$1 Coffee in a Jar

Remember my article “Cravings of the Junk Food Kind” that I posted on December 10, 2015, when I talked about how sexy coffee tastes and smells? 

Well, I was very disappointed with 2 small jars of $1 coffee that I bought from a Dollar Store a few months ago.  I knew I would soon be running out of Folger’s instant decaf coffee and bought those just in case I didn’t find a brand name decaf like Folger’s, Maxwell House, Nescafe, or Sanka on sale.

I’d had some very good Beaumont decaf instant coffee for a little more than $1 from Aldi’s in the past which was delicious.    If I’m on the run, I like McDonald’s decaf McCafé, Dunkin’ Donuts, Wawa or Burger King coffee. 

So, I thought I was safe, but I didn’t realize that you need to read the whole label when buying coffee.   First, the two small jars had no brand name at all.   They were just labeled Decaf Instant Coffee.  Secondly, my first cup of it had no taste at all, and I had the nerve to add milk which made it taste like weak tea with milk.  

After I couldn’t get past the first couple of sips, I read the label.  There was a warning posted. 

“Warning.  Consuming this product can expose you to chemicals including lead and acrylamide which are known to the state of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm.  For more information go to www.P65Warnings.ca.gov/food.”  It was made in Mexico.  Distributed by Transnational Foods, Inc., Miami, FL 33131 USA, Info@TFINC.com.

The jars also have an encircled U which means:

“the product is certified as Kosher by an organization called the Orthodox Union.  It is actually an O with the U inside and it’s the initials of the certifying agency.  This is one of dozens of kosher symbols that can be found on products across the US and indeed the whole world.  Kosher is a Hebrew word which means ‘fit for consumption’ by traditional Jewish people because their dietary laws have been followed.”   David Bratspis, Israel Tour Guide answered this question 5/13/18 on Quora.com

Unfortunately, this “coffee” was not fit for consumption to me.

If you are really particular about your coffee, see the following resources:

“8 Coffee Brands to Avoid”, Caffeineinformer.com

“We Tested 13 Grocery Store Coffees and Here’s the Best One”, Extra Crispy, S://amp.myrecipes.com, John Sherman, February 8, 2019.

Written by Rosa L. Griffin

How to Identify Fake News

“Fake news refers to false news stories, hoaxes or propaganda created to deliberately misinform or deceive readers.  Usually, these stories are created to either influence people’s views, push a political agenda, or cause confusion.  It can also be a profitable business for online publishers.”

How to spot fake news

  1. Be skeptical of headlines.
  2. Look closely at the link.
  3. Investigate the source.
  4. Watch for unusual formatting.
  5. Inspect the dates.
  6. Check the evidence.
  7. Look at other reports.
  8. Do some fact checking.

“There are many good websites, like Politifact.com, Snopes.com, and FactCheck.org that can help you verify a story.”  When I worked in a library, some librarians relied on Snopes.com for verification of rumors.

No matter your age, you or someone you know can benefit from an article in the Beacon.   Read the details of the article below on their website, https://thebeaconnewspapers.com or pick up a free copy in various places like libraries, senior centers, etc.   Beacon has more than 2400 distribution sites in Maryland and Virginia (Washington DC, Howard County, Baltimore MD, and Richmond VA).   They have a circulation of 400,000 per month.

Source: Miller, Jim.  “Identify Fake News; Don’t Send It to Others”, Baltimore Beacon, September 2019, page 5.  The Beacon in focus for people over 50 , P.O. Box 2227, Silver Spring, MD  20915, (410) 248-9101, email: info@thebeaconnewspapers.com.

Test Your Fake News Sensor

Pew Research Center has a quiz for you–see if you can answer all five questions correctly. Take the quiz at pewresearch.org/quiz.

“When Americans call a statement factual, they overwhelmingly also think it is accurate; they tend to disagree with factual statements they incorrectly label as opinion.”

Source: Foster, Margaret. Technology & Innovations. Links & Apps. “Test Your Fake News Sensor”, Baltimore Beacon, November 2019, page 5.  The Beacon in focus for people over 50 , P.O. Box 2227, Silver Spring, MD  20915, (410) 248-9101, email: info@thebeaconnewspapers.com.

Submitted by Rosa L. Griffin

Be careful online

Links are the part of a text message on your phone or an email message on your computer that directs you somewhere else.  The link itself is usually a different color from the rest of the message and/or it may be underlined.  

Don’t open every email, text message, or click on every link you are sent, even if you know the person.   Sometimes, hackers may get your list of contacts so it could be a familiar name sending you a link.  But the link may not spell anything or looks too bizarre—a strange combination of letters, numbers, and symbols.   Don’t click on that link at all.  

It may not be worth the risk of your getting a computer virus which may also send that same virus to everyone on your contact list.   Instead, call that person to verify that they sent you a link if it looks like something you are interested in.  

