Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Saturday Picture Show, January 31, 2015

Just to be safe, I try to have at least two Leatherman tools on me at any given time. Here's their new device - a Leatherman bracelet, filled with screwdrivers and hex wrenches.
I don't fly, haven't been on a plane for years, but I would have guessed that they dim the lights so you don't get too good a look at the person behind you who just snored the whole way home from Ho-Ho-Kus.
This, of course, is Noctiluca scintillans, bioluminescent plankton on a stretch of coastline near Hong Kong.  The picture was taken by photographer Kin Cheung.  I don't like to see the water lighted up like that, but at least it's a non-parasitic dinoflaggelate.  Right?
This is a frozen soap bubble.  Some people have all the time in the world!
These are the people on the observation decks at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York, home of NBC and all that.
With most of the air being let out of the football season already, and the last gasp of Patriot-ism coming tomorrow, I say, let's get ready for Oriole baseball!
Not sure exactly where this picture was taken, but that's the point...this is happening in several cities this cold winter.  People are knitting scarves for people in need, and donating them by leaving them in public parks.
Here's the inside of a former New York subway car, which, along with 713 others just like it, 86 retired tanks and armored personnel carriers, eight tugboats and barges, and 3,000 tons of ballasted truck tires were sunk in 2001 just 16 miles off Slaughter Beach, Delaware to form an artificial reef for the Maryland Reef Initiative.  This was all done to bolster the marine ecology and provide a haven for fish like the one you see here.

Friday, January 30, 2015

What's in a name?

Inveterate coupon-clipper that I am, I go through the cents-off pages in the Sunday paper like a squirrel in an oak forest.  And I notice a lot of things about the way big companies try to sell us stuff.

Here's a way of selling some hair stuff - shampoo or conditioner, I guess.  Say that it's "infused" with "buriti oil."  First of all, "infused" is now the word we see any time something is added to something else.  You take a poor old skinless chicken breast and inject some cajun flavoring in it prior to tossing it onto a hot grill, and presto! you just INFUSED that chicken with authentic Louisiana taste.

Now, for all I know, you'd be just as well off to add cajun sauce to your hair as you would be for adding buriti oil.  Or, add some lime to some coconut and call me in the mo-o-o-o-orning!

And I have nothing against buriti oil, which I found out comes from a palm fruit.  Why, no less an authoritative source than FOXX News reports that buriti oil is "An Amazonian beauty secret!"  So take that for what it's worth. And the woman in the ad certainly has lovely hair, so it must work!

My point is that there is a certain tactic in advertising and product promotion that involves confusing us with terms that we don't know. "Certs must combat bad breath, because they contain retsyn," we figure, as if retsyn were some magical substance that grows naturally on gauzy shrubbery in a fairyland garden.  But according to the Certs people, it is actually “a combination of partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil, copper gluconate and flavoring.”  MMMM.  Just the thing we all want to ingest.

Colgate toothpaste with Gardol?  Gardol is sodium lauroyl sarcosinate, just the thing you feel like brushing the old choppers with, huh?

Advertisers and manufacturers know that putting the best face on things is what sells things to us.  Even if it helps them to make us feel confused or out of the loop, just hearing that finally, our lackluster tresses will be chic and lustrous as soon as we add some buriti oil atop the melon is enough to send us running to the Try 'N' Save for a jug of this magic elixir, with our coupon in hand.

Squid (bait)
I want to open a combination bait shop and seafood carryout stand.  "Cap'n Mark's" will have squid for sale on one side and then offer calamari on the other.  And it's the same thing!

Calamari (appetizer)

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Who's in YOUR wallet?

To our many global readers, and it must be hard to read this on a globe...there are some very honest people out there, all over! Especially Helsinki, Finland, where 11 of 12 "lost" wallets were returned in an experiment performed by Reader's Digest magazine.

What they did was, they dropped 192 wallets in 19 cities around the world.  In each wallet, they left a name, cellphone number, family photo, coupons, and business cards, and $50 worth of the local currency.  

19 cities, 12 wallets each.  They "lost" the billfolds close to parks, shopping areas and city sidewalks, and waited to get them back.

