Wednesday, March 23, 2011

My Favorite Warnings: Prescription Drug Edition

-NASONEX, for the treatment of nasal allergy symptoms including congestion, sneezing, itchy nose or runny nose.

“The most common side effects include headache, viral infection, sore throat, nosebleeds and coughing.”

But they’re different headaches, sore throat, nosebleeds and coughing than those your allergies would cause. Different and preferable.

-RECLAST, for the treatment of postmenopausal osteoporosis.

“Do not use if you are nursing, pregnant, or may become pregnant.”

I’m sorry, this is to treat what kind of osteoporosis again?

-NEXIUM, for the treatment of the symptoms of acid reflux disease

“Side effects include headache, diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea, and sleepiness.”

But at least you won’t have heartburn anymore.

And last but far from least, just one version of a warning that can be found on just about every drug on the market today:

-PREVACID, for the treatment of frequent heartburn. Active ingredient: Lansoprazole 15 mg

“Warning: Do not use if you are allergic to Lansoprazole”


Saturday, March 19, 2011

Costco: Redefining “Almost Out”

Determining whether or not you are “almost out” of something is an equation based on personal needs and uses; how much of said thing you have on hand and how much time historically it takes you to use remaining quantity of said thing.

For instance, if you are single, living alone and usually have macaroni & cheese once a week, being down to your last two boxes of macaroni & cheese is not “almost out”. If you have three kids under the age of ten and are down to your last two boxes of macaroni & cheese, we’ll hold on while you go to the store.

Back? All right then. If you’re like me, you like to plan your shopping at least a few hours in advance and try to do it at roughly the same time, be it once a week, twice, or every afternoon at 3:30 after you pick up the kids. This is basic shopping math

and should hold true under pretty much any circumstances. But recently I have noticed a subtle force at work attempting to undermine in my head the veracity of this simple equation; the perception of “almost out” based on quantity remaining vs. quantity originally purchased.

I’ve always appreciated the reasoning behind buying in bulk whenever possible. So when my mom got a Costco account and invited me and my sister to accompany her on her weekly excursions, I was all for it. I knew it would mean making some changes, namely figuring out how to store 900 square feet of barbecue sauce and fabric softener sheets in an 800 square foot apartment, but I have a balcony and am not particularly attached to most of my furniture anyway.

I organized cabinets and closets, bought stackable racks for canned goods, put shelves wherever shelves could be put. I prepared for a life of buying in bulk much the same way people prepare to bring newborns home; knowing much of the future of my household would revolve around this thing I had decided to do, that there would be moments when I wondered why I ever thought I could handle it or that it would be a good idea, but that at the end of the day it would prove to be the right thing and make me really really happy.

Among the first purchases of my BIB career was a 36 roll pack of toilet paper. Fortunately, the rolls were individually wrapped, so I could split the package up and stash them wherever they fit. Yes, twelve rolls of toilet paper and a decorative bath towel do make a very attractive ottoman, but more important is the peace of mind that comes from knowing it’s entirely possible that you will never ever have to ever buy household paper products ever again as long as you live.

Flash forward the amount of time it takes to use 30 rolls of toilet paper, to a Costco Eve, as I am writing out my shopping list and say to myself “oh, need to get toilet paper, we’re almost out”. And there, like so many cherry blossoms on a breezy late spring afternoon, the memories of years I spent buying toilet paper in 4-packs broke free from my mind and simply drifted away.

I have since managed to reclaim some of those lost years. I understand once again that, for a two person household, having six rolls of toilet paper is okay. My hands no longer tremble when I notice we are down to our last pound of rice. I still sometimes feel compelled to buy another two-pack of 40 oz bottles of Ranch dressing as soon as we open the second one, but I’m working through that. I am. And I’m getting there.


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Pinup Lifestyle Photo Contest

Jerry and I have a photo entered in the Pinup Lifestyle "Hollywood Glam" contest. It looks like this

and we'd be ever so appreciative if you would vote for it HERE. And then ask a bunch of people you know to do the same. No registration necessary, and you get a total of five votes in this contest, which you will need every one of because there is some amazing photography competing for each.

Well, each of the remaining four, anyway. We want one. After that, you are free to vote... freely.

If you are a fan of pinup-style photography, culture, etc., you should also consider joining Pinup Lifestyle. It's a fantastic network where you will find not only the best and latest in pinup photos, but also enjoy discussions with like-minded folks about cars, tattoos, shoes, makeup, patriotism, more shoes, food, movies, other shoes, and so much more.

And in the section where they ask how you heard about the site, tell them Harlean Carpenter sent you. If I refer enough people, I think I get some shoes.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Miracle Whip: Sandwich Salvation or Satan’s Semen?

Just when you thought it was safe to say that America is about as determinedly divided as it can get, what with the political, sexual, racial, religious, Edward vs. Jacobness of it all, yet another line has recently been drawn in the sands of our lives. A line unlike any before. A line that will impact not only our lives, not only the lives of our children, but may ultimately be the deciding factor in whether or not we ever eat sandwiches again.

This line has been drawn by the makers of Miracle Whip. Seems to me the question of “Are you Miracle Whip?” is destined to meet with a pretty massive amount of physiological evidence resoundingly to the contrary amongst their target audience, but I’ll let that be their problem to solve when and how they see fit. For now, down the gauntlet has been thrown and it is demanded of each of us to decide: LOVE IT OR HATE IT?

