Tuesday, March 31, 2015

2434 Resigned


I guess I'm resigned to the little not-so-surprises I see in the news.

Like when GOP wunderkind Aaron Schock decided to resign after certain discrepancies surfaced in his mileage reimbursement figures.  Funny, because he'd suddenly became a millionaire after taking office and going into real estate deals with his campaign contributors and was weathering that storm.  It was bad math on his reimbursed mileage that took him down.

The little surprise that got me was that not only was the whole thing not shocking, because, you know, the term "honest politician" is an oxymoron, but because his name Schock, even though it's spelled s-c-h-o-c-k-, kind of prepared us for the whole thing on a subliminal level.

Another political non-shock was when a social media expert resigned from Presidential Candidate Scott Walker's campaign.  What was not-so-surprising was that the cause was over a bad tweet.

Tweets are notoriously bad methods of communication.  At least when it comes to nuance.  The professional tweeter --- yes there is such a thing --- said she apparently came across as snarky.  Let me just say, professional tweeter, snarky is defined as terse and direct with no attempt to pull punches.  That's pretty much a tweet right there.

Or take the headline that was tweeted about her stepping down.  It said, "Scott Walker Social Media expert resigns."  Having just read about football players renewing their contracts I misread that as re-signs.  Not re-zines.  Too few words can trip you up twitter-people.

Were I a presidential candidate, or president, who hired someone to do social media for me, I'd maybe have a pre-tweet or tweetaround failsafe system in place so every tweet was sent to me first, before it actually got out to the twitterverse.

Imagine if World War III gets started with a tweet.   

America, ya gotta love it.

Monday, March 30, 2015

2433 Crunch Time


Companies spend tons of money on the packaging of their products.  So you wonder about the subliminal messages said packaging is sending out.  Is it by design?  Or is it accidental?

Take the Cap'n Crunch cereal box I saw.  First message, of course, is that it's not spelled Captain, but Cap-apostrophe-N.  So don't expect this to be an IQ-improving spelling lesson for your child.

Another message is the Captain's -- excuse me Cap'n's -- anatomy.  Naturally, as a cartoon person, he follows the convention of having only 3 fingers and a thumb.  But they also show his eyebrows embedded in his sailor hat.  I don't know, could this be scarring our children on some level?  How many people are they liable to meet in life with eyebrows in their hat? 

Then there's the message of the Cap'n's eyes.  An article I read said they were quite intentionally made to look downward.  So that a middle or high shelf product placement would have the Cap'n staring right at a potential child customer. 

All well and good, except it establishes a cartoon motif that gets very scary when you turn over the box and see all the similarly depicted cartoon children engaged in a apparent track meet known as a Crunch-a-thon.

These children, who are carrying barbells made of brimming bowls of cereal, leaping energetically over high bars, pole-vaulting up to a Crunchberries-filled crows nest, and racing furiously around a track, have those same eyes. 

Bulging.  Focused.  Maniacal.  And quite ADHD looking.  Perhaps, as the box proclaims, "Crunch-a-tized."  Because, you know, they're fueled for the Crunch-a-thon by 11 grams of pure sugar for ever 3/4 cup bowl.

As any parent knows, less than half their likely consumption.

Final message. You be the judge. A bowl of energy? 

Or a cereal killer? 

America, ya gotta love it. 

Friday, March 27, 2015

2432 Senseful


There's a disorder known as synesthesia.  Those who have it sometimes have the ability to see sounds and hear smells.  It's as if their sensory system has been rewired for optimum high fidelity.  Or HD 3D Blueray 5 senses perception.

I think I have a tiny bit of that rewiring disorder when it comes to words.  Because they prick my thoughts sometimes as if someone's physically sticking a needle into my brain.

I got that prick recently when I wrote about the Civil War.  How odd that we used the word civil to describe it.  Civil people are friendly, polite, and kind.  Well-mannered. 

War between civic rivals should be civic war.  Even though in modern times that sounds like a drag race between two chopped Hondas.

Were it not for the obvious carnage, one might argue that civil war is less destructive than the other term, "all out war."  I just wish they'd use another word.  It makes it tough when someone says we should be civil to each other.

Another word pricked my old brain when I heard it being used to describe the rulers of Saudi Arabia after their most recent king died.  "Gerontocracy."  I like it.  A great way to describe a country run by a bunch of old people.  Geriatric and Autocracy mushed together. 

