“Damn Smartphones” or “Damn You Gutenberg”?

I was Internet surfing the other day and came across my 4,764th (yes, I’m counting) article/blog lamenting the fall of western civilization due to adults and children having their faces buried in a smart phone when they should be, in no particular order: eating dinner, conversing or paying attention at or to a meeting, teacher, instructor, partner, friend, significant other, movie, TV, Date, marketer, presentation, burglar, drug dealer, your boss, their boss, physician, drive through employee, politician, pest control, or spouse significant or gratuitous sexual encounter (adults only).

The last straw was this mommy blog where she writes that she has her kids in the car and she’s driving down some idyllic drive by some idyllic lake where the weather and sun and sky and trees are all perfect and she glances back at her little angels and (pause while I throw up just a little bit)but they had missed the whole thing because their faces were buried in their smartphones. Leaving aside they were too young to HAVE smartphones, or issues of parental discipline or child entitlement or first world problems in general, I decided to do a little research, and by luck, happened to find the following essay, FROM 1514, 500 years ago.

It went like this.(pardon any translation errors, but its hard to find a program to translate 16th century German).

“My name is Else Luther, and I’m a Mom. I really need to vent today, so let me tell you this story. Me, my husband, Ehrhardt our oldest daughter, Byztel and our younger son Martin, were making plans to head the next day to my mothers, for All Saints Day church service and feast. Ehrhardt is a cobbler, and the shoes don’t give him, or us, very much time away so a trip to see family and friends, far far off, twenty kilometres from home is a treat. But, it takes a full day preparation. Making Erbeßsuppen, (Pea Soup), Gút Schweinebraten, (Good Roast Pork), and Torten von Epffel (Apple Tart) is an all day job for me and Byztel, who is already 14 and will be married soon to that Gutenberg Boy, (who is very cute). However, in order to be able to leave at 5 am, Martin, 12, needs to ready the carriage and horses, and help us pack the wagon. And… where is Martin almost constantly? With his nose in a BOOK!! For those of you who may not have one yet, or seen one, Byztels boyfriends father invented this thing called the “printing press” which allows for the publishing of books, which for the life of me, I don’t understand why anyone needs. Monks copy them all their lives by hand, and what other book does anyone need, but the Bible, which only the Catholic Priests may read and we’re not allowed. But Herr Gutenberg has taken a liking towards Martin, and keeps giving him more books. Why, he probably has FOUR by now.

I’m always telling him to hide them, because they can easily set his father into a rage. “What, he’ll scream, “you have your head in another book?!?!” “What is wrong with you son?!?! I never read and I earn a good living, have a good family. A book is never going to earn you money. Nobody reads!!! You’re wasting your life with this nonsense. AND, if the Priests find out your reading the BIBLE, I can’t imagine what that is going to cost me in indulgences!!” Martin lowered his head and muttered, “I think these indulgences things are wicked, and the Church has become Greedy!!” Which made his father fume even more; “What did you do, read that in one of your BOOKS?. Shyt, son, as if you could start your own church or something?!?!?” (making sign of the cross).

I always came to Martin’s aid, getting his father to calm down and encouraging Martin to read more in secret, out of his father’s eyes, which brings me to what has me so upset. So after hounding Martin to put his book down and help get ready, we were finally ready to get in the wagon at 5 am and be off to Mother’s house.

We’re headed down the path by the Rhine River, and enjoying the beautiful day. Sunny, and not too cool or not too hot enjoying a little of Ehrhardts beer and enjoying the different colors of the leaves which had all changed, the birds in the air, and the wildlife drinking at the river. We’re all taking about how much fun we’ll have at Grandma’s, how much we’ll enjoy the feast, our plans for Byztel’s upcoming nuptials, Ehrhardt venting about the tax man I(not really noticing Martin is not contributing) when all of a sudden, we see two bears having sex at a tree at rivers edge. I turn around to alert Martin, so he can enjoy this glorious display when I see he had his NOSE IN A BOOK!!! “By God’s bones!!!!”, I said, (I rarely swear, but that boy…), you haven’t heard a word we’ve been saying and NOW you’ve missed two bears sarding in the woods.” I grabbed the book and threw it in the river. “There, that will teach you a lesson”. In this world you need to be connected to everyone around you all the time. What in God’s bones do you think books are going to teach you, anyway? How to form your own church? (making the sign of the cross).”

