Thursday, December 31, 2009

Top 10 New years predictions from last year/predictions for next year

Gosh I love a good psychic.  I even like the bad ones.  The idea that we can peer into our own future is interesting because it seems to indicate that we value information about what will happen more than we value information about what IS happening.  I give you this example:

I work as a programmer in a software house.  We use software to track our progress on certain elements of the software we sell.  This tracking system knows when we started working on pieces as well as when we finished and if we paused to work on something else along the way.  We are also asked to predict for the software how long we think it will take us to perform a certain task.  This is very important to the company, because they use that estimate to tell the customer how long they can wait for certain enhancements and features to be released.  How is this similar?  The Company is asking us to make prognostications based on nothing more than our guesses when we have software that already knows the average time it takes for us to work on any past element of the software.  If we have an average that represents the time spent wouldn't that be more accurate than a bunch of knucklehead programmers guessing?  One would think, and yet the company is much more interested in the predictions of their resident software psychics. 

The other thing that makes it interesting is the whole phenomenon of the 365 days that it takes the earth to circle around the sun.  Why is this special?  I'm not sure, but it really seems important to everyone for all kinds of reasons.  Our gravitational path around the sun is the clockwork that marks our ability to drive and vote as well as retire; Or whether or not we will get in trouble because we forgot our anniversary or someones birthday.  It's amazing really.

Anyway.  I'm going to give you the top predictions I could find from last year and couple them with predictions I've made up or found for the new year.  Five of each.

10.  2009 Obama will be assassinated -  NOPE - I really shouldn't even bother putting this one on the list because every president that has held the office has had this onerous prediction pronounced every year.  I'm listing it as last years prediction of 2009, but you could just as easily post it for the future prediction for 2010.  It's really silly for anyone to pay attention to any psychic based on a prediction of a leader of a country to be taken out.  I wonder if John F Kennedy has been talking at all to Jean Dixon on the other side about her predictions.  I am pretty sure the secret service will be alerted to this blog as a result of my putting this on it.  I should have thought of it a long time ago, it will probably double my readership. Hi guys, I think you do a great job and that whole thing with the presidential gate crashers was a hoax.  Anyway, needless to say, the President is alive and well.

9.  2010 Bad year for Adobe - Adobe is the handy print format that made good on the wysiwyg promise with the PDF format.  Adobe also makes Flash a widely used plugin for web browsers.  Cyber-annoying people will be programming ways to make flash and pdf not work quite right on your computer.  This will be interesting because it will signal the first year that hackers have targeted something other than Microsoft.  I think it's because of the MAC/PC ads that Apple runs.  PC is always the funny guy and Mac is always the straight man.  I think hackers have finally gained a soft spot for dumpy old PC and started going after Adobe and their smug acrobatics.

8.  2009 There will be a knife attack on a top celebrity - Probably - I got this one from a 2009 prediction website in England.  Are they serious?  This is what passes for psychic these days?  Listen, claiming that some snot-nosed celebrity might have to put on a bandaid due to the errant handling of tools at a Beni-hana doesn't allow you to lay claim to a connection with the other side.  Sheesh.

7. 2010 Wikipedia will be quietly taken over by a wealthy benefactor - Wikipedia, everyones favorite source for semi-reliable information to be quoted later as absolute gospel fact has been on the ropes for the last while, they have taken to begging in a public radio fashion for more money to keep the Encyclopedia Galacticus up and running.  I think the only thing that will save it will be a rich benefactor that will quietly stop their whining and give them money in exchange for a few favorable articles that are willing to overlook more inconvenient truths.

6.  2009 - Global catastrophe from the environment - Not bloody Likely - Speaking of inconvenient truths, I really couldn't let this gem go.  There have been SO many predictions about the doom and gloom of the planet based on man's bad behavior, that I thought I would look into the archives and see what the predictions were for us in say 1975.   a noted Harvard (yes THE Harvard) professor said 'civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind' his name was George Wald.  There are tons of others, but this one is pretty out there.  15 to 30 years have long since passed and well, looks like we are still here.  'by 1995...somewhere between 75 and 85 percent of all the species of living animals will be extinct'  Came from Look magazine in 1970. The only thing that seems to really be extinct is Look magazine. The green chicken little has been squawking as long as there has been money to be granted for scientific research.  I'm not saying it's ok to run out and pollute your local watershed, but please, the sky is simply not falling.

5.  2010 - John Cusack will be cast in another disaster type movie - I really loved 2012.  It was terrific.  John Cusack was terrific in it and the movie itself told a great story.  I love a good disaster movie because they are so easy to start and so entertaining to watch start.  The problem is, the ending.  How do you end a disaster movie that started so well?  The answer posited by 2012 was 'you don't'.  You let the disaster come and claim a victory for mankind.  2012 is still coming, surely there is room for dear John to Captain us through at least one more disaster.

