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Friday, April 30, 2010

Friday 4/30


“Thank Goodness It’s Friday’s!” 

A very popular restaurant has been using that slogan for almost forty years, now.  Can you believe it?  (I can, but then again, I’m not forty, either, so I have to read about it.)  Have you noticed the recent change in it, though?  Now it’s:

“Thank God It’s Friday’s!”

It’s very subtle.  All they did was take out five little letters, but it completely changes the meaning.  Thank Goodness is more innocent and happy-go-lucky, as in “Yay, it’s Friday.  We should go play Frisbee and go to the drive-in.”  Thank God sounds more like “I hate my job” or “I need a drink!”  (Of course, you can say Thank Goodness and still mean, “I need a drink!” but at least you don’t sound like a drunk.)  Using God in place of Goodness is more emphatic, which is what I think Friday’s is going for, but it’s emphatic in a negative light. 

It also seems a little sneaky if you ask me.  Remember when Coke made a sneaky switch in the early nineties?  Their slogan changed almost over night from “Can’t beat the feeling” to “Can’t beat the real thing.”  (“Real Thing” and “Feeling” even rhyme.  That’s sneaky and clever.)

So why make such a subtle change?  Think about it this way.  We’re in a recession and consumers need more conviction when they buy things.  They really have to get their money’s worth, you know, streeeeeeaaaaatch that dollar!  Well, it’s tricky for brands like Friday’s because they have to really set themselves apart from other eateries with new ads and promotions while keeping prices low and somehow figuring out how to turn a profit.  (Layoffs, sadly, tend to work pretty well to save money.)  Using big-G God is also a way to appeal to a younger, less traditional (and naively more liberal) crowd of consumers. 

Don’t worry, marketers aren’t all bad, just most of them.  You still have a choice, but if you’re not carefully listening, ads can make up your mind on more than just where to spend your money.

By: S. Cole Garrett

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Thursday 4/29

Soda Pop Culture

How much food and drink can your stomach hold?  The answer is generally agreed upon at about one liter, some 33 ounces or so.  How many ounces are in a Big Gulp?  32.  Wow, that’s a whole stomach worth of liquid!  How about the Super Big Gulp?  No, no, scratch that, the Double Big Gulp!  It’s 64 ounces.  Do the math, that’s almost twice the amount you can comfortably fit into the first stop of your gastro-track.  Yum.

That begs the question: why would they do that?  (They, as in the corporate fat cats who are soiling our American culture.)  Well, it’s probably because they have the same mindset of all those cliff-diving, parasailing, sky-diving adrenaline junkies out there: Why not? 

History in brief, consumers loved soda, so out strolled the Big Gulp, a national phenomenon. People loved Big Gulp so much that 7-11 marketers almost immediately released the Super Big Gulp.  Then someone dreamed up the “2-Liter-With-A-Straw!”  (Unfortunately, the 2 liter bottle of soda was indeed already being sold in supermarkets everywhere, so they landed on the name Double Big Gulp.  They worked hard on that one, huh?) 

QT is wildly successful with their fountain drinks as well, but in a different light.  The strategy is different.  They offer many different sizes, but they are priced so closely together that the consumer just gets the next size up and the next size up until they reach the biggest one!  There are really only two choices: the small (which is still like 20oz) and the might-as-well-just-get-this-one (Which is ballpark 40-something ounces, maybe more).

This begs another question: what’s next?  Search the internet long enough and you’ll figure it out.

By: S. Cole Garrett

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Wednesday 4/28

Zero and Up

Leave it up to the government to tell us things we already know.  (You’ve probably heard me say that before.)  “Warning: Hot Coffee!”  (Duh!)  How about road signs which read, “Caution: Slippery When Wet.”  (Duh!)  They’re called ‘Nanny Laws’ and they plague our country.  If a free spirit wants to ride their motorcycle down open highways without a helmet, they should be able to do so.  If people want to cross streets between intersections at their own risk, they should be able to.  America is the land of the free, right?

Sometimes, the regulatory noose reaches American business as well.  They can be forced to make toys safer and efforts have to be made to determine when kids should be able play with them.  I laughed a little when I saw this on the back of a children’s book.

Zero and up, huh?  Isn’t this a little excessive?  It’s safe for everyone, so why even mention it? 

Either way, I think parents should know when a book is or isn’t safe for a child.  I haven’t checked recently (actually, I’ve never checked), but I don’t think the Children’s Book Fatality Rate is alarmingly high.  Couldn’t all the time, money, and energy used to produce this label be dedicated to a children’s cancer hospital or something? 

One other thing.  What do you get when you add zero to a baby?  A baby?  It’s even a terrible excuse for a math equation…

By: S. Cole Garrett

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Tuesday 4/27

Time Travel

The first part of a series of documentaries from the mind of Stephen Hawking aired last weekend.  I missed it, but my brother told me about it.  Here’s what I took from it.

My brother told me that he had watched the show last Sunday. 
“Cool,” I said, “how was it?”  (At this point, I didn’t yet realize that it was to be a multi-part series.)
“Pretty interesting,” he said.
“Isn’t he supposed to know how the world ends, or I’m guessing the probability of it, at least?”
“No,” he replied, “that’s next week.”

Wait a second.  Next week?  Bummer.  I guess I can cancel my summer vacation.  This is when I realized there was at least one more show.

