Thursday, July 26, 2012

Somebody Moved my Cheese today:

I entered the Princeton Public Library, intending to find my next audio book. The shelving had been heavily rearranged, and I had a few moments' trouble figuring out where the majority of the audio books were.

I'm so used to entering those audio shelves, and recently I've been listening to books by one author, S. J. Rozan. Seeing my usual target completely obscured, I had a true "somebody moved my cheese" moment.

Fortunately, if I may mix metaphors, I made lemonade from the missing cheese. I recalled that, at my advanced age and with my glasses-enabled eyesight, I tend to select only those audio books that are one shelf below my neckline. The moment I saw the audio books in their new, far different layout, I rejoiced that I would see different books and have a rich choice of new authors.

And next time, I'll know where to find my cheese.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Pointless? (Bucket List):

I do not have a bucket list. Organizing my life to include many specific, planned experiences does not appeal to me. Life is far too short to try to fill it with everything that matters. If I occupied my time fulfilling a list of things to do, who knows what amazing, spontaneous events I might miss? 

 I’ll give you an example.

Someone I know had a medical appointment, and I was happy to chauffeur. And of course, that meant spending time in a waiting room.

I have never experienced anything like this waiting room, not even in department stores. While I sat, relaxed and unhurried, I let my eyes run over an extraordinary tasteful panoply of brassieres and female undergarments in every shape, size, color and pattern. They were a pleasure to view, a spur to the imagination.

I had never heard of such a place. I doubt that this waiting room is on anyone’s bucket list. It's just an out-of-the-way place that's waiting to give assistance, help and pleasure to those lucky enough to find it.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Vested Interest in Weather Reports:

I try not to rely on weather reports. They are a vague approximation from the viewpoint of any one individual, even when they are fairly accurate for a town or a specific area. I try to be ready for what I see in the skies, and I don't mind when the predictions are wrong.

With one exception. I'm required to read weather reports on my radio program. I don't "predict" more than twenty-four hours in advance. This morning I told my listeners that there would be hardly any breeze tonight. But right now, a steady twenty miles-per-hour wind is rippling through my back yard.

I misinformed my listeners! I feel bad.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

An Unpleasant Truth:

The Batman Massacre in Colorado reminds liberals like me how nice it would be if access to guns was better controlled in the United States. It would probably take fifty years to get some control over the enormous quantity of firearms in circulation, but hey, if we had started exercising control in 1950, by now we would have made some progress.

If you are hoping that massacres like this will change the way Americans view gun ownership, forget it. Even liberals have to measure the damage guns do against our country's gold standard: automobile deaths.

We love automobiles in the USA. We drive them everywhere, at a cost of 30,000 deaths per year. (It used to be worse, over 50,000 in 1978.) Gun deaths are harder to record and count, but they seem to be in the same ballpark, with some estimates as low as 30,000 per year.

The bottom line is very simple. Let us Americans do what we want. Collateral damage on the order of 0.01% of our innocent men, women, children and babies is a decent price to pay. Multi-car accidents, where a few dozen cars smash into each other, don't make the national news headlines. Why should a demented shooter?

Friday, July 20, 2012

Cooking tip: stir-frying with Strawberries:

When you stir-fry, whatever the recipe, add a few quartered strawberries, late in the pan-frying. They will add subtlety and depth to the taste.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The "Daily Planet": World's most financially secure newspaper.

Once in a while, The Onion hits one out of the ballpark. Here's their headline: Economically Healthy 'Daily Planet' now most unrealistic part of Superman Universe. And here's a direct quote: "I can play along with Superman using a steel girder to swat someone into outer space, but I just can't get past the idea that The Daily Planet still occupies one of the largest skyscrapers in all of Metropolis and is totally impervious to newsroom layoffs or dwindling home subscriptions," said comics blogger Marc Daigle, ...

Clark Kent: Have you tried Blogging?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Toilet Paper: Feed from the top or the bottom?

