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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Post# 206 - McDonald's: Is a One-Nozzle Milkshake Dispenser a Potential Allergen Problem?

Once in a while, I feel I make a strong argument about something.  It bugs me when they don't take it seriously.  This is my note, sent 8/22/11:
----------------------
Dear McDonald's, 

Every time I order a shake, which is about three times a year, I've noticed something.  The shake I order tastes like the shake that was ordered before it.

In the old days, you had three shake flavors (four if you had the flavor of the day), and three spigots (again--four if you had the flavor of the day).  Now, you have one spigot and the flavors sort of "shoot" into the vanilla base. 

The problem is, if Customer A orders Chocolate, and Customer B orders Strawberry, there's still chocolate shake in the system that finds itself in the bottom of Customer B's cup.  And now that you've copied Arby's and gone to the smaller "transparent" cups and raised your prices, the different flavor is clearly visible at the bottom.  If you need a photo, I can provide it.

Furthermore, when Customer B puts the business end of his straw into the shake, what's the first thing he tastes?  Customer A's shake.  What if Customer B orders Strawberry because he is allergic to Chocolate, and Customer A ordered Chocolate, can you see the problem?  Maybe you have a Milkshake Disclaimer somewhere on your menu, but it's counterintuitive to think that one shake could contain two flavors.

I know people who are violently allergic to chocolate.  I also know someone who is allergic to strawberries.  Is there cause for concern there?  There should be, unless there isn't any actual cocoa or strawberries in your shakes.

Do you have an explanation for this, other than the one-spigot system being easier to clean and maintain?  Because to me, it seems like a real concern, and something that should be addressed swiftly and with great might.

Sincerely,

Jerry
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Subject: Message from McDonald's USA
To: stephmarie1974@yahoo.com
Date: Wednesday, August 24, 2011, 5:03 AM

Hello Jerry:

Thank you for taking the time to contact McDonald's.

I appreciate the opportunity to address your concerns. The one-spigot system was intended for convenience. A strict cleaning and sanitation schedule is in place to ensure the highest quality product with minimal chance of cross contamination. I apologize if this has not been your experience.
Again, thank you for contacting McDonald's. We hope to have the opportunity of serving you again soon under the Golden Arches.
Jennifer
McDonald's Customer Response Center

ref#:8113902
-----------------------
My response, sent 8/24/2011:

Dear Jennifer,

I appreciate your response.  I find it confusing though.  The new-fangled one-nozzle-for-all-flavors system has been in for quite a while now.  I don't order many milkshakes, but I've ordered a few, and at more than one of your restaurants.  I have experienced the two-flavor shake virtually every time.  It's only really noticeable when the person before me ordered chocolate and I order vanilla or strawberry, but with the clear cups now, it's glaringly obvious.

You mention a very strict cleaning and sanitation cycle to minimize the chances of cross-contamination.  Well, wouldn't it have to be VERY strict?  Like "after every milkshake" strict?  Unless you get a busful of chocoholics, you're looking at a cleaning and sanitation cycle after each and every milkshake.  That leads to the question-- if you need to clean and sanitize after each and every milkshake to prevent the possible spreading of allergens, how is that more convenient than three or four nozzles?

My Strawberry Shake with Chocolate Residue From the Customer Before Me.
I recommend you send fifty McHenchmen out to 50 different restaurants, each with $6.  Have each order a chocolate milkshake, and then a vanilla milkshake, in that order.  Have them photograph the bottom of the clear cup with the vanilla milkshake.  Then tell me that you don't have a systemic problem.  I'd be REALLY interested in seeing that photo album.

Sincerely,

Jerry

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Monday, August 29, 2011

Post# 205 - General Electric Light Bulbs: Why Won't They Work?


What if a person who didn't know how to screw in a light bulb complained that the bulbs didn't work?
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My note to G.E. Chairman and CEO, Jack Welch, dated 4/23/1998:

Dear Mr. Welch,

I recently bought a condominium as a means of escaping the constant pampering that occurs when a 29 year-old lives with his parents.  It was time to show everyone that I wasn’t a “Mama’s Boy” and that I could live just fine out of the watchful eyes of my loving, nurturing, and understanding, mother and father.  I moved a few miles away “just in case” they ever needed help with anything.