4.  2009 - Jessica Simpson and Tony Romo will split - WOW! HOWD THEY DO THAT?! - Amazing!  How can this NOT be considered evidence of the supernatural?  Absolutely shocking.  I mean a young emotionally unstable starlet and a young emotionally unstable football hero couldn't find a way to make it all work?  I saw this predicted in a hollywood 2009 prediction website.  They actually had the guts to predict it.  This would be a lot like me predicting that my boss would appreciate it if I would stay late once in a while to make sure work gets done. 

3.  2010 - Drew Carey gets another EXACT BID contestant - While I've been off for the holidays, I've resurrected  a tradition that I only knew as a child.  The watching of the Price is Right.  As a child the only way I really knew I was sick or on vacation was if I could watch that particular show.  Now that the venerable Drew has taken over for an increasingly crotchety Bob Barker, the show has taken on new life.  I believe this will be the year that someone gets the coveted BOTH showcases for guessing within 500 dollars of the actual price but will in fact the the price spot on.  This time Drew will act a lot more excited.  The first time he did it, he seemed almost in shock.

2. 2009 - There will be a movement to increase the length of the school year for children. - Amazing! - Granted, the movement was slight, but I do remember hearing our President talk about how all school should be much longer since the 'kids don't need to help with the farm anymore'.  I guess he means the kids that aren't currently growing up on farms.  The amazing Kreskin predicted this gem in 2008 along with some other tidbits that are interesting certainly.  I don't know that it would be a BAD idea, except it is hard enough for us to go on vacation as it is, much less do it when there is no summer vacation at all. 

1. 2010 - I'll stop writing this blog - It won't happen all at once, but rather I'll miss a posting (I've been like clockwork 2 times a month for 2 years).  Something will happen to cause me to miss one.  I'll run out of material, I'll be on an extended vacation, something.  Then once I've missed one, it's like going off your diet, you might as well just go to Golden Corral and eat until they ask you to leave the 'salad' bar.  Of course like other predictions, the future is hazy...

Happiest of new years to all of you! 
If you are a consistent reader thanks very much.  I really do enjoy writing for you. 
If you just stopped by thanks to your search engine.  I hope it's good for you. 
If you are a friend I've lost touch with, It's never too late. 
I wish happiness and health for everyone I can think of in the coming new year!!!!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Top 10 Not So great Gifts/Holiday Time Responses

This is my first time trying bloggers new and improved edit tool for blogs.  I hope it will work.

The top 10 list this holiday season will deal with the seamier side of the holidays.  Bad gifts and more bad behavior.  I'm preparing a blog based on requests I have had, but I'm not done with it, and quite frankly it's not the right time for it.  Instead I will reminisce once again on my own Christmas past as well as regale you with tales of others I have heard.  Bad gifts and Bad responses.  I don't mean for this blog to sound ungrateful, in fact, it's quite the opposite.  I look back on the 'bad' gifts I have both received and given and for some reason they touch me to remember them now.  The bad responses are the ones given around the holidays that seem to have a universal tone to them.

10.  Moon Boots - I was around 12 years old or so and Christmas was going to be lean.  I knew that.  In fact it was the same year that I got one of my favorite Christmas presents mentioned in a past Christmas blog.  The interesting thing about being a kid is that even though you may be aware of things going on around you, you really don't have any idea how they pertain to you.  Mind you, my own father was a strong hand to the grindstone when it came to showing gratitude for even the most inane gifts, but it was hard for me to look at these giant clod hopper shoes from the 70's and show off a glowing visage of gratitude.  I was growing to a rather uncomfortable height (6'1 by the time I was 12) and the LAST thing I really needed was something to make me look even clumsier.  That being said, the real problem was these moon boots were bright white and yellow.  They were everything a guy of 12 and rather tenuous self esteem could want.  That same year a kid 1 year younger than me in age got a big bird snow hat, with a big bird head that was the pom pom on top.  Suddenly I didn't feel so bad about my boots.

9.  Dumb Holiday Jokes - Also usually but by no means exclusively uttered by 'clever' children, these holiday jokes range from the goofifying of Jingle Bells laced with lyrics about the questionable hygiene habits of the Caped Crusader to an already goofy song like Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer...'like a light bulb' indeed. My own dad had a rather interesting holiday tradition that involved a joke with a pun at the end that ended 'Rudolph the Red knows reindeer'.  Most of the differing versions were invented by him and each were appreciated with similar kudos.  My favorite iteration involved a tourist couple that was being driven around Leningrad by a gregarious cabby named Rudolph (I'm sure you can see this one coming in like Santa's sleigh is on fire).  When it started sleeting the husband asked Roudolph if everyone in the Soviet Union was Communist.  'Da, we are all communist' was the non too cheery reply.  Rather than antagonize his host about politics he decided to take another tack and ask about the weather.  He pointed to the snow coming down and asked 'do you get a lot of snow?'.  'Not snow, is rain'  The discussion starts to get heated and the wife notices that the cab is not going into the city but taking a rather scenic route.  She decides to quell the situation by saying 'Honey, don't question him.  Roudolph the red, knows rain dear'  .  My dad was famous for hulking corn balls of this variety.  I really miss him around the Holidays.

