Boomer Twilight

Mostly Humorous Observations of Most Anything, with a Boomer Slant

Archive for December 2007

Nine Tenths or a Tenth of a Thent?

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Pssst! What’s wrong with this picture? Give up? Well? What? It’s the fraction. I didn’t pay much attention when I was younger, nor have any idea when it began. If you know, tell me, because I am clueless. Now that I’m old and cranky, it just pisses me off!

Why do the gas companies use 9/10 as a measurement? I’ve never purposely pumped 9/10 of a gallon in my car. I usually try to round it off at the .00 mark, occasionally going a penny over (man, it ticks me off when that happens) and then try to go all the way to the next .00. Sometimes I get caught at .77 and can’t fill the tank any more without spilling it on my shoes. My preference is to pay for the fuel in round numbers, not tenths. I rarely have a pocket full of tenthathents.

The consensus is sellers of petrol use the fraction as a marketing tool. That’s not particularly profound information, is it? I’ll bet more than a few of you reading this see 3.14 9/10, and think you’re getting a deal at 3.14, not 3.15. Many will drive a couple of more miles to buy the gasoline at 3.12 9/10, because it seems like it’s only 3.12. The strategy seems to work. I too, fall prey to their ploy. And to be even sneakier, they don’t use dollar signs (like they’re some fancy restaurant), as if we lemmings won’t know it’s money. Lately, I seem to have stopped chasing down the few-cents-cheaper-gallon-several-blocks-away. It just doesn’t seem worth the fight. I’ll probably burn any savings during the chase down. When gasoline is necessary, I just get it.

Using the fraction is really no different than going into a store and buying something for $9.99. You’re only paying nine dollars, right? And, you are probably not even calculating the tax in your head. Who’s the better marketer; the petroleum companies or the retailers? The 9/10 is so annoying. Can’t they just round it out? Or switch to .99? That’s almost as irritating, but for some reason not quite as much as 9/10. Decimals are more appealing than fractions. Fractions seem a bit unwieldy. Decimals are quick and clean. Fractions are like a little fence you have to jump. Decimals are to the point. Hell, they are a point.

The price of gasoline is high, but how many of us buy bottled water? If a 16-ounce bottle cost $1.00, a gallon is $8.00. It appears the day has arrived where people are paying more for water than gasoline. Of course, no one can drink 10 gallons of water a day, but we can easily use 10 gallons of gas.

We’ll complain, debate, moan and groan about the price of gasoline, and how the Middle East is the cause of all our problems. Regardless, we won’t walk, car pool or drive more efficient vehicles. Why should we? When it comes to sacrifice, it is better to tough it out and pay the bill. Let’s save on groceries or other things in our lives. Eating at cheaper restaurants is helpful. I wonder how many Oil Executives frequent McDonald’s?

Well, I’m going to go now. I need to drive my SUV to Wendy’s and pick up dinner. They don’t deliver. Probably a result of the fuel prices.

With Love,

Bake My Fish

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Written by Bake My Fish

December 30, 2007 at 8:53 pm

Bowled Over By Fashion

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When I was a kid Saturday was the greatest day of the week. The Capitol Heights Seat Pleasant Boys Club had Duckpin Bowling Leagues, and heading to the lanes was a perpetually anticipated trip. If you are reading this in some areas of the country, Duckpin Bowling is foreign. To learn more, go to Duckin and check it out. The game is fun; but I really like the shirts.

Some of you may not think of a person in a bowling shirt as a Paragon of Fashion. Well, you’re wrong. The shirts have a distinctive look, resembling Italian knits or Banlon, without the exposed underarm stitching. Typically in two colors, emphasizing wide stripes, but often times multi-colored; they invariably have the embroidered name over the left nipple. Mine always read Bake or Mr. Fish, depending on whether or not the league was a “first name basis” or more formal institution.

Great thinking goes into the design. Consideration has to be given to comfort, style, fabric breathing, ability to withstand numerous wears, metamorphosing of the body caused by mass consumption of beer, and perspiration absorption (I don’t think they use aluminum like in deodorant).

This distinctive apparel can be recognized from miles away. Any criminal act while wearing a bowling shirt could lead to swift capture. Witnesses will surely recall either the stitched name, or the design and color. There can’t be more than three people in the immediate vicinity of the crime wearing such apparel, narrowing down the suspects. The point is, don’t commit a felony in Bowlwear. You will not escape.

It seems there is a campaign in place to hold a Best Bowling Shirt competition in Staley’s Ford, Nevada in 2009. A date has not been set. Awards will be given for Best Tie Dye, Best Color Combination and Best Durability.

To test the durability of a shirt, the contestants submit the entry to the committee three weeks prior to the judging. The item is subjected to 500 hours of exposure to bowling conditions. On the day of the competition, the shirts are tested for fraying, and that with the least, wins the award. Tie Dye and Best Color Combination are obvious.

