We’ve breached this topic before, possible business scams. I received an email today from the U.S. Commerce Association informing me that we are being honored with the 2011 Best of Kalamazoo Award. Unfortunately, this “award” and its parent company may not be what they seem.
The Better Business Bureau posted a message on it’s website warning businesses of this company, that is not a government-affiliated agency, and their “award.” Basically, the award has little or no merit and is likely based on nothing more than your actual existence. The hook is that you must purchase the actual award or plaque to display in your office. What you actually receive, if anything … I don’t know.
The U.S. Commerce Association has a rough website. As stated, they are not a government agency. Many of these type of business attempt to cast themselves into legitimacy with official sounding company names and affiliations. It offers very little in the way of background, contacts, affiliations or methodology. The ambiguous nature of their operation is the quickest indication that it’s not on the up-and-up.
I’ve seen this type of operation under several names, but the fundamentals are consistent. They’re willing to say your the “Best of” whatever if you’re willing to buy the hardware. You can save yourself the hassle by going down to your local trophy shop and loading up on all the plaques, certificates, honors and awards you can handle.
Filed under: Non-plastic related | Tags: baseball, detroit tigers, google, history, michigan, MLB, nfl, occupy, sports
It’s a vacant lot unlike any other in a city filled with vacant lots.
The backdrop of revitalization continues to be overshadowed by the ever dominating presence of partially razed neighbors, boarded up and deteriorating homes, eroding factories and empty schools. These are the landmarks most often associated with Detroit. These are the landmarks the city wants to forget, but can never seem to get rid of.
At the corner of Michigan and Trumbull there exists a vacated lot like no other in the city, state or even country. It’s vacated only by structure. Never by memory. The high walls and grandstands are gone, but a field, seemingly so out of place with it’s current surrounding, remains.
From a vantage point thousands of feet above the city, the green grass and clean lines standout like an emerald island in a concrete ocean. A foul stripe still runs 340 feet down the left field line. Another down the right field line, 15 feet shorter. A 125-foot flagpole, still donning the stars and strips, stands 440 feet from home plate in fair territory. The grass at the warning track edge of right centerfield appears moderately discolored, as if to honor a stadium overhang that so famously caught home runs. A path is worn from homeplate to the pitcher’s mound, where the pitching rubber is still embedded in the historic ground.
Vacated by its team in 1999 and then by it’s surrounding structure by 2009, the field sits as both a sad memorial of history abandoned and a glorious reminder of memories captured. The stark contrast of this single lot, which once shook with the cheers of thousands, perhaps provides the greatest metaphor for the city it calls home. Beauty amidst abandonment.
The echo of those cheers is only eclipsed by the moments that induced them. If you stare closely, so can still see them … a double play being turned, a home run leaving right centerfield, a slide into second with steel spikes lifted high, a pitcher reshaping the pitching mound dirt.
At the corner of Michigan and Trumbull there sits a vacant lot unlike any other in a city filled with them. The centerpiece of that lot is a field that will celebrate its 100th anniversary this April. That field has given birth to generations of baseball fans. It provided a home to a team so beloved by it’s city that it lifted their spirits even when the rest of their world was crashing down.
It’s a ridiculous dream, but I want to see that field host one more game. I want to see that vacant lot filled. I want to see it’s team return on the 100th anniversary to not just play a game, but to say thank you. Thank you for providing a home for this team, for baseball and, most importantly, for generations of fans and those endearing memories.
To the Tigers organization, MLB baseball, Detroit citizens and Tigers fans alike, on April 20, 2012, Occupy the Corner.Author’s note: Total Plastics has a Detroit-area branch located in Rochester Hills. While verifying the general location of Michigan-based customer, I zoomed in on Detroit with Google earth and came across the above image of the former Tiger Stadium. At first, I didn’t realize what I was looking at. The well-kept field in such an odd surrounding caught my eye. My jaw dropped when I realized it was the home of Tiger Stadium. The post provides you and I a break from the standard TPI, plastics and B2B related news and observations. It’s meant as a light-hearted break. I hope you enjoyed it.
Filed under: Non-plastic related, Recipe | Tags: BCS, homemade salsa, recipe, salsa recipe, snack food
I should restate that as the chip is merely a convenient medium for salsa intake. While the two are consumed in near proportion to each other, the chip means nothing. Remove it and the salsa intake would continue by some other means (probably a spoon). Empty jar after empty jar of salsa line our recycling bin. Keeping enough in the house can be a wallet-draining endeavor.
