Monday, June 30, 2014

2257 As the Word Turns

I'm glad folks feel free with words. It helps our language grow. But sometimes wordsmiths can be a little too free.

Take Cesar Chavez. Well, not actually Cesar Chavez, a guy who decided to legally change his name to Cesar Chavez. He's running for congress in Arizona, and figured he'd get better name recognition on the ballot if he had a more memorable name. Or is that remembered name? 

Which is a great concept. Next time I apply for a job at M.I.T. I'll change my name to Albert Einstein. Or when I want to apply for a job at Walmart I can go by Sam Walton. Or heck, run for president as Abe Lincoln. 

The guy, by the way, is a Democrat named Scott Fistler, who lost two previous elections as a Republican, so he's changing his stripes too. Maybe he lost those previous elections because, um, he's willing to essentially lie to get into office. And the public picked up on his moral character before. Still, with a name like Fistler...

Another word change I saw in the news recently was from a reporter reporting on the economy. He was talking about the economy's anemic growth and said it had "a truly craptacular annualized decline of 1%."

Craptacular. Wonder if I should add that to my spellcheck's vocabulary now or wait to see if it catches on. Not as light and airy as twitterstorm or twitterverse. Or lyrical as "buttload" or "for shizzle." The Oxford Dictionary doesn't have it, although they recently added terms like hackable and frack. And the food-oriented flexitarian (a not too committed vegetarian).

But it still has a certain flair. For describing something spectacularly crappy: Craptacular.

I would use it to describe a name like Fistler. 

America, ya gotta love it. 

Friday, June 27, 2014

2256 Car Monitor

I worry that our technological innovations are taking us too far down the non-private road and exposing us too much to prying eyes.

A good example? Google's new driverless car. Having passed numerous tests, it's ready for the road. Which some are hailing as the taxi cab of the future. The personal transport of tomorrow. 

You gotta wonder though, why would Google put so much of their money into developing a car? Because now you'll be able to text and drive. Which, from Google's standpoint, means more time spent on your Android device, and more time spent on the web. And the more time you spend on the web, the more ads they can sell. 

I'm a little concerned. If you think big tech companies invade your privacy now, what if they're actually driving you everywhere you go? And not just riding along in the phone in your pocket, seeing, hearing, and monitoring every road move you make. 


Want to get off on your own? Not if you wear the new wearable computer t-shirts. Intel, yes the chip maker Intel, showed off a new piece of wearable computer-like clothing recently. It's made from conductive fibers that can track wearer's vital statistics, like your heart rate, and deliver them to your device via Bluetooth.

God forbid you should just put your hand on your chest or fingers on your pulse. Now your t-shirt is smart enough to do it for you. And hey, if law enforcement can tap into your Bluetooth signal you won't need to take a lie-detector or sobriety test. 

Pulse rate, alcohol in your sweat, maybe they can put you in your car and program it to take you to the station too.

Then again, in a driverless car, who's driving while intoxicated?  

America, ya gotta love it. 

2255 Bagger and Baggee

Today's commentary is about bags. Not the ones in the grocery stores they're in the process of banning. The ones folks use for other things. Like bases.

Yes bases. As in, he tried to reach second base but was forced out when the short stop handled the ball perfectly and touched the bag first. The base is also the bag. A second bag is what the Mariners recently gave Derek Jeter.

As part of Jeter's well-earned farewell accolades in his final year in the majors, the Mariners bestowed upon him a bag that he once may have used in the Kingdome. This was because Jeter made his major league debut there in 1995. 

I say "may have used" because although he was actually given a base from the Kingdome, and the media all said it was second base, there's probably no way of knowing which was which. First, Second, and Third all kind of look the same. Square. 

Unless, of course, you presume that the abnormally retentive folks that populate baseball, what with its records of everything from most bunts in a non-roofed stadium to most hits to the private parts of  cupless third baseman that ended up as a two-bagger, would, in fact have stacked all the leftover Kingdome bases by year and diamond designation. 

