Quaint customs here and there....

Isn't multiculturalism wonderful?

Most people know about the Eskimo custom of putting grandma out in the snow when her teeth become too worn down to continue to soften seal skins.

But for some reason, the French method -- locking grandma up in the attic and going on vacation -- seems to be less well known. Leading Americans are still having trouble accepting it.

When I was a kid, I thought the Eskimo custom was, well, cold.

Little did I know....

Anyway, I am reporting in from Cheyenne, Wyoming, after a grueling day-and-a-half drive. This motel (The Cheyenne Motel, located right on Business 80, phone 307-632-6802) I would highly recommend, although if you have a pet I recommend my Patented Dog Con Game Routine, because there is a big sign saying "NO PETS."

Here is the best way to get your pet into a NO PET motel:

First, NEVER ask whether they take pets. Go in, ask for a room, and start filling out the card. Fill it out slowly, allowing them plenty of time to count the money they are going to get from you. Then, glance around, and suddenly stop writing, and with an abject look, exclaim, "Oh! I'm sorry! I see that you don't take pets!" This will generally begin a process of negotiation, and for five bucks more, I can usually wangle a deal. That way, you don't have to sneak the dog in wrapped up squealing in a sleeping bag.

However, the place last night in Winnemucca, Nevada I definitely do NOT recommend. Twenty bucks and no sign, no question about dogs, told me I could stop filling out the form as soon as I put my name. I should have smelled something....

But once I did it was too late! The room was a tiny, filthy hovel, with a bed that made me nervous to look at, as the sheets did not look clean, the bed was barely made, and the carpet was a disgusting mess of brown shag, shiny in places. My standards are pretty low and I once lived in a bathhouse while I built the place, and I can sleep on anyone's floor if I have to (except that one)... so what the hell.

As I started unpacking my stuff I noticed my dog licking, slurping and tugging on the rug just in front of the bathroom door. I yelled at him, but then when I peered closely down I saw a two inch diameter smear of -- OH GOD! PLEASE! NOT THAT!

Yes that! Someone (probably an infant) hadn't quite made it to the bathroom, and then someone else had made a pathetic stab of cleaning it up, leaving plenty smeared around. Gross! Of course, I hadn't cleared the dog, so I didn't want to complain, so I took yesterday's San Francisco Chronicle section featuring a look at Warren Zevon looking at death, threw it on the toxic zone, then placed the trashcan on top.

A shame really. Because I had really wanted to read that Zevon piece more thoroughly. One of his last observations, "Enjoy every sandwich," struck me as an especially good metaphor for life, which I wasn't doing a very good job of savoring right then.

Plus, it really didn't look like a sandwich. I guess if I really have to force Warren Zevon's sandwich-as-life metaphor (God this is morbid!) I could say it most resembled a small Eskimo Pie. But I still didn't enjoy it. I know, I know, when life offers lemons, make Lemonade. But you can't make an enjoyable sandwich out of everything. At least, not an edible one.

Enough pie-in-the-sky thinking! And enough arguing with the dead. (Not an alien subject for me....) Time to hit the road!

More multiculturalism: why is it that Regular gasoline costs $1.55 a gallon in Wyoming (yes that was at a Pilot station yesterday) and $2.15 in California? That is a HUGE difference. I don't think state taxes are the only reason. Might the Saudis and their buddies be playing games?

And why should some states be allowed to prohibit (allowed to prohibit?) gambling, while others allowed to allow it? Is the prohibition not religious morality? Shouldn't the country have a single standard? Just being the Devil's Advocate here, although I think it's part of America's charm to see a border town like Wendover, Nevada draw fun-loving Mormons in a mad weekend dash to throw away their money....

posted by Eric on 08.24.03 at 10:01 PM


Tell us more about your construction experience. Enquiring minds want to know!

Ghost of a flea   ·  August 25, 2003 5:57 PM

"And why should some states be allowed to prohibit (allowed to prohibit?) gambling, while others allowed to allow it? Is the prohibition not religious morality? Shouldn't the country have a single standard?"


John Jenkins   ·  August 28, 2003 5:29 AM

Wow! Now I really have my work cut out for me!

Yes, I was sent to Hawaii to build and develop a place called the Steam Works, back in 1976. A long story, but I lived and worked there the whole time. Plumbing, electrical, carpentry, and (of course) local bureaucracy. (Cultivating a local accent always helped dramatically over the phone; and my name sounds Chinese....) The club ended up being quite successful and led me to decide that I should return to school and become a (gulp) lawyer. The guy I hired and trained to replace me ended up inheriting the place when the owner (a dear friend) died. My work in Hawaii also led to the eventual integration of the Steam Works business with Dirty Mary's -- a spinoff of the Hamburger Mary's chain via the legendary "Trixie" (the late Jerry Jones, whose unsuccessful first Hawaii venture, the Royal Lei, gave rise to the the eventual partnership between the two). Long story, but I am proud to have helped generate a coalition between two very unlikely allies which worked -- and in many ways I wish I had stayed and seen the whole thing through.

That's a big year in a very small paragraph for you!

Oh, and as to Federalism, I wish it could be kept as minimalistic as possible. Decentralization of power, to my mind, is infinitely less threatening.

Thanks for the comments!

Eric   ·  August 29, 2003 3:54 PM

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