28 November 2016

#FallLeaves in #Georgia: Ode to a Fiery #RedMaple

Red Maple

The front yard is an explosion of fiery colors, red, yellow and orange. The Red Maple trees have really out done themselves this year. Makes quite the statement, a sunlit centerpiece. No wonder Autumn is my favorite season; so much natural wonder to behold.

Cheers to cool weather and hot drinks. Roaring hearth fires, hot ovens, cable-knit sweaters and knee socks.

The trees are no longer green with envy. Fall has finally come home to Georgia.

25 November 2016

#Review: Odd #Glitches Plague the 2015 @Amazon Fire Tablet #Fail

During Black Friday last year, a number of stores ran sales on the newly released entry-level Amazon Fire Tablet 8GB WiFi (MSRP $49.99) for ~$34.99. It was an great value at the regular price, but a complete no-brainer at $35. I ordered one, which due to the items popularity, didn't actually arrive until December. Unfortunately, its screen had a few dead/white pixels that made viewing video content which generally has a black background annoying, so I contacted Amazon for a replacement unit. Again, because the item sold so well, Amazon's stock fluctuated greatly, and I didn't get a replacement unit until January of this year. 

I have been a faithful user over the last 10 odd months, as I felt no qualms traveling with my Fire Tablet or taking it out to public spots like the library or coffee houses. I figured if I somehow lost it or it got stolen, I'd only be out of pocket $35. (Funny how we do that. We say well something only cost thus and so, so it's no big deal, if this happens to it... when value often has little to do with price.)

As a long time Amazon customer --- since 2014, on my current default account, but longer in reality --- I have a SIZEABLE digital content library. (By the way, I'm a member of Amazon Preview, a focus group of top digital content customers who are periodically asked to weigh in on Amazon projects in development.) I was buying ebooks long before Amazon had a standalone Kindle and digital copies of TV shows and movies long before the various form-factors of Fire hardware were a glint in Amazon's design engineers' collective eye. So $35 bucks for something portable that was supposed to seamlessly connect with Amazon's robust digital content infrastructure was a win-win. I specifically got a Fire Tablet as an easy way to start taking all the content that I've been accumulating over the years on the go with me.

In my experience, the Fire Tablet works better with third-party apps, than it does with Amazon's own digital content ecosystem.

But this has proved problematic as the Fire Tablet works better with third-party apps, than it does with Amazon's own digital content ecosystem. For instance, I have a print subscription for Sunset magazine that included a digital subscription which I could choose to activate on one of a list of platforms. I activated it on my Amazon account and downloaded the current issue via the Fire Tablet's preloaded Newsstand app which is specifically for digital magazine reading. 

However, when I launched the Newsstand app and attempted to access the magazine, I received an DRM (Digital Rights Management) error --- see the image below --- stating that I didn't have permission to view the magazine on this tablet. Considering the digital content should have automatically been paired to the hardware upon which it was downloaded, I found this laughable (in a "you've got to be kidding me" sort of way).
Newstand App DRM Error
It took some extended back and forth with Kindle support over several months, but eventually this error was corrected and I can now read Sunset magazine on my tablet. It was such an egregious error, however. The whole point of the Newsstand app is to facilitate reading digital magazines and it failed. How'd the software engineers miss that? (Being an engineer, I tend to be touchy when I'm on the receiving end of failed engineering.)

The next problem I encountered was seemingly a combination software/human error that became so frustrating to attempt to get resolved that I simply gave up and as a result Amazon lost an add-on sale. My Amazon Fire Tablet automatically downloaded and installed the Washington Post app the first time the device was synced with my account after registration. I got a notice saying that I could choose to uninstall the app or I could keep it and enjoy a free 6-month digital subscription to the Washington Post. (For anyone who apparently lives under a rock and doesn't know, especially after this past election season, Jeff Bezos owns the Washington Post. He also founded a little company called Amazon.com.) 

I figured why not? If I hated it, I could easily uninstall it later. I actually ended up quite enjoying it and utilized the subscription almost daily. The featured recipes alone would have made the subscription worthwhile.

