Friday, December 28, 2012

1894 Fur-tile Phrases

If you’re familiar with these commentaries, you know I just like the way words sound sometimes. Or phrases.
Like recently I was at an economic development conference. There was a representative from Pacific County. She was talking about the revitalization of a small community there known as Tokeland. Naturally I thought she meant Washington State's new law and its implication for the budding coastal economy.
Maybe not.
Not long after that I was driving by the old FedEx Kinko's building and noticed it just said FedEx Office. What the heck? You got to be kidding, right? No more Kinko's? The most inappropriately named copying store in the market!
What, I always wondered, were they copying at Kinko's? I had these visions of nerdy guys getting wasted and sitting on copiers with their pants down.
Toner? I hardly know her...
I guess with cellphone sexting that sort of buffoonery got superseded by more modern technology. I remember when I saw a Kinko's store right next to a Lover's Package store.
Gotta love those strip malls.
Then there's the news story I read the other day. Seems the nerd world is all a-twitter for another reason. Hasbro is coming out with a new Furby. Already the internet is bursting with suggestions for hacking the computer inside.
That was the big thing last time around---hackers got into a Furby's innards and made it do all sorts of weird things. Like sitting on copiers and stuff. But what I like was the phrase they used in the article. They said computer geeks were looking forward to "hacking a Furby."
Why am I suddenly reminded of cats? Or nerd stoners. Hocking a loogie. Hacking a furball. Hacking a Furby.
Better send a shipment of fresh water to Tokeland.
America, ya gotta love it.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

1893 Toy Annoy

Around the holidays it's always interesting to see the gifts that experts recommend for kids. I'm not sure what they're experts in, but they certainly have odd recommendations.
Like this one who suggested the new Razor Pocket Mod Electric Scooter. Razor, as you may remember, are the folks who designed the skateboard with a handle you see kids bopping around the neighborhood with. Or as I like to call them, an involuntary tracheotomy on wheels. Yeah, I know, catchy.
Apparently, not content to cause bodily harm naturally, Razor has upped their game and invented a battery-powered child maiming device. The Razor Mod Scooter, as the reviewer says, "brings a vintage Italian flair to the cul-de-sac."
Great for pre-Vespians who actually live on a cul-de-sac. Those children who live on a through street can rely on the scooter's 15mph speed to save them from being crushed by a neighborhood giant SUV.
Yes, it goes at a limb-breaking road-rashing 15 mph.
And yes, I did say pre-Vespian. The Razor Scooter looks not unlike a Vespa, so your kiddies can develop sassy Italian courage early, as they learn to be ignored by other cars and trucks blindly running them over, thanks to American driver's total obliviousness of motorcycles sharing the road.
Another oddly recommended gift is the Techno Source Glow Crazy Doodle Dome. It's a black tent kids can sit inside in the dark while using a light wand to draw on the walls. When the art fades they can draw on it again.
Really, we want to teach our kids to do art on the walls? Doesn't that sound suspiciously like graffiti?
First we make them bikers of the cul-de-sac. Now writers on the walls in their own personal subway station.
Who says toys can't be educational?
America, ya gotta love it.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

1892 Stone Old

As things age they cause different phases of understanding. Like who would have thought fifty years ago that the Rolling Stones would still be together? Or at least the vestiges of them.
But here's the interesting thing. Institutions that we used to hold as old and venerable are being eclipsed by this surprising run of rock and rolling longevity.
A recent fact: The four members of the Rolling Stones are now older, on average, than the nine members of the U.S. Supreme Court. The Stones average age is 69, the Supremes 67.
The median age of U.S. Senators is 63.
The Stones tour from '69 featured numerous cuts from the "Let it Bleed" album, which in turn features the iconic, "You can't always get what you want."
Unless of course, you want to be still touring when you're actually 69. No truth to the rumor they have a separate tour bus just for their wrinkles. These Rolling Stones may have gathered no moss, but there has been a tiny bit of erosion.
Still, I'm glad they've proven that age alone is no guarantor of judiciousness. Though I gotta say, I've love to have Mick on the High Court. Some moves like Jagger would be welcome.
Speaking of aging institutions, a funny thing happened in the Senate not long ago. Apparently Senator Mitch McConnell asked Harry Reid to bring a bill to a vote that he had earlier supported. Then he filibustered it.
Yes, ladies and gentleman, the dreaded self-filibuster.
I've never been sure who Phil is, and why he needs to be bustered, but I am pretty darn sure that committing an act of self filibuster is illegal in Kentucky.
As Supreme Mick might say, "We all need... someone... we can filibuster on...
America, ya gotta love it.

1891 Kilter

Every now and then I encounter something off kilter. This even though I'm not entirely certain what kilter is. Making the determination of off or on kilter somewhat intuitive.
Like this observation. I was reading a King Arthur story. The King was having a discussion with Merlin the Wizard, and Merlin was working up quite a cloud of smoke with his pipe as he made dire warnings.
And it occurred to me. What was Merlin smoking? The Arthurian cycle was supposed to take place when Arthur, King of Britain, was fighting off the Saxons in the late 5th and early 6th centuries.
Tobacco wasn't brought over from the new world until the 15th century at the earliest. Merlin must have been a wizard indeed.
Second observation. I was up in University Place, which folks in University Place abbreviate UP by the way, and saw one of those changing red-lighted signs outside a Bartell Drug store. The sign first read: "Kindle Fire HD on sale now." Then it changed and said: "Diamond Walnuts $5.99.
And I just thought that was so amazing. A store that can carry an incredibly complex piece of modern electronics. And walnuts. Just ask our helpful clerks for advice. One stop shopping, ya gotta love it.
Finally, this year I'm going to gird myself to stay up late and try it. Every year all the big places offer it. And it only seems to be available at midnight New Years Eve. It sounds delicious or why would they be offering it.
The traditional champagne toast.
I don't know if they bake the champagne right in or if it's some sort of champagne butter they spread on it. Either way, I'm setting my alarm.
I hope my clock doesn't go off kilter.
America, ya gotta love it.

Monday, December 24, 2012

1890 Out Source

I read a disturbing article in an online news source recently. Wow. I just noticed how natural that was to say. I used to say, I read an interesting article in the newspaper recently. But I never do that anymore. At least read them on paper. It's always an online news source these days. Or electronic anyhow, whether it's from the web, or a mobile device, or radio.
The times they have a-changed. That's what got me about this story. Change. Seems Ranbaxy Pharmaceuticals, the manufacturers of a generic brand of Lipitor, have had to recall some tablets. Because they contained bits of glass.
Great slogan though. "Generic Lipitor, now with added glass."
In one way it might be good, those little bits of glass floating around slicing cholesterol build-up off your arteries. But probably not.
The article I read tried to clarify the dimensions of the glass particles and said they were about the same size as grains of sand. Wait a minute. Aren't grains of sand silica? And isn't that what they use to make glass?
So isn't it possible that instead of adding chalk or other inactive mineral to inertly mold them into pills, they added sand instead? Sounds like some non-thought out, unregulated, third world substitution. Like adding melamine to baby formula in China.
But that wouldn't happen to a U.S. drug, right?
Well, actually, the generic Lipitor was made in India. Home of political corruption, bribed safety inspectors, and offshore computer tech support.
We all know how well that's worked out.
So what if some enemy decided to add LSD instead of glass? I'm thinking outsourcing our drugs is not a good national security move.
Then again, that may be because the imported generic drugs I take for my paranoia aren't working right.
America, ya gotta love it.

Friday, December 21, 2012

1889 Bud Out

If you're sick of all the hullabaloo about the new marijuana law in Washington State feel free to tune out now. How did that old phrase go? Turn on, Tune In, Drop Out. It's the dropping part you might consider.
But the new law is part of our culture now, and very much a part of our media. As it's my job to remark on current culture I have to wade into the cloud of common commentary too.
Leno, Letterman, Kimmel, Fallon, Stewart, Colbert, they've all taken their hits, not to mention just about every straight news anchor.
Locally we've had an interesting thing roll out. Seems the guy who owns a place called Frankie's, a tried and true libertarian from way back, who won a lawsuit to open a private club upstairs at his establishment to smoke cigarettes, is now offering said clubhouse for the quiet and comfortable imbibing of cannabis.
The only stricture to the new law is that consumption not be in public. And since Frank had the court rule his place is legally "private" --- as he charges a fee to be part of the club---said use should be perfectly legal. He can tell the authorities to bud out.
Coincidently he has a restaurant downstairs. And I'm hoping delicious-sounding and inviting menus upstairs. "Hey tokers, come on down for a big breakfast when you're done."
Gives whole new meaning to hash browns.
Then there was the guy my friend Rick heard. Who was extolling the benefits of the new law for state revenues and quite unconsciously said the state will be able to use the money to fix pot-holes.
And the Feds are signaling they will only be lightly involved in acting against the law.
Apparently they are only offering toke-n resistance...
America, ya gotta love it.

