Tag Archives: blue

DIY: Genderproofing Your Home

gender-signsWhat? Another DIY post? Wow. I must really be in the mood to be helpful.

Target, apparently a retail establishment that peddles cheaply-made crap (most of it likely sourced from overseas and presumably made with cheap labor) recently announced it was taking down gender-based signage in their stores. The new policy applies to departments like “toys” and “bedding.” Clothes, apparently, still have a long way to go, baby.

The old way of shopping worked something like this:

“Hey, we gotta get a toy for Pat. The kid is having a birthday soon.”

“OMFG! What gender is Pat? Do we even know?! That’s it, man. Game over. Stop your grinnin’ and drop your linen.”

“Whoa. Easy there. Calm down. We know what it is. Pat is currently a boy.”

“Whew. Okay. Close one. Let’s go to Target. We’ll head for the section labeled Toys For Boys. Make no mistake about it. We will not go down the aisle labeled Toys For Girls. No fucking way!”

At the store: “Now these are toys for boys. Get the erector set, Lincoln logs, Army men, flamethrower, truck nuts, 8×10 color glossy of Mike Rowe, a jumbo jar of Rambo sweat, and box of Cuban cigars.”

“Fuckin’ A.”

Now, thanks to Target, you can shop the new way:

“Oh, noes. The ‘boys’ and ‘girls’ signs are gone. Now we’re forced to choose from aisles simply labeled ‘toys.’ What are we supposed to do now? We’re gonna die!!!”

Don’t go sticking your head in an Easy Bake Oven just yet.

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My Blue Pen

ink-stainTimes don’t change. People do.

When I was younger I wrote t-shirts. In 8th grade I wore the Star Wars variety every day for an entire year. Every. Single. Day. Yeah, I was out memeing while most of you were still in your diapers. You might say it was a sign of things to come.

Somewhere on the way to becoming a grumpy grandpa my practice of wearing t-shirts gradually fell to the wayside and was replaced by button-front shirts. Nothing fancy, mind you. I still hate clothes. But if I have to wear them at least give me a pocket and a place to keep my pen.

That’s another thing. Somehow I picked up strange habits involving pens.

At one time or another I must have experienced a traumatic “lost pen” incident. I began to glom on to them. I’d spend a good part of my day concerned about the location and status of my pen. And may the heavens help you if you tried to walk away with it. You would be smited.
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IKEA the Light

ikeaBeing new to the big city, my wife and I ran off last night and did something that officially baptized us as seasoned big city denizens. Nothing in this city will ever hold our wonder again.

Laws, yes. M-O-O-N. That’s spells IKEA. And what a sight it was to behold. In fact, I’m going to do my best to document the experience from the perspective of all five senses. Yes, all five! It’s a lofty goal. Let’s see how I do.

After consulting the texts of ancient lore (Google) we determined that we’d have to drive through about 10 miles of urban jungle in areas we had never explored before. This was going to be something new. I packed my machete just in case we saw any urbane gorillas.

At first we worried we might get lost, but while still about 42 miles away, the shape of IKEA loomed large and glowed in the distance. There was no mistaking the mountain of yellow and blue which shined bigger and brighter than Mt. Everest as seen from a distance of 12 feet.

The only close call we had on the way over was when my wife reflexively knee-jerked the car and almost pulled into the parking lot of another garishly colored blue and yellow building. But that only turned out to be the IKEA warehouse. I hate to burst any bubbles but apparently the trendy product widgets contained in the IKEA store are not actually björn there.
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Où êtes-vous, Roquefort?

Roquefort_2019009bThere’s blue cheese and then there’s Roquefort. I developed a penchant for the latter during three years of French class. Oui, oui!

Blue cheese is a general classification of cow’s milk, sheep’s milk, or goat’s milk cheeses that have had cultures of the mold Penicillium added so that the final product is spotted or veined throughout with blue, blue-gray or blue-green mold, and carries a distinct smell, either from that or various specially cultivated bacteria. Some blue cheeses are injected with spores before the curds form and others have spores mixed in with the curds after they form. Blue cheeses are typically aged in a temperature-controlled environment such as a cave. Blue cheese can be eaten by itself or can be crumbled or melted into or over foods. (Source: Wikipedia.)