At the end of the 6 months, I got a popup notice in-app stating that I could continue my digital subscription a further 6 months for only $1.00. At this price, I was willing to bite and so clicked through to subscribe. However, in spite of all the "6 months for $1.00" notices, the actual checkout page showed $3.99/month. Additionally, even though this was an in-app purchase, the checkout page did not give me the option to use my Amazon coins balance. (Amazon coins are a virtual currency specifically for in-app purchases, a substitute for real money.)
In spite of wording at the top stating that I could extend my subscription at a cost of $1.00 for six months service, the actual charge which appears on the checkout section is $3.99/month.

I contacted Amazon Customer Service via the chat function and entered Dante's Inferno with its attendant Nine Rings of Hell. I was transferred to NINE different agents during this chat, and the ninth tried to transfer me a tenth time before I said enough. Not until the ninth agent did I get an answer as to why I was unable to use Amazon coins for this purchase. (I was told that despite the purchase originating in-app Amazon required magazine subscriptions to be made using your default 1-Click payment method, which is generally a Credit or Debit card.)

Not one customer service agent was aware of the WaPo in-app digital subscription promotions. (Neither the original 6 months for free or the 6 months for $1.00 followup.) Not one could explain the billing price mismatch error, not even the specialized Kindle team members. If I'm told something costs $1.00 for 6 months when in actuality a charge of $3.99/month is processed, I am not going to be a happy camper. The ninth agent, a Kindle team member no less, went so far as to tell me that the promotion about which I inquired did not exist.
WaPo App  Promotional Ad
WaPo App Promotional Ad

Ludicrous! Nice to be told the equivalent of "you're delusional and making things up". I exited the chat with a vow never to go through such an ordeal again. It was a spectacular fail for Amazon Customer Service. Needless to say, I did not continue the digital subscription and promptly uninstalled the WaPo app from my Fire Tablet. Had I received competent technical support, I might still be a WaPo digital subscriber today. As it is, I get my eNews elsewhere.

The third major glitch which I've encountered has yet to be fixed. My Fire Tablet automatically deletes any video content I download for offline viewing (via the Video app) the next time the device syncs. This error started occurring shortly after Amazon pushed out an OS update which included "On Deck". 

When activated, the "On Deck" service is supposed to download Amazon Instant Video content in the background that one can watch for free. Available program content is curated by Amazon. It's basically a sampler program that gives you access to free pilot episodes of TV shows that Amazon wishes to promote. The service states that it will manage any content it downloads and delete items as necessary due to space constraints. It's billed as a way to "never be without something to watch" on your Fire Tablet. In theory, it's a great idea. The user gets access to free content automatically without having to lift a finger and Amazon can promote whatever it likes and (potentially) encourage sales as users discover new series, etc..

However, the "On Deck" content management system seems to be overzealous. Content that I download manually from my Amazon Video Library disappears. It doesn't matter whether or not I've watched the content. It doesn't matter that the Fire Tablet's external microSD card has GBs of space available. It doesn't matter that the content hasn't been downloaded as part of the "On Deck" service (it's content in my video library that I selected to download).

The downloaded video is automatically deleted upon the next device sync. It doesn't even matter whether "On Deck" is activated. (I toggled the service to "Off", but the issue persists to this day.) I have repeatedly contacted Amazon Customer Service to no avail. In spite of resetting the entire device, resetting the Video app, etc, etc., the issue persists and Amazon Tech Support is apparently clueless as to how to correct it.

I stopped downloading content from my video library. Nothing is more frustrating than spending hours downloading multiple videos --- and it takes hours because the Amazon download servers are not optimized as bandwidth for streaming is given precedence --- only to discover you have " zero downloaded videos" the next time you launch the Video app.

It's another spectacular fail on Amazon's part. (And yes, I've also lodged several complaints about the abysmal download times. I currently have video set to download at "good" resolution, because trying to get a "best" resolution HD download would literally take 5 hours for a 30-minute episode. The amount of time it takes merely set on "good" is still atrocious. I can get HD downloads from other services in a matter of minutes, so it's not a network speed issue.) Hopefully, it will be corrected eventually. Meanwhile, Amazon misses out on my buying more video content....

