Wednesday, August 31, 2011

1567 Triple Time

I get confused by numbers. More accurately, by how people use number concepts. Like when scientists say some thing or another will increase your chances of dying by 6% over people who don't eat, drink, or inhale that particular thing.
That's still quite a bit less than one. Six out of a hundred people is a bit on the lean side of one hundred. If I got a 6% discount on a pair of one-dollar sox, it wouldn't amount to much.
And I never can figure out what some wage earners are talking about when they say they're getting multiples of time and a half. I think I actually get the time and a half part. If you are getting 20 dollars an hour, then you get the 20 and an extra half of that, which is 10 dollars, so you get a total of 30 dollars an hour.
And with double time you get 40 dollars an hour. But what about double time and a half? Is the "half" part half of the double or still the half of the single. Is it 40 plus 10 or 40 plus 20? Because 40 plus 20 is 60. And I believe that's triple time.
And why do sports people say someone is "triple teamed" when in fact it's just three people ganging up on someone. If in basketball, which has 5 team members, 3 members gang up on 1 member of the opposing tem, that’s supposedly triple teaming. Given that the team is by definition 5 members, wouldn't triple teaming actually be 15 members?
Or Tripoli. Now that there’s so much destruction thee are they going to call it Double-ie?
Or the new Oreo. They call it the Triple Double Oreo. 3 cookies, 2 cream layers. 5 layers total. But isn't a triple double 6?
Now I'm doubly confused.
America, ya gotta love it.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

1566 Hash it Out

Yesterday I commented on signs of our symbolic confusion when it comes to the use of same. Namely the dollar sign, which we put in front of a number, but then say with the dollar word after the number. We do not say dollars 100. We say 100 dollars.
My friend Rick pointed out after my commentary that the number sign is even more confusing. The number sign is that crosshatchy thing that looks like a bent tic-tac-toe playing field. It's official name is the "number" sign.
But that's only if you place it in front of a number. If you place it after a number, it is widely use as a "pound" sign. When you get telephone menu instructions, the robotic telephone menu reader tells you to press the "pound" sign. And if you want to write "2 pounds of fruit" you can write a 2 and the crosshatchy thing.
Even more confusing, there is a pound sign that refers to actual weight poundage and it looks similar, except the right vertical crosshatch is a lowercase b, and the bottom horizontal crosshatch is absent.
While we're at it, the British symbol for pound, as in pound sterling, looks like a capital E with DTs. Or possibly a Frenchified "L" with a funny looking hat on it.
And even more confusing, the pound or number or crosshatchy bent tic-tac-toe sign is now being used by the Twitter folk to do shortcuts. And in that usage is known as a "hashtag."
The symbol is known in that domain simply as the "hash" symbol. Imagine sending someone a tweet that sent them a web shortcut where they could order number 2 on the menu, 2 pounds of tic-tac-toe forms.
Ah…symbols of our communication success.
America, ya gotta love it.

Monday, August 29, 2011

1565 Per Dollar

So I have questions sometimes. The other day I was typing a report and I decided to use the percent sign. You know the one. A forward slash mark with a little circle on either side of it. %. If you stare at it long enough it looks like some cartoonish or Picasso-like rendering of the eyes and nose of a face.
Add a parentheses mark and it gets even more Picasso-ier.


By the way is it "a parentheses" or "a parenthesis."
Why isn't one of them just a parenthe?
I digress. But then again, I digress when I say "I digress." Is that a trigress?
Where was I? Oh yeah. What brought me up short was when I wrote out the sentence, "There'll be 50% less of the $100 than people had thought."
Why is the percent sign after the numbers when the dollar sign is before the numbers? On the face of it, the percent sign is where it should be. You say 12 percent, so the percent sign should be after the 12.
When you say 100 dollars, the word dollars is after 100. But when we use the dollar sign it's before the dollars. And we don't say "dollars 100."
If we use the number sign, that crosshatchey deal, we put it before the actual number and we say it like it's before the actual number. #2 is written with the number sign right there, in front of the 2. And it's not just money stuff. When we use the cents sign it makes perfect sense too. It's after the number.
6¢ — It's very sensible.
I'd bet dollars one hundred know one knows why.
America, ya gotta love it.

