Thursday, October 31, 2013

2103 Bever Age

With talk from all kinds of circles that the way to shrink the obesity epidemic is to tax carbonated sweet drinks it's interesting to see other ways beverages affect our times. The Bever-Age as it were.

Like this brand of coffee I saw recently. It was called "Whirling Dervish." For some reason I was lead to conclude it had more than your average dose of caffeine. “We got your Charleston Waltz decaf coffee and your double caffeine Whirling Dervish.”

Then there was news that Starbucks is increasing its juice division. They recently opened a $70 million factory in Southern California to churn out 140,000 gallons of Evolution Fresh juice a week. Could this be a trend to healthier drinking? Brought on by the folks who invented the macchiato caramel mocha latte--a hot chocolate malt in a cup?

Good on them. Starbucks said it's seen a "huge revenue spike" from the brand and has recently opened standalone juice stores in Seattle and San Francisco. I wonder if they have a non-fat triple-caff extra foam guavaccino?

Then there's the other drink-related story I read. A drink that counters the effects of too much of another type of drink. Turns out Sprite cures the effects of a hangover better than any other soft drink. Yep. Scientists proved it. In double-blind taste tests, Sprite beat out all carbonated comers. The Uncola Wars circa 2013. Sprite beats 7-Up in curing a hangover. No word whether it only works when use it to chase a raw egg, a warm beer, and a Bloody Mary. 

Does create a tax conundrum though. I already paid my tax for the booze, should I also pay taxes on the carbonated drink that cures the hangover?

Can I just call it medicinal? 

America, ya gotta love it.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

2102 Arms Support

I'm always interested in the fashions sported by our sports folks. You know they're for the most part created by the sports apparel industry, but it's hard not to think -- since the athletes are wearing them during the most grueling and extreme physical efforts -- it would be a good idea to wear them while walking around the neighborhood with your labradoodle.

Still, wearing giant basketball skorts with a delicately dangling poopy bag in your hand looks pretty funny. 

By the way, it's great to find YouTube clips of the old basketball days of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and see the shorty-short shorts they wore then. That was back when a jock was a strap, not a whole player. Or a whole tight fitting spandex mid-thigh undershort.

They newest sports accessory to arrive on the scene is the spandex arm sleeve.  It's caught on with all sorts of NFL types. Its function is to act as a compression aid, supposedly reducing muscle recovery time. 

I think the players just like it because it looks like a gauntlet. Another piece of armor for the modern gladiator age. They already had pads; armored protection for their hips, knees and shoulders. Helmets for their heads. Batting gloves and knuckle protectors. About the only pieces of naked flesh they had left was their arms. 

I'm betting the spandex gauntlets slash arm gloves are much favored by the big sports equipment companies too. Looking for one more piece of advertising real estate to show up on the HD TV screens. They're also great for covering up tattoos of the names of players' former girlfriends.

But I must confess, they remind me of the eighties. And Jane Fonda and aerobicising friends. They look an awful lot like leg warmers for your arms.  

America, ya gotta love it.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

2101 Tea Hedge

Now that this debt ceiling slash government shutdown crisis is temporarily over it's time to take a step back and ask ourselves the question you once saw in old detective novels. Cui Bono?

Cui Bono means "who benefits." It's an old notion that asserts the best way to determine who is responsible for a heinous act is to determine who benefits most from it.

So, since it's almost universally agreed that the government didn't benefit, the Tea Party didn't benefit, the R's or the D's didn't benefit, and the country as a whole, or all it's furloughed workers didn't benefit, who the heck did?

Not one to accept random facts where a conspiracy theory will do, here's mine. A clue: During the crisis, which was basically manufactured by some 80 Tea Partiers who meant well according to their principles, the stock market was more volatile that it has been in quite a while, stocks up and down with a great deal of intensity. 

Flim and flam. Most people think the stock market has winners and losers, benefiting more or less equally from bad and good sells and buys. Generally trading finishes up, so long term investors can make steady gains over many years, barring economic meltdown mortgage derivative a-stock-alypses. 

But one type of investment is designed to make money whether a stock goes up or down. Hedge funds. Basically, hedge fund managers make bets, on buyers or sellers buying and selling, then skim money off the tiny margins of up or down transactions. 

Hedge fund managers make boatloads of money during volatile stock markets. When everybody's happy they don't buy or sell. When they're scared they go crazy. 

