Category Archives: Current Affairs

Let’s Hear It For Number One!

Just flipping through New Products Magazine at work when I came across an article about appetizer trends in restaurants.  Like a lot of categories, the appetizer portion of the menu is getting more varied and exotic, with egg rolls getting filled with beans and chipotles, Asian-style lettuce wraps showing up in strongly American chains, and specialties like quesadillas and bruschetta becoming more common. 

However, in the middle of the article is a chart from Mintel Menu Insights 2007 ranking the Top 15 Appetizers, ranked by the number of menu items that appear on chain restaurant menus in the second quarter of 2007.  At the top, with 122 menu items…  Buffalo Wings!   It has a pretty good lead over the second place item, which is an "appetizer sampler" with 100 menu items and a very good lead over the #3 spot, mozzarella sticks.  The hot n’ saucy contingency makes another appearance at #15, with boneless buffalo wings with 24 menu items.

Keep on keepin’ it hot! 

The Ignored Social Issue

We hear plenty of talk about various social problems in our world: homlessness, hunger, drug abuse, child and spousal abuse, road rage, lack of etiquette, poor reading scores, AIDS, etc.  However, there is one issue that only this blog and this blog alone is willing to tackle.

I’ve written about this before, but now it has started to spread: violence at classical music concerts.  This week, the Boston Pops had to stop their show because of a fight in the balcony.  What can we do to stop this senseless violence?!?!? 

Brahms not bombs!  Handel and Hayden not shivs and brass knuckles!

Is this what happens when you have people raised on aggressive heavy metal and rap music start to attend classical concerts?  They may need to ban the cannons from the 1812 Overture and start doing pat-downs on the way in.  And what happens when the mosh pits start to Holst?

Please, stop the violence before it gets out of control!

Saving Money On Your Electricity Bill And How To Spend It

I’ve recently written about the movie "An Inconvenient Truth" and did a follow-up post saying how it has really impacted the way I live day-to-day.  It has actually impacted those closest to me as well.  From replacing regular light bulbs with more energy efficient ones, to recycling more. 

My family would regularly have 3 or 4 trash cans out at the curb on trash day.  Since seeing this movie we’ve made a real effort to recycle more – nothing out of the ordinary, just making sure that all the junk mail and catalogs and cardboard packaging goes into a recycling bin.  Since doing that, we haven’t had more than two barrels out at the curb.   So we’re recycling more, saving ourselves some work when it comes to putting out the garbage and saving on garbage bags (surprisingly expensive things).  All while doing something good for the environment. 

Today brings an article about an engineer in New Jersey who has built a house that is completely off the power grid – he doesn’t have an electricity bill and is completely self-sustaining with no carbon output. 

I found myself asking one question while reading it: why is everyone asked about the house so negative towards it?  Obviously the guy went to the extreme and it cost a lot of money – more than the average citizen would be willing to spend on it or could probably be paid back by the savings on electricity.  But it was built by an engineer and it simply shows that it CAN be done.  Naturally, for it to become more common, it has to be cheaper, which will happen.

Consider that when VCR’s came out they cost $3,000.  So did DVD players.  A 32 inch flat screen TV would have cost you $5,000 a few years ago – we recently bought one for $600.  It takes people like this guy in New Jersey to move technology forward.  In 5, 10, 15 years from now, this guy may be a hero or may be forgotten, but I bet his house will be an important step towards cleaner living.

If it isn’t living completely off the electricity grid, then maybe it is living 25% off it, or 50% off it, complementing it with your own solar panels or hydrogen manufacturing.  That is the part that really gets me -they say that making the hydrogen isn’t efficient, so it’s not worth doing.  Well, what does it matter?  He’s using solar power to do it, so it could be only 10% efficient, it still isn’t creating any pollution!

Think about how much you spend a year on electricity for your house.  Imagine not having to sorry about that.  Or only half of it.  Or maybe only a quarter of it.  Do you still think that this guy is crazy?  Do you really not want him to be successful and move the technology forward?  That’s what I thought.

So what do you do with all that money you save from your electricity bill?  Well, you save it up, get on a plane to Cologne, Germany, and buy yourself some sex.  And if you’re over 66, you get it half-price.  I do feel like they may have missed an obvious marketing opportunity here: shouldn’t the age limit be 69? 

