Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Pepsi Weird: Available for a Limited Time Only!

Following in the tradition of Mountain Dew’s LiveWire in 2003 and Pitch Black in 2004, PepsiCo has unveiled a new Pepsi flavor that will (supposedly) be available only during summer 2007. This special edition beverage has been labeled Pepsi Summer Mix, and it purports itself to feature “a mix of tropical fruit flavors.” (To view Pepsi’s highly uninformative promotional website, click here.)

Though I rarely drink a straight-up regular Pepsi-Cola, a limited edition soft drink is the precise kind of gimmick that I’m ever so likely to sucker myself into trying. And so I did. And here are my thoughts:


That’s the first and foremost thought that came to my mind upon tasting the drink. Given that most of us probably have similar thoughts whenever we taste something new, I’ll elaborate. I had presupposed that Summer Mix would be a citrus-infused version of Pepsi-Cola, but it was nothing like that at all. In fact, I found the flavor to be rather elusive. For a brief and fleeting moment, it tasted just like regular Pepsi. Then, just before my brain actually had time to register the thought, “Hey, this tastes just like regular Pepsi!”, the regular Pepsi flavor dissipated and something else was there. Something rather enigmatic for a cola drink.

My wife, who herself is not a cola fan at all, tasted the soda. She provided the first flavorful description that I felt had some merit to it. She said it tasted just like Dubble Bubble bubblegum. I took another sip and, by golly, she was right. It did taste remarkably like Dubble Bubble! I had been leaning toward a vanilla-esque flavor, but she was hitting the nail more squarely on the head. Pepsi Summer Mix tastes sort of like drinking Pepsi with a mouthful of bubblegum. Interesting.

As I sat down to write this post, I went ahead and poured myself another tumbler of the stuff. It’s been a couple of days since I tried it, and I felt determined to pinpoint how exactly Pepsi Summer Mix was justified in claiming that it bears an essence of tropical goodness. I think I’ve finally figured it out. Stretching my mind a bit, I now think the best description of Pepsi Summer Mix is to say that it tastes like the illegitimate lovechild of Vanilla Coke and a piña colada. That might not be Pepsi’s ideal description of the drink, but I think it’s a fair and accurate one. If you’re more of a candy connoisseur, you may also think of it as Pepsi-Cola blended with those piña colada LifeSavers—but I don’t suppose that description could be any more illuminating than the previous one.

In the end, I guess there’s the more fundamental question of whether or not to recommend Pepsi Summer Mix. I wouldn’t give it an enthusiastic recommendation by any means. If you’re a cola fanatic, I guess it’s a way to have something new without going completely AWOL and drinking a cream soda or a Sierra Mist or something. (Or, heaven help you, some fruit juice.) But I wouldn’t avidly seek this beverage out myself. A piña colada-like soda sounds interesting on its own accord, but it’s a tad weird tasting piña colada blended with a blatant cola flavor. (I suppose it may be something along the lines of a Rum and Coke, but since I don't drink, I wouldn't know. If you like those, perhaps you'll like this after all.) In the end, then, I personally wouldn’t turn down a free Pepsi Summer Mix, but I also wouldn’t say it’s a complete match.

NOTE: Surprise, surprise, I’ve updated my long dormant side projects, Orange Theology and In the Key of Orange. While you’re here, you may as well stop in and read those posts!

Saturday, May 26, 2007

In One Ear and Out the Other

Recently, I was distressed to learn that there was a huge discrepancy in the hearing abilities of my left and right ears. If I stuck my left arm straight out to the side and lightly rubbed my thumb and forefinger together, I could distinctly hear the swishing, sandpaper-like noise of skin rubbing on skin. If I held my right hand right next to my right ear, however, no matter how vigorously I rubbed my thumb and forefinger together, I wouldn't hear squat. I constantly felt like I needed to "pop" my right ear, but no matter how exaggeratedly I would yawn, no matter how hard I would swallow, it was to no avail. I was semi-deaf. I could literally feel the deafness, not just hear it (er, that is, not just not hear it).

Well, for whatever reason I started experimenting with my morning routine. I thought maybe just maybe I had deafened myself with my blatant love for Q-tips® (yes, they have to be Q-tips® brand Q-tips®) and my blatant disregard for warning labels. One of the highlights of my day has always been the post-shower plunging of a cotton swab deep into my ear canal, where I would engage in a highly aggressive, cerebral-threatening swirl. It was an experience that one might call, to quote my brother, eargasmic. I loved it. Sadly, I thought it might have a little something to do with my rapid hearing loss.

