Saturday, January 26, 2013

Dressing in technicolor

Wherever we go, no matter which way we look, there is always the person who stands out by wearing cutting edge, color coordinated clothing. Bright, bold, daring, sometimes almost giving off a neon appearance but at the same time, for them at least, somehow tasteful! Man, I envy those people. Most of us, guys at least, wear whatever the manikins at Sears has on or the shirts and sweaters that go with bluejeans. Truthfully, most men believe that anything goes well with bluejeans. From sleeveless T-shirts, to high end sport coats, Dickie's, no matter really, anything goes. Do we stand out in a crowd? Nope! We simply look the same as any other guy with poor taste. Scruffy, that's the look most guys have right now, Unless you are an attorney, insurance salesman or undertaker. Watching a highly regarded millionaire speak to a national audience on TV over the holidays almost hurt from the shame I felt for this rich guys style: three day beard, hair sticking out every which way, rolled up sleeves, wrinkled shirt, striped sweater, (striped, really?) and to top it off, loafers without socks. OMG! No wonder this country is going to hades in a hand basket. I have an idea to save the American population from total annihilation. Lets start dressing in "Technicolor" just like we used to see in movies back in the 40's, 50's, and 60's. If you haven't seen a movie from that era lately I'd suggest you may just want to. Technicolor you see, is the blending of only four colors to create a magnificent color feast for the eyes. Technicolor was a wonderfully happy explosion of beauty. Horror movies were filmed in black and white or sepia because technicolor had such an affect on our psyche that we weren't horrified by the scenes of terror. With technicolor we couldn't shake the feeling of well being and pleasure was at times almost overwhelming. When we watched movies in technicolor, the women were spectacular and the next thing to perfect, Doris Day, Marilyn Monroe, Gina Lollobrigida strutted their stuff in such a way to influence the love life of every man that saw them. Then the guys, Rock Hudson, Burt Lancaster, John Wayne, when women watched those guys in technicolor they would almost swoon (that's pass out for you younger folks) with the passion aroused in their very souls. Oh, those were the days my friend, those were the days. While we were watching movies in technicolor we managed to overcome the trauma of a second world war as well as the Korean conflict. We pulled ourselves through a couple of recessions, our music was fantastic and unforgettable, our cars were colorful, fast and creative. As long as we had technicolor we had positive attitudes, were inventive, self confident, could survive almost anything that came along and most of us dressed accordingly. Then came the new, modern way of taking movies. Everything changed. As a country we went off the deep end. Drugs, free love, families started breaking up by the thousands, the price of gasoline skyrocketed, (well, it did) and the dress code went into the toilet for the general population. See what I mean? You can check it out of you want.

That is the basis for my theory that if we start dressing in technicolor, as a society we will begin to conquer the demons that are causing us so much anguish. At your first opportunity, grab a movie from that era, make it a happy one with Sandra Dee, Bobby Darin, Doris Day, Rock Hudson, Jack Lemon, John Wayne, you know those types. Sit back with the drapes open so the sun can shine in, sip some wine or hot chocolate, maybe some popcorn with butter, eat a few Dot candies and feast on the display of beautiful colors unfolding before you. Remember those colors when you go shopping.

Simply another avenue towards self improvement and a better life. You're welcome! Now, I have to go out and get a new wardrobe myself. I've been looking a little scruffy myself of late. Yeah, I better practice what I preach. At least I never wore pajamas in the grocery store, right?

Friday, January 25, 2013

Computer bookkeeping and me

I believe I am a reasonably intelligent guy. I read at a college level, speak and write at a seventh grade level, understand immature jokes and cook like a master chef. There is one problem in my educational balance though: Computer intelligence is something I find difficult if not impossible to understand. For whatever reason, when I am dealing with a form of intelligence that cannot talk back to me my mind stops even wanting to sit there and being embarrassed time after time by little pop-up bubbles exposing my inadequacies. Made fun of by an "artificial" form of intelligence is not my cup of tea. When speaking with real live experts and masters and other smarty pants people, if they say something demeaning, I can say back something equally smart like, "Yeah, and you too!" If I type that into the egotistical computer it sends me a pop-up balloon with a pre-assembled message that reads, "Improper input!" I ask you, how do I respond to that? I typed what I was thinking, "Just what kind of input do you need?" Another bubble, " Improper input, re-enter password to establish connection." I re-entered my password. "Incorrect password, re-enter password to establish connection." I re-re-entered my password. "Incorrect password, only one more chance to re-enter correct password or lose opportunity for 24 hours." Sweat began pouring down my forehead, I need to establish a connection with this new bookkeeping program, my customer is waiting and watching me print up his invoice so he can pay me. I detect a smirk beginning to form on the corner of his lip. The pressure is immense, This computer is lording it over me and humiliating me big time. What to do? What to do? That's where my "non-artificial" intelligence came into play. I pulled the plug on that freakin', bubble producing, narrow minded, unaccommodating, full of crap computer and hand wrote the invoice, collected my money and sent my customer on his way. After the customer was gone, I plugged that computer back in, let it boot up, turned on the offending program and entered my password as, "Yeah, and you too!" The computer popped up a bubble stating "Final opportunity to enter correct password dis" That's when I pulled the plug again! "Dirtybridgeragafratchflaggaloomer!" Put that in your stupid hard drive! Today I bought a tutorial CD. I know my limitations but the computer doesn't know how to deal with them. That makes me smarter. I find comfort in that.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Controlled substance/surprising

Throughout history those in the know have taken steps to protect those of us who need protecting. Laws are the modus opperendi (or however you spell it), both good and bad. Laws have been used to maintain slavery and then to abolish it, take private property and protect it, take our earnings away and spread them around, more recently, protect gun ownership and restrict it. Not taking any stand on  these mind you, simply stating facts. Around this part of the world people are voted into positions of power to carry out our wishes as far as freedom and quality of life. We put our trust in those elected folks to make sure this great country is not taken over by some sort of  dictatorial hierarchy. Now, the reason I bring this to light if you are still interested in my little observation.

