Tuesday, April 30, 2013

1976 Movie Meal

Every now and then I'll come across a word in normal usage and my brain will stop moving for a while. By which I mean its normal internal movie will slip off the reel and come to a stuttering halt until some cosmic AV guy rethreads it and the picture of life resumes.
That happened recently when someone asked me if I had seen a particular trailer for a movie. I came to the word "trailer" late in life and it's always bugged me. When I was growing up we called them "previews." You could go to the theater, pay your quarter, and after the Three Stooges and old Laurel and Hardy reels, watch 5 or 6 previews before the actual movie. I would make it through half a box of jujubes.
That was a long time. A box of jujubes, properly savored, could comprise an entire movie theater meal.
Jujubes---recommended by makework dentists everywhere.
So it doesn't make sense to call them trailers to me. Because they always show them in front of the movie. And who do you see driving down the road pushing a trailer? Trailing unequivocally means following.
It's not a word like meal. My brain suddenly slipped the cogs on that the other day. Kind of an ambiguous word. I had a meal. Fine. It's mealtime. Fine. We are having oatmeal for our morning meal. Trouble coming...
Because your meal could be mealy. And when you say your meal is mealy you could be saying it is made up of oatmeal, or you could be saying the oatmeal has gone bad.
Like an apple, it may be mealy in texture. Or it may even have meal worms.
Which, despite their advance billing, are not a good meal.
America, ya gotta love it.

Monday, April 29, 2013

1975 Chip Storm

I gotta admit, I like junkfood. More specifically, I like fancy flavored chips. Corn chips, potato chips, Pringles faux chips, you name it. If it's in the shape of a chip and is loaded with interesting artificial and natural flavors, my addiction is very hard to fend off.
So, when I'm feeling virtuous, I avoid the chip aisle altogether. When I'm not, I cruise it with eyes focused and nose twitching, on the prowl for the latest exotic flavor combo.
So I think I understand the cartload of food I saw recently at Costco. Or at least the compulsion behind it. But its scale was beyond my comprehension.
There were two people in front of me in the checkout line at Costco. I wasn't looking at them at first. I was looking at nothing actually, but gradually some part of my brain started to register what was being rung up on the register.
Lots of prepared food. Multiple large boxes of multiple pizzas. Boxes of frozen croissant sandwiches. A large package of hot dogs with equivalent quantity of buns. Looked like about 18 to 24. Numerous giant bags of chips. 4 cases of soft drinks. And 4 boxes of Hot Pockets.
Lastly, and I suppose as a concession to healthy living, there were three big bags of cheese-flavored popcorn. Perhaps this was meant to be the vegetable selection, as there were absolutely no other vegetables or fruits in the cart. I finally looked to my right at who was buying this junkfood extravaganza. It was a mother and teenage son, both of them looking like the "before" picture in the Jared Subway commercials.
As I looked at them, then felt my mouth watering for the chips in their cart, one word popped into my brain.
America, ya gotta love it.

Friday, April 26, 2013

1974 Money Plus

There was a day when you could mail cash to someone you owed money to. The US Mail was sacrosanct, and anyone that messed with it was prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
If they were caught.
Which they often weren't since how did anyone know you actually sent the money. So folks turned to telegraph or money orders. That's when money started to cost you money.
Flash forward to now. Businesses prefer you pay online. So far it's a free service. Saves them time and hassles and the funds are transferred securely. So far... That's why they asked us to pay with credit cards, remember? When we did that too much, and the credit card people started to charge too much premium for it, they charged us in turn.
Then we were suckered into depending on debit cards. At the proper automated teller machines you could use them for free. Because, you know, you were saving the bank money since they didn't have to hire as many non-automated actual flesh and blood tellers.
I was at the gas station recently and they offered a 20-cent discount on gas if I used cash or a card from their gas company. So my debit (formerly known as "same-as-cash") card cost me 20 cents a gallon.
The final indignity: I heard from a friend his medical provider has announced they no longer accept cash. Only checks, debit, or credit cards. In effect they are saying you, the customer, has to pay extra, for your debit or credit card fees, or your check charges.
Sounds like an expensive lawsuit coming.
Because I read this on my five-dollar bill: "This note is legal tender for all debts public and private."
So when the Hippocratic Oath says “do no harm,” does it mean to your pocketbook too?
America, ya gotta love it.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

