But first . . .

FEAR OF KETCHUP

How could anyone fear ketchup? This strikes me as impossible – to me, ketchup, not bread, is the staff of life. Almost anything goes better with ketchup. But I was playing Scrabble with a dear friend (and, yes, ‘slangier’ is a word; let’s just say it was a very good day for the Democrats) and he asked me whether I was finished with the ketchup . . . I was . . . and whether, therefore, I might take it out of his sight (well, uh, sure) . . . because, he said, it was upsetting him.

Now, this is a manly, sports-section kinda guy – a guy who had just broken a bone playing water volleyball in our pool the day before (okay, his little finger, but still) and kept on playing to the end of the game – and yet, he explained, he has a strong aversion to condiments. Mayonnaise, ketchup, relish . . . they disturb him greatly.

‘You’re joking,’ I said.

‘No, really,’ he said.

I cocked my head and squinted.

‘The sight of condiments makes me nauseous. I know it sounds weird but a lot of people actually suffer from this.’

Still down a few points in the game (SLANGIER was several turns off), I waved the Heinz in front of his face a few times, happy for whatever advantage I could muster (mustard?).

‘Take it away!’ he said, making urgent brushing-aside motions with his splinted hand.

I put the ketchup away (but could not resist reappearing briefly with some relish), won the game with 467 points (ADAPTIVE was my other good word), and immediately ran to Google condiment phobia.

Ketchup phobia, it turns out, is real. Four admissions among many:

  • I am 18 years old and i have developed in the last few years a fear of tomato ketchup. i become nautious and frustrated whenever someone around me eats tomato ketchup or talks about eating it. ketchup spills on tables terrify me . . .
  • My father has . . . a full blown anxiety attack when we use it and the house goes into Hazmat alert if it spills on the floor. Same goes for 1000 island dressingHis eyes get wide and real crazy looking and he backs away and tells everyone to freeze.
  • Once my friend put ketchup all over her hand and then smeared it in my face. I screamed and ran to the bathroom and scrubbed my face for like an hour. Then I sprayed perfume all over so I wouldn’t smell it. If people put ketchup on my skin I scrub it until it gets red and hurts. I HATE KETCHUP!
  • My younger brother has a raging fear of ketchup…if there’s squished tomatoes anywhere near him or his food he goes completely PSYCHO

And it doesn’t stop with ketchup.  Click here for mayo.

CARPOOLING

Lisa Strong:  “I’m all in favor of carpooling, but for most of us it won’t work.  Few of us are actually able to leave work at the official quitting time, so, that would leave all members of the carpool waiting for the latest member each day.  But at this time, I am fortunate to be a full-time telecommuter.  My employer saves over $1000 per month by allowing me to telecommute.  This is in the Midwest – bet it would save more on the coasts.  I save money and time.  And for every telecommuter, there’s one less car on the road clogging up rush hour.  We use phone, instant message, email, conference calls, and a software tool that allows us to ‘share’ our computer screen with others on the call.  This is practical for many people (not most), but still very few employers permit it.  Dr Leveen was correct that carpooling is a great idea.  Saves money for all parties, less stress for drivers, and even less traffic congestion for those who cannot carpool.  However, I take great exception to the statement, ‘The federal government should give corporations a tax credit for a gRide type program.’  Dr. Leveen noted that this is already a “win-win” situation.  The participants and corporations already derive financial and other benefits.  By waiving the toll in his case, the local  government is already subsidizing his carpool.  Why should the federal government take dollars from the people who earned them, transfer them through a government that’s more than broke, and distribute those dollars to other people and organizations who will benefit from the situation without the appropriation of someone else’s dollars?  My apologies to Dr. Leveen, who wrote an otherwise  thoughtful commentary.”

☞ Perhaps a compromise would be a five-year incentive, to draw attention to the possibilities and speed their adoption?  Or maybe just a good front-page Wall Street Journalstory recounting Genentech’s success?

A VIEW FROM BOOTS ON THE GROUND

From the 82nd Airborne via the New York Times:

VIEWED from Iraq at the tail end of a 15-month deployment, the political debate in Washington is indeed surreal. Counterinsurgency is, by definition, a competition between insurgents and counterinsurgents for the control and support of a population. To believe that Americans, with an occupying force that long ago outlived its reluctant welcome, can win over a recalcitrant local population and win this counterinsurgency is far-fetched. As responsible infantrymen and noncommissioned officers with the 82nd Airborne Division soon heading back home, we are skeptical of recent press coverage portraying the conflict as increasingly manageable and feel it has neglected the mounting civil, political and social unrest we see every day. (Obviously, these are our personal views and should not be seen as official within our chain of command.) . . .

☞ Well worth the whole read.  (Surely we owe the authors that much.)

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