Friday, September 30, 2011

1588 Clothes Captioned

I got a catalog in the mail the other day and it got me thinking about fashion. It was a Land's End Catalog. Lands End made their reputation on basic classics. But that's a challenge in the fashion industry, as the words fashion and classic are basically antithetical. Fashion is at the more profitable end of the spectrum, as it turns over often and you can get repeat sales with more items.
Lands End is trying not to end from lack of profit, which probably explains why the catalog in question had so few pages dedicated to men and children. Of the 64-page catalog, 6 pages were captioned "Men" and 4 pages were captioned "Children." 54 pages were captioned "Women."
Clothes Captioned, I get it.
But you think about certain fashion styles and you wonder. Like those new jeans women wear that appear to have elaborate rhinestone patterns on the back pockets. Is this a conspiracy between the jean makers and the couch manufacturers? To force people to buy new couches when their old ones are destroyed by the jeans?
"I'm so sorry Brittany; I seem to have shredded your davenport with my rhinestone butt."
You see certain classic styles and you wonder too. Like elbow patches on corduroy jackets. What do you do to wear out elbows? I've tried sitting at a desk in a manner to cause that and I can't. My elbows are always way off the desk or table surface. Forearms maybe, but you never see a coat with forearm patches.
The closest I can come is if I hold both elbows on the table and my head in my hands. Are corduroy jacket wearers always in such a position of despair?
"I'm so depressed, my jacket has dorky looking useless patches..."
America, ya gotta love it.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

1587 Skinny Computer

Computers keep getting smaller and smaller. And more and more integrated into our lives. The newest breakthrough in technology is called the electronic epidermal system, a computer you can actually put on your skin, like a temporary tattoo. The circuits are ultra-tiny and mounted in flexible sheets of silicon and rubber. They can also be solar powered.
So now when people say a walk in the sun feels like it's recharging their batteries, it'll really be true.
The thinking is this may be a great way to monitor vital signs for medical patients and such like. But humans being what they are, it won't be long before this is the newest in gaming technology as well.
Forget about Wii and Kinnect, the computer will be built right into to your skin. So, why make it a temporary tattoo? Serious gamers are in it for the duration. Plug in and play 24/7.
Supposedly, the new computers will let us interact with video games using voice commands and muscle twitching. So, you know, no more trips to the smelly bowling alley with friends. You can bowl at home just by twitching. And when they say it's all in the wrist, they'll mean it's actually all in the wrist.
Another new technology will provide a heads-up video display on the inside of special contact lenses. And now, with the new wearable computer, you won't even have to lug around a laptop to the old WiFi coffee shop.
You can have Bluetooth headpiece and be talking on your phone, meanwhile rubbing your wrists and waving your hands around running your computer, while the video display comes up on the inside of your contact lenses.
Thanks to modern technology, we can all look like those schizophrenic folks you see wandering around in downtowns.
I love progress.
America, ya gotta love it.

1586 Face Plaint

I was sitting in a meeting the other day and some folks were planning an upcoming event. They were talking about all the things they were going to offer for kids, like games, arts and crafts, and such, and they also said they were going to do face painting.
And it occurred to me, virtually every event that wants to add a children's component offers face painting. And I never really gave it much thought before.
So what's the appeal? Do children really like it? Or is it an enthusiasm of their adult protectors? A seemingly harmless activity smiled upon by society at large.
When the kids get home at night and have to vigorously scrub off the face paint, are they as happy? My kids were never hyper-enthusiastic about washing their faces.
Do the parents and protectors give any thought to the paint itself, especially those parents that spend endless time in the aisles of the grocery store comparing sugar quantities in boxed fruit juices?
Do they ask questions about the possible toxicity of the fluid being applied near their darling's delicate eyes?
And do the face painters themselves go to face painting training of some sort? Perhaps receive a face painter certification certificate. "Brittney Jones has completed 10 hours of official face painting instruction and is hereby proclaimed a journeyman face painter level III."
Because really, these are relatively sharp instruments face painters are working with near children's eyes and ears. As most face painting seems to occur in areas and events where boisterous activity is being conducted, dogs and kids running around, Frisbees being thrown and what not, the strong probability exists that an errant projectile is bound to impact a brush-wielding hand or wrist at some point.
Maybe I shouldn't have started thinking about it.
America, ya gotta love it.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

