Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Holiday Police Blotter

Holiday Police Blotter:

 “Dispatch this Delta 25.  I’m at the scene now.”

“Roger, Delta 25.  What’s the situation?”

“It looks like an 11-81.  Nothing too serious.  The vehicle collided with a snow drift and got upsot.”

“Come again, Delta 25.  Did you say ‘upsot’?”

“That’s correct dispatch.”

“Do you need an ambulance?”

“It doesn’t appear so.  The passenger, one Fannie Bright, reports minor injuries.  The driver appears unhurt.  I suspect intoxication is the cause.”

“Did you administer a field sobriety test?”

“No, but witnesses report the vehicle was moving at a high rate of speed.  Several described it as ‘dashing’.  They also report the driver as laughing the entire time.”

“Roger, Delta 25.  What’s your recommendation?”

“I’m going to bring the driver in.  The passenger will need a taxi.  Also, we may want animal services to look at the horse.  It seems a bit thin to me.  Possible abuse and mistreatment.”

“I’m sorry.  Did you say, horse?”

“Roger, dispatch.”


“911.  Please state your emergency.”

“There are people here trying to rob me.”

“Ma’am, are there intruders in your house right now?”

“No, not in my house.  They are on my front lawn.”

“How many people is it?”

“About eight.”

“You say these people tried to rob you?”

“Yes.  They keep yelling at me and demanding that I give them things.”

“What sorts of things are they demanding?”

“Food mostly.  Something made with figs, I think.”

“Did you tell them to leave?”

“Yes, several times.  But they insist they won’t leave until I get them what they want.”

“Okay, ma’am.  Sit tight.  An officer will be with you shortly.”


“Unit 5, this is Walter.  I’m at the intersection of fourth and main.  Are you in the area?”

“Roger that, Walter.  I’m a few blocks away on the square.  How can I help you?”

“I’m going to need help apprehending a suspect and a vehicle to transport him once he’s in custody.” 

“Are we gonna need additional back-up?”

“I don’t think so.  So far he seems harmless.  Mostly just disturbing the peace and public indecency.  Also jaywalking.”


“Roger.  I’m actually on traffic detail.  This character came running through here like he’s got a death wish.  I hollered for him to stop, but he ignored me and ran into traffic.  He’s lucky he didn’t get hit.”

“Can’t you just ticket him and send him on his way?”

“Don’t forget about the public indecency.  He’s actually naked.”

“Did you say naked?  As in no clothing?”

“I guess he’s not technically 100% naked.  He’s wearing what looks like an old top hat.  Also, though it isn’t actually clothing, he’s carrying a broom stick.”

“Did you try to apprehend him?”

“Yes.  He’s rather fast.  He keeps slipping by me yelling, ‘catch me if you can’.”

“Okay, I’m in route.  Just out of curiosity, what color is this guy?”

“Oh, he’s white.  Real pale.  I think he probably avoids the sun.”


"Hi.  I’m Officer Brynner.  How can I help you?"

"I need to get a restraining order.  Is this where I do that?"

"Yes, Ma’am.  Sit here and let me get some information from you.  What’s the name of the person you need to get the restraining order against?"

"Honestly, I’m not sure.  He goes by Nick, but he seems to go by a lot of different names.  I think Nick is short for Nicholas but he’s not from around here.  It might actually be Niklaus or something like that."

"That’s all you have?  No last name?"


"Niklaus, sounds Russian or Slavic.  Is that where he’s from?"

"I don’t know.  He doesn’t look like a foreigner.  But I think I remember someone saying something about him coming from somewhere up north."

"That’s not really a lot to go on.  But we’ll come back to that later.  Let’s focus on why you need the restraining order.  What’s happened?"

"Well, honestly he’s been stalking me."

"That’s pretty serious.  Tell me some of the details."

"He says that he’s watching me all the time.  When I’m sleeping.  When I’m awake.  Frankly, it’s kind of creepy."

"Is he in your house?  Or are there cameras?"

"I don’t think he’s in my house.  Though he does seem to be able to get into and out of places with ease.  Doesn’t matter if the doors are locked or not.  I don’t know how he does it.  Maybe it’s magic."

"So you’re saying he’s some kind of burglar?  Has he threatened you?"

"Not directly.  He keeps saying he’s judging me.  If I don’t live up to his standards there’s going to be consequences."

"How long has this been going on?"

"Oh for years.  Since I was a kid."

"For years!? Why have you waited so long to come forward?"

"I was afraid.  He’s warned me in the past about complaining or crying out.  If I do he’ll come back to town."

"So he’s not in town now?  Do you know where we can locate this man?"

"No.  But I do know that he’s coming back to town sometime in the early winter."

"If you can’t give us a name, perhaps you can give us a physical description or work with a sketch artist."

"Actually, I’ve never seen him."

"Ma’am, I don’t mean to sound insensitive, but are you sure this person is real?"

"Oh definitely, my parents told me he was."


“Unit 12, this is Central.  Do you copy? Over.”

.  .  .

“Unit 12, are you there? Over.”

.  .  .

“Unit 12?”

“This is Unit 12.  Sorry, it’s hard to hear over all the noise here.

“Are you at the site of the Motel 6 disturbance?”

“I am at the location, but it’s not actually at the Motel 6.  It’s located by the barn behind it.”

“Roger that.  What’s your status.  How can we help you?”

“There’s quite a crowd gathered.  I’m going to need back up.”

“Additional units will be dispatched.  Do you need a paddy wagon?”

“I’m not sure at this point.  There are quite a few people here, but it’s relatively peaceful.  Mostly I need help just sorting out what’s going on.”

“Roger that Unit 12.  How big of a crowd are we talking?”

“I’d guess it to be over 200.”

“Come again.  Did you say over 200?”

“That’s right.  Of course that’s not counting all of the animals.”

“How many animals? Do you need animal control?”

“Quite a few actually.  Though I think most of the sheep came with the shepherds.”

“Unit 12 are you saying that in addition to a flock of sheep there are more animals?”

“Central, that’s correct.  There are some goats.  Some horses.  A couple cows in the barn.  I haven’t counted them, but I can hear them lowing.  There are some donkeys, including one with unusually long ears.  There’s quite a few smaller things as well: some mice, some birds up in the rafters . . . an owl I think, a badger, rabbits, other field animals, a few cats and dogs and the like, maybe even a fox.  And there are also the camels.”

“Was that camels?”

“Yes, I think they were brought here by the three foreign guys.”

“Foreign guys?  Do you need a translator?”

“Probably, but I don’t know what language they speak.  They seem to have come from far away and based on the gold and spices they are carrying they seem rather wealthy.  Also, I don’t know why, but I’d characterize them as wise.”

“Six shepherds and three foreign men are quite a long way from over 200.”

“There’s also the little girl with the rose and the little boy playing the drums.”

“It’s the middle of the night, are their parents there, Unit 12?”

“I don’t think so.  We probably need child services as well.  Also an ambulance.”

“Is one of the children hurt?”

“No, there’s a newborn that needs to be taken in and checked out.”

“An unattended newborn?”

