Thursday, September 24, 2009

Good Day/Bad Day

It's good to know that during these trying times, equal weight is being given to the important issues of our day.

Good day for: The other half, as federal prosecutors in New York said a review of Bernard Madoff's records showed that only about 50 percent of the jailed financier's customers had lost money -- the rest withdrew more money from their accounts than they deposited. Madoff is serving a 150-year prison sentence for cheating clients out of billions of dollars. (CNBC)

Bad day for: Inequality, as a British store, Debenhams, is launching a line of underpants for left-handed men. The underwear -- made by U.K.-based Hom -- will have a horizontal opening instead of a vertical slit accessed from the right-hand side. The innovation is supposed to help save time and embarrassment for those accessing the area from the left. "In our view," said Rob Faucherand of Debenhams, "this is a vital step toward equality for left-handed men." (Reuters)

And I loved this quote concerning the configuration of right-handed underwear from the Reuters article so much that I feel compelled to add it here:

Almost 10 percent of British men are believed to be left handed but men's Y-fronted underpants have traditionally had a right handed opening from the time they were invented in 1935.

"As a result," Debenhams said, "left handed men have to reach much further into their pants, performing a Z shaped maneuver through two 180 degree angles before achieving the result that right handed men perform with ease."

So any of you left-handed men out there who were lucky enough to make money from Mr. Madoff's schemes should get your hands out of your pants and stock up. Unless you just enjoy that kind of thing.

So where are the left-handed bras that have the hooks on the other side?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

In A Land Called Honalee

We were heading back from lovely New Jersey (lovely in the sense that it could be seen in the rear-view mirror). We had received a very nice gift basket from my in-laws which contained, among other things, a large bar of Mandarin Orange and Bergamot Scented Soap. Given the length and scenic-ness of this drive, we will often discuss things, any things, just to pass the time.

Spouse: So what is soap, anyway? It's just lye and fat, right?
Me: Hmmm... do you know the chemical rule about "like dissolving like"?
Spouse: No.
Me: Well, certain compounds, like water which has two positive hydrogens on one side of the molecule and a negative oxygen on the other side are called "polar", and those compounds will only dissolve other polar compounds like salt, which has a positive sodium on one side of its molecule and a negative chlorine on the other side. Other compounds, like petroleum compounds, have their entire molecules surrounded by positive hydrogens and are called "non-polar". Those compounds can only dissolve or be dissolved by other non-polar compounds. When you boil a strong alkali like lye with fat, it forms chains of hugely long molecules that are in fact so long that they can be slightly polar on one end and slightly non-polar on the other, which is how soap can work by dissolving both.

Fascinating, no? Speaking as someone who once majored in chemistry, I can only tell you that any aspiring young chemist would have been riveted by this explanation. We're wild that way. Remind me to tell you about how Teflon was invented and how the Quaker Oats company made more money for several years from oat hulls than it made from the oats themselves.

At this point, you could literally hear her eyes roll up in her head. I had to grab the steering wheel and splash the remainder of my soft drink in her face to wake her up.

Spouse: When I ask you a question like that, I expect the answer to at least be entertaining.
Me: Oh.
Spouse: Even if you have to make something up.
Me: Oh. Um. Well.... Soap is actually dragon poop.
Spouse: There you go!
Me: The size of the bar of soap depends on the size of the dragon.
Spouse: I see.
Me: And the various scents come from what the dragon eats. Our new soap came from a breed of dragon whose diet consists largely of mandarin oranges and bergamot.
Spouse: Now that makes sense. Thanks for the explanation.

And thus our drive from New Jersey was made more pleasant. It was only later that I thought about adding some information on where liquid soap comes from, but I thought it best to leave that part out lest neither of us ever bathe again.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Other Side of Being a Nice Guy

It seems that a lot of my posts are inspired by other posts, and this one is no different. Having just read Restaurant Refugee's post about the kindness of Metro employees and doing the right thing, I thought I'd pass along a little experience of mine from the other side of the coin.

I dropped by World Market the other day to pick up a bag of my favorite coffee, Costa Rican Terrazzu, on which I've been hooked ever since my vacation in Costa Rica. I go out of my way to get that coffee there because A) they carry it, B) it's cheaper there than anywhere else I've found it, and C) they have a coffee club which gets me every 7th bag for free.

The total for my coffee came to $9.01. I handed the lady a twenty, she handed me my change, and I headed out the door. Now I'm one of these anal-retentive people who has to have all of my money in my wallet in a certain order. All bills facing forward, sorted from smallest to largest. Needless to say, my change is never handed to me this way and I spend a few seconds turning bills around and rearranging them before putting them into my wallet.

