7

Why Would Anyone Steal It?

My son is graduating in a few weeks. We have been sitting on an invoice from the school for two years.  At the end of the 2011-2012 school year, we received a statement saying he/we owed $78 for a missing algebra book. I had been expecting it. He told us one night that he had left the book in a classroom and needed to pick it up before algebra class the next day. The next day the book was gone, and no one knew where. Seriously?

My son is the only one I know who is anywhere near as absent-minded as I am. I kept losing my keys, so my family bought me one of those electronic beepers you attach to the keyring. One day I couldn’t find the keys. And couldn’t remember where I left the control button.

He’s been able to retrieve earbuds, personal books, and favorite pens over the years. Out of everything that’s he’s forgotten overnight, the only one that went missing was the algebra book? My guess is that someone else couldn’t find their book and thought his belonged to them. That’s a much less disturbing thought than the idea that someone looked at it and said, “Wow! I’ve been looking for one of these! Can’t believe someone left this beauty behind.”

Coincidentally, I was reading the current issue of Time. (Yes, in paper form.) In the Roundup section, there were the World’s Weirdest Heists. I had seen the one about the missing manhole covers in New York City a couple of years ago. They were only worth $30 apiece. Maybe they wanted the publicity. Or maybe they were looking for a challenge. I’ve been in NYC; I’m not sure how you could do it without someone seeing you.

They also say that 6 million pounds of maple syrup was stolen from a Quebec warehouse in 2011 and 2012. It was worth about $18 million. Since it was stolen over a period of time, maybe it was someone inside the warehouse taking home a little at a time. “Gee, Joe you smell like maple syrup.” “Not really; it’s my new cologne.” Eventually they found two-thirds of it. Doesn’t seem to be much of a secondary market for it.

Somewhat similarly, in Bad Hersfeld, Germany, they lost 5.5 tons of Nutella (chocolate-hazelnut spread) when someone robbed a parked trailer. It was worth about $20,000. I was wondering whether they had the Nutella in jars or bulk. Probably in jars. Either way, how do you take that much of something without being seen? It’s not like you wouldn’t need some sort of massive vehicle yourself.  I can’t imagine what you would do with it. Sell it to a rogue food truck company? Use it to lure animals?

In Jamaica, someone took about 500 truckloads of beach sand from the construction site of a $108 million resort. I imagine that was for another resort that was either being built or having erosion problems. We have gravel pits around here. They check to make sure that when the trucks go out they have gravel, and when they come back there is no gravel. You would think that someone might have thought “Gee, we’re building here, not tearing down. Shouldn’t we be keeping the sand here?”

My favorite is the bridge that was stolen in the Czech Republic in 2012. The thieves created fake work documents for the police and dismantled a 10-ton pedestrian crossing. You would think a project that size would have attracted the attention of people using the crossing. Apparently the local government didn’t notice at all.  There was about $6,000 of scrap metal taken. Guess it’s the reverse of people selling the Brooklyn Bridge to new immigrants.

I guess if you do something so odd that people can’t imagine why anyone would want to do it, they don’t think you shouldn’t be doing it. Now I need to find a clever way to take a ton of chocolate and hide it from my neighbors.

5

Trivial Trivia

(I intended to post this yesterday, so the events all happened on April 5, not April 6. Feel free to hold onto it until next year if you think it would be more relevant.)

As you may have guessed, I love trivia. It’s probably related to my mind’s ability to hold onto almost any useless piece of information while forgetting that if I don’t call the school, my kids probably won’t have yearbooks for their senior year. For example, I needed a code to punch into the cash register at my second job (after my senior year in high school). I chose 1063. Why? Because it was three years before the Battle of Hastings. And I still remember it. Scary, huh?

Needless to say, the Internet is full of odd facts and ideas. Too bad I don’t know which ones to believe.

There used to be something in the local paper called “Today in History” and it would show which famous people were born on that day and major events. I really liked looking at it, although the same historical events kept popping up year after year. Oddly enough, the bombing of Pearl Harbor was there every December 7.

So what could be better than the web version of “Today in History”? I found several sites (of course). There was one that was mainly music-oriented. It was really interesting, but not really what I was looking for. Finally I settled on scopesys.com. It has births, deaths, events, holidays, and religious commemorations. And it seems to be pretty exhaustive. It was actually kind of boring, even to me.

For example, the birthdays included 1588 Thomas Hobbes, 1649 Elihu Yale, 1725 Giacomo Casanova, 1827 Joseph Lister, 1856 Booker Taliaferro Washington, 1923 Nguyen Van Thieu, 1937 Colin Powell. If you don’t know who these people are, you should :).