When I moved into the condominium, my parents and I agreed that the lighting is quite poor in the kitchen, especially around the counter.  My dad offered his unremitting assistance, to which I drew a line in the proverbial sand.  “No dad,” I said.  “I can field this one.  You take care of mom.”  For the first time ever, I felt independent.  My dad said “Son, I’m proud of you.”  It felt good.

The following day, I was running some errands (dropping laundry off at my parents’ house, picking up my five dinners for the week that my mom carefully packaged in reusable Tupperware), I stopped at the local grocery store and picked up several of your Soft White Light Bulbs.  My father recommended these because he said they were “the best.” 

When I returned home, I was excited.  I unwrapped the bulbs, placed them around the kitchen where I thought they would “brighten the place up.”  One on the kitchen counter, one on the microwave, one on top of the refrigerator, one I hung with a piece of string above the oven, and the last one in the center of the kitchen table.  When I went to flip the light switch, none of your light bulbs that I had purchased seemed to work.  The lights that the previous owner had hung in the ceiling fixtures still worked, but not my new GE bulbs.  So I picked up the bulbs, placed them back in their packaging, took them back to the store, and exchanged them.  I brought the replacements home and tried again, only to encounter the same problem.  Your light bulbs don’t work!

How could a company so focused on Customer Satisfaction allow several light bulbs to slip past their careful eye?   How could General Electric compromise quality?

Wondering in the Dark,

Jerry
-----------------
Note from Paul, Product Service Manager, dated 4/23/1998:

Dear Jerry,

Thank you for taking the time to advise us of the unsatisfactory service you have received with your GE lighting product.  We regret the occurrence and any resulting inconvenience it has caused you.

Every precaution is taken in our factory to produce a high quality product; however, it is possible for the bulb and internal parts to become damaged as a result of accidental mishandling in shipment which could result in shortened life.

When customer dissatisfaction is brought to our attention, we try to do everything possible to satisfy our customers and maintain their goodwill.  Under separate cover, we are sending you a pre-addressed postage-paid mailing container in which you can return the product to us for analysis in our laboratory.  Enclosed are store coupons which can be redeemed at your favorite retailer that handles GE Light Bulbs.

Thank you for calling this matter to our attention, and please accept our apologies for any inconvenience you have experienced?

Sincerely,

Paul, Manager
Customer Service
------------------------
My response to Paul, dated 5/4/1998:

Dear Mr. Cwiok,

Thank you for your swift response to my letter.  I appreciated your reassurance, as well as the free light bulbs.

I was, however, a little puzzled by the generic apology note, which requested my questionable product.  Do you get that many complaints about your light bulbs that you need a form letter? 

I bought a few more bulbs, thinking that last time, maybe I had just found a bad lot.  I tried arranging them around the room in different places.  I tied one to a string and taped to ceiling in my bedroom like a pinata.  I dropped one into the fish tank and it floated around in circles like an inebriated duck.  I taped one above my door.  In each case, again, when I flipped the nearby light switch, only those bulbs which were here when I moved in seemed to work.

One thing I noticed with these bulbs is that on one end there is a silver-colored metal piece with a spiral shape that is tough to describe.   It looks a little like the spirals on a two-liter pop bottle that the cap goes on.  I hate two-liter bottles.  It seems like the cap works fine the first time, and then when I place the cap back on the bottle and lay it in the refrigerator on its side, the cap falls off and the beverage empties.  If only there were a way to fasten those lids to those bottles.  But my beverage problem is not your concern.

Could this spiral metal shape thing be causing the problem?  It’s handy for taping the string, but it looks weird. 

I have enclosed as many bulbs as I could fit in the packaging you provided—I had to break a few bulbs to get them in there.  Those I put in a sandwich baggie (for safety).  Please let me know the results of your analysis.  Thanks.

You (Are Supposed to)  Light Up My Life,


Jerry

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Friday, August 26, 2011

Post# 204 - Capital One: Stop Sending Credit Card Applications To My 9-Year-Old!!!

Sent to Capital One on 6/23/2011:

Dear Capital One,

Pardon my naivety--I'm an outsider.  That guy who pays his bills on time every month, lives within his means, and when it came time to buy a house, opted for something that I knew I could afford.

When I walk into car dealerships and salespeople see my credit score, they tell me I can finance anything on the lot.  I choose to buy the car that makes the most sense.

