I'm 30...damn

Highlights of the past decade: got off dial-up, church ppt announcement, college class, got a roommate, Avenger, had kitchen ceiling collapse, lived off of McD's burgers for a month, Young Life, lived off of cuban sandwiches for a month, blue arcs of electricicty, 9/11, moved to non-crap apt, got another roommate, darts on the patio w/ christmas lights year round, got fat, got skinny, got fat, street sign collection, near-death of roommate, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, got AA from HCC, got fired for 1st time, lived on campus at university, joined "The Facebook", met people from Japan, met other cool people, lost hair, Lip-Sync contest, A2 Tshirts, learned to play tennis, golf, & disc-golf; went to Carabelle (smallest police station), Birmingham, Nashville, Miami, Chicago, Memphis, Tupelo, Cleveland, Dayton, Cincinatti, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Grand Canyon, & Hoover Dam; Parthenon, dated for first time, kissed girl for first time, lived on a futon couch in a 500 sqft apt w/ a dog & roommate, domestic disputes next door, worked in a restaurant, got BA degree, got a "real job", got a much bigger apt w/ roommate & dog, Tivo, truck, family dog died, kittens & Dickens, got married, sex, got laid off, collected unemployment, seen 100's of movies, read dozens of books, Kansas, Styx, NIN, Jane's Additction, DMB (in a helluva storm) & Jet (HoB) in concert, seen friends & family married, had friends go off/come back from war, record collection, Blu-Ray disc, Twitter, The Aspiring Curmudgeon, & forgotten things


Fast Food War Files: Big Hardee & BK 99¢ Double Cheeseburger

Fast Food War Files is an investigative series on the wartime propaganda, battles, promotional offers and menu weaponry of fast food restaurants.

The War has reached a combative level not seen since the French Fry Crisis of the late 1990's. Perhaps exacerbated by the current economic crisis, both Hardee's & Burger King have recently created commercials attacking McDonald's directly on issues of quality and cost in the burger arena.

The Battle of Gut-buster
Big Hardee vs Big Mac (click to view weapon specs)

While watching USF beat FSU on Saturday (17-7) I saw this wartime propaganda from Hardee's.

The sound wasn't on at the sports bar where we were watching the game; it wasn't needed. The ad is a beautiful blend of snark and trash-talk, and believable. It made me question the current regime.

The BH stops the BM

The Big Hardee is a scorched earth policy on a bun and is cheaper than a Big Mac. The gluttonous feast of 3 smoky grease patties and (too-much) saucy gooeyness is sure to block the lower GI-track of any innocent civilian. The Big Mac's organized, bready, 2-patty dryness feels less like a wartime atrocity on a sesame seed. The big disadvantage of Hardee's is their lack of base camps from which to disperse this weapon.

The 99¢ Double Cheeseburger Conflict
BK Double Cheeseburger vs McDouble (click to view weapon specs)


Burger King
announced they will begin the "...launch of a highly competitive value proposition [HCVP]" at McDonalds' customers and the populace in general starting October 19, 2009. A HCVP is a compact device containing, "two flame-broiled burger patties of flame-fresh beef, crunchy pickles, ketchup, mustard and two slices of American cheese on a sesame seed bun" for only $1. Tipped off by a television commercial, this intrepid reporter was able to intercept a HCVP only yesterday in the Tampa Bay area. The receipt currently rings up "promo", though I don't recall the tv commercial source stating it was for a limited time.

This value burger race was intensified by McDonald's recent advancements with their value double cheeseburgers. Not so long ago, McDonald's upped the price of their double cheeseburger and created the "McDouble" to fill the dollar menu spot. The only difference between the two burgers being a single piece of cheese (That's right, one piece of cheese is worth appx. $0.20 retail). The streamlined McDouble represented a clear and present danger to Burger King.

Getting the most bang for your buck is important in war and food and BK wins this round. They provide a sesame seed bun, two pieces of cheese and crunchy, crinkle cut pickles and the ability to customize other toppings. Wendy's Double Stack is the non-security counsel member caught in the crossfire of this conflict.


MADD a Little Crazy? Introduces alcohol free line of drinks.

Everyone know there are consequences for getting drunk. Hangover, Cirrosis, walks of shame, a burning sensation when you pee, drunk texting, blackmail, death by vehicle. Commercials tell us to "drink responsibly" to avoid such problems, but we are all too often distracted by snow bunnies, party dogs, Slurms MacKenzie's gyratting, and ice trains bringin' frost brewed, natty ice-cold goodness to the football games to heed the advice. Because we didn't listen (oh God, why didn't we listen!?) there is one more consequence for all your drunken binges: MADD Virgin Drinks.

MADD announces an exclusive license agreement with Hill Street Marketing Inc. to produce a line of alcohol-free beverages, MADD Virgin Drinks, which will provide American consumers with a delicious and socially responsible alternative to alcoholic beverages. The line currently includes three virgin cocktails (Mojito, Margarita and Pina Colada), a virgin Lager & Lime, virgin Red and White Wine, and a virgin Sparkling White Wine.

Virgin red & white wine = grape juice, right?

The press release also mentions this fine line of products will be available for when you have the pesky social dilemma of being invited to a holiday BYOB party that's also a "family affair" and you don't know what to bring. I don't drink myself, but I'm fairly certain from years of watching television and movies, and being around my family that the answer is alcohol.

Now go drown your self pity in a beer and always drink responsibly.

DSC Sightings

Walked down to the bank today to conduct some budget business and found more discarded shopping carts about, also some Sandhill Cranes oggling peoples smoothies.

DSC sighted:

Cart #1.091809 & #2.091809
Origin: Costco & Linens N' Things
Distance from Origin: .1 miles, .5 miles
Found: Out back of the Suntrust bank, hiding in the shade from the hot Florida sun.
27°55'14.37"N 82°19'41.05"W

Cart #3.091809
Origin: WalMart
Distance from Origin: .4 miles
Leftover beer cans indicate the perp may have been guilty of Pushing While Intoxicated (I'll be here all week).

Cart Group#4.091809
Origin: WalMart
Distance from Origin: .2 miles
These carts were all stacked together by some unknown entity. They were put as close to the source as possible, maybe someone from across the street will notice them?

