Friday, May 30, 2014

2238 Dirty Dollars

They talk about criminals caught for money laundering. Based on a recent article I read, maybe we should pay them to do it more.

The article was about how scientists had taken a sample of ordinary paper money to see what was on it. Not long ago a similar sampling had shown that it wasn't unusual to find traces of cocaine. Cocaine is everywhere. Even the city of London recently determined there are traces of cocaine in its water supply. No wonder England swings like a pendulum do.

These scientists was looking for something else: bacteria. And boy did they find it. They examined pieces of eighty one-dollar bills from a Manhattan bank and found 1.2 billion DNA segments. 

About half the DNA was human, so you foil-hatters can rest easy about aliens handling our money supply on the sly. Or maybe not, since 20% was unidentifiable. But researchers were able to finger any number of nasty microbes hitchhiking on the bills. More than 3000 types to be exact.

Bacteria linked to gastric ulcers, pneumonia, food poisoning, and staph infections, especially antibiotic-resistant staph. Lesson here: Don't accept cash for your change at a pharmacy. 

The most common microbes found were those responsible for acne. Eww. Makes one wonder what teenagers are doing with their money. I know "paper" currency is actually made of shredded cloth, but last I checked, dollar bills didn't make good Kleenex.

The really spooky thing is the cotton-linen blend of money's raw material seems to encourage bacterial growth when mixed with oily human residue. Yes, bacteria were actually actively growing on the money.

By the way. They also found bacteria associated with fecal matter. Double-Eww. I guess they'll need a new sign at McDonalds. “Please wash hands after paying for meal”…

America, ya gotta love it. 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

2237 Un-Fair

I was at a community fair recently and like most such events it offered the opportunity to appreciate humanity and its creations in all its diverse glory. Happy kids, sad kids, kids screaming in fear at creepy clowns. Kids nearly getting run down by miniature trains while parents looking at their phones ignored them.

One lady came up to my booth. Her kid reached for some candy. "Say 'thank you'" she admonished. "Thank you," the kid said. Then the parent took another piece and started to walk off. 

"Say 'thank you,'" I said.

She smiled sheepishly, well aware she'd been caught in one of those "Do as I say, not as I do" moments we've all faced as parents.

I noticed something interesting about today's fair food too: Traditional food repackaged in less messy ways. Like cotton candy in a bag. 

I'm not sure how I feel about it. One the one hand, it's not sticking to your hand as bad. And plucking it from a bag means it won't droop on the paper holder. But I think I'd miss the facial feel of the old days. The light brush of spun sugar tickling my cheeks as I tried to eat it. Then again, one rain burst and you no longer have cotton candy, just dripping goo on a stick.

Speaking of dripping, that's the other repackaged item I noticed. Snow Cones in big plastic containers --- with spoons.  Again, a breakaway from using your face to forage for food. Inventing a cheap throwaway plastic container so you can eat a snow cone with a spoon. How dainty. And un-fair like.

Of course, it wasn't actually a snow cone. It was Hawaiian Shaved Ice.

Which always makes me wonder: How hairy was the ice to begin with...?

America, ya gotta love it. 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

2236 Self Rule

In a recent essay I mentioned how we seem to be a society of rule ignorers. And it's getting worse. That old maxim, "It's easier to ask for forgiveness than permission," once a last resort to justify emergency selfish plans, is now graven into the rock of our social mores like an 11th commandant. (BTW, Hell with those regular stone 10 commandments, we take our new morals from I-tablets.)

I mentioned how people ignore the "No Cellphones" sign in my health club locker room. The same day I wrote that essay I went to the club and a guy actually had an iPhone inside the sauna. Everyone sweating and buck-naked and him on his smartypants phone. I hope he fried his antenna.

Maybe there's a simple early diagnostic test for rule breakers. Not an app on a smartphone. Something as simple as letting them color in a coloring book. Remember how they told us to stay in the lines?

I remember some kids were quite obsessive about it. Any little smidgen of errant wax ruining their day. You could definitely judge how a child was doing in his or her socialization process by their progress in staying within the lines. 