See, back in 2008, there were these series of problems that lead to the economy going down the crapper.  Lots of people were caught with their pants down around their ankles.  Banks made irresponsible decisions.  Mortgages were handed out to any Tom, Dick, or Harry.  The ripple effect almost wiped away the middle class.

Fast forward to now.  People are more responsible.  Old neighbors "short saled" their homes, and new people bought them at a third of their previous value.  Some just let their house go, rent for a year or two, rebuild their score, and buy the same house at a discount.  Overall, people seem wiser though.

Most people, that is.

Why are you sending my daughter credit card applications?  SHE'S FRIGGING NINE, you idiots.  Nine-year-old's don't understand credit-to-debt ratios, compounding interest, identity theft, and all of the other fun things that go along with being a card holder.  She cares about American Girl dolls, what's on Nickelodeon, whether her mom bought more Snack Packs, and how fast she can swim a 50 freestyle.



About halfway down, you offer an "Opt Out" notice, where I can discontinue idiotic and irresponsible offers from continuing to appear in my mail.  Funny, I don't remember "Opting In."


So what's the plan?  Get my daughter under your burden of easy monthly payments before she's in middle school?  I know--the responsible parent is supposed to teach kids right from wrong.  Well you sorta lobbed a nice grenade in my foxhole, and I thank you kindly.  Now my daughter wants a credit card.

It's nice to see you've learned a lesson from the Credit Crash of 2008.  :Let's make it easy for people--in this case, people who still put their teeth under the pillow for the tooth fairy--to buy things that they can't afford.

That didn't bite anybody in the ass the first time.

Sincerely,

Jerry
Soon-to-be-Ex-Card Holder if you keep this crap up
--------------------------
From: Capital One Web Information <webinfo@capitalone.com>
Subject: Re: STOP SENDING MY 9-YEAR-OLD CREDIT CARD APPLICATIONS!!!!! (KMM20499762V24550L0KM)
Date: Friday, June 24, 2011, 10:10 AM
Hello Jerry,

Thanks for your message.

Please be advised that we have forwarded your opt-out request to the
appropriate department for handling.

Thanks for contacting Capital One®.

Regards,

Capital One
-------------------------------
Subject: Re: STOP SENDING MY 9-YEAR-OLD CREDIT CARD APPLICATIONS!!!!! (KMM20499762V24550L0KM)
Date: Friday, June 24, 2011, 7:07 PM
Dear Capital One,
Yes I said "Soon to be ex-card holder if you keep this crap up."  I meant the policy--not the peppering of my child with credit card applications.
By suggesting that you'll simply opt me out and continue sending other applications to pre-teens, suggests that you just don't get it.

Maybe you'll never get it.  Maybe I'll take my business elsewhere.

Sincerely,

Jerry
------------------------------
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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Post# 203 - Jesse James Barbecue Sauce - An Outlaw for a Mascot?

Everybody has something that gets them revved up.  This man is passionate about Jesse James.  I admire his passion and I think that while things got a little bumpy, we ended on a good note.  Try his sauce!
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My letter to Jesse James Barbecue Sauce, sent 6/10/11:

Dear Jesse James,

I love your sauce.  Love isn't a strong enough word.  I adore it.  I dip everything in your Honey Sauce.  Chicken, cucumbers, apple wedges, and even a glazed doughnut.

Like a lot of the seven-year-old kids these days, my son has taken a real interest in the old west.  Jensen and his sidekicks Lucas and Milo, re-enact the gunfight at the OK Corral, as well as Custer's Last Stand.  He even incorporated your sauce into his role playing, using it as "blood."

Last week, Jensen had to do a report for his class, on a celebrity.  He chose Jesse James.  As I read his report, his following question rang true: "How can you eat that sauce?"  I continued eating and he continued judging.  Deep down, I realized I had to change my sauce brand. 

As it turns out, Jesse was somewhat of a doosher.   Jesse James, aside from being a murderer, may have owned slaves, and definitely married his cousin.  When a company is starting out, deciding on a mission statement, etc., how do they settle on a racist, murdering inbreeder?  How does that pass the "laugh test?"  More importantly, why didn't I think of this while I was dunking, dipping, slathering, and at one point, drinking your sauce right from the bottle. 

Buying your sauce equates to celebrating a villain and being a bad role model for my son and his friends.   If you squint at the bottle long enough, it starts to look like blood.  Lots of blood.  Blood in a bottle.  Blood in the streets, perpetuated by large companies glorifying killers.  Who is behind this?  Big tobacco?

