Thursday, December 29, 2011

On tablelism....


Tableism - the practice of sorting large families into smaller groups by table and age.
Phillip's New World Dictionary

When I was growing up, my grandmother's house was the place where everyone met for holidays and family gatherings; I called her house The Hub because it was where everything happened.  Since my extended family was scattered across several states, and I rarely got to see them, those gatherings at grandma's were special times indeed, and they occurred all too infrequently.

My grandmother always had two tables, a smaller one that was used for every day meals and a larger table that was used when my relatives were visiting.  My grandparent's, like most people, were tableists; when we had family functions the bigger table was reserved for the adults and the smaller table was used by us kids.  I used to always think that being an adult meant two things; that you got to sit at the big kid table and that you got to drink coffee.  I still don't drink coffee and I suppose that my refusal to drink it is just an expression of my desire to stay young and not grow up; coffee's always been just a little too grown up for me.  I do get to sit at the big kid table though, so I guess that I'm at least partially grown up.  For me sitting at the adult table was a right of passage, a sign that you'd arrived at adulthood.

The people at the big kid table always seemed so cool; they would drink their coffee, talk about their jobs and divorces, and tell dirty jokes.  I yearned to be a part of that cooler, older table, minus the divorces.  The younger table talked about stuff like school, the books we had read and what we had done during the long, lazy summers that is one of those unique gifts of childhood.  Though it was nice to see my cousins and I enjoyed their company very much, there was nothing in any of those conversations that was going to leave an indelible impression on your young mind; I couldn't tell you one thing that was ever said at that table, but I remember well some of the jokes told at the big kid table.  The conversations at that big kid table...now those were special.

There was also a group that I dubbed "the Tweeners", they were the people who were too young to sit at the big kids table, but too old to fit in at the little kid table.  When my grandmother had more people at the house than she could fit at either of the tables the Tweeners would get a folding tray table to eat at.  I always tried to be a Tweener whenever I could because it made me feel a little less like a kid and a little more like an adult.

I've come to realize that my life-long desire to be welcomed as a full voting member at the big kid table, with all of the rights and privileges thereto, was overrated and that I had idealized what occupying a spot at that table really meant.  Heck, I never could tell a good joke anyway.  It took me years of observation to reach this enlightened state, years that finally culminated in a kind of epiphany.  I came to this epiphany while sitting on the couch in my in-law's living room this past Thanksgiving.

As I sat there I observed that although we were obviously all there together, the larger group was made up of several smaller groups, with each group member interacting with one another in completely different ways.  The first group was the Wee Ones; they were all under 5 and were playing with dolls or crawling across the floor putting things into their mouths that didn't belong there.  This was the equivalent of the little kid table, though the age range didn't stretch quite as far as I was used to.

The second group ranged in ages from 16 to around 21.  This group was talking about World of Warcraft, games in general, and electronics.  This was the Tweener group from my childhood.  The only thing missing were the folding tray tables.

The third group was the full-fledged adults, the occupants of the big kid table. What were they talking about?  Social Security, maintenance medications, medical conditions and other old people stuff; it was like sitting in a cardiologist's waiting room.  It was at this point, sitting on that couch in my in-law's house and watching these three groups interact, that my soul begged to be thrust back into the comforting arms of my grandmother's little kid table, if just for one more time.  Either the big kid table isn’t what I had made it out to be or the kids that sit there, me included, aren’t nearly as cool as they used to be.  I think maybe it's probably a little of both.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

On avoiding laundry duty....


Part one in my How to Avoid Household Chores series addresses how to avoid doing laundry.  Following these simple tips will not only allow you to avoid laundry, it will actually get you a lifetime laundry ban; she will BEG you not to ever wash anything again and you never doing laundry will be cause for celebration.

I hate doing laundry and I hated it even more when the kids were babies, there's just no good way to fold those little clothes.  And people get injured trying to fold fitted sheets; if a person could figure out how to neatly fold them they would probably win a Nobel Prize, have a holiday named after them and would have parades and festivals held in their honor.  The fitted sheet is a nut that I just haven't been able to crack, when confronted with one I just roll it up and shove it in the closet.