The list actually had 183 names on it. Included were such luminaries as 1818 Lewis Baldwin Parsons Brevet Major General (Union volunteers), 19– Chao Li Chi actor (Falcon Crest), 1946 Jane Asher Paul McCartney’s former girlfriend/actress (Deep End), and seven cricket players born between 1868 and 1953. While I have no problem with cricket, I can’t believe there has ever been a player who belongs on a list with Joseph Lister and Booker T. Washington. And it’s the only sport shown. Seems a little biased, no?

There were 82 deaths worthy of note. Among those cited were 1794 Georges-Jacques Danton, 1964 Douglas MacArthur, 1975 Chiang Kai-shek, 1992 Sam Walton, and 1997 Allen Ginsberg. I am going forward with the blissfully ignorant assumption that everyone knows who these people are too. Don’t burst my bubble.

Some of the others you should keep in mind are 1531 Richard Roose who was boiled to death for trying to poison an archbishop and five cricket players. I am guessing that Mr. Roose was included due to his cause of death rather than trying to poison an archbishop. Lots of people were going around poisoning church leaders at that time. There’s the cricket bias again.

I found it interesting that there were 183 people of note on this date, but only 162 events. Some of the highlights: 1614 Indian princess Pocahontas marries English colonist John Rolfe (#1 item on every site I visited – probably thought everyone would know who she is), 1722 Jacob Roggeveen discovers Easter Island, 1896 1st modern Olympic Games officially open in Athens, and 1951 Julius & Ethel Rosenberg, atomic spies, sentenced to death.

I had not known the name of the person who “discovered” Easter Island (although from all appearances someone had found it before he did). Unfortunately, I will probably not remember the name because I don’t know how to pronounce it. (My idiosyncrasies have idiosyncrasies.) Odd that I successfully finished a Masters’ degree in Russian Studies.

The next few things here are what I consider to be real trivia. They are more interesting than useful: 1792 George Washington casts 1st presidential veto, 1806 Isaac Quintard patents apple cider, 1973 NFL adopts jersey numbering system (ie quarterbacks, 1-19), 1986 Record for a throw-and-return boomerang toss is set (121 meters). I am wondering how a man can patent a drink that occurs naturally.

Of course, I took issue with some of the inclusions. Making the cut were 1585 Clemens Crabbeels becomes bishop of Hertogenbosch, 1961 Barbra Streisand appears on “The Jack Paar Show”, and 1992 Comedian Sam Kinison marries live-in girlfriend Malika Souiri. There were five sports references to four sports (maybe only cricket players were born and died on April 5). The most suspicious of these was 1953 Babe Didrikson-Zaharias wins LPGA Babe Didrikson-Zaharias Golf Open. I’d like to know who kept score.

In 1965 Lava Lamp Day was celebrated. Those have made a comeback. My daughter has one. Maybe we could make it a national holiday. At least in Colorado where smoking pot is legal.

I think that we should add some international holidays to our calendar. And maybe spread some of the local ones. April 5th is the first day of summer in Iceland. I really hope that has something to do with the length of the day as opposed to the temperature. It’s not halfway between the equinox and the solstice either. Perfect excuse for another day off.

It’s Arbor Day in South Korea. That one would work here in Michigan. We were given the official word that it is now safe to plant new trees. Of course, we’ve also been told that it’s better to plant trees at the end of the year. And the ground is still frozen in some spots. Another day off and nothing to do. Excellent!

In Taiwan, they are celebrating Death of Chiang Kai-shek/Tomb Sweeping Day. I’m not exactly sure how to spin this one for the U.S. Obviously we don’t want to support a dictator (particularly a dead one). Maybe we can make it into some sort of civilian memorial day. Then we can plan major sales, get a day off, and forget the people it is supposed to honor (just like the real Memorial Day).

I’d love to celebrate Switzerland’s Glarius Festival. If I knew what it was celebrating. Or could find any reference to it anywhere. It started in 1388. If anyone knows enough Swiss history to help, please chime in. I guess we could just pretend we know what it is and ask for the day off.

Last, but not least, it is Student Government Day in Massachusetts. It was celebrated on Friday since no one wanted to go to school on the weekend to study the government. I think this would be an excellent opportunity to send our paid politicians back to school to learn what government is actually supposed to do. That would probably take more than a day though…..