Friday, August 26, 2011

1564 Oh Bees

Obesity. The recent scientific news buzz will increase it. Partly because it seems to say obesity ain't all that bad. A study conducted not long ago says that obesity alone is not necessarily a risk factor for early death. A separate study confirmed that skinniness alone is not a surefire indicator of health.
Well duh.
Smoking alone is not necessarily an indicator you'll get lung cancer. There are lots of nonagenarians still hacking butts. But that doesn’t mean we should all go out a fire up.
Nor does the obesity study, which I assure you will be misinterpreted, say we should all go out and have a hot fudge sundae.
The study actually said, "...all other factors being equal, otherwise healthy people are not at risk of a heart attack just because they are obese." Those other factors were the next level of diagnoses of something wrong. Hardening of the arteries, cholesterol and plaque build up, high blood pressure, shortness of breath, etc.
Which, um, more obese people seem to have.
My suggestion, before you gulp down that corn dog, climb a set of stairs.
The study said if you exercise regularly and eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, just being fat isn't necessarily a killer. Likewise just being skinny is no reason to load up on the bacon-crusted donuts. Skinny people can have problems too. One genetic variation confers both skinniness and high cholesterol—and the risk of early heart attack.
The lesson: No matter what, eat right.
But knowing human nature, and the way we twist facts to fit what we want to do anyhow, I'd be willing to bet the lesson most folks actually take from the study will be, "Scientists say obesity ain't that bad. Pass me another bowl of sausage gravy."
America, ya gotta love it.

1563 Social Solutions

Sometimes we have social problems that are hard to solve. Stubborn realities based on stubborn humans engaged in stubborn human behavior. So you need a person who can think out of the box and see things in a new light.
Like when they thought of making traffic lights out of tiny LEDs. The green-light really was a green light.
Well I may just be that guy. Because I'm the sort of person who likes to do things like eat candy corn out of season. I feel like such a rebel. Those yellow, orange, and off-white cones of faux corn are good all year long. Why restrict them to October? It's not like you're eating peeps for Christmas.
Here’s one problem. Bums in the morning. Downtown areas the world over suffer from a glut of passed-out hobos who've curled up in store fronts and alley pockets and are still sleeping it off come morning business opening time.
They need to be moved along, and are often quite cooperative when people suggest they do so, but also often quite cantankerous when that someone is a police officer.
Solution? Boy Scout Explorers. It would be a great community service activity. They would learn people skills. And the Boy Scout organization would be preparing them for the real world and life. And think what a cautionary tale it would be for the excesses of alcohol. They could be called the Dawn Patrol. And they'd get the Dawn Patrol Merit Badge. You heard it here first.
Another problem: Solo Drivers. My suggestion? Encourage carpooling and reduce trip miles by giving multi-riders commercial discounts. Like if you have 4 people in your car, you get 2 dollars off when you go through the carwash.
The Carpool Carwash, get clean and get green too.
America, ya gotta love it.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

1562 Belief Relief

Religion brings out the full range of human creativity. And not just creativity, but creativity infused with belief.
I remember being raised by a Methodist father and a Baptist mother. People on both sides of their religious aisle were appalled. How could they get along? And yet the only difference was one sect believed in full immersion baptism and one believed in sprinkling.
Fortunately, our home had a shower/tub combo.
I like animism. It's one of those religions that has lots of spirits for lots of things—water spirits and forest spirits and walnut toffee spirits. It's like the iPhone of religions. Have a new need? There's an app for that. Have a religious quandary? There's a spirit for that.
Hinduism is close. Lots of gods for this and that. And Hindus take it pretty seriously. Fine with me, as long as devout doesn't descend into fanaticism, I'm pretty tolerant.
But different religions can present different legal dilemmas. Working on Sunday or Saturday or certain weeks or months.
So a New Jersey appeals court just said the Moghul Express, apparently a food chain like Panda Express or Taco Bell, can be sued because they inadvertently served samosas containing meat to vegetarian Hindus. Sued to the tune of the cost of flying the tainted individuals to India to purify their souls in the Ganges River for 30 days. A purification required by their scriptures.
And that's full immersion in the Ganges. No Sprinkling.
Luckily, it’s the souls that are being purified, as the Ganges is a pretty polluted river, where it's not unheard of to see chunks, and soak in the juices of, decaying animal carcasses thrown in by non-Hindu butchers upstream.
You can bet that irony won't stop Moghul Express from learning an important non-spiritual lesson. Label your samosas.
America, ya gotta love it.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