1888 Micro Topic

I like the way people sometimes describe large ideas in the smallest possible number of words. Like recently I was reading some of the comments in an online news outlet about some political thing or another and one commenter referred to the other negative commenters as "keyboard warriors."
Quite an apt expression. Sort of invoked the scorn of the term "Sunday morning quarterback" or "backseat driver." That sense that these folks have never really made it out of their mom's basement but feel qualified somehow to comment on the real world in the most violent and intolerant manner.
God forbid they should ever walk a mile in another's shoes.
They'd have to, like, you know, walk.
Another term like that is for the most intolerant. The Troll Taliban. Those folks who feed one another's prejudices over the internet. The ones who cling tenaciously to the bigoted social mores of the 19th and early 20th century.
Pick your enlightenment; interracial marriage, un-segregated drinking fountains, women's equal rights. These people will always be on the wrong side of history.
On a lighter note, there's the euphemistic explanation I heard about a power outage in Mason County. The official statement said the power had gone out because a raccoon "came in contact with a substation."
Sounds so gentle doesn't it? "Came in contact." Like the poor thing brushed against an outlet and caused a small static spark. Like touching your key to a doorknob after shuffling across a nylon carpet.
Probably not so gentle and mild. I'm guessing the contact with the substation involved some critter incineration. Mammal Flambé. Barbecued Raccoon.
Then there's my all time favorite short descriptor. Not a euphemism so much as an anti-euphemism. The triumph of mass marketing over Freudian fears.
Preferred brand of keyboard warriors...
America, ya gotta love it.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

1887 Tracking Dates

Every December it's time to think about a very important thing. Buying a new calendar. Depressing. Not the fact that time is marching on, but that you are so unpopular you actually have to buy a calendar. With any number of charitable and business organizations wanting to remind you to think of them in the upcoming year, you'd figure you'd get at least one calendar for free.
But no, I'm talking about a 22x17 desk blotter calendar. I bought one at Office Depot recently. And it made me worry about our official state of affairs in this country. At least vis-à-vis office work.
In an effort, I suppose, to not have to shrink-wrap the whole thing and still preserve the pristine page of the month of January, the calendar had a front page that was not actually a page you could use. Coincidentally, that meant it was a 13-page calendar in the year 2013. Helping right there to officially launch the year of the phobia.
They decided to make that first page, on which they could have printed anything---like, say, a map of the Office Depot store, where the heck do they have envelopes?---into a sample calendar page. Yep, a sample. Like a demo. Complete with memos scrawled in on various dates.
"Lunch with mom at 12:30," said one on the 15th. And, "Meeting with Jen at 5pm." On the 24th it said, "practice at 8pm," and on the 7th, "take car in for 30k mile service at 7:30 am." This guy apparently has a mechanic that also takes cars in at 7:30 at night.
Still, it's sad to see a demo page. I'm worried. Maybe the new generation is so caught up in smarty-pants phones and apps, they've forgotten how to work a calendar.
America, ya gotta love it.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

1886 The Habit

I'm always amazed by how technology interfaces with our regular human habits. Modern times can have their challenges, but habits find a way.
Habits undermined me the other day. First you need to understand this quirk about me. I like to be as efficient as possible. No wasted steps, no wasted motions. Kind of a skinflint for time. Cram as much activity into a day by wasting as little time as possible. Making the right choice paralyzes me sometimes. I'm sure there's a psychological designation for it. OC-lock or something, or AD-AMPM.
In any event, many years ago Casey Lytle, a fellow local comedian, did this bit on his local access show about his kid. The kid had said, "Dad, listen to me count backwards from a hundred." Then she went, "100, 59, 58, 57..."
She'd learned by watching the timer on the microwave.
Fast forward to 2012. I'm standing at my microwave reheating pizza. I press in 1-0-0- to get a minute, as I've always habitually done. Then it finally dawned on me, 24 years after I heard the bit, I could have been pressing in 6-0- with the same result. All those wasted seconds pressing in one extra digit.
Aargh. Life's too short...
Speaking of bad habits and technology, I was watching a guy across the street find a way to stay productive. He was shivering outside, using his company's smoking area---and still doing his job. Remotely, on his smartypants phone.
Is that not cool or what? You can now stay connected to your web or office, even if society no longer wants to connect with you because of your smoking habit.
America, we always get to productivity despite ourselves. Habits find a way.
Banished to the smoking area?
There's an app for that.
America, ya gotta love it.

Monday, December 17, 2012

1885 They're Coming

Always interesting to me how news stories group together sometimes, in such a way that a common thread emerges. I understand how some conspiracy theories take root. Maybe I'm just a little paranoid about the whole thing.
In this case I'd call the paranoia Paul Revere-iosis.
Because the British are coming. The British are coming.
Here's why. A lot of the financial meltdown that decimated our 401ks took place because of crooked bankers and such like. So examine this example. A rogue UBS trader who lost $2.5 billion last year on risky trades was convicted for "Britain's biggest banking fraud."
Or this: The British oil company BP last week accepted criminal responsibility for the giant oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. They are pleading guilty to 11 felony counts and one count of obstructing congress by giving them false information about how much was coming out of the hole. No apparent felony charge for thoroughly disrupting the economy of the area.
Their fine? $4.5 billion.
Which sounds like a lot until you consider the next story. HP has had to take a $8.8 billion write-down on their books because the British software firm Autonomy, which HP purchased in good faith, was guilty of "serious accounting improprieties, disclosure failure, and outright misrepresentations."
BTW---Kind of puts that measly $4.5 billion fine in perspective doesn't it?
But taken together it's pretty obvious the British are sticking it to us, sticky wicket and all. Bad trades that affected our retirement nest eggs. A befouled coastline and poisoned water in our Gulf. Gulf economy ruined. And now worst of all---we're going to have to pay even more money for already obscenely high HP Printer cartridges.
Wait a minute. It's the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812.
America, ya gotta love it.

1884 @men

Is nothing sacred? The answer is, no. Nothing is. At least to some. The nature of our diverse world is that no matter what you say, or how sensitive you try to be, you're going to be the butcher to someone's sacred cow.
That doesn't mean you should make your life a walking abattoir, but it also means you shouldn't crucify yourself for every possible transgression. Sometimes the owners of sacred cows need to keep them out of your garden.
So, I was interested recently when the Pope announced he was jumping into the twitterverse. Yep, The Pope is going to tweet. If that doesn't sound sacrilegious I don't know what does. Tweets from the Pope. How solemn.
So, can you tweet in Latin?
The Pope's twitter "handle" is @pontifex, in case you want to "follow" him. Handle. Isn't it cool that twitterers adopted words from ancient CB technology? "We don't have a twittermob, we got us a convoy!"
The cool thing about @pontifex is if you're a devout catholic, what the Pope says is direct from God, so that means God is tweeting too. I guess since they often depict the Holy Spirit as a dove, tweeting isn't out of the question, although cooing would be more accurate.
Speaking of accuracy. The Pope himself had some bad news for Christmas Warriors. He said in his new book that there were no oxen, donkeys or other animals at Jesus' birth and the entire Christian calendar was a 6th century monk's miscalculation.
That's good news for government entities sued by atheists. Nativity scenes are no longer officially religious. Just a bunch of animals and people hanging out near a manger at the wrong time of year.
And hey, no sacred cows there either.
There's something worth tweeting...
America, ya gotta love it.

Friday, December 14, 2012

1883 Got Fuel?

Every now and then you see the sign, "Got Milk?" It's been a great advertising campaign. So much so that everybody has adopted it for their "gots." Got Corgis?" "Got Honor Students?" I even saw some entrepreneur on the street corner with a cardboard sign the other day that said, "Got Food?"
I think it would be a good Beano lead in. "Got Gas?"
Maybe that's why this article I read recently got me thinking. Apparently a brigade of protestors manned by thousands of European dairy farmers mobbed Brussels not long ago to protest the drop of price supports on milk.
They even had a firehose, with which they blasted milk at riot police, coating their shields and helmets with creamy white fluid. Why? Because it costs $1.96 a gallon to produce milk and you can only sell it for $1.28 wholesale.
Really, I thought? It's only $1.96 a gallon to produce milk wholesale? I thought this because I had just filled my tank with gas for $3.49 a gallon.
The solution is obvious. Someone needs to invent a car that runs on milk. There must be a way. It's loaded with organic stuff, fat from which we could render carbon. Or milk sugars from which we could get alcohol.
What seems more promising as a renewable fuel supply, milk butter or corn? And modern dairies churn the stuff out. I see giant milk trucks on the highways just like gas trucks.
You could have the catalytic cottage cheese conversion unit right in your hybrid GM Cadillactose. Just pull right up to the dairy. "Fill 'er up with 1%, Darrell." Like the drive-thru dairies of old.
Maybe even hook directly to the cow, like those automatic milker machines.
That would be udderly amazing.
America, ya gotta love it.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

1882 Grapefruits of Wrath

Interesting news from the medical community. Grapefruit juice can kill.
This comes as great news to me, since I've never really liked grapefruit juice. My tongue has too many bitter-oriented tastebuds and so certain foods like grapefruits, Brussels sprouts and coffee beans really overwhelm me. Still, I periodically try them, thinking of their health benefits and hoping I may have finally developed a taste for them.
It was difficult growing up when I had a cold, as my grandmother was a big grapefruit advocate. Squeezing the giant orbs mercilessly before she produced a rendered glass for me to imbibe for my coughs and snuffles.
Turns out grapefruits contain chemicals called furanocoumarins that interfere with how your body breaks down drugs before they enter the bloodstream. By preventing this normal breakdown of a drug, these chemicals effectively cause a drug overdose and more severe side-effects.
The article I read in ABC News said that doctors of the Canadian Medical Association recommend expanding the grapefruit interaction warning to 85 drugs. One of those is Lovastatin, used to lower cholesterol and prevent a heart attack. Side effects include confusion and constipation. Not the kind of overdose old people who take the drug need.
Another of the drugs on the list is dextromethorphan. Yep, that dextromethorphan. The one you take when you have a cough from a cold.
Interestingly, when I went to the ABC News website to read the story, a commercial video started playing that was obviously planted by a computer algorithm because it related to the topic. The commercial was for Robitussin. With Dextromethorphan!
Something I just took for a cold I had. At least the ad wasn't for fresh grapefruit juice. Granny might be rolling over in her grave.
And I might have been joining her.
America, ya gotta love it.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

1881 Factory Raised Salt

I'm all for epicurean variety. I'd be the first to say that the diet I grew up on in the fifties and sixties was a little bland. We only had one kind of apple; Washington, delicious, mushy. And one kind of orange; no navel, filled with seeds.
For vegetables my mother rotated us through non-fresh, industrially-canned green beans, peas and corn. The corn was further broken down into the subcategories of regular and creamed.
Industrially-canned cream corn. Yum...
So I've been happy, for the most part, with the selection of food we encounter today, with specialized niches for this and that. Cool that we have blends of coffee from different carefully roasted beans from Nicaragua to Ethiopia.
And cool too, that we've been exposed to a multitude of grape varietals and vintages, learning words like terroir to describe the underlying flavor tones imparted by soil and climate.
But I saw something the other day I'm really not ready for. Someone sent me fancy candies. They were salted caramels. I love salted caramels. Right up there with kettle korn and bacon-encrusted maple bars for that salty/sweet tongue rush.
But these weren't just salted. They were---well let me just repeat the descriptions on the label. The dark chocolate-dipped caramel was "sprinkled with gray salt harvested off the coast of Brittany." The milk chocolate caramel was "sprinkled with smoked salt harvested of the coast of Wales."
Oh criminy. It's salt, dang it! "Smoked salt harvested off the coast of Wales." Give me a break. First off, you don't harvest it unless it grows. If it's a mineral you gather it.
And if it's salt, and it tastes smoky, there's something else in it. Brought downwind from smokestack-belching Birmingham perhaps.
I should sprinkle it on my industrially-canned creamed corn.
America, ya gotta love it.

