Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Fresh Washington Peaches are Here!

This announcement came to me yesterday via e-mail from Anthony's Restaurants. According to their website, "Peaches from the Northwest, especially Washington, are considered by many experts to be among the finest in the world." And, now, apparently, you can get them at Anthony's.

I bet Anthony's got them cheap.

I don't know where Wawona Packing Company gets its peaches but that company just issued a nationwide recall of  peaches as well as nectarines, plums, and pluots. Besides the peaches, Whole Foods Market has also recalled products made with peaches such as cakes, tarts, salsas, and prepared salads. No doubt, other food companies will need to do the same.

While listeria can be found in soil, regardless of where the peaches came from, this contamination was sourced at the packing company. According to the packing company's press release, the recall was initiated based on internal company testing. According to Cleveland.com, however, the internal company testing was a result of an Australian importer that found three peaches positive for listeria.

Listeria, by the way, was named for Joseph Lister, the same person for whom Listerine mouthwash was named.

The Centers for Disease Control estimates that approximately 260 deaths result from listeriosis occur every year.. The most serious outbreak of listeria resulted from contaminated cantaloupes from Jensen Farms in Colorado which resulted in 33 deaths in 2011. The CDC called it "the deadliest foodborne disease outbreak in the United States in nearly 90 years." There is a listeria outbreak listed for every year since then.

As of July 22nd, Wawona Packing Company was unaware of any illnesses related to the peach recall. Indeed, no listeria outbreak is listed with the CDC relating to contaminated peaches. However, I am familiar with someone who was tested for it just last week so maybe the CDC is still gathering information. He ate three peaches over three days before becoming violently ill. If infected, his health care provider is required to report it and a case report would been filed.

The case report is is 15 pages long, 12 of which are devoted to collecting a patient's food history. Interestingly, peaches are not listed. The list consists mostly of meats; cheeses; ready-to-eat salads (including hummus); precooked, smoked, or cured fish; and dairy products. The only fruits specifically listed are honeydew melon, cantaloupe, and watermelon. No vegetables are listed, although vegetables are listed elsewhere as a possible source of listeria.

Anthony's peaches might be fine but I would recommend their fish.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Diamonds Are Forever

. . . is a myth, apparently. Actually, diamonds are forever but, more importantly, they are a myth.

This all started when I wanted to know why, in movies or on TV, women wear their engagement rings inside their wedding rings when in real life they are worn the other way around. Has anyone else noticed this? Does anyone know why this is done?

I didn't find anything in my internet search that answered this question - which also makes me think I imagined seeing such a thing in the first place - but I did find this Yahoo internet query:

Why do women in the movies wear plain wedding bands?

Responses included:
  • "It's a prop," 
  • "Because the diamonds shine too much in the filming lights," and 
  • "In movies, the wedding band is used to communicate someone is married, and the most obvious symbol of a marriage is the plain gold wedding band." Also,
  • "If a character is the type to obviously go for an intricate wedding band fashioned with many stones, and it adds to the character development, it will be made so, but, otherwise, the plain band does the job."
So, if a simple wedding band is the easiest way to communicate a character is married, my speculation is that when two rings are worn, the actor wears the wedding ring on the outside for the same reason: simple communication. It's easier to see that the character is married. Otherwise, the rings may appear as "bling."

Meanwhile, I came across "Act surprised: Your wedding ring is a terrible investment" (from a website entitled Get Rich Slowly) which contains a link to Diamonds are Bullshit. The upshot is diamonds are not the investment jewelers would like you to think they are and the whole diamond market is, in fact, a great big - and very successful - advertising campaign.

We've all been duped.

Which brings me to my next unanswered question: What if everyone who owns diamonds sold them tomorrow on the open market? The success of the diamond marketing campaign would all but guarantee that would never happen. But if it did, could enough diamonds be sold to crash the diamond market? Could an actual market value be established for diamonds? (Okay, that was several unanswered questions.)