Why not choose someone more positive, like Mother Theresa, Gandhi, or the guy that landed that plane in the Hudson?  What's next?  Charles Manson Sauce?

Sincerely,

Jerry
----------------------------
From: Ray at Jesse James Sauces
Subject: RE: Jesse James Sauces
Date: Fri, 10 Jun 2011

WE ARE SORRY TO HEAR THAT YOU WON’T BE ENJOYING THE SUPERIOR TASTE AND QUALITY OF “JESSE JAMES” SAUCES. ALTHOUGH JESSE JAMES WAS A KNOWN KILLER, HE WAS ALSO AN AMERICAN HERO DURING THE WAR. AND ALTHOUGH HE MAY HAVE HAD “SLAVES” AS YOU PUT IT, THERE IS NO PROOF OF THE ACCUSATION. BY THE SAME TOKEN, DOC HOLLIDAY AS WELL AS WYATT EARP, WERE BOTH CRIMINALS AND KNOWN KILLERS, YET YOU ALLOW YOUR SON AND FRIENDS TO EMULATE THE FAMOUS GUNFIGHT AT THE OK CORRAL… REALLY? AND WHAT ABOUT OUR FOUNDING FATHERS OF THIS GREAT COUNTRY? KNOWN SLAVE OWNERS ALL OF THEM. JESSE JAMES SERVED AND FOUGHT FOR THIS COUNTRY IN NOT ONE BUT TWO WARS. THE MAN THAT MURDERED JESSE JAMES WAS OSTRESIZED AND OUTCAST BY SOCIETY FOR THE COWARDICE ACT OF MURDERING A MAN WITH HIS BACK TURNED. THAT MAN, ONE OF THE FORD BROTHERS IN CASE YOU DIDN’T KNOW LATER COMITTED SUICIDE BECAUSE HE COULDN’T TAKE SOCIETIES RIDICULE FOR THAT MURDER.
MAYBE INSTEAD OF TRYING TO FIND FAULT WITH AMERICAN HISTORY, WHY NOT TRY CHECKING WITH THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS FOR THE ACTUAL FACTS.

TAKE CARE
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My response, sent 6/10/2011:
Dear Ray,

Wow—you went all caps on me.  I will say this—your passion for Jesse James is admirable. 
Each of us is passionate about something.  In your case, it’s a man who, along with his brother Frank, Encyclopedia Britannica describes as being “among the most notorious outlaws of the American west, engaging robberies,  that came to typify the hazards of the 19th-century frontier as it has been portrayed in motion-picture westerns.”  Your war hero robbed trains, stage coaches and banks from Iowa to Alabama and Texas, in one instance, wearing a KKK mask.  Your war hero was part of a guerrilla force that killed civilians, executed prisoners, and scalped and dismembered the dead.
I’m just curious which facts I was so far off on that I’m being sentenced to a trip to the library of congress.  I stated that he was a killer, that he married his cousin, MAY have had slaves, and was a racist.  The only point of contention, in my mind, is your view of “a hero” versus mine.
You called into question my parenting.  Yes, in the past, I let my son engage in simulated re-enactments without performing background checks on the characters.  I also allowed him to pin a tail on a donkey at a party, and whack at make-believe moles in a simulated exercise that stresses sensory response and hand-eye coordination.  I allowed him to perform a computer simulation whereby he would use a slingshot and trajectory skills to destroy structures and pigs with birds.   I admit my wrongdoing, and have changed my parenting methods.  I’m wondering if you’re willing to do the same regarding your sauce mascot.  
1)      I like how you start out—“Although Jesse James was a known killer…”   That’s like saying, “Although Ted Kaczynski was a known killer, he was a remarkably punctual with his library books and movie rentals.” 
2)      Maybe Holliday and Earp were known criminals—you’d know better than me.  Obviously you rented Tombstone.   Maybe the likes of Washington, Pinckney, Mason and Blair owned slaves.  Does that somehow make it right?  I’d be writing the same letter if you had “Thomas Jefferson” sauce.   Isn’t all of this really beside the point?  Mother Theresa didn’t.  Neither did Gandhi.  Those were my examples of positive people.
3)      You mentioned that ALL of our founding fathers were slave-owners.  Not so fast.  Did Sam Adams?  John Adams?  Alexander Hamilton?  John Jay?  Thomas Paine?   In fairness to your point, Ben Franklin owned them, but freed them and started the Philadelphia Anti-Slavery Society.  I guess we can research that further on library day.
4)      The man who murdered Jesse James was, in fact, a murderer and should have been ostracized.  I wasn’t sure what you were getting at there.  Were you trying to state that the alienation and suicide lend credence to your selection of Jesse James as your sauce’s patron saint?  If so,  I’ve got to say, that’s some weak sauce.
5)      You state that I’m trying to find fault with history.  Not true.  I understand that history is full of colorful characters, story lines and sub plots.  I don’t find fault with history.  I find fault with a company that glorifies a known killer. 


