Odd Drinks Around The World #7

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Drowning animals in wine seems to be a popular thing to do and this time with a potently poisonous reptile no doubt. Lizard wine is made with a type of liquor close to rice wine or whiskey and of course a lizard- the most commonly used is a gecko. Hejie Jiu is one of China’s strongest alcoholic brews but is also considered to contain a number of medicinal properties and treat such ailments as cancer, arthritis, and ulcers.

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Keeping An Eye On Technology

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In my own defense, this post should prove to everyone concerned that I do indeed look into almost all the weird shit sent to me as “leads” in my e-mail and even from much of the useless spam I tend to accumulate. Sometimes the science is more bizarre than most fictitious bullshit. Plus, if its found on the internet it has to be true, right? Wrong. I try to keep my bullshit filters on high guard when looking into miracles in modern medicine. What better machine could be invented than one that will jack you off in public. Yea human race, another medical breakthrough.

It would appear that a Chinese hospital in Nanjing has introduced a new machine that makes sperm donation even easier than before, an automatic sperm extractor. I’m all for hands-free technology, but have scientists gone a little too far with this invention? Who funded the research I wonder. Who decided there was an actual real need for such a device? How long before these trendy little machines show up in the United States? Maybe just put them in train stations, bus stations, and airports. We’re pretty greedy here, they would be fitted to take credit cards, PayPal, or even have an app to pay for it.

This effortless machine features a massage pipe made from a comfortable material, which is a patent secret, that can be adjusted to suit the height of the user. All the gentleman has to do is to insert his penis into the machine, then the frequency, amplitude and temperature can be adjusted to suit personal comfort, and off they go. These automatic sperm extractors are also fitted with a small screen to watch preloaded movies for those feeling uninspired. Surely they come equipped with a USB port so a person can watch what he prefers or better yet have free WiFi so we can keep it current.

According to the director of the urology department of the hospital, the machine is designed to help individuals that are finding it difficult to retrieve sperm the old fashioned way. I’m not entirely convinced that standing in a room shared by many other men and being milked like a cow is going to help, but their efforts are very commendable in my book. Here’s to technology, right? Society is on the cutting edge of science right this very second and very few of us even are aware of it happening.

A website which is selling the machine for $2,800. Promoting it by stating ‘it can give patients very comfortable feeling’. I wonder if one could purchase a automatic sperm extractor for home or personal use. I wonder what kind of licensing is required to own and operate one of these machines in your facility. Yes, in the end, I have more questions than I have answers. I can’t wait for the first damaged pecker lawsuit, hopefully its live on CNN or Fox News so we can see the dramatic reenactment live!

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USDA Is Playing Secret Santa

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While the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) sounded a lot like Scrooge this year by threatening to cut nutrition assistance for low income women and children, it was behaving like a secret Santa to special interests spreading good cheer and taxpayer dollars through the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. Here are more than a few other examples how the program spent $50 million to ring in the holidays early in 2013.

Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree. Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Clause. And the Virginia Christmas Tree Growers Association is one of the six projects involving Christmas trees that was funded. These included shearing, marketing and promoting Christmas trees. The program also supported at least five ornamental plant initiatives, including a project to “to increase consumers’ awareness and preference for Florida-grown ornamental plants by investigating determinants of consumer purchasing behavior such as personal health and wellness benefits and environmental and economic benefits and by developing contextually relevant marketing strategies to increase plant sales” and another to support seminars on ornamental plants at the South Carolina Nursery and Landscape Association conference.

Visions of Sugar plums Dancing in Their Heads. The Specialty Crop Block Grant Program had a sweet tooth for sugar producers this year and gave the plum growers reason to dance. The California Dried Plum Board received taxpayer dollars “to enhance the market for” prunes in Japan and South Korea. Funding was provided for “developing and implementing a comprehensive social media marketing campaign” for the Vermont Maple Sugar Makers’ Association, “organizing and promoting a Maple Weekend including a recipe contest, tours of sugarhouses, restaurant participation, and promotional activities” with the Massachusetts Maple Producers Association, and partnering with the Michigan Maple Syrup Association “to increase the profitability of Michigan maple syrup producers by developing planting stock for new sugar bushes with a higher sap sugar”.

