The Google Economic Index

25 February 2009

The Google Economic Index, GEI, is based on the theory that internet searches are a solid measure of the economy.  In the same way that Consumer Confidence is predictive of economic performance, I hypothesize that the number of hits, the degree of auto-completion, and the frequency of search for certain phrases can be indicative and predictive of economic health.  If you are interested in aiding or publishing my research, please email for complete methodology and formulas.

I give you the first ever GEI:

Search Term

Hits (in 1000)

GEI Wght

Auto Comp Factor

GEI Score

I Would Rather Spend Money On My Dog Than My Boyfriend





My 401k Sucks Monkey Nuts





I Can’t Afford To Drink





Will Work For Booze





Pawn My Engagement Ring





Sell My Boyfriend’s Stuff





I’m So Broke I’m Eating My Cat’s Food





The Unemployed Diet – I Lost 40lbs





Starbucks Vs. Street Working To Pay The Electric Bill





How To Steal Cable





Can I Hock My Louboutin’s





Recycling Condoms





How Much Money Does A Prostitute Actually Make*





Will Food Stamps Pay For Caviar





Will Work For Camel Lights





Wine In A Box Is The New Black





Is Mascara Tax Deductible





Can I Get Paid For My Snuggie Endorsement





What’s The Profit Margin On Cocaine





Bill Gates + Paternity Tests





How Long Can I Eat Ramen Before I Die





How Old Is Too Old To Borrow From My Parents And Still Be A Man





My Job Really Doesn’t Suck That Much





How To Be A Kept Man





Seriously I Can Get Paid To Blog Right





Can I Get Paid To Donate Blood





Google Economic Index Rating      



Index Ratings greater than 15,000 are an indication that we’re screwed.

Research Associate Makeup Text Julie contributed immeasurably to this research.

* number of hits and auto completion factor maybe higher than in your experiments because the words attorney and prostitute were used interchangeably.

This theory was inspired in part by The Soft Lounge Blog.



You know it is Wednesday and I took my turn as contributing editor at DC Blogs. Go on check out that which moved me more than most this past week.

And here are a few links I also was digging but couldn’t use in the round-up for whatever reason:

DC Metrocentric reports that Nathan’s is hanging in there for the moment.  I hate that this drinking institution may close at the end of March, but if it does there must be a happy hour first.

Because I am all about helping a blogger out… Scarlet of Scarlet Letters gets medieval on one of her internet stalkers/ex as she gives him one last chance to wave a graceful electronic goodbye before the gloves are removed.  A cautionary tale if ever there was.


The Limits of Compassion, Exhausting Gratitude

24 February 2009

I didn’t see what caused the Marine to fall down on the Metro escalator, just that he fell and the two women near him weren’t strong enough or didn’t care enough to help him to his feet.  Before he grasped my hand Occam’s Razor was proven accurate once again – youngish man falls on escalator on a Saturday evening the most likely cause, too much booze, is almost always the cause – as I could smell the beer coming from his pores.  He had passed wobbly a while ago and was firmly in the barely walking category.  I curled my left arm under his right to hold him upright.

“What branch are you in” I asked trying to keep my new friend alert and awake.

“Marine Corps, sir, you serve?”

“Nope just recognize the haircut, Marine.  Thanks for your service.”

Not more than five hours earlier I was having cocktails with a friend when a cluster of service men and their dates entered the restaurant.  They were in full dress uniforms.  I remarked to my friend that I have a soft spot for those who wear uniforms because they run towards trouble when all logic tells you to run away.  I didn’t know that the universe was going to test the veracity of that statement so quickly.

The Marine had a couple of inches on me, but I probably had him by a few pounds so the fight to get him to the bottom of the escalator was about even.  Yet, keeping him prone took more effort than I anticipated.   He was the kind of drunk where people cleared a path for me to walk him down the platform.

“Our mission is to make sure you get home safely, Marine, so just keep talking to me and we’ll get you there.  Our train is six minutes out, stay with me.  Tell me where you live.”

This was the first moment I could see the wheels turning in his head.  His pupils were almost as big as his irises.  This is also the first moment I considered letting Metro PD deal with this 170lb mess on my hands but arrests are not good for top secret billets or careers.

“You wanna know where I live?”

“No, I don’t wanna know where you live but the cab driver will need to know.  Listen, do you have anyone that we can call?”

“I dunno where my phone is.”

I am shocked by the Marine’s clarity of voice despite a level of inebriation that one rarely sees.  The train is two minutes away from the platform and I start calculating the amount of time it will take me to get him to the edge so that I will have to spend the minimum amount of time keeping him upright. 

