WTF is “Natural Flavor”?

Checking out the pantry, I discovered a jar of Planters Five Alarm Chili natural flavor with other natual flavor Dry Roasted Peanuts.  Such an interesting byline to put on the front label of your product.   Now I’m wondering, wtf is natural flavor anyway?… and why are they mixing it with “other natural flavor”?   Here are the labels: 

So, on the back of the label under ingredients:

They have things you would probably expect: peanuts, sea salt, brown sugar, dried onion, dried chili pepper, dried garlic and dried tomato.  But, you won’t find them in that order.

They sprinkle in things that sometimes seem silly, for example: cornstarch and modified cornstarch..  are they disguising their secret ingredient in corn starch?

There are those things I only vaguely understand their purpose: gelatin, dried corn syrup, and gum arabic.

Things I completely don’t get, such as: maltodextrin and autolyzed yeast.

Then, there are these two seemingly intentionally vague phrases to describe ingredients: spices and natural flavor.

Well, I don’t see the “other natural flavor”.  Why is it on the front, and what is natural flavor.    I wonder what other people think.  I”m going to find out and come back to this.

Continue reading WTF is “Natural Flavor”?

Where DVDs Go to Die: Writable DVDs Often Don’t Disclose Life Expecentancies

Let’s face it – ever since the advent of the digital camera, you got a little bit trigger happy. Why take only 1 picture of the cheesy statue you saw on the family road trip when you could take 40? Of course you need to take a picture every day of your baby’s growth for the first year (and, come on, you know it is going to take at least 5 snap shots to get it right). Like most consumers, eventually you realized you don’t have time to go through every picture, and don’t want to throw them away – so how do you store them?

Many consumers have turned to the now almost ubiquitous writable and rewritable DVD technology (DVD-R, DVD+R, DVD-RW, DVD+RW and DVD-RAM) to store these massive quantities of images, songs, family movies, documents and whatever else they are trying to clear from their desktops, phones, and cameras. But unfortunately, many don’t realize that these storage devices don’t offer perfect protection.

So, How Long Do DVDs Last?
I wish that we could give an exact number, but unfortunately there is a huge range. Let’s start with those factors that can impact the life expectancy of a writable or rewritable DVD.

  • Type of Disc: Writable discs tend to last longer the rewritable
  • Manufacturing Quality: Buying the cheapest disk might mean a shorter life span
  • Condition of Disc Before Recording: How clean was the disc? Had it already been sitting on a shelf for 3 years when you got it? Unrecorded, the shelf life of many dvds is only 5 to 10 years.
  • Quality of Recording: Was the disc professionally recorded, or did you burn it on your home computer without error checking?
  • Handling and Maintenance: Has this disc been stored away for safe keeping, or have you been using it in your car stereo?
  • Environmental Concern: Has this disc been sitting in your air conditioned home or stuffed in a box in the garage? Heat and humidity can wreak havoc on optical storage

Given all of this, what is the real life expectancy of a DVD? Well, manufacturers would like you to believe that a DVDR will last you anywhere from 30 to 100 years while DVDRws will last up to 30 years! Well, the good folks at have looked a little more closely (if you haven’t guessed, archiving is pretty important to them). Their “experiential life expectancy” which is a measurement of how long the storage is still readable is closer to 2 to 5 years.

How Do I Make My DVDs Last Longer?
There are several steps you can take to make the disc last as long as possible

  • Only handle the disc by the outer edge and center ring. Never touch the shiny surface either before or after recording.
  • Store at 62 to 70 degrees Farenheight and 35 to 50% relative humidity. Do not allow the temperature to fluctuate more than 2 degrees or humidity more than 5%
  • Store them in their specific “jewel case”
  • Store the “jewel cases” in plastic or steel containers

The best solution, though, is to have multiple back up plans and semi-annually transferring data to new discs while keeping the old discs as copies. There is safety in redundancy.


This guest post was provided by a staff writer at

Sir Ken Robinson on Education

A while back I started writing an opinion piece regarding education… I never quite finished it. My overall point in the piece was that our current education system is so ineffective that it literally makes our children less intelligent when it comes to their ability to learn and retain useful information. Moreover, it creates an environment in which it becomes practically impossible for a child to discover their passion in a manner that is healthy or conducive for expansion of that passion.

Please watch this video, as Sir Ken Robinson does an exceptionally great job of making a similar point… albeit in a way far superior to my stream of conscious rantings.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Playing Guitar on a Sat

I’ve slacked on my hobby of playing guitar (can you slack on a hobby?)… and decided to spend some time this morning playing around with the digital loop pedal and drum machine…   Put together a little jam, and then recorded it onto my phone.   The sound quality is crappy,  maybe I’ll find some software on the cheap that will let me put the tracks together properly and cut out all of the crappy notes.

Here’s the raw cut, no polish:

Bought a Harley

I bought a Harley a week or so ago and so far, I love it.  It’s a 2008 Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200 Low with a few custom add-ons:  Vance & Hines slip on pipes, fairing, touring sundowner seat, and chrome crash bars.    Rides great, feels great, sounds great, looks great.. etc.   Definitely not going to be taking on any passengers for a while, as I’m not down with the responsibility, and I’m reminded by everyone (except my parents) that I’m going crazy for having bought it.   I think I may have finally bought something that will convince my dad to come down and visit 🙂

Indoor Rock-Climbing in Raleigh Last Weekend

I went rock-climbing last weekend at Vertical Edge… AWESOME.   Definitely can’t wait to go back.   It is awesome to be a situation where the only limitation is yourself.. You see other people doing an orange wall with ease, and you’re standing there on a green, clinging to the wall, feeling stuck, with no idea on which direction you should take… and then BAM!  it hits you to try something a little bit differently, and it makes all the difference in the world.   Can’t wait to get some gear and hit a real wall! The fortunate thing about Vertical Edge is that I can belay some kids for a few hours on the weekends, and then I get a free pass for a couple of days of climbing…. Guess what I’ll be doing this weekend ?

A buddy of mine (drummer in this video – sent me a video of this guy who does free climbing and when he gets to the top, he base jumps…   definitely look forward to the day that I have the hutzpah to try it out.

dean potter from cl1 on Vimeo.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Can someone please clean up the Gulf already?

I realize that it’s difficult to accept responsibility sometimes, but its an achievement we all have to face at some point in our lives.  Until this mess is stopped and cleaned up, it doesn’t matter who’s fault it is… really.  Just fix it, pay the bills, the fines, the PR, etc…  and if it was the fault of Haliburton, or Joe Plumber, or whomever, you can take them to civil court and try to get your money back.   In the meantime, clean up the mess..  Oh, and thanks for not paying in money in US taxes last year, that was awesome… Oh, and thanks for raising gas prices right now even though the price for a barrel of oil is dropping.. Oh, and stop being so lame.

Here are a couple of interesting notes from the web:

10 Things You Don’t Want To, but should, Know about the BP Oil Spill – Very informative article!

courtesy of

Here is a great video by Rachel Maddow of MSNBC talking about the unfortunate coincidences between this oil spill and oil spills in history: