Monday, January 31, 2005

Gorilla Suitor

Happy National Gorilla Suit Day. Things are pretty quiet around here. I'll try to find something interesting to talk about tomorrow.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Recommended Reading

I just picked up Uncle John's Presents... Book of the Dumb 2, one of this year's releases from the Bathroom Readers Institute. This is a book chock full of Grooisms, guaranteed to make anything you've done seem positively brilliant by comparison. Hey, I may have superglued my pantyhose to my leg, but at least I've never stuck a lit cigarette lighter under my bed with all the flammable box springs and dust bunnies, inadvertently lighting the house I am renting on fire. Suddenly the lobster fork incident doesn't seem so bad.

By the way, I heartily recommend the entire Uncle John series. They're books of 1-5 page articles on pretty much any subject you can imagine. Book of the Dumb 2 is devoted entirely to stupid things people have done, but there are 17 Bathroom Readers (put out each November) that cover a wide variety of general knowledge. There are also volumes devoted entirely to history, famous people living and dead, Texas, science, and the Presidency. And for those of you who, like me, can't wait a year between installments, there is Mental-Floss, a bi-monthly magazine. This month, they discuss the history of the paper clip.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

From the Recipe Box

From the Hostess website, here's a recipe for anyone who has ever thought that the one thing that would make a Twinkie better is a bit of booze. The site also has a recipe for making Black Forest cake from Suzy-Qs and a snail and pond scene out of HoHos and caramels. There is such a thing as too much free time.

Must-See Movie

Of course I intend to go see Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith this May. If it turns out to be practical, I intend to go to the midnight showing. However, Star Wars is not the only must-see movie of the year. There's also one coming out this summer with penguins leading a zoo jailbreak and hijacking a ship, and as we all know, any movie that prominently features penguins is a must-see. I even sat through that Batman movie they let Tim Burton direct because it had actual live penguins in it, though they turned out to be the only redeeming feature of the film (and I was not fooled for a minute by the little people in penguin suits!). Here's a link to the trailer for my #2 movie pick of the year, Madagascar, the movie that promises to have the best animated penguins since Mary Poppins.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Complaints, Complaints

Salon has a summary of the 36 complaints from the Parents Television Council that the FCC rejected. Several are tasteless, but I wouldn't call them obscene.

10 were solely over the use of the word "dick," and all as insults, not anatomical references. OK, nine "dick" and one "dickhead." In eight of the ten incidents, it was a generic mild insult directed at a particular character, along the lines of "scruffy looking nerf herder." One instance was a play on the fact that "dick" is also slang for "detective." Only one involved a double entendre.

My personal favorite: the complaint about the phrase "invasive vaginal exam," in reference to an actual medical invasive vaginal exam.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Appliance Postscript

Who on Earth decided white was a good color for kitchen appliances? Of all the rooms in a house that should not be white.

Now I've Seen Everything

It's amazing what they're doing with household appliances these days. For instance, an oven/cooktop/fridge in one. I'll let you read that again so it sinks in. Whirlpool makes an oven that doubles as a refrigerator. Tell me there isn't a wasted step in there somewhere. And are you supposed to keep a box of baking soda in your oven now? The principle is that you put your casserole in the fridge/oven in the morning to keep the food all nice and safely chilled until the timer on the oven kicks in and cooks it so it's hot and ready when you get home. So much for hoping for the best, food-poisoning wise, with the time bake setting. Then again, I have a $30 crock pot that also lets me have a hot, home-cooked supper waiting when I get home from a long day. By my count, that saves me $1650.00. On the other hand, there's something to be said for a self-cleaning refrigerator, and that definitely solves the problem of cleaning out a sufficient hole in the fridge to thaw your turkey for Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Whoops! There Goes Another $80 Billion

Why are we still funding our two wars with emergency appropriations? This is no longer an emergency. This emerged three years ago. We were there at the beginning of this fiscal year; odds are we'll still be there come the end of this fiscal year. The fact that we might need to fork over some cash to pay for it should not be a surprise.

Monday, January 24, 2005

I'm Sorry Dave. I'm Afraid I Can't Do That

Today we spent $50 to learn two very important related lessons about our computer.

