Sunday, November 17, 2019

My Review of the Impossible Whopper from Burger King

First off, I'll state that I'm not a vegetarian. I do eat meat, but I'm not altogether comfortable with that, and I think there are a lot of positives involved in eating lower on the food chain. Better for your health, better for the environment, and certainly better for the livestock. If there are things out there that do a good job of behaving like meat, give me my protein, and are affordable and convenient, what's not to like? So it was with great anticipation that I sat down to try an Impossible Whopper, Burger King's new offering, a soy-based meat substitute.

The Impossible Whopper is available with all the typical fixings you can get on a regular Whopper (and yes, you can get bacon on it, if you feel a bit more callous toward pigs than cows). I ordered mine with cheese, lettuce, tomato, mayo, and ketchup. People have been mentioning the price as being higher than that of a typical Whopper, but the sandwich and a side of mozzarella sticks cost $8.20 all together, and I didn't find that particularly exorbitant (this is in North Carolina; your results elsewhere may vary). By the way, I'm happy that Burger King offers mozzarella sticks, but sad because they never seem to be freshly made. If you want good drive-thru mozzarella sticks, go to Arby's. Their sticks game is on point.

As for the Impossible Whopper, I liked it. It was tasty and satisfying. It did not, I repeat, not, taste like beef. However, it still tasted good, and it tasted like "a burger", if that makes sense. Part of that was the toppings and the bun, I'm sure, but it also had the right texture, or "mouth feel", as they say. One thing that I will note is that it was not juicy, although frankly, a lot of juiciness can make a burger excessively sloppy, and I do not have much interest in wearing a plastic bib everywhere I go to eat. It didn't taste dry, either--it wasn't crumbly or mealy. It was firm and meaty, and of course the mayo and ketchup added a decent amount of sloppiness to the burger experience.

The verdict: I'm in. It's a win-win: I get my burger, and nobody has to die. From now on, I'm getting my mozzarella sticks from Arby's, but when I'm at Burger King, I will happily order the Impossible Whopper from now on!

Monday, August 26, 2019

September is National Pediculosis Prevention Month

September has almost begun, and I noticed while researching things that occur during the ninth month that September is National Pediculosis Prevention Month. My initial reaction to this was, "What the heck is pediculosis?"

Just in case you were wondering that same thing, I looked it up to save you the trouble. Pediculosis, it seems, is a nicer way of saying "an infestation of lice". Nicer, and shorter, as well--I'm not sure how well National Month for the Prevention of Lice Infestation would fit on a banner at the bake sale fundraiser. Also not sure if you would want to buy any baked goods after seeing that.

So now that we know what pediculosis means and why the word is used, let's learn a little more about the problem itself. The most common type of pediculosis is an infestation of head lice, spread through head-to-head contact, such as when people are cuddling or sleeping side-by-side. It's most commonly found in children ages 3-10 and their families. Every now and then, you will hear of a lice infestation sweeping through an elementary school, complete with kids lining up to be inspected. Treatment for head lice includes medicated shampoos and ointments as well as physical treatments like delousing combs, hot air and even shaving, when all else fails (lice are not super easy to get rid of). People of African descent have an advantage when it comes to lice--they are less susceptible to these infestations because of their hair texture.

There are other types of lice infestations (and other types of lice) besides that which involve the head. The hair on one's body can be the subject of pediculosis, as well. The infestation that we know as "crabs", which strikes the genital area, is a type of lice infestation--pubic lice. If one is nervous about applying chemical treatments to these more sensitive areas, at least it is much easier to simply shave hair off the body than off the head. Lice are similar to fleas and ticks in that they like to stay on the body, biting the skin to drink blood. This can cause a lot of itching discomfort, as well as other, more serious, complications--some very deadly diseases such as Typhus can be spread by lice. Fortunately, only body lice, which are different from head and pubic lice, are known to spread disease.

To prevent pediculosis, avoid contact with other sufferers, keep bedding and clothing well-laundered and keep hair and body clean. Pediculosis is actually on the rise, probably owing to an increase in population and more crowded living conditions, so be aware and keep yourself as clean as is practically possible.