Their Defense Treaties amount to a slightly more verbose rendition of "Get out of my yard!"

Then there's the new ruler of Saudi Arabia.  His name is spelled S-a-l-m-a-n-.  It probably sounds like Solomon.  But really really looks like salmon.  Which probably wasn't so bad when he was Crown Prince Salman.  But now that he's king...  I hope he doesn't make a diplomatic visit to the northwest. 

I sense that would be a bad thing.

America, ya gotta love it. 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

2431 Tails You Lose


Sometimes when I'm in a philosophical mood, I ponder the disconnect between legend and fact.  And how that makes its way into popular culture.

Like how we drive a car for family trips named Odyssey.  As I recall, the original Odyssey, what with Cyclops, whirlpools, and Sirens singing sailors onto the rocks, wasn't a very safe trip for all and sundry.  Wonder if Odysseus thought about installing airbags.

Likewise the coin I saw advertised in National Geographic Magazine.  It's from GovMint.com.  GovMint, despite it's name, is not associated with the US Government and often strikes commemorative coins just for the heck of it.

The coin they recently offered for your collecting pleasure is hyped thusly: "Before they were carved in stone, they were struck in silver."  It purports to be a release of actual 1925 silver half dollars depicting the civil war heroes on the Stone Mountain Memorial in Georgia.  You know, in what was once the South. 

These particular heroes actually were, um, in the southern military force that rebelled against the actual US Government at the time.  The one led by President Lincoln. 

Now I know the Civil War never really ended in some people's minds, but from a purely objective analysis one would have to conclude that the Southerners were actually traitors that rose up in arms and waged military destruction on the duly constituted Unites States. 

So it seems odd we'd have a half dollar commemorating what were actually Benedict Arnold type folks.  Noble as they were in waging that war, lots of ordinary people died. 

Interestingly, on the tail side of the coin are the classic words "E Pluribus Unum."  Which still means "Out of Many One."

The coin is supposed to be 90% silver. 

Maybe the other 10% is irony.  

America, ya gotta love it. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

2430 China Trove


We've all heard endlessly about cyber-security.  How various companies and hackers and what not are pillaging our privacy and hawking their hacking to the highest bidder.  So my question is, should we be trusting our private information treasure to an enemy who manufactures our private devices?

For gosh sakes, the Supreme Court ruled that police in our own country can't look into your personal phone without a warrant.

A phone that may be made in China.

Take the big Lenovo scandal.  They were recently discovered to have shipped laptops with a particularly pernicious form of adware called Superfish pre-installed.  It tracks users' every move online.  It works by scooping up data on secure sites, like banking and e-commerce pages.  You know, those pages that are ultra secure to external threats.  But not if the threat is sitting in your own lap.

So quick question.  Lenovo is a Chinese company.  China.  Not only copyright piracy central.  But China the authoritarian country that directs its not-so-free enterprise efforts.  And, oh yeah, our enemy.  You think this Superfish thing wasn't intentional?  Something's super fishy here.

It gets better.  Alibaba, the giant Chinese e-commerce company that makes Amazon look like a mom and pop store, has just invested $200 million in Snapchat.  Yep, Snapchat, the place where not so smart people post nude pictures of themselves that will supposedly disappear.  Right into the Chinese spy database I'm guessing.

But don't worry.  You don't need Snapchat if you take nude shower selfies on your Xiaomi phone.  It's made in China too and will be happy to collect all the private everything else you usually put on your phone.  I just hope it's compatible with my Russian tablet. 

Thank God the local police won't be able to see it. 

America, ya gotta love it. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

2429 Slanguage


The great thing about a living language is that despite the curmudgeonry of the old grammarians, it changes and adapts to new things.  So you don't have to use an old word to describe something that never could have taken place in an old context.  Then again, it's perfectly acceptable to morph an old word to have new meaning.

By the way, shouldn't the word palindrome, which is the word for words that are spelled the same forward and backward, like Bob or mom, actually be palindromeemordnilap? 

Anyhow.  Take the new word I saw the other day.  "Swatting."  Swatting could, of course, mean swatting a fly.  But it could also mean putting in a prank call to summon a SWAT team.  Say What?  Yep.  That's what it sometimes means today.