“Oh,” I quickly pondered the end of the world, “well, what was it about?”
“Aliens and time travel.  Aliens are likely to invade our planet for resources.”
“And time travel,” I asked, “what’s that all about?
“Well, theoretically, it’s possible.”

I thought for second how cool that would be and that someone beyond our lifetimes might figure out how to do it.  It would be nice to float through time and fix some things here and there.  I wouldn’t have eaten those bad leftovers.  Maybe go back and get some wining power ball numbers… then my thought was cut short.

“But you can only go forward.”
“What do you mean?”  I asked him.
“Well you could travel through time, in theory, but you can only go forward.”

So let me get this straight.  The arguably smartest man in the world is on TV explaining that time travel is theoretically possible, but we can only go forward?  Maybe I’m missing something here, but… DON’T WE DO THAT EVERY SECOND OF EVERY DAY?  I’m no rocket scientist, but if that’s all it takes, then I’m fairly certain I’m traveling through time right now, at the rate of about one second per second (normal speed).  

I’m not bashing Stephen Hawking or the network, but can’t the people that are way smarter than all of us come up with cars that run on garbage or ways to build cities on water or something?  (That’s a lot of real estate, by the way!)  Just a thought.

By: S. Cole Garrett

Monday, April 26, 2010

Monday 4/26

Bio Bag

Believe it or not, I actually read and usually respond to comments made on Dry Humor Daily articles.  Well, a comment made on the Earth Day article from last Thursday inspired me to take action.  The comment was this:

Have you seen the new bio degradable sun chips bag? It’s really cool... I guess.  But it’s really noisy, like, at least 10X louder than your standard potato chip bag.  It’s not ideal for trying to sneak a midnight snack.  Of course, it’s great if you’re super protective of your sun chips, then you would always know when someone eats them.”

I read this and what stuck out was the claim that Sun Chips bio degradable bags are at least 10 times louder than other bags.  I came to realize that I’ve never been curious enough to pick one up.  I certainly was after that!

I was grocery shopping the next day and lo and behold! 

The end cap of one of the aisles was promoting Sun Chips with bio degradable bags.  Hmm, I thought, I wonder just how much noisier these bags really are.  I pulled the kart over next to the display.  I looked both ways (like I was about to cross a street or something, I’m not exactly sure why) and reached out to grab one of the bags. 

Much to my embarrassment, the bags are, and I quote, “at least 10X louder than your standard potato chip bag.”  The three seconds worth of noise I created by touching that Sun Chips bag was almost equivalent to taking a three-foot strip of aluminum foil and crumpling it into one fist. . . and then un-crumpling it!  Good thing there weren’t any sleeping babies nearby.  They surely would have wakened. 

I’m here to save you from the same embarrassment, but if you insist on letting your curiosity get the best of you, too, don’t say I didn’t warn you!

By: S. Cole Garrett

Friday, April 23, 2010

Friday 4/23


Do you know a rambler?  Someone who has absolutely no problem talking or hearing their own voice.  You can try to edge a few words in, but they just talk, talk, talk, talk, talk.  So much to a point of exhaustion by listening.  I have a pet peeve with something ramblers do (and it’s not just because they waste my time . . . or if they have an annoying voice).  I think it’s best illustrated by example.

Do you know this person?

You should.  It’s Nadya Suleman (The lady who had six kids . . . and then eight more).  I know you’re probably as tired as I am of hearing about her.  Well, I was listening to her on a talk show in the background when I got home the other day.  She rambles!  No, she has a rambling problem!  (Is there an RA for ramblers anonymous?)  But you know what gets me?  It’s when someone asks themselves a question, and they don’t have an answer! 

It went something like this:  Nadya was talking along about how she would pay for all of those kids and nannies and so on and she said, “Would I go back and change any of the decisions I made?  Maybe.  Would I . . .”  (No one prompted her, she just asked herself the question.)

Maybe!?  (Seriously?  She said ‘maybe’?)  What kind of answer is that?  In my completely amateur opinion, if you ask yourself a question, you’d better have an answer!  Because if you’re answering your own questions with a ‘maybe,’ that could mean one of two things: either you’re a crazy or a rambler (amazingly, they sound a lot alike!) 

Wanna stay on the safe side?  Don’t ask yourself questions.  (Who does that anyway?  Oh yeah, her.)

By: S. Cole Garrett

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Thursday 4/22

Earth Day

Can you believe we’ve already been doing this for forty years?  Yep.  Earth day was started in 1970 because we, as an American people (full of hippies at the time), needed a shout out to raise conservation awareness!  It was, of course, specifically aimed at the government.  (Apparently, claiming a day is enough to get the government’s attention.)  But what’s it for?  What are you supposed to do?  Well, here’s a guide.  You just need to figure out what group you would most likely be in, and see what they do.

#1 If you were the Earth, you could…
Spin on your axis and orbit the sun.  (That’s not a euphemism, so don’t get any ideas.)  There aren’t too many members of this club, so don’t get excited.

#2 If you were a hippie, you could…
Handcuff yourself to a tree and proclaim your love for nature, wearing bell-bottomed jeans and your favorite, tie-dyed, antique-of-a-T-shirt.  And if someone asks you why you look like a hippie, you could just tell them you’re a Scooby doo fanatic.  (Or tell them the truth, they’re gonna think you’re weird either way.)