I strayed quite a bit at first, but mostly because I was a pretty spazzy youth. Given to wild gestures and jerks as my limbs sought to release pent-up energy. Once I learned to master my energies by exhausting myself at recess that abated. 

I also learned that if one was dissatisfied with the limits of the drawings one could put the white crayon to good use. Coloring the white onto the black line and changing the image to suit my own plans.

Not sure what that says about me.  

America, ya gotta love it. 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

2235 Rules Schmules

We are a nation of rule breakers. Perhaps we've always been so, since the days of the first Boston Tea Party Tax evaders and Washington's Continental Army draft dodgers, but it's really exploded lately.

Like the sign at my health club. It very clearly says on the wall into the locker room, "No cellphone use in locker room." It says this, of course, not because of people talking on their phones but because of people using those phones to take secret pictures.

Here's the thing. The sign is pretty prominent. Yet there are still tons of people with their phones out, tapping away on them in the locker room. How could they miss the sign? Then the other day I was walking behind a guy who was tapping and swiping on his phone while he walked in front of me on our way into the locker room. And because he never looked up, he never saw the sign.

Somehow, I don't think it would have made a difference. I'm pretty sure I saw him texting on his phone when I was behind him on the freeway.

Then there's the ATV guys who recently took their machines through a restricted canyon. The law doesn't apply to them because they decided it's a bad law. Screw the rest of us Americans who might like to keep the protected park protected. How about we all go to the ATV folks' front yards and dump garbage in them? That whole law against littering is bogus anyhow. 

Oh hell. Let's just join in. Graffiti the Grand Canyon. Use our phones in theaters too. Hell with the folks who paid good money to get in that want to watch the stupid movie. 

Anarchists unite! Lack of rules rule!

America, ya gotta love it. 

2234 T-Vacuity

It occurred to me the other day why it is we see people addictively looking at their phones all the time. It's because they are miniature TVs.

Back in the day, when social psychologists were first faced with the horrors of the new television medium, there were all sorts of scholarly articles about how the boob tube was sucking the life out of American family dynamics and American work productivity. 

In those articles were various references to the addictive nature of TV, how people tended to passively vegetate as the images moved for them across the screen. The term "couch potato" was born, as was the aforementioned "boob tube." The vacuum tube in the guts of this box in people's living rooms vacuumed their social connection as well.

Fast forward to the days of sports bars and tons of TVs plugged into broadband cable and satellite networks. True socializing was sucked out of the room by those flickering images too. 

Perhaps that's the key, flickering images. It certainly draws me. I can't enter a room with a TV going without my visual attention being drawn to it. Like a crow with a sparkly thing, an ADHD like me is instantly drawn to an HDTV. 

Maybe it's not even the moving figures on the monitors, it's the subliminal sparkle of electrons flickering across the screen that's the real draw. Something within us is electro-magnetically attracted on a microscopic level. Is it any wonder the gateway device to our present predicament was a cellular phone?

Because our new smartphones are the same way. Drawing us in as we walk down the street or sip lattes in a coffee shop. The boob tube is now constantly with us, sucking out our brains anywhere and everywhere. 

We've got TVs in our pocket.

America, ya gotta love it. 

Friday, May 23, 2014

2233 Mom Dot Com

I was listening to a commercial on the radio the other day. It was around Mothers Day so as you might expect it was about flowers. Flowers are the go-to gift for poor old moms.

That old chestnut was confirmed for me soon. Because not long after I heard the commercial I was standing outside Albertson's helping out with a food drive and in the three hours I was there every third person emerged from the supermarket with a prefab bouquet balanced on top of their groceries. 

This was the Friday evening before Mothers Day so I hope they had a place to keep them fresh. "Here Mom, I cared enough to remember at the last second to add a bouquet for you to my regular shopping on Friday so it's just a little wilted. You taught me to be thrifty and save gas so time to pay the piper. Luv ya."

Anyhow, insight on human sentiment aside, the commercial I was talking about provided a glance at the changes in commerce. "For Mothers Day," the commercial said, "just go to 1-800 Flowers dot com." 

