Monday, October 27, 2014

We Understand Your Need to Question Everything

"All the world is made of faith, and trust, and pixie dust."
- J. M. Barrie, Peter Pan

The Frequently Asked Questions on the Peter Pan Peanut Butter website begins with the title of this post, but in a cool whimsical font that seems to imply a wink that you're a hip badass rebel who questions corporate authority, and they like that about you.

Trans fatty acids are formed when vegetable oils are made either into a room-temperature solid or into a more stable liquid during a process called hydrogenation. Peanut butter stabilizers contain hydrogenated oils, but are used in such small quantities that they have little nutritional impact. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's regulations for nutrition labeling, Peter Pan Peanut Butter contains zero grams of trans fat per serving."

Turns out for all us badass hip rebels, the actual FDA provisions for claims regarding trans fatty acids leave some greasy wiggle room.

FDA's regulation for nutrition labeling of Trans fats states, if the total fat in a food is less than 0.5grams (or ½ gram) per serving, and no claims are made about fat, fatty acids, or cholesterol content, Trans fat does not have to be listed on the label..."

So, the correct answer to FAQ #6 would be "Yes. Yes it does."

So, while Peter Pan Peanut Butter totally gets your need to question everything, They understand they don't have a need to answer everything.

Dear Letter of The Law,
Piss off.
Fondly, A Consumer

Dear FDA,
Thanks for having my back wrt/ nutritional labeling about trans fats. Also, pixie dust.
Fondly, A Disillusioned Cynic

Thanks for having my back wrt/ nutritional labeling about trans fats. Also, pixie dust.

(Picture credit: The Duet, Dorothy Wheeler)

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Ten Kinds of Facebook Posts That Suck

  1. Posts (like this one) that list X number of things that promise to explain Something Important because life’s wisdom doesn’t come in the form of numbered lists.
  2. Posts that demand, “share this if you agree” because mostly I don’t agree. 
  3. Similarly, but slightly different, posts that demand I comment if I agree because shut up. 
  4. Posts that are pictures with pithy clichés added as captions to pictures that are clichés - except those that involve giving zero fucks. 
  5. Suggested Posts that are commercials, because I have more of them than I have posts from friends. I already know I need better friends and don’t need to be reminded. 
  6. Shared posts with embedded videos and headlines that end with “… you’ll never believe what happens next” because I have an actual life that is filled with such surprises thanks to my diminishing short term memory skills. 
  7. Posts that are tests to determine what type of fossil I am, or what pre-packaged frozen food item I am, or how much I would care if my neighbor’s children were attacked by a pack of wolves. 
  8. Quotes by celebrities about important things they have no expertise in - even Leonardo DiCaprio - because just because you’re famous or gorgeous doesn’t mean I should care what you think about a subject on which you have no legitimate expertise. 
  9. Passive aggressive posts intended to put somebody in their place without naming names because, seriously? 
  10. Posts arguing either side of matters involving global warming and vaccinations because, science, people. Those trains have sailed. And in a similar vein, posts that state political opinions of people I thought I liked but now find to be simpletons. 
  11. And finally, I don't like numbered lists that have titles telling you how many items are on the list.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Strict Construction of the First Amendment

"There's nothing like freedom of speech to help you identify the people who should be avoided like the plague."
  ~ Liz Braun

Sears sent a very nice young man out this morning to fix the broken icemaker in my refrigerator. I have been enduring a living nightmare for almost 3 weeks: no ice for my martinis. When I called to make the appointment and explained my problem, the hilarious woman in the call center said she’d put a Code Red on this request because of the hardship I was undergoing. My faith in humanity was restored.

They sent the part they assumed was most likely to be the problem.  It took the guy 2 minutes to determine that wasn’t the problem. He looked like he’d escaped from the Village People: tool belt, Hispanic name on pocket of blue work shirt, hella cool tool box that was more like a lady’s carry-on luggage designer purse-shaped thing, and haircut by a blind man suffering from some serious drug withdrawal problems. But the repairman made the haircut work for him.

He removed several cans of chocolate worm cakes from the fridge as well as several jars of pickles in order to remove the icemaker shroud that the ice container drawer goes into. (You can’t have too many half-empty jars of pickles in your fridge. I think he judged me wrt/pickles, but it was silent so maybe I’m just exhibiting paranoia. Frankly, I am afraid of strangers coming into my house and stealing my open pickle jars. I just hope they don’t find the unopened jars in the cupboard too. Otherwise, the two times a year I want to eat pickles I might find myself pickleless, and I’ll have to go out and stock up.)