1585 Redux Sleeper

In Sleeper, the classic 1973 movie by Woody Allen, the main character, a health food store owner, wakes up in the future and discovers everything he thought he knew about nutrition was wrong. Future science discovered the food that was best for you was junk food.
The recent news makes me feel like that kind of déjà vu all over again.
British scientists analyzed studies involving more than 100,000 people and concluded that those who reported eating the most chocolate—no matter whether it was in cookies, milk shakes or candy bars—were 37% less likely to develop cardio-vascular disease and 29% less likely to have a stroke than those who ate the least.
Another study done about the same time found that eating cheese can affect depression and anxiety. A bacteria called lactobacillus rhamnosus was proven to have a calming effect on mice when they ate foods laden with it. The finding bolsters other recent research that says our gut "microbiome"—the name for the hundreds of species of bacteria living in our digestive system—has a major effect on our moods and health.
I'm happier already. Cheese and chocolate are healthy alternatives? What about fresh fruit?
Enter listeria. Listeria is a bacteria that causes listeriosis and has been found responsible for numerous deaths and sickness. In the most recent case, an outbreak was traced to cantaloupe grown in Colorado. Other severe illness has been caused lately by salmonella linked to organic bean sprouts.
Cantaloupe, bean sprouts, sickness.
So there you have it. Fresh fruit and vegetables bad. Cheese and chocolate good. Gee, if McDonalds serves chocolate cake, they can rebrand themselves as a health food store.
And Woody Allen may wake up to see the future he predicted.
I wonder if he'll appreciate the irony.
America, ya gotta love it.

Monday, September 26, 2011

1584 Pole Taxxx

Governor Rick Perry of Texas has only begun to feel the heat of a nationwide campaign. He's currently being assailed from both the left and right for various stances he's taken over the years. From calling Social Security a Ponzi scheme to proclaiming his Evangelical Christian decision-informing methods, he's stepping on all kinds of third rails.
This and having to live down his daughter Katy's excessive Friday Night partying.
One of Perry's recent decisions has caused him to take a lot of flack from his own Tea Partiers. Seems Perry signed a directive to require all 12-year-old girls to be vaccinated against HPV.
It's a good vaccine. It prevents cancer caused by HPV. But as far as the Tea Partiers are concerned, the bad thing is he required it. That's apparently government intrusion at its worst.
You know, like polio vaccines and stuff. Or cleaning stagnant ponds of yellow fever-infested mosquitoes. Darn government.
But Perry is a pragmatist too. Apparently he hasn't let his Evangelicalism get in the way of creative tax approaches. Recognizing that there can be no forgiveness without sin, and that sin is also an opportunity for revenue, he's helped Texas put the triple-x in taxes.
They earn money with a "pole tax" as it's unpopularly called. As in stripper pole. They levy a five-dollar charge to anyone visiting a stripper bar. And there seem to be a lot of visitors—an average of 81 per day per bar.
Maybe they just go in for the air-conditioning.
The state makes $25 million a year off 169 bars. Talk about a Texas Miracle. This from a guy who looks like a football coach. Who'd have thought you could pull in 25 million on a cover charge?
Or is that an uncover charge?
America, ya gotta love it.

