10 Items or Less: The Avocado of Death

In today's modern world of today, there are innumerable evils facing our modern society. Nukelear meltdowns, international financiers who grope hotel staff, and a dependence on foreign desserts are just a few of these insidious threats to our very existence. However, when it comes to negative influences, there is one that looms larger than all others:


Sure, you might think that a movement consisting bunch of rich, iPad-wielding couch surfers with a penchant for borrowing stuff would be relatively benign. Think again--unless you're a minimalist, of course. Minimalists only think once, if at all. They like to keep their heads as empty as their apartments.

The truth is, minimalism is a philosophy of denial, and in this sense it's the Creationism of lifestyles. Creationists deny the mountains of tangible evolutionary evidence we walk on, dig in, and burn in our gas tanks every day in favor of a story they prefer to believe. Similarly, minimalists deny the principles of simple mathematics in favor of a subjective form of accounting that would amaze even a Goldman Sachs executive.

He arrived at his number by arbitrarily omitting stuff (like his toiletry kit), as well as by bundling other stuff together (like his electronics and various chargers) and counting them as one thing. It's that last form of fictional counting--bundling stuff together--that's the most insidious. For example, bundling a bunch of subprime mortgages together and selling them was what caused the financial crisis. Even worse, bundling items together is wreaking havoc at our supermarket checkout counters, as I learned this past weekend:

The above was the scene I encountered in a Brooklyn supermarket at the so-called "10 items or less" register. As you can see, there are ten items of fruit on the conveyor belt alone--and that's not counting what the cashier has already bagged!

At first I puzzled over how someone could commit a civil violation so egregious, but then I realized that this twisted minimalist counting style is now trickling down to the rest of society, and that the woman purchasing all this stuff has probably deluded herself into thinking that all those avocados are one item. (In fairness to her, the juice wasn't hers--it belonged to the gentleman with the giant fanny pack waiting behind her.)

A mortgage crisis is one thing, but glutted supermarket checkout lines are something else altogether, and the consequences of the latter are potentially far worse. Not only does it cause delay, but allowing people to purchase multiple avocados via express lane while simultaneously inconveniencing purchasers of other items could lead to an "avocado bubble" that could burst with tragic consequences--and I don't want to be around when the guacamole hits the fan.

In any case, I've never shied away from social protest, and you can be sure I did my part by sighing impatiently in a barely audible fashion.

Speaking of counting stuff, Transportation Nation is attempting to quantify the New York City bicycle crackdown, and to this end they're creating a bike ticket map to show which neighborhoods in have been most cracked down-upon. Here's how the map looks so far:

(Each red mark represents an extremely indignant white person.)

As you can see, ticketing seems to be heaviest in parts of the city inhabited by the sorts of whiny people whose biggest problem in life is having to wait behind other people buying too many avocados in supermarkets. Non-coincidentally, these are also exactly the sorts of people who send out press releases to local news websites when they get tickets for running red lights on their Dutch bikes, and who ultimately report this information to crowdsourcing projects run by smug transportation websites. The result of this project is what may be the most obvious map ever created, though I am admittedly intrigued by the outliers, such as this one:

I can only assume this represents a roadie on his way to or from the evening races at Floyd Bennett Field (the big beige blob in the middle of the image), and I must say that surviving the wild ride down Flatbush Avenue only to get a ticket just as you've reached the safety of the Gateway National Recreation Area is like winning the World Rib Eating Championship and then choking to death on a maraschino cherry as you enjoy a celebratory cocktail.

Meanwhile, drivers are constantly finding bold new ways to obstruct bike lanes. For awhile, it looked like the protected ones were posing a bit of a challenge, but I'm pleased to report that one motor vehicle owner has finally cracked the problem of how to block them by simply placing his car diagonally across the controversial Prospect Park West bike lane:

I'm not sure what they were actually doing, but they are taking rope out of the trunk so it's possible that they were tying the car back together. The blanket would also indicate they needed to do some work on the underside of the vehicle:

Perhaps by parking the car partially on the curb they afforded themselves easier access:

As for why they wouldn't simply work on the car in the empty parking space right next to them, my best guess is that the green surface offers better contrast for finding those pesky nuts and bolts that are so easy to lose while performing repairs.

Really, the only thing I'm sure of is there's not a cop in New York City who would even think of giving them a ticket, and I also wouldn't be surprised if the so-called "Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes" emerged from their brownstones and served them lunch.

Finally, as I mentioned last week, I am now resolved to bring the "There Will Be Action Wipes" contest to a conclusion:

To this end, I have chosen five finalists, and I'm not exaggerating when I say it was by far the hardest thing I've ever done. (Harder even than having to wait multiple minutes behind a woman buying too many avocados.) The most difficult part was having to exclude the submissions that were brilliant yet not in keeping with the goal of the contest, which was to create an international symbol for cycling. Therefore, as much as I loved this one:

And this one:

And this one:

They were a bit too detailed for simple signage. (Sure, the submission above is a sign, but it doesn't work for, say, an airport terminal, or a dedicated cyclist restroom were such a thing to come into existence.) The same thing goes for this one:

I also was forced to exclude symbols that were signworthy but did not include the time-traveling t-shirt-wearing retro-Fred from the planet Tridork:

Or that took excessive liberties with his bicycle:
Again, I can't say emphatically enough that it pained me deeply to exclude all the submissions above, as well as many other exquisite renderings I also received. So, finally, I've narrowed the submissions down to these five (5) finalists, in no particular order:

I have my favorite, but I'm not saying which. In the coming days I'll most likely put these to a vote, but in the meantime I invite you to reflect upon them and consider which you'd most like to represent you in a municipal setting.

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