#3 If you were a politician, you could…
Announce your big Earth Day plans (none of which involve getting your hands dirty), hoping to gain poll popularity and a good photo op to use in a future election so you can say, “See? I do care about the Earth.”  Then, tomorrow, you can return to lobbying against the Environmental Protection Agency.

#4 If you were a tree, you could…
Stand in your infinite glory, basking in the one day of the year when almost the entire world acknowledges our reliance upon you for the air we breathe and the eternal beauty you radiate upon us!  (Wait, I thought is was Earth Day?  Yeah, well, we sure seem to talk about trees a lot on Earth Day, even though we already have an Arbor Day. . . those trees are day-hogs.)

#5 If you were an average person, you could…
Bake an Earth cake and bring it to the office or throw a party at your house (an environmentally friendly party, of course).  Or if you don’t have time, you could just let this Earth Day slip into the realm of non-historic days to be forever forgotten.  (Kind of like last Thursday.)  Don’t be ashamed if you end up in this group, most of us do.

 Earth Day has probably outlived its purpose.  I mean, it’s not even a bank holiday!  (And I don’t work for a bank, but come on!)  At least now, you’ve given it at least one moment of thought in your mind.  Now, you can go and forget about it for another 364 days.

By: S. Cole Garrett

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Wednesday 4/21

Absent Minded

There is a big difference between doing something stupid and something absent-minded.  What is it?  Well, I guess doing something stupid would be done without considering consequences or doing the counter-intuitive on purpose.  For example, hitting a wasp nest with a stick for fun is stupid.  Trying to bunny hop a bicycle down bleachers is stupid.  Absent-minded, on the other hand, is when you do something silly because you might have been thinking about something else at the time.  And it’s usually an accident, like putting your shoes on before your socks.  (It’s usually a good spot for a “duh,” too.)  Absent-minded instances can often be embarrassing (and funny) so we don’t always tell people.  I’ve been catching myself a lot lately, so I thought I might share a few.

I’ve caught myself several times recently trying to use the wrong key on a door.  (Everyone does this, right?)  I’ve tried the house key on the car and my house key on my parents’ house.  It’s both funny and sad, though, when I pull out my house key for the door at work. . . .

I often eat peanut butter and an apple for lunch when I go home.  The best peanut butter for apples, specifically, is the natural stuff which has to be refrigerated.  It’s impossible to spread while cold, so I heat it up in the microwave (without the metal lid, of course.  That would be stupid).  When I finished this one day, instead of putting the peanut butter in the fridge, I put it back in the microwave.  Someone was scratching their head later when they found it, wondering why it was there.

I’ve used the keyless remote for my car to try and open the front door to the house.  (Duh…)  (It didn’t work.)

I put the car into ‘Drive’ to back out of a parking space.  (That doesn’t work either.)  Good thing I didn’t slam on the gas, there was someone parked in the space in front of me.

I washed my hair twice in the shower the other day.  And that’s not the first time, either.  I guess I have a lot of important things to think about first thing in the morning and counting hair-washings is not one of them. 

Like I said, things like this happen all the time.  Don’t be embarrassed, tell people.  They’ll usually get a kick out of it. 

By: S. Cole Garrett

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Tuesday 4/20


Do you ever come to a situation where you need a word for something and you just can’t seem to put your finger on it?  You need that one word but it escapes you.  So you try to think of a different word to use but even still, nothing comes to mind so you mash up and inappropriately hyphenate a mix of other ones to try to sound out what you mean.  Sometimes, you just have a mind lapse and you think of it later.  But what I’m more concerned with is when a word just doesn’t exist when you need it.  I’ve been stumbling over this one adjective for a long time and I’ve finally figured out what to say:  Statriotic.

I live in Texas.  (I just thought that would be a good place to start.)  Now, if you’ve never been here, then let me be the first to tell you, it’s chock-full of state pride.  (If you have been here, then perhaps you know what I mean.)  “Everything’s BIG in Texas” right?  Dairy Queen is the Texas stop sign.  Home Depot used to be “The Texas do it yourself store.”  I’ve driven in an HOV lane with two lanes!  (At that point, they should just call it the HOV-side-of-the-road).  If you’re from Texas, you are Texan.  (Some, but certainly not all, states have names for their inhabitants.  Hawaiian is cool, but New Hampshirean?  Nope, sorry New Hampshire.)  Texas even shares a category of food with another country: tex-mex.  I’m all for “loving your state,” but there is one problem.  There is no adjective available by which to describe such feelings. 

I kept wanting to say patriotic, but I double-checked and patriotism specifically has to do with one’s country.  (Some people consider Texas its own country, so depending on the perspective, it could work.)  Anyway, I spit out ‘statriotic’ one day.  Most of the time, it’s a comic event when we accidentally mix two words together.  For example, great + cool = grool.  Punch + slap = slunch.  We all do it.  And sometimes, it works out!  Hence, statriotic!  (Aha moment!)  The long-elusive adjective for state pride exists, even if only in my own mind.

Now, whenever you see an enormous “Texas Edition” truck on the road, notice a big metal star adorning a neighbor’s house, or order the Texas-sized T-bone at Big Tex Bar and Grill, you can say, “Now that’s statriotic!”

