And it was all yellow

Do you, in fact, have any Pasteurized Recipe Cheese Product at all?

While the current Cheesepocalypse is a difficult time for our great nation, we are incredibly humbled and appreciative of the outpouring of love and support for the Liquid Gold of Velveeta. As you have likely seen or heard by now on social networks and major media outlets, there is currently limited availability of some Velveeta products in many stores nationwide. We want you to hear directly from us that it’s true — we are experiencing a temporary scarcity of our nation’s most precious commodity: Liquid Gold. But please know that we are working tirelessly to get more Velveeta on store shelves as soon as possible and that this was in no way a “publicity stunt.” We always want Velveeta where it belongs — in your hands, in your homes and in your stomachs.

This hysterical rant calls for some historical perspective. And few places have as much cheese history as Orange County, New York: Emil Frey, working for the Monroe Cheese Company, first developed Liederkranz, a variation on Limburger. He was eventually shipped off to Monroe’s second location:

The company opened a second factory in Covington, Pennsylvania, where it made mostly Swiss cheese. But many of the cheese wheels broke or were misshapen… [T]he broken bits were shipped back to Monroe, where Frey spent the next two years tinkering with them on his home stove. In 1918, he had his second big break. He discovered that mixing the broken wheels with other cheese byproducts created a smooth end-product with a velvety consistency. He named it Velveeta.

This brand spun off into the independent Velveeta Cheese Company, incorporated on Feb. 14, 1923.

Velveeta, in fact, was the last cheese-like substance to be manufactured in Monroe; its original parent company had decamped for Ohio in 1926, and the following year, Kraft acquired Velveeta.

Incidentally, Orange County was also the original home of Philadelphia Cream Cheese, created by Lawrence & Durland of Chester, New York.

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High-fructose cornball

The nonprofit (that’s a legal term) Center for Science in the Public Interest is headed by Michael Jacobson, once described by me as “the Perez Hilton of health”; when he’s not haranguing Starbucks into putting out a Broccoli Venti, he’s sending out something called the Nutrition Action Healthletter, a promotion for which landed on my doorstep in an envelope ominously marked “You Wanted This.” Obviously NSA isn’t as efficient as they think they are.

One of the sheets is headed “We Name Names!” It contains specific examples of Things You Dare Not Eat, including Cold Stone Creamery’s Oh Fudge! shake in the “Gotta Have It” size (24 ounces), which contains, they say, “the saturated fat content of two 16-oz ribeye steaks plus a buttered baked potato, all blended into a handy 24-oz cup.” Truth be told, I don’t think I could get both those steaks and a spud into my Seventies-vintage blender, but now I’m keen to try.

I was most amused, though, by the pitch for watermelon: “When they’re in season, watermelons are often locally grown, which means they may have a smaller carbon footprint than some other fruits.” This would almost make sense if they hadn’t also plugged mangoes, which are grown on this continent in laughably small quantities; flying in a bag of mangoes is likely to burn up more precious hydrocarbons than trucking in a couple of dozen watermelons.

Still, there’s nothing here appreciably more alarmist than your average issue of Consumer Reports, and it’s decidedly cheaper: $20 for a year. Then again, Jacobson doesn’t test cars, and if he did, he’d want to know why we’d own such fiendish devices in the first place.

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Utterly dude-icrous

But hey, this is how they sell women’s magazines:

Brosmopolitan Magazine

(Surprisingly, via FAIL Blog.)

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Gravity wins again

In a way, this sounds almost peaceful and bucolic:

Multnomah Falls, on the Oregon side of the Columbia Gorge, is listed as the second tallest year-round waterfall in the United States. The falls drops in two major steps; the upper falls of 542 feet, then a gradual 9 foot drop in elevation to the lower part of the falls, which drops 69 feet, listing a total of 620 feet.

I mean, yeah, that’s quite a distance, but hey, it’s only water, right?

Not necessarily:

Unfortunately, water is not the only thing that falls. An occasional boulder may also careen through space, slamming into the pool at the bottom of the upper falls, or into the Benson Bridge which spans the space between the upper and lower falls. [Thursday] a boulder did a lot of damage to the bridge.

Engineers came to inspect, and closed the bridge temporarily:

Stan Hinatsu, a spokesman for the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic area, told KATU [TV in Portland] the good news is there didn’t seem to be damage to the arch structure of the bridge. Still, if they can’t come up with a short-term fix, it may be Memorial Day before repairs are complete.

What kind of “short-term fix” can deal with a hole in the deck big enough for someone to fall through?

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Strange search-engine queries (415)

This weekly feature exploits a little-known fact: when you search for something on the Web, the search engine fabricates a URL as referrer, and often that URL contains exactly the string of characters for which you were searching. This is readable if the recipient of the search knows what he’s doing, and often I do.

does my ford escape have a factory engine cooler or transmission cooler:  Um, yes. It’s called a radiator.

jason lackmeyer the underground detective:  Not likely to be noticed by us above-ground types. Sorry.

hair color of Alessandra Ambrosio Circa 2007:  That I wouldn’t know. Have you considered consulting an underground detective?

what does the quote “that government which governs least governs best” mean?  Nothing anymore, since government has shown no signs of wanting to govern best.

