Thursday, June 28, 2012

While I've Been Away...

Warning: the following post may or may not come across as being particularly bust-a-gut hilarious.

If you are new to this blog, I ask that you please read either this, this, or this post. They're comedic gold and provide a better representation of my zany humor than the post that will follow.

And if you want to read some more funny stuff, go here, here, here, here, here and here. Seriously. Go everywhere. You won't regret it.

Still there? Good.

My dear blogging friends: I realize that I have been quite absent from the blogging world for the past couple of months, mostly in the sense that I have not kept up with reading the majority of your own blogs that I know you have worked so hard at. For that, I can only offer my sincerest apologies. That wasn't very kind of me and believe me when I say that the guilt of not reading them has been weighing down on me.

As for my own lack of contributing to the internet, I'll admit that I have not been in the most creative mood as of late. I don't know what's wrong with me. I know for sure that I'm not depressed. However, it is starkly apparent to me that whatever creative fuel that was in my warped mind has stalled indefinitely. I haven't even felt like making cartoons. And I love drawing cartoons. As you long-time readers may agree, that, for me, is quite abnormal.

I'm not at a complete loss of creativity, though. My attention diverted to writing my first novel with fervor, and I've even begun to jot down aspects for the second and third novels. It's a conflicting stage for me. While there is no doubt that writing brings me joy, the more I progress with my work to finalize the rough draft, the more I am struck by the overwhelming sensation that what I'm doing is utter crap and a waste of time. (Did you catch the point that I am still on the rough draft?) I've begun to wonder if this feeling of self-dejection is normal (it is, to an extent), and I am trying to make it disappear so I can just get on with it.

And now that I think about it, I actually had some rather good blogging material. Here is a synopsis of what has been happening "behind the scenes" with my life.

1) I was nearly run-over by a car. The guy who nearly killed me didn't even bother to ask if I was all right nor did he apologize. He merely drove away to leave me standing in stunned disbelief in the middle of the crosswalk/zebra crossing. From that moment came the sobering realization that life is indeed quite fleeting and it set me into a passive-aggressive frenzy of wanting to finish writing my novels.

I hope that, someday, I can personally thank that guy for his rudeness to me. Whoever you were, thanks, you heartless, uncaring bastard. That frightening jolt with reality was exactly what I needed.

2) I helped my dear friend May over at Sand from a Distant Shore move out from Miami and drove her upstate. It was after said trip that I eventually discovered that a serving of Cadbury's Original Drinking Chocolate allegedly has 602 calories.

I then sent an e-mail to Cadbury UK and got a response a week later from Kraft Foods Consumer Relations stating that they will forward the information to the appropriate staff. Let's say that it was...slightly disappointing that I didn't get an e-mail from Britain.

3) I did, however, receive three postcards from a lovely Scottish friend of mine who also had the foresight to send me some buttery shortbread fingers...

Glasgow and Westies FTW


Hallelujah! It's the REAL stuff!

Also, my bedroom now has a wee stealth Nessie lurking about a shelf. I suspect that it likes its new home in Miami.

4) I went to visit my friend May a second time and officially became a hoarder of British food.

Seriously, folks, I need help.

5) On a completely unrelated note, I am considering doing my Master's program in the U.K.

Like, for realsies. I'll even spell "program" as "programme" and refer to quotation marks as inverted commas if needed.

I certainly haven't given up on my long-term dream of moving to France, but in regards to my education, I've been toying with this idea for a few weeks now and the biggest question I keep asking myself is "why not?" At least the university coursework will be in my native language...

U.K. pals, do any of you know of good universities you can recommend to me for a Master's program, preferably in literature? I figured that, at the very least, I should stick to what I know and enrich that knowledge.

Barb the French Bean


Two Beans Or Not Two Beans turned two years old this month and I forgot to celebrate it. Oops.

Monday, June 18, 2012

A Little Moment of Empty "Eureka!"

Over the weekend during a short trip to Tampa (technically, it was in Springhill, FL), I stepped into a local Publix grocery store and gasped with glee when I encountered a small shelf containing British goods. Among the selection of goodies I plucked to fill my basket were a couple of tins of Cadbury Original Drinking Chocolate.

As my brain reasoned, I love British Cadbury chocolate and I love hot chocolate. Finding Cadbury hot chocolate mix is a classic win-win scenario. I honestly heard in my head the "dah-nuh-nuh-nuh" music that plays whenever Link from The Legend of Zelda finds a treasure in a chest.

(I stress that I love British Cadbury chocolates because here in the States, we can buy a pseudo-Cadbury that is manufactured under the more prolific Hershey's; the taste is not the same. Just not cricket, what-what.) 

Shopping wasn't the only thing I did in Tampa. I also went out for a nice walk and saw Cypress trees and a gator swimming in the marshy water. That was pretty cool. 

