a Corn-shucker, you are forgiven for now, but just stop it!
When I go to the supermarket for some fresh corn on the cob, there is a large table full of ears.  If you get to the table late, ¾ of the ears have been partially shucked by…that’s tight, CORN-SHUCKERS.
These are people who are so special they have to shuck each ear until they find the perfect ear of corn.  No shriveled kernels, no icky corn worms and whatever else, I don’t know. 
Well listen up Corn-shuckers:
The tops of most ears have shriveled kernels and most people break off the top inch anyway.
Those icky worms almost never exist anymore, probably thanks to GMO corn and they only are in the top that gets broken off.
When you put back that shucked imperfect ear, it dries out.  No one wants a dried out ear.
The moment corn is shucked the natural sugars that make corn so good start to convert to starch.  Early shucking makes dried out starchy crappy tasting corn!
As a result of all this corn shucking by these perfect-ear-seeking Corn-shuckers the only remaining un-shucked ears are the obviously smaller thinner less desirable ears.

I don’t want the dried-out ears that you Corn-shuckers shucked.  I don’t want ears that have been touched by your grubby Corn-shucking hands.  I  want my corn to taste sweet, not starchy.  
No one takes the shucked corn.  Everyone sees it and thinks,
“If this ear was not good enough for the Corn-shucker, then it is not good enough for me.” 
Those shucked ears go to waste and as a result the price of an ear of corn goes way up.
Please people, stop shucking the corn in the store.  Take a chance at an imperfect ear, live dangerously.  Buy an extra ear in case you get a bad one, these days very few bad ears make it to the market.
Help keep the price of corn down, be respectful of corn buyers to follow.
No one likes a Corn-shucker!


This cranky re-run is from August 2014

In a post last week, I was quite properly lambasted for waking Mrs. Cranky with a question. I fully understand the seriousness of this, particularly to my testosterone deficient audience.  I get that many women, particularly those with young children, have little opportunity to enjoy uninterrupted sleep.  In my defense, Mrs. Cranky has the unusual ability to go from sound sleep to awake and then back to sleep again in a matter of seconds.  She remembers waking so it is not sleep talking, she is just able to wake and or fall back to sleep at the flip of some internal switch.

To illustrate this phenomenon, the other night we were watching one of our favorite movies, “My Cousin Vinny.” This comedy is chock full of lines which Mrs. C has committed to memory, one of her many skills.  Half way through the movie she fell asleep.  She was snoring in that gentle quiet rhythmic way a woman in deep sleep will snore.

In one of our favorite moments in this movie (and there are many), Joe Pesci (Cousin Vinny) interrogates a witness in an attempt to show her eye sight is unreliable.  I won’t bore you with all the details of the scene, watch the movie you won’t be disappointed…


In this classic scene, Pesci in way of admonishing a judicial indiscretion addresses the court and the witness saying, 

“Mrs. Reilly; and only Mrs. Reilly…”

At this exact moment, Mrs. Cranky arises from deep slumber and mimics, 

“Mrs. Reilly and only Mrs. Reilly how many fingers I am holding up now?” 

She then went instantly back to her comfortable rhythmic snore, and yes in the morning she remembered mimicking the movie.

And so I offer no real excuse for occasionally waking my wife to ask an innocuous question, but it is not as serious an offense as many might believe.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Stupid Headlines 081317

Stupid Headlines 081317
It’s time again for
There always other Go-Go bars
This week’s stupid headlines and my stupider, sometimes sophomoric comments. 
Manhunt for woman, 37, accused of performing obscene sex act in McDonald’s – That must be a typo, I believe it should be MEN hunt…
Too politically correct? Board drops 'Lynch' from school names – Demands also made to change Notre Dame to just Notre as “Dame” is offensive to women.
Former Trump campaign staffers Jason Miller and A.J. Delgado reveal love child after campaign affair – Miller claims it was the result of Russia interfering with the erection.
Knife-wielding man who robbed Texas Walgreens is identified by distinct face tattoo – It is always a bad idea to commit a robbery with a face tattoo, kinda like a get-away car with vanity plates.
After 106 years in Antarctica, fruitcake still looks 'like new' – Someone’s getting fruitcake for Christmas!
TV anchor delivers news while 'porn video' plays behind her – That’s one way to up the ratings.
The NYPD Boycott of Dunkin' Donuts Is Fully On – Police boycotting doughnuts is like fish boycotting water!
Older Americans are dying on the job, retirement age to blame – Well yeah, if you let us retire we would die off the job!
Dental brace wire lodged in intestine for a decade, doctors say – On the plus side, that part of the intestine has remained perfectly straight.

Millions of bats form tornado in the sky – “BATNADO” staring Tara Reid and Ian Ziering!

And the Feel-good story of the week:
Tim Tebow stops warming up to shake autistic fan's hand, follows it up with home run – I don’t know why many people have a bug up their butt about this guy, he is one of the few genuinely good dudes in sports!
Ohio high school football team members rescue elderly couple from river – An emergency they had to tackle.
Come back again next week for more

Saturday, August 12, 2017

The Times They Are A Changing

The Times They Are A Changing

A cranky opinion for


More on Monday’s post

The following is the opinion of a cranky old man with no credentials to have any opinion on the topic opined.  Opposing opinions are welcome, but are wrong.  As always, no name calling, and that means you, you big stupid head!

Monday I re-ran a post from 2013.  It was tongue in cheek, making fun of “Profiling” and how we all do it from time to time.  The intent was to demonstrate how profiling is not necessarily wrong as it is usually based on experience or common sense, but our gut feelings are also not always correct.


When I board a train and there are two seats available, one next to a teenager with a nose ring, and one next to an older lady in a business suit, I will sit next to the lady.

Here is what I find interesting:

In 2013, the comments I received were predominantly along the lines of “This is so true, and funny” or “I do the same, why not go with the odds”, or “Sometimes you just have to trust your instincts.” Most comments at least recognized the attempt at humor.

Monday the comments were more along the lines of, “You can’t judge a book by its cover”, and “We all do this sometimes and it is not right.” Some comments acknowledged the existence of profiling and even admitted to doing it, but almost no one found humor in the post or felt that profiling was in any way reasonable.  (comments)

What happened in four years that people went from seeing humor in a mostly tongue-in-cheek post, to being a bit uptight and not wanting to give any credibility at all to profiling people not just on race, but demeanor, dress and, body language?

I think perhaps the word “Profiling” has taken on a Political Correct nuance that makes people less willing to accept it in any form. 

That, or maybe we have just lost our sense of humor. 

It is sad if society today is walking on egg shells.

The preceding was the opinion of a cranky old man, and not necessarily that of management…Mrs. Cranky.