Friday, June 29, 2012

1772 Flaming Obesity

We all know the cost of obesity is killing us. Or if we don't we should. What many don't know is that the food industry has a huge stake in keeping high fructose corn syrup in use in just about everything we eat. We are saturated with it.
In fact, the only really stable culprit in America's cultural rush from XXX movies to XXX clothing has been the addition of high fructose corn syrup to every processed food there is. And us Americans are big eaters of processed food.
I mean dude, we invented Velveeta.
And medical costs aren't the only problem. There's the cost beyond the pale. Or should I say beyond the plate.
The oversize coffin industry is doing land office business. Wedging Uncle Fred, who wore a 48 stout when he was walking around, into yesterday's average-sized 42 regular coffin is a chore even seasoned morticians have problems with. They do minor restorative work to improve the deceased's appearance, they don't whittle.
And then there's the story of the Austrian Crematorium.
Yes, I know that sounds like an fancy ice cream parlor.
But this Crematorium incinerates people like they all do. And it also burst into flames while burning the corpse of a 440-pound woman. Apparently the unusual mass of body fat caused the oven to get too hot, which then ignited the building.
You know, like that old phrase, " adding fat on the fire."
Hard to believe. I've seen a local crematorium's ovens and they are stone, steel, and brick. And they already burn at over 1600 degrees. Bacon fries at 400. So I wonder Austria---good idea to build a crematorium without a sprinkler system?
Probably wasn't the fat at all. The flashpoint of high fructose corn syrup is darn near incandescent.
America, ya gotta love it.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

1771 Pasty Reflection

Not long ago we were at the Olympic Flight Museum's annual airshow and a friend was describing this jet-powered car that had just performed. He said it had 10,000 horses.
I said, "Wow could you imagine having to harness together 10,000 horses?"
"Lots of tack," he replied.
And I must say, he did so with tact.
That got us on the subject of horses. A bystander mentioned her horse was 18 hands.
"Wow," I said, "Must come in handy if you need applause."
That got us on the subject of hands versus hooves. That inevitably led us to the subject of glue. From which emerged a refection I had about the paste we once used in elementary school.
Today's WiFi-enabled computer lab schoolchildren probably never encountered it, but in my day, even things like Elmer's glue-all were considered expensive. But since we still had creative projects we needed to render involving paper we required some sort of adhesive.
What they gave us to use was this paste. You would apply it with a little spatula or Popsicle stick and spread it thin. Then you would stick your cut out letters, or pictures you had cut from a magazine, to your project paper.
This action lingers in the computer phrase "cut and paste."
But for some reason the paste was always peppermint-flavored. And that's what I now find odd. At the time I was cool with it because I liked eating peppermint, however pasty. And being poor I was, you know, hungry.
But then they told us not to eat it. So if they didn't want us to eat it, why flavor it peppermint?
Why not liver-flavored paste?
Maybe that wouldn't cover the taste of horse hoof as well.
America, ya gotta love it.

1770 Smellable

Recently, when I wrote an essay on the billowing smoke coming out of Burger King, I was hard put to find a word. I had said the smoke was visible. But I also wanted to say it was smellable.
But is there such a word? A word that describes the state of something being sensed by someone's nasal sense organ? When it's visible it's being sensed by your eyes. When it's audible it's being sensed by your ears. But your nose. Who knows?
So off to the thesaurus. It offers "odorous." But that sounds value laden. When something is visible it's value neutral. If it's odorous, you kind of think it stinks. Even though there's malodorous if you don't like it even more. Or stinky.
On the other end there's fragrant. Which again, implies a value judgment. There's also redolent for really strong saturated smells. And effluvious. That I like, but somehow it sounds a little like effluent, which is often just a nice way of saying sewage.
Speaking of which, there are all kinds of cool words for stinky. Fetid, stinking, noisome, olid, reeking, nidorous, stenchy, foul, vile, putrid, fecal, fulsome, noxious, graveolent, rotten, rank, gamy, rancid, musty, funky, fusty, moldy, mildewy, and miasmic.
Apparently we've developed a fairly fine-tuned vocabulary when it comes to not so nice nose perceptions.
The thesaurus also suggested the words sniffable or whiffable.
"Ah, what a fine wine. I find the bouquet incredibly whiffable."
Oddly the thesaurus does say there is such a word as smellable, even though my spellcheck redlines it. But they offered up an even better word that made me feel extremely foolish because I totally overlooked it. Maybe because it was plain as the nose on my face.
America, ya gotta love it.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