Lesson 1
Windows automatically makes three users on the computer during setup: the user you set up with the computer and probably use daily, a guest user, and an administrator. The computer will automatically boot up with the user you created, but there are two others.

Lesson 2
The spyware/adware/virus checker will only check and destroy spyware/adware/viruses on the user you are currently logged in on when you sweep. If you only run them on what boots up when you hit the power button, the guck will either reinstall itself or just hide out.

So even though we diligently sweep our computer weekly, 63 pieces of adware/spyware/etc. were gumming up the works from the Administrator setting, a setting I did not realize we even had. In spite of what they think at work, I'm not really all that great with computers.

The final lesson for everyone, and use it freely since we paid for it: when you clean out your computer (as I'm sure we all do regularly), make sure you scrub all your computer's users.

If you already knew this, please don't make me feel any more stupid than I already do.

This Just In: FCC Grows Spine

So it comes out that there are broadcast decency standards, after all. After the nipple dust-up last year, I wasn't sure, but now I am. The FCC has denied 36 complaints from the Parents Television Council, concerning Friends, The Simpsons, and Gilmore Girls (3 shows I've not watched, so I can't speak to whether they might be objectionable or not), proving that the FCC has broadcast decency standards and some things really do fall within those standards. Turns out that the criteria for being obscene is more stringent than "someone who does nothing but watch TV all day waiting to get offended writes a letter to complain about it and has different people send it to the FCC 25 times." For a while there, I was starting to wonder.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Double Standard

Do you think that, when Merck pharmeceuticals was applying for over-the-counter approval for Mevacor, anyone wanted proof that having a cholesterol-lowering drug available without a prescription would not affect the way people ate? Did they even consider that easily-available cholesterol-lowering regimens might have people eating cheeseburgers dripping with mayonaise with a side of deep-fried pie on a daily basis and saying "Screw a healthy diet! Who needs to watch cholesterol intake? I can just pick up a pack of Mevacor and I'll be fine."

Mevacor had other, bigger, problems that will probably preclude OTC approval. Still, why are some now-prescription drugs subject to the "won't lead to people being more careless about their health" test during their OTC application and others get a pass?

And while we're on the subject of federally-required labelling and double standards, one of the standards for getting a prescription drug approved for OTC sales is that people can understand and follow the instructions on the label. On the other hand, they also require food labels to carry allergen warnings, even on the most obvious allergen-containing products or products where the allergen is clearly listed among the ingredients. Basically, the FDA assumes I am intelligent enough to understand "take one caplet every 8-12 not take more than 2 caplets in any 8-12 hours or 3 caplets in 24 hours" (actual dosing instructions on Naproxen), but not so intelligent that I understand that my peanut butter may contain peanuts, or my wheat germ may contain wheat, without a bold-type warning. Tell me that makes sense.

Survey sez...

All I intend to say about this article is that I am in no way surprised, just taking a little comfort that it is not unanimous yet.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

The Otters Are Coming

This was news to me. Ohio is being overrun by river otters. To be fair, at the moment, Ohio is being overrun by rivers, with or without otters. In spring, the wildlife council will be taking up a proposal to allow trapping of the once-endangered animals that are now toeing the line between "critter" and "vermin." Until then, though, otter-trapping is still illegal, and to that end, the wildlife council has put out this brochure for beaver trappers. Along with the instructions on how to set beaver traps to avoid snaring otters, it includes a quick lesson in how to recognize otter puke. Never know when that's going to be a question on Final Jeopardy.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Phone Home

The penguins are not having a good day. First it was the icebergs blocking the way to the feeding grounds, now they've lost phone service. A communications satellite went missing and cut the link to Scott Base and presumably the nearby Adelie penguin rookery. No word on whether it also affected McMurdo, the American research base also on Ross Island.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

The Math Doesn't Lie

If you're one of the many people around me who seem to be having a rough couple weeks, you can take comfort in knowing that math is with you. Someone at Cardiff University has developed a mathematical formula that pinpoints the worst day of the year. Turns out it's next Monday (appropriately, I have a staff meeting that day). So take comfort: we're almost through the worst part of the year, so after next week, it has to get better. Nice to know that the year hits bottom right away so we don't have to waste too much time on the craptacular.

