Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Chips vs. Pretzels - No Contest

Hey, here’s something I bet you’ve never really thought much about… the popularity of chips over pretzels.  Everybody loves chips, I mean really, what’s not to love, but pretzels, well they’re kind of the outcast of the snack food community.

Chips are easy to make.  You take a potato, slice it up, drop the pieces into hot oil, and voila… chips!  Pretzels on the other hand take much more work.  You have to figure out how to make pretzel dough, kneed it, take small amounts of the dough and roll them into long segments, then fold ‘em all up so that they take the classic pretzel shape, then bake them.  Seriously, who has time to do that?  It’s no wonder there are so few people out there making pretzels. 

Chips come in a variety of flavours.  Nowadays, you can pretty well get chips in any flavour you can imagine.  Sour Cream & Onion, Ketchup, Dill Pickle, Chicken Wings, Mesquite, Salt & Vinegar, and the list goes on and on.  Granted, some of the available flavours do sound absolutely disgusting, but obviously people are buying them or else they wouldn’t make them.  There are so many options of potato chip flavours that depending on your mood that day, you can find a chip that will satisfy your snack food needs.  Pretzels on the other hand, well, they taste like pretzels.  No fancy flavours there.  I hope you like pretzel flavour, because that’s all you’re going to get!

Pretzel manufacturers had such high hopes of success, and kudos to them for trying, but one day they must have walked into their big pretzel warehouse and realized they made way too many pretzels than the market demanded.  This forced them to ask themselves some difficult questions, the most important of which was “What are we going to do with all these pretzels?!”  It was during one of those executive pretzel meetings where the Vice President of Pretzels accidentally dropped a pretzel into his yogurt (even he preferred yogurt as a snack food over pretzels).  Upset, he ate the pretzel anyway, and that’s when a little light went off, and his eyes opened real wide!  “This pretzel tastes less like pretzel if we mask its flavour with yogurt!”  So they started covering their left over pretzels in yogurt, put them into smaller bags, and marketed them as a healthier alternative to chips.  They also tried covering them in chocolate, although the health benefits start to become a little foggy with that idea.  I give them an “A” for effort, but regardless of whether I've got “the facts” straight of the inner workings of the pretzel industry, when it comes right down to it, it’s still a pretzel.  They’re not fooling anyone.    

Chips have a nice gentle crunch, and have managed to find a perfectly balanced ratio between crunch intensity, and the strength of their consumers teeth and jaw.  It doesn’t take much effort to eat chips, and let’s be honest, if you’re sitting at home eating chips, you’re down for the count, and likely not in any mood to be expending any more effort or energy than absolutely necessary.  Pretzels are just far too crunchy.  If you bite a pretzel the wrong way, there’s potential it could puncture your cheek.  Now who wants to deal with that? 

If you’re having a party, and you put out one bowl of chips and one bowl of pretzels, it’s guaranteed that you’ll be re-filling the chip bowl several times throughout the evening.  Most of the pretzels on the other hand will likely find their way back into the bag at the end of the night, leaving the host to wonder why they even bought them in the first place.  Some people try to mix the pretzels in with other things, hoping the combination of alcohol and the munchies will confuse people into eating at least a couple, and sometimes that works.  In any good snack mix though, the pretzels will always be the last to go, and if you find yourself faced with a bowl of remnant snack mix pretzels, just think about how many hands have reached into that bowl, and pushed the pretzels around in order to get to the cheesies and other little goodies first.  Unless you really want to catch a cold, you may want to pass.