8.  Cross Country Skis - My mother (who never reads this blog) is from Finland.  In Finland, they enjoy snow sports of all sorts because suicide is really the only alternative. The national winter sport there really is cross country skiing.  This is fine if you live in Finland.  But one year we all got cross country skis for Christmas.  You could see the excitement and anticipation in our young faces knowing that THIS winter, we would be doing the 2nd most strenuous exercise known to man, while the other kids would be swishing downhill and letting an automated chair lift them up to the top of a hill.  Only later after are rather Karmic downhill ski accident that would claim my knee for the rest of my life did I realize that cross country was probably the much better, if not least exciting, option.  But when we got those skis, they only looked like work without productivity.

7.  Clever Clever Children - Christmas is for kids.  I disagree.  Christmas is for Adults to give to kids.  For we get the benefit of seeing young eyes light up to gifts that are seemingly impossible.  But those magic years are gone all too soon and are replaced with polite avarice mingled with mild contempt. The interesting thing is, given the material available the observations that the kids come up with are rather limited.  It's that age old chestnut of opening a present and exclaiming 'it's a box!'.  Usually the first time the 'It's a box' line is given it gets an inordinate amount of laughs and so like any young child comedian, you beat that dead horse until it is running backwards. And backwards it will run as though it was whipped by Hennie Youngman himself.  By the time you hear it the 5th time, it really takes all the air out of the room and you want to hide the rest of the presents.

6.  Squishy presents - Squishy presents mean only one thing.  Clothes.  Probably hand knitted, but under appreciated nonetheless.  As a young boy, when you feel that squishy package, you already know what it is, and you know it will be about as fun as a trip to the shoe store.  It's usually around this time that you learn your first lesson about gratitude and the nature of getting gifts.  First you make that face of indifference and you quickly turn to the more solid boxy looking presents.  Your parents then ask you if you LIKE your new sweater woven from pure Itch-alon.  you mumble a yah and depending on the proximity of the person that knitted it in the room, you were 'shown something' in the kitchen that amounted to you being shown the back of your dad's hand and lectured quickly but intensely about how much work was put into that sweater and how much more it means because it was built by hand specifically for you.  This doesn't really take, but the urgency of the message does.  Like so many things as a child, you develop the correct response long before you understand the reason for it.

5.  Santa won't come until you are in bed! - It's a good thing Santa leaves by 4 AM because I'm gonna be up grabbing at wrapping paper like a pulp vampire.  This seems so sadistic to kids.  BED?!  but I'M NOT SLEEPY!!!  So you spend the night tossing and turning in your bed trying as hard as you can to fall asleep only to wake up every 10 minutes to look at the clock to see that you still have at least 5 hours to sleep before you can even think about waking up.  Meanwhile, the parents are up trying to put together these gifts that a mythical corpulent elf is getting the credit for.  If they are lucky they will get a good 4 hours of sleep before hearing the semi-hoarse whisper 'CAN WE WAKE UP NOW?'.  Depending on your disposition when sleep deprived, it could make you want to take a flame thrower to the entire Christmas scene.  This sentiment was portrayed perfectly by the late Darren McGavin in a Christmas Story.

4.  What? No Batteries?! - I've experienced this one more than a couple of times.  It's a quick example of the extacy and the agony.  You finally get that super cool programmable tank you've always wanted (oh, wait, I believe that was my cousin that got that.  the PowerTrack.  lucky bastard. Different story)  and you come to find that when Santa came to your house, he took every battery in the joint.  You go rummaging around pulling the guts out of flashlights and radios trying to cobble together enough power to get that little helicopter off the ground (oh, that was my Brother that got that one) for maybe 6 minutes.  My dad was great at the large event, but not particularly good at the little details, but what are ya gonna do?  You've get these great presents for these ingrates you brought into the world and all they can say is 'do we have any batteries?' Why I oughta... (Mine was a transistor radio that I got in Arkansas.  It was the first freedom of communication that I had even though it was just one way.  I listened to 'The Streak' and felt like I got away with something.  Once I had the batteries that is.)

3.  Better late than never - Sometimes when you are hiding your presents from prying eyes, you do the job just a little too well.  You are hiding presents from 6 year olds, not professional spies.  But as it is, you end up hiding the present from everyone, and you forget to give the gift at all.  This is a sign of 2 things.  1.  You bought too much stuff! and 2.  Congratulations, you have become just as absentminded as your parents.  So you end up finding this present around mid July 4 years later when you are digging out the old fireworks you didn't light up on New Years.  Of course you have to open it up again because you have also forgotten it's contents.  Hmmm...a book on famous stories in American history (with illustrations).  You forget who it was for because you were giving what you wanted to give and not what they wanted, so you decide to give it for the next birthday present.  DOUBLE BONUS!

