Archive for August, 2010:
A new study was just published in the New England Journal of Medicine that today’s children have a shorter life expectancy than the previous generation – us. This is the first time that a parental generation of Americans has a longer life expectancy than their children. Pretty sad. There are two main reasons for this prediction: 1) obesity. We’ve seen this one coming at us for a while. Luckily, like most fat things, it doesn’t come at us too quickly! And 2) poor diet. Yeah, chew on that.
We live in a time and place where food is so plentiful that we can even claim we are allergic to it – you won’t hear any Ethiopians complaining about gluten! Surprisingly, despite this abundance, we have relatively poor diets.
If you’re a Smart Chicken, and you’ve been following this blog, then you know I’m one who leans to the green. I was shocked when ninety percent of my 7th grade science students didn’t recognize a whole, raw chicken. (These were private school kids from Southern California, too!) But I sat with my mouth open for about half an hour after watching a snippet of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution. I wasn’t surprised that some inner city kids didn’t recognize the eggplant . . . but when they guessed it might be an apple or a pear, I was . . . appalled.
The problem is that so much of what we eat isn’t so much food as it is plastic. I think it starts as food, but then gets so hybridized with preservatives and guar-gums, that it’s edible, but isn’t really food by the time it’s done. It’s really more of a ‘food type product’.
When I was a kid, my main concern was whether or not the cafeteria was serving ‘government cheese’ that day. I have since grown up and found out that the government public service sector has their hands in a lot more than just a sketchy American cheese food product.
One of the US government’s big points of interaction for every American over sixteen is the DMV. In our culture of too much, too often, a crowded visit and a brief, underpurposed exam is considered a right of passage. In other cultures you have to kill an animal, shave your head, or get a tattoo . . . and those are just the girly ones. Nope, here you have to visit the DMV.
The California DMV (which I have had the pleasure of personally visiting) is, and has historically been, one of the worst on record. When Schwartzenegger came into office there, his first public act was to fire all the DMV managerial staff, thus earning him the hearts of millions and the title of ‘Governator’. Sadly, though this kept already astronomical registration fees from getting worse, it didn’t change the average experience at the centers . . .
If you look up the Cali DMV site, there is supposed to be a picture of a man and a woman using online services to register. Um, what does it show them doing when the page doesn’t load? And when you do go online, there are about a billion questions, starting with ‘do you want to register your boat?’ Just for fun, I tried logging in but it kicked me out. Not because I’m no longer a resident of that state, but because the answers to my security questions were wrong! I kid you not. Apparently the Cal DMV knows where I went to elementary school and I do not.
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Because Sometimes We All Just Want to Fly the Coop!
We’ve all said stupid things. It happens. Something just rolls out of your mouth and it isn’t what you meant to say, or it IS, but it’s somehow out of context or you realize too late that the wording is just bad.
Since I’m going to make fun of other people, I will pony up and start with one of my own moments of stupid. And I must admit it is spectacular.
When I lived in LA, my sister came out to visit me often. On one of these occasions it was decided that she needed pet mice. She would get them in sunny Cali and take them back to Tennesssee. This was the plan (though I cannot for the life of me remember why!) . . . but we thought we were being smart, and we wanted to check everything out first.
We knew airlines flew dogs and cats all the time, but were mice okay? They’re so tiny, would there be an air pressure issue? Would it hurt their inner ears? We needed to know! So when we were in PetCo looking at the mice, I remembered to ask! How smart was I? Yes, I looked the sales clerk right in the eye and expectantly asked him “Can mice fly?”
He, of course, looked at my sister like ‘what am I supposed to tell the retarded kid?’
As a writer, I travel to a bunch of cons every year, where I have a table or booth and folks come by to chat and check out the books and AudioMovies. Right now, you may be nodding, or you may be saying to yourself ‘what’s a con?’ When I entered MidSouth Con, just this last Thursday, one man was welcoming folks to what he called “the biggest gathering of freaks, geeks, nerds, gamers and psychopaths in the South”. I can’t say as I have found the ‘psychopaths’ part of that to be true, but the rest of it is spot on.
‘Con’ is short for ‘convention’, and you can have a ‘convention’ for any number of things. Doctors have them, teachers have them, leaders of business do it, and so on. But when it’s the geeks and freaks, it’s just a ‘con’. Cons often have a theme (duh, it’s run by nerds!) – they are often anime, scifi, fantasy, or gaming, etc. The biggest in the business is ComicCon in San Diego, with over 100,000 in attendance. Yes, this is either your best dream come true, or a freakin’ nightmare! And I mean the ‘freakin’ part literally.
DragonCon in Atlanta is the next biggest with 60,000 folks. Most are smaller, and in order to compete with the big guns, they have to distinguish themselves. Many go for the fun con names. A few of my favorites are: ConStellation, ConGlomeration (I’ll be there!), LepreCon, ConClave, ConDuit, ConFusion and my favorite the Wrath of Con.
Most Cons have dealer rooms (where I am with all the other vendors). But they all have something else, too. It may be art shows (all the multi-hued ink drawings of fairies and dragons you could ever wish for). Or games (D and D with about 500 other folks). Or seminars (The future of SciFi, how to sell your novel, what’s next for Joss Whedon). Or any combination of those.