Life’s Little Lessons

A couple of life’s little lessons.

Trader Joe’s recently introduced “Organic Triple Ginger Instant Oatmeal”. They also have Triple Ginger Snaps, Triple Ginger Brew (though that’s been temporarily pulled from the shelves while they look for a way to keep the bottles from exploding on the shelves), and quite a variety of less-than-triple ginger goodies.

At least at TJ’s, ginger is replacing pumpkin as the go-to flavor for Winter. I regard this as a good thing, and I hope the idea spreads. Note that I’ve got nothing against the combination of flavors known as “pumpkin spice”. IMNSHO, it only goes downhill when pumpkin is added to the spices. But I digress.

The oatmeal is tasty stuff, even mixed 50/50 with plain oatmeal, as I tend to do. (I’m mostly trying to cut down on the sugar; as is the case with most flavored oatmeal, sugar is a significant chunk of the flavoring. Making each box last twice as long is a bonus.)

What’s the lesson? Patience. I’m getting there.

Yesterday I tried an experiment. Could triple ginger oatmeal be further improved by the addition of blueberries? You probably won’t be surprised to hear the answer: yes. Blueberries, even out of season ones, as these were, make many breakfast foods better.


If you’re adding blueberries to your oatmeal–ginger or otherwise–do not put the berries in the bowl until after it comes out of the microwave. No, let me amend that rule. If you want your oatmeal to look like a prop from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, by all means, go ahead and add the berries before nuking.

Microwaved blueberries, you see, explode, filling your oatmeal with red juice, almost exactly the color of fresh blood. Disturbing. Also, difficult to wash off the bowl. At least it turns purple as it dries.

Lesson learned.

Moving on.

On December 17, after months–years, even–of declaring the eastern span of the Bay Bridge perfectly safe and capable of meeting its intended 150-year lifespan, the oversight panel voted to consider installing a corrosion protection system on at least some of the most vulnerable parts of the bridge. Yes, the very same system they voted against back in October.
The reason for their change of heart? It’s not, as one might hope, because they sincerely believe it’s necessary. Will Kempton–former head of Caltrans–said “…it’s a matter of public confidence.” In other words, it’ll make the general public feel safer. Sounds a lot like what the panel said last month, about the media’s “misleading” coverage of the bridge and the Bolt Botch, doesn’t it? Kudos to Mr. Kempton for consistency, at least.

The other reason for the panel’s apparent change of heart is less reassuring. The plan adopted in October was to monitor corrosion and take action as part of the bridge’s ongoing, regular maintenance. However, Brian Maroney–Caltrans’ chief engineer for the eastern span project–pointed out that Caltrans sucks at monitoring their bridges. (Yes, that’s a paraphrase.) More specifically, he said that only one of the nine bridges with a monitoring system is checked on an annual basis, because there isn’t enough money. And it’s not just corrosion monitoring that doesn’t happen because Caltrans can’t afford it. Mr. Maroney said that “lots” of earthquake motion sensors are turned off when the economy is down.

Imagine that. Caltrans pays millions of dollars for safety equipment, and then doesn’t have enough money to use it. Shocking.

The article in the Chron quotes a nationally-known corrosion expert, Jack Tinnea, as saying that corrosion inspections are federally mandated. To this non-lawyer, that suggests Mr. Kempton, as a former head of Caltrans, might be liable for some of those inspections that haven’t happened. He doesn’t seem to be worried about the possibility, so maybe I’m wrong.

Yes, there is a lesson here.

Getting what you want for the wrong reason isn’t very satisfying.

I’m glad to see Caltrans and the Bay Bridge’s oversight board opening up to outside advice. Even this tiny bit is good–one has to start somewhere, after all. But knowing it’s the board’s way of patting the general public on the head and saying “There, there. Everything’s going to be OK,” doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence that we’ll get any answers to our vexing questions.

Pass the oatmeal, please.

One thought on “Life’s Little Lessons

  1. Pingback: Good News for Caltrans | Koi Scribblings

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