On a related note, we never got the Killer Pointsettia this year. However, the spirit of the Killer Pointsettia has possessed the appliances at the office. Saturday, the fridge went. Since then, the fridge has taken the furnace and the clothes dryer down with it.

A Day For Everything

Happy Penguin Awareness Day. Don't forget there's only 11 days until National Gorilla Suit Day.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

The Craw

This may open a big can of worms, but it's been stuck in my craw lately. In connection with a suit that was just heard in front of the Supreme Court, there has been more talk than usual about the role of mitigating circumstances in criminal prosecutions, particularly how evidence of mitigating circumstances might affect the sentence someone gets for committing a crime. I have a real problem stomaching the whole concept of mitigating circumstances (and, in a related note, "hate crimes" but we'll get into that).

The basic concept of the judicial system is that it should be fair. If justice isn't fair, we've got nothing (and yes I know there are problems). The fundamental principle of fairness is that everyone is treated the same, so two people who do the same thing should get the same sanction or reward. The reasons that a person does what he does has no bearing on the effect the action has on society, so the motives should not affect the consequences to that person. As an example, let's just say that two people each kill someone. One of the murderers has a low IQ, and one is of average intelligence (assuming both have been found competent). If mental ability is considered as a mitigating circumstance, the fact of the one person's low IQ may lead to a shorter sentence. Now, both committed the same crime; what is the logic of one being denied more freedom because he is smarter than the other guy? If the low-IQ person did not know that killing someone was wrong, that's all the more reason to impress upon him the lesson that it is. After the fact isn't the optimal time to start inculcating this, but if we haven't started before, we have to start sometime.

My biggest problem with mitigating circumstances is that they are rarely unique. More people than we want to think are abused as children. There are a lot of people who have mental illnesses or mental retardation (or whatever we're calling that today). Most of these people manage to lead, if not productive lives, at least non-destructive lives. In the case before the Supreme Court, one of the issues was that counsel failed to present evidence of a neglectful childhood in a bad neighborhood, or the man's diagnosis of schizophrenia. Utter hooey. How many schizophrenics are there who don't stab a person then light them on fire? My guess would be lots. Same with people who have tough childhoods. Jiminy crackers, most people have tough childhoods--some more so than others, but childhood is a tough time (for that matter, adulthood is no walk in the park either). Yet somehow most people manage to follow the rules.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

From the "How Stupid Do You Have to Be" File

Pop quiz: you're on a top-rated nationally-televised TV show and win $1.1 million dollars, and are further paid $300,000 to co-host a radio program. Do you:
A. bask in the media attention that your winning makes and report the prize money on line 21 of your federal income tax return for that year as "other income."
B. Bask in the media attention and assume that no one at the IRS watches CBS or reads the news since they all live under rocks and can't get over-the-airwaves broadcasts of Survivor.

If you answered A, you agree with the Internal Revenue Service. If you answered B, you would have done what Richard Hatch, the winner of the first Survivor, did. As if it were not frightening enough that you would do something that a man who ate rats on national television did, you would also be facing 10 years in jail and a half million dollars in fines. For those of you keeping score at home, yes, this is how they got Al Capone. The principle is the same: if you can't nail him for sparking this whole Reality TV thing, nail him on tax evasion.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Good News

They've agreed to sell us the house. Barring a bad home inspection (and for everyone who's asked, yes, we've had every intention from the start of getting a thorough home inspection) or something unforeseen going awry with converting our mortgage preapproval into actual funds, the house is ours. Bad news: can't move in until mid-April, which may create a small employment gap.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Sure Beats Green Cheese

Seems Saturn's moon Titan has the consistency of creme brulee: soft and spongy topped with a thin, crispy crust. This, of course, leads me to contemplate other planet/dessert analogies.