Cui Bono? The Hedge Fund Managers. 

They've infiltrated and manipulated the Tea Party.  

America, ya gotta love it.

Monday, October 28, 2013

2100 Symbol Crash

I went into a store recently and noticed something odd. It was an example of how we cling to familiar symbols. There was a picture of an old timey video camera on a sign. The sign said, "Warning. These premises are videotaped."

Videotaped? Really? In this digital age? I think the term video-recorded would have been more accurate. Or just plain recorded. If they wanted to get technically specific about it they could say digitally or electronically recorded. 

It was interesting though, because not long after that I saw a truck for a security company that had the same ancient video-cam on its logo. I suppose it's no different than RCA occasionally reviving the Terrier and big-horned Victrola gramophone in its logo. But I don't know. The RCA thing was technology that hung around longer than the heavy camcorders of the 80s and 90s.

It's like a styling salon logo having a symbolic figure with padded shoulders, neon socks, and big hair.  

I had another such encounter with symbol fixation. I was getting ice out of my ice dispenser in my refrigerator. And it came out crushed rather than whole. I noticed as I looked at the button labels on the dispenser that it said "crush" and "cube."

And it finally dawned on me. They are not cubes. Cubes have 6 equal squares as sides. Cubes used to come from ice trays. The ice polygons that come out of my machine are rounded crescent-like wedges.

“Lunes” is the closest name I can find in my mathematical research.  A tessellation of lunes makes an n-gonal hosohedron. So my icemaker should give me the choice of crushed or non-tesselated hosehedron lune. 

I may need a bigger door on my freezer to fit the label. 

America, ya gotta love it.

Friday, October 25, 2013

2099 Watch Me

I do most of my TV watching online these days. I watch very little and what I watch I can usually find on demand. That also means I see commercials differently than cable watchers do. Namely, I know exactly how many commercials are going to run, because it says so in the corner of my screen, so I can walk away and do something else while they're playing.

At least I could until they got smart.

Recently, I've come back to my computer after what I assumed was the expired time for the commercial break and low-and-behold a commercial was stuck in a static screenshot. I had to choose an option to make it continue to play. Tricky... and annoying.

Tricky because now they have a piece of analytic data that tells them I actually saw the commercial. Analytics are what drive the world of internet advertising.  So now that they've forced me to interact with the advertisement, they can tick one off for their team.

Which I kind of resent in a way. I've voluntarily paid the price of watching their pitch, more or less, so that I can watch my content. But now they're forcing me to reveal my computer? It's like the teachers forcing me to dance at the sock hop with someone I tolerate but don't really like. 

And to those who say, "It's not really interacting, you just X'd the darn thing out," I say, who's in charge of the laws of X-ing? Who's to say that when you X out any intrusive pop-up you're really dismissing it utterly from your computer? Maybe you're accepting a cookie. Or authorizing the company to ride along to the next few websites you visit and gather other data about you.

Bottom online: Who's watching them? 

America, ya gotta love it.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

2098 Mary Jacks

I made reference to tofu in my last essay. Not tofu the ancient martial art of bean wrangling. Tofu the very healthy food. In the interest of balance I'd like to talk about it's diametric opposite, Jack-in the-Box's late night munchie menu.

Jack-in-the-Box has created a new menu that seems to be devoted to devotees of the cannabis plant. The first clue, of course, is that they used the word "munchie". They claim that the term munchie, like the term 'shroom, has evolved beyond drug parlance and entered the vocabulary of Jack's late night demographic, shift workers and millennials.

Wink wink.

The menu is only available after 9 at night, the coveted "fourth meal" territory formerly claimed by Taco Bell, when roving packs of hungry millennials roll down their windows and come drifting in clouds of smoke into the drive-thru lane. Cheech and Chong in a chopped Honda. 

Uh huh. You be the judge.

        The four late night choices all also include halfsies¾combo curlie and regular fries¾2 tacos and a 20-oz soft drink. Like you'll need the extra calories after these main dishes: There's the "Stacked Grilled Cheeseburger," a sourdough grilled-cheese sandwich placed on top of a cheeseburger. Or the "Exploding Cheesy Chicken Sandwich," a chicken sandwich loaded with mozzarella cheese sticks and gooey, melted cheese sauce. Or "Loaded Nuggets," drowning in two kinds of cheese, plus ranch dressing and bacon. Finally, for those too addled to decide between dinner and breakfast at 3:00 am, there's the "Brunch Burger," a cheeseburger with not just a fried egg but also a hash-brown patty on top.