This has nothing to do with DSC, but it's a photo you can only get in Florida.


Anti-Piracy Video for Kids: Faux Paws the Techno Cat

What's a 21st Century kid to do? For too long (okay since mid-'05 or so), poor, innocent, unsuspecting (constantly sexting) kids have grown up into drunken, college students who post pictures of themselves doing keg stands when they're the underage, RA on-call, texting awkward late-night messages and inadvertently destroy whatever hopes they would have of being a productive, unemployed person living in their parents basement post-graduation. But what if only kids were taught about the "Three C’s of digital citizenship"?! They would stand a chance in the real world and not have their social akward moments ruin their reputations and haunt them for the rest of their lives.

What's that? You were not aware of the "Three C's" or that we are all "cyber-citizens" of "Internet City"?! You are part of the problem.

Luckily, iKeepSafe.org, a self described, "broad partnership of governors and/or first spouses [so one female governor and other governor's wives who aren't busy standing stoically beside their husbands at press conferences], attorneys general [sic], public health and educational professionals, law enforcement, and industry leaders [read: music & movie industry] working together for the health and safety of youth online [and to stop the hemorrhaging of cash]", is here to help!

The three C's are Cyber-safety, Cyber-security, and Cyber-ethics (Alternative prefixes deemed too dated for use: "E-", "VR", and "Techno").

One of the many cyber-riffic tools available to help your cyber-children understand just how cyber-scared they should be of a "series of tubes" and those who cyber-police it is, Faux Paws the Techno Cat! The cat and her kooky cartoon cyber-chums have not yet touched on proper etiquette for how to hold a rave or juggle glowsticks, but this most recent tale teaches students about, "the consequences of downloading music illegally". Kids are supposed to be shown by Faux Paw that illegal downloading is dangerous to yourself, your computer and your family.

You were expecting a long drawn out civil court drama weren't you? Here's what I learned from watching this informational video:

1) 0:48 - French cats are socially awkward and must be looked out for by a much cooler, talented USA cats.

2) 1:48 - Why couldn't Faux Paw just replenish his account balance? It's a penny.

3) 2:35 - Common Sense is your internet security. Seems Semantec & McAfee might disagree.

4) 2:48 - I have my own common sense humonculous in me? Sounds like a virus.

5) 2:50 - Peer to Peer = Dangerous.

6) 3:13 - Bulldogs and popup ads are pure evil. They just want to watch Internet City burn.

7) 4:04 - Cats don't have very high standards of music. They're all clamoring for the nondescript
jazz-stylings of Simon.

8) 4:25 - Viruses sound like Scooby-Doo monsters.

9) 4:49 - If you get a virus you will DESTROY THE ENTIRE INTERNET.

10) 5:02 - Firewalls destroy viruses?

11) 5:50 - Simon and Faux Paw live in the same house yet communicate via their computers. How else do you explain how Simon arrived so fast after FP was kicked offline?

12) 6:14 - When you steal a friends song, he doens't get paid.

13) 6:32 - When you apologize for stealing the song, you don't get forgiven, you just get acknowledgment of your admission of guilt.

14) 7:27 - Bella's a bitch.

15) 7:35 - Keeping you, your loved ones, and your free porn safe all hinges on your use of common sense.


(52) Double Stacks™ of Wendy's®

On Labor Day 2008, Wendy's International did something very nice (in a self-serving, promotional sort of way) for the increasingly unemployed peoples of Central & South Florida. They offered an economic stimulus package in the form of a booklet containing a year's supply of coupons (52) for the newly launched 99¢ Double Stack burgers. First 50 customers at participating locations got a booklet. I was one of those recipients.

I was anticipating the giveaway; I had a plan. The restaurant chosen for my attempt at complimentary vittles was tucked away, the least obvious of the five Wendy's within a seven mile radius of my apartment. I arrived a half-hour before opening, fearing a line already waiting. I envisioned a small gathering on par with the number of people who would stop and listen to a free concert at the mall by an as-yet-unknown, but up-and-coming teen sensation with a hyphenated last name. When the doors opened at 10:30, only four guys entered: Me, Mr. Tamrod O'Flacker, and two other locals.

I noticed Wendy's, Burger King, banks, theme parks, and farms all employ the same style of livestock handling systems. You enter the parking lot (Pen), go into the through the front door (wide lane with block gates) and enter the guard rail created lines (squeeze chutes). This system helps control the movement of the dumb, slow beast for processing. One gets turned into a burger, the other eats the burger - ironic balance in the universe.

According to Dr. Temple Grandin cows & sheep flow better in curved/round chutes and pens because:

1. As the animals go around the curve, they think they are going back to where they came from.
2. The animals can not see people and other moving objects at the end of the chute.
3. It takes advantage of the natural circling behaviour of cattle and sheep.

Humans being allegedly more intelligent don't need fancy curves, we can handle a straight/block setup and yet keep the herd mentality. The only other difference with people is we get agitated when the process takes too long.

Soon it was my turn in the stunning box (It cost how much for a value meal?). I could see the package containing the prized coupon booklets sitting open at the far end of the counter. My only herculean task was to order something to get the booklet, so I had a small Wendy's brunch - a literal small price to pay for $52 worth of unrecompensed eats. While we were eating I overheard two employees speaking of the lack of a turnout and the lack of publicity.

Apparently the marketing of the giveaway had a few issues. The publicizing of the event was modest and didn't generate word-of-mouth buzz (I mentioned it at work and got shrugged off - even though there was a Wendy's 1/2 mile down the road). The press release was dated July 9 and I remember the story being covered by local media with appropriate short pieces on TV and local news blogs. Less people were scrounging for survival back then (only 6.5% unemployment!) and some may have forgotten in the 3 weeks leading up and I don't think there was much social networking coverage, either. Wendy's joined Twitter on July 23 of this year, and the Facebook page's earliest comment is from July 7. Another part of the problem was the online press release didn't include a link to a list of participating locations. Assumably a list was provided to the press, but not the public. As an average consumer / shameless seeker of free food (i.e. target audience) I felt it took too much effort to track down the information. I did finally find an EXCEL sheet online (yeah, seriously) which listed all the locations in on the giveaway, but by and large an opportunity was missed by Wendy's to provide the necessary information directly to the public. I think most people who ended up with a booklet did so by luck.

