Saturday, February 17, 2007

Peanut Butter

Peanut butter on fat-free soda crackers is one of my favorite snacks. I have a jar in the pantry now that is half full. A jar usually lasts me about four months. Today, I found that there is a salmonella scare over peanut butter and many have become sick by eating it. The brand names are Pater Pan and Great Value. Mine is Great Value, the Walmart brand. The lot number in question is 2111 and that is the number on my jar. What to do? I realize that I have some options open to me. 1) Ignore all the media noise and go on with my life like I had never heard of this problem. 2) Continue to eat the peanut butter but only in small amounts. Responses one and two means that I would be relying on my immune system to overcome any problem, maybe it is time to test it. Do I have a good immune system or not? But then, if my jar is not contaminated I might falsly assume that I have a good immune system. 3) Throw the jar away. 4) Take the jar back to Walmart and ask for a refund. 5) Save the jar for the possibility of a class action suit and cash in as an agrieved customer. 6) Save the jar and then sell it on E-bay. Do I have all the bases covered? Let me know.

Sunday, February 04, 2007


Back in 1995 Paulette invited her granddaughter, Stephanie, Jeannette and me to visit Hoggtowne with her. It was a delightful time. This is a medieval village set up for a week end for visitors to experience what it was like to visit a "Faire" in medieval times. Yesterday, Hoggtowne was set up in Gainesville, Florida, (you may remember that Gainesville is the home of the University of Florida, the national champions in college football and basketball.) I invited two friends from the Y, the Andrini's, to join me to see Hoggtowne. We drove to Gainesville, found the Fairgrounds, and proceeded to enter Hoggtowne. There was a castle entrance we had to go through above which were a few jesters making comments to those entering. Walter was wearing a U of Michigan football hat and a jester promptly informed him that this area was not hospitable to Midwest football teams evidenced by the rout of the Ohio State game for the National Championship. We took that well and ignored the jibe. Once inside, we made our way to a tent in which three young ladies were singing a bawdy chantey about the Cuckoos Nest. All three were dressed in medieval costume of long gowns with a very revealing bodice. At first, the eyes could not look away from those six mounds of white flesh protruding from those dresses. I had not seen anything like it since my visit to Las Vegas. How did they manage to stay inside those dresses while taking deep breaths for the singing? As I listened to the words and observed the gestures it became apparent exactly what they were singing about. Wow, this was funny stuff, and the audience fully appreciated it. In the song, her inexperienced, young man does not know what a cuckoos nest is and she undertakes to show him: where it is located, the bush it hides in, it's need for warmth, how it can be approached, etc. etc. The audience roared at each double entendre while the singers sang with straight faces. I was sorry to see the performance end. As we walked about we noticed that many people were dressed in medieval costume, as if this were one large, medieval, open-air party. Some people were gnawing on what appeared to be a turkey leg except it was about three times the size. What is that all about? We entered another tent while a play was being performed. This play involved a mistress trying to escape her old husband for a tryst with a young troubadour. Meanwhile, the old master is trying to score with a passing female riding a jackass. The are many close escapes from being found out while hiding behind hedges, ducking around walls, and merely standing still while others purposely ignore their presence. The story is told by a storyteller who positions the players around the stage. The jackass is played by a man who is always positioned behind the young female. His hands are locked onto her hips and he is supposed to move with her at all times. When he dawdles, the storyteller tells her to get her ass over to the other side of the stage. Of course, the mistress is not allowed to see her, or her ass. When she moves quickly to hide, her ass is dragging. Again, this audience has loud guffaws for the double entendre and the laughter is infectious. The play ended too soon and I wanted it to start over, but it was obvious that it would be some time before the next performance. We next stopped at an amazing puppeteer who had two puppets on one string and one end of the string was tied to a post. The other end of the string was tied to his leg. By bending his knee he was able to make both puppets dance. He played a flute in his mouth and had a small drum in his hand. Flute, drum and knee bending made for an admirable performance as the audience kept time with his music. Leaving there we inspected some of the booths selling jewelry, trinkets, clothing, armour, leather goods and swords of all kinds. Also, Tarot Reading, Astrology Reading, Fortune Tellers and Phrenologists. All the "rides" were human powered: oscillating Barrel, Merrie-Go-Round, Giant Pendulum and Giant Swing. (those guys were muscular and worked hard all the time we were there, five hours.) The Jousts were very good but dangerous for the participants. There were two knights, fully armored, on Clydesdale horses who rode at one another, with lances, trying to unseat the opponent. It is one thing to poke a lance at a person who is fully armored, but to pick up speed and ram a lance at someone is quite a blow to take. When a knight was unhorsed the other won. Wenches were on hand to attend the knights, hand them their lances, give them water, adjust the armour or hold their horses. Later, on the same field, we witnessed individual knights fighting in hand-to-hand combat. There were about twenty-five to thirty knights, most fully armored with metal helmets, breastplates and leg plates. Heavy leather covered some other areas. Half the knights were lined up on one side of the field and the others on the other side. The High Chamberlain would call out for Sir Gawain or Sir Arnold and they would advance to the center of the field and fight it out. Movement to the center was not very swift because of the weight of the armour and the poor visibility offered by the full face helmets. They all had special, heavy, wooden swords that do not splinter but, if broken, break with only fibrous ends. Shields were made of metal or wood and were of various designs. The knights would wield their swords and hammer away at their opponents, looking for a vulnerable opening. Once hit where it really hurts, the knight would fall down under the shield and would be declared the looser. There were some female knights also, and they appeared to have more leather armour since it is lighter. Most of these were soon dispatched by the males. Then they formed two lines, or teams, and advanced on each other. This was very interesting, because one team tried to turn the flank of the opposing team and get them from the side, or the rear. We have all seen movies of hordes of fighters rushing at one another, but this was energizing and amazing. They met like a football scrimmage, shoving one another, climbing over the fallen, swinging swords and shields. The females went down first and the fighting continued until there was only one fighter from one side and four from the other side. The four surrounded the last one and then all struck him at once, he rolled over with his shield over him. Nobody surrendered, all fought to the "death." One last fight was the Grand Melee in which all the knights were stationed in a large circle. This left about a twenty foot space from each other. The instructions were they could not immediately fight the close person on their right or their left. The last person standing would be the winner. This fight was also amazing, as they advanced to the center of the ring and picked someone to fight. Once dispatching an opponent, finding another to fight. These fighters, all told, were on the field for over an hour and thirty minutes flailing away at one another. This is a tough business. We were told that they all belonged to an association, of which there are about twenty-five thousand in the United States. They sometimes participate in events that have as many as five thousand fighters. We only saw about thirty on this day, a larger event must be overwhelming to behold because I found this outstanding. Later, we saw acrobats and jugglers doing feats of balance and strength. One person lay on his back with bare feet up. Another person climbed bare footed onto his feet and stood straight up. Both men had fully extended legs, then a lithe female came over, got between their legs and lay back with her body parallel to the floor. She was being held by the pinching knees of the person on the floor. As we made our way out of Hoggtowne, we noticed that fully fifty percent of the people had some kind of medieval ornament or clothing. That atmosphere is contagious.