Vegetable Garden 2021 🌱 II: The Wrath of Fawn


Damn deer ate my tomatoes.

Think they’ll come back from this, or is it just best to replace?

Also, we planted some swiss chard from my daughter’s school science class, some snap beans, some yellow onions, and garlic. We also had 1 volunteer squash pop up in the yard, and 4 back by the compost pile. Not really sure what they are. I have had some WEIRD hybrid stuff in the past. When you grow multiple varieties they can cross-pollinate and the seeds can make some wacky stuff. They could be that wacky stuff or just pumpkins, butternut squash, acorn squash or zucchini.

Gorillas in the Mint

Check out the original blog from this year for a nice embedded chart.

Revised Garden Map & Harvest Dates:

Follow my instagram for all the latest stuff, and some other plants around the yard.

Vegetable Garden 2021 🌱


This year, I had some big help in the garden! These two have been gardening since they could walk, and I think they’re enjoying it and really getting the hang of it.

The kids have their own YouTube channel now, with a little hep from some old guy that blogs occasionally. Check out their gardening how-to:

I also made a map, and decided to make a chart of the suggested harvest dates on the tags just to see how accurate they are. I have been gardening since I can remember, and don’t know if I ever paid attention to that. We just picked stuff whenever it appeared & ripened.

Garden Map & Harvest Dates 2021

We made sure to get all the tags & try to document it all. The kids are loving math & science, so why not incorporate it into the garden? We can see if the harvest dates noted on the tags are anywhere near when the plants are actually ready.

I’m excited to see how it turns out! And, yeah, we got some more jalapeño since they liked it last year… and this time we’re trying some poblano too!

Whoa, Instagram is a trip down memory lane with these kids and gardening!

When I tip, you tip, we tip. [#Tipping?]


So, I’ve written about tipping at length before.  I won’t get into all of it again, but I have heard the subject come up lately, and I just want to know where I fall.  This is all about discussion.  I want feedback.  How do you tip?  Some questions I’d like answered…

  • Do you tip 20% when out to eat, or are you still at the 80s 15% standard?  (Please don’t say it’s 10%.)
  • Do you round to the nearest dollar or leave exact change?
  • If you only get a slice of pie and a cup of coffee (or less), do you throw percentage out the window and go for a minimum amount?
  • Is it cool to leave the tip on a receipt if paying with a credit card, or does the waiter/waitress think you stiffed them?
  • Do you tip if there’s an automatic 18% gratuity for a large party?
  • Do you tip better (or worse) based on service, or should it be automatic?
  • How much do you tip a pizza guy/girl?
  • Does the pizza tip change if you have more than pizza or a ridiculously large order?
  • Do you adjust tipping a delivery person in inclement weather, on or near a holiday, or on a day like thanksgiving or New Year’s Day when everyone else is ordering out?
  • Is your delivery tipping based on a percentage of the total, or on a flat per-trip fee?
  • Is it cool to leave the tip on a receipt if paying with a credit card, or does the delivery driver think you stiffed them?
  • Do you tip on take-out when you pick it up?
  • Do you tip at Starbucks or a mom n’ pop coffee place?  Is there a difference?
  • If so, is it change, or paper?
  • Do you tip per beer/drink at the bar, or per round?
  • How much do you tip for a $15 or $18 men’s haircut?  How much more for a beard trim or a shave?
  • Who else do you tip that may not be so obvious?  The garbage man?  The mailman?

I try to tip well as with my food allergy I have a small circle of places where we dine out or get delivery with a high level of comfort.  I want to make sure I’m in the right place.

Please, discuss!

As a reminder, you can comment here without a WordPress account if you’re already logged into Facebook or Twitter, just go to town!

Moo.

Moo.

💵 💸 💳 💰

Bands vs. Venues: Who promotes? Who makes money? Can everyone “win”?


Rick from the Fallout Shelter brought up a great discussion topic on Facebook, and it inspired me to blog about it.

That’s a private group on Facebook, so here’s what was said in case you’re not a member:

Rick D'Agostino Looking for some feedback from the music community out there. Do you think that the $5 cover charge keeps you or your friends from attending shows at the Fallout Shelter that they might otherwise attend to check out new bands? In other words, are folks only willing to pay a $5 cover to see bands that they already know? And as a band member, would you rather play to a larger crowd with a tip bucket or to just a few people and make some gas money? I am thinking of making some changes. you can reply here or message me if you want. thanks!

Rick D’Agostino is looking for some feedback from the music community out there..

Dig?  So now, you have the gist of it.  My blog may go on its own little tangent, you never really know with these things.  It’s certainly worth talking about.

First, it’s clear that I’ve never been in a band where making money is the ultimate goal.  I’m amazed over & over that venue owners let me come in, set up, and play in front of people.  Sometimes we get money from the door, sometimes we get money from tickets sold, sometimes we give it all to the touring band, sometimes it’s a charity gig, sometimes no one shows up to pay anyone, sometimes we get some gas money or a couple of bucks to dump back into merch or something.

