Thursday, August 25, 2016

Feels Like Rain

Signs that one's dependence on technology has gone too far: looking out the window and seeing increasing cloud cover, winds picking up, yet wondering aloud if it's "supposed to rain."  Obsessively check three different weather radar apps for confirmation--nothing.  The sky keeps getting darker and more ominous, yet I'm still sitting here saying, "But the radar looks clear and Dark Sky says there's 'no rain anywhere in the area.' "  Good lord, when did looking out the window and drawing one's own conclusions become passe'?

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Blatant Media Bias and the Absence of Accountability

I've been reading about the record-breaking floods that have devastated Louisiana, and seeing the horrific video images of what the people there are going through, and my heart goes out to the residents there who have been suffering for the past several days.

And yet, our President has yet to say a single word about it, because....he's on vacation.

As someone who has spend more than half her life studying the Media and making a living as a writer/journalist, I'm also absolutely stunned by the almost total lack of coverage on President Obama's decision to remain on the golf course, rather than return to the U.S. to oversee the situation that continues to unfold in Lousiana.  He's being given a free pass by the news media, and it is so blatant and obvious, it can't be denied this time.  As this news report from ABC News points out, then-President George W. Bush was raked over the coals for choosing to do a "fly over" during Hurricane Katrina in 2005, rather than an on-site visit, but President Obama completely ignores even worse flooding in 2016, and is not held accountable in any way.  40,000 homes have been damaged. More than a dozen people dead. Where is the outrage??

This has nothing to do with the upcoming Presidential campaign---I'm honestly not passionate about either of the choices coming up in November. And when disaster strikes, politics should be the last thing on anyone's agenda. But this lack of response by our President, and the media's complete failure to hold him accountable for it, is absolutely disgusting--partisanship at its worst. THIS is why people hate the Media, and don't trust anything they say.

What would it take for the President to put out a simply-worded statement, declaring his support for those afflicted by this flooding, pledging his support for the cleanup and rebuilding efforts, and offering words of condolence, hope and empathy to those who have lost loved ones?

And why is the media letting him get away with it?  All of the news shows I watched this morning were obsessed with Trump's latest campaign staff changes and the alleged lies put forth by Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte.  The lack of integrity in journalism in 2016 is truly frightening.
The media spends countless hours trying to dissect how someone like Donald Trump can rise to such a position of power.  Here's a tip for all of the "news" organizations out there: maybe you ought to take a good, long look in the mirror.

No, I don't expect President Obama to roll up his sleeves and put on some hip waders and get in there on the ground to help pack sandbags and pass out fresh water and rescue stranded kittens from trees.  What I do expect is LEADERSHIP.

Whether he likes it or not, and whether it comes at an inconvenient time or not, the President of the United States is one of the most watched people in the world. The Red Cross and other disaster relief agencies are desperately seeking donations in order to be able to provide sufficient aid to those affected by this tragic event, but with no one giving this disaster much airplay, the contributions are only trickling in. But if the President of the United States of America were to cut his vacation short in order to travel to the flood zone, and then make a public statement about the need for help, the donations would pick up considerably. That's the power of the platform that he has, and even though he'll be abdicating that platform in less than 5 months, he has a responsibility to use it for good for as long as he can.

President Obama totally dropped the ball on this one, and for what? A few extra rounds of golf in Martha's Vineyard?

Monday, August 15, 2016

Review: Lay's Potato Chip"Passport to Flavor" Contest 2016

Ah yes, it's that time of year again...time for the Lay's Potato Chip flavor contest, where they release new "limited edition" flavors. In the past, flavor ideas were submitted by the general public, narrowed down to four entries, and then consumers were asked to try each one and vote for their favorite. It was dubbed the "Do Us A Flavor" contest.

This year's contest is a bit different, and has clearly been revamped to increase sales in a big way. 

This time around, the contest is being billed as the "Passport to Flavor," and each of the 4 entries is based up on a different type of international cuisine.   This year's contenders: Indian Tikka Masala, Brazilian Picanha, Greek Tzatziki, and Chinese Szechuan Chicken.  The bags feature the flag of each country on the front, along with iconic symbols that relate to the culture of that country (a soccer ball for Brazil, the Parthenon for Greece, etc.).  Nice touch.

The big twist this year is that instead of voting for which one you like best, you're encouraged to enter prize drawings and contests to win trips to each of the four countries featured.  You enter in the last 5 digits of the UPC code on the back of the bag, and then the "bag code" found on the front, just below the "Sell By" date, and you are awarded points that you can trade in for contest entries, and passport stamps for the trips to China, India, Brazil and Greece. I received 100 points for each 2 3/4 ounce bag...I'm assuming larger sized bags will yield more points.

So, after entering in the codes for the 4 bags I purchased in order to review the flavors, I received 400 points total, and 6 passport stamps (some bags awarded more than one stamp).   I currently have 1 on my China passport, 2 for Greece, 1 for India, and 3 for Brazil.