        Sounds completely straight to me. Straight to a coronary. The hidden danger of legalization. Munchie-induced obesity and heart disease.

        Dude, eat that and you're gonna get a munchin-ary.

        America, ya gotta love it.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

2097 Toe Food

I was emceeing an event the other day and had some fun with the audience's expectations. I was giving away some raffle items, one of which was a bottle of wine, and as I looked at it I saw that it was a blue bottle so I said, "And now here's some Blue Nun wine." The audience laughed, as Blue Nun wine brought up a host of baby boomer memories for them. Which was good, because I was wrong. It was just wine in a blue bottle. 

"Blue Nun," I added, "is a great and versatile wine for wine pairing, especially if the food you're pairing it with is grapes."

The next item for giveaway was a gift certificate to a tofu restaurant. I explained that they did actually make meat dishes there too, it says so on their sign. "Which is good," I said, "as I am tofu intolerant." 

That elicited a laugh, as combining tofu, the ultimate safe vegan food, with the term intolerant, used so often for food allergens, seemed a little funny. But a better image, I suppose, than if I’d said for me it was like feeding a ham sandwich to a Jewish Vegan.

I then told the crowd that they should be sure to try the Deep Dish Chicago Style Tofu. Which squoze out another laugh, but also, I hope, made them question their prejudices about the versatility of bean curd.

If you're ever at a loss with a crowd by the way, and want to be a little funny, I highly suggest using the word "curd." Not the ethnic group, the gelatinized clots of stuff formed by soybeans or milk products.

Maybe it's the curd connection that always makes my brain confuse tofu and... toe cheese. 

America, ya gotta love it.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

2096 Icken

The sky is falling with chicken again. First with a big food scare involving salmonella and Foster Farms chicken. At least so the CDC thunk.

But only kind of thunk. Because one of the victims of the federal shutdown was the Centers for Disease Control. Scientists there were furloughed, so no in-depth analysis of food borne illness was being carried out. The labs were closed.

The same labs normally used to determine the point source of a food poisoning outbreak. All anyone knew was it was probably due to salmonella contamination in a California Foster Farms facility. Foster Farms asserted salmonella was now quite common in chickens and it was the fault of whoever cooked it. Adequate cooking would have killed the bacteria. 

I believe they also said something like, "So there." Or "neener neener."

Then there was the other chicken news story. A group of scientists decided to analyze a chicken nugget to determine its components. They got some from a fast food restaurant and fired up the microscope. 

Turns out the nuggets contained only 50% chicken muscle tissue. The rest was fat, nerve, and blood vessel tissue. Oh my goodness! Nerve tissue! Blood vessels! Fat! You mean I'm not just eating the muscles of some poor dead chicken, I'm eating its nerves and blood vessels too?? 

Talk about putting the ick in chicken.

Good grief. What the heck do you think is in your average cut of beef? Muscle tissue doesn't exist alone. Even the finest steak is interlaced with thousands of tiny blood vessels and capillaries. Not to mention nerve connections to keep it twitching and flexing when it’s alive.

And fat? Had chicken soup when you were sick recently? It's full of chicken fat, the universal food. Loved by every creature from kitty-cats to… salmonella. 

America, ya gotta love it.

Monday, October 21, 2013

2095 Organ Wiz

Whenever I hear the term organic I find it hard to think of vegetables. I guess because my brain automatically shortens it to organ, and so makes the word organic mean organ-like. 

So there was an interesting organic story in the news recently. It was about an Italian long-distance runner who was caught with his pants down, so to speak. Well actually not "so to speak," he really did have his pants down, as he was trying to pass a urine test to determine whether he'd used performance-enhancing drugs. 

As a side note, when I was growing up we never had news stories involving athletes' urine. Just another example of how American decorum is trickling away.

Anyhow, the runner was caught using an inorganic organ to pass his p-test. Devis Licciardi, age 27, used a fake, um, man-appendage filled with someone else's urine. No word on how he was actually grabbed by authorities but the whole scenario dampens my enthusiasm for sports. The length people will go to to cheat.

But here's the weird thing: The organ was apparently a commercial product, available for $140, called the Whizzinator. Not sure what other uses the Whizzinator could be put to to make it a commercially viable product, what with the cost of manufacture, even with cheap Third World labor. Or what the laborers think of manufacturing penile prostheses capable of being filled with and spraying out someone else's urine. 

