Nacho Average Casserole

As the Coronavirus pandemic looms, I decided to make a trip to Costco to try and add some food to my half-empty cupboards. I discovered that a lot of important items were nowhere to be found, which wasn’t terribly surprising. For example, all of the loaves of bread and packages of chicken were gone, and none of the canned goods were left except for chili and garbanzo beans.

I did happen to notice, however, that there was plenty of dog food, ¡Que Bueno! nacho cheese, and Mr. Yoshida’s Marinade and Cooking Sauce. This is an interesting combination of foodstuffs that may take on greater meaning in times of increased panic and hysteria. We’re not there yet—so far in America the worst food supply problem is due to a bunch of assholes buying much more than they need which then causes others go without. (As a side note, many of these same assholes are quarantining at home and have no idea what to do so they eat more food than usual; Americans could possibly end up with an even greater obesity problem when this whole Coronavirus thing eventually blows over.)

I would be more than a little excited to see how people would react to much harsher circumstances—that is, where things take a very uncomfortable turn and a large portion of the population must supplement its daily meals with dog food or whatever in order to manage. Personally, this is a sacrifice I would be willing to make, especially if it meant we got to see Food Network hosts like Rachel Ray making their best efforts at crowd control by showing people how to properly marinate kibble, mix in cheese sauce, and then bake for 35 minutes at 375° for a pandemic-appropriate casserole dish. The term “Costco Cuisine” would take on an entirely new meaning and the world would truly never be the same again… and this would actually be a good thing.

Shop Till You Drop (Or Not)

I stopped by Best Buy this afternoon as I was out grocery shopping (I really needed avocados) to see what sort of embarrassing high jinks were afoot. I had to park in the gravel lot next to the store because there wasn’t space anywhere else. After going inside, I strolled up and down the aisles and decided I would try to be a good American (i.e. consumer-retard) and buy anything and everything that was of interest to me.

As expected, the environment was hectic and triggered a flashback from many years ago: I was living in San Francisco and travelling north to Redding on Christmas Eve so I could spend the holiday with friends and family. I am not very good at buying gifts and put this chore off till the last minute—I was naive and figured I would just quickly drop by a Target somewhere in the Bay Area and grab a few board games and some wrapping paper. It was Christmas Eve, after all, and there couldn’t possibly be very many people out shopping. What a tremendous error in judgment! The store was a zoo, people were in a frenzy, and there was merchandise strewn across every aisle. This was a jarring realization for me: I figured there would be a few weirdos still out shopping, but had no clue there would be enough to fill a store. It was at this time that I began to understand why some people don’t like Christmas.

Crowded retail store on Black Friday. [Formatted]

I spent at least 30 minutes walking through Best Buy, looking for worthwhile purchases and simultaneously soaking in the frenetic energy of the people around me. In that time, I covered most of the store, and only ended up grabbing the following items:

  • 4K Movie, Blade Runner 2049, $14.99
  • 4K Movie, Deadpool 2, $14.99
  • Xbox One Game, Doom 3 BFG Edition, $14.99

It seems that I wasn’t very successful in my attempt at empassioned and untethered consumerism. I must be a bad American, but honestly there really wasn’t very much in the way interesting stuff to spend money on. I haven’t seen either of those movies yet, but I liked the two movies on which they were based. Doom 3 has been on the “to play” list since it came out nearly 15 [!] years ago. I guess I could have purchased the 4K movie player that was half off, or the 50″ 4K television that was $300 for my bedroom, or the fully 4K capable Xbox One X, but I wouldn’t really use them all that much. The Xbox One S I purchased last year plays 4K discs not very well, but I don’t watch movies or play games frequently enough for it to matter. If I put a TV in my bedroom then the quality of my sleep would decline, I wouldn’t read as much, and my larger/better TV in the living room would get used even less than it does already.

Oh yeah, I also ordered two Apple-brand mini-DVI to DVI adapters for my two late 2009 Mac Mini model computers. They were about $8 a piece and were not on special.

So despite my best efforts, I only spent about $65 today. If groceries count then I spent about $135 total. Hopefully next year I will do a better job at being an American, but I probably won’t.

