It’s different, he said.

Good different or bad different? I queried curiously.

Just different. I don’t know why you had to make chocolate cake different.

I don’t know either. Because I could? Because I was curious and wanted to see what would happen if I baked a cake with S’mores flavored porter as the liquid? Because I get bored easily and even though chocolate cake is great, what else can I do to it? I have made it before with a can of cherries instead of the water the box mix calls for, and mmmm….

But it’s not about the cake (although I’ll share the full recipe below), it’s about how we, as people, react to change and differences. We say we want fresh! new! original! takes on life – from food, to entertainment, to workplaces. But when we are confronted by change, often our first reaction is to… well, let me tell a story on my son. The Little Man grew up in a household where the parents loved to cook, and experiment with food, and mostly it turned out more than just edible. So you’d think that now, at nearly-teen age, he’d be willing to attempt something especially if a trusted adult is urging him to give it a go. We took him to a Filipino-Vietnamese place (Dai Trang, in West Chester OH, if you’re nearby. Excellent food) and there were, ah… insufficient photos on the menu for him. Even with me translating unfamiliar terms to him, and assuring him that this dish is like another dish we both know he likes, he wasn’t gonna do it. Nope, nope, nope! Adults are no better at confronting the unfamiliar. They may not pitch a fit, but it’s in there, controlled, that same crossed arms and mulish expression. Don’t make them try out an open-concept office and like it. Nope, nope, nope.

There are good reasons humans don’t care for change. Open concept offices might sound like they will be great for collaboration and innovation, but in reality they just make the company look like it’s too cheap to pay for office space, and work is hard to accomplish with no way to close a door and focus just on what’s at hand. Back in the days of yore, when hunters had to come home with meat, or children would starve (because infanticide was totally a thing, since infants could be replaced. And it’s still done, because babies aren’t really human in some people’s eyes. But that’s another post), being hyper aware of their environments and noting changes as threatening was what made for a successful – and surviving – hunter. Or to put it in modern terms: how often do you commute home on autopilot? You leave work, walk out to the car, get in, and suddenly you’re pulling into your own driveway. What happened on the way home? Unless there was a change, something different about the traffic, you might not be able to remember. Because the same routine is easy.

Change is hard. Sudden significant change can be traumatic, and leave you wary of trying change again. I’m reminded of the cliché about people who lived through the Depression being hoarders. Dammit, that makes sense! It’s not just that they couldn’t afford stuff, it’s that stuff wasn’t being made, and might not be available again. Ever. Think about that. We live in a disposable world. Cell phones would have been the stuff of science fiction to my great grandmothers (although both lived to see them if not use them personally) but we expect – not just want, but expect to have a new one every other year if not more often. Electricity, indoor plumbing, supermarkets, a man on the moon, a roadster to the stars… Great-Grandma Ella, Grandma LaVaughn, Mom, Me, and my daughter (pick one!). That’s not a lot of time for the human condition to have changed radically. I was raised on the oral traditions of my grandmother and great-grandmother (maternal side, some on paternal as well although that was a whole ‘nother can of worms) so I have a direct connection back to that time. Humans, not being animals, have a long memory – longer than our genes, ironically. Genetic adaptations can start to appear in less time than my oral tradition taken directly from the mouths of my ancestresses has been around. Or even my daughter, who spent time with her great-great grandmother before we lost her to the inexorable tides of time.

So it should not surprise me that my husband reacted with suspicion to the concept of a different chocolate cake, much less a Dirt Cake with this cake, plus cheesecake pudding, and gummy worms in it. When you’ve eaten what was put in front of you by the Army, because you had to eat it because you had to have the calories or else, you might not like the idea of new foods. I’m lucky enough that he’s willing to follow me into weird restaurants and to taste before saying nope! but not everyone is like that. Not everyone is willing to admit that possibly their world view is too narrow, and doing small things like eating cake made with beer, or trying out that nifty Korean restaurant, might start to broaden their horizons and show them that different can be good. Sure, different can be bad. Change simply for novelty’s sake can be really awful. I’ve tasted some of those disasters, and I don’t mean the ones I’ve made in my kitchen. Some were produced for the mass market and *shudder* fortunately didn’t catch on. Pretty sure we can all name at least one of those. Wandering outside the kitchen (why would you do that? Women belong in the kitchen. Men belong in the kitchen, as do children, and a dog to clean up spills, and… the kitchen is where food happens!) the same is true with life overall. Being willing to accept change is a vital part of succeeding in the workplace. I walked into work after vacation, was handed a crisis, and rolled with it, even though it took more than I’d planned out of my day to deal with it. You have to sometimes look up from the rut you’re in an say… hey. Traditional publishing is not the sane or safe way to go anymore! (just to use a metaphor from my own life)