Interesting though, that the Mariners or some other organization have a stack of bases left over after the Kingdome demolition. It did happen way back in 2000. Maybe the City of Seattle kept a warehouse full of them to sell to collectors on eBay. Help pay down the Kingdome construction bond issue that won't be retired until 2016

Thank you Derek Jeter. You helped remind the rest of us taxpayers what it feels like to be holding the bag. 

America, ya gotta love it. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

2254 Playing Field

Read an interesting article the other day about animals at play. Scientific types used to think the one thing that separated humans from animals was that we knew how to play and they didn't. B.F. Skinner, Pavlov and their behaviorist cronies said everything was just genetics and conditioning. Ring that bell, Fido, and get a treat. Anyone who's ever seen Fido on the beach chasing a Frisbee knows differently. Play is it's own reward.

Researchers in the Netherlands decided to check it out. They went out to a field and set up an exercise wheel. The kind rats in labs use. The theory was that rats in the lab used the exercise wheel to deal with the anxiety or boredom of being in a cage. Not what you'd call play. 

The scientists first set up the wheels with food bait. They attracted animals, including mice, who used the wheel. Then they took away the food. And the visits quadrupled. Left to their own devices the mice used the wheeled device and thought it was nice. They were having fun. They were playing. 

Interestingly, they used the wheels for time periods similar to their lab counterparts, also reaching similar speeds. The findings suggest that mice are good substitutes for humans in similar behavioral tests. Or possibly that LA Fitness has a whole new revenue stream to consider. Either human-sized wheels or tiny treadmills. 

Another interesting finding from the research was that it wasn't just mice that played on the exercise wheel. They also found it used by frogs and shrews and get this -- slugs. 

Truth is stranger than fiction. A slug on an exercise wheel. Does it get any stranger? Perhaps the whole concept of slugs at play? 

Look Mommy, frolicking slugs...

America, ya gotta love it. 

2253 Inactive Terms

I'm one of those guys who reads the fine print and wonders. Though I'm not bold enough to read the "terms and conditions" of every modern service I use. One person figured out it would take 180 hours, or one month of a typical person's life every year. Not sure if that was slow or fast readers. Or if comprehension was included.

If you're interested in hearing about that reading, check out a movie called "Terms and Conditions May Apply." In order to avoid YouTube copyright restrictions, the Spanish version is on the web. But it's in English. 

Some irony in there somewhere.

Anyhow, my latest foray into fine print perusal was the back of a allergy medication bottle. The inactive ingredients got my attention. What my drugs are packaged with always amazes me. Mostly because nothing is truly inactive.

One of the inactive ingredients was pregelatinized starch. Post-gelatinized starch is somehow better or worse? Gelatinized starch a hazard? Why not just call it starch?

The next inactive ingredient was lactose monohydrate. Which sounds like wet milk sugar. Or at least milk sugar with an added water molecule. Safe, I suppose, I have no lactose intolerance. It would be bad to take an allergy pill that triggered an allergy.

The final inactive ingredient was magnesium stearate. Stearate is a nice way of say fat. Crayons are substantially stearate. Which comes from stearic acid, which comes from animal tallow. Magnesium stearate is in the pills as a lubricant. Not for me but so the pills don't stick to the machines that spit them out. 

Tallow huh. So if I'm a lactose intolerant vegan, so far the allergy pills don't look so hot.  Bonus, some science also indicates magnesium stearate suppresses T-Cells. 

Inactive indeed. Terms and conditions may not apply.

America, ya gotta love it. 

Monday, June 23, 2014

2252 Lacks Propriety

You can certainly tell the bulge of the baby boomer generation has moved along. People in their mid- to late-sixties I mean, coincidentally those who were teenagers in the mid- to late-sixties. They used to wear granny dresses back then. They are grannies now. Although many of them are wearing sweatsuits.

The way you can tell most is the commercials you see and hear. Shows like 60 Minutes and just about everything on the Hallmark Channel are riddled with ads about drugs. 70% of which are always side-effect disclaimers. You know, "Take maxazacamene for your yellow toenail, may cause liver failure and death."

I like the ads for snack foods following ads for diet drugs. And lately lots of ads for laxatives and digestive aids. The current "I love my LAX" commercials promise gentle reliable release facilitated by a drug that harnesses water to ease things along.

MiraLAX uses the heart symbol, as in "I heart New York" as the way of conveying that love. "I heart my LAX." How catchy. When I first saw the commercial with the sound muted on my computer, I thought it was a tribute to LAX the airport. That is until I saw the animation of MiraLAX at work in my colon using the power of water to move what appeared to be a purple blob along a two-toned pink tube. 

Fearful as many of my fellow aging boomers are about the Blob we were first traumatized by in the 1958 movie, I'm sure this will persuade us all on some subliminal level. 

But the need is there. I even saw a medical place here in Olympia recently advertising that they specialize in colonics. Personally, I use a product made from fern branches. 

And with fronds like that who needs enemas...

America, ya gotta love it. 

Friday, June 20, 2014

2251 Slanguage

The other day I was reminded once again how the sounds in languages trip us up sometimes. Of course that's pretty much what language is, sounds. Not only that, sounds evolved from our prehistoric rumblings and mumblings, so it's no wonder one grunt can be mistaken for another hoot.

Take the word Skagway. As in Skagway, Alaska. On the face of it not a name you'd think would be suitable for a town. Skag has one of those negative connotation sounds. Like a combination of slag and skank. Slag being the stuff left over when your desired metal has been smelted from the raw ore. "Slag comes from being smelted." Doesn't sound like your basic chamber of commerce slogan. 

Skank, of course, refers to any number of unattractive bipeds. Usually those we'd rather not associate with in polite company. "Oh look, Uncle Fred invited a skank to the family Thanksgiving dinner." 

Well, put all of that out of your head. “Skagway” has a noble tradition. And obviously non-European with its negative slanguage associations. The word Skagway derives from a Native American Tlingit idiom, which figuratively refers to rough seas but literally means “beautiful woman.”

The figurative meaning came about because the mythical (and beautiful) woman Kanagu transformed herself into stone at Skagway bay and is, according to legend, responsible for the strong winds that blow though the channel. So the rough seas caused by these winds are referred to by her nickname, which sounded to early European settlers like Skagway.

No intimation at all that Kanagu was a mythical woman of ill repute and no suspicion that the stone referred to was ever smelted for any ore.

Skank, Slag and Skagway. Just languages and cultures colliding. Or my weird brain hitting the rough seas of early insanity.

America, ya gotta love it. 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

2250 Butt Out

I reported recently about the resourceful butt bums that come by and harvest cigarette butts from outside ashtrays. "Recycling," I called it. But one reader noted in a note to me that it's not quite so. They only process the smokeable part and then scatter the butts further afield than if they'd remained in the ashtray. Like a bat dispersing fruit seeds through its fecal matter.

I stand corrected. Butts are a problem. According to the Keep America Beautiful website, Americans smoke fewer cigarettes than at any time since 1951, but cigarette butts remain the most littered item in the US. And cigarette butts don't disappear. That's because about 95% of each butt contains cellulose acetate, a form of plastic that doesn't quickly degrade and persists in the environment. Cellulose acetate, by the way, is also used in award ribbons, clothing, diapers, and Legos. 

Butt filters are harmful to waterways and wildlife. About 18% of them, traveling through stormwater systems, end up in local streams and rivers. They also impact wildlife directly when animals mistake them for food.

So I was intrigued at a meeting recently when the speaker reported that some new school lunch trays were made out of recycled butt material. Which at first sounded icky, but then I remembered: Cellulose acetate -- Legos -- duh. It's just plastic. My kids could have been Lego-ing together repurposed cigarette butts for all I know. 

I did some digging and it turns out a guy named Curtis Baffico at a website called pays out a butt redemption value of $3 a pound. It only takes 1500 butts to make a pound. 

A lot of work sure, but hey. One nagging question is finally answered. We finally know what a buttload is worth. 

America, ya gotta love it.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

2249 Old Bums

I love watching the changes of life in these United States. Like the new habits of old people and the adaptive qualities of bums on bikes.