1769 BK Smelly

I like it sometimes when I notice something I've been seeing for years but never really seeing. On a mental level that is. The seeing that includes engaging the brain and comprehending.
The thing a saw the other day was belching out of a roof pipe at Burger King. Did you ever notice when you go by a Burger King that they appear to have a smokestack on their roof? Seriously, it's chugging away like an old steam locomotive. You'd think they have someone in the back shoveling fuel from a coal car.
But man does it smell good. You can practically see it with your nose.
Why don't they have some sort of air pollution restrictions? Wood stove users have to filter their air. If wood smoke particulates are bad, why not incinerated beef fat particulates? Those microscopic meat-fat ashes have got to be even more prone to stick in the depths of your lungs and cause health trouble.
Checked the baked-caked grease in the bottom of your grill lately?
So how come Burger King gets a pass? Then it occurred to me. Maybe, even though it's white and billowing, and it looks like I'm seeing smoke, it's not really smoke. Maybe it's steam. But not just any steam, flavored steam.
Actually, scented steam. Because when you get right down to it, the smell you smell when you drive by a Burger King is too flamebroilerey. They would have to be flame-broiling huge amounts of beef to put out that kind of intense smell.
No, it looks like they're adding odor globules to a scent generator. And spritzing it out of the top of their roof to make your nose suck you in. It doesn't burn anything.
It just makes scents.
America, ya gotta love it.

Monday, June 25, 2012

1768 Pun-ishment

Odd things jump into my brain from time to time. Seems like when you're infected with pun-itis it's a chronic affliction. And life just seems to happen around you like one giant pun.
Like the other day I was walking alongside the road and what did I see but an old Nissan Stanza. And then behind him, with only one vehicle in between, a new Nissan Versa. Two cars named after what sounded to me like different sentence parts. What a coincidence. But what really got me was the vehicle in between.
It was a Segway.
So the other day, and this has nothing to do with puns, unless you call bad sentences pun-ishment, I heard someone say that two things were "compatible with each other." Is that a redundancy? If two things are compatible, don't you just assume they're compatible with each other?
Then there was the friend who told me of a problem he had over in Greece lately. Apparently he went in a restaurant there and was disappointed because they didn't have gyros.
The word homonym also means primitive pun.
Anyhow, recently I caught myself about to sneeze and I lifted my arm to do so into my elbow crook. But I was pretty sure the sneeze was caused by my hay fever allergy. So should I use the same elbow I do when I sneeze with a cold?
Balancing the slick spots on your sleeves.
It sounds easy, but it's not.
"Hay fever allergy." Sounds so boring. Not like "dance fever" or "Saturday Night Fever." I got hay fever. Not even a very fashionable allergy. Like dust mites, or nuts, or pet dander.
Reminds me of the masochist with a wheat allergy who kept eating white bread.
She was a gluten for punishment...
America, ya gotta love it.

Friday, June 22, 2012

1767 Poll-ish People

So. Saw the results of an interesting poll recently. Actually, it was one poll taken two ways. Seems pollsters reached folks by phone. But one end of the poll was conducted using landlines and one end was conducted using cellphones.
Quick note if you're younger; landlines are those phones that plug into the wall---other than to a charger.
The results were fascinating. Turns out that among those reached by landline, Mitt Romney beats President Obama by 3 percentage points. But among those polled by cellphone, Obama leads by 57% to 34%---23 points.
One might be led to conclude that since cellphones are the most common form of phone with the young, Obama has the election wrapped. Unfortunately for him, young people don't often make it to the actual polls---the ones where you vote. Voting is still problematic for young phone folks.
At least until there's an app for that.
But the poll also has other problems. Namely, isn't it illegal to solicit on cellphones? And aren't polls a form of unasked for solicitation? One that burns your valuable minutes and ends up costing you money? So doesn't the poll also measure results from people who are oblivious to burning their minutes?
And not those p-o-'d you're wasting their hard-earned cash.
I don't know about you, but if I get a poll request on any phone I turn it down. I'm way too busy. So I'm guessing polls never really measure either frugal people, or people who have more productive things to do than answer polls.
Which is worrisome. Because results of polls influence other people down the line. That means all our national trends are determined not by ordinary folks, but by folks who take polls.
America, ya gotta love it.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

