So Shiny

Maybe it’s my fault.

After all, I’m the one who said (in a post a few years ago that I can’t find right now for some reason) he was never going to shop (or stop) at Shop & Stop again after being nastily chastised for accidentally putting more items in the “12 items or fewer” line than allowed. (Seriously, the guy scowled and said “Don’t let it happen again.”) But this morning I found myself there once more, waiting in line for 25 minutes because they refuse to open up another register when it’s busy. For a moment I actually thought about going into that 12 items or fewer lane with my cart full of groceries, getting them all up on the conveyer belt before they could stop me. I’d feign innocence and apologize that I didn’t know what line it was, or maybe I wouldn’t apologize. I’d actually admit I did it on purpose. What are they going to do, tell me to take all of my items off and get in another line, making people wait even longer?

I finally reach the clerk and he mentions it’s really busy. I say to him that I noticed and that they should open another register. He doesn’t say anything, probably because there are four employees a few feet away at the lottery/trash sticker/returns booth just standing there, staring at all the customers lined up. They’ve also gotten rid of the end of the conveyer belt and replaced that area with a uniquely stupid turnstile bagging system. So now the clerk packs the grocery bags at the same time he’s scanning the items, which makes everything get backed up because the groceries stay on the conveyer belt longer than they should and the next customer can’t start putting their groceries on the belt. Oh, and some days the customer has to take their bags off of the turnstile and place them in the cart themselves. I’m waiting for the day when someone accidentally gets a finger stuck on the turnstile. Did anyone actually test this new system, or was it just OK’d by an efficiency expert the chain hired?

I leave the store, vowing to never return because there’s a great Shaw’s in town too I can always go to. And I do go to it right away, because Stop & Shop didn’t have a few things I needed.

The clerk at the register – someone I’ve never met before, a girl anywhere between the ages of 16 and 22, it’s hard to tell sometimes – starts to giggle and says something to me while making a circular motion above her head with her hand. I can’t understand what she’s saying so I lean in slightly and say “Excuse me?” She giggles again, points to me and says, “Your head…it’s so shiny! Tee-hee! Tee-hee!”


I didn’t know what to say. I wasn’t angry, just stunned that she would say this to a complete stranger, a customer she had never seen before. So I just say, with a light and bouncy tone, “Well, that’s what happens when you don’t have any hair!” She giggles again and says “So shiny!” She continues to titter while I pay for the groceries with my card. She hands me my receipt and I leave the store with my stuff, reminded that I am indeed so bald my head can be seen from space.

This wouldn’t happen if I just wore a hat.


When I ended Professor Barnhardt’s Journal in December I had several good reasons for doing so. Those reasons where logical, logistical, maybe even economic (also: not a lot of people were reading it). There were many sensible reasons why I should stop doing it after 14 years, so I pulled the plug.

But you might have noticed that it’s back in the menu at the top of the page, because there’s one reason to keep doing it that overrides all of those sensible reasons.

Because I want to.

So…it’s back. Click! Bookmark! Post it on your site! Share!

New Saturday Evening Post column up too. This week I talk about the guy who was dragged off the airplane, David Letterman’s mom, Popsicle bikes (yes), and why I hated making Eggs Benedict when I was a restaurant cook.

When I Take My Sugar To Tea

In my most recent Saturday Evening Post column, I made the observation that most things are improved when you cover them with sugar. But I wasn’t talking about eyes.

This weekend I was making a cup of tea, as I do around a half dozen times a day, when I noticed some sugar on top of the plastic bottle. As I’ve done many times before I quickly blew on it to get the sugar off of it, but this time the sugar, instead of falling away from me, went directly into my eye. It was one of those sugar-related eye injuries you keep hearing about but never think will ever happen to you.

I rinsed my eye out and it’s not red and doesn’t hurt, though it doesn’t quite feel 100% yet. I’m going a few days without a contact lens in that eye to see how it is then (I actually have great vision even if I wear just my left lens – I’m like the Six Million Dollar Man that way). In the future I’ll be more careful with my sugar-dispersing activities. Or maybe I’ll just switch to packets.

The next issue of The Letter is coming next week. Funny how you get busy with other things and then you realize there’s something you haven’t done in four months.

Winter, Still

This isn’t fake news. We’re getting a major snowstorm tomorrow.

We might even see the biggest snow totals of the year, possibly 12 inches of snowflakes (they might even be 12 inches of liberal snowflakes, but that’s a conservative estimate). The name of this storm, by the way, is “Stella,” because we give snowstorms names now, apparently.

I was supposed to have jury duty, but they’ve canceled it. Governor says to stay off the roads.

We can get into a seasonal mindset rather quickly. Because of warm temps a couple of weeks ago and the lack of snow on the ground and the fact that we put our clocks ahead an hour this weekend, I was mentally prepared for spring. Now I have to go back to February “do I have enough rock salt?” mode. But I have plenty of that, along with tea and candles –  and I haven’t put away the flannel shirts yet – so I’m all set.

It’s comfort food weather, and my forecast calls for periods of pasta, with a 100% chance of pie.


Humans aren’t built to experience things at the speed of social media and 24-hour news. They not only overwhelm us they infect the way that we think about things, how we react, how we anticipate, even what we come to expect from one another.