2.  Clever Clever Children Part II - When the holidays roll around and you are a kid, any wrapped gift is looked at like chum for sharks.  It's almost unbearable to look at any of the brightly colored boxes.  You MUST open them.  It's what you were built for.  If there was a job that involved opening brightly decorated boxes, surely you would be the richest kid in the world by now.  Kids are quickly taught to associate Christmas with payday.  As such, they realize that there is a protocol of quid-pro-quo that is traditionally to be followed.  In my family the family presents are opened on Christmas Eve.  Christmas Day was saved for Santa presents.  The rules were as follows:  Nobody opens presents until dinner is eaten.  Nobody opens presents until things are cleaned up.  Nobody opens presents until we are all ready.  NOBODY!!!  This can produce whining, but whining lights up Santa's naughty board like, well, a Christmas tree.  So you put up with it. You experience your first disgusting display of brown nosing, and the parents eat it up.  But there comes a point, just like the 'just what I wanted a box' joke that enough is too much.  That's when it's time to bring the video camera out. Better get used to this behavior.  It gets useful in other aspects of life. 

1.  Re-gift - This is probably the worst gift anyone could give, but really doesn't matter for the receiver.  You see, the sad recipient of this gift doesn't usually know that they got hoodwinked.  But since gifts are for the giver.  The regift is usually done out of desperation.  Either you didn't expect a present from these people you thought you hardly knew, or the present is too difficult to find for a person you are obliged to get a gift for.  You don't want to get them another calendar, and they really aren't close enough to you to put THAT much thought into the present.  So you look at the other presents you got from 2nd tier friends and you quickly decide that the Holiday size salted Nut roll would be the perfect gift to give to that buddy that slipped your mind.  Shame on you twice.  Shame...Shame... (I know, we all do it and it isn't THAT big a deal, unless it is, but I had to round out the list)

ho ho hope you liked this list.  If you didn't, I hope you get that Holiday sized salted Nut roll and wonder 'now why would they give me a present with their name in...oh'

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays etc.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Top 10 Rules for Good Guests

During the course of your life; you realize living at home that you only long for one thing: To live away from home. This becomes the driving force behind making money and working and pretty much everything to do with adult life. Once you have your own place. Then YOU make the rules. It's a glorious thing to live on your own. Unfortunately, there is something that happens when you get your own place. You will get visitors. Sometimes these visitors will stay for a few hours or so, but sometimes, these visitors will stay for days and days. Many times, we call the latter form of visitor RELATIVES. I am of course speaking for others whose story has touched my heart and not my own family.

While talking to my son one day I told him that one of our responsibilities as parents is to help him become a good house guest. I figure this list is probably good for anyone to have since I find it is a pretty scarce skill set.

1. Just because we SAY make yourself at home doesn't mean we actually mean it - You are a guest. Not part owner. When the host says this, the host really means 'I hope you are comfortable, and I want you to accept my hospitality; I do not in any way want you to treat my house the same way you treat yours.' There is no reason for you to go wandering around the house like you own the place. In fact, it's a good idea if you keep yourself to your sleeping quarters, guest bathroom, and the living room. Everywhere else is OFF LIMITS. There are few things more annoying than snoopy house guests.

2. If there is only one left of any food item. Don't touch it. - As a house guest you will many times be offered food. This is the food you can have. Asking for other food in offhanded ways like 'oh what's this for?' and 'Say, that's a good looking cake' among other things is just an obnoxious way of saying you want that food. Hey, Bonehead! If we WANTED you to have that food, we would have offered it to you. As it is, you should be grateful we are feeding you at all. In fact, in a reversal of imposition, you could actually take the host out to dinner one night of your stay, or go to the local McKingburger and buy the dinner there. It would be a good way to show your appreciation.

3. Assume that the Remote is not for general use. - Unless you are the only person in the room, you should understand that the entertainment of the house happens at the discretion of the owners and the children of the owners. This means that if there are kids in the house and you are watching TV, you probably should be watching spongebob. Don't ask to watch YOUR program. We really aren't interested in it because if we were, we would be watching it. It goes without saying that you shouldn't be fiddling with the remote, or for that matter any other gadget or device that resides in the hosts dwelling. Assume that this rule is particularly strong for any computer usage. It doesn't matter if your host has things 'set up wrong' it is not your place to correct those things unless he expressly gives the ok to do so. It's nice of you to offer, but the last thing you want to be is the last guy that touched the computer before it broke.