1766 Fortune Ate

In pursuit of my goal to write a marginally entertaining 300-word essay about something absolutely mundane and trivial, I offer the following. An examination of fortune cookie packaging.
Not the cookie itself, certainly known for both triviality and mundanity. Bland to an extreme. Mildly sweet and completely unthreatening and controversial, to either tastebuds or diet. Unless you're allergic to gluten.
Nor the fortune within it, also as non-controversial as possible these days, offering either vague reassuring platitudes or worthless predictions. My favorite: "You will have a surprise soon."
Well not anymore...
Sometimes a fortune cookie needs a spoiler alert.
No, I'm going to talk about the cellophane package. Mine features a cookie under the brand name "foookies," with, for some reason, three o's. Perhaps fookie spelled like cookie with two o's means something risqué in Chinese.
Dude, let's go grab a piece of fookie.
You'll feel fortunate to know your average fortune cookie contains "enriched" wheat flour, which is cereal-box loaded with the traditional Chinese herbal fivesome of folic acid, niacin, iron, riboflavin, and thiamin.
I'm not sure what thiamine is. It always reminds me of that weird electronic instrument Brian Eno plays.
The cookie, excuse me foookie, also contains soy lecithin. You can't have anything without lecithin these days, from lubricants to paint. Emulsifier, surfactant, it gets around. I may grind up my cookies and use them to patch the wall or do the laundry.
But it is also sourced in two of the potential allergens listed on the package, soy and eggs.
As far as nutritional qualities listed, you need not worry. Everything from minerals to vitamins to cholesterol were identified as zero. And just 20 calories from pure wheat-bound sugar.
22, if you count that soy stuff.
Because dare I say it? Lecithin is more.
America, ya gotta love it.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

1765 Mix Ups

It's fun sometimes when everyday life causes people to confuse things. We get so inundated by the mundane, occasionally our tired brains just miss a beat and we blurt out something absurd.
I'll always remember how I was talking to my dad back in the day and I mentioned Pink Floyd. He thought I was talking about the pig on Hee Haw. My grandmother was worse. To her grave she swore she'd once heard a group called Fernando Llamas and the Tijuana Donkeys. Dementia strikes in odd ways in my family.
So I guess when I hear of a corporate screw up I shouldn't be surprised. If a corporation is just a person as the Supreme Court says, then since they're also a bigger person they should make bigger mistakes.
Like the Bank of America. They have an ad campaign out right now stressing how local they are, interviews with local businesses they've helped and so on. But in one recent ad they say, "...Bank of America, with three branches in the Northwest and one in Oregon."
Um, did Oregon secede from the Northwest when I wasn't looking? Because you know, sometimes they're weird and all, but last time I looked they were pretty close to dear old Washington in that Northwest corner of the country some of us call Americafrom which that "Bank of" got its name.
Then there was the power company spokesman during the last ice storm who relayed how they were going to decide how to prioritize the trees they would cut away from vital power lines. He said they were going to use a triage method. it.
No worse, I suppose, than the anchorperson who closed a newscast recently by wishing his co-anchor a Happy Memorial Day.
America, ya gotta love it.

1764 Flaming Update

We are connected in so many ways these days by technology. Computers have so successfully insinuated themselves into every nook and cranny of our lives we don't even think about them anymore. No matter what country we are.
Like Iran.
Iran so far away.
It's actually closer then you think. If you’re a master cyberhacker and you use Windows. Because guess what? Iran is loaded with computers that use Windows too. And they use them in high places like, oh, nuclear enrichment plants.
Apparently Iran, our sworn enemy (I believe they were the ones doing the swearing) is not so enemy-fied to not buy computers pre-loaded with Windows operating systems. Which are, you know, supplied by Microsoft, a little company based in Redmond, Washington, in the good old USA.
That country Iran likes to view as an enemy.
So what does every proud owner of a Windows operating system have to endure periodically? Why, a "Windows update" of course. Which are, we have been assured, completely safe, and need to go through numerous authentication ID protocols to be allowed to root around in the bowels of your computer.
Unless you’re a super-hacker riding the update's data bits to Iran's electronic innards.
That's what happened. Iran's computers suddenly started experiencing a particularly virulent virus called Flame. Flame faked out the computers by essentially pretending it was part of an innocuous Window's update.
Microsoft has already sent out a patch… in another update.
If you were Iran, would you use it?
Or suspend your nuclear bomb research and get all your scientists working on developing your own operating system.
BTW Iran, while you're at it, remember which spawn of Satan sworn enemy country invented the internet from which you are getting those updates.
America, ya gotta love it.

