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Japanese face masks

A few people have asked me, following the reportage from Japan, why so many people wear face masks. So I asked somebody married to a Japanese person...

There are three reasons, in no specific order:

  • Pollution
    I, personally, feel that this is a sort of social safety blanket, for I wear a dopey little mask like those ones for work and sometimes the disinfectant gives me an itchy throat/cough. I don't believe that a simple face mask is adequate for airborne pollution unless they are particles large enough you can actually touch...
  • Infection
    Like nurses in hospitals, the masks are to help keep you healthy when there is sickness doing the rounds. But read my previous comment - it will be better than nothing, but not by much.
  • Spreading infection
    In a nice social gesture, sick people wear masks to try to minimise the spread of their illness. I'm in love with Japan, yes!
    No, seriously... In our world where daring to impinge upon a person's creative "rights" can land you in an awful mess, where there are laws regarding slagging people off and insulting a person's colour/race/religion/gender/etc, it seems a remarkable omission that sick people can go out in public and cough all over the place. Frequently they drag along obnoxious children with mouths open semi-cough where you can practically see a stream of germs, snot, and god-knows-what being ejected. All over the vegetable aisle. All over the canned goods. All over the dairy section. All over your trolley if you let the little bastards get close enough.
    This simple act of selfish stupidity can leave you feeling like utter crap for over two weeks, perhaps out of pocket to the tune of €20-40 for an array of medications that won't make it go away, but might make it tolerable. And if you are old or otherwise affected with a weak immune system, you could end up in hospital, or worse. And you don't even get the privilege of punching unconscious the asshole responsible.
    So I quite like the idea of a person wearing a face mask to catch their germs, to try to minimise the contamination of those around. Perhaps this is something we should learn from?
    [we wear masks at work for the same reason - not to protect us from the product, but to protect the product from us!]


Some things are just so obvious

Went to McDonald's the other day. I know, I know. But rural France is not a place known for being able to grab a meal on Sundays, or at odd times of the day. In the days before McDonald's... yes, there were days when you had practically zero chance of a meal outside of official eating times!

Anyway. Mom decided to be adventurous. This wasn't entirely her decision, but more a prompting by the salad she normally gets being unavailable due to an excuse that would appear to boil down to "the person who normally makes the salads...didn't".

So she tried a special "blue cheese burger". Yes, in a feat of over-Frenchification, McDo took blue cheese and stuffed it into a burger.

Mom's... uh... BLUE cheese McDonald's burger

Well. You can see the picture above. Compare it with the one on the box (on the left in the picture). No, it isn't the same burger (the one on the box is a slightly different type), but you can see thick luscious tomato and a decent layer of lettuce.
Now look on the right. Do you see any tomato at all? Or, for that matter, a layer of lettuce? I see a few limp pieces mixed in with the sauce, but that is about it. The blue cheese, unmelted, is visible on the right. That was pretty much it for the blue cheese. A piece barely larger than an SD card in a burger that size.
But the burger. That rocked, right?
Wrong. Even with all that sauce, it was dry. And seriously lacking in anything that might be called "warmth". Mom heroically ate about a third of it before pulling the burger out. She then bravely (stupidly?) ate another third before I took it away from her and replaced it with a basic generic (slighlty over-salted - who the hell SALTS the burger itself!?!?) cheeseburger.

Me? I don't tend to get meals. I know meals are competitively priced compared to buying the bits alone (>€2 for a beaker of fizzy flavoured water, are you serious!?), so here is my meal:

My pig-out-fest
It is a "280", special order without tomato. I tell them I cannot digest tomato pips. It isn't true, though I don't much like tomato on my burger. It is a ruse to guarantee that I get a freshly made one, instead of one that has been sitting on the shelf for 17 minutes (and yes, back in December I watched a Big Mac being made, offered to a customer who refused it for some reason, it was put back on the hot shelf and it sat there a whole 17 minutes until some other poor sap ordered a Big Mac and got that one (aren't McDo supposed to chuck stuff after 10 or so minutes?)).
This, aided with four hamburgers. I'd like cheeseburgers, but for the little whimper of cheese that you get (it is like a Kraft slice), the price is three quarters again as much - where's the logic in that?
And, of course, a cup of tea. Not a particularly decent cup of tea, but actually above par for the French who can lay you out flat with a single coffee, but couldn't turn a decent cuppa if their lives depended on it.
Ironically, this rolls in at around the €10 mark. Plenty of calories, to keep even a pig like me satisfied.


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