During our first couple of years of marriage Paula didn't mind me doing laundry; she started minding when she discovered my daughter using her favorite shirt to dress her Barbie.  I didn't just shrink that shirt, I broke several laws of physics and I'm pretty sure that my feat will never be duplicated.  If there was a Laundry Mistake Hall of Fame I would be in it.  That shirt sure did look good on Caitlin's Barbie though.

That first incident didn't quite do the trick.  The final straw was when I washed a red shirt with the whites and one of her favorite tank tops came out pink.  I actually suffered a little with this incident because all of my socks were pink too, but after a couple of washes and a few catcalls the pink came out. 

Since that day I have been banned from the laundry room.  Occasionally I will be in there doing something and she will yell from the other room "you aren't doing laundry are you?"  When I’m at home and she goes somewhere her last words are generally “don’t worry about the laundry, I’ll get it when I get back”, which really means I better not touch it.

So to avoid doing laundry all you really have to do is mix some darks in with the whites and totally ignore the advice on the tags.  The minute she realizes that the shirt she wore just last week is now three sizes too small your laundry days are over forever.

Friday, December 23, 2011

On Satan Claus....

Just like every couple, Paula and I have developed traditions around the way that we do things at Christmas.  We shop for most things together (except for the ones from Santa of course) and then we sneak everything into the house and hide them somewhere that we're pretty certain is safe from snooping eyes.  We change that spot every year just in case they've gotten wise to us.

On Christmas Eve we set our alarm clock for about 2 AM Christmas Morning and when the alarm goes off we get the gifts from their hiding places, wrap them, and stick them under the tree.  I'm not a very good wrapper, so I always fetch the gifts and get strips of tape ready while Paula wraps.  Then, when she's done wrapping them, I will put the name tags and bows on them.  We always do one tag for each of the kids that says that it's from Mom and Dad, but the others always say Santa.

Because we generally end up going to bed late, we're usually pretty tired when we get up at 2 AM to do that wrapping and we find ourselves making little mistakes like cutting the paper too short or putting the wrong name on the tag and stuff like that.  In fact Paula, always cuts at least one piece of paper too short and giggles about it; it's one of those little unintentional traditions that always makes me smile.

So a few years ago the kids got up, as usual, at around 6 AM, ready to open presents.  Someone always takes the initiative to grab them, read the tags, announce who they're from and for, and then distribute them.  This particular year my daughter, who was maybe 10 at the time, was passing them out, dutifully saying "From Santa to Tyler", "From Mom and Dad to Caitlin", etc.  She grabbed one of hers and with eyes the size of half-dollars read "From Satan to Caitlin".  Caitlin looked at me and said "very funny dad, that's mean".  The funny thing about it is that it was a complete mistake and in my sleep-deprived state I had just misspelled Santa.

So now it's become a tradition that someone says something like "there's none here from Satan are there?"

Thursday, December 22, 2011

On Facebook Falsehoods....

People who post on Facebook are the most ardent group of sunshine pumpers I've ever seen in my entire life.  I've seen it time and again; someone posts a horrible picture of himself or herself and everyone comments on how handsome or pretty they are.  Everyone knows they're lying, but for some reason they feel compelled to leave a comment and it has to be a positive one.   

I guess they want to try to be nice and not mention how horrible the picture looks, so instead they say stuff like “nice sweater”, or don't really mention the picture at all and say something about the upcoming reunion or their kids instead.  If I was posting a picture of myself and someone told me that they liked my sweater I wouldn't know how to take it, but I would probably think that it was the only kind thing they could come up with.

I'm more of the "if you don't have anything nice to say don't say anything at all" kind of guy, so I don't say much of anything when I see these bad pictures.  Usually when I do end up saying something I stick my foot in my mouth anyway, so silence is a pretty solid policy and has probably kept me from being beaten up a couple dozen times.

So today I conducted an experiment and took a picture of myself in the mirror.  It's these kind of pictures that usually generate the most sunshine pumping.  I asked myself, would I be told what a handsome little fella I was or how skinny I looked or how pretty my sweater was, all of which are probably not true?  See for yourself (the names have been changed to protect the innocent):

Apparently either the compliments are reserved for other people, women maybe, or I have some mean friends.  Maybe I should have worn a sweater.

Monday, December 19, 2011

On Angry Birds....


