Simple Saturday: License to Ill

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Last year New York wanted to help the state’s financial problems to advance us all as a people, by which I mean take more of our money to patch all the holes in the programs that are supposed to help us. I never said it was a healthy relationship.
One of the plans was to immediately require all of us to purchase new license plates at an increased price. They even came out with a new design to supposedly jumpstart the bandwagon for stamped aluminum. People weren’t so happy about it, though, and the idea was later scrapped.
Suffice it to say, I was quite surprised to begin seeing these new plates appearing on cars in the past couple weeks. It turns out we weren’t mandated to have to purchase plates at a higher price, but they made it so we’d still have to adopt these new plates when they end their natural life cycles.
Guess what? People still aren’t happy. Let me show you why. Here are our old plates:

Clean. Neutral. Shows off some of our attractions.

And here are our new plates:

Perfect for matching all those goldenrod and navy blue cars out there.

It’s like the ’70s has come back in a form of horrid leprosy slowly spreading from car to car. You can not look at a car that possesses one of these new plates and not see one of these things glaring out at you in blatant, non-complementary defiance.

Are there any uglier license plates out there? Let me know!

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The Bucket for the Cure that kills?

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Want to help fight breast cancer? Then buy a bucket of them! Breasts, I mean. …Chicken breasts.

That’s the undercurrent of KFC’s new “Buckets for the Cure” campaign, where proceeds from meals served in pink versions of their iconic buckets will be donated to breast cancer research. The company is hoping enough poultry pounders will pitch in to amass the highest single donation ever made to this cause.

There’s a certain dichotomy in all this. There’s the spontaneous feel-good vibe of a large corporation making a commitment to fight a disease that has scuttled so many lives. Beneath that shiny pink packaging, however, lies the question of why a place that serves such unhealthy fare wishes to risk cries of hypocrisy by standing on a health-conscious pedestal. Studies have shown that high-fat diets may increase the risk of breast cancer in women, after all, and you’re never going to find a wing-thigh combo on any South Beach meal plan.

It all goes back to the uneasy truth that breast cancer sells. With widespread impact and instantly recognizable pink campaign, breast cancer is the PR darling of corporate humanitarianism. Going pink raises instant awareness for your brand, gets the media talking about you and, no matter what anyone says, the fact you are contributing to cancer research is unarguably commendable in itself.

Yet while corporations such as the NFL can harmlessly reap the benefits of making their players wear cotton candy-colored cleats, KFC is a different animal. It is, of course, one’s own choice of what they decide to slide down their esophagus, but KFC is implying that all the tender, moist, PETA-infuriating deliciousness of their fried chicken is an nonnegotiable item in your contract of philanthropy.

But hey, they’ve been making tiny steps toward healthier food, right? They don’t fry in trans fat, for one. And I think I’ve even seen some beans or corn there once. Just keep on that road and they sh

As if millions of arteries cried out in terror and were suddenly clogged...

Oh, right. The Double Down. KFC’s new 540-calorie gorilla on a meat-girded motorcycle, 32 grams of fat riding shotgun in the sidecar. It’s not the deadliest fast food concoction out there, which should say something about us, but it’s nonetheless strange this was released shortly before the pink bucket campaign. The Double Down, too, built quite the media buzz around it, too, but in the opposite “Look at this tasty monstrosity of contemporary society!” vein.

It’s a scary juxtaposition: one company receiving attention in the same month both for fighting breast cancer and releasing a new contribution to the increase of moobs in our culture. The donation is still great, but the apparent cost of it in our health and diet throws a shadow of doubt upon its longstanding worth.

Simple Saturday: Scantily blogged

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I know I’ve been rather lax on the updates recently. The usual upspike in work and commitments is upon me. Case in point, I’m working 6 days per week the next two weeks. It’s nothing too bad, since I’m banking days for upcoming excursions into the world, which I’m much looking forward to.

I’m also investing some more time into my health and losing weight, having recently joined SparkPeople and taking advantage of their fitness and nutrition trackers. You totally don’t realize how much damage those five innocent packages of Ding Dongs between meals can wreak until you see the numbers on the screen.

I do have ideas, but I just need to scrounge up the time and will to get them down. I’m still hoping for at least one post per week, though–Simple Saturdays excluded. That’s for my health, too!

Romance Stories Written by a Virgin: The Lure of Passion

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He met her down by the old, abandoned wharf; the same place her crystal blue eyes first captured his wandering form. It was the unlikeliest of meetings, but proved more than special enough to continue from that day on.

“I hope I didn’t keep you waiting too long,” he said, glancing around to make sure they were alone before sitting down beside her. “My friend invited me to lunch and I — well, it’d be bad to tell him about us just yet and I couldn’t come up with any excuses.”

She just laughed and passed a hand through her long, flaxen hair. “Don’t worry. I just watched the gulls for a while. The important part is you’re here now.”

The warm, content look that followed her speech sent a tingling pulse radiating outward from his core, momentarily scrambling his larynx.