1561 Drug In

Two drug related things today.
The first? Doppio. When I first heard the word doppio I thought it was a drug, or maybe the sidekick of Topo Gigio, the old rat puppet from Ed Sullivan.
Topo always seemed a little tired or stoned, like he needed a doppio. Doppio is the word for a double espresso shot. A single shot is a solo. The solo was what could be produced from one pull of an old-fashioned espresso machine handle.
Now they use doppio in espresso competitions, it's called a standard double, and has just become the standard. You have to do something special to the machine or the pour to get a solo.
It's too much of a hassle, and therefore uneconomical employee-wise, to change the machine back to squeezing off a single. As Marx once pointed out, economic realities drive everything.
Economics affects more drugs than espresso.
Proof, the drug of choice on today's market has changed. Back in the old days, the terminal street drug was heroin. First invented by the Bayer Aspirin company and actually brand-named by them "Heroin" it was for years the symbol of drug depravity.
But riding the horse with no name got expensive. So cocaine soared to realms of hyperpopularity. From nose candy to crack, people were riding that train with cocaine.
Then it was flying with crystal meth—until most of the proletarian meth cookers exploded their points of production.
Then oxycontin. Prescription drugs gone wild. Our "med" oriented society spawned a scientifically manufactured rocket ship to oblivion.
But the economy's hit hard everywhere. Oxycontin costs $80 a pill on the street. So the new drug of choice? Heroin.
Back to riding the horse with no name.
This depression is really getting people down.
Espresso anyone?
America, ya gotta love it.

Monday, August 22, 2011

1560 Be Mime Tonight

I was having coffee with a friend recently at a local coffee bar and chanced to chat with the barista about his employment goals. He seemed competent in his job and all, perfectly capable of pouring a leaf-like pattern into the latte foam, but a little unhappy nonetheless.
Perhaps aspiring to perfect foam art was not opening up a believable future vision of leisurely retirement in the southland.
In any event, he was performing his baristing somewhat silently so I suggested he consider the possibility of becoming a mime. I would think a barista mime would do well, covering any number of street opportunities.
He'd still be able to wake up relatively late. And except for the obligatory white face, white gloves, black t-shirt and suspenders, continue to be able to dress in that inimitable thrift store casual style.
And really, baristas have developed many stylized hand gestures that'd only be enhanced by white gloveitude.
The problem, of course, would be what to name them. Looking down the road to résumé creation, it's not an unimportant concern. I'm already uncomfortable referring to male coffee chefs with the feminine sounding "barista." Like calling Rudolph Nureyev a ballerina.
Perhaps by working in the "mime" appellation we can come up with something. A Marista perhaps, or a Maristo? Sounds a little like a magician too, doesn’t it? "And now ladies and gentlemen, Maristo the Magnificent."
There's the little longer Mime-rista. But that sounds like a mime who specializes in hand gestures. Great wrist action on the Mime-rista.
There's Bar-ime. No...sounds like some sort of rap term. "Yo, my man busted a barime allova yo peep head."
I think I'm leaning to the simple. How about bime? Direct. Straightforward. Look clean on that resume.
1990 to 2009 — Full Time Bime.
America, ya gotta love it.