In addition to the Best Bowling Shirt awards, there is a movement afoot to erect a Museum in Reno to showcase The History of Bowling Shirts (there is gossip Homer Simpson will cut the ribbon). A special room will be devoted to one of Baltimore’s Best Duckpin Enthusiasts . . . The Babe. Although Babe Ruth was not considered to have made much of a fashion statement, his subsequent career in Major League Baseball overcame his lack of runway thinking.

One day the world will appreciate Bowlwear. It will take all of us, working together, to make it happen. I urge you to stop by your local bowling alley and survey what is being worn. Stop anyone who is not wearing bowl-worthy tops. Tell that person of the movement and win them over. This will work. I assure you. There will be Pradaesque bowling shirts.

With Love,

Bake My Fish

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Written by Bake My Fish

December 27, 2007 at 9:13 pm

Caffeinated Nation – Pick Your Buzz

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Mmmmm. Coffee. Love it. Can’t get enough. I take a thermos to work; about five cups of my favorite dark roast. If I have any left over (it’s good for 24 hours), I take it home and make iced coffee.

A few years ago coffee was considered evil. Caffeine killed. That’s what all the research said. Now we crawl on our knees for the next jolt. Bzzzz. Zzzzttt.

Coffee is the liquid fuel I prefer. My favorite blend is Espresso with French Roast (kind of the same thing). Then there is this Italian Roast branded by the local grocery store, but I think it’s the same as Espresso. The strength bar at the self-help coffee station grades it to the far right, for “most intense.” Dark stuff. Kill me with flavor. I’ll live with the indigestion. The buzz is the thing. Give me the coffee zing.

Can you sling a cat through the air and not hit a coffee shop or stand? They’re everywhere. Name a mall or shopping center, and if someone asks, “Is there a coffee shop?” you can say, “Hell yeah, there are three.” Forget about the muffins and scones, because within pastries lies evil. Guzzle the coffee. Live on the upswing. Caffeine is your friend.

In 1988, we visited Seattle for my daughter’s High School graduation. At that time, they had push carts on nearly every street corner selling coffee. Every morning I walked across the street from our hotel to get coffee for the morning wake up. There were shops, paying hard rent, around every corner, too. This visit was our discovery of Starbucks. The first Starbucks was opened in 1971 across from Pike Place Market; probably the coolest market in the country (I sat in the stool at the Athenian Inn used by Tom Hanks during the filming of Sleepless in Seattle). Starbucks had recently announced a plan to expand, and did they ever? Their 2006 revenue was $7,786,000,000. You read that right. 7.786 billion. Selling coffee. Juan Valdez is rolling in his grave.

A few years ago I was having coffee with a friend of mine. He drinks his black, and I add dairy and sweetener. In this kind of sinister, yet comical way, he said, “I drink coffee. You drink a coffee beverage.” I laughed, but he made a good point. It seems most people like their coffee blended with something sweet and creamy. Frappuccino, Cappuccino, Crapuccino. Name it. Someone likes it.

Since coffee has now been embraced as a good thing, we have the invasion of energy drinks. Love them, too. I know . . . Mountain Dew (diet) and all the other buzz-worthy drinks are considered a young indulgence, but I can’t help myself. My favorite drink is my favorite for three reasons: I get a lot for the same price as smaller versions, it’s sugar free, and low in sodium. OK, analyze that. I’m worried about the sodium because of blood pressure, but the purpose of energy drinks is to increase blood pressure. If you see me out and about and you know CPR, please stand near. I’ll gargle just in case.

A person can spend hours wading through the choice of energy drinks available at any given store. Many of them come in a sugar-free diet variety. Your brain can explode from the intensity of the drink, but you will be thin in the Emergency Room. At least you’ll look good. That’s what we want. Always to look good. And to buzz through life.

I like that we are lenient regarding the amount of ingredients allowed in a drink. Let us adults make our own choices. Monitoring the use by children is probably a good idea, but if we want to cause self-induced aneurysms, allow it. Don’t hold my hand and tell me what I can and can’t drink. If I want to go to my grave with a Jolt Ultra in my coffin, don’t tell me I can’t.

But, don’t you think it is a little odd that some of the drinks emphasize the evil intent? Maybe we should be cautious, but we won’t. They go too well with vodka.

Happy Holidays!!

With Love,

Bake My Fish
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Written by Bake My Fish

December 20, 2007 at 9:56 pm

Misunderstood Appendage – The Finger

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The ultimate insult . . . . . a finger. The middle digit, extended upward, makes people crazy. It’s silly, but true. If presented in anger, it can lead to battery; depending on the interpretation of the recipient. People go out of their way to make sure the target of their aggression sees the gesture clearly. “Don’t mess with me. There you go! There’s The Finger!” Now you are in control. You just slapped somebody around.

