Thursday News Chum: Gyros, Tea, Sand, Sponges, Sandwiches, and Typewriters

I’ve lifted my head up long enough from the vacation thinking to find some tasty lunchtime chum:

  • From the “You Are What You Eat” Department: Ever have gyros? Ever wonder what the mystery meat was, or where it came from? Well, the New York Times found out. To me, the most interesting paragraph was:

    The process starts with boxes of raw beef and lamb trimmings, and ends with what looks like oversized Popsicles the shade of a Band-Aid. In between, the meat is run through a four-ton grinder, where bread crumbs, water, oregano and other seasonings are added. A clumpy paste emerges and is squeezed into a machine that checks for metal and bone.

    Bread crumbs? This means gyros may not be gluten-free; certainly not Kronos gyros. Other than that, they are shipped to restaurants as gyros-sicles for cooking. I think I’ll stick with Zankou, thank you very much.

  • From the “You Are What You Drink” Department: I’m a tea drinker. I pick what tastes good. Something tells me that I should visit Chinatown in San Francisco during our vacation, if only to go to Vital Tea Leaf. The SF Chronicle has an article on this establishment, where Stanley “Uncle” Gee recommends particular teas based on an individual’s needs. This guy is biased the same as me. He curses anyone who would think of adding milk and sugar to his sacred stuff, and as for coffee: “Do not drink coffee. Ever. It dehydrates you and makes you old.” Of course, his favorite drink? Single-malt scotch.
  • From the “You Are What You Touch” Department: Ever go to the beach? Ever play in the sand? Don’t. The San Diego U-T is reporting that it’s bad for your health. They are talking about a new study by the University of North Carolina and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that concluded (a) beach-goers who dig into sand are about 13% more likely to suffer from a stomach ailment than those who don’t, and (b) about 20 percent more likely to get diarrhea. Beach-goers who bury themselves in sand are up to 24% more likely to have gastrointestinal illness or diarrhea than those who don’t. They say it is due to all the gunk in the sand, and not washing hands before handling food.
  • From the “What Lives in a Pineapple…” Department: Speaking of odd things in the sand, SpongeBob SquarePants is 10 years old. This little yellow sponge has generated $8 billion in merchandising revenue for Nickelodeon, is seen in 25 different languages, and counts two world leaders as fans, President Obama and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who say they watch with their children.
  • From the “An Interesting Sandwich” Department: The LA Times has an interesting article on a new sandwich, but not the edible type. Rather, it is a reflective roof paint consisting of a white tinted topcoat filled with tiny hollow glass balls that deflect heat, layered over a waterproof undercoat made of recycled rubber. The white coating deflects nearly 85% of the heat that hits it, reducing the surface temperature by as much as 50°. There is no information about when this will be available at Lowes.
  • From the “And I Bet They Use Pencils Too” Department: The NY Times is reporting that the NYPD is still using typewriters, primarily to fill out property forms. Public records show that the city signed a $432,900 contract for typewriter maintenance with Afax Business Machines in 2008, as well as a $99,570 contract with that company in 2009. Typewriter company Swintec received a $982,269 contract from the city in 2007. I wonder if they use the two-ink color ribbons?