“Our hot air poppers are not designed with an on/off switch.”


Didn’t I just email & tell you that?  I think I did.

Perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself again.  Did you read all about the Evil Popcorn Popper?  It wants you to tempt death by electric shock each time you feel like making a tasty air-popped snack.  Others chimed in on Facebook with their tales of appliance treachery.  In the comments, I formulated an email. I sent it.  Here it is:

Hello Presto®!

I recently bought one of your popcorn poppers because we had one when I was a kid and air-popped popcorn is always better than that microwave stuff. We can agree there, right?

I have a few questions about your design choices.

First… The butter tray. Why doesn’t any butter that I put in it melt? I’ve tried actual butter and “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!®” both to no avail. Did you guys test this out in the factory? Does anyone there own one of these poppers? They’ve never pointed out this problem? I can certainly melt it in the microwave, but it’s amusing to me that the popper has a butter tray that clearly doesn’t work (even long after all the popcorn has popped). Yes, I have sat there stubbornly for a while waiting for the butter to melt for many minutes after the last dead kernel spits out of the popper. When I was a kid, our popper had a metal tray. I think it did a better job of conducting heat & melting the butter. I think it even fit an entire artery-clogging stick (as long as my parents or the babysitter weren’t looking). Do you guys have any poppers for sale that actually pop popcorn AND melt butter? I’d like to see one.

Second (and more importantly)… The power switch, or lack thereof? It’s kind of scary. You guys seem to gloss over it on the video located on your site: http://www.gopresto.com/products/products.php?stock=04820

Is that guy a chef and an electrician? Is he certified to plug in live wires? Do you guys not see the spark(s) when you plug the thing in? Have you ever actually plugged one in? Do you feel that it’s dangerous? I almost want to plug it in to a mulch-outlet power strip with an on/off switch and use that to turn it on so I don’t accidentally put my thumb in between the prongs as I’m plugging it in.

Speaking of switches, you can get a nice rocker switch from Grainger relatively cheaply: http://www.grainger.com/Grainger/CARLING-TECHNOLOGIES-Rocker-Switch-1A822

I’m sure you can get them even cheaper if you buy in bulk… and I’m sure they’re not all that difficult to install.

Can you imagine if other electrical products didn’t have an on/off switch? Toasters? Curling irons? Hair dryers? (They almost all come with circuit breakers now!) Electric knives? Electric hedge trimmers or weed whackers?

You really don’t feel that it’s dangerous? Not so much as a warning label adorns the power cord? Do you use gloves to plug yours in? Why was the plugging done off camera in the video?

I really look forward to your thoughts on these issues. I might go make some popcorn while I wait. I’ll be sure to melt the butter in the microwave first, and I hope I’m not electrocuted when I plug the popper in so I can read your reply!

Inquisitively,
-Waldo

This was the reply:

From: Presto Customer Service <contact@gopresto.com>
Date: Thu, Nov 29, 2012 at 3:01 PM
Subject: RE: Where’s the switch?
To: Waldo Lunar <world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com>

Good morning,

I’m sorry to hear of your dissatisfaction with your hot air popper.    We have not received complaints of butter not melting in the butter melter.  Please note that the instructions do indicate that soft/room temperature butter or margarine needs to be used, refrigerated butter will not melt during the short popping period.  I do not recommend that you let the unit run after the corn has popped, as this could cause the unit to overheat.

Our hot air poppers are not designed with an on/off switch.  I talked with our Quality Manager and he indicated that there are no plans to change the design to include a switch.  The unit has been tested very thoroughly and meets all UL mandates.  If you read and follow the instruction manual,  you can feel assured that this appliance is safe to use.

Have a good day.

Colleen
NPI Customer Service
Shipments made to U.S. or Canada only

Well, that was unsatisfactory.  Letting it run empty to melt butter is bad, but plugging in a live appliance is OK?  I call shenanigans.  Shenanigans because we keep butter in the ‘fridge, and shenanigans because plugging something in that sparks feels kind of dangerous.