By: S. Cole Garrett

Monday, April 19, 2010

Monday 4/19


Don’t you hate it when you choose a line at the grocery store because you think it will get you checked out the fastest and then it turns out to be the slowest in the end.  This happened to me the other day.  The family in front of me was writing a three hundred and something dollar check and wanted cash back on top of that.  The clerk had to call the supervisor over to approve the transaction.  It was really no problem having to wait, even though it took a few minutes.  What really made it seem like forever were the three goofball grocery baggers standing around flirting with the clerk for my line.  I looked over at the lane next to me (where at this point, I wish I were standing) and the clerk was scanning and sliding groceries to her sacker faster than he could bag them and the three numbskulls at the receiving end of my lane were laughing at his plight.  Then it hit me.  Why in the world do they even keep that position at the smaller grocery stores?

I really try to look at both sides of arguments.  (I had time to go over it in my head, anyway, just standing there.)  So this is what I came up with.

#1:  Originally, I think the grocery baggers were also available to help customers to their cars with their purchases.  That’s very chivalrous, but when was the last time you saw someone do that?  I’ve seen it before, but not for a long time, that’s for sure.  Think about it.  Why do supermarkets have the cart holders out in the middle of the parking lot?  So that when you take your groceries out to your car, you can just park the cart in that cart-catcher.  Duh.  There’s really no need for the sackers.  For example, Target and Walmart don’t have them.  (Probably because they realize it’s a luxury better left to memory.)  So…

#2:  Perhaps grocery baggers help maintain the personal service atmosphere of the not-so-super-duper stores.  Hmm.  Is it working?  Nah.  Not that day.  The three kids bagging groceries in my lane were just happy getting paid to stand so close to the pretty clerk and ask her about her favorite movies.  I was too lost in their immaturity to appreciate the nostalgic nobility of their positions.  Well, then.  What is it?  Why do stores keep them?

#3:  There is a disillusion that having one person ring up items and another bagging them is quicker than just having a single employee performing both tasks.  Wrong again.  (Think Target and Walmart.)  How do bigger stores keep prices low?  No baggers!  (There’s more to it than that, but those paychecks for all those pizza faces add up!) 

There’s more to argue, but all points are about as moot as the argument itself.  Bottom line is, grocery sackers tend to be more of a distraction than a positive discernable difference in productivity or a shopping experience enhancement.  You do have to appreciate job creation in a bad economy, but I think (and I’m no pro) that if there were three less baggers and three more cashiers that day, I would have gotten out of there much quicker.  Just a thought.

By: S. Cole Garrett

Friday, April 16, 2010

Friday 4/16


I feel like this sign should say something different.
Maybe it should be ‘Choose’ or ‘Either’. 
Or perhaps ‘Turn now, or forever hold your peace’.
I kept driving by this sign and I decided to finally stop my car and take a picture of it.  Just think, your tax dollars made this possible. 

By: S. Cole Garrett

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Thursday 4/15

Weather man (or woman)

I checked the weather the other day and the chance of precipitation for the next day was ten percent.  I woke up and walked out the door and it was raining and there were clouds as far as the eye could see.  Ten percent, huh?  Looked more like a hundred and ten.  I drove to work while it rained.  I sit next to a window at work.  It rained all day.  I couldn’t help but wonder how great a weather anchor’s job is.  They get paid to guess!  I’ll bet for the vast majority of the rest of us, guessing all day would just get us fired.

I’m pretty sure it’s a little more complicated than that.  I’m also sure that there are computers and algorithms and patterns all used to speculate upcoming weather.  The truth is, we probably don’t need a person at all.  It seems like they’re wrong all the time anyway.  All they do is smile and tell you in rhymes that they’re eventually going to tell you the weather.  So who would sign up for that job?  It’s like someone applied at the news station for a clerical job and they said, “no, we don’t need any paper pushers, but we have a weather anchor opening!”

Here’s a clip from a mock interview for a weather anchor job:

Interviewer:      Do you lie well?
  Candidate:      Of course I do, heh heh, I have three kids.
Interviewer:      Um, ok.  Rate your personality on a scale of one to ten.
  Candidate:      Eleven!  Get it?  (awkward silence) because it’s off the charts?
Interviewer:      Please take this seriously, sir.
  Candidate:      Oh.  I’m sorry.  Well then, I’d say ten.
Interviewer:      Can you point at things that aren’t really there?
  Candidate:      Like what?
Interviewer:      Exactly. 
  Candidate:      Exactly what?
Interviewer:      Never mind.  Have you ever correctly predicted a weather event?
  Candidate:     Sure I have.
Interviewer:      Explain.
  Candidate:     One time, I called my mom, who lives an hour East of me and she said it was a raining cats and dogs.  I told my kids to come inside because it was about to rain cats and dogs.
Interviewer:      I see.  Well, congratulations, you’ll start Monday!

I suppose the plus side for the weather anchor is they get to be on TV.  If that’s enough
consolation for someone to get paid to stand in front of a blank screen and point at
imaginary images like a crazy person, then more power to them, but I’d rather watch and laugh at that shmuck than be that shmuck.

By: S. Cole Garrett

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Wednesday 4/14


Laughing is good for the soul.  Laughter is the best medicine.  Laughter brings people together.  Laughter makes the world go ‘round (or is it money that makes it turn?)  Anyway, we laugh at people, things, situations, and plain old jokes.  We laugh with people and at people.  Laughter comes in many forms, and most of them are joyful.  But when is laughter not a good thing?  Laughing at yourself: that’s no bueno.  It’s not so much laughing at yourself, either.  What’s embarrassing is when you are the only one laughing . . . at you.