1973 Model Food

For some reason the section of my brain that deals with food and the section of my brain that deals with bad puns has become scrambled. Or possibly just fried.
In any event, it occurred to me recently that there's a question I should have been asking all along: When is a breakfast dish like an inquisition?
When they make you eggs plain.
Or what do you call it when two bananas hate each other?
Okay. Enough. Perhaps what got my brain stewed was a couple of other food-related things. I was doing a crossword puzzle and the name for pie served with ice cream came up. A' la mode. And I remembered how for years I thought a' la mode was a French word for pie with ice cream. Implying that “mode” was the word for ice cream itself.
Later in life, when I encountered a women's fashion store that incorporated a' la mode in its name, I was confused. Why would anyone want to wear ice cream?
For the record, a' la mode means "according to the prevailing fashion." So, if it was currently in fashion to serve apple pie with bacon that could legitimately be described as a' la mode.
Speaking of store names, I saw an odd one recently---Tan Republic. At first I thought it was a knock-off of the old Banana Republic. Bananas do turn tan for a nanosecond on their way through the instant when they go from ripe yellow to rotten black.
But no, it's actually a tanning place. And, it's a republic too, I guess. Perhaps to distinguish it from its competition, Tan Democracy and Tan Totalitarian Dictatorship.
Very popular those tanning places named after political systems.
And looking like fried ice cream is quite a' la mode.
America, ya gotta love it.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

1972 Carnitine Spirit

I read this story about how it isn't meat that causes narrowing of the arteries, it's something in the meat that bacteria in your gut digest, which creates another substance which your liver transforms into sticky stuff that helps cholesterol stick to your arteries.
It actually builds up over time if you're a tried and true carnivore because you develop a vigorous gut population of these particular bacteria.
Scientists tested the idea two ways. First, they fed a volunteer vegan meat for one sitting and his levels of the substance didn't go up, while it did for hardcore carnivores. Second, they purged the carnivores of gut bacteria by feeding them antibiotics and when they then ate a big steak no sticky substance was created.
Do not try this at home. Not a side-effect proof way to neutralize meat-filled foods. Eating antibiotics and carnitas could cause a run for the border.
Speaking of which, the interesting thing that emerged from this study was that the substance in meat that triggers this bacterial feeding frenzy is a substance sometimes used as a "nutritional" additive. Notably muscle-building energy drinks. The substance is carnitine. Which, as you can tell from the name, includes meat protein. As in carnitas. As in carnivore, chili con carne, and carnival hot dogs cooked by carneys.
Those energy drinks aren't like Red Bull, which does contain something called Meat Sugar, aka inositol. It's like Red Meat Bull.
Carnitine. Sounds like a saltine cracker made out of meat.
This won't stop the muscle guys from consuming their muscle milk and power drinks though. Carnitine enjoys a huge following. And really, anything with meaty bulk tastes good.
And bonus, if you add enough carnitine to a soda, you get the fulfilling taste sensation of carbonated gravy!
America, ya gotta love it.

1971 Wild Kids

You see what's happening with kids today and you gotta wonder. I suppose they've been saying that since language emerged in the wild caveman days but it doesn't make it any less troubling.
It's when they're very young that you worry the most. Like I saw an online ad the other day for a tablet device of some sort. Or possibly an operating system or phone network thing. In any event, the ad showed a family in the woods. I recently wrote about how people get lost in the woods because they can no longer use their map apps when their device runs out of battery power. The family in the ad seemed to have no such concern. They were watching a video of "Finding Nemo" on theirs.
Two things. Probably by the end of the movie they'll be re-titleing it, "Find Our Family." And two. Why would you go into the woods on a family outing and watch a movie?
"Hey kids. Were going to a garden. Call up the flower program on your devices and enable the iSmell app for roses!"
A whole new spin on kindergarten. Which, by the way, was a new thing that disturbed parents when it was introduced. "You mean take my kids to school before they're actually required to be in school? And they'll play and learn at the same time? Make learning fun? What a crazy idea. One day they might get all wildly creative and invent things like computers and smartypants phones and stuff."
And what's with the German name--Kinder? We call our kids children. And garden is spelled with a D. Why not Kids Garden? Or Children Garden?
Makes sense. Lots of children did come from a nursery.
Though I got mine because of a wild thing.
America, ya gotta love it.