That's odd, I thought, why not just call 1-800-Flowers? Because no one calls anymore, of course. But how resourceful of the company. They were obviously first out there with the 1-800 free long distance technology, dibbing the 1-800-Flowers name. Now they're just reworking that with 1-800-Flowers dot com. Changing with the times and simply tacking the new technology on their name.

I'm looking forward to further changes in their company name as new technologies continue to emerge. Just go to 1-800-Flowers dot com text 1234. Or 1-800-Flowers dot com text 1234 hashtag 1-800-Flowers dot com. 

Funny. I bet what Mom really wants most is a phone call... 

America, ya gotta love it. 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

2232 Know No Thing

Sometimes it seems the whole world is wallowing in a deep well of ignorance. Basic things we all should know, somehow left out of our education. Or if not left out in the teaching, left out in the learning. Those questions we missed on the test, never to be corrected.

I heard an example recently in an advertisement. They had a guy talking in a low comforting voice about the wonder of water. "Take oxygen," he intoned, "and hydrogen, add a little gravity, and you have a pure wonder of nature..."

Um, at the risk of being that annoying guy in a bar who's always insisting on accuracy, it's not gravity that holds hydrogen and oxygen together. Although gravity, in the sense of a collapsing star about to go supernova, may have been responsible for the element oxygen itself, a little different force is involved in creating a molecule like water. 

It's the electromagnetic force. The one that draws different atoms together because of fewer or more electrons resulting in positive or negative charges. Water wasn't forced into existence by gravity, like a shotgun-wielding Appalachian Pa forcing someone to marry his daughter. It was joined by mutual attraction, like the lovers in a bosom-heaving romance novel. 

Speaking of romantic turns of phrase, the ignorance is there too. Recently an Austrian guy named Conchita Wurst won a song prize in Europe. In an attempt to sound inspirational, he said you should, "Always reach for the moon, at least you'll reach the stars..." 

I wasn't inspired. Because that only makes sense if the stars are closer than the moon. But stars are actually hundreds to millions of light years away.

The moon is 1.3 light seconds.  

Just in case you want to win a bar bet.

America, ya gotta love it. 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

2231 Slowpokes

When I was growing up I lived in a place that eventually became a retirement community with lots of folks past the age of 70. It made it difficult out on the road as oldsters tend to drive more slowly. When I was a sixteen-year-old, it seemed even worse. I was learning to drive about the same time everyone else on the road was forgetting.

So I guess when I found myself behind a slowpoke the other day I should have been able to contain my road rage better. After all, I'm nearly that age myself now, and should have more empathy and compassion.

I'd come upon a car creeping along the freeway, progressing deliberately at a stately 45 miles-per-hour. At least he was in the right-hand lane. Although his progression wasn't actually that steady, he was mildly swerving from side to side, like his doddering brain was in drift mode.

I say "he" because through his rear window I could see he had on a baseball cap, pulled down low like all old men do. The hat looked oversized, I assumed as a normal attribute of his shrunken cranium. 

"Damn prunehead!" I cursed, the last vestiges of adolescent angst raging out of my own wrinkled lips.

As I swerved around him at the legally tolerated five miles-an-hour over the speed limit, I almost crashed as I realized my mistake. It wasn't an old person at all. It was a teenager, oversized baseball cap slightly off center, looking down at his lap, doing what I can only guess was texting. And, of course, driving slowly and erratically at the same time.

When I was young the old people were driving slow. Now that I'm old, the young people are driving slow. 

And they’re both driving me crazy...

America, ya gotta love it. 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

2230 OC-ADS

I have a friend who pointed out I pay a lot of attention to commercials. Perhaps too much. I'm sure he's right. It may be part of a larger set of attributes I have. Like constantly mentally editing articles I read, instantly noticing typos, and finding incongruities in life generally.

Then again I could just be crazy. Fitting somewhere in that continuum of sanity that tends towards the abnormal. Maybe I have some sort of disorder. Or perhaps a syndrome. Maybe a syndrome on a spectrum. Part of the Obsessive Commercial Attention Disorder Syndrome Spectrum. 

