Friday, April 29, 2011

1484 Recartoning

I was looking at my egg carton the other day and I saw these words printed on the inside cover in bold type:
"If you want to recycle this carton we have some good news!"
Thinking there was now a place I could locally recycle the polystyrene carton, or better yet, I could put it in my mixed recyclable bin, I scrambled to read on.
The next line was a little disappointing. It said:
"Egg industry statistics show that an average household of four consumes the equivalent of 50 dozen eggs per year...that's less than 1.8 pounds of polystyrene per year."
So the good news is, the packaging doesn't weigh that much anyhow? Pardon me for not keeping my sunny side up, but my cynical side says that sounds like the implication is I might as well just throw it away.
"Only 1.8 pounds for a family of four a year, don't be obsessive dude, pitch it...who'll be over...easy..."
So naturally, egg-sited as I was, I did the math. 310 million folks in the US divided by four. That’s 77.5 Million families at 1.8 pounds a piece. That’s 139,500,000 pounds. At 2000 pounds per ton that’s 69,750 tons of un-recycled egg cartons headed for the landfill.
Now I was really fried. 70,000 tons? That's like 35,000 cars!
The egg carton had more good news. It said:
"Of course you don't have to store them all can mail them to us anytime and we'll make sure the box and the cartons get recycled. Please ship to:..." and then it gave an address.
Translation. "Save your eggs cartons for a year and then pay to ship them to us you green wingnut!
If you want to break the egg carton waste cycle, you'll have to shell out."
America, ya gotta love it.

1483 Healthy Cut

One of the big items in Paul Ryan's new deficit reduction plan, that will supposedly cut $6 trillion, is a revamping of Medicare. Congrats to him for taking on the monster, but I think he may get some resistance to his ideas. And from quarters he may not expect.
Some of the forgotten rigid backbones behind the Tea Party may be upset. And by rigid I mean ossified, swollen, and arthritic. The grey panther person. The oldster that was inflamed that Obamacare was, "messing with my Medicare."
Remember the outcry? The fear? Oldsters across the land were alarmed at the prospect of diminished benefits, managed care and yes, death panels.
Now, in a stunning betrayal, Tea Party darling Paul Ryan is messing with Medicare. His proposal is to stop it being a government program and give seniors $15000 vouchers to purchase private insurance.
Only one problem. He'd better check with the insurance companies first. Because they may not want the business. The key to insurance being profitable is having lots of people who don't make claims. Insurers don't want to issue flood insurance to people who live along rivers, or earthquake insurance in San Francisco.
Those folks may actually have to make claims.
That’s why insurers fought healthcare reform's elimination of the pre-existing condition. Well guess what? Old Age is the ultimate pre-existing condition. And it carries with it a host of ailments that insurance companies would much rather the government pay for.
Just like the government subsidizes disaster relief. If you've ever had to dicker with your insurance company about what medical expense they'll cover, you know what I mean.
Paul Ryan is at least ideologically consistent. Republicans love to privatize things. But don’t look now, his plan may just privatize the, um, death panels.
America, ya gotta love it.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

1482 Taxless

I'm a big advocate of small business. Partly because I'm always pulling for the little guy. Rooting for the underdog. Betting on David versus Goliath. And getting annoyed at the 900-pound Gorillas.
Which in the business world means disliking the large bullies too. A study awhile back showed that large corporations, more often than not, welcome regulations—because they overtax the efforts of smaller competitors.
Which makes sense. Your average small business with 10 employees doesn't have enough personpower to have an HR department, an accounting department, and a compliance department. They barely have enough money to keep on the lights.
So when it comes to tax breaks, I say give them to small businesses. Reward those intrepid entrepreneurs with the fresh ideas. The ones hiring your Aunt Maybelle and your friend's teenager. Not the one hiring the overseas laborer for 10 cents an hour.
As plans move through congress to reduce the corporate tax rate to 25%, let's look closely at who benefits. CEOs are currently sitting on a record 940 Billion in cash reserves. During 2010, US corporate earnings increased more than they had since 1988.
Pity they didn't use a few of those dollars to create a factory or two...and a few American jobs. General Electric made 14.2 Billion in worldwide profits. Not bad. Then, exploiting tax breaks, they claimed a 3.2 Billion dollar tax refund from Uncle Sam.
The trick? Hire a good accountant? Partly. But also spend 200 billion lobbying over a decade. It's probably deductible too. But you can't deduct it if you don't have it to spend, so that's another perk unavailable to small, local, job-creating business.
I don’t care if the corporate tax rate is 25% or 35%. I just want it to end up being something over zero...
America, ya gotta love it.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