Yes, bums on bikes. As I've written before, I admire the cleverness of our brethren on the edges of society. Not least because many of them could benefit from psychiatric care and medication if only they weren't wandering the streets. 

Some pro hobos have adapted well to the new bum bicycle craze. Maybe I've noticed it more because our building has an outside ashtray. They come circling by on their bikes and harvest the butts pretty regularly. Don't even have to linger for long. The paladins of the opportunistic world, stopping just long enough to do a good deed of recycling. Butt Bums on Bikes. 

I must say, I appreciate their ingenuity in making the two-wheelers serve their needs. I saw one the other day that actually had one of those covered kiddy trailers hooked on. It was loaded with all his urban camping gear. That, combined with his mountain bike tires, greatly decreased his shoulder-load and increased his carrying capacity. Kind of like mobile home, but mobile homeless.

Then there's the coffee bar I went into the other day. No one there was under the age of 70. They were settled in at the various tables and comfy chairs, playing board games and sipping java. 

It was like a Starbucks senior center. I suppose it was only a matter of time. Old folks love to kibitz where it's warm and will go anywhere there's free anything, even free WiFi they have no idea how to use. Bumming around with their cronies. Still, the place was full and looked pretty profitable. 

Wonder if they offer early bird lattes?

America, ya gotta love it. 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

2248 Old Bag

Getting older is a mixed bag. On the one hand you make fewer mistakes because a couple of paces ahead you realize you're about to step in something. On the other hand you get a little impatient with other folks falling into the same piles they did before.

Like a recent poll that showed the economy is the top issue going into the next election. No surprise there. The surprise was that 48% of those polled said the Republicans would do a better job with the economy and only 43% said the Democrats would. Looks like the Republicans have recovered from the supposed final coffin nailing of the 2008 economic cratering. 

Another artifact of age is that you're exposed to new things you don't completely understand. Like the proliferation of a certain type of appetizer spelled c-r-u-d-i-t-e-s.  My first read on the name, based on the spelling, told me it was crud-ites. Like stalactites. Maybe stringers of crud harvested from the ceiling. 

But no, I thought, can't be that, maybe it's crude-i-tee. Like a crude remark someone uttered at a party and they named an appetizer after it. 

Nope. Turns out the word is pronounced crew-dee-TAY, french-wise, with the final S silent. Crudites sounds so much more elegant that what they really are, and what we called them before the turn of the century, Raw Veggies. 

The worst thing about the mixed bag of aging is the whole wrinkle thing. A mixed old bag. I can't afford plastic surgery so I've adjusted with a couple of cheap techniques. First, whenever I look in a mirror, I make sure the lights are turned down low. The amazing power of dimness.

Second, I've adapted the photography technique for achieving flattering soft focus. I put Vaseline on my contact lenses. 

America, ya gotta love it. 

2247 Automatic Association

What's in a name? So much. Because our brain gets trained to bring up a whole bunch of associations to the name triggers.

Take the word lamb. Immediately we get the picture of cute warm and fuzzy. Gentle, docile, something easily led. Something too cute to eat. Leading a lamb to slaughter is one of those phrases that brings up all sorts of images of cruelty. And yet lamb is prized as a tasty meat to eat.

But actually, lamb meat doesn't come from a baby sheep. A psychologist I know told me recently that the lamb we serve on the table is actually from the equivalent of an ovine teenager. The word teenager conjures up a whole different set of images to counter the baby lambkins ones. Eat hearty.

Then there's the term sienna. Yesterday I saw it on the back of a Toyota. As a model name. The Toyota Sienna. It sounded pretty good. Except I couldn't shake the association with the word used as a variation of the color brown. 

It made me chuckle because the Toyota Sienna I was following happened to be brown. Although it was a dark taupe, as opposed to the yellow-brown of raw sienna on Crayolas. Still, I expect we'll see the typical model name rip-offs from other car manufacturers. Maybe a Nissan Ochre, or a Honda Burnt Umber. 

Lastly, I wonder about St. Paul. The actual saint that one of the Twin Cities is named after. We hardly ever say St. Paul by itself when referring to that area anymore. It's always Minneapolis-St. Paul.

