Friday, September 12, 2008

Think Happy Thoughts

I recently got tagged by a good friend. “Tagged? Is she a correctional facilities officer?” No, She blogged on ten things that make her happy, and then tagged ten people to do the same (after being tagged herself I believe). I was the only boy she tagged, meaning she sees me as manly or effeminate.

The rules are thus: If you get tagged, you have to list 10 things that make you happy. What are the things that tickle your fancy, make you smile or still give you that butterfly sensation? What things do you seek out and truly enjoy? The only rule is that you can't say your kids or your's too easy (you’ll note I’ve steered clear of that one).

I do like getting a good idea, jotting it down, playing with the rhythms and having someone else like it. Notice I don’t say blogging though. I tried to blog regularly about daily happenings but a) I don’t have the time and b) I just can’t write like that. I’m most comfortable writing in essay format about specific topics, so that’s what I do. I can’t accept a first draft. Everything I write is rewritten at least twice, left for a day (or in the case of this essay months), until I ‘feel’ it’s right.

To see from above how the land looks like generations before me couldn’t. I love seeing traffic get smaller and slower after take off. I like the obscure signs of man seen in remote places; looking down over deserted areas and seeing dusty roads that lead through hilly areas to a lone building with a large antenna, or a going over mountains and suddenly seeing one with its top missing, its sides stepped, and digging equipment everywhere. And I like the solitary feeling in the plane.

But first, the news.
I have huge issues with US news media which I think does a great disservice to the people. That’s just my opinion, but seeing as US TV news thrives on opinion rather than actual news they might take more notice, or more likely, offence. BBC news however—Oh yes please. (NPR does a not too shabby job Stateside).
Then, drama. Lots of girls I know believe you can’t have too many adaptations of a Jane Austen story and the BBC certainly delivers there (almost monthly it seems). Not for me though. I had a few friends watch the first episode of Life on Mars. First the BBC one then the rough cut of the ABC one (obtained two months before its broadcast from “friends” with connections). Everyone agreed that Auntie Beeb’s version was great and ABC’s version was unlikely to get past episode three before being cancelled (though it has been reshot and recast apparently). So we can all agree that BBC do that well.
The comedy. Have I Got News For You—clever, funny, scathingly satirical, and would not get near being shown on a US network for their fear of alienating a sponsor.

(This doesn’t mean I don’t like US TV – House is great, as was BSG up to season three)

So, BBC news, comedy, drama, does that count as three things?

Thunder storms
England has, in my opinion, too much rain. On the other hand, Los Angeles has too little. I long for a good rolling of static power above my head, the wind whining between buildings, and rain. Then I love the walking in it, sometimes with hat and coat, sometimes without, but I’m not allowed in until I feel the wetness seeping through seams or trickling onto my scalp. Then it’s back inside for a warm-up shower and a cozy blanket while falling asleep to the sound of the rain hitting the windows. Native Angelinos are seriously disturbed by this behavior. They are raised thinking precipitation is evil, and if it touches them they rush to the cosmetic surgeon to buy new skin and/or to their priest to buy absolution. Why do I live in a non-rain zone? My body is not awake if there’s no sunlight around.

Things I don't like
I love things I don’t like. First off it's so much easier to whine. Here I am halfway through a list of ten things that make me happy, and already I find I have to stop and put effort into thinking of things that make me happy, while, with no effort at all, I am suddenly reminded how annoyed I get when at the end of some TV show it completely gives away what's going to happen the next week leaving me no surprise or enjoyment. I hate that. But of course things I don’t like allows me to write stuff (see item one); network news, buying tickets online, gum wrappings etc. So having a good whine about something that makes me mad, makes me happy. Pysch majors, have at it.

Green arrows at busy intersections (when its me turning).
When driving on those wide multi-lane roads, and you need to turn across the oncoming lanes its annoying to have to stop at the light and wait for the green arrow. But, when the turn arrow comes and you’re the only car turning…several lanes full of cars have to wait while you and you alone get to continue your journey. Do it slowly and savor the moment.

Youtube – the ultimate clipping service
Clips of shows I watched when I was a child,
clips of shows I can’t get in the US.
Clips of things I was actually at.
Clips of things I wish I could have been at.
I love clips I’m the first to find among my friends (so I look cool).
I love clips they send me that I had no idea existed until they arrive (making them look cool).
Commercials from long ago, and/or far away; clever music videos, rare footage, Cool things, the list goes on.

Speculative fiction
Which comes in many subgenres, but sci-fi, some fantasy, and I’m quite liking the recent uprising of superhero films. Isaac Asimov is a hero in the short story area, batman and X-men rule the superhero world. Combining fantasy and humor is rare so one could argue that Terry Pratchett has no real competition. One could also argue he’s the only one that could pull it off and deserves credit for forging his own genre, anyway Discworld books I like. I’d also recommend Good Omens.

How many to go, two? Two. Well then I like the number

Two is great and makes me happy. Who doesn’t love two? Do you like two as well? (I say as well because if I added too to two, it would be three 2's in a row which is, of course, six, and that's just confusing).

And finally, please don’t expect a drum role, this list is not exhaustive or in any order…think…think…lemon cake! Yes. Oranges for eating and smelling, lemon for flavoring. When it comes to fruit I don’t do berries or whatever family plums fall into. I do do a lot of apples and melons. But when it comes to cake and especially icing, lemon is the favorite. And not any of this ‘hint of lemon’ stuff, give me lemon curd so strong it melts your taste buds and sends a sharp lemony sting round your mouth, through your cheeks, down you leg and across the road to the bus stop.

And that’s it. I now tag ten people. Some who will thrill to do this, some who have no time for such shenanigans, and some should really be in touch more than they are. DB, SL, KP, LC, RL, SE, EC, JC, MP, MH, give it up.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Six word memoir

Legend has it that Hemingway was once challenged to write a story in only six words. His response? “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” SMITH Magazine re-ignited the recountre by asking its readers for their own six-word memoirs.

loads to be read on their site (you can submit your own too), or in the book.

Here's mine - more of a biography but still.

Inhaled, perspired, acquired. Exhaled, retired, expired.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Mother said not to medal

So it’s Olympic season, bringing with it the usual wow moments of amazing feats, the tut-tutting over bad calls by the officials, the antics of ruffled athletes, and a staggering amount of indifference on my part. I am not a sports fan. I’m not against them mind, I just don’t have a personal need to know what’s going on sportswise.

Except I’ve found a discrepancy on the way the overall winner is determined. Sports have many rules to ensure a level playing field, the Olympics themselves have strict rules of conduct and sportsmanship, but the medal count...that seems open to interpretation.

I present to you the medal results as reported by American network NBC on Sunday, August 17 at 3:30 p.m.

America is top with 65 medals won. China comes in second and Great Britain comes in fifth. Well done everyone I’m sure.

At exactly the same time and date though, the BBC reports things differently. China is in top place, the U.S. is second and Great Britain comes in third.

It’s nothing to do with time delay in the reporting—there is a four hour difference in the "as of" times on each site, but both tables show exactly the same numbers of medals for those countries. No, the NBC medal table is ordered according to total number won, the BBC (and the IOC) orders according to number of gold medals at the top, and when the number of golds is tied, you look at the number of silvers and then bronzes.

I’m not the first to notice. Sports fans are spitting venom at each other all over the place about which way to determine the best sports nation. But this blog is occasionally read by friends and cyber-wanderers, not daily by thousands that value it for its up-to-the-minute commentaries and behavior altering revelations, so maybe its news to some of them like it was to me.

Oo - and thanks to DG who sent me this link . It lets you sort medals won (golds or total) by polulation. By which method the most succesful team of these games is either the Bahamas (one medal for every 165,500 citizens) or Jamaca (one gold for every 452,000 citizens).

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Extra Thick Shakes

When I was a kid I was amazed and astounded at San Franciscans. How smart was it to live in a city between major fault lines and where there is a 63 percent chance of a major quake in the next 30 years? Now I'm older, I choose to live in Los Angeles, which has a 67 percent chance of the same. Yes, I amaze and astound myself.