Roquefort is a variety of blue cheese, but to be called “Roquefort,” by law, it must be “aged in the natural Combalou caves of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon.” According to legend, it was in those very caves when a young man, tempted by a beautiful girl, abandoned his lunch including ewes’ milk cheese in a cave. When he returned to the cave a few months later, he was startled to discover that the mold (Penicillium roqueforti) had transformed his forgotten lunch into Roquefort. Viola!

Only the French could have such a romantic backstory about the invention of a cheese.

The other day I was thinking about First Meal. I’ve been spending a lot of my time planning what I will eat after my 39-days of Abyss Island are over. I’ve taken to calling it First Meal and it has assumed legendary importance in my life. The odds on favorite is currently homemade fried chicken. Oh yes.

I was thinking about this when I remarked to my wife, “You know what I want to eat for First Meal?” She just rolled her eyes. “What the hell ever happened to Roquefort, anyway? I used to look for the official seal, then poof. One day it was just gone man.”

Well, I think found out what happened. And, believe it or not, the trail leads right back to George W. Bush. Holy moldy! Son of a bitch!
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The deeper I go the more I’m turning blue

But here’s a cute little song about yesterday. It’s a Clint Black song about the Gulf of Mexico that you’ve probably never heard, which was probably a bit nicer before BP got there. Let’s count that as another vote for yesterday.
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Blue Bayou Bobble Bubbles

Blue Bayou from Caribbean Ride

The Blue Bayou Restaurant at Disneyland

B is for Blog. That’s what Big Bird over at Sesame Street told me. (That’s the PBS solution to programming for children.) Barney the Friendly Dinosaur told me that B is for Best Buy. (That’s the for-profit free market solution to programming for children.) Boldly brainwash our babies the benefit of business. Bravo!

Behold any bent in this blog broadcast yet?

But “B is for Blog” is the easy way out. I’ll bet there are billions of “B is for Blog” posts today for the “A-Z Blogging Challenge.”

Not me, baby. I’m boldly and bravely being bodacious.

Bah! That’s enough balderdash with the bold.

Do I take things too far? I sure hope not. I don’t mean to babble. Enough with the befuddling bafflegab!

Blue Bayou

Ever been to Disneyland? Near the entrance to the Pirates of the Caribbean ride is a restaurant known as the Blue Bayou. Here diners can eat inside a building in a simulated outdoor restaurant next to a simulated Louisiana bayou.

This effect is achieved through the use of a dark and distant ceiling, air conditioning, and carefully coordinated lighting. The theming is intensified by the sounds of crickets and frogs, the meandering glow of fireflies, and projection effects above that imitate the night sky. (Wikipedia.)

Diners can watch park patrons depart and return from the exciting theme ride while they nosh on authentic Cajun cuisine like head cheese, ham hocks, alligator, frogs legs and nutria. (I’ve never eaten there but I’ve floated by a few times, so these menu choices are merely assumptions on my part.)

Crayola art in Newark, NJ, June 2008

An excellent use of a Crayola product (besides eating)

Bubble Bobble

Who doesn’t feel all goofy at the sight of a glowing child engaging in the time-honored practice of blowing bubbles?  Me, actually. I hate the bloody activity. (Another “B” word bonus.)

Crayola “after years of research” has finally achieved bubbles in color. Ooooh. Unciting. Apparently, before now, they were always black and white, although they appeared fairly colorful to me.

Reportedly it took Crayola almost two decades to develop the winning formula. Can you sense the palpable desperation here? “We have got to break out of the edible color wax genre, people! Dammit, we need new revenue streams!”

Lauded as the “holy grail” of bubbles, Crayola brand “Washable Colored Bubbles” allow mischievous youngsters who are easily amused to “create bubbles in bright, bold vibrant colors!” (So says the official Crayola website.)

Choose your colorful poison: Purple Pizzazz, Sunset Orange, Screamin’ Green, Wild Blue Yonder, or Pink Flamingo.

I always wondered if I had the “right stuff.” Now, for only $3.99 for a 4 oz. bottle, I can slip the surly bonds of Earth and touch the Wild Blue Yonder. Yeah! (That’s only $127.68 per gallon.)

