Quiz #108. Milk First?

Why did I mark the first anniversary of work-from-home with spilled milk? Steve's Stay-at-Home Coronavirus Quiz for March 9, 2021.

Monday morning, March 8, 2021. 

The one year anniversary of the last day I went to work.

The last day I commuted into New York City--a city which in less than two weeks would be completely shut down.

The last day my life was, well, normal.

So how did I mark my one year anniversary of stay-at-home, work-from-home, do-everything-from home life?  By trying something new--and it was a failure.

This is what happened when I tried to eat my breakfast cereal by pouring in the milk first.  I ended up with spilled milk.  (I didn’t cry.) It turns out if you pour your milk into the bowl first, you need to be a little bit more cautious with the pour.  There’s no cereal to catch the milk.

Why milk first, you ask?

Enter Twitter’s tricky algorithms to lure me back to social media.

As loyal quiz readers will note, this is the first quiz I’ve written in a month.  I have been busy working on a special work project that took up my time and creative energies.  That project is now completed, but working on it has also kept me off social media.  And that’s why Sunday night, March 7th, Twitter decided it needed to pull me back in, sending me an email about Jack Ciely’s column in The Athletic, ranking breakfast cereals.

I did not see the email until I woke up Monday morning--and it checked all the boxes.  Twitter knew I followed Ciely,  Twitter knew I liked fantasy football and Twitter knew (as do loyal quiz readers) that I like breakfast cereals.  So, I clicked into the article, my first time back on Twitter in weeks. As much as I resent the Twitter targeting, the Ciely cereal ranking is fantastic.  He takes his breakfast cereals seriously, ranking them on the basis of seven different categories.

I actually ranked each from 1-10 in seven different categories. We have, Originality (OG), Taste (T), Consistency (C), Sogginess (S), Milk Result (M), Longevity/Repeat Bowls (L) and of course, Mouth Feel/Texture (MF).

I was more than pleased to see that my favorite cereal, Lucky Charms, finished in Ciely’s top ten. #7 in fact, edging out Cap’n Crunch which came in at #9. For me, Ciely hit the nail on the head with his comments about the Cap’n.

The Crunch! Cap’n would rank higher as well if not for the fact that with each passing bowl, you get closer and closer to needing gum surgery. I dare someone to eat Cap’n Crunch while having a canker sore on the rough of your mouth!

I am not a fan of Cap’n Crunch for exactly this reason--too damn crunchy!  And yet, in September, I ordered several boxes of Crunch on the internet, having them delivered to my boss after she had taken issue with my love of  Lucky Charms, “What? Are you seven years old?” When she revealed that her favorite cereal was the Cap’n, I ordered some Crunch for her as a joke.  The joke was lost on the algorithms which track my (and your) orders.  My web-browsing over the next several weeks was filled with ads for Cap’n Crunch, my least favorite cereal.  As noted in Quiz #87. Coming Attraction?, this was an accidental adoption of my rule for throwing off the algorithms which I’ve dubbed, “My Data Don’t Matta.”  Every now and then, order or search for something out of character.  Order a cereal you do not like. Make yourself unpredictable.  Expose the “artificial” in AI.  All of which is a long way to say that on Monday morning, I sent the Ciely rankings to my boss.  She loved it--even though my Charms were ranked higher than her Captain.

As much as I love my Lucky Charms, their breakfast bars are not my favorite. These were sent to me by my sister Susan after she saw them and thought of me—a kind gesture that I appreciate. First or last, milk is essential to enjoying Lucky Charms.

Returning to Ciely’s rankings, I wanted to see what cereals had topped Lucky Charms and Cap'n Crunch.  I was struck by the #3 cereal in his rankings, Cap’n Crunch Sprinkled Donut.

Cap’n Crunch came out with a Sprinkled Donut version that alleviates the destroyed mouth issue, tastes like Cap’n and donuts combined and checks nearly every box! You can order it off the Walmart website, and you should do it now!

I wanted to try Cap’n Crunch Sprinkled Donut and went to the online Walmart site where I discovered the #3 cereal on Ciely’s list was NOT available.

I searched the internet.  Believe it or not, there were more than a few posts about how and where to find this cereal--but all of them came up empty. I added a comment for Ciely, alerting him that his #3 cereal was discontinued.  His response was less than satisfying.

I went back and re-read Ciely’s column and, upon closer examination, I realized that Ciely’s cereal rankings were actually recycled by The Athletic (and Twitter).  He’d written the rankings when Cap’n Crunch Sprinkled Donut was still available.  I have no problem with the recycled article--it felt fresh to me--though I do wish Ciely or his editors had noted that his #3 cereal was nowhere to be found. Why? Because knowing about the Donut Crunch, I now want to taste them--and I am frustrated that I cannot get a box.  It’s a silly problem in a universe of sorrow, but it’s the downside to our customized world of internet instant gratification.  We’re used to getting what we want.  So, whether it’s in a store (imagine that) or on the internet, if you ever find a box of Cap’n Crunch Sprinkled Donut cereal,  please let me know.  I want them. I’ve searched the internet for them.  They’re nowhere to be found.

