Boomer Twilight

Mostly Humorous Observations of Most Anything, with a Boomer Slant

Archive for the ‘Facts’ Category

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

JC1 May Apply For Social Security

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Jiminy Cricket was born February 9, 1940, when he was officially revealed to the public in the Walt Disney hit film Pinocchio. The Blue Fairy gave him the job as the Conscience of our wooden friend. Jiminy has been an integral part of the Disney operation ever since. He is now 67 and considering retirement. Mature crickets live about 3 – 4 weeks. Jiminy has lived 3,520 weeks, well beyond all expectations.

The phrase “Jiminy Cricket” is a substitute for screaming “Jesus Christ” in anger or frustration. It’s a way of swearing, but not really. “Jeepers Creepers” is another exclamation used as a curse muzzle. Both have the initials J. C. The use of “Jiminy Cricket” by Walt Disney in 1940 was not the premiere of the term, as it had been used in print in the U.S. as early as 1918.

Now, I’m not trying to promote or dissuade any religious belief here, but I do think the correlation between Jiminy Cricket and Jesus Christ is interesting. For the sake of this post, I’ll call Jiminy JC1 and Jesus JC2.

JC1’s job (appointed by the Blue Fairy, mind you) was to keep Pinocchio in line. To make sure he remained good, honest and avoided temptation. For purposes of argument, Blue Fairy is God, Jiminy and Jesus are interchangeable and Pinocchio is humanity. Sounds reasonable, right?

Let’s talk about contrast with regard to fashion and personality. JC1 prefers a top hat. JC2 wore a halo. JC1 likes spats. JC2’s favorite shoe was the open-toed sandal. JC1 wears a colorful collection of vest, tie and tails, sort of form fitting. JC2 preferred loose, flowing robes; usually white. They also had quite different personalities. JC1 is chipper, sings, dances and is altogether upbeat. JC2 was quiet, laid-back, solemn and spoke with a bit of a monotone. At least that’s the way he was in all of his movies.

Some parents name their children Jesus. I’m sure it is out of respect and goes along with a very deep religious belief. Not too many will give their children such a name. I have met people named Jesus and I have met a few who thought they were The Jesus. But, I haven’t met anyone named Jiminy.

Jeepers Creepers, I gotta go.

With Love,

Bake My Fish

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Written by Bake My Fish

November 17, 2007 at 4:55 pm

Parasitic Friends

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There is speculation that parasites may be useful in combat against food allergies. That’s comforting. In the back alleys of filthy cities around the world, those rummaging through dumpsters and trash heaps are leaping for joy. They’ve been fighting parasites for years. Liver worms and maggots are a common irritant. The occasional fatal beating by a rampant band of teenage rumblers is a bit of a nuisance. But, food allergies will not be their issue.

In becoming a more sanitary population, we have triggered the side effect of food allergies. It is now common for people, particularly children, to have allergic reactions to many of the foods we take for granted. Eight foods identified with 90% of allergic reactions are: milk, egg, peanut, tree nut, fish, shellfish, soy, and wheat. I am a big advocate of wheat and all the other vittles that could prove fatal to some. I love them all. There is no religion or cult that can keep me away. Allergic reactions could do the trick.

When I was a kid, PB&J was an awesome sandwich. It still is. It’s the only entree where the recipe absolutely has to include white bread, grape jelly and crunchy peanut butter. Served with a glass of whole milk. Not the sissy, lactose-free, non-fat swill I usually drink. If I’m out to commit suicide, gimme a good freaking dairy product. Throw in some real ice cream. “Give me gravy on my mashed potatoes.” It’s not so funny that peanuts and milk can kill. There are about 11 million sufferers of food allergies. That seems a lot.

Studies indicate parasites might actually be good. Some patients with irritable bowel syndrome can improve when exposed to porcine whipworm, which is a pig parasite. In tests comparing lab rats with wild rodents, immune cells from the critters were tested in petri dishes exposing them to plant protein. The cells of the lab rats, who do not live in infectious and parasitic conditions like the wild guys, had a much higher reaction to the protein. Kids who grow up on farms and are constantly exposed to dirt and animals, are allergic to fewer things than those raised in a more sterile environment. The conclusion is parasites are beneficial. They help us build our immune system.