Yesterday was my most prolific earthquake experience so far. For those that have a few minutes here’s my account of those few seconds.

Little shakes are not uncommon in Los Angeles (especialy with kiddy meals), but today’s earthquake was a more substantial 5.4, and the epicenter (I’ve always wanted to go to a gig at the epicenter) was about 30 miles away from downtown where I work.

People talk about time slowing down in crisis situations. My theory is that it’s because you think faster than you can move (this is true even for Superman). For the few seconds the quake lasted I had an agile thought process that went through dozens of questions, scenarios and possible ways to react, but in the same amount of time there was room for only one action.

Big trucks shake vibrate my building so frequently it doesn’t really register. Luckily my subconscious, normally content to sit quietly and stay out of the limelight, keeps track of the mundane and raises the alarm when the normal becomes abnormal. Like a streaker in your office, you subconscious has the ability to make you stop whatever you are doing and demand you attend to what’s out of place.

My subconscious caught my attention, something was not normal. This is the point in any crisis where awareness is suddenly heightened. Your thoughts come more quickly and you stop typing memos and focus on what is out of place in the environment around you. The building was vibrating, and it was lasting longer than a truck would cause. You ask yourself questions: Is it a really, really big truck? An ATAT Walker coming down the street? Did something hit the building (I didn’t hear screeching tires)? Or, I asked, finally arriving at the reality I hoped to avoid, “is this an earthquake?” In the the time it takes to go through the process of realizing it is an earthquake its arrived.

Just as I discarded all the other possibilities the entire building lurched. Up or down, left to right? You don’t know which way it’s moving any more than a leaf knows which way it’s being blown; you just know the building moved suddenly and you were left to catch up with it; like jerking forward and back when you suddenly slam on the brakes of a car. So the question adjusts to “how big will it be?” the answer is, “no one knows, idiot,” so I quickly progressed to “should I get under the desk, stand under the door frame, leave the building, or run naked down the corridor like I’ve always wanted in case it’s my last chance?”

This last of course would really confuse people’s already overactive subconsciousness, “of course I froze officer, there was an earthquake and a streaker...”

I had just enough time to push my chair away from my desk to prepare for a heroic dive under it, when the shaking stopped. “Was that a foreshock to something bigger?” There was a prolonged creaking from somewhere and one of the office doors swung gently on its hinges for a few moments, but that was it.

While I’m sure everyone had a different experience, I think everyone asks themselves questions. Parents wonder about their kids. Off duty firemen wonder if they will have to go in. Earthquake experts wonder “is it an L wave or a R wave?” historians ask “will be similar to the 6.6 that happened on this day in Nepal back in ’95?”

The biggest aftershock was the avalanche of news media coverage that went over all ten facts about the quake ad nauseum. No one was hurt, there was no warning, 5.4, some books fell off a shelf. Without any major damage or injury they quickly started going on about The Big One and how it is sure to happen in the next 30 years. Something they are sure to not mention again until it happens, or there is another non-fatal shake.

It was though, a valuable experience. That earthquakes come with no warning is known, but until you experience that you don’t realize the implications. I know for myself that there is literally time to get under a desk and nothing else. There’s no heroic picking up a kid and running to safety, definitely no chance to get into a shelter or even dress down ready to streak. In the time it takes you to walk ten paces it’s done and over. In ten paces you are either back to typing memos or in a pile of rubble.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Do Not Delete

There were 120 e-mails waiting for me when I got to work this morning. Some of these messages are so important I received literally dozens of duplicates. Many people would callously delete them without so much as glancing at their content but that’s just plain rude. If someone’s taken the time to compose a message for me I give it the respect it deserves.

The first one, for example, happily announces that Dr. Piero Nete, a responsible attorney, has been looking for me. Turns out a distant relative died tragically three years ago leaving five million dollars (US) and I am the sole remaining next of kin. In a panic I call my parents but they are both alive and well. I forward their details to Dr. Nete because, after all, it should go to them first.