Until I installed Angry Birds on my smart phone this past Saturday I was probably one of only two people in the world who had never played it; I uninstalled it on Sunday.  I didn't remove it because I didn't like the game or anything, I uninstalled it because the two times that I sat down and played it I ended up with a headache and temporary near sightedness and experienced a shift in the space-time continuum; before I knew it I had traveled into the future an hour and a half and that pig was still alive and laughing at me.

After my second dalliance with Angry Birds I quickly decided that any further involvement with this game would probably end with my wife being tried for what most would probably consider justifiable homicide.  I now have a full appreciation for why the game is so popular, it's really, really addicting.  Even now there is a little devil sitting on my shoulder telling me that it would be okay to reinstall it; that I can exercise self control and play it for a few minutes now and again, but I know that I am powerless against Angry Birds and that the only way to stay healthy is to walk away completely.  Though I know all of this, walking away still hurts my heart.  I think I just cried on my keyboard a little....

Sunday, December 18, 2011

On guerrilla warfare....



From Wikipedia:  Guerrilla warfare is a form of irregular warfare and refers to conflicts in which a small group of combatants including, but not limited to, armed civilians (or "irregulars") use military tactics, such as ambushes, sabotage, raids, the element of surprise, and extraordinary mobility to harass a larger and less-mobile traditional army, or strike a vulnerable target, and withdraw almost immediately.

 

I got a good chuckle the other night when my wife and daughter and I were discussing the possibility of me attending a bowl game this New Year's Eve.  My wife said that I should go and my daughter said no I shouldn't because although she wouldn't admit it, my wife would be mad at me if I did.  I told my daughter that last year when I got back from the New Year's Eve game her mother had admitted that she was mad at me for about 4 long and painful hours; it was like an anger marathon and because she had dozed after midnight while I drove home she was rested up for it.

The whole night of the game I thought I was golden; I had taken my son, my brother-in-law and his son-in-law and we had a great time.  My wife and daughter had gone to a movie and then come home and watched the ball drop.  I called my wife at around midnight and wished her a Happy New Year and then continued the long drive home, fat dumb and happy.

When I got home the house was quiet as expected, so I got a drink of water and headed to bed.  The bedroom was a little dark, so I turned on my cell phone and aimed it at the bed so that I wouldn't break a foot.  In the pale light of that cell phone this is what I saw:


Okay, it wasn't that bad, but there certainly wasn't any warmth in the eyes of the woman that was laying there waiting for me.  Right about the time I walked into the bedroom, unaware that I was about to be ambushed, I thought that I heard my wife whisper a line from this movie.  This is when I should have turned around and run.

video

I've heard people say things like "she's a demon in bed", but the knowing looks and dumb grins that usually accompany that expression gave me the impression that it meant something good.  In my case though the demon that I had just slid under the covers with was a creature (a lovely creature mind you) bent upon my destruction.  The 4 hours of education that I received that night taught me that "I'd really like you home with me at midnight, but if you'd rather go to the game then go ahead" had been misinterpreted by me as an okay to go. 

Needless to say this year I will be staying home.
 

Saturday, December 17, 2011

On Occupy Wall Street....



Apparently in order to join the Occupy Wall Street movement you have to pass an exam.  Here's one of the questions:

Jimmy is 22 years old and is a lazy little pansy who thinks that everything should be given to him; he likes to cry and feel sorry for himself a lot.  Jimmy gets two apples for every hour he works at the factory.

Janet is 44 years old and has been working at the factory for nearly 20 years.  She worked hard to put herself through college and her hard work has paid off; she was prompted 2 years ago and is now a vice-president.  Janet gets 20 apples for every hour she works.

How many of her apples will Janet have to give Jimmy to make the little pansy happy?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

On the female Rolodex....



Women are unique creatures.  I wrote before about how men have a situational disability commonly referred to as selective hearing.  Women have selective hearing too, but along with that they have the uncanny ability to remember every single time that you've ever made then angry; they have selective memory.  When they get mad they turn into Rain Man.  They remember exact dates, locations, weather conditions, what you were wearing, everything.  If you could hear what was going on inside a woman's head right before she goes all Chuck Norris on you would you would hear something that sounds like a Rolodex being flipped.  This is because like a computer searching for data they are accessing the memories of every single time you've ever made them angry.