Global Santa Tracker. Just like Santa with his bag full of toys, the USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Program traveled around the world this year spreading joy, with more than ten grants paying for international junkets. These included conducting the “USA Pear Road Show” in China, sending representatives from the Oklahoma Pecan Growers Association to international tradeshows, bringing wine connoisseurs from China to Washington state, supporting the participation of Puerto Rican coffee producers in the Specialty Coffee Association of Europe trade shows, hosting seminars on “cooking with pistachios and prunes” in Japan and South Korea, putting on “meetings, product showcases, trade tastings, and educational seminars” for Oregon producers in Asia, facilitating a bean grower field day in Mexico, supporting attendance at domestic and international trade shows for Michigan groups and companies, and assisting with a “trade development mission” to Vietnam, the Philippines and Hong Kong.

Holiday Wine and Spirits. Santa may enjoy a glass of milk with cookies to get him through a busy evening of delivering holiday gifts and cheer, but the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program showed a preference for wine. The program funded 35 wine related projects this year. These included creating two smart phone apps to help “navigate to the next winery,” promoting wine trails and sales, improving wine tasting room satisfaction, and developing a West Virginia wine trail publication, and hosting a Wine Pavilion at the South Dakota State Fair.

Making a List and Checking It Twice. When making a list of duplicative government programs, the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program is sure to be on it at least twice since it mirrors in many ways at least two other USDA programs, the Market Access Program and Value Added Producer Grants. While not all of the projects funded by the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program were wasteful, nearly all were eligible for funding from other federal programs making the program unnecessary. The largest proportion of grants was provided for marketing and promotion, such as social media for strawberries and a YouTube video about the proper handling of watermelons.

The Partridge in a Pear Tree: The “USA Pear Road Show,” promoting pears as far away as China, was one of the two pear related projects funded this year by the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. While a flight to China was included, no partridge was actually involved in either project.

Information found for this “Your Tax Dollars @ Work” post was done by using a Google search. Information compiled from multiple public websites & media outlets.

What Is Your Idea Of Quality?

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Is there a true difference if something is made in the USA versus if something is made in China? Anyone that has handled a product made in China and compared it to something made in the USA knows the difference. Why can’t Chinese products usually compare in quality to those products made in the USA? Does it matter what you spend your hard earned money on? Do we live in a world where the term “disposable” has become everything we buy? Do we not buy anything for long term anymore? Is the price of something a considerable factor knowing you will have to replace it more often?

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This post is purely observational as my nieces (3 & 4) were visiting last night and they both had a small toy they were playing with. One of the trucks was about a year old and was bought at a dollar store. The other truck was a metal Tonka truck that was mine from the 70s and was given to the 4 y/o because she saw it and would not take no for an answer.  Both trucks were worn, beat up, but still their favorite toy of the moment for the choices available. The one from the dollar store was missing all of its parts and basically could only be called a truck simply because I saw it when it was brand new. That old Tonka truck (40+ years old) was still going strong, it still had all of its parts, and I know when she is done with it I will once again put it up on the shelf. Where as the truck from the dollar store with end up in the trash. The old Tonka truck has been through me, all three of my kids, and now my young nieces. I have no doubt it will remain the survivor.

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I suppose this is my point. Sometimes the quality you get is based on where the product was made. If you would have asked me when I was 5 if I thought the shiny new truck I was playing with would one day, 40 years later, be displayed on a shelf I would have told you “only if it can survive 100,000,000 more jumps off the roof of the shed into the sand box pit”. As time goes on I find that relics of the past are harder to come by because our past is being swallowed by the future. As technology moves forward kids don’t want trucks anymore. I would say my parents got their money’s worth back in the day.

Wishing Y’all A Happy Halloween 2013

Happy Halloween

The Sting Of The Scorpion Wishes The World A Happy Halloween

On this Halloween I want to pass on my wishes for everyone’s safety. There will be many of y’all going out tonight to do a variety activities around the country and around the world. So, in the tradition of Halloween, let’s see how everyone around the world partakes. Halloween is most popular in the United States and Canada. Halloween is the holiday when the most candy is sold and is second only to Christmas in terms of total sales. Interestingly trick or treating originated in Ireland. Obviously it is celebrated in different ways.