To find out what else is going on in September, click here:

Free-use image from Pixabay

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Your September Birthday: September Holidays, Traditions and More

Ah, September! Beginning of the school year, first month of fall, and here comes football! For some of us, September is more like the start of a new year than January, which after all comes right in the relative doldrums of winter (sorry, January babies). Those of you born in September might think you don't have enough cool holidays-the exuberance of the Labor Day weekend can be bittersweet, as it also marks the last summer blowout-but read on; there's plenty of interesting stuff in September to celebrate.

Monthly Observances
September is National Chicken Month, as well as the national month for alcohol and drug addiction recovery, childhood injury prevention, coupons, honey, Hispanic heritage, mushrooms, organic harvest, osteopathic medicine, ovarian cancer awareness, sickle cell, pediculosis prevention, pianos, potatoes, preparedness, rice, and skin care awareness, as well as the international month for people skills, self-awareness, and strategic thinking.

Furthermore, September is the official month for ADHD awareness, baby safety, backpack safety, college savings, gynecology cancer awareness, world leukemia and lymphoma awareness, metaphysical awareness, menopause awareness, mold awareness, pediatric cancer awareness, reunion planning, sea cadets, self improvement, healthy aging, shameless promotion, sports and home eye health and safety, subliminal communications, and world animal remembrance.

September has also been deemed One-on-One Month, which may or not be related to the fact that it's also Pleasure Your Mate Month (or it may just be about basketball), and, last but not least, literary types might appreciate the fact that September is not just Library Card Sign-Up Month, but also Be Kind to Editors and Writers Month. Yes, please!

Weirdest Holiday
The 25th is National One-Hit Wonder Day , so listen to some Haircut One Hundred, Joe Budden or Soup Dragons today!

September Traditions
Flower: aster - faith, wisdom, valor
Birthstone: sapphire - chastity, hope; Virgo's gemstone: topaz - fidelity

Zodiac sign: Virgo (1-22) and Libra (23-30; see October for details). Virgos are earth signs, so called because they are solid and stable, like the ground you stand on. Virgos are extremely reliable and dependable in the workplace. They like following routines, so they have to try to keep from being awfully boring! Best friends: Taurus and Capricorn. Best love matches: Scorpio, Pisces and Cancer.

Famous Birthdays: Lily Tomlin (1st), Jimmy Connors (2nd), Charlie Sheen (3rd), Beyonce Knowles (4th), Bob Newhart (5th), Idris Elba (6th), Buddy Holly (7th), Don Rickles (8th), Otis Redding (9th), Colin Firth (10th), Ludacris (11th), Jennifer Hudson (12th), Jesse Owens (13th), Jacqueline Bisset (14th), Prince Harry Wales (15th), Peter Falk (16th), Narendra Modi (17th), Greta Grabo (18th), Jimmy Fallon (19th), Sophia Loren (20th), Larry Hagman (21st), Joan Jett (22nd), Ray Charles (23rd), Jim Henson (24th), Christopher Reeve (25th), Olivia Newton-John (26th), Avril Lavigne (27th), Brigitte Bardot (28th), Madeline Kahn (29th), Truman Capote (30th).

Catholic Feast Days
1- St Fiacre, St Giles
2 -St Agricolus of Avignon
3- St Gregory the Great, Ste Phoebe, St Simeon Stylites the Younger
4 -St Marinus, Ste Rosalia, Ste Rose of Viterbo
5 -St Laurence Justiani
6 -Ste Bee, St Magnus of Fussen
7 -St Anastasius the Fuller, St Cloud, Ste Regina, St Gratus of Aosta
8 -Nativity of Mary, St Adrian
9- St Peter Claver, St Bettelin
10- St Nicholas of Tolentino, Ste Pulcheria, St Theodard
11- St Veran, the Blessed Louis of Thuringia
12- St Ailbhe, St Guy
13- St John Chrysostom, St Venerius
14- Ste Notburga, St Maternus
15- Ste Catherine of Genoa
16- St Cornelius, St Cyprian, Ste Ludmilla, Ste Edith of Wilton
17- Ste Hildegard of Bingen, St Lambert, St Robert Bellarmine
18- St Ferreolus, St Joseph of Cupertino
19- St Januarius, Ste Emily de Rodat, Ste Lucy of Scotland
20- St Eustace
21- St Matthew
22- St Maurice, St Phocas
23-The Blessed Padre Pio, Ste Thecla
24- St Gerard
25- St Cadoc, St Finbar
26- Sts Cosmas & Damian, St Elzear
27- St Vincent de Paul
28- St Bernardino of Feltre, St Thiemo, St Wenceslas
29- St Michael the Archangel (Michaelmas), St Raphael the Archangel
30- St Jerome, Ste Sophia

