Friday, April 25, 2014

That Scottish Place...

I was not at all surprised to see this on Yahoo Finance the other day

McDonalds profit falls

I have frequented McDonalds all my life. I remember going to my allergist in Lexington as a young boy. On the way out of town, we stopped at this restaurant they didn’t have in Paducah. It was a McDonalds. When I was at PCC, we ate multiple times a week at the McDonalds on Jackson Street. We even had one of our friend’s girlfriend bring us food to our Physics Lab. Our professor protested, so we started bringing him a Big Mac and he was OK with it then. I went on my first date with a beautiful brunette with brown eyes and she wanted to go to McDonalds. She got a Quarter Pounder with cheese and I got a Big Mac. I married that girl. The boys and I went all the time when they were growing up. I love when they have the "Rolo McFlurry".

If I couldn’t figure out where to eat when I traveled, I knew I could stop at a McDonalds and get a decent meal for a good price. Well Ladies and Gentlemen; this is no longer the case. The last several times I went to the McDonalds on Jackson Street, it took me over 15 minutes to get our food. The last time we went, I ordered a Big Mac Meal and Donna got the 2 Filet-O-Fish sandwiches for 4.00. It took 20 minutes to get our food. The man next to me grumbled “I don’t why I come back here, it always takes forever”. I certainly could empathize. I actually complained on their web site. I got a call from the local regional manager. The first thing she did was say “Well, if you have a complicated order it can take a while”. I told her what we ordered and told her that obviously wasn’t a complicated order. She finally admitted that no order should take 20 minutes. She said “we’ll certainly review our processes there”.

So, on the way to see Josh in Wisconsin, we stopped at a McDonalds at Mendota Illinois. It took over 15 minutes for us to get our food again. And, it wasn’t even that good. So, I’ve made a very tough decision. I’ve decided that we won’t be going to a McDonalds for a while. If I am going to have to wait 15 minutes or more, I may as well go to another restaurant – even a sit down restaurant. We did figure out on our way back home that this does limit where you can stop and eat. McDonalds is by far the most common restaurant you’ll see on Interstate exits.

Oh and about that reference to “that Scottish place”. It’s from the movie “Time after Time”. Malcolm McDowell plays HG Wells and has travelled to the future. He eats with Mary Steenburgen and says “Much superior to that Scottish place where I breakfasted.”. As she looks at him with confusion, she finally figures out he ate at “McDonalds”. I think I’ll try some other places to eat as well.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Miller Park

As some of you may know, Josh accepted a job with Epic Software in Madison Wisconsin and started working there in January. After helping him move in, we hadn’t been back up there since. Donna (of course) wanted to come up here every so often to see him. So, I began to plan when we’d come up. I realized that the Cardinals play in Milwaukee three times a year. So, we arranged trips to Madison around those dates.

I bought tickets to a game in each of the series in July and September. They were much easier to get and quite a bit cheaper than comparable seats at Busch Stadium. For the first series though, I went through StubHub and bought Diamond boxes. We ended up with two seats on row four right behind home plate. I got them for 75.00 each. Comparable seats at Busch would have been at least double that.

The game was on Monday, so when Josh got off work, we headed for Miller Park in Milwaukee. It’s about a one and half hour drive from Madison. Most of the drive is on I-94 and the stadium is right off the Interstate, so it’s an easy drive. Josh slept most of the way and I listened to XM radio. There was some traffic getting to the stadium, but it wasn’t horrible. Miller Park has huge parking lots by the stadium. It costs 18.00 to park next to the stadium and 10.00 to park what would be equivalent to a couple of blocks away. You can guess which option we went with. We walked to the stadium and headed inside.

The temperature outside was a cool 38 degrees, so the retractable roof was closed. It was certainly not warm inside but certainly bearable with a light jacket. Josh had brought three coats which would come in handy as you’ll see later. Our seats were as good as I hoped. We were right behind home plate behind the protective screen. It was as close as I’ve even been to a game behind home plate. I grabbed a polish sausage at the concession stand. It was OK but the price as high (as always at a MLB park). As an interesting tidbit, Miller Park is the only MLB stadium where the hot dog isn’t the top selling sandwich – it’s the bratwurst there. The crowd was of course much less than would be at Busch on a Monday. The stated attendance was 27,000 but I don’t think there were that many there.

We settled in to watch the game. Lance Lynn was pitching for the Cardinals. Most Cardinal fans know that you never know which Lance Lynn you’ll get – Good Lance or Bad Lance. The Brewers were also on a nine game winning streak and in first place ahead of the Cardinals. The prospects didn’t look really good. Both pitchers did well for the inning. In the 2nd, Cardinal shortstop Jhonny Peralta lifted a long high fly towards center field. Josh and I both thought it was “too high” but it carried over the center field fence and the Cards were up 1-0. Lance Lynn continued to pitch very well and ended up striking out 11. His only real trouble came in the 5th. He issued a two out walk and then Schafer laced a double to right. The 3rd base coach held the runner at third. I (and the Brewer’s fans around me) found this a curious decision with the pitcher coming up next. Garza then struck out to end what would be the only real threat of the night for the Brewers.

The key inning was the 6th. Matt Holliday led off with a single and then Matt Adams laced a gapper to the wall. Holliday lumbered (that’s exactly what it looked like) toward the plate. The Brewers made a great relay to the plate to nail him. With Matt Adams on 2nd, Allen Craig hit a grounder to 2nd. Their 2nd baseman made a great throw to nail Matt Adams (who appeared to not expect this) at 3rd. Peralta singled to right to set up a two on two out situation for John Jay. Jay got two strikes on him. Josh asked me what would happen next. I predicted a strikeout. Josh said “Nah, he is going to hit a home run”. I told him that there was no way John Jay would do that, he never did things like that. The words were barely out of my mouth when Jay ripped a long drive to right for a three run homer. This brought much laughter from Josh and the Brewers fans around me, but I didn’t mind at all. This pretty much sealed the deal. Lynn went 7 strong innings and Carlos Martinez threw two perfect innings to close the game – 4-0 in favor of the Cardinals.

When we got outside, it was snowing. Our car was covered in snow. Josh had brought the multiple jackets to wear so he was fine on the walk back. It was a rental car and didn’t have a scraper so I had to resort to the hack of using a card in my wallet to clean off the windows. We got out of the stadium pretty easily. The roads were a bit slick in spots – we saw several cards off the road. I took it easy and slow and we got back to his apartment about midnight. We had a great time. The Cardinals had won but the best thing was Josh and I spent a lot of time at the game just talking. That’s one of the great things about a baseball game. The environment is much better for conversation than other sports. We have tickets for July and September. I am looking forward to warmer weather and seeing what the stadium looks like with the roof rolled back.