You can drive your HR department crazy suggesting new holidays. It won’t be long before they are encouraging you to shop and look at cat videos on company time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

6

Rhetoric and Questions

I was going to title this post “Rhetorical Questions.” But then I realized that I might not actually know what that phrase meant. And I certainly wouldn’t want to embarrass myself with that type of silly error, would I? (Correct usage of a rhetorical question.) So I went to my source of all things correct, Wikipedia (sarcasm, not rhetoric). And here is what I found.

Rhetoric is the art of persuasive discourse. That means talking to inform, persuade, or motivate an audience.

Rhetorical questions are asked to encourage the listener to consider a message or viewpoint, not to get an answer. So if someone asks you, “Are all dogs this dumb?”, you may want to consider the possibility that the person doesn’t like dogs and is looking for support of that position.

Ever get the uncomfortable feeling that you are learning something from my posts? (Correct usage of a rhetorical question)

The following questions are rhetorical, and I do not expect an answer. You may answer quietly to yourselves if you so desire. (more sarcasm)

Why would the store put a picture of a live lobster in the middle of a picture of Valentine’s Day gifts? Among the candy, flowers, and cute stuffed animals was a live lobster. “Happy Valentine’s Day! I brought you a live lobster! If you don’t want him as a pet, you can cook him for dinner.”

Why did the heater on my car die during the coldest winter in recent memory?

I started wearing my mother’s jacket instead of my own because there would be room for a hoodie under it. So why do I never remember the hoodie until I’m freezing in the car?

Why is the iciest patch of the road right at the end of my driveway?

Why was management so much more supportive of my being sick when I returned healthy than when I called in sick?

Admittedly I’ve been looking a little shaggy, but did no one in my family actually notice that I had 3 inches of hair cut off?

Why are the people who complain the most at work usually the same ones who don’t want to listen when something bugs you? (Actually, that happens in real life too)

Why are people surprised when they tell a coworker a “secret” and then hear it from someone else later? Haven’t they noticed how much gossip they hear about their coworkers?

Why was I so surprised that the new management trainee in the deli didn’t know how to use a string mop? A very nice middle-aged male customer tried to explain it to her, but was unsuccessful. Isn’t there something about a place that serves freshly roasted chickens, soup, salads, and sliced meat that screams “at some point, you’re going to need to clean something up?” How naïve am I that I was surprised she didn’t stick around to watch me actually use the mop? (3 questions-for-1 situation – bonus)

How did we get to the point that we’re shocked when a stranger does something nice? A customer I had never seen before stopped and gave me a Valentine. I put it where I could see it and thought about him several times during the day.

When did my standards for weather get so low that 17 degrees and sunny qualifies as a nice day?

Why does the template for these posts say the heading is optional? Everywhere else they tell us how important a good title is for drawing people in.

Why can I never find a decent close for this type of post?

2

My Kingdom for a Horse (or a Pair of Oxen)

You may have seen the car commercial where the man on an airplane clicks a remote at his car as the plane passes over the parking lot. You then see that the car is nice and warm as the family gets off the parking lot shuttle and settles into it. I’m not sure what airport they use for the commercial. Any time I have flown in the winter (or summer), the plane would still have to taxi, park and unload the passengers. The passengers would need to get their luggage (it is a family, not a day-tripper), wait for the shuttle, and actually get to the car.

I picture three more realistic scenarios. First, the heater runs from the battery and the battery is dead after being used for 90 minutes without starting the car. Second, the remote actually starts the car and uses up a quarter tank of gas waiting for the people. The father then says to the family that the next time they can freeze; he isn’t spending $25 because they can’t wait two minutes for the seat warmers to start working. Third, someone sees the car running, takes it, and is gone for an hour before the family even realizes it’s missing.

All of this is crossing my mind on the way to work this morning. Once I was actually on the road this morning. Like many of you, we were hit by the storm yesterday. My husband was proactive and tried to clear things as the day went by. Unfortunately, what he could not foresee was how windy it would be overnight. And the two- or three-foot drifts the wind would create.

I do not own a 4-wheel-drive vehicle. The weather here really isn’t that bad. We are on the “good” side of Lake Huron. The moisture from Lake Michigan gets dumped over the west side of Michigan in storms, so the air is relatively dry by the time it gets here, so we get less wind and snow. We still complain.

After the storms leave here, they cross Lake Huron and get more moisture to dump on Ontario. By the time the storm reaches upstate New York, it has gone over the rest of the Great Lakes and they get the benefit of lots of moisture in the air. Which often means they get a lot of snow. If you watch pro football or hockey from Buffalo, you may have noticed the commentators seem to get a lot of pleasure telling us what bad weather they are surviving. In their heated broadcast booth.