This is how it’s worked nearly everywhere and every time I have played:  Most of the time, the cover is $3 to $5, unless we’re opening for a national act & it’s through a booker where we’re asked to sell tickets.  Some call the latter “pay to play“, and rail wholly against it.  Some people have no problem selling tickets.  Some bands like mine do, but we try anyway.  At bar gigs, the cover charge is usually $5.  Sometimes it all goes to the bands, especially if it’s a bar & if you provide your own door person.  Sometimes it pays for a sound guy (if there is one) & a cut goes to the bar, then the bands get paid.  Sometimes locals defer and let the out-of-town bands take the cash (if there is one).  Sometimes you can play for free at open stages, sometimes you pay to get in at open stages.  Sometimes no one comes out to see you, and no one gets paid.  Sometimes the band gets free or discounted drinks.  It’s generally a no pay or break even situation.  You hope to sell merchandise and/or CD‘s if you have them, and the bar hopes to sell drinks & food.  The bands should promote and the venues should promote.  Some venues think the bands should do it all, some bands think the venue should do it all.  Generally 3 or sometimes 4 bands are all on the same gig.  Sometimes, it all works out, sometimes… it doesn’t.  This is how bands who largely play their own music are forced to operate.

That’s only 1 way.  There are many other “scenes” here overlapping in the ‘Burgh.

Cover bands… or human jukebox bands, can generally charge a fee for playing a certain style, genre, or “songs that people know”.  This is to provide entertainment to drunken Yinzer patrons who want to yell out requests.  You probably usually play 3 sets, maybe 4… and you’re the only entertainment all night.  You’re probably playing pop country, classic rock, or a little mix of everything.  Professional singers/songwriters operate pretty much the same way as described above, but can get away with putting in more of their own material.

High-class…  I know a band that plays funk, and can get $5000 a gig at the least.  They put their twist on a bunch of songs, dress up, bring lights, and put on one hell of a show.  I’m pretty sure I could never command that much cash for what I do… but how is one less relevant or entertaining?  They do weddings, corporate parties, and “events”.

I’m sure there’s other stuff out there that I’m not even aware of.  I can’t really speak for any other parts of the scene than the one I’m in.

I’ve heard the argument that charging only $5 is devaluing our craft.  Bands should demand more to be heard live.  It worked for Yuengling.  They raised the price on their beer in the late 90s/early 00s and they took off ahead of the other “microbrews”.  Should we then put a higher value on ourselves & our art?  If we raise the price do we raise our expectations?  Do we raise our worth?  Do we raise the value of our music & entertainment?

I also see that a cover charge can make or break a show.  Times are changing.  People aren’t spending money on entertainment.  Music is seen like it’s all supposed to be free.  Why would someone pay for a live show?  To me, if you don’t have $5 on you for a show, maybe you shouldn’t be going to a bar in the 1st place.  $5 might get you 2 beers if you’re a butthole & don’t tip the bartender.  Then again, we hardly ever walk away with any money anyway (the Fallout Shelter is an exception here, we get paid well there, regardless of turnout), so why not let people in for free?

The tip bucket.  I’d play for one.  I have no doubt that we’re entertaining.  Why not, right?  Do all bands split the tip bucket?  Or go per performance?  That if the 1st band up gets all the cash & the “cleanup” band gets nothing simply because the patrons ran out of cash?  Are we nothing more than indoor buskers if we play for a tip jar?  Is it a better measurement of our entertainment value to work for tips?  Does it devalue our art to basically beg for donations to support the rock n’ roll cause?

I certainly don’t want to see my favorite venues close because they can’t afford to operate.  I like to play them, I like to see other bands in them… I want them to do well.  I want them to continue to host my band & other bands.  I even want them to make a buck so it’s all worth their while, and so they can do it to make a living.

I just want to play.  I don’t care where, or for how much.  I have fun doing it.  I think this is an important discussion to have, though.  What is the value of live rock n’ roll?

So…

  • Would you play for less of a cover charge?
  • Should we charge more for shows?
  • Should bands play for tips?
  • How should the tips be split?
  • How does the venue make money?
  • Who pays the sound guy?

Leave your opinions in the comments below!

Related Articles

First-Ever Allergy Awareness Night at PNC Park, Friday, August 10, to Raise Understanding of Life-Threatening Allergies


PNC Park

PNC Park (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I think I just got a press release.  How neat is that?  Ha ha.  I feel like an official Food Allergy news outlet.

I sure never thought I’d be blogging about baseball.

Please, feel free to pass along all of this information as soon as possible.  August 10th is quickly approaching!