Word of the Day, Entry 4: Spoonerism

A spoonerism icon-external-link-12x12 is an error in speech in which corresponding consonants, vowels, or morphemes are switched (see Metathesis icon-external-link-12x12) between two words in a phrase. These are named after the Oxford don and ordained minister William Archibald Spooner icon-external-link-12x12, who was famous for doing this.

An example is saying “The Lord is a shoving leopard” instead of “The Lord is a loving shepherd.” While spoonerisms are commonly heard as slips of the tongue, and getting one’s words in a tangle, they can also be used intentionally as a play on words.

For Thanksgiving 2018, I broke bread with dear friends from Butte County, some of whom were displaced by the Camp Fire icon-external-link-12x12. After dinner, there was an idea- and cheer-induced conversation on spoonerisms, which segued into humorous ponderings such as…

Why are bees kept in apiaries and apes kept in bestiaries?

Why do they call them apartments when they’re so close together?

Why does cargo go by boat, and a shipment go by cars and trucks?

Why do cars drive in parkways and park in driveways?

How much fuller would the ocean be if they removed all the sponges?

Why are there hysterectomies but no hyrsterectomies?

I then found out that at least one Gumby icon-external-link-12x12 picture—autographed by his creator, Art Clokey icon-external-link-12x12—has been lost forever, amongst many other cherished personal items earned over lifetimes.

By most measurements, Paradise, CA icon-external-link-12x12 doesn’t exist anymore. This was a community of about 30,000 people.

Here is some provincial hippie-art that survived the blaze:

And maybe you’re wondering what was in Paradise aside from old hippies. Well, Wayne icon-external-link-12x12 Charvel icon-external-link-12x12 lost his shop and all of his tools. If you were a guitarist, or a luthier, this news would make you sad.

I’m sure other national treasures existed in the area that were needlessly erased….

Word of the Day, Entry 3: Latchkey Kid

A latchkey kid icon-external-link-12x12, or latchkey child, is a child who returns from school to an empty home, or a child who is often left at home with little parental supervision, because their parent or parents are away at work.

In the background of my youth, I heard this term once or twice. It was foreign and seemed to be applied to children that were exposed to risk and thus nothing like me.

I was very closely and carefully supervised until about the age of about seven, but descended quickly and abruptly into a wide gulf of adult unsupervision. In just one year, I would find myself walking a nontrivial distance home from school to an empty house. Weekday afternoons from 2:30pm until about 5:30pm left me stranded with the undeveloped devices of an eight year old. My afternoons were typically spent watching cartoons, plinking away on the computer, playing video games, or reorganizing my baseball card collection. Because of syndicated reruns and a frustratingly meager weekly allowance, I frequently had to invent ways to moderate my time and occupy myself:

Preteen standing in front of an open refrigerator raising an upturned Hershey's chocolate squeeze bottle over his mouth with both hands. Liquid chocolate is pouring into his mouth. [Formatted]

(This actually wasn’t me. You see, my mother did not believe in sugar and so we never once had Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup in the fridge. If we did, it’s a certainty that I would have been doing this sort of thing, and also making chocolate milk sans kitchenware.)

There was, and still is, no shortage of latchkey kids in America, although it’s my understanding that they are not nearly as common as they used to be (see helicopter parents icon-external-link-12x12). What perhaps makes my experience more unique is that my parents decided to send my younger sister and brother to after-school daycare—both are my junior by 2 and 3.5 years, respectively. Apparently the “too young to be left home alone” marker for our parents rested somewhere between the ages of six and eight. For my siblings, after-school care continued well into middle school, yet I have been increasingly on my own since the beginning of fourth grade.

Nobody ever told me that I was a latchkey kid, nor did I develop a sense that any adults around me actively made the observation. If one of them did, it was never verbalized in my presence. Likewise, if an admonition was ever issued to my parents then I cannot detect that it registered with them. This sort of thing was just normal. It was a little scary, but also a little cool. And now that I finally know what the term means, I realize that it would not be inappropriate to change the name of this site to ChadSpace, Chad “Latchkey Kid” Johnson’s Website.