What's funny is that they can't remember what day Big Bang Theory comes on no matter how many times you tell them.  They can't remember that you told them three times that you were going to a football game next weekend, or that you are traveling for business in two weeks.  They can't remember where they put your camera or how that dent got on their car.  They can't remember how to work the DVD player to save their lives.  Basically they can't remember anything except the things that you've done wrong. Sometimes I think that if you want a woman to remember something you should wedge that information in between a couple of insults because then it would be set and they would never forget it.

As mentioned in a previous post they also won't just come out and tell you what they want.  When they want a sandwich they will say "doesn't a sandwich sound good?"  If they want you to turn the lights out they will say "wouldn't it be good if those lights were off?" And of course if they want an ice cream they ask you if you want one.  Until you have been married long enough to them to understand what this all means, you end up in a lot of trouble.  This video is an example of what ends up happening when you mistake "doesn't an ice cream sound good?" with "stop and get me an ice cream":




Friday, December 9, 2011

On Self Checkout Seth....


The third and final installment of my People Who Annoy me series is about Self Checkout Seth.  Just like Parking Shark and Drive Thru Delores, Self Checkout Seth is a burger, fries and drink short of a Happy Meal.  All they have rolling around in that noodle of theirs is the cheap plastic Happy Meal toy.

Self checkouts were invented to be efficient, save people time and ultimately cut down on the number of cashiers needed.  This in turn saves the store money and allows them to pass those savings on to you the customer in the form of higher prices and smaller portion sizes.  But the inventor of the self checkout failed to take into account self checkout Seth.  Here's how to identify Self Checkout Seth:

1.  They have 300 items in their buggy and are unable to locate even one of the bar codes in under 5 minutes.
2.  It takes them 5 minutes to transfer the scanned item into a bag, sending the self checkout computer into hysterics.  They never quite figure out why the computer doesn't care much for them, even after having the same issue 300 times.  I always want to scream "Quit fondling the damned thing and put it in the bag!"
3.  Like Drive Thru Delores they have to neatly fold their receipt and put it and their money in their wallet before even thinking about getting out of the way for the next guy. The process of folding that receipt makes it look like they're doing origami; it takes them forever.

The only self check out that I envision working for Self Checkout Seth is some type of conveyor belt that scans his stuff automatically, bags it for him, grabs his wallet and then swipes his card.  Short of that I'm afraid that Self Checkout Seth is here to stay; right there in front of me at the checkout line.

On Drive Thru Delores....


The second installment of my People Who Annoy me series concerns Drive Thru Delores. 

One of the most annoying parts of the drive-thru experience is when you get behind Drive thru Delores.  How do you know if you're behind her?  Drive thru Delores exhibits 2 or more the following traits:

1.  She has up to 15 different orders.
2.  She has to ask every person in the car what they want, but not a moment before hearing the words "welcome to McDonald's, may I take your order please?"  Planning ahead and asking everyone what they want before hearing the voice from the magic box is simply not an option.
3.  When window #1 opens and the cashier tells them their total they exhibit shock that they're being asked for money and only when the shock wears off do they begin to rummage through their purse for money.  They bypass the $20 that would cover the whole meal and instead search that saddlebag of a purse until they find the exact change.
4.  While waiting at window #2 they become so engrossed in conversation with their passenger, or in reaching behind the seats to smack their kids, that they fail to notice the cashier with their order.  The cashier has to bang on their window to get their attention.
5.  Upon receiving their order, they have to put their change away neatly, put the straw in their drink, reach back behind them and hand food to the kid they were just trying to smack, fasten their seat belt, wash, blow dry and comb their hair and adjust their mirror before they pull out. 

I've been behind some people for so long after they received their food that I was a mere seconds away from calling an ambulance because I thought they had passed over to the other side. Drive Thru Delores is closely related to Parking Lot Polly who, despite knowing that there's a Parking Shark behind them, still insists upon doing a complex fifteen minute ritual before finally pulling out and relieving the traffic jam created by Parking Shark.

On Parking Sharks....

I went to Wal-Mart during lunch today hoping to get in and out quickly but as nearly always happens I fell victim to a Parking Shark.  A Parking Shark is one of those extremely annoying people who cruise parking lots for the best spot, then block traffic while they wait for someone to stow their groceries and leave.  This particularly Parking Shark was sitting in the middle of the row, and I do mean the middle of the row, preventing anyone from going around her.  Luckily I had some MRE's with me because I sat there for like 3 days.