The Marine is the kind of drunk where people don’t just make a path but once I square him into an empty seat at the front of the car, the two women in the neighboring seats move.  Back to trying to get his address… “Marine, how far away from the Metro station do you live?”

“Far” is the one word answer.

“So this is the plan, we are going to exit at Close to Your Stop station and get into a cab because it will be easier to find one from there than your station.  Since we have to cab no matter.  So what is your address?”

“You know I can kick your ass right?”

“No one is questioning that.”

“Why you want my address?  Why are you helping me?”

“Because you served our country, and making sure you get home safely is the least I can do to say thank you.”

“You don’t know what it’s like.”

I damn sure don’t know what combat is like.  “No, I don’t know, but that has nothing to do with our objective which is to get you home safely” I said in as soft yet forceful voice as I could.  The Marine started laughing, and moving towards me in a manner that would be threatening if he could stand on his own for more than two seconds.

“I know why you want to take me home, mutherfucker.”

“Marine, my only motivation is to make sure you make it to your house safely and don’t end up face down in the street on the way.  That’s all.  Our stop is almost here.  Are you ready to tell a cab driver where you live?”

“Faggot, I know what you want!  Dude, just tell me you’re not a fag, ok, are you a fag.”

“Fuck you, Marine.  I tried to help you and now I’m done”  I said as I left the train, left him behind.

Fucking homophobe, fuck him and his backwards thoughts I mumbled to the teeth of the escalator – hoping the sentiment would be mashed in the grates.  Hoping that my latent homophobia would be mashed along with it – I know that my anger was directed at his intolerance and stupidity first, but I also know that at least a small part of me was angered because he called me gay.  Either way, I surrendered to frustration.


“Excuse me, Station Manager, the northbound train that just left has a passenger that needs some help…”

I Can’t Think of an Appropriate Title

23 February 2009

There was a stretch in my life where I attended Alcoholics Anonymous meetings on a regular basis.  I am not an alcoholic and have never been but a very close friend is.  One night we left the restaurant/bar I was running and where he slung drinks and he told me that he was going to a meeting in the morning.  I went with him.  It just seemed the right thing to do, to support him in this struggle.  For the first month, I went with him every day – 30 in 30 AA members like to say.  I wouldn’t say the pledge, but honored it – what I heard [there,] saw [there,] stayed [there.] 

The stories were more heart wrenching than you think they would be from your television observations.  The weight of the new comer’s gaze in broken but still guarded faces was heavier than any emotional weight I lifted before.  As most addicts supplant one addiction for another, the coffee room was always thick with fresh plumes from too many cigarettes.  I was in that room one Saturday morning smoking a JFK cigar (H. Upmann Petite Corona, if you’re curious) and scratching at the crossword puzzle when Tonya walked-in and took the seat next to mine.  She had a bit of dervishness to her movement as she whirled her gym bag, purse, and book to a sudden stop on the floor.

“You’re new” she said with a hint of the derision we all reserve for the FNG.

“I’ve been coming here about month now” I replied without offense; I had grown accustomed to the friendly surliness that I learned was the standard method of greeting new AA members. 

“Sober for a month, huh.  I wish I could tell you it gets easier but at least you get used to it.  30 in 30 right?”

“30 in 30, sure, but I’ve been sober for about five hours now.  I’m not an alcoholic; I come here to support my good friend – he’s been sober for about a month.”

“You were drinking at 3am and now you’re at a meeting just to support your friend?  You sure that’s the only reason?”

“Not only was I drinking at 3am, I was still working until 5am to close the place, and yeah the only reason I am here on ninety minutes of sleep is because he is a dear friend and I know he would be here for me.  I’ve done my inventory – I’m fine with my drinking.”

“Hmmmh” was all she said.

My friend finally arrived at that moment just before the meeting was about to start.  I made brief introductions as we made our way across and down the hall to the meeting room.  The meeting was only memorable because my friend got his thirty day pin towards the end of the meeting.

My friend and I parted on the street outside, him making a path to the gym (another way he was dealing with his alcoholism) and I a path to a cab. 

“Don’t bother getting a cab” Tonya said from just behind my right shoulder.  “I’m going to let you buy me a cup of coffee because I want to talk to you for a minute.”

“Will my ‘sobriety’ be among the topics, because if it is, the least you can do is buy the coffee.”

“Fine, I’m buying the coffee then… my car is this way.”

I started walking like any man who is told he is going to have coffee with a very attractive woman does. 

“How long have you been sober?” I ask.

“At this point, about one year for every hour, you’ve been.”

