What’s this I hear about Last in Space?

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I was trying to read the lineup of shows on TV from the menu of our cable service without my glasses.  I felt like I was taking one of those vision tests.  I proudly boasted that I could read a blurry row near the bottom of the chart and when called upon to do so, mumbled out random letters and numbers with the word possibly thrown in only to have the doctor request that I try to read again but this time three rows up.

As I squinted at the TV program menu, I thought the networks and stations had just gone live with their new lineup of shows, some that sounded intriguing.  I don’t watch much TV generally, but these new shows had me dreaming of early retirement:

Crimea Minds

This must be a Russian version of CSI.

Family Fraud

They are all unrelated, as it turns out.

The Big Bong

With the legalization of marijuana, this new series comes as no surprise.

Mushroomers

I guess Moonshiners has run its course.

Fiends

This sarcastic comedy is about a group of hateful friends.

Monsters in my Barn

Garage Squid

This might be a spinoff of Monsters in my Barn or one of those shows like Gator Boys.

New Grill

I toggled down quickly as I figured this was an addictive infomercial about a revolutionary grill.

American Mustard

America can do mustard too just as good as the French.

Imperial Lockers

I thought this might be something like an SNL spoof on Impractical Jokers but then again it could be about what the rich and famous store in lockers in train stations throughout Europe.

Morning Joke

I imagine this one to be morning political comedy, not unlike Morning Joe.

Miami, Nice!

…until it gets too hot.

The Last Squid

Based on The Twilight Zone pilot, “Where is Everybody?”

Last In Space

Trump might do better to start a space race, rather than a nuclear arms race.

Radiator

Make sure the kids are in bed as this steamy series is sure to carry an MA rating.

Anderson Copper 300

If I had to guess, I would say this is a 5-hour infomercial for a new compression product.

Chicago Tire

This reality shoe about a tire shop in the windy city is sure to be a big hit.

Last Squid Standing

If I had to hazard a guess, I would go with a deep sea, outwit, outlast, survival show with host Squidward from SpongeBob SquarePants.

Little Horse on the Prairie

A homesteader with a pony tries to live the American dream but finds life on the range depressingly difficult.

As Roseanne Roseannadanna might have said, “What’s this I hear about Deep Fried Monsters? Oh, Deep Fried Masters? Nevermind.”

Olympic Medals Made Of Chocolate

What if those medals all the Olympians win were made of chocolate?  The gold medal would be made of the highest quality chocolate from Switzerland.  The silver medal, perhaps, would be of Belgian extract, although the Italian’s might take issue.  The bronze, well, nobody wants a bronze and so it wold have to be made of a common American chocolate, something like a Hershey’s Kiss, you know, a kiss for a good try, or the unheralded and quite delicious Zero bar, which apparently it still being manufactured, though it’s hard to find where I live.

Were this to come to fruition in the 2020 Toyko games, athletes would no longer have to pretend to take a bite out of their medals; in fact, they could peel off the foil and eat their medals right on the podium stand.

Arizona Birkenstock Birko-Flor Review

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New Pair of Arizona Birko-Flor narrow width sandals

I don’t think I’ve ever blogged about a shoe before and probably never will again.  I almost posted a user comment on Zappos where I bought the pair but decided not to give away my content to the website.  I was pleased with their service, Zappos that is. Buying the shoe, sandal, in this case, was easy.  Zappos has a wide selection of shoes in all sizes and widths, provides a UPS tracking link, and delivers on time for free.

But this review is not about Zappos, it’s about the Arizona Birkenstock Birko-Flor sandal, which I am now wearing or breaking-in I should say.  Where to start?  First, this is my third pair.  The first pair lasted about 10 years and the 2nd pair, darn near 15.  Both pairs were leather with the classic footbed.