You think St. Paul is up in heaven saying, "All right already with the Minneapolis, you're ruining my saintly image. ‘Here's Minneapolis St. Paul’... Sounds like I'm a player on the Harlem Globetrotters."

America, ya gotta love it. 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

2246 Peanuts Surprise

The other day I opened up a can of peanuts. Which was good, because when the smell burst from it and my friend said, "Who opened up a can of peanuts?" I was covered.

Later, halfway through the can, I noticed something in it. Kind of dry floating as it were, drifting its way through the peanuts like a little paper raft. 

It's a Cracker Jack prize! I thought. Without caramel corn! I was delighted. Even though it looked like one of the modern day Cracker Jack prizes, a boring little piece of paper with a word puzzle on it. Not the great soldier-shaped choke-inducing lumps of lead they used to include. 

I pulled it out and was promptly un-delighted. It wasn't a Cracker Jack prize at all, it was a freshness packet. What used to be silica gel when they packed it with cameras, but who knows what chemical now. 

They must be safe because you see them everywhere. In lots of sizes, from little half-inch things in pill bottles, to larger ones packed in electronic gear. The only place they never seem to put one is in the humidity-induced clumpiest food there is, bags of sugar. 

This one was about an inch-and-a-half square. Some of the words on it said, "oxygen absorber." I suppose that means they don't want the peanuts to rust. A bunch of other words seemed to be "do not eat" in a variety of languages.

Which was a cool little language lesson. "No coma" is apparently the Spanish way to say "don't eat," not "don't pass out." Then there was "ne pas avaler," "nicht schlucken," and five other phrases in foreign alphabets and pictographs I couldn't make out. 

Huh. I guess it was like a crackerjack puzzle after all. 

America, ya gotta love it. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

2245 Restaura-Twoer

A couple of restaurant related observations today. A restaura-twoer if you will. Like isn't it interesting how soft drink to-go cups still come with a straw poked through the center of the plastic lid?

I wonder about that. I've always found it an uncomfortable way to drink. Because I'm used to tipping a cup at a certain angle as it empties and you have to tip too much with a full cup with a center straw in the lid. I always feel like if the lid gives way I'm going to have a lapful of sticky fluid. Again.

It's either that or duck your head over the top of the cup and drink that way. And I don't like doing that. Especially when I'm driving, and they are sort of designed to be consumed in the car. 

So why don't they have lids like coffee and latte cups do? With a spout on the side that's designed for a more natural tipping angle. Even if the lid fails you're not overtipped too much to get more than a few drops of hot scalding liquid in your nether regions. 

Get on the job American inventors. You're sipping public needs you. And don't give me no bendy straw either. I'm having a Coke, not sucking on a hookah. 

Next, I saw an interesting combination of establishments in a strip mall recently --- a sushi restaurant next to a hair styling salon.

Really? If you're like me, you've smelled some pretty intense odors coming from both types of places. It's been my experience that thrown-together strip mall walls are not that air tight. And if they're not air tight, they're not smell-tight. 

Nothing like the smell of perm solution mixed with old sushi.

Welcome to the Armpit Strip Mall.  

America, ya gotta love it. 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

2244 Gummy Shampoo

Funny how we become attached to words in certain settings. It's no wonder foreign born folks have a difficult time with English. BTW, why is it English literature when the author is Mark Twain?

Example: I have trouble with the word w-o-u-n-d. I get wound up in confusion so much I could permanently wound my brain. Or l-e-a-d. As in, why couldn't someone have taken the lead on the lead paint issue? It would sound dumb except dumb means no sound. We have so many letters to choose from when we make words. Why use the same ones to mean different things? 

Then there are words that have simply changed over time. Like the word shampoo. It was originally an Anglo-Indian word meaning massage. By Anglo-Indian I mean English folks brought it back from India. It came from the Hindi word "champo" which meant to press or knead muscles. It's meaning of washing hair wasn't used until around 1860 and extended to carpets and upholstery until 1954.

I'd like to bring it back in its original form. Then we could go to a spa and have a relaxing hot stone shampoo. Or a deep tissue shampoo. All done, of course, by licensed shampoo therapists. You'd definitely want to steer clear of shampooses at shampoo parlors...