Monday, June 18, 2012

1763 Aqua Value

So the other day I heard an ad for Aqua Velva. And I thought They still make Aqua Velva? How many cheap drugstore chains have closed in the time they've been carrying that stinkwater?
Excuse me, eau de cologne.
Aqua Velva is one of those names that invokes a past filled with Vic Tanny health clubs, Lucky Strike cigarettes and Trix cereal with only three flavors.
Aqua Velva was to 60s teenagers and young men what Axe is today. A super-scent for the nasally impaired. Strong enough to cut through the self-generated scents of cigarettes, stale Buckhorn beer, and copious amounts of sweat. A man's cologne for a man's man... Or what a man's man thought a man's man should be.
Aqua Velva was first. Long before Polo, Aramis, Giorgio for Men and Drakkar Noir.
Aqua Velva, where Mad Men marketers smoothly employed that pseudo-Roman cachet. "Aqua" for an Italian shade of blue and "Velva," signifying velour, velvet, Volvos… or possibly Velveeta cheese.
Aqua Velva pioneered the way to signature male scents. No more only Old Spice, Aqua Velva entered the Father's Day lists, along with ties, I.D. bracelets, meerschaum pipes, Borkum Riff tobacco, and, um, neck chains.
Men with necklaces---how daring.
It was the precursor to Brut. The cologne with a little neck chain of its own on the bottle. Brut cologne, occupying that fine cusp of the American cultural eras between disco and karaoke.
Broadway Joe Namath. Charlie's Angels. Tequila Sunrises. Harvey Wallbangers, they all merge like a splash of Brut joining the stench engendered by hours dancing in tight unbreathing doubleknit polyester.
Brut and Aqua Velva.
For the man sensitive to his inner lounge lizard.
And now, apparently, the nostalgic boomer taking his aqua Viagra.
America, ya gotta love it.

1762 Poodle Noodle

Let's talk national security. It's so much a foregone conclusion that it may even be a fivegone conclusion that we need math and science students to grow up and invent and maintain the technology to keep the US ahead of the rest of the world economically.
It's our savvy and innovation that's got us this far. Not to mention our desire to make money off the deal.
We can't blame the schools for not turning out smart graduates. Our schools are the envy of the world. That's why so many foreign nationals go to them and then go back and improve their own countries.
But American students don't seem to do as well. Better fed. More technology to play with at an early age. Access to the interweb. Why don't they shine?
I think I found the answer in a bumper sticker I saw the other day. It said: "My poodle is smarter than your honor student."
No, it's not because this person's poodle is actually smarter than American kids. It's because American culture despises smart people. Look around you. We think eggheads are suspect. We actually call them eggheads. Nerds. Dorks.
Anti-intellectualism is at the core of our national being. For every "my poodle" bumper sticker there are a hundred others. Here's a few I found on the web, "My pit bull is smarter than your honor student." "My daughter can outfish your honor student." "My kid kicked your honor student's ass." And the particularly disturbing, "My marine can pick off you honor student at 500 yards."
So what kid would want to be labeled as smart? A school counselor once told me it's okay to brag about your kid's throwing arm but better not to say anything about his brain.
Let's hope poodles can invent a cheaper energy source than oil.
That bumper sticker was on a hummer.
America, ya gotta love it.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

1761 Pridebook

A recent study at Harvard University came to an astonishing conclusion. Facebook and Twitter are addictive because they tap into a hardwired human instinct. That instinct? To tell people about ourselves.

