​NEW IN THE CHOCOLATE ROOM.

BLUEBERRY MUFFIN MIX. A jar of my blueberry muffin mix makes 12 – 2″ blueberry muffins or 6 – 4″ muffins. Everything is in the jar, including the blueberries! You just add water. Have you ever read the ingredients on supermarket blueberry products? Most contain no blueberries at all! Pillsbury’s Blueberry Muffin Mix says on the front of the package ‘imitation blueberries, artificially flavored.’ I don’t know what their imitation blueberries are made out of. The ingredients list on the back of the package contains a long list of chemicals. I don’t know what these chemicals are or what they do, but there are no blueberries on the list. Smucker’s Blueberry Waffles contain ‘flavored blueberry bits’, but blueberries are definitely not one of the ingredients in Smucker’s ‘flavored blueberry bits.’ Other products I found at Safeway that contain no blueberries: Krusteaz Blueberry Pancake Mix, Kellogg’s Blueberry Cereal Bars, and Jiffy Blueberry Muffin Mix. Some packages of Betty Crocker’s Blueberry Muffin Mix did contain blueberries, but other did not. You have to read the ingredients label with that brand. Safeway also had blueberry pies, blueberry tarts, and blueberry yogurt with no blueberries in them. All of these products had pictures of the product on the front of the package, and you can clearly see what appear to be real blueberries. Look at the picture below of Krusteaz Blueberry Pancake Mix. They certainly look like real blueberries, don’t they? I understand why food processors use imitation blueberries. Real blueberries are expensive. Fake blueberries are cheap. Duh. My blueberry muffin mix contains real blueberries from Quebec. No fake blueberries. No imitation blueberry flavor. No blue food color. The blueberries from Quebec tasted the best of all the ones I sampled. Why not give it a try?

 

‘YOUR CALL IS VERY IMPORTANT TO US.’

I find it enormously frustrating, as you probably do too, when I call a company and want to speak to a real person abut instead get a robotic voice that cannot solve my problem or answer my question, but will not allow me to speak to a real person. There are some things you can do about this. First, try the 2 easy things first. First, say the words ‘customer service’ or ‘operator’, perhaps repeatedly. That sometimes works. Second, punch ‘0’ on your keypad. That sometimes works too. If those things don’t work, go to Plan B. There are several web sites that tell you the phone numbers at companies that go directly to a live person, bypassing the robot. The 2 biggies in this field are Get A Human and Dial A Human. Neither web site charges a fee or requires you to set up an account with them. Both also have free apps for Android and iPhone users.

I am not sure what is the most annoying thing that robotic voices tell me when I call a business. Here are my top contenders.

‘Your call is very important to us.’ If my call was really very important to you, then you would have a real live person would answer my call instead of a robot, and your robot would allow me to speak to a real person upon my request.

‘Please listen carefully as our menu options have changed.’ Nobody remembers or writes down what your menu options were the last time they called, so why are you telling me this?

‘We are now experiencing unusually heavy call volume.’ There are companies that always say this whenever I call them. How can they be having unusually heavy call volume all the time?

‘Would you care to answer a brief survey after you finish your call?’ The only people who answer ‘Yes’ to this question are people who want to complain – and they are complaining to a robot.

‘We are open from 9AM to 5PM. For your convenience, we are now closed.’ For my convenience you are now closed? For MY convenience you are closed? Obviously, it would be more convenient for me if you were open and answering my phone call!

​SHOULD THE HASTINGS COLLEGE OF THE LAW BE RENAMED?

Generally, I don’t support renaming long-established institutions for ​
​political reasons; however, some institutions are named for people who did things that were so terrible that they should be renamed. ​

​ For decades, the Hastings College of the Law was the principle law school of the University of California. It is still the largest and most prestigious law school in San Francisco. The college was created by Serranus Clinton Hastings, the first Chief Justice of California. He was a very wealthy man. Hastings donated $100,000 in cash to build the college, a tremendous amount of money in the 1870s.

 

While Serranus Hastings was a very competent judge​
​, a lot of people want to rename the law school that bears his name because of his hunting practices. Hastings didn’t hunt bears or wolves or deer or mountain lions. He hunted Indians. In the 1850s, Hastings organized and led Indian hunting parties throughout Northern California. These hunting parties were organized for sport and financed by Hastings himself. Complete Indian tribes were exterminated by Hastings and his friends. After killing everyone in a tribe, Hastings and his friends would take home souvenirs of the hunt, including the scalps of the Indians that they had just murdered. These Indian hunting parties had the tacit support of a large number of white people in California. After gold was discovered, the Indians were in the way of the miners, and even worse, the Indians had land rights to the places where there was gold. Once the Indians in an area were completely wiped out, they couldn’t file land claims or mining rights.​
​ For a long time, Native American organizations and tribes throughout California have argued that the Hasting College of the Law should be renamed​
​, and I’m on their side.​
​​

 

GOOD FURNITURE.

Fifty years ago, my father Allen Tarses and his brother Sol owned a furniture store in Baltimore, Maryland called the North Company. Most of the furniture they sold was of low quality. I remember that my father used to tell people: “The only really good piece of furniture that most people ever buy in their lifetime is a coffin. Then they bury it in the ground a few days later.” That sounds funny, but it’s true! None of the furniture in most people’s homes is made as well as the average coffin.  Coffins are usually made out of wood or metal. Coffins that are made out of wood are usually made out of solid hardwood, like oak or maple, not like Ikea furniture, much of which is just veneer over particle board. The joinery in coffins is typically of the very best quality as well, with dovetail joints. Coffins that are made out of metal are usually made out of brass or stainless steel. The finishes, paint, and varnishes are also top quality, and the inside of coffins are lined with silk. Now tell me, is the furniture in your house made as well as the coffins I just described? Probably not. You see, my father was right. It was true about coffins back then, and is still true today. There is nothing in the home of the average American that is made as well as the coffins they buy. Then they bury these coffins in the ground 1 or 2 days later, never be seen again. Doesn’t it seem that there is something odd about that? It wasn’t always this way. Until the 20th Century, only rich and famous people were buried in expensive or professionally made coffins. Nearly everybody else was buried in simple pine boxes or just put in the ground wrapped in a simple piece of cloth.

FRIVOLOUS LAWSUITS. (At least I think these lawsuits are frivolous.)

HILTON HEAD COCKTAIL NAPKINS. Take a look at the 2 photos below. The first photo is of a cocktail napkin used at the bars at Omni’s Hilton Head Island Resort in South Carolina. The second photo is a close-up of the napkin showing the words ‘CAUTION. Not to be used for navigation’ in small type printed on it. (You can probably already guess what happened.) A man drinking at a hotel bar took one of their cocktail napkins back to his boat with him. The image on the napkin is of an antique map of Hilton Head Island. The man (I don’t know how sober he was) tried navigating his boat through the shallows near the island using the map on the cocktail napkin as his guide. The boat crashed onto a rock, completely destroying the boat. The man sued the hotel on the grounds that the map failed to show the rock that he crashed onto. The hotel settled with the man before the case went to trial. Now the hotel prints ‘CAUTION. Not to be used for navigation’ on their cocktail napkins. If you were on the jury, how would you have ruled in this case? Would you have awarded any money to the boat owner?