Tuesday, February 11 2014
Gretchen had the idea that we should drive up to Albany today to hit the Eddie Bauer outlet and get me some much-needed sweaters, but she sprang it on me last night and I was resistant to an unexpected usurpation of four hours of my schedule on such short notice. But by mid-morning I'd decided I actually could go. So off we went. It was a cold day and we were headed to a city 1.7% closer to the north pole, but at least it wasn't as cold as Weather.com had predicted; this morning instead of the temperature being negative nine degrees it had been positive ten.
Our first stop was that Eddie Bauer outlet, which was difficult to find due to its Google Maps location being given as the central median in a four-to-five lane highway (Central Avenue). Its actual location was hundreds of feet away in a large "post-mall retail plaza" (the Northway Shopping Center). I don't know anything about Eddie Bauer except that it is like LL Bean, another outdoorsy brand liked by my parents early in their life as neo-homesteaders. Gretchen's said she liked Eddie Bauer for two reasons: it's easier to get clothing made from fabrics made of non-animal (vegan) materials and the branding on Eddie Bauer clothing is more subtle (for example, no corporate logos where the flag pin is supposed to go). I quickly found the long-sleeve shirts and sweaters I wanted. They were all in tasteful earthy shades of green, blue, and grey. I don't usually ask for sweaters for my birthday present (which is what Gretchen was saying they were), but the situation had gotten dire. Between Gretchen and me, we managed to spend $200 there, though it would have been $90 more had we not signed up for the Eddie Bauer loyalty program and in-house credit card.
Using Happy Cow, the website to help with finding veg-friendly restaurants, Gretchen's parents had discovered a place called Little Anthony's with lots of vegan possibilities (made possible by stocking veggie sausage, faux "chicken," and soy "cheese"). Because it's not far from Eddie Bauer, we decided to go there for lunch. Little Anthony's is situated in a brick building that looks like it might have held a tiny manufacturing plant back in the late 19th Century. Further contributing to the David Lynchian vibe, the staff seem to stumble their way through the workday in a methadone daze as CNN loudly blares from a television in the dining room. The woman who waited on us looked to be about 350 pounds and wore a miraculously stain-free white teeshirt with the words "ONLY GOD CAN JUDGE ME" over line drawings of two praying hands. We sat next to a wall decorated with posters made by a New York artist in the richly-detailed style pioneered by Hieronymus Bosch, though these featured modern people illustrating ancient clich&ecute;s and proverbs such as "a watched pot never boils" and "a stitch in time saves nine." I'd ordered a stromboli with fake sausage, jalapeño, mushrooms, and soy cheese. It was greasy and disgusting in exactly the way it should have been, as was Gretchen's baked ziti.
Meanwhile Wolf Blitzer did what he's paid to do: produce an endless stream of words to keep back the ocean of dead air. He was talking with a political expert who was saying that if the democrats do well in 2014 that it will be manifested at the polls, but if they don't do well then that will also be manifested at the polls. Wolf Blitzer was there to make sure that spaces between the pundit's statements were filled with words, though the questions he asked didn't take the conversation down any path where actual information might be found. The only reason anyone would watch such programming would be that they were bored, alone, and had no ability to process the language content of sentences. So it came as no surprise that all the advertisements were for things of interest to the old and medically ill. I read somewhere that the average age of a CNN viewer is 60 and the average age of a Fox News viewer is 68. I imagine the average age of an advertisement viewer is even greater. Who, after all, watches ads these days except the old fogeys who aren't hip to DVRs (as well as captive audiences in airports and divey Italian pizzerias)?
As always when visiting Albany (and points north), we stopped at the Trader Joe's (which is not too far from Little Anthony's) to make a massive double-cart grocery run. We're getting better and knowing what we need and what TJ's is best at providing, so this time we only spent about $300. We also tended to get fluffier (less dense) items like corn chips and many boxes of corn flakes. We had space in the backseat due to the absence of dogs.
On the drive up to Albany, we'd listened to the Sound Opinions interview of Slayer. Then on the drive back home, we listened to the next Sound Opinions podcast, which was the one giving the history of heavy metal.
This evening Carrie came over to eat leftover chili and watch the latest episode of Sherlock with Gretchen. I don't watch that sort of thing; instead I was in the laboratory further developing that web.
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