So, as I said, I tweaked my post-shower ritual and, exerting every ounce of self-control I could muster, stopped inserting the Q-tip® into my ear canal. I gave my right ear nothing more than a light dusting around its various nooks and crannies. It was about as satisfying as an Eskimo kiss on your wedding night (no offense, Alaska!), but I kept my passions bridled.

As it so happened, a few days into this passionless routine, I noticed that my desire to "pop" my right ear had dissipated. I was hearing better. The right half of my head didn't feel like it was underwater. With my curiosity piqued, I raised my right hand to my right ear and began rubbing my fingers together. Lo and behold, there was swishing! I stuck my right arm straight out to the side and began rubbing my fingers together yet again. I could still hear my fingers swishing! I could hardly believe it! I had been cured! Maybe there had been a ball of wax stuck in my ear canal that I had shoved deeper into place every time I let that Q-Tip® ravage the right side of my head. I had heard of such stories. But regardless of all that, here I was, a walking, talking, hearing miracle!

The next morning, with my sudden restoration of hearing, I was overconfident and succumbed to temptation. I felt relatively sure that nothing could go wrong. So, I tried merely to tease my ear with some light penetration, but before I knew it, I was shamelessly violating my ear canal. And then it happened. I felt my ear go deaf. My revitalized hearing was gone. As far as the hearing in my right ear was concerned, the fat lady was singing, but I’d need an iPod and some decent quality headphones in order to hear it. It was as if the miracle had never occurred.

I'm happy to report, I have regained my hearing abilities yet again. Of course, I have always to steer clear of my right ear canal, for with even the slightest touch, I am bound to throw caution to the wind and once again obliterate my hearing. As for my left ear, it's always been good to me. I've never stopped shoving cotton swabs deep into it—it's my only solace. Of course, nowadays I am much more likely to run my amateur hearing tests on my left ear than I ever used to be. But so long as I hear that swish, my left ear will always have a date with the Q-tip®.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

How to Know You've Got Great Friends

1. They travel thousands of miles to visit you, and they immediately smother you with love and generosity upon their arrival.
2. They take you to tourist attractions in your own city that you’ve never even visited yourself! (For example, Zoo Atlanta and the Georgia Aquarium.)
3. They let you crowd up their otherwise spacious rental car, just so you can get stuck in traffic jams together.
4. You feel like you’re on vacation, just because they’re around!
5. Because they get you out and about in your own city, you feel more like a bona fide resident than you did before the out-of-towners showed up.
6. Because of them, you’ve finally found a nearby restaurant that you’re incredibly excited about (e.g. Pig-N-Chik).
7. They almost fool you into believing they like your kid as much as they like their own.
8. Even though food poisoning has them on the verge of puking, they hang out chatting with you rather than hiding away in the guest room.
9. They’re supposed to be on vacation, and yet they’re fixing your cupboard doors, loading your dishwasher, and debugging your computer.
10. Even though they’ve been living with you for a week, you’re still incredibly, incredibly sad to see them go.

To such good friends, thanks for visiting. We love you.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

For Those Who Missed Urkel-Os

Has anybody else noticed that the latest ad campaign for Post Honey Bunches of Oats cereal features none other than America’s long lost icon, Steve Urkel? I must say, it’s good to see Urkel back on the small screen. He’s such a natural, and having already spent a brief stint peddling his own brand of cereal in the early 90s, Urkel-Os, what better than to have him running across the country, forcing Joe and Jill Public to choke down a few spoonfuls of Ho’ Bunches? It’s sheer genius on Post’s part!

Steve Urkel, circa 1991

Personally, I like Ho’ Bunches quite well as it is, so Urkel’s advertising presence isn’t going to gain a new customer in my household. But, whenever Ho’ Bunches go on sale for $2 a box and I find myself loading up my cart, I’ll be happy knowing that, in some small way, I am helping put that lovable nerd-next-door back on the boob tube. What I’m secretly hoping for is an entire Family Matters reunion commercial, where Urkel springs in on the Winslow home unannounced, and they all spend the next 30 seconds reminiscing about Urkel’s crazy antics whilst fawning over a few bowls of honey-bunched goodness.

Steve Urkel, 2007

Lest your memory fail you and you think I’m making up the existence of Urkel-Os, you can verify their existence by checking out this hilarious (but profane) 2004 review of said cereal. 2004? Yes, 2004. The box of cereal being eaten is 14-years-old. As I said, the review is an exercise in comedy … just like Urkel himself! [And check out the TV ads for Ho’ Bunches here!]

Did I do that???

Monday, May 14, 2007

Four Months Later and ... Lemonade!