I got mine and I was happy. The coupons started out as great way to have an affordable lunch once a week at work. The promotional giveaway created a repeat customer who bought stuff to go with the Double Stack, creating profit. As the economy worsened and I got laid off, the coupons became a daily free lunch and I was happy for the cost savings. I began walking to Wendy's to offset the toll of having a Double Stack every day and reduce my carbon footprint (read: save $ on gas). These walks lead to my discovery of DSC, wild passion fruit vines with weird flowers, and provided me the opportunity on occasion to help the less fortunate hobos/grifters by giving them a coupon. Post-job visits were only for the free Double Stack. No additional purchases. So the profit from my visits was reduced to almost zero or negative.

As a consumer and adamant hunter of free food I say Wendy's (or anybody else with a 99¢ menu) should consider doing some sort of giveaway again. Unemployment is at 11% in the same region, which would make for more people clamoring for free anything. Now with the power of social networking behind them, they would have a much more efficient means of spreading the word. Many sit-down restaurants and some direct fast food competitors have some sort of BOGO Free coupon showing up in email and/or mail. The downside risk is people may all be tightwads like myself and only get the burger, rioting might ensue, or the coupons will be resold on Craiglist.

The final success level of the whole endeavor? For me it was a major victory. I got a free meal at least once a week for a year at a time when I really needed cheap and free stuff. Also made an excuse to get out and make discoveries about my little part of the world, giving me things upon which to kvetch. For Wendy's perhaps it's harder to see the impact of the coupons, being it was only 2/3rds of one state that was involved in program. Wendy's Arby's Group Inc (WEN) 52-week range as of time of writing is $2.63 - $6.90. The stock took a steep drop the 31st, the day after the coupons ended, coincidence? Probably.

Miscellaneous comments for Wendy's:
  • Having visited all five Wendy's within my area, the fastest one of all to complete my simple order was #515 Adamo Drive. Where other stores took 2-4 minutes at times, #515 had it waiting almost before the receipt printed.
  • The Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger is the best of the value menu as it always has been.
  • The 99¢ value chicken sandwich is a disgrace to fastfood, especially considering the popularity of the Spicy Chicken sandwich.
  • The nuggets were better with the old breading.
  • Thanks!



Vietnamese Take Out

So you think you're funny with the ha-ha stereotype about Vietnamese food and the stray cats? Well you should be ashamed of yourself; the proud people of Vietnam have many, many much more rare species of animals they put in their diets.

From BBC News

Experts in Vietnam have warned that the Vietnamese could be eating a number of wild species into extinction.

The chairman of the Vietnam Zoology Association said animals at risk included the rhinoceros, the white-handed gibbon, the civet and the tapir.

My grandfather likes his meat rare, but his is ridiculous! (awaits rimshot). Now the only question that remains is how long before I start to see Roasted Civet on the menu locally?

Not Another Star Crossed, Mystical Teen Movie: The Musical 3D

I was sure the final blow to complete the Ouroboros of Hollywood's Pitch-tank of Appropriated, Monkey-typed Scripts would have been dealt by the contrived pop culture "referenceur" team of Friedberg & Seltzer with "Rebooted 1980's Toys Movie 3D". You knew it was going to happen, it was a safe bet.

Instead the pale rider on a paler horse of Limey cinema has taken up the gauntlet, intent on one-upping their Yank cousins by turning our fascination with UK character actors, magiks, musicals, 3D and rehashed ideas back on us with a series of movies "targeting the 'Harry Potter' and 'High School Musical' market" IN 3D, yo!

Based on musical versions of the plays created by Shakespeare 4 Kidz, "Hamlet" will be the first of the six total pictures ("MacBeth", "Romeo & Juliet", "A Midsummer Night's Dream", Twelfth Night, and "The Tempest").

So armed with a "$10 million budget for the initial three films" we can expect some high end, not at all obvious, pop-out-go-wow, 3D effects, right? Well, we are assured Hamlet will rock you so hard.

"Hamlet" lends itself to a 3-D treatment. The producers hope to include a ghost that hovers in front of the aud's eyes, cannon fire that flies into the auditorium and a sword fight that appears to happen all around viewers.

Such Xtreme awEZomenEZ will be accompanied by the reality show "Movie Quest -- A Romeo 4 Juliet," a public search to find two "undiscovered" young actors to play the lead parts of Romeo and Juliet. Renée Zellweger is rumored (just made it up) to play Mrs. Uncle.

Slow clap to you, L.A.-based private equity fund, European backers, Mark Thomas of Elsinore Films, Director John Godber and all the Queen's loyal subjects for staring into the void and asking it to name the capital of Assyria.


Science Confirms Cats Manipulative A-holes

Being repeatedly woken in the mornings by her cat's incessant purring to "haz bwekfest", the sleep deprived Karen McComb, Behavioral Ecologist of the University of Sussex in Brighton, U.K., complained to fellow feline fanciers about it and found they too were being pulled from dog like sleep by their purring cats. McComb realized a potential cat conspiracy, wondering why it was she and others got up to feed the fuzzfaces instead of backhanding them into the wall, rolling over, and going back to sleep. A study was born; got to love science.

The results show cats, "modify their signature sound when seeking food, adding a higher-frequency element that exploits our sensitivity to infant wails--and thus making it harder to ignore." The louder the element, the bigger sucker the listener. 75% of the volunteers in the study picked the solicitous purr as more urgent and upsetting than the regular purr of the same cat. Thus proving cats are indeed manipulative assholes and train unsuspecting owners to do their bidding. The study is due to be released tomorrow in Current Biology.


Howl-O-Scream Chronicles: Noob Like Me

Herein lies the tale of one noob's foray into the world of seasonal theme park employement. This chronicle will be added to as the event draws near.

11:00am - It was a fear of the unknown, the sort of fear roused by ignorance and a deep psychological need to not look like yuppie larva with a stick up his ass. What to wear?! This was a job where creepiness and a deep seeded love of scaring others were in demand qualities. People did no't wear khakis and polo shirts to those type of auditions, but I did. I was born with a stick and corporate America had jammed it further in place. Part of me knew better, which is why I brought a pair of jeans along, as well as a t shirt, a pair of shorts, and an alternate pair of socks and sneakers, just to stick it to The Man (in My Head).