Mazdaspeed 6 speed in a ford Probe:  Either sixth gear is too tall, in which case the engine will lug, or it’s too short, in which case you won’t get the extra few mph at the top end that you were expecting.  So basically, you’re going through Google with the hope that no one will read your browser history?

what is the name of the song by Bobby Goldsboro that has the lyrics in it “1432 Franklin Pike Circle Hero”:  Bobby Russell sounds nothing like Bobby Goldsboro.

girl died 1887 rebecca black’s video:  Were that so, she’d still be dead, would she not?

toyota yaris damage bumper suspect meth addicted:  I doubt it. Most low-end Toyotas are perfectly content with unleaded regular; methamphetamine won’t even boost the octane rating.

“Story Of O” jpegs:  At least they weren’t asking for animated GIFs.

a system is to be made which could be used by every age of person like children adults and may require certain modification which features functional and non:  Sensical drivel.

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Not quite my idea of fun

But hey, I don’t work for E!, do I?

E! Fun Facts starring Michael J. Fox

This provoked a brief flurry of #EFunFacts tweets of similar hilarity.

(Via this Amanda Lucci tweet.)

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Perhaps someone can pass this

Not actually a course, yet. Wasting time on the internet: a syllabus:

What I Did For Love: Taste, Evaluation, and Aesthetics in American Culture

“I don’t know art, but I know what I like,” goes the disclaimer. In this writing-intensive part-workshop, part-seminar, we will seek to unpack the relationship between “art” and “what I like” by examining a variety of cultural objects together with accounts of “taste.” What are the uses of an art that nobody likes? Could “annoyance” be an aesthetic principle? What is the role of money in taste? What are the ethics of aesthetics? Under what circumstances is an aesthetic pleasure “guilty”? When should the appreciation of art works be a matter of disinterested judgment, and when a matter of passionate engagement? Does “love” blind? What is the difference between a “fan” and a “critic”? What are the affordances and limits of the “formulaic” and the “generic”?

Four weeks of this course will be devoted to workshopping students’ critical writing, examining the roles of description, praise, blame, analysis, and enthusiasm in writing about culture. Students will also maintain a course blog. For the final assignment, students are encouraged to pitch their writing to an appropriately chosen publication.

I mention purely in passing that “Arms So Freezy: Rebecca Black’s ‘Friday’ as Radical Text” will be introduced in Week 8.

Said Natalia Cecire, who wrote this syllabus: “Posting it on my blog was actually the wasting time on the internet part.”

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It was either that or “Vista 3”

Yours truly, just last week:

Windows, say the wags, runs the opposite of Star Trek films: the odd-numbered versions are good, the even-numbered versions (like Vista, which was 6) not so good.

Obviously Microsoft is aware of this phenomenon:

Windows 8 is tanking harder than Microsoft is comfortable discussing in public, and the latest release, Windows 8.1, which is a substantial and free upgrade with major improvements over the original release, is in use on less than 25 million PCs at the moment. That’s a disaster, and Threshold [the next major release] needs to strike a better balance between meeting the needs of over a billion traditional PC users while enticing users to adopt this new Windows on new types of personal computing devices. In short, it needs to be everything that Windows 8 is not…

To distance itself from the Windows 8 debacle, Microsoft is currently planning to drop the Windows 8 name and brand this next release as Windows 9. That could change, but that’s the current thinking.

Will the Start Menu return? It just might.

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The relentless spammer

Someone identified as “Cynde Delaina” at dropped a couple of fairly useless comments my way Friday night. After verifying that the URL she claimed didn’t go anywhere, I tossed them; she followed with twenty-one more, from six different IP addresses, and then another couple of dozen overnight before letting up some time Saturday afternoon. If you see her in your spam trap, you may be assured that she’s not worth keeping.

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No one ever steals “YIELD”

An observation from World Tour ’04, along US Highway 2 in Montana:

[T]he last milepost in the state is Mile 667. If there’s a post for Mile 666, I didn’t see it, and believe me, I looked.

Something similar seems to be happening in the Stoned State to the south:

Thieves have been stealing the 420 mile marker sign so often, the state’s transportation department has changed it to “419.99” in an effort to try and stop the problem.

A photo of the 419.99 mile marker sign, which is about 148 miles on Interstate 70 east of Denver, began circulating on twitter through the @JournalistsLike twitter account on Friday.

“So this is our way to test it out. So far it’s working,” said Amy Ford, a spokesperson with the Colorado Department of Transportation. “It’s a traffic safety thing. It’s a helpful thing to have these signs on the road. But people kept ripping them off.”

The last time I was in Memphis, I did see one actual sign for Elvis Presley Boulevard — but it was mounted about two and a half times higher up the pole than usual.

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What the Bucks?

