Where in the World is Alf? (Part XIII)

Following Part XII

April 21-30, 2003

Monday, April 21, 2003

Vinyl! 8-Tracks & Cassettes! Maybe CDs are next. And what after that?

This store used to be the largest 'record store' in the Southeast ... just look at the 'testimony' of the groups who left their prints as evidence. Who? [And where are The Who, too?]

PS: My nanny keeps watch over me:

Subj: Worldwide Caution - April 22
Date: 4/22/2003 10:26:39 AM Southeast Asia Time
From: acsbkk@state.gov
To: bangkok-acs-announcements@databack.com

Office of the Spokesman 



April 21, 2003 

This supersedes the Worldwide Caution dated March 19, 2003.
It is being issued to remind U.S. citizens of the continuing
threat of terrorist actions that may target civilians and of
the need to remain vigilant. The U.S. Government remains
deeply concerned about the security of U.S. citizens overseas.
U.S. citizens are encouraged to maintain a high level of
vigilance and to take appropriate steps to increase their
security awareness. This Worldwide Caution expires on
September 20, 2003. 

Tensions remaining from the recent events in Iraq may increase
the potential threat to U.S. citizens and interests abroad,
including by terrorist groups. Terrorist actions may include,
but are not limited to, suicide operations, bombings or
kidnappings. Possible threats include conventional weapons such
as explosive devices or non-conventional weapons, including
chemical or biological agents. Terrorists do not distinguish
between official and civilian targets. These may include
facilities where American citizens and other foreigners
congregate or visit, such as residential areas, clubs,
restaurants, places of worship, schools, hotels, outdoor
recreation events or resorts and beaches. If such facilities
cannot be avoided, U.S. citizens should increase their security
awareness at such locations. 

U.S. Government facilities worldwide remain at a heightened
state of alert. These facilities may temporarily close or
suspend public services from time to time for security reasons.
In those instances, U.S. embassies and consulates will make
every effort to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens.
Americans are urged to monitor the local news and maintain
contact with the nearest American embassy or consulate. 

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

U.S. Embassy Bangkok American Citizen Services Unit:
Window Hours: Monday - Friday, 8 - 11 AM and 1 - 3 PM
Tel: +66-2-205-4049
E-mail: acsbkk@state.gov

U.S. Embassy Bangkok website: http://usa.or.th

Tuesday, April 22, 2003

The beach bunnies have gone back to their colleges and high schools ... all that is left is the 'natural' environment. Boring, huh?

Bunnies Gone

Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Dear reader, stay tuned for:

PS: My entry for today is a pair a banners advertising the upcoming Air Show and the Fleet Show. Thin? Yes, for sure.


Always personally moved by the questions and answers found weekly in The Ethicist in the Sunday New York Times Magazine, I think I should be a contributor for once ... and not just a user. So here is how it went ... check on Sunday to see if I made it (*):

The first row of gallon jugs of milk in my supermarket all had expiration dates three days off into the future. But I noticed that the bottles behind them carried expiration dates that allowed for a longer shelf life. I attempted to take one of the bottles in the front row; but, my girl friend said: "don't be silly, take one that will last us longer."

Who is right? Should I have insisted that we take one of the 'leading' bottles as this would have allowed later purchasers to take a 'fresher' jug ... or, should I have reached behind the prominent ones and ensured ourselves a more leisurely consumption?

Would it have made any difference if we were 'slow drinkers' ... and the later 'best-if-used-by-date' would have better met our needs?

(*) Though I'd give odds that some silly question about journalists trying to sneak Iraqi war souvenirs past Logan Airport based customs officers will beat me out. If so, reader help on the 'expiration date' moral dilemma will be appreciated ... and published.

Reader P.F. of the American state of Washington ... though not actually answering the ethical question that I raised ... offers his personal reason for digging in the back for the freshest bottle (and, presumably, forcing the halt, the lame, the blind and the wheelchair bound to make do with the easy to reach but quickest-to-go-bad bottles):

I'm a very slow drinker. I always reach back as far as I can, hoping for the latest expiration date. I still often have to dump some down the drain.

I figure there are a lot of people who actually drink all the milk they buy, and probably with time to spare, so I'm not really harming them. Plus, I'd be pouring more expired milk down the drain if I always took the front bottles ... and that would be a waste of our world's lactic resources!!