My advice to the newly engaged: Buy a used ring. That's as close to the market value as you'll ever get. Or skip the bling ring entirely. Marriage isn't about the ring anyway although many may think otherwise (or ascribe other meaning to it, chiefly relating to financial success). You could invest that money much more wisely elsewhere. (Heck, the stock market would a safer place.) For those of you who have been made to believe there is romance in a sparkly proposal (I was one - twice), you will learn that romance will come in far simpler gestures over the years.

You don't really need any rings at all but if you find you just need something to get the message across, take this cue from the movies: Just wear a plain gold band.

Friday, July 25, 2014

So Much Coffee, So Little Time

I'm going to the Arts Fair today. There will be over 300 exhibits and probably as many coffee shops. There are three Starbucks alone just on the perimeter of the fair - two on Eighth Street and one on Bellevue Way. There are two more, south, on Bellevue Way just blocks away. I need to stop by one of them to stock up on coffee. (20% off this weekend.)

I don't know how many other coffee shops there are in the area that makes up the Arts Fair. I'll try to count them and will let you know.

Meanwhile, I've brought my own cup.

Get 'Em While They're Young

Creative Coding for Kids
" We're helping kids define their relationship with technology, at a young age. "

Thursday, July 24, 2014

What, We're Not Good Enough?

If you've been breathing lately, you may have noticed a certain amount of a hullabaloo concerning an upcoming film called Fifty Shades of Grey (haha - I almost wrote Filthy Shades of Grey). A good deal of the book takes place in Seattle, however filming was done in Vancouver, B.C., no doubt due to favorable government subsidies.

Byran Hall.jpg
Washington State University Vancouver
"Byran Hall" by Iidxplus - Own work.
Licensed under 
CC BY-SA 3.0
Wikimedia Commons.
Part of the story takes place in Vancouver - the other one, in Washington (the other one, on the west coast) - at Washington State University Vancouver. The movie, however, will feature the University of British Columbia (which, coincidentally, is located at Point Grey).

Irving K. Barber Library.jpg
University of British Columbia
"Irving K. Barber Library" by CjayD -
Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons. 

The Fairmont Hotel will be used in the movie instead of Portland's Heathman in the book.

Hotel vanc 2007.jpg
The Fairmont Hotel
"Hotel vanc 2007" by Ken Walker kgw@lunar.ca - Own work.
Licensed under 
CC BY 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons.

Heathman Hotel Portland.JPG
The Heathman Hotel"Heathman Hotel Portland" by Ulmanor (talken.wikipedia
Self-made Transferred from 
en.wikipedia; transfer was stated to be made by User:Werewombat.. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
I probably won't see it regardless of where the movie was shot. It won't be good - in my preconceived opinion. (That won't keep it from making a ton of money, though.)

Oh, well. We're used to being overlooked here in Vancouver (the other one), Washington (the other one).

[Added 7/28/14]

I forgot to mention that some of the story takes place in Meydenbauer Bay. (Not in the bay, itself, but on a waterfront estate adjacent thereto.) This happens to be a place where I spend a considerable amount of time.

I have no idea where they shot the scenes in place of this locale. Probably in some other place called Bellevue.

Life in the Dessert

Ron's Log

Life in the desert.

Why We Need A Walmart

This is gonna bring everybody over to the pro-Walmart side: their ice cream sandwiches never melt. Never! Think of what a great relief that would be to the kids (and adults) of hot, hot Desert Hot Springs. (Didn't that 114° bring a smile to your face?!)
What I visualize is, after the Walmart has been approved, built and opened, we the residents of DHS celebrate summer by using Great Value Ice Cream Sandwiches to build a scale replica of the Washington Monument in the parking lot of the Walmart. Leave it for days. I think this would be good to do starting about July 1, so we could then blow it up with fireworks on July 4 (or 5 or whatever).

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Where Am I, Again?

Let's just say you commute 150 miles to work and then you get a long weekend off. What do you do? Drive more, of course!