Monday, December 10, 2012

1880 Techno Tidbits

As the march of technology continues apace it's fun to examine the little techno-tidbits people step in.

Like the scandal with General Petraeus. Turns out one reason it was uncovered was because of emails between he and his paramour. The email technique they used was to compose drafts on the same email account and then each go to that account and read them. A high school I'm-so-cool-I'm-acting-like-a-spy trick known by trolls from here to Mom's basement in Peoria.
Or, yes, Virginia, Langley.
By the way. His career is ruined. She'll get another book deal.
Be that as it may, I always wonder about how Google and their spybots that suggest ads in your gmails may have viewed the whole thing. You know---the ads their algorithms enable when they peruse the content of your emails?
Hot steamy spy affair---I wanna see those pop-ups.
Secondly, remember how we used to say that kids would be just fine if we left them to their own devices? That was back when "devices" meant just actions. Now devices actually do mean devices. iPhones, iPods, videogame consoles, tablets, gmail accounts. All connected to the crazy predators on the World Wide Web.
May we shouldn't leave them to their own devices anymore.
Finally, there's the accidents that happen when you mix technology, our modern society, and its multi-lingual entrepreneurs. I called a phone number I saw on one of those sidebar ads on a webpage and tried to order a wax treatment for my floors not long ago. I thought I was hiring a Hispanic firm to do the job, what with the language barrier and all. Turns out they were Brazilian. Not the wax job I had in mind.
My hardwood floor looks really funny.
America, ya gotta love it.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

1879 Macro Mini

We are a conflicted culture. Driven to the innovation of miniaturization and then un-maximizing that micro-potential by re-maximizing it again.
Remember the mini-skirt? Then they came out with the micro-mini. But not long after that they came out with the macro-mini.
It's the same with cars. You have a perfectly good Honda CVCC. A tiny little car that was great on mileage and price. But over the years it starts growing and growing and eventually it becomes an Accord.
Or the Mini Cooper. Seen one of those lately? It's getting bigger. A Macro Cooper is around the bend.
One could even say the standard Chevy eventually became the Cadillac for just that reason. More room, more internal real estate. Till one day you have the Cadillac Escalade. Like driving around an estate.
Electronics the same way. Computers miniaturized to desktops from room size monstrosities. Then we made it down to laptops. Then we got a wide screen laptop. Bigger, more unwieldy, but hey, big screen.
Kindle the same way. A nice little portable reader. Now there's the Kindle Fire HD. Not too tiny anymore. Push, pull. Push, pull. My smaller is better. Oh yeah? My smaller is bigger than your smaller.
And how about TV's? The fight is between watching TV on your smartphone and watching it on a 70-inch HD big screen. 70 inches! That won't fit in some New York apartments. So how do you cram an HD 70-inch signal into a smartphone? Wouldn't the data be so compressed it would be black?
Speaking of smartphones. Samsung is coming out with a bigger one. You can watch movies better on it. Coincidentally brighter. Another maxi-miniature fashion phase. Between a phone and a tablet.
They're calling it a phablet.
I'm calling it a Phadillac.
America, ya gotta love it.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

1878 Criminal Bedfellows

Sad news recently when the scandal came down about former General and now recent CIA Chief Petraeus. Not good when the nation's top secret master can't keep his own affairs secret.
I was wondering what would happen to him in the future. Then a little piece of mail gave me a clue. I'm guessing there'll be a place for him---somewhere in the media.
The piece of mail that gave me the clue was from someone who didn't just have an affair, but actually committed a full-on felony. Yep, a crime that at one time would have prevented him from ever exercising his right to vote. Yet now he exercises the power of media to influence votes across the nation.
Pretty bad too; he was indicted on 16 felony counts and convicted of three, including "accepting a bribe" and "obstructing justice"---in this case a congressional inquiry.
But here's the deal. Those convictions were vacated, thanks to a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union. Yes that ACLU, bastion of liberalism much scorned by the right wing elements in our country, right up there with Planned Parenthood and Big Bird.
So anyhow, I got some mail from this guy the other day sent by him and the Freedom Alliance, a very strong and vocal right wing organization. Yep, right wing. You know, anti-ACLU.
The guy I'm talking about? According to the return address on the envelope: LtCol Oliver L. North USMC (Ret.)
The "Retired," being abbreviated R-e-t-, may actually mean Rehabilitated.
Anyhow, if a charismatic guy like “Ollie Ollie ex-con free” can rehab into a media personality, I'm sure Petraeus will have no trouble. And bonus, media whores can have all the affairs they want. Credibility isn't an issue.
Just ask Donald Trump.
America, ya gotta love it.

Monday, December 03, 2012

1877 MunchaMates

The consternation inspired by the joint revelations of a possible Hostess Twinkie closing and the legalization of marijuana in Washington state has led to an amazing amount of verbiage in the blogosphere and regular media.
Not least because so many boomers fear the loss of comfort food they were just getting ready to renew a legal acquaintance with. Those foods we stopped eating long ago, ostensibly for health reasons, but also because our palates became more sophisticated. Sipping a complex red wine or a multi-flavor-noted cup of fine coffee makes it hard to appreciate the uniform saccharin quality of a Yodel.
But our clouded memories of the sixties promise that with a certain medicinal enhancement, all the joys of junkfood will not, in fact, go up in smoke.
A lot of those foods were actually invented in the late fifties but found their definitive success in the sixties. Sno-Balls, Hostess Cupcakes, Suzy Q's, Yodels, Zingers, HoHos, Ding Dongs, and of course, the ultimate true sixties invention---Screaming Yellow Zonkers.
So in a recent essay I proffered the notion that if Hostess goes under, their brands will most likely be bought up by Frito Lay. Then we can enjoy the marriage of those two product stables. Like the Nacho Cheese Dorito Taco Shell-wrapped Twinkie.
Maybe we'll encounter other items with similar creative melding. A Twinkie, perhaps, whose cream filling has been enhanced, and crispified, by stuffing in Cheetos.
Or how about Ranch Doritos rolled into a HoHo? Or a Frito-laced Ding Dong? I'm liking the crunchy savory/sweet thing. Hostess products always suffered from a cloying flaccidity and sweetness. Adding crunchy and salty would be an improvement. Like Kettle Korn.
Or bacon-topped maple bars.
Or Baken-et pork rinds stuffed into Raspberry Zingers.
Don't Bogart that spongecake dude.
America, ya gotta love it.

1876 Pass the Twinkie

The Twinkie Crisis. First the Bakers Union is winning. Then it's driving Twinkie to bankruptcy. Then both sides are negotiating again. It's a union battle that maybe can't be won. Hey, it's not like the bakers are multi-millionaire professional sports players. What kind of a pipsqueak union defends ordinary workers...?
Then the word goes out. Twinkie is closing its plant in Seattle. All the tongues start waggin'. Didn't Washington just make marijuana legal? And now they're closing Twinkie? How crazy are they in the northwest?
Next Twinkie's parent company, Hostess, is closing all its plants nationwide. Twinkie and Ho-Hos hoarders come out of their troll basements and mob the bakery outlets like Black Friday shoppers at Walmarts. Come to think of it, they look suspiciously familiar...
The price of Twinkies soars on eBay. Desperate pseudo-cream filling addicts bid for the remaining spongecake ingots, knowing full well that when the Mayan apocalypse comes in a few days Twinkies will be the only food with a shelf life of the next millennia.
Such are the travails of the quintessential American snackfood. Artificial coloring. Artificial flavoring. Mock cream filling rendered from who knows what sources, probably some unholy congress of carrageenan and cow hoof gelatin.
But fear not America, even with its current troubles the Twinkie brand is strong. It and its chocolaty pals, Ho-Hos and Ding Dongs, will survive these perilous times. They still bring in a cubic boatload of money, even if Hostess can't profit from it. Some big company will buy the brands.
My money's on Frito-Lay scooping them up. And I'm guessing they'll reopen the plant in Seattle too. That's where they'll have to be in December of 2013 when the first legal potshop opens.
And also when they'll unveil the ultimate Munchie.
The Nacho Cheese Doritos Taco Shell-wrapped Twinkie.
America, ya gotta love it.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

1875 Moving Pepsi

What goes around comes around, they say. And sometimes what goes just goes. I was reminded of that the other day when I read about a new drink Pepsi is introducing that promises certain, um, medicinal qualities.
It was almost overlooked in all the news about electile dysfunctions and Petraus betrayals, but Pepsi Incorporated has come up with a new beverage that's sure to move folks like never before.
The new drink is called "Pepsi Special" and it's special indeed. The article I read about it says the following:
"You might be familiar with wheat dextrin as the supplement that's sold as Benefiber in the U.S. It's a soluble fiber that absorbs water as it moves through our intestines. That promotes movement of food through the bowel, and contraction of the bowel wall itself (bowel movement, if you will). Pepsi distributors in Japan are leveraging this mechanism, less explicitly, in adding dextrin to their new product, Pepsi Special. It's being reported and marketed as a "fat blocking soda."
Fat-blocking soda, what a concept. Cram in the Doritos. Cram in the burgers and fries, and wash it all down---and through---with the new Pepsi Special. Cause when the Pepsi Special is coming down the track and around the bend you better get to the station in a hurry.
Back to the "goes around comes around" part. Pepsi actually started out as a health drink---and it was to promote digestion. The original drink was called "Pepsi" because it contained pepsin, a digestive enzyme.
So now they've come full circle. and followed the boomer curve too. From "Pepsi hits the spot," to "Pepsi for the New Generation," to "Pepsi for those who think young," to, well, "Pepsi BM."
Don't drink too much. You might get a case of Pepsi-rrhea.
America, ya gotta love it.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