Monday, April 22, 2013

1970 iLost

Technology twists and turns and sometimes leaves us in the wilderness. Sometimes it just snarls traffic.
Thank goodness for this guy I heard about from my friend Rick. His Twitter handle is Trooper Guy Gil. By the way, I love that Twitter has adopted some of the old CB jargon. Breaker Breaker Good Buddy we got us a twitterconvoy. Anyhow. TrooperGuyGil is keyed up and tweeting crack-'em-ups and fender-benders as soon as they happen.
Unfortunately there's a big law enforcement campaign going on right now telling people not to tweet or text and drive. I hope the accidents he's tweeting aren't caused by people tweeting and retweeting his accident reports.
San Diego has a new law enforcement emphasis too. They're banning the use of map apps on smartypants phones while you're driving. It's okay to have dash-mounted GPS devices but not cellphone m'apps in use. Thank you San Diego. Focusing on a tiny map while driving is not a good idea for real-time road awareness.
Those same map apps, by the way, seem to be behind a recent rash of folks getting lost in the wilderness. A couple of episodes in the news told the same story. Unprepared people going on hikes in remote areas and getting totally lost when their cellphone batteries ran out.
"Gee, honey, where do I plug the charger? You can get water out of cactus. Do they have power too?"
It all comes from depending too much on our little gizmos. Whenever you’re going hiking in strange places, tweet yourself to use more than one method of orientation. A trail map. A compass. A topographical terrain map. They may not look as pretty. But they never run out of batteries.
And they're pretty easy to handle, good buddy.
That's a 10-4.
America, ya gotta love it.

Friday, April 19, 2013

1969 Textual

If you're familiar with my commentaries it won't surprise you to learn I'm not entirely comfortable with our Twitter culture. Terseness has its place, but it's generally tough on communication.
As a writer, I can tell you it's great to observe concise exposition. And Tweeting definitely demands conciseness. Unfortunately, great writers take years to develop the skill necessary to be both concise and full of intended meaning. Not something that happens by just picking up a smartypants phone and learning the art of virtual typekey-tapping.
So confusion ensues. Like recently when Margaret Thatcher died. Immediately a Twitter hashtag emerged for people to do whatever it is people do with Twitter hashtags. It consisted of a bunch of letters run together without punctuation, as is the hashtag norm. This one had the letters n-o-w-t-h-a-t-c-h-e-r-i-s-d-e-a-d-. If you knew already, it would read Now Thatcher Is Dead.
If you didn't, it would read Now That Cher Is Dead. So, of course, the Twittersphere was atwitter with the news that Cher had expired. When in fact it was only the world of reason.
Another Twitter-inspired travesty; the initial glut. Referring to stuff by just initials. Like that helps somehow, when in fact it's just lazy. Game of Thrones the TV show referred to as simply GoT. Or the President Of The United Sates referred to as POTUS. How respectful of the office. Yo POTUS, how's the Korean crisis shaking?
Or my new non-favorite. SCOTUS. The Supreme Court Of The United States. SCOTUS... sure sounds like a bunch of solemn wise people in stately robes doesn't it?
I'm waiting for that really inside group to get noticed by the Twitterites. The hidden and ugly decision-making part of the body politic, the Senior Congressional Representatives Of The United States.
America, ya gotta love it.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