Yep, sharing and/or bragging is hardwired. Using Twitter and Facebook actually causes good stuff to happen in your brain. Ooh. I'm gonna Tweet that right now. "Had a dopamine surge as I tweeted this tweet. Just can't stop. Doing it again."
Next up, Tweeting Twelve Step.
Researchers scanned subjects’ brains and found that when they talked about their lives the same reward centers were triggered as those activated when having sex, eating food, or making money.
Well there you go. Narcissism is hard-wired.
Finally, something that explains the recession-proof steady sales in mirrors and karaoke.
I'd take it one step further. It's not just narcissism. It's narcissism made easy. One could say that many of the great novels of all time were narcissistic works. Remembrance of Things Past is like a Facebook posting on steroids. And really, all acts of creation are acts of sharing oneself. Most novels have an autobiographical element.
But here's the difference. Novels are hard work. So it used to be a lot tougher to "share."
But not with Facebook and Twitter. One can share any old thing any old time. Regardless of how inane or tawdry. Samuel Morse famously exclaimed on the invention of the telegraph, "What hath god wrought." It was the miracle of communication laboriously dotted, dashed, and sprinkled over long distances.
But what social media hath wrought is a veritable deluge of drivel. The natural brake to a glut of mediocrity, namely work, has been taken away. And we are undone by the two hardwired deadly sins. Pride and sloth.
Narcissism accentuated by laziness.
There's a formula for productivity.
(I just had to share that.)
America, ya gotta love it.

1760 Coconuts and Paisleys

A couple of miscellaneous ideas today.
I was in a coffee bar recently looking at the display case that always contains those diet-destructive, tantalizing treats. The provocative pastries we all crave. The gal in front of me in line said, "I'll have one of those coconut macaroons."
It made me wonder, are there any other kinds? Doesn't being a macaroon imply coconuttery? Aren't the nuts of the coco integral to the recipe for a macaroon?
How about that word macaroon? From whence doth it arise? Sounds like it could have started with macaroni. Was the first macaroon a failed attempt at coconut pasta? Maybe it was created by some castaway. Some Robinson Crusoe type. Crafting together culinary alternatives from limited options on a desert isle.
Or in this case a dessert isle.
Mixed together some taro starch poi and coconut shreds to make some castaway pasta and, voila, macaroni for the marooned. Macaroon.
Entirely different subject. Recently I dug out an old paisley tie and wore it. What had gone around had come around and it was fashionable again. I got some interesting gender-based reactions. Men were neutral towards it. Women loved it.
Seriously. I had women coming up and saying, "Ooooh, nice tie." And, "I love your tie, I just love paisleys."
So I looked at the paisley closer to try to figure out why. All I can come up with is that they are primordially Freudian. Paisleys either look like the one-celled animal paramecium, one of the first animals to reproduce by a method other than budding.
Or they look like male reproductive cells.
Kind of a fashion equivalent to truck-coconuts.
Then again, I could have just encountered coincidental taste in miscellaneous women and my whole theory's a fallacy.
America, ya gotta love it.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

1759 Face Down

So, you say, why did Facebook's IPO fail? Because their revenue model failed first. It's based on an advertising fallacy.
There's a story about plane spotters. Seems some folks in England were really good at spotting enemy aircraft in time to signal alerts. As friendly aircraft had the same shape it was important to tell which was which quickly. They tried training new spotters using analytical techniques but consistently failed. Then they hit on the idea of having good plane spotters work with apprentice spotters and just say "right" or "wrong." Eventfully the apprentices got them all right. Some ineffable quality of plane spotting that they picked up.
That's what’s behind good advertising. And the thing Facebook types forget. The reason General Motors stopped using Facebook display ads was because they weren't working.
But, but, Facebook delivered the ultimate analytical tactic, right? Used all their data-collecting facts to deliver your ad to the most well-defined client. The one most likely to need what it is you offer.
Then that potential client ignored the ad.
Because the ad didn't have that ineffable quality. It didn't connect. It didn't inspire, it didn't hit someone just right. Because it's not who you hit, it's how you hit them.
People don't respond to ads for analytical reasons. They respond for emotional reasons. A good ad shakes them up a bit. Makes them laugh, cry, creates anxiety or passion.
A Facebook ad is like a hand-tied fly that's specifically tailored to a 17-striped medium-mouthed bass. You put the hook right in front of it and hope it takes it. And it might, if it's really hungry at that exact moment.
A good ad is like casting a curiosity-invoking shimmering wide net. It pulls in all kinds of fish. Maybe some new fish you never even planned to attract.
So would you want just one type of fish… maybe...
Or anything edible?
America, ya gotta love it.