1874 Electile Disorder 12

I wrote recently how for the next election my Republican friends need to be more pragmatic. The face of the electorate has changed, and it's a face of many colors. The old white male has gotten older and fewer.
The old gray male he ain't what he used to be.
So it doesn't do any good to keep making lame excuses for why they lost. The R's just keep diggin' deeper and deeper into the "I'm oblivious" hole. A telling moment in the campaign was when Romney said that 47% of the electorate expected handouts from the government. It looks like that 47% turned out and handed him a defeat.
Really, it was a pretty oblivious comment. Lots of those 47 percenters have hardworking, low-paying jobs, doing them thanklessly day after day. I'm surprised Romney didn't think the poor kids on free and reduced lunches were getting the reduced lunches because they were obese.
Lately Romney sent a letter telling his supporters he lost because Obama gave his voters gifts. You know, like jobs in the auto industry. Again, out of touch. It was probably more fear of what might be taken away under Romney. Starting with Big Bird.
Then there were the commentators who blamed the loss on Hurricane Sandy. Which is ironic in a way. Since those same folks are the ones who say there's no global warming. And others who say the severity of Sandy was due to global warming. So global warming created by those who deny it created the circumstances that destroyed their chances in the election.
Lastly, Rove's R's are currently claiming they actually got all the independent votes they were shooting for. That means one thing: The D's now outnumber the R's and the Independents.
Oops. Pay attention R's. Time to wake up and smell the rainbow.
America, ya gotta love it.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

1873 Pot Test

Governor Christine Gregoire requested advice from the federal justice department about how to proceed with the state's new legal marijuana law. Voters have given the okay, but the state's not anxious to invest tons of infrastructure set-up money to actually sell weed until it looks like those stores may stay open.
But since, like liquor, it will probably end up in private hands anyhow, maybe the state should just write regulations for distribution and sale and save its money from the outset. The regulations are already there for the most part. Just white-out "alcohol" and scribble in "pot."
There have been good things about it. I have a friend who has a sister in another state who's lesbian. That sister is currently dating a woman named Juanita and is looking to marry her. They also, coincidently, like to toke an occasional burst of bud. So the last election made Washington living very attractive. Now she can smoke marijuana and marry Juanita all in the same place.
But big problems remain. Among them driving-while-intoxicated measurements. Piloting your vehicle under the influence of alcohol is pretty easy to measure. You just blow your breath into a device. Marijuana intoxication will require a blood test. Tough to administer in the field. Will law enforcement officers have to be phlebotomists too?
Also, THC blood levels remain for days after actual inhalation. Who's to say the erratic guy wasn't stoned three days ago and is just a bad driver today? Perhaps other behavior tests will be needed. Instead of walking the line, police could look for an acute episode of dancing inappropriately.
Or use a smell test. See how the suspect falls on the spectrum of the Dorito Olfactory Over-Bonding Indicator Evaluation.
The D-O-O-B-I-E-. The Doobie.
America, ya gotta love it.

1872 Sharing Spirits

I love those moments of realization. When you're being given information on one level but your mind flips it over and goes, "What the heck!?"
Like recently, I was driving by this store that used to be a state liquor store, back when the state had a monopoly on hard liquor sales in this state. Poor private retailers complained they could only sell beer and wine, the state had spirited away the real spirits beyond their profit-seeking fingers.
So this store, when hard liquor sales were privatized, was bought out by a private business, and now sells hard liquor. Good for everyone concerned. The state found a buyer for the real estate. The business got to carry on established business in the same location, and the consumer didn't have to alter the number of steps he took to alcoholic satisfaction. Not even 12 of them.
But what got me was a new sign displayed across the building. it said: "We Now Sell Beer!"
Go figure.
Another realization moment: I was listening to a radio story the other day about the state's Discover Pass. For $30 a year you can use it to visit all the state parks. But the state, ever anxious to help the park visiting public, has offered an alternative. If you find the $30 beyond your means, you can perform 24 hours of work cleaning up and maintaining state parks and get your Discover Pass that way.
Hmm... 24 hours of work for a $30 pass. What kind of work will I be doing? Picking cotton?
Somehow I think I might find a job at minimum wage a little better deal to come up with the thirty bucks. Still, I've always wanted to spiritually connect with my dustbowl Okie ancestors.
Sharecropping sounded so fun...
America, ya gotta love it.

Monday, November 26, 2012

1871 Nest Quick

Another recall in the news. Another contamination. Some will say it's all about our industrialized food society. As if cholera and dysentery aren't major problems in more "natural" areas.
Still, when contamination does hit our mechanized food chain, the effects are as far reaching and quick as our highway system. The culprit this time? E-coli in the cantaloupes? Listeria in the lettuce? Nope, salmonella in the chocolate milk.
Chocolate milk, you say. I just gave up sunnyside-up eggs and peanut butter. Now I have to give up chocolate milk too? Where are all my comfort foods going?
Literally, down the toilet.
The chocolate milk in question is actually the powdered variety. Ironic in way, since what with chocolate-flavored Ex-Lax, having a chocolate-flavored concoction that also promotes loosened stool is not far off the beam. But salmonella-facilitated extreme loosening can prove fatal to those at risk, thanks to diarrheal dehydration.
Getting severe dehydration for a drink is a bit ironic too.
Anyhow, the product that could cause all the damage is a household favorite. Nesquik. Yep, Nestle Nesquik, the powder you add to milk to have a chocolaty drink. The one with its own spokesbunny.
It might make you move quick as a bunny too.
Nestle is voluntarily doing the recall because one of its suppliers notified them a batch of raw material might have salmonella contamination. The raw material? Calcium Carbonate.
Mmm. Love that calcium carbonate. Used in over-the-counter mineral supplements. One of the yummiest industrial chemicals. If you like the taste of chalk.
"But how?" You ask. How does salmonella get into a mineral? Don’t they mine it from marble or something? I think it's a conspiracy. Because it's also readily available from snail shells, oyster shells, and, um, eggshells.
Industrial chickens are exacting their revenge.
America, ya gotta love it.

1870 Rainbowed

As the rain from the 2012 elections continues to pelt through the media like a deluge from Hurricane Sandy, I have a word to my conservative friends.
A good business person is pragmatic. Makes decisions based on practical thinking. Gets all the facts. Makes a plan for the desired outcome. Moves ahead.
Oddly, that's where the D's beat the R's this time around. They formed a plan early, used the 2010 census to identify not just key states but key counties, and sunk their efforts into those counties. They even figured they'd have less money to work with than the R's, because they couldn't count on the same SuperPac bonanza.
The key fact pragmatic Conservatives need to seize on in the next election is that the majority of the electorate is no longer, um, White Males.
Here's where R-pragmatists, who are usually fact-based, stubbed their tactical toe. They didn't see the change in terrain. They weren't on the same battlefield they used to be on. Even after the election, the strategic obliviousness remained rooted in the sour grapes of wrath. The Wall Street Journal, bastion of the un-liberal media, sniffed its persistent ignorance. Obama "won ugly" it said, and really, only got "40% of the white male vote."
As if that was the only "real" vote out there.
The Democrats realized a while back an interesting pragmatic fact. The majority of votes aren't coming from white males anymore. We are actually a country made up of all kinds of people.
How did that one song I learned in my conservative Baptist Sunday School go? "Red and Yellow, Black, Brown and White, they are precious in his sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world."
Perhaps the Republicans should too.
After the rain… comes a rainbow.
America, ya gotta love it.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

1869 Emotication

Communication. It's supposed to be the way we make each other understand what we are thinking. Sometimes it can go so wrong.
Like recently I was trying to spell out an emoticon to someone who'd never heard of them. And I found that deconstructing an emoticon pretty much destroyed the emotion of its meaning.
Communication by emoticon. Emotication?
Anyhow, try to spell out the emoticon of a smiley face.
"Wow, that made me colon close parenthesis."
"I flashed a colon close parenthesis at my girlfriend."
You see what I mean. Actually typing the colon and the close parenthesis to end up with a graphic smiley face is good. Describing it in words, not so much.
On another communication note, I was listening to an ad for Sylvan the other day. They promoted their tutoring service by having a women deliver a testimonial. She said she'd used Sylvan with her first kid, so when her second kid started having problems in school she took him to Sylvan too.
All well and good. Except the way she said it.
She said, "I decided to choose Sylvan."
I guess she was really decisive because she didn't just choose and she didn't just decide. She decided to choose.
Call me anti-redundant but it seems I learned in my schooling that it's important to speak and write economically. So I would just "choose to go to Sylvan." Or I would "decide to go to Sylvan."
But before that, I'll begin to think about the idea of pondering the choices inherent in making a decision that I may have second thoughts about if I elect to consider alternate outcome paths that may impact my final judgment.
Then I'll go to Sylvan for help with my communication skills.
That would make them colon parenthesis.
America, ya gotta love it.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

1868 Legal Highs

The recent passage of the bill in Washington State legalizing marijuana for recreational use has brought up some issues. Not least that the Feds are going to feel that their law trumps ours. Which is kind of interesting in a way. Usually the folks who defend "states rights" make their homes south of the Mason-Dixon line. And are not the sort to get in the Mary-Jane and fixin's line at the local pot shop.
We may find ourselves firing up the states rights rhetoric along with our fatties. It'll be interesting to see if we'll get the assistance of Rick Perry and Rush Limbaugh, both ardent supporters of the right of states to self-determination.
But if the Feds do ignore us, there's lots of money to be made. Already where medical marijuana sales are legal, there's been a huge windfall of green stuff. The multi-denominational kind---20s, 50s... Last year medical marijuana sales in Colorado were $200 million. 100,000 state residents got prescriptions.
Who knew Colorado was such a hotbed of glaucoma?
On the downside, the state says it won't be till December of 2013 when state stores can start regulated sales of the stuff. Not just selling, but approving manufacture and growth, (organic or non-organic?) packaging, and portion control. I’d imagine there would be a huge logistical and bureaucratic undertoking, excuse me, undertaking, to get rolling.
The whole thing has the bad timing of the hapless Cheech and Chong characters. Our state just unloaded all sorts of great functioning retail real estate to the private sector when the private booze initiative passed.
Now they're going to have to find new places. What do you want to bet their rent will be very high?
Wish I had an inside tip where. I'd open a Doritos shop next door.
America, ya gotta love it.

Monday, November 19, 2012

1867 Hall Monitor

Ever felt that sitting indoors was stuffy? To the point where you almost wanted to faint? I certainly have. I can tell you, when you're up on stage faintness is not a good idea. And in case you've ever felt that watching a boring lecture or PowerPoint in a big public meeting makes you feel stupider than when you came in, science has just proven that's true.
Researchers from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory tested the reasoning skills of volunteers while exposing them to different levels of carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide, as you recall, is the gas we exhale when we exhale.
As CO2 levels increased, volunteers' strategic and reasoning skills decreased. What wasn't expected was how little CO2 it took for that to take place. The highest levels measured, 2,500 parts per million, are easily found in classrooms and meeting rooms fully compliant with current ventilation standards.
Surprisingly, even 1000 ppm, once a benchmark for good ventilation, caused a significant dip in performance. The researchers caution that energy-efficiency building standards be careful not to lock in the biggest source of indoor CO2, Human breath.
I just look back and remember all those intro level classes we took in college, when the crowded lecture hall had 500 students. All of them breathing out. No wonder so many freshmen were washed out as being stupid. Or worse, the cramped places they used to do SAT and other achievement tests. No wonder I felt faint then. And dull as a desktop.
I could be a genius if I had better lung capacity.
Then again, maybe the scientists who were in the same room measuring the levels were affected. And weren't still smart enough to get the results right.
Hey. Maybe this explains why political convention halls always produce such strange candidates.
America, ya gotta love it.

