Things I Learned

Warning: Some NSFW language in this post.

Things I learned during the holiday season.

  • There are a lot of stupid people driving cars. Weaving between lanes at ten miles per hour over the speed limit really doesn’t save you much time. Unless your commute is over a hundred miles, you’ll probably wind up spending more in increased fuel costs and vehicle wear and tear than you’ll earn in the few extra minutes you’re at work. And the less said about accelerating in an attempt to cross intersections in front of oncoming ambulances the better.
  • It’s not just drivers. Kudos to Caltrans for reaching new depths in planning. If you were going to close a major connecting street for three months and detour thousands of cars to an alternate route, wouldn’t you re-time the traffic lights so traffic on the detour route can move? Yeah, me too. Not Caltrans, though.
  • Tradition is not dead. Parents finding their kids’ toys obscene is nothing new. In 2002, there was the Harry Potter vibrating broomstick. Every couple of years since at least 2000, there’s a furor over a swearing Furby. And now parents are in an uproar over a phallic toy from the Play-Doh Sweet Shoppe Cake Mountain Playset. (If you’ve missed the uproar, there’s a picture of the object in question on Gawker–and probably a few million other sites.) I’m a little disturbed by the number of reports that say the toy looks “exactly” like a penis. Have the reporters ever seen one? Let me tell you, I’ve seen several, and none of them had screw threads. Nor do they come with those stimulating bumps behind the head and at the base. At least not as delivered from the factory; those are typically third-party aftermarket add-ons.
  • America is losing the candy war. It’s an R&D problem. Major manufacturers are content to rest on conventional wisdom, cranking out endless combinations of milk chocolate, peanuts, caramel, and wafers. Outside the US, however, candy makers aren’t afraid to try new things. Consider these offerings from Nestle:
    That’s right. In Japan, Nestle offers a green tea KitKat. And in the UK, it’s dark chocolate. Dark chocolate, people! And not the wimpy 50-60% the US sees on the rare occasions that the major manufacturers dabble in dark chocolate, but a solid 70%!

    In the interest of Science!, Maggie and I tried both variants. The experiment wasn’t entirely successful. We enjoyed both, but probably wouldn’t buy them again. The dark chocolate completely overwhelms the delicate flavor of the wafers. Contrarily, the flavor of green tea is a little weak, present mostly as an aftertaste.

    But the success of Nestle’s experiments is beside the point. What is important is that, first, Nestle is continuing their attempts to identify an ultimate candy bar, and second, they’re trying to hide their work from America.

    What, you don’t believe me? Take a closer look at that sticker on the Japanese candy.cg3
    That’s right. “…not a product authorized…for importation…”

    In the immortal words of General Buck Turgidson, “Hershey and Mars, we must not allow… a candy gap!”