Saturday, September 3, 2011
Since I live in Brussels, I try to bring visitors to good restaurants. I asked around and was told that Aux Armes de Bruxelles was a classic Belgian brasserie, so I brought two friends from London there for dinner, as it was their first time in Belgium. We were seated next to two English gentlemen who were eating moules. The lady in my party ordered them. Some minutes later the waiter returned to say that it was not the season for moules and that he would not recommend them. So she ordered another (more expensive) dish. I said nothing, but I know that almost all the mussels served in Brussels restaurants are farm-raised and are always in season. At the end of the meal, which was mediocre at best (we ordered expensively, including two bottles of fine wine), the gentleman in my party asked the waiter directly if service was included. The waiter looked him in the eye and said no. After he left our table, I told my friend that, yes, indeed, service was included — and it was even written so on the bill. He asked if he should leave anything additional, and I replied that I wouldn’t. So he left nothing. As we were leaving, the waiter fixed us with a malevolent stare, and I resolved then and there never to return and to warn others of this tourist trap.
Unfortunately, this is becoming more and more common. A recent survey indicated that at least 75% of well-known restaurants use frozen or pre-prepared food. And if you ask your waiter if what he’s serving is “fresh,” he will smile and say, “Yes, of course” — lying to your face.
So now I’m making it one of my causes to expose these criminals and put them out of business. I’m always interested in hearing others’ experiences as well.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Off he went, waving to a gaggle of young ladies, huddled in a doorway and heavily laden with backpacks. And Joey and I came in to Novo, where we were warmly greeted by the waiter, Gabriel.As Joey and I dug into our dinners, the front door was flung open, and the girls and their backpacks stormed in, looking confused ... but hungry. So, we invited them to join us at our table. Apparently, their travelling companion, PJ Roukis, was lost somewhere, and they were tired of waiting for him. They stashed his bags in the doorway across the square and decided to hook up with us.
Eventually, PJ was found and joined our group.
He was a young man with "attitude," but I soon talked him into calming down and trying the exotic-looking beverage one of the girls was enjoying. I told him it was "Tango Tea" and deadly potent. Nervous, skeptical ... but very macho ... he decided to accept my challenge and try the drink. Gingerly he lifted the little glass to his lips, and we all started pounding the table, shouting "Drink, drink, drink!" and "Down the hatch!". He gave a timid look and then downed the drink ... which, of course, was just plain old tea. As we laughed at his gullibility, he glowered at us. By this time, the kitchen was closed, and poor PJ had to settle for one of the fantastic desserts that Gabriel brought out on a plate. We all scarfed them down and agreed that it had been a fine evening.
Saturday, March 7, 2009
Stupid people should have to wear signs that just say "I'm Stupid." That way you wouldn't rely on them, would you? You wouldn't ask them anything. It would be like, "Excuse me... oops, never mind. I didn't see your sign."
It's like before my wife and I moved from Texas to California. Our house was full of boxes and there was a U-Haul truck in our driveway. My friend comes over and says, "Hey, you moving?" "Nope. We just pack our stuff up once or twice a week to see how many boxes it takes. Here's your sign."
A couple of months ago I went fishing with a buddy of mine. We pulled his boat into the dock, I lifted up this big ol' stringer of bass and this idiot on the dock says, "Hey, y'all catch all them fish?" "Nope. Talked 'em into giving up. Here's your sign."
Last time I had a flat tire, I pulled into one of those side-of- the-road gas stations. The attendant walks out, looks at my truck, looks at me and I swear he said, "Tire go flat?" I couldn't resist. I said, "Nope, I was driving around and those other three just swelled right up on me. Here's your sign."
We were trying to sell our car about a year ago. A guy came over to the house and drove the car around for about 45 minutes. We get back to the house; he gets out of the car, reaches down and grabs the exhaust pipe, then says, "Wow, that's hot!" See, if he'd been wearing his sign, I could have stopped him.
By stand-up comedian Bill Engval
One of our favorite paintings was "The Starry Night."
Tom bought a poster for his mother ... his only purchase in the Gift Shop, despite all the temptations available.Off we went to find some food! We were starving after all that art!
We found a very nice Italian resto and enjoyed risotto (not exactly Dutch, of course ... but filling).
The waiter took our picture ... and then gave us directions to a nearby "coffeeshop."
We made our way through the colorful streets ... and eventually found our destination. After a that, we zipped to the station and jumped on the train back home.
So, why not just say that, instead of making up this ridiculous expression that basically means nothing. Because, as anyone who took Economics 101 knows, when a central bank just prints money, it's a sign of desperation ... and a prelude to runaway inflation down the road. So, better to use a euphemism, with the assumption that we, the people, are so ignorant we won't understand what's really going on. But, guess what? Many of us do understand what's going on ... and resent, not just the watering down of our currencies, but the absolute desecration of the English language.
Shame on you pseudo-educated public officials and your contempt for the people who pay your salaries!
The hope is that if governments print money, and inject it into the economy, people and companies will be more likely to spend. If they are more likely to spend, there is a greater chance that the economy will spring into life.
Take a bar-room illustration: the bloke at the bar with a fistful of dollars is more likely to splash out on a round than the man who is down to his last nickels and dimes. Even if the cash is borrowed, it is hoped that greater quantities of cash will breed greater generosity.
How does quantitative easing happen? A central Bank - such as the Bank of England or the US Federal Reserve - buys its own government-issued bonds, such as gilts, or bonds issued by companies or other assets.
As with any purchase, the central bank gives money to the sellers, many of which will be commercial banks. Commercial banks, with their accounts electronically credited by central banks, will then (hopefully) have the confidence to increase lending to customers as well as each other.
The term “printing money” is often bandied around in relation to quantitative easing. The practice of quantitative easing can be broken down into seven stages:
1) The Bank creates new money electronically in its accounts.
2) The Bank buys bonds (companies’ IOUs) and gilts (Government IOUs) from commercial banks.
3) The value of the bonds and gilts bought is now credited to banks that sold them.
4) The commercial banks can make new loans against the increased funding.
5) Extra lending boosts cash and credit flowing in the economy.
6) Extra demand for bonds and gilts from the Bank drives down interest rates for business and consumer borrowers.
7) Flows of extra and cheaper money stimulate growth
Government, or its agents in central banks, can also replace poor-quality money in the economy with good money. Old IOUs issued by companies that may welsh on promises to pay up are replaced with IOUs underwritten by the full force of the state, and its ability to raise tax revenues. This is also like printing money because the old IOUs become useless as a means of exchange.
Replacement, in other words, is akin to creating new money. And by boosting confidence some forms of money (that is, corporate IOUs and the like), it is hoped that confidence across the economy will rise.
While it may be a necessary emergency measure, the danger is that is quantitative easing leads to runaway inflation. And runaway inflation reduces wealth alarmingly.
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