“I Don’t Like SPAM!”

Some Spam trivia for you.

Mrs. Bun, played by Graham Chapman in the1970 Monty Python sketch called Spam, has my sympathies. I don’t like Spam either. I didn’t try it for decades, but knew I wouldn’t like it based on its ingredients. And it’s smell. And the gooey gel stuff that glurgs out when you remove the product from the can. (Shudder.)

Spam is made of pork shoulder (which is the most unpopular cut, so it’s kind of ingenious, processing it into unrecognizability and selling it in a can) and ham, and then they add sugar, LOTS of salt, potato starch as a binder and sodium nitrite as a preservative. The gooey gel stuff is a result of the meat being cooked in the can at the factory. Apparently.

In case you were wondering, that’s 609 calories per 7 ounce can, and 80 percent of those calories come from fat. That little can also contains 112 percent of your Reference Daily Intake of sodium. The possible side effects of eating Spam include:

  • abdominal pain
  • nausea / vomiting
  • water retention / dehydration
  • swelling
  • edema
  • dizziness
  • stomach cramps
  • inflammation
  • weight gain
  • increased cholesterol
  • increased blood pressure
  • heart disease
  • cancer
  • diabetes (children)
  • damaged blood vessels
  • decreased oxygen flow in body

Still, when Spam was created, it was a godsend throughout the world. It came out in 1937 just as the world was on the brink of a devastating world war. (If you think the supply chains are screwed up during this pandemic, try getting your steak and toilet paper during the deadliest conflict in human history.)

Spam is convenient. It’s easy to transport. It’s relatively inexpensive. It has a long shelf life (3-5 years depending upon conditions), and it’s fully cooked, so it can be eaten without any additional preparation if you have no other choice.

In times of war, troops and war-torn communities are desperate for food. They don’t care where their protein comes from, as long as they get it. Gross food is better than no food at all. Under those circumstances, I have no doubt that Spam has saved many people from starvation.

Having said that, though, you’d think the world would have outgrown this health bomb in a can. But in fact, it still thrives. It even comes in a variety of flavors such as Spam Hot & Spicy and Spam Hickory Smoked. There was even a limited edition Spam Pumpkin Spice in 2019, which is said to have sold out within a few hours.

The reason I’m even thinking about Spam is that I recently came back from a trip to Hawaii, where this product is extremely popular. Just check out the Spam aisle of an Oahu grocery store if you don’t believe me. Talk about a shelf presence.

It is estimated that every Hawaiian man, woman, and child consumes an average of 5 cans of the stuff every year. It was first brought to the island by American troops during WWII, and since these islands are so isolated, the convenience of this product has continued to have its appeal. There’s even an annual Spam Jam in Waikiki.

There is also a Spam festival in Austin, Minnesota where the stuff is produced. Austin is also the home of the national Spam recipe competition. And if you’re ever in that neck of the woods, you might want to check out the Spam Museum. It’s free.

Some interesting Spam trivia for you:

  • Because Spam is basically everywhere, its name was co-opted to describe those annoying, pointless emails that clog up your inbox.
  • Wikipedia mentions a Spam Cam that is supposed to be an internet camera trained on a can of decaying Spam, but when I googled it, all that came up was a way to make a pinhole camera using its container. Go figure.
  • Dr. David Khorram, who also happens to be a very talented and humorous writer in my humble opinion, wrote two articles in 2006 for the Saipan Tribune when he was working in the Marianas Islands. Their subject was the horrible nutritional value of a product that he was forced to call an “infamous processed meat brand that starts with ‘S’ and ends with ‘M, and rhymes with ‘Pam” because, according to Wikipedia, the company that makes said product “threatened to sue the local press for publishing articles alleging the ill-effects of high Spam consumption on the health of the local population.I would laugh at the absurdity of this if, in fact, Spam wasn’t having those ill effects. But knowing that info makes it a little less funny. Still, I urge you to read Dr. Khorram’s two articles in the Saipan Tribune. The links are below.
  • For further laughs, check out the book Spam-Ku: Tranquil Reflections on Luncheon Loaf, which includes 150 Spam-themed haiku for your reading pleasure. Then hop over to Vimeo to watch a funny 4 minute video about a sad guy who discovers he’s won the Spam-ku contest and anticipates that his life is going to change for the better. A guy can dream, can’t he?

Okay. I’m prepared to admit that a lot of people actually like Spam. I can’t say that I understand why, but you do you, as the saying goes. Finally, about a year ago, I tried it, just to say I did. I discovered that my instincts were correct all along. I found it to be disgusting. But your results may vary.


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Astounding Tooth Trivia

If you don’t learn something new, I’ll eat my hat!

Let me start off with some personal trivia. I have a degree in Dental Laboratory Technology and Management. I once hoped that I’d finally buy my dream home deep in the Appalachian Mountains, and I’d pay the mortgage by having my own Dental Lab there were I could create beautiful dental appliances such as retainers. I had high hopes for that career, but, as with my other degrees, all that academic excellence came to nothing. No one would hire me, so I couldn’t get enough experience to start a business. It felt like the end of the world at the time, but it turned out to be a good thing, because my dodgy wrists would never have cooperated with such a daily workout. It just wasn’t meant to be. But I didn’t know that at the time. It took me a long time to stop feeling like not having that dream come true was the end of the world.