Thursday, April 24, 2003

And, we have a REAL reply ... [keep them coming, folks]:

Subj: Re: Question for the ethicist
Date: 4/24/2003 7:43:10 AM Eastern Daylight Time
From: rxxxxco66@earthlink.net
To: Corkscrew@aol.com

You've no more obligation to take the oldest milk than to take an all but rotten peach, as is every other shopper. Did you really doubt that you're free to buy whatever you want at the grocery store?

Reader Miss L.F.J. of the American Nortwest writes convincingly:

Subj: A moral question
Date: 4/24/2003 7:07:53 PM Eastern Daylight Time
From: laxxxe@marbledog.net

Yes. I believe that one should not waste milk, so if you go through a gallon of milk every 2 days, as we do in my family, you should take the ones in front and save the ones in back for the slow drinkers. Once it goes bad, the milk is wasted. So those of us who can drink sufficient milk to prevent waste, should. It is our moral obligation.

This does not apply with all food items. Bread, for example, deteriorates in freshness by the hour. And those of us with a discriminating palette for freshness in bread have every right to choose the freshest of the fresh, regardless of how quickly we will go through a loaf.

These are good and important questions, and I wish you would get them talking about such matters on CNN et al instead of that godforsaken garbage they insist on cramming down our throats. (this is invective and I am proud of it)

Friday, April 25, 2003 (an urgent Pre-)

Reader B.C., known only as "C" ... and actually ever seen by as many people as in the non-identifying initial in his name ... writes:

Subj: Re: A moral question
Date: 4/25/2003 4:32:58 AM Eastern Daylight Time

That is a good ethical question, Alf. I must confess that I always grab the latter dates without even thinking about the possibility that someone else may be getting the sour end of the deal, as it were.

Alas, being only a small (myself and a cat) household, with one of us being semi-macrobiotic and the other only allowed a small amount of crème fresh now and then, (which actually doesn't make a distinction between the two of us, now that I think), we are extremely slow consumers of cow necter. Thus we usually wind up with a few rotten ounces of the stuff languishing in the back of the 'fridge near the Maraschino cherries and mayonnaise every couple of weeks anyway.

NB: B.C. is thought to live in LA, near LAX.

My good friend, Don Bull ... [albeit, cautioned with wise words from his long-suffering but observant wife, Bonnie] ... gives THOCBDC a unique twist to the moral dilemma that faces today's shopper: is the choice just between grabbing selfishly for the freshest dozen eggs in the dairy section OR, should Mister Buyer always consider those Misses Late-Shoppers when reaching for that jug of skim? THESE MAY NOT BE THE ONLY CHOICES, says reader Bull. No, Mister Corkscrew himself raises the possibility of a 'compromise' that might make everyone happy. But, Mrs. Corkscrew nixes the idea. However, could it work in your shopping cart? Read on.


Bonnie just returned from her bi-weekly trip to Food Lion. I helped her unpack the groceries and found two half gallons of milk with dates well into May. I found six yogurts that should survive until the beginning of June according to the date stamp. The half gallon of orange juice found in the last bag (recyclable plastic) is dated April 29 so we need to finish that off before her trek to the store next Tuesday.

So I asked her if she just grabbed the dairy products off the shelf or if she dug deeper. She readily admitted digging deeper for the milk. The front rows all expired soon and the reason she wanted a far off date is because of the second one at half price sale. That made sense to me but I had one more question: "Why didn't you take a new one from the front and an old one from the back?" She looked at me and I knew the answer - I could not be trusted to use the early expiration first. The yogurt was all marked the same and there was no other choice on the orange juice. BUT - she looked for some expiring later.

I'm happy to take the old wine and leave the new wine in the back!


On our 'first legs' as enlightened shoppers, tonight Watcharee and I went to Publix.

Watcharee easily ignored the 'best-used-by' date when it came to her shower cap purchase ... but she just couldn't overcome that instinct to fish right-to-the-back when she saw the dairy case.

So, dear reader, was 50 - 50 a pretty responsible start? Yes? No? Let's hear from you.

Saturday, April 26, 2003

A sneak preview of tomorrow's The Ethicist (in the New York Times Magazine) devastated me. Apparently THOCBDC's concern with people who selfishly snatch from the shelves products with later expiration dates (leaving the soon-to-perish dairy items to the weak, the blind and the slow) has been left untouched by the man who runs the show in the Big Apple.