Friday, August 19, 2011

1559 Nom de Food

I was in the Seattle area recently and went to this restaurant that specialized in Caribbean and Bahamaniac food. You know, stuff that's been jerked. There was nearly an incident when this rude waiter guy asked if I wanted jerk seasoning on my chicken.
So much can be conveyed with a negative attitude. Was he calling me a jerk? Nope, although apparently he was, the jerk seasoning in question came from the culinary artwork of the chef.
And he definitely wasn't a jerk. He was good. As was the food.
They also served something that was a little odd in the starch department. They called it “yuca fries.” Having been raised in the desert, I'm familiar with that iconic yucca, the Joshua Tree. But this yuca was spelled with only one C and is apparently another name for the cassava or manioc plant, which produces starchy tubers.
Gotta love any food that's named tuber.
Better perhaps than something named yuca. So much is in a name. "Mom, don't make me eat the yuca food." A whole generation raised on the Mr. Yuck poison stickers will be hard to culinarily convince. Interestingly, improperly prepared cassava can cause cyanide poisoning.
Yuca indeed.
Food names can be so confusing. Like I'm convinced I must be a really fine Asian chef. Because everything I cook turns out to be a potsticker.
Or when I heard the economy was so bad in Greece it had turned to a mostly barter economy. Everyone is still paying each other with euros. Except they're the other kind. The actual sandwich Gyro.
“Yo, I'll give you two gyros for a pack of pitas. Or even a couple cassavas...”
“Yuca! How about a potsticker instead?”
“Sorry, the only other thing I got is a jerked tuber.”
America, ya gotta love it.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

1558 Snore Subject

I sometimes think we're turning into a generation of self-indulgent wussies. It's seems as if everything adverse, rather than being taken is stride, is grounds for either a major upheaval in service or a lawsuit.
Case in point, a luxury hotel chain is instituting measures to eliminate complaints about people snoring. No, they aren't putting Breathe Right nasal strips next the pillow candy, although that might do the trick.
They went to the extraordinary lengths of soundproofing their room walls more. They’re called snore-absorption rooms. Now I can appreciate some of that effort. If only to distinguish your hotel chain from lesser offerings in your category.
If Best Western has "Now offering snore-absorption!" on their marquis, I may be willing to turn over a C for a few more Z's. And it could certainly put the Shhh in Shilo.
There's no doubt that snore-absorption technology would make the no-tell motel a nicer place to be too. There are other pajama partying sounds that could stand some muffling.
But the hotel chain in question has taken it too far. They also are mounting snore patrols, whose job it is to knock on the doors of folks who are snoring thunderously.
Really? If I'm in the next room that would wake me up even more. How many times have you been in a hotel and someone knocks on the next-door door and you think it's yours and in a jolt of wide-awaking adrenalin you instantly hope you remembered to put the metal bolt on.
I'd think having the snore patrol ring the room telephone would be better. Or a small electric shock sent through the Magic Fingers bed thingy.
Better yet, we could all just get used to a little adversity.
Or maybe buy some, um, earplugs…
America, ya gotta love it.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

1557 Adapt for That

It's cool the way we adapt our language to new things and going trends. Odd combination of ideas or perception? We adapt for that. Like the other day we heard some audio of a guy that sounded like he was a cousin of Radio Gardener Cisco, but he was a dairy farmer.
Bobby instantly called out Moo-la-laaaaa.
Or when I heard about a gardener who is making granola out of all natural, organic, and energy-sustainable sources. What more natural thing to call it than green-ola.
Or the qualities of certain sports. When baseball players have lots of victories, we say they are on a "winning streak." When their winning streak ends, it is almost always "snapped." It's possible to have a winning streak of 2 games. And still have it snapped.
But soccer presents a bit of a challenge. Not least because they don't use the term zero in their scoring. Zero is nil. But also because there is winning and there is losing but there is also non-winning and non-losing. Soccer has the draw or the tie.
So if a soccer team has not lost for a while they are on an "unbeaten streak." I know you can stretch an unbeaten streak. But I'm not sure if you can snap an unbeaten streak.
Maybe you just say your streak is now nil.
And I saw an interesting innovation in the smoking world the other day. It's an electronic cigarette. It vaporizes propylene glycol and nicotine into a mist that you can inhale just like a real cigarette.
What did they name it? The "E-Cigarette" of course. So I wonder if Apple will come out with an I-Cigarette. You could swipe your finger on it and it would fire up.
It would be upgradeable and adaptable too.
Want menthol? There's an app for that.
America, ya gotta love it.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