1481 Seesawing

Today's commentary is about a delicate subject, and since it appears on a radio broadcast that may be heard by children, I will refrain from being too graphic when I describe it.
It's about what takes place between two people to satisfy certain biological urges. Some would call it the serious work of procreation. Some would call it play. So I'll use a playground euphemism. I'll call it playing on the seesaw or seesawing.
Playing on the seesaw, it turns out, can be dangerous if you are out of shape. In fact, seesaw playing by couch potatoes can be fatal. As one of the great overweight comedians once said, growing up as a larger child, the smaller kids shunned him because with him there were no seesaws, only catapults.
The seesaw I'm talking about could catapult you right into cardiac arrest.
Seesawing infrequently, by those out of shape, is classified as a "unaccustomed strenuous activity." It's like shoveling snow, which can increase the chance of a heart attack by a factor of five. Seesawing can increase your risk by 2.7 times.
But here's the upside. Each additional instance of activity a week reduced that risk by 45%. So it's bad at first, but if you keep it up it gets better.
Where have I heard that before?
Don't just go from the couch to the playground. Think of your partner. Going from seesawing to CPR can be a real letdown.
The trick is to work your way up to the actual seesawing with a little playing beforehand. Before playing gets your heart pumping more gradually. So start early. Do some walking during the week.
"See Fred walking lately?"
"Saw him yesterday. I asked why, and he just smiled and said, 'Walk before play.'"
America, ya gotta love it.

Monday, April 25, 2011

1480 LED MP3

Science is cool. It helps us make stuff. Then it helps us determine what's screwed up with things we made.
Like L.E.D.s. What some call LED lights, which is repetitively redundant because L.E.D. means Light Emitting Diode. Oh, the old light emitting diode light. Do they have a less energetic version called a light emitting diode light lite?
Some people also call them leds. Which would cause a problem with the news story I just read about red LEDs. Turns out they crushed LEDs and found out that the red ones contained lead levels exceeding federal safety limits. Which lead them to believe that it's best to beware of the lead red LEDs.
No crunching them up and putting them in your toothpaste.
And don't make toys out of them.
Scientists also figured out recently that complex classical songs aren't that complex. They were trying to figure out what makes music so satisfying. Particularly your favorite pop songs. They put folks through PET scanners and fMRIs and determined that popular music triggered dopamine responses not unlike the responses from drug addicts.
Forget about Sex, Drugs, and Rock-and-Roll. Rock-and-Roll is a drug.
But the other weird thing they found out—by using "lossless compression," the audio encoding technology that removes redundant elements so a ton of music can fit on your iPod—Classical complex music ain't that complex. Modern music boiled down only 30%, while Beethoven's Third Symphony shrunk an amazing 60%.
Whoda thunk it? Rock Music more dense than Classical. That's some heavy metal indeed. And Pop causing a love rush like a drug too? Bee Gee Whiz.
I wonder if scientists will be able to shed light on whether a crush on Led Zeppelin is dangerous.
America, ya gotta love it.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

1479 Cheerio

I was looking at an ad the other day for Cheerios. Cheerios, being made of oats, has long touted its heart healthiness. This ad was doing the same thing. There was a big heart popping out of the bowl with a caption on it that read, "May reduce the risk of heart disease."
Not a real heart, one of those valentine hearts. A real heart, aorta and pulmonary arteries dripping thick red fluid, would have been way too unappetizing bulging out of a bowl of Cheerios.
"I say, what’s that organ doing sticking out of my breakfast bowl? Is this something like kidney pie? Cheerio!"
What got me about this particular heart-healthy box of Cheerios was that it wasn't a box of ordinary Cheerios. It was a box of the new Chocolate Cheerios.
But here's the funny thing. They're right. According to some recent research, chocolate is heart-healthy too. Moderate amounts of chocolate every day do help your heart.
But it has to be dark chocolate. Dark chocolate contains flavonoids, which act as antioxidants, mopping up free radicals. The kind of free radicals you get when you eat milk, sugar, and butter.
So the dark chocolate ought to be as pure as possible. I'm guessing that lets out truffles...
It also means that one of the crucial ingredients in chocolate bars, that undoes the heart-healthy benefits of the dark chocolate, is milk.
So by all means have your Chocolate Cheerios. Just eat them with, um, water.
Better yet. I hear red wine has lots of antioxidants too. What better way to start the day than a bowl of chocolate and wine. Make your heart feel good...and everything else too.
Science is great.
Now that puts the cheer in cheerio.
America, ya gotta love it.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

