Economic Meltdown, When You Finally Get the Memo

The economic meltdown came so fast and so furiously, most of us weren’t sure how to even reaction.   With the markets plummeting, housing prices on a steep decline and people getting laid off left and right, we were left with mixtures of anger and grief.  To at least some degree, life as we knew it was over.

What I mean by this is that most of us having been living over our heads for years.   We all believed we deserved certainly luxuries, everything from the pricey wines to the trendy wardrobes.   Men were having their shirts custom made, and women just had to have the bag of the season.  Designer, shoes, suits, shirts, dining out,  lavish vacations, were no longer anything special but just another part of our regimen.

We made money and then we borrowed more.   We bought houses that were way over our heads, automobiles that offered status but at a very high cost.  We leased cars we couldn’t afford.   We took lavish vacations, ate out in cutsey restaurants.  We bought gourmet food and fine wine.   We were massaged on a regular basis.  We went nightclubbing and sat around over expensive vodka and a bowl of caviar, playing with our electronic gadgets.  We actually thought that none of it would end.

And then it did.   Now it’s time to tell ourselves and our families that life as we knew it has at least temporarily been put on hold.   The level of disbelief is considerable.  Husbands and wives are fighting.  The childen, spoiled from years and indulgence, simply can’t believe they have to cool it with the designer jeans and trips to the maill.   As for the gourmet foods, it’s the big box store for most of us.   Restaurants?   Yes, some of the top of the line steak joints are still doing well, as are the lower priced coffee shop.   As for that cute little storefront bistro. let’s just say it’s rare that you need reservations.

So after all those years of indulgence, the bottom has now fallen out of the economy.   It’s a bitter pill to swallow.   A sad but unique experience.   Ironic that it comes at such a price.

Hot Buttered Corn Syrup and the Changing Public Taste

Time was when you eat or drank something sweet it was usually sugar cane or honey that made it that way. Your sodas, ice cream, cakes, whatever were made with sugar, unless you bought it at the emerging health foods stores. Then it might have been made with honey or molasses. Occasionally, maple syrup escaped its role as topping gourmet pancakes and waffles to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Corn syrup was rare. Corn syrup was the poor man’s sweetener. And then the food and beverage companies realized they could save a few cents per serving, and they started added corn sweetener to your snacks and drinks. Corn syrup was not only cheaper, they needed less to make food and drink as sweet or sweeter than sugar would. High fructose corn syrup–nothing like it.

Which is true. Apparently, it has no source in nature and the body has difficulty recognizing it as food and tends to store it more as fat than the body would store sugar cane or honey. At least that is the theory or argument posed by the alleged health nuts of the world. The Corn Refiners Association says otherwise. As do the companies who bought high fructose corn syrup and used it in their food and beverages. A recent article in the Los Angeles Times, captures the controversy pretty well.

But then, as some argue, when you look around, people are fatter. Forget the nice words like obese and overweight. People are fat. The fat rolls over their waistline, pudges out their arms and legs, extends their rear ends and causes their jowls to hang like a Bull Dog’s. And people have gotten fatter since we started consuming corn syrup in grand style. At its peak, the individual in America consumed almost 64 pounds of corn syrup a year. Now it is down to just over 56 pounds per person. That’s a lot of sweetener.

Diabetes is up, people are fatter, and related illnesses has climbed significantly. The purveyors of corn sweetener will tell you the obesity increase is due to caloric increase and the sedentary life. We are fat because we are couch potatoes, is the prevailing wisdom. It has nothing to do with the corn syrup we ingest every year.

Well now a lot of people aren’t buying it. Literally. They haven’t been buying it for a number of years. So the good people who have been giving you bad foods are turning back to making their foods and beverages with sugar cane. They even boast their food products are “natural” and some even trumpet the health benefits of the sugar cane compared to corn syrup. Hey, anything for a buck.

I have to marvel over the miracle of the free market. This is the law of supply and demand at its finest. People no longer want something they fear is unhealthy in their foods and drinks and the manufacturers are forced to respond. The vendors re-arrange the furniture, so to speak, and spend the extra few cents on the ingredients and take the extra trouble to ship and store the more cumbersome sugar cane. Pretty amazing, eh?

But what is also amazing is that it took this long. For years now there have been health concerns about corn syrup. As the nation grew larger, the controversy stayed small. Until recently. As it has been said so many times over so many conditions, a change has come at last.