 

DSC_0687 Time to Retire the 15-year-old pair of Birkenstock Arizona leather sandal
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Mad Cows Protest

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If I were a cow, I would be concerned about the latest bill supported by California Governor Jerry Brown which would make it nearly impossible for cows to get antibiotics.  For the record, cows generally don’t like antibiotics and some even refuse the treatment because it upsets their four chambered stomach, especially when its empty.  However, a key source from the bovine world told me that were the Brown proposal fully implemented, and the cows unable to purchase over-the-counter antibiotics, something they have been able to do since the 60’s, yes, without a prescription, they would agitate and it would not be pretty.  Already some leaders of the various Bovine Unions in California have begun to organize stray cows who have taken advantage of their owners free range practices, and disaffected cows who are fed up with electric fences.  Just last week, a group of Holstein Heifers marched and then grazed on the California capital grounds demanding access to a broad spectrum of antibiotics to combat a nasty case of pink eye going around.  One young calf had also complained of not being able to get a bottle of tetracycline to treat his acne. He said the wildflowers he had tried as a home remedy had not helped and had actually made him “quite mad”, which was related to one of the slogans on a two-sided banner that an Angus cow wore like a saddle – MAD COWS = ANGRY DAIRY.  A group of devious beavers provided a constant drumbeat on empty plastic gallons of milk with their paddles in support of the cattle who chanted MOO, MOO, MOO, which sounded like a tractor motor that was trying to start, but wouldn’t.

Now I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to consume angry milk, yogurt with an attitude or crazed cheese. The cows do have a point.  And they are organized!

2015 NCAA Selection Committee Suffering From March Madness

Well the field of 68 has been whittled down to 66, with two games left in the first round, also called the First Four.  As I look at the brackets, I see something a bit odd.  Some of the second round games, which will be the first games for 60 of the teams, will be played in cities that are not located in the region they represent.  For example, some second round games for the West Region are held in Jacksonville, Florida, which, to my thinking is more South or East than West.  About the only place near the U.S. where one would have to travel West to get to Jacksonville would be the island nation of Bermuda.

Another example is Omaha, NE, which hosts a second round Sub Regional game in the West.  Ok, Nebraska is more Westerly than Jacksonville, but it feels more middle western to me.  Oddly, Omaha also hosts a Midwest Sub Regional game.  How is that fair?  When did Nebraska become a basketball mecca?  It doesn’t even have a team in the tournament.  No, Creighton (Barrel) did not make the cut this year.  Somebody in NE knows someone with powerful NCAA connections.

Looking at the South Regional, we have more of this March Madness shenanigans in play.  Seattle, WA and Portland, OR play host to South Sub Regional games.  I was not a Geography major in college, but from what I can remember, the only place that can call Seattle South is Canada.  I suppose Portland was approved because it is South of Seattle.

And because of these geographic fails on the part of the NCAA tournament logistics committee, some teams have a clear home court advantage in Sub Regionals that were not earned.  Let’s look at the “West” games being played in Jacksonville, Florida.   Wofford, out of Spartanburg, SC, the 12th seed, practically has a home game against 5th seeded Arkansas, and were they to win, would have a slight home court advantage over 3rd seeded UNC.  Wisconsin sent to the West Region got the least respect having to play in Omaha, a good 7 hour drive from Madison.  All the other 1 seeds get second round games in their home state and Villanova, plays just 30 minutes from campus in Philly.

A couple of Texas teams – Stephen F. Austin (12) and SMU (6) have smooth sailing back to Texas if they advance to Houston for virtual home court advantage – both Dallas and Nacogdoches are only a few hours from Houston.  And of course all of the Indiana teams (how did they get 5 in?) could advance to Indianapolis.  There must be some big wigs on the NCAA committee from the Hoosier state.  I mean really, how did Indiana even get an invitation with 13 losses?  And Valparaiso, isn’t that a city in Chile? Come on, and they didn’t play a single ranked team all year.  And if you think Butler has a chance of advancing very far, well I think you are delusional or put another way, suffering from an acute case of March madness.  And to demonstrate that I too may not be quite right in the head, here’s my prediction:  Cat v. Dog – Villanova Wildcats (1) v. Wofford Terriers (12) with the Wildcats winning it on a buzzer beater, 45-44.  You watch.