1583 Spent

Lots of talk about how our government handles money. The public, particularly after the debt ceiling fiasco, are ever more distrustful of government in general, believing the whole thing is broke.
Some say that's what the hard right is actually trying to do. Probably not consciously. More likely it's the big money global puppeteers behind the hard right. It's their goal to discredit government at every turn, even when they are the ones that are governing, so that the public will support less and less government involvement in anything.
Deregulation brought about the biggest financial crisis since the thirties. So what? With a little media prestidigitation, they've turned that around and got a significant amount of the American public believing it was a government problem.
The same government that in the peak of the financial meltdown, December of 2008, gave key financial institutions a total of $1.2 trillion. $107 billion went to Morgan Stanley, $100 billion to Citigroup and $91 billion to the Bank of America.
Hey. That kind of irresponsible lending can build up a deficit.
Let's hope there's no debt ceiling crisis the manipulators can manufacture to make it all look like it's the government's screw up.
It's so fashionable to bite the hand that feeds you. And now the politicians they have in their pocket are braying at every turn and blaming the feds for overspending.
It's like the writer Oscar Levant once said, "A Politician is a person who will double-cross that bridge when he comes to it."
Too bad us small businesses can’t get any of those puppeteer dollars. We might use them to put people to work.
Government’s not broke. A lot of it is totally bought and paid for.
America, ya gotta love it.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

1582 Chef Chez

There's been a lot of jawboning recently about Denny's restaurants and their new high calorie cheesy offerings. And Denny's seems to love it. Their most recent advertising confirms it. Right up front, bold and proud, they proclaim "Let's Get Cheesy!"
And they seem to know that cheesy also means, well, cheesy, because they say it with aplomb. Possibly a cheese-stuffed plum.
The biggest controversy seems to be over their Mac'n Cheese Big Daddy Patty Melt, which, with included fries, weighs in at about 1700 calories. The mac'n cheese, by the way, is not a side dish. It's loaded directly onto the sandwich before the whole thing is fried on a greased grill.
So my question. If you have fries, why the mac'n cheese? Aren't you sort of doubling up on the starch? And is this what America needs? More cheese and starch in our diet?
One of the other dishes in their new cheesy menu is something called the "Winner Winner Cheesy Dinner." Which, from the picture, appears to be chicken-fried something with melted pepper jack cheese-laden white gravy, served with a side dish of, you guessed it, mac'n cheese.
But that's not all. Nope, they have a “healthy” side dish with it as well—Broccoli. And what's on the broccoli? Yep. Melted cheddar cheese. The Winner Winner Dinner seems to be "winner" as in the famous Cheesy Charlie Sheen, "Winning!"
Denny's call themselves "America's Diner" and I guess they think they represent the average American diner too. Because you know, with the American obesity epidemic, that's what we need. More cheese on every offering on our plate.
Their ad also says their cheesy specials are, "for a limited time only."
Kind of like your time on earth after Denny's is done with your arteries.
America, ya gotta love it.

1581 Cigaretched

There's been a lot of hoohaw recently about the new graphic cigarette packs. The tobacco companies are fighting them, the feds are pushing them. The idea is to print disgustingly graphic and appalling photos on cigarette packs so that people see the actual bloody consequences of lung, throat, and mouth cancer. You know, show how really repulsive blackened lungs look like.
That oughta work for about a week.
Why? Because human beings are amazing about habituating and adapting to things. And because teenagers, the presumed targets for this gross-out campaign, already totally fuel the gross-out industry.
Anyone seen a slasher flick lately? The Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street series were bad back in their time. Realistic gross-out technology has progressed far beyond that now. We're talking Gore 3-D.
Or remember back in the eighties when they came out with that whole line of Garbage Pail Kids, for young real kids? A take off on Cabbage Patch Kids, but totally gruesome and gross. There were even "scratch and stench" cards, and gross toys called Mad Balls. Not to mention something called Pukey-mon.
Translation: Kids dig gross.
As for adults, cigaretching graphic photos are no problem either. Remember those snap-at-the-top cloth cigarette cases your Aunt Madge used to have? They'll be back. They'll help protect those fragile expensive cigarettes anyhow.
Or what do you want to bet the i-People will come up with a suitable covering? A slightly deeper case for your iPhone perhaps. IPhones are just about cigarette length anyhow. What would be more natural than a flip open hard case? Phone in the front, loose cigarette nicotine party in the back. Cigarettes removed earlier from a gross-out pack.
Avoiding the graphic reminders of self-induced lung cancer?
There's an app for that.
America, ya gotta love it.