Alas, there’s a downside. It’s that always the way?!?!?

A story in on the front page of the Wall Street Journal this week breaks down the bad news. Even though Crayola prominently features the word “washable” on the bottle and in the product’s name, it seems there is a bit of a sticky wicket.

The product has spawned a bit of a backlash from angry parents who are quibbling over the definition of “washable.” Critics allege that the product can leave behind a colorful “permanent” mess. One woman blogged about it, calling it “the worst product I ever bought.” Another said the Wild Blue Yonder turned her children into “smurfs.”

The blogger added, “Washable?…It practically requires scrubbing the top layer of your skin off to get the color out.”

Damn, I take it all back. This sounds like my kind of product after all. Crayola just tricked parents into making kids graffiti artists in their own home. Bravissimo!

Crayola was clearly sensitive and understanding of the threat to their coffers:

Crayola, which is owned by Hallmark Cards Inc., of Kansas City, Mo., says that the product should wash off when used properly.

But consumers ought not to expect the new product “to perform like regular soapy bubbles,” says Leena Vadaketh, Crayola’s head of research and development.

Allow me to parse this. In other words, “It’s not our problem. You’re doing it wrong.”

Crayola is a trusted brand. I know that when I think of freaky chemicalized shit, I think, “Crayola!” Now I see why!

Scouring the Crayola official website, I learned the following verbatim factoids. Enjoy!

  • Crayola Dough contains wheat and therefore is not Gluten Free.
  • It is possible that latex gloves may have been worn during the manufacture and distribution of raw materials, components or finished goods.

Additionally, when attempting to glean what compounds are in their products, I found a statement on Crayola’s website that they won’t list ingredients due to “proprietary” concerns. They will, however, list some of the things not found in their products. Things like “peanuts & legumes.” I have to admit, this gets me a bit confused. We’re not talking about a food company, right? I mean, where do they list the calories in their products?

I salute Crayola for the beautiful bubble bobble!

AZ Awkwords
A poem in tribute of the A-Z Blogging Challenge
by Tom B. Taker

Bone chilling democratic
Freely gone hyper intergalactic

Kept languishing madly
Overtly playing quintessentially

Radiant sunshine
Teaming underground
Verdantly washing
Xenophobic yearning


This is my “B” post for the April 2011 “A to Z Blogging Challenge.”

For the brave-hearted few who read the bottom, here’s a bonus video:

The Quest for the Blue Yeti

My quarry would lead me on a strange journey

I’d heard of the Blue Yeti. I’d even seen one myself once. I decided to go on a quest and find the legendary beast for myself. Along the way I found adventure and revelations that I’d never expected…

What it a Blue Yeti? The “Yeti” is a USB microphone. It is made by a company called Blue Microphones. Hence, the Blue Yeti.

Since I plan to do a “podcast” in 2011 I’ve been trying to learn more about the Yeti. (Don’t expect the standard sort of podcast from me. As usual I plan to put my own spin on the concept.) I’ve even held a Yeti in my very own hands (my boss bought one for his wife as a Christmas present) and I’ve watched a few reviews on YouTube. It seems like a nice product.

My boss said he paid $99 for it including free shipping. That was a few weeks ago.

Note: All pricing information that follows is based on my research, experiences and internet searches on Saturday, January 8, 2011.

I went to the manufacture’s web site at http://www.bluemic.com. They offered it for sale at $149.99. Plus a $4.95 handling fee. Plus $8.64 for FedEx Ground shipping. (The cheapest shipping method they offered.)

The Blue Store checkout page for a Yeti

That’s $163.58 for the privilege of purchasing direct from the manufacturer. Sorry, but that’s not “value added” enough for me. As the old saying goes, I guess there’s a Blue Store customer born every minute. I decided to press on and look elsewhere.

My next stop was eBay. I figured they’d have some deals where, although I might have to bid, I’d still be able to get it cheaper. Earlier this week I only saw two listed, and they were both $149.99. This morning things have improved slightly. Perhaps. There is one currently at $70 + $5 shipping from a seller with only one rating that is described as “practically brand new.” Perhaps an opportunity for a deal.