Have you ever been in that situation?  It is extremely awkward.  Something is obviously funny, or else you wouldn’t be audibly amused, but something is equally and obviously not funny, because no one’s in your boat.  As a matter of fact, your boat is sinking and no one will toss you a preserver.  Here’s a scenario:

A group of college friends are sitting in a bar (cliché, isn’t it?), discussing the recent death of one of their elder professors, recalling days past.  The moment is cheerful with memories.
Thinking he would be funny, one guy finally says, “I sure am going to miss that grumpy old fart, Mr. Rumblebottom.” 
He starts chuckling at his own joke, but it was tasteless and amusing to no one else.  Soon, the crickets start chirping.  He’s all alone…

How does he get out? 
Talk about the weather?  . . . weird
Talk about camping? . . . random
Talk about the Mr. Rumblebottom’s widow? . . . creepy
Talk about politics? . . . death wish (depending on your views)
Fade into a pathetic sob, exposing his delicate feelings? . . . not if he wants to keep his man card.

You see?  Not so funny when you’re the only one laughing at your joke.  Well, don’t forget, laughter is the best medicine.  His best move now, with that sick feeling in his stomach?  The poor shmuck should simply follow-up with another cheery memory, distracting his friends from his indecency.

So now what?  Well, have you ever heard the saying, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all?”  Well, here’s a corollary to that statement you could also live your life by (especially at parties and other settings where people currently respect you):  “If you don’t have anything smart to say, don’t say anything at all.” 

By: S. Cole Garrett

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Tuesday 4/13

And Counting

Any calorie-conscious consumer will tell you, it’s tough.  Counting is generally an easy thing to do and we’ve all been counting since we could play hide-and-seek.  It’s the adding that’s the hard part.  But even the adding isn’t the hardest thing.  There’s the serving size (who has time to figure out exactly how much their eating).  You need to figure out how much you should eat at each sitting and how many calories are in each food being eaten and add them all together and . . . well, it’s turning into rocket science.  What is a calorie, anyway, and who decided that it was a good idea to start counting them?

That’s a two part answer (Great… now we’re answer-counting.)  What is a calorie?  Easy, it’s the amount of energy required to raise the temperature of one kilogram of water by one degrees Celcius.  (I know what you’re thinking: . . . what?)  In other words, one calorie equals 4.184 joules.  (That didn’t help either, did it?)  Oh, and the real name of the food calorie is the kilocalorie.  ( . . . )  Simply put, a calorie isn’t really a thing.  It’s a measurement.  Think of it as like an inch or a centimeter.  You know what an inch is, and how long it is, but you can’t physically touch it.  Even the word ‘calorie’ comes from the Latin word for heat, which is another way to look at them.

How do you count something like that?  Thanks to the Nutrition Facts labels on foods you buy, you don’t have to.  It’s right there on the side . . . or the back . . . or somewhere on every package (except those ones that say ‘not labeled for individual resale’).  Sometime back in the 80s, someone started a movement to label foods with all this information because Americans were unarmed in food facts.  Then it became law in 1990 and has been changing ever since.  Thank the government for making eating so hard.  (Help us if they ever start requiring nutrition labels on those little produce stickers.)

So the question is still out there: Why count?  I’ll answer that question with another question: Why do some people still wear tie-dyed shirts and have mullets?  Because it was all the rave at one point in time. 

Intuitively, people know whether or not something that’s going in their mouth is beneficial for their body and that exercising is a good thing.  The best advice?  Don’t emo-eat, patrol your portions, regularly recreate, and enjoy less junk. 

So I’ll leave you with one last question: Are you hungry yet?  I am.

By: S. Cole Garrett

Monday, April 12, 2010

Monday 4/12

Age Old Answer

Which came first: the chicken or the egg?  This is a very interesting question.  You ask someone and they usually have an answer for you fairly quickly.  Either the chicken came first or the egg.  Then you ask the counter-question to their answer, either the egg was laid by a chicken or the chicken had to have hatched from an egg.  Soon, you’ll start to sound like those vultures on the Jungle Book deciding what to do for the day.  It’s a vicious cycle of repetitiveness.  The more you think about the chicken or the egg, the more confusing it gets.  That’s kind of backwards from how you normally figure something out.  You’re supposed to come to a conclusion, not to venture out from it.  Well, there may be several reasonable answers for which actually came first.
So, again . . .
Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

Answer 1: The Velociraptor
Let’s say you’re a big fan of Charles Darwin’s work: evolution, natural selection, and all that jazz.  Let’s rule out the egg.  If the egg “came first,” then there would not have been any nurturing parent chicken or protector.  Anything that hatched from that egg wouldn’t have lived more than a week (and that’s just sad).  Your answer would be that the chicken came first.  You should also be ready if someone were sly enough to challenge you with asking where that chicken came from.  Just tell them dinosaurs because birds came from dinosaurs and so the velociraptor clearly came first. 

Answer 2: The Rooster
Well what if you’re not convinced by evolution.  You’re a hard-core creationist.  God created the Earth in six days and rested on the seventh.  Fact.  And in due time, He took some dust from the ground, created a man, Adam, and breathed life into him.  Then, from one of Adam’s ribs, He created Eve.  It might be safe to assume that some of the other animals that roam the Earth were created in the same manner.  God may just as easily have scooped up some dirt and made the rooster and when the rooster was lonely, He used a drumstick to make the chicken (no souls, of course).  Voila!  The rest is history.