Perhaps that’s the answer to why I made a different chocolate cake. Small changes, small differences, that we can cope with, overcome, and digest comfortably leave us more resilient when the big changes that hurt more come at us. Accepting and understanding that not everyone shares our feelings, our beliefs, and our value system makes us better human beings. Even if we reject that value system which states that homosexuals must be stoned and thrown from buildings, understanding that it is there, and perhaps knowing why it exists, helps us to know how to combat it. Understanding does not always mean approval. Disapproval does not mean it’s a phobia. I’m not afraid of the people who want me to lay down my arms and roll over helpless to submit to them and die. No, just because I understand that they live in fear and desire power over others, doesn’t mean I’m going to join them in their pursuit of wrongness. It does mean I am sorry their viewpoints are so narrow they need to shout down and shut down anyone they feel might disagree with them. They need to try my cake. It’s delicious, even if it is different.

Boozy Dirt Cake

Why would we not just make cake, but make it into the lowest form of cake? (according to my paternal grandmother, who was so horrified I planned to serve it at my wedding that she showed up to the reception with another cake. We fed each other Dirt Cake with trowels anyway. Low class, maybe. Fun? Oh, yeah! Gummy worms and all) Because we wanted to. And we were free to make these choices because ‘Merica!

  • 1 chocolate cake mix. (I use the cheap kind, because I’m usually adding stuff to them anyway, and they are bomb-proof when I’m not in the mood to make it from scratch.)
  • 1 cheesecake pudding mix
  • 12 oz flat S’Mores porter beer (or just porter, or any dark beer. None of that love-in-a-canoe schtuff)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 c vegetable oil
  • 2 c milk (and no, Ginja Ninja, almond milk will NOT work)
  • Gummy Worms

Preheat oven to 350 deg, and grease a pan. You’re going to be crumbling up the cake, so it doesn’t matter what size and shape. We used a bundt pan. a 9×13 would work just fine.

The beer was whimsical… America has no laws about what you can and can’t put in beer, thank goodness for differences!

In a mixing bowl, combine the cake mix, eggs, oil, and beer until all the mix is incorporated into the batter. I used my stand mixer, but don’t let it mix too long, or you’ll have tough cake.

Pour batter into greased pan and place in oven. Set timer for 28-32 min for a 9×13 pan, or 40-45 for a bundt. Test with a toothpick when done – if the toothpick comes out clean, it’s done. Set on rack to cool for a few minutes in pan.

Turn cake out onto plate and allow to finish cooling. When this is nearly done, whip up the pudding according to directions on box – basically whisk the mix into the milk. You could make it up from scratch and it would probably be amazing, but we were streamlining on a hot, busy day.

Having beakers in the cupboard isn’t just science, it’s great fun to serve in.

Pour pudding into containers – we used water goblets and beakers, because they are fun and class this dessert up. Fill them about half full, then fill all the way up with crumbled cake. Top with gummy worms. Gummy worms are important. You’ll pull them out to eat instead of eating with the other stuff, they will be cold and hard, but they make this Dirt Cake, so don’t leave them out. Put your dessert containers in the fridge and chill for an hour or so. Serve…

The cake comes out wonderfully yeasty and reminiscent of sourdough. Mixed with the cheesecake pudding, it’s even better. The cake was different, and good on it’s own, but in the dirt cake it was amazing, and I’ll make it again just to do this. A little serving was quite enough – it’s rich – but it was a lovely cool dessert sitting on the porch watching America celebrate her independence.

Worms are important.




53 responses to “Why Different?”

  1. Nope. Not a fan of change. Also not a fan of being in a rut sometimes, so I mix things up. Sometimes we need change. “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten.”

