Saturday, January 24, 2015

I Wish I Drank Coffee



I wish I was a coffee drinker. I love coffee cake. I love the smell of coffee beans. I love the way a coffee-making apparatus looks on the kitchen counter. I love the mystique surrounding it. I believe that coffee is one of the greatest social accessories available to humanity. It is cheap, ubiquitous and provides a universal conversation piece. It has been utilized in religious ceremonies and banned for political strategy. Despite all of this, I cannot get past the fact that it tastes like rainwater from a rusty steel can that someone used to soak their bunions.

I have been informed again and again that “it is an acquired taste” but life is too short to try and convince my taste buds that they need a second opinion. I never had to convince myself that BBQ ribs or ice cream was delicious. I did not have to force-feed myself bacon for years before I could appreciate its culinary power so why should I keep ingesting caffeinated brown water until my senses relent? At any rate, one does not have to be a coffee drinker to appreciate the benefits of being a coffee drinker.

Coffee Drinkers Appear Contemplative – When you see someone gazing toward the horizon with a cup of coffee in their hand we tend to assume that they are agonizing over life-altering decisions or the profundities of human existence. We even feel guilty for approaching someone during these moments as if we have intruded upon a private ceremony. The slow and purposeful movements of the coffee drinker do seem almost ritualistic; their faces constantly enwreathed by steam.

Of course, this is all a facade created by the beverage. They simply needed to pass some gas and the window was far enough away from their cubicle to provide plausible deniability were it to linger. The truth is that coffee drinkers ponder the same things that water enthusiasts or pork-rind connoisseurs do, they just look better while they do it.
Sipping Coffee Buys You Time – We have all been there. You are at a family reunion or social event and find yourself running out of discussion topics. Maybe this is the first time you have seen your nephew since his stint in rehab or one of your wife’s co-workers just announced that her husband was sleeping with their dog-sitter. Do you comment on the weather? Stare at your shoes? You need to think of an out or fake an emergency but nothing comes to mind.

Coffee drinkers never have to panic in these situations because not only can they simply cover their face with their cup, they can leave it there for a full 2 minutes before anyone suspects a thing. That is because coffee is meant to be consumed slowly. It is hot and could melt your face. People expect your sips to be long drawn-out affairs. Try and sell that with a bottle of Dasani. You can only fake-drink so long before people notice that the amount of water isn’t being significantly reduced and they realize that you are stalling.

Coffee Provides An Excuse for Morning Hostility – You can get away with almost anything as long as you make it understood that have not yet consumed your morning cup of joe. Sorry I called your mother an alcoholic financial leech honey, but I hadn’t had my coffee yet. I shouldn’t have thrown a dead bird at those nuns officer, but we were out of Folgers at the house. 

It Is An Unassailable Excuse to Eat Pie – No one will ever judge you for eating a large slice of pie as long as you have a cup of coffee in your hand. While the rest of us will be indirectly accused of gluttony (I am stuffed. I don’t know how you have room for that!) no one is going to disparage you cramming an Edwards in your face as long as you have some coffee.

Coffee Allows You to Create an Identity – If I see a grizzled man with a beard ask for black coffee with no frills, I naturally assume they are a no-nonsense, salt-of-the-earth laborer who could probably tell you more than one story that involves a bar fight. That’s the implication is when someone says “I’m a black coffee man.” You expect a low-maintenance self-reliant personality. I would be taken aback to see someone fitting that description order organic hazelnut French-roast because it suggests a love of poetry and at least one delightful summer spent studying abroad.  

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Chiropractors



While speaking to a family member this Christmas, I learned of a fascinating wellness philosophy: the use of chiropractic treatment as a substitute for traditional Western medicine. My wife is a chiropractic patient and has been for years, but had foolishly limited the scope of her care to problems involving her spine. As it turns out, there is a growing number of people who believe that a properly-trained chiropractor can successfully treat or mitigate a staggering number of ailments ranging from influenza to ADHD by correcting “vertebral subluxation.”

I began doing some Internet research on this approach and quickly found myself on the website of Chiro-One Wellness Centers. Chiro-One is an Illinois-based chain that offer extensive chiropractic care for a variety of conditions. The site lists a number of afflictions and how chiropractic care treats them.

ADHD - By correcting nerve interference, function is improved, with greater expression of human potential. Many report terminating drug therapy, and seeing the personality, will, and soul of the child unfolding.

I don’t know what you are getting in exchange for your co-pay, but I can assure you I have yet to leave the pediatrician and experience the “unfolding” of my child’s soul. That is not to say that we should ask hyperactive children to ingest large amounts of pharmaceuticals without cause, but how exactly does one quantify “greater expression of human potential?” Could I sue for malpractice if my child gets an adjustment and their grades plummet?

Aging - Chiropractic care frees the body from a serious form of health-damaging stress called the vertebral subluxation complex that causes premature aging by destroying vitality and weakening our natural healing ability.