For a device that is supposed to work seamlessly with Amazon's digital content ecosystem and facilitate digital content sales as a result of this ease of integration, the Fire Tablet leaves A LOT to be desired. I continue to use my Fire Tablet because it works well with a plethora of third-party apps, including games, news and productivity items, plus it only cost $35.00, so I'm still winning. Amazon is the one losing out. Amazon failed in implementing its own apps.

21 November 2016

#VeggieFries = The Spuds Gone Wild! #Review

I'm a lacto/ovo vegetarian and have been for a long time, having "gone veg" at a fairly young age and never looked back. I have a lot of hysterically funny stories that stem from trying to explain my being vegetarian or my asking for vegetarian food options in a society (small town Georgia, deep South) which largely believed that everything should be fried and flavored with ham hocks. Never a dull moment where interactions over food were concerned.

I enjoy food. I love to cook. I love to socialize over food and try new things. I also love discovering new ways to prepare old favorites. I'm always on the lookout for interesting and exciting ways to prepare foods that I love. I'm big on convenience and enjoy finding creative "fast foods", too.

One of my absolute favorite fast foods is French fries. I like them baked, I like them deep fried. I like them seasoned, covered in chili and/or cheese; dipped in sauces, dressings and mayo. I am a potato fiend. (My siblings use to tease that I'd never met a potato that I didn't like.) I've actually done tech support jobs for friends and family where I was "paid" in French fries.

Recently, I had the chance to try Veggie Fries [eatveggiefries.com], souped up French fries that use potatoes as a base and adds in other vegetables like chickpeas or kale. There are four varieties currently available (listed in order of my preference): Broccoli & Potatoes; Chickpeas, Red Peppers & Potatoes; Kale, Tuscan Beans & Potatoes; and Carrots & Potatoes. In spite of the fact that the Carrot version is my least favorite -- I have never like cooked carrots, only raw -- it's still decent and I'm certain that people who like (cooked) carrots would love them.

I had to experiment with baking times to reach my desired level of crispness, because I found the amount of time suggested on the bag resulted in too soft fries. Once I achieved a crispy batch of fries, it was all good. I could eat these for breakfast. (I did on at least one occasion.) They make a great addition to my options for French fries and can be used in a variety of ways in various dishes. (There's a growing recipe section on the product website.)

I found Veggie Fries in the frozen food aisles at both Sprouts and Whole Foods in my area, and prices ranged from $3.98 to $4.99 depending on the store and/or variety. For whatever reason, the Chickpea variety was only $3.98 at Sprouts when I purchased them, compared to $4.49 for the others. It might have been a special sale, though I didn't notice any signs to that effect. All varieties were $4.99 at Whole Foods. I originally got one of each variety to try them all. Then went back and purchased my favorites (skipping the Carrot variety) on the next shopping trip.

I liked them well enough that I'll definitely continue to purchase the product in the future. The company that makes them is launching a Veggie Tots version this Fall. Can't wait to try them, also!

DISCLAIMER: I received several free product coupons so that I could try Veggie Fries and experiment with them in recipes as part of the product manufacturer's outreach to bloggers. (A recent Veggie Fries Newsletter --- I had previously subscribed after first hearing about the product some months back --- asked if any bloggers would like to try the product. I responded and was sent a free product coupon. I tried the product and gave the company feedback and was sent a couple more free product coupons as a thank you.) However, I was not required to write a product review publicly. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.

19 November 2016

#Live Tonight: @DrinkCheerwine #LegendaryGiveback #CharityConcert w/ #AvettBros

I LOVE music and a good live show is second to none. But unfortunately, in order to attend most live shows one has to go out in public, and well, the public is there. I'm not a big fan of large gatherings. If unavoidable, I deal with them. However, given the opportunity to party at home with a chosen few friends, I'll generally stay at home far from the madding crowds. I make no apologies for being a notorious homebody.