Austria

In Austria, some people will leave bread, water and a lighted lamp on the table before retiring on Halloween night. The reason for this is because it was once believed such items would welcome the dead souls back to earth on a night which for the Austrians was considered to be brimming with strong cosmic energies.

Belgium

The Belgians believe that it is unlucky for a black cat to cross once’s path and also unlucky if it should enter a home or travel on a ship. The custom in Belgium on Halloween night is to light candles in memory of dead relatives.

Canada

Modern Halloween celebrations in Canada began with the arrival of Scottish and Irish immigrants in the 1800s. Jack O’Lanterns are carved and the festivities include parties, trick-or-treating and the decorating of homes with pumpkins and corn stalks.

China

In China, the Halloween festival is known as Teng Chieh. Food and water are placed in front of photographs of family members who have departed while bondires and lanterns are lit in order to light the paths of the spirits as they travel the earth on Haloween night. Worshippers in Buddhist temples fashion “boats of the law” from paper, some of which are very large, which are then burned in the evening hours. The purpose of this custom is twofold: as a remembrance of the dead and in order to free the spirits of the “pretas” in order that they might ascend to heaven. “Pretas” are the spirits of those who died as a result of an accident or drowning and whose bodies were consequently never buried. The presence of “pretas” among the living is thought by the Chinese to be dangerous. Under the guidance of Buddhist temples, societies are formed to carry out ceremonies for the “pretas,” which includes the lighting of lanterns. Monks are invited to recite sacred verses and offerings of fruit are presented.

Czechoslovakia

In Czechoslovakia, chairs are placed by the fireside on Halloween night. There is one chair for each living family member and one for each family member’s sprit.

England

At one time, English children made “punkies” out of large beetroots, upon which they carved a design of their choice. Then, they would carry their “punkies” through the streets while singing the “Punkie Night Song” as they knocked on doors and asked for money. In some rural areas, turnip lanterns were placed on gateposts to protect homes from the spirits who roamed on Halloween night. Another custom was to toss objects such as stones, vegetables and nuts into a bonfire to frighten away the spirits. These symbolic sacrifices were also employed as fortune-telling tools. If a pebble thrown into the flames at night was no longer visible in the morning, then it was believed that the person who tossed the pebble would not survive another year. If nuts tossed into the blaze by young lovers then exploded, it signified a quarrelsome marriage. For the most part however, the English ceased celebrating Halloween with the spread of Martin Luther’s Protestant Reformation. Since followers of the new religion did not believe in Saints, they saw no reason to celebrate the Eve of All Saints’ Day. However, in recent years, the American “trick or treating” custom, together with the donning of costumes for going door-to-door, has become a relatively popular past-time among English children at Halloween, although many of the adults (particularly the older generations) have little idea as to why they are being asked for sweets and are usually ill-prepared to accommodate their small and hopeful callers.

France

Unlike most nations of the world, Halloween is not celebrated by the French in order to honor the dead and departed ancestors. It is regarded as an “American” holiday in France and was virtually unknown in the country until around 1996.

Germany

In Germany, the people put away their knives on Halloween night. The reason for this is because they do not want to risk harm befalling the returning spirits.

Hong Kong

The Halloween celebration in Hong Kong is known as “Yue Lan” (Festival of the Hungry Ghosts) and is a time when it is believed that spirits roam the world for twenty-four hours. Some people burn pictures of fruit or money at this time, believing these images would reach the spirit world and bring comfort to the ghosts.