There’s another listed for $96.88 with free shipping and a “buy it now” button from MacMall, a “top-rated seller” with over 5,000 feedbacks and a rating of 99.2% positive.

I then tried shopping.google.com. This is where things start to get slightly confusing. I searched for “Blue Yeti” and the first result was something called the “Blue Microphones Yeti USB Condenser Plug Play Microphone Accessory Kit.” The “kit” apparently includes the Yeti plus some other stuff, like headphones, earbuds, and pop filter.

B&H Photo-Video-Audio is listed as a seller of this “kit” for $96.88 and free shipping. (Hmm. The exact same price we saw earlier.) However, when I click their link, I’m taken to a page where I can buy the Yeti a la carte. No headphones, no earbuds and no pop filter. This system feels extremely deceptive to me.

Additionally, the landing page at B&H did not display the product price. Instead of a price the site said, “To see our price, add this item to your cart.” A link was also provided if you wanted to see why. I clicked that link.

Why we don’t show prices

B&H enters into Minimum Advertised Price (MAP) agreements with some suppliers. According to these agreements, which vary in details from vendor to vendor, the retailer can sell an item for any price, but may not advertise the item for an amount less than the Minimum Advertised Price which is set by the supplier. Retailers agree to MAP contracts because the vendor makes it worthwhile for them to do so. A retailer who abides by the agreement can count on getting first news and early shipments of new products, and generally enjoys a favored status. At B&H, while we abide by our MAP agreements, our lowest selling price is always what you pay.

In my research of the Blue Yeti this seemed to be a normal kind of thing. I found several other web sites this morning that displayed similar messages for this product. I did add the item to my cart and the price of $96.88 with free UPS Ground shipping was confirmed.

By this time I was starting to get a good feel that the price of $96.88 was going to be the best deal out there, at least on a new Yeti. Still, I thought I’d check one more time and went to shopping.yahoo.com. There the lowest price displayed seemed to be $149.00.

I tried the Amazon.com link at $149.00. The product landing page showed the “list price” as $149.00 but didn’t show the actual price. Again it was hidden. Clicking a link revealed the price to be $96.88 with free shipping. Definitely some kind of a trend here.

Because our price on this item is lower than the manufacturer’s suggested retail price, the manufacturer does not allow us to show you our price until you place the item in your shopping cart. Retailers like Amazon have the legal right to set their own prices independently. Adding the item to your cart allows Amazon to show you our price consistent with our goal of always offering you the lowest possible prices on the widest selection of products.

Adding this item won’t require you to purchase the product. You can easily remove it from your cart if you decide not to buy it.

We realize that this is an inconvenience and are regularly working to educate manufacturers on how their policies impact our customers. We welcome your comments and suggestions in our forum on this topic.

Interestingly enough, Walmart.com seems to be more than willing to let me pay $149.00. Perhaps not always “low prices,” eh? Frustratingly, I had to register on their goddamn web site just to confirm my order total during checkout. Perhaps ecommerce web sites hiding important checkout information behind “registration” will be a topic for a future post. I couldn’t help but notice that the checkbox to request email notification of their special deals would automatically re-check itself upon every page refresh. Interesting!

A final web site in the Yahoo results called “UnbeatableSale” seemed to be willing to sell me the Yeti for $149.99 but by this time I was spent. I wasn’t about to register on any more web sites just to see the real costs.

My initial response to “Minimum Advertised Price” (or MAP) was, “What the hell? That’s bloody price fixing, isn’t it?” I was shocked to learn that in the United States, the practice is legal and was recently (2007) upheld by the Supreme Court. Apparently MAP agreements like those involving the Blue Yeti on B&H and Amazon.com are legal. I still find it very interesting that somehow they all ended up on the exact same retail price, right down to the penny and including the free shipping. I may just be your garden variety idiot, but that sure smacks of price fixing to me.

Anyway, I hope this documentation of the hunt for the Blue Yeti was eye opening. I know it was for me. Perhaps it’ll be the first topic on my new call-in talk show coming soon. If I decide to buy a Yeti, that is.

Let the internet buyer be motherfucking aware.