4. Unless it is by prior arrangement, you get up and shower AFTER we do - If you are staying with family for the express purpose of getting to the airport early the next day (which is an imposition by itself) then it's understood that you will need to use facilities before us. If you are here on a cheap vacation, understand that when you get up at whatever hour you are used to and burn all the hot water, you are not only waking us up, but then you are adding insult to injury by making us take luke warm showers. We still probably have to go to work and go about our daily lives so don't mess up our routine.

5. When you are eating, clean up your place to the sink - Anything more than this is too much and anything less than this is slovenly. By placing your dirty dishes in the sink, you are moving them to the best stage for the manager of the kitchen to position the dishware in the dishwasher. If you put them in the dishwasher yourself, that's lovely, but probably wrong. The owner of the kitchen knows exactly how and where to put each dish and utensil. If the host isn't that picky, you can ask them where they want the dishes. Watch them carefully as they put the dirty dishes away for you and follow suit afterward. If there is no dishwasher? Assume you are the dishwasher. It is a small price to pay for free room and board.

6. Men, if you are a guest, keep the seat down - I'm not sure how men invented peeing standing up, but I think at best it's a mess. It's adding an extra level of skill that you simply don't need when voiding your bladder. Not only that, but if you decide that more business needs to be done, you have positioned yourself in the wrong pose for that action. Yes, yes, you are a man's man and men are supposed to pee standing up. Why? Well because you can that's why. Quit asking so many questions! Be that as it may, the most neutral position for the toilet seat is DOWN, and while you are a guest, it's best to keep it that way.

7. The host's kids are the host's responsibility - you have no business correcting or dispensing advice to the children of your host. None. If you see activities that you think are out of line to the point that something needs to be done then you should probably talk to the host about it. The circumstances for such a conversation must be dire indeed. something along the lines of this: 'Um, hey, I just noticed that your son was dealing drugs out of the window of his bedroom, and the deal went bad and he had to kill some homies. none of my business, I just thought you should know'. Otherwise, you are probably best advised to leave the situation alone because it could be that the Host is ignoring that behavior on purpose. The converse to this rule would be your own progeny. If you have kids at your hosts house it is not the hosts responsibility to correct your kids, but it IS their prerogative to do so if the kids are not obeying house rules. If the host has to correct behavior of your kids, you should graciously apologize and keep your kids in line. They can act like animals in YOUR house.

8. As a guest, you should take nothing but pictures and leave nothing but footprints - This old wilderness camping motto applies to you as a guest. Except of course that you shouldn't be taking pictures either. The point is, you need to be as unobtrusive as possible. It should appear as though you don't even really exist in the house. Provide whatever assistance you can and cause as little disruption as you can. You need to be the person you are not at home. You need to clean up after yourself and maybe even after others as well. They are worse slobs than you? Doesn't matter. Be a good guest!!!

9. Good guests don't have gas or political opinions - If you are in your own house, you can be as stinky as you want. It's your house, your castle. But like a dog leaving his scent in another dogs neighborhood, there is NO reason for you to feel THAT at home as a guest. I don't think I need to say anything more on the subject. As far as the subject of gas goes, the same applies to politics. Don't bring them up and don't display an opinion unless pressed and you agree with the hosts viewpoint. You should never find yourself being in the position of bringing discord into anyone's home. I'm sure you would love to set your host straight on night killing issues like the environment, or abortion or the current or past administrations, but instead, how about everyone goes to bed without bad feelings ruining their sleep?

10. The hosts business is his own, period. - It is faintly rude to be asking about the comings and goings of the host as the guest of the house. As a guest, you have no right to even be curious. If you are asking about the schedule of your host so that you can impose on them to run an errand for you, don't. Unless you need medicine for the orphanage you are running in their basement, just stop right there. Run your own errands. In fact, offer to the host to take care of any errands they might need doing.

This is just a small series of guidelines. Really small. There are several other rules, but I only have 10 spots to take up. If you are offended by this list, I'm sorry. Sorry that someone didn't tell you before this, but your hosts were probably just too nice to mention it. The fact that they had this blog up as their homepage when you got on their computer might be more than mere coincidence.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Top 10 Candy Bars

This weeks top Ten takes me to a place that is close to my heart. Candy Bars. It must be an easy blog subject, because if you Google top 10 candy, you will find myriad blogs (probably better than mine) but I'm writing it anyway. I love candy for several reasons. First candy is sweet and tasty. Like so many things we deal with in life, It's usually bad for you, but not in a really bad way. Candy usually has some of the most creative advertising/marketing of any product you can think of. The reason is, they sell candy to kids, and kids like all candy equally. Sure they have their favorites, but the truth is, unless they really hate it, they will eat it.

There are two kinds of candy. Chocolate and Plastic. Chocolate is fairly obvious. Plastic is any sugar based candy that doesn't have chocolate in it. This would include licorice, jaw breakers, jelly beans etc. It all seems like plastic. This doesn't mean it's not tasty, it's just different.

