Thursday, September 25, 2014

REVIEW: Pumpkin Spice Oreos

I've been waiting to try these ever since Nabisco announced they were releasing a limited edition "Pumpkin Spice Oreo" flavor.   They finally turned up at my local grocery store.

There are many people--and I used to be one of them--who believe it is sacrilege for Oreos to be made from anything other than chocolate cookies.  Then I tried the Birthday Cake flavored ones and all was forgiven.  Sometimes, a vanilla cookie top is absolutely necessary to pair perfectly with a flavored cream filling. Sorry to all the purists out there, but it's time to let go of the concept that "there's only one true Oreo cookie."

So, the verdict on this latest incarnation: I liked them. They're not as strangely addictive as the Root Beer ones, but they definitely deliver on the pumpkin spice flavor profile.  My husband thought they were a little too pumpkiny for his taste, but my youngest daughter and I thought they were perfect. In fact, my daughter pointed out that first, you get the pumpkin flavor, but then you get the spices (mostly cinnamon) right at the finish.

The only negative thing I could say is that the filling is such a deep, dark orange color, it's a bit off-putting.  They certainly didn't skimp on the food coloring. Unfortunately, the filling ended up being the same color and consistency as processed cheese-spread-in-a-spray-can, so it can be a bit jarring when tasting it for the first time.  

Pumpkin Spice Oreos -- definitely worth picking up for a fun and festive Fall treat.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Carlos Beltran: Standing up for Real Men Everywhere

Sports fans have been bombarded lately with several examples of professional athletes behaving like brutish, violent jerks in their private lives: Balitmore Ravens' Ray Rice and the video of him punching out his now-wife in an elevator; Minnesota Vikings' Adrian Peterson accused of beating his 4-year-old son; Carolina Panthers' Greg Hardy on leave while he appeals domestic violence charges; and just last night, Arizona Cardinals running back Jonathan Dwyer was arrested and charged with aggravated assault stemming from a domestic violence dispute involving his wife and toddler. As one friend wryly put it, "And the hits just keep on coming."

Amidst all of this horrific behavior on the part of these deeply troubled, flawed men, a heartbreaking story emerged about another professional athlete who is also on leave from his team, but for a very different reason.

The New York Yankees announced that Carlos Beltran is on leave following his wife's tragic miscarriage of their unborn son. The family is devastated over their loss, and there is no word on when he will return.

Beltran posted a moving statement on his Facebook page in his native language, which was translated as follows:

As his teammate Derek Jeter said, "It puts things in perspective."

It most certainly does.  In a week that saw one man making excuses for inflicting injuries on his preschooler son after whipping him with a tree branch, we see another man mourn for the son he will never have the chance to raise.  And rather than react with anger or bitterness over his loss, Beltran choses to focus on all of the blessings in life.

After a week of bad role models dominating sports news, Beltran's example of a loving, mature man standing by his family offered a much-needed counterpoint.  My condolences to him and his family.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Thoughts on Adrian Peterson

Minnesota Vikings football star Adrian Peterson is facing charges of child abuse for injuries he caused to his young son in May.  Peterson claims that he was merely disciplining the boy, in the same manner in which he was corrected a child by his own parents.  He says he loves his son, and will "continue to try and be a better person."

Peterson released a lengthy statement trying explain his actions, and stating emphatically that he loves his son very much. He says he "never intended to harm" his son.

As a parent, I know how difficult it can be to control your temper sometimes, especially if your child is acting out or misbehaving.  I would love to be able to take Peterson at his word and give him the benefit of the doubt, but there are aspects of this story that I cannot get past:

*   Adrian Peterson is a 220lb grown man, who allegedly whipped his 4-year-old son.  FOUR. YEARS. OLD.

*  He allegedly used a tree branch to beat the boy on his legs, buttocks and privates--some of the most sensitive areas on a person's body.  "I never intended to harm my son"... so did he think it would tickle to repeatedly strike the boy with tree branch?

*  There are reports that the boy told police his father had stuffed his mouth with leaves just prior to the beating. If that is true, that is abuse, pure and simple. There's no excuse for that.

*   According to Peterson himself, he  decided to beat his son with the tree branch because the boy pushed his 5-year-old brother. The 4-year-old ended up with bruises all over his lower body. Does Peterson believe the punishment fit the crime?

Peterson has expressed regret and remorse over what he did, and is seeking professional help. Now it's up to the courts to decide what his punishment will be.  Lucky for him, now that he's saying all the right things, they are likely to show far more mercy than Peterson showed to his own son.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

NYC Subway: MetroCard Math That's Worth Doing, for Tourists and Locals Alike

Anyone who knows me knows that I'm not a fan of math, EXCEPT when it comes to money.  I know, I've had architects and math wizards try to sway me that geometry really IS useful, and yet I'm still not inclined to "find x".  I'm pretty sure we have computers that can do that now.

But when it comes to money--that's a different story.  There's much more of an incentive there for me to use my brain, especially if it means more money in my pocket at the end of the day.

Which is why I'm posting a link to this eye-opening blog post on I Quant NY, about the proper way to purchase a MetroCard for the NYC subway system such that you won't be stuck with a leftover balance.

The bottomline: when you buy a MetroCard from a kiosk machine, skip the first screen with its "convenient options" and choose "Other Amount', then enter in $19.05,  and you'll never have to worry about the dreaded "insufficent balance" warning again. The math behind this strategy is fully explained on the blog post, so I highly recommended reading the step-by-step instructions HERE.

Shame on the MTA for setting up their system in a way that cheats riders out of their money.  And kudos the I Quant NY for posting the solution to combat that system.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Review: Root Beer Float Oreo Cookies

Nabisco is unveiling several limited edition flavors this Fall, and I've been looking everywhere for the Pumpkin Spice ones to send to my daughter in college. So far, I've had no luck finding them, but I did happen across this interesting variety: Root Beer Float.   I couldn't resist!

The cookie itself is vanilla, which is already sacrilege as far as Oreos are concerned--the cookie is supposed to be chocolate--always and forever!  But you know, in this worked. 

The creme inside is two-toned: one side is the usual white, vanilla-flavored variety, while the other half is a light tan, root-beer flavored creme. The cookies also have a pleasant, distinctive root beer aroma. 

But how do they taste?  AMAZING.  

I only planned to try one, and ended up inhaling 3 of them before I even knew what happened. I would not be surprised to find out that crack cocaine is a secret ingredient in these cookies--they're that addictive.  

I'll definitely be stocking up on these, and sending a few package or two to my daughters who are away at college.  If you see them at a store near you , go ahead and give them a try!

Friday, September 5, 2014

"Die-hard Apple fans" waiting in line for the iPhone 6? Not exactly...

Several television news outlets are reporting about the lines of "die-hard fans" who have started lining up outside of Apple stores across the tri-state area in order to be one of the first to purchase the new iPhone6, which is rumored to be ready for release.  But are the folks camping out in line really a bunch of obsessed geeks with a burning passion to own the newest iPhone?

Not exactly.

Newsweek has the real story on this phenomenon: the people you see lined up are actually being paid quite handsomely to do so, many of them sponsored by larger companies, or savvy entrepreneurs who have figured out a way to monetize their "first in line" status.