Mercury: Swizzle sticks or rock candy
Earth: Caramel-filled cream puff
Io (one of Jupiter's moons): Cherries jubilee
Europa: Creamsicle
Pluto: Snow cone

Thursday, January 13, 2005


Thanks to everyone who expressed concern about my recent stretch of being smited. Things are looking much better now. Apparently whoever is in charge of the smiting has moved on.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Toil and Trouble

The last about week and a half has been a real doozie for me. Since my office's annual Christmas-to-New Year's hiatus ended, it seems like it has been one thing after another. No one big thing happened, but the accumulation of small and medium-sized circumstances has been wearying. By Monday night, I figured my run of crap had to be ending soon since these things can't go on forever. The cosmos had to be running out of things to throw at me--after all, it was starting to dip into the plot of a Seinfeld episode (they're funnier when they aren't happening to you).

Then I got the boil. At that point, I had to step away from the cranky, bummed out mood I'd been wallowing in for a week and laugh. Boils are just so cliche. Everything else I've been dealing with, then to develop the sixth plague? That's just phoning it in.

Speaking of plagues, I had to give you this link because I wouldn't have believed myself if I hadn't seen them: 10 Plague Plushies. I stumbled across it when I was looking for the plague number for boils.

Monday, January 10, 2005

More Statuary

So George W. Bush may be taking the Oath of Office behind Freedom's back, but he'll be facing down Peace when he does it. Peace, located in the traffic circle of Pennsylvania Avenue and First Street NW, across the lawn from the West Front of the Capitol, isn't as obvious as the 7 1/2-ton Freedom atop the Capitol dome. The Naval Monument, also known as the Peace Monument, depicts "Grief weeping on the shoulder of History, for her sailors lost at sea." Grief and History face away from the Capitol building, but on the base of the 44-foot monument, on the side of the base that faces the West Front of the Capitol is Peace.

Freedom may be looking away, but Peace is watching.

Behind Her Back

Every US President since Ronald Reagan has chosen to take the Oath of Office on the West Front of the US Capitol. According to the Capitol tour, this is more or less a pragmatic decision, as the West Front has more room for spectators than the East Portico, which is the formal ceremonial entrance to the building. However, the decision has a probably-unintended consequence that seems particularly salient these days. If you're going to put a statue on the dome of a building like the Capitol, you have to choose a direction for it to face, and the obvious choice is for the statue to face the formal front. Thus, the Statue of Freedom faces the East Portico, away from the West Front.

Next week, George W. Bush will take the Presidential Oath of Office behind Freedom's back.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

I Couldn't Make This Up

Researchers have now trained rats to tell the difference between Dutch and Japanese. No, I'm not making that up. Well, actually it's not the same rat who can tell whether someone is speaking Dutch or Japanese. Different groups of rats were taught to respond to either Dutch or Japanese, and the Dutch-trained rats did not respond to Japanese and vice versa. To answer the obvious question of why anyone would train rats to recognize the difference between Dutch and Japanese, this is trying to track down what parts of language processing are uniquely human; I'm reasonably certain these researchers are not working on breeding a rodent translator.

Parents: This one seems ready-made for science projects. Pick up a bunch of rats and a tape deck and you're all set.

Friday, January 07, 2005

All Better

Fixed the typos in the last couple entries. Damn spell check. It's been a really off week, and it shows in the blogging. The details of the crapfest that is my week don't make very interesting reading, but I will say that the capper was having to fork over $90 today to have the Toyota service department tell me my car was almost out of gas. I love my Prius except for the digital gas gauge that is unreliable at best. Sometimes 5 bars out of 10 is a half tank left, sometimes it is a quarter. Apparently, this time 2 bars out of 10 was "empty." In my defense, my gas gauge had 2 bars left, which is often nearly a quarter tank, and if the WARNING! light hadn't come on when I tried to leave work, I was going to go straight to the gas station a half mile down the road.


I've not been keeping a very close watch on the confirmation of cabinet appointees, so other than checking the progress on the headlines, I'm not as well acquainted with the Gonzales-for-Attorney-General story as I probably should be. As near as I can tell, we're looking to replace Scary-After-He-Got-The-Job-But-Pretty-Much-Just-Kooky-Before John Ashcroft with Scary-Even-Before-He-Has-The-Job-Which-Might-Be-A-Stepping-Stone-To-The-Supreme-Court Alberto Gonzales. Even with my limited following of the case, I'm seeing this as an overall bad idea that somehow is going to come to pass anyway. Some days, the whole political process seems to just go through the looking glass.