Luckily, the advent of live streaming technology has made it possible for me to "go out" whenever I want, while staying in. Take tonight, for instance, I plan to "attend" a live charity concert without leaving the comfort of my home. I'll have the best seat in the house and I won't have to worry about drunken revelers spilling beer, fights breaking out, or concessions running thin on vegetarian options.

I can simply access the concert live stream and then cast it to the display of choice --- in this case, my 60" Vizio SmartTV HDTV with a multichannel soundbar. It's a fairly simple thing to do with my home theater setup. It doesn't matter if there's only a general web feed of an event, instead of a native media broadcasting app at play, because all the TVs/displays in my home are internet connected SmartTVs. Content (once acquired by my media server) is pretty much shareable across my entire home network. Did I mention that I'm a tech geek?


This evening, I'm "attending" The Legendary Giveback Charity Concert featuring the Avett Brothers and supporting a good cause. It happens to be sponsored by Cheerwine. As a result, Tastemakers (aka Cheerwine Authentic Soda Society fan club members) who helped promote the event could qualify to receive discounted tickets to the actual show or get a link to stream it live online. One guess as to which option I chose (especially considering the venue is far away).

Yep. I've got a web link queued in my media server. I have good food to prepare, Cheerwine in the fridge and cold beer on tap in my Draftmark system. All my somewhat rowdy friends are coming over to party with me. All I need to do now is press play....

14 November 2016

Bring the #Fandemonium @Vizio! Say It Loud #VizioFans

Intrepid gadget geek here. I'm the kind of person who makes trips to my local Best Buy merely to ogle the wares. I make lists of "products I want" and "products I want developed". (I'm a natural born engineer.) I love technology and expect its use to make things in my life more convenient, simple and/or fun.

And what could be more fun than earning free HDTVs/Home Theater Displays & Home Theater Audio equipment, especially when you're a tech geek, movie lover and music aficionado like me? Not much, let me tell you.

Back in December 2014, I stumbled upon Vizio's loyalty rewards program, known as Fandemonium, and immediately signed up. At the time, I couldn't believe a TV/Audio manufacturer was offering a person the chance to earn big ticket gear for free merely by performing such simple tasks as visiting its website or watching product videos. I thought there had to be a catch. But no...

Since becoming a member, I've amassed enough points to cash out for two sweet soundbars (29" and 38") to complement the HDTVs I already owned. And just this last week I cashed out for a "$250 Off Any Purchase" voucher (good at vizio.com) which I then used to get a brand new 2016 Vizio 32" E-Series SmartCast HDTV with Google Cast built-in (MSRP $229.99) plus a Smartphone/Tablet Fast USB/Wall Charger Kit (MSRP $19.99) for completely free! (The voucher applies to base merchandise cost, so the discount made my subtotal $0.00, which in turn generated no taxes and each item I bought included free shipping.)

BONUS: Vizio.com is currently running a promotion (while supplies last through 31-Dec-2016) wherein one gets a free Star Trek: Beyond UHD Digital Copy (MSRP $29.99) --- in the form of a VUDU code --- with the purchase of any of its new SmartCast HDTVs or (tuner-free) SmartCast Home Theater Displays.

Thus, in addition to getting a free 32" HDTV along with the equivalent of a free Google Chromecast* (MSRP $35.00), and a free Smartphone/Tablet USB/Wall Charger, I should also get a free digital copy of a recent theatrical release movie. (The promotion terms state that the Vudu movie redemption code will be emailed to you 7-10 business days after you register your new SmartCast HDTV/Home Theater Display purchase on Vizio's website.) My new telly arrived last Friday, so I'll find out if code supplies have been exhausted roughly a week afterwards. However, as the promotion is still being actively advertised all over the Vizio website, I fully expect to get a Vudu redemption code in my inbox soon.

*NOTE: New 2016 Vizio SmartCast products have Google Cast built-in. Google Cast is the software only version of its Chromecast hardware. You get the same functionality of a Chromecast device natively, without having to plug a dongle into your TV's HDMI port. So it's an upgrade.

