Unsafe Cola in Nigeria

In Nigeria, two half-full cans of Sprite have heated a lawsuit. The cans were discovered amid tension from the Nigerian people, who have claimed that Coca-Cola (the owners of Sprite) is putting their health at risk. Coca-Cola and the Nigerian Bottling Company (NBC) have been scrutinized for unsafe and unhealthy bottling practices. The issue was filed with the Consumer Protection Council (CPC), and neither Coca-Cola, nor NBC appeared when requested. This failure to appear is punishable by jail time, but it is unknown who would go to prison.

The half-full cans may sound petty, but the contents had evaporated. This means the product is not safely sealed and may grow mold or bacteria. Other complaints include rusty bottle tops, rusted interior linings, and foreign materials in the soda. The issue is one of health and a sanitary bottling process, which was why it was reported to the CPC.

However, Coke refused to even allow officials to inspect their bottling practices. The people of Nigeria have received this news and latest turn of events with outrage. They believe that Coke sees them as an inferior country, and bears no responsibility for their safety in consuming their products.

In Nigeria, Coca-Cola owns over 8 different brands, not including all of the diet varieties and optional flavors. Coke has a huge interest in Africa and has ongoing clean water campaigns for different regions. They produce an annual sustainability report, to try and implement a new awareness each year for environmental actions and workplace rights.

They do have a history of actions contrary to this. They have been taken to court for unsafe working conditions, alleged use of hit-men, bribery, and other strange things. Many suits have been settled out of court or been thrown out due to lack of evidence.

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The 2016 Olympics

The next summer Olympic games will be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the same country as the 2014 World Cup. There are some things that that we now know about Brazil which may surface in 2016 and these are not exactly positive, but goal to overcome.

Prostitution is legal if you are over 18. There was a crackdown on child prostitution right before the World Cup, but this seems like it it should have constant pressure anyway. I don’t know how many athletes will try this out because there is a rumor that the AIDS rate is pretty high.

Many people are poor in brazil. At the world cup, some people were forced from their homes to make room for the event. Working conditions are not what they are in 1st world countries, and they get paid poorly despite the revenue coming into the country.

There was also a ticket scandal, where a member of FIFA was scalping tickets. There are so many different things going on simultaneously at the Olympics, and his might be something to look out for.

Going forward, all of these issues should be fixed, and the Olympics would be just about the games! There are problems in the past that Rio can learn from, and I think they will. It will give us time to focus on what we enjoy about competition and sport.

There are 3 “new” sports for 2016: golf, rugby, and kitesurfing. Golf and rugby were once Olympic sports and kitesurfing is supposed to replace wind surfing and be included in the sailing division.

This will be an exciting time for the world to see the best that it has to offer. The sheer endurance, strength, concentration, determination, and patriotism will be fascinating. Hopefully, the scandals will not eclipse all of this.

Good Tea is Hard to Find

I was an avid coffee drinker, but after puking my guts out from a caffeine overdose, I quit pretty quickly. I came across tea and its multiple types completely by accident. I discovered teas for indigestion, relaxation, mental acuity, and unique flavor. I needed to find the best, and I sampled most of everything I came across. Here is my experience that may just help you with your well being, and that is not just a line of stupid hippie voodoo.

The Tea Container

Tea bags come in types of fabric, blends of paper, and even plastic. Stay away from the plastic. Some people claim that there is no harm because the FDA said so. That would be the same FDA that approved all those medications that have been recalled for their dangerous side effects, you know what I am talking about, just watch TV. Plastic will leach chemicals like BPA into your tea. As for the other two, the package will not usually list what it is, but you can taste it. The NOW Foods tea left a dusty taste because of their choice of tea bag. Loose leaf (no tea bag) needs a stainless steel or copper tea ball to steep. Aluminum leaves a strange taste and it has been proven that too much is bad for your nervous system

Ingredients

This might seem like an obvious thing from the label on the package, but turn the box over and look and the ingredients. If you see “natural and artificial flavors,” put the box back. Natural cherry flavor and cherries are entirely different things.

There are real ingredients that can help you. Ginger, peppermint, and licorice have been proven to help an upset stomach or indigestion; green, black, and white tea have caffeine. Most companies have some info on the box.

What is the Best?