Some of the same links sent on email is also being sent as text messages on cell phones.   The phone number is different each time (block it if possible), but the message tries to coax you into clicking on the link.  Each text promises you something different:  a prize, cash, a job, an adventure, a freebie, medications from Canada or Mexico, etc.  The same old wisdom is still true: “If it looks too good to be true, it probably is!”

Some websites you actually use will send you constant links or unwanted notifications.    Facebook does it 24 hours a day, notifying you of any change that a user or stranger with a place in your group has made, whether new picture, new photo, etc.   For example, if you have a Facebook friend who has sent out invitations to strangers under “public” (which covers the world), any of those strangers may become your friend and send you messages and/or invitations.  Facebook has 2.41 billion users.  I don’t answer requests when I don’t know the person.

Even a dating site like Ourtime.com will send you a message that someone is sending you a flirt just to start some interaction going.   The person may not even know that a flirt has been sent in their name.   On top of that, several dating sites are owned by one company, and they use the same participants on each site.

Finally, I’ve found it helpful to actually log off and turn my computer off after each use.   As a matter of fact, I don’t turn my computer on every day.   I missed a few worldwide viruses that way.    And, if Google asks you if you want them to save your password, I would pass that opportunity by.   Also, anyone who wants you to stay logged in 24 hours a day is suspicious.  Although I use antivirus software, I’m also suspicious of any company that says they CAN keep your information safe like Lifelock, Experian, Norton, McAfee, the Cloud, etc.   It’s been proven time and time again that ANYONE and ANYTHING can be hacked.

Source: https://www.statista.com for Facebook statistics

Written by Rosa L. Griffin

Review of movie, The Legend of Tarzan (2016)

You can write fiction to include historical figures like King Leopold II of Belgium or Samuel L. Jackson’s George Washington Williams character.    Williams was a real-life Civil War soldier, Baptist minister, historian, politician, lawyer, and journalist who died in his 40s.

I went to a movie theater to see this movie because I like Swedish actor Alexander Skarsgaard as an actor.   I first saw him in the HBO television series “True Blood” when he portrayed the vampire sheriff. 

Over 200 films have featured author Edgar Rice Burroughs’ character, a white orphan raised by apes in the African jungle.   A multitude of different white men have played as Tarzan since 1918, either in the flesh or in voiceovers.   I had seen all of the Johnny Weissmuller movies in which Johnny portrayed the fictional Tarzan, Lord Greystoke.   Weismuller was a 5-time Olympic gold medalist who made 12 Tarzan movies beginning in 1932.  For decades, Tarzan was Hollywood’s biggest foreign export.   In the 1966 NBC series, Ron Ely did his own stunts in his portrayal of Tarzan and ended up with lion bites and broken bones.  

What I didn’t like about the Tarzan character as I was growing up was that Africans were always portrayed as big-eyed and hopping around comically, always earning Tarzan’s vengeance or salvation.  The name Tarzan literally meant “White Skin”.   I also noticed that not all of the Tarzans were comfortable walking around in a loincloth whether in movies or television shows.

The Legend of Tarzan is the best of all the Tarzan movies.  It was made to reflect what is going on in the world today.  “For the first time in the franchise, black lives matter.”  There are many things I liked about this movie:

  1. The romance between Tarzan and Jane was different than in the Weismuller movies.  Jane (Australian Margot Robbie) was portrayed as Tarzan’s equal in many ways.
  2. Skarsgaard, being tall and lean, built up a lot of muscles for the movie.
  3. There was a dignified portrayal of African tribes made up of brave and intelligent men and women which is our history.
  4. In the movie, Tarzan seemed to be ashamed to be thought of as the book character published at that time and only seemed to relate to children as Tarzan. 
  5. The poignant part of the story of a younger Tarzan killing a chief’s son because the young tribesman killed Tarzan’s ape “mother” and the chief (played by Benin-born Djimon Hounsou) grieved and swore revenge over the loss of his son, resulting in his giving Leopold’s cause a box full of diamonds.
  6. The villainous Captain Leon Rom, played by Austrian Christophe Waltz, traded Tarzan for diamonds for King Leopold, “ruler” over the Congo.
  7. The CGI special effects, especially of the gorillas and other animals, were perfect.
  8. And, of course, Samuel L. Jackson, played George Washington Williams, who convinced fictional Tarzan to come out of retirement to help prove the slavery situation in Africa’s Belgian Congo which Williams actually promoted in letters.  

This movie, The Legend of Tarzan, was directed by David Yates, and written by Adam Cozad and Craig Brewer.   The movie cost $180 million to make and earned $356.7 million at the box office.

Sources noted in the articles below:

Keegan, Rebecca, Los Angeles Times Movies, “Can You Make a Non-racist Tarzan Movie?” latimes.com, July 1, 2016.