From: Matthew Price <MPrice@ccapr.com>
To: me@my.email.address
Sent: Tuesday, July 31, 2012 1:53 PM
Subject: First-Ever Allergy Awareness Night at PNC Park, Friday, August 10, to Raise Understanding of Life-Threatening Allergies

Dear Eric,

I thought you and readers of your blog might be interested in this story about an upcoming peanut-free baseball game.

The Pittsburgh Pirates can add another tally to the “win” column with a victory for fans with life-threatening peanut allergies when the team hosts its first-ever Allergy Awareness game at PNC Park on August 10, 2012. The game is sponsored by Mylan Specialty L.P.

Baseball games pose a significant challenge for many families living with life-threatening allergies, because many fan-favorite foods, including peanuts, can trigger anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction. Food allergies are the most common cause of anaphylaxis and affect about one out of 13 children in the United States. Insect venom, latex and medication can also cause a life-threatening allergic reaction.

Pittsburgh Pirates Allergy Awareness Night At-a-Glance:

WHAT: The Pittsburgh Pirates partner with Mylan Specialty L.P. to host the first-ever Allergy Awareness night at PNC Park.

WHEN: Friday, August 10, 2012 – 7:05 p.m. ET

WHERE: PNC Park, 115 Federal St, Pittsburgh, PA. Click here for directions and parking information.

WHO: Pittsburgh Pirates vs. San Diego Padres.

TICKETS: Order tickets for the peanut-controlled section through 1-800-BUY-BUCS or www.pirates.com/allergyawareness.

The full press release is copied below for your reference or is available at http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/mylan-specialty-lp-partners-with-the-pittsburgh-pirates-to-sponsor-pnc-parks-first-allergy-awareness-night-164421296.html.

Thank you,
Matt
Matthew Price
Chandler Chicco Agency
T. 212.462.8710
F. 212.463.6770
The Holmes Report’s “Healthcare Agency of the Decade”
www.ccapr.com

*******************

Mylan Specialty L.P. Partners with the Pittsburgh Pirates to Sponsor PNC Park’s First Allergy Awareness Night

  Fans with Life-Threatening Peanut Allergies Able to Enjoy Night Out Rooting
for Home Team

BASKING RIDGE, N.J. and PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Pirates are partnering with Mylan Specialty L.P., the fully-integrated specialty pharmaceutical business of Mylan Inc. (NASDAQ: MYL), to host the first-ever Pirates Allergy Awareness night at PNC Park on Friday, August 10. The Pirates will reserve a special area of the ballpark for those who have a life-threatening allergy to peanuts, the most common food allergen among children. The Pirates also will provide tips throughout the game to help their fans be more aware of life-threatening allergic reactions, or anaphylaxis.

“Life-threatening allergies are a growing public health problem, particularly among children and teens. In fact, a recent study shows as many as one in 13 children in the U.S. suffer from a food allergy,” said Heather Bresch, CEO of Mylan Inc. “We are proud to partner with our hometown team to help the people of Pittsburgh and their family members with life-threatening peanut allergies experience the fun and excitement of a night out at the ball park.”

Mylan Specialty L.P. is the official sponsor of the Pittsburgh Pirates’ first Allergy Awareness night at PNC Park to take place at the August 10 game against the San Diego Padres. That night, like every Friday home game is a Free Shirt Friday, during which all fans get a complimentary Pirates T-Shirt, with paid admission. To purchase tickets in the peanut-controlled area for this game, please visit www.pirates.com/allergyawareness or call 1-800-BUY-BUCS.

“We are excited to work with Mylan to ensure increased awareness of this important issue, and to help provide a fun experience at PNC Park for our dedicated fans with life-threatening allergies,” said Pirates President Frank Coonelly. “Pirates baseball is one of the hottest tickets in town and we want to take steps to ensure all fans are able to enjoy the best ballpark in America.”

Throughout the evening, fans will be educated about life-threatening allergies. Because anaphylaxis can happen anywhere and at any time, it is important for everyone to be able to identify and avoid their allergic triggers, recognize anaphylaxis signs and symptoms, and understand how to act quickly and appropriately by seeking emergency care when a life-threatening allergic reaction occurs.  In addition, Pirates coach Mark Strittmatter will present a 30-second video about the risks of life-threatening allergies, and encourage fans to visit www.MyAllergySurvey.com.

Pittsburgh Pirates Allergy Awareness Night At-a-Glance:

WHAT: The Pittsburgh Pirates partner with Mylan Specialty L.P. to host the first-ever Allergy Awareness night at PNC Park.

WHEN: Friday, August 10, 2012 – 7:05 p.m. ET

WHERE: PNC Park, 115 Federal St, Pittsburgh, PA. Click here for directions and parking information.

WHO: Pittsburgh Pirates vs. San Diego Padres.

TICKETS: Order tickets for the peanut-controlled section through 1-800-BUY-BUCS or www.pirates.com/allergyawareness.