We figured my biggest worry would be whether or not they cleared the road by the time I left at 4a. I got up and went out. The road didn’t look too bad (relatively speaking). I should have known there would be a problem when I went down our steps and sank into snow up to my thighs. I’m short, but not that short. I should have been able to walk through snow that had been shoveled shortly before we went to bed.

Ever the optimist, I went into the garage. Second bad sign: my car had been out for maybe two minutes yesterday while my husband got out the snowblower. I had to brush off the back and side windows. There was no indication whatsoever that it had been inside for more than 12 hours.

The engine turned over, and the heater whined (it really hates cold weather). I backed up to where the hood cleared the garage door. And got stuck. Started swearing. Looked for the shovel and couldn’t find it. Stomped upstairs and woke up my husband. Oh yeah – he keeps it on the inside porch so it will be convenient. Stomp back downstairs. Trip in the drift again.

Shovel out the wheels. Move a little. Shovel under the body. Don’t move. Shovel around the tires. Move a little. Shovel more. Create ice under the tires. Try to rock back and forth. Swear. Shovel. Move a little. I should probably mention that our house is set off the road a ways and the driveway is double width, so I’m not completely incompetent (yet).

Shovel. Can’t move. Straighten wheels. Move a little. See the light in the house. Husband is up for work. Stomp back in. Whine. He comes out (and trips in the drift). Five minutes later the car is on the road and ready to go. I apologize for being evil. He blames the snow. He’s good that way.

On the way, my brain keeps running “Jingle Bells”. ‘Oh what fun it is to ride in a one-horse open sleigh.’ Yeah. With a wind chill somewhere around zero (it’s gotten worse since). But a horse isn’t a bad idea. One of those big Budweiser horses. It could have pulled my car out of the snow in a couple of minutes.

If you have ever needed road-side assistance in a storm, you know you could starve to death before they get to you.This is not a function of their ineptitude but of demand greatly exceeding supply (finally – a use for my econ class). I bet my son could make money using the horse to help other people. Or he could entertain kids by taking them for rides. I bet parents would pay to get the kids out of the house for a bit on a snow-day. Or their spouses.

I wonder how much it would cost to keep a horse like that. They’re probably expensive. Maybe I’ll try to sell the idea to someone in Buffalo.

3

Just Askin’

As the snow piles up, the wind chill drops, and my brain slowly freezes:

Why do I have so much trouble rooting for a team when I don’t like the coach? Last night, I could not convince myself to root for Michigan State over Stanford although they are instate and part of the Big Ten. Mark Dantonio is just one of my least favorite coaches ever (yes, I know he is very successful). I have no trouble at all rooting for the basketball team under Tom Izzo, who I love. (Note to those who don’t know: I’m a Michigan alum.)

Why can’t they seem to clear the roads around here quickly enough to avoid ice on them two or three days later? It’s not like we’re in one of those places getting storm after storm.

Speaking of icy roads – why do people think that if they are behind a timid driver, they can intimidate them into going faster by riding on their bumper?

If the roads are too bad to go to work, why do people feel the need to go shopping?

Why are my feelings hurt by my new hedgehog taking time to socialize? He’s got quills, but I must appear huge to him and probably smell weird too.

Why do I keep asking for books as gifts when I know I don’t have time to read them? Am I the only one who feels guilty about having a pile lying around the house?

Am I the only one who has to ask herself  ‘is someone laying something  or is it lying on its own’ before they feel comfortable with a sentence like the last one?

Why does auto-correct insist it knows better then I do what I want to say? People who understand grammar usually know it’s an incorrect usage and no one else cares. (And it never fixes the lay/lie type issues I do have trouble with.)

Do people set themselves up for failure when they promise to go to the gym/start a new diet January 1? At least half of the country has rotten weather that time of year and it’s dark and/or gloomy the majority of the time. Who really thinks about wearing a bikini? (Men thinking about the SI models do not count.)

Wouldn’t it have been nice if the early Christians had decided to take over Midsummer rather than the Winter Solstice? Then we could just hibernate between December and March. Unless you actually like ice and snow. (Sorry Down Under – this is my fantasy. It probably wouldn’t work so well for you.)

Do I have the only cat who gets cold feet and wants to warm them on me? When we go to bed, she lies in my arms until she gets warm and then she lays on top of the comforter by my feet.

