Chex Mix Turds

March 2014

General Mills, Inc.
P.O. Box 9452
Minneapolis, MN 55440

Dear General:

I know that your company is a venerable one, in existence for the last 500 years or so, and has fed me and countless other millions of people such staples of life as Wheaties, Cheerios, Total and Yoplait.  You trained us to know that Wheaties was the Breakfast of Champions™; added every flavor and color to Cheerios except rhubarb and puce and made us feel unhealthy if we didn’t jog a mile or two before eating Total or Yoplait.

So what, pray God, is this substance that I found in a recently purchased bag of Chex mix (Traditional) to which I have become addicted?


What does this look like to you?

Yes, you are correct.  Turds, but saltier.  An alternate theory might be meteor turds from a distant galaxy (still quite salty).  Both theories do not explain how these substances got into my package of Chex mix (Traditional).

I have no idea why your quality control person was missing-in-action on the day that this batch of Chex mix (Traditional) was produced but, suffice it to say, while this bag may have “60% less fat than regular potato chips” (your words), it has “100% more turd-like lumps than potato chips” (my words).  Presumably, your quality control process has not confused potato chips with buffalo chips.

Here I am, mindlessly sitting in front of the cable TV watching an episode of some inane series like Duck Dynasty or Jersey Shore, happily munching away, when I am overcome with revulsion from chomping down on one of these brown beauties.  I might as well have been eating a salt lick.  The bag from which I was consuming this inedible stuff should have said Chex licks instead of Chex mix.  The fact that these lumps were the color of excrement did not add to my gustatory experience.

You advertise on the bag “Earn cash for your school!”  How?  By getting kids to accumulate Chex mix turds and turning them in for high Phosphorus content returnables at the local dump?  By leaving them on the living room carpet and getting unsuspecting parents to pay extra cash to the kids while they re-potty train the innocent house dog or cat?  By saving them up and using them in place of road salt on snowy winter days?  By selling them at rock and gem shows as “meteor shit?”

General, I have been a faithful patron of your company for the last couple hundred years and I am not about to give up now but I am having serious doubts.  Finding these lumps in my Chex mix (Traditional) package makes me think that you should hire Tom Hanks and have him reconstitute his Forrest Gump role advertising Chex mix (Traditional) with the slogan:

“Life’s like a package of Chex mix; You never know what crap you’re gonna get.”

Please, let an old man enjoy his snacks without the trepidation of consuming indigestible brown blobs.  Total is supposed to have “100 percent of the daily value of 12 essential vitamins and minerals.”  Manure is not one of those.  Cheerios cereal provides “1 gram of soluble fiber per serving.”  Road roses are not considered soluble fiber.  Wake up and fire that quality control guy and hire a new one who will keep salty meteor shit lumps out of my Chex mix (Traditional).

Thank you.



Tropical Heat

Writing the Romance Novel – Chapter Five

Novellas of Broken Romance.

Chapter Five

Leaning back in his tropical lawn chair, covered with sun tan oil under a brilliant Caribbean sun and surrounded by a pristine pearl-white beach, an azure sea in front of him, a piña colada on his left, the beautiful Lola on his right, it was easy to forget the circuitous path by which Roderick had gotten to this demi-paradise.

While it ended here in tropical heat, it all started on a cold, wintry evening in a dreary office in Cleveland, Ohio.  Roderick was a boring but unscrupulous accountant who had devised a scheme to defraud his long established firm of three hundred thousand dollars.  On Friday the first, Roderick left the office at 2nd and Grand early.  He walked four blocks to the local Fifth Third Bank branch and withdrew the money from the firm’s general account.  Promptly at 6 pm, he boarded the 7A bus and arrived at the train station at 8:15.  He bought a one way ticket to New York City and arrived the following morning at 9:04 am, after a painful delay from 10 to 11 pm just outside Pittsburg.

From Grand Central Station, he hailed a cab to JFK International Airport and purchased a ticket to Frankfurt, Germany.  The day before, Roderick had brought his passport, a few overnight items and a carry-on duffel for the money since he was not stopping at his dreary apartment after work or ever again.  From Frankfurt, he booked a flight to Buenos Aires and then to the Cayman Islands.