“Your degree is just a phone call away!” the second through twelfth mails announce. The degree is offered by a “prestigious non-accredited university”—which is fine by me; there are some accredited ones that are not prestigious. This online bastion of education eliminates everything from books to classrooms to homework to actually teaching! They issue a degree “based on my present knowledge and life experience.” How’s that for consideration of my fast-paced lifestyle? I shall call them as soon I decide which of my life’s experiences deserves a degree.

A colorful mail informs me the VIP Casino jackpot is at $10 million. Who couldn’t use $10 million? But to prove how important my e-mail is to me I shall finish going through them before I sign up.

Next is a mail from Shirley (Hi Shirley!!). I don’t actually know any Shirley’s but clearly she knows me as my name is in the subject line (and it’s my e-mail name, so I’m sure we’re chummy). It only has the word “hi” in it and a link with no explanation. Looks like she accidentally hit the send button too soon and I hate to ruin the surprise so I’ll wait for her to resend when she realizes her mistake.

Now, I am suspicious of the next one. It’s about my order #529510 from a pharmacy. Apparently it’s not unusual for me to order from online pharmacies, sometimes several times a week. I never remember actually placing the order, but it must be legitimate because their e-mails always list the order numbers. I’m assuming the medications are for a memory disorder I have. None of the deliveries has arrived yet (I’ve been waiting years for some), but my credit card hasn’t been billed either, so I don’t think I have grounds to complain. This next email however is from a company listed as (I kid you not) In my family that kind of problem was always solved with grandma’s special mixture of aloe and onion juice, so why would I need to order something?

A couple more e-mails with my name in the title. One of them is “2 me,” the other is “4 me.” I am 2 BC 2 open them now (U C, I F 2 P) so I’ll w8 and open them l8er.

Okay I’m back, and while I was gone another 47 e-mails arrived and each must be given due attention. I could get a prestigious, if non-accredited, degree in this.

Well here’s a turn-up…my loan has been approved! Although it’s followed by ten mails informing me my mortgage application is awaiting more information from me. I’m so confused, am I approved or not? The VIP Casino might well negate the need for both of these so I’ll leave them for now.

The next big thing on the stock market will be Honest Ron’s Airlines. I have a limited time to take advantage of its soon to be “soaring” profits if I “get in at the ground level” before it “takes off.” I call my portfolio manager but he can’t locate Honest Ron’s market ticker symbol. I tell him to call me when he does.

Oh hey, the VIP Casino jackpot has apparently gone up, $17 million. AND I get a $500 line of credit. I’m going to wait and see if it hits $20 mill.

The textuous style of the verbose mail next in line is a run on sentence of no small proportions but very small font that gives breath little chance and I think but can’t be certain as to its intention to incite me to overthrowing a government and then tangent the battle between nature and science without use of a scythe but wait you can’t end a sentence with a comma of which the young people of today are clearly suffering a lack of grammar skills and I could not agree more up the revolution my friend with a haircut would be nice,

My heartstrings are being tugged by the next one. It’s the story of Ernest Dillwedger—no, I’d never heard of him either. Born the youngest of 26 children to a poor Southern family, he suffered from extralaevuslobeius (an extra ear on the left side). He achieved his dream of becoming a fighter pilot, only to have his extra ear blown off by a stray land mine during a dogfight (between two greyhounds). Traumatized by the loss of his abnormal hearing, he hopes to undergo a revolutionary surgery where his big left toe will be grafted to where the extra ear once was. Any donation, however small, will help. How can I not do something? I forward him the tip on Honest Ron’s Airlines; that alone is worth more money than I can give.

Good news for me though, I’ve won a $500 gift voucher for groceries. Also an iMac, a flight on Jetblue, and a years supply of Lego. All free. Interestingly these mails all have missing graphics. Where a picture should be is one of those little red Xs telling me it’s missing. With great foresight though they have put links in for just such an eventuality: “if picture does not load click here.” Unfortunately most competitions in the US contain in the small print that you have to be a US citizen to enter and I’m not, so I have to let these go. Shame.

Missed my chance on the VIP Casino! The jackpot has dropped to less than $7m. That’s what greed does to you.