“Sorry, no the mother is here.  We’ll need a bus for her as well.  Based upon the conversation and what I saw in the straw, I think she just gave birth.  It’s a bit of a mess in there. So, a hazardous materials clean up team isn’t out of the question. There’s also an adult male.  But there seems to be some confusion over whether or not he’s the father.  ”

“I make that a total of 15 people.  Who else is there?”

“Well, there are a whole lot of other people singing.”

“Come again, Unit 12. How many?”

“I’m not sure.  Lot’s.  I’d call it a host really.  They’re hard to count.  As I said they are all singing and milling about.  It almost looks like they’re flying at times.  I think they’re excited about the baby.  Also there may be an aerial unit in the area already.  Anyway, something is in the sky shining a spotlight on us.  It’s adding to the confusion.  Honestly I’m not sure but I think I saw three ships, a submarine and a baseball team as well.”

“Unit 12, you understand there are no harbors in the city?”

“Yeah. Okay. I must be mistaken on that one.

“Okay Unit 12.  Dispatching to your location: additional units for crowd control, animal control, child services, a translator and a protocol officer for the foreign dignitaries, an ambulance for newborn and mother, a hazardous materials cleanup team and just to be safe the fire department, a paddy wagon and a field psychiatrist too.  Will that cover it?”

Copyright SBaumann 2015

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Zooey vs Darius

A Very She & Him Christmas (2011) vs Darius Rucker: Home For The Holidays [1] (2014):

I acquired both of these albums very recently [2] and I guess in the interest of full disclosure I should reveal that I haven't actually finished listening to the Darius Rucker CD yet. [3]

A Very She & Him Christmas is what some might call minimalist.  There's Zooey Deschanel and there's Matt Ward and there are the smallest number of instruments possible on every song.  The instruments are played softly, the songs are sung low and the whole thing proceeds at a pace that would make a turtle say, "Dude, that's kind of slow." [4]

Nevertheless the CD is very enjoyable.  Again, if you are looking for something to sing or dance to at your Christmas get together this is not the disc for you.  However if you want something to play in the background while you're wrapping presents or having a romantic date during the holiday season you need look no further.

Some of the reviews I read online said that they found Zooey's singing flat, emotionless or just plain bad.  But I suspect those people were missing the point.  She isn't trying to set new holiday cheer world records, nor is she trying to out sing previous performers or the instruments.  The entire thing is meant to be slow, low and dreamy.

One song of note is their version of Baby It's Cold Outside.  In an interesting twist, they switched the roles and she sings part usually sung by the guy.  It worked well for me.  The Pook said she liked it better than most other versions of the song. [5]

A Very Hootie Christmas is exactly what you expect it to be.  It's Hootie.  He's singing your favorite Christmas songs [6] in a way that sounds exactly like Hootie singing Christmas songs.  He's got that resonant deep voice.  The music is grand and full.  This is exactly the CD you want playing in the background at a Christmas party.  It's great.

A Very She & Him Christmas (2011):  B+

Darius Rucker: Home For the Holidays [1] (2014): A

[1] - A.K.A. - A Very Hootie Christmas
[2] - "Acquired" meaning bought on Amazon and "recently" meaning yesterday.
[3] - Of course that isn't going to stop me from grading it.
[4] - What?  Everyone knows turtles are kind of hip in an old school way and say things like "dude" all the time.
[5] - But then again the Pook hates that song.  She calls it the "date rape song".
[6] - Including Baby It's Cold Outside.  Sorry Pook.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015


Serendipity (2001):

Serendipity: a fortunate coincidence.

Serendipity: a movie starring John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale.

The premise of this movie is a little far fetched, but intentionally so.  Two people meet by accident, spend a few hours together and then part to go back to their individual lives.  But because they feel like there might be more to this meeting than it seems and at the same time don't want to read too much into what might really be nothing, they leave it in fate's hands.  She writes her name and number in a book and sells the book to a used bookstore.  He writes his name and number on the back of a five dollar bill, which then gets spent on a pack of mints.  If they were meant to be together, the book will find its way back to him and the fiver will end up back with her.

The movie continues with an unforgettable series of almost connections and near misses between the two. So much so that in another movie you would be hard pressed to accept them.  But since the premise of this movie is that fate might just be tinkering in people's lives, in this case it works wonderfully.

Call me a hopeless romantic, but there is something compelling and wonderful about the whole thing.  Fate, karma, destiny, whatever you want to call it, keeping these two people circling around each other but never meeting until the time is perfect, until it is the right time for them to find each other.

I'm not sure that I necessarily believe that it works out that way every time for everyone.  I suspect there are plenty of people in the world that would be a perfectly good match for any given person.  But at the same time, while that may be true, maybe there is that someone out there that is the perfect match for each of us and if we would just sit still long enough and pay attention to what's happening maybe our paths will come together at the exact right moment.

For instance, maybe that moment is in an otherwise 'meh' class you take while getting your masters and suddenly a little voice in your ear whispers, "That girl sitting in front of you.  You're gonna marry her."  But you've got to be paying enough attention to hear it.

Add in Jeremy Piven and you've got a fantastic movie.

Serendipity: A

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Chex Cereals

Chex Cereals:

For various reasons, we're going to cover all of the current Chex cereals in one post. [1]  We will also be leaving out the 6,000 varieties of Chex Mix. [2]

If you somehow don't know what I'm talking about when I say Chex then you should really get out of your bed more often and/or watch something on TV that has commercials. [3]

Visually all of the Chex are the same: little crispy squares of interlaced grains, vaguely pillow shaped [4] so they can hold milk.

With one exception they all have the quick to soggy problem of many grain cereals.  They aren't as bad as corn flakes, but you'd still better not dally once the milk hits the bowl.

The Varieties:

Corn/Rice Chex: I realize that these are two different varieties of Chex and thus might deserve two different grades, but let's be honest, besides the name and a slight color variation these two are interchangeable and otherwise identical.  They don't taste bad, but then again they don't really taste like much of anything.  They are also the quickest to turn to mush in your bowl.

They also come in a box larger than your average cereal box.  This might seem like a boon, but after you've eaten five bowls and are now sick of them, the box will sit and mock you from the pantry shelf for the next six months until you finally overcome the potential guilt and just  throw them away.

Corn/Rice Chex: B- [5]

Wheat Chex: Wheat Chex is the exception to the "Chex gets soggy quick in milk" rule.  They will eventually lose a bit of their rough edges, but unless you go off and watch a Peter Jackson movie between pouring the milk and eating, they will maintain crispiness throughout.

They taste pretty good.  Their taste improves significantly if you sprinkle just a bit of sugar on them. [6]  I honestly buy them pretty regularly.