1556 Arts Talk

I was at this great event recently. It was one of those community events where lots of people are coming and going and lots of stuff is going on and you feel both exhilarated and overwhelmed by all the energy and crosstalk. Keeping track of seven conversations at once as the band plays loudly and people shout in your ears to be heard.
The band was up on stage and they had the crowd dancing. But the music was more hypnotic than rock-and-roll so the dancers were freeform and zoned, not crazy moshpit or anything. They were still bouncing off the walls, but more like a Roomba on roofies.
I was at the sound booth and some child had lost its stuffed toy. I had one of those clairvoyant guesses. Or possibly somewhere I'd picked up the knowledge and forgotten it. In any event, the stuffed animal in question had a mostly white body, blue feet and a blue beak. I said to the lady next to me, "It looks like someone mated the Aflac duck with a Smurf.
She said, "No, it's modeled after a real bird."
"What?" I said, "The blue-footed booby?" thinking I was being a wiseguy.
"That's right," she said. "How did you know?"
I was speechless. But I was also right. I went to the computer, googled it up, and sure enough, there is a blue-footed booby. And it does look like someone mated the Aflac duck with a Smurf.
Now if only my other observation comes true. I told someone else who was going to the county fair to be sure to check out the new thing there. It's like Japanese sand gardening. Making the most of a fair opportunity, someone invented the art of cow manure arranging.
It's called dung shui.
America, ya gotta love it.

Monday, August 15, 2011

1555 Fly Zone

An interesting little funding issue happened that went relatively unnoticed under all the brouhaha of the debt ceiling theatre. It was about the FAA.
The Federal Aviation Administration, crux of the watershed moment in American history when Ronald Reagan broke the backs of the unions, is once again in the crosshairs. Seems congress can't come to an agreement on keeping it running.
This time the air traffic controllers are still at work. But 4,000 other employees were furloughed and all airport construction projects were halted. At this point, any full resolution is up in the air.
But the airlines themselves, not afraid to fly in the face of adversity, found a way to turn a little profit while it all went down. Seems part of the shutdown meant that the Feds can no longer collect the federal taxes added to airline ticket prices. (Always smart when you shut down an agency in an attempt to save costs, that you also shut down their revenue collecting arm.)
Like a CEO closing his sales office because orders are slow coming in.
Nope, private enterprise is usually not that dumb. In fact, the airlines were soaring with joy. They quietly raised their ticket prices to equal the difference. By quietly I mean they didn't tell you the tax was ever there to start with and that they made up a non-existent charge to fill in the gap. From $25 to $50 for a round trip.
They pocketed the windfall. The airlines were making, and the government not getting, about $250 million a week. Or about a billion a month. Man alive, that kind of fare doesn't just fall from the sky.
What do you want to bet the airline companies are still charging extra for meals?
America, ya gotta love it.

Friday, August 12, 2011

1554 Flushed

Water water everywhere and not a drop to drink. The old saying coined by a castaway floating at sea resonates in different ways today. Clean water is becoming the problem. Because we're flushing it all down the drain.
It's kind of sad. We're intermittently smart when it comes to water. 100 years ago, the inlet pipe for clean water in the city of Philadelphia was downstream from the outlet pipe for the sewage system.
Still, as late as 1955, the average rural person used only 10 gallons of water a day. We use 100 gallons per person today. Of course, that rural person had to hike it from his own well.
"Running water," meant he hurried.
The typical American flushes 18.5 gallons a day down the toilet. All of us together flush down 5.7 billion gallons a year.
All clean drinking water. That average rural person in 1955 would have basked in the luxury of 18.5 gallons of running water a day. And we're using it to dilute our excrement.
Too bad we don't use recycled purple pipe water in our toilets. Too big a cost for separate plumbing systems. At least so far. When clean water gets scarcer and prices higher, we'll see. And yet we already complain about high water bills, even though that 100 gallons a day costs us less than half what we pay for monthly cable or cell phone bills.
We do pay more, and often gladly. 10 gallons of tap water at home costs 3 cents. That's like getting 74 half-liter fancy bottled waters for less than a nickel. We pay 3,000 times that price at the store when we fork over $1.29.
If we don't go purple, everyday water will be that price too. Imagine emptying your 3-gallon toilet tank. That's more than 22.72 half liters. Or nearly 30 dollars.
Not feeling so flush anymore, are you?
America, ya gotta love it.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