If you’re looking to cash in on this idea yourself, here’s how to do it: become a AED equipment sales rep there.  You know there’s gonna be some heart attacks going on with all those senior citizens having cheap sex!   

So Let’s See Here…

I haven’t exactly been putting the blogging world on fire here recently.  Things have been busy at work and all, but there are a few things that I would like to point out that I’ve been up to lately:

First of all, I just finished the book Who Are You People? by Shari Caudron.  If you’re a fascinated by the deep recesses of pop culture and how people can be completely obsessed with one thing, then you must read this book.  If you have any interest in human psychology or behavior, you should read this book.  If you just like a good, enjoyable, interesting read, then yes, you should read this book. 

The new Shins album is as good as everyone says it is.

I watched Borat for the third time recently, this time on DVD.   It continues to be as funny and shocking as the first time, though on the third go around, it struck me that the same people who came across as the most bigoted in the movie were some of the most understanding at first.  Watch the dinner party scene carefully and those people put up with a lot of shit (literally) before loosing their temper.  The guy at the rodeo should still be slapped around for being a moron though.  And the extra 30 minutes are golden – rent or buy the DVD to watch it – its worth it.

If you haven’t tried Pink Truck Wine, you’re missing out on one of the best pink wines you’ll ever have.  This isn’t some candy-ish white zin – this is real wine with acid, and flavor, and character.

Go Ahead, Call Me A Tree-Hugger

I recently blogged about the impact that An Inconvenient Truth had on me, and then this morning two articles came to my attention.  First of all, there was a string of horrible thunderstorms and tornadoes in Florida this morning, weather that would seem to me to be more like summer weather, not January weather. 

Secondly, this article sent to me by Meghan, which basically indicates that the scientific community is certain that global warming is happening and that it is happening because of human behavior.

Earlier this week my dad told me about a Senator (from Oregon, I believe) he heard on the radio talking about how everything in An Inconvenient Truth is a lie.  Simply not true and there’s a lot of science out there to disprove it and show that we’re just in a natural cycle.  Apparently he’s looking at a totally different scientific community than everyone else is.

However, all of this got me thinking about people’s reaction to pollution and global warming.  A lot of people get very defensive about it, one way or another, and I have started to wonder why.  It only takes a small effort to make a pretty significant difference in the amount of pollution you’re responsible for, and nearly all of them result in positive outcomes not only for the environment, but for you as well.   

I have had a difficult time seeing the potential down-side of conserving, recycling, reducing, and generally being more environmentally conscious.  What does it really matter if a hundred years from now it turns out that global warming really WAS just part of the cycle and there’s nothing we could do to stop it?  It should be our duty to at least preserve the environment to be clean and leave natural resources for generations future, and most of the time it is to your immediate advantage as well.

For example, if you change all – or just some – of your light bulbs to a compact fluorescent bulbs, not only are you using less energy, which means less pollution, but it means less electricity on your electric bill!!  It saves you money!  Same thing with turning down the heat two degrees.  Small differences that can have a big impact.  The worst thing that can happen is that it doesn’t cost you any more.  The best thing is that we have slightly cleaner air.

You have to throw out your trash – why not just recycle more of it?  Everyone can benefit from a little extra exercise, so why not look at that extra trip out to the curb as being good for you? 

If you save some money while saving the planet, then that money could be spent on other things… maybe save some up and help to solve the national crisis of too much debt/not enough saving.  Or maybe invest it in some retirement funds so that we can get rid of that pesky social security issue.  Or just spend it and help the economy.

Ahh – the economy.  That’s the big problem with saving the environment, right?  It is an interesting defense that companies put up against taking steps towards environmental responsibility.  They say it’ll cost too much and those lobbying against environmental protection say that it’ll destroy our economy.  It is a weak argument at best, as American businesses have proven again and and again that they are resilient and resourceful.  More than likely, it will create whole new companies – it has already created a new industry of pollution control and remediation.  It could provide new jobs, and conserving our natural resources means that the companies which extract them will have more resources for a longer time – more oil to dig up, more trees to cut.