“Damn Guttenberg. Before you know it, no one is going to be speaking to each other eating dinner, conversing or paying attention at or to a meeting, teacher, instructor, partner, friend, significant other, play, courting, craftsman, burglar, beer maker, your boss, their boss, physician, mayor,spouse or gratuitous animal sard. (adults only). Life was better before books”.

Reaching the end of the essay on my smartphone, I, smilingly knowingly, and seeing that the more things change, they stay the same, went off to the zoo, with my smartphone, to see if I could get some video of some good sards.

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Ebola update from the Future- November 2017

Panic continues to grip the country as CNN announced this morning the 123rd person died from this raging epidemic. Since it’s been a little over two years since this dreaded disease has swept across the world decimating the world’s population causing 11,142.4 deaths, 24 euthanized dogs, 16 cats, and one beloved hamster, Harry; we should probably look at how we got to where we are today.

The Ebola crisis helped the republicans regain control of the senate in the midterm 2014 elections. They immediately introduced a sweeping bill to completely close all our borders. This passed on a completely party line vote as expected. However, due to vociferous lobbying by their constituencies in the airline, cruise, train, automobile, and law enforcement lobbies, the airline, airports, harbors, roads, train stations, and bus line were exempt from this bill. So, in the last two years, no Canadians in go carts WITH OR WITHOUT Ebola have entered our sacred shores. They also banned airline flights from Gdansk Poland and Tolmachevo Airport, Siberia Russia. (These two airports did not send in their portion of the lobbying fee to the airports association lobbyist so they were negotiated out of the bill).

The CDC finally bowing to pressure, from well…. Microbiologists and virologists started communicating honestly about the disease. By this time however, they had lost most credibility with the majority of people who got their information from MSNBC, FOX NEWS, or the Internet. Congress got a proposal to disband the CDC and to transfer their duties to the DEA, which was suffering from budget cuts due to the ever larger number of states legalizing marijuana. The DEA suggested a “WAR ON EBOLA” in which people who LOOKED sick would be arrested, their assets forfeited in order to fund operations to go to West Africa to kill the disease, and those producing it. This was very attractive to Congress, which immediately adopted it, and also provided a great place to resell the government glut of used military hardware since Ferguson Missouri had to stop buying it since their recent unpleasantness in 2014 and 2015 in which more people died from rioting and police clashes then total Ebola deaths for both years.

The pharmaceutical industry, seeing a tremendous opportunity had a vaccine ready by summer of 2015 and the FDA immediately suspended all its rules and rushed it to approval. Scientists with the pharmaceutical company said that if 97% of the population was inoculated, EBOLA would be wiped out by the end of 2016. The national group “NUTJOBS”- (No Unctuous Toxic Junk 4 Our Babies) (a new national group which formed uniting all the anti vaccinators especially in light of the huge spike in measles, whooping-cough and other childhood diseases which were now killing children nationwide). Based on this endorsement from scientists alone, 25% of the population REFUSED to take it. Congress then introduced a bill making it mandatory. This completely split the two political parties truly demonstrating the fascist- protectionist, ACLU-freedom schizophrenia in both parties. The Democrats “We must protect you wing” went to war with the “right to choose” wing. The Republican’s law enforcement wing went to war with the tea party gun control too much government wing, which in may cases were the same people, which led to an enormous spike in mental health admissions, taxing an already overtaxed health care system. Nonetheless, the bill passed and the vaccinations were now mandatory. At first, the IRS was in charge. They revoked NUTJOBS tax exempt status. Another 25% STOPPED getting vaccinated BECAUSE it was mandatory.

Because it was now mandatory, it became illegal to get vaccinated by anyone except the government, so the DEA got involved. So did the old marijuana organized crime industry, which had been going out of business since the stuff had been going legal, so they started selling non GMO vaccines, some flavored, some for snorting, some for parties and some with other drugs mixed in. Vaccine use now jumped back up to 75% but these were just estimates because people’s responses to the survey depended on who was asking and there was an entire ANOTHER industry which had popped up selling fake government vaccine certifications.