Speaking of regular, you want to be careful about how much Wheat Chex you eat.  Alternately, if you decide to finish off the box in a few consecutive sittings, I would suggest not straying too far from your favorite toilet.  Too much Wheat Chex will clean you out like a freight train through your bowels. [7]

Wheat Chex: B

Honey Nut Chex: This is the dirty trick of Chex varieties.  They promise to be so much more, but then fail to deliver. [8]

Honey Nut Chex [calling from cereal aisle shelf]: Mr. Customer! Buy me!  I am sweet and delicious.  I have nuts.  I have honey.  I am so different from these other plain varieties.  You must buy me!
Me: Um.  Isn't that what you said last time?
HNC: No, that wasn't me.  That was Crispix.
Me: Are you sure.
HNC: I promise.  Think of the honey.  Think of the nuts.  Think of the children.
Me: Okay

The next morning you discover once again that you've been fooled into buying a box of Corn Chex in which the cereal has a light coating of something that makes it glisten slightly before it gets wet.  Once the milk hits them the truth is revealed and both the you and the Chex are sad.

Honey Nut Chex: C- 

Vanilla Chex: A relative newcomer to the Chex Universe, Vanilla Chex  rode in on the heels of Chocolate Chex [see below] and made it's bid for glory.  Alas it bid too low.  They are not bad, but not good enough to ever bother buying unless the store is out of Chocolate Chex.

Vanilla Chex: C+

Chocolate Chex: They is where the goodness lies.  Chocolate Chex are good stuff.  Chex covered in cocoa powder and other chocolate-y type goodness.  But they don't coat every piece.  No they leave about a third uncovered and normal.  That way you can still feel like you are eating a "good for you" cereal.

They are good with milk and they are good by the handful straight out of the box.  In fact, I usually end up eating them both ways since once you're done with a bowl of them, you wanna have more. [9]

Chocolate Chex: A

Cinnamon Chex: I must admit to having failed you in my quest to fully educate you about Chex.  I actually have never tried these.  I think cinnamon flavored things are okay, but the flavor doesn't really excite me terribly.  Thus, I have never bothered to buy these, though there were two or three times when I thought more than ten seconds about it, but then I bought Chocolate Chex. [10]

Chex on Amazon Cinnamon Chex: ??

Chex Clusters - Fruit and Oat: While thinking about writing this post, I discovered online that they now also have a new variety of Chex.  Once I see them on a shelf, I'll buy some and update this post.

Chex Clusters: ??

Past Varieties: Doing some research on the Interwebs [11] I found out that there are several past varieties of Chex that have come and gone.  Most of them I had never heard of, [12]  but I do remember Frosted Chex.  Not well enough to grade them, but enough to visualize the box in my head.

I have clear memories of Bran Chex.  If Wheat Chex is a freight train, then Bran Chex was Grand Central Station with all lines running. [13]  Also it tasted worse than Wheat Chex, so I'm not surprised it went away.

Finally, I have a memory of a Chex cereal that had little bits of nuts, brown sugar or other crunchy type goodness hanging off of each piece of cereal.  I don't recognize any of the list of Ex-Chex types as what I am remembering, maybe it was the Honey Graham Chex.  I just remember liking it. [14]

Chex Cereals: B+

[1] - Not the least of which is that I'm lazy.  Also, other reasons that should be evident as you read.  Also, if you haven't already read it, here's a really old post about Cereal in general you can read.
[2] - I'm also not commenting on the Gluten Free Chex Oatmeal, because Oatmeal is nasty.
[3] - And not just the same two commercials you get on Hulu during any given stretch of time
[4] - Couch not bed.
[5] - They probably scored a little higher than you might have thought given the commentary, but they are redeemed in part because of Muddy Buddies
[6] - That wasn't a joke saying you should pour a ton of sugar on them, really just a light sprinkle is sufficient.
[7] - Don't say I didn't warn you.
[8] - I feel compelled to tell you, before you read the next exchange, that for reasons I cannot explain the box of Honey Nut Checks in the vignette speaks with a French accent.
[9] BONUS: Looking for a great late night snack?  Put them in a bowl and cover them with a generous amount of lite Cool Whip.  Give a very light mix and enjoy.  Delicious and relatively lo-cal.  You can send me a thank you letter in the morning.
[10] - Why not buy both, you ask?  If I'm going to spend that much money, I'll just buy another box of Chocolate Chex.  Or maybe a Wheat Chex if the mood strikes me.
[11] - By which I mean Wikipedia.
[12] - Wheat and Raisin Chex?  Strawberry Chex?
[13] - Or was that visualization a little too much?
[14] - It's probably also why Honey Nut Chex still manages to sucker me once a year or so.

Friday, May 15, 2015

'Salems Lot

'Salem's Lot by Stephen King:

As amazing as this book is, the more amazing thing is that it is only King's second book.

Carrie is good, but the difference between these two books is stunning.  It's almost like it was written by someone else.

Don't get me wrong Salem's Lot is definintely a King book, steeped in his personal style and tone, but it is so much fuller and complete than Carrie.

If you somehow don't know, the book concerns the events that take place when vampires start to take over a small town in Maine.

It is downright creepy in all the best ways.

I've never actually seen all of the movie that was based on the book [1], but I've seen a few scenes from it and those have been good and creepy as well.  It's my understanding that the movie is well worth the watch. [2]

I can confirm for you that the book is well worth the read.

It is firmly couched in all of the standard vampire tropes, but also has some less known ideas about these creatures of the night that, if not actually drawn from actual myths, feel like they should be becaus they fit so well with the established ones.

One thing I don't like about the book is the bleak ending.  I know that King said when he originally started to write it, he meant for the vampires to win in the end, but as the writing progressed the story changed.  While the good guys do "win", it isn't much of a victory and I'm a sucker for a happy ending.

Another interesting side note is how one of the main-ish character's end story is never resolved.  At some point, he shuffles out of the town and you don't hear from him again.  Which is interesting because nearly thirty years later King picks up the thread in an entirely different set of books almost as if he had known all those years before what he was doing.  [3]

The only other thing about the book that isn't the best, in my opinion, is how easily the main vampire dies.  Everything up to that point comes hard and costly to the protagonists, it's almost a let down the ease with which they finally do succeed.

Honestly, if you haven't ever read this book, you should give it a shot.

Salems Lot: A

[1] - Something I hope to rectify in the near future.
[2] - Which is often not true for King movies.
[3] - More likely the loose end in Salem's Lot was just that, which was just fortuitous serendipity years later.


Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Smart Phones

Smart Phones:

I currently have in my pocket the entirety of recorded human knowledge.

Okay, so maybe not the entire entirety, but pretty darn close.

And while I know the following comparison has been made before, that isn't going to stop me from making it again.

If you go back not terribly far in time you can find the TV show Star Trek.  We can stop pretty much anywhere along the timeline of Star Trek.  We can go all the way back to just before my arrival on this planet to the original series, or we can choose any of the later shows as well.

One of the cool things that the crew members all had was a communicator.  In the original series it looked like a non-streamlined flip phone.  In later series it was a part of the badge on their uniforms.  But either way it was sci-fi and "from the future".

Only now, everyone has such a device and the ones we have are much, much cooler. [1]

When the Star Trek crew would beam down to a planet, one member of the away crew would be lucky enough to carry a tri-corder.  Using this device they [2] could get information about the world around them.

I have to assume that the reason only one person was allowed to carry this was because it was either very expensive or very complicated to use.