Unfortunately it costs valuable emergency responder time and spends lots of taxpayers' money, so it's a criminal offense.  Because first off you're using the 911 system for a practical joke.  And second, SWAT teams come loaded for the expectation of violence and who knows what could go wrong.  It's not just an innocent hoax, like unleashing a twitterstorm that Abe Vigoda or Kevin Bacon is dead.

It may be something folks do when they're doing the other new word I heard.  "Cyberloafing."  Some researchers recently reported that workers sitting at their desks the day after the daylight saving time changeover were lazy and lethargic and would usually waste unproductive time at their computers cyberloafing.  Idling away the time dinking around on the internet. 

Cyberloaf.  I love it.  Like a meatloaf or nutloaf or some other holiday concoction. 

Or, to take a swat at the new language of a cyberloafer, "I Googled up some pimento loaf and had it sameday shipped from Amazon Prime."

New words are fun.

America, ya gotta love it. 

Monday, March 23, 2015

2428 Nasal Solution


As I've mentioned in earlier essays, every now and then I'll be reading through the news and find something that I find curious.  Some twist on established fact or maybe something entirely new.

I don't mean opinion facts like "conservatives are stubborn and liberals are flexible."  Or that "conservatives are steadfast and liberals are wishy-washy."  I'm used to opinions being emphasized into fact status with the use of spin doctor language.

I mean things like nasal sprays being used to cure obesity.

That's the conclusion of a certain group of researchers.  And it's not just any old nasal spray, it's a nasal spray laced with oxytocin.  Not oxycontin, the addictive drug that undermined Rush Limbaugh's steadfastness against drug abuse; oxytocin, widely known as the chemical of love.

Oxytocin is a hormone produced by the human body in response to feelings of love.  It's also found in breast milk and helps with the bonding of mother and child.  It's triggered by acts of intimacy of every level, including holding hands.  It makes you feel good.

According to recent research, it can also kill your appetite.  After researchers sprayed a fluid containing oxytocin in male volunteers' noses, they ate less at a subsequent meal.  They also showed certain metabolic changes, like clearing glucose from their bloodstream. 

Scientists don't know if this works with females too.  They aren't sure why it works at all.  I hope it's not something really simple like maybe oxytocin kills your sense of smell, making food less appetizing. 

It would be even cooler if just increasing your oxytocin levels would make you shuck pounds.  And that the cure to obesity may be something even more simple.  Like more intimacy. 

Honey, I need to lose some weight.  So could we, um, hold hands?

America, ya gotta love it. 


Friday, March 20, 2015

2427 Shocking Facts


As much as I've seen, I can still read through the news and come across stories that are fairly shocking.

Like the item that talked about a psychological study done with folks to determine whether they could be alone with their thoughts.  The reason for the study was that it had been observed people would rush willy-nilly and hither and yon to avoid moments of silent contemplation.

It seems not many people like to face themselves.  In the experiment, participants were administered a small electric shock and then asked if they would pay to avoid having that shock administered again.  Most all of them said yes.  Then they were left alone in the room for just 15 minutes.  In that time, over half of them administered the shock to themselves rather than sit alone with their thoughts. 

Scary.  Electrically shock yourself rather than do nothing.  I'm thinking we won't get folks to give up their self destructive obsessive-compulsive smartphone habits anytime soon. 

Another shocking story I read was about deer eating birds.  Yep.  Deer eating birds.  They were caught by hidden cameras in the woods.  Secret behavior we never knew about.

Not accidentally.  Not while they were nuzzling into a nest to eat leaves or straw.  Actually, viciously, chomping down on baby birds and chewing them up, feathers, bones, and all. 

Look out little birdies in Bambi movie, teaching him to talk.  He's really trying to eat you.  Bird.  Bird!  BIRD! 

Cameras have also detected other supposed herbivores devouring vulnerable prey.  Killer Red Deer in Scotland.  Slayer Sheep.  Carnivore Cows.  Not predator aggressive, but put a helpless baby creature in their way and they'll graze right through their flesh. 

"Hmm.  This milk tastes a little birdie..."

Nature continues to shock.  What's next, Vegan Tigers?

America, ya gotta love it. 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

2426 Omahigh


The problem with average is you have to include low stuff to offset the high stuff.

So thank you Heartland Quality Omaha Steaks marketing department for making it seem like I'm getting a good deal on your prime steaks.  Unfortunately for your sales department, I can do math.

