Archive | July 2013

Twinkies are Back!!


Last November, when I learned that Hostess was going out of business, I was stunned.  No more Hostess treats.  No more Twinkies???   How could that little yellow spongy piece of American culture, with its bottom distinguished by three prominent entry wounds from shots of vanilla cream filling be no more?

Twinkies were never a staple in my home when I was a kid, or as an adult.  I can probably count on one hand the number of Twinkies I have had in the last ten years.  But somehow, when I learned Hostess was shutting down, it felt like a very small, sugary and probably fat laden thread of the American fabric was being lost.  And that was kind of sad.

Last week, after more than a half a year’s absence from retail shelves, Twinkies returned.  And all is right with the world.  Not because I am going to incorporate them into my diet, because I have yet to even lay eyes, let alone hands on a box of the new Twinkies.  But, because Twinkies were the Cliff Claven of snacks, not the tastiest or trendiest treat, but predictable and constant—like that element in the room you may not always appreciate, but you miss when it’s gone.

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I Want My Five Dollars!


I got in the car the other day, and my gas gauge was almost on empty.  Typically, I refill with a quarter of a tank left, but I must have been preoccupied this time.  I checked the range to see that I had 44 miles of gas left, which was plenty to make it to my favorite gas station.

Yes, I have a favorite gas station.  It breaks down to this.  When it used to cost me $20 to fill up my car, I’d go anywhere and accept any kind of interaction with the attendant.  I had zero expectations of kindness or pleasantries as I made my purchase.  Now that I am spending between 50 and 75 dollars to fill up my tank, I like a little customer service.  So, my favorite gas station is the one where the nice man knows I have young children.  He’s very kind and will ask about them, or wave to them.  This makes it much easier when I want to pop out of the car, find a toy, beverage or snack that was “dropped” or thrown and return it to the hands of one of my children.

Unfortunately, my favorite guy was not at work.  As I drove into the station, I was asked to back up to a spot in front of a car that was attached to the pumps already.  Maybe it’s me, but I usually wait in line for the next pump.  It seems like an awful lot of maneuvering to save a few minutes and ultimately block the person behind you who then has to back up and find his way around you.  I am definitely not a taskmaster, but I try to avoid getting gas when I’ve got to approach it like a Nascar pit stop.  It just seems like too much of a hassle.  But, this time, I did what I was told.

When I was backing up, the attendant stood awkwardly in the line of my wheel and told me to stop way before was close enough to see the pumps.  I handed the man my credit card and he was off.  I assumed he was new at the job, because he kept fiddling with the pump handle at my tank.

After a few minutes of this scene, the man was at my window, telling me he had made a mistake.  He told me that he had accidentally pressed cash for the first 5 dollars of gas.  He said I would need to pay him 5 dollars in cash.  I was confused, it was hot, and cars were lining up behind me, so I gave him the 5 dollars, took my card and receipt and drove off.

As I left the station, I had this unsettling feeling that something was just not right.  At my next stop, I did what my 8th grade teacher Mr. Cornell would have wanted me to do.  I did MATH!  And according to my calculations—okay, the calculations of my iPhone—the man was claiming he pumped 20.98 gallons of gas into my 21 gallon tank.

So, if I am a believer of Mr. Gas Station Dude, I was driving around on .02 gallons of gas.  And my minivan gauges were telling me that from that .02 of a gallon, I was going to get another 40 miles.  No way!  (yes, I drive a minivan, and yes, that is a story for another day)

I debated the value of the 5 dollars, redid the math, Googled the size of my gas tank twice, and at some point arrived at the conclusion that I could not let this go.  It was only 5 dollars, but in my head, it was my five dollars and I wanted the guy to look me in the eyes and tell me it wasn’t so.

My adrenaline increased as I drove toward the gas station.  My mind was swirling with a bunch of different thoughts, about being scammed, possibly being yelled at, and not the least of which was that I hoped I was not wrong.  When I arrived at the gas station, I parked my car and made a beeline toward the attendant.

“I think I know what you did,” I said to the man. “I want my five dollars, or a receipt for the gas you say you sold me.”  I was firm, on the outside.  The man would not make eye contact with me.  He reached into his pocket and peeled a 5 dollar bill from a wad of singles and assorted bills.