    Your dirt cake sounds interesting, but not drinking makes it something I probably wouldn’t try. (I don’t even think they sell just one beer anywhere around here except for mainstream Bud and Miller – which I sometimes buy to make brats.) I’m going to try a new ‘spice cake with dried fruit’ bar cookie thing once the weather cools down enough to bake. Maybe this weekend.

    1. Aunt Pam Avatar
      Aunt Pam

      It can be done with root beer or soda for those who don’t have beer. Spice cake with root beer is nice.
      Loved the story.

      1. I wonder how chocolate soda would work? I won’t drink it now, but I remember it being a fun novelty when I was a kid!

        1. Draven Avatar

          Would probably throw off the sugars-and-oils mix… who knows

          1. This beer was fairly sweet (s’mores!) and it worked.

            1. Draven Avatar

              ok, i tried mixing it with things a few times and it dint work well… of course, i was mixing it with coffee and baileys but anyway…

          2. Concur on the sugars issue. But the real issue, I would think, is the lack of fermentation (though it might have some fizz, I don’t remember them having much) and the lack of… graininess. Beer works in cake partly because of the grain nature of it – it’s why darker beers work better, as do the heavy (read “need to be strained if you’re going to smile at pretty frauleins”) wheat ones.

            But, feel free to experiment and report back! 🙂

  2. Aimee Morgan Avatar
    Aimee Morgan

    While the thought of actually baking a cake, rather than just eating the batter, is foreign to me, I can see me trying this for a special occasion. Maybe with beer, maybe with wine.

    Dark chocolate with cabernet, and maybe some cherries. Or a chocolate drizzle.

  3. I sometimes contemplate the changes in our world just over the last hundred years or so, and am amazed. My great-grandmother was born in about 1894 (I think — I’d have to look it up to be sure and my file cabinet is still buried under boxes) and lived into the early 1980’s, long enough to meet all of my children, though Cedar was probably too young to remember her. In her lifetime she went from horse and buggy transportation to jet airliners and man on the moon, from snail-mail and the telegraph to telephones and television (though not cell phones — she didn’t make it quite long enough for those). That’s a lot of changes to go through in one lifetime.

    1. When I was born I had 3 great-grandmothers still alive. They all were born in the 1880’s and lived into the late 1970’s, early 1980’s. I was fortunate to know 2 of them fairly well. (about as well as a military brat can know their relatives.) These women had married young, raised families during the Depression, survived WWI and WWII and lived to pass on their stories of east Tennessee through the ages. Strong women.

  4. ‘Change that I am in control of’ isn’t nearly as threatening as ‘change over which I am powerless.’ And the negative aspects of change are, I believe, cumulative.

    For an adolescent male, there are incredible and uncontrollable changes happening to his body and the way he thinks. Most of them are going to turn out well for him later, but HE doesn’t know that. When you are in the process of having unspeakable brain chemicals dumped into your system, and expected to somehow KNOW how to do Adult Things, like order a piece of chicken from the deli, when you have NEVER HAD TO DO THAT BEFORE (!!), and then there is this whole tantalizing and unsatisfying thing with girls going on, it feels like the entire world is in on a conspiracy to make you look stupid and laugh at you.

    Here, eat this.
    What is it?
    Just eat it.
    No, what is it?
    No, just eat it. It’s a balut, with kimchee and nuoc mam. Eat it.

    Now, that may to be seem an extreme example, but it sure doesn’t FEEL any different to the guy who has to wake up every day to discover what new torture the world has devised just to make him miserable.

    So, take The Little Man for new culinary experiences, but keep a tupperware container of ham sandwiches or pizza in your purse.

    I speak as one with personal experience in the area.

    1. Thank you Pat, this is a great perspective. He’s actually fine if there are pictures LOL – but I completely see that sometimes pushing him to step outside his comfort zone isn’t what he needs. He’ll get there in time.

  5. Heh. Reminds me of when I tossed a box of chocolate pudding mix into the cake batter just to see if I could get a chocolate cake. It worked, mostly. I thought it was a bit gritty, but everyone else seemed to like it. Maybe next time I’ll make the pudding first instead of just using the dry mix.