1478 Holler

I like living close to the country. It brings you up short sometimes and helps you question your prejudices on stuff. Priorities on the farm are poles apart from priorities in the city. The cow lowing in the barn because she needs to be milked is a whole lot different from the groan in your car's engine that may keep you from driving to work on time.
How does that old joke go? What do you call an Amish guy with his hand up a cow's backside?
So it was funny the other day when I heard a story about a fencing class they were offering at the Yelm Library. Fencing in Yelm? Yelm ain't a country town anymore? I say this with all due respect and love. Yelm is a place where you'd expect gunslingers at high noon. Not fencing.
Folks in tight white coveralls with baskets on their faces dancing around with skinny wands seems more like a Harry Potter movie than a Prairie Days demonstration.
Big broadswords maybe. Scottish claymores. Something you could repurpose as a machete to whack down some prairie scotchbroom.
Then it occurred to me. Maybe they were talking about a class for putting up fences. Every pasture needs good fencing.
Yeah…maybe it's down in the holler. That's another country word I love that gets me confused. Because you also say, "I gave him a holler."
"When you get close to town, give me a holler."
"Will do, where do you live?"
"Down in the holler."
"So I should give you a holler so I can see you down in the holler you live in already."
"Yep, and holler loud when you get there, we'll be in the back forty doing some fencing..."
America, ya gotta love it.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

1477 Toona

We have an odd relationship with Tuna. Tuna is the fish with which most Americans are on familiar terms. There are tuna connoisseurs to be sure and, dare I say it, the occasional tuna–fish-ianado, but for the most part Mr. and Mrs. Joe America indulge in the evanescent pleasures of canned tuna.
Never mind that a freshly opened can of canned tuna smells suspiciously of cat food. A can of beef stew smells like Alpo too, and who hasn't put a dent in Dinty Moore from time to time?
We love our tuna. Tuna melts, tuna casseroles and yes, the amazing tunafish sandwich. Interestingly, one of the few sandwiches where we fell impelled to identify the meat of origin.
Seriously, have you ever asked for a chicken-bird sandwich?
We owe some of our familiarity with tuna to a classic ad campaign. Featuring the now 50-year-old Charlie the Tuna. Charlie was part of a StarKist Tuna campaign that attempted to portray how not just any tuna could get to be a StarKist tuna, and therefore presumably, a tuna you eat.
Charlie kept attempting to be caught and the tricks he tried always failed. Sort of a reverse of the Trix bunny or the not-so-wily coyote. How depressing, a fish that couldn't fin-agle.
Maybe that's why, when I watched Charlie the Tuna as a kid, I was struck even then by the poignancy of his attempt to commit what amounted to piscine suicide.
Really. Charlie is trying to be caught?
Worse was how StarKist introduced us to a fish, albeit in animated form, that we got to know, and then asked us to eat his brethren.
Of course, a fish in the flesh is different than a car-tuna. But still.
They accuse Charlie of having bad taste...
America, ya gotta love it.

1476 Group Needle

Sometimes I'll drive down the street and see a sign and wonder what the heck something is all about. Like the other day. I drove by this place whose sign said, "Community Acupuncture $20 to $40."
And I had no idea what that meant. What is "community acupuncture"? Obviously, at only 20 to 40 dollars, it must be some sort of cost saving thing. Like the food co-op or something. Is it like a clinic? Where everyone goes in together? I hope you don't have to share needles.
Maybe you all sit around in a circle and an acupuncturist comes in and sticks you one needle and one person at a time. "Okay everyone line up, we're going to stick the sub-gluteal pressure point now."
Or is it like a psychology group session? You all share your acupuncture experiences. Everyone ends up being calm, although they start out a little prickly.
Or does everyone acupuncture each other? Maybe learning the process together. So, when you criticize your co-learner, will they say you're needling them?
Or maybe they just use one really long needle for multiple people. Community Acupuncture, the social shish kabob.
I saw another sign that made me wonder. It said, "Tarot Reading by Gifted Psychic." Hmm. I've heard of gifted musicians, but they usually don't advertise that way.
But I suppose you'd want a gifted psychic. Better than a re-gifted psychic. And far better than you're ordinary carnie psychic. "What? You want a deluxe future, ya gotta get a gifted psychic, I just guess your weight. But I can tell what you're thinking too so bug off, I ain't promised you a rose garden. 'Specially for a buck.
You want a deal, try that community psychic up the street..."
America, ya gotta love it.

