Archive for May, 2012

Snakes Alive!

May 30, 2012

On Sunday afternoon, a West Virginia minister with the euphonious name of Mark Mack Wolford suffered a bite from his timber rattlesnake, Sheba, during a snake-handling church service. He didn’t appear in the emergency room until several hours later, and by then it was too late; the bite was fatal.
Snake handling is still practiced in small churches in parts of the south. Those who indulge in it point to a Biblical passage wherein Jesus says that those who are saved will “take up serpents.”
(There is also a Biblical passage that says you are not supposed to test God’s patience and powers, but I guess the snake handlers didn’t read that one.)
A woman named Kate Fowler is working on a documentary about snake-handling, and she interviewed Mark Mack Wolford as part of her research. He told her that he expected to die by snakebite one day.
But wait a minute! I thought he was saved already and could thus do as he pleased with the slithery critters! Seems to me that deep down he didn’t have quite as much faith as he wanted to believe he did, and wanted others to believe he did.


Sharon Share Alike

May 21, 2012

Woman who tossed $1M lotto ticket wants money Woman who tossed $1M lotto ticket wants money The Associated Press SEARCY, Ark. . SEARCY, Ark. (AP) Attorneys for an Arkansas woman who threw away a winning lottery ticket worth $1 million say another woman who plucked the ticket out of the trash and claimed the jackpot should turn the money over to the court.

Sharon Duncan’s lawyers filed their formal request Monday after a judge ruled this month that the money belongs to her, not Sharon Jones, who picked the ticket out of the trash.

Duncan’s lawyers also said any vehicles or property purchased with the prize money should be seized and impounded.

Jones has said she bought a new pickup truck and gave her kids some of the $680,000 in prize money they received after taxes.

One of her lawyers says Duncan’s request was filed too soon. Duncan’s lawyer didn’t return a call seeking comment.

Seems pretty clear to me: once you throw something in the trash, it’s assumed you’re done with it, and it’s up to the other person’s conscience to decide to return it to you.
Even the police, bound as they are by rules and regulations and restrictions almost without number, are legally allowed to seize evidence from garbage without a warrant.
I think “finders keepers, losers weepers” applies here. I mean, I’d be upset if I realized I’d thrown out a lottery ticket that turned out to be a winner, but that’s just too bad. Sadder but wiser.
I would really like to know, though, how Sharon Jones came to pick a ticket out of Sharon Duncan’s trash? Is she some crazy lady who creeps around the neighborhood at night going through people’s trash cans? Regardless, always always always make very sure you know where your lottery tickets are at all times.

Foreign Snacks That Maybe Aren’t So Very Foreign

May 15, 2012

Recently I read an article about the foreign versions of popular US snack foods and how they generally didn’t go over very well with American taste-testers. (Side note: that’s a job i’d like to get paid for.)
What kind of potato chips do you like? Plain? Salt and vinegar? Sour cream and chives? BBQ? If you lived in Russia though, you might well say that caviar chips are your favorites, or crab, or even pickled cucumber. Lay’s produces those flavors because that’s what Russians say they like.
Strange, you say. Well yes, to us it is. First off, how many of us have even eaten real caviar? Not too many, I imagine, so a chip flavored with red caviar really does seem strange. But crab chips aren’t as out-there as you might at first think. I’ve seen chips flavored with Old Bay seasoning for many years now. (They’re repulsive.) And I greatly enjoyed Ruffles Steak n Onion chips, about 20 years ago. They were great, and they’re not far off in concept from the Russians’ grilled-meat variety.

Let’s move on to something sweet, shall we? Our friends in China don’t have as big a sweet tooth as we do, but they like their Oreos. Only thing is, they like them with more interesting fillings than our plain old vanilla cream. Chinese Oreos have fillings of beautiful bright pink, blue and orange, in flavors like blueberry, mango-orange and strawberry-raspberry. Sounds weird, but stop and think a minute. Doesn’t orange pair very nicely with chocolate flavor? And what’s a Fig Newton if not a softer, non-chocolatey version of a fruity sandwich cookie. Granted, the bright colors of the fillings of Chinese Oreos are hardly natural, but so what? Oreos aren’t natural to begin with.

Getting thirsty? In Saudi Arabia, where the desert heat and dryness are legendary, the most popular drink is Tang. Not the familiar orange Tang, but lemon-pepper tang! That’s right! The container even has a picture of a pepper shaker on it.
Strangely, in informal taste-tests using Americans, the lemon-pepper Tang proved to be a big favorite… possibly because nobody could taste the pepper. Which begs the question: Why include the pepper at all if it can’t be tasted? Or am I asking the wrong question? Should I instead ask whether Saudis have a better sense of taste than we do? Or is the pepper some kind of in-joke that only Saudis would get? Hmmm.

And if you are in the mood for a retro Russian snack, there is an old Soviet-era treat that is still very popular. It’s essentially stale bread coated with oil and toasted very crisp. At first glance this sounds like a wretched thing to eat, something to fill the empty spaces during a state-sponsored food shortage.
But wait. What do we eat that is made pretty much the same way? I know! Croutons!
Bon appetit.