But I try to fight it. Which may be why it took another friend to point out the odd commercial McDonalds ran recently. It featured a couple. The man obviously woke up the woman in the morning. He asked her how she liked her coffee. She sleepily said with an McGriddle sandwich. "What would you do without me?" He asked. 

All well and good, except for the unspoken implications to our impressionable youth. And the larger mores of our society. Because if they were in an established socially acceptable relationship, why didn't he know how she took her coffee?

If you're in a relationship, that's kind of one of the first things you pick up on. How your mate takes the most important drink of the day --- cream, sugar, half-caf, room for breakfast sandwich, you know. Learning coffee preference is right up at the top. Especially since most relationships these days begin with a non-threatening coffee date. 

So thanks, Mickey-D, for sharing the morally sketchy aftermath of what appears to be a one-night stand. And suggesting the perfect meal for it as well. 

Way to leave no commercial niche unfilled. 

I, for one, am paying attention.

America, ya gotta love it. 

Monday, May 19, 2014

2229 Brand Nameless

I was watching a commercial online the other day. It occurred to me that online commercial watching has hidden benefits. Like you can pause and rewind them if you want to see something again.

Not all online commercials play that way but quite a few do. So now I have the chance to examine them closer. Maybe closer than the makers intended.

One I saw recently showed me how much money they really dump into those things. The commercial was about a guy visiting a gas station convenience store and not spending any money other than to buy a bottle of water. The message being that the subject of the commercial, his new car, doesn't really need to stop for gas, so no gas station knows his name.

What was interesting about the commercial was that the interior of the convenience store looked perfect. Except there were no recognizable brand names anywhere. All the products --- the cartons, the bottles, the cans --- had the right colors and shapes, but none of them had any names. 

What an enormous amount of time and expense must have gone into recreating this detail. Doing so without giving any competitor an iota of product placement. Or the chance to sue for copyright infringement. Sure there was a red can, but it wasn't Coke. Sure there was a green fluid-filled bottle. But it wasn't Gatorade. 

I wonder. That's a lot of product genericizing for one little commercial. Is there a business that caters to the industry and supplies these brand-scrubbed stand-ins? If so, props to them.

They blew it though. They should have put the car's brand name in miniature on each and every item. Because I only saw and heard it once. And I don't remember which car it was...

America, ya gotta love it. 

Friday, May 16, 2014

2228 Fire-ade

You'll be happy to hear that a consumer petition can do something. Not necessarily a boycott, but a well-crafted petition imploring a company to change something for the better. We hope.

The story has to do with fire retardant in a Coke product. The sports drink Powerade. Talk about quenching your thirst. 

In any event, a petition started by Mississippi teenager Sarah Kavanagh got the ball rolling, or opened a can of worms, or whatever. She set it up through and got 50,000 signatures. Her petition was actually aimed at Pepsi, who put fire retardant in Gatorade. After the petition, they stopped doing so. Now Coke is saying they'll knock off the same good deed with knock-off Powerade.

The fire retardant that everyone is referring to, by the way, is actually just an ingredient used in fire retardant, brominated vegetable oil. It's used to keep some ingredients in suspension in the drink, so it doesn't separate into different components and layers and require the old "shake before use" admonition. Because, you know, we'd rather poison ourselves than exert a little extra effort before we drink our SPORTS drink. 

Coke says it is adding another ingredient to save us the effort since the fire retardant chemical is no longer being used. The new ingredient? Glycerol ester of rosin. 

So it's kind of a good news/bad news deal. Good news, if for some reason you need to improve your grip when on the pitcher's mound or vaulting horse, you got your rosin bag built right into your sports drink. Just pour. Instant sticky.

But on the bad news side, us terminal worrywarts will worry ourselves sick that our Powerade or Gatorade will burst into flame. 

Maybe we can petition to change it back.  

America, ya gotta love it. 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

2227 Spita

From time to time I see ads on the airwaves that I find interesting or odd or just plain bizarre.

Like one I saw for a product called Stacy's Pita Chips. I'm sure you've seen them in the stores. They are chip-shaped things made of what appear to be dried-up pitas. I always kind of thought of them as like middle eastern croutons or Beirut biscotti.