I ”


“Undeliverable: Sorry, this mail cannot be delivered. Follow the link and reset your password for access.” I can’t understand all this computer jargon; I forward this to the tech department.

And so it goes on. Most of these mails offer an unsubscribe link but why would I want to? E-mail is a key means for us to know what goes on in the world and so few people take full advantage of it.

As much as I warn against quick deletions of possibly important mails I must state that online vigilance has its place. Scam artists exist online as well as in the real world and some e-mails that look legitimate are anything but. Right here my last e-mail purports to be from my bank. It contains the correct security picture from my profile and the correct last four digits of my account number. I referred my roommate to the bank a month ago and apparently he opened an account so I get a $25 reward if I click to verify. Well that I just deleted. Free money from my bank, what am I, naïve?

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Saturday, March 22, 2008

Remembering President Hinckley

Gordon B. Hinckley, president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, passed away in January of 2008. Many personal stories have been recorded to honor his memory. This is one of mine, and it’s all true.

President Hinckley would have only one 90th birthday and only one 90th birthday celebration. If you were a student reporter assigned to cover the event, you would either be there, or write the “lost and found pets” column for the rest of the term.

I was assigned to report on the event along with Photographer Greg for BYU’s student paper The Daily Universe. It was my first actual “go-and-cover-this-story” assignment for my journalism class, and I admit to being both excited and a little nervous.

We barely started our hour-long journey from Provo to Salt Lake City when the air conditioning in Photographer Greg’s truck, desperately needed in Utah’s June heat, coughed and gave up with a shrug. We both developed instant coatings of glistening sweat. Several miles later other, more vital, bits of the truck showed they could shrug and give up just as well as the air-conditioning. The vehicle lost power, then suddenly lurched forward, then lost it again. Any obvious engine problems ran away and hid when we pulled over to investigate, only to reappear when we started toward Salt Lake again.

My grandfather never said “If trucks were meant to crawl they’d have limbs,” but if he had I’d have remembered his wise words at this point. Photographer Greg’s truck was crawling admirably. Salt Lake was getting nearer at the rate of 15 to 30 miles an hour depending on whether we were going up hill or down. We would barley make it on time and an air of uncertainty settled over the trucks increasingly clammy interior. Certainly the back of my mind was already working on new ways to report on lost pets.

Eventually the truck decided it was much too fine a day to be doing anything but sunbathe; it lurched its last and the engine died. As a subtle reminder that we should not loose our tempers, the truck had given up the ghost opposite the LDS temple at Jordan River about 15 miles south of Salt Lake City.

In his jeans and boots, Photographer Greg was far more suited to be walking alongside the dusty freeway than I was in my dress shoes, shirt and tie, and suit. In barely the time it took to say “dust” it covered our clothes and stuck to our non air-conditioned skin.

The priority was to get to a payphone (in answer to your question, no; cellphones among students weren’t nearly the epidemic in 2000 they are today). As luck would have it we were close to a multiplex that was sure to have one. All we had to do was get over the eight foot high wire mesh fence that ran along the freeway in each direction as far as the eye could see.

Photographer Greg was also better dressed to climb the fence.

As we walked toward the cinema I felt a pleasant breeze on my leg. Then another. In fact I felt a breeze every time my left leg took a step. I glanced down and saw a rip in my left trouser leg, extending from my waist, to below my knee. Step, flap, step, flap. A tear big enough to hide the Grand Canyon in exposed the seldom aired whiteness of my left leg to the elements.

Grimy from sweat and dust we walked into the air-conditioned lobby of the multiplex. Two young men behind a desk asked cheerfully if I would like a free membership to Gold’s Gym for a week. “Does it come with a complimentary sewing kit?” It did not, and the problem of getting 15 miles in 20 minutes eclipsed every thought of physical fitness.

I called an old roommate in Salt Lake who owed me a favor; a favor which I had decided was to be trouser shaped. No answer. “Lost any pets recently?” I asked the Gold’s Gym reps, planning a flying start to my new column that was looking likely to begin the very next day. Photographer Greg had better luck getting in touch with some relatives who lived nearby and arranged transport. Five minutes after we should have walked into the Conference Centre, we were again standing next to a sunbathing truck in the summer heat on a dusty freeway. Greg’s kinfolk pulled up in a big white truck and we continued our journey Salt Lakewards.