Answer 3: The Chicken
(Well, that seems pretty straight forward.  What gives?)  Some believers out there think UFOs and extra-terrestrials visit Earth from time to time.  In my opinion, “to each his own.”  But let’s be open-minded.  We’re all waiting for aliens to visit us and bestow upon us unimaginably advanced technology and understanding.  Perhaps in an inter-planetary fly-by, some Alien race decided our world could be a better place with fried chicken, chicken kiev, and barbecued chicken pizza so they left us one to get started with (and a rooster, too, because . . . you know, it takes two to tango). 

So choose a side, or make up a different theory.  Just realize you’re practically justifying your entire religious and scientific beliefs in the answer to one silly, age-old riddle!

By: S. Cole Garrett

Friday, April 9, 2010

Friday 4/9

Burnt Sugar

Something undeniably and divinely delicious happens when you melt sugar and boil it to around 240® F.  A sweet, rapturous aroma is released.  The sugar turns to a perfectly creamy, light beige.  You might have second thoughts about what was originally planned for that caramel.  Maybe you’ll just eat it all yourself and cook up a replacement batch.  Good thing there’s a kitchen towel nearby to wipe the drool from the corner of your mouth.  I’ve met very few (if any) people who don’t enjoy the gift of caramel.  One thing is certain: caramel is a well-loved treat.  One thing, however, is far less certain about the concoction.  That is, how to say it.  So that begs the question.  What is it: Carmel or caramel? 

Well that’s kind of a trick question.  (Actually, if you weren’t tricked at all, then it was a dumb question.)  Carmel and caramel are not the same things, not by a long shot, but it was the easiest way for me to express, in writing, the two different ways to pronounce it.  So let’s rule out Carmel.  Carmel is: a city in Indiana, a community in Louisiana, a town in Maine, a town in New York, a mountain in Israel, an ancient town in Judea, a river in California, and a town in California, just to name a few.  Carmel is anything but candy.  Caramel, on the other hand, is basically burnt sugar.  (Burnt, ooey, gooey, yummy sugar).  So I suppose a better question would be: is it cäramel or cāramel?

You see, Carmel (the non-food) has two syllables and sounds like what you drive down the street (like “car”).  Caramel (the food) has three syllables and sounds like when you have strong feelings about something (like “care”).  Arguably, (but not originally) caramel (the food) could also be pronounced like “car” (vroom, vroom).  So which one is right? 

Unfortunately, they’re both right.  Look in any dictionary.  Well, caramel quite possibly originated in France (at least, some people speculate) which would make the original word have three syllables.  Typically, with foreign food words assimilated into English, the pronunciation goes relatively unchanged.  We don’t shorten burrito to burto.  Likewise, escargot doesn’t become esgot and manicotti doesn’t become mancotti.  But caramel slips through the cracks.  So how to pronunciation disputes get settled?

Easy, dictionaries publish them both.  It’s like compromise, but no losing for either side.  And it doesn’t really solve the debate.  Just know that words usually start out with just one way to say them.  Judge the facts for yourself.  So choose sides: potato, tomato, pecan, vacuum, envelope, caramel, whatever.  I recommend you check the facts yourself.  Who knows?  You might have been saying it wrong all along.

By: S. Cole Garrett 

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Thursday 4/8

Your Ad Here

Chances are, if you are alive, and perceptive to the cultured world, you are being advertised to.  Everywhere you look, someone or something is trying to persuade you to take action, whether it be buying a product or believing an idea.  As a matter of fact, you don’t even have to look.  Your ears are just as bombarded.  Those who are deaf and blind should be safe, right?  Wrong.  You can walk down the street in a shopping district in just about any big city and smell each store as you pass them.  Yes, some stores and brands are even developing signature scents to waft your way.  What will they think of next?

Want to make a buck?  Find a new place for businesses to advertise (and be prepared for others to copy you because good ideas aren’t proprietary for long).  Think of some odd places you see ads.  Here’s a few:  the little bar thing that separates your groceries from the person’s in front of you in the checkout lane, shopping cart handles, fortune cookie paper, toilet paper, the sides of the phonebook, on the garbage truck, popsicle sticks (under the ice cream), and with a tattoo.

On of my all-time favorites is the ad within another ad.  I wish I would have been the one to come up with this.  Some supermarket ads on TV tell you how nice it is to shop there and how they carry certain brands.  They’ll show a particular maker of paper towels or ice creams and maybe even tell you the price up front.  Why is this so genius?  Well, advertisements cost money.  And what better way to pay for them than to sell advertising space within their own advertisement?  I guarantee those highlighted items aren’t being shown for free.  Those paper towel and ice cream companies cough up some serious dough to be featured.

I’m ok with advertising until it hits me in places I can’t avoid, like the gas station.  At some pumps, a microphone starts blaring ads at you as soon as you start the pump.  Other stations even have TVs squawking at you!  And you can’t get back in your car to ignore it, either (or at least you’re not supposed to.  Read the sign).  I mean give me a break.  Can’t people just peacefully pump their petroleum purchases?

Want to escape the every day ad blitz?  Well, you could try visiting the vacuum of space, but good luck with that.  I hate to break it to you, but that sweet ride is gonna cost you upwards of $20 to $100 million.  (Maybe you can sell all the ad space on your rocket to fund the trip. . . Just a thought.)