Yesterday I was struck with a brilliant idea: Reports say that if a person is overcome by Carbon Monoxide poisoning the sooner they are treated with oxygen, the less chance they will suffer death or sever complications. The same with some other critical, life threatening situations. Thinking that it may be a good idea to be prepared for just such a situation I proceeded to check out the availability of emergency oxygen equipment and supply. Now comes the surprise: It was explained to me that I needed a doctor's prescription to get oxygen, oxygen it seems, is a controlled substance. Huh?

I'll delve further into that today but I have to say that I was totally taken by surprise when I was told that even the air I breath was being controlled. Yeah, really I was.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Chicken wings and marketing

It wasn't all that long ago that if we visited a KFC and asked for chicken wings the person at the counter would have to hustle to make sure all of them hadn't been thrown into the trash. Nobody wanted chicken wings. (Except for me of course) I could often talk the store into selling me a box full for a nickle or dime each. At the time, when people ordered a Family Meal box of chicken they inevitably asked to have a mix of parts but "leave out the wings." Wings were considered in the same category as the tail. A good party host wouldn't be caught offering chicken wings on an hordouvres tray. Nope! Not it just wasn't proper. That was great for me. I could always count on eating great chicken on the cheap. Just the right combination of skin, seasoning, breading and meat. "Finger lickin' good!" Then some enterprising chicken cooking chef decides to add extra words to an otherwise dish reserved for the vulgar crowd who didn't otherwise have a choice. Suddenly, literally overnight wings became something special. Now I had to compete for my beloved chicken wings and also step to the window price wise too. Same chicken wings, it was only a couple macho type words  that brought them into the mainstream. "Buffalo", "Ding", "Fire", "Wild", just four simple words and wings were an epicurean delicacy. Not only that but still another entrepreneur decided to split those magnificent wings in half and call them some sort of finger food. And that same guy found some way to make people want to pay the same price for half a wing and double his income. I was becoming perturbed at anyone involved in the marketing of chicken wings. Actually, I still am. I dearly miss my nickle or dime chicken wings when they would even throw in a few extra free of charge because they were happy to be rid of them. Marketing people have really changed our cultural landscape when it comes to what we eat. I guess I like some of it but other stuff I'm not so taken with.

The woman that invented spinach dip was actually a genius. Her'e this mom of about 11 kids and she couldn't get them to eat the best vegetable in the world that didn't taste quite so "best" and made them gag. Wanting to be a good mom she kept offering her brood the spinach but alas, those kids kept gagging. All the while her husband was getting a little tired of being the one to eat all that left over spinach. They, being of modest means could not afford to let any food go to waste. One day Mr. husband, almost gagging himself from way too much spinach, decided to put some into an almost empty jar of Cheese Whiz to add a little flavor. He made it through and finished the spinach. Mom, seeing husbands method of survival made a mental note. She was one smart cookie. The next week, on the day the family usually tried to eat spinach, while the kids were still away at school, mom put her plan into action. Taking a couple cans of spinach, a jar of cheese whiz and some cream cheese, she blended it into a sort of gooey stuff. (Kids like gooey stuff, she thought) Then she fried up some corn meal and flour cup shaped chips and place that stuff on the table. When the kids all got home and settled and ready to start gagging when mom said they had to eat spinach and husband prepared to suck it up and eat the spinach, mom said to everyone that "tonight is a special night. No supper, we are all going to eat homemade chips and dip and watch a movie!" The kids were delighted, dad and husband was delighted, the movie went on, the chips and (spinach) dip were placed in the middle of the room, everyone watched the movie, ate the (spinach dip) and chips, laughed, didn't gag and asked when they could do it again and have some more of that wonderful dip and chips. That's what good marketing does. That's how chicken wings turned mainstream and my cheap food disappeared. Marketing can end the recession and bring us all to financial independence. But I sure miss my cheap, just plain wings.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Treasure hunt and the news media

When I began the Silver Treasure Hunt 32 years ago, the idea was to have some fun while pointing out a real problem to us all: Carbon Monoxide poisoning. As most of you know I was subjected to chronic CO poisoning and it cost me my memory for two years. It took a terrible toll on my family. I wouldn't wish those problems on anyone. Now, 32 annual treasure hunt competitions later, somewhere in the area of 40,000 people dabble with the riddle and clues. Realistically many of those people from all over the world would never have heard of the game without the exposure of the news media. This year Matt from the Grand Rapids Press and Mitch form TV17 News have covered the event so well I have received dozens and dozens of comments from new players. Besides the fun in having more people involved, my hope of making others more aware of CO poisoning moves forward with each contestant.

This year, within the two weeks preceding the start of the treasure hunt there were two Fatal carbon monoxide poisonings in the state of Michigan. One on the East side where an entire family died and another in Western Michigan. The problem of accidental CO poisoning is a serious one. Thanks to Mitch and Matt there is a better chance for hundreds and thousands of people to avoid the consequences of exposure to the colorless, odorless, invisible gas. I believe that saves lives whether we hear about it or not. A huge thanks to both of you and everyone else involved.

Steve Lang solved this years riddle and clue. He will be picking up his treasure sometime soon. I'll keep you informed. The game this year was very intense with hundreds of new people taking part. The new rules have been well accepted and most everyone I talk to enjoys the clues being closer together creating more of a sense of urgency, excitement and increased competition. As always, I welcome and invite your comments..................Joe
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