Having said that, though, I still have a great love and fascination for that particular field, even if I am fated to be on the outside of it looking in. I wrote several blog posts about it. One, in particular, is a really interesting read. Entitled, Cool Stuff You Never Knew about Your Teeth, it’s full of tooth trivia that I collected over the course of my education. Yeah, I know it sounds nerdy, but click that link and check it out. You’ll be fascinated.

Here are a few teasers: The shape of your teeth is closely related to the shape of your face. And some people’s teeth grow out of the roof of their mouth.

Anyway, click on that link and tell me what you think! If you don’t learn something new, I’ll eat my hat!

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Lilacs Revealed

You’ll never look at lilac bushes the same way again.

I just learned something fascinating. Something that makes me see the world differently. I don’t usually like to direct you away from my blog. I’d much prefer that you pull up a chair, have a cup of tea, and stay awhile. But this article, entitled The Truth About Lilac Bushes, will mean you’ll never be able to look at lilac bushes in the same way again. And you’ll kick butt at your next trivia challenge, to boot. Fascinating.

And then, too, I’m sick as a dog at the moment and don’t really feel like blogging. So away with you, dear reader! Learn about lilacs. But come back soon. I have abandonment issues.


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Clicking Your Way to a Better World

I must admit that I spend entirely too much time on the internet. You do, too. Don’t believe me? What are you doing right now? Tiptoeing through the tulips? I think not.

(Not that I’m not happy to see you. I’d miss you if you weren’t here. I really would.)

Sometimes I think I really should make a permanent, all-encompassing change in my life and reduce my screen time to, say, an hour a day. But gimme a break. I’m as likely to do that as I am to give up pizza, and I have the thighs to prove it.

I do try to do the next best thing, though. There are quite a few sites out there that allow you to have a positive impact on the world simply by clicking a button. That’s amazing. I can save the world while staying comfortably potatoed on my couch. (Yup. Potato is now a verb. Because I say so.)

What follows are some of my favorite “positive click” sites. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

  • Ecosia. This is a search engine, similar to Google, with an important difference. For every 45 searches you do on Ecosia, they will plant a tree. They’ve planted more than 20 million trees so far. That makes me incredibly happy. So Ecosia is now my default search engine.

  • Free Rice. This is a fun site. You can feed the world while learning things. Basically, you choose a topic, such as English Vocabulary, or World Landmarks, or Language Learning, or SAT Test Preparation, or Human Anatomy, and you’ll then be asked a series of questions. For every question you get right, they donate 10 grains of rice to the World Food Program. 10 grains of rice doesn’t seem like much, but it adds up quickly. So learn stuff and feed people. It’s the ultimate win/win situation!

  • The GreaterGood. I cannot say enough about this site. Everything you do there will have a positive impact. They have various categories, such as Hunger, Breast Cancer, Animals, and Veterans, and if you go to those sections of the site once a day and click, you will be helping these causes, and it won’t cost you a penny. But beware. They also have a store, and it has the coolest clothes and shoes and jewelry that you have ever seen in your life. And when you buy an item, more donations kick in. For example, I bought an awesome jacket, and because of that, they donated 50 bowls of dogfood to an animal shelter. I think about that every time I wear that jacket, and it makes me feel even warmer.

There are all kinds of websites out there that have positive side effects. You just have to look. If you can suggest any other sites of this type, by all means, include them in the comments section, below! And keep on clicking!

make a difference

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If Our Thoughts Were on Intercom

As I was walking around doing routine maintenance on my drawbridge today, I decided to keep track of the things that were going through my head.

  • The song Cover of The Rolling Stone by Dr. Hook.

  • The idea for this blog entry.

  • I should have worn a jacket. I was wishful springing.

  • Wow, he was good looking.

  • He’s also young enough to be my son. Get a grip.

  • People don’t say hello in this town.

  • Let’s try not to get mowed down in the crosswalk for a change.

  • Traffic in this town is out of control.

  • A conversation I had with a friend recently in which I laughed inappropriately. I really need to learn to control myself. But I’m laughing even now, just thinking about it.

  • I wonder if I’ll ever be able to buy a house here.

  • I miss my dog. He’s probably home playing poker or something.

  • Hostile work environments.

  • Did I remember to bring my lunch?

  • Outstanding stuff on my to-do list that I know I’ll never do.

Basically, if my brain were on an intercom, it would be spouting trivia that no one would really care to hear. But lest you act all superior, that’s most likely the case with you, too. Can you imagine walking down a crowded sidewalk, having to listen to the minutiae of everyone’s daily life? It would be maddening.

It would also force us to be honest. That would be interesting. And potentially dangerous. Because while those shorts don’t make you look fat, c’mon. Plaid is soooooo 1972.


