Thursday, July 2, 2015

Target Fail, Kroger Win? Nutrition Label Fun

This really belongs on my other blog, but it's also inline with my cynical commentary here: nutrition labels are crap!

I essentially gave up drinking pop (soda for those in other regions) three years ago  after giving it up for Lent. Maybe one a month since then, not a truly hard and fast rule ("more of a guideline, really") and mostly the hard stuff like Creme Soda when I bother, no diet crap if I'm drinking a pop now! A lot of Lipton's Diet Green Tea Mixed Berry.

I do drink these single sleeve energy put-in-your-water-bottle drinks, although never as directed. I use a big bottle, more like 30 oz.

 I started with Crystal Light's Energy brand, but they are never on sale it seems, so I switched primarily to Kroger's brand (btw, the "Yumberry" isn't). Today when charting my breakfast as a part of my 50 Days To 50 Years Old countdown,

I pulled out the Target brand my wife had purchased and discovered the old trick: nutrition labeling a serving that's not a whole serving. Kroger FTW:


You see that correctly, Target has the serving as a half packet. Wow. Just. Wow.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

I Have These Ideas and then see them on TV...

Actually this idea came from a combination of a casting notice I submitted to, an old idea to raise money to get a VW Thing, and my recent binge-watching previously mentioned in the next most recent post.
One thing that kept me awake last night was born of binge-watching Long Way Round and starting Long Way Down: taking a 48-state trip in a VW Thing, like I mentioned last August. I seriously would love to take a college buddy pal (as he says, "friends are friends and pals are pals, but buddies sleep together) on that trip, as we love food (we wrote a restaurant review column back in the day) and cars and stuff. Maybe a 2-car trip, him in a Mustang and me in a Thing! Film it, sell it as a show on whatever cable channel carries car/food/road shows....

The last August post read like this:
A flight of fancy had me considering a crazy Kickstarter campaign to raise cash to buy, fix up, and drive a VW Thing to all 48 contiguous United States. Film it, post updates from the road, then write a book to accompany the film. Whatd'ya think? 
Here are some maps created by others for this very task:




 Totally doable.

Last night, watching Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, I saw a commercial for this summer offering on Food Network, and they are driving a Jeep around the south! Not a Thing, but COME ON!!!!

First thought: they stole my idea! (not really, of course, you can't steal something that was just in my head and on this blog).

I had actually submitted Doug and myself to a reality show in February but never heard back, and my second thought after seeing the commercial was "that was the show I submitted to," but now that I see it's Paula Deen's sons that have already had a show, it may not have been the case.

Here's that description:

So, I got a notice via my talent agency about a food show that screams "far boys talk grub part two, the sequel" and wondered if you'd be interested if I submit for it: 

Have you and a friend/mate/sibling always dreamt of going on the ultimate ‘Foodie’ road adventure. Yes?!? You may become the hosts of our new TV series!!! High Noon Entertainment is casting for charismatic host duos for a new series for a major cable network. Our two hosts can be buddies, siblings, couples – just as long as you both have a strong history with each other, some sort of food background and have fun personalities with awesome on-screen charisma. This is a ‘road trip’ style show where our two hosts will travel to different cities and experience how America’s favorite snack foods are made, while getting a feel for the city itself. Food and fun….what more can you ask for!!! High Noon Entertainment, one of America's leading television production companies. We produce high-quality programming for networks such as HGTV, Discovery, TLC, Travel Channel, Reelz, Weather Channel, truTV, Cooking Channel and Food Network.

Not the same, but I bet it gets scrapped because of the Deen show.

I get what Joke and Biagio are saying: it helps if you are already known to get a new reality show made. Bankable personalities win over unknowns, duh.

Nevertheless, I think my idea is different enough, yet similar enough that it may have legs. Wonder what network would air it? Cars, travel, food, and ? Hmmmm

Monday, June 1, 2015

50 Days To 50 Years.

Today being June 1st, I realized this morning ( a day late and a dollar short as usual) that yesterday was 50 days until I turn 50 (I had to do the rhyme in my head, "thirty days has September,..) on the 19th of July.

I love stupid crap like this, so, it's going to be a thing, of course. I shaved last night, so I can pretend that was the start of whatever the "thing" is, I suppose. BTW, here's me:


Over on the other blog, I added some comments about using the remaining 49 days to drop more than just facial hair, but that's for over there.


So, let's prepare for the big 5-0 in 50 (well, 49) days!

One thing that kept me awake last night was born of binge-watching Long Way Round and starting Long Way Down: taking a 48-state trip in a VW Thing, like I mentioned last August. I seriously would love to take a college buddy pal (as he says, "friends are friends and pals are pals, but buddies sleep together) on that trip, as we love food (we wrote a restaurant review column back in the day) and cars and stuff. Maybe a 2-car trip, him in a Mustang and me in a Thing! Film it, sell it as a show on whatever cable channel carries car/food/road shows....



Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Philosophy, Cognitive Psychology, Religion, and Happiness

I've been reading a fair amount of cognitive psych lately, catch as catch can, and mostly second-hand (that is, I'm not reading original scholarship, just other people's writings about it), and wanted to dump some links here so I can come back to them, as well as dump a little bit of writing I've done today here, too.

This guy is of like mind. In some ways at least. Here are some more links to his stuff.

Try You Are Not So Smart on as well, plenty of good thoughts there.

Alan Watts: “This is the real secret of life, to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now….”

You see, the thing is, all the answers of your problems have probably already been found. I know we are all unique individuals in this universe, but we are also all a part of the ocean of humanity that has existed for years upon years. Ultimately, our lives are so much more similar than they are different, no? That is why we read and re-read works of literature that are hundreds and thousands of years old: the basic themes of being a person haven’t changed. To love and be loved, to eat, to have shelter and freedom, or whatever other hopes and needs and wants that you can imagine which a Mesopotamian or Hittite or Incan (or whatever name you want to assign to any ancient people) was able to imagine just the same as you.

The “thing” is that it is no “secret,” especially not in this modern age of information literally at your fingertips. The “thing” is that so much of our drama, our comedy, our music, our art is telling you the “secret” all the time. So is our science! All you have to do is listen.
Listen. Listen to your heart, that “still, small voice” inside you that philosophy and religion will tell you connects to all humanity, to the Universe, even. Listen to the voices of the past and the present, and be open to the voices of the future, but know that you already know the answers, if you are brave enough to listen.

Alan Watts’ quote above sounds easy, and for some it is, I suppose. For most, it will be the most difficult undertaking they will ever attempt. What does it mean to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now?

I believe that you make your own reality. Let me explain. Cognitive psychology shows us that our perceptions are flawed and because of things like confirmation bias, hindsight bias, the Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy, among other problems with our ability to sort of irrelevant from relevant data in front of us, we believe, indeed, we think that we know things that simply are not so. Essentially, we tend to focus on the things that we give our attention to, and give our attention to that which we focus on. Sounds like a load of crap, right? I mean, I just said the same thing forwards and backwards, right? Not exactly. The best example I can give you involves pregnant women and new cars. Not at the same time, silly people!

If you have ever been pregnant (or been a part of “we’re pregnant” if you know what I mean), or shopped for a new car (new or used, but new to you) you already know what I mean, right? By the time you finished reading that sentence you went “oh, yes, I get it,” but just in case, let’s elaborate briefly: when you or your spouse, partner, whomever, was pregnant for the first time, suddenly you saw pregnant women everywhere! You were surrounded! There was no escaping. It was like a nightmare scene from a movie (or a dream sequence, I suppose, if you weren’t’ scared of the impending chaos of parenthood?) Same for the new car, right? My family plays a game similar to the old “punch bug” or “slug bug” game with VWs, called Cheesy Squeezy, which we got from a friend, in which you squeeze someone in the car on the arm, knee, leg, when you see a cheesy-yellow car. Suddenly, there were lots of yellow cars I never noticed before!

The thing is, they were already there, of course. It’s just that we hadn’t noticed, we weren’t “attending to” the expectant moms or yellow cars or Hyundais until we were focused on them for selfish reasons.

So, I have a few questions for you. What are you attending to? (I know, never end a sentence with a preposition. To what are you attending? BTW, that grammar rule is totally arbitrary, it was Dryden’s folly). Where is your focus? What affects your focus? That one, I’ll answer: all kinds of input, much of which is both out of your control and, if I may use a controversial term, subliminal. We can talk about “priming” another time. Why are you attending to that? Is it urgent? Important? Does it make you happy? Does it give you pleasure? Joy? Or, rather, does it give you stress, anxiety, or even pain?

In my quest for how to say the things that history, philosophy, religion, science, and existence have taught us so that you can benefit from the accumulated learning of the ages (not a big deal, right?), there are a few themes that emerge.

  1. While common, it is also individual. Your conclusion are yours because you are, as I like to say, the “sum of your life experiences to date, including this right now.” You can’t step in the same stream twice, and you aren’t the same person you were yesterday because you’ve had another day of being you to add to the ingredients that make up you.
  2. Being a “searcher” leads to unhappiness, because it’s ultimately disappointing. “Let go, let God” is actually more peace-inducing, much like “everything has a beginning, has an ending. Make your peace with that and all will be well.”
  3. Another Buddha quote says “Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.” Or perhaps you prefer “The mind is everything. What you think you become.” I like that one. Our thinking defines our reality, just ask a paranoid schizophrenic. This may be the most important thing, really. Try this one: “It isn’t what you have, or who you are, or where you are, or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about.” Dale Carnegie said that. Go read Norman Vincent Peale. You make your own reality.
I want to talk about that a bit. I read a story of a lady that was being taken to her retirement unit in the home by her son, telling him how much she was going to like it, he interrupted “Mom, how do you know? You’ve never even seen the place. The room could be tiny, the residents could be mean.” She replied, “It doesn’t matter, I’ve made up my mind that I will enjoy myself there, that I will meet new people and have a good time there.”  You can choose how you go about your days, it’s not a matter of which side of the bed you get up on! Choosing to have a good day is something you can do.