The ad for Omaha Steaks I saw offered a whole list of items for only $49.99.  It promised the following:
2 (5 oz.) Filet Mignons (which I think should actually be filets mignon, like brothers-in-law instead of brother-in-laws.)  
2 (5 oz.) Top Sirloins.  At Costco filets are $35 a pound so at first the total price seemed pretty good.  Sirloins, however, are closer to $6 a pound.

Then the list continued:
4 (4.5 oz.) Chicken fried steaks. (Cause if you're chicken-frying steak, it's gotta be prime stuff.)
4 (3 oz.) Polynesian Pork Chops (What flavor are they trying to cover up?)
1 (20 oz.) package of "all-beef" meatballs. (All of the beef, including lips and sphincters.)
4 (3 oz.) Jumbo Franks. (See previous comment)
4 (4 oz.) Omaha Steak Burgers. (Quarter-pounders come to mind for some reason.)

But wait, there's more.  Included in the average price of your meat is a 16-ounce package of Omaha Steakhouse Fries and 4 "Caramel Apple Tartlets."  Not sure if tartlets are smaller or younger than tarts but throwing in a whole pound of cheap potatoes to lower the average price of meat is marketing genius.

Bottom line, the 35 bucks a pound for filets makes the $49.99 total seem pretty good.  But there's not even 2-thirds of a pound of them at 10 ounces.  The combined meat weight total is 98 ounces.  6.125 pounds or $8.16 a pound.  

In my humble opinion, just a touch high for sphincter-enhanced franks and meatballs.

America, ya gotta love it.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

2425 Milk O'Peep


Get ready to shake with enthusiasm or shiver with dread.  The Easter world as we know it is about to change.

Forget about gooey Cadbury eggs with centers so saccharin sweet they gag a maggot.  Forget about delicate robin eggs staining clothing when encountering only slight moisture.  Forget about Easter grass replacing pine needles as the persistent non-vacuum-able stuff stuck to your carpet.  An enterprising product team has now come up with the ultimate Easter offering. 

Peep Milk.

That's right, Peep Milk.  It comes in three flavors.  Sweetened Marshmallow Milk.  Sweetened Chocolate Marshmallow Milk.  And in an apparent act of holiday treat piracy, Easter Eggnog Flavored Milk.  Because, you know, eggnog goes so well with devilled eggs. 

Peep milk.  It creates so many questions.  Will it taste like the milk you get after eating a bowl of Lucky Charms?  Or will it be even sweeter?  Perhaps like the milk left over from Cap'n Crunch.

How does one milk a Peep to begin with?  My experience with Peeps is they have fairly rudimentary anatomies.  Is there some hidden Peep teat?

There are two main Peep species.  Chicken Peeps and Rabbit Peeps.  In the real world, Chickens, being non-mammals, produce no milk, and feed their young by regurgitating into their mouths.  Not a good model for candy consumption.  Bunny milk is possible.  Something like it might be responsible for the cheese dish Welsh Rabbit. 

Still, Peeps are tiny.  Milking them seems a bit cruel.  And no one wants to think their Peep milk came from inhumane factory Peep farm conditions.  Peeps languishing in their own Peep poop, force fed and stuffed with antibiotics, then crammed into narrow stalls where cold mechanical manipulators drain them of their Peep milk.

I'm hoping they at least use free range Peeps.  
 
America, ya gotta love it. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

2424 Guttersnipe Races


Recently I heard an angry pundit call someone by a cool old insult name.  Guttersnipe.  Doesn't that just reek of the 17th century?  Gadzooks Old Bean, that young rapscallion is a guttersnipe.

It got me thinking.  If there's a gutter version of a snipe, what exactly is a snipe?  Does the word refer to sniping, the practice of verbally nipping at an opponent?  Or nagging, like the proverbial fishwife?  Equal time here, fish-husbands were often nag worthy.

I'd guess referring to anyone as a gutter anything is not good.  Except perhaps a "gutter and downspout cleaning specialist."

So what is a snipe?  My first thought was that snipe was one of those imaginary things concocted by young fellows to get their young women alone in a remote place.  "Let's go on a snipe hunt."  Then they would go down to the shore and neck.

Also in that category were grunions.  Grunions, despite their name, were not snackfood favored by tokers in need of a savory munchie.  They were also semi-imaginary creatures one would use as a date destination.  "Let's go watch the grunion run, hon." 

