Advice: Zamboni Lady Explains Guano, Irony and the Tea Trade

DISCLAIMER: The Zamboni Lady is not a doctor, nor does she play one on TV.  She is, simply, a busybody who wants to know everyoneelse’s business.  The advice, while well-meant, is not meant to substitute for legal advice or protection, indicate a definitive way to live one’s life, or in any way imply that you should take her advice any more seriously than you would the advice of the bestie of your bestie, given out over a long and tear-soaked evening of nachos and margaritas.

Don't...stare...into...the...eyes...

Dear Zamboni Lady,

Why do I always cringe when I hear Michele Bachmann speak?

Signed,

Duck N. Cover

Dear Duckie,

It’s self-preservation.  I think that we, as a general rule, can get a “vibe” about things.  You know when someone’s staring at you (especially when it’s the piercing stare of a psychopath, please see above image).  Do you follow the gut instinct you have to stay out of that room or not get on that plane or not take the candy from that attractive stranger?  Mostly do you follow your gut, give or take some candy?  Then you’ve got some mighty fine instincts, and here’s why this relates to Mrs. Bachmann.

The Guanay Cormorant, a veritable poo goldmine

Nitrates are essential for plant growth so they are commonly used as a fertilizer, though they have also been shown to aid in the preservation and color maintenance of meat.  I won’t judge.  What?  I eat meat too.  It’s just that—in the spirit of research—I’ve come across this uncomfortable connection and if it’s going to make me feel ooky, then it’s only fair you should feel ooky too.  Anyway.  Both organic and inorganic nitrates can also be used as propellants.  Explosives.  They blow stuff up good and if you don’t believe me, just ask the Chinese, who have been blowing things up with saltpeter—potassium nitrate—since the first century.  Yes, the very first.  And guano, or bat poo, is a rich, natural source of nitrates (though perhaps not quite as good as the guano that comes from the noble Guanay Cormorant, but that’s a different debate for a different article).

So where does this all lead?  Simple.  You cringe because, instinctively, you know the batshit crazy flying out of her mouth is potentially explosive, so you’re just trying to get out of the way.  Because who wants to get covered with flaming crazypoo?  Not I, my friend.  Not I.

Dear Zamboni Lady,

What’s the best way to make white pants white again?  Bleaching doesn’t always work.

Signed,

Sad Laundress

Dear Laundress,

About a thousand years ago, I finished a shift at a restaurant and went with a co-worker to another restaurant.  This other restaurant (which shall remain nameless) made their waiters wear all white as their uniform—white shirt, white pants, white aprons.  I felt like I was being waited on by an orderly…a head-to-toe dirty, food-covered orderly.  Is that what happened to your pants?  Because girl, quit your job and burn those things, as white pants subjected to restaurant grime cannot be redeemed.

Just another day in the restaurant industry.

If you don’t work for an incredibly short-sighted restaurant chain and you’ve got whites that are not white, then you have a few options.  Ironically, bleaching, the sort of “go-to” whitening practice, may be the cause of your whites turning yellow as apparently, bleach can interact poorly with the finishing treatment of the material, especially if it’s a poly-cotton blend.  I mean this in a legitimately ironic way instead of the faux-irony professed by Alanis Morrissette in her song “Ironic” (not linking the video, you’re welcome), which is more a litany of unfortunately juxtaposed but unrelated instances and plain old bad luck.  The fact that her song “Ironic” is actually not about anything ironic is in itself a pretty good example of irony, though I doubt she was aiming for anything quite so meta.   Martha Stewart says you should boil whites in fresh lemon juice, but she probably means lemon juice rendered from hothouse Meyer lemon trees and squeezed by Peruvian dwarves specially trained for this purpose.  If you lack either the Meyer lemon trees or the dwarves, then go to this page and see what this lady has to say.  She clearly thinks a great deal about laundry, and makes her blog way more entertaining than I could ever imagine a laundry blog being.  Go, Mama!

And if it comes down to it, don’t be afraid to burn those pants.  White?  Really?

Getting ready for some tea, in China.

Dear Zamboni Lady:

Why does nothing seem to affect the price of tea in China?

Signed,

Caffeinated and Curious

Dear Caffy,

Actually, this is a bit of an urban legend.  Chinese tea cultivation experienced a decline about twenty-five, maybe thirty years ago (or so).  Collective farms were broken into individual lots which created a change in the mindset of the farmer and a change in the way land was used, and as a tea bush has to grow for five years before you can use its leaves, tea farming became more of a “hobby” than a profession.  Unless you’re a prisoner; the other manner in which tea is primarily farmed now in China is through prison labor, and the prison farmers lack the incentives (pay, freedom) that would compel other farmers to make more efficient use of the land.  The price of tea in China has gone up and down wildly with its production, though in recent years it has been on the upswing thanks to efforts to reinvigorate tea farming throughout China.

The tea trade has changed dramatically in the last decade, with increased yields from countries like Sri Lanka and Kenya changing the dynamics of the global market, but for China that’s not such a bad thing.  Tea has shown a remarkable overall stability in its pricing, and experts believe that is largely related to the expansion of the tea trade.  In 2010, China produced 1.4 million tons of tea (1.1 million of it for domestic consumption) and exported the rest, though as their exports were often raw and unrefined tea they did not command as high a price per kilogram as Kenya or Sri Lanka.  It’s all about the balance.

And for you, American consumer, what this means is: while the price tea in China may have suffered a destabilizing blow thanks to the privatization of some farms and the use of prison labor for other farms, an aggressive influx of products from alternative markets stabilized the industry as a whole, helping restore competitive balance to China and assuring that the person who has not been affected even a little by the fluctuations in the tea trade, is you.

Have a nice, big cup of the fruits of economic competition.

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