I’ve always understood The Finger. Since I was a wee boy, the meaning of the display (usually with a skyward thrust) was known to me. I don’t remember who made me aware, but it was commonly seen around the neighborhood. The funniest demonstration of The Finger is to cradle it between the index and ring fingers, with both of them cocked, almost as though if the other two digits weren’t there, the middle one might fall off. When someone uses that method, they really mean it. Watch out.

When did it become a trademark of “whacking” a person? It is used to put people in their place, but when did it begin? Was Buddha the first to give The Bird? Confucius, Socrates, Plato? Who? Did someone think they could just shove a finger at a person, and they would understand it was meant to harm? I can think of other appendages that could be more shocking. Someone in times gone by decided extending The Finger would get even.

I love the Battle of Agincourt myth. During the now famous Hundred Years War, there was a skirmish in 1415 between the troops of Henry V of England and Charles VI of France. It took place in Agincourt (pronounced ah zin cort), in North France. Apparently the English Bowmen were very adept at their skill, causing numerous French casualties.

Here’s where the myth comes in. Undocumented history indicates the French were cutting off the index and middle fingers of captured archers to prevent them from ever shooting an arrow again (I guess just killing them outright wouldn’t do the job). Maybe a necklace of severed nubs was a prized possession, but there is no proof of the cutting off of the fingers. The myth tells us that the “two-finger salute” or “V” sign was an act of defiance to show the French, “You missed me.” And, of course we naughty Americans perverted it into a “one-finger salute” equated with a sex act.

There are many gestural ways to get under someone’s skin. The Universally-understood Finger beats them all. If I walked into a hotel in Budapest and gave The Finger to the bellhop, he’d probably beat the crap out of me. Hungarian is not my language; therefore, the explanation of wiping sleep from my eye would not work. I was rubbing my eye pretty hard, so he probably wouldn’t believe me.

If you point your index finger at a pit bull, it will bite it off. If you point your index finger in any other way, you are probably giving directions. But, if you point The Finger in pretty much any way, someone will assume you are trying to tick them off. Perhaps you are, but you can pretend it is something else. That’s the beauty of it. No one will think you are purposely giving them The Finger if you claim you are not.

Wayward appendages are good.

We’ll talk later. Right now, I have to get my broken finger set.

With Love,

Bake My Fish

Written by Bake My Fish

December 13, 2007 at 11:58 pm

Tsk The Season *

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On December 25, 0000 there was a historically significant event in a place named O Little Town of Bethlehem. Joseph and Mary Christ were blessed with the birth of a bouncing baby boy, who they christened Jesus. To this day we celebrate his birthday around the world and honor his lifetime accomplishments. I think he might be pleased how glamorous and sordid we have become.

As reported in numerous publications, there were Three Wise Men who brought gifts to the newborn in the family’s temporary quarters, known as The Manger. Mary and Joseph were forced to settle for the modest accommodations because the annual convention of International Stoning Enthusiasts was in town and there were no vacancies at any of the local hotels. Nevertheless, the Christs made the best of it. Somehow overlooked was the fourth Wise Man we now celebrate in song.

Jingle Kringle was a local shack-to-shack jug brush salesman who just happened on the scene during a sales venture. He sold a wide variety of brushes made from animal hair, but had invented one using a shiny material he called aluminum. The aluminum brush was not a very good product. It didn’t absorb the soap very well, and the water always ran off. Jingle was stuck with a gross of unsold, worthless brushes he was determined could be put to some use.

There was something special about this child, and the giving of birth offerings was a long-standing tradition among the people of O Little Town of Bethlehem, so Jingle had to come up with something of value. Ah, but Jingle was an artistic sort and formed the brushes into a tree like those he had seen in the mountains. Several wooden bells (another failed Jingle invention) were hung from the brushes, and the beautiful gift was presented to the Savior. The Aluminum Christmas Tree, featuring Jingle’s bells, was born.

At the Gifting Ceremony, one of the Wise Men, Carl, gave a really nice four-colored wheel, made from a thin and kind of see-through material. Carl laid it in front of the oil lamp, where the family cat was lying nearby enjoying the heat, and its swaying tail kept brushing against the wheel, causing it to spin. The flicker of the lamp, combined with the spinning of the colored wheel provided the entire group with a visual spectacle when the resulting light reflected on the Jug Brush Tree. Oooo. Ahhhh. Soon, the lamp burned out, no oil reserve was available and everyone simultaneously scratched their heads. There was no way to light the wheel and Ben Franklin will not be born for another 1,706 years. Interest in the phenomenon waned.