Getting a free Star Trek movie is a cool bonus. I grew up watching TOS reruns on the tube so I'm a Trekkie of old, but I actually haven't seen this latest film. I was unimpressed with the "meh" Star Trek reboot and snored through the "weak tea" Star Trek: Into Darkness, as a result I didn't rush out to see this one. But I was willing to chance it for free. If I hate it, no biggie, though I'm hoping it proves to be a stronger flick than the first two, because it wasn't helmed by JJ Abrams. After disliking what he did with Star Trek and then Stars Wars, I realize I'm just not an Abrams fan (professionally). I was super annoyed that he messed up not one, but two of the iconic Sci-Fi franchises of my childhood.

Regardless, I'm winning the race! I'll have gotten a total of about $315.00 worth of new A/V products and accessories for free. Obviously, I spent time to earn the rewards points in order to trade them in for merchandise, but it only takes me a few minutes to participate in the program each day. Plus, I'm already accumulating Fandemonium rewards points again, saving for the next go around. (There are other rewards available for redemption like branded Tees and mugs, autographed gear, etc., but I save my points up for the big ticket items.)

After I've had a chance to play with my new toys for a bit --- which with the holidays upon us unfortunately may not be until after Christmas --- I'll put up an E-Series SmartCast HDTV review and also give some background detailing my experiences with Vizio (customer service) and its products. I own two Vizio HDTVs and two Vizio soundbars at this point. All of which I got for free. (A few years ago, I won a 60" SmartTV 1080p HDTV in a Winter Fest contest sponsored by an unrelated third-party company. It was my first Vizio product, and is what led me to investigate the company that manufactured it, which is how I stumbled upon the link to the Fandemonium Loyalty Rewards program, and ending up joining. I figured, why not.)

My only regret is that is didn't discover the Fandemonium promotion sooner. I missed out on nearly two years of point earning opportunities. Urgh! But don't cry for me Argentina, as I have attempted to rectify the situation post haste, by earning every point I can nowadays.

Yeah, I'm sitting here grinning as I type this. Sign-up for Vizio Fandemonium Rewards!

NOTICE: I'm a loyal member of the Vizio Fandemonium Loyalty Rewards program, however, I was not asked or required to make this post. The opinions expressed are entirely my own. I have earned Vizio rewards for program participation and may earn (a few) points if you sign-up for the program using my referral link above.

11 November 2016

Salute to Veterans! My #VeteransDay Routine

As a National Holiday in the United States of America, Veterans Day is generally observed annually on the 11th of November and this year it falls on a Friday (today) marking the start of a long weekend for those who get the day off from work. While television adverts would have you believe that Veterans Days in nothing more than an excuse to launch a furniture sale, let's pause for a moment to recall the purpose of the holiday.
On this day, we as a nation commemorate those who have served in our armed forces and thank them for said service.

In addition to my soul mate, my "twin", who is both a Navy veteran and a police officer, my extended family includes a number of active duty military, military veterans and law enforcement officers (many of whom are also military vets); plus several of my neighbors are military veterans, too --- I am a native Southerner living in the deep South after all --- so this holiday has a great deal of personal meaning. I generally spend the day doing good deeds for all the veterans that I know, and while I try to do this any day of the year, sometimes life sidetracks you with white noise, so it's nice to have a special day to remind us to hug a vet and say...

Thank you for your service. Happy Veterans Day!

07 November 2016

Harken Back to Childhood Nostalgia & Cheer ...wine

I'm a native Southerner, born and raised in a small town near the Georgia-South Carolina border. In many ways, this was an idyllic way to spend childhood, with little concept of crime or world evils. It was a (mainly) materially poor, rural area where many people still scraped what living they could off the land. Dotted with family farms, large swaths of open wilderness, horse trails, and plenty of bumpy dirt roads. Hunting, fishing and farming were how many folks put food on their table. Nature was to be respected. So were your parents.