Friday, November 16, 2012

1866 Star of Mourning

I was reading an article recently about strategies for my 401k and it occurred to me. The people giving the advice in the article were the same ones giving advice before the crash. My old 401k nest egg was scrambled, but somehow the advisors that totally missed the impending financial meltdown emerged sunny-side up.
We sure do have short memories. Wasn't it four odd years ago that the laissez-un-faire no-financial-regulation people managed to bring down the entire world economy? And with it many of our middle class retirement plans? Proving once and for all that Wall Street doesn't have bulls and bears. It has wolves and sheep.
We sheep turn over our money expecting fair treatment in a open market. It's fair all right. We're all slaughtered by the wolves equally.
Be that as it may, I was still interested in the firm who was doling out this new sage investment advice. Their name is Morningstar.
Years back, when I briefly worked in the investment business, my supervisor asked me to thin down potential investments for her by first using Morningstar to separate the wheat from the chaff. Morningstar rated companies based on a number of esoteric factors. Like whether they were a poor risk because they used some of their profits to provide pensions for their workers. That was considered bad. Because, you know, you don't want to encourage good work and employee loyalty; it lowers your dividends and doesn't reward unloyal nameless investors enough.
Always seemed a little evil to me. So it's funny what finally occurred to me when I read the recent advice article. Morningstar is the translation of Lucifer.
Hmm... the biggest stock advisory company out there. And it's still in business. And its name is Satan.
It explains so much...
America, ya gotta love it.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

1865 iFootpad

To the old P.T. Barnum phrase, "There's a sucker born every minute," add the corollary that there's a crime born from every new product.
Like right now, U.S. cities are experiencing a brand new crime wave. It's about smartphones. Yep, smarty-pants phones, with all their bells, whistles, glitter and glam are also great things to steal. San Francisco reports that half of all its robberies are phone related, New York reports 40%. And not just because they can be resold on the black market, though phones are notoriously fence-able.
Nope, it's also because they contain your entire life. Friends, Facebook posts, what your valuables are and where you keep them listed in your home insurance app. Whether and when you or your friends are on vacation in your calendar app. What their addresses are. What your address is.
And for the particularly sophisticated Oliver Twisted iFootpad, who's also a hacker, all that great bank and financial data, from your bank account info to your one-touch Google wallet they can use to fill up their getaway car with gas and their empty bellies with troll food at the gas station convenience store. Long before you even realize it's stolen and use its anti-theft GPS to notify authorities.
All because you chose to carry around your identity in a handy portable compact package.
Here you go criminal person, that slim little device that an apprentice pickpocket could slip out of my back pocket, it's got everything you need to steal my identity and everything my identity has, including all my identity's friends' stuff.
The smarty-pants phone manufacturers were right. It's the evolution of a whole new era of convenience. For consumer and criminal.
Progress for prey, progress for predator.
I wonder if there's an app for that?
America, ya gotta love it.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

1864 Page Tweeter

Every now and then I'll just flash on certain words. Like not long ago I was listening to a news story on the radio and it was about an action taken by the WSU football coach. He was forbidding his players to "tweet."
For some reason the concept of giant burly football players tweeting sounded amusing. And even more so when the news story went on to say that the reason the coach was imposing a twitter ban was because some of the players had been indulging in "vulgar tweets."
Is there anything that sounds more oxymoronic than "vulgar tweets?" Okay, okay sure, if you are a Husky the whole idea of a Cougar in College is oxymoronic, but still. To the regular public a “vulgar tweet” sounds like Tweety Bird suddenly developing fangs and claws and tearing into Puddy Tat like a velociraptor on steroids.
On another note, the term "page turner" caused a slightly different sort of mental catch. I was reading one of the blurbs on a book from a reviewer and it said that the book in question was suspenseful and "a real page turner." Hah, I mentally scoffed, what book isn't when you get right down to it?
And then it occurred to me, with electronic books you don't have to actually turn a page. You just click the forward icon.
As e-books become more and more ubiquitous, and even Luddites like me finally adopt them, the whole page-turner reviewer cliché is going to have to change. An exciting book will be a page advancer. Or a page refresher perhaps. Or a rapid scroller.
"Have your read Stephen King's new book? Vulgar in places, but it's a real page clicker."
America, ya gotta love it.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

1863 Nones

Read an interesting news snippet not long ago. One of those non items. By which I mean the item was something but the something it was about was non. As in none.
Zero stuff is always a hard subject to hold onto in my brain. It keeps slipping away to nothing. Like when they offer "zero percent financing for 6 months." You're not really financing it for six months at all then are you? Why not just say no interest for six months? Or better yet, just say interest doesn't start for six months. Or even better yet, don't mention it at all, then bring it up in six months.
Or the old "zero calories of fat." "No-fat" is fine. "Fat-free" even better. Or again, just fail to mention fat. Say it's all protein or all carbohydrate. Or maybe that it's just an apple.
Because those zero things sound like imaginary numbers to me, my confusion files them in the voids of my brain as unbelievable generally.
This article I mentioned took me into that same unbelievable territory. No kidding. It was about a group called the "nones." Not nuns in the Catholic women wearing a modified Burqa sense. Nones as in the n-o-n-e- I mentioned earlier.
The statistic said a Pew survey found that one in five Americans is not affiliated with any religion. They also said, "Nones are the fastest growing religious group in America."
Not sure if they surveyed empty Pews…
As I said, unbelievable, but not necessarily unbelievers. They are just none-believers. Not affiliated with any particular religion. The political independents of the religious world. Or possibly just the undecided.
Just one thing, when they do decide, are they a "non-none"?
America, ya gotta love it.

Monday, November 12, 2012

1862 Sandy

Hurricane Sandy, it's been in all the news. And with it all the hype only a huge once in a generation hurricane can bring. From "Frankenstorm" to "Super-Storm Sandy" people were constantly referring to it in apocalyptic terms.
New Yorkers weathered it pretty well. Mayor Bloomberg acted proactively to save lots of lives and lots of damage. Meantime here in the northwest we were having one of our normal storms with minor flooding. New Yorkers, ever snooty, had a name for it too.
Ah, the balmypocalypse.
One hard thing for me was the name the hurricane ended up with. Based on the hurricane naming system the moniker had to start with an "S" but I wish they would have come up with something a little more threatening than Sandy.
Sandy is such a pleasant name. Sandy Koufax, Sandy Dennis, Sandy Duncan. Sandys were always friendly and chipper. Sandys were on the pep squad and the prom decorating committee. You could talk to a Sandy when some other girl broke your heart and wreaked a hurricane of devastation on your teenage psyche. When the subject was rejection, she could lift you out of your topical depression. Not destructive at all.
Hurricane Sandy, also the biggest oxymoron of all time.
It was interesting to see shots on the news. Especially New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. I can say without a doubt that if there's a big wind going be blowing, he's the man I'd like to stand behind.
I was a little scared though, when he told everyone to clear out, then said even he was getting ready to evacuate. I don't know why, but I'm thinking I don't want to be in the same room when he's ready to evacuate.
An ill wind blows nobody good.
America, ya gotta love it.

Friday, November 09, 2012

1861 Donutty

I wonder sometimes how we end up using some of the words we do. And sometimes the etymology dictionary is no help.
Like the other day I was driving by a donut place. The interesting thing was, they couldn't decide on how to spell the word. One sign on the building said d-o-u-g-h- nuts and the other said d-o- nuts.
So which is it? Is the d-o- donuts like the thru in drive thru? T-h-r-u- instead of the full t-h-r-o-u-g-h-. The d-o- just a contraction for d-o-u-g-h-? If so, where is the apostrophe?
Even more confusing if you ask me, is in just about every other word in the English language where d-o- appears it's pronounced "dew," as in Dudley Do-right. So why aren't they dew-nuts?
They are often sweet as the morning dew.
I understand the dough part and the spelling of d-o-u-g-h-. Both because they are made of some sort of dough before they're fried and because you have to shell out some dough to buy them.
But what is the nut thing all about? I know some doughnuts are covered with actual nuts, but usually they are described as nut covered doughnuts. What is it about frying dough that causes it to be some sort of sub-category of the nut genre?
They don't taste nutty. They don't crunch nutty. We don't treat doughnuts like real nuts. We don't salt them and roast them. Or shell them for that matter. We don't chop them or sliver them or crust the top of entrees with them. "Ah, delightful, a doughnut-crusted pork loin..."
And we certainly don't render them into a paste. I don't believe I've ever heard of doughnut butter. Yes, there are jelly donuts.
But I've never seen a doughnut butter and jelly sandwich.
America, ya gotta love it.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

1860 Totes In A Hole

The more uncomfortable we are with a thing or action the more euphemisms we have for it. Like there's pretty much only one word for milk. Yet about a million for the act of procreation that's ultimately responsible for that milk.
So it was with surprise recently that I made an amazing discovery in that regard vis-à-vis an egg dish.
The dish in question was "totes-in-a-hole." A simple concoction really; you cut a hole in a piece of bread, get some butter frying on a skillet, put the bread on it, and then crack an egg in the hole. Flip it over in more sizzling butter and after a while you have a combo that's vaguely reminiscent of French toast without all the hassle.
Great meal using that illegal hotplate in the college dorm. I was introduced to the dish by an upper classman as totes-in-a-hole and have always referred to it as such. I shared the name with someone recently and she said she'd heard it was called eggs-in-a-basket, which sounded crazy to me, there weren't no basket anywhere around. Then again, what the heck is a tote, if not a carrying device similar in fact to a tisket-tasket basket variety.
So I Googled the term. What came up were a number of entries, one of which asked fellow bloggers and trolls what names they knew the dish as.
The list included: Toad-in-a-hole (as in frog), Egg-in-a-hole, Eggs-in-a-nest, Eggs-in-a-basket, Nester, Nest Egg, UFO, Dippy Egg, One Eyes, Bull's Eyes, Eggs-in-a-Frame (perhaps from an artistic or architectural family), Hobo Toast, and the simple and elegant Egghole.
It appears we are uncomfortable with eggs conjoined with toast for some reason. Perhaps I should reread my college Freudian psychology book for a clue.
Maybe while I drink a glass of milk...
America, ya gotta love it.

