Hamptons Ramblings: Inflation, Weather Alerts, Delays, Politeness & More

Dan Rattiner on the beach in the Hamptons
Dan Rattiner, Photo: Oliver Peterson

Dan offers a series of disjointed thoughts and ramblings from the Hamptons…

STEPHEN BREYER

Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer’s last day of work was June 30. He’d served on the high court for decades voting this way and that on various matters that came to the court’s attention. One day in the late 1980s, he showed up in East Hampton to umpire third base at the annual Artist & Writers Charity Softball Game. Things were safe or out. Fair or foul. The 74th year of this game is scheduled for August 20 at 2 p.m. on the sandlot softball field in back of the Stop & Shop supermarket on Newtown Lane. This gives him plenty of time to prepare.

WEATHER ALERTS

I get weather alert notifications sent to my cellphone. They are always negative.

“Rain will start around 3:18 p.m. It will be heavy.”

“Tornado alert. Tornados are possible on eastern Long Island between 2 and 6 p.m. today.”

“Gale force winds will be in effect beginning Tuesday afternoon to Wednesday 9 a.m.”

“Alfredo has formed in the South Atlantic.”

During the last six months, I’ve received nearly 200 alerts. The negativity is depressing and troublesome. I think, for balance, an equal number of positive alerts should be sent.

“Rainbows may appear over eastern Long Island between 2 and 7 p.m. today.”

“Tomorrow the temperature will be a comfortable 79 degrees, with just a few wisps of clouds flitting across the sky: a breathtakingly beautiful summer day.”

How much do you pay for a banana in the Hamptons?
How much do you pay for a banana in the Hamptons?Getty Images

INFLATION

Inflation in America is at 9.1%, up from the 2021 rate of 7%. Leading the way are prices at the gas pumps. The gasoline index rose by a seasonally adjusted 11.2% in June. My personal way of measuring inflation is with bananas. Here in the Hamptons a year ago, a banana at a minimart was 25 cents. A banana bought at a supermarket was 50 cents. A banana at an upscale deli was 75 cents, and a banana at a chic organic food shop was $1.25. This year a minimart banana is 50 cents, a supermarket banana is 75 cents, a banana at a chic market is $1 and a banana at a chic organic food shop is $2. All bananas are picked by a workman climbing the same sort of tree for the same sort of banana.

Banana inflation is going bananas. And nobody tells you about it. So now you know.

TREADMILLS

Every time I see people on a treadmill in a gym somewhere, I think of the experiment we did back in a science class in college with a squirrel on a treadmill. The squirrel’s running caused a bulb inside the cage to light.

Countries whose citizens labor in factories don’t have treadmills. Their efforts while working are enough to keep them healthy.

Americans, however, are sedentary. So we jog. What if everybody who either ran on a treadmill or up and down the street was able to transmit the energy to the power grid? I think it would light up the country big time. We’d be able to wean ourselves completely off gas, coal and oil. Just run and run and run.

POLITENESS

I think a positive attitude and an appreciation for what we have would bring graciousness back into our lives.

Start with Siri and Alexa. Everybody is involved with these two.

“Hey Siri?”

“Mmmm?”

“What is the capital of Georgia?”

“It’s Atlanta. I hope this helps.”

“It surely will. Thank you.”

“You’re welcome. Enjoy the day.”

“You too.”

“Give my regards to your family.”

These niceties could easily be programmed into Siri and Alexa. And graciousness can lead to a respect for the Ten Commandments or whatever passes for that in other cultures.

Slowing things down, expressing appreciation, thinking of others, smiling and cultivating new friends — it could be a start.

And it’s already underway with telephone representatives.

“My fault. I apologize. Is there anything else I can help you with?”

Sad to say that this happens only with businesses that have after-call rating systems. Press “1” for least satisfied and “5” for most satisfied. So they know they are under the gun.

Edwin "Buzz Aldrin" poses with U.S. flag on the Moon
Edwin “Buzz Aldrin” poses with U.S. flag on the Moon, Photo: NASA

MOON EXPERIMENT

In 1969, America sent two astronauts, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, to the Moon. They landed on the surface, planted an American flag, and scooped up some moon dirt. It was the first time anybody from the Earth had set foot on another heavenly body. After successfully landing the astronauts in the Pacific Ocean, NASA scientists in protective gear took the bottle of moon dust to a lab where, worried that this dust might be toxic and kill people, fed some to cockroaches to see what might happen.

Nothing happened. The cockroaches went about their business. Still wary, however, NASA enlisted researchers throughout the U.S. to join the experiment and see if the three cockroaches had been harmed. They hadn’t. After the experiment, a Minnesota entomologist stored the dead bugs in her home and her daughter later sold the materials.

Around June 25, RR Auction in Boston received a letter from NASA. It had come to NASA’s attention that RR Auction had come into possession of the initial vial of dirt and dead cockroaches and were now listing this material as for sale to the highest bidder at an upcoming collector’s auction. The expected sale price would be more than $40,000.

NASA said these items all still belonged to NASA. NASA never gave permission. The dirt and cockroaches needed to be returned.

Eager journalists dug into this, seeking to learn if the “pedigree” of this crap would show RR what was what.

DELAYS

I think the problem with delivery delays is caused by Amazon. Before Amazon, truckers delivered goods to the stores, you’d go there, get your stuff and drive home.

I estimate that about half the goods in America get delivered by truck to Amazon warehouses where they are sorted and then delivered directly to you. You don’t have to do anything. Neither do about 200 million other adult Americans. With us out of the picture, a huge new burden is borne by the trucking industry. As there’s been no big effort to train a million more truckers, there’s the backup.

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