Monday, September 24, 2007

Air Food...

My how times have changed.

I don’t know if I remember my first airplane meal. Chances are, it was on a cross-country flight from Boston to Sacramento on a family visit to my grandparents. I think, and maybe my memory is faulty, that I had some sort of chicken dish with steamed vegetables, smothered in gravy.

I didn’t eat it.

I was pretty picky back then and anything with gravy was gross. I passed it off my my younger brother, The Bottomless Pit, he ate it and I would’ve picked the walnuts off of the dessert brownie.

That hot meal, served on a plastic tray covered in half-melted polyurethane is long gone – at least here on American carriers. The way it is now, you’re lucky to get a bag of pretzels (peanuts are too expensive) and a cup of soda.

Last year, I flew to Alaska on what was then my longest-ever flight (check it out on a map – Fairbanks is really freakin’ far away). But, since it was still technically a domestic flight, no food. Just a tiny cup of juice to gargle with and a snack pack for a buck and box containing an apple and a soggy sandwich for five. Blah.

Comedians can complain about it all they want to entertain us and, on occasion, The New York Times can run a short article in the travel section of about the next cutback for travelers and their creature comforts.

And, yeah, it sucks. It means that you’re 7.3 times more likely to sit next to some fat guy chowing down on a stinky double-cheeseburger with the smell of fries wafting over the entire rear cabin. Now that’s the only way to fly!

I tell you what, though, the one good thing about all these cutbacks (no comped meals unless you’re in 1st class and pay-as-you-go munching) is that the quality of food has gotten substantially better.

Today, I’m flying to Orange County with United. On long-haul flights (those over 3 hours), they offer four snack packs, which are basically mini-meals in a handy to-go box. For five bucks each, you can get a nice organic fruit and granola selection, a junk-food box, standard munchies and a protein-packed health snack. Know what? They’re pretty good and reasonably filling (along the lines of one of those NutraSystem meals – enough to satisfy, but not overly so).

[I went with the “RiteBite” which gave me a slice of gouda, a bag of pita chips, a travel-sized jar of humus, six organic crackers, raisins and a small container of lemon-pepper tuna. Surprising assortment, quite tasty. The one negative is that the tuna kind of smells, which doesn’t bother me eating it, but might the passenger next to me.]

The price isn’t so bad, either, considering that before my flight I paid the same amount for a scoop of fruit and nuts from an airport stand – one of those places that charges you 3 bucks for a Vitamin Water, which is roughly the equivalent of paying $250 for a pair of Wranglers.

So, perhaps paying $300 for a flight and then not getting any food blows (couldn’t they wrap the cost of a meal into the flight, by default?), but at least they’re trying to market the stuff they’re schilling. When the food’s fresh, slightly exotic, nutritious and tasty, and when it’s half the price of a warmed-over airport burger, the customer thinks he’s getting what he wants.

That’s good business right there.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

30 reasons?


Last night, I ate a 9-ounce, medium-rare steak that cut like butter and was smothered in portabello mushrooms, sauted in a red-wine reduction. And it tasted so good, that I about had to change my pants midway through.


If you have a moment. Watch the above video... It's a PETA-produced video propagating their belief that eating red meat is about the worst thing you can do as a human being. Something even more terrible than drop-kicking infants, dropping A-bombs or driving a non-hybrid vehicle.

Of course, you don't need me to tell you that, if you watched it...

Anyways, I was sitting at home in my apartment the other night, not doing much. I think the Sox game was probably on and I was reading or something and I heard this video filter into the background of my consciousness. My sister (who's also my roommate) had been informed about PETA for the first time and was clicking through their website.

Now, I don't agree with everything PETA stands for, but I do give them some credit for the good things they do in life - mainly fighting animal testing. They lose me, however, when they stand outside fashion shows and throw paint on people who have chosen (free choice!) to wear fur. Or leather. Or shower.

But this video was extremism to the extreme... I couldn't believe the (supposedly) well-thought-out, researched arguments the group was making against the unforgivable sin of eating meat. So, I figured I'd argue against them in my own small, shaking-my-fist-at-the-sky manner. Mostly because the video was so completely outrageous - if you were to believe everything they're saying, you'd think eating food makes you a supporter of the Holocaust (the real one, not the piggy one).

1) Eating meat gives you heart disease.
Actually, the leading cause of heart disease in the United States is stress... so stop bugging me about my free choice!

2) Vegetarianism reverses heart disease.
So does Bayer Asprin. And quitting your job. And exercising. Going veg isn't a cure-all... in fact, it's more likely to cause more health problems if you're already unhealthy.

3) Meat makes you fat.
Cake makes you fatter. Where's the "no cake" video?
Ridiculous - meat doesn't make you fat. Eating McDonalds fake-meat three times a day, five days a week makes you fat. Chowing down an entire bag of chips nightly in front of the TV makes you fat.