    “We live in a disposable world” No kidding. I was backed into replacing my computer when the old one suddenly decided to stop booting. I strongly suspect it was the ram. The shop said it wasn’t worth trying to fix because it was 5 years old and the system would not support the newer hardware. *sigh* Not the first, or the last time, I’ve regretted not staying on top of the changes in the computer world. If I had, I might have been able to save a couple hundred – at least for a bit longer. Not looking forward to reinstalling all the software and finding the files for wips.

    1. I’ve put pudding mix in cake – and bread, it’s in my cinnabon copycat recipe – and didn’t notice a different texture. It does make it very dense and moist, though.

      And 5 years is not very old for a computer any more. Well, if you are a power gamer maybe it is. But mine I bought on purpose to be able to change out components and upgrade as I want to. And it’s… 4 years old now. Just replaced the power supply this last year. need to put a dual HD in it to expand the memory, but I have some huge files due to the art I create.

      1. To be (somewhat) fair, part of the “it’s too old” came from the fact that we let it slip we were still using XP. ((hey, XP was stable, unlike Win 10)) Fortunately, GIMP is similar enough to the Corel I was using that I am pretty sure I can transition over. But I am not happy about losing the CAD program I used to draw up floor plans. (yeah, I’m one of *those* writers – floor plans, base layouts, ship drawings. I draft it out so I can see it before I try to write it.) If I didn’t trust these guys, I’d be suspicious, but it is a small shop that lives and dies by reputation and I’ve been doing business with them for almost 10 years.

        1. Use mayonnaise instead of oil in that cake. Trust me on this. 😀

          XP here too, at least on the main boxen, including the “new” one (frankenputer built mostly from salvage, main guts now about 10 years old). Ain’t broke, don’t much like the fix; fully loathe the most-recent fix.

          If you want a linux that’s more XP-like, try PCLinuxOS with Trinity desktop (tho KDE can be beaten into an approximation); rolling release so no upgrade reinstalls. FIrst linux I’ve kept as a permanent setup, and I’ve been looking for one I could love for over 20 years.

          Anyone who’d compare GIMP and Corel is a mooncalf and a heretic. 😛 Been looking a long time and still nothing beats Corel PhotoPaint for ease of use. However, there is FreeCAD which reportedly is up to advanced amateur work, if not fullblown pro calibre. Tho easier for what you’re doing might be one of the newer DOOM editors that let you walk around inside as you create.

          1. Draven Avatar

            Not to lecture, but i am gonna lecture… y’all do realize that there are huge significant unpatched security holes in XP, right? Some of it being stuff that doesn’t even work in win 7 or later?

            1. (Looks at XP box)
              (Sees air gap, notes lack of wireless)

            2. That’s the safest way to run any system, right?

            3. Reziac Avatar

              Well, I will lecture… How do you think those security holes get discovered? Cuz the average hacker is neither a genius nor does he have access to Windows source code. So how do they do it?

              A: They reverse-engineer the patches, ID the point of change (I expect this requires running the patch through a disassembler and running a diff against the disassembled original), then write a little program to attack that point of change, conveniently ID’d as the vulnerability — BY the very existence of the patch.

              Hence no new patches means few or no new vulnerabilities will be discovered and exploited, even if they exist.

              Consequently, if you run a decent firewall (nowadays that means any off-the-shelf router) and don’t do stupid stuff online (like click random links and allow execution of every script that comes down the pipe) you’re about as safe with XP-with-SP3 (or Win9x for that matter) as you would be with the latest and greatest.

              And per someone who collected data (IIRC as sysadmin on a big porn site) and ran the numbers, the actual number of infected systems is relatively small — about 0.4% — tho any percentage of a few billion is a lot. Still, the individual risk is small.

              The risk of me putting my fist through the monitor because of the rampant design problems in post-XP is rather greater. In fact, Win10 is why once again I took the time to try ~150 linux distros in search of one I could live with (been looking 20 years now) and why the other ‘new’ frankenputer has PCLinuxOS with Trinity desktop.

            4. Draven Avatar

              I wish Chris were reading here, he could explain it to you.

              In short, no. just because you’re running a firewall, in XP or Win9x, which has less or no OS-level hooks for a firewall, doesn’t mean you’re protected.