“Not for nothing, I am glad that you invited me for coffee – mostly because I like a challenge and I think you’re cute – but I am not really interested in getting a lecture about my drinking.  I examined this before I started coming to meetings with my friend, and especially carefully since.  I am comfortable with my drinking.”

Tonya opened the passenger door to her car and gave me a look that said “I heard you, but we are going to talk about what I want to talk about.”  I got in her car anyway.

We had been underway for a couple of blocks when Tonya asked “You do understand that it is just about impossible to believe that anyone comes to an AA meeting without a reason.”

“I have a reason, one I consider extremely valid, you just aren’t buying it or just wanted to get me alone for disreputable reasons.  Not that I am opposed to the latter.”

Tonya and I shared coffee, stories, and many other things that day and over the next couple of years.  Despite our flirtation and mutual attraction, things never became romantic.  Her 9-5 life was as incompatible with my restaurant life as my drinking was with her alcoholism.  We rarely discussed it. 

New jobs for each of us accelerated our decline from regular to occasional to sporadic to “wow, I really should call her” friends.

She was one of my favorite crushes, and the last time I saw her she was drunk in a downtown cocktail bar.  She was on a date and was dressed impeccably but her eyes were vacant.  I said hello to her and her date but went back to my seat. 

I’d really like to buy her a cup of coffee sometime but she won’t ask me and hasn’t let me ask her.

Happy Crush Day

20 February 2009

What do I mean Happy Crush Day?  

Now that we have that settled I am writing an open letter to my crushes.

Reann Allen, congratulations on winning the George Mason University Homecoming Queen Crown and for giving it new and double entendred meaning.  I have a huge crush on you and all of the students who voted to make a Queen the Queen.

Rachel Maddow, I know you didn’t mean it when you took out the Restraining Order.  I know that you were just trying to show me some affection, and I still have a wicked crush on you.

Cassandra Wilson, whenever you want to sing to me just let me know.  My musical crush on you will never fade.

Pink – you are an odd Crush choice, but I have one on you nonetheless – mostly because you wrote a beautiful letter to our last president.  Perhaps you will be able to write another to our new Commander in Chief.

Speaking of President Obama…

Dear Mr. President, I totally have an intellectual crush on you.  In the perfectly acceptable way a heterosexual man would  express admiration for another heterosexual man and all.

To everyone who takes the occasional moment to read my slice of the interweb, I have crushes on all of you.  Well not you, Janice from California, but definitely the rest of you.

An Endorsement and a Proposal

19 February 2009

I endorse, embrace, and enthusiastically support the crush.

In the same way that some would argue that the single cell organism is the purest form of life, I argue that the crush is the purest form of affection.  It is perfect, wholly contained, and needs no augment.  It can exist in a personal vacuum absent acknowledgment or reciprocity.  The Crush can be romantic, professional, artistic, vocational, social, bloggerational, and can even exist within the confines of a healthy relationship.  The crush is perfect.

To have a Crush is to engage whimsy, to embrace possibility, and in the extreme case to wrap oneself in the courage of romance.

With my friend Lemmonex co-hosting a Blogger Crush Happy Hour this Friday, I have been thinking generally about the Crush and specifically about my crushes over the years.  My crushes are more frequently inspired by words and wit than physicality these days.  However, I am not blind; I readily acknowledge that my head is turned by a pretty face but intellect sustains my crush and interest more reliably than rosy lips which are times fool.

This Friday’s blogger boozefest has the explicit theme of inviting your blog crush for a drink.  I posit that we should extrapolate the concept beyond the DC venue, beyond the date too.  Let Friday be the day that you send at least one of your crushes a message that you dig the way they think, write, move, act, play a sax, manage a meeting or whatever else inspires that tingle.  Whether that Crush is across the country or in the cube next door acknowledge it – embrace the crush wherever you are.

Let February 20th be National Crush Day.

My Bisque Couldn’t Save This

18 February 2009

Getting paid to prepare dinner for six people in a stranger’s kitchen is not unlike conducting a symphony while trying to play all of the instruments yourself.  Though the closest I have ever come to conducting was sitting in the second cellist chair for a youth orchestra more years ago than I care to claim, I imagine the two feelings to be similar.  Timing is everything, but timing is meaningless without a plan.  I always have a plan – until the first violinist (or sauté pan) throws a hissy and the plan goes to shit.