It became imperative, in order to maintain our current lifestyle, that we source out different means for obtaining salsa. I couldn’t keep buying it 16 oz. at a time for $3.50. It was breaking the bank. Plus, “the addicts” [protecting my wife’s anonymity … oh, oops] salsa taste was getting more particular. The “cheap stuff” was no longer doing it.
With all that said, and with some guilt that I was further enabling an addiction, I created a very versatile, easy, wonderful, inexpensive salsa recipe.
- 2 cans (ea. 14.5 oz.) of diced tomatoes with green chilies (undrained)*
- 1 can (28 oz.) of whole tomatoes (drained)
- Half a yellow onion (finely chopped)
- 2 tbsp of garlic salt**
- 2 tsp of cumin
- 1 tsp of sugar
- 1 tbsp of jalapenos (finely chopped)***
- 2 tbsp of lime juice
- Half of cup of fresh cilantro (roughly chopped)****
- 1 tbsp of salt
Combine all ingredients into a blender (you may have to do it in two batches) and pulse several times to thoroughly mix. Careful not to puree the batch. It’s best to let the salsa sit overnight in the fridge so the favors can fully marry. This, however, never happens in my house as it’s consumed almost immediately.
* Cans of diced tomatoes with green chilies are typically sold with a few different heat levels, similar to salsa. So the heat of your salsa can be elevated or lowered with the addition of a particular variety.
** Feel free to use fresh garlic, garlic cloves from a jar or garlic powder. Adjust the garlic intensity to your own taste.
***You can purchase a small can of diced jalapenos (avoid the jarred pickled variety). Based on the level you heat you prefer, adjust the amount of jalapenos. Keep in mind, the heat will intensify the longer the salsa is allowed to sit.
****Optional. A lot of people are anti-cilantro. I think it adds a fresh favor to the dish.
Filed under: Non-plastic related, The Elements & Total Plastics | Tags: aircraft windshields, blue collar comedy
The popular show ‘Mythbusters’ has a great episode demonstrating the tolerance of aerospace-grade plastic sheet, primarily the material used for cockpit windows. The team replicated a test they learned was used by airplane manufacturers. The test was firing dead chicken out of a canon into the windshield of the cockpit. This, of course, would simulate a mid-air collision between the plane and a large bird. The Mythbusters fired chicken after chicken, both frozen and thawed, into various grades of aircraft windshields. Sometimes the chicken shattered, sometimes the windshield shattered. Regardless which won, it made for riveting TV.
The comedy special “The Blue Collar Comedy Tour” referenced the job of aircraft windshield tester. They argued that never, during any job fair or career day, did anyone ever mention that there’s a job where you could get paid to fire chickens through the windshields of aircraft. Had someone mentioned this, Jeff Foxworthy said, 90-percent of his school would have happily volunteered for it.
I once conducted my own test of the durability of a glass bowl.
Growing up we had this set of sturdy glass cereal bowls. One morning while getting one out of the cabinet, it slipped out of my hand and crashed onto the kitchen counter. I gasped, thinking it was going to shatter on impact. It didn’t. It just bounced a couple times and came to a spinning stop on its side. I quickly grabbed it and gave it a careful inspection. With my parents standing right there, I thought for sure that I was in trouble. However, to my amazement, there wasn’t a single crack or chip. My surprise was apparent.
“Yeah, those bowls are virtually unbreakable,” my dad said.
Before another word could be said I tossed the bowl high into the air over our tiled ceramic kitchen floor. My parents watched in horror as it hit and shattered into thousand tiny shards, blanketing the entire kitchen. Their gaze immediately changed from the carnage on the floor to their idiot son. Both shot me a look that was equal parts “what the hell were you thinking” and “you’re in so much trouble.”
On the verge of tears, I did what any 10 year old would do. I blamed someone else.
“You said it was unbreakable!” I yelled to my dad.
“Virtually,” he said. “Virtually.”
Along the same lines, over the holiday break and in between football games, I caught a few minutes of the ridiculous, yet somewhat funny, movie ‘Napoleon Dynamite.’ The scene I watched, which reminded me of my glass bowl incident, involved Napoleon’s brother Kip, who had just started a career as a door-to-door salesman peddling tupperware. Kip was trying to demonstrate the strength of a particular plastic container, as it was “virtually” unbreakable. With a potential customer looking on, he placed a plastic bowl under the tire of his van and drove over it. To Kip’s surprise and agony, it shattered.