Could it be used for a questionable Halloween costume perhaps? A novelty home fire extinguisher? Instead of a flower in the lapel for an X-rated clown? 

All I know is that it sounds like a really bad movie, featuring a geriatric robot from the future, running amok with a roaring torrent of incontinence. 

Starring Arnold Schwartzenegger, it's... Whizzinator.

America, ya gotta love it.

Friday, October 18, 2013

2094 With Drawl

Sometimes people just bulldoze ahead without taking a moment to do a preflight check. Like rashly mixing metaphors for land clearing and airplane flying.

Or rushing into bad habit-related retail. Doesn't it seem we're suddenly getting a glut of some stores? Like the recent proliferation of E-Cigarette, Pot paraphernalia, and medical marijuana joints. Perhaps positioning themselves for recreational retail when the time comes. Proving they have the business model and the customer base to work legal cannabis into the mix.

There's one street in downtown Oly with four medicinal outlets clustered together like sticky Bud. I call it Herbal Avenue.

I haven't seen so many stores of the same ilk open up since the teriyaki craze of the mid-nineties. I think that topped out at Happy Teriyaki 150. Then again, I saw a "pho' 111" store recently so pho' is right up there with the vapor purveyors. 

Good for the munchies too. 

I noticed a sign on one new store that made me think rash reliance on spellchecker can get a little expensive too. It was an E-Cigarette place. They had a pricey hard plastic professional sign. Not one those readerboard types where you see typos galore. 

Under the name of the store it said, "No Withdrawls." They'd left out the A between the final W and L. So instead of "draw-al," it said "drawl." As in southern drawl. Somebody hurried and hadn't spellchecked, or as is often the case with Microsoft Word, spellchecking wasn't enabled because the letters were all capitals. 

Bottom line, and coincidentally it was the bottom line on the sign, one got the impression that by using an E-Cig one would not end up talking like a southern gentleman. 

Y'all's voice would alter so it wouldn't have to be with drawl.

America, ya gotta love it.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

2093 Guitar Madness

Since my own father suffers from age-related dementia, my brain perks up any time I see an article about delaying its effects. My dad may be in Lala land but I'd just as soon not buy a ticket quite yet. 

So I was interested recently when I saw an article that said you could increase mental acuity by learning a new musical instrument. Sounded like a good plan. I wondered if a guitar would count. Specifically, if it would count if I actually learned to play it right, and not just the self-taught plinking around I've been doing on it for decades. 

I'm guessing it would have to be something totally new, so since I'm a cheapskate, another sign of approaching curmudgeon-hood, I picked up a harmonica. But who to play it with.

Well, turns out there's another thing they found that puts off senility: Video Games. Yep, researchers found that if an old person does certain video games his mental abilities will not only sharpen, they'll stay sharper. First person game types work best. Where two or three mental and physical decisions have to be made simultaneously. Like driving and also seeing a sign and having to read it and react in time. 

This for 75-year-olds who already have licenses and are supposedly driving and reading signs in real life...

Anyhow, having to make split-second decisions keeps thought processes flexible. Like yoga for your brain. With the boomer retirement bulge swelling I'm looking forward to the titles they'll have available. Like Grand Theft Auto for oldsters. "Grand Theft Walmart Scooter." Or "Senior World of Warcraft 4, Mysts of the Hidden Incontinent." 

With my new harmonica, maybe I'll pick up "Guitar Hero for Woodstock Survivors" and kill two dead brain cell birds with one rolling stone. 

America, ya gotta love it.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

2092 Meh

Read an interesting factoid the other day. One of the interesting things was that I was neither underwhelmed nor overwhelmed by it. I guess you could say I was just whelmed. That feeling that is best summed up by the new word spelled m-e-h-.


Meh is actually a pretty cool word. Because it conveys an attitude and at the same time expresses that attitude and the way that attitude feels. You almost can't say meh without feeling meh. 

It reminds me of cats. Or French people. Or French cats. Kind of a who-cares-I-don't-care nothing-matters-anyway you-bore-me-so-leave sort of feeling. 

The sad thing about meh is that folks who feel it probably really do care. But are perhaps just too tired and beaten down by the overwhelming bad news in life that a seemingly bored exterior is the only defensive mechanism they have left against all the carnage.

