This gives “scare quotes” a whole new meaning…

Once SLP and I get a taste for the classic Thanksgiving dinner, we just can’t get enough. We often make a turkey in late October/early November in preparation for Thanksgiving, and often within a day or two of eating the last of the Thanksgiving leftovers, we get another turkey and do it all over again.

Such was the case today. However, even though Thanksgiving was just three days ago, fresh turkeys are already hard to come by. I was at a local Cub Foods today and found several packaged fresh turkey halves, presumably cut up from the large stock of fresh Thanksgiving turkeys that went unsold.

But… when I got home, there was something about the label on the package that really did put the “scare” in “scare quotes“:

“Fresh” Turkey Half



6:00 AM. The strident shriek of my alarm clock jolts me awake.

I slap the snooze button.

6:09 AM. Another shriek. Another slap.

6:18 AM. I put the clock and myself out of our collective misery and stumble to the bathroom.

Less than 1% of the water on Earth is considered “fresh,” which is to say it is not seawater. A far smaller fraction of that so-called “fresh” water is actually potable. I crank the faucet on the shower and ease myself under the steam and hot spray. Several gallons of pure, drinkable, truly fresh water mix with soap suds and a day’s worth of human sweat and oil, and swirl in a clockwise motion (the Coreolis Effect being, at this magnitude, a misunderstood non-phenomenon) down the drain. Into the sewer system. Into the next phase of their existence as part of that 99%+ of the world’s non-potable water.

I dry myself off, get dressed, fill my Thermos, and walk to the car. I turn the key, hear the engine roar. Its pistons fire, burning a highly-refined form of petroleum that was once, millions of years ago, the flesh and substance of untold species of flora and fauna. They lived their lives, died, decomposed, were covered over by the decomposed substance of their progeny, subsumed beneath the surface, compressed over the eons, turning to a mysterious black liquid that one day would become more valuable than gold to a species that did not yet exist. A substance that would generate untold wealth and wars, things that also did not yet exist.

A gallon of this refined liquid, formed over the millennia, transports me in comfort and — barring an unexpected collision with an SUV, the playground bully of the Interstate highway — safety from home to office.

8:30 AM. I turn the key, open the door, and walk to my desk. I sit down in front of a box of metal and plastic, a precision device, assembled in Mexico by laborers whose annual wages might… perhaps… allow them to afford one of these devices themselves, were it not for more basic needs such as food and shelter.

This box is already obsolete, and those laborers are hard at work even now as I sit at my desk, assembling the latest replacement units that will themselves pass with great haste into obsolescence, soon to find their permanent (for the next several tens of thousands of years, anyway) home in a landfill, next to the mounds of paper towels I used to dry my hands in the office lavatory and the styrofoam container and waxed-paper cup from my lunch today and eventually the larger box of metal and plastic as well, the one with 4 wheels, which burns 2 gallons of that refined liquid daily to transport me to this office and back home again.

Are You Forcing that Enthusiasm, or Are You Just Clinically Insane?

Caffeine. I love it. I hate it. I need it. For most of my life from the time I was 3, I have consumed at least one glass of Coca-Cola a day. Today, most informed parents might think twice about giving a 3-year-old a sugary, caffeinated beverage, but in 1977 it wasn’t much of a concern.

In high school, a friend introduced me to the wonders of Mountain Dew. Truly the best thing to come out of Appalachia besides I-85. It’s a magical beverage. I think the secret is the brominated vegetable oil.

Oh, who am I kidding? It’s the caffeine and sugar! (And, OK, maybe the yellow no. 5.)

In college, I discovered an even more sinister mistress… coffee. Forget the sugar… that’s kids’ stuff. The pure caffeine jolt of a bracing cup of coffee is for mature audiences only. (Try double-brewing coffee sometime. It’s quite a kick: Brew a pot of coffee, then dump the grounds, add more fresh grounds, pour the brewed coffee back into the pot and brew again. Ah, that’s pure Def Leppard-style adrenalyzed goodness! You won’t need sleep for about 67 hours.)

Yes, coffee. Black gold from the rainforests of South America, or the jungles of Sumatra, or the veldts of Kenya. (OK, I don’t know much about the climate and topography of Kenya; I just know they produce coffee, and somewhere in Africa they have “veldts,” which I know about from some educational film I saw in seventh grade. That’ll have to do for now.)

Sweet, sweet coffee! OK, bitter, bitter coffee! But it is a bitterness that is oh-so-sweet.

Most mornings, I grind my own beans and brew a fresh pot to take to work in my handy-dandy Thermos. But sometimes I am running late and the contrary-to-all-known-forms-of-logic thought pops into my head that it will take me less time to hit the Starbucks drive-thru on Roswell Road than to brew my own. This, of course, is never the case, and it runs me 3 bucks a pop to boot! (Enough with the colloquialsms, already!) But I go there anyway.

Chances are, if you’re reading this and you live anywhere within the known universe, you have either been to a Starbucks, or you’ve driven by a Starbucks, or you have a Starbucks within approximately 4 feet of your present location. (OK, Starbucks ubiquity jokes are getting old, but everyone deserves to pick some low-hanging fruit now and again.)

But chances also are that you’ve never been to a Starbucks quite like the one on Roswell Road.

The guy who works the drive-thru at this particular Starbucks is the most insanely enthusiastic person on the planet. When you approach the microphone to place your order, he comes over the speaker with a maniacal “GOOD MORNING!!!!! WELCOME TO STARBUCKS!!!!!!!!!!” that will curl your hair (if it’s straight) or straighten it (if it’s curly) or grow it back (if you’re bald).

Then the most bizarre thing of all. Each day, he writes a message on your cup holder with a Sharpie. I imagine he gets in at 4 AM so he can write his message on 1000 cup holders, and I just pray that he picks a single message for the day and writes the same one on each. If he actually thought up something unique for every individual customer, it would prove he is the anti-Christ. I have (thankfully, I think) forgotten most of the messages I’ve gotten on my cup holders, but here are a few that come to mind:

Sleep Is Overrated!

I mainly remember this one because it was on my cup today, and the full memory-splintering effects of the venti latte I ordered haven’t yet taken over. (For those of you who are unfamiliar with Starbucks’ twisted cup sizing, “tall” is the smallest, “grande” is medium, and “venti” is the largest. I think “venti” means either “55 gallon drum” or “too obscenely big for anyone but a gluttonous American” in Italian.) This is a fairly straightforward message, and one entirely appropriate for a customer ordering a venti latte, also known as a guy who has to work for the next 48 hours straight directing air traffic, or me. I have no excuse, other than that I like to perform mild forms of self-torture.

We All Shine On!

I really, honestly, don’t even have a clue about this one. It was just so bizarre that it stuck in my brain and forced most of his other messages out. I really wish it would go away.

Too Many Secrets!

I got this one a couple weeks ago, and it was truly the most disturbing. I mean, how did he know???

If, by chance, you enjoyed this rant, be sure to check out Part II for the ongoing log….