A little research surprised me.  Both snipe and grunion are real entities.  Though their viewing was certainly employed by aforesaid seaside suitors, they do exist.  Grunion are small fish that come ashore in droves to mate.  Snipe are small shorebirds that are indeed notoriously hard to catch.  In fact, that's where we get the word sniper.

Guttersnipe, it turns out, had nothing to do with either of those.  It was originally a Wall Street word for a streetcorner broker.  You know, an unscrupulous, virtually non-regulated, evil entity that takes advantage of the unwary.  Also spelled AIG.

They once sold me some loan guarantee derivatives, in a company that puts on submarine races.

America, ya gotta love it. 

Monday, March 16, 2015

2423 Tipping Point


I read an article on how the electronic pay revolution is also bringing about electronic tip exaggeration.  A new tipping point if you will.  Because people just don't do math that well.  Also because electronic money doesn't feel like real money.

Las Vegas has known this for years; keep your gambling transactions in virtual money and you gamble more.  Change it to cold hard cash and most folks get more conservative with how they spend it.  Even with cash, if you keep it in large denominations, you fritter it away less.

The article showed a picture of how a bill rendered on an electronic device at a certain mermaid-festooned coffee shop looked to the consumer, when the device was flipped around for him to punch in his approval. 

The bill was $2.78.  A line on the screen below the coffee total was for tips, with four boxes you could press to make your choice.  The choices offered for the $2.78 purchase were "No Tip," "$0.50," "$1.00," and "$2.00."  The highlighted choice, I assume to mean a suggestion, was "$1.00."

The headline of the article, by the way, was, "Tipping: Is 25% the new normal?

Even they find math hard. 

And psychology.  Because your first thought when you look at the choice is, "50 cents, that's really cheap.  I'll pick a dollar."  But the bill is only $2.78.  A dollar would be a 36% tip.  More than a third of the price of the product. 

Even a 50 cent tip is about 18%, certainly generous by many restaurant standards.  15% would actually be 41 cents. 

Hey.  No one wants to be a coffee cheapskate.  But think about this: The original $2.78 purchase included about a 9% sales tax. 

Are we supposed to tip the state and city too?

America, ya gotta love it. 

Friday, March 13, 2015

2422 Cheech Filet


It's hard to explain how words trip me up  sometimes.  Like I'm expecting certain things in certain contexts and then get turned around by my own prejudices.

Take this headline I read from Fox News: "DC Legalizes Pot. Last minute push by GOP to blunt legislation goes up in smoke."

Wow. Surprisingly weed savvy for the presumably non-tokin' conservative Fox News.  They knew two expressions in canna-terminology.  "Blunt" and "Up In Smoke."  One referring to an actual reefer, the other to the iconic Cheech and Chong movie. 

For a news source that pilloried the husband of Hillary for his "did not inhale" mea non-culpa, that's a great lurch forward. 

Another word, actually a brand name, I have problems with: Chick-fil-A.  I always pronounce it to sound more like "chick filler."  Because the way they spell the name throws me off.  Maybe I'm just not used to seeing so many hyphens in brand names. 

Part of the problem is my brain is already trying to adjust to the f-i-l being pronounced like the name Phil, or the process fill, as when you fill a hole.  Because f-i-l- trips a French synapse in my brain.  So I want to say something more like feel.  That means I'm already reeling from chick feeling by the time I get to the A on the end.

Result?  I can't make that A a long A.  If they wanted to say filet (again spelled with a f-i-l- but also with the French e-t-) why didn't they use A-Y-? 

So the whole thing translates to "chick filler" in my mind.  Which makes me think they're not using actual chicken at all.  Or more chicken sphincters in their nuggets than one would expect.  Chicken filler just doesn't sound appetizing.

Not even in a pot pie.

America, ya gotta love it. 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

2421 Blog Porn


I guess I should have realized when Google announced they were going to forbid porn on their Blogger subdivision that they weren't serious.  Not that it isn't a nice idea.  But defining what actually is porn was hard for the Supreme Court even before they got highly polarized and politicized.

When I first heard Google's announcement I was curious.  Hello.  Porn on a blog?  Porn by whom?  With Fifty Shades of Gray burning up Kindle circuits for so long, isn't this a little like closing the porn door after the wild animals have slipped their leashes and escaped the whips? 