By: S. Cole Garrett

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Wednesday 4/7


Have you ever noticed how the beer and wine aisle at the grocery store is right next to the diapers and formula?  If you don’t drink or you’ve never had a baby, maybe you haven’t noticed, but look again next time you go grocery shopping.  It seems pretty obvious to sell peanut butter next to jelly, maybe even on the bread aisle.  The potato chip and other-greasy-but-oh-so-good snack aisle does well right next to all of the sodas.  Someone, somewhere has to decide where to put things in a store, but diapers and beer?  Believe it or not, they thought about that, too.

There is a dual-sided argument to why things like diapers and beer are next to each other at some stores.  One side says that they put all the food groceries together and then all of the non-food stuff together and beer just happens to wind up next to the baby aisle in coincidence.  I suppose, but I’ve been to a lot of grocery stores and I don’t think all of those coincidences are, well, coincidence.

On the other side of the argument, marketing people have a little tool called data mining.  It is a relatively recent development, too, within the last few decades.  Basically, all the information from all receipts for a grocery store go into a ginourmous spreadsheet.  Then, computers can sift through all those transactions and see what shoppers tend to buy together, like noodles with sauce and hot dogs with buns.  Data has been analyzed for centuries and been used to produce research support and such.  But with computers getting faster and databases becoming unfathomably large, data mining is finally becoming widely practical.

Well, in the process of searching for the obvious things you buy together, researchers sometimes stumble upon correlations no one would think of.  Lo and behold!  There exists a strikingly high percentage of purchases including both baby products and alcohol. 

If you drink and also have babies, it isn’t hard to see why.  After a long day of dealing with a teething infant, sometimes you just need a drink, something to relax with.  Children, even though you love ‘em, can bring you to your last nerve and alcohol, for a vast majority, is the ultimate unwind at the end of a long day.  And multiple children just compound everything.  If one cries, they all cry.  One wants something, they all want something. 

So next time you buy dog food and turn around to find air freshener or pick up some bagels “conveniently” located right next to the cream cheese, remember, someone decided to put them there.  After all, the store wouldn’t want you to forget to buy something (*wink, wink*) while you’re there.

By: S. Cole Garrett

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Tuesday 4/6

Ode to the Pothole

Oh, pothole, how devious you are!

In youth, you are unnoticeable and hardly felt under the suspension of our advanced vehicles.  At first, you do little more than gnaw our tires.  Our course remains undeterred and our conscience unmarred.  You are present without presence.  You, pothole, are but an acquaintance to be forgotten.

You grow in girth and in depth.  Your rubber appetite is becoming unquenchable.  Drivers avoid you like it is a game.  For now, you are avoidable, but nonetheless, our cars are built to sustain your bite when necessary.  We know of you, heard your name.  On a clear day, people evade you easily.  You are hungry and patiently waiting for your accomplice: the rain.

Under torrential rain, you wait under puddle, to claw at each unfamiliar driver.  You grow deeper with each strike, too, like gossip, adding fuel to your fire!  You are indiscernible among both pounding rain and sunny aftermath.  You hide like a chameleon, reflecting the world around you when filled, your most dangerous state.  Feast while opportune, pothole, because when you become well-known, you become problematic.  Then, the war begins.

We patch your gaping jaws, but you know it is temporary.  The next rain or freeze has all the potential to un-gag you, rip the tape from your mouth.  Rain equals wrath and the longer it rains, the longer you eat.  Enjoy.

Ironically, man built the roads you infest.  Construction neglect and failure to know the porous soil beneath roadways are your loopholes.  We indulge you with asphalt patchwork on which you gleefully feed.  You are a weed, unable to be nipped in the bud, a recurring nightmare, a cicada outside the bedroom window. 

We cover you, again and again, but you will never cease to exist, as long as red tape barricades solutions, as long as you are economically unviable to repair correctly, and as long as rain falls on this green earth. 

In other words, until the planet dries up, you will forever plague our streets.

By: S. Cole Garrett

Monday, April 5, 2010

Monday 4/5

Snail Mail

What’s worse than becoming obsolete?  Becoming obsolete and being made fun of.  The term ‘Snail Mail’ is a prime example of this.  It’s hard to say snail mail without sounding snoody about it.  Think about it.  Snail Mail.  Audio cassettes and VHS tapes should be thankful they blew over gracefully instead of becoming a joke.  So why do some things get replaced and retired respectfully and others linger in laughable limbo?

My first thought is that regular mail is controlled by the government and therefore it’s just an easier target to poke fun at (Funny thing is, the government continues to lose money on the postal service because it’s out of control.  I guess ‘control’ is relative).  I can think of other very similar examples which have no government interest.  Take CDs for example.  MP3s and MP3 players are far superior to CDs and although slowly, everyone is making the switch.  But we don’t make fun of CDs like we do mail.  So if the government isn’t the reason we make fun of mail, then what else?

Maybe it’s because the US Postal Service is unionized!  Unions are easy targets, too, with their “competitive wages,” “work standard definitions,” and “tenure.”  (Need some job security and don’t want to work as hard for it?  Join a union.)  If you think snail mail is silly, you probably don’t care for unions, either.  After considering it further though, other unionized industries aren’t humor-ized.  Railroads, as a means of transportation, are very slow, but we don’t call it Snail Rail

Perhaps people laugh in the face of regular mail because you actually have to pay for it.  Email is FREE, after all!  And all email costs you is a little bit of your time and the wrinkle in your brain to learn how to use it.  You can use different fonts and colors with email.  You can send an email out to many people at once!  And you don’t have to lick an email to shut it! 