Monday, June 11, 2012

1758 Texter's Block

Where edicts fail and tsk-tsk-ing adults fall short, maybe technology can save us. Perhaps the scourge of texting and driving can finally be kicked to the curb.
At least that's the intention of a new smartphone feature I read about. For $6.99 a month, a service called tXtBlocker, that's t-x-t-blocker, will prevent your phone from texting while you're in motion. It apparently does this by utilizing the GPS feature in your phone to detect movement, and then shutting down your texting ability when it does so.
No word yet whether it's sensitive enough to prevent texting while walking.
Studies have shown that 20% of people text and drive. That number goes up to 66% for folks between the ages of 18 and 24.
This service aims to stop that. It also automatically sends a reply text to someone who tries to text you while you're driving, telling them you're driving and can't answer.
Cool, so now if you want folks to leave you alone you can just put your phone in the blender.
This is an outside service so it's unlikely your teenager will be able to hack it and disable the function. Although knowing the tech-savvy of today's kids, it probably won't be long before someone figures it out. Creating some virtual image of your "non-moving" phone that the service reads. That's the kind of thing that goes viral faster than gossip about the cheerleader's latest date.
It's a shame we have to pay $6.99 a month to prevent our teenagers from ignoring our instructions but hey, anyone who's ever had a teenager knows parents can use whatever help they can get.
And we did give them the smartphone and the car to begin with.
Now if only fast-food cartons had a similar disabling feature to prevent eating and driving.
No more sitting in a glob of mustard after they borrow your car...
America, ya gotta love it.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

1757 Untold

The hardest thing about modern products is the descriptive language you find on them. I'm not sure it qualifies as language at all because in the end I'm not sure what they describe actually means anything. And isn't the purpose of language to convey meaning?

Let me describe an example. The other day I bought some hairspray. I was attracted by the label that said ,"3-in-1," and proclaimed one of the three as sunscreen. As summertime looms, and my hair thins, sunscreen hairspray seemed a good idea. But I was also encouraged to buy the product because it said "unscented."
I hate scents of certain products, or I should say odors, preferring to reserve my olfactory bulbs for the scents of the real world. Imagine my surprise when the hairspray had a scent. And not just any scent, a scent that was notably different from the scent of the hairspray I currently use. Which, by the way, is also unscented.
Odd that two unscented sprays would actually smell unalike. They must have a different unscent.
Or someone doesn't know what unscented means.
Here's another confounding product example. I'm a sucker for flavored chips. So one I saw recently got me. Lay's "Classic BLT" flavor.
The ingredients panel said it had "all natural" flavors. Tomato was covered by “dehydrated tomato powder.” But bacon was represented as "all natural bacon type" flavor.
What is bacon type flavor? And why is it natural? Why worry? Because carmine dye is natural too. But it comes from ground-up beetles.
Maybe bacon type flavor is similar. Perhaps rancid bacon fed to beetles and harvested from beetle feces. Or the bacon gene inserted into beetle DNA.
With today's technology, that’d be as easy as adding unscent to hairspray.
And unmeaning to words.
America, ya gotta love it.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

1756 Foggy

Something broke through the haze of my aging foggy mind recently. Insiders control everything.
Like the recent Facebook IPO in the stock market. Man did that blow up in someone's face. Between Facebook and NASDAQ and various insider investment firms the people who got screwed and taken advantage of the most were the little guys.
Since that's been Facebook's attitude since the beginning it should come as no surprise. Just one more piece of data to harvest from your life for profit.
I'm guessing at their IPO Facebook page they didn't get a lot of "likes." As the fog of confusion clears, the only remaining argument about the whole debacle is what to call it. ClusterFace or ClusterBook.
Speaking of mental fog. Is that why they call elderly people old fogies. Does the f-o-g- in fogy actually stand for fog? I saw one old fogy on TV recently and it got me thinking. It was Mick Jagger and he was singing his hits from the late sixties. About the age he himself now is. But he didn't seem foggy at all.
In fact, it made something occur to me. As he was performing, they had the rock-n-roll fog start coming up around him on stage. You know, that fog machine vapor that's been creating atmospherics for rock concerts since forever. And I thought, man, there must be some long term toxic effects to inhaling all that chemical fog.
And then it hit me. Maybe it's the reverse. Maybe the fog is what's preserving all those old fogy rockers. And us non-insider little guys can never benefit from it. Like a secret helmet over their face to protect against the ravages of time.
Still, unlike the insider Facebookers, at least the rockers gave us clue.
America, ya gotta love it.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