I do find the sentence “I talked with our Quality Manager and he indicated that there are no plans to change the design to include a switch” highly amusing.  They had a discussion about my email.  This has never come up before?  Say it with me: Shenanigans.  I’d like to know what the quality manager really said.

Who exactly are Underwriters Laboratories and why do they put their logo on everything?  How did they decided that plugging in a live wire is safe?  Maybe I should write to them and ask about it?

⚡⚠⚡ The Evil Popcorn Popper ⚡⚠⚡


A while ago I bought a popcorn popper similar to one we had when I was a kid.  It’s a rather simple appliance, and I have many fond memories of making a mess by trying to use a bowl that was too small and putting way too much butter on it.  I still like popcorn, and the stuff from a popper is leaps & bounds more awesome than the microwavable kind (but not as cool as the little foil pan that puffs up when you hold it over an oven burner).

Presto® PopLite® hot air corn popper
Presto® PopLite® hot air corn popper

I have a popcorn popper that looks a lot like the one in the photo, I think it’s a Presto® PopLite® hot air corn popper.

The one we had when I was a kid was a little fancier… it had a cup that you filled with a trap door where the butter cup here is… and a butter tray made of metal about the size of a stick of butter in front of that. The one pictured here is like the one currently at home, and it sure doesn’t melt butter… even if you leave it long after all the popcorn has popped.  Did anyone test this at the factory before they boxed & shipped it?  No one that works there has ever tried to use this thing?

One similar feature to the one I remember form my childhood is a distinct lack of a power switch.  Don’t believe me?  Check out the video from their site:

One of the first things you learn as a child after the word “no”, not sticking things up your nose, and not eating stuff you find on the floor is to not stick your fingers (or anything else) into an electrical outlet.  Everything else comes with a warning label. directly on the electrical cord.. like your hair dryer, a toaster, or even a lamp.  This thing just plugs right into the outlet with a crazy little spark and a jarring whir of sound.

Perhaps one has to be a chef to operate the thing?  Maybe the guy in the video is just in a costume, I don’t know.  Maybe he’s an electrician.  Do they have professional popcorn chefs?  Was he trained to properly plug a live cord into a receptacle?  I like how they don’t show you that part.

I can’t think of anything else that’s on as soon as you plug it in.  You can buy a rocker switch rather cheaply.  Are they that hard to install?  Are they that much more expensive?  Should I write to Presto and ask them why they let his dangerous chaos continue?  I just might.

What kind of popcorn popper do you have (if you have one)?  I’ve never tried one that uses oil… or on of the ones that looks like a tiny cart.  Do you have a tricky death-tempting popcorn popper at home, or any other appliance that dares you to dance with 110v?

A Christmas Story in Dormont


A Christmas Story

Image via Wikipedia

So, last night we went to the Hollywood Theater in Dormont to see A Christmas Story.  It was a joint venture with In Person Productions, and they brought Ian Patrella (Randy) to the theater for a meet n’ greet & commentary.  It was a great time, despite a few little quirks in the evening.

The Hollywood itself is a cool little theater, the first time my wife & I had gone there, we saw Inglourious Basterds, and we sat in the balcony.  It was very cool to see that movie in a little local theater.  Although we didn’t, we could walk there.  Ha ha.  It’s a great thing to have in your neighborhood.

Last night, there was a decidedly different atmosphere.  Of course, Christmas decorations and attire were everywhere… it was quite festive.  We arrived and were ushered in, and moved on to the concession stand.  We decided on just a large Coke to share, and were greeted warmly & quickly, although the woman made sure to note that we had several scary movies coming up in December.  Ha ha.  Do I look scary, or like a horror fan?  Maybe it’s the facial hair.

We got inside & chose some seats on the floor, near the middle in the back.  There were quite a lot of people there already when we arrived, and many more flocked in behind us.

Before the movie, Mr. Bending form In Person Productions introduced a representative for local EMT’s, as they were benefiting from a Red Ryder B.B. Gun raffle, and then introduced Ian Patrella and a gave a little talk about how the evening was going to run.