“Here,” he said.  “If you don’t believe me, take it.”  And he handed me a five dollar bill.  No discussion.

I took the money and headed back to my car with about a ten second feeling of satisfaction that I had righted some wrong that was done to me.  I put the 5 dollar bill on the passenger seat beside me where it sat until I got home.

Later, the five dollar bill sat on my night stand, like a tainted symbol of things yucky about the world.  The next day, I went grocery shopping. And like every time before, the woman scanning my groceries asked if I would like to make a donation to fight hunger.  I smiled, said “yes,” and I handed her the five dollar bill.

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Things that Go Bump in the Night

My 23 month old daughter has just mastered the art of climbing out of her crib.  Fortunately for me, and my heart, I was out of the house when she was discovered out of her crib, opening her bedroom door.  Were I home, I think I would have had a heart attack from the shock of an unexpected little one roaming the hallway.

Until tonight, my daughter had reserved her escapes for the morning.   When she was ready to greet the world, she’d climb out of her crib, and start with Dad and Mom.

And then tonight happened, our unplanned evening of sleep training.

In an apparent effort to throw us off her plan for the evening, our daughter went to bed without a whimper.  Her twin brother cried for a bit but eventually succumbed to sleep.

About two hours into what was supposed to be her sleep and our peaceful night, she climbed out of the crib and greeted my husband in the hallway, with a very proud look on her face.  We knew she had the skills, but the timing was different.  Wasn’t this supposed to be an AM thing?  In the words of George Costanza, “We had a deal????”

My husband and I clung to the mindset we used when getting the kids into a sleep routine–consistency.

We began by standing in our doorway and waiting until she emerged from the bedroom.  We’d scoop her up and return her to the crib.  We figured we were in for a few climbs, and then she’d exhaust herself and go to sleep.

Not our little G.  She was in it for the long haul.

About an hour into this gymnastic ritual, instead of becoming slower at the escape, my daughter was cutting seconds off the time it took her to raise herself, lay on the rail and lower herself to the carpet.  Any runner would have been impressed by the way she knocked seconds off her times from climb to climb.  If it wasn’t dangerous and wreaking havoc with our routine, I could have timed her and celebrated her athleticism with high fives and chest bumps when she got to the door.

As a team, we strategized and shortened length of the climb.  We began listening for her heavy breathing and grabbing her before she lowered herself to the floor.  Sadly, this led to several times where I thought I heard her climbing and burst into the room only to learn that she hadn’t made her move yet.  Live and learn.

10:35.  No sign of movement, silence from the bedroom, victory was ours…until the next night.

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Stop, Think, then Tweet

Okay, by now many of you may have heard about this story, but I believe it warrants discussion.  Last week, ABC aired a new show called Whodunnit?  Essentially, it’s a reality program where contestants with investigative backgrounds are given the task of analyzing a murder scene.  The contestant whose analysis is the worst is “killed.”  So, in the course of the first episode, two people were “killed.”  Notice how I used the quotation marks…

Now here’s where some folks got confused.  Apparently after the show aired, people took to social media outlets in disbelief, asking whether two people were actually murdered as part of the show.

Yes, really.

Now, here’s my version of taking the high road.   And yes, there’s a little bit of snark on the path of my high road.

Instead of mocking people who thought that it is within the realm of possibility that a major US television network would murder citizens as part of a television show, I will take a different tack.  I don’t need to add to the pile.   From what I read, anyone who was on the business end of one of these tweets got their comeuppance and more from the rest of the world.

I’ll go a different route and suggest stopping, taking a breath, then tweeting or posting.  Have a coffee, get a soda, eat a sandwich– then get back to your keyboard or smartphone and tweet away.  Believe me, much embarrassment and conflict will be avoided. Now, I know I may be acting like a cockeyed optimist by believing that given a few seconds pause, people would do a splash of critical thinking and say, “Nah, that’s not possible.” Or “no, that’s not legal.”  Or even the mother of all possible questions– “when did the same network that broadcast Home Improvement and Full house get into the business of murder???”

Mine is a simple message.  Stop, Think, then Tweet.

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