In the Highland Park section of Los Angeles, Galco’s a little Hispanic grocery has been for years carrying soft drinks with real cane sugar for many years. It is in fact the absolute Mecca for cane syrup soft drinks with aisle after aisle of cases of soft drinks from all over the world. Galco’s carried everything from the popular blends to the obscure. The owners let you mix and match. Galco’s serves excellent sandwiches, too, which presents a good excuse to wash them down with a bottle or two of Mexican or Irish soda pop.

As for the corn syrup, turn it into ethanol and put put it in your car. If your car gets fat, then you will know what to blame.

Hang ‘Em High

Botox Lifts: The Next Breast Thing?

Cosmetic Toxin Used To Improve A Woman’s Posture, ‘Lift Up’ Breasts

Plastic Surgeons Disturbed By Practice, Warn Against ‘Off-Label’ Uses

NEW YORK (CBS) ― It is one of the most powerful, poisonous, and paralytic proteins known to man, yet why is dermatologic wonder-drug Botox – the cure-all phenomenon that’s taken the cosmetic world by storm – being injected into women’s breasts these days?

“Dermatologist to the Stars,” Dr. Patricia Wexler, proudly advertises the answer to that question at her Manhattan practice. The Murray Hill-based doctor, who has her own cosmetic line and has been featured on “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” recently began offering Botox injections in the breast as a quick-fix for women who want to non-invasively give their breasts a temporary lift.

For the entire article go to

Perhaps in some parts of the world, or at least in this country, there will be some who view this doctor as a bold new pioneer. And it may be true. Those women who wish to engage in the eternal war against gravity may find Botox injections to the breast a most useful weapon in their arsenal.

But then by the same token when scientific studies are starting to report the potential harmful effects of botox, I think it would give one pause before she stuck her breasts with a particular chemical solution that starts its own career in the universe as Botulinun toxin ,a deadly poison. In fact, as Wikipedia points out, it is one of the more deadly toxins in the world. A small amount can kill you.

It is deadlier than strychnine, which nearly everyone regards as a deadly poison. While it would take about six metric tons of strychnine to kill everyone in the world, it would take only a few hundred grams of botulinum to do the same nasty job. On lesser levels, meaning illness resulting in less than death, botulinum, even of the cosmetic variety, can cause muscle paralysis or such pesky little difficulties as respiratory failure, drooping eyelids or the ability to smile. While a small quantity of unadulterated botulinum can result in death and, as botulism, which is food ingested, can result in serious illness, we know little about the side effects about the extended effects of the cosmetic variety.

Only now are the suspicions about the cosmetic variety starting to emerge. What happens over time, well we just don’t know. But, hey, until the other shoe drops, you will have no worry lines and a really nice rack. Of course we may prove our suspicions that with enough injections the cosmetic form does travel into your brain stem. This is a bad thing, by the way, for those less initiated in diseases of the world. It is rumored that you actually do need a working brain, although after spending a day in LA traffic, you can’t necessarily prove it by me. What breast injections would do over time to a pair of breasts, may be equally as alarming.

I hardly blame anyone for trying Botox, the best known, as well as the other cosmetic versions of bolulinum that are manufactured by a variety of companies. There is a great deal of pressure on women not to age and to look good. Then there is the matter of vanity, sexual attraction and the self-awareness that you can still turn heads when you enter a room.

On top of which, there are a great deal of medical applications for the drug. It is used for excessive sweating, excessive peeing in children, and TMJ disorders. TMJ deals with your jaw and is painful and annoying. Any help is welcome help. The drug is also used for diabetic neuropathy and for healing wounds. So, like many other things, you have to take the bad with the good, right?

And there really is no actual bonafide proof that injecting cosmetic forms of botulinum has any adverse effects. Rumors, maybe. Suspicions. Empirical evidence. In conclusive studies. But no real proof. While I hat to rain on anyone’s parade, I remember the years spent in the great cigarette to lung cancer debate. In fact, back in the days of your I worked very briefly for a research group that was contracted by the tobacco lobby in an effort to prove cigarettes were not harmful to your health. So perhaps it will take a few more decades before we really know anything about the cosmetic effects of botlunim. It’s not like our usual study group, prison inmates who volunteer as subjects for such research, have a big desire to eliminate their frown lines or hike up their hooters.

