Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Far Away Places With Strange Sounding Names

...and possibly stranger inhabitants...

James W. Phillips, an old friend and colleague, and brilliant marketing guy in Seattle, had an uncommon interest in names of towns and cities and wrote a book titled Washington State Place Names, way back in 1976.

Naturally when I moved to Arizona about 20 years ago, I became interested in Arizona State Place Names. There are plenty. My favorites are:


Booze Crossing
Bumble Bee
Gurli Put Vo
Kahachi Miliuk
Kaihon Kug
Peach Pu
Santa Claus
Skull Valley
Two Guns

The Arizona names further kindled my research spirits, and I was doing fine … considering a whole series of Weird City names, until I got to (please send the children out of the room) … Mianus. Really! I’m serious. I looked up Mianus and found it … in Connecticut near Greenwich. 

Search hotels in Mianus. Find places to visit In and around Mianus.

After I recovered from my sophomoric hysteria, I looked further into Mianus and found a blogger named Stephen Wood who was also looking into Mianus and wrote a Blog titled: “I Had to Have a Wiener in Mianus.” 

No, Anthony isn’t living there, although that might be a very good place for him to run for Mayor. Apparently there is a great hot dog place in Mianus. Stephen also posted these photos. Thank you Stephen. 

Being an easterner, I’m not sure if Stephen knows about Whorehouse Meadow in southeast Oregon reported by Lewis McArthur in his 1974 book Oregon Geographic Names, or Brassiere Hills, Alaska; Mollys Nipple, Utah or Outhouse Draw, Nevada sent along by Mark Monmonier.

Me, I still like Boring, Oregon. They even have a Boring Community Center.  And probably a Boring Theater.  They almost certainly teach Boring History in the schools - I'll bet I can get testimonials from the students.

I’ll be sending along more names in following FLOGS. Please stay tuned and don’t hesitate to send place names.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Another Opening (or not)

Almost a year ago I wrote Gary Kelly, CEO of Southwest Airlines, about the difficulty I had opening the bags of peanuts handed out on Southwest flights. I made no reference to peanut allergies. I’m sure Gary’s very busy, but I’m still waiting for his response. Maybe he couldn’t open my letter. Or it might have been lost in the airmail. I found nothing new on the Internut about opening the nuts on Southwest, but there’s plenty about peanut allergies and airplanes;

Peanut allergy causes emergency landing, airline sued | 9news.com

DOT Considers Peanut Ban on Flights | Food Safety News

Should we ban peanuts on airplanes? | Food Allergy Mama

On Airplanes, The Law Sides With Peanuts - Law Blog - WSJ

Free peanuts on airplanes started out as a marketing ploy – Quartz

My guess is that Gary is doing his part to protect passengers from the potential perils of peanuts by serving them in bags that can’t be opened without using an Amazing Open X (see previous FLOG),  that the TSA would probably confiscate well  before anybody could get it onto any Southwest aircraft (assuming the TSA could get it out of the clam-shell packaging).

Knowing what I know about Southwest and Gary Kelly, I’m assuming that, like he did with gasoline years ago, he probably purchased a zillion bags of peanuts at a very low price and he’s determined to pass them out, full/empty/open-able/edible or not, before the DOT or FAA make him stop.

I have no opinion on peanut allergy-gate. But I do like Southwest’s peanut policy:

· Allergy Policy: Southwest normally serves peanuts in-flight, but can substitute other snacks upon request. The airline suggests that customers with peanut allergies book their flights by phone and notify the airline of their allergy. Southwest also suggests booking early-morning flights, when the plane is at its cleanest. And by all means, sit next to David Stern - he can't open the peanuts anyway.

Monday, August 19, 2013

For Openers

Way back in 1954 when my mother was having a hard time opening the jars containing her super solid home-made dill pickles, Dr. C.W. Fuller, a retired dentist from Yonkers, NY invented and patented the Gilhoolie jar opener. My father bought one and left it to me in his Will. 

The Gilhoolie was amazing! A guy who pulled teeth for a living solved a major problem for people who put things in jars and tightened the lid to preserve the freshness - so tight that consumers couldn’t get in.

Then somebody even more sadistic than a dentist invented the rigid PVC blister-pack, which became known as the “clam-shell” - and sends more than 6,000 Americans a year to emergency rooms with injuries resulting from attempts to open them.

So when I saw an infomercial on late-night TV offering me an amazing tool that promised to spare me from the extreme health-hazard that is Clam-shell Packaging, I opened my wallet (using just my bare hands) and ponied up.  My opener arrived quickly but opening the opener was a major challenge. The evil clam-shell the opener arrived in was sealed.

I went into wrap-rage (guttural growling followed by primal-screams and finally spiraling into high-pitched, object-throwing shrieks).  With a Scarlett-O'Hara-worthy"as God is my witness" oath, I began my search for the company that had the openers manufactured in China to demand an unwrapped opener that could open the wrapped opener. Finding a phone number was difficult. Explaining my problem was even harder.  I eventually opened the package with a bayonet I bought on QVC (which I made sure would be delivered in a cardboard box) and put my two scissors and one Amazing Open X in a safe place out of the reach of human beings until I discovered them again yesterday.

Out of morbid curiosity, I Googled them and found them available at Amazon. I wondered why there were  “Only 7 left in stock, 13 new from $2.80 and 1 used from $3.50."

Hmmmmm.... 7 left in stock... 13 plus 1, carry the y .... uhhhh....

I assume the used one is more expensive because it's already out of the packaging.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Dear Old Dad

Edward "Socco" Stern, Sr.
On August 6th,  I celebrated my father’s 108th Birthday.  He was a remarkable man, but we shared many disagreements. I can’t remember what all of them were about, but I do remember well the so-called "last press conference" of Richard Nixon which took place on November 7, 1962, following his loss to Pat Brown in the 1962 California gubernatorial election. Appearing before 100 reporters at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, an embittered Nixon lashed out at the media, proclaiming that "you don't have Nixon to kick around anymore, because, gentlemen, this is my last press conference."

Dad was so convinced that Nixon was right about his future, I made him a bet that Richard Nixon would be back and the press would kick him around again.
Of course, we all know that Nixon soundly defeated Hubert Humphrey in the 1968 presidential election, making a political comeback that seemed nearly impossible after the "last press conference." I’m sure Dad voted for Nixon and I remember he paid off the bet.
One day Dad was early to work and decided to stop at a small men’s shoe store in the lobby of Seattle’s Smith Tower where Dad’s office was located on the second floor. The shoe store was owned by a wonderful man named Moe Bernard. 

“Moe's door was locked,” he said, “and there was a sign in the window reading GONE FOR TWO WEEKS, PLEASE WAIT.”
When I went into the advertising business he entered a contest at the Bon Marche (now Macy’s) in Seattle. It was sponsored by Jaguar Shirts. He purchased one, which incidentally looked terrible on him, and entered his slogan to help stamp out drunk driving. 

“How do you like this?” he asked me. “If on a jag you are, stay at the bar, don’t drive your car.” 

“I’m proud of you for entering,” I replied, deflecting the question.  He didn’t win. 

The other day, searching through old saved paperwork, I found a letter he wrote and a response he received a year before he died. I’ll let him speak for himself:  

Happy Birthday Dad. I hope you’re still taking your Unicaps.