Kids played outside, largely left to our own devices without a worry of being bothered by anyone. Doors were generally left unlocked during daytime hours and were often completely wide open, for that matter. People sat on porches. Everybody knew everybody else and neighbors looked out for one another. Every passerby was greeted with a smile and a wave.

Most of my day (outside of school) was spent in the great outdoors when I was a child. Certainly, there was schoolwork and chores to be done, but outside of these unfortunate interruptions, if you went looking for me, my siblings or my friends, we were to be found running through fields barefoot, climbing trees, or splashing in mud puddles. We made-up our own games and entertained ourselves. We were materially poor so the powers that be told us, yet assuredly as rich as kings in our creativity. Imagination ruled the day. Oh, the stories I could tell, if I wasn't pinky-sworn to secrecy. 

Don't get me wrong, it wasn't all goodness and light. Not by a long shot was my childhood perfect (often, it was downright hardscrabble and at times quite terrible), but it's what shaped me, taught me right from wrong. Taught me how to be... Made me. I wouldn't change a thing. My memories are as sharp as glass, some brittle and even brutal, others sweet as sticky syrup. There was both good and bad, and that's likely how it should be. So when you found the good, you held onto it, treasured it, nurtured it.

When I left my hometown and moved away to California, people I met there often remarked upon my manners, my graciousness, my fortitude, my sense of self. "How did someone like you come to be?", they wondered, as if I was a curious specimen unencountered before in the wild. (And perhaps, sadly, I am ...a dying breed of humanity.) My reply was always the same, "for I am a Southerner, reared at my mother's knee" --- and in spite of any shortcomings inherent in our fabled history, Southern hospitality and genteelness are not merely metaphors. We do believe in "home-training".

Some years ago --- after having spent nearly half my life up to that point in California --- I returned to the South as several of the family members left behind had started to become frail from illness or old age. And my return has been a reawakening of sorts. I've rediscovered many loves, cherished things that made me thoroughly relish being a Southerner, and thankfully also put some old demons to bed. In short, it has been a rather storied homecoming. Oh, the stories I could tell, if I wasn't pinky-sworn to secrecy....

After I moved away to California, I lost out on some of my favorite childhood treats, which were only distributed regionally. One of the best parts of being back in the South was finding out that these products not only still existed after all these years, but that I could get my grubby hands on them more readily, for they had been very dear to come by for a penniless child. My favorite ice cream. A favorite soda. I had missed them, not realizing exactly how much until I was able to sample each again as an adult.

It was serendipity. One day last Fall, I was searching for something else entirely and came across a mention of Cheerwine. I blinked and quickly scrolled back up to it. They still make Cheerwine! Land sakes, Susan! (Before you go getting all bent out of shape, allow me to clarify. I was not out secretly getting drunk as a child. The "wine" here is not an alcoholic appellation, instead it's a soda pop created back when such things were oft considered body tonics. A cherry vine's fizz, is this Cheerwine.)

Unable to locate it in California, I was certain that Cheerwine had simply gone out of production, because it never expanded its reach. Instead, it was still here, in the South, ready to welcome me home.

Created in North Carolina and almost exclusively distributed in the Carolinas, it's truly a regional secret. I only knew of it because my hometown was so close to the South Carolina border that we could practically skip over it --- I perhaps exaggerate, just a tidge. Thus, even among Southerners, it's remained somewhat of a secret. (Although this may soon change with internet outreach.)

Whenever we were lucky enough to get it as children, it was a veritable treat, because it wasn't come by often. In fact, my oldest siblings --- they were five of us, and I'm the youngest one --- didn't recall it, when I inquired. Only the sister closest to me in age recalled drinking it when we were little. Apparently, Cheerwine only started to spill across the Georgia-South Carolina border near us during my own childhood.

Got my eye on the Authentic Soda Society Grand Prize!
With a smile, I did a cursory web search and found the usual social media outlets. My timing was very fortunate, because the Cheerwine website [cheerwine.com] announced the launch of its fan club, the Authentic Soda Society. No one needed to ask me twice. I clicked through to take a quiz and joined the ranks. And so became a Tastemaker (what they call us club members) and volunteer brand ambassador, not due to any proffered compensation, though the potential to earn free pop and brand merchandise was hinted at, but instead out of unadulterated joy --- and the wonders of childhood reclaimed.