The thing is that while we have a ribbon for nearly everything, including a pink ribbon for breast cancer, we contemplate injecting toxins into our bodies that may prove fatal or result in any matter of diseases. There is no doubt breast cancer, or any cancer, is a serious disease and warrants maximum concern. We are warned about BPA in plastics, phtalatesin cosmetics and perfumes, detergents, etc. We freak over the parabens in shampoos in skin care and hair care product. And we have fund raisers for those stricken by the variety of diseases these chemicals appear to bring on. But yet, while parade, have walks, runs, marathons, we turn around and pay good money in rough economic times to shoot a deadly toxin into our bodies. Are we not a schizophrenic world, or what?

Well, so far we have not selected a ribbon color for those suffering from long term complications of having cosmetic botulinum seeping into the brain stem. So far, anyway.

Tough Times and No Cosmetic Surgery Can Leave You Hanging

Cosmetic surgery business sags as purse strings tighten

After years of steady growth, the multibillion-dollar industry has hit a rough patch. Consumers are cutting back on discretionary spending.

By Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

April 5, 2008

It used to be a high point of Goldy Anthony’s life. Every six weeks or so, as a kind of personal morale booster, she and a group of girlfriends would make appointments to see a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon for little touch-ups — getting lips plumped and frown lines on the forehead smoothed out. He was “an artist” with Botox and Juvederm, she said.

Afterward, in a carefree mood, the ladies would dine at a popular restaurant on the Sunset Strip.

No more. The sub-prime loan crisis, the housing slump and the general decline of the economy have claimed another covey of victims. Anthony is in the real estate business, and under current conditions, the cosmetic treatments — at $1,800 or more a pop — can no longer be squeezed into her budget. It’s the same with others in the group.

Find the entire article at LATimes

Corra doesn’t have to run a background check to safely say the downturn in cosmetic surgeries was one of the concerns during the Great Depression of the thirties. In fact, not only was most lifting, augmentation, implant, injection, collagen stuff around, concerns for the more visceral things like eating far outweighed the more narcissistic consideration.

But times change and so do priorities. Then it was eating and keeping roof over your head. Now it is gasoline that is driving us crazy. And, with the sub-prime catastrophe, we can also add keeping a roof over your head.

So back to the basics, meaning butts and bust lines. I suppose they will have to wait awhile, left to fend in their current states of suspension, with fewer implants and injections burning up the media and posing as possible health risks. I suppose, with the ever-rising cost of food and the hellish increase in gasoline prices, if you do less eating and more walking at least part of your appearance will take care of itself. For the rest of it, well people will have to take you as your are.

If you play your cards right, you will still find a date. Maybe you’ll even find that rich mate who will pick up the tab on your cosmetic surgery. Maybe. Even in tough times. But best to check him out fire. Run a background check and see if he really has the bucks he says he has.

Otherwise, smile for the world. Despite your lack of cosmetic attention, God loves you. Or not.

Smart and Powerful Women Who Do Foolish Things

At Corra we started running background checks for singles and daters because a fair amount of our female friends insisted we do so. For their protection.

Most of these women were successful women from their mid-thirties to their early fifties. They have money, status and plenty of clout. In business, they are well organized. Some that we know run their businesses like tight little ships. Everything is in its place. To everything there is an order. A procedure, if you will. And heaven forbid, the subordinates who fail to maintain that well oiled model of efficiency these women call their businesses.

So then, why is these same efficient, organized and successful women will drop everything and go running off to anywhere, because they met a man? Not just a special man. Any man. A man they don’t know, really. A man they met on the Internet. A man who, wisely, has pushed all the right buttons and whispered through cyberspace all the right phrases.

What in business would regarded as an intrusive phone call, in dating is the promise of lasting romance. It’s the chance at last to bond with their soul mates.

So when friends announced they are driving up to or taking a plane to anywhere to meet with this guy, we always ask the same tender question. “What are you out of your mind? You don’t even know the guy.”

But didn’t we see Sleepless in Seattle? Yes, of course. But that’s a movie. In real life it’s either Boring in Seattle or, worse, Slaughter in Seattle. Give me a hint where you are going, we say, just in case. In case of what? Where we can claim your body.

But, hey, who are we at Corra to rain on anyone’s parade? Especially single woman looking for love in all the wrong places and getting damned tired of the hunt. No more thrill of the chase. Especially women who are friends.

So we being the males we are, have to wonder, is it really that bad out there? I guess it is. Many trips to the county fair and not one lousy Teddy Bear could they win at the big arcade.