The Animal Survey Says:

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This afternoon, I was listening to NPR, or maybe it was PRI, with John Hockenberry, I think it was, who introduced a segment featuring an article some guy wrote for Outside magazine about zoos. It’s no surprise that the author believes zoos no longer serve a useful purpose and may be harmful to the animals. In the piece, they talked about the fact that many of the animals don’t fare too well in cages and some are even treated with anti-depressants.  The animals would probably rather be in the wild, though one wonders how well they’d fare there after years of captivity.  The host said we’d never know what the animals think about their lodgings because they can’t really be polled.  But if they could be polled, or if we could speak to the animals so to speak and do a focus group or something, here’s what they might say:

Zookeeper:  How do you find your room?

Polar Bear:  A little on the cold side.  Keep having to sleep with my thermals on.  And the coffee, come on, enough with the K-cups already.  Doesn’t anyone care about the enviroment anymore? I miss the sound of the percolator from back in the day.

Zookeeper:  Apart from the coffee and the cold, anything else?

Polar Bear:  I have a beef with the Polar soda they sell around here. I mean, when is that outfit from MA sending me some royalties?  Now that they’ve acquired Deep South beverages, from my neck of the woods, I am entitled.  Send me a lawyer – you know I never authorized my mug for the Polar logo.  I’ll buy this place and turn it into a ski lodge.  Water skiing lodge, more like it since the dang polar ice cap melted away, which is why I’m in this joint in the first place.

Zookeeper:  You sound a little disgruntled.

Polar Bear:  I’m being exploited.  I’ll have you know I’m an union organizer and you can’t stop us, unless you throw me some Alaskan salmon every now and then, say on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Zookeeper:  Mr. Snake.  How could we make your stay more pleasing?

Snake:  For starters, you can remove the plexiglass.  I’m tired of people taking selfies with me as I try to catch some zzzzz’s.  I’m not a violent sort, but some days I’d like nothing better than to envenomate a zoo patron or two.

Zookeeper:  How is your food?

Snake:  Never mind the food, just put me out on a sun warmed rock.  This flourescent lighting you got in here gives me migraines.  And I’d like to work on my tan.  One more thing – can you get me a new roommate?  The spitting viper has got no class, no class at all.  At the very least, get the guy a spittoon.

Zookeeper:  Sir Tiger, do you have any suggestions for improving the zoo?

Tiger:  Look, can you get me some wilderbeasts?  This pink slime you keep throwing me is not even fit for a taco.  And these cougars you got in here, they burn incense all day.  I mean, can you get me an air purifier or some Claritin.  My allergies are acting up.

Zookeeper:  Anything else?

Tiger:  Just one more thing.  A few of us would like to be zoo guides, just to liven things up.  It’d just be me, Zippy the hippo, Dusty the black bear, Leo the laughing hyena and Clowny the rattlesnake.  We’d like to lead the zoo patrons to a hands on tour of the inside of the lion enclosure.  The lions have been feeling rather lonely lately.

Are You at Risk for Text Neck?

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Funny phrase this text neck, a malady Millennials and Gen X’ers are more likely to suffer than Baby Boomers.  If you don’t already know what it is, what the thing is may be a mystery.  I can say this, it’s not the craning of the neck to catch a glimpse of what others are texting, which came to my mind first when I saw the article headline – Text Neck is becoming an epidemic…I was also thinking about necking, the thing that went out of vogue in the early 80’s and that  only Baby Boomers, and the GI Generation would remember.  And of course I was wrong.  Text Neck is what you get when you bend your neck to text or read on your smartphone, tablet or smart watch.