Instead, his readers are forced to read the whines of a niche group: quasi mendicants who are too cheap to pay a fair price for the stuff that keeps them well ... left-winger commies who would deny our American drug companies a fair profit.(*)

"Drug companies frequently charge the same amount for different strengths of a medication, such as 1-, 2- and 5-milligram tablets. I sometimes prescribe 20-milligram tablets when patients take 10 milligrams daily. They can easily split the pills in half. No harm is done if the two portions are slightly unequal. (The local V.A. hospital does this with many pills, including Viagra.) The patient and the insurer save money, but the drug company makes less profit. Any thoughts? Lonnie Hanauer, M.D., Millburn, N.J."

Several thoughts. My first is one of satisfaction that the V.A. is helping older vets enjoy a happy sex life. It's the least we as a nation can do to those who served so gallantly (or even lackadaisically) in the Spanish-American War.

My second thought -- more power to you. Your deft economy is akin to buying in bulk, and there's nothing wrong with that. Patients who want the convenience of pills in their precise dosage can choose to pay more for them. Those willing to do the work of pill-splitting receive a discount. Ethics does not require us to buy retail. In fact, pill cutters are sold openly at many drug stores; no skulking necessary.

My third is that the real solution to high-priced medication lies not in individual actions like yours, however ingenious and benign, but in policy changes. So I hope that in addition to the fine thing you are already doing, you and your colleagues are lobbying for legal reforms that would benefit your patients.

(*) To say nothing of the danger that lurks behind this unethical practice (e.g., Aspirin overdose? Aspirin underdose?)

PS: For those who wondered about why we were shopping at Publix:

Is the United Kingdom (under Tony Blair) making the USA look like a 2nd rate country? Is Ralph Nader still alive?


Is it true the UK is planning to introduce legislation that would make it a crime to 'expration-date jump'? That hidden cameras in places like Saintsburys would record shoppers who 'pass-by' the front line items in the dairy case in order to gain unfair leverage in making perishable purchases?

Concerned Consumer


Sunday, April 27, 2003

Have you seen this girl? This photograph was taken in 1972. At that time she was about 19 or 20 years old.

"Hey, that means she is about 51 now...why the search?"

You're right. Never mind.

"Out of curiosity, who was she?"

My kids' au pair. She lived with us for about a year.


PS: R. L. from Germany (his 'reader' status is imputed) continues with our 'best-if-sold-by' question:

[from Rxxxx Lxxxxxx ]

Not really an ethical issue. To treat it as such is an offshoot of the so-called "Jesus complex", a tendency to accept responsibility for the misdeeds of others.

Grocery stores sell perishable goods according to the "FIFO" (first-in-first-out) procedure, the idea being to move out the older shipments before the newer. A lazy dairy manager will not take time to make sure the clerks, who always have an incentive to take the easy way out and just dump the newer containers behind the older ones (chill boxes are generally loaded from the back; the side away from the customer).

It is not the more "ethical" decision to allow oneself to be disadvantaged by management incompetence. By reaching over the older cartons to the newer ones, you are making the same choice as you would make without blinking had the cartons been arrayed horizontally in front of you. Further, you are not in any way concealing or misrepresenting the "sell by" date when you take the the carton to the cashier.

Monday, April 28, 2003

Tomorrow's issue (April 29th) of the Weekly World News is as topical as can be ... given the seven week lead time that its Lantana, Florida presses require in order to guarantee supermarket check-out-lane 'freshness'.

Anyway, its editors seem to have been right on target with a nice triple-header: all three members of the Axis of Evil got pretty much equal 'shelf space' this week.

Tuesday, April 29, 2003

'Moules Thai' and three veggies, to go.

Moules Thai Three Veggies

PS: Andy Page sent this:

Brit Pilot's Punch-up
From the Daily Mirror, Monday April 7th 2003, page 4 ...

A Furious British Helicopter Pilot who came under "friendly fire" from American troops landed yards from them, leapt out and exchanged punches with a US Marine. The Chinook pilot shouted at him: "When was the last time you saw a fucking Iraqi in a helicopter?"

The pilot and the marine had to be pulled apart as American troops advanced on the north of Baghdad, according to US reports from US Central Command in Qatar. British military spokesman Group Captain Al Lockwood said: "I'm afraid it would be an RAF kind of thing to do. These guys are not known for tolerating fools gladly."

Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Reader C. R. of the American state of Virginia writes:

"We miss Si Quey! Do you have anything that ties in both ... ah ... corkscrews and ... ah ... something that might be found at Si Quey's Place?"

Sure! How about the terrible peril that can await anyone who attempts to open a bottle of Champagne without first using eye protectors (*):

Watch That Cork!

(*) From the house archives of the W.C.T.U.

Next: May!

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