Then, they trotted out Dormont’s mayor, Tom Lloyd, to present a key to the city to Mr. Patrella.  Mayor Lloyd is a bit of a hot-button issue ’round Dormont if you’ve been paying attention to the news.  I know Mr. Lloyd has been pushing for revitalization of small businesses in Dormont… or at least that’s what his bio says, but there’s also been a quite public pissing contest (for lack of a better term) between the Mayor & the Police Chief, or maybe even two at this point.  I know it has to do with GPS units in local police cars, who can use what door to go in & out of the municipal building, and who has the power to cancel parking and/or other traffic citations… and I think even who the fines should go to, if they’re local or state violations.  Also, apparently who has the biggest cojones.  My bet’s on Mr Lloyd’s, as they’re probably dragging on the floor at this point.  Pardon my vulgarity, but really… I’ve gotten way to many impeach the mayor post cards in the mail, and too many letters to the editor in the local quarterly newsletter to take either side seriously at this point.

Speaking of point… I’m leading into the fact that Mr. Lloyd presenting a key to the city to Mr. Patrella may have not been a great decision at this point in time.  The mayor was visibly physically in distress, and I know you’re not supposed to discriminate on age, but I found myself wondering aloud how he’s able to carry out official duties.

Also… upon presentation of the key to Mr. Patrella, he proceeded to tell him that he’s never seen the movie.  Yes, we’re talking about A Christmas Story.  Yes, Mayor Lloyd looks about 347 years old.  Yes, they run A Christmas Story for 24 hours every Christmas on TBS or TNT or whatever channel.  Yes, he actually told the actor from the movie that he’d never seen the movie.  It was all very odd.  Then, he very conspicuously ambled up the aisle after presenting the key… taking his 4-5 person entourage with him.  So, apparently he couldn’t spare a few hours to watch the movie now?  I found the whole ordeal quite disrespectful to Ian, In Person Productions, and the Hollywood Theater.  Perhaps he has political or social ties to the FOHT, but they ought to reconsider letting him embarrass the city in the future.

Ian Patrella (Randy from A Christmas Story) & Me

Ian Patrella & Me

Mr. Patrella was going to provide commentary during the film, but they apparently had mic or PA issues, and he wasn’t able to really shout over the film.  I hope they got the issues resolved for the rest of the showings this weekend.  I did really appreciate the Q&A at the beginning of the evening.  Ian is a great public speaker & Q&A guy, & seemed to be genuinely having a great time.  He’s currently giving tours at the house used for the outdoor scenes which is now an A Christmas Story themed museum.  He was very cool at the meet & greet after the movie, and took the time to pause with me for a photo and sign my DVD.  I hope to make the road-trip out there some time soon!  You can also win an all-inclusive package trip by reenacting a scene from the film at AChristmasStoryScene.com!

The other interesting part of the evening was a little troll that sat behind us during the film, mouthing off how incredibly bored he was not only at the pre-film ceremonies, but during the actual film viewing itself.  He continued to ramble & talk about totally unrelated things.  After a while, my wife had enough, turned around, and asked him to please be quiet.  He mumbled inaudibly as he was scolded by the woman he was with and giggled-at by the couple they were with.  Then the big shot said “I asked ‘what is she gonna make me?'”  Yes.  This was a grown man.  I was turning to look as he asked “Is he gonna make me?  I raised up slightly in my seat, as he slouched in his.  He didn’t say one more word for the entire duration of the film.  Apparently I do look scary.  We saw the little guy afterward, and he was just under 5 feet tall.  Apparently he had something that he though he needed to prove, then decided it wasn’t that important.  I’d love to know out of a theater full of people, why people like this seem to gravitate towards wherever I’m sitting.