Do stores that run perpetual sales realize that eventually sales stop being an event and become business as usual (as well as a joke to most consumers)?

What’s the correct response when a customer asks whether a product is any good, and I don’t like it? “Yeech” just doesn’t seem appropriate. Maybe “Depends. How well do your tastebuds work?”

Do they really have to direct the smells from the bakery over to my department? Cinnamon rolls and chocolate chip cookies baking always make me hungry.

Why is it the hungrier I get, the less I want to spend time cooking? Delayed gratification is definitely not a strong suit for me.

Finally – why did the (full-size) snow plow decide it would be a good idea to block the road just as I was getting to the intersection this morning? He wasn’t actually plowing, he seemed to be taking a break.

0

We Don’t Care; It’s Your Fault

I may have mentioned that safety is one of our “Core Principles” at Ralph’s. We all have to sign an oath that we are  committed to 200% safety, own own and the other person’s. As far as I can see, the only flaw in the plan is that the store itself isn’t a party to the agreement.

The most recent innovation is the introduction of “safety shoes”. These are not real shoes. My mother’s elderly uncle (and most other people) would have called these things “rubbers” in the days before every word had some relationship to sex. They are black pseudo-rubber and pull up over your own shoes, more or less covering the bottom and sides. The idea is to keep people from sliding on the floors in all areas working with fresh food.

You may recall that I am technically part of the deli, although I spend 10 minutes or less each day in the deli itself. Nonetheless, I must wear safety shoes. I’ve heard that these items were chosen specifically for their ability to walk on wet and oily surfaces.

I can assure you they were not chosen for climbing on ladders. The first day I had them on, I climbed a step-ladder to get an item for a customer from the back of a top shelf. I have done this same thing many times. Make sure the ladder is anchored correctly, step to the proper level, reach forward, grab the item, and give it to the customer (yes, we have procedures for everything).

The first three steps went fine. I turned to face the customer and slid off the ladder. Too bad my kids are too old to appreciate the amazing bruise I got from the shelf that my arm caught on the way off the ladder. I did not make the connection that tight hold would not translate to flexible footwear.

Even more embarrassing was when the shoe caught on the floor of the cooler while I was opening the door. The door moved, I did not, and my face met the door. Management had told me that the one place I worked that absolutely required the shoes was the cooler. I am guessing that no one considered that a room full of cardboard boxes would not be particularly slippery. Luckily no one saw me that time.

After the ladder incident, my team leader asked if I wanted to file an incident report. I assured her it wasn’t necessary. In the first place, I wasn’t really injured. In the second place, it would have triggered the much dreaded “safety violation”. The stores all aim to be accident-free; it looks bad on the company’s public record if employees are continually being injured at work.

A year or so ago, I sprained my bicepal tendon. It was caused by a sudden impact to a repetitive motion injury (RMI). I had tried to pull a cart out of an overcrowded cooler (not my own) and twisted wrong. The amount of paperwork was overwhelming, and I had to watch a 45-minute safety video before I could go to urgent care (hopefully the order would have been different if there had been blood or protruding bones).

I was supposed to be written up for a safety violation. I had pulled the cart rather than pushed it and jerked it to get it free (it was wedged in such a way that I had no choice).The only thing that saved me was that it aggravated an RMI. I had to wear a sling and go to physical therapy for several weeks.

My manager didn’t talk to me for a week. The only reason he forgave me was because I didn’t miss any time. Lost-time accidents accidents are many times worse than regular accidents; apparently they go on the store director’s permanent record (like some high school behavior). I guess he was somehow responsible for the warehouse sending too much stuff and the planners somehow putting in too few coolers. The same as I was responsible for trying to work quickly in that environment.

For some odd reason, they put the beer and wine sections right outside the doors to the back room. And my cooler immediately inside those doors. And a major food-stocking vendor across from me. And the baler and receiving in the same section. And aisles barely wide enough to let two carts go by each other. I guess no one realized that a lot people would need to go in and out the swinging doors at approximately the same time.

I don’t know whether you are familiar with that type of door. They have a small (2′ x 3′??) plexiglass window that somehow becomes almost immediately scarred. I have never seen anyone actually touch the window. They swing in both directions. Our informal rule is that whoever has the heaviest load gets to go through first.

The rule would work well if you could actually see whether someone was on the other side of the door. From my front-row seat seat (which usually puts me in the way while loading and unloading carts), I have seen that we all find a way to avoid a major collision. Fear of paperwork and disciplinary suspension are as much to credit as 200% safety.