See? No matter what day you were born on, something is happening!
Not born in September? Here are all the other months!

January -
February -

Saturday, May 4, 2019

How Elements Affect Your Zodiac Sign, Part Two: Relationships

In PartOne of this piece on zodiac elements, we learned why the four elements—earth, air, fire and water—were assigned to the different zodiac signs and what that means for each sign, as far as characteristics unto themselves. But what happens when you combine elements in different kinds of relationships, such as friends, family, coworkers or lovers? Can you predict how well you will get along with others based on your relative signs?

Earth Signs (Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn)—as we found in Part One, earth signs are very stable, faithful, stubborn, secure and fairly bossy. How does the element of earth mix with other elements?

Earth Earth= not bad, as you might expect; as long as the two earth signs share the same fundamental opinions of things, the stubborn side will be more of a bonding element than an obstacle. Earth signs can build a wall around, rather than between, themselves. Earth signs can make the best friends with other earth signs, although it is best if they are not the same sign (Taurus and Virgo work better than Virgo and Virgo, for example).

Earth Air (Gemini, Aquarius, Libra) = not a very good match. Earth is the most stable element and air is the most changeable, so as you might expect, the air signs are always making the earth signs feel off balance, and the earth signs strike the air signs as boring and stifling.

Earth Fire (Sagittarius, Aries, Leo) = also not great; fire signs like to be popular and are very outgoing, where earth signs can be homebodies, and when that stubborn side comes up against the natural instigator that is the fire sign, there’s going to be some scorched earth and some smothered flame.

Earth Water (Scorpio, Cancer, Pisces) = an excellent match, especially good for romantic partners, as the elements are not too much the same, but complementary. After all, if you mix earth and earth, you just have more of the same, but if you mix earth and water, you can get some lovely mud. Water signs are adaptable but crave stability, which is exactly what earth signs offer. Water signs can offer a more sensitive and intuitive nature, which helps earth signs get in touch with their emotional side.

Air Signs (Gemini, Aquarius, Libra)—just as in real life, we have seen that air doesn’t mix at all with earth. What is the compatibility with the other elements for these playful, enthusiastic, irresponsible and impetuous sprites?

Air Air = good matches, as they are both spontaneous, fun-loving and go-with-the-flow. The best friend matches, especially because air signs love to analyze, and who better to do that with than a friend who loves to hash things over as well?

Air Fire (Sagittarius, Aries, Leo) = excellent match in friendship, even better in love; fire signs love spontaneity and excitement, like air signs, but they are more driven, and will therefore give the air sign some focus. A fire sign would make a great boss for an air sign.

Air Water (Scorpio, Cancer, Pisces) = ah, well, you know water and air don’t ever really mix in nature—the air just bubbles up and out, which is likely to happen in relationships. Water wants a stable and predictable mate, not putting much stock in last-minute plans and rescheduling or in dreamy promises for the future that get countermanded by one of air’s typical mind-changes.

Fire Signs (Sagittarius, Aries, Leo) – We have noted that fire signs get on poorly with earth and well with air. Is this popular sign friendly with itself, or does it combust? Does water dampen its spirits?

Fire Fire = there’s combustion, but it’s good. I would recommend air as a romantic partner, but another fire sign makes a great friend, although there is some chance that their naturally competitive and show-off-y aspects could lead to some extremes. Bosses, if you really want to see some production spikes at work, make your fire signs captains of opposing teams!