All in all though, the idea & the execution of the evening was great as far as the Hollywood, In Person Productions, & Mr. Patrella went.  I’d like to catch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation there later in December.  I also cant wait to see who In Person brings around in the future.  I shot off an email when we got home to let the Hollywood & In Person Productions know what a great time we had, and Mr. Bendig from In Person wrote back very quickly, with another message to follow.  I look forward to some of the movies and personalities that they’re looking to bring to the Hollywood.  (Did somebody say… Monster Squad?)

☠ Good Halloween Movies?


The Monster Squad

Monster Squad

I have a bunch of stuff I wanna blog about, but I need the time to sit down & do it.  [I have some goofy World (and Lunar) Domination ones coming up, some half started… that seems to be what grabs more readers/comments.]

You’ll help write this blog post for me.  If you’re seeing the link on Facebook, Twitter or Google+ … please reply in the comments section here at the blog, not in the comments stream at Facebook or Google+, & not an @ through Twitter.  If you’re logged in on Facebook or Twitter you can comment down below using either account!

This one is relevant & easy to knock out because of the time of year.  I was trolling through Netflix on the Wii the other night, trying to find a good Halloween-ish movie to watch.

Cover of "Shaun of the Dead"

Shaun of the Dead

My wife is scared easily, and wasn’t in the mood for House of 1000 Corpses-like gore or Alienlike “Ah!” jumps.  (I still can’t get her to watch Silence of the Lambs.)  I was thinking The Crow, maybe Monster Squad or Shaun of the Dead.

I thought of a bunch that weren’t available for streaming, like Wolf and Teen Wolf or even Beetlejuice.  I found myself unable to think of campy other spooky fun.

Help me build a go-to list of all of us who are too old to remember good scary/funny/creepy movies like Ghostbusters, Batman, Zombieland, Fido, Edward Scissorhands, etc.

Roku XDS

Roku

While we’re on it, does a streaming service other than Netflix offer these movies, or am I going to have to start trolling the cheap DVD/Bluray bin at Walmart?  Maybe I just need to get a device like Roku that streams Amazon movies.

What movies make you want to mentally escape in front of the blue glow of your TV under a warm blanket on a cool October day?

Dunkin’ Donuts on Allergy Signage… [Case# 7577485]


Did you see my allergen warning sign photos from Dunkin’ Donuts and Giant Eagle?  I wrote to both of them to thank them for displaying the signs.  Giant Eagle was the first to reply, and now I’ve heard from Dunkin’ Donuts.  I submitted the following via webform:

Hello,

I was in the Dunkin’ Donuts in Dormont this weekend, and I was pleasantly surprised to see this allergen warning sign:  http://i127.photobucket.com/albums/p139/worldandlunardomination/Signs/p_00527.jpg

As someone who has a severe allergy, I found this to be a responsible and proactive decision on the part of Dunkin’ Donuts, and I just wanted you to know that it’s an appreciated gesture.

Thankfully, my allergy isn’t to peanuts, or I’d most likely go nowhere near your fine establishments, much like I currently avoid Red Lobster and Long John Silver’s due to my shellfish allergy.

I did, as the sign suggested, go to https://www.dunkindonuts.com/aboutus/nutrition/ in order to see allergen information for some of my favorite menu items.

I also see that you have a blanket *.pdf available showing nutrition information for all of your products.  Do you have something like this for allergens in all of your products?

It’s a red flag for me that you have “Crustaceans” on the list, and even expand upon it under the data table with “Crustaceans include, crab, crayfish, lobster, and shrimp.”

Do any of these creepy little sea-bugs show up in any of your products?  My curiosity is piqued, my friends!

Thank you for your time, and for responsibly posting allergen warnings.  I look forward to hearing from you!