About Anaphylaxis
Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening allergic reaction that has many possible triggers, occurs quickly, without warning, and should be treated immediately with epinephrine.Symptoms may include hives or redness of the skin, tightness in the throat, nausea, dizziness, breathing problems and/or a decrease in blood pressure. Anaphylaxis can be caused by triggers such as food, stinging and biting insects, medicines, latex or even exercise.The most common food allergens that can cause anaphylaxis include cow’s milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts (walnuts, cashews, pistachios, pecans, etc.), fish, shellfish, soybeans and wheat. Epinephrine is the only first-line treatment for anaphylaxis. Epinephrine is a naturally-occurring hormone, also known as adrenaline, and it should be available at all times to patients at risk. Failure to administer epinephrine early in the course of treatment has been repeatedly implicated with anaphylaxis fatalities.

About Mylan Specialty
Mylan Specialty, a subsidiary of Mylan Inc. (Nasdaq: MYL), is a specialty pharmaceutical company focused on the development, manufacturing and marketing of prescription drug products for the treatment of respiratory diseases, life-threatening allergic reactions and psychiatric disorders. The company puts patients first and facilitates efficient, cost-effective partnerships with customers. For more information, please visit www.mylanspecialty.com.

About Mylan
Mylan is a global pharmaceutical company committed to setting new standards in health care. Working together around the world to provide 7 billion people access to high quality medicine, we innovate to satisfy unmet needs; make reliability and service a habit, do what’s right, not what’s easy and impact the future through passionate global leadership. We offer a growing portfolio of more than 1,100 generic pharmaceuticals and several brand medications. In addition, we offer a wide range of antiretroviral therapies, upon which approximately one-third of HIV/AIDS patients in developing countries depend. We also operate one of the largest active pharmaceutical ingredient manufacturers and currently market products in approximately 150 countries and territories. Our workforce of more than 18,000 people is dedicated to improving the customer experience and increasing pharmaceutical access to consumers around the world. But don’t take our word for it. See for yourself. See inside. mylan.com

SOURCE Mylan Inc.

Venezuelan Summer Pirates

Pittsburgh Pirates (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Am I an official media outlet now?  Ha ha.  I will do my best to spread the word on my humble little corner of the internet.  I really appreciate Matthew’s taking the time to pass this information along.  I know other ball parks have done similar evenings.  Raising awareness is at times an uphill battle, this is an incredible effort by The Pittsburgh Pirates & PNC Park.

So, how about a no shellfish night?  Ah, I stick to Primanti Bros. inside the parks anyway.

Tipping is not a city in China


Tipping is not a city in China

Has anyone checked? Maybe it really is.

“Tipping is not a city in China” always struck me as amusing since the first time I saw it written in sharpie on a piece of paper and taped to the tip jar residing at the Misfits merchandise table in the late 90s or early 2000s.

I have seen the subject of tipping come up repeatedly lately on Facebook , in the news, and other sources (like actual conversations face-to-face with real live people).  I’ve probably even talked about it here before. Check out this snarky yet brutally honest article by a blogger (& waiter?) that I Re-Tweeted +1’d pinned shared on Facebook a few weeks ago.

Who sets the standards?  The people being tipped (tipees?)?  Their bosses?  The tippers?  Society at large?

The whole process has always confused and bewildered me (& will most likely always continue to).  I was raised thinking that for a waiter/waitress that 15% is a good tip.  For the past several years, through the magic of the internet, I have been told that 20% is a good tip.  So, 20% is the new 15%.  I’m not sure if this varies per area, or if this is all over the US.  I’m not sure if everyone agrees with this, or just your server.  I know some people that still think 10% is acceptable, and it puckers my butt-cheeks.

Things I know:

  • It’s crazy to get out the tip calculator & lave a tip to the penny.
  • In fact, don’t leave change.
  • Waitresses sometimes have to tip busboys, bartenders, and other employees.
  • A tip is expected, even for bad service… just a little one.

Things I don’t know:

  • Say I’m at Bob Evans and I don’t have any cash on me… I tip with the card.  Does my waitress think I stiffed her?
  • When will they just pay waitresses & waiters what they deserve?
  • Is “keep the change” acceptable if it’s an adequate tip, or is that just a pain to figure out?

I always try to leave decent tips, simply because I don’t have a large circle of places to go where I feel comfortable.  (You know about the deathfish, right?)  I’m sure I’ll be back if I find a place that I like.  Why not tip well?  Hopefully I’ll be treated well the next time, & the next time, & the next time..

Here’s where it gets weird…

One waitress at a Diner could come across all of these issues:

Breakfast

Cup of Coffee

Lunch Special

Casual Dinner

Meal Total

$17.95

$1.95

$6.50

$28.40

# of People

2

1

1

2

Table Trips

6

6

3

3

Refills

2

5

0

1

Hours There

1

½

1

20% Tip

$3.59

39₵

$1.30

$5.68

So, in all of these situations, is 20% rule appropriate?  Is it the “no less than $5” rule?  Is there a “no less than $5” rule? Do you get $6 for dinner because of the price of the meal, despite less trips than say a breakfast where you get tons of cheap sides?  What do you tip when you drank a butt-load of coffee?