Did you know that the brain weighs about 12 pounds but when you bend your neck just 30 degrees, the pressure on your spine is as much as if your brain weighed 40 pounds.  That would be a pretty big brain.  Imagine how much smarter we’d be if we had bigger brains.  But the trade off apparently is that all this bending destroys the spine and the natural curvature of the neck, causing all manner of aches, pains, joint stiffness, muscle spasms, and tissue tears, that, as one doctor claims, could lead one to have corrective spinal surgery.  The only corrective thing I ever had was shoes.  As a Baby Boomer, I have some natural protection against text neck.  I never learned how to text quickly having grown up using a typewriter.  I am just now getting comfortable with a computer keyboard.  No, I’m not 94 and not still using a flip phone with a phone card.  But this Qwerty keyboard is still foreign to me.  I can type fast, but can only peck a smartphone with the index finger of my left hand.  And by the way, there’s no such thing as peck neck.  The only thing I can do with my thumbs is give the thumbs up and hitchhike.  Yes, it’s a generational thing I think.  I’ll never get a smart watch which may ultimately cause teens extreme spinal degeneration.  I’d hate to see the younger generation walking around with bent backs and huge bowling ball heads that weigh 60 pounds.

I do feel bad for the next generation who are growing up in the era of global warming, climate change, famine, drought, GMO’s, new rounds of nuclear madness, text neck, and the new threat of being buried alive by unrecyclable k-cups.  What a way to die! The Baby boomers and those still alive who came before, will most certainly fall to cancer or heart disease, but won’t live a painful life of text neck.  And for the rest of you, Gen X and young Millennials, it’s not too late.  You still have time to save yourselves.  Put away your devices and live just a little.  In the badly paraphrased words of Mark Watt’s paraphrase of his father Alan Watts, with a modern twist:  stop thinking (and texting) and start experiencing life.  And I would add, look up, look around, not down!

How Smart are Smartwatches?

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Photo by Luekk who has no idea I am using it and therefore cannot be said to endorse my blog post.

Pebble and Apple are coming out with new smartwatches in March and April of 2015 respectively.  I’m not rushing out to buy one.  The Pebble will run you about $200 U.S. and the Apple around $350.  Being more expensive is part of the Apple business model.  The idea is to trick people into thinking the shiny new gadget is of the highest quality.  But what’s up with a smartwatch anyway, and who needs one? I probably would need one if I were 20, just like I needed the swatchwatch when I was 21 or so back in the summer of 1984.  I bought one in Switzerland, of all places, a plastic Suisse Swatch, back before they were a big deal in the States.  Mine was black if I recall and I paid around $26 bucks for it (I think) which would have been something in the order of 65 Swiss Francs in 1984.  The thing didn’t last long.  It took a beating and did not keep ticking.

Today, I don’t really need a smartwatch, I already have one – it’s called a Timex and for $29.99 U.S., it keeps pretty accurate time and has a battery life of about 2 years as opposed to the Pebble Smartwatch with a battery life of about 7 hours.  How smart is that?  The thing can’t even tell time for half a day.  Now my Timex doesn’t have very many apps, but it does have a second hand and gives me the date too.  Impressive, I know.  And it’s reasonably stylish. What more can you ask of a watch?

Apparently, though, some are not satisfied with an ordinary wrist watch, and instead want to wear a mini smartphone or tablet.  But for what?  You’d have to squint to watch a video and you’d need a magnifying glass to play Candy Crush.  I guess you could get the thing to read you your news feed and announce what notifications have come through.  If these smartwatches have GPS, I suppose you would have to drive with one hand on the wheel and your opposite wrist in front of you to see where you’re going.  You could have it talk to you, but with such a tiny speaker, as it surely must have, you’d have to put your wrist up to your ear.  The Pebble alternative to the Apple might have the voice of the Trivago guy giving you directions.  Talk about a distraction.  If the things have cameras, you’d look like you were trying to defend yourself from a punch to the face or shield your eyes from solar glare when taking a picture.

I really don’t know what all the functionalities are or will be on these so called smartwatches, but I would imagine they’d also double as USB drives;  flashwatches, so to speak. Sure don’t want to plug it into one of the computers at work or school or wherever you might be and absentmindedly walk away.  Later you’d be like, “crap I left my watch in the computer…I have everything on it…” That wouldn’t be very smart.  You’d be better off with a Timex.  Your welcome.