There is no worse feeling than removing a tick from your pet, child or yourself. We always have that unsettling fear there may be something lurking beneath the skin where the tick was attached. Time normally proves there are no ill effects, but the cringe while you’re squishing or burning the creature takes a little getting used to. Ticks are officially classified as ectoparasites (external parasites), but I don’t believe anyone would suggest they are beneficial.

I applaud our desire to be a sanitary nation. I applaud washing our hands after a trip to the latrine (so many don’t). It’s unfortunate the proliferation of food allergies is a result of our need to be clean. Maybe our children should eat a little dirt when we aren’t looking. Or the next time we yell at them for picking their noses, we can think twice about how hideous it may appear. They could be just immunizing themselves when using their sleeve as a handkerchief.

I need to go and take care of this rash. Thanks for the audience.

With Love,

Bake My Fish

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Written by Bake My Fish

November 13, 2007 at 8:36 pm

Just Go Out There And Cell!

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“Can you hear me now?” We associate those words with the geeky, horn-rimmed Verizon guy, who started out walking through the woods alone and now is leading a pack of poorly-attired technicians. I am not sure what phrase Martin Cooper (pictured to the left) might have used to test his new device. But, one day there may be a church congregation worshipping this man for inventing the cell phone in 1973.

What did we do before Marty came along? Phone booths were a favorite urinal. Disgustingly dirty telephones on the side of lonely roads or in scary neighborhoods were our haven in emergencies or whenever we needed to make that sudden call to check what might be needed from the grocery mart. To the right is the last known working public phone booth in the Washington region. Only a few of the 70s-style booths remain. There’s one in Manhattan, a few classics in Pennsylvania, some on the Jersey Shore, and there are about a dozen Mennonite-built private phone booths in St. Mary’s County, MD.

Although I miss pay phones, I’m convinced they are the transmitter of fever blisters. Hasn’t the number of inflictions gone down over the last couple of years? It seems so to me. The transition from the phone booth, to the phone permanently attached in the car, to the credit card-sized data center that fits in a pocket has been a joy. Escaping it is becoming a chore. I carry my cell everywhere, and now it’s like my “clap on, clap off” emergency button. If I pass out or fall prey to a stray animal, my cell phone is programmed with the ICE (In Case of Emergency) number for my wife. Hopefully, if anything happens she has her cell turned on so the rescuers can do their rescuing.

Everyone has a cell phone. You can’t really argue against the cell as a safety device. It is a comfortable feeling to have your car break down on a desolate road and know your phone will save the day. Aunt Bea never called Andy from a back road. We’re fortunate there is a Marty Cooper.

One day they will be surgically embedding Bluetooth technology in the ear drums of infants in delivery rooms. They’ll be set for life. Speaking of Bluetooth, I have one. It’s a nice addition to the safety feature of the cell. I love using it on the road and having the hands-free option; but only while driving. Today, it has become something of a fashion statement. Wearing the Bluetooth everywhere is chique. We were recently in a restaurant on a Saturday night, when a group of eight people came in for dinner; four wearing a Bluetooth. A Saturday night is the perfect time for cell chit chat, while sitting at the dinner table, proving the Bluetooth is essential for the latest gossip update.

The idea for the cell phone was introduced in 1947 by AT&T, through their research department, Bell Laboratories. Motorola made the wise move of hiring Martin Cooper in 1954. Through the 60s and 70s, Bell and Motorola engaged in a mobile phone development war, and Marty came out the victor. Now we can pick up any forgotten or depleted grocery item on the way home from work. And we get free Caller ID. Martin, you are The Man.

It would seem a reasonable prediction that eventually the Bluetooth and cell phone will be one. We’ll walk around with a plug in our ear and everything will be voice-based. Hopefully, it will include voice recognition. Otherwise, we could really mess with people by randomly screaming something in their ears that might trigger a dial. The ability to be in touch at all times is a good thing. We can’t really get away, but we can’t get lost.

Excuse me. My phone is ringing.