11:30am - Leave for Busch Gardens. I begin practicing my "scary" face in the rear view mirror traveling up I-75. I reassured myself that this is how David Boreanez got started.

I forgot my ipod so I turned to the radio for some rock music to help work up scary emotions. I got Seether - Careless Whisper (because George Michael covers totally "ROCK!"). Whatever I might have gained from my loathing of Seether, was canceled by the craptastic cover. The alternative was Evanescence - Bring Me to Life. Thanks a lot Tampa "rock" stations.

11:45am - Arrived on scene. Everybody is wearing what I am not. Hi, my name is Square.

11:45am - 4:30pm -Check-in: 10 minutes. Picture taking/number assigning: 5 minutes. (I was 902 out of 934ish). Waiting for audition outside: 3.5 hours. Waiting for auditions inside: 1 hour.

This was the third day of auditions for re-ups and the first for noobs like me. The waiting was good though. I talked to many potential Howl-O-Screamers. Some were part of the 10% unemployed like myself. A few were fifth year veterans of the event. I learned 13 House is tits and I should be so lucky to be assigned to that scarefest of chainsaw wielding madness. They spoke of the big game they had spooked: Buccaneers, the Hulkster, anonymous lady who peed herself - legends all.

4:30pm - After many hours of discussion the upcoming audition requirements had been revealed: They take you in groups of ten and it's divided in two parts: Part 1: Pantomime/role playing Part 2: Scare Wall.

Part 1: Basic action was to dig a grave at one end of the room and walk the dirt back to the other end. During this process, different character roles were called out, and you took on this role as you tried to complete your task. We got: seductive vampire, victim being chased down by killer, and transforming werewolf.

Part 2: Stand behind Scare Wall at assigned hole, guy walks by 2x. Just open your slot and be scary when he walks past. I got the high up position, seemingly climbing over the wall to attack. Good times. Kudos to guy who screamed, "Get Out!"

5:00pm - general job assignments. I am happy to report I was assigned wall duty in Zone 2. What that means exactly I'll find out at orientation.

Miscellaneous Notes:
  • Twilight sparkling vampire bullshit will not be tolerated. Disco-ball vampire head on pike was discussed.
  • Bring a lunch or go get one, you got plenty of time.
"[Sunday] was the final day of auditions for "Scareactors" wanting to frighten guests at the theme park's annual Howl-O-Scream event."
  • I commented on the article (username GelatinousMonkey) to point out that the audition schedule link in the article contradicted this info. It shows 4 more audition dates. My comments get deleted. So I'll call Busch Gardens tomorrow to confirm if it's over or not.


Free Up Your Weekend: Free Food & Events

7/10 = Dress Like A Cow, Get Free Chick-Fil-A

You never know where you’re next meal will come from in this economy. Do yourself a favor, pull the stick out of your ass, quit bellyaching about your precious “dignity”, download the cow costume kit, and get you a free entrée tomorrow for Cow Appreciation Day.

7/11/09 = free Slurpee @ 7-11

The convenience store chain is celebrating its 82nd birthday with the annual giveaway. Customers will receive a 7.11-oz. Slurpee of their choice at participating stores on July 11 from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. I recommend mapping out the 7-11's in your area & make your rounds to them all day.

Howl-O-Scream Tryouts

Busch Gardens is holding auditions for Howl-O-Scream starting this Sunday (11-2pm) - want to go!? Sign up here. There are multiple tryout dates in the coming two months, so if Sunday is not available, you'll have more chances. I have no idea what to expect, but I'm unemployed and got nothing to lose. My natural creepiness should help my chances too.

Tampa Bay Lightning Scrimmage & Skills Competition
(w/ autograph session)

Come watch the future of the Tampa Bay Lightning and help gauge if we have any chance of a winning season for years to come. 7-9 p.m. – Scrimmage and Super Skills (Group A vs. Group B) Autograph session following.


DSC sightings

Yesterday I posted the beginnings of a photo collection of discarded shopping carts found around the greater Brandon, Florida area. Here's what I found today while taking care of mundane chores. I'm going to start trying to include more info about the origin of the cart, distance from origin (by road & as the crow flies), and whatever other info I can think of that might be pertinent.

Cart #1.061809 -
Origin: Ross
Distance from Origin: 1.3 miles, .6 miles

Cart #2.061809 -
Origin: Target
Distance from Origin: .6 miles, .3 miles
Discarded location: Down from Home Depot, Target is across the intersection in the background

Cart #3.061809 -
Origin: Albertsons
Distance from Origin: .8 miles, .3 miles
Discarded location: Parking lot entrance of Home Depot, across from Target

Cart #4.061809
Origin: Michael's
Distance from Origin: 1 mile, .6 miles
Discarded location: retention pond between Sam's Club & Buddy Freddy's (across an 8 lane highway from origin)

Potential DSC sighting: Local caught in the act of transporting her recently purchased 28" television set from CompUSA!. Nearest apartment complex following the roads is .6 miles away.

It would appear that all carts remain within a mile radius of their origin. Have you had a DSC sighting? Send in your photos and/or information today.


Discarded Shopping Carts

It's just as easy to stumble upon a shopping cart in the suburban sprawl of Tampa as it is a dead body in a police procedural. Discarded shopping/grocery carts are strewn along roads like so many empty beer cans and possum carcasses.

I walk to get my lunch because I am an unemployed leech on my family and want to conserve that most precious of all resources, money. Even the food is free (no, I don't dumpster dive). A wad of coupons for free "twice-pile" burgers acquired about a year ago keeps me nourished. I found three discarded carts while making the one mile trek in the scorching humidity of summertime Florida to get my free food.

Seeing them in the various positions and locations made me liken them to a crime scene. They were taken illegally (local ordinances prohibit removal from companies' premises), and left by the abductor in positions demeaning to their function. Hell, one is in a lake.