I used to work night shift on an assembly line at Sony & a bunch of us would hang out at Eat ‘n Park in New Stanton with the late-night UPS employees.  I know I’d always get free stuff… bowls of soup, drinks, grilled stickies…  But I always tipped to include for the amount for that item.  We were hanging out for endless hours, and tables weren’t turning over, so it was only appropriate.

What about a trip to Sonic?

  The Carhop

The Drive Thru

Takes your order:

☒ No

☑ Yes

Reads It back:

? Sometimes

☑ Yes

Takes Your money:

? Sometimes

☑ Yes

Walks (or skates) out of the building:

☑ Yes

☒ No

Hands it to you:

☑ Yes

☑ Yes

You tip the carhop, but probably don’t tip at the drive through… the only real thing that they do differently is exit the building.  For that they get a tip?  (OK, rollerskating carhops deserve a mad tip.)  Why doesn’t the drive-through person get a tip?

How & what do you generally tip?  Do you have any personal guidelines?  What were you taught?  Percentage or straight dollar amount?  Always?  Never?  On Holidays?  Who taught you?

  • The pizza guy (or girl) (…or other food delivery.)
  • Haircut / Wash
  • Car-wash (Magic ash type drying people, and/or fundraiser.)
  • Six Pack Shop / Beer Distributor
  • Doorman
  • Cab / Limo driver
  • Person who takes your bags at the airport
  • Bellhop
  • Furniture delivery
  • Mailman / UPS / FedEx
  • Movers
  • Garbage man
  • Coffee shop or ice cream parlor with a tip jar
  • Touring band’s merchandise table
  • Any sandwich shop, deli, or pizza place where you “eat in” that has a tip jar.
  • Gas station attendant?
  • A masseuse?
  • Anyone I forgot?

If there’s a jar asking for tips…

  • Are you more or less likely to tip?
  • What if it’s funny?
  • What if it’s begging?
  • What if it’s “whiny” or demanding?

I just really find the subject interesting & I’d like to get a discussion going in the comments here.  GO!

(I fully expect my friend Laurel to rant here in the comments, please don’t let her do it alone!  Let’s engage in intelligent discussion.)

TIP JAR

Bathroom Attendants.


I’d just like to go on record saying I don’t like bathroom attendants.  I’ve been to two venues lately that have had them, the Diesel Club Lounge & the Altar Bar.  My run-in last night at the Altar Bar was odd.  I went into the stall to relieve myself, and came out to the faucet running, a dude squirting soap in my hands, and handing me some towels when I was done.  It’s odd to have someone do something for me that I could have easily done myself.

Imagine you’re walking down the street and your shoe comes untied, I run up to tie your shoe, & expect a tip.  I would be met with a resounding “WTF?” because I wasn’t asked to help.  Yet, I helped you, and you had no choice.  Odd there.  Odd in the bathroom.

We can suspend the general “stage fright” issue, knowing it’s weird that there’s a dude standing less than 10 feet away, but it is a public bathroom so there’s always that distraction.  It’s just the other guys are there doing the same thing as you, not offering any services.

English: From the author: Gnarly bathroom. Pro...

Poop-flavored candy, cakes, & gum!

Speaking of offering services… No, I don’t want any gum, candy, Swiss cake rolls, or honey buns that have been sitting in the bathroom.  Can’t you at least put that part right outside the door?  I don’t generally have food in my bathroom at home…. why would I want it anywhere else?  How many foul smells & horrible germs must those foods absorb before you’re able to sell them?  I’m not a smoker, but I’m guessing that people who are also don’t want cigarettes that smell like they were pulled out of a sewer.

Why are you trying to sell me food in the bathroom?  No, I don’t need cologne or deodorant, or anything else.  When I’m urinating, it’s my own special alone time.  I don’t need to chat or dine afterwards to celebrate.

Thank goodness I didn’t need to defecate last night.  Who wants to poop with someone hanging out ready to smell that?  Not to be disgusting, but we all do it, and we all know it smells horrible sometimes.  Who the hell wants to stand in a room selling absorbent little cakes while that’s going on?  (Would he build a nest for me?  Is that guy ready to wipe & wet-nap my ass too?  Do you have to tip extra for that?)

I can see the plus sides… perhaps a person in there deters people from being general pigs, graffiti, illicit activities, and promotes hand-washing.  They probably never run out of towels, soap, or toilet paper.  But, really, why not just check on things periodically and put up a sign.

Do these attendants get paid, or do they work only for tips & poop-flavored candy sales?  How does one get a position as a urination supervision specialist?

