May 7, 2012


Today is another one of those ‘plinky.com’ days for writing.

My day was spent painting again.  Since the bulk of the painting has been done in the living room, now came the task of moving everything out of the ‘bedroom’, to begin working on it.  The first thing that I noticed, was something literally tore my heart out!

Back a few months ago, I had created a light unit to be installed in the living room.  It took a long time to design an put together, and I was actually quite proud of it.  I’ve taken great steps to keep it away from the kids (aka cats), because I knew that, if I didn’t, they would play with it and tear it apart.  It was specifically made with lightweight materials so it would be easy to install.  And my worst fear was realized.

I walk into the bedroom, where it had been stored, and there it was, in about 1000 pieces all over the floor!  The night before, I had painted the doorframe for the bedroom, and needed to keep the door open while the paint dried.  I totally forgot about the light, otherwise, I would have put into another room for storage.  But, I didn’t!

I can imagine who the guilty party is, but, I can’t punish or single out one cat, when there are six who are equally guilty, and quite able to complete this task.  As I said, the light unit was made with very light wood bracing, balsawood.  The covering is or WAS made of crepe paper.  The lights themselves are LED bulbs with no heat being created.  It was perfect.  It was also very cool.  Now, it’s just shredded paper and broken wood and chewed up wiring.  The kids had a field day.  Oh well, now I have another project to complete.  In a way, I suppose, it’s a blessing in disguise, as I was wishing I had made it a little bit differently.  Now, I can do that.  However, this project is going on hold until mid-summer at least.

So, back to ‘plinky’.  The prompt I found interesting today is:  “Should coffee shops limit the amount of time that laptop users can occupy tables?”  I’d actually like to change ‘coffee shops’ to something like any place where food and drink are sold, and where people normally come to for a short period of time.

Think of it this way.  If you did not have your laptop with you, and went to a place like McDonalds or Starbucks for a meal or coffee, how long would you sit at the table?  Let’s say you are a tourist, and decided to head to McDonalds for lunch with your friends or family.  You’re on a coffee break from work, and head to Starbucks for your caffeine fix.  You walk in, order your meal or coffee, then look around.  All you see are people sitting with their laptops, playing online games, chatting with friends, etc.  There is no place to sit and enjoy your Big Mac or Vendi Mocha Caramel Latte.

Personally, I don’t eat at McDonalds any more.  Not that I have done that often, but part of the reason is for this exact reason.  The number of times I walk into McDonalds here in Tainan, decide to sit down and eat my meal rather than have a lukewarm burger at home, and I cannot find a place to sit.  I look around, and there are people using the booths and tables as if it were their office.  Papers all over, books, electrical cords, mouses (would that be correct, since I’m not referring to the animal?)…  and not one empty seat in the place.  Besides that, the person has a half-eaten box of French fries, or maybe a drink.  The same thing I see at Starbucks.  Again, I don’t really like the coffee at Starbucks here in Taiwan, but that is my own opinion.  Nonetheless, there are occasions when I go in for a coffee.  Again, all I see are people occupying all the seating areas with their laptops, cords and books and papers all over the table…

Is it cheaper to do your business sitting in Starbucks or McDonalds than perhaps sitting at home?  I suppose if you were in a business meeting, having your client come over for a cup of coffee while you hash out details is easier at Starbucks, then at home or in your office.  As an occasional customer at these venues, I must say, I find it rude and disrespectful of people using these venues for this purpose.  I guess McDonalds and Starbucks earn more money by providing WIFI service, then they do in providing their own product – at least here in Taiwan.

You want to use your laptop for hours on end, go to an Internet Cafe!  That’s what these businesses are set up to serve.  I have no problem with McDonalds or Starbucks offering WIFI service for customers, but customers tend to stretch the limits.  They have no idea that perhaps others may want to actually sit down and have their coffee or sandwich.  They bought their little cup of coffee or box of fries, paid the WIFI fee, and therefore, are entitled to spend as much time as they want at the table.

Perhaps these businesses, whose product is supposed to be something OTHER than WIFI service, should charge a premium for the Internet access.  No ‘deal’ with whether you buy their product.  Flat out – charge a high enough rate that people will think twice about whether to sit for hours using the service and occupying a seat that a legitimate customer would like to use.

Oh well…  I’m not a patron of these places anyhow.  I don’t walk around town with my laptop.  I use my computer and Internet connection at home, and carry the laptop to classes.  I couldn’t imagine trying to do my lesson planning sitting in a restaurant, while someone else is eating around me.  I can’t imagine dragging all my books and paperwork with me to a coffee shop, and then try to get work done.  I need quiet… I need my workspace.

Perhaps McDonalds should change their name to McDonalds WIFI Service and Eatery, and Starbucks to Starbucks Internet Cafe.  Just a thought…

P.S.  By the way, there are only 12 days left in the competition for Sebastien Murat/Maurice Lacroix trip to France as an English Blogger for two weeks in June.  I’ve noticed there are people getting literally tens of thousands of votes in a day.  So, I’ll keep plugging my desire to win this contest.  If you haven’t voted for me yet, I really would appreciate your vote.  As long as you have internet access (either laptop, computer, phone), you can vote.  Here’s the link again:  http://www.the-french-job.com/videos.php?show=4f9c32499afc9

That’s it, that’s all… for now!

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