I'm basing this top 10 list on nearly 6 years of experience in running my own candy store in the Company I was working for. They were kind enough to allow me to continue on with that activity right up until I was let go. Now before you say 'well that will show you for running a candy store in a company' That really wasn't very close to the reason I was let go, but I'm sure it didn't help ;). And if that company had me back for some reason (like all the other people on the planet suddenly died) I would not resume my candy store activities.

So without further blather, I give you MY top 10 Candies.

1. Snickers - Numero Uno, The big daddy in the candy, vending business. This juggernaut of chocolate confectionary outsells all other candy bars. Is it the nuts? is it the chocolate? is it the caramel and creamy nougat? Who knows. The fact is, I'm not a huge fan of snickers myself. It's just too busy and I like my flavors more simple. On the other hand, if you are at a convenience store and can't find anything hearty to eat. Sinckers...satisfies. Say, that should be a jingle of some sort.

2. Marathon/Curly Whirly - Long ago, there was a magical candy bar that sat in a 1 foot wrapper, yes, 1 foot. Most other candy bars are about 5-6 inches long with a couple of notable exceptions in the Butterfinger/3 musketteers range at roughly 7 inches and the Big Hunk/Charleston Chew could give the Marathon a run for the money, but only the Marathon had a ruler printed on the back of the wrapper. In order to make other candies feel more confident, the Marathon bar had several different lengths down to a 7 inch model. On the other end of the spectrum you find the lowly Chunky ringing in at a nearly laughable 3 inches, but it's a cube, so you can't blame it. After all, it's how you taste, not how long you are right? right? Anyway, the Marathon bar was a lovely bit of braided caramel wrapped around by a coat of chocolate. One of my personal favorites. Sadly, they don't make the Marathon bar anymore. Imagine that normal store shelves are built to house the marathons lesser endowed brothers, not this candy freakshow. On top of that, most people found that a marathon bar was more candy than they wanted in one sitting. This deadly combination took the marathon bar out of our candy lexicon. But wait! the Cadbury company has a eeriliy similar candy bar called the Curly Whirly. If you are aware of the marathon bars magnificent visage, you will see it mimicked in the Curly Whirly. Look it up on the web, you can get em for about a buck a bar plus shipping etc.

3. Big Hunk - When you are tired of complicated candybars and strange milk chocolate that gets all over the place and ruins your diet, you can turn to your good friend the Big Hunk. This slab of corn syrup infused with peanuts is a dieters lifeline. You can dump about 1/4 of the calories if you just pick out the nuts. No, this definitely does not make this a 'diet' candy bar. There really is no such thing. If it's diet, it sucks and is not candy. The big hunk is perfect if you smack it while it's in it's wrapper and then open it and pick out the pieces. If you want a comparison, think of a Large oversized Bit-o-Honey. Just the Bit-o-Honey contains crushed nuts and more of a honey flavor than it's behemoth brother. This candy will give your jaw such a workout, you will know you've had one after you are done.

4. Twizzlers - While these fall under the licorice category, Twizzlers and their rather odd cousin Red Vines have very little to do with licorice as far as flavor. In fact, the closest thing to it would be the black NIBS that also bear the Twizzler name. All licorice types of candies are much closer related to a cookie than a candy bar. they have a lot of flour in them. The new Twizzlers have a rainbow of flavors in tube form. Chewy and fun, the Twizzler is among few candies that rate TV commercials. Apparently they make mouths happy. That's good. Because not brushing off the red stain from off of your pearly whites will make your mouth sad.

5-Twix - Otherwise knows as the Raider in Europe. The TWIX bar is awesome. two thin cookies with a layer of caramel surrounded by a very good milk chocolate. Twix are terrific for many reasons, the least of which is that you can easily split a twix with a friend because there are 2 separate candy bars in the package. Cool! The candy suffers one problem. If you happen to get a twix and store it anywhere that's even remotely warm, you will find that all of the caramely goodness on top of the twix will find itself on the downhill side of the candybar. A big lump of caramel on one side, and a rather thin essence of caramel on the other surrounded by a chocolate shell. Usually when this happens, you will also find the caramel has escaped it's chocolate bonds and flows freely in the candy wrapper. The Twix came in many flavors for a while, but the standard caramel remains a popular favorite. My own favorite was the cookies and cream. yum.

6. Almond Joy / Mounds - Coconut is among candy lovers deal breakers in candy. It ranks with raisins and nuts as potential detour signs pointing to other less controversial candies. The Almond Joy has a bed of sugared coconut surrounded by milk chocolate and has 2 lovely almonds in each bar section. While the mounds has dark chocolate and no nuts. They often will be advertised together. Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don't. The problem with this candy bar is once you have had one, you don't really crave another for a long time. So it sits on the shelf for a while and as a result the candy isn't as fresh and good. If you can get a really fresh Almond Joy, it's a pretty darn good candy bar.