1859 Sides

No main dish today, just a couple of sides.

First, an article recently reported how injuries to children have increased in the last few years. Researchers think it's because of parent inattention. An inattention caused by their hyper-attention to smartypants phones.
We've all seen it, parents and grandparents at the same dinner table in a restaurant, all of them obsessed with their phones, while the kid in the high chair finds a way to use silverware to create additional orifices in his flesh.
Or the one I saw---a twenty-something pushing a stroller as she crossed the street, oblivious to the fact the light had changed against her. Thank God she was leading with her stroller. Her phone might have got damaged by the car that almost hit her kid.
Second, I was at a coffee shop the other day. They used to have a Clover machine that made drip coffee in individual cups. Which was pretty cool. But then the machine broke and they decided to individually drip coffees, with individual drip coffee filters and carafes. And it was cool and good tasting and all.
But, you know, time consuming.
So the other day I was in and they had 7 different people who all ordered drip coffee. And as I looked at the 7 carafes and mini-filter cones lined up, I had to think: This is why they invented Mr. Coffee.
Dude! Get a pot! Sometimes a pot of coffee is a good idea.
Interestingly, I had just come from a real old coffee shop, the Martin Way Diner, and had their potted coffee. Maybe I don't have coffee snob tastebuds, but it tasted the same.
Another thing? Hand dripping is so silent. It's a little creepy. I long for the musical gurgle of the percolator.
America, ya gotta love it.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

1858 Con-gress

It's no wonder every time someone conducts a poll, the least favored entity in the U.S. Government is Congress. And yet the same people keep getting elected. Perhaps because even when they're lining their own pockets, they continue to con us as they bring home the bacon. Con-gress indeed.
Like the congressman from the state that makes tanks. The military keeps saying we don't need anymore stinkin' tanks. The congressman keeps putting in orders. The tank factory is in his jurisdiction.
Hey... tanks are stimulus too.
And hey hey, the tank makers contribute to lots of other congressmen's campaigns.
Must be why during the recession years, from 2007-2010, the median estimated net worth of members of congress rose 5% while regular american's median household net worth dropped 39%.
And that includes congresspeople who didn't vote on tanks.
That's not even the whole story. The wealthiest one-third of congress saw their net worth increase 14%. That's a spread of 53% in case you don't have a calculator because your net worth dropped 39%.
That's just on the financial side of the "why we don't like congress" equation. There's also the "What-the-heck?" side. A congressman on the House Committee of Science, Space and Technology, Representative Paul Brown from Georgia, has dismissed evolution, big bang theory, and embryology, as "lies from the pit of hell."
'Cause you know, there are no such things as embryos. Everyone knows the stork brings babies---but only in cases of legitimate sexual, um, congress.
Still, I'm guessing if an in-vitro fertilization clinic wanted to open in his district he'd park his moral outrage long enough to take their campaign contribution, just like most of his hell-bent to get elected peers.
It would take an act of congress not to line their own pockets.
America, ya gotta love it.

Monday, November 05, 2012

1857 Tricks or Treats

Americans continue to figure out ways to lavish spending on their animal companions. A statistic I read recently may indicate why. The U.S. birthrate fell last year for the fourth year in a row, dropping to its lowest level on record. Demographers theorize that hard times are causing families to postpone having children.
Or maybe people would rather just spend money on children substitutes. Their pets.
Because another statistic said Americans are projected to spend $370 million this year on Halloween costumes for their pets. You heard me, Halloween costumes for their pets. An estimated 15 percent of the population will buy costumes for their pets. Doesn't look like children are in this equation.
So tell me, where the heck are they getting these docile animals? Every dog I've ever had would barely tolerate a collar, much less funny ears, fairy wings, and pirate eye patches. I doubt very much Sparky would have let me put him in a sweatshirt and hoody that made him look like a giant bee.
And it's certainly odd on the face of it. We used to dress up for Halloween with costumes that made us look like animals. Catsuits were the outfit of choice for 50s beatnik types. Then there were crossover looks, like Spiderman and wolfmen and such. But certainly in the human-as-animal theme.
Now we're dressing animals to look human, or like other animals. So if you're going to dress your dog like a cat, why not just get a cat?
And I'm sorry. I know we have our dogs do tricks. And I know when they do so we give them treats. But that doesn't mean they should go trick-or-treating.
I'm am not adding liver snaps to my candy bowl by the door.
America, ya gotta love it.

Friday, November 02, 2012

1856 Petafter

Pet cemeteries and crematoriums are sprouting up all over the country as grieving owners lavish untold money on the process of letting go. Pet passing is such a growth industry even Costco has jumped on the funeral wagon. Costco customers can find a selection of pet urns at
Costco magazine did an article on the groundswell of post pet practices. They quoted Doyle Shubart, who has a funeral home in Atlanta. He charges $375 for burying body or cremains directly in the ground. "Directly" is billed as a "green burial." No word whether Shubart has a compost worm business on the side.
He also offers deluxe burials with fancy caskets and granite markers for a mere $3000. “It's not extravagant,” he says, "pet owners want to know where their pet is and what happens to their pet." Other than it being dead of course.
As a member of the IAOPCC, the International Association of Pet Cemeteries and Creamatories, he also supplies grief counseling services and resources.
In case you're sad that $3000 could have provided two meals each for 300 starving children at the food bank.
Other options exist. For the eco-conscious there's Eternal Reefs in Decatur, Georgia, which offers sea burials and combines pet cremains with concrete to form artificial reefs. They also offer biodegradable urns that dissolve in water in four hours.
"Eco-conscious" means your puppy can feed a guppy.
The circle of life.
To those who want to break the circle, there's a really cool alternative. Starting at $1000, you can have your pet freeze-dried, like hunters do with big game trophies. Pet mortician Shubart says the pet "looks like he did when he left home."
1000 bucks? Not bad. Good for the Great Dane, sure…
And at that price, maybe Granny too.
America, ya gotta love it.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

1855 Nuggets of Truth

Recent research into the secrets of longevity revealed a leading killer of men is not just over-drinking or over-smoking, it's lack of ovar-ies.
Well, not exactly. Ovaries aren't required, longevity actually leads from lack of testicles. Missing those two companions can supposedly add twenty years to your life. At least according to Korean researchers who analyzed the genealogical records of males who were castrated as boys to serve in the palace of the Chosun Dynasty between the late 14th and early 20th century.
Didn't the Chosun Dynasty invent an early version of chicken nuggets?
The researchers found the eunuchs lived an average of 16 to 20 years longer than their fully complemented peers. Three of the 81 eunuchs lived to be 100.
The findings support the theory that male sex hormones shorten lifespan. In contrast to estrogen, which appears to enhance longevity, testosterone seems to weaken the immune system and increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Women are ten times as likely as men to live to age 110.
But is that really living? Being 105 is fine, but I'd be happy with 85 if I could have some fun for those years. And before we rush off severing gonads from boys willy-nilly, let's consider science has occasionally made a couple of mistakes from erroneous data interpretations.
Being a palace eunuch says two things: One, you are a eunuch. Two, you live in a pampered palace. Your non-pampered and fully equipped peers to whom you are being compared, have poverty hunger, war, and general mayhem to fend off to increase their average lifespan.
Not to mention occasional angry weapon-wielding jealous boyfriends.
Just saying. Don't sharpen your knife to extend your life just yet. I'd like to see more proof.
Scientists? The ball's in your court.
America, ya gotta love it.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

1854 Phonoholic

I read recently how smartphones are taking a bigger chunk out of our household budgets. I can believe it. The technological explosion, while wonderful in providing us with instantaneous information, has come at a cost. Between smartypants phones and internet cable and NetFlix-enabled thousand channel HDTVs, people are surrounded by costly electronic subscription services. You used to buy a subscription to a couple of magazines for 50 bucks a year. Now it's $250 a month to get all the bells and whistles of pointless diversion.
Last year people spent $116 more on telephone services alone than they did in 2007, even though total annual expenditures increased by only $67. Interestingly, over the same period, restaurant spending declined by $48, spending on apparel by $141, and entertainment spending by $126.
That means trade-offs. Those fidgety phone folks we see everyplace have sacrificed something else to feed their fidgetyness. They say people get addicted to smartphones. This seems like further proof. Sounds like the heroin addict or the alcoholic, ready to sacrifice the normal things in his life to feed his habit.
Cut back on going to restaurants, people are always frowning at you while you're there anyhow, swiping and gesturing and beeping and pinging with your phone.
And who needs new clothes? As long as you have a pocket to hold your phone you're dressed enough. And any pictures of you that you send on your phone are head shots.
And entertainment spending? Who wants to go to a movie place where they block your signal? Heck, in six months you can watch that same movie on your phone and keep up on your tweets at the same time.
Hmmm. Sacrificing, rationalizing---key qualities of addictive behavior.
It may be time for a smartphone twelve-step app...
America, ya gotta love it.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

1853 Little Thinkers

It's the little things in life that get you thinking sometimes.
First, I heard a news story the other day about an ordinary soccer match in Seattle that had 66,000 fans attend. Pretty amazing. The back of my brain registered that you never hear of a Mariners game having 66,000 people attend. And yet you hear nothing but the Mariners on the news when they're limping along through the season. Doesn't seem fair somehow. Maybe if they want more people in the stadium they should suppress media coverage.
Then there's the Nissan Armada. Was driving behind one the other day. It was large. It blocked the view from my tiny Honda. But all that wasn't annoying. What got me was my historical memory. Or memory of history.
Come to think of it, all memories are history aren't they?
Anyhow, you probably also remember the story of the one armada most of us have been taught about. The Spanish Armada. The huge fleet of ships that was going to attack England and put an end to their privateering. It was supposed to be invincible. Like the Titanic was supposed to be unsinkable.
You might want to check those Armada airbags.
Lastly, I'm beyond thinking, and getting more than a little annoyed, at dropdown menus. You know the ones. You're filling out an online form for something and they want you to input your address. Easy enough, you're typing away, and then you come to the "state" and "country" fields. And they each have, instead of a type-able into space, a dropdown menu. You have to select your state and country from long lists.
Beautiful... if you are from Alabama and Argentina.
Totally sucks if you're from Washington, USA.
Ironically, where the Microsoft version of dropdown menus was invented.
America, ya gotta love it.