As a student, I’ve been rather fortunate. Most of the time, I have enjoyed school more and more as I go along. One semester is always better than the last, or so it typically seems. There have been a few exceptions to this. After I completed the requirements for my undergraduate degree in philosophy, I still had three semesters left to finish my degree in classics. Those three semesters were not very fun, and I missed the philosophical focus my academic life had once had. Luckily, those days are over and I’m a full-blooded philosopher from here on out.

This semester, however, was a bit of a disappointment. There were numerous classes being offered that I was interested in, but I had to decide on just three. Philosophy of Mind was a given, since it overlaps with my interest in free will. The other two classes could be basically whatever I wanted. After much deliberation, I opted for a class on the 19th-century German philosopher Hegel and a class that would study the impact of sociopolitical changes of the 20th-century on religion. I was, in a sense, trying to broaden my horizons, but by the time the semester ended, I would consider these classes to be mistakes. Time and time again, I would find myself lamenting my decisions, wishing I could somehow go back and take two different classes. Hegel, while fascinating at times, was the most tedious philosopher I have yet to encounter, and the religion class was too sociopolitical for my tastes. I knew that going in, but I hoped it would be illuminating. Instead, I found it somewhat drab.

None of this matters now that the semester is over, but I thought I’d share my experience. Realizing how I felt about these classes will help you to understand just how grueling a process it was to write the final papers, because I simply was not that interested in what I was writing about. Given the situation, I was remarkably pleased with the final papers I was able to churn out. Once they were written, I kind of liked ‘em. That is a minor miracle in and of itself.

The point of all this is that it makes my final grades for the term all the more exciting. As much as I bemoaned two of the three classes I took this semester, I had a successful run. I checked my final grades, and I’m happy to report straight A’s for the term. Not even an A-, folks, but outright A’s. All of ‘em! My cumulative grad school GPA is now 3.96. I’m happy with that. And I must admit, I hope it will only go up from there. Only time will tell…

Friday, May 11, 2007

Once There Was This Boy Who...

In ten years time, this story will probably be written off as urban legend. Catch it now while there's still proof that it's real. Oh, and if you're scared of any of the following, perhaps this article isn't for you: spiders, ear canals, Rice Krispies, 9-year-old boys.

Mama called the doctor and the doctor said ... click here to find out!


Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Nutty, with Hints of Bitterness and a Smooth, Rosy Finish

The title of this post is meant to describe the end of my semester—nay, the end of my first academic year at Georgia State University. My time at GSU is half over, which is mind-boggling to me. It seems like I am just beginning. But that sentiment is a topic for an entirely different post. My only point here is to rejoice that the end of the semester has finally come. Just 90 minutes ago, I submitted my final paper of the semester. Now I am free—downright, Thrifty Nickel free!

If there is anything graduate school has taught me, it is that the end of the semester crunch can last up to four or five weeks. Given that a typical semester lasts only 13 weeks, that is a significant amount of crunching. This semester was slightly better than last, though. I did not end up writing a 20-page paper in one continuous 36-hour block, for example. That’s always a good thing. But I have spent the last week almost constantly in front of the computer. (So why am I writing a blog as soon as I’m done? Good question.) I’ve literally spent about 14-16 hours per day writing during this past week, but I never stayed up later than 3 a.m. or so. Again, that shows improvement over last semester. It may have something to do with the fact that I didn’t have to write 70 pages worth of material in 3 weeks. Nope, this time around I only had to write somewhere between 50 and 55 pages (I am somewhat estimating) during the same amount of time. That may sound like a ton, but it’s a whole paper’s worth less, and that has probably saved my life.

Summer is not going to provide a complete respite. I’ll start teaching a summer session of Critical Thinking in June. I’m also taking a Directed Readings course on free will in order to prepare for my master’s thesis, which I’ll begin writing in the fall. Furthermore, I want to test out of the upper logic class that is required of all master’s students, which means I’ll have to do some prepping over the summer. If I don’t test out of it by August, I’ll have to take logic in the fall or be screwed over. And, finally, I want to retake the blasted GREs. I probably don’t have to do this, but I want to boost my scores, which I’m sure I can do. Last time I took the GREs, I didn’t prepare for them at all. I just went in and took them. All things considered, I did quite well, but I need every last advantage I can get when it comes to applying to Ph.D. programs. Because they admit so few people annually, they’ll probably draw a line for GRE scores and toss out people that don’t make it, just to clear up the candidate pool. If it comes down to a tiebreaker, I need to be the one they choose.

So that’s my hurried update. Despite the many events of the summer, I firmly believe I’ll keep up with blogging much better now. Seriously. No, but I’m serious this time. So keep checking in. I already know of a few things I’d like to blog about. See you soon!