The Jug Brush Tree and the four-colored wheel were stashed in a donkey-skin bag in the loft along with the other boring and non-functioning child toys. The gifts given by the two other Wise Men, Godfried and Fennel, were a nice wooden dreidel and a wind-up Shepherd Ice Skating Rink. Fennel had an obsession with ice skating ever since his recent trip to Barrow, Alaska (which at the time was an uncharted territory known only by Wise Men). Barrow experiences 67 straight days of night (November 18th – January 23rd), giving Fennel more stars to wish upon in a shorter period of time. Fennel interrupted his vacation to attend the birth of Jesus.

The toy was a good idea, but the skates on the shepherd figurines kept breaking off, there was no glue, and Jingle had eaten all the paste. Mr. Christ did not have time to mix more adhesive, because he had a ticket to attend The Stoning of an Adulteress playing at the O Little Town of Bethlehem Cinema that evening, and Mrs. Christ was busy with the baby. The thrill of the ice rink quickly fizzled.

Although Jingle Kringle’s tree was not a big hit at the time, he can take solace in the fact his Greatest Grandson, Kris (pictured to the left in his company uniform), was the first to domesticate reindeer and train them to help with his occupation as a door-to-door philanthropic delivery man. Kris moved to Barrow, Alaska after reading The Travels of Fennel, eventually migrating to the North Pole, to enjoy even more endless nights. Kris preferred to make his deliveries in the evening to beat the traffic, and the increased number of business nights allowed for even more stops. The clean, cold air of the North Pole worked out for Kris, giving him eternal life. After several years, people around the world nicknamed him Santa Claus, which is Aramaic for Deliverer of Free Stuff. In 1857, Kris commissioned James Lord Pierpont to compose a song in his Greatest Grandfather’s memory, known today as Jingle’s Bells. The song was originally titled One Horse Open Sleigh, but it didn’t make sense. Once Lord Pierpont was made aware of the climatic conditions of O Little Town of Bethlehem during Jingle’s era, it became clear the name should be changed.

The bag of bad toys remained in the loft and through the years the property was abandoned, leveled, and at some point became part of the landscape. In 1954 there was an Archaeological dig at the site; the mission being to disprove history. The leader of the expedition, Frahg Leggs, a scientist from The Institute of Debunked Theories, was convinced aluminum was discovered and in use prior to the isolation of the element by Friedrich Wohler in 1827. Frahg made his discovery and the wheels of commercial Aluminum Christmas Tree history began to spin.

The Jug Brush Tree was the proof Frahg was seeking and he would now be forever known. Frahg tossed aside the Shepherd Ice Skating Rink because he already had one at home. The wooden dreidel and Jingle’s bells had disintegrated due to weathering. But, the Jug Brush Tree and the four-colored wheel were in pretty good shape. Frahg had a friend, Tom Gannon, the toy sales manager at Aluminum Specialty Company, of Manitowoc, Wisconsin, who would probably be interested in his find.

Tom took the tree to his boss, and he loved it. The company developed the Evergleam Christmas Tree (left), which they began selling commercially in 1959. Unfortunately, there was a bit of a problem. Season celebrators like to light their trees, but the combination of the highly conductive aluminum of the new product and the juice from the electric lights was quite a shocking experience. Something had to be done. A tree without light was a horrifying thought and scientific heads began to meld.

The four-colored wheel unearthed by Frahg Leggs at the site of The Manger, was misunderstood. No one from Jingle’s day was still around, and the memory of the light spectacle enjoyed by the cat tail-induced lighting of the Jug Brush Tree was buried with the dead. Tom Gannon was a pretty handy fellow and converted the wheel into a coffee table. Then one morning Tom dropped the match while lighting his cigarette, causing a small fire right under the Colored Wheel Coffee Table. He quickly extinguished the flame with his slipper, but marveled at the beauty of the light reflecting through the wheel onto the ceiling, and thought to himself, “This could help with our Christmas tree light difficulty.”

Tom contacted his friend, Lester Edison, who owned the Intown Electrical Contracting Company, in Boise, Idaho, and together they patented an electrified, four-colored wheel used to reflect colored light on the Evergleam. Tom’s partnership with Lester evolved into a multi-million dollar windfall for the decade or so of Aluminum Christmas Tree popularity, while Frahg Leggs was given a finder’s fee of $150 for discovering the Jug Brush Tree and his name was forgotten. Leggs failed to sign an agreement with Tom Gannon or ASC; thereby, surrendering his rights to any of the proceeds and/or fame to which he would otherwise be entitled.

Have a Happy Holiday Season, and be sure to don your gay apparel. Jingle all the way.

With Love,

Bake My Fish

* This post was inspired by a coworker and the majority of “facts” presented here are make-believe; however, some are true.

Written by Bake My Fish

December 4, 2007 at 7:10 pm