I don't really have an issue with anyone stopping for a car pulling out so that they can get the spot, but etiquette has to be observed.  If, during your wait, a car pulls up behind you though you need to move on and take the loss.  This woman didn't do that though, walking the extra ten feet was unacceptable and having 6 cars behind her waiting for her to move didn't bother her in the least; that's just lazy. 

If it's raining I tend to overlook Parking Shark because I turn into one myself in a downpour, but it was a solid 60 degrees and sunny so the Parking Shark behavior was not necessary.  It's a darned good think that I haven't experimented on myself with gamma radiation because if I had I would have ruined a shirt and a good pair of pants and thrown Parking Shark's car into the next time zone.

I don't like the Parking Shark when I'm the shopper either.  I've had people pull up behind me while I'm still putting my groceries in the back so that they can get my spot and that isn't any less annoying.  When people do that I tend to go all James Dean on them and take my time; I'll be damned if I'll let peer pressure and the presence of a Parking Shark make me rush.  Sometimes I even sit there for a minute and just stare at the steering wheel until the Parking Shark pulls away in frustration, it's my way of thumbing my nose at them.

As to the person that the parking shark was waiting on, she wasn't a whole lot better, she was a Parking Lot Polly.  Or perhaps she was just doing what I do and not bowing to the pressure of the Parking Shark, but the signs certainly pointed to her being a Polly.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

On Christmas Nazi's....


With Christmas approaching I thought that it would be a good time to discuss the Christmas Nazi.  We all know at least one of them, they're the people who so closely control every facet of the Christmas experience that by the time Christmas rolls around there are at least a half dozen people plotting to kill them; grandma getting run over by a reindeer was no accident.  They do all of this because Christmas is all they have to look forward to, but they fail to realize that with each passing year they just make the prospect of another Christmas with them more unbearable for those around them.  They get a lot of joy out of Christmas while at the same time sucking the joy out of everyone around them; they’re the black holes of the holiday season.  Okay, maybe they're not that quite bad, but they are annoying.

Christmas Nazi's are a pretty regimented group of people and have a mental checklist of what they want done and when.  They insist that the tree and decorations go up the day after Thanksgiving, denying their loved ones the joy of being trampled to death at a Wal-Mart Black Friday sale.  They put lives in danger by insisting that no matter how steep the roof, there must be lights.  They insist that all of the yard ornaments be placed in just the right location for optimal road side viewing and they place our safety in jeopardy by making us stand in the middle of the road to ensure that everything is just so.  And, of course, they stand at the window watching what the neighbors are doing to ensure that their yard has the most crap.

Someone at work sent me an IM today about a discussion that she overheard from another group.  One of the office Christmas Nazi's, and we're cursed with several, was complaining about not having a tree and wondering why someone had failed to take care of that yet.  You see, the Christmas Nazi has all of these rules and expectations, but they're usually not the one to do the work, they have people for that. 

One of our Christmas Nazi's actually spent a thousand dollars to have someone put her lights up for her.  At the end of the season, which for the Christmas Nazi seems to be sometime in July, these well paid people will return, take the lights down and store them until next year.  It's easy to feel festive when it isn't your butt hanging 15 feet off the ground.

I'm the antithesis of the Christmas Nazi; if given the choice I would never put up a tree or decoration of any kind.  One year I didn't put a tree up until Christmas Eve and only did so then under protest.  Christmas decorations at our house don't hang around long either, every year I pack up the decorations as soon as the presents are opened; by 8 AM on Christmas Day the only sign of Christmas you'll see at my house is the discarded wrapping paper and empty boxes bulging out of our garbage can. 

Every year I store the decorations more carelessly too, I started off packing them away neatly and then putting the boxes into neat stacks too, but last year I found that if I stood just right and put the right arc on it I could throw everything up in the attic and never even have to go up there.  Yes stuff get’s broken, but it’s much more efficient.  My wife has mentioned a couple of times how Christmas stuff doesn’t seem to be made as well as they used to be and that it’s amazing that they’re only out for 2 days a year but still tear up so quickly.  The bad thing for me is that I have already maximized my storage efficiency; I may have to just start throwing everything out into the yard when I’m done for the year.

