Starbucks, Sucrose & Subterfuge

“I am angry at Starbucks!”
“Ah,” says I.  “And what has the producer of fine caffeinated beverages done this time to incur your wrath?”
He inhales in preparation.

“They have hidden ALL of the white sugar packets behind the counter!”

First World Problems.
This is the latest in mine and my co-worker Kirill’s lunchtime rants, though this particular tirade only he can claim as my morning coffee routine consists of a triple-grande nonfat peppermint latte, no controversial sugar packets required.
Prior to this revelation I had yet to investigate this confectionary phenomenon for myself.  I must confess it creates a certain amount of bewilderment, as one would consider sugar a relative staple in the coffee preparation routine. However, Starbucks, in either an effort to cater to the more hipster/trendy population or in order to single-handedly tackle hypoglycemia and type-2 diabetes, has removed the offensive pink-and-white packets and left nothing but Splenda, Sweet n’ Low, and “Sugar in the Raw” which, ironically, is merely sugar with a henna treatment.  Eco-friendly-looking packets filled with molasses-coated sugar chunks.  Marketing FTW.

My co-worker, however, will not be swayed.

“Why don’t you just use the ‘raw sugar’ stuff?”
“Because!” (Furrowed brow.)  “White sugar dissolves INSTANTLY! The minute it touches your coffee, it’s gone!” (He then proceeds to make vacuum-swooshing-noises and flourishing hand gestures to better illustrate the superior dissolving power of white sugar.)  “That raw sugar crap, it NEVER dissolves! It just sinks!” His voice, with it’s slight Russian accent, is getting rather high-pitched and frustrated at this point.  I can tell he has very strong opinions about “Sugar in the Raw”.

He’s not done.  “And then you get to the bottom of your coffee, and all you have are little bricks! Little sugar bricks!” He is, at this point, glaring furiously down into an imaginary coffee cup.  “This does not make any sense! I should not have to ask for sugar! It takes two minutes out of my day to walk up to the counter and ask the barista who’s busy making all their special drinks (mimicking the “whoosh” sound of the milk steamer with relative non-success) and no! They don’t help me! I should not have to ask for sugar! It’s very simple!”

I cannot tell which he finds more bothersome; the frittering away of his time, or the injustice he feels having to justify (or that he *feels* he has to justify) five packets of sugar…

Mercifully, the restaurant we’re having lunch at provides an entire vessel on the table teeming with sugar packets.
No Splenda though. Which is what *I* wanted.  Bugger.  I’ve gotten to the point where I’ve begun carrying Stevia around with me. Yes, I’m one of *those* people.

Post-lunch.  Cut to: the kitchen, at work, Kirill is relating his coffee/sugar/Starbucks woes to Jerry, our resident tech guru.  Or, to be fair, anyone who will listen, really.  Some have fled to the relative comfort and safety of their offices.

“Isnt the raw sugar stuff better for you?” Jerry asks.  Sigh.  Poor Jerry.  Actually, I think he’s playing devil’s advocate in this case in order to provoke.  Which I of course appreciate.

Kirill, 27, works full time, is in Grad school, spends his weekends in nightclubs, and weighs about 90 pounds soaking wet.  He cares not for such things as ‘health’ and ‘glycemic index’.  Jerry, however, is in his early 50’s, an avid cyclist, has a family, and always has the most interesting assortment of unintentionally chromatically-organized fruit on his desk.  I’m not kidding.  One day everything on his desk will be orange.  Or green. It’s fascinating.  Or sorted in ascending order by size.  I don’t think his coworkers truly appreciate the awesomeness that is the fruit and vegetable artistry that takes place on a daily basis behind Jerry’s keyboard.
Anyway, my point is, Jerry might be more apt to show concern towards the glucose content of his beverages.

Kirill begins to get that shriek-y, “no-one-understands-my-plight” tone in his voice again.  “No!  What’s better for me is not wasting my precious time-” (we get the animated hands to illustrate again, this time to emphasize his bullet points) “1. Waiting in line to ASK for the sugar, 2.  Actually having to explain why I want *five* sugars, and 3.  wasting my time stirring that raw crap when the line was too long to get what I REALLY wanted!”

Perhaps you’re beginning to sense a pattern. I know I have.