So there you have it.  If you haven't ever really thought about this, now you have, and I think we can all agree the verdict is out.  Chips are awesome, pretzels are not.  Case closed.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Spice Jar

If spontaneity is the spice of life, can I get rid of all those little jars that are just taking up space in my cupboard?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Psychic Reading

If I were ever to go to a Psychic for a reading, and if upon knocking on the office door the voice on the other side said "Who is it?", I think I would just turn around and go home.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Chili Guy

“I’ll have a medium chili and a diet Coke” said the man in the car ahead of me to the drive-thru speaker.  The woman on the other end replied “Sorry, we’re all out of chili”.  “WHHAAAAT???!!!” yelled the man, with an incredible look of disgust clearly visible on his face as I watched his reflection in his driver side mirror.  Oh, he was so disappointed!  “How the hell can you not have chili??!!” he asked.  “Sorry, but we’re all out.  Can I get you something else?” she asked.  “NO!!” he yelled, then squealed off in what may have been the first chili-induced rage ever recorded, nearly hitting an unsuspecting pedestrian along the way.  He waved his middle finger at the woman as he passed the pick-up window, as though she was personally responsible for the restaurant’s failure to maintain adequate supplies of chili.  I had never seen anything quite like this.  With a puzzled look on her face, I could see her mouth the words “Jerk!” after he had passed, then she turned to vent her frustration with her co-workers.

With the excitement over, I slowly pulled up to the drive-thru speaker.  “Hello, welcome to Wendy’s.  What can I get you?” she asked.  Although I did not want chili, I rarely pass on an opportunity to be a smart-ass, so I replied, “Hi, can I have 4 large chilis please?”  There was no response.  After what seemed like a very long pause, I ended the silence.  “Actually on second thought, I’ll just have a single with cheese combo”.  Perhaps it wasn't so funny after all.  I hope she didn’t spit on my burger.      

Friday, March 16, 2012

English: The Text Generation

Being in my mid/late thirties, I’m not “old” by any stretch of the imagination, or at least I don’t think I am.  That said, I have noticed something lately that I must admit is making me feel older, and completely out of touch with today’s younger generation.

When I was a kid growing up in Canada, there were basically two languages that we had to learn, or at least be exposed to – English, and French.  I think I’ve got a pretty good grasp of English by now, and my French, well, let’s just say I could probably fumble my way through it well enough to order a croissant and a coffee, so I probably wouldn’t starve to death in Quebec.  Nowadays however, there is a whole new language, one that I cannot for the life of me figure out.  That is the language of “texting”.

First problem:  I don’t text.  Maybe if I did I’d eventually get the hang of it, but in all honesty, it doesn’t interest me at all.  That's right, I'm an anti-textite.  Hey, if you're going to make up words, so am I.  And if preferring email over texting makes me old fashioned, well then I guess I’m old fashioned.  If the thought of that blows your mind, just wait!  I like using my “mobile device” as an actual telephone, and like, talk to people on it!!  Crazy, I know!!!

What I’m finding most disturbing is that this apparent new language has somehow found its way into mainstream English language, and that is what’s causing me all sorts of problems.  At least when it was used only in text messages, it was contained within a controlled environment where I didn't have to be exposed to it, but now it's everywhere!  Every word or statement now seems to have a short form, and unless you’re in the know, trying to read something written in this new language is not all that different from trying to interpret ancient hieroglyphs.  LOL is short for “laugh out loud” (that’s right, isn’t it?).  Oh, and I think I know what LMFAO means, but that’s only because of the weird music group with that dancing guy with the robot box on his head, which I don’t really get either, but the kids seem to like it.  That’s it, that’s all I know.  I see people writing all sorts of other short form words or statements, and then people respond using slightly different short form words or statements, and I don’t have a clue what they’re saying.  They aren’t talking about me, are they?

Webster’s Dictionary is now even adding these types of short form words and statements, again providing evidence as to how mainstream this new language has become.  How thick is the friggin' dictionary now anyway?  Do they even still print it, or has it been reduced to nothing more than a free “app” on one of those fancy new phones?  It must be an absolute nightmare for today's teachers trying to mark essays and exams.  What is considered “correct” English nowadays anyway?  Seriously, I don’t know.