He now was basking in all the pleasures of this Caribbean paradise.  Lola was some beautiful tramp he found during the long layover in Buenos Aires.  Three hundred thousand dollars, although a large sum, would not support Lola and him to his new extravagant life style for long.  But thirty-one million dollars would.  And that thirty-one million should arrive any day now, at least according to the letter Roderick had intercepted at his old firm.

Dear Sir:

I am Dr. Obi Ngame, a director with the Union Bank of Nigeria in Lagos, and I wish to speak to you most urgently about a matter regarding the sum of US $31 million dollars.  We want a reliable agent who could assist us to transfer this sum to his account.  We only require a deposit of US $300,000 in order to proceed with the transaction …


Roderick stopped reading, stretched his back muscles and smiled.  The account had been set up; the money transferred and it was only a matter of time before he could end his days in the heat and passion of the tropics.  Life was good.

Thy Humble Servant

After writing about trebuchets, I wondered what would happen if a Medieval salesman were sent on a mission to sell them to the lords of the manor.

[With thanks to Medieval Letter-writing Class Notes .]


the right and honorable Master of Armaments, his worshipful Earl of Cornhole and all that he surveys, I, the Cur of Mudgeon send greetings.

pray upon bended knees by the grace of God that this letter finds thee in good health, thy wife and daughters fulsome and graceful, thy lands and pastures bountiful and productive, thy sheep wooly, thy hogs fat, thy cattle grazing, thy geese honking, thy chickens clucking, thy oxen ploughing, thy vassals forging, thy tithes tithing and thy armaments bludgeoning.

has been a fortnight since I received the letter from your lordship sending me to Graster-upon-Swine and the lands of his lordship the Kirward of Derby1.  Thou didst indeed fulfill in that letter what at the beginning of it thou hadst promised to thy lowly servant.  I do so humbly thank thee for the faith invested in me by thy grace and wherefore set down my actions that I might shew thee the consummate effort of my undertakings.

lordship’s table, while ably set, is no match for thine own.  His lordship seems indifferent to the offerings of land and livestock; thus we dine on swill, offset by large flagons of draught fit only for heathens resulting in many visits to the privy, whose vile contents, if harvested and contained, would command reign and wrest asunder the strongest bonds of the alchemist’s art.

presentation of your most superb and desirable armaments, I met swift and sudden resistance.  Despite firmness and immovable resolution, my most earnest entreaties fell on deaf ears.  I swear that his lordship is thicker than the fortified walls of his fine castle.  Verily methinks his lordship’s stable lacks a few stalls; his chain-mail is missing a few links and the steps in his tower riseth not to the top.

to no little amazement thine own oblivion to my flagging efforts is only now revealed and you are spared, by the grace of the Holy Fathers, thou hast now been admonished that I waver and am already crushed from the prolonged and crippling assault on my senses without the slightest chance of victory, either by speech or protestation, to his lordship’s intransience.

l be at all seasons ready to perform in this matter and all others your pleasure as perforce in my poor power to do, with God’s grace, whom I beseech to send you the accomplishment of your most consonant desires, for I will no further labor but to you unto the time ye give me leave and till I be sure that ye shall take no displeasure with my further labor.  Yet I beseech thee, my lord, relieve me of this onerous task and free me, thy humble servant, from this land of offal and offal-er.

 and pay heed to what I request; and my long letter with a brief ending I conclude. Farewell, my all.

1 From The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show

How Do I Hate Thee …

How do I hate thee, let me count the ways.

