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Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


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   Staunton Indian Food
Thursday, January 3 2002

setting: south of Staunton, Virginia

The other day Gretchen had noted a surprising enterprise on the commercial strip lining US 11 south of Staunton, an Indian restaurant called Maharaja. It was like seeing a bookstore in Craigsville; I didn't even think Charlottesville was big enough and cosmopolitan enough for an Indian restaurant. The question was: what kind of Indian restaurant was it? Today we decided to find out by treating my parents to an Indian food luncheon in celebration of their 38 year wedding anniversary.
Evidently this particular Maharaja is a remote Redneckistani franchise of another restaurant by the same name in Charlottesville. It's in a building that has played host to a number of experiments in providing ethnic food to the bacon cheeseburger scarfing masses. When I was kid, Staunton's only Mexican restaurant, Rosa's Cantina, was there. Back when I was in college, the faux Mexicans had been replaced with real Chinese, and I often went there to pick up forty dollar bags of take away. As an Indian food restaurant, it didn't seem any better poised for snatching a piece of the Greenville Avenue restaurant market share. When we arrived, we were the only customers.
Things seemed promising when I noticed that all the employees appeared to be Indians (dot not feather). The buffet looked good, so that's what Don, Gretchen, and I ordered. As for my folks, they're too old for buffets and it was there luncheon anyway, so they went ordered pricier dishes. My father ordered "an Indian beer" (in this case, Taj Mahal) and was favorably impressed when it came in a big 24 ounce bottle. (Some day when I operate a restaurant, perhaps I'll feature forties on the menu.)
The food was cheap and excellent. Even my brother (who normally restricts his restaurant diet to 49 cent cheeseburgers, hotdogs and coke) thought the food was great. But my father was particularly impressed, even saying that he'd like to come here again sometime. He and my mother used to go out to eat all the time when I was a kid, but as they've gotten older they've pretty much discontinued unnecessary trips into town. As we were leaving, Gretchen paid the tab and I left a $20 tip. It can't be all that easy being Indian (feather or dot) in Staunton, especially these days.
Back at the house, Gretchen and I finished up a Scrabble® game we'd started before we left for the restaurant. Roles were strangely reversed as my parents looked on in mild surprise to see me enjoying a game they both vehemently detest. My Dad had related a story of how, as a young man at the University of Wisconsin, he was employed to care for a disabled young man whose mother forced him to play Scrabble® with her every evening. And then Hoagie had told of how her stepfather, who married her mother when she was 85, didn't even know my mother's name but forced her to play Scrabble® every night of her visit while my grandmother was in the hospital. Truth be known, I myself didn't think I liked word games either until Gretchen convinced me to play them with her and I found myself having a good time.
For the rest of the day, I worked on my mother's computer. Everything was working nicely when I went to install drivers for a slightly antiquated scanner, and that's when the installer replaced a crucial DLL and then automatically rebooted the computer before giving me a chance to respond to the urgent operating system message. I wonder why, if an operating system can complain about the replacement of an essential file, it can't give me the option of not replacing it in the first place. Anyway, when the computer rebooted it would not reboot and I had to reinstall the entire operating system from the ground up. Me, I may not know a lot of things, but I know a hell of a lot more about computers than most people, and still the frustrate and embarrass me. Imagine how puzzled and flummoxed the average American is by their computer? Such frustration helps fuel the market for software and hardware, and yet, upgrades and enhancements always seem to come at the price of more bugs and vulnerabilities. Modern personal computers are never really fixed, they never really work.
Gretchen was very sympathetic as I suffered away in software installation hell. She went to get me tea and brandy, and whenever I had to wait for the thermometer, we played Boggle®.
What is it with Microsoft progress bars? If the idea is to show how long something will take, they're of absolutely no use whatsoever. The progress bar will frequently poke along at a constant speed only to suddenly cover two thirds of the distance and then sit there, unmoving, for ten minutes, only to cover the rest of the distance at a miserable crawl, usually pausing for five minutes or so at the 100% mark. Then we're greeted with another step in the process we hadn't expected, and it comes with a thermometer all its own, one having a completely different behavior. And so on. Why don't they just play us an episode of the Simpsons?

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