1580 Cultural Insecurity

The competing dynamics of security and insecurity play out in different ways.
Like recently, one of the Government Ministries in China announced they were banning certain artists from the airwaves in China. One of those artists was Lady Gaga. Perhaps they weren't gaga over Gaga. Or perhaps we westerners have insensitively not known that gaga is a Chinese idiom for kaka or something.
In any event, the reason the Chinese government gave for banning Gaga and others was that they were a threat to the "National Cultural Security" of China.
Really? Sounds like Cultural Insecurity to me. I would think thousands of years of Chinese Culture could stand the onslaught of a Heavy Eye Makeup bespeckled multi-octive pop star. Then again, maybe they weren't born that way.
And if I were China, I'd be a lot more worried about their country having the fastest rising obesity rate in the world. They'd be better off to ban McDonalds than Gaga.
But like I say, it's about the security of confidence. Like Amazon. There's a company that's not afraid to take on challenges. Matching their Kindle against the iPad, taking over the world of book distributing, parking gigabytes of data in the clouds.
I think their non-nonsense attitude can be summed up in a phrase I recently read on a deal they were offering on their website. It said, "Conditions apply."
Not "Some conditions apply." "Conditions apply." Perfect. And when you think about, the "some" in "some conditions apply" is somewhat superfluous. And redundant. One or many, conditions apply.
Pretty cool. People have been saying "some conditions apply" without thought ever since the disclaimer was invented. Way to break the mold Amazon.
That's having corporate confidence. And a culture of security.
America, ya gotta love it.

Monday, September 19, 2011

1579 Snail Airmail

I was talking to a friend the other day that has problems with snails and slugs in her garden. Strange, since this person also has two cats. And those cats are always killing and dragging in all manner of disgusting dead animals.
Yet they seem to draw the predator/prey line at gastropods. This from an animal who has no problems licking it's own backside. You gotta wonder about nature sometimes. Perhaps it's just that snails offer no challenge.
If cats only knew how tough snails are. Because it turns out they're much more resilient than you'd expect. At least the Japanese tornatellides snail.
It's the snail that invented snail airmail. Yep, this snail hitchhikes rides on birds. But not in the cold outside. It hitchhikes in the bird's gut. Scientists have found out that when the bird eats a bunch of the snails, many of them survive and get excreted later in a different location. Kind of like bats poop out fruit seeds and widen the range of fruit trees.
They think the snails survive because they are small, less than a tenth of an inch, and because they tuck inside their shells and form a mucus plug to block out corrosive digestive juices.
Reminds me of my last trip on Southwest...
Then it’s a short trip through the gut, out the exit chute and plink, or splat, onto new territory, do not pass go, do not stop at baggage claim.
Snails are the originators of carryon baggage. They got their whole house on their back.
Local scientists should check and see if the Asian mud snail infecting Capitol Lake has a similar bird-hitching capability. That could be how they started their invasive ways in our waters.
One more reason to hate seagulls.
Cats kill seagulls don't they?
America, ya gotta love it.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

