Friday Frivolity: In the Loop

It’s definitely a slow week in the news room when the headline of this Friday story is an expose on Froot Loops.   But, my news room is always of a frivolous nature.  By now, you shouldn’t be surprised when fine print on cereal boxes possesses my mind like a fiendish demon.  I was hungry for food and starved for entertainment.  Besides reading, what else exciting is there to do when you eat breakfast alone.

Normally, Sue fixes me breakfast and eats with me.  Not much to read on eggs, sausage & toast and not much reason to peruse Peanut Butter jars when she’s there to converse with.  However, the other morning I was up very early and my stomach growls for satisfaction about every two hours whether Sue’s awake or not.  So, I grabbed milk and a box of cereal.  It had been a long time since I’ve tasted Froot Loops.

As milk dissolved the loops into swirls of color, I challenged myself to identify which fruits each color represented.  I felt the need to validate my guesses by reading the Ingredients.

All I can say is Kellogg’s is safe from FDA investigation.  Though phonetically implying Fruit, I believe “Froot” is actually hydrogenated vegetables.  Not a single fruit is represented within the box.  Not in any form—flavor, fiber or filler.  Colors may infer fruitiness, but what flavor is Yellow 6, Red 40 or Blue1?

Oh, and what can you make this pronouncement on the box:  CORN USED IN THIS PRODUCT CONTAINS TRACES OF SOYBEANS.  Kinda made me wonder if the Oats were tainted with dandelions, but not enough to warrant such a disclaimer.

With great skepticism, I reached for a second cereal box.  This one proudly advertises “Mixed Berry; naturally and artificially flavored.”  Aside from the obvious question of what other way there might be to flavor something besides naturally or artificially, I hurriedly rotated the box to the Nutritional Facts panel.  Mixed Berry?  Humph…since when is Apple a berry.  Apples were the top “Berry Flavored Filling” ingredient.  I love apples but don’t try to sell me them as berries.

Unlike the circular “loops”, the second box of cereal I selected was Grape Flakes, #3.

REALLY?  Flakes made from grapes?  Okay, I’ll admit grapes may be round and berry sized but a berry flake, …NOT.  I mean, come on, berries make great toppings for ice cream.  Even with a name like Smuckers®, they don’t make a Grape syrup.  Black, Blue, Straw, Boysen and Triple but no Grape.  Beats me why someone would think grape in flake form would be a big seller.  Let’s see, hmmm, do they even make Grape Nuts any more?

This investigation got the juices flowing in my stomach…and I’m not talking fruit juices.  My Omeprozole™ couldn’t turn off the influx of gastric acid into the cereal mix I had ingested.  In the future, it would be better for me to eat cereal before my eyes…or my mind…can focus on the deceiving of Flakey and Frooty cereal ingredients.

June 16 Friday Frivolity: Party Line

“Are you serious?”

Grandson Jordan was astonished at Sue’s remark about telephones in the 60’s.  At the onset of the conversation, Sue had voiced wonderment in regard to Jordan’s incessant use of his cell phone; “Is that all you ever do, Jordan?”

“Pretty much, it’s my entertainment.  What did you do when you were my age?”

“Well, I sure didn’t have iPods and cell phones,” countered Sue.

“Ah, but you did have telephones.  When you got home from school, I’ll bet you talked a lot on the phone.”

“It all depended on whether there was someone on the line, or not.”

“On the line?  What’s that all about?”

“We had a party line.  If the other party was on the line, we had to wait to use our phone.”

Then came Jordan’s incredulous; “Are you serious?”  When he asked for my verification, I confirmed Sue’s explanation and went on to say; “Yeah, and if you didn’t check for a dial tone, and someone was already on the phone, the other party would hear the tell-tale clicking of the rotary dialing.  When you did put the handset to your ear, you’d likely hear a few obscenities interspersed in ‘I’m on the line’ ”.

I also told him I had friends in the country who didn’t even have dials on their phone.  They just clicked the receiver cradle down and up until the operator answered and connected them to the “party with whom they wished to speak”.

Now, Jordan was in near hysterics.  Quite understandable for a person who doesn’t even have to remember phone numbers.  Just select from a list, type a message and SEND.

Then a microchip, which is smaller than the finger hole on a rotary dial, virtually tosses the message into the air.  Somehow those keystrokes magically finds the precise SIM (that’s the modern-age techno-term for “phone number”.  Wow, that’s much more efficient, but a far cry from Lily Tomlin’s portrayal of a switchboard operator.  She was delightful spoofing a connection to “the party with whom you wish to speak”.

Switchboard operators and their solid state replacement had to make a solid, “plug in” connection to the specific wire from the caller to the receiver.  Wrong wire or wrong number — no connection.  Now, with the signal virtually going every which way in the sky, you connect even if your friend is wandering in Death Valley.

“Nobody home” is not an issue any more.  No party on the line to worry about.  Pffft, no line at all to worry about.  No dial tone to listen for.  No; sorry, wrong number.  No busy signal.  Instant connectivity.

Oh, and while you’re waiting for them to text you back, you can check the weather, sports scores, headlines and your horrorscope from the myriad of icons on a touch screen AND NEVER slow down the incoming reply from your friend.

It’s hardly a wonder that Jordan’s generation is addicted to cells & iPods.  Yup, Jordan…when we got home from school, we did have a means to connect with our friends.  However, the frustrations of bad connections, nobody home, and busy signals, kept our phones from becoming virtual attachments to our hand.

We had the capability of a very limited “party line” call.  Jordan can text dozens of friends the same message simultaneously.  I gotta believe Alexander Graham Bell never imagined such a party line.