3-5 Cups a Day Just May Prolong Your Life

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You should be drinking more coffee than you do unless you are one of the few who drink 3-5+ cups a day.  In fact, the most recent findings suggest that drinking 5 plus may confer health benefits including reduced risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease, according to a top nutrition panel.  They also found no health hazards to drinking 3-5 cups a day. The interesting thing, despite the presence of coffee chains the world over like Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts and the lesser known Canadian outfit, Tim Hortons that never made much of a splash in the States, no country averages more than 3 cups a day.  In the U.S., known as a coffee drinking nation, folks average 1 cup a day – just one.  Dating back to the early 20’s when records where first available, 1946 was the year of greatest coffee consumption in the U.S. at 2 cups per day per capita.  But why 1946?  I have some theories that account for the uptick:

  • In 1946, you could buy two cups for the shiny newly minted FDR dime.
  • Professional baseball teams started playing night games, and to stay awake, fans needed coffee, especially on the cold spring nights and even colder October nights during the World Series played in Boston and St. Louis in 1946.
  • 1946 was the year of U.S. rockets, atomic bomb tests and the H Bomb patent.  It was a year of space, technology and the beginning of the cold war between the U.S. and the Soviets.  A Cold War requires hot coffee and the newly invented electric blanket.
  • And finally, there must have been quite a bit of celebrating and then coffee drinking as President Truman declared the end of World War II.

You boomers out there – 1946 – 1964, drink up, it can’t hurt and might do us some good. Gen. X and Millennials, it’s ok to have your lattes and cappuccinos, but cut down on the whipped cream, caramel and sugar.  And anything with a frap in the title is probably ill-advised. K-Cup drinkers, the jury is still out.  Not sure how healthy it is to shoot hot water through a plastic cup, but it’s probably no worse for you than a Styrofoam cup of coffee.  In any case, whatever your thing – Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, McDonald’s, K-cups or just your ordinary 8 O’clock drip brew – 3-5 cups a day may just prolong your life!

Say Goodbye to Butterfinger, Baby Ruth and yes Crunch too

229 to Butterfinger, Baby Ruth and Crunch because Nestle, the Swiss chocolatier has decided to mess with the ingredients of the classics. I say mess with because according to an article in the Washington Post,  Nestle plans to use natural ingredients in its candy bars as opposed to the chemically laden synthetic dyes and flavors that so many of us have come to love and crave over the years.  Gone will be such iconic ingredients as Yellow 4 and Red Dye #40, that make the bars so attractive to the eye.  Never mind that Red #40 is actually named 6-hydroxy-5-[(2-methoxy-5-methyl-4-sulfophenyl)azo]-2-naphthalenesulfonic acid and was born in a laboratory and not in nature.  And let’s not harp on the evidence that in some studies, Red 40, as it is affectionately known, altered the DNA of mice, and is thought to have the potential to produce serious allergic reactions and even cancer in some humans.  After all, most of us will die of cancer anyway, so what’s the big deal?  

The big deal is that our candy bars are going to look natural and taste like some hipster snack food with achiote tree seeds (fairly traded from the Guatemalan rain forest no doubt) and actual vanilla. Yes, actual vanilla!  If they start using real sugar as opposed to high fructose corn syrup, which I am addicted to frankly, I may just launch a Nestle boycott.  How dare they even consider going GMO free!  This may just be a sinister ploy to regain the German market that banned the GMO laden Butterfinger.

Plot or no plot, Nestle is going after more than the big three, although I really don’t care what they do with the inedible Crunch, maybe one of the worst chocolate bars on the planet, in the same company as the foul tasting Tootsie Roll.  But get this – soon the “neutral” Swiss company will be attacking SweeTARTS.  Without all the dyes, they may soon look like communion wafers or peppermint TUMS and taste like raw agave sap.  If they go designer on us, I’m out.  I don’t want a tart made from real cherries, limes or oranges.  Kids don’t want that either, I assure you.  Real fruit is not candy.  If Nestle keeps mucking with the ingredients, they might get the Germans back, but stand to lose the entire American market.