Happy people don’t have more pleasant things happen to them than unhappy people, they just attend to the good and let go the bad, so the overall impression of their life experiences is one of happiness! It really is that simple ultimately. Do things that make you happy, avoid the things that make you unhappy.

Monday, March 23, 2015

New Mustangs And Other Vehicles

Well, there's this:



That's right, it's a new old Mustang, upgraded but classic.

Pretty sweet. Starting about $120,000, not unreasonable compared to what other similar-ish vehicles cost. I tagged my best college pal, Doug Clark of Garage Knights and he replied "back to the good old days. Well, I'm down to just 5 of them now and only 2 run LMAO" (to which I answered, "I'll take one off your hands if you like; let me count my change jar...LOLOL").

That was fun. Somehow I ended up looking at motorcycles on Craigslist. (you know that I was looking at Things, right?) Now, I'm not in the market, shoot, I don't even have motorcycle temps, but here's some old bikes I like.


"1982 Honda 250 Custom. No title. Needs carburetor work. Easily repaired or used for parts. $400"



"I have owned this for MANY years! It has been in inside storage until 3 days ago and now it must go. If you are looking to restore it nothing is frozen. It rolls with ease and the cables are not frozen. Or you can part it out on eBay. There is no title but I will provide a bill of sale. It has been so long that I do not remember the year or CC of the bike. I have no interest in it anymore, it came out of storage and the first one to get here takes it home. $250"


"Honda CB360 for sale. Clean title, good cosmetic shape for a bike of this age. New brakes, brake lines, points, condensers, battery, rectifier/regulator. $1400."

Somehow I found my way to a page about these, and thought that it's right up my alley: a good beginner bike, on and off road, 70+ MPG. Reminds me of the Scramblers I like so much.

Let's retrace the steps, for fun:

A Supercompressor article about the aforementioned Mustangs led to

Please God, Let Jeep Make These Concept 4X4s which led to

Keanu Reeves' Motorcycle Company Debuts First Bike (I think) which came from this page of links.

However, my search history has me thinking that I just clicked on this Yahoo story after logging off my email. Not as much fun, eh?

I then Googled the TW200 and found this story and thought, "that's a bike I could ride!" There are plenty available on Craigslist, and they can be had pretty reasonably, if you ask me. New ones are around $4500.




Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Drive-by Media Strikes Again and Again and....

So, this is making the rounds today: Gay activist faked own kidnapping.

Let me say but one thing: the fact that he is a "gay activist" has NOTHING TO DO WITH THE STORY as far as we can tell at this time. That, however, is the headline.

Like the 3 students killed at UNC over a parking space, the media grabs the most sellable part of the story, even if it's not a part of the story, to entice the idiots.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

How Little We Know

A couple of stories came by my internetting today, one from NASA regarding the sun, one about the deepest borehole in the world, and one about the oceans' role in ending the Ice Age.


We all know the Sun is a big burning ball of gas, but the text in this article reveals something to me (remember, by the way, the principle of Confirmation Bias: I don't believe humans cause global climate change, so these things jump out at me): we don't understand the sun very well.
“The images that have all the pretty loops and arches are extremely hot material,” physicist Dean Pesnell said in an interview with Yahoo News. “We would like to understand where all those arches come from. They are filled with things that are about 2 million degrees. The sun itself is just about 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit.”
The borehole article is filled with things we didn't know, and it's from Mother Nature Network, no doubt a bastion of "humans are killing the planet" thinking (caveat: I haven't checked that claim).