So here was the factoid. On game day, Cowboys Stadium in Arlington Texas, currently known as AT&T Stadium, consumes more electricity, with its air conditioning, massive scoreboard and other power-sucking amenities than Liberia, a nation of 3.7 million people.

No wonder the rest of the world hates us. 

Arlington is listed as a sub-tropical city, with both heat and humidity, so even though it rarely rains they have a covered stadium with air conditioning, where they dress up guys in helmets and pads to slam into each other and voluntarily cause pain and injury. And what giant stadium would be complete without a huge scoreboard with thousands of supercharged electricity-gobbling pixels bigscreen TV-ing the live action on the field. 

I'm would assume the stadium's hot dogs cost enough to feed a Liberian family for a week too. 

So I guess I should be ashamed of myself for thinking, meh.

America, ya gotta love it.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

2091 Beaver Squeeze

We've developed great partnerships with animals over the years. From raising sheep for wool to chickens for eggs to cows for milk, animals have been wonderful friends to mankind. 

But when you think about some of the stuff we do with them you gotta wonder. Like the very expensive coffee we get from a monkey's bowels. It actually comes from the Kopi Luwak, a civet, which is only vaguely monkey-like. They look more like a tree weasel. 

The Kopi Luwak is fed coffee beans which, after being organically processed by its bowels, are harvested from its fecal matter. Log one for organic superiority. The taste is so good and the prices so high Kopi coffee has been counterfeited lately and a DNA test had to be developed to determine its authenticity.

Ah, the sweet essence of anal excrescence.

As another story confirms. Apparently a new passionate market for a baked goods flavoring is developing to rival the Kopi coffee obsession. Turns out the anal secretions of beavers smell similar to vanilla and are being used to flavor pastries, cakes, and suchlike according to Sweden's National Food Agency.

The beaver's anal glands secrete a substance called castoreum, which can be used in perfume or processed foods. The agency did say that widespread use was unlikely since "the beaver is not an animal which is bred, so supply is not that great." 

But you haven't lived till you've tasted a beaver secretion cupcake.

Still, there's the harvesting problem. I suppose it's not any more difficult than bull semen collection or Kopi Luwak super-dooper pooper pickin', but it would take a particular sort of person to take it on. 

"What's this on your resume? Beaver anal gland squeezing? You've got the job. You'll be perfect as a radio salesman..."  

America, ya gotta love it.

Monday, October 14, 2013

2090 Nanny No No

I mentioned recently about how my closest exposure to a nanny was watching the movie Mary Poppins. It didn't turn out well. For one thing, remember that famous song of hers? "A Spoonful of Sugar Helps the Medicine Go Down." 

At the time, it sounded like good advice, what with the taste of castor oil and such. But it's a recommendation not much accepted today, as too much sugar causes various diabetes and heart disease problems. A spoonful of sugar is not the sort of thing you'd want to take with your Lipitor. 

I remember another piece of advice from those days. My mom would say, "An apple a day keeps the doctor away." (Some of her relatives chose to follow that advice by employing hard cider but that's another story.)

Unfortunately, the phrase painted the doctor as some sort of bogeyman, and going to the doctor as a scary thing, liable to end you up with stitches from when you went running with scissors, or a cast from when you'll break your leg climbing that tree, or a patch for your eye when you poked it out with that stick. 

We didn't have a nanny, but they still seemed cool thanks to Mary Poppins, sugar with medicine and all. And who wouldn't want to sweep a chimney or fly with an umbrella. 

I tried flying with an umbrella. In Southern California where we lived, the Santa Ana winds could get up to near hurricane force. At least to a 75-pound kid on top of a roof with a souvenir Disney Mary Poppins umbrella.

Fortunately, our house was a one-story rambler. When she got home from work my mom wondered why I was eating an apple. 

And what the hell happened to her umbrella.

America, ya gotta love it.

Friday, October 11, 2013

2089 A Spoonful of Junkfood

A while back there was a big pushback from some folks when Michelle Obama attempted to promote healthier food alternatives in school lunch programs. Why would anyone complain about replacing deep-fried French fries with carrot sticks, and ketchup with real tomatoes? 

(You remember ketchup was formerly categorized as a vegetable in the federal school lunch nutritional guidelines.)

The folks against this fairly common sense approach made loud complaints about America turning into a "nanny state." Apparently healthy food choices are one of those nanny things.