Drowned Cart a 100 yards from my apt
In front of office condo park, 100 yards from 1st cart
Drainage runoff area between WalMart & the Mall (not near bus stop)
This last one was found at a later date and time, in a different part of town.
Ditched Cart, by diff complex, near CVS
This is the beginning of a collection of pictures featuring these thrown away baskets-on-wheels. Take some of your own and email them to me and I'll post them on a later date.


Interstate Batteries God's Love Commerical

There is a worldwide shortage of God's Love. There is a overwhelming tearing of the clothes, and gnashing of teeth in the streets. Luckily the Chairman of Interstate Batteries has created this commercial:

"Burdened with man’s inhumanity to man, Interstate Batteries Chairman Norm Miller created a commercial to promote God’s love."

This commercial is airing only on Dish Network, and I saw it on the FoxNews channel, which means: 1) When it really matters, Duracell is the devil. God prefers Interstate Batteries 2) Dish Network is receiving signal from the Satellite of Love. 3) FoxNews is God's chosen means of communication with his believers (you already knew that)

I didn't believe it the first time I saw it. The second time I was in a post lunch stupor but tried to pay attention.

"...the main purpose of the commercial is to inform people and remind people that God’s love is available for us and he wants to help us live a life where we love one another."

Hey! Did you know that all you need to be happy is for God to hit you with His Care Bear stare!? We can be turned into a happy, loving, gooey eyed, shiny people!

Also acceptable for metaphor:
God's love hose showering down on us.

You know what else can accomplish the same task?



Pepsi & Mtn. Dew Throwback: A Late Beverage Review

Gen1 iphone not so much with the quality pics; sorry.
PepsiCo recently put on shelves across the nation two new products: Pepsi Throwback & Mountain Dew Throwback - both made with sugar (cane & beet), not high fructose corn syrup. The web was all a-Twitter about it before the cans hit the shelves and two excellent reviews (Pepsi / Mtn Dew) from a new favorite blog have shown this to be an already well covered topic. While keeping this in mind, an afternoon of lo-tech beverage reviewing (with grilled Italian sausage+works) is a terrible thing to waste.

Accompanied by my dutiful co-hort, Mr. O'Flacker, we acquired a 2-liter of regular Pepsi and Mtn. Dew from the Wal-Mart near my day job. The Throwbacks 12-packs were found at Publix down the street from the domicile. We gave it the full-on summer experience by grilling out.

Full disclosure: 1. I don't drink a lot of soda. Only on weekends when I eat out. 2. When I go to restaurants and ask for Coke, I want Coke. Not Pepsi. Then Dr. Pepper, not Mr. Pibb. 3. Grew up an avid Mountain Dew drinker but, like Pepsi, had not touched it in years.

Logo ComparisonWe started out comparing the labeling, current versus retro. Pepsi's current logo was an attempt to adopt to the zeitgeist of a moment and I don't think it was necessary. I do like the font choice, not that you really need to have any words - everyone should recognize the Pepsi symbol, right? The same font is used for "throwback", but gets lost on the cans, particularly on the Mtn. Dew (the monochromatic doesn't help).

The epitome of "X-treme" and "Edgy"-fication of a logo, the current Mtn. Dew graphics seem downright Poochie and even more of a grab at GenKeyDemo when compared to its predecessor.
Mr. O'Flacker asked why pieces of kryptonite were floating in the background.

Then we got to the tab pulling. We followed what we imagined to be International Wine Tasting Laws (I'm sure they really exist) in an effort to remain pseudo-scientific about the endeavor.

We lined up the glasses in a sunny spot on the counter and checked out the appearance. The Pepsi's were indistinguishable. Bubble's size was different in sugar vs HFCS and the Throwbacks appeared less bubbly after a few minutes. The regular Mtn. Dew was more opaque than the throwback version, possibly due to the OJ-concentrate, assorted acids, and preservatives not found in the throwback version.

For me, any smell difference between the Pepsi's was indeterminable, but O'Flacker's schnozz could tell the difference blindfolded (we did this and the remaining stages blindfolded). Mountain Dew Throwback was obvious. The regular Dew was louder, but it was a din compared to the Throwback's brighter and more distinct smell. The citrus aspect was more noticeable in the Throwbacks , despite having no OJ-concentrate like the current model.

Tasting was up next (still blindfolded). I failed the Pepsi Throwback Challenge. I couldn't tell which was sugar and which HFCS. They both were too damn sweet. O'Flacker passed with flying colors. We asked his avid Pepsi fan roommate to give an opinion of the Throwback (sans blindfold) taste too. She did not like it at all, thought it tasted like Coke. She's wrong, but it was an interesting response.

O'Flacker failed the blind Mt. Dew challenge. He believed the regular Dew to be the sugar. I nailed it easily. If I ever drank sugar-Dew before no memory exist in my head of it. I tried the sugar stuff first and then the HFCS. I recognized the taste of the HFCS instantly and realized my childhood was a lie, having grown up on corn syrup when sugar was obviously my beverage soul mate. I'm a big fan of corn, don't get me wrong - cereal, chips, alternative fuel source - but I'm all about Big Sugar in my soda-pop.

In the end we figured both Throwbacks were smoother, more muted and yet more distinct than the regular.

The ingredients comparison reflects why the Mountain Dew was a much more obvious difference than the Pepsi. I find it interesting that HFCS types requires more preservatives than sugar versions. Ingredients in one version and not the other are in italics.

Ingredients List:

Mtn. Dew

Mountain Dew Throwback


Pepsi Throwback

Final Thoughts

  • When I started doing research on the Throwbacks I discovered that many other sugar-based versions of my favorite colas exist throughout the world. Most notably for me, Mexican Coke. I will be mounting a search party to try and find some.
  • I would have tried Pepsi Natural if the test market was anywhere in the "South".
  • You say "throwback" enough in connection with food and it comes close to "throwup". Old School, Retro, Back-in-the-Day etc lost out to this term in the focus groups.
  • It all went well with the Italian sausage sandwiches + works and the strawberry spinach salad with walnuts and gorgonzola cheese.
  • Burp Factor: Throwbacks seemed less burp inducing - but hard to say.


