Thursday, July 29, 2010

Five Must-Follow Rules for a Chinese Buffet

So a couple years ago I went to a Chinese buffet in Pensacola Florida and vowed that I would never do that again. It seems like I lose my head when I enter a place like that and eat everything in sight. It didn't help that the place seemed on the verge of being shut down by the Health Department. I don't know how I forgot about this incident, but the other day I felt that going to a Chinese buffet here in Cincinnati was a good idea.

I chose the one over on Ridge Avenue, because it was the closest. It had received some good reviews too, and therefore I felt that it would be a good choice. Wrong again. Don't misunderstand. The facility was really nice. Much better than the one in Florida, but I still went overboard. I went so far that all the Chinese food around me was making me sick. So at that point I got one more full plate, ate it, and then left. Overall, it was such a disappointment that I felt that there has to be something I can do to prevent it in the future. So I present these rules as way to make any Chinese buffet a more enjoyable experience.

Rule #1: Peruse the entire buffet area before you get your first plate.
It is always good to have a battle plan. I put emphasis on battle. If you go with the intention to just grab whatever looks yummy, you will pick up way too much of one thing and then wish later on that you had room for that other dish. Inevitably you will make room for that other dish, and that's when you lose the battle.

Rule #2: A spoonful of fried rice helps the mandarin go down.
Get some rice with every plate. Sure it is a cheap filler, but it will also help you keep from wanting to vomit.

Rule #3: Pair each meat item with a vegetable.
It is easy to pile up a ton of sweet and sour chicken, general tso beef, and a shrimp dish. Meat is the reason for the seasoning right? Well, I felt deprived of vegetables by the third plate and felt that I must have a plate just with vegetables. Next time I'll spread it out.

Rule #4: Slow down, the food isn't going to disappear.
I went with my kids. Apparently I felt that I had to eat fast enough to get my ten plates in before my kids would lose their patience and start throwing their crab wantons at the people next to us. Now I feel that it will be easier to ask forgiveness from the people next to us than to ask forgiveness from my stomach.

Rule #5: Convince yourself that going to the Chinese buffet is a bad idea.
This is the most important rule of all. If you heed this rule, you can avoid any abdominal and gastrointestinal pain that inevitably results from the Chinese buffet. This pain is unavoidable, so if you don't heed rule #5, be prepared to hurt.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Why I Love Craigslist

As many of you may know, Craigslist is a classifieds website where people can post what they want to get rid of and how much they want for it. It is similar to Ebay in that you can find the most random stuff on craigslist. Here is a quick sample of strange items I found with minimal effort:

1. Miniature Cornhole set - $30
2. Wilton chocolate Molds - $5
3. Cow Photograph Holder/Carry Case - $10
4. Dokorder Reel to Reel Tape Player - $75
5. TI-89 Graphing Calculator - $40

That last one was mine. I sold it today for $40. I bought that calculator used for $150 back in 1999 on Ebay. I think I made out pretty well for an 11+ year old electronics device. I wouldn't pay $10 for a 10 year old desktop computer, but the calculator was worth $40 to somebody. I love it, because that gives me that much more money to spend on whatever I want. I think I'll buy an electric guitar.

As cool as it is for me to get money for my old junk, that isn't the reason why I like craigslist. It also doesn't have anything to do with the fact that I can use craigslist for free. I think that the coolest thing about craigslist is that it connects people.

I didn't know the guy I sold the calculator to. In fact, in all my dealings on Craigslist I haven't known the opposite party beforehand and I haven't seen any of them since. Somehow though, for that brief period of time, we connected in a way that Ebay can't provide. In order to get the stuff you buy on Ebay, you pay shipping and handling. To get your stuff on Craigslist, you need to call, text, or email the person and then you meet them at some random location and exchange the goods. This adds a distinctly human element that is not part of any other online service providers method of business.

I'm sure with some people on craigslist, you can mail a check with a prepaid box for return delivery of your good, but the average person doesn't trust that method unless they are working through a third party (like Ebay). Craigslist takes a no hands approach to the actual transaction process, thus minimizing the need for customer support. All of the grunt work has to be done by the two people wanting to exchange goods. I wanted $40, and somebody wanted my Calculator. We arranged a meeting place, met, talked for less than a minute. I gave him my calculator and it's accessories, and he gave me $40. To top it off, we both walked away happy! You don't get that kind of positive interaction with very many other web applications. I love it.

I think that the connecting people part is the greatest aspect of Craigslist. I've met people all around Cincinnati and continue to be amazed at how positive each experience is... mostly. I have had one bad experience with Craigslist. It was a no show. We had arranged to meet to trade phones on a Saturday morning. When it came to meet, there was no answer to the phone, and no return text. Oh well. Apparently she didn't want my phone as badly as I wanted her phone. And life moves on. A couple months later I post my calculator and all is well again in my happily connected world of Craigslist.