Shouldn’t I have a chance to refuse their services entirely if it creeps me out?

Where & why did this all start?

We live by Carnegie Mellon, can’t someone make some robots for this job that aren’t creepy & that don’t require tips?

Enlighten me.

16 Tips for Dining Out With Food Allergies (via Calorie Lab)


EpiPens are portable epinephrine-dispensing de...

Image via Wikipedia

I haven’t blogged much about food allergies lately, so I’ll let this be a substitute post… with tips compiled from the experts.  This is a great list, & I agree with everything stated, though I have my own personal way of going about things.

Calorie Lab | 16 Tips for Dining Out With Food Allergies: Insight From Food Allergy Experts, Advocates and Professionals

16 Tips for Dining Out With Food Allergies: Insight From Food Allergy Experts, Advocates and Professionals

So, do you have a separate fryer for fish & shellfish?

What do I do different?  I don’t like phone calls.  Sometimes, the wife calls for me.  Sometimes, I peep the menu online.  Sometimes, I break down & call ahead.

A lobster ate my baby!

Shellfish on a menu jumps out at me like this.

My favorite anecdote on this subject…  I called an Amish restaurant in Ohio and asked if they had shellfish, and was told that they had lobster, shrimp, and oysters… but nothing was served in a shell.

I’ll let you think about that for a minute.

Anyway, I can’t stress enough… ask the right questions, to the right people.  Don’t trust people telling you “oh, they don’t have any [whatever you’re allergic to] on the menu”.  Happens to me all the time.  90% of the time, they’re wrong.  Check yourself!  Ask if there’s any daily specials that don’t show up on a regular or online menu.  To relax, it helps to surround yourself with supportive friends & family.  It helps to go back to places that you know are safe.  Don’t eat w/o your Epi Pen close by.  (I have been guilty of this.  It’s dumb – like riding a motorcycle without a helmet.)

Allergy Eats, AllerDine, & Eating With Food Allergies are great resources.  There are many other resources out there too.  Use ’em!

What do you think about the tips?  What do you do before dining out with food allergies?  What advice would you pass on to the food allergic?

A close to all the food rants… maybe.


I’m sure this isn’t the last you’ll hear from me on the subject, but this is just to close out my recent rants about the bad habits of restaurant employees out there everywhere.

If you need a recap, here’s how it panned out on my end…

Admittedly, I was just “going off” in reaction to the mentioned articles, but it doesn’t excuse any of the deplorable actions described within.  I really appreciate the blog hits, feedback, & discussion on the issue… whether it was here on this blog, or via Facebook, Twitter, Pittsburgh Beat, or whatever venue a link was pimped upon.

In the last blog, I was tagged and deemed it by an entertaining blogger  named Charity that sits on the server side of the fence, and some things were explained to me.  She was one of the ones quoted in my rants, although she wasn’t confessing to disgusting behavior, just complaining about customers (which she has every right to do).  Apparently I’m adorable in a “oh my, isn’t he so naive” kind of way.  I commented there, really saying all I have to say on the subject for now.  I even saw a few encouraging words from another commenter, teleburst, who provided some cool links to his blog on being more accommodating to customers with special dietary needs.  Let’s hope he does eventually blog about allergies!

I love the blogs about how to be a better customer that are out there… I wouldn’t imagine that people would actually do some things like share drinks with free refills or leave a mess after their kid makes one…  But I guess it’s happening out there everywhere.

I know I mentioned discussing tips, but the mood has passed for now… I’m sure I’ll dive into it someday.  I need to do another goofy W(aL)D post soon.  Hits have been skyrocketing for my Sprint Short Codes post, there’s apparently still a problem that Sprint refuses to admit!  Oh well, until next time… Remember to tip your servers at least 20% for good service, unless they slip you some regular instead of decaf or beef stock when they tell you it’s vegetable stock.

More shocking & disguting revelations from your serving staff…


I wish I was done.  Perhaps this blog will wrap up all of my current thoughts on the subject.  Thanks for hanging in there, my friends.  And, I have received some comments on Facebook at Pittsburgh Beat, please comment here too!  Thanks to Trista & Dave for not being shy.  If you have no idea what I mean, this is a follow-up to my last two posts…

You may want to read those 1st.

The first article/slide-show that I’d like to tackle is also called 20 Secrets Your Waiter Won’t Tell You and linked to from one of the articles as 20 More Secrets Your Waiter Won’t Tell You. Apparently originality is lost here.

I’ll tackle the most appalling slides here..

What You’re Really Swallowing
In most restaurants, after 8 p.m. or so, all the coffee is decaf because no one wants to clean two different coffeepots. I’ll bring out a tray with 12 coffees on it and give some to the customers who ordered regular, others to the ones who ordered decaf. But they’re all decaf.
Charity Ohlund

Ridiculous.  What’s so hard about telling people of this policy, or cleaning an extra coffee pot?  Don’t they have dish washers for this kind of thing?  Any kind of secrecy is just wrong.  Granted, the opposite would be much worse for someone with a sensitivity to caffeine… but according to this  butthole, it happens quite regularly.  Is it too much to expect to get what you order?  Really?  I work hard for my money just like you, and ought to get what I want when I spend in your workplace.