We had the opportunity to spend five nights - in succession - in one location.  On top of that, it was the place that we generally call "home." A rarity. As it turns out, we stayed there all five nights but still added close to 600 miles to the odometer. "It's good to be home" doesn't mean what it used to, apparently.

After driving from the southern border of Washington, and stopping for a night's rest at "home," I went on to the norther border to spend some time with my grandson. I brought him back for the weekend and we took one day to go to Remlinger Farms which, among other things, features an amusement park for the smaller set. Thankfully, we didn't have to take him home again - a parent came to fetch him - before we returned to the southern part of the state.

This amounted to about 10 hours in the car, or thereabouts.

It's good to be back at work where I can get some rest.

The Earth Project: Flying High

The Earth Project: Flying High (Video - roughly 3.5 minutes.)
" Google and a team of engineers are building the wind turbine of the future. The turbine, which operates much like a kite, is essentially a carbon fiber wing that flies 700 feet above a traditional turbine and generates about 50 percent more power. It’s tethered by a cable that transmits the energy to the ground. By flying higher, the turbine reaches a stronger and more reliable wind source that allows it to operate more efficiently than turbines on the ground. " 
Meanwhile, Dead Air: End of Tax Credit Deflates Wind Power
" The tax credit, originally enacted in 1992, in its most recent form gave turbine owners 2.3 cents for every kilowatt-hour of power their windmills produced and applied also to wind power construction. It sounds small, but the credit added up. It not only eased the intense upfront costs of constructing high-tech turbines, but also often made the difference when wind was compared to competitors in the solar, coal, and oil and gas sectors – all of which still receive tax breaks and other incentives. Oil, gas and coal, for example, received more than $21 billion in state and federal subsidies last year, according to a new report by Oil Change International, an environmental advocacy group.
" 'It should go,' Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., himself a leading defender of coal subsidies, said of the credit last month at a policy dinner hosted by The Hill, a Capitol Hill newspaper. 'Hell, your mother only carried you nine months.' "
You can leave my mother out of it.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Traffic Thought For The Day

I just thought Pacific Northwest drivers were stupid.

The first time the sun comes out, traffic is a mess. After a dry spell, rain will cause another mess. C'mon, people! The big round shiny thing, is the sun! And, it's the freaking northwest! It rains here!

But, no. There is scientific evidence that PNW drivers are just bad drivers.
" During long periods of dry weather, oils and other fluids from automobiles dry and build up on roads. The so-called "first wet" is indeed the most hazardous. That's when rainwater loosens the surface oils, creating nasty, greasy driving surfaces that often catch drivers off guard.I've even seen transportation and insurance studies showing that many people need a readjustment to driving in rain after the summer months.After an especially long dry spell, the roads can feel like black ice when drivers hit the brakes. " 
The Oregonian - Slick roads, crashes causing morning commute nightmare in Portland and Vancouver
That explains this morning's commute. I'll be interested in reading this guy's explanation when the sun comes out again later this week.

Aggressive childish insult!

Audio: This American Life - Episode 241: 20 Acts in 60 Minutes, Act Ten

(Roughly three minutes.)

Sunday, July 20, 2014


While there is some kissing, this movie is largely kiss-free. And, definitely worth the rental at RedBox.

Create Your Own State (Everyone's Doing It)

" This is serious stuff, or as at least as serious as things ever get in a state where washed-up actors become governor, the single nip of a swimmer by a juvenile shark at the Manhattan Beach pier attracts more attention than a statewide drought and average people boast of their Kim Kardashian sightings. " 
USA Today - Voices: Is breaking up hard to do for California?

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

It's Like Canceling a Gym Membership*

If the idea of calling your calling company is worse than nails on a chalkboard, do not listen to this:

Slate - A Former Comcast Employee Explains That Horrifying Customer Service Call
" In the meantime, if you’re considering canceling your Comcast service, here’s a simple tip: Tell them you’re moving out of the country. As txmadison wrote in his post, 'it's called an unavoidable disconnect and it's the least impactful to the rep's numbers and there's nothing he can do about it. If you talk about price, competitors, lack of choices, service problems, etc, a good retention rep will do everything they can to try to save you.' "
 txmadison also wrote:
" Comcast literally provides an incentive for this kind of behavior. It's the same reason people's bills are always fucked up: people stuffing them with things they don't need or in some cases don't even agree to. "
Just last month, our cable bill went up $20 from the month before, which was $20 more than the month before that. It happens all the time. I make Hubby call to complain about the bill which usually works for a short time. Just last week, he called to disconnect service altogether.