              Go watch Hak5 and listen to them talking about how penetration testing works… that’s how vulnerabilities are discovered, not reverse engineering a patch… especially since the vulnerabilities and exploits are discovered BEFORE the patch is issued, usually.

          2. Mayonnaise does work beautifully in cake! Hmm… making cupcakes tonight.

          3. I can’t have mayonnaise. At least not most mayonnaise. I am soy intolerant and the few mayos that I can have, I would rather have on my sammiches than a cake. 😉

            My Corel Photo Paint and Draw were from 1997, I think. (got them from my Ex) So it is similar enough to GIPM. I could never afford the newer versions. (wage slave here, just clinging to rope) I’m sure the newer ones are far more powerful, but this one suited my needs. I just need it for photo editing, not drawing.

            I’ll look at FreeCAD once the new system comes in. If I could find something that could at least read the images from my old Expert Home Design I’d be content, if not happy. (yeah, I was using software from Windows 95)

            1. Draven Avatar

              i think i just threw out our remaining Corel Draw/Photopaint CDs when we moved because it doesn’t work anymore… lol

            2. Reziac Avatar

              I expect one could make mayo from any suitable oil and eggs — surely there are recipes…

              1997 would be about CorelDraw5, I think — operates a bit differently from the newer ones, but I’d still never mistake it for GIMP 😛 CDs for Corel 8-9-10-11 float around for a few bucks, and only require the attached serial number to install. They’re fairly agnostic about which Windows is under ’em but v8 (which I prefer) gets cranky with over 1GB RAM. PhotoPaint 8/9 for linux exists, but is reportedly an Adventure to get to work. Problem is, PhotoPaint is so much easier and more intuitive that it’s ruined me for other image editors.

              No idea what file format Expert Home Design used — were a lot of proprietary format back in the day. Might be worthwhile to set up a virtual machine to host your old setup just to use these old apps.

            3. yep, it was Corel 5. 🙂 Oh, I don’t think they are the same, just close enough that the learning curve is not too steep for me.

              Well, we got the old drives back, I may do that. Get a case and see if I can build a stand alone.

            4. Draven Avatar

              well, that’s assuming the installers work… some older installers won’t run on 64-bit machines, even.

              I recently discovered that Painter X won’t run on a machine with more than 8 GB. That was a loss.

          4. Tell me more of these “DOOM editors”. The obvious results I get in search are actual level editors for the game (and others like it). Is this what you mean? Can you see it as a floorplan, and as a 3d, and as a walk-through?

            1. Best ones that I have seen with my (limited) fiddling were the ones for Duke Nuke’em 3D.

              Soon, though, I will be digging more into MineCraft. I think it might work well for some cover backgrounds, and for me to visualize battlefields. Plus, it is an open map specification. There is also software that can render your map into some pretty realistic scenery.

            2. Draven Avatar

              Best ‘editor’ has to be the UE4 editing environment.

            3. Unreal, yes? Haven’t played that in ages and ages. Thanks, I’ll take a look at that too when (if, sigh) I get around to it.

            4. Draven Avatar

              Unreal Engine, which isn’t quite the same thing as unreal the FPS

            5. Reziac Avatar

              Slade and Doom Builder have 3D walkthrough mode. Here’s a partial list:
              Some listed under Windows have linux variants too.

              I imagine they’d work with FreeDoom (if one doesn’t have the original game). I’m fairly worthless with this kind of thing and my skilz are limited to fixing map errors with DCK (one of the earliest, DOS only and won’t run on modern systems).

    2. Draven Avatar

      ehh, my machines are technically nine years old, and I’d have to spend around two grand on one and $1500 on the other to get a significant improvement… and I’d still be buying an off-lease machine.

    3. It’s entirely possible you could have replaced the RAM with a decent search on NewEgg/Amazon/TigerDirect. It’s amazing what’s still available out there – some of it salvaged from otherwise fine machines that were tossed because they were just old.

      I’m currently still using my laptop with Vista, though I’m migrating to my new Win10 desktop build. The main reason for that is a lack of oomph on graphics and a sound issue that cropped up. But, it still runs (with a replaced fan, and a replaced keyboard).
      When I get fully transitioned, I’m going to slick it and go Linux on it. (Because, I need the change. 😉 )

      (BTW, it’s crazy right now, as I don’t have a KVM set up, and I’m actually using both machines, and I keep reaching for the wrong keyboard or trackball.)