Friday, April 15, 2011

1475 Fat Shaker

I walked through my health club the other day amazed at all the new machinery. From treadmills with built-in TVs to stair climbers actually shaped like stairs, we invest a huge amount of inventive ingenuity in crafting machines to duplicate, um, ordinary motion.
Sure, walking on a treadmill watching pictures of the countryside is a lot more warm and comfortable than actually walking in the country. But the stair climber machine that looks like a set of indoor stairs? There’s a real flight of indoor stairs just 20 feet away in my club. And no one was using it to go up to the indoor walking track above. Must be for the same people who park as close as they can to the main entrance of the club. Wouldn't want to walk across any extra parking lot and get exercise...
Maybe the fake stair machine has an escalator setting.
I was reminded of the old strap-shaker machines in health clubs from the fifties. Folks would stand on this platform inside a 3 foot loop of a 5-inch wide strap of canvas. The machine would then jiggle the strap. As the folks were standing in the loop leaning on the strap, the strap would jiggle them too.
The easy way to shake off calories. You'd walk into a club and all these folk would be jiggling to beat the band. I guess the thought was that if you only kept the fat in motion it would melt away. Maybe some sort of friction-induced heat rendering process, like simmering bacon.
I just wonder how many folks died of dislodged kidneys. Or ruptured spleens.
"Is there any hope doctor?"
"Sorry Sir, it looks like your wife has acute pancreatic mush. And diabetes too.
She shook loose her Islets of Langerhans..."
America, ya gotta love it.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

1474 "B" for Bribery

I was reading a business article the other day reporting on one of the various malfeasances one of our big corporations had perpetrated. Whatever happened to business ethics, by the way? Has it gone completely the way of non-creative bookkeeping?
The story was that IBM was paying $10 million to settle with U.S. regulators, who had charged the computer titan with bribing Chinese and Korean government officials to win contracts.
The Securities and Exchange Commission charged that in one incident, IBM actually paid a South Korean official $19,000 to buy hardware at inflated prices. That's right, 19 thousand dollars. This from the same Securities and Exchange Commission that ignored Billion Dollar Ponzier Bernie Madoff and Trillion Dollar Credit Swapper AIG.
Then again, those abuses were perpetrated against U.S. folks, lots of them oldsters trying to scrape together a decent retirement before their 401ks cratered. Much more important we look good to the South Koreans and Chinese.
After all, they own all our debt.
Since when does the Securities and Exchange Commission care what we do in foreign countries? Not that we shouldn't behave responsibly wherever we do business but, you know, let's put a broom to the pavement of Wall Street before we try sweeping the dirt on country roads.
There's another interesting spin to the whole thing. IBM settled. Not willing to have the "B" in their initials stand for Bribery, they paid the Feds with no admission of guilt.
But here's the deal: I'm okay having a trial, being judged guilty, and paying a fine. But paying so you don't go to trial at all? I once did that to an official to escape a charge in a foreign country.
I believe we called that, um, bribery.
America, ya gotta love it.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

1473 Whole Grain Pop

I love when companies that used to be the worst perpetrators of unhealthy stuff turn around and ride the wave of a new opportunity. Like healthy salads at McDonalds or lead paint repurposed for blocking drifting nuclear radiation.
Oh right, that's in development.
So I was attracted to a notice I saw on a microwave popcorn box the other day. It was on one of the new boxes of Orville Redenbacher NATURAL gourmet popping corn, which contains "no" artificial ingredients.
By "no" I'm sure they mean less than the reporting standards for "one" artificial ingredient, be it microgram or ounce. But the statement that caught my eye was, "No added Diacetyl Butter Flavorings."
As opposed to the diacetyl butter flavorings that occur in nature.
I'm guessing that means that at one time, they did add diacetyl butter flavorings. Diacetyl is sometimes used in beer and alcohol products to provide a slippery mouth feel. Another variation of the chemical is used a mosquito repellent.
Nice tip for your next camping trip.
"Got any Deet?"
"No but rub on some of this microwave popcorn..."
Diacetyl is also implicated in popcorn lung diseasea sort of black lung thing workers in popcorn factories get from inhaling too much of it.
Popcorn lung. Watch out theatre workers.
But what really got me about the package was its biggest attempt to sell the popcorn as a healthy treat. On the top of the box in large letters it said, "100% Whole Grain."
Okay. Whole Grain Popcorn. Can't argue with that. The germ, endosperm, and bran are all there. Totally transformed by the hot oil popping process to be sure. And there's no such thing as non-whole grain popcorn, but hey, you gotta focus on your strengths.
Especially since you don't repel mosquitoes anymore.
America, ya gotta love it.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