With Love,

Bake My Fish

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Written by Bake My Fish

November 9, 2007 at 2:53 pm

Maynard G. and Crowell – The Bums of Northern Parkway

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First of all, understand these names are fictitious.* I wanted to use monikers that convey some sense of dignity for two individuals holding the title of “Bums of Northern Parkway.”

I work in Baltimore. Many times on my way to the office, I end up sitting at the intersection of Northern Parkway and Falls Road (since I rarely beat the light), in the right lane to turn south on Falls. This is considered the most dangerous intersection in the city (not relevant, just an interesting side note). In the median strip by the left turn lane to go north on Falls Road, one of two interchangeable bums is probably walking back and forth seeking financial assistance from the cars waiting for the light to change. I know bums is a lousy word. We can call them homeless, derelicts, hobos, or some other derogatory term used to poke fun at two fellows who are obviously down on their luck. They don’t have a lobby group or enough people who care to force us to be politically correct. To avoid being mean, we’ll call them Maynard G. and Crowell.

What strikes me is how many people ignore them. Regardless of the weather, the windows that may have been down are hurriedly closed, and the eyes of the drivers focus on anything other than Maynard G. and Crowell. No one seems to be reaching in their pockets or glove box to scrape together a dollar or some spare change to give. It’s easier to think, “Get a job, ” or “I work hard for my money, why should I give it to these beggars?” I understand. But, let’s weigh the situation with regard to Maynard G. and Crowell.

Maynard G. appears to be the victim of a stroke, industrial accident or birth defect. His right side is mostly paralyzed, yet he treks back and forth at a lumbering pace to gain the attention of anyone who will look. His ability to obtain employment seems thwarted. Crowell, on the other hand, borders on healthy enough physically, but probably suffers from a mental condition, handicapping his prospects of a real job. If you watch for awhile, Crowell always goes to the sign at the top of the median at the end of his walk and touches it in four distinct spots, in a very regimented pattern (some say a cross). Crowell won’t be browsing the Business Casual section of Men’s Wearhouse any time soon. Maynard G. and Crowell’s alternatives are slim.

One day a few weeks ago, I landed in the left lane on the other side of the street (the dangerous side) with Maynard G. approaching me. He had been relegated to this location after being dislodged by candy sellers who took over his other spot. Business for them was very good. I reached into my pocket, grabbed a handy dollar left over from lunch, and held it out for Maynard G., who dragged himself as fast as he could, while I worried the light might change. It was only a dollar, but you should have seen his face.

A lot of costumes worn on Halloween are in the Maynard G. and Crowell vain. When I was a kid, Freddie Freeloader was one of my favorite characters on the Red Skelton show. I laughed, and he received accolades. I didn’t think it was mean; it seemed kind of funny. Pan Handling for a living is an acceptable skit. Maynard G. and Crowell are not amused.

Out of a total population of three hundred million Americans, we spend $20 billion dollars a year on ice cream; candy rakes in $46 billion; $8 billion dollars on beer, wine and spirits; NFL Franchises have a combined worth of $20 billion; and sales during Thanksgiving and Black Friday combined must exceed the annual budget of not just a few small cities.

So, the next time ice cream is on the tip of your tongue, while extravagant chocolate melts in your mouth, probably dessert following the Turkey Dinner you’ll take hours to absorb . . . . . just take a nano-moment to think about Maynard G. and Crowell.

Have a nice Thanksgiving with your family. Enjoy the football. Don’t run out of beer.

With Love,

Bake My Fish

* The photos were extracted from the Internet. They are not pictures of Maynard G. and Crowell.

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November 3, 2007 at 7:23 pm

Hope Springs A Kernel

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Who doesn’t like popcorn? Raise your hand. You can’t. Because you do. It’s salty, crunchy, filling, nutritious, contains a reasonable amount of protein, lots of fiber and cheap. All good reasons to love popcorn. The snack is everywhere you go. Nothing says love like popcorn. Kids always smile when they eat it and popcorn is usually associated with some form of entertainment. The statuette for the MTV Awards is a Bronzed Popcorn Tub. How can something so idolized not be good?