Then I saw the actual Google warning on the Blogger start page: "On March 23rd Blogger will no longer allow certain sexually explicit content.  Learn More Here."  Sounds pretty harsh doesn't it?  Not so much.

"Um... excuse me, sometime later this month you'll need to find someplace else to post your porn..." 

So it was no surprise when the very next day Google retracted their initiative.  In a society where one person's porn is another person's free speech, albeit it with pictures, it's hard to clamp down on.  Hard to tell people not to cross a line when you're not sure where to draw it. 

This is the world of selfies and snapchat and totally unhacked public display of all manner of narcissistic nudity.  These days it's porn for the people, Google. 

If folks want to expose themselves, who are we to say they can't?  Google's next idea, to have folks post a graphic content warning landing page, is far better.  That will at least give us the option to avoid it.

There's a pretty clear line right there.  Think of it as the difference between porn by choice, and an unsolicited tweet from Anthony Weiner. 

America, ya gotta love it. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

2420 Oath It


I learned an interesting term recently.  "Minced oath."  I was surprised I'd never heard the term before since I've used the dang concept almost since I could talk.

A minced oath is a substitute word or euphemistic phrase that replaces a profanity or a word used in a profane manner.  Like if you would normally say Jesus Christ in an oath of anger, you would say Jiminy Christmas instead.  Or Jumpin’ Jehoshaphat.

Not sure if a minced oath has anything to do with mincing words, as in the phrase, "Don't mince words with me young man."  Or any relation to mincemeat pie.  Was that pie originally called by some profane name? 

Anyhow, that's how we came to terms with the terms gol and gosh instead of god, and darn, dang and durn instead of the non-river blocking damn. 

Which reminds me of a traumatic incident from my youth.  One that pretty much cemented my negative reaction to arbitrary authority.  And I suppose to black and white thinking generally.

I was in a baseball game playing second base.  A ball was hit to me and I bobbled it. Actually, I never laid a glove on it, as it went through my legs.  I was embarrassed.  So I muttered, "Gol dang it." (A phrase, by the way, that I'd heard in a Li'l Abner movie.)

The nearby umpire got very red in the face and yelled, "You're outta here!" kicking me out of the game. 

"What for?" I asked. 

"For what you said," he said. 

I was shocked. "I just said 'gol dang it.'" 

"I know what you meant.  Move!"

Apparently umpires are mind readers too. 

I left before he applied the then universally acceptable from adults in authority corporal punishment.  Lucky I didn't call him a fudgehead. 

America, ya gotta love it. 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

2419 Ali Oops


In the course of writing these little commentaries I often find myself Googling things on the internet.  That process conflicts with my natural foil hat tendencies.

Because you know, everything you Google on the web goes through you browser, and as we've learned, the other thing going through your browser is the NSA.

And Google itself.  Add that to the fact that I publish these essays on my blog on Google's Blogger, so they also sift content for adwords and ad revenues.  And no doubt some enterprising lackey in the Google megaverse can sell that data to the highest bidder too.

So when I needed to do some research on marijuana for another article, I wondered what the NSA thought of that.  I guess the damage is done.  By the way, my research was on ensuring quality in the new world of legal smokables. 

So if liquid that's safe to drink is called potable is pot that's safe to smoke called drinkable?

My paranoia got even worse recently when I wrote a commentary on unboxing.  I needed to look up whether I remembered correctly that Muhammad Ali had fought George Forman. 

As I typed the first part of Ali's name into the search window I had a sudden sphincter clench of alarm.  Wait a minute.  I'm typing "Muhammad" into an internet search request.  I wonder if that's a trigger word for the NSA?  Talk about Ali Oops.

Jeez, I thought, I better type in Cassius Clay.  I quickly started to backspace out of the letterers M-u-h-a-m- then noticed with horror that autocomplete had already almost sealed my doom.  Thank God, or possibly Allah, that I didn't hit enter.  

And thanks to my earlier request, I'm hoping the NSA already has me filed under "harmless stoner." 

America, ya gotta love it. 

Monday, March 09, 2015

2418 Yoga Mummy


Let me just say I'm all for yoga.  Not just the limb stretching practice, but the serene contemplation of the infinite and calm inner peace.  But I'm a little amazed by the lengths that some folks go to.