1472 In-crem-inating

I'm fascinated by the subject of cremation. Partly because our language has words that sound too close to the words they use to describe the various aspects of the cremation process. Or maybe it's just that the funeral industry came up with names that are a little too cutesy.
In the end they all sound like something having to do with cream.
Cremation is a fine word. But "cremains"? That’s the word the funeral industry has given to the ashes. Personally I think "ashes" was fine. Ashes to ashes dust to dust, that sort of thing. I've said it before and I'll say it again, cremains sound like something you add to your coffee.
It gets worse. When a person is cremated and turned into said ashes, they are not as smooth as you might think. There are chunks of bone and what not. The consistency of the ashes a little lumpy. So the cremation technician puts them through a machine that pounds and mixes them to a uniform fineness.
They call that machine a "cremulator." I kid you not. Sounds like something you'd see at a Dairy Queen doesn’t it? "Yeah we pour the milk mixture in here and, voila, instant peanut buster parfait. Thanks cremulator... and thanks Buster."
Then there's the plural for the place where cremation takes place. The singular is crematorium. Which already sounds like the dairy barn exhibit at the fair. "Yahoo Maybelle, Bessie's milk got the blue ribbon in the crematorium."
But the plural of crematorium? Crematoria. Yep, not unlike trattoria. The word for an Italian bistro. Try the Mascarpone... it's guaranteed to stick to your bones.
So. Some would say I'm a bit of a ghoul to dwell on this subject. Does that mean I'm a crème ghoule'?
America, ya gotta love it.

Monday, April 11, 2011

1471 Auto Recyclable

I was driving down the street when I saw it. It was a tow truck. And it had the name of the tow truck’s home base. That's what got me. The truck said, “Bob's Towing and Auto Recycling.”
It yanked my head around. Not “Auto Recycling!” Oh no! The passing and rebranding of an American institution. The wrecking yard. Home of the famous junkyard dog. Vicious guard dogs immortalized in many a horror story and Hollywood movie.
Is there anything inherently vicious-sounding about a recycling dog? Separate your compostables or they'll bite your leg? Hungry Dobermans trained to go for your gonads if you fail to sort your bottles and cans.
"Auto Recycling." It sounds so much more genteel than auto wrecking. No more cars sitting in puddles with the rainbow sheen of leaking oil seeping into the aquifer. No more jagged rusted metal edges, waiting to boost a tetanus shot for the unwary toddler accompanying his dad on a quest for a carburetor. No more black widow spiders nesting in the engine compartment, poised to venomously strike an incautious finger groping for the hidden release on a brake fluid repository.
It would be cool if the Auto Recycling could live up to its name. Shiny tables arrayed with equally shiny parts. Cars parked neatly on pavement, fluids drained and processed appropriately, any accidental toxic drippings channeled into runoff catchments and sequestered in environmental neutrality. Lead core batteries removed and sent to locations for proper reuse and not diverted to illicit toy manufacture.
Attendants in clean white coveralls. With immaculate grease-free knuckles. And the total absence of smoke from a cigarette clenched in their grimacing lips, causing their eyes to squint menacingly.
Auto Recycling or Wrecking Yard?
Which would you rather read about in your next suspense novel?
America, ya gotta love it.