      As to the insecurities of older (and newer) Windows versions…. You’d be amazed how many of those are eliminated by simply using a limited permissions account. It’s hard (not impossible) for bad guys to install malware if you have to answer the pop-up dialog with your administrator account password (and you’re not terribly foolish) every time.

      1. Turns out I was wrong, it was the MB. (finally got the head tech to tell us, let us see the old system.) new system is waiting to be set up. *sigh*

  6. RCPete Avatar

    I have a bit of a mix. The main desktop is 6 years old, but it runs 64bit Linux perfectly well. I have a year-old laptop that’s a near clone when I’m elsewhere.

    There’s another 6 year old laptop that needs a battery latch unbollixed. It will get converted to Slackware when that’s done.

    The oldest beast sits in the shop, running 32 bit Slackware. Not quite a clone of the others, but I can take pdf drawings and my mp3 collection and use them. That computer is a 2001 vintage Sony, sporting a Pentium 4, not quite enough memory, and 400GB worth of hard drive. (320 of that was given to me from a friend’s spares-heap.) I had to replace the DVD drive for one a bit less fussy about the near-freezing temps in winter, but it’s fine for the limited use I need it for.

    When I replace the Sony, I’ll go with a Dell off-lease. I don’t need a lot of computing power, not now.

    1. Draven Avatar

      I’m running off-lease hp workstations.

  7. Orvan Taurus Avatar
    Orvan Taurus

    It was amusing that my folks, who had once decided I was a “picky eater,” were a bit jolted when I suggested we dine at an Indian restaurant. It was Pa who went for whatever was closest to “meat and potatoes” as he could manage. It was also jarring to be taken to a Korean restaurant by someone with (partial) ancestry of such… and the meal was not something I’d go out of my way for again, but I would hardly be offended by it… but his full Korean mother upon hearing what I had, then declared that the dish was not</i something for westerners.

    I forget how long I’ve been running the current main computer, but the one before lasted a good 8 years before multiple failures demanded a full replacement. And that was, mainly, almost the cheapest thing I could order via Wal-mart those many years ago.

    The ‘disposable’ society bugs me some. But it’s a two part thing. Sure, you probably can’t fix the TV… but when was the last time you had to? In the days of hot, high voltage tubes and such, the TV was a miracle of analog synchronization (when it worked right) that made the home computer seem a pretty tame creation. Of course nowadays the TV is a computer, really. And that analog TV of yore needed a fair amount of attention. Now… what kid has even encountered “Vert.” and “Horiz.” and had to adjust the system?

    1. Reziac Avatar

      I still have our original 1950s-vintage B/W TV… and it still works, after a fashion. (Picture is a bit faded.) Not real useful, but a nice piece of furniture, and all those tubes are probably worth a bit to some tinkerer. But well do I remember making all those fine adjustments… especially when I’d encounter a TV whose vertical hold was finicky or unstable.

      1. I could almost always fix those just by cleaning the potentiometer. At least when they hadn’t thoughtfully sealed up the whole thing with resin.

        1. RCPete Avatar

          The basement TV (13″ or so, B&W) would lose horizontal sync with regularity. The only known fix(tm) was to give it a Gibbs-slap. I watched the sole episode of Turn On on that set, at least between slaps. OTOH, the upstairs TV (still B&W) was solid state and was pretty reliable until Mom got a color TV in one of my elder brother’s strange deals.

          Wasn’t until the mid 70s that I saw Star Trek in color… (Hmm, another unusual deal, but the seller thought he was really good at poker. Reality disagreed. 🙂 )

  8. I’m working on a “hand-me-up” (the son’s old gaming machine) with Win 7. Office 2003, though – having to finagle anything later to be consistent with my touch-typing of the various function keys would be a nightmare.

    If I’m ever faced with the choice of going to Win 10 – forget it. In these days of leased software, and companies that think they can cut you off for political incorrectness as well as non-payment – nope, nope, nope.