1553 Producted

I was at an event and a woman there claimed she looked like a store mannequin because she had too much product in her hair.
Should you say mannequin anymore?
Isn't it womannequin? Or personnequin?
But the word I flashed on was "product". A generic term has become a specific term. Or vice versa. The product of production is a product to be sure. It always has been. But now hair "product," of which there are many, don't go by their specific appellations, like gel and mousse and shampoo and conditioner. They're now known generically as "product."
I guess I understand the energy-saving use of the word. A stylist-beautician-barber can't be going around all the time saying do you want some mousse or gel or styling spray or conditioner or shampoo or conditioning shampoo? But it seems lazy. If you want to make some money selling "product" you have to do the work—identify your customer's needs, suggest a specific solution. Not, "Do you want some product or what?"
And there's the grammatical function as well. Hair product is the product of the product producer. But it's an investment or application in or on your hair itself. You're putting fluids on your hair to make a nice look. The look is the product. So now it's the product of product?
And it's got out of control. A person came up to me at another event, accidentally touched my hair, and said, "Oh, you've got product in it."
"No," I said, "That's hairspray. I buy it at the grocery store."
"No," she assured me, expert on hair that many females claim to be, "That's product."
And that got my dander up for some reason. A wild hair up my heiny. Is there a product for that?
America, ya gotta love it.

1552 E-Protection

It's funny how as soon as a problem develops someone out there is ready to invent a product to solve it. That's the great entrepreneurial spirit of America.
I've written before about bad Facebook pictures of you that other people post. Because you can be photographed by anyone at anytime, and because humans have a tendency to find themselves in odd contortions, very strange pictures of you can be created. And once created, posted very easily to the internet.
And since you have no way of knowing who, where, and when, there could even now be goofy and/or compromising pictures of you floating around for countless people's amusement. And no one ever had to ask your permission.
Granted, most of these images are innocently posted, but not all. As I said before, ancient cultures believed pictures stole your soul. Facebook steals your reputation.
Well someone saw the problem and saw something even better, a way to make money off it. I was at a news site the other day and they had an embedded ad for a place called purports to clean up your reputation on the web. I didn't click the link, since I don't click unknown links, but one would assume the company's promise is to crawl the byways of the internet highway and ferret out all the trash talkers and reputation pillagers out there. Something you yourself may be able to do with a little conscientious google-bating.
But sometimes it's better to pay a professional.
I only worry that someone else will take the next logical step— An online protection racket.
"Yo Pauly, we gotcher reputation clean, now for a small monthly fee we can keep it dat way.
"Or we can break yer computer's legs..."
America, ya gotta love it.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

1551 Hardy Outlook

There's been a lot in the news recently about some pretty important drugs going off-patent. What that means is the drug companies who've been making big gobs of money off designer drugs are going to have to allow generic versions to be made. Those generic versions will be significantly cheaper. And that means they'll most likely get used more.
Look out for Lipitor overdoses.
Or possibly bacon overdoses, as people increase their cholesterol load knowing they can get a cheap statin to clear their pipes.
Of course, that's not how drugs are supposed to be used but when did humans ever let a little thing like "supposed to" stand in the way of personal enjoyment.
Especially people from the baby boom generation—the "Me Generation." There was big ballyhoo last year as gerontologists and estate planners and insurance eldercarriers announced that the first of the boomers were turning 65. And the bulge of the baby-boom bulge gets bigger as we go from here.
I'm not worried about 2011. I'm not even worried Lipitor is going off patent. I'm worried about 2020.
The first of the baby boomers will be 75. They'll be sporting reconstructive surgery. New knees, new hips. various cosmetic implants, nips, and tucks. Their cataract surgeries will make their eyes 20/20 too. And a very expensive drug will be going off patent.
You guessed it, Viagra.
Cheap Viagra and the peak of the baby boomer bulge. Forget about the Mayans predicting the end of the world in 2012. 2020 will be civilization destruction by drugs. Pharmageddon.
And going generic will allow for drug blends as well. How about Geritol and Viagra? Geriagra. Or possibly Viatol. Talk about a pick me up.
All I know is, there'll be no rest in the rest home.
America, ya gotta love it.