Always a funny sort of insult to me. I’m one of those lower class folks who never had a nanny, admonishing them to eat well or otherwise. The closest I ever came to a nanny was watching Mary Poppins. As I recall, my mom had that duty and, working as she did, could use all the help she could get from educators to reinforce her nutritional choices, which my peers were working hard to undermine.

I guess the nanny-callers only care about rich kids not having to accept government food choices. Because Phil Roe, Republican Representative from Tennessee, has recently introduced a bill limiting food stamp choices to "nutritious" food. 

He proposes prohibiting the use of food stamps to buy soda, sugary cereals, frozen French fries, tater tots, or canned fruit with added sugar. In short, all the stuff on sale at Walmart and Big Lots. 
In all fairness, maybe Phil wasn't one of those nanny-callers and isn't being a hypocrite. I hope so, because I actually agree with him. We shouldn't subsidize poor nutrition, either in the food stamp area...or the cafeteria. 

But we ought to figure out a way to make nutritional food as cheap as generic Froot Loops.

That would be supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. 

America, ya gotta love it.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

2088 Duty Calls

I saw a commercial recently and noted with some dismay that we've crossed another line in our continuing retreat from good taste. Thanks to Arm & Hammer. They recently released ads centered on the subject of odor-reducing kitty litter. 

Each of the ads makes the point that in the old days mothers would fend off the odiferous effects of cat excrement by using baking soda. And how today, by using technology that coats each absorbing kitty litter granule with baking soda, Arm & Hammer makes it much more effective. Then they crossed the line. They said it has double the odor control, because it "...controls not just urine odor, but also feces odor."

Well I would hope. If you're using baking soda to control odor I'm guessing it doesn't discriminate. It's just a chemical molecule. So why the needless specificity? One is led to conclude that other litter odor fighters find it too exhausting to absorb feces odor too. Urine just wears them out.

Or possibly that's never been an issue and it's just Arm & Hammer figuring they'll get more attention if they use the word "feces" over and over. Thanks Arm & Hammer.

Our vocabulary is littered with offal words as it is. No need to introduce feces into common parlance. Yes, it's acceptable, and yes it's been used for years on the rare doctor show, but really. Do you have to make a fetish of it in your commercial? Now that's all the kids will be shouting around the house. 

"Kitties and cats, they're such a stinky species. But urine luck, cause we can't smell their feces."  

Back when we were subtle, we called feces, "dootie." The Arm & Hammer product is called Double Duty.

Good ad people never let words go to waste...

America, ya gotta love it.

2087 Salmonetti

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the kitchen. We haven't had a big food scare in a while. Which is good. Seemed like everything healthy was suddenly turning on us. E coli everywhere. Contaminated bean sprouts. Fecal matter in lettuce. Cantaloupe listeria hysteria.

It was as if all the foods we were supposed to eat to make us feel better were turning on is to make us feel worse. A veritable vegetable revolution. Like a bad 50s B-Movie. Attack of the killer cumquats.

Meanwhile, with undercooked beef and raw sushi at gourmet restaurants having their problems, it seemed like the only place you could get safe food was at the fast food joints. Like Ronald had the right idea after all. Fry the flavor out of it, or kill everything in boiling oil, and then zap it in the microwave for good measure. 

Take your raw lettuce back to the septic tank fields.

Back in the old days we used to have to worry about getting sick from food because it spoiled. Before refrigeration, they handled that by pickling, curing, or smoking things. One way to do that was with the aid of spices. 

So guess what the newest contamination point source is? Yep, salmonella in spices. A new study by the FDA found that 7% of imported spices are laced with salmonella. 

The suspicious spice mix? 15% of coriander, 12% of basil and oregano, and 4% of black pepper. Damn, there goes my spaghetti sauce recipe. Let's see, a dash of coriander, a teaspoon of oregano and basil, pepper to taste, and a soupcon of salmonella. 

Voila! Pasta Amadiarrhea! Salmonetti!

My advice? Add spices before cooking. Then throw it out and get the new Spaghetti Burger at Jack in the Box.   

America, ya gotta love it.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

2086 Hot Err

The other day a friend asked me: "What's another word for synonym?" It got me. It got the thesaurus in my Microsoft Word spellchecker too. When I right-clicked the word, the little window dropped down and said, "No Suggestions." 