No, not you, gentle reader, I mean all the goddam @#$%^&* institutions against whose impervious brick walls (both real and virtual) I pound my head every week to get lumps, bumps, concussions and migraines; everything but results.   In alphabetical order, my list includes but is not restricted to:

  • Appliance repair firms
  • Banks
  • Brokerage firms
  • Credit card providers
  • Governments – federal, state and local
  • Health care providers
  • Insurance companies
  • Magazine subscription services
  • The telephone company (wireless and wired)
  • Utilities

Here are some samples of head-beating agony:

  • This is our policy; it can’t be changed.
    • If your policy happened to result in me getting no bill at all, don’t you think your company could change that?
  • Let me transfer you to someone who can help you.
    • Unless the transfer goes directly to God, no help is forthcoming.
  • We’re sorry for the error in your bill; we will make an adjustment in your next month’s bill.
    • The next month’s bill contains the old error plus interest on the old error plus a new error.  None of it in my favor.
  • If you sign up this month for our [insert stupid sounding name here] card, we will reduce the interest rate on any outstanding balance from astronomical to merely heart-stopping.
  • Press one for customer support;  Press two for claims and billings;  Press three for new inquiries;  Press four for no apparent reason …
  • Thank you and welcome to our automated telephone response system (translation – no human contact).  Please describe in a few words the nature of your call so that we may assist you.  I didn’t understand that:  Did you say “… and the horse you rode in on?”
  • All our agents are busy being unresponsive to other customers.  Your call is very important to us.  Please wait for the next available agent or the return of Haley’s comet.
  • This is your 23rd and final reminder that your subscription to Sadistic Cooking is about to expire.  We really mean it.  If you don’t renew your subscription now, we will continue to send you reminders daily until you can’t stand it and you shoot your postman.  Don’t shoot your postman; renew now!
  • One of our servicemen will arrive to fix your problem between the hours of 6 am and 11 pm.  An adult must be home to receive the service call.  If no one answers the door within 4.3 milliseconds, we will be forced to reschedule the call for sometime in the next decade.

Writing the Response to the Complaint Letter

I am an equal opportunity complainer.  Having given directions for writing the complaint letter, I felt a need to give equal time to the response letter.  As an example, let me use the note my good friend, Mr. Millard Fillmore, sent to National Public Radio (NPR) shortly after the Japanese earthquake of March 2011 complaining about the long wait for an update on the earthquake.  Here is his note:

From:      Millard Fillmore
To:          NPR
Date:      Mar 2011
Subject: Priorities

Friday, March 18th’s broadcast placed a story about fish prices and fears in the northwest US before an update on the situation in Japan.

Why would an at-best-tertiary consequence of the Japan disaster be featured earlier? Those of us seeking an update on Japan had to wait more than a half hour into the broadcast.

And here is the response from NPR:

From:      NPR
To:          Mr. Millard Fillmore
Date:      Mar 2011
Subject: Re: Priorities – Message ID: xxx

Dear Mr. Fillmore, Thank you for contacting NPR.

We are grateful for your comments to NPR News. Your feedback is important to us, and your thoughts have been noted.

NPR is always delighted to hear from listeners.

Thank you for listening, and for your continued support of public broadcasting. For the latest news and information, visit

NPR Services

My friend said that it was like writing to your congressman.  I’m not singling out NPR.  We get the same, vanilla-standard response letter from our public officials, utility companies, credit card services or banks.  “Thank you for contacting us; We are delighted to hear from you; We are sorry for any inconvenience that may have occurred; Your views are very important to us.”

Just once, wouldn’t you wish for something a little less dull and unimaginative?

From:     NPR
To:         Mr. Millard Fillmore
Date:     Mar 2011
Subject: Re: Priorities – Message ID: xxx

Dear Mr. Fillmore:

Thank you for contacting NPR.  You inquiry will be given the response it deserves. 

While we recognize that most people are more interested in the price of fish and their innate fears than they are about real life crises like those facing Japan, our real question is “Why is an ultra-conservative right wing nut job like you listening to a station that knowingly appeals  only to commie-pinko tree-huggers?”  Shouldn’t you stop bothering us at NPR and join your own crowd at the Glenn Beck-Rush Limbaugh-Sarah Palin-God Bless America-I know that aliens exist-Healthcare is for wimps-What good is the UN-Let it snow until Al Gore is buried crew at Fox?

Honestly, Mr. Fillmore, we at NPR have far better ways to waste US taxpayers’ money than responding to your senseless drivel.  In fact, in the time that it took to construct this response, the price of fish has risen at least two or three hundred yen.  Think of that the next time you eat your yellow-fin tuna sandwich!

NPR Services

To quote the customer service motto of Despair, “We’re not satisfied until you’re not satisfied.”