Thanks to my peer’s tirade I began to take stock of the sweeteners offered not just by Starbucks but by any of the cafes I happened to frequent in my neighborhood, which happens to be in and around one of the trendier locales of downtown Seattle.  Some even go so far as to offer agave syrup to their patrons.  Agave, really?  As in cacti?  To be honest I’d never considered cactus in my coffee but I suppose it’s no stranger than sweetening your tea with the salivary secretions of honeybees or cutting your Sumatra blend with the breast milk of a bovine when you think about it.

Yesterday morning.  Kirill storms into my office.  Egads. This is never going to end.
“I have a NEW strategy!!” declares he.
“Is that so?” inquires I.
“Yes!” he exclaims, and takes a deep breath in preparation to unveil his grand plans for cafe Harey Carey.  “I have decided…”
(Insert dramatic pause here _____)
…that for every packet of Sugar in the Raw I am forced to use…I will -”


“Throw one away!!” Self-satisfied facial expression complimentary.

I need to start closing my office door.

Voulez-voulez-vous one lump, or two?

You must be at least this tall —> to read this post.

Interesting headline crawled up my Facebook feed recently.

“Taller women more likely to develop cancer.”


I must confess to a somewhat morbid amusement and fascination with the reaction of some to these completely fanatical doomsday prognoses that are, in my mind, on par with those found in the tabloids:

“OH, I was having such a good day until I read this…”

“Ugh. Awesome.”

“I’m so glad I’m short!”

“I’m just going to value my life all the more.”

“Trust in the Lord. God is good.”

In my estimation you’re more likely to die of a brain aneurism brought on by head trauma from knocking your ass out on the bulkhead of a boat than from height-related carcinoma. Fuck me in the eye, people. Really?

It just seems like we live in a pathogenically-paranoid society and this nonsense doesn’t help. When I was growing up, I didn’t get to stay home from school sick unless I was *bleeding from the eyes* and had a limb that was being held on by entrails.

So, I don’t mind articles that attribute smoking to cancer. That’s peachy. Great. Smoking’s bad for ya. Shouldn’t do it, quit smoking, cancer risk goes down, you have a little extra pocket cash every month, everybody wins. Obesity-related type-2 diabetes? Great! Quit eading McDonald’s, drink more water, ride a bike, health improves…pure win. Now…

Height-related cancer. Here we go:

“Lets see…you there. Ok…”

*whips out imaginary measuring tape*

“Well, hell’s bells, darlin’. You realize at 5’10”, you’re prolly gonna die of brain cancer, right?”

“What? Oh, no! Oh, no, what can I do? Eat better? Excercise?”

“Well, unfortunately, this is based on your height, so, you’re fucked. In fact, I don’t know why we even told you.”

“Oh, uh, ok. Should I eat right and excercise anyway?”

“Nah, don’t bother. I’d just drink and smoke and eat a vat of Crisco every night and just wait for the inevitable.”

“Is that covered by insurane?”

“Uh, no, not likely. Come to think of it, neither is this conversation, since it’s still considered to be ‘in research’. We’ll send you a bill. And the name of a sub-par therapist. Also not covered.”

*Patient then hurriedly storms outside and knocks themselves out on some painting scaffolding and gets hit by a car, killing her instantly.

Voulez-Voulez-vouz this blog has proven to cause cancer in laboratory test equipment.


Called my friend Mark, which is what I usually do when I’m feeling foul.  Mostly because he’s become the most adept at processing it.  He’s somehow developed this incredibly sensational Niff-Algorithm that forces me to anger-mock myself and within minutes I’m rambling in nonsense that has him laughing uncontrollably and me purging my rage and it thus becomes a win-win for all involved.

And all my other friends remain safe, sheltered and *stay* my friends because they aren’t turned off by my whining.

I decided to keep it simple.  “I’m gonna move next year.”

“You should move to Latvia.”

Now, I was fairly certain I had mis-heard him and that he had, in actuality, suggested instead Beacon Hill, or Madison Valley, as remote, eastern European countries typically are not presented as an option when moving is brought up in conversation.  Also, as I am one of Mark’s best friends,  I would assume a trans-Atlantic relocation would not be a preferred option.

“Latvia.  Wait, what…you said Latvia?”

“Yeah, Latvia. High crime, Russian gangsters, turnips…haha!  Like *that* won’t get old…”

I considered this for a moment.  “Latvia.  What the hell do they speak over there?  ‘Latvian’?  However…Riga actually has some awesome architecture…GAH. Dude, I can’t live in fucking Latvia.”

He sounded somewhat apologetic.  “I was actually trying to think of some random African country – ”

“You failed…”

” – but then Yugoslavia popped in my head and then I thought, hey, there’s that Latvia thing, and potatoes and beets…wait, is a beet a turnip?”

