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.

Horror of Five Things About Media and Technology Right Now

(This is Part 8 in a never-ending series of posts on media and technology that for some reason I’ve started to name after classic monster movies. Here’s part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6, and part 7.)

1. A couple of years ago the editor of Medium wanted to know if I would like to repost an article from my site to Medium. Great! What’s the pay? Oh, we don’t pay, she said, but you’ll get exposure and it’s a nice writing platform!

Yeah. I’m too old to write for free. Besides, like the old joke says, people often die from exposure.

The sad thing is that Medium actually does pay some people. But you have to be a “name” writer, or at least have some sort of connection to someone at Medium (a lot of people don’t know that this is often how publishing works). I heard a story a few years ago that one somewhat well-known writer got paid $15,000 for one article she wrote for Medium. Imagine how many writers they could have paid with that.

I bring this up because I see that Bill Simmons is starting a new site called The Ringer, but instead of doing it on his own he’s partnering with Medium. I have no idea how this will work, paying writers-wise or advertising-wise, but since it’s a major deal I’m sure they’ll figure it out. For everyone else I suggest you keep your own site and not post everything you write to Medium (or Facebook or HuffPost). I’m also amazed that Medium is treated as if it’s groundbreaking or innovative. We’ve all been using blogging/publishing platforms like that since the 90’s. I guess the connection to Twitter makes it hip.

2. The Awl thinks that most longform is bad. Actually, all bad longform is bad. Good longform is good! (It’s called good writing, and good editing.) I’m old enough to remember when “longform writing” was just called “writing.” But that was before “writing” became “content.”

Maybe The Awl would be happy if we just got rid of words altogether and just communicate via texting abbreviations and emoji:

If anyone can decipher that, let me know in the comments.

3. I’d hate to be starting out as a freelancer these days, especially when you have people like the editor of the Huffington Post UK in charge. A quote:

If I was paying someone to write something because I want it to get advertising, that’s not a real authentic way of presenting copy. When somebody writes something for us, we know it’s real, we know they want to write it. It’s not been forced or paid for. I think that’s something to be proud of.

HuffPost bloggers don’t need to get paid (it would be nice but most just use it as a blogging platform), but this quote manages the neat trick of insulting both the bloggers who write for free and the paid journalists HuffPost has. Well done!

4. How much news is too much news? For WCVB, ABC’s Boston affiliate, there’s no such thing. They’ve added two more hours of news to their schedule every single day: a 4:30pm show, a 7pm show, and another hour at 10pm on their sister station, Me-TV. This is in addition to the news they have from 4:30am to 7am, at noon, at 5pm, at 6pm, network news at 6:30, and 11pm. Oh, and they’ve also added an hour-long newscast Sundays at 5pm. Math was never my strong suit but I’m going to say that all adds up to… “a lot.” (And I haven’t even included Good Morning, America and their overnight news that runs from 2:30am to 4am.)

That’s too much news, especially when you’re not a 24 hour news channel.

I was afraid the 10pm Me-TV newscast would also be run on Saturdays, which is when Svengoolie airs. And that’s exactly what they’re doing! Luckily, Svengoolie is moving to 11. You can’t imagine the rioting that would occur if the show had been replaced completely. Fans are serious about their Svengoolie. (Unfortunately Me-TV fans won’t be as lucky during the week: whatever was shown at 10 then isn’t being kicked out.)

5. I need a Twitter sponsor. Someone I can call when I’m tempted to check it or post to it, who can talk me out of it and keep me on the straight and narrow. Someone who can monitor my Twitter account and call to yell at me if I do post something.

Applications being accepted. I’ll supply the alcohol.

Cold shower

Did you hear the one about the guy whose water heater broke late at night? That’s not the start of a joke.

The other night, around 11pm, I muted the volume on my television because I was doing something that needed my full attention. I heard something like water trickling down, but it was raining so I assumed that it was just the rain splashing against a window or the front door. It didn’t sound exactly like that though so I investigated further. Opened the closet door and, hey, water coming out of the top of the water heater and collecting on the floor! Fun!

Called the landlord and he came over and shut everything off. Got a new water heater installed the next day, but not before having to take a cold-water-only shower that morning. If you can call a few drips coming out of the shower head taking a shower. It was North Pole cold – to the point my head actually started to ache – and really ineffective. You can’t rinse a head full of shampoo with drips. Ended up finishing up my shower in the bathroom sink.

It reminded me of when I was a kid. I didn’t have a shower until I was around 21. Don’t be snarky, I mean we always had bathtubs and I took baths. Looking back now I don’t know how we did that.

It’s snowing right now. Supposed to get 4 to 8 inches. Snow on Monday too and then another storm on Tuesday. Like my hot water, winter is back. New column up. Have a good weekend.