What We Lie About
If you’re a vegetarian and you ask if we use vegetable stock, I’m going to say yes, even if we don’t. You’ll never know the difference.

I like that this is from someone anonymous.  Whoever you are, please take comfort in the fact that you are one of the lowest forms of human life on the planet and that there are not too many out there worse than you.  You’re sick.  You have a mental illness of some sort or a form of antisocial personality disorder… specifically the following symptoms:

  • Apparent lack of remorse or empathy; inability to care about hurting others
  • Tendency to violate the boundaries and rights of others
  • Disregard for the safety of self or others
  • Persistent attitude of irresponsibility and disregard for social rules, obligations, and norms

This is a serious illness, and I implore you to seek help.  This is just completely unacceptable behavior towards your fellow man, besides not doing your job correctly or with any sort of pride or responsibility.

I’m certainly not a vegetarian.  In fact, serve up any animal that’s not shellfish, an insect, or  having an opposable thumb, and I’ll most likely eat it or at least try it.  I love red meat… and white meat too… but there is not much better out there meat-wise than a nice steak, roast, or even a burger.  PETA annoys me to no end.

Still, I respect their life choices, life style, and dietary needs.  I have several friends and acquaintances that are vegetarian or vegan.  It doesn’t matter if their diet is because of personal choices, dietary needs, religious beleifs, or allergies. If I know they’re coming to my house for anything or if I’m taking food to a common event with them… I go out of my way to make sure that the food doesn’t contain animals or animal products.  Over the past few years, I even learned about things that I never thought of as animal products like gelatin-free sour cream.

I harp on the allergy thing because it affects me, but someone out there may have a severe allergic reaction to beef or chicken… and if the stock was made from fish or shellfish and someone lied to me about it… well, I might not be around to complain.

I just can’t imagine that in this day and age that anyone would think lying about something like this was acceptable.

What You Don’t Want to Know
Now that I’ve worked in a restaurant, I never ask for lemon in a drink. Everybody touches them. Nobody washes them. We just peel the stickers off, cut them up, and throw them in your iced tea.
—Charity Ohlund, Kansas City waitress

Explains why I’ve gotten so many lemons with stickers on them in my iced teas.  Aren’t there health codes or inspectors out there?  I’m vehemently against big(er) government, but I would gladly pay higher taxes for inspections to be more frequent and with higher penalties.  In fact…  I’ll sign up to do them at an incredibly reasonable price.

What You’re Really Swallowing
Skim milk is almost never skim milk. Very few restaurants outside Starbucks carry whole milk, 2 percent milk, skim milk, and half-and-half; it’s just not practical.
—Chris

Skim milk is gross, but…  Again, why with the dishonesty?  Why not just tell people you don’t have skim milk, then let them make the decision if they want it or not?  I’d leave a bigger tip if my server was honest with me about something like that.

What Drives Us Crazy
The single greatest way to get your waiter to hate you? Ask for hot tea. For some reason, an industry that’s managed to streamline everything else hasn’t been able to streamline that. You’ve got to get a pot, boil the water, get the lemons, get the honey, bring a cup and spoon. It’s a lot of work for little reward.
—Christopher Fehlinger, maître d’ at a popular New York City restaurant

Wow.  I love hot tea, but don’t order it out much.  From now on, every time I feel a waiter or waitress is treating me poorly, I’ll be sure to add to their aggravation and order this.  Also, I find it funny that this is from a maître d’.  Shouldn’t they be held to an even higher standard?  And again…  I don’t care what it is… if it’s on the menu, I should be able to order it, and it should not affect your attitude or opinion because… buh-bahhh IT’S YOUR JOB.

What We Want You to Know
In many restaurants, the tips are pooled, so if you have a bad experience with the server, you’re stiffing the bartender who made your drinks, the water boy who poured your water, sometimes the hostess, the food runners, and maybe the other waiters.
—Christopher Fehlinger

This isn’t common knowledge by now?  Surely everyone knows someone who works at a restaurant.

What You Need to Know About Tipping
The best tippers tend to be middle-class or people who have worked for everything they have, not the really wealthy or the kid who inherited the trust fund. Which is not to say that we mind if you use coupons. But when you do, tip on the amount the bill would have been without them.
—Judi Santana

Makes sense… people at about your level who work for all that they have.  The coupon thing makes sense.  Save a few bucks on the restaurant’s dime, not your server’s.

Well, those articles led me to Frothy Girlz where I looked for an apparently old blog post that keeps coming up to annoy the writer.  I didn’t find the original post, but I did find a gem entitled In The Weeds: There’s a Food Allergy Community? Really?.