1968 Old Truths

Read an interesting article the other day that showed quite clearly how we can get confused by statistics. Or at least by how you phrase things.
It reminded me of the time a couple of years ago when someone was going on and on about seniors being the fastest growing sector of Facebook adopters. The actual number of seniors using Facebook was still a tiny percent of total users. It was just growing faster.
It's up from 2 to 4! Why, it's growing 100%!
The article I read was titled, in big bold letters, "A Dementia Epidemic". It went on to say, "An alarming new report by the Alzheimer's Association shows that one in three seniors have dementia when they die. And deaths from the disease increased nearly 70% between 2000 and 2010."
Land o' Goshen, what will we do? The article goes on to quote neuroscientist Maria Carrillo, who says, "It's an epidemic and currently there's no way to cure it."
That's true---unless we can cure old age. Because the truth is, since people aren't dying as early from cancer and stroke and heart disease, they are living into their own senility. Dementia has risen precisely because people are living longer. Interestingly, later in the article, they say exactly that. Age-related dementia is on the rise because age is on the rise.
And age is on the rise because we have cured other things. And cleaned up our water and sewage systems too. Using this article's histrionics as a model, you might as well say clean water causes dementia.
Dementia is a sad thing. And early onslaught Alzheimer's needs more research. But despite the confusing and scary title we're not having a dementia epidemic.
We're having an age epidemic.
America, ya gotta love it.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

1967 Swell Smell

Smell is important. Recently I've been pseudo-smelling things. And for the life of me I can't see why. Or smell why. I guess I'm hallucinating the smells. Is there a word for that? Naso-illusion? Olfacto-fantasy?
I worry that I may have a brain tumor of some sort. Why should I suddenly smell damp wood wherever I go? I know I live in Washington State, but everywhere? Like every building I go into has a hidden leak in the ceiling or under the sink.
The other odor I fanto-smell is lemon grass. Like the smell in a Vietnamese restaurant. Not pleasant to feel like there's a pho' place around every corner. Especially one with a leaking roof.
Speaking of bad smelling, I'm convinced it's responsible for the malady that led to the Viagra industry. I think occasional masculine dysfunction is due to the gradual loss of your sense of smell. It makes sense. We lose our eyesight as we age. We lose our hearing. Why not a gradual diminishing of our sense of smell as well?
Your sense of smell is intimately linked with your sense of intimacy. Olfactory bulbs picking up pheromones from the opposite sex. And when older men date older women, the women are also emitting fewer pheromones. As any electronic engineer knows, bad pickup and bad sending unit leads to a bad connection. It's also responsible for old men doing dumb things with girls in their 20s. Young pheromones are powerful enough to burst through. Like the swelling high volume of a rock record able to penetrate bad hearing.
Next question, how to help? Eyesight has eyeglasses. Hearing loss has hearing aids. How do we smell better? Mini-vacuums on our nostrils?
"What's with the nose, Fred?"
"Viagra got too expensive. These are my Naso-Orecks..."
America, ya gotta love it.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

1966 Pagan Peeps

Easter is passed, and with it the Easter foods we ate. Like real eggs, chocolate eggs, and Peeps.
Interesting how we cling so tenaciously to our pagan symbols of fertility, that we even extend them way beyond their natural sources into stylized candy versions.
It certainly made sense, back in the early days, for us to make a fetish of fresh eggs and hopping bunny rabbits, trapped, trussed, and skewered on a spit.
At some point hard-boiled eggs entered the picture, we spiced them a bit, and called them deviled eggs. Perhaps because early versions, produced with primitive sanitary cooking methods, got bacteria in them and led to the feeling of demons in your tummy.
Little chicks hatching got the fertility brand of approval as well. Peeping all over the place and generally looking cute and funny. No wonder today's marshmallow version is so popular. Ah, the Peep. The original more blob than chicken, an impressionistic extruded sculpture of the real thing. Even an impressionistic rendering of the real taste of the marshmallow it's made of as well.
And what fun. From creating dioramas of Peep-les for Easter contests, to putting them in a microwave and watching them expand to the size of a soccer ball, Peeps are more than just food.
They're fertile for the scientific mind as well. One researcher kept a Peep out for a year to see if it was still edible. It was. Smaller, chewier certainly, but edible nonetheless. It had descended from marshmallow to something more like nougat.
Or, dare I say it, Peep Jerky.
The ideal camping food. For a quick carbohydrate pick-me-up, Peep Jerky for the hike. And perfect for the marshmallow roast at the campfire later on.
A swelling Peep skewered on a spit.
America, ya gotta love it.