Pretty much anything you do via the postal service you could just as easily do online now: pay bills, read newspapers and magazines, send letters, etc.  Only some things still need to be manually sent, but even still, there are some hungry third party shipping services out there ready to beat the USPS rate.

What it seems to boil down to is just a recipe for ridicule.  It’s not that the mail is any of the things listed above, it’s that the mail is all of them: government controlled, unionized, costly, obsolete, and so on.  All that remains is the good feeling you get when someone sends you an honest-to-goodness card or letter with an honest-to-goodness stamp on it.  Ahh, nostalgia.  It’s a great benefit for mail, but a bad business plan.

By: S. Cole Garrett

Friday, April 2, 2010

Friday 4/2

Movie Night

“I’d like to see [Insert movie title here] in 3-D at 7:30, please.”  The gentleman in front of me pulled out his wallet and the box office attendant punched a few buttons on her computer.
She leaned forward into the microphone.  “Fourteen dollars,” she said.
“Oh, no, just one ticket, please.”  The man was very polite, trying to correct the girl behind the glass.
“Yes sir, that’s fourteen dollars,” she smiled.
Then it hit him and his jaw dropped.  He reeled it in and reluctantly handed her a twenty.  She quickly returned him his ticket and six dollars.  He walked away and looked at his six dollars like he had just sold his soul to the devil.  He shook his head and walked into the theater. 

Take a minute and think about what you could do with fourteen bucks.  Better yet, imagine you were taking someone to the movies and it was twenty-eight instead.  Don’t worry about the keg of soda and the dump truck of popcorn you might buy once you get inside.  That’s for another day.

Just let it sink in . . .

Unless they start handing out bars of gold with those 3-D movie tickets, I probably won’t be going to see too many of them, if any.  There’s a local rental store where you can rent two movies for one dollar (and they’re not that old.  There are plenty on those shelves that I meant to get around to watching and still haven’t).  I could see fifty-six movies with that same twenty-eight dollars.  (Ok, if you really want to be technical, which I usually am, I could only rent fifty-one movies if you calculate taxes.)  It would take me three months to watch that many! 

I’m not saying you should forever forgo the nostalgia of the theater.  I’m just saying maybe you should consider all your options before forking over a fifty on a Friday night.

Clearly, the premium you pay for a 3-D movie ticket is for the experience.  Sure, it’s a sense-adventure, but there’s still the crawling-over-people and who-forgot-to-turn-off-their-cell-phone-? that, personally, I can do without.  So make it a movie night at home and save a buck (or lots of bucks!)

By: S. Cole Garrett

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Thursday 4/1


Humans often have very bizarre behaviors.  Some people are just really quiet, some wash their hands fifty times a day, and some people are mimes (which is pretty bizarre in and of itself).  More often than we realize, people do things that are very contradictory of themselves.  There’s a word for it, too.  See, when you do something dumb, it’s moronic.  If you act in a way that is contradictorily stupid, it’s oxymoronic.

Let’s start from the top.  In case you’re unfamiliar with them, an oxymoron is a term, usually two words put together, which have opposite meanings.  Like Jumbo Shrimp.  Jumbo = Big.  Shrimp = Small.  Here are some of my favorite examples:  pretty ugly, only choice, act naturally, same difference, Great Depression, crash landing, recorded live, and virtual reality.  Combine two opposite actions and you have a case of oxymoronic behavior.

Sometimes, we as a human race do oxymoronic things.  For example, you can walk into just about any gas station and buy a sweaty, chilled bottle of sweet, lemon, iced tea.  Tea was originally brewed and consumed hot.  Somewhere around the turn of the nineteenth century, someone decided it would be good on ice (and might I add, it is quite nice!).  Actually, when tea was first being iced, it was also heavily spiked with liquor (like a really long island iced tea).  Anyway, we have hot tea poured over ice.  That’s oxymoronic.  But we Americans have a greater calling than that, so we put sour lemon in iced tea to give it some flavor and sugar in it to sweeten it up!  (which, might I also add, is quite yummy!).  It’s an oxymoron-fest in a cup!

Other times, individuals are able to simply embarrass themselves, oxymoronically.  My family and I were sitting in a nice steakhouse one evening and we overheard the gentleman in the booth behind us ordering.  It went something like this:

“Here is your diet soda, sir,” the waitress beamed, “Are you ready to order?”
“Yeah,” he bellowed, “I’ll have the eighteen ounce ribeye, medium rare, loaded mashed potatoes, corn, and stuffing.  Can you add the shrimp tempura on that?  And I’d like to go ahead and start with the chili-cheese-bacon-sour cream waffle fry mountain, please.  Thank you.”

Rewind.  Before we get the heart attack on a plate, he ordered diet soda!  That’s textbook oxymoronic.  A calorie-free soda to go with a 4,000-calorie meal!  I guess compromise is in the eye of the beholder.

There is an oxymoron around every turn.  Whether you’re shopping for tight slacks or hearing on the news about someone being found missing, open your eyes and ears and you’ll see people doing some seriously funny stuff!

By: S. Cole Garrett

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