Young and Innocent

"Que the music..."

...This is the end
Beautiful friend
This is the end
My only friend, the end
Of our elaborate plans, the end
Of everything that stands, the end
No safety or surprise, the end
I'll never look into your eyes...again
Can you picture what will be
So limitless and free
Desperately in need...of some...stranger's hand
In a...desperate land
Lost in a Roman...wilderness of pain
And all the children are insane
All the children are insane


Okay, it's not the end of the world...but it's certainly the end of the world as we know it...and floating on my back, adrift somewhere in the specific ocean, I think I can see the end of the world from here...unless it's a mirage...which I'm counting on.

I feel certain that I am not the only one who's been watching the state of world affairs with an unhealthy mix of confusion, disgust, concern and alarm. (I can actually feel your head nodding in agreement as you read this)

I'll start close to home and move along from there.
I'm sure many of you have heard the reference to the Ixtoc1 oil spill as being the worst underwater spill ever in the gulf. It happened in the Bay of Campeche in Mexico back in 1979...and they tried all the same things and failed that BP has tried for the past 50+ days. BP called it Top Hat....the Mexicans called their Top Hat 'Operation Sombrero'. Amazing that it was over 30 years ago....and nothing has changed...and that was only 500 feet of water!
But that is not my point. My point is that am I the only one who realizes the irony that it was called IXTOC1? Just move a couple letters around and you have TOXIC1. Isn't that funny in the saddest possible way? Interestingly enough, I'm almost positive Ixtoc is a Mayan word....and we've all heard about the Mayan calendar...just sayin.

Every good story has a villain and a hero. The villain is usually obvious and the hero is often a surprise, come from behind underdog, against all odds. Here along the Gulf of Mexico, it's quite obvious who the villain is....but the hero remains unseen...unheard...invisible. It's like living in Gotham City and Batman has moved out of town without telling anyone.

Oh the Irony...

Like many, when I first heard that the Deepwater Horizon had exploded, I was saddened at the loss of life, but really didn't give it much more thought. Now, I can't get this whole catastrophe out of my mind. Not for one single second.

Sure, accidents happen. They happen all the, in fact, I predict that a server will 'spill' a drink on a customer somewhere.

...and in my Flash-Forward, I saw two different scenarios play out.

Scenario A
'Tony' was fairly new at his service job and was eager to do well. He wanted to impress his boss, do well at his job and make lots of money. However, on this particular day,
his service tray was clearly overloaded and unbalanced as he approached the table. The customer, who's name, ironically, was 'Amerigo', wasn't really paying attention to the server as he was engaged in other matters at the time.

The inevitable happened and a glass tipped over onto the lap of the customer.

The server immediately apologized, brought all the necessary tools to the scene to make things right. He whipped out a towel for the customer to begin drying off. He summoned the busboy over with more napkins and a mop.
The manager was called over to take over control of the situation and not allow things to get any worse than they already had. He politely barked orders to look for any errant ice cubes on the floor (so nobody else would slip and get injured), put out the 'wet floor' sign etc.

He showed genuine concern and apologized profusely to 'Amerigo. He immediately comp'd the meal, offered to pay for any dry cleaning expenses, moved the customer to a dry table, came back with a gift certificate for the trouble....and get this!...even offered to go next store to the JC Penney and buy 'Amerigo' a new pair of pants and a shirt so as to not affect the day of 'Amerigo' any further than the business accident already had.

'Amerigo' politely declined the offer as unnecessary, finished his meal and walked out...a customer for life...and talked about the experience positively with all his friends and family later that day.

Because of the story and the outcome, his friends and family all also became customers for life. (Some of them secretly wishing something similar would happen to them so they too, could get a free couple of meals out of it...and possibly a new pair of pants too!) They always asked to be seated in Tony's section.

Scenario B
'Tony' was fairly new at the job and was eager to do well. He wanted to impress his boss, do well at his job and make lots of money. However, on this particular day,
his service tray was clearly overloaded and unbalanced as he approached the table. The customer, who's name, ironically, was 'Amerigo', wasn't really paying attention to the server as he was engaged in other matters at the time.

The inevitable happened and a glass tipped over onto the lap of the customer.

The manager saw the commotion across the dining room and approached the scene, demanding to know what happened and who's fault it was. Both the server and the manager apologized to the customer for the accident but Tony immediately blamed the tray maker for a faulty tray.

Amerigo pointed angrily at the manger and told him it was his fault for letting the server carry an overloaded tray. Clearly, the server had not been trained properly, otherwise the 'spill' never would have happened, he said.

Amerigo felt his blood pressure begin to rise as Tony and the manager began to argue with each other about who was to blame. He also began to feel cold and wet as the spilled drink continued to be absorbed by his clothes.

No towels were brought, no orders were given to mop up the mess, however Tony and the manager occasionally interrupted their finger pointing argument with each other to whisper a 'sorry sir' at Amerigo, then continued on with each other, virtually ignoring him otherwise.

At this point, another server was walking by with another overloaded tray of drinks and right in front of them, slipped on the wet floor. The entire tray of drinks flew up in the air and landed, upside down, right on the head of Amerigo, the customer.