Christmas Nazi’s forget that Christmas isn’t about how many lights you have in your yard or when you have your Christmas tree up.  It isn’t about how many festive Christmas sweaters you wear or how many family, friends and co-workers you can force feed with Christmas spirit.  It isn’t about playing Christmas music 24/7, which forces others to listen as well.  Christmas, to me, is about ROI, or Return on Investment.  If I spend $5 on your Christmas gift and you spend $50 on mine, my ROI is $45 and I don’t think anyone would disagree with me when I say that is a fabulous Return on Investment.  Every year I have to remind myself of why we go through this pain every year, and that’s for the stuff that people give us.  My tip for those that have to suffer with a Christmas Nazi is that a swift kick to the neck may not kill them, but it will put them out of commission for awhile.

There are 16 days until Christmas, so spike the eggnog, avoid sharp objects, and enjoy the rest of the holiday season, the Christmas Nazi’s out there certainly will.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

On NAPA Know How....


I understand that commercial ditty's are supposed to be catchy and that their degree of catchiness is an indicator of how well the ad agency has done its job, but getting one of those ditty's stuck in your head is the closest thing to hell that I have ever experienced; I call it Lyric Overload.  I have the NAPA Know How ditty stuck in my head and because I care, I want to share that special piece of hell with you, so here is just one of the commercials:


Lyric Overload is a progressive disease, here's a video posted by someone who's obviously in the late stages of that disease.  Pray for this guy, he's going to need it:




I guess you could say that my little slice of hell is proudly sponsored by NAPA.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

On "seeking treatment", the new moral Teflon....

Recently politicians and other public figures who have made horrible personal decisions have devised a creative new way of shirking responsibility for their actions by announcing that they are "seeking treatment" for their issues.  This apparently absolves them from responsibility and provides them with what they believe is the equivalent of moral Teflon.

A recent example of this is Anthony Weiner, a Democrat from New York who was accused of posting inappropriate pictures of himself on Twitter and Facebook.  The irony of Representative Weiner posting pictures of his weiner was not lost on me and my first question was what made him think that he, as a public official, could possibly get way with something like this.  My second question was why someone would think that anyone would want to see their weiner.  If those things had arms and legs nothing in the world would be more frightening.  Those things should be locked away and should never see the light of day.  Hot dog manufacturers should sue anyone who sullies the reputation of their products by calling that ugly thing a weiner.  

What if he did it because his last name caused some form of mental instability?  He had to have been made fun of growing up, right?  What is the long-term impact of kids ruthlessly making fun of your name while you're growing up?  If the name calling caused his mental health issue, my fear is that Representatives Schlong, Stiffy, Wanker, Pecker and Dong will follow suit.  If this spreads to the Senate, what about Senators Dipstick, Pole and Rod? And forget about Native American tribal leaders Purple Headed Trouser Snake and Throbbing Python of Love, those men don't stand a chance. 

Anyway, shortly after the proverbial poo-poo hit the fan and amid the cries of righteous public indignation Mr. Weiner announced that he was "seeking treatment."  Now while I know that the medical establishment has worked tirelessly to create new addictions and "diseases" for us to enjoy over the last twenty years or so, I wasn't aware of a psychiatric or medical condition that renders people stupid.  Is there a cure for stupidity?  If there is, I need to know about it and I would like my prescription filled too.

I offer an alternative explanation though.  Seeking "treatment" is just another way for someone to not take responsibility for their actions. It says "I did it because I was sick and powerless to stop myself, but now I am cured and don't have to be accountable for my own supreme stupidity."  But I guess that this is just consistent with what the "Occupy Wall Street" generation seems to be saying; we're all victims here.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

On the hot dog lobby....

I’m not a conspiracy theorist by any stretch of the imagination, but I know people who are and most of them are crazy as a shit house rat.  I have a brother who doesn’t believe that we’ve been to the moon.  He thinks that what NASA should do to quell all of the talk from him and the 10 others who think like him is point the Hubble Space Telescope at the moon so that they can see the Tang containers we left behind.  He says that then he would believe it.  I laugh and poke fun at him about this every chance I get; it’s fun.