Those of you who remember Drive-In Movies might recall the concession breaks with the animated popcorn and hot dog walking across the screen, followed closely by soda. And how about Jiffy Pop? How many times did you ruin a batch? My Jiffy Pop always tasted like tin foil. Maybe I was eating the packaging.

I won’t go into ancient history (given this is a Boomer blog), so I’ll concentrate on recent events related to popcorn.

The popularity of popcorn in modern times began in the 1890s through the Great Depression. Even though families were suffering during the Depression years, the affordability of popcorn, at 5 or 10 cents a bag, was within reach. Most businesses were going belly-up, yet popcorn flourished. There is a story often cited in popcorn-related writings of an Oklahoma banker who lost everything, and then bought a popcorn machine and started a business close to a theater. His popcorn sales made it possible for him to buy back his farms.

World War II brought with it a sugar shortage in the U. S., so popcorn got a charge from the lack of candy. Americans ate three times more popcorn than usual.

But in the 1950s television started taking the families. People stopped going to movies and as a result, less popcorn was being consumed. But, the people realized television was kind of like the movies, only smaller, and they started wanting popcorn at home. Enter Jiffy Pop and all the other versions of home-popped ecstasy.

Then came the microwave, and now we are hooked. I loved going through the office about two hours after lunch. I smelled popcorn. That distinctive smell. You know immediately, “Someone’s making popcorn.” Heads pop up over cubicles, in search of the culprit. The goal is to snatch a few kernels if offered. If not, grab it when they look away. But get some.

The first use of the microwave oven in the 1940s was to cook popcorn. It probably tasted lousy then, but popcorn has been so perfected over the decades, that Americans today consume 17 billion quarts each year. That’s 54 quarts per American. That’s a lot of fiber. Good for the paper industry.

I have to go. The popcorn’s done.

With Love,

Bake My Fish

Written by Bake My Fish

November 1, 2007 at 6:06 pm

If You’re Reading This, Thank A Boomer

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Bill Gates (born 1955) and Steve Jobs (same year) have much to do with your ability to read this post. I know they didn’t invent the Internet (that was Al Gore), but they perfected computers and operating systems making it possible for all of us to communicate anonymously in our underwear.

It is estimated that worldwide more than one billion personal computers will be owned by the end of 2008. Considering probably only 45% of the world lives in something other than a grass hut with no electricity, that’s pretty good. World population is about six billion, of which youth and illiteracy probably eliminate about 50% of the customers, so a penetration of 30% or more is significant.

Actually, Steve Wozniak (born 1950) was the visionary and partner of Steve Jobs at Apple, who conceived of and developed the PC. But Bill Gates and Steve Jobs tend to get the glory for the development of the personal computer onslaught. A pretty tacky but enjoyable TV movie was aired in 1999 called “Pirates of Silicon Valley,” which gave a dramatic presentation of the Computer Wars that made this post possible. You can get information regarding the movie here Pirates
If you ever get to Washington, DC you should check out the National Museum of American History. Review their computer exhibit Show It is even better if you see it live.

It is amazing how attached I have become to my PC. Recently the hard drive crashed and it felt as if I would not survive the interruption. It was just a few days before my computer was replaced, but I had a serious “Jones” while waiting. In the meantime I got back online by going to the library and using their access. I like that my tax dollars are at work, but the library requires you wear pants. If they could bottle our computer addiction, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs would be selling it off the back of covered wagons as “Snake Oil.”

I can remember a time when the words, “The computer is down,” would set me off. It was assumed the person on the other end of the phone was lying. Now I know better. Today, everything is so integrated that if one thing goes down, everything does. If we have a phone problem in our office, it includes the phone system, Internet and our server. We can’t do business when this happens. Go ahead and get the bundled services from your cable company. Have them control your phone, Internet and television service. Maybe they can install cameras in your homes to keep an eye on you. Then lose one source and all the rest go down, too. You’ll be twirling your fingers wondering what to do next. Maybe a book or magazine will suffice, but the addiction will not go away. You’ll be pacing, while waiting for the service to come back.

Big Brother and Hal have arrived. Our lives are being governed by unlimited access to information. We can make the best of it and put it to good use. Or we can use it for evil. Boomers developed the technology and the survivors will perfect it into whatever it becomes.