    Oh, gummy bears, worms, whatever – nope, nope, nope, no way, nohow… Can’t stand the things. But if I’m ever up towards your corner (bisect?) of the country, I will be asking for Vietnamese/Korean/Thai places to go to. Tried those several years ago and found I loved them – and, strangely, for the number of those groups we have here, a good place is not very easy to find, and they don’t tend to last. (Sushi, no. Tried it, hated it.)

  9. “Don’t make them try out an open-concept office and like it.”

    Unfortunately, I have tried this too often to count. WORST. THING. IN. THE. WORLD. Whichever biz consultant thought this up as a great idea should be drawn and quartered.

    1. I suspect that, no matter how it is sold to the employees, it’s a cost-cutting stratagem. Those false economies rarely work out well in the end.

      1. Well, sometimes it’s a “team-building” strategy, at least in the extreme versions (where you don’t even get a cubicle). And in some specialized environments, it works.

        What was baffling was the idea that it should be tried in schools. Yes, I went to an elementary school with an “open floor plan”. There were no walls anywhere, except for the cafeteria, the art room, and the offices. All six grades, the library, and the pit (presentation area) were all in a giant, box store/warehouse-sized building (including the enormously high ceiling). The only dividers between grades were large bookcases and cabinets. There were only low bookcases between the classrooms. Because of the arrangement (1-3 and 4-6 in semi-circles at each end, library and pit in the middle) I was able to watch all the 6th-grade films in 4th grade; then watch all the 4th-grade films I missed while I was bored in 6th. (Fortunately, my love of learning had already been established before starting 2d-grade at this monstrosity.)

        Yes, there is a natural human tendency to resist change. There are also some things that are so bat-guano crazy, you should be pilloried for even suggesting them.

        1. Good heavens. That would be difficult to deal with. I did have some multi-grade classrooms when I was in highschool, but it was such a small school we never had more than 10 students in the room at once. What you describe sounds horribly distracting.

    2. Draven Avatar

      I keep hearing how some ‘efficiency expert’ or the other has sold some VFX or gaming company on those, and hear the employees talk in interviews about how its nice and open and lets them communicate with their co-workers and i think of how annoying that must be… most of them still use the ‘very wide cubicle with two or three people who all work on the same team’ layout.

  10. My late grandmother was the Mother of All Chocolate Cakes. Grandpa packed a hefty chunk of cake in his lunch bucket EVERY DAY he left for work as a heavy equipment operator. I was always fascinated when grandma made another cake; every batch included some bizarre leftovers from the fridge. Applesauce, cottage cheese, creamy gravy, canned peaches, you name it, whatever was moist and textured eventually became cake ingredients. And every cake was a winner; grandpa and grandson polished ’em all off with never a peep about ingredients. Just ‘Can I have some more coffee or milk, please?” So porter in the cake mix? Sounds tasty, but grandpa wasn’t much of a beer drinker.

    I feel like such a mayfly reading about folks still banging away on Office 2003 running over Windows 7. My teaching and research shoves me into much more recent software and heftier hardware to run it. But. It seems like a while since i purchased this newfangled desktop, so i checked out the processsor. Yep, it’s a newbie. 2010.

    Hey, don’t knock Windows 10! It works great with my vintage WINDOWS PHONE!

    1. All of those ingredients, save one, had me nodding and thinking ‘I’ve done something like that’ until you got to the gravy. My mind boggled at that one!

  11. but we expect – not just want, but expect to have a new one every other year
    Nope. Still using the same slider (though I had to buy a replacement) for about a dozen years now. And I like it just fine. And I’ll wear my Kindle out, too, before I replace it.

    Change simply for novelty’s sake can be really awful.
    “Change is good!”
    No. Change is change. Good change is good, and bad change is bad.
    That people fall for the slogan … does not help my occasional misanthropy.

    Some were produced for the mass market and *shudder* fortunately didn’t catch on.
    But, dear Lord in Heaven above, some did. Some have even revived after we thought they were mercifully dead. Can you say “70s chic”? *SHUDDER*

    And, loved the beakers! 🙂

    1. I was born in the 70s. Fortunately I was too young by the time they ended to be very aware of fashions, although I used to have a great photo of my Dad in a powder blue leisure suit. “Twas hilarious!

      And the beakers are fun to use as photo props and actually very functional as glasses! As my job keeps me in the lab a lot, it seemed like a good element to add to my food blogs.