Then there's the new meaning of a word combo I heard recently. It was for something involving gummy bears. Yes, the gelatinous candy. But this new meaning was for a certain type of chest enhancement implant. The cosmetic surgeon I heard on the radio referred to it as a gummy bear implant. I hope he was just referring to the texture.

Not sure the sight of a couple of big gummy bears wouldn't make one think you'd had a bad shampoo.  

America, ya gotta love it. 

Monday, June 09, 2014

2243 Chunks O'Crazy

Sometimes it seems like a chunk of the world is going crazy. Then something even crazier comes up in your own backyard.

Like recently, I read this news story about Brazil. Brazil's kind of scary. You may remember I wrote an essay awhile back about a Brazilian soccer star who killed his ex-wife and chopped her up to feed to the dogs. At the time of the story he was being work-released to play for his professional soccer team. 

Soccer's pretty important in South America.

The recent story I read about Brazil was related to soccer too. They’re hosting the World Cup there this year. So Brazilian police have published a safety guide for tourists. The guide instructs tourists not to scream if they’re mugged, so their robbery doesn't turn into murder. 

And, um, so the Brazilian police don't have to leave their TV sets tuned to the World Cup and come running to actually try to apprehend the muggers. By the way, don't complain too loudly if you get ripped off by a ticket scalper, he may actually physically scalp you.

Then there's our own North Carolina. A woman there called the 911 emergency line because her Subway flatbread pizza was made with marinara sauce instead of pizza sauce. Marinara is, you know, essentially pizza sauce pre-blender. 

In Subway's defense, they say very clearly in their ads that they use marinara sauce. Nonetheless, Bevalente Hall, aged 37, told the 911 operators that, "I can't eat that kind of sauce." Perhaps she gets restricted breathing from a psychosomatic reaction to chunkytomatophobia.

In a related story, a recent poll done by the company YouGov found that only 4% of Americans think they are less intelligent than the average person. 

Oddly, the same percentage suffering from chunkytomatophobia. 

America, ya gotta love it. 

Friday, June 06, 2014

2242 Alibottomline

Read a couple of disturbing stories recently. Good examples of how inconsistent we are with our supposed enemies. Okay, not our official diplomatic enemies, they're kind of our friends trading-partner-wise, but kind of our enemies in other ways, like, you know, dominance for world power. Our frenemy. China.

The first story was about the IPO for Alibaba. Alibaba, according to those who should know, is going to be an incredible addition to the stock market. It's the Chinese answer to Amazon, handling 80% of China's online commerce. Last year they moved $248 billion of merchandise. Incredibly, its profit margins are like 45%. It's bigger than Amazon and eBay combined.

Investors are slavering in anticipation. But wait a minute. It's not because of their business model. Or maybe it is. Because their business model is to have the Chinese government subsidize profits by shutting out foreign competition. 

Who doesn't want a piece of that?

The other story was about the U.S. indicting five Chinese hackers. Not just any old run-of-the-mill, long-haired, basement-dwelling, videogame-playing troll hackers either. Actual working-for-the-government military officer hackers. 

This is big stuff, since for the first time the U.S. is openly accusing the Chinese of not just military spying, but stealing actual trade secrets from Westinghouse, Alcoa, Solar World and even the United Steelworkers Union. 

Which, you know, if you're a Chinese company looking to have a business presence in America and the same unfair advantage you have over American companies in China, is pretty smart. Not pointing any fingers or anything, but what does that add to the background prospectus on the IPO for Alibaba?

As an investor, can I count on the Chinese Military to hack for me?

As I recall the story, Alibaba was a pretty clever guy, outsmarting 40 thieves and all...

America, ya gotta love it. 

Thursday, June 05, 2014

2241 Connext

People once thought TV was the great uniter. Bringing people together from various social and cultural arenas with shared experiences. That was true. When there were only three big networks the water cooler conversations were about the same things.

That sense of connectedness was what it was really about. Then came cable and the proliferation of fragmented channels. We all seemed to fall apart. So it's disturbing what a new report from Nielson said.