Fire Water (Scorpio, Cancer, Pisces) = as you might guess, water can dampen fire’s crackling little flame, and fire can get water pretty steamed. This combination can be extremely good for a casual sex relationship, though, so if you can go into it with open eyes and keep emotions out of it (very difficult for the water sign), it will be great…for the short term.

Water Signs (Scorpio, Cancer, Pisces) – Water likes to make mud with earth, can’t hold on to air, and things can get steamy with fire, in good ways and bad. So how does this intuitive, emotional sign wash with others of the same element?

Water Water = very well, actually. Although as usual it is recommended that two of the exact same sign do not pair up (dreamy Pisces, fussy Cancers and intense Scorpios need a little break from themselves, not a double dose), two water signs are a lovely match, adapting to each other and developing an intimate bond on their shared emotional level. A breakup between two water signs is a devastating thing, but the relationship is always worth having. As coworkers, water signs can be great because of their intuitive bond, but if there is a conflict at work, they have to be careful not to fan the flames because of their sensitivity.

Image from Pixabay

Friday, March 8, 2019

How Elements Affect Your Zodiac Sign, Part One: The Basics

What’s your zodiac sign? Aquarius, maybe? Okay, do you know what element that is? Water, right? Well, nope; the sign of the water-bearer is actually associated with the element of air. So what’s Pisces, the fish, you say, cynically, earth? No, Pisces is a water sign, but the desert-dweller, Scorpio, is also a water sign. Maybe these don’t seem too logical, but trust me, the element associated with your zodiac sign is there for a good reason, and finding out more about the characteristics of your element will help quite a bit in understanding your motivations and in dealing with other people.

Earth Signs – The earth signs of the zodiac are Capricorn (December 22 - January 20), Taurus (April 21 – May 21), and Virgo (August 24 – September 22). As you might expect, earth is the most stable element, and these signs are steady, reliable and loyal. On the other hand, you have the downside of stability: People born under these signs may have unwavering convictions, but they do have an awfully hard time seeing other points of view because of that. They tend to be quite stubborn and frequently set in their ways. Earth signs dwell in their bodies, tending to enjoy pleasures of the flesh, like eating and sex.

Air Signs – The air signs of the zodiac are Aquarius (January 21 –February 18), Gemini (May 22 – June 21), and Libra (September 23 – October 23). The ever-changing element of air governs these signs, so these folks have a tendency to change things—plans, ideas, even feelings—without a lot of notice. Air blows hot and cold, sometimes in the same day or even the same moment. Air signs dwell in their minds, constantly analyzing situations, frequently second-guessing themselves and others.

Water Signs – The water signs of the zodiac are Pisces (February 19 – March 20), Cancer (June 22 - July 22) and Scorpio (October 24 – November 22). The adaptive element of water governs people born under these signs. Water signs are very intuitive, often sensing when a situation is right or wrong well before finding out the facts. Incredibly sensitive (often TOO sensitive), water signs dwell in their hearts and are ruled by their emotions, however much they may try to resist that.

Fire Signs – The fire signs of the zodiac are Aries (March 21 - April 20), Leo (July 23 – August 23), and Sagittarius (November 23 – December 21). Like a brightly burning flame, fire signs are exciting, extroverted and love being the life of the party. They are very friend-oriented and enjoy being popular, but also tend to be self-centered (not necessarily with any intention of doing so) and are frequently incorrigible instigators, always trying to see what they can get other people to do (that, they do on purpose). Attracted to fine possessions and successful friends, fire signs dwell in the world.

Now that you are more familiar with the element that governs your sign, think about the people you know. Are there some folks you just don’t “get”? Others who seem to share your feelings to a tee? Elements play a great role in compatibility in any relationships, whether friendships, love matches or just coworker relations. You will find out more about how the elements interact in Part Two of my article. 