Turns out they're not just dried. At least according to the commercial I saw. They're baked that way. The ad says, "There's an art to the perfect pita chip." Then they say that batches are "freshly prepared." Um, I'm not sure there's any other way. If you're preparing it, at that point it makes it fresh. They go on to say that after the batch is freshly prepared it is "gently rested" overnight, halved, cut, and baked again. 

So. Obvious question here. Can you vigorously rest? How is it one goes about "gently" resting things. I would hate to think the dough or whatever is harshly rested. Forced to toss and turn through the night like an insomniacal pita chip wannabe. Wracked with nervousness that it won't make the final Stacy perfect pita cut.

The other ad I saw was when I was watching a program on my computer. It was pop-up ad. And it was for Spam. The food. It's tagline was "Spam Can," which I thought was a clever play on words since Spam comes in a can. 

But then I tried to X out of the ad and it wouldn't let me.  It stayed on my screen against my will; unsolicited, unasked for, and very annoying. The Spam ad actually became spam.

Last time I make Spam dip for my pita chips.  

America, ya gotta love it. 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

2226 RAM

Some Randomly Accessed Memories today. Was driving by a construction site after hours and saw a porta-potty near the road. It had a big padlock on it. Isn't it sad we live in a society where we have to lock the porta-potties? We are an odd species.

And creatures of habit. Saw a guy driving down the road vaping. He obviously had one of those longer e-cigarette contraptions that look like a trimmed down kazoo. He was exhaling vapor as I watched. But funny thing, I also noticed he had his window cracked. Like folks do when they're smoking real cigarettes. Since e-cig vapor is essentially odor-free why was he cracking his window? Is he just a creature of habit? Or is the defogger in his car broken? 

As time goes on, we see what's known as the progression of the euphemism. Words meant to soften other slurs themselves get co-opted and become slurs. Gimp becomes cripple becomes disabled becomes differently-abled. That's language. I saw a newscaster struggling with the term "mobile home" the other day. He obviously didn't want to say trailer park. And wasn't sure if he could say mobile home park. "Foundation-free home facility" perhaps?

Recently my Comcast-connected internet speed has sucked. And it's been pretty great up to now. It was just all of a sudden too. So I rebooted my router and pinged my modem and updated Adobe for the jillionth time, but no help. Then for some reason I got a call from Comcast offering me an upgrade for more money. Hmm. Sounds like a secret plot to me. 

Finally, I heard this guy randomly chanting weird syllables in a angry voice. Anh, enh, inh, ohnh, unh. Anh, enh, inh, ohnh, unh. "What's you're problem," I asked.

"Irritable vowel syndrome," he replied. 

America, ya gotta love it. 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

2225 Feck Smarm

Do you ever encounter words you've heard for years and have them suddenly snag on a root in your brain's river of consciousness and say, "Huh?" I do.

Like recently I was listening to some news story and they characterized the guy they were describing as feckless. "Feckless?" my snagged consciousness said, "What's that?" 

What precisely is a feck and how do you have more or less of it? Is the opposite of feckless feckful? Like fearless and fearful. Or does feckless already imply a lot of feck. Like countless means beyond count?

So off to the interweb to consult the etymology and regular dictionaries. Feckless means weak or ineffectual. As in a politician was feckless in his attempt to pass significant legislation. It comes from the Scottish fec, f-e-c-, which is an alteration of effect. 

So ineffective and feckless are two ways of saying the same thing. Although I think ineffective is a stronger way of saying it. So you could say feckless is feckless language-wise, unless you're counting shortness as being more effective and concise. Then feckless would be its opposite, which would not be feckful but feck-tive.

Still, it's nice to imagine that Feckless and Hapless came from two Scottish buffoons named Feck and Hap. 

Another word I snagged on recently was "smarm." As in smarmy. It means gushing and flattering behavior. Ingratiating. Unctuous. Sort of a roving suck-up. Smarm the word is another alteration. A mispronunciation of the word smalm, which meant to smear the hair with an oily pomade. 

So "smarm" came to mean smear with flattery.