People just love them some communities.  I mean, they must.  After my Reader’s Digest piece was picked up by both the Today show and Msnbc.com, the “food allergy community” opened up a peanut and gluten-free can of whoop ass on me.  Some scolded me for not caring if their children died, others asked for a full retraction and apology to the community, and others reminded me, again, that they could die.

Who knew there was a food allergy community?  Can you imagine the poor restaurant that is chosen for their weekly meetings?  The waitress nervously approaches the chef with an order the size of the Bible with all the special notes and codes and the words “COULD DIE!!!” hand written on half the tickets.

I’m disgusted by the cavalier attitude here.  I can’t imagine being a parent with a small child that had to deal with this.  It’s bad enough when it’s my own problem.  Yes, there’s a bunch of us out here, and we’re growing more vocal day by day.  Why?  Any more, it’s the small groups who have to power.  Wait until we start referring to ourselves ans a minority, and our right to eat out in comfort a civil right.  Wow, could we ever abuse that if we got it out at the right place and time to the right politicians.

I have dealt with a lot of food allergies in my serving career, and I care, I really do.   Every case was handled with extreme care.  I would go talk to the chef, who would roll his eyes and then have to stop the line and talk to every cook.  I then had to stop and tell every other server, busser, and assistant to make sure not to touch any plates at table 53 without washing their hands of any and all potential allergens.  She could die!  Meanwhile, the restaurant is completely packed and crazy and this person has put her LIFE in my hands and I have to trust – no, SHE has to trust – that all 95 people who could possibly come in contact with her or her food will completely sanitize their hands, the silverware, the plates, and the very air she breathes of any and all peanut dust.

A chef rolls their eyes?  That’s sad.  I think they’d get into the business wanting people to love their food, not die from it.  Sadly, in with the rest of this, she’s right on.  It should not be solely the responsibility of the server.  Restaurants everywhere need to be made aware of the inherent dangers of cross contamination in food preparation, cooking, & serving.  People suffering from severe food allergies are a small percentage of the population, narrow down the allergy & it’s smaller still.  I run into people that aren’t aware of allergies or their possible severity all the time.  Some people are taking steps to correct this, many others will be needed to join in & raise awareness.

But it’s too much for you, allergen sufferer, isn’t it?  I mean, if you could truly die, how do you throw caution to the wind and hope that your 12 reminders have done the trick?  Balls, you.

Yes, balls me.  Again, you have to weigh this against the social pressure to dine out, and desire to be like everyone else.  It’s much more than just the allergy that’s bothersome, and who doesn’t like to dine out every once in a while, especially in a place that doesn’t have a drive-through or a mascot?

That blog contained a vlog from this guy, who at best needs kicked in the teeth.  I can’t really go point-for-point because I don’t really feel like typing out transcripts.  If you’re interested in seeing what I mean, check out Would You Say “No Butter” to Julia Child!?.  He speaks of how I shouldn’t eat out because I can’t trust anyone but him… even though he’s an ass.  He does make one good point saying that people saying they’re allergic to things when they just don’t want them in their food is doing nothing but trivializing it for the rest of us.  But, “Anonymous waiter in Hollywood, CA”, don’t pass the buck, you’re still the arrogant bastard here.  Yes, I get it, you say things for shock value and to gain new readers… like I just said you need kicked in the teeth.  I’m sure you’re fine with that though, & enjoy the reaction.  If you’re teaching us to be better customers, who’s teaching you to be a better waiter?

Apparently people complaining upset the “In The Weeds” writer, and she posted another blog, again venting…

1)  From Shellshock: “Wow. The author is going to kill someone with the attitude towards allergies. I guess the terms anaphylactic shock and death are words not found in the author’s vocabulary.”

I covered the topic of food allergies already, but again, if you can DIE from someone messing up your food, you might as well ask your waitress to perform your next open heart surgery.  It’s really the same risk.  I’m not insensitive to your plight.  I’ll do my best.  But it really sucks that you could die.  Because if the Mexican kitchen workers don’t understand what I’m saying about “anaphylactic shock”…. damn.

Again, why not do your part and suggest to the owner/manager/chef that everyone be trained on food allergy awareness?  No one’s asking you to perform open heart surgery… we’re just asking you to be clean.  That’s all.  Don’t let dirty stuff touch clean stuff. Shouldn’t that be in practice anyway?

I mean this stuff is genius…

Education | For Food Industry and Service Professionals

To prevent allergic reactions, individuals with food allergies rely on accurate ingredient information and safe food handling procedures. The material in this section will provide food industry and service professionals with the information they will need to safely prepare, cook, and serve food to a guest who has food allergies.

Would that really be all that difficult?

Well, maybe I have one more blog left.  One dedicated to tipping… and my take on it.  I really hope to hear from some people in the industry about that one.