Thanks for your time. I have to leave and call Comcast about my modem problems.

With Love,

Bake My Fish

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October 28, 2007 at 9:54 pm

Trafficking On The Ways

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It makes no difference what time I leave my house in the morning. The only way out of the neighborhood is a choice of one lane roads going in 4 different directions, only one of which heads toward the office. Fortunately I work all over, so the other escapes are sometimes handy. Regardless, those routes are usually stuffed, too.

The Baltimore Washington corridor is a nice place to live. I’ve been in this area all my life and would not want to live anywhere else. Civil War and Colonial History is all around us. We have access to every service available. The Federal Government is nearby for our benefits challenges. Roads are constantly being built and improved in a never ending cycle of traffic. I mean traffic. Lots of it. It’s just too much. My steering wheel and turn signal are crying “abuse” and my right shoe is screaming “Kiwi!”

On any given day you can spend 50% of your morning on the road, even though your profession is not driving. And what is the deal with all the traffic on Tuesday? If Monday were Tuesday, would Wednesday then be crazy? There are several ways around the traffic. Beltway, highway, roadway, subway, byway, anyway. No way.

The price of gasoline is running anywhere from $2.66 a gallon to $3.00 at no particular time of the year. I would gladly pay $3.12 a gallon if they could just stop the traffic. It’s everywhere and never goes away. Ever.

Maryland taxes are high, and the amount of tax dollars spent on our roads appears to be hefty, based on the amount of traffic. I can’t remember the last time 695 circling Baltimore and 495 smothering DC were not undergoing some renovation. Yet, with all the construction, we still have too much traffic. Is the intent to widen the roads so we can get somewhere faster, or to make room for more traffic?

It’s a thrill to be stuck in the left lane with no way over to the right and wanting to get over there because I just know it’s quicker. Then I get in the right and it stops so the left can move faster. Traffic. How could a band name themselves Traffic?

We could all help each other by driving scooters and bicycles to work each and every day. We could also fly kites and make our own electricity. I love having my car available for any voyage. I’ll deal with the traffic, if I can find a way.

With Love,

Bake My Fish

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October 16, 2007 at 11:41 pm

The Quils vs. the New Stuff and How Ice Changed the World

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Have you recently tried to buy any original NyQuil (introduced in 1968) or DayQuil (1974), or the generic brand of the same product? You have to give your name and address, possibly show identification and sign for it; if the store even carries the stuff. Most of it has been replaced with a non-pseudoephedrine containing impostor. If these new products were tested on anyone, I want the phone numbers of those people.

The New Stuff doesn’t work, especially the new NyQuil. They have replaced pseudoephedrine with phenylephrine in DayQuil, because methamphetamine is manufactured by Speed Freaks using pseudoephedrine as a key ingredient. It has been eliminated completely from NyQuil. Now the rest of us have to suffer through severe colds with inadequate medication. We are forced to purchase a lesser product containing phenylephrine so Crank Heads don’t have their faces eaten away by the sores that develop from their addiction. Let’s save them all! It’s the humanitarian thing to do! There are several street names for methamphetamine, including: crank, crystal, meth, ice, speed, glass, and chalk. You can read more about the reasons for the changeover at new stuff.

Original NyQuil worked. It flat out did the job. I could take it at night before going to bed, and wake up feeling myself. With The New Stuff, I wake up feeling like crap. The same goes for original DayQuil. It worked great during the day, when you wanted to avoid drowsiness. They simply removed one of the ingredients, doxylamine succinate, from original NyQuil when producing original DayQuil, which is the antihistamine that makes you sleepy. Both pseudoephedrine and phenylephrine are nasal decongestants, but the newly formulated NyQuil doesn’t contain either of them, and the new DayQuil, which does include phenylephrine doesn’t work as well as original DayQuil. NyQuil is now made with acetaminophen, which most people know as the ingredient in Tylenol, dextromethorphan (a cough suppressant), and the aforementioned doxylamine succinate. New DayQuil contains all those ingredients except doxylamine succinate, and pseudoephedrine has been replaced by phenylephrine. Confused yet? I am. The final result is we now have another inconvenience caused by illegal activity.