We had an update meeting recently. Management was excited to tell us that the company has decided that some accidents may not actually be the employees’ fault. They did not explain what such a circumstance would be.

3

Wrapped Up in Red Tape

I love my HMO. I really do. I have a great network. It’s easy to get an appointment. If I’m sick I can get in the same day. I like the doctors. Generally speaking, even getting a referral is easy. However….

A couple of weeks ago, I called to get a referral to a chiropractor and a psychiatrist. The woman was very nice, asked me why I needed the referrals and said they should be sent out in a couple of days. She told me to make the initial appointment with the chiropractor for consultation and x-rays. They are always covered.

I wanted to see the chiropractor because my neck has started clicking. Checking the Internet I found out that it could be nothing or it could be the beginning of degenerative arthritis in my neck (apparently nothing between annoying and wanting a neck replacement). The blog people said that they highly recommended a chiropractor because several people had gone to MD’s and were misdiagnosed. Of course I believed the blog people. Having become one, I know that my opinion is now worth much more than it was back in June before I started writing. I did not check to see how many of the blog people were chiropractors. However, I had asked the Physician’s Assistant at my PCP’s office about the clicking and she had no clue.

I made the appointment with the chiropractor for the next week. Of course, they would not do the x-rays without the referral, but what could go wrong? It was only supposed to take a couple of days. The day of the appointment, I called the office to make sure they have the referral. Guess what? She still wanted me to come in for the consult; I could make the second appointment at that time. I declined; there is something wrong. What if I really like this guy and can’t go back? I wanted to make the decision about a second date; not the insurance company.

I called the referral people. Where did I get the name of the chiropractor? Off your website. Oh, that’s odd. The computer won’t allow the referral. I’ll look into it. Hoped it’s that nothing option; I start to get tense. What if the website was wrong? Where do I find another guy? I picked this guy because he was close and hoped for the best. I don’t know anyone who has a chiropractor out here. I hate when this stuff goes sideways – I’ve rationalized my selection and don’t want to change it although there was no real reason I made it in the first place. (Feeling more and more like dating.)

On Monday I got a call from the “real” referral lady. Apparently the person I had been speaking with with the “fill-in” referral lady. She said that there had been an error. My chiropractor is on the list and the referral had been processed, backdated to October 1. October 1? Ours is not to question why.

So now I can make the appointment. But first, I have to get healthy. I have some sort of throat virus and have been off work. That means I have to get a release from my doctor saying I was actually sick and when I am able to go back to work. More red tape.

Why would anyone fake needing to see a doctor? My neck feels worse than it did when I started. And about that psychiatry referral….

0

Can You Keep a Secret?

On Monday, I went into work to discover that a major cheese producer had recalled a large number of products. Something to do with shelf life (yes, that means the possibility of moldy cheese). As a result, there were gaping holes in spots. Additionally we had ended a sale for products made by that same company over the weekend. Normally we get the replacement stock on Monday, but not this week. So – more holes.

As I was bringing out a cart full of cheese, a woman stopped me by calling out from a few feet away, “There’s the person I’m looking for!” (It’s funny how those same words can make you feel appreciated or make you want to run.) She came up and asked me what the deal is with the recall. I told her that it was an issue with the shelf life. She wanted to know if the manufacturer had recalled the products or Ralph’s. I assured her that it came from the company. She leaned in and asked me if I was telling the truth about how much I knew.

She wanted a product that was not on recall, but was out of stock. She told me how “interesting” it was that we happened to be out of stock for the product we had given her a coupon for a few days earlier. It was “obvious” what we were up to. We just wanted to get her (personally) into the store with the promise of something she wanted so we could sell her what we wanted to sell. I was grateful that she explained what we were up to. It was actually a lot more comforting than the thought that the manufacturer was causing us to lose thousands of dollars in revenue by not providing some of our best-selling products.

As I was trying to figure out how Ralph’s could have planned to be out of exactly what she wanted on the one day she was in the store, I wondered if other people go from point A to point B via point Q. I decided that I need to check the Internet. I love the Internet – it’s like statistics: you can prove anything you want by knowing what to do with the data. Unfortunately, unlike statistics people’s thoughts are not always as rational as numbers. I should have known better than to type “cheese conspiracy” into the search engine.

The majority of the early responses were about something called “The Great Cheese Conspiracy” by Jean Van Leeuwen. It’s a very cute story about some mice who try to steal cheese. All of those stories were pretty straight-forward. When I got to the humans, it was a different story (of course). Some (very few) were factual, some were tongue-in-cheek, and a few people should meet my customer.