7. Milky Way - Another personal favorite. The Milky way took a snickers and traded the nuts for more caramel. It's a very rich very creamy kind of candy bar. It's also very consistent. Since it doesn't contain any nuts or dried fruits in it, it has a good shelf life and doesn't change in flavor much from fresh to less than fresh. In a true testament to advertising, when they started making ads with people craving that last little whirl of caramel even if it was found on a tabletop I noticed a definite increase in Milky Way sales.

8. Mars / Snickers Almonds - The mars bar. another favorite. Built much like a snickers but instead of peanuts, it had almonds and a much fluffier nougat. Very sweet and light, the Mars Bar was very popular in it's own right. Only recently did Snickers create a candy bar called the Snickers Almond. It's a Mars Bar. I'm not sure if the Mars folks decided that they would benefit from calling their candy bar Snickers, or if Snickers decided they wanted to rub out some competition by creating a 3rd party candidate in the Candy bar elections. hmmm...It TASES like a Mars bar, but it's wrapped like a Snickers...It's the best of both worlds!

9. Skittles - The king of the plastic candies. Skittles spawned many a different flavor combination. These little buttons of fruity flavor fall out of the package like a rainbow. Wow, that would be a good idea for an ad. Regular came in the default flavors to colors, while the Berry Skittles were only in the berry category of candy. There were also the less popular Tropical Skittles and the now discontinued (sniff! and my favorite) creamy Skittles. The Sour Skittles on the other hand are a favorite with the kids. The great thing about skittles was they tasted great no matter how you ate them. A handful was just a chaotic bunch of flavors, but they all worked together. I tend to categorize mine by color and eat them in order so I can maximize my flavor enjoyment across the candy spectrum. I know this is very OCD, but the truth is, I don't want to be left with a big handful of lemon ones at the end, I would much rather have a couple of each. so I will line them up in their colors and then plan a 2 skittles from the longest rows until they match the length of the next longest row. then I will include that row in the selection process until I have 2 of each color to enjoy at the end. That was probably too much Information.

10 M&Ms - These little chocolate gems were a favorite of the GI's in the War. Back when the world was a much bigger place and everyone didn't have everything available. Chocolate bars were kind of a big deal. You could curry a lot of favor from the locals if you had Chocolate bars (and nylons as well, but that's a different Top 10 list entirely). The problem was. If you carried Chocolate bars in your pack all over the place, they would tend to break and melt. So they developed the M&M. Little tiny chocolate pieces that wouldn't melt in your pack even if they got a little warm. While M&M's have many colors, they all are just sugar flavored. There are certain colors in the M&M world that are rumored to impart an interesting behavior and it's not envy as the color would suggest. That's all I'll say on the matter. M&M's also came up with some rather interesting flavored experiments including the Dark M&M's and the peanut Butter M&M's along with almond and cherry flavors. Of course the regulars are just chocolate, or chocolate with a peanut in it. This most versatile of the candy universe often finds itself in cooking and desert decorating. Try putting them in the microwave for about 8 seconds. It warms them up just enough that the chocolate is a little bit liquid. Longer than that and they turn into little chocolate grenades, so stick with 8 seconds.

I know, your favorite candy bar isn't there. The peanut butter cups didn't show up, not for any other reason but because I think they are too rich so I'm not as big a fan. For the record I had a fairly politically charged blog that I wanted to write, and while I'm not squeamish about printing it, I do think that my top 10 lists lend themselves to lighter subject matter. I may on the other hand begin another blog just for my philosophical musings. I don't know. I'll have to think about it. It's already boring me and I haven't written it yet.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Top 10 thoughtless/stupid things people say.

We have all put our foot in our mouths from time to time. Either that or we are so painfully shy that we have no possible way of making that faux pas (side note, this is not pronounced FOO-paws or FOX-paws it's foh-PAH). It's a matter of course that we will embarrass ourselves by what we say, but some people do it more predictably than others. 12 year olds are exceedingly good at it. Some of mine are so memorable, that I can't even bear to list them here and I have to believe that all parties involved are either dead or so far away that I am just a distant memory because the alternative is too horrible.

10. Are you pregnant? - I used to believe that this was under the exclusive purview of men. Women of course had a spiderman like baby-sense that allowed them to know if someone was 'in a family way'. I later found out that this was not the case at all and that women are actually more apt to make this rather embarrassing slip of the tongue than men. There is no recovering from this embarrassment. The best you can say is 'I didn't mean anything by it' But all concerned know the damage is done. Instead of inquiring about future happy news, you are calling that woman a fat cow.

9. Did you get that on sale? - This little number depends really on what you are referring to. If you are looking at a wedding dress, you might want to hold that one back. If you are looking at paver stones for the back yard, go right ahead. Just remember, depending on the perceived value of the item and the thriftiness of the friend, you may just be accusing your buddy of being a cheap so and so, or you are looking like the cheap thus and such. Anyway, it might be a good one to avoid.