Image from Pixabay

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

The Amazing World of Love Dolls: Not Just for Sex

Most of us have seen a sex doll at some point or another—in a funny movie, maybe a joke at a bachelor party, or maybe while paging through a “specialty” catalog or visiting a certain type of store—and these inflatable ladies with their crude and obvious gaping mouths and cartoonish features made us wonder how anyone could stretch their imagination enough to get, um, intimate with them.

And then along came the movie Lars and the Real Girl (2007, ) , which enlightened us to the presence of love dolls that were far more lifelike, and for whom, protagonist Lars (played by Ryan Gosling) informs us, people pay thousands of dollars. Well, I must say, although the doll in that movie was decidedly more lifelike (in a creepy way), she was still pretty un-human. I didn't think too much about love dolls beyond that.

Recently, I saw a job posting for a writer to compose copy for a website selling these love dolls, however, and there was a link to click so that the prospective writer could check out the subject matter in order to decide if writing about high-end sex toys was their cup of tea. I'm pretty open-minded about subject matter, so I considered applying. I clicked the link, and I was amazed by what I saw. The love dolls were dressed, posed and photographed professionally to look very realistic and appealing.

But my amazement was not just that the dolls were far more realistic--gone are the strangely gaping mouths, to be replaced by a slightly open and realistic aperture made of soft, stretchable silicone--and actually very pretty, in a Barbie-doll kind of way (not to mention that the original Barbie was based on a German sex doll, which explains her originally improbable proportions). The real surprise is that there seems to be so much more to the love dolls than use as a sex toy.

Fascinated, I did more research and checked out other sex doll websites, as well. Based on the ad copy, as well as some sample FAQs, it appears that the customers for sex dolls treat them more like loved ones than sex objects; that is, the main purpose seems to be companionship, rather than physical gratification. According to the website, many customers don't even use the dolls for sex at all! Seems like a lot of men like playing dress-up with their silicone companions, and some love dolls are specifically made and advertised as having fingernails that can be painted. An episode of National Geographic's Taboo on this subject confirmed that men like to chat with their love dolls and are happy enough that their “girlfriends” don't chat back. I guess there is someone for everyone!

Image from Wikimedia Commons  -
View license here

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Translation and Pronunciation Key for Japanese Lyrics from “Love Letter to Japan” by The Bird and the Bee

Those of you who have become enthralled by The Bird and The Bee’s song “Love Letter to Japan” from the second album, Ray Guns are Not Just the Future, and its accompanying adorable video (watch it here) may be frustrated by the verse in Japanese. I take pity, fans. I have a real live Japanese person who has helped me with this, and I will now tell you the Japanese lyrics from “Love Letter to Japan”, how to spell and pronounce them, and what they mean.

About two thirds of the way through the song (in the video for “Love Letter to Japan”, this corresponds to the dream sequence of the boy dancing in front of the Buddha statue), the following verse is heard:

Nishi kara higashi heto
Anata no tokoro nitondekitano
Touimishinori o anata no soba ni itakute
Kono omoi o subete
Anata ni sasagemasu

To sing along, here is the pronunciation for the Japanese:

NEE-shee KAH-rah HEE-gah-shee heh-TOH
AH-nah-tah noh TOH-koh-roh nee-TON-deh-kee-TAN-oh
TOH-oh-ee-MEE-shee-noh-ree OH
AH-nah-tah noh SOH-bah nee EE-tah-koo-TEH
KOH-noh OH-moh-ee OH soo-bee-TEH
Ah-nah-TAH nee sah-sah-GEH-mah-soo

(NOTE: This is not exactly how the words would be pronounced in an actual Japanese conversation, as the syllables in this verse are stressed in order to fit the beat of the song. The pronunciation for the individual syllables is correct, but I have followed the accents of the words the way they are heard in the song)

Now for the translation. The literal meaning of the words is as follows:

From the West to the East
I have flown to your place
I have come a long way to be near you
I will give you all my feeling

For anyone who knows the song, this is obviously the translation of the first (and oft-repeated) verse:

From the West to the East
I have flown to be near you
I have come all this way to be close, to be here with you
And now, all my heart I will lay down precisely at your feet

So, mystery solved, kids. Enjoy singing along!

Image from Pixabay