Monday, August 8, 2011

Monday Reruns: This is Going to Sound Weird, but...

(original post-date: August 4, 2010)

Last week, one of my favorite clients sent me an email. She let me know that they’d soon be “adding a sub-domain to their splash page,” and so… she might need my help with some language. Before ending her missive, she commented on the jargon she was using, and I could sense that her eyes were rolling with irony and amusement as she typed.

I appreciated what drove her comment about the jargon. The fact of the matter is, she and I have laughed – for a few years now – over our common (and often reluctant) emergence from the luddite trenches. Both of us baby boomers, we are doing our best to keep up with the times.

That same day last week, I sent an email to another client. This particular email was sent to assuage my client’s concerns. I wanted to ensure her that I had not missed a prospective grantmaker’s automatic reply to our online Stage One application. In fact, I had retrieved that reply from my “Suspect Mail” just an hour before my client sent her relatively alarmed message.

“Don’t worry,” I shared, typing quickly before hitting SEND, “I check my spam at least four times a day.”

And that’s when it hit me.

Imagine, for a minute…

Imagine if, 15 years ago, someone had said to you, “I check my spam at least four times a day.”

How many red flags?

Okay, the first and most obvious one is the OCD flag. And, mind you, I’m not belittling that issue; I’ve got some of my own OCD manifestations. I’m big on expiration dates, for example. (Don’t get me started.) And, the checking thing? There’s a pre-departure routine that revolves around my kitchen; I always do it at least three times.

So, okay, that’s one way the statement might have seemed alarming 15 years ago. The “checking” … The “four times a day”…

But what about the reference to spam?

And what's in those cans, anyway? Does that weird meat concept even exist anymore?

(Pardon me while I do a Google search...)

I’m back, folks, and guess what. Spam does exist anymore. Not only that, it was the first hit!

Forward-thinkers, those meat canners. How smart they were to grab the domain of “” and make it their own before the cyber-geeks had a chance to take it and run with it. Damn. Good for Spam. But still, I’m not quite sure what it is… And, that site of theirs (however primary on the search results page) isn’t helping.

(Pardon me while I go to Wikipedia…)

Okay, I can’t possibly paraphrase (nor do I want to, really), so I’ll just share here what we might as well call the Wiki Executive Summary of Spam. (And if this whets your appetite, I strongly suggest a nutrition counselor.)

Spam is a canned precooked meat product made by the Hormel Foods Corporation. The labeled ingredients in the classic variety of Spam are chopped pork shoulder meat with ham meat added, salt, water, modified potato starch as a binder, and sodium nitrite to help keep its color. Spam’s gelatinous glaze, or aspic, forms from the cooling of meat stock. The product has become part of many jokes and urban legends about mystery meat, which has made it part of pop culture and folklore.

Pop culture and folklore, huh?

It’s kinda nice to know those concepts have a shelf life in our fast-paced cyberworld.

… I’ve never eaten Spam, and I don’t think I ever will (despite its undoubtedly seductive gelatinous glaze). And so I am especially glad that there aren’t seven or eight cans of it confronting me when I peer into the kitchen cupboard. If there were, I’d have to throw those cans in the trash. I’d have to make room for the seven or eight more that are likely to appear out of nowhere in the next several hours.


Sarah Pearson said...

Oh Spam is nasty - both kinds.

And that 'gelatinous glaze'? You've got to scrape it off with a knife and leave it in a wobbly heap on the side of the plate.

I was made to eat a lot of spam as a kid, it makes me go cold just thinking out it!

Anonymous said...

Haha! This is as funny the second time around as it was the first Katie! Spam and corned beef as part of a cold meat serving, yes, I remember that as a child.

I did not develop a real aversion to either, they just sort of faded from my life. The other kind, I hate!

(Monty Python did a great job with Spam!)

Jules said...

I'm with you on not eating it. Anything you can model out of and it remain editable is just down right scarey! :)
Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

Martha Mawson said...

I must say, in echoing Deborah, that when I heard the word "spam", I think neither of meat or mail, I simply hear the Monty Python crew singing about Spam and going through the menu at the cafe:

Mr Bun: What have you got, then?

Waitress: Well there's egg and bacon; egg, sausage and bacon; egg and spam; egg, bacon and spam; egg, bacon, sausage and spam; spam, bacon, sausage and spam; spam, egg, spam, spam, bacon and spam; spam, spam, spam, egg and spam; spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, baked beans, spam, spam, spam and spam; or lobster thermidor aux crevettes, with a mornay sauce garnished with truffle paté, brandy and a fried egg on top and spam.

Linda Medrano said...

Spam made an appearance at our house when I was a kid. I'm not sure why mom kept buying it when none of us would eat it. I understand it's actually popular in Hawaii. Go figure!

Hines-Sight said...

Katie, it nice to meet you as well. I look forward to getting to know you. Leigh

Andrea said...

I'm glad you re-ran this, Katie. I often find the words associated with technology to be very clever adaptations, and "spam" is one of them. But I also like "boot up" and "hack" and "crash" and "import" and all the others that have been applied to nudge us toward understanding what we're dealing with which is, of course, ever a mystery no matter what common knowledge words it comes with.

Marlena Cassidy said...

Oh man, blast from the past. My father bought cases and cases of spam just to be sure that if the city was ever nuked or something and we were all forced to become underground-dwellers, we wouldn't starve. They used to sit under the basement stairs and collect dust, all eight cases of them filled with 24 cans each of spam. It was insane.

I love how it's become internet wasteland food now.

Deb Shucka said...

Spam was a special dinner in my growing up home. Fried. Served with baked beans. Sometimes between two slices of white bread with lots of mayonnaise. I haven't opened a can in 45 years. :-)

It is interesting that these new generations think spam is a whole other thing.

Samantha Vérant said...

Spam. I've never, ever tried it. And I never will. OUF. Just the words gelatinous glaze make my stomach roil. As for the mail spam, I rarely check my google account...Hmmm, maybe I should.

cj Schlottman said...

Katie! This is great. I'm with you. I would never buy any of the stuff for fear it would procreate in my pantry - in much the same way that Ramen noodles did in my college days.

I remember tasting it once......never again!