Recently a mummified monk was discovered in Mongolia.  He was sitting in the approved lotus position and looked as if he had died while meditating.  He is believed to be 200 years old.

But according to some he is not dead.  He's actually in a high meditative state just one step removed from being a Buddha.  It's known as tukdam.  As in, we tukdam under our arms and carried him to the lab to see if he was still alive.

Or someone else tukdam, because there's evidence the monk was stolen from another part of the country and was about to be auctioned off.  Damn.  That close to nirvana too.

Something similar apparently happened to another mummified monk discovered even more recently.  This mummy was found in a gold painted statue.  No wonder it looked so lifelike. It once was.

The news article had the headline, "Surprise! 1000-year-old mummified monk found in statue."  Um.  I'm not sure "surprise" is the right word.  Surprise is a word I use with a piƱata.  How about, "Shocking News!"

Anyhow, apparently, when the statue was moved, a rolled up rug fell from the bottom and what look like human crossed legs were revealed.  A CT Scan followed and yep, there was a 1000-year-old monk.  Tukdam again.  But this time his caretakers had covered him with paper mache and painted him gold.

I just hope he doesn't finally wake up at this point.  Laying in a CT scan covered with gold-painted paper mache.

"Man... That musta been some party...."

America, ya gotta love it. 

Friday, March 06, 2015

2417 Eternal Lame


Sometimes I wonder if I share the same language with some people.  They don't seem to know exactly what they're putting across.  The bad thing is they're supposed to be experts.

Like this story I saw from Reuters, which sounds like "writers" so they ought to be pretty accurate about how they write.

Here's the lead off paragraph: "A study from Finland suggests that saunas might have health benefits, at least for men.  During the study, men who spent time in a sauna at least seven times a week were less likely to die of heart problems, or to die at all, compared to those who only visited the sauna once a week." 

Less likely to die of heart problems, OR TO DIE AT ALL!  Well well well.  Whodda thunk it?  Immortality through sweatboxes.  Here they thought the fountain of youth was water.  Turns out it's hot yoga without the yoga.  Wonder if it helps just to turn your car heater on high on the way to work?

Or take marketing experts.  I saw a TV commercial for a line of hair products.  I'm not sure how long it's been around, as I don't watch that much TV, but it was odd.  A sultry model with shining luxuriant tresses comes on and extols the virtues of hair products with the brand name Schwarzkopf.

Really?  I'm guessing it has nothing to do with the Desert Storm Schwarzkopf, as I recall a fairly sparse-haired guy with a camo cap on, not a good hair role model. 

But what's worse is that schwarzkopf is a German word, where schwarz means black and kopf means head.  So.  Should any kind of beauty product be calling itself blackhead?  "Nurture your hair with Pimple..." 

BTW, I hear saunas are good for blackheads too. 

America, ya gotta love it. 

Thursday, March 05, 2015

2416 Ex Box


There's a new craze on the internet and it even has the comments trolls scratching their bitter invective-filled loser-in-the-basement heads.  It's called unboxing.

In order to understand unboxing you need to understand how folks who post stuff on YouTube can get money.  Basically, if you post something that keeps a viewer's interest long enough for one of those annoying ads to pop up on the screen and get in the middle of whatever it is a viewer is watching, you get a tiny amount of money.  The more tiny amounts you accumulate the richer you'll eventually be.

"Unboxing" videos are perfectly suited to this paradigm.  Unboxing is the unhurried unwrapping and taking out of a box of a piece of merchandise or technology.  It's all done with a certain amount of style and sometimes with slow background music

Kind of a product striptease. 

The merchandise doesn't have to be technologically oriented, though those sites are popular, as many folks like to see a new iPhone or iPad unpacked with all the peripheral gadgetry on display. 

(I like to peek at the Styrofoam packing material.)

One site is making quite a fortune unpacking Disney themed Kinder Eggs.  Which are sort of packages within packages, as you have your outer box, your foil around the egg, the candy confection of the egg itself, and the "caution may contain choking hazard not for children 3 and under" plastic egg inside the chocolate that is opened to reveal a Disney character.  Kids absolutely love the Kinder Egg unpacking YouTube channel, which is being used as cheap electronic babysitting by harried parents across the land. 

I'm glad.  The first unboxing website I went to was weird.  It had a short film of Mohammed Ali and George Foreman just standing around doing nothing. 

