bumper bully

Living in the city now, I see all sorts of extraordinary sights and people. Among them are the people who put these hideous bumper guards on their cars while parked on the street. My initial reaction is that these people must be trying to protect their car from scratches. Street parkers don’t tend to be that careful; some cars are bound to hit other cars while swiveling into that parallel parking space. I guess a rubber skirt would keep those tiny collisions from leaving indelible scratches on their back bumper (note: I have yet to see a front bumper bully equivalent).

So I get it; you don’t want your car to get scratched. Is that for aesthetic reasons? Sure, you might a void a tiny scratch here, but don’t you think that black rubber partition is an eyesore itself? I’ll be that any scratch that bumper bully can prevent would be invisible to all but the most scrutinizing at point blank range. While having that bumper “protection” on is visible to all the people making fun of your car from hundreds of feet away. Consider this from the Bumper Bully faq:

(3) Will the Bumper Bully protect my car bumper from damage?

The Bumper Bully may protect the bumper finish only. It may not protect your bumper from impacts greater than 1MPH. The product may help minimize the risk of scratches, the result of low impact parking maneuvers. The Bumper Bully is not a structural component and will not contribute to vehicle crashworthiness or occupant safety during rear end collisions.

I wonder how bad an accidental scratch you’re going to get at 1 MPH. The website lists the Bumper Bully “Extreme Edition” for $29.95. Honda’s parts warehouse lists touch up paint for $11.95 with FREE SHIPPING & HANDLING. This paint is reusable and works on front scratches too! Or maybe you don’t want to buy the paint to fix that insignificant scratch. After all, you drive a Honda Accord. It’s not a bad looking car, even a little scratched up. But you’re pretty solidly in mid-class sedan range. Putting on the bumper protection doesn’t turn your Accord into an E-Class. Ditch the black bumper cover and let loose.

Beware of black seats!

Like the restaurant that keeps its lighting too dim to tell how ugly your food is, the public restroom with black toilet seats is equally malicious and misleading. How do these toilet seats not create wild public outrage? If you’re anything like me, your main concern with public toilets is sanitation. Privacy comes as a close second, but that gives way quickly in an emergency. We all know, especially men, how dirty toilet seats are. Guys already know the seat is dirty; they don’t want to touch it to lift it before the do their business. Speaking of which, I plead to all guys to use a urinal whenever possible and only save the toilets for the solid business. I really don’t need to find a wet toilet seat because of your insecurities peeing next to another guy. If you must use the stall, lift the seat. Your aim is not that good no matter how many times you’ve written your name in the snow!

Unlike choosing a urinal, the main concern in choosing a toilet is cleanliness. I would choose a stall in between two other occupants if  that one is cleaner than the stall by itself in the corner. Frankly, if you’re already in the same bathroom, there’s not far you can go to escape a guy sitting on the porcelain throne. Proximity fears  go out the door with a spreading noxious cloud.

The problem with black toilet seats is that they lull you into a false sense of security. At a glance, it’s difficult to tell if the seat is actually clean. Worse yet, you won’t know until you take a close look, and by then, you’re pretty well settled in. It’s certainly awkward to walk back out of a stall after you’ve already dropped your pants.  Establishments that employ black seats are unfairly representing the cleanliness of their bathrooms. This is why you typically see black seats in places like public schools, where the seats are frequently smeared and custodial staff are underpaid and overworked. If you see a bathroom with black seats, hold it in and find somewhere safer.

Steak

Fried Goat Udders

Steak vs. Fried goat udders – which one is “ethnic”?

What is ethnic food? Is it anything foreign? America prides itself on its cultural diversity.  This melting pot of…well, melting pots, is home to almost every type of cuisine on the planet. Yet how is it that we have a limited ideal of “American” foods as burgers, pizzas and hot dogs. Or maybe for the more liberal, American food is anything that is fatty, salty or too sweet.

The Almighty Burger, Least Ethnic of All

The term “ethnic food” is ambiguous. We tend to have a good idea of the foods on either polar extremes of the line. Despite the cultural origins on many of our favorite foods, some of them are unabashedly American now—French fries, steak, and apple pie come to mind. On the other side, foods associated with exotic locales like Thai or Ethiopian are pretty clearly ethnic. Problems occur on the line as America assimilates more and more into its mainstream cuisine. Do people consider Italian food ethnic? Maybe if you were eating sweet corn agnolotti, but spaghetti with meat sauce is about as American as it gets.

More perplexing is whether soul food is considered “ethnic.” Some aspects of soul food are reflexively American like mac ‘n’ cheese or fried chicken, but what about chitterlings and pigs’ feet?  Classifying soul food faces the uncomfortable question of whether being American means being white. But for many Americans, especially away from the Deep South, soul food is just as foreign as pad thai.

Polish pierogi, less fortunate than kielbasa

What about food that is undoubtedly white but just never made it big in America? Polish pierogi are just rare enough to be ethnic, but kielbasas are as common as tailgate parties. Would you therefore say that Polish food is ethnic?

Of course there are also those who describe ethnic when they really mean authentic. And by authentic, they mean non-Americanized. I could take a friend out for Chinese food and depending on what we ordered, you could say it was both ethnic and not. Sweet and sour pork, eggrolls, and chow mein just don’t seem that foreign for most of America these days. Tacos might bring to mind images of haciendas and senoritas, but burritos resonate with gas station microwaves and Taco Bells.

More likely, we associate American food to cooking styles. Barbecue is an American institution. Grilling, also very American. We tend to like fire, and lots of it. And of course, only in American will you find deep fried Coke and KFC Double Downs.

Or is it something inherent in the culture of the food that makes it American. Do we associate ourselves with cowboy independence and self-subsistence? Maybe we identify ourselves as the big beef eaters, preferably wrapped in bacon. Unfortunately, for some, being American is about being bigoted and self-righteous, in which case, “Hello, Freedom Fries!”