Guess what. We still have Comcast.

Better luck next time.

*For advice on quitting the gym, see this.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Salad, Anyone?

Nice Try, Vegans: Plants Can Actually Hear Themselves Being Eaten - Gizmodo
" While it's still unclear whether or not plants can actually feel us sinking our teeth in, one thing is for certain: You can be damn well sure they're hearing it. "
H/T - Wait Wait . . . Don't Tell Me!

Shocking Behavior

Most men would rather shock themselves than be alone with their thoughts - The Washington Post
" . . . when left alone in the room for a 15-minute thinking session, the participants exhibited some shocking behavior. One man (whose data was left out of the study) shocked himself 190 times. “I have no idea what was going on there,” Wilson said. “But for most people, it was more like seven times.”
" And while only 6 of the 24 women shocked themselves, 12 of the 18 men did so. "
H/T - Wait Wait . . . Don't Tell Me!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Spurious or no?

Just be careful if you plan to retire in Florida.

Figure 4:  Top Five Cities From Which
Potentially Fraudulent Tax Returns Were Filed
City, State
Number of Tax Returns
Refunds Issued
Tampa, Florida
Miami, Florida
Atlanta, Georgia
Detroit, Michigan
Houston, Texas
Source:  TIGTA analysis of TY 2010 tax returns.
Figure 5 shows the number of questionable tax returns we identified by type of individual whose identity appears to have been stolen.  These categories can commonly involve individuals who are not required to file a tax return.
Figure 5:  Analysis of Potentially Fraudulent Tax Refunds for TY 2010
Type of Individual
Number of Tax Returns
Refunds Issued
Citizens of U.S. Possessions
Students (ages 16 to 22)
Children (under age 14)
Income Level Does Not Require Tax Return Filing[17]
Source:  TIGTA analysis of TY 2010 tax returns.

Source: Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, Reference Number: 2012-42-080

Traffic Thought For The Day

Have you ever spotted an off-season Santa? I see him driving around town once in a while. He's often wearing an undershirt (because it's relatively hot in Seattle) and suspenders. He hasn't shaved and he hasn't lost any of his winter weight, either. He's never in the kind of car you think he'd be in. He's usually driving a Pinto or a Ford Focus and I most often spot him near a Walmart. He's not as glamorous in real life as he is when he's working.

Yesterday, I'm pretty sure I spotted Superman in traffic. From the looks of it, he might not be that good of a driver. The bumper on his 10-year-old minivan was starting to come loose and there were a couple of small dents here and there. Of course, Superman doesn't have a car so he might not have much experience behind the wheel. He might not even have a driver's license! Clark Kent might have a car but Clark Kent wears glasses.

This guy wasn't wearing glasses but I could tell it was Superman.. He had a giant head with a big, strong jaw. He didn't have his mask on - or his cape, obviously - and he was wearing the rest of his unitard under street clothes. But he wore his gloves which stuck out from his shirtsleeves and were positioned at ten and two on the steering wheel.

DOH! Superman doesn't wear gloves! That changes everything!

This guy was what I imagine Superman would look like if  it was his turn to drive the kids to school. But since Clark does't live in Seattle, it was probably someone else - maybe some other superhero that lives in Seattle and drives a minivan. He could be on his way here.

Well, it definitely wasn't Santa Claus.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Fuss

Huffington Post calls it "hauntingly beautiful."

The Christian Science Monitor said, "it felt like we may have just witnessed the girl’s birth as an underage sex symbol."