First-qusrter score: Oklahoma City 14, Milwaukee 10. We had better quarters than that when I was in high school, and we played 8-minute quarters. It was 38-35 at the half, and Bucks center Larry Sanders was gone, having tried to tear Steven Adams’ face off. Inscrutably, the Thunder scored more points in the third quarter than in the first and second combined — and yet the Bucks, every time they looked utterly vanquished, put together decent-sized runs, usually involving O. J. Mayo and/or Luke Ridnour, to stay in it. (In that third quarter, they even took the lead a couple of times.) Milwaukee couldn’t sustain the pace in the fourth quarter, though, and the Thunder won it 101-85. Not often, I note, do you hit the century mark after a 14-point first quarter.

Serge Ibaka, for some reason, shines against the Deer: he picked up 17 points and 17 rebounds tonight, one of two Thunder double-doubles. (The other? Kevin Durant, with 33 points and ten boards.) The slumping reserves did not slump tonight: Jeremy Lamb knocked down 17 off the bench, and Derek Fisher added ten more. Even Thabo Sefolosha, who’s had trouble stuffing the net of late, came up with 14. Then again, Reggie Jackson went 1-8 for the night. Still, you have to be thrilled on any night when Kendrick Perkins gets more blocks than Ibaka — and Serge had his usual three.

Unsurprisingly, Mayo and Ridnour led Milwaukee in scoring, with 16 each. Only two starters made double figures, also guards: Brandon Knight and Giannis Antetokounmpo, each with 13. (Antetokounmpo, I am told, is the youngest player in the NBA, having just turned 19 last month.) The Buck reserves actually outscored the starters, 43-42. And while radio guy Matt Pinto made a lot of noise about Milwaukee’s unexpected prowess beyond the arc, the Bucks ended up with 12 makes in 31 tries; the Thunder made 10 of 25, a couple of percentage points higher.

Weirdly, there’s no Sunday game this week. The next outing is Tuesday at Memphis, then to Houston on Thursday.

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Still not bogged down

Three years ago today, I noted that it was then Amanda Peet’s 39th birthday. Different picture, albeit from the same era, today:

Amanda Peet in InStyle

Besides, I liked the quote:

I feel like I should be in a Shakespeare play in this dress, but a screwy one — like Sid and Nancy do “Ophelia”.

Before that opportunity presents itself, though, she’s doing an 8-episode series for HBO called Togetherness.

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Saturday spottings (tales of the unexpected)

Relatively nice Saturdays are not all that common in January — the fact that we’ve had two of them so far, out of a possible two, is pretty remarkable — so I stretched out my errands a bit today. This ranks among the worse ideas I’ve had lately, since traffic almost everywhere was heavy.

How heavy was it, you ask? I figured there was no chance of getting out of the Shell station at 63rd and May alive, so after filling up (a plausible $3.229 for V-Power), I backed up a hair and threaded my way through a curb cut to what used to be French Market Mall. It was a decidedly better approach to May, but it still took about four minutes to crawl the half a block to the intersection — and there were absolutely no parking spaces to be had anywhere near Sprouts, in front of the store, at the bookstore to its north, or at the auto-parts place to its south. “Woe unto ye,” I didn’t exactly say, and headed on.

Westbound on 63rd, I spotted a Lincoln Town Car with the tag LINTON2. “Wonder what LINTON1 looked like?” I mused. About ten seconds later, LINTON1 actually pulled in front of me: one of those Lincoln MK jobs, though I couldn’t tell you which one, since they all look like Fords to me. They continued on parallel paths for a while before #1 turned off.

The last stop on the way, as usual, was Crest Foods. Routinely they print the name of the checker on the register tape; this time, the cashier wrote the name of the sacker across the top. I’m not sure why, but since I never have any issues with the sackers, I’m not going to worry about it either.

Reconstruction of May Avenue from 36th to Britton, as mentioned last fall, is apparently about to begin: both sides of the street from 36th to past 47th were lined with those taller, skinnier traffic cones, about 20 percent of which had been knocked down, perhaps by wind, perhaps by people grown impatient waiting for the bus. I think it’s safe to predict that traffic will not improve any time soon.

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Perhaps not so by-God stubborn after all

Remember that plan to make the Iowa State Fair totally cashless? Totally withdrawn:

The Iowa State Fair board gave the people what they wanted Thursday when it shelved plans for a cashless system for food and one attraction at the 2014 fair.

The backlash against the plan was immediate. People flooded social media with howls of protest, and some threatened to boycott the fair. On Wednesday, Gov. Terry Branstad weighed in by suggesting the fair board listen to people’s concerns.

State Fair CEO Gary Slater says the plan never got a fair (sorry about that) hearing:

Fair officials don’t believe the move would result in long waits for tickets. Despite this, [Slater] said most of this week’s clamor was based on unfounded anger that customers would have to suffer through long lines. “When you don’t get the opportunity to say that in a social media world … it just backs you into a corner,” Slater said. “You don’t have much power, you don’t have much ability to get the real story out there, because everybody thinks you’re trying to get them.”

Is there any reason why they shouldn’t think that?

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Fark blurb of the week

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Designed to disturb

Amazingly, there have been items at the Consumer Electronics Show that were less plausible than a hair dryer that moisturizes or a Crock-Pot with Wi-Fi. This one definitely disturbs me:

Internet-enabled toothbrush

I figure I’m electrified enough with a Sonicare, which needs to be charged maybe three or four times a year and which doesn’t require an app.

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