If that original crew was to beam down to the sidewalk in any area in the U.S. today they would be woefully under-teched.  Essentially every person they saw would have a better device then the squad of people from the far future [3] and that includes the ten year old listening to the latest Taylor Swift song that they just downloaded two seconds earlier. [4]

Of course the Star Trek guys all had phasers, but let's be honest, they aren't going to shoot anyone anyway.  And if they did, it would just be to stun them.  So, they end up just being glorified tasers after all.

Smart Phones are an astonishing bit of modern life that we already take for granted.  It wasn't that long ago that they didn't even exist.  It's only a few years back and your best phone doesn't even connect to the Internet.  A few years before that and they don't even text.  A few years more and the device you use to stay connected when you are away from home is a pager [5] and when you are at home the top end phone will let you roam about, just as long as you don't get too far away from the base unit.  And finally a few more years back and the only phone you've got is connected to the kitchen wall with a twirly cord that's a knotted mess. [6]

Today's smart phone does it all.  In fact, if I have one complaint about them it's that we really need a new name for them.  Because of all the things that they do, acting as a phone is probably the one we use the least.

My Internet Surfing, texting, photo taking, music playing, memo writing, game playing, weather telling, news reporting, shopping center, dictionary, pedometer, electronic book, movie taking, flashlight, compass, video playing device that incidentally also works as a phone: A+

[1] - Actually I'm not sure if anyone actually sells cell phones that look like Star Trek badges.  I'm going to have to assume that it is possible.  After all we have people walking around with widgets stuffed in their ears looking like they are conversing with Lando. How hard would it be to add a speaker and pin it on your shirt.
[2] - Often Bones in the Original Series.
[3] - Okay not every person.  They would still have my mom outclassed, but what can you do?
[4] - While one of their crew is bent over a device three times bigger trying to peer into the view finder.
[5] - It's a thing.  Look it up and be astonished.
[6] - And let's not even go back that final step to a rotary phone.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

On Writing - Stephen King

On Writing: (By Stephen King):

I was reminded of this book by an old friend and so I dug it off of the shelf and took a side journey from my other stack of books to read it.  I got this book years ago and I really don't know why I hadn't bothered to read it before now.

The book is divided into three sections.  The first is composed of several vignettes and stories from King's past that are intended to give a glimpse into his inspiration for writing and his becoming a published writer.  The second is King answering questions about being a writer and the third is simply advice from King to anyone who wants to be a writer.

I suspect most people would think that the first section would be very interesting, the second less so and the third probably downright boring.  I found all three sections to be enlightening and entertaining.

If you've been reading this blog for any length of time (or if you've just recently started and went back and read some of the old stuff) you should have sussed out that I'm trying to become a published author myself. [1]  So, it stands to reason that I would like and care about King's advice on the topic. But even the second and third sections have their share of stories from King's life, so even a non-writer could enjoy them.

I read the book with a grain of salt expecting his advice to be things that I either don't do or don't want to do or perhaps can't do, but by and large I was pleased to find that most of his advice are already common practice for me.  I don't edit my stuff in later drafts with nearly as intentionally heavy cuts as King, but then again maybe I should.

Really my only problem with the book is that for the most part its message seems to be a sudden shift in its message at the end.  Most of the book seems to be saying: "Go out and write!  I don't care who you are or what your experiences are.  Give it a shot!  There is no right way to do it.  Just do it!"

But then at the end there is a long section about a semi-fictional author's history of trying to get published.  Which while informative, didn't really say anything that I hadn't guessed at or heard before and seemed to flow counter to the rest of the books message.  This section seemed to be saying, "If you want to be a successful writer, then you'd better do it something similar to this."

There is also a bit at the end about King's experience from fifteen years ago or so when he was hit by a van, was nearly killed and the surgeries and rehab he had to go through after.  The books was finished while the pain of this was still ongoing and it seems to go back to the original message and perhaps with a hint of, "Writing is Life.  Don't stop" thrown in for good measure.  I promise not to stop writing, now if I could just find someone to publish it.

On Writing: A

[1] - I have written four novels so far, but have yet to succeed in finding someone help me get them from my harddrive onto a bookshelf.  Anyone know of an agent looking for clients?


Wednesday, April 29, 2015


[Stephen King's books have been around for quite a while and I can't really see much of a way to talk about them without giving away plot points and such.  So, if you've managed to avoid finding out what happens in his books up to this point and want it to remain that way, I would advise not reading any of my write-ups of his work.] [1]


Stephen King's first book is pretty short and almost should be called more of a novella than a novel. It however was not the first Stephen King book that I ever read.  [2]

Long before I got around to reading it, I knew the basic plot and what it was about.  Girl has telekinetic powers and gets blood dumped on her at the prom, violence ensues.  It was hard not to know about that second fact, anyone who saw the cover of the VHS tape or perhaps the movie poster could easily figure that out.  I'm not sure how I came about the TK knowledge.

I've never liked reading a book or watching a movie when I know what's gonna happen at the end. So maybe that explains why I put off reading this one for so long.  At any rate, when I did finally get around to reading it the first time, I consumed it in practically one sitting.  This time around it took slightly longer, but not by much. [3]

I very much enjoyed it both times.  It is a simple straightforward story.  Meet the societal outcast.  See how the outcast lives.  Dump some more on the outcast.  The outcast explodes.

There are lots of books that are variations on the theme.  Mostly the variations are just what type of outcast we are dealing with and how successful (or not) the resulting explosion is.  This one also dabbles in the 'the outcast starts to rejoin society' sideplot as well.

For all of its simplicity it is a very engaging and well told tale.  I particularly like how King intersperses the story with news articles, court testimony and other things along the way.  I was honestly surprised to find out that he added all of that in the second draft as an attempt to make what was essentially a long short story into a sllightly short novel.

The story about the book goes that when he first sat down to write it, he was so unhappy with it that he threw in the trash and gave up on ot.  Only to come home and find his wife had fished it out of the trash, read it the first several pages and pushed him to continue.

Looking at it this time having read the many King books that come after, you can see that the unique Stephen King style and tone are already well developed and present in this book  The flow of the story and the characters themselves are very similar to even his most recent stuff.

Perhaps what is most interesting is that for all that the book is a Stephen King type of 'horror' novel, it really isn't a book about the supernatural.  Sure Carrie has telekinetic powers and sure she uses them to blow up the town at the end of the book, but the bulk of the novel and the real meat of the story have nothing to do with that.  At its heart it is just a story about a girl on the outskirts of societal norms that is pushed beyond the breaking point.  The story could be changed to have her lose the TK and instead simply shoot up the town and the message essentially remains unchanged.  Perhaps that is why this and many other King books are so successful.

Carrie: A

Movie Footnote: I've never seen the original movie made after the book. My understanding is that it is actual pretty decent.  Something that can't often be said about the film version of Stephen King works.  I believe there was also a more recent remake and if memory serves that one was deemed pretty terrible.

[1] - Which is a long way of saying, 'spoiler alert'
[2] - That would be Firestarter, but more on that when I read/grade it.
[3] - But as I already said, it isn't very long.

Saturday, April 25, 2015



I have memories of when Crispix was first introduced as a cereal.

I remember the original commercial and the jingle and the slogan [1]

I remember getting the cereal not long thereafter;

And I have fond memories of eating it and truly enjoying its crispy goodness and flavor.