Ireland

In Ireland, believed to be the birthplace of Halloween, the tradition is still celebrated as much as it is in the United States. In rural areas, bonfires are lit as they were in the days of the Celts and children dress up in costumes to spend the evening “trick-or-treating” in their neighborhoods. After the visiting, most people attend parties with neighbors and friends. At these parties, many games are played, including “snap-apple,” in which an apple on a string is tied to a doorframe or tree, and players attempt to take a bite out of the suspended apple. In addition to bobbing for apples, parents often arrange treasure hunts with sweets or pastries as the “treasure.” The Irish also play a card game where cards are laid face-down on a table with sweets or coins beneath them. When a child selects a card, he or she receives whatever prize might be found there. A traditional food is eaten on Halloween called “barnbrack.” This is a type of fruitcake which can be baked at home or store-bought. A muslin-wrapped treat is baked inside the cake which, so it is said, can foretell the future of the one who finds it. If the prize is a ring, then that person will soon be wed and a piece of straw means a prosperous year is forthcoming. Children are also known to play tricks upon their neighbors on Halloween night. One of which is known as “knock-a-dolly,” where children knock on the doors of their neighbors but then run away before the door is opened.

Japan

The Japanese celebrate the “Obon Festival” (also known as “Matsuri” or “Urabon”) which is similar to Halloween festivities in that it is dedicated to the spirits of ancestors. Special foods are prepared and bright red lanterns are hung everywhere. Candles are lit and placed into lanterns which are then set afloat on rivers and seas. During the “Obon Festival,” a fire is lit every night in order to show the ancestors where their families might be found. “Obon” is one of the wo main occasions during the Japanese year when the dead are believed to return to their birthplaces. Memorial stones are cleaned and community dances performed. The “Obon Festival” takes place during July or August.

Korea

In Korea, the festival similar to Halloween is known as “Chusok.” It is at this time that families thank their ancestors for the fruits of their labor. The family pays respect to these ancestors by visiting their tombs and making offerings of rice and fruits. The “Chusok” festival takes place in the month of August.

Mexico, Latin America And Spain

Among Spanish-speaking nations, Halloween is known as “El Dia de los Muertos.” It is a joyous and happy holiday…a time to remember friends and family who have died. Officially commemorated on November 2 (All Souls’ Day), the three-day celebration actually begins on the evening of October 31. Designed to honor the dead who are believed to return to their homes on Halloween, many families construct an altar in their home and decorate it with candy, flowers, photographs, fresh water and samples of the deceased’s favorite foods and drinks. Frequently, a basin and towel are left out in order that the spirit can wash prior to indulging in the feast. Candles are incense are burned to help the departed find his or her way home. Relatives also tidy the gravesites of deceased family members, including snipping weeds, making repairs and painting. The grave is then adorned with flowers, wreaths or paper streamers. Often, a live person is placed inside a coffin which is then paraded through the streets while vendors toss fruit, flowers and candies into the casket. On November 2, relatives gather at the gravesite to picnic and reminisce. Some of these gatherings may even include tequila and a mariachi band although American Halloween customs are gradually taking over this celebration. In Mexico during the Autumn, countless numbers of Monarch butterflies return to the shelter of Mexico’s oyamel fir trees. It was the belief of the Aztecs that these butterflies bore the spirits of dead ancestors.

Sweden

In Sweden, Halloween is known as “Alla Helgons Dag” and is celebrated from October 31 until November 6. As with many other holidays, “Alla Helgons Dag” has an eve which is either celebrated or becomes a shortened working day. The Friday prior to All Saint’s Day is a short day for universities while school-age children are given a day of vacation.

United States

Halloween is usually celebrated amongst family, friends and, sometimes, co-workers. However, some areas hold large community events. Parties and other events may be planned on October 31 or in the weekends before and after this date. Adults may celebrate by watching horror films, holding costume parties or creating haunted houses or graveyards. Many children dress up in fancy costumes and visit other homes in the neighborhood. At each house, they demand sweets, snacks or a small gift. If they do not get this, they threaten to do some harm to the inhabitants of the house. This is known as playing ‘trick-or-treat’ and is supposed to happen in a friendly spirit, with no nasty or mean tricks being carried out. However, if your children take part, it is important to accompany them and to check their ‘treats’ to make sure they are safe to eat or play with. Some families carve lanterns with ‘scary’ faces out of pumpkins or other vegetables or decorate their homes and gardens in Halloween style. These were traditionally intended to ward off evil spirits. If you are at home on Halloween, it is a good idea to have a bowl of small presents or sweets to offer to anyone who knocks on your door. This will help you to please the little spirits in your neighborhood!

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The Sting Of The Scorpion Wishes The World A Happy Halloween