Monday, August 08, 2011

1550 Over-Wordiness

It's funny sometimes how we have a certain mindset and turn out blinding ourselves to the larger picture. Like not long ago, I got a solicitation by mail for a new series of CDs coming out. And they said that "advanced pre-orders" were now being accepted.
Really? Does that mean I don't have to actually pre-order? I can just warn them that I'm thinking about pre-ordering soon. And isn't a pre-order always an order? Like a pre-recording is always really just a recording.
In the old days when I pre-recorded something I would be erasing the tape and preparing it for recording. I should pre-order an advance copy of a pre-recording. I'd be like a time traveler.
Not long after that, I saw a sign at a used car lot. It said, "Excess Surplus Inventory Liquidation." Um... Inventory liquidation is what every car dealer wants to do. Heck, what any sales person of any retail item wants to do. Like the famous "inventory reduction sale" it provokes a "Yeah, so what's new?" sort of response in my head.
But this is not just surplus inventory, it's excess surplus inventory. Because when you got excess surplus you have way, way too much extra added additional stuff.
If I were them, I'd start taking advance pre-orders on it.
The other funny mindset thing is a little deeper. A friend and I saw an unusual bird recently. It's called a Varied Thrush. It was pretty cool looking. The next day her cat had a bird in its paws. My friend was upset that it might be the unusual bird, but then settled down when she noticed it was just an ordinary sparrow.
My friend's not lacking in compassion. But a bird still died.
Still, we do have an excess surplus inventory of sparrows.
America, ya gotta love it.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

1549 Devilish Dave

So the other day I was watching the sun come up and it dawned on me...
Jokes, the oh so human way to deliver the unexpected. Like not long ago I read that President Obama was meeting with the Dalai Lama. And I thought, if they invited Rod Balgojevich too, they could call the summit Obama Lama Ding-Dong.
The great thing about that particular joke is its flexibility. You can add in the ding-dong of the moment. If you don't like Michele Bachmann you can use her. Don't like Hilary Clinton, use her. Ding- Dong is a totally non-partisan epithet.
Speaking of non-partisan, I was at a barbecue last week. Politics, pork is there a segue here…?
Anyhow, it was catered by a company called Famous Dave's. The pork was pretty good. But what was pretty gooder was their sauces. They had Georgia Mustard, which was really authentic. So authentic, in fact, that the mustard seeds kept clogging the squeeze bottle spout. They also had "Rich and Sassy" and "Sweet and Zesty." Delicious.
One sauce was a bit of a mystery. It was really hot and it was called "Wilbur's Revenge." Not being totally familiar with the Famous Dave's culinary culture I had to speculate Wilbur was the cartoon pig depicted in their Literature. On labels and stuff, Wilbur is shown with a giant fork holding a rack of what appear to be a fellow pig's ribs over the fire.
One has to assume the hotness of the sauce is his revenge against humans for forcing him to such indignity, or in this case inpignity.
The sauce I liked best was called "Devil's Spit." It was good, but it dawned on me—I hope no other devil fluids are on the way. That would really be delivering the unexpected.
America, ya gotta love it.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