Just once I would like to see an episode of Law & Order where the medical examiner lists the cause of death as “vertebral subluxation” so I could hear one of the investigators toss off a one-liner like “and I thought my back was killing me!” Does this mean the Benjamin Button’s spine was overly aligned? 
Ear Infections - Children with ear infections need chiropractic adjustments. In many cases ear infections are observed to disappear after chiropractic care, saving children from ear-tube surgery and antibiotics.

I’m afraid I will need to some peer-reviewed medical research on this one. What does “observed to disappear” even mean? What is the time period we are talking about? I could easily correlate two unrelated events given an ambiguous amount of time like if I said or “his childhood stutter has not been observed since he graduated college “or ”I haven’t contracted malaria since I pooped at an Exxon.”

PMS and Menopause - Doctors of chiropractic help see that the sexual organ/spinal column relationship is a healthy one. Chiropractors correct the vertebral subluxation complex (a dangerous condition in your spine that interferes with the nervous system and causes a state of “dis-ease” or reduced health and wholeness) that can lead to disease.

While I have no issue with my wife seeing a chiropractor, I am not sure how I feel about another man asking her if he can check the health of her “sexual organ/spinal column relationship” in exchange for money. That situation could place me in a state of “dis-ease” and it sounds more like a pick-up line than the clinical language of a diagnostician.

Cold and Flu - Keeping your body free from vertebral subluxation keeps your natural immunity high and could make the difference between a quick recovery and lingering illness. A spinal exam can change your life.

Here they have clearly gone to simply listing a viral infection and making vague references to “vertebral subluxation” and lingering illness. The website lists 27 separate maladies that can be “helped” by chiropractic care but after really looking into this I am afraid they have sold themselves short.



Here are some suggestions to add to the website which are ambiguous enough to infer treatment while avoiding litigation.

Ebola – Preventing vertebral subluxation fortifies the body’s natural immunity while helping mitigate the discomfort of hemorrhagic fever. 

Racism – It has been suggested that proper spinal alignment correlates to an increased acceptance of ethnic and cultural diversity.

Marital Infidelity - When we allow our biomechanical spinal segments to stray we often find that our hearts do the same.  

Bankruptcy – Many report that an increase in chiropractic adjustments correlated to an eventual decrease in phone calls from collection agencies.  

Unemployment – Study after study confirms that the gainfully employed are six-times more likely to be under the care of a chiropractor than their unemployed or homeless counterparts. Coincidence? We think not.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Salt Life



I have noticed more and more vehicles adorned with “Salt Life” decals and had always assumed that it was an evangelical initiative based upon Matthew 5:13 which states:

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

The idea being that the owners and operators of these vehicles had committed themselves to retaining their metaphorical “saltiness” by striving to exemplify a Christian lifestyle. At least that is what I thought that until I noticed the “Salt Life” decal placed on a vehicle adjacent to a few decidedly non-Christian bumper stickers.

I then began to theorize that the words had no relation to Christianity and there was simply a growing number of people willing to admit they suffered from higher-than-recommended dietary sodium intakes. Perhaps SALT itself was an acronym for the Strategic Alliance of Leased Toyotas or Southern Academy for Libertarian Teenagers.
Finally, I sat down and Googled “Salt Life” only to find that it is a commercial branding operation with an exquisitely ambiguous “mission statement”:

Salt Life is an authentic, aspirational and lifestyle brand that embraces those who love the ocean and everything associated with living the “Salt Life”. Founded in 2003 by four avid watermen from Jacksonville Beach, Florida, the Salt Life brand has widespread appeal with ocean enthusiasts worldwide. From fishing, diving and surfing, to beach fun and sun-soaked relaxation, the Salt Life brand says “I live the Salt Life”.

I personally love it when a company identifies itself in unquantifiable terms like “authentic” and “aspirational.” What does that even mean and how would one go about determining the authenticity of a company who sells window decals and beer cozies? If the combination of an Internet presence and retail locations Florida are the criteria, I guess Alvin’s Island has been keeping it real since Clinton was in office.

I must admit that I admire anyone who can create as broad a demographic as these people. It would appear that they wish to represent anyone who at some point in their lives has found the existence of the ocean pleasing or beneficial. This covers everyone from marine biologists to Red Lobster patrons. I cannot recall talking to anyone who is staunchly anti-ocean.

I realize that perhaps my criticism seems unfair given the fact that this company simply wishes to turn a profit by providing a product. My only real defense is how anti-climactic it was to discover that these ubiquitous decals weren’t something more exciting. I was hoping for a nefarious cult or at least a questionable philanthropic endeavor. What I never suspected was that my search would take me to a website that sold a $40 pair of women’s polyester blend sweatpants claiming to deliver “ocean style.”

Since these lifestyle decals have proven to be so lucrative, I have compiled my own list. Obviously “Salt Life” has been taken and “Thug Life” would be disingenuous and risk litigation from 2Pac’s estate, but the rest I felt was fair game.

Ciabatta Life – because Kaiser Buns are for chumps…

Hypertension Life – you didn’t chose increased stress and caloric intake, increased stress and caloric intake chose you…..

Dirt Life – for those whose daily lives have influenced by topsoil

Probiotic Life – representing those who are passionate about digestive regularity

Existence Life – for those whose lives have been directly affected by their existence