Cypress tree

Anyway, as it is with most imported products, the Cadbury Original Drinking Chocolate packaging underwent the ritual of having an American-style nutrition label plastered directly unto the original European nutrition grid. I didn't think too much of this for it is what commonly happens to foreign foods over here. 

The Ye Olde American Nutrition Facts Label
However, it wasn't until I returned to Miami when I decided to pay closer attention to said label.

According to the new American label, one serving of the drinking chocolate, a tablespoon, contains 602 calories. 

"That is not possible," I thought to myself. "That cannot be nutritionally possible!"

Then, as if I had to prove my point as to why this could not be nutritionally possible, my inner schizophrenic began to reason and form an argument based on facts. 

"Of the chocolate I would eat in France, just 20 grams out of a 100 gram bar of chocolate would be roughly 125-130 calories. That means that the entire bar of chocolate, all 3.5 ounces of it, would just surpass 600 calories! How is one 15 gram tablespoon of powder more than that?"

"I mean, even a tablespoon of butter is just a little over 100 calories. And it's butter."

Curiosity got the better of me. I peeled off the American nutrition "facts" label, examined the British nutrition information grid, and nearly peed from laughter over the grievous mistake that had been committed. 

Grids are cool.
I do not know what poor soul at Cadbury USA had the responsibility of having to type up the American nutrition label, but I am fairly certain that it was an American who clearly did NOT know the difference between kj and kcal. Either that or they had misread the grid with one flippant glance. 

"I knew there was something wrong!" the voice in my head cheered. "It clearly says on the grid that 100 grams of dry powder are 370 kcal, or 1575 kj. As for the actual 18 gram serving of dry powder, prepared with 200mL of semi-skimmed milk, the concoction is only 165 kcal! Whoever did this label confused the 695 kj with the 165 kcal!"

My inner schizophrenic rejoiced with much rejoicing.

"I uncovered a mistake! I literally uncovered an error by removing the label! My detail-oriented skills have not completely gone to waste! I have faith that I am still a fully-functioning human being! YIPPEE! My life is complete! Ha ha ha!"

...Then I realized that this discovery of someone else's mistake on a food label amounted to being a big whoop by human standards. Yippee. 

Barb the French Bean

Sunday, June 3, 2012

People Watching is Similar to Watching The Discovery Channel: Part One

If you have ever sat down observing the people around you, then you know you can learn a lot from them. Especially, since the actions of some people are quite humorous. In advance, let me just say that I am not trying to make fun or ridicule those who actually act like this, but you have to admit from the observers view, it is quite funny.

For those who are unaware, The Discovery Channel shows a range of informative shows. Back when I was younger (the old school Discovery Channel) they used to show animal documentaries, which you can now see in one of the Discovery Channels network called Animal Planet.


Scene #1

Deep in the wilderness of the Orange grasslands (Mall in Florida), creatures of the wild (people) assemble around their prey (shopping stores) in hopes to fill their stomachs (car trunk) full of pabulum (clothes, accessories, etc..). These creatures are not to be startled as they might attack you, thinking you are prey. I cautiously sit in a corner camouflaged in my best gear to not attract attention and quietly I observe the creatures of the wild.

1) The Ferocious Panthera Onca (Jaguar)
A.K.A. the bitches that will rip your eyes out if you don't hand over the $40 Gucci bag they have been eyeing since they got there.

I observe the Ferocious Panthera as she moves graciously towards her prey, her eyes full of hunger. She gets closer to her prey, trying not to draw attention to herself. She's closing in on her target, but WAIT! What is THIS?!  Another creature is closing in on her target and...

The Ferocious Panthera strikes again and takes control. Leaving her enemy wounded and taking her prey in hand.

Scene #2

Making way into Savannah, Africa (the Florida park two minutes away from my apartment) I immediately hear braying. As I approach my destination, the braying becomes louder to my fragile ears. Slowly without making any harsh moves, I take my place at a nearby tree (bench) where I see the braying creatures.

2) Striped Equidae (Zebra)
A.K.A The male that will fuck you up if you touch his woman or even glace at her.

I examine the individuals that are screaming at the top of their lungs, both of the male species. A female stands amongst them, horror stamped on her face. As the males begin to fight, the female screeches, but the males continue their battle. It is not clear as to what they are fighting about, but noting the females stance and the tears running down her face, something tells me she had something to do with it.

As you can see, the wild (the world) is full of vicious creatures (people) that will tear each other apart (literally) to get what they want (a woman, a Gucci bag etc...). This has been quite an eventful and educational experience (laughing my head off at all the bastards), but for now I must end the journey here (unless you want to hear about the doughnut guy).

Thank you for watching The Discovery Channel (Now Animal Planet) / (Hanny TV).

-Hanny the coffee bean