Again, this is my first quiz since before the Super Bowl.  In Quiz #107, Cheater, I wrote about my utter disdain for Tom Brady.  Clearly, I was disappointed with the outcome of the game. Brady’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers won the Super Bowl in convincing fashion--though I think it was really the Tampa Bay defense that won the game.

I ran several Super Bowl pools--and did not win a single one.  On the morning of the Super Bowl, Sara entered my Super Bowl Quiz.  It was a sympathy entry because she knew I was disappointed that not more people had signed up for the quiz.  Over breakfast, she told Will and me that I’d made a mistake in writing the quiz because I had listed one of the teams as “TBA.”  “Shouldn’t you put in the name of the team now that we know who’s playing?” she asked.  I told her that I had.  “TBA” stood for “Tampa Bay”--not “To Be Announced”-- just as “KCI” stood for Kansas City.  Will and I chuckled, but Sara got the last laugh.  She finished fourth in the quiz and won $49.  She was worried that I'd be upset. I was NOT. I promise.  It’s NOT the reason I have not written a quiz in the last month. Really.

The last month has been busy and intense at work with a second impeachment trial.  On the Covid front, February also felt like the Hunger Games with people trading war stories on their failed efforts to get a Covid vaccine.  The Saturday Night Live skit on February 28th with Kate McKinnon as Anthony Fauci hosting a game show called, “So You Think You Can Get The Vaccine” was brilliant.

The McKinnon/Fauci line to open the game show struck both Sara and me. “Getting a vaccine shouldn’t be a competition, but Americans will only want to get it if it means that someone else can’t.” With millions of people eligible for vaccines in any given state and only thousands of vaccines available in each state, there simply was not enough supply. Competition and disappointment were sure to follow--especially in a decentralized country with state, county, city, township and village governments.  Imagine the outrage if the federal government had, in fact, come up with a protocol for determining precisely who “needed” the vaccine the most and the early doses were distributed exactly according to this government plan.  Can you imagine that government protocol going unchallenged?

With March and the approval of the third vaccine from Johnson & Johnson, more and more people who want a vaccine are now able to get one.  Others are still waiting, but on Monday, vaccination seemed to hit a critical mass when the CDC issued its long-awaited guidelines on what’s safe for those fortunate enough to get vaccinated. Among them, seeing grandchildren.  That’s something Sara and I have planned for this summer.  We can’t wait.

And so, as I write this, it’s Tuesday morning, March 9, 2021. On Tuesday morning, March 10, 2020, I decided to ask my boss if I could work from home.  It felt almost silly, an overabundance of caution and something that would pass in a week or two. I certainly never thought working from home would last one year--with no end in sight.

As noted in Quiz #10, Tuesday, I believe that Tuesday is the worst day of the work week.  You somehow get through Monday to find yourself in Tuesday, overwhelmed by the demands of work with no end in sight.  For the last year, work-from-home has felt like the month of March has never ended.  365 Tuesdays in a row--stuck in the middle of a work week with no end in sight.

It now feels like Wednesday.  Not the end of this horrible mess, to be sure, but there is a sense, a feeling, an awareness that somehow it might just end after all.  There will be hurdles and heart ache.  Thursday has its challenges and there’s always that last gasp of desperation on Friday afternoon when a work crisis explodes--something that just can’t wait.

One year later, I can never forget how lucky I am--and yes, how privileged.  Still employed and not infected.  Sara and I have everything we need--and then some. Despite our fears, anxiety and isolation, we still find time to laugh--a lot. If this has been a dry run for retirement, we’re ready.  We’re happy being together, even after a year of 24/7 life under one roof--especially after a year of 24/7 life under one roof.

Sara and I celebrating my birthday on March 1st with a wind-whipped beach outing to Sandy Hook.

Will I go milk first for my next morning’s breakfast cereal?  I’m not sure. Unusual at first, I did like the feel of pressing the poured cereal into the milk.  To me, the second bowl has always tasted better--and maybe milk first is the reason.  Just be careful when you pour.

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What did NOT happen?

A. I did not watch any of the Meghan Markle interview with Oprah.  I could care less;

B. Sara and I are now watching “Call My Agent” on Netflix;

C. During the snow storms of February, I used my snowblower to clear the sidewalks for the 10 houses on our block.  Two sets of neighbors left me 6-packs of beer and Guinness;

D. On the Friday before Presidents’ Day, I had a socially distanced visit with Annie before she headed to Washington with Betsy for a visit with friends.  Annie and I had lunch at McDonald’s, eating our meal in separate seats in the car, windows open and masks on except when eating.  We went thru the drive-thru three times;

E. Even though there will be a limited number of fans in the stands, I am not getting tickets for the Phillies’ Home Opener in April.


Want the answer?

Answer #108. Milk First?

If you’re a subscriber, the answer will be sent to you as a separate email when the question is published.


Want more?

Here’s the next quiz in the series: Quiz #109. “Do you want it to look like the picture?”

Here’s the previous quiz in the series: Quiz #107. Cheater

Here’s the first quiz in the series: Quiz #1. Stella and Social Distancing, March 13, 2020

Here is an archive of all the quizzes.

The quiz is explained here: Steve’s Stay-at-Home Coronavirus Quiz.


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