Not dead yet,
-Eric

Ant they wrote back…

From:customerservicereply@dunkinbrands.com” <customerservicereply@dunkinbrands.com>
To: me@my.email.address
Sent: Tue, October 12, 2010
Subject: Case# 7577485 – Dunkin’ Donuts

Hi Eric,
Thank you for taking the time to contact Dunkin’ Donuts.
To answer your questions regarding allergens, the stores should have a printed document available behind the counter that will tell you if any of the allergens required to be listed by the FDA are in our products.
If you call our Consumer Care line, they can tell you as well.
As far as the shell fish listing on our forms, that form is required by the FDA. We have to show it on the form but you won’t see it checked off for any of our products.
I hope this answered your questions.
You can reach us at 800-859-5339 M-F 8:30AM to 5:00PM EST.
At Dunkin’ Donuts we value our customers and are committed to making your visits to our stores a pleasant experience.

Thank you and have a great day.

Louise
Customer Relations Associate

Reference # 7577485

It’s interesting how people intemperate the laws… I certainly don’t see standardized allergen information on all food-related websites. I’m glad that companies like this are at least trying to be active in their warning, and hope it’s not just a “CYA” measure.

It’s also interesting to note that I received a the same  exact reply to this message at least 13 times, all with the same case/reference number.  Weird.

https://aixelsyd13.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/allergy-sign-d-donuts-p_00527.jpg

Giant Eagle on Allergy Signage… [Incident #: 12702111]


So, remember my allergen warning sign photos from Dunkin’ Donuts and Giant Eagle?  I wrote to both of them to thank them for displaying the signs, and Giant Eagle is the first to reply.  I submitted this via webform:

Hello,

I’d like to thank you for actively posting allergen awareness/warning signage.  Sunday, I came upon this sign above some chocolate chunk (& other) cookies on a display table at the GE in Parkway Center: http://bit.ly/bg09rX

As someone with a severe allergy to shellfish, I appreciate these kinds of signs… but the all-inclusive sign begs the question:  Did these cookies come into contact with any shellfish in the bakery?  I hope not!  I worry enough about the crab cakes & seafood salad in the deli counters!

Thank you for your time, I look forward to hearing from you!

-Eric
me@my.email.address

And their reply:

From: sc autoemail <sc.autoemail@gianteagle.com>
To: “me@my.email.address” <me@my.email.address>
Sent: Fri, October 8, 2010 9:06:49 AM
Subject: In response to Giant Eagle Incident #: 12702111

ServiceCenter Operator: arabia michele

In response to your recent communication:

Incident #: 12702111

Brief Description:
Store: Parkway Center Giant Eagle Hello, I’d like to tha

Response:
At  10/08/10 09:06:47  we wrote:
10/08/10 09:06:47 (arabia michele):

Good Morning Eric,

Thank you for contacting Giant Eagle and for sharing your thoughts and concerns with us regarding our allergen signs and the possibility of cross-contamination of shellfish in the bakery.

The sign was generated to alert allergen sensitive customers that our stores do process all allergens. You are correct in your assumption that seafood is not present in the bakery department. We appreciate your feedback and will use it to determine signage needs in the future.

If you have any further questions or comments, please contact our Customer Care Department toll-free at 1-800-553-2324.

Again, thank you for taking the time to contact us and please know that we welcome your thoughts and feedback in the future.

Sincerely,

Michele Arabia
Bakery Merchandising Department
Giant Eagle, Inc.

I’d like to see stores become more active in labeling prepared foods, but this is a a start.  As noted in the comments on my last allergy post, they are currently doing more than required by law… so that’s a good thing.

 

https://aixelsyd13.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/allergy-sign-giant-eagle-p_00533.jpg

Allergen Signage


Over the weekend I was at two places where I saw these allergen signs, the Dunkin’ Donuts in Dormont, and the Giant Eagle in Parkway Center.  Generally when I see these signs it makes me happy that the place who’s taking my money is at the very least aware that there are products that they have on the premises that may cause certain people some discomfort or possibly even death.

Dunkin' Donuts | Allergen Warning Signage
Dunkin’ Donuts | Allergen Warning Signage

In viewing the allergen information online as the sign suggests, I’m glad that a glazed donut doesn’t contain any crustaceans, but I may now have to scour the rest of the site to see if anything does.   Ha ha ha.