“I think it’s a tuber.”

“Huh…well, yeah…so, you get your passport.  And then you, ya know.  Move.  To, uh…Latvia.”

“I can’t fucking go to Latvia.  I haven’t, eh, been vaccinated yet.”

Pause.  “You don’t need vaccinations to move to Latvia.”

“I totally do.  I’m full of the rabies.”

“Oh what?  Rabies??”

(Earlier in the conversation we had discussed the sounds cats make when you pet them when they seem as if they desire comforting, then they turn on you like a goddamn vipre.  Then we tried our own.  Sans cats.  If I liked my neighbors more, I’d worry what they must have been thinking.)

“OH, yeah, I totally have the rabies.  There’s foam and drool all over my headset.  It’s why I have THE RAGE.”

“Aw, man Niff…that sucks!  How did you get rabies?”

“Goddamn raccoon in my apartment.”

He sounded sympathetic.  “Just now?”

“Earlier.  ‘Bout 20 minutes ago. Our douchebag cat conversation.  My cat impersonaltion was really my being attacked by a rabid raccoon.  I was trying to keep it on the D.L..  Didn’t wan’t you to freak out.”

Gasp.  “Holy shit Niff! Are you ok?”

I sighed.  “Yeah, they’ll just have to cut my leg off.  Suck, yeah?  I rather fancied the left one.”

“Totally.  Where’s the raccoon??”

“Gave him a $20 and told him to go clean up his life.  I think he’s at the bus station.”

Mark sounded relieved.  “You’re too benevolent…”

“Eh.  he’ll die of the rabies soon anyway,  But hey, I can make that cat noise though:  ‘rrrnnghgghhhhhoooowwwwwwwwrrnghhhhh…..'”

He sounded impressed.  “Sorry about Latvia Niff”.

“It’s ok.”  I said.  “Remember, that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.  The Dalai Lama said that ya know.”

“Holy shit.”


Voulez-voulez-vous rrrnnghgghhhhhoooowwwwwwwwrrnghhhhh…

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet.

Little prouetting carps,
What’s-a flying stump,
Corn on the cob and crying storks,
Hippos don’t dare jump.

Tennis shoes laughing at bees,
Yo-yo’s go on strike,
Nibbling at an angry shrub,
That gerbil stole my bike!

Conniption in a plastic bag,
Where goes daft cohorts?
Must we walk in single-file,
When the rhubarb snorts?

Voulez-voulez-vous rooftops made of Oobleck are a fine idea.

We can’t stop here! This is bat country…

Doppler is in love with a 8-week old yellow Labrador.


Wait, is it considered pedophilia in the canine universe?  They are allowed far more leniency than we in other matters, such as public urination, nudity, and sexual intercourse…so I really don’t know if Doppler’s seduction of a pre-heat yellow lab is considered uncouth in the Canidae family.

Although…I live in downtown Seattle, and public urination is a common occurrence.  And it hits as close to home as the side of my apartment building, most often between the garbage dumpster and recycling bins, I’m sorry to say.  They’re amusingly nonchalant about the whole thing.  I’ve even had a couple of the pit-stop-passers-by nod their heads at me and bid good morning when I’ve come upon them mid-act while walking Doppler.  Who looks upon them, offended, as if to say, “Um.  Pardon me, kind sir. That’s my spot you’re violating, there…”

Doppler’s leg-hiking options are, however, about to be severely reduced.

Enter two very large, majestic maple trees in the front of my apartment building.

Or, very soon, it will be: there *were* two very large, majestic maple trees in front of my apartment building.

The city of Seattle has deemed them a safety hazard as apparently they have become diseased, defective, or otherwise afflicted with some sort of “rotted stump” condition, and will be cut to the quick post-haste.  And as such we will be denied the beautiful aesthetic contribution and lovely shade they provide to our domestic environment.  And Doppler denied a convenient place to relieve himself diurnally.  Of course, I had never before pondered the correlation between his choice of real estate and the pathology of the trees…

I feel like going all Virgin Suicides on them pre-process in protest not only for myself and my fellow residents but for the sake of my dog who cannot speak for himself.

Of course, knowing my lack of good fortune and propensity for clumsiness and related injuries, they would permit the trees to remain, and one lovely, unassuming morning, Doppler and I are engaging upon his daily constitutional and immediately following a great deal of grinding and crackling, our bodies become crushed and mangled under two tons of rotted maple whilst dozens of confused squirrels scamper about, grateful that they are more spry than we.