Meanwhile, I’m on the phone with an insurance company trying to get a quote for combined home and auto insurance so I can tell Farmer’s Insurance to bite my shiny metal ass. First, of course, I had to scan the Declarations page from the Farmer’s homeowner’s policy so other insurance companies could give me a quote on comparable coverage.

That meant I had to engage with my HP Printer, which I have named in my applications folder as HP Shit Printer for reasons that will be obvious to anybody who has had an HP printer; or been remotely related to someone who has; or who has lived next door to someone who has during the summer when windows are open. It couldn’t find the computer sitting within clear sight of it on the next shelf, and to which it’s wireless ass is connected directly by a wire. Then. I couldn’t make an alias to put on the desktop from my “remote” hard drive (How remote? Two inches from my laptop. Might as well be the moon.) Or, I could, but the printer still couldn’t find the computer, meaning the alias didn’t work either – possibly because I no longer called it HP Shit Printer but simply Shit Printer. (I though the point of an alias was to take on a secret identity, so you naturally used a different name. Another point on which the printer and I have agreed to disagree.)

My faith in computer hardware, never very strong to begin with, has bled to death from the slings and arrows of outrageous pop-up windows saying pointless things like “Honestly, I’ve looked everywhere on this shelf and can’t find the computer, so I’m just going to sit here until you press ok, then I’m going back to the basic menu from which I’ll repeat this unhelpful message if you dare to try again.” Of course I tried again – it didn’t give me any choice except to click on “ok, continue to mess with me”.

Keep in mind that the Village People Refrigerator Repairperson is working within hearing distance of my computer and printer, and that was my problem. At one point, he explained the icemaker problem wasn’t the funky part Sears had mailed but simply a gasket on the back that was soggy and warped and instead of directing drips down into the evaporating pan under the fridge melting ice went straight into the shelf where my pickles are stored. He replaced the gasket. There will be ice!

Meanwhile however, I was unable to discuss the matter of scanning calmly and reasonably with the printer while trying to troubleshoot the problem. I already know the problem: I don’t have a comfortable relationship with inanimate objects, and the more moving parts they have, especially electronic so-called wireless parts, the more fraught our interactions are. Also, HP printers are worthless pieces of the stuff you try to scrape off the bottom of your shoe after you walk through a cow pasture, and my printer is self-aware and has a particularly vicious streak.

So, my efforts to get an insurance quote were hampered considerably as I tackled the challenge of interacting with my computer hardware under the disadvantage of not being able to exercise my unbridled freedom of speech. I have found exercising the First Amendment to its fullest extent to be very effective in the face of such challenges, and was thus reduced to negotiating by muttering under my breath to the printer about what a miserable worthless piece of crap it is using only PG-rated words instead of my considerable skills in creative profanity. 

In fact, I think I may have discovered another superpower: creative profanity as applied to insulting people or objects that displease me. I’m sure the prescient Founding Fathers had that situation precisely in mind when they wrote the First Amendment so many years before HP printers were invented. Once Village People Repairman left, I concluded negotiations with the printer in a more serious and profane vein and sure enough, it came around.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Time to Make Donuts

"Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana."
  – Groucho Marx

What kind of post could evolve from this epigram? The consolidated wisdom in those two sentences has the density of a black hole, and nothing clever can escape the event horizon.

So, instead of giving into my feelings of philosophical inadequacy, I’ve been thinking I need to renew my lawyer’s ticket. The state where I live requires that to practice law you have to be a member of the bar association. I stopped paying my dues circa ten years ago when I retired, so there're some back dues and late fees to consider. And what about continuing legal education requirements? The definition of privacy has certainly changed from the good old days.

I know folks with marriage problems, and with landlord-tenant problems that, to be modest, I could hardly make worse.

I’m hearing horror stories from my relative about her attempts to get a divorce and how the respondent has yet to appear and meanwhile she’s trapped in an expensive limbo while the interlocutory order is waiting for a hearing about a disputed issue regarding how long the couple has been living together as a married couple and that’s waiting on a hearing to schedule the hearing and that’s waiting for either the respondent or his lawyer to show up. Meanwhile, petitioner’s attorney is evidently asleep at the wheel, leaving the petitioner… 

Upon consideration, who cares? There should be some minimum requirement for the party with the most to lose to make at least a halfhearted attempt to understand the process and know wtf is going on. But there isn’t. And while stupid isn’t against the law, it’s against the commandments of my religion. Specifically: god don’t help them what don’t help theirselves. 

Besides, time flies. On the scale of the universe, our lifespans are as long as fruit flies. So, to say life is too short to own problems created and/or exacerbated by other people, is, well to embrace loquacity over brevity. More better to say: Time to make donuts.