4) You don't have to lie to your kids about what you eat.
Pul-leaze... it's only bullet-point number four and PETA's already making an emotional appeal about children. I don't even know what this means, but I'd be more apt to lie to my kids (if I had any) about veggies just to get them to eat them. "Oh yeah, that's broccoli... it's how nougat is made!"

5) Chicken poop in packages.
Hence, the cooking of the chicken before consumption.
Did you know that there's also small amounts of fecal matter underneath your fingers? Yeah, so just remember that next time you shake someone's hand.

6) Filthy and bloody...
The cold, off-the-cuff answer that popped into my head was, "So is childbirth," but I thought that would be too inappropriate. So, I'll go with the, "don't you cook it before you eat it?" argument here again.

7) It isn't fair.
Since when was life fair? Helllllo PETA - have you looked at the animal world you love so much lately? Who gets eaten in the wild? Oh, right, whoever's smaller. Right, that's what I thought...

8) Living creatures don't want to see your family die.
Um, okay. I don't think they've attained consciousness yet, so, you're right. They also don't have a thought beyond, "When am I going to eat next?" and "Reproduce!"

9) Meat causes impotence.
Oh, and see point one... stress is the number 1 cause of impotence. Hmmm... maybe today's life lesson is that we'd all be happier if we quit our jobs and sat around blogging all day. Good times!

10) Mad Cow is in the US
So let's kill it out!

11) It's violence we can stop.
Actually, there's a lot of violence we can stop. We can pretty much stop all violence against fellow man if we really wanted to... want to work on that first PETA?

12) No one should make a living by killing.
So let's put these people out of a job! Especially in the rural midwest where everyone's Republicans and the farming way of life is already dying out, putting local economies in jeopardy!

13) It takes a small person to beat something smaller.

14) It takes a smaller person to eat it.
Huh? In latin, we'd call that a "non sequitor."

15) The grain to feed them (moo cows) could feed them (black people).
So, PETA, let me get this straight... the grains that the FDA says aren't of a high enough quality to feed the citizens of the US should be used to feed poor people, but only after it's shipped in rat-infested cargo holds thousands of miles across the ocean, rotting all the way? Oh, okay.
This really touches on a larger, separate argument - but why are we concerned about sending food? Shouldn't we be spending less money teaching long-term farming/food production and helping to supply the needed infrastructure? Or is it just me?

16) Water shortages.
Wake me the next Dust Bowl...

17) Defenseless
Now, PETA, you're just repeating yourself (see point 7)

18) They feel pain.
I am an advocate of painless killing. Especially in light of that fact that if an animal is killed while in pain, its muscles tense, making the quality and tenderness of meat not all that good. It's actually in the best interests of the seller and the consumer to make killing as pain-free as possible. The steak is thusly tastier.

19) They don't deserve to die.
Again, see points 7 and 17. Yawn.

20) They feel fear.
Uh... so?

21) It's flesh.
And it's delicious.

22) It's murder.
I mean, we could get into the whole metaphysical discussion of possession of souls and what it really means to be alive. But I don't think even the most staunch animal-rights activist would argue that chickens have a consciousness.
Therefore, is it really murder? I would say no.

23) Because even prisons aren't this crowded.
And, yes, chickens and pigs should be as comfortable as our human prisoners. Right on!

24) This is not what wings are for.
I whole heartedly agree.

25) Every living thing wants to be free.
Good point - cage free eggs and free-range chickens taste better and have more nutritive value. I do see their point here.

26) Eating fish doesn't make you a vegetarian.
Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't know there was a rule book.
Also, what kind of Zapruder film are they showing here? Is that supposed to be a fish? I don't get it...

27) Might is not right.
Wanna wrestle?

28) I know this is wrong.
More Zapruder film...

29) I know this is wrong.
I believe they're showing an image of a baby chick about to be killed. Okay, it's not great. But over 40 million HUMAN babies have been killed in the last 30 years. Aren't there more important things we could be talking about?
I think so.

30) ?
Okay, so I probably missed one in there...

Here's the deal. Animals are not human. Therefore, they are not subject to the certain, unalienable rights that we claim to be self-evident. I disagree with any cruelty or pain that might be inflicted upon another creature, but we also have to remember that they are just that - creatures.
If you want to be a vegetarian or a vegan, that's fine. Do it for the right reasons or because you don't like meat, that's totally cool.
But please don't pretend you're better than another person because of your life choice. And don't tell me I'm evil because I will never give up steak. None of the arguments make sense.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Things I don't understand...

Today's topic: THE SUN DRESS

I don't get it. I really just don't.

Sure, I understand its purpose - ladies, you were 'em to keep cool, yet stay stylish during the summertime when all around you is dirty, sweaty, back of my neck gettin' dark and gritty. They can be colorful or plain, you can wear them with flats or in heels and it's always easy to maintain the dressy-yet-just-tossed-this-old-thing on look. Very chic.