Friday, April 08, 2011

1470 Snarky Shark

I was about to watch something online the other day, but first I had to watch one of those online commercials. You know the ones. They call them "pre-rolls," and they are the unspoken deal you make to get free online contentwatch a short commercial first.
Hey, somebody has to pay somewhere. Al Gore's Information Superhighway may have a low carbon footprint, but it still needs financial fuel to keep it going.
In any event, the commercial I watched was a little disturbing. It was by the Snickers Bar company, and it depicted a scene in which a number of very realistic sharks were deciding on something in a focus group. The facilitator was human, and she was asking the sharks which of the samples they had just eaten they liked better.
The sharks very creepily said they liked Steve. "That's great," said the facilitator, "because Steve had just eaten a Snickers Bar." She concluded it was no surprise Steve himself tasted better to the Sharks. At that point, one of the sharks actually made a noise I assumed was meant to be a snicker.
One was led to the inescapable conclusion that Steve had been completely and ravenously eaten by the sharks. One of which said, "Yeah, Steve, Steve was very good, Steve was delicious..." and then drooled quite horrifically.
All very clever. The sharks even had some attitude. Being a little sarcastic with the facilitator, as reluctant folks in a focus group sometimes do. But showing snarky sharks calmly discussing eating humans quite put me off eating candy, much less having any appetite at all.
I couldn't help but think of all the poor shark victims and victim's families. Atavistic fear of the deep, blood, gore, death, dismemberment...and Snickers.
A fistful of peanuts and an actual fist too. Yum.
America, ya gotta love it.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

1469 Jobs Ahoy

I go this circular in the mail the other day that bore some good news. It was from the Satsop Business Park and they were proclaiming the success of a business there know as Brown Minneapolis Tank.
The heading of the circular said, "Satsop Success Story." To those who think the most important success of Satsop is that they didn't build a nuke plant there, this is a great story indeed. Because the key thing is, they manufacture something at Satsop. Actually make something out of steel right here in the good old USA.
Here, where the only jobs we have left is the Jobs who manufactures all our iPads, Pods, and Phones i-overseas. And he's not alone.
In case you've been wondering about the whole mysterious "jobless recovery" thing, here's some interesting facts. Since the meltdown, American companies have gotten rid of a net of 500,000 payroll jobs. At the same time, they hired 729,000 jobs—overseas.
So you see, the jobs are coming back, they're just coming somewhere else. Ford, the great American automobile success story, employs only 37% of it's total payroll in the US. Foxconn, the Taiwanese company Apple picked to make iPods in China, employs 250,000 people. And it's not just union labor prices that skew things. The average Foxconn employee makes $292 a month.
There's the solution. Lower our minimum wage to $1.83 an hour. We already complain an iPad costs too much. What if it cost a month's wages?
Wonder if there's an app for decent working conditions. I hope so, because it looks like the most important job skill we should be teaching our kids is Chinese.
They may be moving there soon.
Maybe they can work at the Shanghai McDonalds.
America, ya gotta love it.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

1468 Corndemnation

It was actually the sub-headline that caught my eye. "Movie Chain operators fight proposed federal nutrition disclosure rules on concession snacks, saying they're an unwarranted intrusion into their business."
Um, aren't nutrition discloser panels an intrusion into any food purveyor's business? I'd be willing to bet McDonalds was none too pleased about it either. And if they lost, does Regal have a 3-D chance in Hades? Talk about Clash of the Titans.
The real reason I read the article was I wanted to know about the popcorn. Turns out the big tubs of popcorn are what you'd expect. A "large" theatre popcorn is around 1460 calories—the equivalent of three Big Macs. And you thought popcorn was low-calorie.
It is. But you have to avoid the magic theatre butter. And not eat a giant tub of it. Quick dietary note: Anything you eat an entirety of, and that is packaged in a quantity known as a "tub," will most likely have an impact on your waistline and/or heart attack frequency.
The article also had this bonus fact. You know how snacks in the theaters always seem high-priced? It's the "captive audience premium," like burgers at Disneyland. Part of the price of the movie, I figure, and certainly part of their profit profile. I just didn't know how much. Dude, I've got popcorn profit envy.
As David Ownby, chief financial officer of Regal Entertainment Group, recently said at an investor presentation, "We sell a bucket of popcorn for about $6. Our cost in that $6 bucket of popcorn is about 15 or 20 cents. So if that cost doubles, it doesn't really hurt me that much."
Wow, he sounds pleased enough to pop.
And the popcorn looks so much bigger with those attractively priced 3-D glasses too.
America, ya gotta love it.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