1578 Throe Down

So I was reading this story the other day and the main character was described as being in the throes of confusion. And I thought what the heck is a throe?
I mean, I know what a throw is as in throwing a ball. The ball was thrown. That pass was a great throw. But that's the throw that’s spelled with a W. What about the throe that's spelled with an E? It's usually written as a plural, as in the throes of confusion, the throes of agony, or death throes. Is there a singular version of that throe?
I wasn't that confused, so I only had one throe of confusion.
The dictionary definition of throe is a violent spasm or pang. A paroxysm. Well, there you go. You can have one throe after all.
And it's a pang.
So is there an exact equivalency? Can I feel pangs of regret that I only had one throe of agony over her departure? Or can I only feel one pang?
Speaking of meaningless words, I had a pang of regret the other day that I'd never researched the meaning of the phrase Uff da. What ever happened to Uff da? You used to see it on every third bumper sticker. Especially here in the Norwegian northwest. I always wondered what it meant.
Wikipedia, that ubiquitous source of all occasionally less than perfect information, says "Uff da" is a general purpose phrase meaning "I am overwhelmed."
Funny, I always saw it with an associated hand gesture, which made Uff da sound like a fairly devastating epithet. Not only that, it looked like a hurled epithet.
Such as, "Up Yours!"
Nice to know that apparently it can be used to just relate that you are overwhelmed.
Like, perhaps, being throe-n for a loop.
America, ya gotta love it.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

1577 Counter Into It

Sometimes you see or do things that are counterintuitive. Meaning, literally, that your intuition is counter to what you should have seen or done.
Maybe because your intuition is temporarily not into it.
Like the other day, I was crossing the street. And I looked both ways. Intuitively. I looked to the right and no one was coming. I looked to the left and no one was coming. I looked to the right again and started to cross. It was only then I realized there was very likely no one ever coming from the right, as it was a one-way street heading in that direction.
So really, I could have just glanced to my left before proceeding. I felt like an intuitive idiot. I suppose I can console myself. I could have been run into by a bicycle messenger actively ignoring all traffic regulations in the pursuit of his occupation.
Yeah, that's it. I was looking out for a bicycle messenger.
I had a vaguely similar experience when I was reading a garment label the other day. At least intuitively similar for purposes of this segue.
It was a label on a flannel shirt and it had this disclaimer: "Notice, this garment meets general requirements of the Flammable Act, however, it is flammable and should not be worn near sources of fire."
It seemed a counterintuitive disclaimer. If the garment is flammable, what general requirement of the Flammable Act could it be meeting? That it be washable? Or possibly colorfast?
"Pursuant to the general goals of the flammable act, this garment will not fade when exposed to open flames."
The sad thing was this was a Field and Stream brand camping shirt. So, you know, watch out for flaming s'mores.
Flammable Flannel. I am so not into it.
America, ya gotta love it.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

1576 Bull Tweet

So occasionally, you encounter words or phrases that seem a little odd. Like not long ago I was talking to an individual about a new pet they had acquired. It was a labradoodle.
As you might imagine, my mind worked furiously to incorporate that name into the proper mental filing category. Because to me it didn't sound like a dog. It sounded like a fancy cookie. You know, like a snickerdoodle.
Or possibly it sounds like a highly stylized chunk of doggie doo.
"Oh dear Maebelle, I appear to have stepped in a labradoodle."
"I hate it when they doodle on the sidewalk like that, but seeing your consternation, it does make one want to snicker."
I heard another phrase I'm not sure I want to accept. A story in the news recently reported how Beyonce's Bump at the Video Music Awards fomented a twitter storm. Now I guess I'm getting okay with "twitter storm." Although the words "twitter" and "storm" seem like such opposites. Like a whispering hurricane, or a mime with a bullhorn.
But the news story went on to say that Beyonce's Bump caused about 8,868 Tweets Per Second, breaking the earlier record of 7,196 Tweets Per Second established by the US Women's soccer team competing against Japan recently.
I'm sorry, I'm not ready for Tweets Per Second to be a new measure of anything. Miles per hour I can handle, Miles per gallon, or even 186,282 miles per second being the speed of light. But Tweets Per Second?
What is that, the Speed of drivel?
BTW, when I see someone tweeting it reminds me of the mindless compulsive scribbling we teenagers used to do on brown paper book covers.
We called it doodling.
Draw your own conclusions.
America, ya gotta love it.

