Sunday, July 28, 2013

Ten Things You Should Be Able to Do (or Have) in America

1. Read books in the daytime. If you're an avid reader, then you know how awful it is to do most of your reading at night, when you're sleepy. Dropping off when you're mid-chapter is frustrating, and sometimes the book falls on the floor and then you're really screwed. Lunch hour can be okay, but if you're with someone, you're hosed. And if you have to go to a restaurant, even a fast food joint and get a table for one, you feel like a social nerd because you're all alone reading a book. At least thirty minutes of daytime time off should be given to readers.

2. Vacation boosters. Our induction range from IKEA has this cool little button called "booster," where you can spike the heat for short time. It's great if you're boiling water for pasta and don't want to wait. But people should also get a vacation booster button, where they can have, say, a couple of four-day weekends over and above their regular vacations. For example, those who just return from vacation are often those who need a vacation the most. If they could just get a booster a month or so after their regular vacation ends, their focus and general disposition would improve.

3. While I'm on it, the day after Thanksgiving and December 26 should be automatic days off. In fact, would it be so bad if the week between Christmas and New Years was a national vacation, or at least a part-time work week? It is anyway, so why not make it official?

4. Listen to regular NPR programming during local station fund drives, if you're a member. Someone needs to develop an app or whatever for members to shut off the desperate pleas reporters, executives and producers make intended to shame people into donating. If you donate, you shouldn't have to listen to the frantic hucksterism erupting from the hosts and reporters.

5. Bring your dog to restaurants.
Not like this, but you get the point
Okay, dog-dislikers will disagree. And it's getting better in some places, because you can bring your dog to a few places with outside seating. But in Paris a couple of years ago, I was struck by the number of restaurant patrons with pooches asleep under the table. I liked that.

6. Watch Game of Thrones all year round. A Kickstarter fund should be set up to underwrite continuous production.

7. Only pay for the cable channels you want. At last check, I counted hundreds of channels that I have to pay for in order to get the few I watch. Every once in a while, Sen John McCain makes a foray into writing a bill allowing ala carte cable. It never goes anywhere.

8. Buy a bottle of wine at a restaurant at a reasonable price. In a way, I get an outrageous price for an  Appellation d' Jean Lafitte 1916, or a pre-Mussolini Riserva Brunello di Montalcino. Few have a clue about them and most likely would never order them anyway, and those who do know what they're in for. But a Zin, Chardonnay, Merlot or whatever that you can buy at a local market for eight or ten bucks doesn't need to price out at a restaurant for three or four times that amount. You can get reasonably good vin ordinaire in France at a reasonable price, and likewise acceptable table rotwein or weisswein in Germany.

9. While we're on the subject of wine: Get reviews using terms that make sense. Terms such as "fruit bomb" or "hints of allspice" already push the envelope a bit, but when it comes to "floral," "nuances of leather" or "tobacco on the back notes," I'm totally lost. I'm not a bit interested in drinking floral tobacco leather, and neither is anyone else.

10. More, or larger, women's bathrooms in public places. Go to a ball park, zoo, amusement park, convention center or even restaurants, and you'll see women lined up at the loo when break time comes, while the doors to the men's cans swing freely. The insides of men's jakes are lined with urinals and toilet stalls. What collective genius decided that women should have the same floor space but half the pissoires?

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