The points themselves can be accumulated and traded in to enter the Grand Prize Drawing--a trip around the world for two, which will set you back 1600 points for one entry.  Or, you can try for some smaller prizes, like noise-cancelling headphones (100 points) or 2 plane tickets to Los Angeles (200 points) or a Trip for 2 to Charleston, SC (400 points).  Additonal prize drawings will be opened up in the weeks ahead, while others expire soon.

Overall, a very smart way to get people to buy more than just 4 bags. Kudos to the Marketing Team at Frito-Lay for coming up with that one.

Enough about the contest--on to the flavors!

Indian Tikka Masala  -- I tried this one first because it was the one I was most looking forward to tasting. I love Indian food, and chicken tikka masala is one of my favorites.   I was disappointed from the start because these chips are the Kettle Cooked variety, which means they're smaller and more crunchy than traditional chips, and tend to be more greasy.  In terms of flavor, I liked this one very much, even though the texture was a bit of a letdown.  There is no discernible meat flavor of any kind, even though the front of the bag depicts Chicken Tikka Masala--and that's a GOOD thing.  All that comes through is the tumeric, a touch of tomato,  and other Indian spices.  A solid contender.

Brazilian Picanha  -- I wasn't sure what picanha was, but the description on the back says it is "Brazilian steak, skewer-grilled with coarse salt" and featuring a "chimmicurri sauce."   While I was happy to see that these chips are the traditional thin chip variety, my hope of having a good flavor experience immediately ended the moment I opened the bag, and the...unique....smell of these chips wafted out.  Ooooh boy.  I tried to think of a way to describe the pungent aroma, and the one word that came to mind immediately was "gamey."   The taste of the chip itself confirmed that "the nose knows."  Yeah, you guys, these were not good.  While they certainly score points for being imaginative, it was just too weird and, for me, downright unpleasant.  I will not be buying these again.

Greek Tzatziki -- Ahhh, redemption.  These were fantastic, and as soon as I opened the bag, I knew they would be. I feel like the folks at Lay's really stacked the deck for this one, because they're  produced in the "Wavy Lay's" style, so the chips are larger, thicker, and have ridges to hold more flavor.  They nailed both the aroma and flavor of tzatziki, with discernible notes of garlic, dill, lemon, and greek yogurt.  SO good--I would definitely buy these in a larger sized bag.

Chinese Szechuan Chicken -- I was a little afraid to try this one, but was relieved to find that there is no discernible chicken flavor whatsoever, despite the name.  What you do taste is SPICY--after 3 or 4 chips my tongue was burning and I was ready to stop, even though these are the thin-chip variety.   They're delicious, and before my taste buds lost their will to live, I also detected a hint of bell pepper flavoring.  I don't think I could eat more than a few of these at one time, but my husband absolutely loved them.  These were his favorite, so there's a good chance I'll be picking up a larger bag of these, as well.

The clear standout winner for me personally was Greek Tzatziki, with the Tikka Masala a distant second (if only they weren't kettle-cooked, they might have had a better shot).  Szechuan Chicken came in at #3 for me (but was #1 for my husband), and at the bottom, dead last: the downright unpleasant Brazilan Picanha.

Greek Tzatziki
Chinese Szechuan Chicken

Brazilian Picanha
Indian Tikka Masala

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Wise Words on Politicial Correctness & Race...from 1995

I recently found this comic strip from Stephen Bentley, the cartoonist who created the syndicated strip, Herb & Jamaal.  It was printed in the daily newspaper I used to read when I lived in Long Island, and it was always one of my favorites. In 1995, he held a contest to name a soul food restaurant featured in the strip, and I sent in an entry.  Of course, I cannot remember what I submitted, but it didn't win, so it doesn't matter.

What does matter is that Mr. Bentley was kind enough to send each entrant--even us losers!--a signed comic strip reproduction, which I've kept all these years and finally put in a frame. I received this on April 25, 1995, and it's every bit as relevant today as it was then, if not more so.  In fact, it's downright eerie how much the man in the suit bears resemblance to a certain Presidential candidate.

Is there anything a cockroach can't do?

News outlets are reporting that, due to the extended heat wave and high humidity in the region, cockroaches in NYC may soon develop the ability to fly.

Yes, let's all take a moment to imagine that scene, shall we? Millions of cockroaches, spreading their wings and TAKING FLIGHT.

Good lord, this is horrifying, but at the same time, I can't help but be impressed.  What happens when there's a cold snap? They learn to make fire?

All I know is, in my next life, I'm coming back as a cockroach. They're unstoppable.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Simone Manuel! REPRESENT!!

Best reaction shot EVER.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Selfie with Senator Booker!

Got the chance to meet U.S. Senator Cory Booker today at a local BBQ.  He was an eloquent speaker, very down-to-earth and so friendly. He took selfies with anyone who asked, and his positivity is infectious. He mentioned that he'll be traveling overseas next week to visit our troops stationed--stay safe, Senator!