Face it, Jesse James couldn’t hack it today. With all of the surveillance cameras, low-jack, night vision, satellite imaging and special task forces, he’d be shot dead getting ice for his Zima from the machine at the Super 8. If Jesse James were alive and in his prime today, would you really want him pushing your sauce?

YOU take care.  Better protect that caps-lock key.  Somebody’s going to sneak in there and steal it.

Thank you,


Jerry
---------------------------------

 From: Ray at Jesse James Sauces
Subject: RE: Jesse James SaucesDate: Fri, 10 Jun 2011


NO PROBLEM JERRY… I PERSONALLY DON’T BELIEVE EVERYTHING I READ ANYWAY. TAKE CARE.
BY THE WAY, I ALWAYS USE CAPS.
-------------------------

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Post# 202 - The Michigan Fiber Festival: What's the Restroom Situation?

Apparently the Michigan Fiber Festival is more related to yarns and hempware, and less about musili.  It's not too late to head out there--the festival info is HERE.

Dear Michigan Fiber Festival,

As the youngest member of my community's retirement group, I was nominated to become the bus driver for day trips.  The board of directors figured that as the youngest, I had the best chance of not keeling over, requiring the board to finance another Class A license.

I was directed to keep August 19th free, so I could drive a bunch of elderly folks to your fine festival.  As a veteran of fiber festivals in three other states, I have my concerns.  Here goes.

You get buses and buses full of elderly folks into a confined area.  Many of these folks have constitution issues to begin within, and now you're adding high fiber foods, fiber workshops and discussions, fiber lecturers and symposiums, and activities.  Imagine a troop of 85 year-olds running a tire course like they're in basic training.  In their minds, they have happy thoughts-thoughts of regularity.  In their bellies, they have buckwheat pancakes, eighteen grain breads, course cereals, and just enough water to create a weather system down there.

Then, you have a bank of eight restrooms.

This is NOT a good situation.  Before I commit to busing thirty-three of the most ornery, stingy, and yet wonderful retirees in your directions, I have the following questions.

1) What your estimated capacity?
2) How many restroom accommodations can we expect?
3) Will there be any flax seed, or anything in the slippery elm bark family on the premises?

Bus drivers often get "freebies" for leading tourists to specific restaurants and gift shops.  In my case, I want no worldly possessions.  My only request is my own, secret, restroom with plumbing.  None of this "brand new porta-john business either--I've been fooled once.

These are my questions.  Can you please answer ASAP?  If I don't hear back, I may schedule a "bus carburetor repair."

Sincerely,

Monday, August 15, 2011

Post# 201 - How Many Licks Does it Take to Get to the Center of a Tootsie Pop? A Doctoral Study.

This letter was sent via mail to Tootsie Roll on 9/26/1996 by Herman Letters Staff Member Larry Barnowski:

Dear Tootsie Rollers:

I am a Doctorate Student in the Chemical Engineering field at the University of Michigan. My doctoral dissertation relates to your age-old question:  “How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop?”  My study encompasses the following factors:
                                               
    1) Room Temperature Conditions                  5) Actual Lick Force          
    2) Saliva pH level                                          6) Time Interval Between Licks
    3) “Licking Surface” Area                              7) Flavor of Candy
    4) Coefficient of Friction of Tongue
                                               
                                               
I have fabricated a “mechanical tongue” that is the absolute average of each of the anthropometric conditions listed above (7.21 saliva pH, 1.32 inch tongue width, 1.44 inch tongue length, 0.12ยต tongue friction coefficient, 21.4 Newton Meter lick force, 2.3 second lick interval).  The tongue fixture is hydraulic in nature, and is hooked up to a computer, that can modify any of the options.  The Tootsie Pop specimen is clamped in a fixture, with a 25 Newton meter clamping force, 1.5 inches below the initial diameter level.  I found, through my tests, that the Cherry Pop offers the  mean in saliva “resistance.”  I use a 72 degree Fahrenheit air temperature, climate controlled laboratory.