I thought the odds that they had happened to bring a pair of charcoal gray, self-stripe, 34 waist suit trousers with them remote, so I didn’t ask. But they did have a roll of clear packing tape which it was agreed I could take.

There are 160,000 people living in Salt Lake City and every one of them that owned a car was driving it around the Conference Center. Those that didn't were on foot, blocking the crosswalks. Realizing I could barley name three breeds of dog, I found myself planning emotionally charged lost pet stories and heart-warming found pet stories facilitated by my kidnapping and returning of the same.

At 6:25 p.m. Photographer Greg and I left the confines of the truck and walked (flapped) the remaining blocks. The parting in my trousers, big enough that I expected to see the children of Israel cross it any second, was too big to disguise, but people were too kind or embarrased to mention it and we entered the building without incident.

I quickly found a restroom and readied my suit for repairs. The packaging tape lived up to its name in that it was ideal for packaging. It was fully aware that sticking to cloth was not a compulsory part of its job description, and its efforts to stick to my poly/cotton trousers were half-hearted at best. I therefore used a lot of it, applying liberally down the tear, across the tear, and all the way round the inside of the leg at several places. My trousers could now stay up whether or not I was in them. I was as ready as I would ever be to go and see the prophet’s birthday celebration.

My every step was accompanied by a very audible crumpling noise and there were some curious looks from people as I walked across the lobby sounding like a giant packet of Doritos. But at 6:55 p.m. I finally walked into the media room and discreetly sat in a corner, legs permanently outstretched. Photographer Greg disappeared into the auditorium and I set about taking notes for the story. Gladys Knight closed the evening by having the entire congregation sing Happy Birthday to President Hinckley. I could well be the only person in history to sing Happy Birthday to a prophet while wearing a suit held together by packaging tape (though never let it be said I did not also have faith and hope).

The celebration over, we set out to find Photographer Greg’s kinfolk. He had arranged to meet them by the nearby Delta Center. The Delta Center takes up a whole block and we had not specified where around it we were to meet them, so for 40 minutes he walked and I crumpled around the Center until we stopped to stand conspicuously on a street corner. Had we known they switched their truck for an SUV we would have had a better chance of spotting them.

All had worked out for the better though. The prophet was 90 and well, we were on the freeway heading back toward Provo with words and pictures, and I did not expect to be writing stories that included the phrase “answers to the name of” any time soon.

The SUV lurched. And again. It sputtered, shrugged and lost power, and soon enough we found ourselves in a stationary vehicle at the side of the freeway. “I’m not jumping over any fences,” said I, but I didn’t have to. The SUV, perhaps realizing we didn’t have any more important appointments to keep, decided it wasn’t worth the effort to not make an effort. We restarted the engine and while there was no more lurching, the drive continued both cautiously and very, very slowly.

The next day in the newsroom I requested a reduction in stories requiring travel from my editors. I simply didn’t have enough trousers.

23 June 2000

The article about President Hinckley’s birthday celebration became my first published—albeit in the online edition only. This “story of the story” I made public for the first time in March 2008, a few weeks after his passing.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Best (check) Before

I don’t want to kill, cripple, or otherwise infect myself by eating out of date food. I would have thought the food industry doesn’t want me to either, if not through fear of lawsuits then because I am a guaranteed future income for them. Its not always the case however.

This jar of honey, for example, has printed on its underside ‘best by Mar 09.’ Helpful, easy.

This can of soup however, isn’t so helpful. Printed on its underside is ‘FF154225OCTA2.’ Yes, I see 25OCT amongst the other alphanumerics—standing out like a special forces sniper in a jungle—but only because I was stubborn enough to insist there was a date in there and kept looking till I saw it. Of course, it doesn’t say 25OCT is the ‘best by’ date. For all I know printing 25OCT on everything was the machine operators way of not forgetting his wedding anniversary again. If 25OCT is the expiration date, the question of what year the soupy contents becomes toxic to my person is anyone’s guess. The chunks in chunky soup are hard to identify at the best of times so I don’t rate my chances of working out which ones have grown in the can since it was sealed.