. .

Memories lie.

Crispix was on sale recently so I bought some.  When I got around to opening it [2] I was greeted with familiar sights and smells.  Crispix has that unique hexagon shape.  Which, let's face it, is completely there so that you don't start thinking it is Chex.  And it smelled just like I remembered.

After the milk was poured I dug in.

The flavor was okay.  Nothing to write home about but nothing I will ever long for.

In my memories Crispix is crunchy, but has some body to it.  There is some substance to each little bit.

In reality, each one has about the same thickness and substance as two corn flakes.

But the real travesty is that while they are crispy right out of the box and they are crispy when the milk is poured, that is a condition that lasts for approximately five seconds after that.

It's time for a new slogan. [3]

Crispix: C

[1] - "Kellog's Crispix is crispy times two."
[2] - Likely the next morning, but possibly that night.
[3] - "Kellog's Crispix is crispy for two [seconds]."


Monday, April 20, 2015

Stephen King

Stephen King:

This one isn't going to be much of a mystery when it comes to the ultimate grade, so I'll save you the suspense.  He gets an A+.

I once read a quote by  person attempting to put down Mr. King's work in which they said something along the lines of, "He's the McDonald's of horror."

I assume they meant that he's written quite a lot and that it seems made for the masses and thus isn't true literature.  If you ask me, in the end, it's not much of an insult.  If I could be the McDonald's of anything, I'd jump right on that opportunity.  [1]  Millions of dollars and millions of fans sounds pretty good to me.

Just because something is popular, doesn't make it bad.  Just because something isn't Moby Dick, doesn't make it bad either.  Stephen King books manage to itch some back, dark corner of your brain that needs a scratch every now and again.  Sure there are probably lots of other creepier, scarier writers out there.  I don't care.

I loves me some Stephen King books.  

As the Pook can attest, I literally own them all.

And I've read them all.

He is one of my three favorite authors. [2]

While Mr. King is still putting out new material, it doesn't come out nearly as fast as I'd like, so to get an appropriate King fix, I've made the following decision.

I'm going to reread all of them.

Yes, all of them.

From the really good (Misery, Salem's Lot, Firestarter) to the really bad (Insomnia, Tommyknockers).

From the short (The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, Carrie, Thinner) to the seriously long (The [uncut] Stand, The Dark Tower Series).


From the tame (Eyes of the Dragon) to the downright creepy and dark stuff (All Dark No Stars).

And of course, I'll give it all a grade.

My current plan is to go chronologically. [3]

Feel free to read along if you'd like.

Stephen King: A+ [4]

[1] Heck, I'd be the Wendy's of anything.
[2] The other two are Dick/Felix Francis and Nick Hornby.  I own everything by them as well.  In fact if you are looking for something new to read, I would heartily recommend any of the three.
[3] I've actually already started Carrie.  I'm about 40 pages in.
[4] Told you so.  Also, I should probably be clear that I am just talking about the books.  Some of the movies are good.  I few are great.  Most kind of blow.  The TV shows don't fare much better.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

A Movie Plot

A Movie Plot:

Imagine this movie:

The main character is a young man without a whole lot of prospects.  Living in the shadow of his older siblings and with no real likelihood of getting/inheriting anything on the home front, he heads out to make his own way.

Naturally he meets a girl and they immediately connect.  They seem like a perfect match.  But of course her family disapproves of their whirlwind romance.

Determined to make it all work out the hero starts manipulating things.  He's doing a little deceiving and he's working all the angles. He's got a lot of balls up the air and he's managing to keep everything in motion.   And while what he's doing isn't exactly on the most honest and straight and narrow of paths, his heart is in the right place.  He has a girl to win and a fortune to claim.

Of course things start to spiral out of control and then just as it seems there is no way he can pull it off, *****[1] everything comes together.  The girl is his and he's made a name for himself.

Roll Credits.

Perhaps at this point you are saying, "Mister B, this is not a very original movie plot."

Well you would be right.  There are countless movies that follow this general script.  Off of the top of my head: The Secret of My Success, Some Kind of Wonderful, Opportunity Knocks, 10 Things I Hate About You, etc, etc, etc.  Really just about every other movie made in the 80's

Okay, now go back to the place marked with the five asterisks (*****) and change the ending.  Scrap everything after that point and change it to:

everything gets worse.  The more he tries to keep it together the more things spiral out of control.  The more they spiral out of control, the more frantic he gets.  In the heat of the moment he starts making some bad decisions and before he knows what's really going on, he's stepped a bit too far over the line.  Instead of the hero of our plot, he's the villain.

I've just described Hans from Frozen.

The more I watch this movie [2] the more I feel bad for him.  One little twist of fate in the other direction and the credits are rolling, everyone is happy and he's got the girl.

Yes, I know.  You want Anna to end up with Kristoff.  That's only because you've seen the movie as scripted.  You've seen the wheels come off the wagon.  But you can't deny Anna and Hans have a connection at the beginning of the movie.  I don't know about you but I've never met someone before that I could immediately sing a complicated duet with. [3]  They were BOTH singing, "You and I were just meant to be."

If there was no Kristoff and the movie was scripted differently, you'd have been cheering at the end when they ended up together.

Just saying. [4]

Hans [5]: B-

[1] - Note this place.  It will become important later.
[2] - It's the Bean's favorite.  We watch it and/or listen to the soundtrack a lot.
[3] - Not even the Pook.
[4] - Yes, I know he tries to kill Elsa with a sword.  At that point, everything is so chaotic and out of whack he's been taken over by temporary insanity.  You may be laughing now, but there are plenty of real world stories (and movie stories) in which someone gets caught up in the moment and takes things one step too far without really realizing how far over the line they've managed to get.
[5] - Either a victim of bad luck or perhaps just simply on the wrong side of that Disney Magic.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Led Zeppelin IV and Taylor Swift Red

Led Zeppelin IV and Taylor Swift Red:

I wandered into my local Disc-Go-Round [1] looking for a David Bowie CD [2].  I was unable to find the Bowie disc, so I began browsing looking to see if something else caught my eye. [3]  It was then I remembered that my music collection was sadly lacking in that I actually didn't own any Zeppelin. [4]  So I picked up Zeppelin IV and then Taylor Swift's Red CD caught my eye.  I also didn't own any of her CD's, but in one of those weird serendipitous cosmic sets of coincidences, she and her music had come up a lot in several recent unconnected conversations and programs. [5]  So I took it as a sign that I should get both.

Before I actually gave either a listen it seemed obvious that this would be a perfect opportunity to compare the two.  If not necessarily a fair two things to compare.

Granted that while as I previously mentioned I didn't own and had never owned any Zeppelin CD's before,  [6] I have heard plenty of their songs.  As for Taylor Swift, I think I could count the number of her songs I'd previously heard on one hand and I probably couldn't name the title of a single one, save Blank Space. [7]

So without further ado, after having twice listened to both CD's completely, a comparison of Led Zeppelin IV and Taylor Swift's Red.