The panic of the last two years however has been great for the media, and they have stopped hiring journalists and have been hiring microbiologists and virologists to scour the planet to identify new diseases and scourges that they can then sensationalize and just wait for people to make up facts and fears about. Not having journalists doing the news anymore was not missed by any of the viewers of any of the media outlets since news had not been reported by any news show in decades. However, most of the scientists were too intelligent and not good-looking enough to actually be on camera, so the networks started hiring more homeless people as their high population of extreme mental illness actually was an assistance in meeting the ever higher bar that was becoming known as “cable news”. They were also cheap to clean up, and cheap to pay, mostly with and alcohol and drugs and by this year, nobody noticed if all the news anchors were sober or not.

Coca Cola dropped its plans in 2015 to attack sagging sales with a strawberry colored carbonated, diet, stevia sweeted drink called ECOLA- to capitalize on it being a diet drink for the electronic age, due to its name, and its blood color. They also induced the soft drink association to file suit against the WHO for trademark infringement for the name EBOLA as being too close to “Cola” or “Coca Cola”. Just recently, the federal Court referred their case to the Patent and Trademark office, who is actually, sensitive to the argument that the name “EBOLA” is offensive to native cola drinkers everywhere, and is considering revoking EBOLAs trademark. While originally named for Zaire, Coke is suggesting the name be changed to the tea virus or the milk virus. This suggestion is not going well with the – you guessed it, tea lobby and the milk lobby.

Oops, I see my exit coming up. Gotta get off this interstate. I try to make it a rule now, not to blog and drive in downtown traffic. Safety first!

Good vs Evil: First Trips to the Salad Cafe and the Gourmet Grocery Store

Im not on a diet; I don’t believe in them any more. I’m not vegetarian but I do try to subsist on salads anymore. I’m what I call an “Asparagus and Sawdustian”. A good friend, aware of this lifestyle change, suggested I try a new local cafe, called Verde. I made my first visit today. This was Good. In an Aristotelian ethical, greater good kind of way, it was heaven for salad eaters. It’s a build your own salad, wraps, kind of place. Imagine if crackheads had somewhere like Starbucks they could go just to buy a rock, or 2, twelve hours a day. Build your own salad with every kind of green, and ingredient and dressing imaginable, then sliced, tossed or chopped. I got my salad, proposed marriage to one of the owners, got my frequent flyer card (buy 9 salads, get one free) and took another gleeful step towards cleaner arteries and enlightenment.

In the same shopping center is a “Gourmet Grocery” store that opened last year, called “southern Seasons”. You’ve never heard of it, because there are only three of them. The motherships are in Chapel Hill NC and Richmond Virginia. I had not been since they opened. I thought since I was there, why not see what this store was all about. I think a similar market is how Dante got the idea for the Inferno with the Gates of Hell, into which you enter various circles of Hell. This was Evil. I guess intellectually I new what a gourmet grocery store WAS by definition, but now, two hours, post-traumatic shopping disorder experience later, I realize I really had no idea. In case you’re not a “gourmet grocery store shopper” let me give you some idea.

You may have never heard of “Southern Seasons”, but it was selected as one of the top 50 Gourmet Retailers in the country. I give you this link, because I think you’ll see there’s a similar Gate of Hell near you, or at least you’ll recognize Dean and DeLuca and these store descriptions will give you the corporate spin on what they sell. http://m.gourmetretailer.com/article-top_50_retailers-1274.html

What they sell is Oscar Wilde’s quote, “I can resist anything but temptation”. In Dante’s inferno, there were nine circles of hell, and each roughly corresponds to a station in a gourmet grocery store. I walked through the door right into the coffee and tea section, took a look at the teas, glanced around the store and saw: “bakery”, “”cheeses”, “candy”, “tasting bar”, “English foods”……….oh crap, I gotta get a cart, (the first circle of hell- limbo) this is going to be bad, I thought. No it’s not I thought, I can do this, like the 30 day alcoholic who’s just signed up for the 3 day Sonoma Wine Tasting Tour thinking, “I’m just gonna sample the olive oils”. First hit- one box of Moroccan mint tea.