I like Numi Tea the most! They have some rather unique flavors, the freshest taste, and even a blooming tea that I am dying to try. For herbal teas, Numi still has some good choices, but Alvita has an incredible variety of teas that I never knew were teas.

You won’t find your average Earl Grey or Oolong with these two companies, but you will find something exquisite (maybe a chocolate Earl Grey from Numi?) that you will come back for. I like them both, but Numi I like a bit more. Try them both and see which one is your cup of tea.

Dad-again is… Mr. Mom (updated)

See the bottom of the post for the new humble-pie update!

I have a job that keeps me away from home and isolated in a large warehouse. Sometimes I get home and the kids are already asleep, and when I get up for work the next day, I get to see them sleeping and whisper a good-by. After another long day, it has been about 30 hours since I have seen my kids, and I haven’t even been away traveling on business! My days off are spent writing and playing with the kids. Note that house-work is not on my list. My work hours sightly improved while my wife was pregnant. When she got closer to having the baby I helped when I needed to, but I was not overly helpful.

The Baby Is HERE!

My wife went into labor last week and we now have a happy baby girl! I was able to take off work to help around the house. Actually, all that stuff I don’t normally do, I now have to do. In my head, it seemed like I was going to have plenty of time for all of that stuff, and have time to spare. I learned more than I thought in a short amount of time.

I Do Everything Wrong

I soon learned that I needed a method and a schedule to follow for all the chores. I didn’t know what all the chores actually were, so I did what I thought was necessary. I did it all “wrong” and not in the right order? Do not ask me to explain this, I don’t care if it was wrong, everything got clean and no one got hurt. Well, some of the dishes were not clean and I got yelled at for it, but if she ignore dishes, I can ignore dishes… right?

I am an Amazing Cook!

Cooking dinner was, and is, one of the more annoying tasks. I like cooking, I just don’t like cooking when I am tired and the kids are asking when it is going to be done. I found myself tossing crackers or carrots to the kids like birdseed to pigeons, to hold them at bay. When it was all ready, it was the best received dinner. “You cook good daddy,” and “Oh! This tastes great” and “Daddy! I DON’T WANT EGGS!!! WHY DID YOU GIVE ME EGGS!?!?” After everyone is done eating is the perfect time to clean up, not the next morning. I also learned how to clean as I go.

Bed Time and Getting up for School

I can bathe two kids in less than 20 minutes, my wife, about an hour. The whole sympathy factor is not available. Soap, scrub, rinse, dry–done! I must admit, they do not enjoy bath time as much, but they have their teeth brushed and are in bed on time. I rouse my oldest for school gently and make her walk and dress herself. I was told to carry and dress her because she was tired and sleepy in the morning. She now knows the routine and she won’t ask me to pick her up. She is more alert and I have to constantly remind her to not sing that Frozen song or she will wake her mother and new baby sister.

Would I do This Again?

Heck yah! I really don’t want to go back to work. I think I am doing a pretty decent job, and I have found some methods to become more efficient and organized. I have also noted some areas that need modification/ improvement, like the laundry room and the closets. I really like being home and really like my family.

The Humble-Pie Update

Well, I was going to try and wait a week before I posted this, but I couldn’t wait. I am here to say that I am not the bad ass I thought I was. It took me 2 days to realize that my wife was doing laundry behind my back. I was not able to keep up and my daughter still needed cloths for school.

At the end of the day I would miss my kids like I hadn’t seen them. This confused me, and my lovely wife said, “It is because you left them out of your day.” I had brought my fast paced work life home, and it did not include children. I observed my wife watching a movie, folding cloths, and talking to the children at the same time. I cannot do that.

I let the house get messy, and clean what the wife needs most of the time. I can’t do her job the way she can and don’t think I have the patients to do that anyway. By the end of the week I wanted to punch something, but I have never seen her lose patients.

A home makers job is hard. There is no pay. No one thanks you for your sacrifice. You tend the lives around you and nurture their growth. At the end of the day you are rewarded with exhaustion and kids coming into your bed with bad dreams. I am not man enough to do this job, so I will do what I can and support her.

Change Your Clock to Save Energy?

Daylight savings time has been with us through most of our history. The familiar reason is that we do this because it helps us save energy and farmers like losing an hour of sleep when they get up to milk the cows. Most countries participate in a time change based on the premise of energy reduction, but there are a few rebels who get along just fine without twisting their clocks into knots. If you have noticed that this is a global bi-annual pastime, you may think that there is some real evidence and study to prove that this whole time change thing is really worth all the wacky trouble.