And here's how that worked out:

1. Helsinki, Finland (Wallets returned: 11 out of 12)

2. Mumbai, India (Wallets returned: 9 out of 12)

3. (TIE) Budapest, Hungary (Wallets returned: 8 out of 12)

3. (TIE) New York City, U.S.A. (Wallets returned: 8 out of 12)

4. (TIE) Moscow, Russia (Wallets returned: 7 out of 12)

4. (TIE) Amsterdam, the Netherlands (Wallets returned: 7 out of 12)

5. (TIE) Berlin, Germany (Wallets returned: 6 out of 12)

5. (TIE) Ljubljana, Slovenia (Wallets returned: 6 out of 12)

6. (TIE) London, England (Wallets returned: 5 out of 12)

6. (TIE) Warsaw, Poland (Wallets returned: 5 out of 12)

7. (TIE) Bucharest, Romania (Wallets returned: 4 out of 12)

7. (TIE) Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (Wallets returned: 4 out of 12)

7. (TIE) Zurich, Switzerland (Wallets returned: 4 out of 12)

8. Prague, Czech Republic (Wallets returned: 3 out of 12)

9. Madrid, Spain (Wallets returned: 2 out of 12)

10. Lisbon, Portugal (Wallets returned:1 out of 12)

So out of 192 wallets, 90 were returned. Humankind has a batting average of .470 in the World Series of Honesty.

Now, that's kind of low, even if you figure that one or two wallets

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

It's just Goofy to act like you live on Pluto

Some facts to mull over:

 - - Measles was once thought to be an eradicated disease in the United States, but now it's back, and kids are being diagnosed with it all over the nation.

 - - Disneyland and Disney World are places that people like to see, mainly with children.

 - - For reasons that seem to have to do with people believing they know more than people who have been to medical school, many people are not having their children receive the measles vaccine anymore.

  - - Of late, there have been 68 cases of measles in California, home of Disneyland. 48 of them are connected to having been in Disneyland, and there are, at last count, 17 more cases as far away as Nebraska.

We've talked before here about this anti-vax movement, and it's a concern.  We find ourselves getting lessons on physics from Bill Belichick, and medical advice from Jenny McCarthy, and no one even questions the wisdom of either.  Why should we?  They're on television, aren't they?

The two-step vaccination process used in America involves immunization at one year and then again between the ages of 4 and 5, which gives just about 100% immunity from measles, with life-threatening adverse reactions occurring in less than one per million vaccinations (<0.0001%).  That's what doctors say, and common folklore and gossip cannot negate these facts.
Child with measles

Seek her wisdom
If your children are adequately protected from those not so, you can feel safe to visit theme parks and the like.  The shame is that people unable to be vaccinated (younger than 12 months, having compromised immune systems, pregnant women) come in contact with unvaccinated people from communities in which the current trend is to avoid having the kids immunized, based on false reports put out by a discredited English doctor and Donnie Wahlberg's current wife.

Everybody knows more than everybody else, or so they think.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Bill me? Sue you!

Alex's father Derek says he is "lost for words"

I didn't think that people in England, where manners and grace are much more kindly observed than over here in a country where oafs like Donald Trump set the pace, would be this way, but here you are reading about Derek Nash, from Torpoint, Cornwall, on the banks of the river Tamar, and how he got a bill for £15.95, which is almost a zillion in American bucks.

Derek is five years of age, so you have to figure, he didn't run up a bill for that much at the fish-and-chips shop or any other English attraction.  No, what happened was, his parents accepted an invitation for him to the Plymouth Ski Slope and Snowboard Centre last month for another little kid's birthday. But then, in one of those merry mixups that happen in every family since the Flintstones, the Nashes remembered that they had already planned to spend that day with their children's grandparents.

Details get murky here; the Nashes say they had no contact information to contact the family holding the party and that family says they did. So when Derek was not at the party, the others wrote out an invoice for the money they're out, and had a teacher put the bill in the boy's schoolbag. Derek's father thought the whole thing was a joke at first, but then when the other family started talking about dragging him into small claims court, he stopped laughing.

The other family has had no comment.

But of course, I have one. And it's this: I am sorry to see that what probably began as an American idiocy seems to be going global, this business of dragging the courts into petty matters once solved by neighbors talking things over down by the mailbox. It's a shame that we've become like that.

If you really have time and inclination to bill the parents of your kid's school chums for a party a kid missed, you are a true tightwad, and a rather shoddy person. And if you wish to dispute this in court, call my attorney, as soon as he's finished getting Bernie Madoff into work release.