8. Sheesh! who died? - Innocent enough and probably well placed in a silent bar. This turn of phrase can be true once in a lifetime and once is enough to leave you embarrassed for a good portion of your life. If people are uncharacteristically quiet in a place they are normally noisy, it might be a good idea to see what is what before you go shooting your mouth off. I've personally been on the shooting end of this one and while I did feel stupid, I was also incredulous at the thought of somehow being blamed for insensitivity for something I didn't know about. For the record, the person in question did not die, they fainted. Big deal someone swoons and i'm a brute. Tell em to take a sick day.

7. You're Lucky!... - This phrase is only said to people that have just run afoul of a personally hard event, but once in a while some bonehead will actually tell you this when something very grave has happened to you. Lets take the former; You get to work 15 minutes late because you have decided that you really didn't need to pay attention to that stop sign and purposefully mistake it as a yield sign and suffered the consequences. The officer has shown you the traffic yellow card and you slouch into work late and mad. You tell a co-worker about your misfortune and this hapless girl or guy says 'You're lucky he didn't get you for ___________ too" Fill blank in with any number of traffic infractions that our debonair member of local law enforcement decided to omit and there you have it. You feel no better and your well meaning colleagues are in fact thoughtless. I've heard this said about death to the bereaved as well. 'Well you're lucky it wasn't a drawn out death' Well aren't we all living a drawn out death? I for one would like to see my own demise drawn out as long as possible. Nobody has ever told anyone they are lucky unless the circumstances of the event clearly show otherwise. You have never heard 'Hey! I won the lottery!', 'Well you're lucky, you could have won 2 million dollars less'

6. Do you want your dessert? - Ah to be 13 again. When the desire for sweets is really not outweighed by anything. OF COURSE nobody want's their dessert. Everyone ELSE is on a diet! Usually this is a problem that will be self solving with the application of a peer group of friends. If you have the right friends, it's a good idea to bow to peer pressure once in a while. Personally I count this along with asking anyone for a piece of candy. You've got your box of milk duds, and your friend says 'can I have some?' You can only get turned down right? Well, lets step this up a few notches. Can I borrow two thousand dollars? I really need it. So now I am put in the uncomfortable position of rejecting you for a request that should NEVER HAVE BEEN ASKED.

5. That's nothing... - Someone tells a lovely anecdote about something that happens in their lives. We as humans are story tellers. Some are better at it than others no doubt, but when someone takes your story and says 'That's nothing, if you want _____, blah blah blah' Simultaneously grinding on the other persons story with their heels and propelling expectations of the coming story to new heights. Usually this happens in the teens as well, but some people never grow out of it.

4. Just for kicks... - There are several similar phrases for this, but it always means the same thing. It is usually said by someone in a position of authority that knows that what they are about to ask for is not popular with the people. So they say 'Just for kicks, lets clean out all of the dumpsters in the parking lot so they don't stink any more' I got news for you, nobody does that for kicks.

3. How much did you pay for that? - This mostly innocuous phrase is fine on small scale items, but on larger items some people just don't wanna talk about it. I personally think it's more a point of information. The problem is, people don't want to tell you not because they don't want you to know, but because they really don't want to know that they spent too much. This is basically an opener to a conversation that will go nowhere. If they offer how much it was worth then they either don't care if they payed too much or they KNOW the deal is the best in town (read: insider deal).

2. How much did they pay you? - People get really dicey about money. especially how much they make. They probably figure that if you ask this, then you will know how much ransom to ask for their dog. Funny thing is, in some places. like the government. Employees pay scale is known to everyone else that works there. This is an interesting phenomenon because it stops favoritism to an extent and it really stomps on anyone asking that question because it just became public information. While I don't think that sharing income information is necessarily bad, I think for the most part people like to play those cards close to the vest.

1. You're really talented - This is an interesting compliment. If you take it for what it is usually intended, you are flattered and say thank you. But lets look at this innocuous comment. a Talent is considered the 'Natural endowment of a person'. They are basically saying you are really lucky and that if THEY had that talent, they could do whatever it is as well. Never mind that you actually practiced and worked at your skill for hours on end for weeks and months and years. Because you are 'Talented'. This actually has it's greatest example in theater. The actors are usually called the 'Talent' everyone else is the crew. This subtle implication is that everyone ELSE actually works and the 'TALENT' was just handed a break for doing nothing more than looking good and lying in front of a camera. I now never say that someone is talented. Instead I say they are excellent. It hits much closer to the point I'm driving at. I realize that nobody intends this phrase in the only way that it really can be taken, but that doesn't stop it being kind of insensitive.

There we are, I'm hoping this bit of cathartic steam letting will stop the voices in my head from replaying 'Marks top 10 most stupid/embarrassing things he said' in the shower. Of course I didn't list most of them here.