Very unusual if you ask me. How many times do you say to someone, What's a synonym for...? Often enough, you'd think we'd come up with another word. If only because synonym is so Latiny. And hard to spell. 

We've done it with homonym: "Soundalike." I have a theory that things we feel more uncomfortable with we have more word choices for. "Divorce" has quite a few synonyms. As do most sins. And the words we use to describe procreation are downright endless. Or the words we use to describe acts of excretions. 

So maybe the word homonym has more alternatives just because of its first four letters. Some residual discomfort with the word homo. Just a theory. Not just fearful of homosexuality generally but even the word for it. Homohomophobic or homophonicphobic.

On a different train of thought, sometimes folks are not only uncomfortable with words, they use the wrong ones altogether. Not totally different though, since the guy I'm referring to, Vladimir Putin, is a registered homophobe. 

Anyhow, he's also an idiot, and he gave this great quote to prove it the other day. He was talking about the supposedly fair recent Moscow Mayoral election. And after saying it was "legitimate, transparent and regulated," he added "Such a thing has never happened in our country before."

My first thought was, "Like, um, when you were elected?"

I'm that way with all the hot air that comes out of his mouth. Perhaps because Putin is a homonym for pootin'. 

And, oh yeah, a synonym for air excretion.

America, ya gotta love it.

Monday, October 07, 2013

2085 E-THC

I commented in my last essay about the new E-Cigarette and how easy it would be to use it to get re-addicted to nicotine. 

Very E-asy indeed. 

But if you're smoking already, E-Cigarettes could be a great boon. They simulate the act of smoking so well, if I was a smoker I would be very drawn to it. Not least because it's so much more fun than, um, gum. And really, if you were quitting smoking, what sounds more exciting, puffing water vapor on a E-Cigarette, or staring at a patch on your arm? 

Plus, a standard E-Cig setup only costs about $100. Which sounds like a lot until you figure it's nearly 8 bucks a pack here. More so in New York, where regular cancer causing cigarettes go for $13 a pack. 

The only drawback is flavor. The menthol is pretty realistic, but I'm told the tobacco flavor tastes like used gym sock. There's other flavors for the vapor adventurous, mocha and various fruits, but replacing a tobacco taste habit with inhaled tangerine seems a little odd.

Since it's just water vapor, you can use them anywhere right? Technically yes, but E-Cig makers are recommending you keep a low profile. Don't use them on planes or prominent public places. Don't draw the scrutiny of regulators. 

Even though nicotine is not a regulated drug -- anyone can buy nicotine gum -- it's still best not to flaunt it. And heck, if you're a smoker, you wouldn't want to give up your periodic get-out-of-the-office butt break would you?

The next question, on everyone's mind in Washington State. Will their be E-Marijuana soon? Couldn't THC be vaporized too? Will we see E-Pot? E-Spliffs? E-Fatties?

Maybe. Soon as they get that used gym sock smell worked out.

America, ya gotta love it.

Friday, October 04, 2013

2084 E-Butt

My son visited me recently and he tried to addict me to smoking again. Okay, it wasn't intentional but I was surprised how darn near successful it was. He did it with an E-Cigarette.

I've seen E-Cigarettes from afar. Some of them are pretty large looking. Like the owner decided rather than opt for the elegance of a Virginia Slim, he'd rather enjoy the meatiness of a Jamaican fatty.

The E-Cigarette my son showed me looked not unlike a Kool 100. In fact, it was a menthol version of the contraption in question. Taste is a thing they're still buttoning down with the E-Butts but it's pretty amazing all the other successes they've achieved. 

An E-Cigarette uses a small battery-powered cell to vaporize a fluid that contains nicotine. It also contains propylene glycol so the process generates a small amount of vapor that's essentially water. Which has enough heft so it feels like you're sucking in and blowing out smoke. 

It really does. When my son handed me the device, which looked and felt exactly like a cigarette, my hand took to it quite naturally. I took a pseudo puff. The tip actually glowed. A nice realistic touch. 

Then, as I exhaled the vapor, I actually blew a smoke ring. A skill I hadn't exercised in the 30 years since I quit smoking. It felt good. I took another puff and all the sensations of smoking started to come back. I was like an alcoholic with a tiny shot of gin. When I took the third puff, the nicotine kicked in. Uh oh, that familiar buzz...

I thrust the E-Butt back in my son's hand and ran out of the room. 