Monday, October 29, 2012

1852 Infusionary

Every now and then I like a little variety. Or at least think I should try something different because I don't want to be an old fuddy-duddy who's set in his ways.
Unfortunately, I usually get reminded it's safer to stay set in my ways. Like not long ago I was going to buy some Craisins. I like to stir a few craisins into my oatmeal as a sweet fruity supplement. I like the flavor and the texture, even though I'm not particularly troubled by urinary tract infections.
When I went to buy my last bag they offered an alternative. Craisins “infused with pomegranate juice.” I shelled out the bucks to try them, proud of my non-fuddy-duddy adventurousness.
Boy was I disappointed.
I was hoping this would be a way to enjoy pomegranate, which as you know, is a singularly hard fruit to eat. I always think the word pomegranate sounds like some sort of thing cheerleaders shake that's made out of stone. The hard shell lends itself to that interpretation. And the little pebble-like granules inside aren't too easy to dig out either.
Be that as it may, the pomegranate juice with which they infused the cranberries didn't taste too good. And worse, the cranberries themselves had an even more dehydrated texture than usual. I began to suspect that the reason they infused them was because they were over-dried to begin with and the pomegranate juice was meant to restore some softness.
So tell me, how do you infuse a cranberry? To me infuse sounds like when they inject something into something. Do they have a little IV they set up for each cranberry?
Really? Infused? Wrong word. Maybe they should just say soaked.
Like I was when I forked over the money to buy them.
America, ya gotta love it.

Friday, October 26, 2012

1851 Greasy Peanuts

Sometimes words have problems meaning what they say. Like recently when I heard Toyota was having another recall. "Recall" is one of those words that sound pretty final.
Like the recall right now for Trader Joe's Peanut Butter. Seems one of the "all natural" manufacturers with which they deal slipped some “all natural” salmonella into their peanuts products.
Ouch. Who wants to get intestinal distress from a PB&J? Would they call that discomfort food? But trendy Trader Joe's isn't the only natural food purveyor getting kicked in the gut. Peanut products are being recalled from Starbucks too, along with cookies sold at Whole Foods, nut butters from Harry and David, and the chocolate peanut butter cup gelato at Talenti.
Really? Isn't gelato supposed to be fruity? Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Gelato? That makes me sick already...
Anyhow, that type of recall doesn't involve having you come in and have someone make an adjustment to the product like with cars. "Here you go right here, ma'am. The problem's a misplaced peanuts adjustment. We'll have your nut butter running smoothly in no time."
When I heard Toyota was having a recall it was about something pretty mundane. A sticky window switch. The news story said Toyota was recalling them because they may short out and cause smoke or fire. The problem was caused, they said, because of an uneven layer of grease being applied to the switch.
What? Intentionally applying grease? I'm thinking "grease" was not the word to use here. Grease is icky, smelly, dirty, well... greasy. Grease and grime are brothers, cousins of stains and smudges.
I'm just saying. This would actually be a fine place to slip in the word "lubricant."
As long as it's not an all natural lubricant made from peanuts...
America, ya gotta love it.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

1850 On a Roll

The economy continues to improve. Lately there was the unemployment report. It unexpectedly dipped below 8% for the first time since the depression sunk in. Not long after that another unexpected report. Consumer confidence is at its highest level in five years.
All of this, even though Brit Hume of Fox News characterized Joe Biden in the Vice-Presidential debate as coming across like a cranky old man. Really? Brit Hume calling someone else a cranky old man? I guess it takes one to know one. And he's crankier than ever with the upturn of the economy. Because he was surprised too.
Funny how with all the expert prognosticators out there, and speed-trading Wall Street analysts and such, we still get unexpected reports about such seemingly basic things.
What is a real leading indicator we can trust to find out these things? I may have a clue. Bloomberg News who reported on the Reuters/University of Michigan study that showed consumer confidence rising to 83.1, the highest level since September 2007, also dug deeper and interviewed a few important people. Like the head of Winnebago.
Yes, that Winnebago. The giant, luxury, $4.17 a gallon gas-guzzling hotel-on-wheels America invests in so they don't have to use strange toilets. “We are very encouraged by the positive signs we see in the general economy,” said Randy Potts, CEO of Winnebago Industries Inc. “Past experience has shown that motor-home sales closely correlate to both consumer confidence and new single-family housing starts, both of which are now showing real signs of improvement.” Improvement is right. Winnebago company earnings rose 24.5% over last year's fiscal fourth quarter.
So there you have it. As goes Winnebago so goes the economy.
Winnebago must be a Native American word that means, "Giant Rolling Kitchens come with a chicken in every pot."
America, ya gotta love it.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

1849 Electronic Bum

The other day I had a dream that I saw a glimpse of the future. I was on a surface road, driving by a freeway interchange. And there was one of those hobo guys. One of the real bums, not one of those people in desperate need that we call homeless.
He was holding up a sign. But when he turned towards me I saw that it didn't have any words on it at all. It was just a piece of cardboard, on which was stamped a large QR Code.
Dude! What a brilliant idea! Freeway Onramp Bums are the last edge of technology penetration, but it's only a matter of time. I saw one the other day talking into his phone on the sly and it was a smartypants phone that was newer and better than mine.
So why not make the panhandling process more efficient. The government has already made food stamps electronic with EBT. This could be a private sector alternative for those who hate messing with the government as a matter of stubborn rebelliousness.
No more handing out dirty money and leaning dangerously out of car windows. Just take a snapshot of his QR Code, if you are so moved by his predicament, and follow the link to the Badly Underwritten Men website to make your contribution.
There could be a drop-down menu that would help you identify which onramp or off-ramp he was on. Northbound I-5 Exit 107. There could even be thumbnail pictures, in case a set of bums was sharing a QR sign.
Then you could just access his PayPal account and electronically transfer the money. Or not even actual money, you could press icons for e-coupons redeemable at the convenience store for oranges, sandwiches, and cigarettes.
Or malt liquor forties.
America, ya gotta love it.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

1848 Beneficial Code

I write a lot about technological changes. Because it's like they drop out of the sky on a daily basis. Take QR Codes. Those little black-and-white stamps that now appear on everything.
You capture them with your smartypants phone and they instantly deliver your consciousness to a website or video that tells you all about something. A QR Code, stamped on the packaging of a salmon filet perhaps, will lead you to a firm in Denmark that's declaring a salmonella alert on it. Very quick, very updatable to the QR Code placer. Who cares if it robs objects of their beauty like a badly placed homemade tattoo.
I would like some sort of technology like that for flight insurance. Some app that would bing your beneficiary's phone and let them know that in fact they are a beneficiary. How much flight insurance do you think goes unclaimed? I took some out recently when I flew to Minnesota. Somehow doom and carnage entered my mind when I contemplated flying across the Great Plains. Must have been that Children of the Corn story.
In any event, I wondered when I took out the insurance how my beneficiary would ever know. Does the insurance company really care? Who's checking on them? Should I call my son?
"Oh, by the way, if I crash and die there's a policy with Fly By Night Insurance Company with a survivor benefit in your name. Have a great day."
That's why an app for his phone would be cool. "Ping!" it would go, and a little angry birds-like animation would show smoking airplane shrapnel, a flaming father, and dollar signs dropping from the sky.
And a QR Code he can tap on for the beneficiary website.
And PayPal account.
America, ya gotta love it.

Monday, October 22, 2012

1847 World Wide Warming

Sometimes the scale of our new internet technology overwhelms me. Like the other day I heard that Facebook had crossed the one billion mark for users. But I also heard recently that something like 20% of all Facebook identities are not real. Those fakebookers mean there are only 800,000 real users.
Still it's pretty large. Which if you want to advertise to them doesn't qualify your leads very well. It would be like if you were a salesman for a doorknob company asking for a lead list and someone gave you a phonebook for one sixth of the planet.
But hey, huge is what the internet is. Did you ever wonder how much power it takes to plant the information, store it, and shuttle all that data around? A recent news story in the New York Times answered that question. And they answered it online.
The huge internet data centers that store and process all kinds of e-stuff, including old emails, Google searches, and billions of Facebook updates, consume in the neighborhood of 30 billion watts of electricity worldwide. Yep, even with today's efficient circuitry and electronics, the World Wide Web is a world wide energy sucker. The equivalent of 30 nuclear power plants.
I wonder how many power plants that is in coal? I always knew my computer box helped keep my feet warm under my desk. I had no idea it was contributing to global warming too.
But here's the deal; only about 10 percent of that energy is being used to power actual computations. The rest of the power just keeps servers running 24/7, to avoid any slowdowns in archive retrieval and RAM that might annoy users.
RAM? Archive retrieval? Hmm.
The World Wide Web and global warming:
Thanks to the memories...
America, ya gotta love it.