And "smarmy" the description of a person behaving that way generally. Interesting to note we describe a creepy toady in terms of  a hair product. 

Is he a man or a mousse?

America, ya gotta love it. 

Monday, May 12, 2014

2224 Spay the Piper

Saw an interesting press release recently. It said, "Concern for Animals is offering $3 spay procedures for 120 female cats on Wednesdays through May 14th for Thurston County residents that qualify. In cooperation with Animal Care Veterinary Clinic, they're offering $3 Spay procedures for up to 20 female cats each Wednesday."

My question: I notice they specify they're doing the spaying to 120 female cats. Um...Is it possible to spay a male cat? Aren't they neutered? I'm thinking most pets, when you take them in to be de-sex-organed, are surprised anyhow, especially if they have to wear that funny headgear afterwards, but imagine the surprise of a tomcat if you spayed him.

I like the term "altered." It's so much gentler than spayed or neutered. Spayed sounds like you're going after the cat with a garden tool. Maybe having her hoed or tilled or troweled. Or, if it was a big cat, she wouldn't be spayed but shoveled. 

Continuing the garden theme, when males get neutered, you could say they were pruned or sheared. Bad? Castration sounds worse. But having a cat neutered sounds even worser. It's as if you're removing all trace of gender identity. You're now an impersonal pronoun or article. Like some Addams Family animal. He, She, and cousin Itt.

I actually prefer the gender and otherwise neutral term "altered." As in, I'm having my pet altered. Sounds like a minor tuck or styling salon visit. Not a harsh surgery involving the loss of one's reproductive organs. 

Almost like taking him or her to the tailor. Reminds me of my first day at work in a men's store when a customer came up and said, "I'd like to have these pants altered." 

"What?" I asked. "You don't want them to reproduce?"

America, ya gotta love it. 

Friday, May 09, 2014

2223 Mulligone

I think folks just don't understand how to use words. Like they don't comprehend a certain context is required, or what a word even means. Not sure if it's our education system or folks just got lazy.

In the context vein, I saw this ad on a bus recently. It was for a credit union and was obviously directed at young people. I figured this out because it had a picture of a young person in the ad.

It seemed to be aimed at young people's proclivity for messing up checking accounts. Adding badly, or whatever, ending up a little short. The ad was for overdraft protection.

It was in the slogan that the ad writers went awry: "Because everyone deserves a mulligan." Either I'm out of touch or they are. That's what you get when you have ad professionals and bankers who spend all their time golfing do ads. I don't think most young people know what a mulligan is.

I didn't know myself until I sponsored a golfing hole for a tournament. "A second try after a bad shot" is a great concept for overdraft protection. But "do-over" is a better word. Maybe the ad writers should take a mulligan.

On a different note, another word I saw outright misused was in the NBC News Headline: "Family Unhurt as Twister Decimates House." The house in question was actually obliterated. 

"Decimate" does not mean destroy completely. NBC News of all people should know this. Historically, when an army was "decimated" in battle, they'd lost one-tenth of their force. Now "decimate" means significant but not complete destruction.  The writer could have just said destroyed and been more accurate.

Without decimating our language. 

Perhaps NBC News would like the opportunity to take mulligans too.

America, ya gotta love it. 

Thursday, May 08, 2014

2222 Somemore

Let's talk S'more. Actually let's get around to talking s'more. First I'd like to talk about Samoas. The Girl Scout Cookie. Crisp cookies coated in caramel, sprinkled with toasted coconut, and striped with dark chocolaty coating.

I miss them already. Darn. We've passed the Girl Scout Cookie window, and are destined to wait another year to enjoy fresh renderings of our favorite tidbits.

This year, when I was asked to buy some by a colleague shilling for his kid, I put in an order for Caramel deLites. He came back the next day with some Samoas. "Same thing," he said to my anxious query.

Turns out different bakeries make the cookies and they change the names of some types. A fact that somehow escaped me in all my Girl Scout Cookie addiction dealings. 

Caramel deLites are also called Samoas. That's fine with me, but of course it got me thinking about the origin of the name. Is it Samoa because Samoa sounds almost like s'more and it's meant to call back those scouting times around the campfire making flaming, gooey, finger-and lip-scorching marshmallow treats?