“I-I.” He cleared his throat as she looked on, head tilting lightly to one side. “What’s so interesting about me? I mean, you — I have to say it; you’re beautiful. Legendarily so. You can’t tell me I’m worth coming back to so many times. There has to be—”

“Hush,” she said, a slender finger touching his chin. “They say there are plenty of fish in the sea, right? They’re wrong. There aren’t as many as you think; especially not good ones. They’re always trying to show off their superiority like I’m some sort of prize to take home. You… have been different. You’re the first I’ve met to actually be fascinated by who I am. And you’ve never once tried to drag me away.” She smirked.

He smiled sheepishly. “Well, I’d be lying if I said I haven’t been thinking of a way to do that — only if you ever wanted to, I mean. I know the risks.”

Those lock-on eyes brightened even further as it was her turn to choke up. “Yes… Neither of our loved ones may react that well, but… but I would enjoy it. I’d be willing to, if you can. But… let me give you something you could take home now?”

He forgot how to move as he watched her wan lips close in on his, and he would’ve realized it had he not also forgotten what moving even was. The undulations of the water around them seemed to freeze as they kissed, the amount of time passing locked in their bond counted only by the heavens until they at last parted.

He slowly opened his eyes… to find a peculiar look on her face as she ran her tongue along the roof of her mouth.

“Some sort of taste… What is that?” she mumbled to herself.

“Taste?” he echoed. The blood suddenly drained from his face. “Oh no.”

She stared at his reaction in disbelief. “Oh my — it’s tartar sauce, isn’t it!” She gagged in horror, turning to spit at the ground.

“Wait — no, I can explain! I didn’t think—”

“You monster!” Her crystal eyes rippled with welled-up tears. “I can’t believe I was trusting you with—” A sob overtook her and she dove into the water, her tailfin lashing up to give him a broad slap across the face.

When he turned back, she was gone; only the waves remained.

He rubbed the welts on the side of his face, his other hand balled into a fist as he looked up into the sky.

“Curse you, 2-for-1 Filet-O-Fish deal!”

Blurting News 3

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1:42 PM 4/8/2010 AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — Tiger Woods has teed off at the Masters.

1:45 PM 4/8/2010 VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope is doing Catholic stuff.

1:49 PM 4/8/2010 APPALACHIA, Pa. (AP) — Bear defecating in woods.

Dyngus Day

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It’s the day after Easter, and in Western New York that means one thing: 5 more months until the Bills start losing again!

Actually, it means it’s Dyngus Day, a Polish tradition for which Buffalo has deemed itself the capital. If Mardi Gras is the pre-Lent holiday, revelers say, then Dyngus Day is the post-Lent, “Thank God it’s spring!” holiday.

Dyngus Day in Buffalo means parades, polkas, Polish sausage, pride and… pussywillows. One of the longstanding traditions of today is to slap each other silly with whips switches made from thin willow branches. Originally, back in the oldschool era of Dyngus Day, boys were supposed to sneak into the rooms of young, unmarried women as they slept, dump a bucket of water (or several) over their heads and then whip them around the legs as they were likely distracted by the need to expel liquid from their lungs. Happy Dyngus Day! Cyanosis really brings out your eyes!

In modern times, however, things don’t sound so much like something out of a torture memo. Pussywillow-whipping has become a sport for both sexes and the buckets of water have largely given way to squirt gun raids (although the Edward M. Cotter, a fireboat has been christened “The World’s Largest Dyngus Day Squirt Gun” by local Polonia, so don’t think you’re safe quite yet).

As in Mardi Gras, the Dyngus Day celebration is open to anyone — “Everybody’s Polish on Dyngus Day!” says the “Everybody’s Polish on Dyngus Day Polka” — so feel free to join in. Just make sure to tell those tourists from Salem to let the ladies up for air now and then — it’s not a test for anything.

Simple Saturday: iPadding

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Did you know the iPad went on sale today? If you’re able to read this, there’s no way you could’ve slipped by some outlet telling you it has.

For some reason, the media has a love affair with Apple products more than any other. You’ll see small bits on the news about people waiting in line for a new game console, but they have full features on anything that has a lower-case i in front of it. Logging into the Associate Press wire for some financial stories, I counted no less than 10 updates to a story on the iPad release, each with several revisions. That’s more than 30 installments of a story on a product release.

Apple has done very well over the years branding itself as the quality-centered underdog. Yet as it’s grown, it has relied more and more upon “Big Corporate” tactics to get what it wants and make sure as much money as possible is milked from its user base. I’m not saying they don’t make good products, or that people shouldn’t buy what they’re happy with, but don’t tell me Apple plays so much more nicely than Microsoft these days. Less than a year from now an updated iPad will be out with features that should’ve been in what’s available now, and people will buy the retread. Other companies do this, too (I’m looking at you, Nintendo) but Apple does it while still clinging to its “innovative small guy” appeal.

Ultimately, just take a step back and figure out why you go for a certain brand over others. If the reasons are legitimate for your needs, then more power to you. But if it’s some form of consumer Stockholm syndrome, take a good long look at what else is out there next time you want to make a purchase.

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