Punctuation was important when I learned to read and write, and we learned that each mark had its own specific purpose.  Now punctuation marks are used primarily for making smiley faces.  I don't remember seeing smiley faces in any of my text books.  And did you know that writing in all capital letters is considered the equivalent of yelling?  If I want to yell at somebody, not to suggest I do it frequently, I think I’d prefer to do it either face to face, or at least over the phone, thereby more effectively expressing my degree of anger.  All capital letters in a typed message just doesn’t seem to have the same impact.  I can’t see myself stomping away upset because someone was so mad at me that they sent me an all CAPS message.  Oooooooooo, you sure told me!

When I learned to type, it was with all 10 fingers, on an actual typewriter, you know, one of those gadgets that you wind the paper into, type until it dings, then hit the return button to start over on the next line.  Now all these young folk type with their thumbs.  Just their thumbs.  They probably don't even know what a typewriter is.  

And why are all these short form words and statements even needed in the first place?  Why are these kids in such a hurry?  It's not like they have a job to go to, and likely won't anytime soon unless they learn how pants are meant to be worn.    

As I’m typing this, I’ve noticed that the voice in my head has begun to sound an awful lot like Andy Rooney.  I'm not too concerned if any of my younger readers don't know who Andy Rooney is, as they probably haven’t continued reading to this point anyway… too many words.  LOL.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Lone Soldier

Alone, it proudly stands.  Does it lead the charge forward, or has it fallen behind in retreat?  I suspect I know the truth, yet cannot bring myself to face it.  For it is my lone soldier, a solitary hair one quarter of an inch ahead of all others along my hairline.  I’ve named it Braveheart, but am not yet ready to grant it the freedom it so desperately desires.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Just Put Your Hands Down!

I have a real problem with “roof raisers”.  If anyone has ever done that “raise the roof” motion with your arms, please do us all a favour, and just don't.  Not too fond of “fist bumpers” either.  I might on occasion accept a high five, but don't even think about "giving me ten".

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Hip Hop Happy Meal

It’s been right there in front of us all along, an unlikely partnership having gone undetected for nearly 30 years.  Fast food restaurants and the musical world of hip hop are in cahoots!!  Think about it...

Back in the early 1980’s if you ordered a large sized soft drink and fries with your meal, it was not uncommon that you would not be able to finish it all, for it was just too much food for most.  By comparison with today’s fast food restaurant sizing options however, what was once considered “large” back in the 80’s, is now considered the “small” by today’s standards.  Through the years, portion sizes have increased at the same rate as the waistlines of their customers.

One of the most famous hip hop acts of the 1980’s was Run DMC, and one of the items that they were most well known for was their sneakers.  Wearing their white Adidas running shoes, their music defined a generation, and in doing so, set in motion a chain of events unbeknownst to the general public.  While at the time, Adidas was known primarily as an athletic footwear manufacturer, Run DMC did something that unquestionably did nothing to improve the athletic performance of the sneaker… they removed the laces.  From that day forward, athletic footwear was no longer just for those looking to exercise.  Hip hop fashion was born.   

In pre-1980’s times, people ate fast food, they gained weight, and their clothes started feeling tighter, so they stop eating fast food in an effort to lose the weight they had gained.  This cycle was not so good for the fast food business, and did absolutely nothing to support the emerging hip hop industry.  So they teamed up, and seized an opportunity to ensure their mutual benefit.  The Fat Boys rap group were introduced, and foreshadowing the years to come, they planted the seed for the empowering “I’m comfortable with how I look” mindset.  Then, building upon Run DMC’s simple removal of the laces from athletic sneakers as a starting point, the hip hop “look” began to take shape.  Over the years this look evolved into loose fitting sneakers, baggy sweatshirts, oversized professional sporting attire, and ill-fitting pants.  This fashion statement, however sloppy it may seem to some, served an important purpose in the underlying symbiotic relationship of the two industries.