That said, I'm as eager to exploit the quirks of technology as the next person, and Google's technology is ripe for the pickings. The entire concept of Google searches is that it is completely automated, based on the number of links to a page from a given phrase. The more people link to a certain page using certain words, the more relevant the Googlebots think that site is to that phrase. For instance, I would make a link with the phrase "Monterey Bay Penguin Cam," like so, that leads you to the webcam in the Monterey Bay Zoo penguinarium. The Googlebots chalk that link up as one more vote for that site being relevant to the phrase "Monterey Bay Penguin Cam." Now, if you were to go to Google's homepage and do a search for "Monterey Bay Penguin Cam," you're more likely to come up with that site (don't bother, it's already the top site). Now, the Achilles heel of this plan is that the Googlebots assume I will direct you to the webcam in the Monterey Bay Zoo penguinarium with that link and not, for instance, a site on how to grow mulch at home or even the penguin cam at another zoo. Googlebombs exploit that Achilles heel to make a statement by having a whole bunch of people, usually bloggers, use the same phrase to link to the same site. The latest Googlebomb is the attempt to highlight Alberto Gonzales' history with regards to the legality of torturing detainees by making this White House site appear when someone searches for "Tortured logic." That's my contribution right there.

Here's the irony of the whole concept of Googlebombing: It distorts the results of a Google search, and you can't effectively googlebomb without blogs, yet Google owns one of the more popular blogging services. Another thing goes through the looking glass.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Objection Overruled, but Heard

Well, the challenge to Ohio's Presidential vote managed to go forward. Nothing changed, and the vote was certified, but at least the Congress was forced to go through the motions of pretending to acknowledge that a few things might have gone awry with our wonderful democracy. Senator Barbara Boxer of California ended up being the one who allowed the objection to be heard. The Reuters story is here.

I never really expected either of the Ohio senators, the ones I wrote to last night, to be the ones who stood up to support the objections. Most of the time I write to my legislators, I do it knowing full well they're not going to do what I want. In this political climate, getting a legislator to change an established position on an issue falls on the difficulty meter somewhere near splitting the atom with a ginsu knife. Since these legislators will not likely change their minds, it sometimes feels good to remind them their constituents have a variety of positions. At the very least, it makes me feel better.

So It's Going to Be One of Those

We'll skip the part where I had to chip a quarter-inch layer of ice off my car to come to work this morning and what happened once I got there, and go straight to the part where I was trying to order more 1098T forms fromt the IRS and after being on musical hold for 10 minutes, the IRS hung up on me. That's just the latest in what promises to be a craptastic day.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Set your TiVo and Call Your Senator

Set your TiVo to C-Span. Tomorrow at 1:00 p.m. Eastern time, a joint session of the US House of Representatives and the US Senate will convene to receive and consider the Electoral College votes in the recent Presidential election. At that meeting, Representative John Conyers (D-Michigan) intends to stand and object to the vote count in Ohio, based on several irregularities he outlines in this Status Report of the House Judiciary Committee (sure, it's 102 pages long, but the investigation found a lot of problems). However, due to the vagaries of the rules for Congressmen addressing the Senate, one senator out of a hundred must agree to give him the floor. Now, last election, no Senator agreed to do this for any of the many Representatives who wished to object to the Florida vote.

We have less than 14 hours to press one senator--again, it only takes one--into agreeing to let Representative Conyers be heard. Fortunately, we live in the electronic age, and every Senator has a convenient web form for fielding comments from constituents. Contact your senator is as easy as 1-2-3-4-5-6:
1. Go to www.
2. Select your state from the drop-down menu
3. Click on a Senator's name
4. Find the "Contact" link on his/her website
5. Fill out the web form with your name, address, phone number, email, and comment
6. Click "Submit Form"
7 (Bonus Step). Repeat Steps 3-6 for your other Senator

Here's the text of the letter I sent to my two Senators. Please feel free to use it as inspiration, but Senate Staffers can sniff out a form letter, so when you write, please use your own words.