The girl is eleven years old and this video has been viewed over five million times. I thought it was pretty amazing.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Cheese Behind Bars

"It ain’t just license plates anymore. Inmates are making a surprising array of products for small businesses. You can even find some in your local Whole Foods."

Fortune - Prison labor’s new frontier: Artisanal foods


Thursday, July 3, 2014

Pilots Have It Rough

This job has the world's worst tax return - CNN Money
Take the example of an American expat pilot who flies a 13-hour direct route from Hong Kong to Los Angeles.
Money made during the three flying hours over Asia qualifies as foreign income, but payment earned during the remaining 10 hours over the Pacific Ocean does not. This means the pilot is liable for U.S. tax on about 77% of earnings during that flight.
Emphasis mine. The key word, here, is expat. U.S. citizens must report worldwide income. The upside to living in this country is, in this situation, you wouldn't have to keep track of all your foreign income. The downside is you have to pay tax on all of it.

On the other hand, if you can prove you live outside the United States, you can exclude a certain amount of foreign income on your tax return. That's where the definition of "foreign" comes in. Keeping track of where you earned your income can get onerous especially in the case of pilots and others who earn their income as they move about the globe.

If you think that's confusing, check the definition of "expat." Common usage of "expatriate" is a U.S. citizen living or working in another country. In fact, the word is really only in one section of the Internal Revenue Code ((877A(g)(2)) which says an expat is somebody that has given up their U.S. citizenship. So an expat within the IRC definition of the word would only have to report income earned while in the United States.

Anyway, you would think there'd be an app for that.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Echo The Sound of Silence

Oh, yes. Let it echo into eternity.

Our upstairs landlord at our Portland-area apartment is away on vacation. The silent bliss is enough for me to want to stay here and work forever.

(I may have exaggerated a teensy bit. But it is, oh, so nice.)

Two Ways to Waste Time - Do It Today!

Wikiweb app makes wasting time on Wikipedia even easier - The Verge
" Wikipedia is a great resource for finding a quick answer to a random query, but it's also an incredible time sink. "
Not to be confused with Webwiki.com, another time suck, which is "everything about websites." You'll find Chocolate Chip Mint here, ranking 724,043. Stop by and write a review if you have some time to kill and let's move this puppy up to 724,000!

Write your most excellent review here.

And, We're Back

For about a week or so, this site was temporarily renamed Talenti Sea Salt Caramel Gelato. Just one bite transformed my entire outlook on everything. Oh, yes, it's that good.

Alas, it's all gone.

We now return to your regularly scheduled programming.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Tip Not From Heloise

Ladies, have you been looking for a reason to clean out your purse without having to buy a new one? Take this advice: 

1. Go out for dinner. This is a critical step because you might as well get something out of this exercise if not a new purse. 

2. Order a nice bottle of wine to go with your meal. New purses can be quite expensive so if you do it right, you should be able to get a very nice bottle of wine and still be way ahead. 

3. Don't drink and drive. Have a modest glass with dinner and then ask your waiter to re-cork the bottle and package it for transport. 

4. Be sure to put the wine in your purse before leaving the restaurant. 

5. Put said purse in the trunk. It's the law. 

6. You can skip shopping at Fred Meyer on the way home. It's senior discount night but it's not as good of a deal as you might think. Unless you need to pick something up anyway and it's on sale. Like more wine. 

7. Lug all your groceries into the house. And your workout clothes from this morning. 

8. Change out of your work clothes, get a wine glass, and find a deck chair. 

9. Open your purse to find the cork has become dislodged and all your essential belongings are steeped in $50 worth of Cabernet Sauvignon. 

10. You can throw away all the soaked receipts, business cards, and lottery tickets. Face it, you didn't win anyway. And who really uses checks anymore? 

This tested process will work for anyone. No experience required. If your purse has a good lining, you should be able to pour whatever wine has collected in the bottom of your purse into your glass and still salvage the evening. Just pick out the occasional stray hair (It's not gross if they're yours) and drink a toast to your new, lightweight tote. 

Cheers. (And, you're welcome.)