Price, Lydia, “15 Hunky Actors Who’ve Played Tarzan Throughout the Years”, https://people.com, June 30, 2016.

Bady, Aron, “The Only Good Tarzan is a Bad Tarzan”, Pacific Standard, July 8, 2016.

Hughey, Matthew.  The White Savior Film: Content, Critics, and Consumption.   Temple University Press.  2014.

Hochschild, Adam.  King Leopold’s Ghost:  A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa.  Mariner Books, 1998.

Written by Rosa L. Griffin

Mr. Bean as Maigret

Rowan Atkinson recently starred as Detective Inspector Jules Maigret in a 2016 Dead Man series that I saw on WETA UK.   The killer, Dacourt, played by John Light, who as a short man with delusions of grandeur, goes for the “bad” girl dancer while he has a wife and kids at home.

I saw John Light as a top thief who was on one episode of the “Father Brown” tv show and returned for a second episode later in that series.

I was pleasantly surprised to see Rowan Atkinson as a detective.   He was so great in the “Mr. Bean” comedy tv series in which his eyebrows and eyes were so expressive—a great part of his characterization.   I liked seeing him also as a department store jewelry salesman in the movie “Love Actually”.  

The icing on the cake was seeing him playing a dead-pan serious detective.   He played the Maigret character so well that it brought tears to my eyes.   Well-done Rowan!

Written by Rosa Griffin

Review of movie Collateral Beauty (2016)

In 1986, I buried my father without shedding a tear for him.  He seemed a nice man, but he was always distant, like he didn’t belong in this family with six kids.  But, one day, a year later, I was walking across the President Street open-air parking lot at the Harbor.   A man walked past me smoking a pipe, and right away, I was in full cry mode for my father who smoked a pipe and cigars.  I cried for a full block.

This type of thing is sort of what Collateral Beauty is about.   The phrase “Remember the Collateral Beauty” is a line spoken in the movie a few times.

Howard, a working, inspiring, idea-filled, and happy man (played by Will Smith) co-partnered with Whit (played by Edward Norton) at a non-Madison Avenue ad agency.  The major officers of the company were Claire (played by Kate Winslet) and Simon (played by Michael Peña).   Howard is 60/40 with Whit in the partnership.

But, as soon as his six-year-old daughter dies, he loses every interest he ever had in life except riding his bike and building things with dominoes all day at work instead of working.   The partnership, his wife, talking, and, even eating no longer mattered to him.

Howard’s colleague-friends devise an ingenious plan to try to reach him and bring their dying company back to life.   They hire a detective and three actors to confront him about love, time, and death—his three stratagems that move people to buy products.

The acting was top shelf by everyone.  However, three characters stood out to me.   Time/Raffi was played by young actor, Jacob Lattimore (The Maze Runner).  He was refreshing and strong.   The investigator, Sally, was played by Ann Dowd (The Leftovers) whom I’ve seen in a number of roles.  Although she was behind the scenes in practically every scene, she was great in what her character was allowed to say.   Simon was played by Michael Peña (Antman I & 2, Battle: Los Angeles, A Wrinkle in Time, Gone in 60 Seconds, My Fellow Americans).   It was wonderful to see him in another dramatic role.

This movie, Collateral Beauty, was perfect for Will Smith (7 Pounds, The Pursuit of Happyness, I am Legend, Suicide Squad, Hitch, Men in Black, etc.), Helen Mirren (Prime Suspect, Red 1 & 2, Winchester, The Nutcracker and The Four Realms, Calendar Girls, The Leisure Seeker, Hitchcock), Edward Norton (The Illusionist, Red Dragon, The Grand Budapest Hotel, American History X, The Painted Veil), Keira Knightley (Love Actually, Colette, The Nutcracker and The Four Realms, several Pirates of the Caribbean movies), Kate Winslet (Titanic, Love Actually, Divergent, The Holiday, Sense and Sensibility), and Naomie Harris (28 Days Later, a few Pirates of the Caribbean movies).*   

There were unexpected twists and turns, especially at the end.   Also, there were many sad parts, but the movie was heart-warming, not depressing.    I wish I had seen this movie on the big screen but thank God for the library’s DVD service.

Written by Rosa L. Griffin

*Movies mentioned are movies I have actually seen

Did you know? The Illustrated Man

In 1951, American writer Ray Bradbury’s science fiction short story collection, The Illustrated Man, was published.    The collection of 18 short stories was one of the first short story collections I ever read.

The premise of the collection is based on “a vagrant former member of a carnival freak show with an extensively tattooed body whom the unnamed narrator meets. The man’s tattoos, allegedly created by a time-traveling woman, are individually animated and each tell a different tale.”

In 1969, Rod Steiger and Claire Bloom starred in the movie version.

