Sunday, November 22, 2009

Postcard Rescue #5

Front: 302 Tunnel No. 4 Moffat Road Colorado
Postmarked: October 18, 1908

Stamp: Franklin, 1 cent

Miss Nora Sheriff
Sulpher, Springs

Postcard Message:

Oct., 16 - 1908
Hello! Heaps of snow, almost
sleighing. Winter
must be comming
near. good-bye
Charles H. Yust

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A Space for Ideas to Meet

It's true, both the Modern Language Association (MLA) and the Chicago Manual of Style recommend using one space, though neither brands two spaces as wrong, merely out of date. In the days of letterpress and typewriters, which used monospaced fonts, two spaces were considered essential to create a visual break. However, with the advent of computers and proportional fonts this break is apparently unnecessary.

Maybe I'm just a bit claustrophobia, but I like the breathing room and feel that two spaces are still valuable. If I left just one space I'd be afraid that something would emerge from the narrows between sentences, and perhaps make off with my commas. We do one space after each word. Between paragraphs there's the remainder of the line from the paragraph before, and at least a tab mark. Some even use a full blank line in separation. Shouldn't we pay sentences a little more respect?

Sometimes I like a sentence so much that I feel I should leave three spaces after it. I generally resist because then I risk leaving prose convention behind and entering the realm of poetry. But maybe poetry is behind the appeal of leaving two spaces. It is the "white space" that gives extra import to the words on either side. Two spaces offer a compromise between an endless and rough sawtooth of words and uncontainable worship of meaningful statements.

Monday, November 16, 2009

PB&J - the story continues

I have always had an interest in food oddities. There's a recent move in our culture towards neurotic food awareness and a lot of it seems colored by contempt for the what middle-america eats. Yes, we're upset about deplorable conditions for animals and eating locally and so on, but we do that because we're privileged enough to be able to it. Meanwhile, millions of people are forced to rely on cheap processed food. We eat to the level we've been educated and then as well compared to that as we can afford. But I don't have contempt for processed foods. When I ran track in high school I used to run about 3.5 miles from the school to the Amherst Village Green. I rewarded myself by making utterly ridiculous impulse food purchases. I think it's safe to say that had PB&J been an option I would have bought it.

As is I would have never had the opportunity to experience it were it not for the GED classes that are run at the other end of my office. HFI Heartland Foods' "PB& J, the PEANUT BUTTER & JELLY Graham Cracker SANDWICH" is a "2.2 oz portion contains one grain-bread serving and 1.0 oz meat alternative for the school meal pattern requirements."

Here are the nutritional value as presented on the label:

Calories 318.09
Total Fat 18.07 grams 28%DV
Saturated Fat 2.69 grams 13%DV
Sodium 270.41 mg 11%DV
Carbohydrates 30.91 grams 10%DV
Dietary Fiber 1.14 grams 5%DV
Protein 11.71 grams
Calcium 2.8 mg, Iron 3.5 mg, 31%

That's right. The good nutritionists over at HFI have their nutritional content down to an absolute, exact science. Some companies would be satisfied to merely round up to 320 calories, but HFI has done their homework out to the second decimal. Really, if you think about it they're just setting a good example for the students eating it.

The origins of the PB&J are something of an enigma. According to the packaging these little bundles of meat alternative are made in scenic Moosic, Pennsylvania, however there's no reference to the factory in any account of Moosic I've been able to locate.

The HFI brand is currently owned by Preferred Meal Systems, Inc. Preferred by who, you might ask? I'd be hard pressed to tell you. PMS (they probably hate it when people call them that) also manages such brands as "Tasty Stuffed Delights" and "Kids Are People Too."

Perhaps the latter brand shows a little more respect for kids taste. Sadly, PB&J falls short, particularly on the "J." I've personally consumed close to a dozen of these, each time hoping against hope that this time I'd find the Jelly, because in truth, with a thin layer of Jelly these would be plenty tasty. But after thorough, scientific dissection the most I've ever been able to find is small purple smear on one of the Graham Crackers.

Recently the GED program has moved to bean burritos as their meat alternative, and while I'll miss PB&J conceptually, the burritos are a definite improvement in flavor.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Visit Scenic Moosic

At the turn of the century, 1,227 people lived in Moosic, ten years
later, 3,964 people lived in Moosic. Had they continued to grow at that rate for the rest of the century one could imagine Moosic to be a bustling small town with over 25,000 people. However, despite having a 20-screen movie theater and being the proud hometown of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre AAA Yankees, in 2000 the census total was 5,575. This means that in Lackawanna County Moosic lagged behind even fellow Borough, Dickson City, which had virtually nothing comparable to recommend it, unless you count the first Starbucks in Northeastern Pennsylvanian and a passing reference in The Office (set in Scranton). Moosic does however have a higher population than the Borough of Throop, home of the annual (for over 20 years) Summer Cow Flop.

Moosic is also home to an ABC news affiliate, the Shoppes at Montage (go to the website, but don't expect that you'll be given any indication of why "Shops" are spelled wrong), and even a PGA tournament golf course. According to Moosic Borough's website "the future horizon looms bright for the Borough of Moosic." Generally speaking I feel that things are more likely to loom ominously than to loom brightly, but then Moosic's situation is so good that it shines through common and idiomatic usage. And yet, despite all these fine attractions, I would never have heard of Moosic if it were not also the place where HFI Heartland Foods' PB& J, the PEANUT BUTTER & JELLY Graham Cracker SANDWICH is produced.

Tune in tomorrow for a full dissection of this food wonder.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Self-Promotion #3

Quoted on the same page as Milan Kundera, Margaret Atwood, and perhaps best of all, The Wonder Years.

Scroll to the bottom of the page, and there I am.

Great Things Found on the Internet

Gay Bar or Steakhouse?

It seems simple enough until you're pulling your hair out because the Rusty Spurs just has to be a steakhouse SOMEWHERE and how could there NOT be gay club called the Pink Pony?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Disturbing Job Titles

These jobs are now available:

5. Loss Prevention Agent

4. Irregular Warfare Analyst

3. Catastrophe Modeler

2. Casualty Adjuster

1. Manager of Denials

Soon to be posted:

Assistant to Malaise
Itch-Control Specialist
Coordinator of Despair

Monday, November 2, 2009

O.J.'s impulse buys #1 - follow up

As will surprise no one, Batter Blaster, is a far better name than it is a product.

Rather than a pancake, batter blaster tends to make somewhat burnt and and sour discs. Even slathered with copious amounts of butter and a healthy drizzle of maple flavored syrup this product will still probably make you wish that you had an extra 7 minutes in your busy life to make bisquick batter. Though actually, they have a pre-made batter option. It's not in a can, but it may actually taste good.

However, while batter blaster does not make great pancakes, seeing the can still makes me giggle.

Dispatches from the West Roxbury Educational Complex

A student:
Last year I wrote a letter to George Bush, but I don't think he read it. I also wrote a letter to some kid in Africa, but I don't think he read it either.

A teacher:
I have some good news and some bad news. Which would you like first? No, wait... it's all bad news.