Every company which makes its profits off of a natural resource should be figuring out how to replenish them or what will replace it when they run out.  If they aren’t doing that, then they deserve to shut down.   It isn’t just about saving a species of owl or making sure that Arizona doesn’t become the new west coast, it is about meeting customers’ needs now and in the long-term.  And in the most dire of circumstances, it means treating the planet with the respect that it deserves, ensuring that there will simply be enough people around to buy the products. 

Is it so crazy to think that capitalism could be the solution to the environmental crises?  It has worked before and can work again – we just need to demand it. 


Nope, I don’t like the show that much that I have to blog about it.  I’ve seen it a few times and it is quite funny and if you want to be entertained in a very weird, trippy way, you should tune in.  However, the REAL reason I’m shouting for you to watch the show is to make the stupidity that happened in Boston this week worthwhile.

Now, I can’t say that posting electronic materials on bridges is the smartest marketing tactic, particularly in a world of terrorism, but at the same time – they were blinking Lite-Brite looking signs that had the character giving people the finger.  And they had been up for THREE WEEKS.  Last night on the news, a commentator gave an editorial chastising those who were criticizing officials for overreacting.  He said that anyone who found these items in their neighborhood would want the police there instantly. 

Unfortunately, no one called or did anything about them for three weeks.  Goes to show the attitude of Boston drivers – they see a blinking sign giving them the finger and they just shrug it off.  I bet more than a few laughed at or gave the finger back. 

The fact that they were up for three weeks and we never heard about it makes you wonder if the controversy came about only after the promotions company called in the report themselves.  Every news report in the city, on TV, radio, Internet and in print all mentioned the cartoon and the network it is shown on.  Talk about a big media hit!

Again, it is too bad that a major city’s resources were used up and I’m sure there’s a lot of people out there who had their days seriously screwed up by the snarled traffic.  But you have to ask yourself why this didn’t happen in the other cities that they were in and why did it take three weeks for someone to get freaked out about it?  I say that the part of the publicity stunt that went awry wasn’t the placement, but the calling in of it.  They probably hoped to get a little attention for ONE of them, not ALL of them.

A Convenient Blog Post

This weekend I saw An Inconvenient Truth on DVD and it immediately made an impact on me.  I found myself going out the next day to buy some compact fluorescent light bulbs.  If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend renting it, buying it, or borrowing it.  If even just half the stuff – heck, a quarter of the stuff – in the movie is true, then it is scary.  It is easier to believe the dire warnings of global warming when you look around and see the crazy weather we’ve had in the last year.  50 degrees on Christmas day in New England; snow in Southern California; flooding and killer heat throughout Europe. 

I guess you could chalk it up to the fact that in the long history of the earth, humans are but a blip of time, so how could we affect it so severely and so rapidly, or know that this hasn’t happened before but all indications seem to point that way.  I put faith in the scientific community that they haven’t found reliable ways to measure the past using technology and that our current trends are far worse than they have been historically.

Then this morning, this article hit the news wires regarding the release of a new study about global warming.   More interesting – nay, shocking – however, is this one about how 13 percent of Americans haven’t heard of global warming.  After watching An Inconvenient Truth and the suggestions on how to help the situation, the Pop Culture Gangsteress commented that this is pretty common-sense stuff – doesn’t everyone know this?  I referred her to the ugliness that we were shocked to see in Borat

When you consider some of the boorish values of people in the United States, it isn’t hard to imagine that people don’t understand that global warming is a problem or that we’re responsible for it.  We have vast numbers of people who don’t know who the President is or take the time to vote – why should they care about recycling or know about the environment?  Apathy is the worst enemy of taking care of our environment.

In the name of full disclosure, those of you who know me well might know that I drive an SUV.  It doesn’t get the worst gas mileage out there (it isn’t a Hummer!) but it certainly doesn’t get the best either.  Since it is quickly approaching the 8-year-old mark (but still runs great, knock on wood), I have been considering what my next vehicle might be, and I was finding myself struggling with getting another SUV, mainly due to gas prices, but also because of pollution.  Now, the only way I would get another SUV or truck is if it was a hybrid or one with extremely good gas mileage.   

Maybe me changing a few light bulbs and getting a more efficient car and recycling a bit more won’t make a huge difference, but I hope it contributes a little bit, and maybe blogging about it will inspire someone else to do the same.