1755 A Doritos

Recently I chanced to drive by Taco Bell. I was interested to see signs for their latest epicurean culinary offering. Taco Bell, as their marketing efforts have branded in our brain, is known for "thinking out of the bun," which for me means lots of fun, and fun-sounding, items to talk about. From Chalupas to Volcano Burritos to unfortunate suggestive gut reaction catch-phrases like "Run for the Border" thinking out of the bun has lead to me writing a load of essays featuring Taco Bell.
Their new item got me in a different way. It's their Locos Taco. In case you're living under a rock, Locos Taco features a taco shell made from Doritos. So one could have a taco-flavored Dorito taco.
But actually one couldn't. Because according to Taco Bell, you would have a taco-flavored Doritos Taco. The Dorito would have an S on it. The signs in their windows prove it. They say, "My Doritos is a Taco." "My Taco is a Doritos."
That's right, Doritos with an S is supposedly singular. I've been getting it wrong my whole life. Apparently a Doritos is like a deer or a fish. Or Doritos are like deer or fish. The singular is the plural.
So why no singular Dorito? Taco and Burrito are both singular or plural. And it's not just corn chips. One does not eat a "Ruffles." I don't like it. Is the same to be said for Fritos? I've always been able to enjoy one Frito or, as their ads once said, "Munch a bunch of Fritos, corn chips." The parent company of all three, Ruffles, Fritos and Doritos is called Frito-Lay, both singular, so I'm still confused.
Am I now expected to eat a potato chip, or a potatoes chip?
America, ya gotta love it.

Monday, June 04, 2012

1754 Shiny Words

I sometimes get obsessed with the sounds of words. I never cease to be amazed by how magic they are. The fact that two people can communicate at all is wondrous and the words we use to do it seem to me like shiny objects do to a crow.
Like recently I was driving down the street and saw signs for three chiropractors in about as many blocks. Wow, I thought, this neighborhood must be conducive to back injuries. Then I noticed something else. The names of the three chiropractors were Calcara Chiropractic, Capital Chiropractic, and Cascade Chiropractic. Apparently alliteration and adjustment go hand in hand.
And good advertising sense. All the names were that much better because they employed the alliteration technique, having the sounds of the first letters match.
Effective and Efficient. Cool and Clever.
Later, I read this article about the new medical law. It talked about how negative some people's impression was of it. The article went on to say it was popularly known as Obamacare. Which actually was a term invented by Republicans to put it down. So wouldn't that mean it was unpopularly known as Obamacare?
Lastly, in connection with a chapter in my new book, I was researching the word bismuth. I'd always thought it was pronounced biz-MOOTH. But no, it's BIZ-muth. I also learned it's a toxic-free alternative to lead. And an anti-diarrheal. It's actually the "bis" in Pepto-Bismol.
It also was once thought to be non-radioactive but was recently determined to be mildly so. It has a half-life of more than a billion times the age of the universe.
"Why even care?" I might ask the scientist who discovered that.
If he was a smartass, and he liked the sounds of words too, he might reply, "None of your bismuth."
America, ya gotta love it.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

1753 Job Unfair

Recently I worked at a job fair at a local college. I like doing things like that because it gives me the opportunity to get out and about and just hear the way folks interact. You pick up a sense of our social norms.
Like at one point the culinary class at the college brought out fresh bread. I could not believe it. Everyone in the room suddenly perked up at the smell. Soon there was a big gang of people down by the culinary classes' booth, clamoring for a free chunk of bread.
I confess, I felt the pull too. Something about the smell of hot yeast delves into the deepest part of your brain and triggers an amazing desire.. We were all helpless before it.
Especially if we're unemployed and hungry.
If I were a political candidate, I'd bring a bread baking truck with me to every rally. I mean it, the smell smelled so wholesome and wonderful, like grandma's house.
Before grandma started to lose control.
English skills were having a marginal day. I heard one applicant at a booth say, "Right now I currently work at..." Maybe he's applying for a new job because his old one feels redundant.
I was next to the Employment Security Department booth. Seems they're hiring even in this "hiring freeze" time. The jobs they're really finding hard to fill? I.T. jobs. More specifically, they're looking for I.T. people with social skills. Mom's basement loving troglodytes need not apply.
I talked to such a fellow, who looked over at the booth with resentment. Seems he was recently unemployed. As were lots of folk who were there at what some called "the job-unfair." But his job loss was particularly ironic.
He used to work at Employment Security.
America, ya gotta love it.