1467 Free Milking

I was reflecting on country wisdom the other day as I was listening to a song by a group called the Georgia Satellites. The song was, "Keep Your Hands to Yourself" about a woman who won't offer her charms unless she is married.
"No huggy no kissy, 'til I get a wedding ring" is how she purportedly puts it. A noble sentiment to be sure. The negative biological and social consequences of accidental and sudden unwed motherhood are not to be discounted.
One of the verses of the song puts this quite pithily when it says "that's when she told me a story 'bout free milk and a cow and said 'no huggy no kissy until I get a wedding vow'..."
Well there's certainly a romantic metaphor. Comparing the love of two people to milking a cow. Anyone who has milked a cow can appreciate how similar the bovine experience is to true love.
Um, not so much. Milking a cow is an odiferous business at best and one guaranteed to make one feel less than amorous. At least it was in my case. Maybe freezing at the crack of dawn in manure-filled barns reeking of sour milk just wasn't a turn on.
Also, the noble heroine in the song may just want to remember that living with a half ton, dull-witted, fly-infested, smelly beast is perhaps not the best image to invoke when one is attempting to encourage a suitor to contemplate marriage. Especially in some rural areas of the south.
The tale of free milk and the cow, in case you've been living in a barn, offers up the cautionary proposition—If one is getting free milk why buy the cow?
Clever. But there's an old country comeback from those who think less of the institution of marriage.
Why butcher the cow when you can live off the milk?
America, ya gotta love it.

Monday, April 04, 2011

1466 Fat Cat Food

My good friend Rick brings me various insights into the aberrations of our culture from time to time. I like his observations because he is far more conservative than I am, and I enjoy that perspective.
Rick told me about a column that described how House Republicans were bringing back Styrofoam cups and plastic plates to the House cafeteria. They are doing so, apparently, as part of a larger effort to undo Nancy Pelosi's Green initiative, which mandated the use of recyclable utensils.
The columnist wondered whether the anti-Pelosis would be painting the wall with lead paint anytime soon.
Because really. Do we need to be so partisan we undo good ideas too? Just because the other party likes it? Stop wearing seatbelts? Dump oil in our backyards? The Democrats don't like murder either. Should we now encourage it? You wonder sometimes if GOP stands for Grand Old Petty...
Rick also was kind enough to share with me a picture he took of some fancy cat food. How far we've come in a country that still has starving children. The cans were from Fancy Feast's Elegant Medleys collection. One was labled, "Wild Salmon Primavera in a Classic Sauce with Garden Veggies and Greens." Another said, "White Meat Chicken Tuscany in a Savory Sauce with Long Grain Rice and Garden Greens."
Wow. As Rick succinctly put it, "This for an animal who bites the heads off snakes and cleans its own backside with its tongue."
Actually, Rick used a more colorful word for backside.
These cans are 83 cents apiece, by the way. Which may seem cheap to the canner's true target market.
I've yet to see an early-bird senior buffet for less than 3.99.
Also, they're in environmentally questionable BPA-lined cans. So if you want a taste, maybe they'll be serving them to the fat cats at the Capitol.
America, ya gotta love it.

1465 Pilate's Makeover

So much depends on context. Even the pronunciation of a word. Like you don’t want to put the word polish at the beginning of a sentence. Capitalizing it makes it Polish. And telling people to Polish their floors can get confusing.
So it was the other day when I drove by a Christian health club. Their commendable goal is to do good workouts and God's work at the same time. But like all businesses they have to do their best to stay up with current trends, and so have offered a yoga-like class.
Unfortunately, since yoga comes from a whole different religion, the Christian/Buddhist interface presented a bit of a dilemma. So they renamed yoga, Yo-God. Very creative. And with the possibly unintentional added benefit of giving the yoga a hip-hop feel.
Yo yo, get yourself in the crane position yo.
The sign said they also offer a pilates courses. Which again was great. But now that my mind was tuned to the religious angle, I kept mentally pronouncing pilates, Pilate's.
Maybe it's just a hand-washing exercise.
As they say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
Like the charity work I saw the other day. A local group was doing good things for folks—food, clothes, financial education. And one of the things they were offering was "Makeovers for the Homeless."
Um, a lot of homeless guys I know would probably not respond well to a "makeover." Perhaps the charity group just meant haircuts and shaves. I hope so. I can hear the talk around the campfire now.
"Hey Fred, nice purple eye shadow. And your skin looks so fresh. What's that your new cardboard sign says... "Will exfoliate for food."?
Yo Dude, you look tired, I hope you didn't do the "Jazzercise for Hobos" class too..."
America, ya gotta love it.