Friday News Chum: Birthdays, Roses, Motel 6, Junk Food, Made in America, and Carmageddon II delayed

Well, it’s Friday at lunch, and you know what that means… time to clear out the accumulated links. This week, they are all across the board.

  • Happy Birthday To You. I’m sure by now you’re aware of my tradition of birthday songs. I used to post these on LiveJournal, but LJ has begun to lose its audience, so I now post them on Facebook*. So naturally I was interested when someone posted a heat chart showing the distribution of birth dates. Most birthdays are clustered in the summer months (Jul-Sep, with a little overlap in Jun). This gives us an idea what people are doing come October and November. People also seem to avoid giving birth on major holidays (look at the anomalous coolness of July 4, December 25, and Thanksgiving… but seem to want to give birth on Valentine’s Day and just before the end of the calendar year (nothing like a little tax deduction).
    *: If you’re an LJ reader and still want an LJ song, please let me know. Also, if you are a reader of this blog and haven’t friended me on FB, please do so. Please drop me a message so I know you’re doing this as a blog reader.
  • Whose Garden Was This. At our previous house, I had a large collection of different varieties of roses. I would plant them in January or February as bare-root roses. I’ve been meaning to do this at our current house, but the last time I went to Lowes, they had an extremely poor selection. Here’s part of the reason: roses are fading away in popularity. People are buying fewer roses, and fewer growers are producing new varieties or maintaining old variety. This is sad. Having a bush of lovely fragrant hybrid roses is a delight to the senses.
  • I’m Changing My Name To Chrysler. The movement of corporations and brands is something that fascinates me–it has going back to the debacle of the NBC “N”. So I read with interest that Motel 6 has moved from Accord to Hilton’s owner, Blackstone. I wonder if that means Motel 6 might connect to the Hilton reservation line, accord Hilton Honor points, etc. Could be interesting–I don’t think Hilton has a real budget brand. In other news, NBC is looking to push Microsoft out of the online version of MSNBC (they are already out of the TV network).
  • Don’t Slay That Potato. A couple of food related articles. First, echoing the fact that “gluten-free” is the current in-fad (not that I’m complaining), Frito-Lay is joining the bandwagon in getting its snacks certified as gluten-free. It is important to remember that Gluten-Free .NE. healthy be default (just as Kosher .NE. healthy). Does it really serve society to have more gluten-free junk food? Speaking of junk food, a congressman has introduced a bill that removes pizza as a vegetable. In understanding this issue, it is important to realize that “pizza is a vegetable” is as meaningless a phrase as “Obamacare”. Pizza is not a vegetable: the real debate was whether a serving of pizza had sufficient vegetable material to count as a serving of vegetable. It’s like asking if spinach pasta is a serving of vegetables. The debate raises an interesting question: does eating tomatoes count as eating vegetables, and how much concentrated tomatoes (which is what tomato paste is) constitutes a serving. Further, what makes pizza bad as a food is not the tomatoes or even the crust — it is the fat that comes with the cheese and pepperoni. But we neglect educating the public on these facts, preferring the sound-bite of “pizza is a vegetable”.
  • Made in America. Stupid debates (such as the one about pizza) seem to be made in America. We’ve certainly seen the dumbing down of America; this is demonstrated by the speeches that Congress gives. So is there anything good made in America? The answer, of course, is yes–as demonstrated by this list of 10 products still made in America.
  • Take Me For a Ride in Your Car Car. Two transportation articles. First, it looks like Carmageddon II will be delayed. As you may recall, Carmageddon was when the entire I-405 was shut down in the Sepulveda Pass to demolish the southern half of the Mulholland Bridge. Part II was planned for June, but that looks to be delayed. Why? According to the article, “Workers have encountered dozens of unexpected utility lines that need to be removed or relocated from the area, he said. Retaining walls must be rebuilt because of manufacturing defects. Additionally, a $300 million lawsuit – filed last year by a Bel Air landowner – forced Metro to move a freeway on-ramp near the Getty Museum 150 feet to the west.The lawsuit, which claimed a planned, nearby golf course would be negatively impacted by the widening, was dismissed last month, it but still necessitated the construction changes. And then there’s the FBI. The agency works out of a building at 1100 Wilshire Boulevard, near the construction site. Government officials are demanding Metro workers go through security clearance before working on the sensitive FBI lines.” That last part is fascinating to me, as a security guy. Of course, when Carmageddon II happens, people will need to ride Metro. Guess what? They are going to have to buy TAP cards (the reusable card costs $1 on top of the fare) — gates will be locked, and there will be no more paper tickets.

Lastly, as a reminder to me: There are some interesting musicals previewing at the NoHo Arts Center.

Music: Ramblin’ Boy (Tom Paxton): Harper