Monday, January 26, 2015

What did the weather person say?

Embedded image permalinkDo you see where the bottom edge of the area where 5-8" of snow are expected today and tomorrow meets that dark turquoise 3-5" area? That line runs right about through our house, so I hope the deeper snow is in the back yard and not out front.

Because of something called bombogenesis, which sounds like the name of a rookie second baseman for the Minnesota Twins, this snowstorm that's coming the way of the American Northeast might just turn out to be a real doozy.

It seems we get to learn a new weather term every time we get some new weather. Late one hot June night a few years back, a thunder and lightning storm right outta hell did tremendous damage in the Baltimore area. We had been told that the possibility of having strong thunderstorms that night was high, but what we got was a thousand times worse than we thought. And the next morning, the weather people were on TV saying, in that reassuring manner, "Oh, but you see, this wasn't a horrible was a DERECHO!"

Here is the definition of bombogenesis:  A central pressure drop of at least 24 millibars in 24 hours which often creates increased wind speeds, precipitation, heavy snowfall and potential blizzard conditions.

This "weather event" we're about to enjoy is named Winter Storm Juno. By the time it's over on Wednesday morning, parts of seven states in the northeast could see more than 2 feet of snow.

From New Jersey to Maine, this affects 28 million people, almost all of whom will be running to Home Depot for snow shovels, rock salt, and snowblowers.  11 million more people are under winter storm warnings, people like us here in Baltimore, and we're all at the grocery store now in search of milk, bread, and toilet paper.

And even brainy people who know words like bombogenesis and derecho don't know why we need all that toilet paper!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Sunday Rerun: Casey in the sunshine, banned

I sympathize with all those who are so torn up over the Casey Anthony verdict. Upon her release into the pre-dawn darkness of Sunday morning, old Casey vaulted right over everyone else to take the lead in the Most Hated Person in America poll by the time the sun began to shine. 

Did you see that she left the hoosegow with $538.67 in cash - money sent to her by supporters, admirers, as it were?  It was like in the oldtime movies when a guy got let out of the Ironbar Hilton, and they gave him five bucks and a new double-breasted suit.  And when the guy was played by Victor Mature, the suit fit him immaculately.  It never failed; a suit right off the rack looked to be bespoke. 

Casey at the Tat
Casey paraded out of the big house wearing a baggy sort of fuchsia top, blue jeans, and a very apprehensive look.  We can't blame her for that.  Best advice I can offer her would be to leave the country, dye her hair, gain twenty lbs., and move to somewhere where her tattoo would fit in. Italy comes to mind, since her tat says "Bella Vita."  I think that if she seeks the beautiful life the ink on her back calls for, she won't find it if she is around people who still suspect her of being guilty of killing her own child.  

Just as in the Simpson case and many other high-profile felony trials, the jury has spoken here.  I'm sure that if you took a poll, most Americans figure Casey did it, but most Americans were not on the jury.  Only twelve were, and they were not given enough evidence by the smiling, laughing, prosecution team, who bungled the case six ways from Sunday, as Monday morning quarterbacks are wont to say.

As late as Sunday evening, the news was still showing a mob eddying about the Orange County (FL) Courthouse.  One woman said that she and her family had done the Disney thing all week and now wanted to stop by and see the other tourist attraction, that being the very sidewalk where Casey took her first free steps in three years.  Another woman said she couldn't "concept (sic) of someone doing what she did to her child."  Inconceivable, yet true.  

I know that many are flailing about, trying to make sense of what happened to Caylee Anthony, what happened in the trial, and what to do about it all.  Well, I don't think we are ever going to know what happened to the child.  Knowing that she is gone is sad enough.  What happened in the trial will be talked about in law school, and by whoever is so unlucky as to dine with Nancy Grace, for the next few decades.

I have an idea.  It's simple, as are most of my ideas.  Since there's not a thing we can do about what happened, let's work on what's going to happen. How about if everyone who has energy and drive enough to hang around the courthouse hollering at Casey would drive to an orphanage or homeless shelter or some place similar and volunteer to help out?  How about, if you're an experienced Mom, in honor of Caylee, you help out a young Mom in your neighborhood by sharing some of that experience?  Caylee is gone, and Casey's in the wind, but there are plenty of other little kids around who need help, and hollering outside a courthouse is helpful to no one, even if it does feel like it is.