Monday, April 15, 2013

1965 Silo Down

It's interesting how words suddenly find popularity and burst into common usage. We humans are herd animals and we often get led down odd paths.
And sometimes when we do, we get silo-ed. That's a fad word I noticed recently. Various people describing how we've partitioned ourselves off. How folks of similar sensibilities are grouping themselves into smaller herds and walling themselves off from people they don't agree with. Those people are supposedly silo-ed. The walled in, not the walled out.
Not sure exactly what it means. Are you in a grain silo? Or a missile silo? And when did a grain or missile storage tower start to mean walled fortress? Or sequestered sanctuary?
Then there's the word YouTube used as a verb. I heard someone asking someone else how they had self-learned something. "Did you YouTube it?" She asked. We don't look something up anymore. We Google it. And we don't consult a learning manual. We YouTube it.
The last word fad I'm already sick of is very popular since the laws passed last fall in Washington and Colorado states. The term is "recreational marijuana."
Do we make that distinction with alcohol? No. I don't remember anyone saying "recreational alcohol." I have heard people saying they only take a drink for medicinal purposes. That is distinction enough. Why not simply say medicinal marijuana for the prescribed kind and then just marijuana for all other usages?
And really, "recreation" is meant to describe things we do to take a break from humdrum existence in our silos and have fun, but it's also frequently used to describe things we do for exercise. Where you get out, move around, and generally flex the old musculature.
Tightly gripping a bong and doing deep breathing exercises doesn't count.
America, ya gotta love it.

Friday, April 12, 2013

1964 Loco News

The times they are a changin'. How do I know? Because I read it in the news. Then again, maybe it was because I had a new taco.
Consider these two statistics. Since 2003, print newspaper ad revenue has fallen drastically. It used to be $45 billion. It's now $19 billion. Last year, newspaper organizations lost $16 in print ads for every $1 dollar they gained in online ads.
That includes all those whiz-bang peel-back fully-animated sound-blaring bells and whistle ads you see in online newspapers that make it so distracting you can't read the dang articles.
On the one hand this is a market correction. Print newspaper ads have always been more expensive than other media, including other print media. But there's another downside. Since 1978, there are now 40,000 fewer fulltime employees working in newspaper newsrooms.
Which accelerates the downward spiral, as news isn't just bad, it gets done worse. And less worth paying for. And so on. Which I hate to see. Because the 4th estate keeps us honest. Hard investigative news is important to keep the crooked politicians in line. Yelp and opinionated blogging doesn't cut it.
Contrast that news with this. There is a job sector that's improving. Taco stuffing. Namely Taco Bell taco stuffing. Their recent Doritos Locos Tacos are such an enormous hit they sold 372 million of them last year. More than one million a day. Taco Bell had to add 15,000 employees to keep up with demand and handle the growth.
No word whether any of those employees used to work for newspapers. But there's hope. If they can combine Doritos with tacos maybe they can save the newspaper industry too.
How about this? Laser print the morning paper on a taco shell.
The Doritos local edition.
What delicious news!!
America, ya gotta love it.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

1963 Prince of Peeps

Easter has come and gone, and with it the cultural upheaval of our times. Like Peeps. Peeps are even more popular these days as countless outlets encourage people to enter contests using Peeps to make works of art. Dioramas of people in ordinary human endeavors. Peeps as stand-ins for bowlers and baseball players. And yes, even Peeps as Popes.
Which is a very unusual spin on the "War on Easter." Which I don't believe exists by the way. Perhaps a short story from my childhood will eggs-plain.
In my small farming hometown, the predominate religious orders were Fundamentalist and Protestant. One might say conservative. The church I went to didn't believe in smoking or drinking or any of those things that destroyed God's holy temple of your body. They didn't believe in dancing either, as that led to uncontrolled carnal passions.
And they didn't believe in the Easter bunny.
Except if you wanted to slaughter one and serve it for Easter dinner. Suffice it to say they didn't believe in Easter eggs either. Why? Because both eggs and bunnies were pagan symbols of spring fertility rites. Leftovers from the dark and evil pagan days before the world found Christ.
Easter eggs put the egg in pagan. Not only that, leftover Easter eggs were used to make deviled eggs at brunch.
So if someone organized an Easter egg hunt in our town they were subjected to a world of moral indignation from the religious powers that be. Who would not condone any egg hunt being called an EASTER egg hunt.
Flash forward to now, when folks are screaming it's a War on Easter when organizations have an "Egg Fun Hunt" or "Egg Scramble" without using the word Easter.
Can't us peeps just get along?
America, ya gotta love it.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