America, ya gotta love it. 

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

2415 Road Grade


Recently I was driving in a fog.  Literally.  A fog bank had settled over the area and I was trying to drive to work. I noticed something interesting.  Fog really helps you appreciate bad road planning.

Perhaps I should say bad road replanning.  Because there are lots of times when a road needs to be changed.  Sometimes to add a new turning lane.  Or sometimes a bike lane or traffic island.  All of which are good in the plain clear brightness of day or streetlight.

But these add-ons often inhibit the natural flow of the roadway.  A good original road has a sort of feel and contour that you can drive semi-consciously.  When they stick in a new traffic island, everything goes buggywomp

You know what I mean.  You'll be driving down a certain road for years.  Then a new school goes in and they plop down a new median, divert traffic by simply repainting the lanes, and you suddenly have to jig where you used to jag or zig where you used to zag or you'll swerve on the new curve and be perturbed by a new curb.

Oh sure.  They put up loads of signs warning you of the new roadside aberration.  But the signs are up high and you're trying to follow the actual edge of the road, because signs don't do diddly squat in a thick fog.  Even worse when certain drivers feel it's necessary to consult their smartphones while they're driving around in a fog of their own. 

I wish the road engineers had the money to smooth out the approach to a road change.  Feather it into the natural roadway.  I like my road blended in like fine plastic surgery. 

Not patched and bolted like a work of Frankenstein. 

America, ya gotta love it. 

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

2414 Bad Reflection


The other day I was getting ready to do some sort of performance and was unexpectedly stricken by appearance anxiety.

You know the feeling.  A sudden dread that your hair is messed up, or your zipper unzipped, or you have a large and unsightly bit of mucus dangling from your nose.  "Bat in a cave," a friend of mine once called it.

Just then my phone buzzed, and as I answered it, I caught a glimpse of my reflection off the surface of the smartphone's screen.

There's an idea, I thought.  They do all kinds of apps for phones.  Some very simple.  Like the flashlight app that turns your phone into a blazing torch.  Why not a mirror app?

Another part of me seized on the idea.  This could be the big one.  I could make a million bucks.  How do I make contact with an app developer that won't rip me off? 

It would be simple to do.  Somehow program an alignment or polarization of the pixels in your smartphone screen so they were all silver and united to form a reflective surface.  Then you could look at your phone and it would be a perfect mirror.  Check your nostrils for snots.  Your ears for sprouting hairs.  Your hair for seagull poop. 

Then I had a negative reflection.  Wait a minute.  My phone already has such a function.  It's called a back-facing camera.  Flip it on and you see an excellent image of yourself.  You can even go in for close-ups and lowlight enhancement.  And make a permanent digital record, in case you want to prove to your paranoid self you looked fine before you went on stage.

There go my dreams of riches. 

Who needs a mirror when you got a selfie?

America, ya gotta love it. 

Monday, March 02, 2015

2413 P-Day


Presidents Day has come and gone and with it all the emotions related to holiday celebration.  It makes me a little sad.

Sadder still when I read an article that exposed the President's Day charade.  Turns out that officially, Congress never approved Presidents Day.  On the federal books it's still Washington's Birthday.  Some states have adopted it and, of course, so have retailers. 

Personally, I think it's a great holiday.  It's all in how you elect to celebrate it.

At my house the festivities begin long before the actual day, as my family takes the opportunity to learn history and goes through the POTUS pantheon with a Presidents Day Advent Calendar. 

Each window opens up to reveal a portrait of a dead President of the United States, along with a little summation of his term and a lovely chocolate treat.  In the case of Lincoln, Washington, Roosevelt and Jefferson that treat takes the form of a coin, helping remind us how important presidents are to the economy.

My particular favorite is Martin Van Buren, because that's the day our family serves muttonchop stew.  I love muttonchops, both on the face and in the belly.

Finally comes Presidents Day Eve, a time when the family gets together and shares stories about how presidents have affected their lives.  Then we open a special book and read it aloud to the delight of the children.  "It was the night before inauguration, and all through the house, not a pundit was stirring, not even a louse."

Presidents Day dawns and we all gather round the Presidents Day tree, cherry of course, in honor of the one cut down by our first president.  Then we exchange Presidents Day gifts. 

I still remember my joy the year I got Lincoln Logs. 

Ah, the memories. 

America, ya gotta love it.