I’m not stupid either though and I do consider myself to be intuitive.  I see something here and hear something there and my intuition does the rest.  I’ve always thought that I would be a good investigator.  Once there was a woman who came in for an ID card who couldn’t tell me her deceased husband's full name or where he was stationed, only that he was in the Air Force when it first became the Air Force.  I made about 20 calls and eventually tracked him down and got her that ID card.
About ten years ago I was listening to the radio while driving home from Chattanooga and heard a short news report about an annual hot dog lunch that a number of politicians routinely attended.  “Hot dog lunch”, I thought to myself, “a fine example of the hot dog lobby hard at work currying favor with our elected officials”, and chuckled to myself.  At the time I didn’t realize just how prescient that fleeting moment out on Interstate 24 was.  After that day the hot dog lobby became a distance memory and I all but forgot about it.
About five years ago I read about a piece of legislation introduced in the House of Representatives (H.3462) that would have made it unlawful to use chicken knuckles in the manufacture of hot dogs due to health concerns and the inhumane methods used by chicken farmers in the harvesting of said chicken knuckles.  Manufacturers argued that chicken knuckles were actually good for us and that they would be the least of our concerns if we knew what else is in hot dogs.  Before the bill came to a vote its sponsor withdrew it from consideration without comment.  I thought about this briefly, then something shiny distracted me and just like that earlier news report it was soon forgotten.
Last year a bill was introduced by a Senator in North Carolina (S.1291) that would have forced hot dog manufacturers to package their hot dogs in an eight pack to match the number typically found in a pack of hotdog buns.  This bill made it out of committee and was voted on by the full Senate, but it failed to pass by a vote of 95 to 15.
Here are my issues with these two pieces of legislation:
  • The Representative who introduced the chicken knuckle bill suddenly became wealthy off of some hot dog futures that he claims were purchased prior to taking office.  Shortly after withdrawing his bill from consideration he retired to Vienna, Austria. 
  • There are only 100 senators, but there were 110 votes cast.  Where did those other votes come from?
After the incident last year in the Senate I became convinced that the Hot Dog Lobby that I had dismissed with a chuckle ten years previously actually did actually did exist, so I began to sit back and observe, determined not to continue to be a victim of dirty hot dog politics.  I began to see headlines like this one from NYDailyNews.com:
 (Click on the titles to see the article if you don’t believe me):

Were the hot dogs a bribe to keep him quiet about Lockerbie or just a reminder of who he works for?

And this one from FoxNews.com:


After a time I knew that I had stumbled upon something so sinister and secretive it made the Illuminati and Red Elephant Club look like the Girl Scouts.  Then came the final piece in the puzzle when in June of this year the USDA held an event during which it was revealed that they were pulling the old swicheroo and replacing the traditional food pyramid with a plate graphic. 

Who headlined the event unveiling this new plate?  None other than Michelle Obama of course.  Here is a picture of that graphic:


What's missing?  The venerable hot dog.  Michelle Obama has apparently adopted nutrition as her pet cause, which brings us to this headline from The New American:

Ask yourself this: With your wife making such a huge deal about nutrition, why is Obama out throwing down dogs? Just who are you beholden to Mr. President, your wife or Oscar Meyer?

This brings us full-circle back to the incident that first started me down the path of uncovering this hot dog conspiracy.  I started thinking about that first little news snippet that I had heard and made it my mission to track down more on this story.  After months of intensive research followed by a ten second query via Google, I found this:


That’s right, the Hot Dog Lobby now has a name, the American Meat Institute.  How hot dog manufacturers were able to join an institute dedicated to furthering the just cause of meat is beyond me, but there it was in black and white.  Like deviled ham, SPAM, vienna sausages and bologna, I hardly think that the contents of the common hot dog would qualify it as meat anymore than me being born in an oven makes me a biscuit.  Here's a quote taken directly from this article:

“The event was also sponsored by the American Bakers Association, International Bottled Water Association, American Beverage Association….”

So the hot dog industry doesn’t have a tight enough grip on the American political process and had to bring in reinforcements in the form of buns, water and beer.  What’s really cooking in the kitchens of Oscar Myer and what agenda are they pushing?  Part of the answer is their desire to continue the use of chicken knuckles in their products and their refusal to conform to the eight hot dog/eight bun standard.  There's more to it than that though and I assure you that my investigation will not stop until I have the full story.