Dear Senators Voinovich and DeWine,
It has come to my attention that Thursday at 1:00 p.m., Representative John Conyers of Michigan will stand before you in the Senate and object to the vote count in Ohio, requesting that each and every ballot cast in Ohio in the last Presidential election be counted. According to the rules of your body, he requires the support of only one Senator for this objection to be heard.
I urge you to agree to allow him to have the floor. The idea of having every vote in an election is the foundation of American democracy, and Representative Conyers will come before you to advance that ideal. He must be allowed to speak. Is the idea of having every vote count so dangerous that the very discussion of it must be squelched?
For the sake of the credibility of the entire American government both at home and abroad, please be the one to stand up and permit Representative Conyers to speak Thursday.
Thank you.

You can read Michael Moore's open letter on the subject here. If we all get together and inundate our Senators with requests for this to be heard, maybe we can yet salvage the spirit of democracy in our republic. If we can get it straight here, then maybe there's a chance in certain other parts of the world where we are trying to instill democracy with a fair election. I seem to recall somewhere is doing that at the end of this month.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Irrelevant Gloating

Looks like I was right. We're watching the director's commentaries on the original Star Wars trilogies, and I was right. In this entry, I postulated that Darth Vader does not kill Obi-Wan Kenobi at the end of Star Wars: A New Hope, and that the reason Obi-Wan, Yoda, and Anaken disappear while other Jedi do not is that Obi-Wan and company don't actually die. Rather, they choose that moment to become one with the Force. In the audio commentaries to A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back, George Lucas makes a point of saying that Obi-Wan does not die--going so far as to backpedal and correct himself when he talks about "Obi-Wan's death"--and he mentions that a theme in the prequel trilogy deals with ascending to the Force. I'll add to my theory that Qui-Gon can be heard but not seen after his death because, though he was killed in battle, much is made that Qui-Gon is more in tune with the Living Force than most other Jedi, so my guess is he is sort of partially ascendant even before he dies.

So there. I was right. So the Jedi disappearing thing is not one of the vital questions of human existence, but nonetheless, I got it right. In four and a half more months when Revenge of the Sith comes out, everyone is going to know, so I don't have much more time to revel in having figured it out myself before everyone else knows what I know now.

Bad Start

Kelly Freas and Will Eisner in the space of three days. This is not starting out to be a good year for comic book artists, particularly in the area of remaining alive.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Crochet Chaos

My grandmother taught me to crochet starting, at my recollection, when I was about 5 or 6. She can do wonders with a skein of yarn. I still have an afghan, a pillow doll, and (I'm not making this up) a purse that folds out into a bassinet for a kewpie doll, complete with matching doll afghan, all of which she lovingly crocheted by hand. This is even more impressive when you consider that my grandmother has 10 grandchildren and what she made for me, she made nine more times over for my cousins.

I never picked up nearly that much skill with a crochet hook. I recall attempting a potholder that turned out to be less square-shaped and more resembling an irregular trapezoid with a lopsided rectangle attached. I can make hollow balls suitable for cat toys, but that's about as far as it goes. While many things I try to crochet tend to double as visual aids for discussions of entropy, they're nothing compared to Dr. Hinke Osinga's crochet pattern modeling actual chaos, created by a computer as an inadvertent byproduct of her studies of a set of math equations describing natural chaotic systems.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

A Bear's Natural Habitat: A Studebaker

If you've seen The Muppet Movie, this should look familiar. That is Fozzie Bear's actual natural habitat, now ensconced in the Studebaker National Museum in South Bend, Indiana.

They had to use a Studebaker for that movie. "A Bear's Natural Habitat..." is just not funny with other car makes. Try it: Ford, Oldsmobile, Chrysler, Toyota, Honda, Kia, Huyndai--Studebaker is the only one that works. OK, Huyndai is kind of funny, but still not as funny as Studebaker.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Happy New Year

Happy New Year's and best wishes for 2005. I've already learned my first lesson: never buy nonalcoholic Spumante. Near-champagne may be near many things, but champagne is not one of them. I don't like the taste of alcohol, so I thought I would try Sutter Home Fre Spumante. Bad idea. It does not have "luscious fruity flavors balanced by zesty acidity" as the website advertises. The closest thing to flavor it has is a vague hint of watered down something, but after half a bottle, I still couldn't get enough flavor molecules to figure out just what was watered down. Next time I try to go for fizzy and festive, I'll go back to the sparkling apple cider.