1962 Four Canada

Oh, Canada. I mentioned in a previous essay about the odd ad I had read from a Cremation Cemetery: "We pay your sales tax. 12% discount!" A pretty strange ad. Am I going to hurry someone's demise in order to save on his incineration? Acting now is problematic, unless I have a corpse lying about.
My friend Rick saw the ad differently. Namely, if it costs 12% sales tax to cremate in Canada, why not drag the body down here and only pay 8.5%?
Prop 'em up in the backseat perhaps, ala "Weekend at Bernie's." The only moral dilemma would be when you return through Canadian Customs.
"Did you purchase anything while you were in the states, Sir?"
"Just some, um, services."
"Do you have anything to declare?"
"Well, I'm hauling some ashes, eh?..."
But bonus, you'll save even more money on time and gas, using the carpool lane.
Which may mean you have to go through the person whose odd office sign I saw on the side of the Provincial Capital Building in Victoria: "Commissioner of Conflict of Interest." So does he promote it or prevent it?
The last thing I learned in Canada is be careful how you order your eggs cooked. The first day I was there I said "medium" when the waitress asked. I got some weird-shaped thing on my plate.
I learned why when I heard her asking Canadians about the eggs they ordered "poached." She queried, "Soft, medium, or hard?" In Victoria at least, poached is the norm.
Mine looked odd because it was fried after it was poached. Like the waitress realized I was American and told the cook at the last minute.
My egg ended up being conflicted. But interesting.
And still had 12% tax.
At least it wasn't burned.
Canadia, ya gotta love it.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

1961 Canadian Hat-Trick

I like going to Canada as I did recently because it shakes me out of my unconscious ruts. Like when I opened up my laptop in my hotel room. I used their complementary WiFi and fired up the interweb. After checking my email I went to the Google start page and clicked on the news tab like I always do.
That's when I was bumped out of my rut. The Google news articles were all Canadian! I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised the page was all about stuff Canadians consider newsworthy. I was after all in Canada. But you tend to think of your computer, your laptop, as having your personal things on it. It's like catching your wife kissing a strange man.
"How could you?"
"It was only news, sweetie."
"Yeah, but his news was running though your micro-processors."
"I didn't feel anything, honey, let's go back to the states and reboot and make up."
Speaking of news. The actual newspaper I got in my hotel had a couple of interesting things. One was a story about the "World Curling Championship" going on in Victoria while I was there.
“Dang,” I thought, “I left my curling iron at home.”
The thing that got me was the writer saying Canada had won the last 6 of 7 world championships. Um, does any other country even play curling? Iceland perhaps. Maybe a wacky unlikely team from Jamaica?
Lastly, the newspaper ads were a little different. Like they're trying on American techniques but don't quite get it. My favorite was an ad for a cremation place with the headline, "We pay your sales tax! Like a 12% Discount!"
Really? For cremation?
"Hurry up and die, Dad. I can get you incinerated for 12% off, eh?"
Canadia, ya gotta love it.