In the U.S.A., the law is part of the Energy Policy Act that even has some allowance of penalty for not jumping off the bridge like everyone else, except for Arizona and a handful of others. This whole idea of daylight savings was made law back in the early 1900’s, and the days for springing forward and falling back were shuffled around and toyed with until the late 70’s and again in 2005. Each time the government changes the date for a time change, they have to produce a report that qualifies their decision.

I could not find those reports but I did find other studies, like this one here, that show how ineffective the whole DLS theory really is. The most interesting one I came across was from here, where the daylight savings mess is really about making money off of you. There is more evidence that dumblight savings actually increases your carbon emissions and causes more pollution than having one unadulterated time.

I guess the environment doesn’t really lobby for itself very well. People tried to tell the sun when to rise and when the morning should come, but it didn’t listen. I think we should follow the sun on this one and look for a brighter day without the clock mangling.

The Real Difference In Guitar Power Tubes

Guitar amps that use tubes are still great, and even after all these years, digital modeling amps still emulate the character that these amps possess. After a while these tubes start to “lose” their sound and then it is time to replace them. There are many opinions on which tubes are best and have the greatest tone, but it is not really that complicated. There are three basic tube types (by purpose) that an amp has and I will go over each one, its alternatives, and its tonal benefits. This will go much faster than you would expect.

Preamp Tubes

The preamp tubes are the first tubes in the electrical signal path. These are the smallest tubes in the amp and are technically two conjoined tubes, a dual triode. Most common is the 12AX7, alternatives are the 12AU7, the 12AY7, and some other 12**7 tubes. They last longer than the power tubes so you won’t need replace these as often. Their differences can be explained best here.

For guitar and bass, I would stick with the 12AX7, it is easier to find since it comes standard on everything! You might think the alternatives would be a great candidate for a reverb channel or an effects loop, but no one would really notice a difference. If anything, you might have to convince yourself that it was worth the experiment.

Power Tubes

This is what most people look for. These are usually the first to fail and the subject of much argument. Common types are 6L6, EL34, 6V6, KT88, EL84, and KT66. The first two in the list are in 90% of all amps, and bass amps usually go for the KT types. All have pentode sockets, with the exception of the EL84. You should only get the type your amp needs, or you can damage your amp. For example, if you are replacing KT88 tubes with 6V6 tubes and don’t have the ability to adjust the voltage, you may melt something.

These tubes are very voltage dependent and their output differences are mistaken for tonal variation. Buying  matched sets is highly recommended if your amp has multiple sockets for power tubes. These tubes must be biased to work properly, that means they have to have their voltage “regulated” by a little knob so thy can be used to their full or desired potential. When the voltage is low, they are said to be “running cold”, and when the voltage is high, they are said to be “running hot.”

Rectifier Tubes

These tubes are the not something you want to do wrong. Replace these with the same type, or if you want to really experiment, check this site here for some basic info, and here for the hard data. If you are changing to some Webber Copper Caps, like I did, then use something comparable.

The rectifier tube can change the feel of your amp, but as I was told by an amp builder– once you crank the amp to make it loud, the whole “sag” thing kind of disappears because the voltage hitting the tube is so constant.

A Note on Brands and Different Manufacturers

You are going to see people say that JJ tubes are the best, and that Ruby Tubes have the best tone, some say that the NOS (New Old Stock) is the way to go. Before you dredge the forums and tear your hair out at Ampage looking for a solid answer to which tube brand sounds the best, ask yourself this question: which sounds better? A Sylvania light bulb or a Phillips light bulb?

Tubes are basically designed to do the same thing, so don’t expect one brand to eclipse the other in terms of tone and sound quality. They all are designing their tubes for the same voltage requirements, not tone. “But cathode bias is the best on a XYZ tube!” No. Unless you have a magic ear, you wont hear it. My friend swapped out all of his Sovtek tubes on his Laney VH100R with JJ tubes because he heard they had great tone. When he got them all in, it sounded terrible because it needed to be rebiased and he had a bad 12AX7. Once he had it all up an running, it sounded exactly the same! Let me end with this, tubes are designed for voltage, not tone.