It's billed as a smoking cessation device. If by cessation they mean re-addiction, they're dead on.

I came that close to becoming an E-Butthead... 

America, ya gotta love it.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

2083 Missing Finger

So I was reading the other day about the NFL suing M.I.A. because she flipped the bird at last year's superbowl. And about her saying she was going to fight because you know, grow up, flipping the bird is as harmless these days as saying fart. 

The NFL is suing her for $1.5 million, which seems like a lot for a single misplaced digit. But maybe the NFL thinks it's just a drop in the bucket sort of fine. What's $1.5 million to it's higher paid players? Those players, by the way, who when a field microphone picks them up, utter far fouler verbiage than the silent mime of Maya's bird.

Interesting, too, that I recently saw a Jack-in-the-Box commercial that features a squirrel flipping the bird to some kid who criticizes his tail. Oh, you don't actually see the squirrel finger, or paw, it's been pixilated, but you certainly get the point. 

And that's the question. Is it worse when you toss off a little finger flash when it's so obviously and thoughtlessly part of your standard act or when you actually intentionally write it into a script for everyone to know darn well what you mean and then pixilate it to sort of obscure it?

Is it what you did or what you mean? Premeditated. Malice aforethought. Those legal terms things.

Tough call. And it's a toss of the coin to determine who has the bigger goal here. M.I.A. for generating worldwide publicity by letting her finger do the walking or the NFL, doing an end run to divert attention from the negative story of them intentionally hiding information about scrambling players' brains for decades. 

Which, when you get down to it, is far more obscene than an extended middle finger.  

America, ya gotta love it.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

2082 Divine Comedy

I read an article recently commenting on the high salaries made by professional sports people. And it's true, they really are. Then I heard another salary fact that really amazed me; Drew Carey is a multi-millionaire. Yes, that Drew Carey. The curmudgeon slash pixie who currently hosts The Price is Right. 

In his case the price of his performance is really right. He makes $750,000 an episode. Contrast that to Quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who makes $740,844 a year and you see what I mean. Sure Colin makes some bonuses and such like that boost his annual potential to 1.3 million, but still. 

Colin's net worth is 1 million dollars. Want to guess what Drew Carey's net worth is? $165 million. No wonder he can afford a slice of a professional sports team. For some reason it isn't a slice of a football team. Unless you mean what the rest of the world calls football. Drew's a part owner of the Seattle Sounders Soccer team.

Where, if I'm not mistaken, they don't pay their players as much. Oh they still get a lot, but the top five NFL players get on average about $20 million, the top five world wide soccer players average about $15 million.

If what I read on the internet is true, at 240 episodes a year Drew pulls in, um, $180 million.  And he doesn't even run the 40-yard dash in 4.53 seconds like Kaepernick. 

There are a lot of unemployed comedians, and a lot of unemployed former high school football stars. But when it comes to the best of the best, or at least the highest paid of the highest paid, it seems like comedy is the way to go. 

And you don't even have to wear a helmet. 
America, ya gotta love it.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

2081 Tooth Repay

Got an interesting solicitation in my email the other day. It was from my dentist. Let me say first of all that I like my dentist. He's very good at what he does. Better yet, he’s a pleasant person with an easygoing chairside manner. Which I believe are really important qualities in someone who is sticking his hands in your mouth.

He also has small fingers.

But his manner may be too easygoing. Because the solicitation I got from him was for a plan that indicates he may have been sold a bill of goods. It's a rewards plan. Like most rewards plans it's a method where you can earn points for purchases of products or services and then redeem those points for prizes.

Which makes a lot of sense if I'm purchasing something with a bankcard or something. Or deciding which grocery store to shop at. But a dentist?

I'm not going to hop around from dentist to dentist based on their reward points program. Have my 23 mesial filling done here and my root canal done there. And those are the sort of things the points are rewarded for. 

Much of dentistry is not really optional. So will I be more encouraged to get my regular teeth-scraping hygiene appointment if I get reward points? 

"Man I get twice as many points for fillings. I'm gonna eat some more candy."
"Screw flossing! I get a bunch of points for gum disease treatment."
"I'm gonna not brush, chaw down just jawbreakers, taffy, and tortilla chips, and win that iPad!" 

Truth is, I picked my dentist for the same quality that probably made him buy this rewards program package from some silver-tongued salesman.

He's a nice guy.

Everything else is incidental.

America, ya gotta love it.