I consider our “center” to be the very point when chocolate hits the light of day.  I run my tests on the same hemisphere of the subject until this condition occurs.  A laser beam reflects off of the glossy candy surface, until the beam is absorbed by the less glossy chocolate surface.  When this beam is broken, the center has been reached, and the test is complete.  I read the counter and log the data in my spreadsheet.  I have run 3112 samples to failure.  

I have found the following results:  Maximum Lick Count:  518           
                                                    Average Lick Count:  411
                                                   Minimum Lick Count:  312             
                                                    Process Cpk: 1.75
                                                               
If you have any questions, please let me know.  I have a few for you.  What constitutes “reaching the center?  Do you count “the center” as being the complete removal of the candy layer, or like me, do you count the first sight of chocolate?  Have you performed any studies?  Under what conditions?  With what results?  Lastly, my supply of specimens has exhausted itself.  Is there any chance of helping out with my research (i.e. freebies)?  It’s all in the name of science.  Thank you for any help you can provide.

All Licked Out,


Larry Barnowski

----------------------
November 7, 1996

Dear Mr. Barnowski:

It must be a sign of the times--- “How Many Licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop” has gone high tech.

The commercial asking the “How Many Licks” question aired first in 1968.  It has become a classic and is still airing today.  Over the years, literally thousands of letters have been recorded answering the “How Many Licks” question and the approaches for determining the number have been numerous, varied, and interesting.  Certainly your approach tops them all for precision.

We are sending all flavors of Tootsie Pops to you today for your experiment.  We wish you every success in your search for the answer.

To everyone reporting the number of licks required, we present the “Clean-Stick” award.  Please accept this award for the results you have shown us thus far.


Very truly yours,


TOOTSIE ROLL INDUSTRIES, INC.

Ellen R. Gordon
President

ERD/ja

enclosure
---------------------
Note: The letter was enclosed with a case of Tootsie Pops.
---------------------
This note was sent via mail on 11/14/1996:

Dear Ms. Gordon:

Thank you so much for the delightful package that you delivered via United Parcel Service to my back door.  Your comments were flattering, and the Clean Stick Award is an honor that I have shared with my family, closest friends, and clergy.  Most of all, thanks for the case of Tootsie Pops. 

I have, Ellen, run into a roadblock in my project.  As I place the final touches on the project and prepare for my January 10 dissertation, I cannot help but wonder if the “Crunch Factor” should be calculated into my figures.  As you probably know, the Crunch Factor is the tendency for the subject to become impatient with the slow process of outer shell removal (my lab aides jokingly call it “foreplay”), and chomp right through to the gooey core.  According to my calculations, as performed on a mutually exclusive sample population of 100, varying in age from 6 to 89 years, with the mean age of 34, the Crunch Factor occurs 52 percent of the time.  The average number of licks before crunch (L.B.F.) is 60.  Age appears to have no bearing on this number.

By adding the Crunch Factor, I would be completely changing my arguments, and would require a new approach.  Furthermore, my automated licker cannot be adapted to measure Crunch Factor.  I am pondering the repercussions of standing before my jury and giving my testimony withholding the Crunch Factor.

Whatever I choose to do, please know that your efforts here have been greatly appreciated. 

Keep On Rollin’,

Larry Barnowski
-----------------
If you go to the Tootsie Roll Site, under FAQ, my results (411 licks) are published, along with two other scientific studies.
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Friday, August 12, 2011

Post# 200 - Broken Ray Ban Sunglasses: One of My First Letters

I thought for the 200th letter, I should do something special.  My first letter, written in May of 1989, argued in favor of lifeguards at the city pool where I worked, receiving more than minimum wage.  I can't find that letter, but the head of Parks and Rec authorized a pay raise though.
I did, however, find my second letter, written back in 1990.  This letter was written during a very strange point in my life.  I wrote this letter as I was packing.  I was packing to go to college for my freshman year, and also packing because we were moving out of my childhood home.  A few months later, I would be struggling with difficult curriculum and pneumonia.

This letter all started when I was lifeguarding at the top of a 3 story water slide at the Kennedy Pool in Trenton Michigan.  My Aviator Glasses (think Tom Cruise's glasses in Top Gun)  fell three stories and shattered on the pavement.  Below is my dramatization.