Those sundresses I understand (much like the one pictured here... maybe cut slightly long, but fashionable).

What I don't get, my girl friends, are the ones that y'all wear that look like you shrunk them in the dryer because you can't figure out how to set the thing to "delicates."

Maybe I'm biased, since I work on Newbury Street - the Newyorkiest (JAPiest?) street in all of Boston, where silicon and Armani run amock - but I just don't get this summer's most-committed fashion faux pas: the slutty sundress.

A sundress can be classic. It can be elegant. It can be fun and frisky. But (and college co-eds, I'm looking in your direction), you can also look like a stripper.

Most of these dresses are see-through (good rule of thumb - the more you paid for it, the easier it is to see your butt cheeks). This morning, I was standing in line at Dunkin' Donuts, waiting for my morning iced coffee, and I had to pull the ol' army eyes-front routine. Because, had I looked down, the sunlight streaming in through the windows would have illuminated the both cheeks, butt dimples and thong of the nice, young lady standing in front of me.

[Aside to my beautiful girlfriend - I was successful. Mostly.]

All I wanted was coffee... instead, I felt like I should've tipped both the barista and the patron. Dunkin's never made me feel so dirty - and that's saying a lot.

Lesson of the story... when shopping, test and see whether what you're trying on is more likely to be used as A) clothing or B) a sieve.

The other faux pas consistently committed is abundant cleavage. Let's just say that, ladies, the bra was invented 100 years ago. Just wear it; it's not going out of style anytime soon. My two comments to any objections are as follows:

1) [To those less-endowed] "Your headlights are on."

2) [To the endowed] "Boinga, boinga, boinga."

So, live on sundress, live on (even though it's past Labor Day). All I ask is that the wearers of the dress just bear in mind that, unless they insist on causing traffic accidents, being hit on by every single homeless guy and subjected to internet upskirt postings (paging Britney Spears) they just try to keep in mind that they're wearing a dress, not a shower curtain.

Keep it clean, ladies.

Just remember, it's probably dry-clean only.

Friday, September 7, 2007


<------- isn't it pretty? Just look at it. Ah - it's a thing a beauty. One touch, one single swipe of my pointer finger across the screen was all it took and I fell hard. Yes, my internet friends, I finally was able to purchase the iPhone. I bought it two weeks ago and was actually able to activate it (thank you to Verizon for making the degree of difficulty for leaving your network and keeping the same number an 8.2) on Labor Day. I don't know that it's changed my life. Yet. But the potential is certainly there. All my gmail now comes to me instantly, no matter where I am (I can then continue my standard process of reading the email, saving it for 6 months without replying and then deleting it because the person that sent it probably doesn't even remember who I am anymore), I can access the internet with a subtle wave of my finger (I feel like a king!) and learn trivia tidbits such as, "Who the heck are The Everyday Visuals and how'd they wind up opening for Mute Math's stop in Boston? or the Sox score. I've already started keeping track of my budget using the "Notes" function, so that will help me at the bank. Oh, and the "iCal" and "Contacts" functions mean my entire life now fits into my pants, instead of just my future childrens' lives, if you know what I mean.

It didn't take long for me to become a believer (okay, okay, I was a believer just by watching Steve Jobs' keynote address in January where he debuted the iPhone) and y'all probably know what it does by now, so let me just address the main complaints people have so you can all build a bridge and get over it and buy one.

Cost - well, we all know what happened yesterday. The price dropped. Am I mad? No - it's the first time Apple's ever done that. I bought it at a discounted price, anyway (no, I won't divulge my sources) and I hear tell that I'll get a $100 store credit so I can buy the new operating system that I need anyway.

But anyway, now that the iPhone costs roughly the same as a BlackBerry - what's stopping you from getting one? It's way awesomer. Plus, by paying just $60 a month for unlimited data usage, you actually save over the standard BlackBerry plans (about $85 per).

No Mac - you can run it on Windows. If you did, it's roughly the equivalent of buying an Enzo and getting an automatic transmission, so I don't know why you'd want to do that, but you could.

Cingular sucks - they do. I'm still a Verizon guy at heart, but I haven't had any problems with getting a signal. You do have to make sure you're always on AT&T's "Edge" network, or you get hit with roaming charges, but anyone who buys one probably lives in a city and shouldn't have to worry about it.

Does it work? - Yes... and, seriously, why did it take phone manufactures this long to figure out including WiFi would be a good thing? It's just as fast as my laptop (actually, probably faster).

Battery life - Apple will replace the battery for free within the first year. And, if you buy the AppleCare plan, they'd do it for two years. You can't do that on a "normal" phone unless you're willing to cough up $14 a month.

It's the flavor of the week - Anyone with that objections probably still uses a discman.

Just go buy it already!