(I have to interject here:  Thanks to my goddamn iPhone, I keep expecting a period (.) to be automatically supplemented every time I double-tap the space bar.  I’m such a mindless drone.)

Voulez-voulez-vous arbor annihilation angst.

“So I’m reading my genderbending zombie book. And suddenly there’s this talking bird…”

Direct quote.

This is the genderbending zombie book.

It’s action-packed with hedgehogs and violins and bad-ass, milk-drinking cuddle-puppy protagonists and I suddenly realize that there’s this entire realm of literary genre that I have yet to appreciate.

But that’s not what I came to talk about…

Occasionally when I am in need of blogger-fodder I will peruse photo albums both on my computer and phone to see if there is anything that I *intended* to write about and didn’t.

Enter exhibit A.  Including subtitles.







At the time this photo was taken, it was Christmas.  Not thanksgiving.  I wondered why they had not generated new, holiday-specific signage.

Also, this spectacle was taking place across from the Church of Scientology, whose representatives were also out in force, looking for “new recruits”, or money, or wanting to attach their electrode-device to people’s temporal lobes…I’m stereotyping.  I avoided that side of Pine St.

Combine this theological “Battle of the Bands” with the busiest shopping center in downtown Seattle during the holiday season, and you get this almost pep-rally feel that is not dissimilar to the “WE GOT SPIRIT!  YES WE DO!!” cheering volley between warring high schools during football season.  They have a whole host of heathens to convert, and a finite number of shopping days to pick them off.  Or terrify/intimidate them while they’re waiting with their kids/dogs to have their photo taken with Santa.  Cuz God knows that’s what I’d love about my religion.  Never-ending paranoia of being cast into the depths of hell for sleeping in on Sundays, having a potty mouth and premarital sex.  (All three may, or may not, be concurrent.  Is punishment worse for such an all-inclusive slight against God?)

I gotta say I especially enjoyed the friendly, bright blue “Repent or Perish” hoodies.  It almost makes you feel kinda ok about eternal damnation, so long as you get a hoodie.

This fine weekend they were requesting funds from passers-by, with their large, bedraggled looking signs and “Flames of Damnation” attire.  I surmised to finance the production of  more said zealot-hoodies, or to go to Utrecht and get materials to make a seasonally-appropriate damnation banner.  Either way, I had none to give.  I had given what I had to the Planned Parenthood advocates two blocks previous.

It took a great deal of impulse control not to reveal this fact.

I’m cool with religion…the Catholics know how to bust out some damn fine architecture.  Which I tend to be a bit obsessive about.  But religion, church, “oh forgive me lord..!” etc etc… just not my thing.  I’ll draw and paint cathedrals (the photo to the right is a piece of mine), but that’s about as close as I’m willing to get to the whole environment. (Despite breaking into Mass once or twice out of curiosity).

I think I need a hoodie.

Voulez-voulez-vous REPENT or PERISH!!


Scrolling through the “random” feature on my xkcd app, I came across the following comic regarding an obscure entry in Wikipedia:


This led me to my Wikipedia app (it’s a sad state of affairs, I realize) to see what exactly all this “Malamanteau” business was about. To my delight, I discovered the following:


The interwebs, it would seem, are not without a sense of humor.

Voulez-voulez-vous commute blogging.

*postscript: it is prudent to exercise caution when implementing aforementioned xkcd app, as I can attest:

Though I am willing to admit to a certain amount of user error.

Postscript^2: upon revision of this entry, I made note that the xkcd comic displayed in the Wikipedia article was titled “Philosophy”. This is relevant because of an addictive phenomenon I became aware of thanks again to our friends at xkcd:

Wikipedia trivia: if you take any article, click on the first link in the article text not in parentheses or italics, and then repeat, you will eventually end up at “Philosophy”.