Then there’s the complete mystery stamp. This can of peaches has ‘619C5 1616’ printed on it, though it is hard to make out (only the top half of the digits are in italic you see). This code, I’m sure, comes in handy when the empty can is pried from the hand of a newly deceased digester of its contents, and is checked against a peach packaging database by investigators. The code may reveal such information as which factory sealed the can and where it was delivered to; or it may confirm an extreme case of out-of-dateness, and that a deadly virus that grows exclusively in out of date cans of peaches was likely involved. I don’t have access to such a database so I don’t want to risk my well being on its contents. No matter how organic it purports to be. But a Google search of the first part of the code tells me that if the 619C5 is referring to a computer chip, it is indeed way out of date.

So here’s the theory. The longest lasting foods have the most cryptic codes on the packaging. You see, if the can’s contents have a shorter shelf life they put on a clear best before stamp, that date comes and goes, I throw it out and replace it. But if it’s a can of food that lasts a really long time…well they wont make any new profits off me if they put on a clear best before date will they? So they slap on an ambiguous code, spread a few urban myths about mad peach disease, knowing that when I look at the base of the can I will have to err on the side of caution, throw it out and go buy some more.

Monday, February 4, 2008

A Big Hit

I'm really not into sports so I don't know how cool it is to have a friend in a Superbowl ad. But here it is, Eric hitting on Carmen and then getting hit by her body gaurds. Incidentaly, he reports she's really nice in person, none of that "My trailer is the wrong shade of pink; where's my tantrum advisor; I only eat fat-free, low-cholesterol, protein-enriched grains of rice" stuff.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Royal Wave

Over the Christmas break (Dec 20, 2007) Queen Elizabeth became the longest living British monarch. If she makes it to 2015 she'll also be the longest reigning. Among her many contributions, waving...

Queen Elizabeth II Will Leave Behind Long Legacy Of Waving

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Ee Buy Gum

The first in a series of posts tagged 'annoying.'

There are settings in which the act of chewing gum is not acceptable. Exchanging wedding vows is typically not done while smacking and popping sounds come from your constantly working jaw. Don’t chew gum at a job interview or while having a tooth extracted.

But gum has a very important place in society in terms of freshy breathness. It’s essential in certain social settings. It helps you concentrate in exams. So why is it so hard to get gum out of its wrapper?

Gum used to be packaged in one way, a stack of flat sticks, each individually wrapped in both silver and regular paper, and then collectively wrapped in a bundle so tight you needed a crowbar to get the first one out.

The trend now is to sell gum in little match-book-like boxes, you open the box and a dozen individually wrapped sticks offer themselves to your mandibles desires. What you don’t see is the other end, the end in the bottom of the box that holds on for dear life as you try to pull it out and when you do the paper lining the box comes with it as do all the other sticks of gum.

Regardless of wrapping the cost of getting that first bit of gum out is the sacrifice of at least one other bit of gum. Hopelessly squashed and mangled, its wrapper torn, possibly flung on the floor, you discard it before you can extract a useable piece.

Annoying huh?

Xmas stuff

A fabulous Christmas in the motherland.

Since last I was there, the family has moved northward and into a locale small enough to be rightly called hamlet (hard to imagine Shakespeare having success with a play called Village isn't it).

There was a reunion of Notability, the cheesily named vocal group of chums, some of whom I hadn't seen for a decade. Amazingly we all looked very much like when the group broke up. Would we sound the same? yeah, no one wanted to know, least of all us.

There was much traditional food that I miss so badly, and I got to practice my British accent among those who know it best. Interestingly (and quite flatteringly) the only two people to tell me I had lost my accent were from 'up north' from when I used to live there. I interpret that to mean I've lost any northern accent I may have once had but that the actually UK tones are relatively okay.

Here's me with the newest niece, and one of the kids climbing all over grandad.

For a New Year's resolution I resolved to make a resolution. So that's me set till next year...