Monday, September 12, 2011

1575 War of the Worlds

I was reading a science magazine the other day and they had this great article on human exploration of the planetary bodies in our solar system. Well, not actually human exploration. Robots-invented-by-humans exploration.
I say planetary bodies because some of the places they are planning on visiting are asteroids and moons and such, especially moons of the big gas giants like Uranus.
Asteroid, moon, gas giant, Uranus, ever get the feeling scientists have the minds of fourth graders?
In any event, what got me about this article was a description of a robot we're about to send to Mars. The purpose of this robot is to find any traces of life there. It's a new rover called Curiosity.
And here's how it plans on satisfying its curiosity: It will have a specialized chemical camera, known as a ChemCam. It's shaped like a big box on top of a long stalk or neck that stretches above the main mass of the robot. It will fire a laser at rocks and vaporize them, then analyze the vapor. It also has a robotic arm that will reach out and grab the rocks and analyze them with a variety of sensors.
Here's the deal. The artists rendering of the robot looks exactly like some illustrations I've seen of the Martian spaceships from HG Wells "War of the Worlds." Giant robots firing destructive rays from their tops at the surrounding countryside. Large metal arms reaching out and grasping screaming humans.
So my big cosmic question: What if Martian life is only a millimeter tall? Wouldn’t this robot seem HG Wellsian to them?
Really, should we be blasting lasers and vaporizing protoplasm willy-nilly?
Is the best way to check for signs of life to kill it?
America, ya gotta love it.

1574 Bank on Hype

I'm pretty well convinced the recession would be over if only the left and right wing media conglomerates would shut the heck up. Or at least hype the good as much as the bad.
Like there's currently 981 billion in cash reserves in US banks. An absolute record. More than three times the amount of cash banks had in July of 2008. They say fear about US financial stability and the European debt crisis have led to a surge in deposits.
Worry about the financial system makes people put their faith and money in banks?
More likely the banks themselves aren't lending the money back out because they still don't trust each other. The people are ready to play.
Another piece of good news. General Motors, or as some like to call it, Government Motors, has now reclaimed the title of Number 1 Global Car Company. GM sales increased 8.9 percent in 2011. Toyota, thanks to the big earthquake, slipped to number 3.
Earthquakes aside, to go from the crater of bankruptcy to Number 1 in a shaky global market is pretty cool. If only the government could have similar economic success elsewhere.
Then again, maybe they have. Unemployment numbers hyped recently talked about all the jobs lost and people still out of work or less than fully employed. But private sector jobs came up by 154,000 nationwide lately. And here in Washington job openings were up from 30,000 to 60,000.
Meanwhile, the number of unemployed job seekers declined from a peak of about 337,000 during spring 2010 to about 312,000 at the same point in 2011.
So if 60,000 of those 312,000 took the open jobs, wouldn't that be a 20% improvement?
Where is the media hype when we need it?
America, ya gotta love it.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

1573 Noodling

Where in the World is Muammar Gaddafi? Those were the words on everyone's lips not long ago, as the ex-ruler of Libya fled from Tripoli. Did I mention the destruction was so bad in Tripoli they were calling it Double-y?
It was cool how people instantly conflated "Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego?" with "Where's Waldo?" And they agreed the first thing to look for was Muammar dressed in a red-and-white-striped Dashiki.
It would fit in perfectly with Muammar fashion choices up to this point.
By the wayis that Dashiki or Burnoose? I get confused.
The real names of things have always fascinated me. Like what do you call those impossible-to-rip plastic stickers with which they weld folding direct mail pieces together so it doesn't jamb the postal sorting machines? I always end up ripping the paper when I try to unfold it. Or getting a paper cut.
"Little-round-sticky-disks" is too long a name. What are they?
That's why I love Google. I typed in "postal sealing dots" and up comes the answer. They're called "Postal Tabs" or, even better, "Wafer Seals."
I like "Wafer Seals." Sounds like the artificial white stuff that glues the two halves of an Oreo cookie together. Or an exotic marine mammal with a taste for sea biscuits.
Another question: What is the official name for those blowing wiggling noodle men you see at Jiffy Lubes? The nylon air contortionists that can fascinate a stoner for hours.
Google again. I typed in "nylon noodle blowup advertising man" and got "Air Dancers."
Perfect! That’s what they remind me ofherky-jerky hippie air guitar players. Air Dancers. I can picture the guy who must have invented them.
Probably wearing a god-awful hemp Dashiki reeking of burnt hay.
America, ya gotta love it.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