My favorite was the man who said that Roger Federer lost his edge as a tennis player because of cheese. Apparently after Federer won Wimbledon, someone sent him some cheese as a gift. Being human, he ate the cheese. Because of the high fat content, Federer was unable to perform at his highest level and lost at the Olympics. The cheese gift was an attempt to ruin Federer’s game, and it worked. If you are interested, you can watch at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V3x0921YzOY.

Apparently more well-known (from the number of citations), is the Subway Vast Isosceles Cheese Conspiracy from 2007. It seems that Subway was trying to use the triangles to charge more for cheese. If you lay the triangles in a rhombus, you only need one layer of cheese. But if you lay the cheese in a razorback you need two layers of cheese to fully cover the sandwich. So Subway can charge for double cheese.  I’m not sure how well this conspiracy is working. I don’t know how my cheese has been laid out, but when it’s melted it all runs together anyway.

There is a man who feels the British government is forcing restaurants to favor British cheeses over Continental cheeses by having farmers and industries create a wide variety of cheeses that are inferior to those across the Channel. People can then feel they are supporting their own farmers. There are also a fair number of people who humorously claim that large companies have intentionally stopped creating their favorite products (e.g., blue cheese dressing) to cause them emotional distress.

Of course, someone always has to ruin the fun. In 2007 (apparently a big year for cheese theories), a Chicago grand jury indicted four people for trying to ship more than 110,000 pounds of contaminated Mexican-style cheese. They took cheese customers had returned, scraped off the mold and fungus, and resold it wholesale. They were caught creating false documentation after lying to federal agents. I think they might have gotten away with it if they’d used bleu cheese or limburger – it’s really hard to tell whether or not they have spoiled.

I was unable to pin down one final theory. It’s called “The Philadelphia Cream Cheese Conspiracy – the Truth Revealed”. It’s tagged with “think about the animals”. I could get to the video but couldn’t get it to run (maybe the Philadelphia people have blocked it). You can look for it on 30 Bananas a Day – The High Carb Raw Vegan Lifestyle website. It shows 24 views so you can probably still be the first to rate it.

In the meantime, I am going to look for the people responsible for replacing all the chocolate chip ice cream with cookie dough ice cream. I’m sure someone had to be paid off.

 

 

 

 

 

13

Cheez Whiz: Love It or Hate It?

 From the Urban Dictionary:
 
Cheez Whiz
1. Artificial cheese. One chemical away from being seran wrap.
2. Lethal spray cheese it can kill a person if used wrongly.
3. BAAAAAH i looooove ma cheez whizz!!!!! i no i waaaaaaaaaaant it!”cheez whiz, you know you want it!”
4. (a) Essence of pure cheezy goodness; (b) Common anal lubrication; (c) Cause of human suffering (i.e., sexually transmitted diseases).
5.the greatest person the world has ever seen. As in “i like cheese”; “i love cheez wiz, hes the greatest person ever”
 
I could probably stop typing right now and leave you as disturbed as I am by the above definitions. I was actually looking for #1 and #5, but the other 3 were total revelations, so I left them in. I feel so old sometimes. I never would have thought of spray-cheesing someone to death. Imagine the grave marker.
 
But it makes my point. I barely consider Cheez Whiz food, and other people love it.
 
If you have found yourself with a jar/can of it and 1) no longer wish to be able to hear your arteries hardening or 2) no longer need it because your 18-year-old daughter finally dumped her 30-year-old boyfriend, I have found a solution.  Joey Green has written a book: Clean Your Clothes with Cheez Whiz: And Hundreds of Offbeat Uses for Dozens More Brand-Name Products. Even if you didn’t need to know that Cheez Whiz takes out greasy stains (odd – it would seem to also create them), she also says that Baby Magic Baby Powder repels ants and you can make a facial out of Cheerios. You can find the book on Amazon and bookstores (if you can still find a bookstore).
 
Looking through the internet, it appears that the lovers greatly outnumber the haters. I discovered a variety of license plate holders: I LOVE CHEEZ WHIZ, I’D RATHER BE EATING CHEEZ WHIZ, ADDICTED TO CHEEZ WHIZ. Oddly enough, none of these plates have been reviewed. May be the same reason I have never seen one on a car. You can also order a variety of t-shirts, hoodies, caps, and mugs with various Cheez Whiz saying and pictures.
 