CDC Swine Flu Update - Clinic Conference Call Live Blog

Today's Call

RT: @CDCemergency: CDC Swine Flu Update - Conference Call for Clinicians - 2-3PM Listen live: http://bit.ly/y9g7Z

TITLE: Swine Influenza Investigation Update
SPEAKER: Timothy Uyeki, MD MPH MPP
DATE: TODAY!!! Monday, April 27, 2009 TIME: 2:00 - 3:00 PM ET

Well, here we are again. Waiting for the CDC to broadcast its latest update titled "Conference Call for Clinicians" and listening to easy listening & classical muzak while we wait to see if we are all going to die for real this time, or go broke thinking we are going to get sick.

Take These Broken Wings now playing.


2:09 - They've got more info posted about this event than a paranoid schizophrenic on Twitter.

We interrupt this update with MUZAK! The phone conference has been infected with the flu! God have mercy on us! We are all going to.... oh we're back.

2:12 - Human to human transmission only. No pig screwing going on at this time.

The Canadian Swine Flu is similar to US swine flu but thicker cut, cured and smoked.

Question Time!

Initial cases were found because (luckily) the sites were participating in monitoring protocols. Coming up "A+ non-subtype-able"

Clinicians will need to rely on Rapid test or immunoflorescents (sp?) to figure out if person has Flu. It will only come up A+ but they won't know if it's regular seasonal A flu or Swine A Flu.

2:22 - FDA plug - fda.gov/medwatch

Caroline's Question: Standard airborne contact protocol?

Human-to-Human transmission - assuming transmission like regular flu for right now.

Denise Curtis - Q: What is your probable case definition? Tamiflu for cases or contacts as well?

A: All confirmed cases get [prescribed] Tamiflu/Oseltamivir

Most US cases have retired without treatment (read: all those without Rx insurance copay toughed it out)

They don't want to freak everyone out, but they don't want to make everyone believe that we're all OK either!?

The science nerd talk is getting kind of thick.

2:38 - Airplane travel: Gateway to Physical and/or Portfolio Death?
A: No widespread disease and transmission through US. Nobody said nothing about stopping all air travel. Check CDC and/or WHO website for travel advisories.

I find these webcast interesting in that it gives insight into what goes on behind the scenes for when you go to the doctor. Who'd have thought swabbing technique could be such a big deal?

Check out photo on BBC site. This is how people will makeout in the 22nd century.

"Productive Sputem" is a good band name.

Transcripts available later @: emergency.cdc.gov/coca

Double check it for accuracy, don't want to add to the misinformation.


LiveBlog of CDC SwineFlu Webcast

I'm currently following the outbreak of Swine Flu related twits (twats?) & stories pouring over the net. It looks like most of the US has put aside pirates and Pakistan for pigs and the diseases they carry.

A disease that is an unholy chimera of pig, bird, and human virus parts!

CDC webcast @ 2:30 about swine flu (audio only) http://tinyurl.com/cudt9m - smooth jazz hold music now playing

I'm waiting for the CDC webcast to begin (smooth jazz & classical music is the hold music).

Maybe I'll try liveblogging it!

Sorry, I'm geeking out over this horrible, possibly big pandemic (status pending per WHO) but this is the first time I've been jacked-in when a big event is breaking.

2:34 - "conference will begin momentarily" - over Tears in Heaven

2:40 -
still waiting. No worries, it's not like the fear of a pandemic flu outbreak is scaring the crap of out of people.

2:43 -
Richard Besser, M.D., Acting Director, CDC
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
1600 Clifton Road NE
Atlanta, GA 30329
Tom Harkin Global Communications Center (Building 19), Press Room

So I wonder what would happen if I call in to the "media only" line? Do they authenticate my credentials prior to letting me press "1" to ask a question?

888-795-0855 MEDIA ONLY
866-556-1092 NON MEDIA
210-234-0118 INTERNATIONAL
Passcode CDC Media

2:47 - It begins!

2:48 - "public concerned" - you should see the twitterverse updates about it!

2:50 - local approaches? In one area a man shot a gun in the air over infected patient- that didn't seem to help. In another, a girl was given Tamiflu - that seemed to help.

Total # of confirmed US cases - 8

2:51 New swine flu lets whole family of the infected join in the fun of solving the puzzle by being guinea pigs

2:53 - CDC initial way of dealing with the new virus: Cover hands when you cough, wash your hands - continue to travel to Mexico.

Questions in the Room:

Growing more concerned, why?
Lots of people dying in Mexico.

Lauri Daniel ABC news: Travel to Mexico restricted? No, Lauri (check spelling of her name later) he already said you could still travel, but wash hands.

To the phones!

"Been looking @ one part of virus - it's similar, but whole genome hasn't been done" between Mexico & Cali samples

Pandemic threat level: No change at this time. WHO will let you know when to panic.

David - Washington Post: Can you give us some sense about # of cases/deaths in Mexico? 60/100?

A: Call Mexican Gov & WHO. Continue to speculate & makeup #'s as necessary to keep ratings up.

WXI ATL: paraphrase - do we know how people got sick?
A: Don't know yet. But stop the buggery just to be safe.

The room seems confused or not interested in asking questions compared to phone lines.

Comment from my peanut gallery: "It was our plan for border control all along. Send infected swine."

News Flash: CDC States common behavior for San Diego-ites to travel to/from Mexico.

WebMD Q: What might we see happen that would get CDC to up threat level?
A: There's a plan in place to deal with pandemic (had it for years). See: "pandemic flu planning" on CDC site. WHO not calling it pandemic officially yet.

When can we get a computer generated simulation showing the virus spreading over the US and the world Outbreak style?

Maggie Fox - Reuters - Are CDC in Mexico? Containing the virus?
We are not in Mexico yet, (lack of use of "magic word" being used cited as main reason).

Canada is helping with this!? Bilateral cooperation? This is why Science is wrong.

Pick your favorite Outbreak quote to apply to the situation: http://tinyurl.com/ch2w9b

Two more questions left!

1 - Did someone screw a pig?
2 - travel screening?

CDC out.

How'd I do on my first liveblog? Please wash your hands before commenting.


Humping Tortoises, an Earth Day Entry

I have forever been recording episodes of Nature on PBS. The reason why can be summed up in two words: humping tortoises.