Giant Eagle | Allergen Warning Signage
Giant Eagle | Allergen Warning Signage

I gambled yesterday, hoping that the chocolate chunk cookies  I purchased didn’t come into contact with any shellfish in the bakery.  If I died from eating them, according to this sign, it’s my fault.  I was warned, and should have discussed the risks of cross-contamination with my doctor.

You’ll hopefully be glad to know that I’m not dead, and I had a few cookies last night.  Wow, I had poor eating habits this weekend.  Ha ha ha.  Donuts & Cookies.

At any rate, the fact that they simply acknowledge that allergies exist is a great start.  It’s sad, but so many other food-service companies go with the “it’s not our problem” mantra.  I always thought that Five Guys Burgers  & Fries to be very pro-active with their peanut allergy warnings, and I have commented on the Market District in Robinson’s allergen warnings before.

If you suffer from allergies, do these signs make you feel safer, or are they a blanket statement like “No Lifeguard on Duty” or “Park at Your Own Risk”, trying to absolve the poster of any wrongdoing should a mishap occur?

The blanket statement from Giant Eagle seems a little forced, or an afterthought… as I’m sure there aren’t many lobster cookies in the bakery, but then again there just might be.  How am I to know?  Do I just take this sign as a warning to not eat any food that they prepare?  The sign itself is a great thing, but if it were tailored just a little more to the actual product, it might be more comforting.

I know I’m always afraid of the stuff in the deli counter that’s next to the crab cakes or a seafood salad…  I don’t want a pasta salad with death-fish in it.  Yes, that one little glob of death-juice can kill me.  I don’t see any allergen warning signs there where they’d also be appropriate.  But, I don’t want to get down on Giant Eagle.  They are taking steps in the right direction.  Perhaps I’ll even send them a quick email to let them know that as someone who suffers from a severe food allergy, I appreciate the signage.

If you suffer from allergies, have someone in the family that does, or have a friend that blathers incessantly about them (like me), I’d like to hear your thoughts on the signs.  Are they a good thing, or a bad thing?  Are they proactive or defensive?

What if you suffer from one that’s not a “big 8” allergen but also quite prevalent like corn, peppers, or chocolate?

The Creepy Mrs. Claus


So, on Friday, we boxed up the fall decorations, took ’em to the basement, and brought up the Christmas decorations. My wife, Bethany, put out most of the smaller decorations that go around the apartment, we’ll probably do the tree and maybe some outside lights by the end of the week.

As I was laying on the couch Friday night while we were watching TV… I felt like I was being watched. I was! There was a creepy set of tiny gnome-like yes staring right through me from the coffee table.

It was a tiny eerie Mrs. Claus salt (or pepper) shaker. It must be a set… no idea where they’re from. Mr’s Claus’ apron actually even looks like it was melted a little at one point in time. Perhaps she was stored in a hot attic, near some warm holiday lights, or near a radiator?

So, I did what any normal person would do (I hope)… and I turned the creepy little thing so it was no longer facing me.

Bethany erupted in a fit of laughter, because I was obviously disturbed by a tiny inanimate object.

Saturday morning, I stepped into the shower stall, and Mrs. Claus was eight there on top of the shampoo dispenser looking right at my naked figure.

Game on. Bethany wins the first round.

Needless to say, Mrs. Claus was all over the house this weekend.

We’ve played this game before with empty toilet paper rolls… because someone refuses to change them when they’re done, and just sets a new roll on the window sill. Not naming anyone here, I’m just sayin’. They’ve ended up in pillowcases, in the freezer, in the car… you name it.

This morning, I used my cell phone to capture an image of the disturbing little holiday figurine, Photobucket to save it, paint.NET to crop it, and then I emailed it to my wife’s Yahoo!, Hotmail, & Work email addresses, and her phone.

Not sure where to go next… but I thought I’d share the creepy Mrs. Claus image, in case you had anyone that you wanted to creep-out.

Maybe I’ll eventually have to get a better photo with the camera. This one’s a little blurry.