In keeping with the slightly perverse uses for Cheez Whiz mentioned above, a person named Vice Chick offers the following products (only 3 of each left):

1950s Ritz Crackers Kraft Cheez Whiz Retro Advertising Double-Sided Cigarette Case, ID Holder, Wallet with RFID Theft Protection –

  • Double-sided case with strong spring-loaded clips
  • Holds 14 credit cards or 16 regular or 100s length cigarettes
  • Also keeps the essentials like condoms, cash
  • Protects against ID Thieves stealing your credit card information!

Kraft Cheez Whiz Vintage Ad Stainless Steel Pill Box: Holds pills, coins, condoms

  • Made in California
  • Stainless Steel
  • Holds coins, vitamins, medication, guitar picks, condoms
  • Compartment insert is removable

Finally, there is Sexual (Deep Dish Cheez Whiz Dub), an MP3 track from Amber.

I’m sure all the Cheez Whiz lovers out there are wondering if I was ever going to get to recipes. Here are two of my favorites (both from the Kraft website):

Cheesy Beer Dip

 What You Need : 1 jar  (15 oz.) CHEEZ WHIZ Cheese Dip; 1/3 cup  beer

MICROWAVE CHEEZ WHIZ as directed on label.

MIX CHEEZ WHIZ and beer in bowl; stir until well blended.

SERVE with pretzels or chips.

 

Transformer Dog

 What you need: 1 pkg.  (1 lb.) OSCAR MAYER Bun-Length Wieners; 1 cup  CHEEZ WHIZ Cheese Dip; 8  hamburger buns, split

PREHEAT grill to medium heat. Slice wieners at 1/2-inch intervals, being careful to not cut all the way through the wieners.

GRILL wieners 6 minutes or until wieners begin to curl and are heated through (160°F), turning after 3 minutes. Meanwhile, microwave the CHEEZ WHIZ as directed on label.

PLACE wieners in buns (curl into circles). Spoon about 2 Tbsp. of the CHEEZ WHIZ into center of each wiener.

 

If you try these recipes and like them, please don’t let me know.

10

Who? What? How? Why?

Am I the only person who thinks it’s weird that so many breakfast cereals now come in chocolate versions? No one should start their days with such a pale imitation of a beautiful food like chocolate.

Why would I know what type of cheese the man’s wife buys for snacks? It’s round he says. A cheeseball? No. Actually little squares? No, it’s round. String cheese? No. If you don’t have it, I’ll have to go to another store. Sorry, I don’t know what it could be. Oh, I guess it is string cheese.

Why does it make me feel so good when someone who cuts me off in traffic gets stuck at the same traffic light?

Do I need to serve Nosferatu beer and Haunted wine (red and white) at my Halloween party to be a success? What about 4 Witches and Dragon’s Breath beer? Deviled eggs? Tarantula dip?

Why do they always put one kind of icky candy in with the good stuff in those Halloween bags of candy?

When we are trying not to run into someone while walking, why do we both move in a direction to get in the other’s way? Sometimes more than once?

I pass through two school districts to get to work. Why is it that if I get behind a bus in one district, I also get behind a bus in the other district?

I go to a discount hair salon. Why would people pay $5 every two weeks to get their bangs trimmed if they are going to that salon  to save money in the first place?

Why would I need a four-pack of wine stoppers? I thought the point was to finish one bottle before I began the next. Even hosting a dinner, it would only be one red and one white at a time. Maybe I should start hosting wine tastings?

What is the point of those tiny ice cube trays? My little kitties or doggies would be melted before anyone could tell how cute they were. Besides, it seems a little tacky to ask people to guess what is floating in their drinks.

Why are some traffic lights synchronized with each other but not with the speed limit?

Why are there professional hockey teams in places that can’t keep the ice hard enough for part of the season because the weather’s too hot?

Why is the person who works the least in my department the one who got someone to assist him?

Why can I pronounce some words in private, but mangle them when I get in front of people?

Why can I lift 35 pounds of cheese but 35 pounds of salami feels too heavy?

What is the gracious way to tell the 250-lb woman that she really shouldn’t sit on the counter because it wasn’t made to support that much weight?

What is the right wine to recommend to someone who wants “a good wine that will make them drunk”?

What is the correct response when you find out that the person you share an interest in sports with roots for all the teams you hate?

Is fall so pretty so we get sucked into forgetting that we have to rake up all those formerly beautiful dead leaves?

Why do some people appreciate this type of questioning and some think I need more to occupy my mind?