1548 Mucho Signo

It's always fun to see the progress restaurants have made over the years. Used to be you could expect pretty simple fare, not too elaborately presented. Especially in roadside diners.
The cost of having too many menu items is what kills most restaurants. You can have the most creative chef in the world who wants to fabricate an enormous amount of toothsome delicacies, but it all boils down to one word.
The other thing restaurants need is adaptability. Places get old, they get passé, and they get forsaken. So restaurants have to reinvent themselves from time to time to stay relevant.
I saw an example of that the other day when I was driving up to Tacoma. I went by El Toro. El Toro was one of the first truly Mexican eateries in the area. You could tell by their sign how they've been keeping up with restaurant fashions.
Back in the Seventies, their sign just said El Toro. Then, at some point, possibly when Toro Lawn Mowers came into vogue, the sign had obviously been changed to say El Toro Restaurant.
Good enough for a while. But the next part of their current sign, in different font and obviously added later, told the story of a need to perk the place up again. The additional word said, "Cantina."
When I drove by the other day, they’d added an even more contemporary addition to the sign. Also in a different and more modern font. It said, "SportsBar."
Yep, it was now the El Toro Restaurant Cantina SportsBar. That's a mouthful. Now if they can only figure out a way to tack on Tapas Bar, I think they've got it.
And it might not hurt if they got one of those flashing neon signs that says, "espresso."
America, ya gotta love it.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

1547 Quiring

A while back, I was involved in a promotion that used MSN Tags. The "tags" were little multi-colored squares with digital code marks on them that could be read by a special application on your smartphone.
When your smartphone captured the tag it would automatically provide you with more information about whatever it was the tag was on. The info could be a video about the business, history, or nutrition information. The tag just launched you to the tag poster's web presence to help you find out more about them.
Another tag competes with Microsoft's. It's called the QR code. QR stands for Quick Response. Similar to the MSN tag, but black and white, it too can be placed anywhere and the person with the correctly enabled smartphone can click on it and learn more.
So a Seattle company is now putting them on tombstones. Yep. A company called Quiring Monuments will affix the code to your headstone and voila, instant onsite obituary. In fact, you might say they put bit in obituary. As in data bit.
I like how the company took the QR and coined the word "Quiring," as in inquiring or acquiring. Other people are adopting Quiring uses too. They make great knowledge enhancers for supermarket displays, museum exhibits, or historical and nature trail markers.
My own suggestion? Speed dating. Potential dates wear QR codes. You snap him or her with your smartphone and there's a video bio. Swelling music, windblown hair, walking a dog in the park. Maybe an app that will photoshop him or her into your favorite date scenario. Lover or loser? Inquire or acquire?
QR codes, they'll soon be everywhere folks need to find out more about something.
Wherever it can be said, "Quiring people want to know."
America, ya gotta love it.

Monday, August 01, 2011

1546 Big Country

Much has been said about America's obesity problem. And one phrase sums it up. It keeps growing. It's hard to see why not. Every day we're bombarded with new delicacies loaded with the three most addictive substances on the planetSugar, Salt, and Fat.
And who cares? We can always take fat, beta, or plaque-blocking drugs.
There's talk that partly it's because we don't exercise enough. But there sure seem to be more health clubs out there than you can shake a rubber balancing ball at. And more shaking-your-booty classes too. From Jazzercise to Zumba to pole-dancing Pilates.
So I'm not sure it's slack of exercise. In fact, a recent survey found that it’s our basic calorie intake that’s grown significantly in the last three decades. From eating an average of 3.8 meals and snacks a day to 4.9. The average consumer—and I do mean consumer—consumes about 2,375 calories a day. About 32% more than in the 70s.
American obesity goes up 32% because we consume 32% more calories. I wonder if they're related.
Maybe it's all because of "roll" models like Joey Chestnut. AKA Joey "Jaws" Chestnut. Joey is a competitive eater. With the exception of Japan's Sumos, you don't see a lot of cultures who embrace the idea of competitive eating. And the Sumos eat to compete, wrestling with their bulk. We compete eating. Gorging on apple pies, chicken wings, and hot dogs.
Joey got the record by eating 62 hot dogs in 10 minutes. That's 19,158 calories, 1,246 grams of fat, 2,170 grams of cholesterol, and 42,408 milligrams of sodium.
Hot dog!
By the way, I'm all for product placement advertising, but I do think his Lipitor sponsor T-Shirt was a little much.
Although Joey is from Statin Island.
America, ya gotta love it.