In 1984, Mark of the Devil, which reminded me of the Illustrated Man, was broadcast as the first movie in the Fox Mystery Theater television series, produced by Hammer Films.  

“A desperate gambler (Dirk Benedict) in debt with a gangster robs a Chinese tattoo artist (Burt Hwouk), getting stabbed and killing the man in the process. A black spot appears on his chest and begins to spread. Day by day, it gets bigger and bigger and forms into a tattoo. The tattoo then starts to spread all over his body and he has to go into seclusion.”

Source:  Wikipedia


Written by Rosa L. Griffin

Review of movie Mom (1991)

The worst part was the terrible comical werewolf mask that made up the “old” werewolf (Brion James) who infected a Mom (Jeanne Bates).  The werewolf looked more like a comic version of a vampire.   Creating a more realistic mask would have added more horror to the movie.   Other than that, the acting was great for a movie of its type:  horror/comedy.  

A “guy” comes to a mother’s door answering an ad for a room.   It turns out that he’s a werewolf.   Mom is extremely naïve, because he posed as a blind man which creeped me out, but it didn’t creep Mom out at all.

Her son (Mark Thomas Miller) was a newsman who visited his Mom often especially after finding out that she was killing people because she was a werewolf.   So, her son decides to keep her locked up in her own room in her own house to protect her from herself.   Her son asked a doctor to come to his Mom’s house to examine her, but Mom buried the doctor in the back yard like a bone.  

Mom had a daughter who was very well-to-do and lived out of state.    But her daughter never visited and sent Mom a pair of dime-store slippers once a year.  The one time her daughter visited, her Mom ate her.

However, Mom did not kill her pregnant daughter-in-law nor her son who each treated Mom with the respect a good mother deserves.   I did like the idea of a good Mom kicking ass, but a few innocent people getting killed goes with the territory.

Director was Patrick Rand.   The writers were Patrick Rand and Kevin Watson.

Written by Rosa L. Griffin

Did You Know? Fibroids

When you are younger and discovered to have fibroids, doctors usually tell you not to worry about them if they are not giving you severe pain.  Mild menstrual pain is acceptable to doctors.  

“Fibroids are also called uterine myoma.   They are noncancerous growths in the uterus that can develop during a woman’s childbearing years.  Fibroids can also cause prolonged menstrual cycles and low back pain.   200,000 cases occur every year.”

But, surprise!   I started getting pain so severe that I couldn’t stand up five days out of every month.   No amount of any over-the-counter medication did any good whatsoever.   I found that opioids don’t take pain away but make you not care about the pain; thus you can overdose.    So, being past what I considered child-bearing age, I ended up having a partial hysterectomy which gave me new life monthly without menopause symptoms to this day.

However, Evelyn Champagne King nearly died from fibroids.    “In 2006, I had an emergency health crisis.  I had a fibroid, which a lot of women and girls need to keep up on.   You can have a fibroid that takes things away from you and it took my life.  Literally, I had to be brought back and if it wasn’t for my husband being with me, I wouldn’t be here to speak on it.”

The good news is that fibroids are treatable by a medical professional and require a medical diagnosis.  Lab tests or imaging is often required.   Fibroids can be chronic and last for years or a lifetime.   

Some fibroids today can be treated via uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) which is a minimally invasive procedure which also has its risks.  It uses a form of real-time x-ray called fluoroscopy to guide the delivery of embolic agents which destroy fibroid tissue in the uterus.

Sources:  Uterine fibroids.  Mayo Clinic

Evelyn Champagne King Details the Terrifying Time That She Died Literally.  Posted April 7, 2015.  https://www.iloveoldschoolmusic.com

Uterine fibroids.  https://womenshealth.gov


Written by Rosa L. Griffin

Did you know? Johnny Depp

Johnny Depp is one of my favorite actors since the TV show “21 Jump Street”.   Johnny didn’t want to be just a pretty face, sitting still and looking pretty.   In his collaborations with Tim Burton, he was able to stretch and do strange parts like Edward Scissorhand which made him stand out.   But he was pretty in John Water’s musical Cry Baby.   I was amazed to see him as Grimwald in the Fantastic Beasts movie series. However, I recently read an article that I’m quoting from that speaks to Johnny and all of us:

“…we all know someone who has the potential to get it right, but lacks the will, tools, or heart to do it.  That person stares the right decisions in the face but keeps taking the worse options simply out of comfort or insecurity.  They’d rather be in the mess instead of cleaning it up.  That someone could also be us.”

Hallelujah, sister!  Been there and done that!   Situations in which you can’t see the forest for the trees!   And, right now Johnny is up in there in a big way as detailed by the author of this article.   I wish him nothing but the best!

Source:  “Goodbye to Johnny Depp:  How to Let Go of One of Your Former Favorite Actors”, Monique Jones, September 13, 2018, https://www.slashfilm.com

Written by Rosa L. Griffin