1572 LMN Tree

Sometimes it helps to see things through new eyes. We get blasé about our daily regularities and it takes a new person coming into the scene to see things differently. I once did a little TV thing where I pointed out inconsistencies in Roadside Signs. I remember when my Sister and Brother-in-Law came to visit and first saw Boulevard Road.
"Do you also have an Avenue Street?" They asked.
I had never noticed how odd Boulevard Road was. Of Course at the time, I lived on Cul-de-Sac Court.
Sometimes those fresh eyes are the eyes of a child. Kids are so accepting. They're capable of having a role model and hero be something as bizarre as an animated sponge. Good for household cleanup chores I guess, but weird nonetheless.
You wonder what Sponge Bob Square Pants will be when he grows up. Maybe a lawyer specializing in cleaning up and sealing people's records. Expunge Bob Square Pants perhaps.
Or when I saw some kids singing the ABCs not long ago. They mushed things together as they do. But the kids were also singing along to pictures of letters and this one kid had a quizzical look on his face. When I asked him what was bothering him, he said, "Which letter is ellemeno." He said he didn't see any characters that looked like shoes.
Apparently, his mom was really into fashion footwear.
Another kid had a similar problem. I think his confusion came from his class recently getting a geography lesson about the republics of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Pakistan. Not long after, he had said the Pledge of Allegiance. He wondered about the line,"...and to the Republic, for, etc."
"Where in the world is Whichistan?" He asked.
America, ya gotta love it.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

1571 Breve Tea

I go down the rabbit hole of words and phrases sometimes, getting tripped up and falling into a topsy-turvy world of miscommunication.
Like the other day, I was in a meeting and one of the folks there said he was going to add some brevity to the discussion.
How do you add brevity? The ultimate brevity is nothing at all. So if you are adding brevity you are actually subtracting longevity. Kind of one of those two negatives make a positive sort of things. But not in this case because the more brevity you add the shorter things get. Maybe he should have not spoken up at all.
Unless he was talking about inventing a new Starbucks drink. Kind of like a chai latte. The Breve Tea.
Not long after that, I was at the dentist and had to have a tooth extracted. "Extracted"...sounds so much better than "yanked out."
One of the cool things about my extraction was the modified pair of pliers the dentist used to do it. Straight out of the dark ages, but polished and autoclaved of course. Still, nice to see a tool from a tradition that stretches back for eons. Makes you feel so much a part of the circle of life.
But what got me was what they told me afterward for the care of my extraction site. I was to keep a piece of gauze in place for a while, then make sure I didn't swish or suck from a straw. Otherwise, they told me, I would get the dread "dry socket".
Really? "Dry Socket?" Isn't there a more impressive sounding name? Two millennia of tooth pulling, Greek, Latin, German, what have you—the best we can do is "dry socket?"
Oh well. At least it has a lot of brevity.
America, ya gotta love it.