I was doing this as I was strolling out to my car when I realized that I had $19.00 in bills in my hand. I had already put away the 99 cents. I must admit that my first thought at this point was an evil one: Wow! A pound and half of coffee for a penny!

Then I started thinking. I know, that'll get you every time. This lady's cash register is going to be $9.00 short at the end of the day. At the very least, she'll probably have to make it up out of her own pocket. If she has a history of this sort of thing, the consequences might be even worse for her. And I'll just be damned if I'm going to screw up my karma for a lousy nine bucks.

I turned around, went back into the store, and got back in line. When I got to the register, I told her that she had given me way too much change for twenty. I showed her the receipt and the $19.00 I still had in my hand. She was completely perplexed and got out a calculator. I told her that the correct change from a twenty for $9.01 should have been $10.99 and that she had given me an extra $9.00. From the way she thanked me, I'm guessing that this is not her first offense.

So she may not be the best cashier in the world, but if she gets in trouble, it won't be because of me.

Not expecting a pat on the back here or anything, it was just the right thing to do. Just sharing a glimpse into an otherwise uneventful life.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A Rose By Any Other Name

The three of you that still bother to read this space on those rare occasions that I'm inspired to post something will have probably realized by now that I have what I like to call "opinions" when it comes to rock & roll music. I like to call them "opinions" because others tend to call them "boneheaded ideas about trivial things that you insist on talking about even though no one cares a bit about them but you."

A couple of weeks ago, I found myself alone at home on a Friday night. I immediately lapsed into a behavior that has been performed by bachelors since the dawn of time: I picked up the remote and started surfing channels. Friday night programming being what it is, my eye was caught by one of those interminable "list" shows that are the programming mainstay of VH1. This one was a repeat of "The Top 100 Hard Rock Songs of All Time."

[Self-Awareness Caveat #1: I do realize that I am not VH1's target demographic.]

I figured that at the very least I'd probably get to hear a few good songs and see how much I agreed or disagreed with their list.

[Self-Awareness Caveat #2: I do realize that my taste in music is quite different from the people who voted for the songs on this list (See SAC #1, above).]

I really have no right to complain about anything on the list, since A) due to SAC #1 I was not even aware that I would have needed to go to and vote and B) my vote would probably have not made one whit of difference in the results. Still, I have to wonder about some of the songs that ended up on this list.

Now at this point, you're probably asking yourself, "How can he possibly be critical of others when he's watching something as brainless as VH1?" My answer to that is to cite the argument that is so frequently and eloquently stated by my friend Urban Bohemian:

"Shut up. "

I was actually sailing along through this show, amazed and horrified at times that songs such as Rob Zombie's More Human Than Human and Rollins Band's I'm A Liar were included, but somewhat mollified that songs like Deep Purple's Smoke On The Water (one of the talking heads said, "This song has an opening riff that even your grandmother knows"), Lynyrd Skynyrd's Free Bird ("For the rest of your life, whenever you go to a concert, some idiot's gonna stand up with a lighter and yell, 'FREE BIRD' somewhere in the audience"), The Kinks' You Really Got Me, Led Zeppelin's Kashmir, The Who's Don't Get Fooled Again and Iron Butterfly's In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida were on the list. You have to take the bad with the good.

So you know how this works. They cover 20 songs in an hour and they show 5 hours in a row to cover all 100 items on the list. I came in somewhere in the 80's, so I watched over 3 hours of this stuff waiting to see what the voters at VH1 thought was the greatest hard rock song of all time. Quite frankly, I'm not sure that I could come up with a single song that I think is "the greatest hard rock song of all time." I'm not sure that I would even try to pigeonhole certain of these songs into the category "hard rock."

But I do know this: No song by Guns & Roses qualifies as the greatest hard rock song of all time, and certainly not Welcome To The Jungle. Heck, that's not even the greatest Guns & Roses song of all time, and I don't know that many Guns & Roses songs.

I had some stuff in here about my personal opinions of Axl Rose, but I decided that they probably had nothing to do with the music. I'll just toss this out as trivia to any who may not know: Mr. Rose chose his stage name only partially because his real last name is "Rose." The main reason was because it's an anagram for the words "oral sex." Guess he didn't want to be known as Earl Sox or Ax Loser.

There must be tens if not hundreds of thousands of songs that could qualify as "hard rock." Look at some of the giants of the genre: The Rolling Stones, Deep Purple, Aerosmith, The Who, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd... the list goes on and on. Groundbreaking is what most of these artists were.

Guns & Roses? Really?

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