Before the hole was drilled, geologists could only hypothesize about the composition of the Earth's crust. Needless to say, the amount of geological data produced by the project was unprecedented. Mostly, it revealed just how little we really know about our planet.
For instance, one of the most surprising findings was the absence of the transition from granite to basalt at a depth between 3 and 6 kilometers below the surface. Previously, scientists had used seismic waves to glean information about the composition of the crust. They had discovered that a discontinuity existed at this depth, which they assumed was due to a transition in rock type. But the borehole drillers found no such transition; instead they found only more granite. It turns out that the discontinuity revealed by the seismic waves was actually due to a metamorphic change in the rock, rather than a change in rock type. It was a humbling realization for theorists, to say the least.
Even more surprising, the rock had been thoroughly fractured and was saturated with water. Free water was not supposed to exist at such depths. Geologists now surmise that the water consists of hydrogen and oxygen atoms that were squeezed out of the surrounding rock by enormous pressure, and is retained there due to a layer of impermeable rock above.
Researchers also described the mud that flowed out of the hole as "boiling" with hydrogen. The discovery of such large quantities of hydrogen gas was highly unexpected.
By far the most riveting discovery from the project, however, was the detection of microscopic plankton fossils in rocks over 2 billion years old, found four miles beneath the surface. These "microfossils" represented about 24 ancient species, and were encased in organic compounds which somehow survived the extreme pressures and temperatures that exist so far beneath the Earth.
The final mystery revealed by the borehole was the reason drilling operations had to be abandoned. Once the drill reached depths in excess of about 10,000 feet, the temperature gradient suddenly began to increase unexpectedly. At the hole's maximum depth, temperatures skyrocketed to 356 degrees Fahrenheit, which was much higher than the 212 degrees Fahrenheit originally predicted. The drill was rendered useless at such temperatures.
The project was officially closed down in 2005, and the site has since fallen into disrepair. The hole itself was welded shut by the rusted metal cap that today covers it, as if to permanently hide the hole's many mysteries from the surface world. 
 Though the hole's depth is impressive, it's a small fraction of the distance to the center of the Earth, which is estimated to be nearly 4,000 miles deep. By comparison, the Voyager 1 spacecraft, which has reached the outer layers of our solar system, has relayed information from over 10 billion miles away. The human race truly understands less about the ground beneath its very feet than it does about the cosmos that abound. It's humbling to realize just how much mystery still exists right here on our little blue world.


Lastly, let's peruse the article about the oceans.

"The oceans are leaking carbon dioxide to the atmosphere," said study co-author Gavin Foster from the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom.
The findings suggest these regions were pumping carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. The gas concentrations in the two regions spiked at different times, hinting that different processes underlie the rise in ocean carbon, the researchers said. However, in both cases the scientists think carbon dioxide levels in these two regions jumped because water rich in carbon and nutrients welled up from the deep ocean. 
Yet scientists still puzzle over what triggered these giant burps in greenhouse gas. Leading theories include changes in ocean currents or wind patterns. Some researchers recently suggested that sea-level drops triggered underwater volcanoes to erupt more vigorously, belching carbon dioxide in the process.
"We don't know the ultimate case," Foster said. "[But] we're one step toward the answer."
The researchers plan to test additional sites and examine how carbon dioxide levels changed through the glacial cycle, he said.


Not man, certainly 10,000 years ago. They. Don't. Know. There is also no Cause/Effect relationship proven between CO2 and temperature ("proven" being the important word there, by the way)


Seriously, readers, don't get fussed and have your tubes tied or something. We don't know everything we think we know.


Friday, December 5, 2014

Why Journalism is Dying In a Job Description

You want to know why print journalism is dying in the USA? Here's a job description I came across today, bold, underline, and italics are my emphases:

Cincinnati.com and The Enquirer are searching for a Community Press Content Coach to join our newsroom.
As Community Press Content Coach:
  • 100% of your work is focused on the 25-45 audience.
  • You work with reporters to identify the watchdog questions that will help readers make smart choices for their communities and get to the bottom of their questionsYou ensure the reporter uses public records and the best sources to be authoritative.
  • You ensure watchdog stories deliver clear findings that are unique in the community.
  • You identify stories that are best told through emotional narrative and coach reporters to develop the characters and places  relatable to the 25-45 audience.
  • You ensure that the Community Press/Recorder reporters collaborate well with Enquirer rpeorters. They should share tips, sources, and report stories together to ensure all Enquirer Media readers get the best and most relevant content.
  • You plan for mobile first to determine the best storytelling approach and what assets the reporter must gather to produce content that is complete, authoritative and shareable.
  • You deliver to the planner on time, to ensure our products are interesting every day and the reporter/photographer can build a following.
  • You ensure each content creator is the news leader in their field. They are competitive; they rarely get beat.
  • You can demonstrate ways that you coach reporters to help them be successful.
You report to: the Editor

I like that the idea is an "emotional narrative" because that's what news is all about, right? Emotion. Not facts, thoughts, actions, noooooooo. It must be "relatable" and "shareable" so the reporters don't "get beat" and can "build a following."

That's fantastic. Oh, and let's not forget the typo, "rpeorters" in the text. Wow.

I thought the person that did these things was called an "editor" not a "Content Coach." Welcome to the new age, I guess.


Remember, this is the company (Gannett) that just reorganized (eliminated) a pile of positions, and asked experienced journalists to re-apply for their jobs in an effort to get them out of the organization. Award-winning long-term writers. If you want to work in this field, you are nuts. I wouldn't bring any personal items to your desk, so you can carry everything out when it's your turn to get "re-organized."