1) Length:

Zeppelin IV has eight tracks on it.  Red has sixteen.  Personally if I get a CD and it only has eight songs I usually feel kind of ripped off.  [8]  There are exceptions to the rule, Donald Fagan's Nightfly for example.  Of course there are also CD's that have plenty more songs, but it's clear that the artist was scraping things off the sides of barrel to fill up the disc.  So, I'd rather have a shorter disc of awesome songs, than a longer one of crap.  Sixteen songs is on the other side of the spectrum.  Too many songs and I've quit paying attention by the end.  Surely not all sixteen of these are quality?

In these instances both are exceptions to the rule.  Zeppelin IV is eight songs and there is nothing you regret hearing.  They could have put more, but the CD is enough.  Red goes on for sixteen, but there is nothing you want taken out of the list.

The Winner: A tie.

2) Catchy-ness of songs:  

There is no denying that the Zeppelin songs have staying power.  Of the eight songs, I already knew five of them by heart and I was at least familiar with one of the others (Battle of Evermore).  Thus only two of them were relatively unfamiliar to me (Four Sticks, When the Levee Breaks).

I don't think I'd ever heard a single song off of Red before.[9]  Of course I don't typically listen to any radio station that would be playing Taylor Swift songs, so it's possible they are all played non-stop somewhere else on the dial. [10]  There were several of the songs that I caught myself singing later (22, Stay Stay Stay, and Red at the minimum.)  But that was immediately after listening to the disc and I haven't done it again since.

The Winner: Zeppelin

3) Replayability:

Granted this is a lot like the previous topic, but it is not the same.  Uncatchy songs would lead to low replayability, but catchy songs that don't go together, go on too long, or are too much the of the same [11] make CD's non-replayable as well.

Zeppelin IV has decent replayability.  Again since five of the eight songs are legitimate hits, even if you don't particularly like the other three, you need only wait a few minutes and you're back to a hit.  However, the songs do all have a very similar feel to them.  The same guitar sound that pretty much defines Zeppelin dominates all of the songs and let's face it Robert Plant pretty much sounds the same every time as well. [12]

Red also has decent replayability.  The CD is sixteen songs, but there is quite a range of styles and sounds. For instance, some of the CD sounds downright country.  Others are clearly rock, pop or a kind of bluesy romantic.  Swift also sings in a variety of styles.  The result is a lot of variety that keeps the CD fresh sounding.

The Winner: Swift [13]

4) Topics of songs

As previously stated my exposure to Taylor Swift is limited to these sixteen songs and a handful of others.  So, perhaps this next statement isn't true, but it sure seems it to me.

Here is a story line:

A) Girl desires boy [14]
B) Girl and boy start seeing each other
C) It gets serious
D) Everything is wonderful
E) Conflict and tension arrises
F) Things aren't going so good
G)They either resolve things (go back to "D") or things fall apart (go on to "H")
H) They break up
I) Girl thinks back on relationship
J) Go back to "A" [15]

Every single Taylor Swift song follows this story line.  EVERY SINGLE ONE.  Granted some of them do not go through the entire story and may only focus on one, two or three parts of it.  But they are all there.  I know this is true for her Red album because I realized this halfway through the first listening and so on the second listening I identified where in the story line each song was.

I'm not saying there is anything wrong with that, [16] and I'm sure there are people who really, really, really like focusing on that topic, but for me it gets kind of worn out.

Zeppelin IV does not have this problem.  Sure there are some songs here about girls.  There is also a song that just about walking around the city and stuff happens (Misty Mountain Hop), a song about rock and roll  and girls (Rock and Roll), a song about trying to buy your way into the afterlife (Stairway to Heaven) and a song about the battle between good and evil [17] (Battle of Evermore).  If I have a complaint about the CD it's that there are times when the songs seem to lose their continuity.  Honestly there are times when I think Plant no longer knows what he's talking about and is just filling space with lines that rhyme.

The Winner: Zeppelin IV by a long shot.

5) Cuteness of Artist

Have you looked at recent pictures of Plant?  Even at their best the guys from Zeppelin are kind of shaggy, and unkempt.  And I don't know why, but I suspect that they didn't necessarily smell so good either.

Taylor Swift is gorgeous.  There are sometimes where she has this slight oddness and angularity to her look that I can't quite put my finger on, but whatever.  She's a hottie.

The Winner: Taylor Swift by a really really long shot.

Doing a quick tally the verdict is 2.5 for Zeppelin IV and 2.5 for Taylor Swift's Red.  Thus a tie and a need for a tie breaker category.

Here it is:

Tie Breaker: If I was out of space on my iPhone which would I delete first to make space?

Taylor Swift's good looks notwithstanding, Red would get deleted without a second thought.

The Final Winner: Led Zeppelin IV

Led Zeppelin IV: A-
Taylor Swifts- Red: A-

[1] - Except I've already lied to you as it is now a CD Warehouse and hasn't been Disc-Go-Round in years. I evidently have issues with change.
[2] - The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars to be specific.  Perhaps I have a problem with letting go of the past instead.
[3] - This was one of those rare moments when I'm child free and suddenly find that I am free to browse and not focused on just keeping the Bean from destroying the universe.
[4] - I know.  I know.  Please don't tell anyone.  I've gotten past it now.
[5] - Mostly stuff on the radio (NPR ftw), but also on other media types
[6] - Unless the Encomium tribute album counts and it shouldn't.
[7] - But only because it was the topic of one of the coincidental Taylor Swift occurrences that had occurred in the previous couple days.
[8] - Counting Crows don't think I didn't note that your newest 11 track offering includes two demo versions of two of the songs, so really only has nine songs.  You aren't fooling anyone.
[9] - It's possible I heard 22 before, but I don't think I actually had.  More likely is that I heard someone else singing snippets of it.
[10] - But I doubt that.
[11] - Any Boston CD for example.
[12] - Changing volume level or speed doesn't count.
[13] - But just barely.
[14] - Typically one if not both of them are of the "bad girl" or "bad boy" variety
[15] - Usually with a new boy
[16] - Especially if you are a teenage high school or college girl who's life is surrounded by that kind of drama.
[17] - And maybe a little Tolkein

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Cap’n Crunch’s Sprinkled Donut Crunch

Cap'n Crunch's Sprinkled Donut Crunch Cereal:

There are several different varieties of Cap’n Crunch and to be sure I’ve tried them all.  Except for a brief, unrepeated stint in my early years, I’ve never been a huge fan of the peanut butter flavor and I found the Chocolate Crunch to be unappetizing, but all of the other varieties grace my bowl from time to time. [1]

Given all of that, you might have thought that when I and the family entered our local Target and saw the Cap’n’s newest offering I would have been eager with anticipation, but it wasn’t like that at all.
Somehow the idea of the already sugary sweet Cap’n Crunch being combined with frosted donuts seemed to take things much too far. [2] 

The Pook wasn’t nearby while the Bear and I made our initial opinions.  As I’ve already said, I was immediately a ‘no go’ on this one, but after gazing at the box the Bear looked up at me and said, “Let’s get it!”

Using a time honored and proven strategy passed down from generations, I immediately said, “Let’s see what mom says.”  I was semi-sure that she would be as put off by the whole thing as I was.  However, when she wheeled the Bean up to us in the red target buggy and saw giant display of the cereal in question she immediately said, “Let’s get it!”