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You Learn Something New Every Day

Uh oh. Now I’ve done it. I’ve stumbled across a website that is sure to suck up huge chunks of my time. Because it’s fascinating. Zidbits.com is what I found when I Googled “I want to learn something new.”

The fact is, I always want to learn something new. And this site promises that you’ll learn something new every day. And with just one visit, I already have.

On my first encounter with this site, I came across articles that answer a whole host of questions it wouldn’t have occurred to me to ask.

Does a diamond really last forever?

Why didn’t the Europeans get wiped out by Native American diseases?

That red juice in your meat isn’t blood?

What is the hardest language to learn?

Do salt and fresh water drown you in different ways?

Can your hair turn white from fright?

That’s it. I’m officially doomed. I shall forever wander the zidbits website. But I’ll be learning all sorts of new stuff in the process. When all is said and done, that’s not such a bad way to go.


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Fun Facts About Seattle

When I started my job with the City of Seattle, I attended a day-long orientation. This event probably could have been reduced to about a half a day except they peppered it with “ice-breakers”. You know what I’m talking about. Those awkward little group participation  projects that you’re forced to do with the total strangers around you that most of us hate and view as a massive waste of time, but trainers feel are highly effective.

During one of these we had to split off into groups of four and work together on a quiz about Seattle. As much of a time-waster as it was, it did pique my interest about this city. Seattle is definitely in a class by itself. So here are things I learned about Seattle from that quiz, as well as from the websites Seattle Living and Nileguide.com.

  • The Seattle Department of Transportation owns and maintains 40,000 trees.
  • Seattle is the most literate city in the country, and its library system has the highest percentage of library card-holders per capita. It also has the highest percentage of residents with a college degree or higher, and the highest number of book stores per capita.
  • Seattle is the only city in the United States that owns its own watershed. (And the water tastes GREAT here!)
  • The only place in the world that has more glassblowing studios than Seattle is Murano, an island near Venice, Italy.
  • Bertha Knight Landes was the City’s first woman mayor back in 1926. That would be strong evidence of how enlightened this city is. Unfortunately, it hasn’t had a woman mayor since then.
  • When you think of Seattle, you think of rain. But it actually has less annual rainfall than Houston, Chicago or New York City. The difference here is it’s light and pretty much continual for much of the year, whereas the three other cities mentioned tend to get it out of the way in downpours and then let you go on about your sunny business.
  • Seattle was the first American city to play a Beatles song on the radio.
  • The city’s first official ordinance was for the prevention of drunkenness.
  • City Light achieved carbon neutral status, in other words, zero net greenhouse gas emissions, in 2005. Pretty impressive, considering that the world’s first gas station was opened here.
  • Seattle has 6,189 acres of parks and open areas. That’s 11.52% of the city.

Overall, this is a pretty fascinating place. I can’t wait to get out there and learn more about it!

seattle Space

Seattle from space.

[Image credit: Pinterest.com]

Things I Hope I Never Forget

The shock of having the person I loved most in the world die unexpectedly two weeks ago has taught me much.

  • Life is as fragile as a soap bubble. It could pop at any moment and that’s it. You’re done.
  • Because life is so fragile, it’s precious. You only get a little bit of it, so savor every single second.
  • Because it’s so precious, it is absurd to waste your time worrying about the little things over which you have absolutely no control.
  • Everything is a little thing, except for the people you love and the people who love you. Nothing else matters.
  • Nothing. Else. Matters.

I vaguely remember learning these same lessons when my mother died 23 years ago, but somewhere along the way I got caught back up in the minutiae of life and forgot these things. I hope I never do again. They’re important. They are the only things that really are important.

Once you start viewing life through this particular lens, all the petty crap and drama tends to fall by the wayside and things become really simple. Don’t take the people you love for granted. Appreciate everything and everyone that comes your way. But most of all, stop wasting time.



[Image credit: marian16rox.tumblr.com]

A Pop Culture Deficit

“What are these Hunger Games of which you speak?”

When I have to ask for pop culture clarification, I always sound like English isn’t my first language. And as time goes on, I find myself having to ask more and more frequently. Thank God for Google, because it often allows me to answer my own questions, thereby avoiding looking like a complete fool to the younger generation. Just the other day, I typed in “What does smh mean?”

If I really want to feel old, I check out Google Trends. For example, apparently today, Jennifer Lawrence, Miranda Lambert, and Kacey Musgraves are a big deal. I don’t know who any of these people are or what they do or why they’re so important in life.

And when did the pound sign start being called a hashtag? Seems like everybody made that switch on the same exact day. Apparently I didn’t get the memo.

I don’t know when I stopped having my finger on the pulse of what is going on in this country, but I’m most definitely pulse-less. You don’t want me to be part of your team at trivia night in your local bar. I couldn’t pick Lindsay Lohan out of a line up, which is a pity, because from what I hear that’s where I’d be most likely to encounter her.

And guess what? I’ve never tweeted. Not even once.



[Image credit: Zazzle.com]

And when did “trend” become a gerund?