Monday, June 30, 2008

I Have Seen The Future, and it is Spoutless

The very day this article appears in the New York Times touting a new environmentally friendly redesign of the milk jug, I happened to be at Sam's Club--one of the early adopters of the new jug design--and in need of milk. Welcome to the future of your milk jug, folks:

Here at Penguin Perspectives, we strive to do all the awkward stuff first, so you don't have to wind up on the great cosmic blooper reel. In that spirit, here's a rundown of the new milk jug experience.

The new design eliminates the little plastic ring around the cap, replacing it with a foil under-seal. The difference is that I needed a fork to get the ring off and a knife to get the foil seal off. The pour experience, much maligned in the NYTimes article, is on par with a lemonade pitcher. As a matter of fact, if you can hit a glass pouring liquid out of a pitcher, the new jugs won't be much of a challenge. The milk aperture is a little on the wide side and there is not a lot of headspace, making flow control on the first pour or two somewhere between "dicey" and "nonexistent." I made my first experimental pour into a juice cup, and while I did not spill, I had filled the 8-ounce cup with my first slosh out of the carton. The flow control got better once there was about an inch and a half of space between the top of the jug and the milk level. In sum, don't try to add milk to your morning coffee out of a newly-opened jug if you would like the milk:coffee ratio to remain tilted in favor of coffee. In future jugs, I will check to see if merely punching a pour hole into the foil underseal fixes that problem.

With the new jug design lacking more than a vestigial spout, I had assumed that my days drinking straight from the carton were over. Not so. It takes considerably more lower lip dexterity, but still a manageable feat. And no, I don't drink from the carton when we have guests at the Rookery. Then, I get a glass.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Bucket Not Included

Polish and Canadian researchers have determined that 90% of people can carry a tune. The data were obviously not collected on Karaoke Night.

I really must stop being annoyed by this

So this afternoon, I'm at the sink draining a can of chunk light tuna in water (and as a side note, when did "chunk" tuna stop having chunks in it larger than individual tuna cells?) when I see the notice on the side of the can:
Allergy warning: contains tuna

If that is what it takes for a tuna-allergic customer to realize he or she is about to embark on a tunapalooza, rather than, say, the big letters on the front of the can that say "Tuna" or the big sign that says "Tuna" over the shelf display in the supermarket...well, there is a fine line between deserving a Darwin Award and asking for one.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Headline Sampler Platter--Because With Food Prices Like This, You Can't Afford the Entree

Honey bee crisis could lead to higher food prices

Midwest flood may cover nation in higher food prices

Costly corn creeping into grocery prices

Before the midwest went underwater, the news was abuzz with how much the skyrocketing cost of fuel was adding to the grocery bill. Maybe the media should save some time and energy, and tell me what isn't making my milk cost more every time I go to the store.

Either that, or we all take a lesson from this headline from KHNL in Honolulu, Hawaii: Rising Costs of Food Leave Some Looking for Other Options. Other options to food are starting to look better and better every week that I go grocery shopping. Oh, and note to Hawaiians: having eaten poi, I can confidently say that you guys have already found another option to food.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

I Am The Queen of Dorkopolis

Tonight, Emp. Peng. and I got invited to a wingding where, among other things, they were serving jello shots and pudding shots. I have a glancing familiarity with jello shots, although (as will become clear in a moment) I have never actually imbibed one. Pudding shots, though, were a new one on me. Apparently, they are sort of like a dollop of chocolate mousse spiked with Bailey's Irish Cream. I was curious, so I got one.

It was not for another three hours that I found out one is not supposed to eat them with a spoon.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Waddling in Memphis

Emp. Peng. and I were migratory again last weekend, this time to Memphis. It was not a destination of our choosing, and (with respect to any Memphibians out there) not really a place we would go back to. That does not mean it is completely without its charms. A few lessons learned:
  1. Elvis had, um, interesting tastes in interior decorating. While I do not intend to implement it in the Rookery, green shag carpet actually works surprisingly well as a ceiling cover.
  2. Tequilla bad. Very bad.
  3. Barbecue good. Very good.
  4. When the Purveyor of Barbecue offers a bib, take it.
  5. Do not ask the Purveyor of Barbecue for butter. You will not get it.