In a cutaway from the main topic at hand about lemurs basking in the sun, the show had a little cutaway to two tortoises in the brush populating the species. This wasn't throwaway, B-roll monkey fucking; this was an encapsulation of hilarity (HT=LOL).

When I started writing this post, I tried first to go find the episode of Nature to which I was referring. I didn’t find it (sorry). I did find PBS has many episodes of Nature available online to watch at leisure. The episode database can even be searched by type of animal (Support PBS)! Luckily, YouTube has many humping tortoise videos.

What is it about other species getting it on that enthralls us human so much? Perhaps some primal Id-driven part of our dirty, little minds must recognize the importance of the continuation of the species, or perhaps realizes all species, great and small, look and sound really silly doing it.

So remember these majestic, 100-year-old, living fossils bumping uglies the next time you carelessly choose to take your precious bottle of water and throw it into the regular garbage in one of the tens of thousands of populated areas in this country that do not offer a recycling program of any kind.

Just be sure to use up as many bottles as possible. Ask cashiers to double bag those bottles in plastic bags and then shrink wrap it during your initial purchase. Plastic is oil and until we use up all the oil there is no real chance we will ever make any lasting progress on alternative fuels, because there is not enough profit to be made. Shell Oil agrees, which is why they cut most all alternative energy research.

Happy Earth Day!


Travelogue: Honeymoon Road Trip

My wife and I enjoyed a wonderful honeymoon road trip after being married in Las Vegas. We toured Hoover Dam, visited the Grand Canyon, drove on Route 66, and experienced a taping of The Price Is Right (Airs 4/23 - we're 3rd row center behind contestant row). Below are some random observations from the trip.

Hoover Dam does not allow hard liquor or boomsticks

As my woman and I exited our vehicle to descend the stairs to begin taking in one of the modern wonders of the world, we were surprised to find we had to leave the Jack Daniels and my shotgun in the car. Instead we had to settle for a cube of Natty Ice and my trusty Bowie knife to get us through the tour.

Mastering the lingo of the Great Depression is pretty easy.

The Greenhorn thought he would do a little goldbricking with the Puddlers by slowly cleaning each others banjoes and crutches, but was surprised when a Drilling Jumbo ran over him at The Glory Hole. Needless to say, the employees’ Easy-dough was very agitated.

The Arch Erection Method

Double entendre are a long held tradition at Hoover Dam.

Standing in line at 2am for game show tickets doesn't top my list of "fun" activities

The only time I will stand in line at 2am for television show tickets ever again is if the shows are Conan or TDS/Colbert. That's it. Beyond that, forget it.


Most men are the marrying sort, poor devils.

In case you were not aware, I'm currently preparing to fly off to Las Vegas to get my marriage on! I'll be trying to post updates from the planned honeymoon road trip which will take us from Vegas, to the Hoover Dam, to the Grand Canyon, and off to LA and the The Price is Right. Mostly updating on Twitter (xericwit), but I might drop a few lines telling you if taquitos in the southwest taste more authentic, or not. We might even stop by to visit the UC: Irvine campus for potential enrollment.

If you'd like to watch our wedding live (or after the Caesars Palace editing team has a chance to turn it into an advertisement) following these directions:

To access the weddings - CLICK HERE and follow the instructions below.

Here's the information you will need to view the broadcast:
Wedding Name: BUCALO-MARSH
Date: 04-02-2009
Time: 5:30 PM (PST) - (which is 8:30pm EST!)

It should be available to stream live during the event. If you miss it they will have it up within 48 hours afterwards for viewing for 5 days.


The Conspiracy Extrapolator

The Conspiracy Extrapolator pulls back the veil on conspiracies at all levels by taking keywords from top news sources'* headlines and running bleep-blop, flashy-light algorithms on them as a virgin is sacrificed to the alien overlords (who are not at all thwarted in their endeavors by your tin foil hat).


Warning over ‘gung-ho gardening’ – BBC News

Ground is broken for White House ‘kitchen garden’ – AP

Working in the Garden This Spring? Watch Out for Buried Gas Lines, The Gas Company Warns – Marketwire

Colorado woman with flammable water fears blast - AP


  • “Gung-ho” is a transliteration of the Chinese words Kung and Ho meaning Work and Together. The term was introduced as a training slogan in 1942 by US Marine officer Evans F. Carlson. It is the slogan of the
    Chinese Industrial Cooperative Association.
  • Michelle Obama oversaw, “Twenty-six elementary schoolchildren wield[ing] shovels, rakes, pitchforks, and wheelbarrows …”.
  • “The students will be brought back to the White House next month to help with the planting, and after that to help harvest and cook…”
  • Amee Ellsworth can turn on a faucet…flick a lighter and water flames shoot up from the sink.


Operation Fire Water has moved on to Phase II following successful testing in Colorado. Using the guise of a “kitchen garden”, the fountain on the south lawn is being retrofitted for further testing by the military in the secret, underground base beneath the White House. Expect to see further activity on the south lawn to cover up the testing.

Outwardly the White House is acting to ensure China sees us as an ally when World War III occurs, in much the same way as during World War II. We appear to be adopting their populist, agrarian methods and child labor practices as a show of goodwill and compliance to the fine print addendums found in the last round of loans.

The “garden” preparations also help to ensure future generations of Americans (or “Chinese Citizens”) will know how to raise an angry mob to defend their tiny villages against monsters.

*Including, but not limited to: The USAToday, NY Times, Chicago Tribune, LA Times, Reuters, High Times, The Hollywood Reporter, Christian Science Monitor, Google News, AP Strange News, and Beckett Price Guide.


The One With the Sterility Test

My bride-to-be isn't always on top of the latest trends or cultural phenomenon. Just last week I explained Twitter to her (I just figured it out the week before). We live in the tax bracket most likely to get screwed by Octomoms, corporate bailout queens, House Financial Services Committees, and guys who pretend to be a former Foreigner drummer, so we aren't able to afford the latest fashion trends. But I no sooner had moved all of my stuff into her third story, vaulted ceiling haven than she put on the latest Flu season fashion.