Possibly. Or is just a simple phonetic rendering of the name they stole from the original s'more.  "Samoa" sounds not unlike "some more." Give me Samoa.

Or is there actually some geographic intent involved? An opportunity for Girl Scouts to learn about the world through cookies. There's actually a USA Girl Scouts Overseas division presence in Pago Pago, the capital of American Samoa.

Samoas contain coconut shavings and the islands of Samoa grow lots of coconut palms. They also grow cocoa beans so the chocolate in the cookies is referenced too. Not sure on the caramel.

There’s another reason I like the name Samoa. Because Caramel deLite sounds like a diet cookie. Eww…

America, ya gotta love it. 

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

2221 Care Age

They say young folks are the prime demographic advertisers like to appeal to. They are earnest in their efforts to buy products for the first time; cars, washing machines, apartment furnishings. And you can't make that much money selling Depends and Spanx to jaded oldsters.

I'm not sure I understand the young person mind anymore. At my age of curmudgeonhood, most of my decisions are no longer fueled by hormones. No giant surges of testosterone informing my every judgment. My cognitive brain, not my lizard brain, is now in charge of the majority of my actions. In other words, I close the loop.

Case in point. Was at a coffee shop with a friend the other day, and I ordered said coffee, paid a young person, who then was supposed to make it freshly dripped. Somewhere in that process he got industrious and was earnestly and passionately stocking beans and changing trash can liners. Very busy. Completely forgot to finish making our coffee. 

My friend went up to ask and the guy, chagrined, got right to it. A few minutes later he delivered the coffee to our table and said, "Sorry about that, I just want you to know that I cancelled the sale and these are on me." 

"Thanks," we both said to the youth. Then, when he went away, I turned to my friend and said, "I paid cash." 

The young person hadn't given me any cash, so I guess he was rewarded for both his mistake and his subsequent generosity with an extra three dollars of mysterious tip money when he cashed out that day. Like I say, he didn't actually close the loop.

But hey, his hormone-infused brain at least made him earnest in his attempts to do right, and that’s grounds for something. 

America, ya gotta love it. 

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

2220 Twaddiction

I'm okay with a lot of new technology. As a writer I'm particularly happy with the internet and the power of Google and Wikipedia to pretty much be a fingertip instant gratification library. Perhaps that's why I've resisted having a smartphone.

That and I don't trust the darn things not to reveal to spies where I am and what I'm doing every minute. If the NSA and Russian hackers can break into my computer and turn on the camera and microphone, why couldn't they do the same thing with my smartypants phone? The President better check his before he makes his next move in Ukraine. 

The truth is, it's precisely my complete embrace of internet accessibility that keeps me away from a smartphone. I know my own OCD qualities and predilection for addiction.

I see all the folks obsessively checking their Twitter feeds, emails, and Facebook posts. I see them twitting, posting and texting. I almost never see them phoning on their phone. There but for the grace of not having a smartphone go I.

Are they addicted? Oh yeah. Tell them about their behavior and the first thing they say says it all: "I'm not addicted. I just tweet because I enjoy it." "I only post to Pinterest when I'm out with friends." "I'm just a social tweeter." "I only tweet about twenty times a day." "I just do Facebook because I choose to."

My favorite is, "I can stop anytime I want." And then their phone pings and they yank around to it faster than the speed of light. Their head nods to their phone so quickly it blurs like Speedy Gonzales' cartoon feet. 

Sorry friends. Time for a Twittervention. The time has come to admit we have a problem. 

It's time for Twitter Twelve Step. 

America, ya gotta love it. 

Monday, May 05, 2014

2219 Wastes of Time

I find myself more and more concerned about the time I have left on this earth. Perhaps it's a function of my age. I always envisioned I'd reach a point of quiet sage-like wisdom. Instead I seem to be embracing cranky curmudgeonhood.