People feel very strongly about whether to feed a toilet paper roll from the top or the bottom. Since there's a lot to be said for both ways, one must view the decision as subjective. But:

One of our friends made an objective decision about how to feed his TP. There's an Air Conditioning vent very near the paper roll. If he puts the roll in the "wrong" way, the paper unspools by itself and sails across the room.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Fleeting fame ...

Everybody talks about the weather; hardly anybody talks about the weatherman (or woman).

But check out this one.

Every single web page should be dated!

Every web page should have information on it about when it was created, and when it was last modified. Pages that are generated from databases should indicate how old the data is. To some extent, browsers could enforce this rule. Why don't they?

How often do you check out a review on a web page, or instructions on how to do something, without knowing whether it was posted a month or six years ago? There ought to be a law.

Monday, July 09, 2012

Do you think that food is Organic?

The New York Times has a good article on the "oversizing" of the Organic food business. Big Food companies have discovered that you can price organic food products much higher than their conventional competitors, and they have moved deeply into organic foods. The big companies need to produce "organic" food on a bigger scale, and so compromise is a big temptation.

Now there's a board that tries to control the notion of what Organic Food is, and it maintains a list of acceptable substances, as part of the Electronic Code of Federal Regulations. The board is gradually being co-opted by the Big Food companies, but their control is not yet overwhelming. For example, the board voted recently on whether to allow an actual herbicide in growing some organic foods, but the herbicide was voted down.

I wanted to see the list of acceptable organic ingredients, and I found the list on this webpage. But don't rush to click the link yet; please, read on.

The remarkable thing about the list is that it is buried in verbiage on this page. It's preceded by many, many definitions and procedural matters. It's obvious that all that legalese wouldn't be needed if the organic food business was mostly the work of sincerely committed farmers and the like. But with companies trying to "push the envelope" it becomes necessary to define absolutely everything.

To see the actual list, go to that page and search for "Alginic" or "Bentonite". Both of these words are near the top of the list. The list allows: in organic food, or in the preparation or packaging thereof:
Carnauba wax
Chlorine materials (with exceptions)
Diethylaminoethanol (one specific use only)
Tetrasodium pyrophosphate (for use only in meat analog products)
Orange shellac-unbleached (not as horrible as it sounds, perhaps)
And many of your other favorite flavors.

The Times article interviews, Michael J. Potter, the founder of Eden Foods, and suggests that Edenmight be the last pretty large organic food company that is not pushing the ingredients envelope.

In any case, remember to wash your sugar cubes before you eat them! Cheers.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Making you eat Broccoli?

Now that the new health bill has been blessed, more or less, by the Supreme Court, are you afraid that the federal government will make you eat some specific food? Well, I have news for you. The government has already been making you eat something: corn, and/or all the many other foods and food products manufactured from corn.

Corn production is favorably blessed by the federal government, which also keeps the price of imported sugar high. You can avoid corn, high fructose corn syrup, corn starch, corn etc., and corn etc., if you read labels very carefully and prepare some of your own food. Frankly, if the government tried to shove broccoli down our throats instead, it might be better for us.

Wave her off:

After my morning radio show on WPRB, the first third of my mile-walk home is uphill. There's a bus that runs up campus every few minutes, and I'm always happy to catch it.
When I drive to the station, I take a long walk through the parking garage and then a short walk to the station. That same bus picks people up at the garage, and sometimes I can see the driver waiting for stragglers.
Two weeks ago I saw the driver, a hundred feet away, waiting for me. I thought that was a shame. She would wait for me to come out of the parking garage and turn away toward the radio station, and then realize she had waited in vain. I needed to give some sort of hand signal that would convince her not to wait.
After a moment's thought, I cocked my arm, palm out, fingers spread, and swung my arm down. I had gotten it right. She drove away.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

How I learned to Swim (the Boff):

I have always been a careless fellow, noticing little of what goes on around me. When I was nine I could not swim, so I always wore plastic waterwings in the water. They enabled me to paddle out beyond my depth, certain that I would not sink and drown.

One day at the Spillway pond I was splashing happily in the deepest place when I noticed that I had forgotten to put on my waterwings. I scrambled out of the pond, ran to my parents, and crowed, “I CAN SWIM!”