Friday, October 19, 2012

1846 Walroom

Interesting story in the news recently about Walmart and Kindle. Actually it was about the huge war between Walmart and Amazon, but the skirmish in the battle was about Kindle.
Walmart will no longer carry it.
Seems Walmart has decided by enabling Kindle sales they are enabling their competitor to "showroom" their store. "Showrooming," in case you haven't heard, is the practice of going to a pleasant retail outlet, physically examining a product, talking to a knowledgeable salesperson about it, then going home and buying it more cheaply online, most likely through the services of Amazon.
I'm not sure Walmart has thought the whole thing through. Because first, when people buy a Kindle in Walmart, they don't immediately unwrap it and start using it to shop for other things.
Second, while I might be able to physically "showroom" products at Walmart, it's not the most pleasant place in the world to do so. And the chance of my finding a salesperson, much less a knowledgeable salesperson, with any kind of expertise I could tap into, are remote at best, as Walmart prides itself on paying the lowest possible benefit-free compensation.
The simplest way for Walmart to prevent showrooming would be for Walmart to forbid the use of a Kindle in their stores. Something that ought to be easy, as they are a bit larger than a cellphone. Which, by the way, countless people with countless apps are already showrooming with. Is Walmart going to ban smartphone sales next?
Lastly, if you do shop for a Kindle, why not buy it from Amazon in the first place? If you are actually buying a Kindle at Walmart, you are obviously one of those people who doesn't trust the whole online/delivery scenario.
Oops. Walmart just lost you as a customer.
America, ya gotta love it.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

1845 Digital Musicians

Used to be if folks thought someone was good with an instrument they'd say he's handy, like with a flugelhorn perhaps. Or has a nice hand for the violin. Now a person is a good musician if he can handle the world of digits. As in digital technology.
That's good, I suppose. Things having to do with computers and keyboards have touched every cranny of our society. I find that weird. Especially when I read the web address of certain things out loud. Like, "Check Lumbering Products dot com slash Thurston County." Or "Medieval Weaponry dot com slash saber."
That "slash" sounds so violent. Is there a different key we can use? How about the tilde? Tucked up in the upper left of the keyboard, no one uses the tilde for anything. And it sounds downright melodious. "Check musicians with digital names dot com tilde Maroon 5.
Works for me.
Speaking of which: That's just one more indicator things have moved in the digital direction---digital groups. Like Matchbox Twenty. It sort of implies they signed up late for their AOL account doesn't it? Matchboxes one through nineteen were taken.
Not nearly as late as Blink 182 though. Talk about behind the trend. Or maybe they just couldn't see their way to controlling the keyboard correctly. They were blinking so damn much.
At least they could see the keyboard. Not as bad as Third Eye Blind. Maybe they should go to the optometrist 3 Doors Down and have it looked at. Then again, blind musicians have done fine through musical history, digital or otherwise.
You still need to be handy. So if you want to be a really good digital musician I suggest you avoid Nine Inch Nails. You could slash your keyboard wires.
America, ya gotta love it.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

1844 Data Bans

Data is distorting our world. Personally I'm ready for a data ban. Take my cellphone. It's 7 years old, which is like 49 in dog or technology years. But it does have texting capability. Sort of. I have to go through the 3-letters-per-number keypad thing so composing a text is not unlike tiptoeing barefoot through a field of thorns. But I manage.
What I don't manage is receiving texts, as now that everybody else has keyboards and data plans, they are composing and sending electronic opuses. My phone will buzz four times in rapid succession. Then I get a serialized text. The episodes aren't even cliff hangers. They'll be interrupted in the middle of a word.
I wish they'd just call.
Funny how we've gone from worrying about the minutes we used to have on our phones to the size of our data plan. Data has become the currency of life.
Data manipulation has made things so much easier. Take modern music. Today's pop songs have layers and layers of production. The main singer may have five or six different versions of her voice singing the song in different enunciations, pitches, and registers.
Back in the four-track master tape recording days that wouldn't have been possible without a lot of work. Now, thanks to digital electronics, it's easy. As easy as going to McDonalds for a Big Mac rather than cooking a 5-course nutritionally-balanced dinner at home.
Easier is not always better.
Personally, I think there are secret messages in the recordings. Maybe to make the young buy more technology. And get someone more profit. Old people can't hear higher frequencies. I slowed down one of the new songs the other day. There was a voice that said, "Paul is dead."
Or was it, "Data bans is bad Satan"?
America, ya gotta love it.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

1843 Durwardplay

I was reading an article on Carol Burnett recently. It mentioned some of the people she worked with in her long and entertaining entertainment career. One name that caught my ear was Durward Kirby.
For those of us who think today's celebrity names, like Snoop Dogg and Shaquira, are odd, it's nice to remember names from way back that were even odder. I mean really, Durward? D-u-r-w-a-r-d-. How many people are named Durward these days? I'm guessing it would be a playground liability. And kids don't even watch Bewitched anymore. That was my first thought. Wasn't that one of the pet misnamers Samantha's mom called Darrin? Or was that Derwood?
This from a character named Elvira. Played by an actress named Agnes Moorehead. Who had a surprisingly high forehead.
And Durward Kirby? Sounds like an out of control vacuum cleaner. It didn't go forward or backward. It went durward.
Those were the great days of Hollywood. When big stars could be named Zippo or Harpo. When one of the most captivating young talents to grace a Hitchcock move could be named Tippi Hedron. Tippi? Was she unbalanced in some way?
There was also Totie Fields, female comedy's answer to Zero Mostel. And let's not forget Tuesday Wells, not just named after something in a lot of fields, but first to vault a day of the week to Hollywood starlet fame.
What do we have today? Sting and The Edge. We name rock stars after things that may send you to the emergency ward. Or how about Slash? Just as bad. Worse actually. His name is even used in website URLs.
Want to learn more about him?
Go to w-w-w- bestrockguitaristsofalltime dot com slash Slash.
I hope he never crosses swords with Katie Perry.
America, ya gotta love it.

Monday, October 15, 2012

1842 Oddservations

Occasionally people ask me where I get my ideas. It's pretty simple. Life. Observations of odd things. Oddservations perhaps.
Like the other day a Dutch firm announced a recall of their food product because of salmonella contamination. Their food product? Smoked Salmon. What are the chances?
I just hope the name of the product wasn't Sam and Ella's Smoked Salmon. That would be too weird.
Sometimes I get ideas secondhand. Re-oddservations. I have a friend, let's call him Rick, who has a similar eye for the absurd as I. Occasionally he spots odd things. Like the other day he was in a store and he saw a sign for an item that said, "Waterproof Raingear." Now I suppose there is still that fine distinction in clothes between waterproof and water-resistant. But really. If it's actual raingear you'd assume, with rain being water and all, that it would be waterproof. Otherwise it's just a coat and pants that can stand a little dampness.
He saw a more interesting thing at a food store. The sign in the fish department said "Refreshed Cod." Really? Was the cod tired? Did it just need a little nap and then bingo, it woke up perky?
How perky can a dead fish be?
And how does one refresh a cod? Was it fresh, then frozen, then thawed, then refrozen, and now it's refreshed. Why don't they just call it unappetizing?
Not as bad, I suppose, as the reconstituted pollock they use in those faux shrimp things. That always sounded like something they put through the Star Trek transporter. Beamed down to the supermarket and reconstituted.
I hope the refreshed cod isn't like that. I pray it's an actual filet and not just un-constituted fish bits, reshaped into a cod loaf.
America, ya gotta love it.

Friday, October 12, 2012

1841 Con Techy

You can make all the technological improvements you like but people will still be the contrary curmudgeons they are. Humans love to take the law in their own hands. Or break it.
Take the experience of police in Prince George's County Maryland. Which, by the way, appears to have not got the memo about the revolution. Prince George's County?
America's own little monarchy.
The police in that fine area are now setting up security cameras to figure out who's been engaging in malicious mischief. Against what? Against their speeding cameras. Apparently, six speeding cameras have been burned, shot, or vandalized by angry drivers. Police say this has resulted in a loss of safety to the community. Well yeah, nothing like drive-by shootings to decrease safety.
Actually, the police meant the speeding that's resulted.
Everyone is wondering who's going to prevent the new security cameras from also being shot out. Maybe they did get the memo on the revolution after all.
Speaking of technology, I was calling my credit card company the other day about a new card, and the automatic processing voice asked for the last four numbers of my Social Security number to activate and validate it. Pretty slick, I thought, but then I realized something. I've had that same question asked for a variety of verification procedures, many of them financial.
So really, all an identity thief needs to know is those same last four numbers. Along with my name and address. If verifiers never ask for the other five numbers they may as well not exist. At least if someone’s stealing my identify on the phone.
I suppose they could build a vocal frequency lie-detector into the automated phone processor.
But I'm guessing some contrary criminal will find a way to shoot that down too.
America, ya gotta love it.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

1840 Survival Shopping

I was reading an article in my Costco magazine recently---I know, I know, normally I just look at the pictures---when I chanced on an interesting product. A whole year's worth of food.
Apparently, survivalism has reached a new plateau, and not just in the mountains of Idaho. It's now so popular you can buy products for it at Costco. Costco, as we know, is pretty savvy about what items they offer. They stick with the guaranteed sellers, shave some money off full retail, and pump it out in quantity.
I guess it's because disasters are becoming more common. The item I saw was called Shelf Reliance Deluxe Emergency Food, Water, and Fuel Storage. I think they have to work on the name. Too long and not catchy enough. How about Costco-geddon?
Or Pick-A-Pack-Apocalypse?
The disaster cache contains enough grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy, meat, protein, and drinks to feed one person for a whole year with a 2000 calorie-a-day diet. Plus fuel to cook them. Of course, it's in 66 #10 cans, meaning once you open a can you'll be on that food for a while so it doesn't spoil. Could be boring.
But hey, if you ain't an epicure, what a great idea. You don't even have to go to Costco to get it. They'll deliver it for just $999. That's right, for just $2.75 a day you won't have to leave your basement to shop for food or interact with real people.
Troll living just got easier.
By way of perspective, there was another big food item on the opposite page. 144 Holiday candy towers filled with chocolates. it was $2500. Something tells me the $999 survival stash doesn't include candy.
Maybe shopping every week wouldn't be so bad after all...
America, ya gotta love it.

1839 Flaps in Judgment

So you gotta wonder sometimes. Recently there were a couple of flaps that really shouldn't have been flaps; that is if the people involved had a shred of common sense.
One was a flap over someone flapping their lips. In this case blueblood Paris Hilton. She was caught on tape saying some pretty negative things about homosexual men. Naturally, something as scandalous as that got sold to the highest bidder.
Paris was all contrite and apologetic and tried to backtrack from her remarks. But the damage was done. To her, and to the people she looked down her up-in-the-air nose at.
But it raises the question. With all the electronic devices out there today, how can anyone have any expectation of privacy? Especially the rich and famous. The top one-percenters may make a ton of money, but they make a ton of money for their leeches as well when they become a tabloid commodity.
The other flap was over Princess Kate Middleton. Who didn't have on a flap of material to cover her breasts. For reasons unknown to the Queen, Kate felt she needed to avoid tan lines, which perhaps are some earmark (or chest-mark) of the hoi polloi. So she bared her bosom at a private estate. Surprise! She was caught by a photographer's lens.
Again, a very simple thing to avoid. Two words: tanning bed. Any negative health effects of tanning beds are still less than the outdoor sun. (Gift idea Prince Willy?)
If you don't want people to see you private parts keep them private. I don't remember the last time I nude sunbathed on my back deck. And I'm not even famous.
These people, of all people, should know better.
Sad they don't have the common sense of us commoners.
America, ya gotta love it.