1570 Dead Cat

Sometimes it's about language, sometimes it's about the spin.
I was in Seattle recently and used one of their public parking places. Actually not public, it was a private lot. Boy, the people in Olympia who think parking's bad should go to Seattle. The total for 3 hours was 13 bucks.
But the receipt I got was actually for $15.87. It included $1.27 sales tax, some of which presumably went to the city, and another $1.63 parking tax, which all went to the city. The tax alone was more than I would pay for 3 hours of parking in Olympia.
But from a spin standpoint Seattle's clever. The folks I blame for the high price are the Diamond Lot people, the ones who charged me the 13 dollars.
Seattle gets more than Olympia. Diamond gets the blame.
The language that got me was what was printed on the ticket. It said "Place Face Up On Dash." Have you ever tried to put your face up on your dash? Very uncomfortable. Especially for three hours.
Seattle is a weird city.
On another language issue, I was reading an article that included an analysis by an investment expert about one of the recent surges in Market volatility. He said investors were just blindly buying into the market at the hint of any good news they could grasp. In this instance because German and Chinese reports were good.
But it was a false positive. This particular bounce had nothing to do with underlying market vitality.
So he called it a "Dead Cat Bounce."
Throw it with enough energy, it'll bounce. But it ain't gonna get up and run on it's own power.
Wall Street—driven by bulls, bears, and now dead cats.
Anyone want to go for a spin?
America, ya gotta love it.

Friday, September 02, 2011

1569 I'm Lamazed

Perhaps this iPhone stuff is going a little too far. You know, that whole "there's an app for that" thing. Because they’ve now hit the ultimate human app—procreation and it's manifestations.
No, I'm not talking about pornography, although I'm sure one of the very first iPhone apps was spelled with 3 X's. I'm talking about actually pregnancy and the monitoring thereof.
I'm not kidding. There's an app called “Luv Dub” that lets an expectant mom share the fetus's heartbeat with friends through email and social networking sites. I love it. Twitter fibrillation.
Gives a whole new meaning to I’m all atwitter.
Luv Dub’s also set up with audio-video so every one of the e-parent’s sonogram visits can be recorded and shared.
Share this: TMI.
Another app is the Contraction Master. I know, sounds a lot like a ThighMaster but fortunately, no slightly unsettling Suzanne Summers exercising in this one. The Contraction Master app features a tiny timer to help couples monitor labor contractions. A similar app, Contraction Tracker USA, adds an alert that tells you when you should go to the hospital.
I wonder if it interfaces with internet rating sites. Somehow the one called Yelp seems appropriate. Maybe that will kick in when the baby lets out his or her first one at birth. Or possibly when the e-parents get their first hospital bill.
Or how about the pregnancy test itself? You can bet there'll soon be an app for that. Especially with the new waterproof iPhones. Just hold it under a certain bodily liquid.
Plus or minus, pink or blue. There's an app for that. The iPregancy Test. Or is that the E-pregnancy test?
Putting the E in EPT...
America, ya gotta love it.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

1568 Shifting Trends

A lot is in a name. I read an article in a business column the other day that showed me how much. The article was about a company called Dress Barn, who the writer called a discount fashion chain. Dress Barn recently beat Amazon and Apple to top the National Retail Federation's Hot 100 Retailers List. The Hot 100 measures domestic sales growth. Dress Barn reported a 59% growth in sales between 2009 and 2010.
Congratulations to them.
The company recently changed its name to Ascena Retail Group. You may think I think that had something to do with it. Ascena does seem to be a word that means ascent.
But actually, and I do mean but, it's the first syllable of Ascena that I thought Dress Barn was all about. And it was no surprise they'd had such huge growth, parallel to the explosion of obesity in our country.
Because really, doesn't Dress Barn sound like it specializes in larger sizes? Doesn't Dress Barn sound like a really huge dress? Like a giant circus tent perhaps. Or a pavilion at the fair. And doesn't anything that says "barn" in it remind you of vividly smelly livestock?
Bottom line, it doesn't sound like a very pleasant shopping experience. To overcome that challenge and be the tip of the Top 100, the big top as it were, is an amazing accomplishment. Because in today's world of modern branding, words like "barn" are not strong fashion draws.
Maybe a place like the "Tool Barn." Or the "Tractor Barn." But Dress Barn? Not your basic Ralph Lauren or DKNY sensibility. Less ballet slippers and more mules.
You'd be expecting about the same thing as if the place was called the Shift Shack. Or maybe the Moo Moo Hut.
America, ya gotta love it.