Is there a more pleasing moment in one’s life than when the power comes back on after being out?

Of course there is. Probably a hundred or so. But it is¬†very pleasing. When the power goes out, you really don’t know what happened or how long it’s going to be out. It could be out for 5 minutes or 2 days. And you’re sitting there with your candles lit and your emergency lanterns, maybe reading a book or writing something, counting the minutes as they go by, worrying you’ll have to discard all of the groceries you bought today if the power is out for too long.

My power has gone out twice this week. The first time it was for just under an hour. Tonight it came back on after 2 hours and 10 minutes. I can get through snowstorms and Nor’Easters and hurricanes without the lights even flickering once. But when there’s a sunny, 50 degree day with hardly any wind, the power goes out. This week, it goes out twice.

But I love that moment when it comes back on. You don’t expect it, and it makes you say – sometimes to yourself, sometimes out loud – THANK GOD. THINGS ARE BACK TO NORMAL. The lights shine again, the printer makes a noise, and all of the clocks start flashing. You have to go around the house and set all of those clocks again and reset timers and wait for the cable channels to load. That’s a bit of a pain (again, twice in one week), but it’s worth it if you can get online again, go to the bathroom without bringing a candle with you like you’re Ebenezer Scrooge, and you can microwave some Hot Pockets.

The Letter is coming back next week, I swear. Working on it right now.

A reminder…

Just a quick note to point you to the weekly column I write for The Saturday Evening Post. This week I write about texting in movie theaters, Elvis Presley, a Harry Potter game come to life, and how Michael Buble has a lot of trouble eating corn on the cob.

In the column I posted a video – which I also put up at PBJ – of the 2004 Rock ‘N Roll Hall of Fame tribute to George Harrison, an all-star band playing “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” Prince plays the solo and, holy cow, he just owns it (and he knows it). Truly an incredible performance.

Thank God there’s a Shaw’s in town

Some days you’re not sure what you’re going to write about, and then you make a trip to the Stop & Shop.

I’m going down an aisle, minding my own business, shopping cart full of chicken and potato chips and rice pilaf and Metamucil, and I decide to grab a gallon jug of spring water. I immediately notice that the safety tab is missing. In other words, it’s open. I obviously don’t want any customers accidentally buying it because they didn’t see it was open so I take the gallon jug and put it on the floor in the corner.

I go to the register – like most days at Stop & Shop the place is packed and they only have one register open and there are nine people ahead of me and they refuse to open another register, which is a rant for another day – and I tell the clerk about the open water jug that’s on the floor. He says OK and thinks that maybe someone dropped it on the floor and the cap came off and they just left it on the shelf. I tell him that the cap’s not off, somebody actually took the plastic safety tab off of it. He sarcastically says “Oh, you made it sound like the whole cap was off!” Actually, I didn’t make it sound like that at all. You just assumed. And you know what happens when you assume.

This isn’t the first time I’ve tried to point out something at this store, and it’s getting to the point where I shouldn’t even bother, but that doesn’t hurt the store at all it just hurts any potential customer who might buy something they shouldn’t.

Of course, I have no expectation that they’re actually going to remember (or care about) the open water jug. It’s not really important to them. So in short: if you go to a certain Stop & Shop in Massachusetts – a “Super” location, though that point is debatable – and find a gallon of water on the floor, check to see if it’s OK.

Before I leave the clerk asks me if I have my Stop & Shop discount card. I don’t have a Stop & Shop discount card. I’ve had the same exact conversation with this clerk at least 25 times in the past year. You know you can save money with the discount card, right? Yes, I’m familiar with the concept of “discounts” and “cards.” I just don’t want to bother with another damn card in my wallet. Also, every other clerk at this store puts in the store card for customers that don’t have them. You don’t. Why, I don’t know, except maybe because you’re a douchenozzle? Every time I see this guy at the register I want to go to another but today…well, see the third paragraph above.

Luckily there’s a Shaw’s in town. I like shopping there. They take care of things when you point something out to them, they got rid of their discount cards, and they open a new register when everyone’s ice cream starts to melt.


When I ended Professor Barnhardt’s Journal last summer, I had several good reasons for doing so. Those reasons where logical, logistical, even economical. There were many sensible reasons why I should stop doing it after 13 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! Share!


I’ve been called a lot of things in my life – and this is where you would insert your very funny joke! – everything from “buddy” and “dearie” and “dude” to “sport,” “pal,” and “kiddo.” I can even remember a “sweetie” or two, though I don’t think I’ve ever gotten a “champ.”

Today as I was paying for a new pair of sneakers, the clerk decided to call me “honey.” She was 19 or 20, somewhat Taylor Swift-ian, and except for those I’ve been romantic with I don’t remember anyone under the age of 55 ever calling me “honey” before. That’s one of those terms of endearment you might get from a grandmother or an older, wise, gruff-but-kind waitress who has seen it all (I’ve been called honey and dearie by many of those). What would make a 20 year-old call a man of 50 “honey?” Even a man of 40, if she thought that was my age? (I like to think I can still pass for 40.)

On a related note, this song used to make me bawl my eyes out every time I heard it when I was a kid.

This is CNN?

If you want to see one headline that sums up this presidential race, it’s this.

(It’s also worth noting that the original headline of the story – and you can still see it in the URL – was about hand size. I guess that wasn’t clickbaity enough.)

Remember when Lloyd Bentsen said that “You’re no Jack Kennedy” line to Dan Quayle and it was seen as a big, “shocking” moment?

That sound you hear is Walter Cronkite rolling over in his grave.