Monday, April 08, 2013

1960 Canadia Took 2

On my recent trip to Canadia I was surprised by a few things. Just minor stuff that reminds you you're indeed in a foreign country, even though the language is pretty much the same.
By pretty much I mean not exactly. I actually heard someone say tooks. Spelled t-u-q-u-e-. Tooks are what we call beanies or knit caps. I hadn't heard the word since the Great White North show with Bob and Doug McKenzie. And never in casual conversation.
Took a little getting used to.
Then there were the food choices. Like the breakfast jam caddy thing at restaurants. The ones down here have about 4 types of jams. Up there they also had little square tubs of honey or, get this, peanut butter. Peanut butter on raisin toast. My favorite new Canadian treat.
And HP sauce. Which tastes like Worcestershire sauce but is thick as Heinz 57. Good on eggs. But not good when accidentally smeared on peanut butter raisin toast.
Then there's the money. Canadian money has always been a little funny. Highly-colored bills and strange change. The one-dollar coin is called the loony, since it has a picture of a loon on it. They also have a two-dollar coin, with a little copper part embedded in the nickel part. I thought it was some sort of medallion they mistakenly gave me.
And they gave me a lot of change. I'll never feel bad about a thick fold of one-dollar bills again. My pockets were bulging with change in Canada. Every time I paid with a 20-dollar bill I'd get back a giant handful of coins.
I'm guessing they have a powerful pants pocket repair union lobby in Canada. I sure got taken to the tailor.
Or was that took?
America, ya gotta love it.

Friday, April 05, 2013

1959 Colours of Canadia

I was in Canada recently and it was awesome with a capital... eh? It's always nice to have a light cross-cultural experience. Canadians are wonderful people to share it with and Canadia is a nice place to go.
But it's definitely a different culture. In little ways. It's not just that they say proe-ject for prah-ject, and proe-gress for prah-gress. Or a-boat instead of about. It's that they say certain things at all.
Like I was sitting in a breakfast place and these two elderly ladies came in who had just been out for their morning walk. The waitress asked how they were. One of the ladies said, "We're just fine, but it's a little chilly out this morning."
The other said, "Yes… it's 2!!"
Which, in fact, it was, by the Celsius scale. But it sounded so odd to hear it that way. Around here we are comfortable saying, "It's 45" or "It's 27" without adding the word "degrees." But 2 seems to need that added emphasis. Just saying "it's 2" is incomplete somehow.
Another minor thing I noticed was the way they are so honest with products. Or at least their color. Maybe it's because they spell colour with a U.
At that same breakfast, when it came time for my waitress to take my order and ask about my selection of toast she listed the choices thusly: "Would you like rye, raisin, white, or brown?"
Brown presumably being what we call wheat. But more honest since what we call wheat is often caramel-colored white.
Then, when I went through the coffee condiments on the table, there was one packet that said, "coffee whitener". Not creamer, not powdered non-dairy creamer. But whitener.
For when you just want your coffee to look lighter.
America, ya gotta love it.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

1958 Hodgepodge Lodge

I notice new buildings going up. And, as I suppose I'm meant to, I notice the architecture. Architects have a couple of goals in mind. One is to build a building that meets certain values of functionality, like "LEED standards" which champion energy efficiency. The other thing architects want is for people to take notice of the esthetics of their buildings.
The art of architecture, as it were.
But, like most people, they follow trends. Creativity is nice but plagiarism is quicker, as they say. That must be why I see so much of what I'm seeing today. Back in the late eighties, when for no apparent reason everything macaroni-like was suddenly called pasta, the big architecture fad was canopies, those tent-like overhangs that were snapped on new buildings and used to update old.
The recent tendency at first seemed to be structures not unlike 60s airport terminals, but then today's building fashion frenzy became any jumbles of mixed materials on the exterior. Hodgepodge Lodge. Some brink and some stone. Some horizontal lap siding, in two or three different widths. Some board and batten perhaps.
Then there'll be something that looks like corrugated aluminum sheets. But it won't actually be colored aluminum, it will have some solid earth tone. The net artistic intent of all this materials mishmash appears to be contemporary visual variety.
Or, as I like to call it, Trailer Trash Modern.
"I got your corrugated mobile home siding here on my pop-out. Then there's the brick for my homemade smoker. Some lap boards on my shed with the blue tarp on the roof. Then I got some Krylon painted plywood here to fix that hole Jim-Bob blew out of the bedroom when he was cooking up a batch of meth.
“Purty ain't it?"
America, ya gotta love it.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