If you happen upon me sitting on the porch, barefoot and smiling, sipping from a chilled red can full of cheer, don't be a stranger. Mama taught me to share.

Take my word for it, if someone offers you a chance to try Cheerwine, you'll want to sit down and take a sip. Or if you're in its local distribution area, you could go ahead and join up (and earn some goods or gear of your own): 

Get on now! Shoo!

NOTE: As a Tastemaker, I've since corrected a gap in their edifications and introduced my older siblings to the Cheerwine they missed out on in childhood. It's become a family gathering favorite, of course. I've also given free 12-pack coupons that the Carolina Beverage Corporation sometimes sends me to new friends by way of saying "How do you do?" Quite a few of my friends and neighbors, new and old, are now fans, too. By the way, I was not asked or required to make this post, or compensated for it, but I am a card-toting member of the Authentic Soda Society and take it as my duty to spread the Cheer, as it were.

04 November 2016

To GMO or Non-GMO

What's that you're eating? What's in your food?

As a STEM+M (that's Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Music) girl, I am not blanket anti-GMO. I get the science and understand the potential benefits. On the other hand, I'm also not rah-rah pro-GMO.

GMOs may not be harmful if swallowed, but I believe I have a right to know, if I am eating them. I advocate choice & transparency, particularly where my food is concerned. Labels should tell you the actual ingredients in your food and disclose things like GMOs, Fat, Cholesterol, etc., so that consumers can make informed choices.
I believe in truth in advertising and product quantifiers. So if something says "vegetarian" on the label (or menu), then it should darn well be vegetarian. Do I eat GMOs? Yes, certainly, but it is my choice to do so.

If a company expects me to purchase its product/s, then that company shouldn't have any qualms disclosing exactly what said product is.

And that's my two cents on the issue. Way to go, Vermont!

NOTE: I tend to use STEM+M (my own creation), in place of the well-known acronym STEM, due to the fact that Music, like Science and Engineering, uses Mathematics as its language. Therefore, I submit that Music is a closely related discipline (activating similar regions of the brain), and so should get its due or honor of place. There's a simple reason that a good many engineers & scientists are also musicians and music aficionados. Birds of a feather....

01 November 2016

No Garnish. Straight Mule.

TWINE by True Fabrications Old Kentucky Mule Mug
File this under "you learn something new every day." Had no idea that Smirnoff Vodka created the original recipe for the Moscow Mule cocktail as a way to promote the vodka some 75 odd years ago.

It makes sense, of course, once I'd thought about it. I mean, one would assume a drink called a "Moscow Mule" had originated in Moscow or thereabouts, or at the very least pays homage to the city, and Smirnoff is a legendary vodka originally produced by a fellow named Smirnoff at his distillery in Moscow (though it's now a Diageo brand). So, it's foreseeable the two things might have a connection. Small World and all that.
The story of how the Moscow Mule was actually supposed to be created 75 years ago is one of those "only in Hollywood" tales, it goes: A Russian immigrant named Sophie Berezinski walked into a bar on the Sunset Strip to hawk her solid copper mugs and met Smirnoff Vodka owner John Martin & ginger-beer purveyor Jack Morgan. The rest, as they say, is history.
Smirnoff Vodka (and Diageo) are currently celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the Moscow Mule and dropping knowledge to boot...

Although traditionally made with some amount of vodka, spicy ginger beer and lime juice, and garnished with a slice or wedge of lime, there are, of course, many variations of the recipe that have arisen over the cocktail's 75-year history.
Moscow Mule (or Vodka Buck)

  • 1 1/2 fluid ounces vodka
  • 1/2 fluid ounce lime juice
  • ice cubes
  • 1/2 cup ginger beer
  • 1 lime wedge for garnish
  • Happy Birthday to the Moscow Mule! Cheers!