Amerigo, in a rage, instantly yelled at the manager..."see! is your fault for not training your staff properly!

Now, a huge part of the floor was wet with soda, coffee and other fluids, much like the customer himself.

Finally, the manger realized that things were escalating. He also realized he had never been trained for this particular situation and didn't have a plan of action to contain it and minimize the damage. So...he began to improvise and tried to make sure that whatever the outcome, he wouldn't be the one to blame.

Instead of getting towels and a mop, he ordered a busboy to bring a 50lb bag of flour from the kitchen and spread it on the floor to absorb the spill...and in a gesture of kindness, told another server to bring the customer another drink while they figured out who's fault this whole mess was.

Just as the busboy was about to pour 50lbs of flour onto the floor, the manager said "Wait!...we must give this procedure a name first. Let's call it Operation Magic Fairy Dust..."...and the Fairy Dust legend began.

Completely unexpected as it was, the server approached the table with another drink and she tripped on the glue like substance that had become the floor. Of course, the glass landed right in Amerigo's lap.

At this point, the wheels really started falling off the bus. Behind the bar, which was right next to the table of consequence, the bartender sneezed so hard into the exposed ice cube bin, that he fell back and ripped the soda gun line right out of the socket.

A huge spray of syrup began to erupt in a gushing flow. Miraculously, this fountain of spew arced right over the heads of Tony and the manager...and right onto the lap of Amerigo...but they were so busy arguing with each other that they hardly even noticed....or at least, pretended not to notice.

Unfortunately, Amerigo was sitting in a booth and was blocked in by the spilling soda and the two people arguing with each other in front of him. He was trapped.

It started to rain outside...actually more of a downpour. As it turns out, the only leak in the entire roof was right over the table of poor Amerigo.

He sat there...angry but helpless. Other than leave (which he couldn't because he was basically trapped) he didn't know what to do.

In that moment of weakness, Amerigo began to feel depressed. This was an unusual feeling for him because he was a powerful man in his life. He ran a large company, owned a lot of real estate, directed a lot of people, controlled many things. But he couldn't control this situation because he didn't have the technology. He didn't know anything about the restaurant business, or soda fountain mechanics, or even people skills with regards to those who's only concern was to deflect blame and minimize damage to themselves.

Yes, Amerigo was completely dependent on Tony and the manager to figure this thing out.
But, that didn't stop him from trying. He raised his voice, he threatened to 'kick some ass'. Of course he couldn't decide who's ass to kick until Tony and the manager figured out who's fault it was.

To give them credit, they did appear to try to limit the situation from getting any worse. The manager told the bartender to block the spewing soda with a toothpick, calling it 'Operation Woodpecker' then a skewer, 'Operation Churascaria'...and finally, when that failed, ordered the assistant manager to call 411 and get the number for 911.

But it turns out the assistant manager was never properly trained on how to use the phone. He ended up mis-dialing and ended up calling some 1-900 number. He was so intrigued by what was happening on the other end of the line that he totally forgot to call 411 to get the number for 911.
Luckily for all involved, there just so happened to be a Coca Cola employee and a couple of Hollywood types dining in the restaurant at the time. There was also a farmer who was bringing some hay back to the farm when he decided to drop in for a bite. In addition, there was also a hairdresser on lunch break and a guy who sold squeegees for a living.

By this point, it was obvious the manager was clueless as to the severity of things...his only interest was saving his job. Tony, of course, was thinking the exact same thing.

In a moment of pure epiphany, they both realized that they needed help figuring out how to solve this problem.

The first thing they did, at the suggestion of Amerigo, was to set up a blurry webcam on the broken and spewing soda fountain. It was connected to the internet via free netzero at a blazing speed of 9600 baud.
Then they set up a website to solicit ideas on how to fix this problem, which they then completely ignored.

Tony took some initiative on his own and started emptying salt and pepper shakers all over the floor to disperse some of the mess. Amerigo noticed this and told him that everybody knows coke syrup and salt and pepper mixed together will ruin the floor. He might has well have been talking to the wall, because Tony completely ignored him and continued to season the syrup.

Finally, the Coke guy came over and said he had good news. Based on his experience, the syrup bag will run out of pressure within a few months and stop flowing.
In the meantime, he offered to start putting together a bunch of straws, then feeding the excess syrup to other area restaurants in the meantime. He hated to see so much valuable syrup go to waste. They called it 'Operation CrackPipe'.

The manager and Tony thought this was a brilliant idea. They could sell the recovered syrup and get back at least some of the money they lost. The assistant manager ordered more straws while the 1-900 number was on hold.

Then the farmer walked up and told them that he had a truckload of hay out front and could bring it in and it would help absorb the mess on the floor.

Tony and the manager had never laughed so hard in their lives. He was dismissed.

Then the hairdresser came up and said she has a bunch of excess hair that she would donate, since hair and syrup tend to stick to each other. She would not explain how she knew that, but she too was dismissed.

The squeegee salesman then ventured over and offered to rent his entire fleet of 3 squeegees to at least keep the syrup out of the kitchen.