Friday night was proceeding according to plan: arrive by 5pm, inventory kitchen supplies, unpack, lay out mise en place, have four burners, two cutting boards and a mixing bowl going by 5:15.  The woman who hired me is very gracious but is asking me a number of questions about the things I am doing – this is not in my plan.  As she is writing the checks, I make every effort to respond to her queries – “the water bottles are filled with fish stock I made last night, it is the base for the lobster bisque, flour and butter are heated over a low heat to form a rieux – it is a staple of Cajun cooking and will thicken and enrich the bisque, the pork shoulder was roasted for 12 hours in a low oven now I am bringing it back to temperature by steaming it over a seasoned beer bath” – and on it went.

When she left to get dressed I was extremely grateful as my internal metronome had slowed by a beat and a half – I was at least 15 minutes behind.  By the time her guests began arriving, the bisque was done but the shrimp and lobster still needed to be poached in butter.  The pork was stuffed in their puffed pastry cigars with mushrooms and mascarpone cheese and ready for the oven but I hadn’t made the sauce that goes with it or the spinach and apple salad.  I could hear the guests milling about the living room but only muffled conversations.

I left the kitchen to let the host know that once she gave me the sign the first course would be on the table in four minutes.  Two guests seemed to follow me back to the kitchen but stopped in the doorway.  I tended to the stove but could not ignore the terse tones of their conversation. 

“John, I’m sorry you’re not taking this seriously.”

“Jane, I’m sorry that you’re feeling pressure because we’re going to all these weddings and you want one.”

“This has nothing to do with that, and everything to do with you being lazy about our relationship.”

This is not in my plan. 

Thankfully, the host calls everyone to the table, but not before John punctuates his exchange with his girlfriend by saying “Jane, can we not have any more of your drama tonight?”

A moment later I present the amuse bouche.  “This is a gift from the kitchen; it is an Italian Clam Casino with crispy pancetta on a bed of rock salt.”

“This wasn’t on the menu, Refugee” says the host with happy surprise.

“No, the amuse bouche is just a restaurant tradition, a gift, something unexpected to help set the tone for the meal” I reply, delighted that I have achieved the desired effect.  The undesired effect was Jane mumbling “unexpected gift to set the tone, novel concept” in John’s direction.

Who knew we should have set an extra plate for Awkward?

Lobster and Shrimp Bisque is five minutes from the table where the chatter sounds polite, but heard through the door I can’t be certain.  Being greeted by silence upon emerging from the kitchen arms full of dishes is not uncommon, but this is an awkward silence.

“Butter poached Lobster and Shrimp Bisque” I announce to approving hmms and ahhs.  When I return with the final three bowls for the gentlemen at the table, the host inquires “Refugee, where did you get your bisque recipe?”

“Almost ten years ago, I wanted to date a friend who told me that lobster bisque was her favorite soup ever.  So I set out to make the best bisque ever – this recipe is the result of several weeks of kitchen tinkering to make a date worth lobster bisque.”

Jane found another opportunity to twist the knife in John’s ribs – “So nice when a man makes an effort to impress a woman.”

“Even better when the woman is worth impressing” John retorted.

“Fuck you, John.”

There is safety in the kitchen and I quickly retreat to it.  Several minutes pass before the host comes into the kitchen to return bowls but more to apologize.  “I’m sorry, Refugee; I am pretty sure that was the last outburst for the evening” she says. 

There is a planned cigarette course between the slow pork cigars and the beef tenderloin but Jane must be a fast smoker because she swung the double kitchen doors my way.

“Is there anymore wine?”

“The wine for the next course is still decanting, but you are more than welcome to some of the pinot noir I’m drinking.”

“Thank you” Jane replies as I fill her glass halfway.  “When did you start cooking?”

“Forgive me for being the blunt, Jane, but are you sure you want to talk to me at the moment?”

“Better you than my asshole boyfriend.”

I wanted to agree, but neither party has comported themselves well from my perspective.  “You’re with friends, celebrating Valentine’s Day, enjoying exquisite food and great wine; surely you can find a way to enjoy this evening even if you and John are not having the best of nights.”

“Are you always this reasonable?”

“I am sure that my ex-wife could provide an itemized accounting of me being unreasonable, and the next course is ready.”

The beef tenderloin and pastry mezzaluna courses proceeded without incident.  As I was prepping the cheese course Jane came back to the kitchen.  “I’d like you to cook for me sometime; please give me a call” she said tucking her business card into the breast pocket of my chef coat in a maybe flirtatious way (my hands were full.)

Some clients aren’t worth the money.


If You Get Into an Argument on Valentine’s Day…

14 February 2009

… and my Lobster Bisque can’t fix it, your relationship is really broken.  More on this story on Monday, I promise, but I have to get through the rest of the weekend of client dinners first.