Now that oversized clothing has become the norm, the hip hop industry is thriving as teenagers attempt to dress like and promote their favourite artists.  Similarly, now that oversized clothing has become the norm, fast food restaurant customers no longer feel the tightening of their clothes as they gain weight, leading them to feel as though everything is still fine, with no need to stop and look for healthier options.  Accordingly, portion sizes, and profits, continue to be up-sized.  It is an overwhelming win for both the fast food and hip hop industries.  Now every meal is a happy meal for those profiting.  

Big Mac, Daddy Mac, McRap, gold chains, golden arches, caboose, baby got back!  Congratulations McDonalds… or should I say… MC Donald.  Busted.  

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Mission Impossible

Standing at the threshold, I re-assured myself that I was I prepared for this.  I had been here before, and knew the challenges that I was about to face.  I did not want to go back, in fact I dreaded the very thought, but they had what I needed, so accepting the risk, and after taking a deep breath, I opened the door and stepped inside.

Quickly scanning my surroundings, I did a cursory search to determine the lay of the land.  They had made several changes since my last visit, but undeterred, I tried to figure out where the specific item that brought me here in the first place could possibly be located.  I did not want to spend anymore time here than I needed to, and time was most certainly of the essence.  This was not a friendly environment, one where you could walk freely and uninterrupted.  No, not even in the slightest.  While I had prepared a game plan to get in and out virtually unnoticed, I soon realized it was all for not.  The door closed behind me, and in doing so, made just enough noise to gain the attention of the inhabitants.  Their ears perked with interest, they all turned to face my direction, and with their eyes zeroing in on me, I knew exactly what they were thinking.  Fresh meat.

As several approached from the right, I darted left, maintaining my quick pace until they were no longer in sight.  Suddenly out of nowhere another one appeared, her eyes fixated on me, and she began moving in my direction.  I turned right, evading the oncoming threat once again.  Finding myself momentarily disoriented, and seemingly alone, I took a moment to pause, regain my composure, and determine my next move. 

Cautiously peering around the corner, I checked to see if the coast was clear.  An eerie calm began to set in.  It was quiet, almost too quiet really.  A faint buzzing noise was all that could be heard.  I traced the noise coming from behind me, looking back, and then up.  A surveillance camera had found me, the inhabitants surely now aware of my location.  It was no longer safe.  I had to move, NOW. 

Avoiding the main pathways, I stealthily made my way to a more centralized viewing point.  I knew I didn’t have much time.  Scanning the surroundings once again, there it was.  I had found it!  Off in the distance, approximately 175 feet from where I stood, I could see what I had come for.  All that remained was for me to get to it.  I looked to my left, then to my right.  I could see the inhabitants wandering, but time was running out, it was now or never.  I decided to go for it.

150 feet away… 100 feet away… I paused, looked around, everything still seemed clear, so I continued on.  50 feet… 25 feet… I was almost there; a successful mission was within my grasp!  Suddenly just 10 feet away from my treasure, I was stopped in my tracks.  I found myself surrounded by 4 of the inhabitants, one in each direction, immediately blocking any opportunity for escape.  Where that had come from, I do not know, but it was clear from the look in their eyes that their hunger for fresh meat would not be denied.  I was trapped.  Defeated, there was nowhere for me to go.  With my eyes on my prize, just mere steps away from where I stood, the smallest of the 4 inhabitants opened his mouth and began to speak… “Hi, my name’s Brian, welcome to Leon’s Furniture!!”  Arrrghh!!!!  So close... so close...    

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Frozen In Time

In the 1984 movie “Iceman”, they discovered a pre-historic man embedded in ice, in a state of hibernation, and ultimately still alive.  Against all odds, this freak occurrence repeated itself in 1992’s “Encino Man”.  How these men managed to stay alive for all those thousands of years remains a mystery to me, and while at least in the movies that may have been possible, I do not imagine the mouse trapped in the ice on top of my swimming pool will experience the same good fortune.