That evening, though dinner had long past and breakfast was but a distant memory, the Bear asked if he could have a snack.  When told that he could, he asked if he could have some of the new donut cereal.[3]  And thus we broke into the box.

The cereal is more akin to Quaker “Oh’s” than Cap’n Crunch.  Each bit is shaped like a small donut and they definitely lives up to their name and are very crunchy.  In fact it is one of the few cereals that benefits from sitting for a few seconds so that it can soak up some of the milk and soften a bit.[4]

There are in fact, tiny sprinkles on each of the rings, though honestly I don’t know that they provide any real flavor to the dish.  They do have the unfortunate side effect of coloring your milk.  Usually I’m all for colored milk, but because the sprinkles are a variety of colors the end result is a kind of gray with a slight blue tint that does not look appetizing at all. [5]

And what about the flavor you ask?

Surprisingly they are downright tasty.  The four of us ate over half of the box that night eating the cereal dry right out of the box.  It makes for a great snack when eaten that way.

The next morning I had it for breakfast with milk and it is equally tasty eaten in the traditional manner.  Again it strongly reminds me of “Oh’s” in its flavor as well has shape and texture.
In fact, since it was on sale and tasted so good that the Pook went back to Target that day and bought two more boxes.

Cap’n Crunch’s Sprinkled Donut Crunch: A-

[1] – To be completely honest, in recent years I have found the Crunch Berries and Oops! All Berries to be too sugary sweet and thus I pretty much only eat the regular Cap’n Crunch at this point.
[2] – My stomach actually gave a little squirch of distaste as I gazed at the purple box.
[3] – Because cereal is by no means just for breakfast.
[4] – As opposed to most cereals which are of the “eat fast before it sogs” variety.
[5] – Of course, I never drink the milk from regular Cap’n Crunch either as it is so sugary sweet it promises an instant case of diabetes

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Minimum Wage

This post was prompted by a FB post from an old high school friend of mine and isn't something I normally spout on about, but for better or worse here goes.[1]  

Minimum Wage:

Labor like all other goods and services is controlled by the interaction of Supply and Demand.  In short the market demand for something is the ability and desire of everyone in the market to purchase that item at all prices and market supply is the ability and desire of all the businesses in the market to create/sell them at all prices. [2]

This is a simple graph of just that. [3]

The place where the supply line and the demand line cross is called equilibrium.  If you price a product at equilibrium price (P*) you will succeed in having an equilibrium quantity (Q*). 

This is awesome for several reasons.  First because the quantity demanded by the consumers will be exactly the same as the quantity supplied by the producers. [4]  Which means that at that price level every consumer who wants to purchase at that price level gets to do so and every items created by the suppliers at that price level gets sold.  This is good because it means we aren't wasting resources and we don't have unhappy customers.  But for the businesses this is extra good because it is also where profit is maximized. [5]

"Okay, Mr. B," you say, "but what does any of that have to do with minimum wage?"

Hold your horses, I'm getting there.

Let me try to add one more concept, without drawing a lot of graphs and writing a lot of paragraphs.  So to save time, put your finger on the graph above and pretend it is the price line.[6]   Now move your finger up or down on the graph, but be sure to keep it horizontal.  

You should be able to see that at every other price, the price line will hit the supply and demand line at different locations.  And thus at each of these locations either the resulting Quantity Supplied or Quantity Demanded will be greater than the other.  This will result in either a surplus of a product if the price is above equilibrium or a shortage of a product if the price is below equilibrium [7].

"Um, Mr. B, minimum wage?"

Right, well it should come as no surprise that minimum wage works just the same way.  Only because this is the labor market and not the product market we typically think of, the roles are switched around.  Thus in the labor market the demand is not customers wanting to buy a product, but instead is businesses demanding employees to hire.  And the supply is not businesses providing products for sale, but instead is people wanting to supply their work to the labor market.  And finally the price line doesn't determine the price of a product but instead determines the wage that market should charge.  

Of course there is going to be a different graph for every different market or job.  So the equilibrium wage for a doctor is different than that of a plumber or a butcher or someone working the drive through at a burger joint.  But if the market is left alone, the market will automatically find the equilibrium price or wage [8] and the market will be efficient and profit will be maximized [9]

This means that if the equilibrium wage for a doctor is $150,000 a year then that's what they will get paid and if the equilibrium wage for a butcher is $45,000/yr that is what they will get paid and if the equilibrium wage for a person working the drive through at a burger joint is $12,000/yr that is what they will get paid.

But then someone in the government says, "Hold on a second.  You can't live on $12,000/yr.  Let's make it illegal to sell your labor for less than $14,500/yr.[10]  

When someone, in this case the government, says you can't sell something below a certain price, this is called a price floor.  And price floors [11] always cause a surplus.

"Woohoo!" you say, "That means there are more jobs than people looking for them! Right?"

Not so fast.  Remember in the labor market the roles are switched and a surplus means the quantity supplied of people wanting a job will be larger than the number of employees demanded by businesses.  So, what it means is that a lot of people are going to not be able to find the job they want.

Here's the graph you know you are wanting:

Pf is the Price Floor.  Qd is the quantity demanded and Qs is the quantity supplied. The distance between Qd and Qs is the amount of the surplus in the market.  In other words it is the difference between the number of people who want to work at a given price for a given job and the number of jobs businesses are willing to fill at that same price.  

But really that number is less important than the difference between Q* and Qd.  Because that number is the number of jobs that will disappear because of the price floor or in this case because of the minimum wage.

"So, then if we raise the minimum wage to $10.10/hr how many people will lose their job?" you ask.

Good question.  The answer is that nobody knows for sure.  Looking around you can find a veritable mixed bag of answers from some people saying that nobody will lose their jobs to others estimating that around 1 million jobs will be lost.  

I obviously don't know, but I do know that I have read articles about things like McDonald's in anticipation of a higher minimum wage creating test stores in which all of the food production is completely automated and thus cutting the number of employees that they would need to hire.  I've seen stories about parks that fired all of their gate attendants and replaced them with automated ticket taking machines.  And if you are old enough to remember when gas stations had someone who would fill up your gas and clean your windows for free and always wondered what happen to those jobs and who's to blame for them disappearing, you need look no further than minimum wage. So, I have to think there will be some impact.

Thus, in my mind strike one against the minimum wage is that it causes jobs to go away.

"Okay, we don't know how many, but do we know what kind of jobs will go away?" you ask.

While we don't for sure what jobs will go and which ones won't, we can make some pretty good guesses.  Just looking at the examples I gave above you can see that they are low skill jobs that offer low pay.  They are jobs that aren't intended to be careers.  They are jobs in short that are pretty much meant to be for high school teens looking for extra cash or for a place to get experience, a foot in the door as it were.

So mostly the jobs that would disappear would mean more teenagers without jobs.

"But I know of several people who are working two minimum wage jobs just to try and stay alive," you say.