And since this is clearly really really important, I’ve been trying. I have. And the only conclusion I’ve been able to reach troubles me deeply, but I’ve yet to find my way through, over or around it. Because, much as it shames and pains me to admit, the truth is...

I don’t care.


I’ve had Miracle Whip. And I find the difference between it and mayonnaise to be about as bold and compelling as the difference between different brands of plain old mayonnaise. Yes, I can taste the difference between Kraft, Best Foods and knock-off bargain brands of mayo as easily as I can taste the difference between mayo and Miracle Whip. And none of those differences has been dramatic enough to send me, fragile psyche first, down a nightmarish spiral of sandwich spread terror that I might be so doomed as to ever have to set taste bud on it again. Nor have they ever inspired me to take up arms and pledge my life in their defense screaming all the while “they can take our freedom, but they will never take OUR LUNCH!”

Miracle Whip has a Facebook page where you can “Join the Debate”. Unfortunately, I can’t, because the only two choices are, as previously stated, love it or hate it. But if they ever get around to adding the “do not give two shits, half a fuck, the right cheek of a rat’s ass or any combination thereof” option, I’ll be sure to chime in.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Lucky Spatula & Other Reasons I’ll Never be on ‘Worst Cooks In America’

Once upon a time in the early 60’s, my mother bought a set of Ecko utensils. They looked like this

and some of them are still alive today, proudly carrying on in my mother’s current kitchen, reminders of simpler times and other kitchens, having survived not only the 60’s but the learning to cook of more than a few children, myself included. The spatula, sadly, has passed on to wherever it may be that loyal kitchen tools go, but surprisingly recently. As in, about 6 months ago, when it was over 40 years old. But it will live on, in my memory and in the memories of my mother and siblings, forever as the Lucky Spatula.

As you may gather from the photo, this Ecko utensil set was stainless steel with black plastic handles. But not just any plastic; 1960’s plastic. And they don’t make plastic like that anymore. They don’t have to. Most of the original stuff is still around. The 60’s did not fuck around with any tree-hugging biodegradable-in-your-lifetime green-going plastic. They built their plastic to last, and saved their greenness and tree hugging for where it would be best appreciated; in meadows, where there were trees.

But even the most hardcore and determined of plastics can fall prey to the striking of a handle against an unyielding surface at precisely the wrong angle, and such was the fate of the Lucky Spatula. At some point in the early 70’s, its majestic black plastic beauty was reduced to a mere nub, with a stainless steel rectangular protrusion to remind us of its former glory.

So naturally, I thought it was fantastic. A spatula with an actual kid-sized handle. The best thing that could happen to an eight-year-old learning to cook.

Now, before I go any further, I should probably explain something. This was me around the time I was learning to cook

and needless to say, the burden of rampant popularity amongst my peers wasn’t something with which I fought a daily battle. Yes, I was a nerd. I loved to read. Anything I could get my hands on. So imagine the mental process tripped by the reading of the following statement


in the introduction of this 1973 classic:

Well then, I could cook. At that point, it was just a matter of proving it. And prove it I did, with the Lucky Spatula at my side all the while, like some kind of mass-produced culinary Jesus; long before I was even old enough to understand that peanut butter & jelly sandwiches were assembled and not born, it had been sacrificed for my kitchen sins, and I had only to forgive myself. Just knowing that I was using a tool that was already broken gifted me with a freedom that, looking back, I may not have ever learned to cook without. After all, what was I going to do, break something?

Flash forward past ragingly successful scrambled eggs, French toast from my father’s recipe (the one thing even my mom admits that my dad makes better than anyone in the world), a really questionable attempt at chicken a l’orange, and a pink thing that was supposed to be sugared popcorn, and I found myself viewing the trials and tribulations of Chefs Anne Burrell and Robert Irvine as they attempted to coax edible foodstuffs from a group of individuals dubbed the Worst Cooks in America.

(On a side note, I totally called Joshie to win when there were still 8 recruits in the running. I know passion for food when I see it)

And while I was by turns amused and enthralled by the journey of these individuals, and never shy about cheering them on in their endeavors, beneath it all was an emotion I didn’t identify until the third or fourth episode of the show I watched.

Then I realized what it was. I was a little sad. Sad for complete strangers that I have never and likely will never meet, sad that they had never known the liberation of the Lucky Spatula, or whatever in their lives would have been its equivalent; sad that not everyone finds the thing that gives them the freedom to fail in the kitchen, and consequently the freedom to try again, as many times as it takes, sad that they had never known the joy of learning to cook at a young age, and had that skill to carry with them throughout the rest of their lives.

Sad, and at the same time grateful. Grateful that I had a mother who was frugal enough to hang onto a spatula with a broken handle, and realistic enough to understand that her kids needed to really screw things up in the kitchen before they would ever get them right.

Or maybe that’s why she kept it. By the time I was old enough to reach the stove, the Lucky Spatula was as broken as it was going to get. Even I couldn’t break it again.

But, before I got those scrambled eggs right, God knows I tried.

(This post is dedicated with love to my mom, who was supportive enough to not ever tell me that someone coming home from the hospital after a bout with appendicitis does not want to immediately be confronted with a ten-year-old’s rendition of chicken a l’orange.)