So when I hear about things going in the toilet climate-wise, I just don't feel like wasting time trying to change people's points of view. Human beings are too selfish and lazy to put themselves out to make a little carbon sacrifice. So what the hell, I'm not going to live long enough to feel the worst of climate change's effects. Let folks stew in their own hot climate juices.

Then there's the videos we can all watch littering the web. It's cool we can access so many of the old classics on YouTube. And so many of the new viral videos. But I find myself constantly looking at the time-elapse band at the bottom of the video player. And debating how much more of the limited time I have left in this world I want to waste on that particular video.  

Time moves more quickly when you age, whether you're having fun or not. And wasting time makes it go even quicker.

Lastly, I wonder about some of the new products meant to mitigate the negative effects of old age. Depends and walkers are fine and all, as are varicose vein limiting support socks and hemorrhoid ointment, but what about those mechanical sleeping masks.? Do they really work?

The masks purport to treat apnea, open up your airways, and help you sleep better. And help your spouse sleep better because you snore less. Do you really? Or does the mask just muffle the sound?

Cranky curmudgeons hate wasting money even more than they hate wasting time.

America, ya gotta love it. 

Friday, May 02, 2014

2218 Wash Out

I like reading about new technology. Although I wonder sometimes. Necessity is the mother of invention they say. But laziness is it's evil stepmother.

Take the new machine with smartphone app that purports to help you wash your socks. A British startup company named Berg just released something called Cloudwash, an Internet-connected washing machine.

Get it, Cloud-wash. As in, you're connected to the cloud to wash your undies. "Cloud" being that ethereal name techies gave to a bunch of boring looking servers at a remote location.

Berg's device supposedly has simple interfaces to give users one-touch access to frequently used wash cycles. You know, like those complex designations "cold," "warm," and "hot." 

The machine also syncs with your smartphone so you can start a load remotely and get notification when the cycle is finished. It's last labor saving innovation? You can purchase soap and other supplies directly from Amazon with the push of a button.

First, I can do that from Amazon anyhow with a push of a button. And as for the rest, think about it. If I've gone to all the trouble of loading up my machine with dirty clothes and adding soap, why don't I just start the dang thing at that point? Why wait till I'm at the office and call it up on my smartphone to start it? And as for it telling me when my cycle is done, who cares if I'm not there to do anything about it?

Dude, give me a machine that takes out the clothes and puts them in the dryer, then takes them out of the dryer and folds them. That's the real work of laundry. Not turning the machine on from across the city.

I'm afraid this washer invention is a load of...(beep) 

America, ya gotta love it.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

2217 Cheese Wiener

Cheese has been in the news recently. I know, when isn't it a good story about cheese? Cheese aficionados are beginning to rival wine enthusiasts in the world of foodies and epicureans. (No word what malady an epicure corrected. I’m guessing something classier that whatever disease prompted a pedicure.)

The first story was about a simple recall. Turns out Oscar Mayer, purveyor or fine franks and wieners, had to take back about 96,000 pounds of them. They were contaminated with a foreign substance. Cheese.

Apparently they were made properly, this was the Oscar Mayer cheese wiener, but they weren't labeled properly. The package said they were the wieners without cheese, or more specifically, the regular wiener.

Actually, to be even more exact, since this is contaminated wieners we're talking about here, the USDA said: "Packages labeled as Kraft's Oscar Mayer Classic Wieners may instead contain Oscar Mayer Classic Cheese Dogs."   

Excuse me. When did Oscar Mayer's wieners become "classic." The full label designations, by the way, are "Classic Wieners made with turkey and chicken, pork added" and "Classic Cheese Dogs made with turkey and chicken, pork added, and pasteurized cheese product." 

Funny, I don't remember my "classic" wiener of the fifties ever being made with "turkey and chicken." No matter, the real issue is milk is a known allergen and it needs to be on the label, so the dogs are being called home. 

I would prefer unlabeled milk, however, to this second cheesy story. Seems workers at a Russian cheese factory posed naked for a social media photo---taking a joint bath in a vat of raw milk. 

Kind of puts our cheese wieners in perspective. Eewww. Whoever heard of a naked cheesebath selfie?

One bite of this cheese will have you Russian to the bathroom...

America, ya gotta love it.