Amerigo, sitting quietly at his table, getting more and more drenched, tried to speak up but was immediately silenced and put in his place.

The squeegee contract was signed immediately, however it turns out that nobody, including the squeegee man himself knew how to use a squeegee properly. 'Operation Squeegee Luigi from Fiji' was a failure.

Finally, the two Hollywood types wandered over to Amerigo, Tony and the manager. It turns out that one of them owns a company that makes machines that will separate coke syrup from sprite syrup. The other made a movie in a coke factory once and felt he was qualified to offer some input.

They were both directed to the website.

During all of this, Amerigo managed to make a call to his office from his cell phone. It turned out that his vast real estate holdings included the land under the restaurant, which he owns and had leased to them.

He felt the strong urge to kick some ass, but again, didn't feel he could until Tony and the manager could figure out who's fault it was.

At one point, a news writer walked by the restaurant and asked what was happening. Both the manager and Tony responded simultaneously..."just taking care of a little spill"

"Well, that certainly looks like a lot more than a spill", said the journalist.

"Nope, just a spill" sang the choir...

Is anyone having a deja vu all over again?

Here's the one thing that I haven't seen addressed...and I'd really like to know the answer to this question nobody seems to be asking....BP stumbled across the motherlode of oil deposits under the Deepwater Horizon (which is an oxymoron to me btw) why were they capping the well in the first place? Saving it for a rainy day?...keeping oil prices artificially high?...don't have to pay the lease if you're not drilling?....wait for the opportunity to renegotiate the lease terms for a lower price, then start drilling?....why were they plugging instead of pumping? This has been bugging me since day one.

All grown up

Time for a little humor break, then we'll move on...

Conversation heard on Saturday at the Whitehouse...

Rahm..."Yo Barack, it might be a good idea to spend a couple days on the Gulf Coast next week"

Obama..." Yes a couple days on the golf course sounds like a great idea! I'll play a practice round tomorrow, then we'll go on Monday"

Okay, in all seriousness, this is a grand fiasco of epic proportions...and of course, the timing couldn't possibly be any worse now, could it.

Let's talk seafood for a moment. As if the farmed salmon crisis over the past year hasn't been bad enough on all seafood prices, adding insult to injury is the catastrophe in the gulf.

Shrimp, oysters, clams, snapper, grouper, crawfish....prices have skyrocketed and will stay high for a long time as everyone who uses seafood scrambles to other regions and other suppliers.

Like children playing unorganized soccer, you never see the ball, just a bunch of people grouped together chasing something.

Aside from all the ecological implications and the gulf coast regions economic ramifications, I would offer the case that every single restaurant operator in the USA who sees an increase in seafood prices from April forward has a case against BP for recovery of those increased costs as a direct result of the gusher. I'm usually the last to say it, but lawyer up people. Remember... all boats rise with the tide.

Moving away from this continent, other things that are bothering me these days.

This Israel/Gaza thing really seems to have gone too far. Now Iran has some boats on the way to Gaza directly. There's no doubt in my mind that things are going to escalate very rapidly if the blockade is kept in place. I'm afraid that is exactly what Iran wants.

Seeing what's going on in several of the former Soviet republics is also cause for alarm. It seems the seams are beginning to crack in many places around the world.

Like Korea for example. There appears to be no question that it was a North Korean torpedo that sank the the S Korean ship...and that too may be exactly what the North was hoping for....a regional showdown with global consequences.

If one looks at history...specifically the decade before WW1 and the decade before WW2....things just seem eerily similar on far too many fronts...just sayin.

I wonder if cockroaches look at humans with the same disgust we look at them...
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  • Steve-O,
    on a ship to no where...leaving any place… If the summer change to winter yours is no disgrace...

    First of all, you must have WAY too much time on your hands to produce this but I must say, entertaining, thought provoking and all the more reason to buy farm raised oysters from New Zealand!
    The political pissing match needs to stop and we need to send in a military containment team to deal with this. Then when the "leak" is stopped, we encapsulate those involved with the valve malfunction and send them down to get a close look. Perhaps in 50-60 days, we'll see if we can find a way to bring them up and let them share their new found wisdom.
    Yesterday I read an article that the oxygen depletion from both the dispersant and the volume of the oil and natural gas is astronomical. Sadly, we can't see that but will realize it over the next days/years/decades as species disappear from the ecosystem. Perhaps part of the action plan for BP and the gang is to write a letter of apology to our children for really screwing up in the name of cost savings and “good old boy” business. Like an iceberg, it’s what we don’t see that needs to concern us more.
    Thanks for the thoughts. My blood pressure thanks you as well.
  • Good post, Steve, and while I don't blame Obama for this mess, I think there were people who could've advised him to get a handle on this the second it happened. However, the BP mess is one that will undoubtedly be remembered way too long for causing so much damage, disruption, and chaos. You'd think BP would have a better idea of how to "contain" by now - this has gone on way too long, I agree, and the fallout ecologically is horrific not to mention disruption to the seafood industry businesses, individuals who've lost livelihoods,etc. You couldn't think up a worse mess if you spent weeks trying.
    Once this is sorted out, BP needs to be held accountable - I think we can all agree on that one.
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