Next station is the bakery. (Shopping the “perimeter in this store, in terms of eating healthy and I’m sure this is true of any gourmet grocery, would be like sending someone to a Brothel and saying, “shop the perimeter, you’ll be fine. There is no produce here- nary a beet nor a leaf of kale has given its life for the gourmet grocery. Each station is manned by an employee, who I swear came straight from the roast beef carving station at Ritz Carlton Ball Room. “Can I help you, what would you like” you are asked every 8.9 feet. I think they have sensors for that distance. I started saying, “no, thank you, I’m just fantasizing and eating vicariously”.

The bakery has an entire display case of single serve items because the sugar dealers learned from the drug dealers you sell more crack if you sell it one rock at a time. For the latter, its economic restraints, but for the former, they’re hoping you succumb to the fallacy that the calories are not so bad in just one piece. Second hit: “bad day” brownie. Pause a moment and let the full emotional tug of that sink in as you picture yourself looking at this brownie in the clear plastic case which also has chocolate chips, mini marshmallows, peanut butter and Rice Krispies. $4.99. (Third circle- gluttony) I’m sinkin fast.

The cheese counter is next. Imported cheese from every European country. The Stilton is tempting but at $25 a lb, I realize pricing here is at a percentage of the federal deficit, but going to a private entity. I’m impressed. (Fourth circle-Greed)

Next is the Candy Counter- which is pretty pedestrian – not counting the handmade artisan chocolates, the high end, high percentage cocoa bars, or the entire wall of jelly bellies. Pedestrian until the imported candy. The sugar dealer in the candy dept had a french accent. T guess they think you won’t feel so much like a crack head, if the cute woman, says syrupily, “oh, mon cher, what of theese shuck-o-latt can I help yoo weeth?” Not finding dark chocolate almonds, but noticing the mayan cayenne almonds were dark she gave me one to try. spoiler alert, the “cayenne” is not is there to rhyme with “Mayan”- Holy shit was that hot!!!!!!! (fifth circle of hell-anger, seventh circle – violence).

I was just doing reconnaissance after that till I saw they had imported Italian Torrone. They don’t sell Torrone in South Carolina. I think it’s because the top and bottom look like catholic communion wafers. But this Torrone was chocolate covered. That’s when I discovered that the Spanish also make a Torrone which they call, Turron. Third hit. El Almendro $7.89.

I wound my way around to what I would call “housewares”- or cooking utensils, dishes, accessories sold at jewelry prices. I needed one of the screen things, you know, that goes over your frying pan, so when you cook bacon you don’t have to call in the company with the haz mat suits to get grease off the entire side of your kitchen wall where your stove sits? They had one, so I though I’d save a trip to Bread, Bath and Beyond (this is my interchangeable name for Atlanta Bread Company and Bed bath and beyond. I know- such a strange malapropism you ask, but try it sometime. Just merge two businesses names and use the one Name to refer to both. Have fun with it) it was $25.99. Eighth circle of hell- fraud. I did however, get a salad chopper- don’t even ask.

I walked by the tasting bar, they had TWO people and gave them the same “fantasizing/vicariously”. Hold up the cross, garlic and holy water; hope-you -don’t -get bit gambit until the little brunette hawking the coffee wanted to hold my brownie. The other lady asked, “is that a BAD DAY BROWNIE?” “Yes it is”, I replied. The toffee brunette red the ingredients and let out a 50 shades of grey kind of gasp. She explained tasting the food was a way to help small business owners and the toffee company was her toffee company. I tried it- “holy shit!”, I said. “Holy shit good or Holy shot bad?”, she asked, plaintively batting her eyes. I bought a box. “You don’t have to do that, she cooed”. Second circle- lust

I’ve been in here an hour and a half by now. I look in my cart and I have: a bottle of blk alkaline bottled water (not even gonna try to explain that), the Moroccan tea, the BAD DAY brownie, the Spanish Turron, and the salad chopper. I take a swirl through the spices, marinades, English foods and pasta and sauces. Sicilian marinara in a jar?!?!? Sixth circle of hell heresy.

I manage to check out with my FIVE (items) which fit in a large plain brown McDonald’s meal bag and get out for $44. I see that friend who sent me to the salad cafe place Monday morning. The ninth circle of hell? Treachery.