I agree that's a problem, but remember that we are currently coming out of the Great Recession and that the job market is not by any means back to where it should be.  When the job market and the economy is working correctly the percentage of people making minimum wage is only around 3-5% of the workforce and the vast majority of those people are, as we've already said, teenagers.

That's not surprising since as we said minimum wage is not meant to be a wage level that people earn for their career.  It's an entry level position or a summer job for a teenager. 

"So, if minimum wage goes up only teenagers will lose their jobs?"

Or we could say that if we got rid of minimum wage it would mostly be teenagers who saw their wages go down.

"Get rid of minimum wage?  If we did that business would just offer a tiny amount for their jobs."

Nope they wouldn't.  Because it works both ways.  If the business offers less than equilibrium they will be giving a price below equilibrium and as we already said that will just cause a shortage.  In this case we would have a large quantity of businesses demanding employees at this low wage and a very small quantity of people willing to supply their labor at such a low price.  

If a burger business really did say that they were only going to offer $3.00/hr for the job of working at their drive through they would quickly find the only people willing to work there would be people who couldn't get jobs anywhere else because they were such horrible employees nobody offer a better wage was willing to hire them and the business would find their customers did really enjoy ordering from them and they would start to take their business elsewhere.  In other words, the more a money a business offers the more people willing to work there and the better the pool of potential employees they have to choose from.  Which means happier customers and more profits.

And I know this is true because in a normal economy only 3-5% of people are even making minimum wage.  Thus most business already offer more than minimum wage.  In part because their job may be more difficult, but also because they want to attract the best employee that they can afford.

Of course, I'm not saying that some jobs wouldn't lower their wages, but most wouldn't and I know most teenagers don't want to admit it, but I suspect if you asked and they were honest, most of them would admit that they could get by even if their job only paid $6.00/hr.

"What about the people who have minimum wage jobs and aren't teenagers?  Lowering their pay rate might make it where they can't survive."

True, but to me the solution there is that they need to get a better job and before you get irate and start shouting about people stuck in dead end jobs and lack of skills and no money for college, etc, etc, etc.  Let me say that for those people the solution to me would be to help them get skills, training and school so that they can get out of those jobs and not to artificially inflate wages across the board.

So strike two for minimum wage in my mind is that it really isn't helping the people we want it to help at all.

Finally, there's inflation.

I don't have the room to give a full rundown on inflation, but the gist is that over time the purchasing power of money can get eroded.  Thus you may find that if you took $100 to the store today and bought a small pile of goods with it and then next year you went back to the same store and tried to buy the exact same pile of goods, you would find that you couldn't.  Inflation would have made it to where the cost of those goods had risen. [12]

There are a lot of things that can cause inflation but one of the major contributors is too much money in the market place.  

For instance let's pretend that all of the money in the country was only $1,000.  And that in the market place the equilibrium price for bread was $1 per loaf.  If we suddenly increased  the amount of money in the marketplace to $2,000 what would happen?

Well since the price of bread was determined by the equilibrium price, if suddenly everyone had more money [13] we would suddenly see demand for products rise.  In fact an increase in income is one of the things that determines that demand line we talked about way back at the first graph and as I just said an increase in income will cause an increase in demand.  So what happens when you increase demand?  Here's a graph that shows it: 

Demand has shifted to the right (from D1 to D2) and prices have risen (from P1 to P2).

Thus giving everyone more money just means that they will drive the price of bread up.  So, in our example, doubling the money supply from $1,000 to $2,000 will just cause the price of bread to double from $1 to $2.  

Sure there will be a brief period in which people will have extra money in their pockets, but quickly they will find that prices have adjusted so that however much they could buy with their paychecks before the money supply doubled, that is exactly how much they would be able to buy after the money supply doubled.

This is no less true for minimum wage.  But instead of doubling the amount of money in the money supply we are trying to artificially increase incomes with a different method, but the result will be the same.  More money = more demand = higher prices.  

To add an additional problem from the other side of the coin, if we tell the burger joint that they have to increase their employees wages by x%, the burger joint will have to raise its prices to accomplish this and so will everyone other job that hires at minimum wage and this will have a ripple effect through society.  So the prices of products will also rise because of this. [14]

Thus in my mind the third strike against minimum wage is that in the long run we aren't really even helping the few people who do get that pay raise, because in the end the increase in demand combined with the decrease in supply will mean that inflation will raise the prices for everyone.  

Again, I'm not saying that there aren't people out there working minimum wage jobs that are struggling to survive and who desperately need to get paid more.  What I am saying is that those people need new jobs, not an artificial increase in the wage of their old job.  They don't need to stay in a low skill, low pay, minimum wage entry level job.  They need to find a better career job that they can do and if there isn't such a job then they need to improve their skills set and situation so that those jobs are accessible.  And if their situation is so bad that they can't afford to do that or they are unable to do that, then society, the government, or others need to act to help them so that they can.

In summary, in my mind, raising minimum wage so that:

a) jobs disappear
b) few of the people who really need it are actually helped by it; and
c) it causes prices across the board to rise and ultimately negate any minimum wage increase anyway

seems like a giant failure.

Minimum Wage: D+[15]

[1] - Also, fair warning, this obviously involves a good bit of economics and is a pretty involved topic that I'm trying to handle in a short space and as such that means I'm not going to be able to go into as much depth as I'd like in some areas.  However, if you want me to explain anything further, I'd be happy to.
[2] - In regular English that means if I found out the total amount of CD's everyone in the market would be willing to buy at $5, $10, $15, $20 and every other possible price and I put all that in a graph, I would get the market demand for CD's.  If I did the same thing at every price for people willing to sell/make CD's I would get market supply for CD's.
[3] - In the interest of time and expediency I'm not going to go into depth on why Supply and Demand are drawn like that.  Just trust me on this one.
[4] - Quantity demanded is determined by where a particular price moving horizontally across the graph strike the Demand line.  Quantity supplied is determined by where a particular price moving horizontally across the graph strikes the Supply line.  At equilibrium those are the same place. 
[5] - And anyone who tells you that a business is in business for any reason other than making money and maximizing profits is probably selling you on something.
[6] - If William Shatner shows up you're thinking of the wrong kind of price line.
[7] - A surplus is bad because it means we've wasted resources and have extra products sitting around being unbought and a shortage is bad because it means that some customers are not getting to buy when they wanted to.  But even more importantly the seller is not maximizing profit.
[8] - Invisible hand ftw
[9] - Profit is maximized in the market, not necessarily in any one person's pocket.
[10] - Which translates to roughly $7.25/hr and obviously minimum wage didn't start at $7.25/hr and if you want to find who really started minimum wage in the US, you can pretty much point that finger at FDR.
[11] - That are set above equilibrium price
[12] - Historically the inflation rate in the US tends to be around 2-3% per year.
[13] - Or even if a significant portion of the people had more money
[14] - This is called the Wage-Price spiral and to see the beginning of its effects without me drawing another graph, this is the opposite of the increase in demand.  It is a decrease in supply.  To see the effect put your finger on the graph over the supply line and then move it to the left.  Note how the spot where the demand line and your finger cross moves up.  An increase in prices.
[15] - Minimum wage's heart is in the right place.  So I didn't give it an "F".