They reported that, on average, Americans watch just 9%, or 17, of the 189 channels available to them. They also found that in 2013 there was an overall decline in subscriptions to cable, satellite, and other pay-TV options. 

But people still need to feel connected. Where are they getting that feeling? From their devices. Twitter foremost, and Pinterest, Facebook, and Snapchat too, folks are feeling connected through their phones. 

Just watch any person who's really into Twitter, following news and sports and celebrities. It's their constant go-to experience to fill the empty moments. Better yet, they can twit back and go forward and retweet, and really feel like a part of things. And heck, maybe they'll be retweeted too. Take that non-interactive 189-channel cable TV. 

One such compulsive every-moment twitterer I saw recently made me think of a new app. Use the camera on your phone to display a real-time image of what's in front of you so you can walk with your head down and Tweet or text at the same time.

The scary thing? It's already been thought of. "Walk-N-Text" lets you walk and text simultaneously and minimizes pedestrian collisions.

Talk about connection. Forget about endless hours of TV in a darkened living room. Now your phone can become your permanent interface between you and life. 

As a walking couch potato. 

America, ya gotta love it. 

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

2240 Cheese Head

As I get older, I find I like cheese more and more. I thought it was the natural tendency of aging folks to appreciate more complex and pungent flavors. I certainly eat a larger variety of food than I did in my picky youth. But I recently read an article that points to a different reason why I may favor the flavor of cheese so much. Morphine addiction.

An article in National Geographic reported that cheese contains tiny amounts of potentially addictive substances. These feel-good chemicals come from casein,  (cay-seen) a milk protein that happens to be concentrated during cheese making. Curds of "way cool" as it were.  

Our digestion takes over and breaks down casein into morphine-like chemicals called caso-morphins. That's one whammy. The other whammy, bringing it up to a full double, is that the original milk itself contains traces of morphine produced in the cow's liver. 

Let me just say in rebuttal to this cheese/morphine connection theory that I will never, ever, eat liver. I don't care how much morphine it has in it. 

Scientists theorize that the calming effect of morphine in the milk helps calves be compelled to nurse and be less nervous while doing so. I can see that. Suckling at the teat of a huge cow must be kind of scary, if only for the potential crush factor if she topples over on you. One false step and you're veal. 

I'm glad to know why cheese is addictive. I've always suspected. I'm guessing it's a gateway drug to other addictive foods like enchiladas and pizzas too. 

Maybe we'll see a new cheese 12-step program soon. It kind of puts a whole new meaning to the term "cheese-head." Who'd have thought the country's newest drug threat would come from Wisconsin?

America, ya gotta love it. 

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

2239 Losers Weepers

Technology sure has made it easier to find stuff. And I don't just mean your way around the city. I mean actual stuff.

Like your smartphone itself. These days if it gets stolen there are apps that will kill it so your personal data can't be harvested, and apps that will help trace it down, using its GPS and other features. They can do so even if your phone wasn't stolen, but was just forgotten. Which, judging by people I've seen pinching, swiping, and loading their phone with every imaginable app, doesn't seem at all likely. Those phones are stuck to their hands like a tattoo.

But what about your sunglasses? Well, if you spend $350 on a pair you can get those back when you forget them too. The Tzukuri company has come up with new sunglasses that feature a solar-powered Bluetooth chip which syncs with your phone's apps. You'll be alerted if you wander away and leave your glasses behind. 

I only wish they had a similar technology for us in the northwest. For our oft forgotten umbrellas.  

I also read about a new set of luggage that offers similar features. "Never lose your luggage again," trumpeted the ad. "Find it wherever it goes in the world."

Sounded like a pretty cool use of technology to solve an age old problem. As old as the commercial airline age at least. Still, I worry that taking luggage-finding into your own hands may give the airlines one more excuse to be less than attentive. "Sorry sir, you should have bought that Finders Keepers luggage brand. That'll be $35 for your new bag for this trip."

Obvious question: If they have cheap consumer technology to find lost sunglasses and lost luggage, why can't they find lost airplanes?

America, ya gotta love it.