Letter sent to Bausch and Lomb on 9/2/1990:

Dear Ray Ban,
As a lifeguard, I know no better friend than my trusty Ray Ban sunglasses.  Nothing cuts through the sun’s glare better.  In fact, I have become so dependent on your product that it is uncommon for me to be seen without my sunglasses—even in the winter months.  Furthermore, the ladies almost always give a second glance.  For this, I thank the entire Bausch and Lomb organization, from head lens grinder, right down to the lowliest nose guide putter-onner.
Recently while lifeguarding in an outdoor facility, an emergency situation arose.  I set my glasses down on the arm of the guard stand in order to rescue the drowning victim.  In all of the excitement, I discovered that the emergency was merely a false alarm.  It seems that the routine game of Marco Polo was dramatized by an aspiring young actor who faked a drowning.
Nevertheless, I watched my coveted Ray bans fall to their fate; I was alarmed to find that my “impact resistant” Ray Ban sunglasses could not sustain a simple five foot fall.  One lens shattered, and the other lens was severely scratched.
I consider myself lucky that the incident was a false alarm, yet wonder what might have happened if the incident were real and several barefoot lifeguards ran through the shattered glass.  I know that it would have kept them from doing their job; just as it did to me (I stepped on a shard).  As I fought back the tears, I realized that in essence, these are the trials and tribulations of a lifeguard.  Another day, another peeling nose and chaffed thighs from these damned banana hammocks.

Just recently, the warranty on my Ray Bans expired. Regardless of this fact, I believe this defect should have never occurred.  Consequently, the foundation of my faith in Bausch and Lomb products has been severely shaken.
Enclosed is my pair of scratched and dismembered Ray Bans.  I would appreciate replacement of this pair.  If this proves to be an impossible task, then please use my pair for any durability tests that you see fit to perform.  By doing so, Bausch and Lomb will remain the leader in the eye care industry.
Thank you very much for your help in this matter.
Sincerely,
Jerry


Bausch and Lomb sent me a replacement pair of glasses with a note apologizing and asking me to fill out an incident report for the shard.  I no longer have the letter unfortunately.
Letter sent to Bausch and Lomb on 9/29/1990:
Dear Bausch and Lomb,

Recently, I sent a letter outlining my dissatisfaction for the performance of my Ray Ban Outdoorsman Sunglasses during an emergency situation.  As a lifeguard, I rely on my sunglasses to provide the swimmers with their blanket of protection.  In a way, I feel much like the young man who stands at the edge of the cliff and stops the little children in the tall grass field before they run over the edge.  The children—some of them—wind up being wasted effort, growing into “phonies.”  Someone should write a book about this scenario.  Perhaps someone already did.
Graciously, you sent me a replacement pair—but whoever it was did not leave their name.  Anyway, next time you find yourself in Trenton, stop by—I’ll take you out to lunch.  Of course, since I have no way of knowing who actually sent the glasses, I’m sure everyone and his brother will visit.  That’s why I’m going to develop a secret password.  When you come by, if you utter the word “sunglasses,” I will know it’s you, my anonymous friend.  I just bought ten (10) lbs of ground beef, so if you bring six or eight friends, we can cook out.
Ray Ban has come to my aid several times since the incident.  Nothing cuts through the glare better during an emergency.  In fact, I’m not one to toot my own horn, but thanks, in part, to your product, I was recently named “King Lifeguard of Southeast Michigan.”  Picked over 100,000 other contestants, my stellar performance in the “Lifeguard Trivia” portion of the contest was only surpassed by my performance in the rescue drills.  The award was presented by none other than TV’s David Hasselhoff (Knight Rider/Baywatch).  He’s a pleasant man—I never realized that over in Germany, he’s highly regarded as a rock star.  Feel free to use that tidbit if you ever find yourself on Jeopardy, and under the category of “Hasselhoff Trivia.”

After the awards, David spoke into his watch, instructing “Kit” to meet us at the warehouse.  He invited me for a ride and I saw firsthand what Kit can do on an open road.  We laid a patch outside the courthouse, and the lawman said not to try that again!  After a few sliders, milkshakes and French fries, we called it a night.  I polish my award every waking day.  I owe it all to Ray ban!  Thanks again.

Sincerely,

Jerry