If I didn't know better, I would believe it to be a calculated move to ensure I was committed to the "sickness" part of "sickness and health". While excited for the opportunity to take care of her, I was also not-so-silently proud of my immune system because I seemed to be avoiding the sickness as she slowly degraded into a pitifully cute, deep coughing, loogie spitting, high-fevered contagion. I walked through the fire and was not burned!

Then, while we slept, the virus moved in a style reminiscent of the Venom symbiote from her to me, bonding with me on a cellular basis. Even as I type, the fight for dominance continues in my body:

Today also marks 10 years, 11 months since I was diagnosed with Burkitt's Lymphoma (Sept is 11 years in remission). In celebration, I finally went for a sterility test (Science Fact: chemo can cause sterility). What I had been lead to believe by movies and television shows is that I would be provided a cup, a room, access to some sort of stimulant, and perhaps a hot nurse.

The reality of the situation ended up being very much in keeping with a sitcom episode. The lab company only has one accommodating office for this test despite many, much more convenient branches. The truth is this one office is just really close to the mother-lab as to ensure freshness.

After arriving and waiting about half-an-hour I was given the expected cup and escorted to a room. I use the term loosely, as it was more of a closet. There was a lonely four-legged chair to the left when you walked through the door. This was next to a sink with hand sanitizer and a small stack of paper towels. On the opposite wall was a small blood taking stool, the kind with the black leather cushion seat and arms. Next to the stool was a small bookshelf with toilet paper rolls. A picture of Mickey Mouse hung on the left of the door frame.

I was told to lock the door behind the nurse and bring out the filled cup in a nice bio-hazard bag when finished. That’s it. The first thought to pass through my mind was that every other guy who had to get this test done had sat in the chair and made his deposit. That was enough to pretty much kill my chances of success.

The sound of children screaming and multiple conversations and alarms going off in the other two rooms and at the front desk destroyed whatever illusion I was trying to create that I was alone. It was a lost cause.

After admitting to the lady at the desk that I could not perform such an act in such surroundings, she recommended I bring back my fiancée later in the day to try again. Nobody offered the other alternative (2:20).


The Covenience Store Files: Taquitos

Strictly for our own bemusement my good friend, Mr. O'Flacker and I took it upon ourselves to go round to local gas station’s convenience stores and do a comparison of all things taquito. The rules were as follows: 1) Go to as many different Quik-E-Marts type places as possible in the given area 2) Buy one of every available flavor taquito 3) Consume 4) Critique the bejeezus out of the entire experience - from concept to the tasting, whilst keeping it short and at least mildly interesting to the idle reader.

I myself do not frequent the innards of Quik-E-Marts too often. I go to get gas, pay at the pump, and depart. Only on road trips has it ever become imperative that I enter into such establishments – (pretzels & Gatorade are my fuel – diff entry). The "diminutive taco" worked its way into my zeitgeist via Mr. O'Flacker and his late night, drunken escapades. (Drunk running out of the bar, stumbling towards the 7-Eleven, angrily shouting slurred statements of taquito munchies). So in need of something bloggable, I was compelled to try out the little fried fiends who, like Sirens of old, lured drunken men to their doom.

Living in the middle of suburban sprawl we didn’t have to venture far to find the goods. In the end, we acquired samples from 7-Eleven, Circle K, and RaceTrac (Marathon, Hess Express, and Mobil – for shame) The findings were placed on the middle rack of the oven and broiled for about 30 seconds to heat them back up (no microwave – we wanted to ensure crispy)

We hunted and gathered the following:

7-Eleven Buffalo Chicken, Taco, Monterey Jack & Chicken, Supreme Omelet

RaceTrac Beef, Chicken; Pepperoni Pizza; & Cheesy Pepperjack

Circle K Ranchero Steak & Cheese; Chicken & Pepperjack; French Toast & Sausage (FTS); Sausage, Egg, & Cheese (SEG)

We had to travel to two Circle Ks to find the crispy goodness and then had to overcome the first marketing hurdle – Circle K has “Tornadoes” not taquitos. With the pumped up name we hoped for pumped up flavor or better ingredients, but all we got was the same exact taquitos available at RaceTrac with better PR. The Ranchero Steak & Cheese of Circle K was simply the Beef of RaceTrac. Same with the Chicken & Pepperjack vs. Chicken. RaceTrac is known here for their cheap gas, which must result from not getting fancy when it comes to their taquitos.

Taste wise, the FTS was the clear champion in the breakfast category. A simple maple breakfast sausage wrapped in fried tortilla – eloquent in simplicity. The clear as an ummuddied lake loser in the same category was the SEG. Dissection proved there was the thinnest strip of sausage, as well as some "egg", but the rancid rollup had spent to much time in the warmer and almost caused my good friend and colleague to hurl taquitoness. He was so desperate to get the taste out of his mouth he had to grab the bottle of Jack from the freezer and take a swig (or two) to cleanse his pallet.

In the non-breakfast category the best of the best of the night was a dark horse from RaceTrac: Cheesy Pepperjack. Unwrapping it we found chicken, corn, black beans, celery, dried red pepper, and a southwest type sauce! The RaceTrac website had no mention of this particular taquito, so I'm chalking it up to the local management making a good pick from the food truck list. Kudos.

Overall though, 7-Eleven has the dominant taquito experience. Reason #1: they are the most expensive ($1.29/each as compared to .99 elsewheres), and therefore, following the rules of Capitalism, are the best. I surmise that the price is driven up by the cardboard containers used to keep your little, fried fajitas happy and warm until you destroy them in your gullet. The others had readily available, cheap paper sleeves in which to chuck the fried baby tacos.

Even the act of acquiring the taquito is more elaborate at 7-Eleven. In order for you to hold one for yourself it is necessary for the trained service technician behind the counter to get them for you, giving the impression that what is being sold is far too valuable to leave unattended - like diamond rings or donuts. Truly it is a place worthy of celestial praise serving the manna of the mass production gods.

Additional Notes:
  • Pimento cheese was used in the Chicken & Pepperjack.
  • The Buffalo Chicken and Taco from 7-Eleven had a nice spicy kick to them
  • Gas issues started about half way through the taste test.
  • I made it through the whole night before my bowels woke me about half an hour earlier than normal
  • Sam's Club sells two different brands' 30 packs for under $12
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.