I guess the crystal-meth manufacturers are pretty smart, even though some of them are blowing up their homes making their batches. How do they even extract the pseudoephedrine from the medications to produce their drug? I can’t imagine any of them have degrees in Pharmaceutical Engineering. But, criminals are usually more genius at whatever activity they pursue, than those pursuing them. And, they seem to have more resources to use in their ventures than those assigned to put them out of business.

Apparently the decision was made to stop the manufacture of crank by taking away the source of pseudoephedrine, and give us ineffective products in return. How did we end up being the bad guy? I didn’t ask for the cold. I am sure the criminal minds will figure out a way to produce ice using phenylephrine, Drano, rat poison or whatever people are willing to consume.

Well, I have to run. My cold is killing me . . . . and I need to buy some chalk.

With Love,

Bake My Fish

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Dare To Be Fat

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One of my favorite musicians was Root Boy Slim; circa late 70s – early 80s. He was a genius, who attended Yale University and was a fraternity brother of George W. Bush (in fact when George took over as Fraternity President, he kicked Root Boy out of the club). His real name was Foster McKenzie, III. A noble name for a person thought by most to be a derelict; the type of guy you expected to be living in a Whirlpool refrigerator box over a steam grate in Washington, DC. Well, he did have an apartment above a garage in Silver Spring, MD at one point in time. If you have an interest in him, check out his biography Roots of Root If you attended the University of Maryland during his 15 minutes of fame, you may have seen him at the Varsity Grill or other haunts in the vicinity.

What appealed to me was his Rock/Blues style and the lyrics of his songs. He was a hoot. Some of his bigger “hits” were “I Broke My Mood Ring,” “Boogie ‘Til You Puke,” “Dozin’ and Droolin’,” “Too Sick To Reggae,” and my favorite “Dare To Be Fat.” He died about a month before his 48th birthday. Not surprising, since he was obese and abused every chemical substance possible. My purpose here is not to sell you on the wonder and fascination of Root Boy Slim . . . . it is to lead into “Dare To Be Fat.”

Most Boomers are daring their bodies to live with the medical marvel of maintaining obesity via drugs and surgery. Our bodies can only take so much, not to mention our Health Care System. Since January 15th, I have lost 60 lbs (still 25 to go). I’m not looking to win the Nobel Prize for Weight Loss, I just don’t want to die before age 60. Surely, my early demise could be caused by some other disease or calamity; however, it won’t be obesity that takes me away. Although it may seem cavalier given my own indiscretions, I am concerned about how our Health Care System has suffered because of our Life Style.

I take a few drugs, which I want to discontinue. Medication for hypertension and high cholesterol, both of which can be attributed to allowing my body to grow to the point of obscenity, are a reality. Is it fair to those who take care of themselves to allow the Health Care System to keep me in check? These drugs are not cheap. Even though I absorb a co-payment, the overpriced cost of the medications is borne by the System. Sure, we can blame the drug companies for charging too much, but don’t we share some of that blame? If we didn’t eat ourselves silly, there would be no need for the drugs and no Pharmaceutical Companies to attack.

I don’t want to appear as some hero simply because I lost weight. I want those who are challenging the Health Care System to understand that it is only a band-aid. Sixty-years-old is young. Obesity takes too many of us well before we should go. I want to work until I am at least 70. Not just because I selfishly want to live a long time; I enjoy the office atmosphere and being around people. Cutting it short unnecessarily, because I felt the need for too many bagels, doughnuts, Big Macs, Double Cheeseburgers and super-sized this and that, seems a waste. Yeah all those things taste good, but they’re deadly. Pay attention to what you are consuming before you are at the point of no return. Losing weight is not particularly enjoyable. I feel deprived. I also feel good.

Get a scale, and get on it every morning. As your clothes start to feel tight, eat a salad. Drink a diet soda. Consume less. Exercise. It’s not the American Way, but don’t you think it’s odd that half the world is starving, while the other half is trying to lose weight?

That’s my speech for the day. Fat Guy signing off.

With Love,

Bake My Fish