Filed under: Non-plastic related | Tags: government point, marketing campaigns, plastics industry, tobacco industries
Here’s a link to an interesting story and topic. Basically, should the government support and fund marketing campaigns against legally sold goods? From the federal government point-of-view, in this particular instance, they’re trying to combat obesity and tobacco use. There’s a thin line between promoting nutrition and a healthy lifestyle, which they say they’re doing, versus targeting and attacking purveyors of goods deemed “high risk.” Can you promote business, free enterprise and entrepreneurship while at the same time arbitrarily attacking particular markets or business types?
In most cases, it’s window dressing. Whatever the government commits to in the way of funding is a mere drop in the bucket versus what the tobacco and fast food industry is able to allocate.
The fight against tobacco has one fail-proof resource, a generation of Americans that smoked. Anti-tobacco campaigns can just point to them and their health, as well as their escalating health care and insurance costs, much of which is being passed down to newer generations. The government couldn’t buy an effective campaign quite like that one. The war on obesity will likely run a similar course, where the aftermath becomes the best resource in further prevention.
Opponents of government funding for these “anti” campaigns say they’re demonizing one industry to promote another. Today it’s the fast food and tobacco industries. The oil and gas industry has certainly been a target, as has the plastics industry.
Filed under: Non-plastic related, Recipe | Tags: comfort food, favorite recipe, soft pretzels
Proving this blog does not need to be entirely dedicated to plastics, here’s my recipe for great soft pretzels. However, if I need to justify this blog to the boss, plastic is used somewhere in this process (plastic wrap for one) and I think I use a plastic spatula at one point during the cooking process.
4 1/2 cups of bread flour
(whole wheat flour contains more gluten, which makes the pretzel more dense, more elastic. I prefer this over regular all-purpose flour. Consider rye bread vs. white bread.)
4 tbsp. of melted butter
(traditional soft pretzel recipes do not call for butter, but I include because, well, I love butter. So it is optional … but use it. 3 tbsp. will go into dough, save approx. 1 tbsp. to brush over top of finished pretzels.)
1 packet (2 1/4 tsp.) of yeast
1 1/2 cups of hot water (approx. 110˚)
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
8 cups of boiling water
3/4 cup of baking soda
Kosher salt to sprinkle over top of formed, but uncooked, pretzels.
Combine hot water, salt, sugar into large mixing bowl. Stir until thoroughly combined. Add yeast, give a quick stir and let sit for 10 minutes. Yeast will foam on surface, mixture should smell a little like beer (don’t drink it, it’s not beer).
It’s easiest to use a mixer with a dough hook at this point. If you don’t have one, no problem, simply mix by hand (just requires a little more effort). Turn mixer on low and slowly incorporate the flour and three tbsp. of melted butter. Once it’s completely incorporated, turn mixer up to medium and let it further kneed the dough, 5 to 10 minutes. The more you kneed it, the chewier the pretzel (consider pie crust vs. pizza crust). I generally take it out of the bowl and kneed it by hand for a few minutes as well. Grease the bowl, place dough back in and cover with plastics wrap. Let it sit for at least an hour. It should double in size.
Once your dough is ready, preheat your oven to 425˚ and also bring 8 cups of water to a boil. Once the water comes to a boil, reduce heat to simmer and toss in baking soda (careful, it’ll bubble and make a residue mess). Cut dough into 6 oz. dough balls (should get around 6 to 8 pretzels) and softly roll out into 24 inch ropes. Curl into your preferred pretzel shape (this takes practice) and dip into water/baking soda solution for 30 seconds. This provides the nice dark brown pretzel exterior (you can also use a lye solution, but I don’t typically have lye around the house … and it’s poisonous). Place on a greased cookie sheet, sprinkle with salt and bake for approximately 10 to 15 minutes. You can also brush egg whites on your pretzels before adding salt for a darker brown color, but I don’t find it necessary. Just before I pull them out of the oven, I brush them with melted butter.
I like my pretzels dipped in spicy mustard or a spicy cheese dip. If you have kids, rather than shaping them into the traditional pretzel, roll out dough and wrap it around a hot dog. Dip it in the solution and bake for 15 minutes for a “corn dog” style effect.