The theory of utilitarianism holds that the best action is the one that maximizes utility, a theory applied gratefully yesterday when, in a moment of absent-mindedness, I dumped the cap on the pouring end of the gas can into the lawn mower's gas tank.
After failing to find a tool that (a) would fit into the tank and (b) grasp and extract the floating cap, chopsticks came to mind. So I went into the kitchen, grabbed a pair and out the gas cap came. Wonderful.
Earlier, while relaxing in a chair at the beauty parlor while Margie trimmed away too many weeks' accumulation of hair, we got to talking about Chinese food. She likes Hy-Vee's; I don't especially (too sweet, too squishy and the sticky rice tends not to) and remain a Panda Buffet loyalist.
So I went out there for supper after the lawn mower triumph.
Despite the somewhat disconcerting name (panda is not on the menu), the Panda serves up top of the line small-town Iowa Chinese. That means that while there's nothing especially daring on the menu and nothing spicy enough to knock the socks off palates more attuned to Hardees, everything always tastes good, the consistency is right, the buffet selection is fresh, the sticky rice sticks and the hot and sour soup is flavorful.
Besides, the same family has operated the Panda for a number of years and we enjoy watching the kids grow up.
You'll have to drive into Des Moines to experience a fuller range of oriental food --- Thai, Lao, Japanese, Vietnamese and various shades of Chinese --- but this is about as good as it gets in the small-town Midwest.
I had sesame chicken (an alarming shade of red, but don't be put off by that), black-pepper chicken and jalapeno pork plus rice, an egg roll and green beans stir-fried in garlic.
While eating --- as Chinese vocalists crooned in the background --- I glanced up and noticed that a colorful calendar from Heng Feng Food Services, Inc., of Lexington, Missouri, was hanging on the wall above me.
That reminded me of old friend R. Webb Cole, also of Lexington originally, and the sad recent news that one of his alma maters, Lexington's venerable Wentworth Military Academy, will close at the end of the spring semester after dissipating a substantial endowment and ending up in a deep financial hole. Iowans may remember Wentworth principally because one of Governor-for-life Terry Branstad's sons was dispatched there after becoming too unruly to be contained by the governor's mansion.
So I came home, commiserated somewhat belatedly with Webb --- who is taking this news hard --- and ate a serving of fruit salad, with chopsticks. I'm rather good at eating grapes --- in addition to retrieving gas can caps --- with chopsticks, a lasting legacy of my time in Saigon.