I am the Walrus

There are men reinforcing the mortar between the large slabs of marble covering the facade of the Bank of America building. Seattlites will recognize this building as the large, black skyscraper that dominates the downtown skyline. I realize these superficial slabs of marble provide no structural support whatsoever, but I find it disconcerting nonetheless, specifically due to the fact that my bus stop happens to be located at it’s base. There is the possibility of my ass being taken out by a gigantic slab of graphite-colored marble, but were that to happen, I dont believe I would have to worry about commuting to work anymore. #lawsuit

I think I need to come up with a name for the phenomenon that occurs when you’re listening to your iPod and suddenly a musical abomination pops up on your playlist that you have no recollection of putting there. It’s pretty jarring. Almost as jarring as having your earbuds unexpectedly yanked out of your ears. For some inexplicable reason I find this to be infuriating at a toe-stubbing-level. I bring this up because this morning, while composing the above narrative regarding the perilous marble-spackling, my Beatles-themed playlist was suddenly infiltrated by Nine Inch Nails’ “Head Like a Hole”, causing me to immediately dig for the offending portable music device in order to remedy the situation. Along with a rather audible “aaagh!!!”, eliciting confused looks from passers-by. Some people just don’t get it. It totally ruined my zen thing, man.

Voulez-voulez-vous goo-goo-g’joob.

“Nobody becomes an artist unless they have to” – Janet Fitch

One of the most overwhelming things in my life is looking around my apartment and realizing that I don’t have one bloody finished piece of art.  Other than those I generated in college, and that’s only because they were virtually completed at gunpoint.  And they look like it.  Which is most likely why I don’t have one bloody finished piece of art in my apartment.

“Art is never finished, only abandoned.”  – Leonardo da Vinci

(Not sure where this compulsion to prattle off quotes is coming from.)

“Real smarts come when you stop quoting other people.”  – Chuck Palahniuk

I don’t know if this is the bane of artists everywhere, but I find that I am much more productive when I am in a state of stress, worry or angst.  When I am sublimely happy and perpetually elated I don’t feel the least bit creative.  I’m assuming it’s because I’m feeling more sociable and don’t spend a lot of time at home in order to pursue such endeavors, but it is entirely frustrating.  I suppose it’s a testament to the quality of my life, that there are so many incomplete works in my home.  If they were finished, it might suggest a miserable and depressive nature which is definitely not a good prize.

I’m not miserable and depressed at the moment, I just have a lot of flux in my life, and whereas I don’t find it upsetting, it does cause a bit of tension, as that has been somewhat of a leitmotif in my life.  It used to be *much* worse, any slight change in my life would be cause for a Chernobyl-esque reaction.  But I have become far more adaptable in my old age.

Ha!  “Old”.  Egads.

Bloody hell, am I actually writing a reflective blog?  I’d best watch out for that fissure in the space-time continuum that’s going to engulf the world and negate all existence.  That might piss some people off.  Especially considering the fact that December 2012 is a good ways off and they might feel slighted if I denied them a year and a half of shenanigans and taxes.

Voulez-voulez-vous “All the effort in the world won’t matter if you’re not inspired.” – Chuck Palahniuk

Would you be prepared if gravity reversed itself?

One thing I’ve noticed about WordPress is that it gives you the option to both categorize and add keywords to your posts; which I suppose is an altogether brilliant idea, as it provides somewhat of a filing system for your blog entries. Want to see everything you’ve ever written about turnips? BAM! There ya go. Need all your posts regarding the migratory patterns of African swallows? SHA-ZAM!!! The mere click of your mouse and it’s sheer magic. *Wipes a tear*

However comma…

I downloaded the WordPress iPhone app last night and was struck by two very real and very difficult-to-digest truths.

The app does not include the following features:
– autocomplete
– spell check
– auto-capitalization
– the “double-space enters a period” phenomenon.

The other harsh truth:

My iPhone has made me mentally retarded.

I originally began this post in the aforementioned app, prattling along as usual, assuming that the necessary “I”‘s and punctuation and “teh’s” were being handled for me as always, that my prose and brilliance and “stream of consciousness” method were going to be tended to with minimal effort on my behalf, because my phone loves me.

“Et tu, Brute?”

The paragraphs that resulted were an abomination that would incite the mockery of second-graders.

To remedy the situation would have taken four times longer than defaulting to my BlogPress app that provides such a babysitting feature, thus here I am. Tended to. Safe. Warm. Still feeling mentally retarded, to be un-P.C. (sorry about that…)

Mind you, when I’m at a computer I make no such assumptions regarding “Im” -> “I’m” etc, I am able to compose as I once did before such technologies existed. It is only in this environment where everything goes to hell. Perhaps it’s because my thumbs are not accustomed to operating solo, and they need a sort of grammatical “wingman”. All I know is that it will take time, patience, and a build-up of self-esteem before I can wander into *that* territory again. For now, I’m just not ready.

Voulez-voulez-vous i do not like green eggs and ham i do not like them sam i am