One night, we went to a place called Jim Neely's Interstate Barbecue for dinner. Emp. Peng. and I both had the Sampler Platter, described on the menu as "A Trip to Hog Heaven! Pork Ribs, Beef Ribs, Links, Beef Brisket, Pork Shoulder, B-B-Q Spaghetti, Beans, Slaw and Bread." One of our dining companions described it as "Almost as good as sex." The meat really is that good, and that messy. Having gnawed through approximately 1/3 of a mammal worth of meat, leaving a stack of bones in a puddle of grease and barbecue sauce, Emp. Peng. asked the waitress for a bit of butter to go with his bread, only to be told "We don't do butter here. It's bad for you."

"Bad for you" seems to be the guiding principle of Southern cuisine, where the Official Appliance is the Fry Daddy. I am not sure it is legal to serve something south of the Mason-Dixon line that does not contain lard, bacon grease, or both. The only vegetable I saw the whole time there was the dish of cole slaw served with the Sampler Platter, and even that was drowning in enough mayonnaise to cause a coronary event in a small whale. We did see some fruit, both at the continental breakfast and between two slices of Wonder Bread slathered in Skippy, coated in butter and grilled to a golden brown (BTW, yummy, but I can see how it would kill a man).

Given that, Emp. Peng. considered butter an odd place to draw the line.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Are Penguins an Aphrodesiac or Something?

News story from Reuters today is headlined, "Antarctica Base Gets 16,500 Condoms Before Darkness," and while that would seem like a fairly self-explanatory headline, the reporter does point out that this is a year's supply for McMurdo Base.

Let's do the math. 16,500 divided by 365 works out enough prophylactics for 132 encounters per day, every day, or 264 scientists not watching the penguins on a daily basis. In the winter, that is more than are actually at McMurdo. Even for the summer population of 1,000, that is a lot of pair bonding.

Apparently, being surrounded by an ice shelf and two penguin colonies is better than oysters or powdered rhino horn. I bet the oysters and the rhinos like it better, too.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Maybe It's the Lips?

I may be something of a city girl, inasmuch as I prefer to vacation in facilities where the walls are made of wall, but I am somewhat sanguine in the ways of the meat. While I have never personally slaughtered a chicken, I know where McNuggets come from. Bad example. I don't think anyone, including Ray Kroc, knows where McNuggets come from. Let's just say that I am under no delusions that boneless, skinless chicken breasts sprout in little styrofoam trays at the supermarket. While I promised Emp. Peng. that the Rookery would be a "no livestock" zone (the resident cat lumps often straining the definition of "live," let alone "stock"), I have no compunction about paying someone else to raise my livestock for me. No omnivore does, but in my case, I pay the person directly.

The farmer I get my beef from is branching out into poultry. Yesterday I put dibs on 4 chickens that Kathy tells me will be free range if they ever get up the bird cajones to leave the barn. As part of the dibs-calling process, Kathy walked me through the per-chicken costs ($1.75 to slaughter and de-entrail them, 10 cents for whatever "De-necking" means, etc.). Since these will be custom slaughtered per pre-order, I have options about whether I want my birds whole, split, quartered, or the seven-piece cut.

Hold the phone. Seven pieces? Chickens, like most birds, mastered bilateral symmetry ages ago. Draw a line down the middle of a chicken, and you end up with one of everything on each side. That should leave an even number of chicken parts. We can't figure out what that seventh piece is.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Get out the Ear Floss

Emp. Peng. is a member of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors--NAIFA for short. Tonight, the local group had a wingding at the local theater, with hors d'ouvres and a social hour in the basement of the local theater, then a night of live improv comedy. He had told the theater usher to direct anyone here for the NAIFA event downstairs. About a half hour after the social hour had started, we were wondering why more people were not there. Turns out the usher thought that downstairs was where the theater was holding the NAFTA event.