1957 E-Stalker

I'm getting really tired of computers intruding in my computer usage. Like companies who have once shared my computer bugging me with their little bugs.
I once had Java. Their was a security issue so I removed it. But if you don't use a special program to totally eradicate every last trace of it in the bowels of your computer, some little lifeline program comes back and keeps reminding you to please please please take them back. Like a jilted lover who turns into a stalker.
So without fail, every morning when I fire up the computer, my Java stalker activates a plea to take it back, in a little window asking to take over my computer. Sure ex-lover. Since you asked. Love to have you come in and housesit on your own for awhile and rifle all my private belongings.
Another cyber-stalker is McAfee. I don't know how long ago I replaced them with another security system. Certainly before their paranoid owner was caught doing not very secure things in Central America. I've caught his paranoia. Even though I don't believe officials from Belize are out to kill me, nor am I writing a graphic novel to tell my story, I still think his security program is hounding me.
It's making me feel insecure.
Lastly, creepy voyeur programs, quit following me around the web when I buy something. I totally hate when I've just bought something online elsewhere and up pops an ad on another webpage offering a coupon or discount on it.
I just damn bought it for cripes sake!
And I bought a year's supply. So 15% off my next purchase is not a timely offer. And it just made me hate your product and never want to buy it again.
As the giant said to Jack: "Stop stalking me!"
America, ya gotta love it.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

1956 US UTI

There's always lots of talk about the cost of government. I don't entirely know where I stand on it. I'm one of those people that looks wryly at both sides of the debate. There certainly are interesting facts floating around that make you wonder about both government and private enterprise. And get you a little P-O-ed.
Like the recent federal survey. It sought to determine the cost for various common medical conditions and found out they vary enormously, depending on the hospital and the insurance coverage. As an example, they found that the treatment for urinary tract infections ranges in price from $50 to more than $73,000.
Wow. UTIs are the most common undiagnosed debilitator. Low-grade infections that rob you of energy. Especially in the elderly. But a $73,000 range in treatment options? At the expensive end, do they pluck the bacteria out one by one with gold tweezers?
Or maybe they use Pentagon forceps. Remember the scandal a while back with the $400 defense contractor hammers?
A lot of folks don't consider defense spending federal spending that's contributing to the dread deficit. For some reason if you're a clerk typist in a government office you're a taxpayer bloodsucker but if you're the CEO of Lockheed it's okay to slurp from the government trough.
My very right-wing Uncle spent his whole life working for the federally subsidized aircraft industry for higher than union wages and retired with a huge pension package, also subsidized by federal dollars. He's always screaming about all the money the feds overspend.
As an example, Lockheed gets 47 billion in government dollars. The US was responsible for 82% of their sales last year. You know. Private industry.
I wonder how expensive UTIs are that come from being P-O-ed all the time?
America, ya gotta love it.

Monday, April 01, 2013

1955 TSA Slapstick

It's amazing how the things we watch on TV when we're younger affect our lives when we're older. I thought of that recently when I heard about the good news for airline passengers. Just in time for the sequester, the TSA says we can start bringing weird crap with us on planes again.
Is it just me or does sequester sound like the submarine in that TV show from the 60s? Starring David Hedisen and Richard Basehart as Admiral Nelsen, it's Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea -- in the Seaquester.
Or maybe it was a show about a cruise ship looking for port. Kind of a Love Boat slash Gilligan's Island spinoff. Starring Gavin McCloud as the knuckleheaded captain and Bob Denver as the goofy navigator. "Tune in to Sea Quester. It's high jinx at high tide, and all they find is slapstick, sidesplitting fun."
Anyhow -- the newly approved TSA items? You can now carry on small knives. Which is a relief since I've been doing that for years. I have a money clip that unfolds into a knife. I always put it in the tray but they never unfold it.
The TSA has also re-allowed us to bring on sporting goods. Cause, you know, pool cues are too precious to pack. The approved list also includes plastic bats, which had been banned before, ski poles, billiard sticks, golf clubs, and hockey sticks.
Hmm... I get the feeling they were never that much of a threat to begin with. But that one TSA adviser had overestimated their lethality. Perhaps because he spent too much time watching the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle series. And had a particularly deep impression of the violent ex-hockey player character Casey Jones.
There's a guy who understood the power of slapstick.
Cowabunga TSA!
America, ya gotta love it.