Monthly Archives: May 2016

Odd Jobs #2: Ant Vendors to Beer Testers

Odd Job - Barbie Doll dress designer, Nancy Rica Schiff

Barbie Doll Dress Desiger.  Image by Nancy Rica Schiff

Here are a few jobs that, only if one stops to think about it really (really) hard, might seem logical.  I guess that if you buy a ball, someone has to have tested it – at least random spot-checking of production lines; but selling ants?  Or making post mortem portraits from cremated ashes?  Or sniffing other people’s armpits (which is easier than sniffing your own, granted…)?  Go figure.  Follow the links to read more about them.

  • Ant Vendor: There are about 12,000 different species of ants in the world, so selling ants might actually be more complicated than you think. If you’ve ever had an ant farm, there was an ant vendor at work behind the scenes.
  • Armpit Sniffer
  • Ash Portrait Artists: Gets creative with the remains of loved ones. Following cremation, some people choose to hire these artists to create a token of remembrance, like a necklace or glass sculpture.
  • Barbecue Editor: Eating at restaurants and writing about it for magazines and newspapers. It may sound like a dream job until you stop to consider the fact that they must eat barbecue several times a day, every day…
  • Backpacking Instructor
  • Bed Tester
  • Ball Tester: Assess basketballs, footballs, volleyballs and soccer balls for air-retention, inflation, roundness, weight and reboundability. This job might also be called a “performance analyst” or “performance evaluation tester”.  If you think about it, someone’s got to test sports balls, tennis rackets for pros, etc.
  • Barbie Dress Designer: Fashion designers at Mattel Toys, the company behind Barbie, create hundreds of new styles for Barbie and her ever-expanding entourage.
  • Beefeater
  • Beer Tester: Taste — and spit out — beer all day to approve new and existing flavours.


Filed under Lists, Research

Odd Jobs, #1: Pizza Lab Assistant

Have you ever stopped to think about how a product you use comes into being?  We know about the testing of cosmetics on animals, no matter how appalling that practice is to us, but what about products tested on humans?  How are paintball guns tested?  On live, moving (and well-paid) targets.  And who writes the messages in fortune cookies?  And if you think they taste-test dog food on dogs, think again… someone gets paid to eat it.  I came across an odd job in my online research recently, and it got me thinking about obscure professions.  I’ll be sharing them with you in small doses, as some of them are downright gross, while others seem on the surface to be dream jobs, yet when you shake a stick at zhem, they might not come up to snuff as a day-to-day routine.

When I was younger, I worked in various food industry jobs:  My very first job was a summer job working in a Dunkin’ Donuts; the first day or two, I thought I was in heaven; by the second week, I found myself craving savoury things like Doritos and burritos – anything to counter the incessant mist of powdered sugar inhaled and permeating my hair and skin and clothes.  A month later, I couldn’t even smell the sweet air.

Pizza Hut Lab Assistant, Photo ShootThat job was not in and of itself all that unusual; but the odd job I’d like to share with you today was one I worked at for a couple of years, off and on, through a temp service; I kept being called back for projects, because the head chef liked working with me: In the Pizza Hut Laboratories, I assisted him in creating new doughs, sauces, and dishes to be served in Pizza Huts worldwide.  It was a fascinating job – before that, I’d never known what a difference 1 gram of yeast in a dough could make.

One memorable event from that time was assisting in the photo shoot for a billboard campaign; we needed four shots:  One whole deep-pan pizza, one slice of a deep-pan pizza, and one whole thin pizza and one slice of it.  For those four shots, we ensconced ourselves in the chosen photo studio for 10 days, nine-to-five, making literally hundreds of pizzas.  Steam doesn’t show up on photos, and back then – before the digital age – it couldn’t just be photoshopped in… it had to be produced with dry ice.  The pizza had 20 seconds to get from the oven to the studio across the hall before it would be declared “dead”… unusable for a photograph.

But have you ever seen a wilted, baked bell pepper strip, or a shrivelled mushroom?  They’re very unappetizing when blown up to billboard size, believe me.  However, according the the US regulations for advertising, we couldn’t just substitute those veggies for raw counterparts, as that would be fraudulent advertising – it had to be something customers could get in the store.  So, we blanched vegetables (thus, technically cooked); when the pizza left the oven, we had 10 seconds to go in with toothpicks, loosen the melted cheese, slip the offending veggie out and slip in a replacement to that exact gap, then whisk it across the hall, where the photographer was ready for us.  At first I was extremely popular with my friends, as we all had to take home tonnes of pizzas!  But after a few days, my friends and family were wishing I worked elsewhere… and still the pizzas kept coming.  Needless to say, we got the shots, and we all survived the pizza overdose.

I remember one counterpoint to that penetrating smell of baking pizza:  The photographer had a coffee machine in which he brewed a caramel coffee that smelled absolutely heavenly!  I’ve never been a coffee drinker, but that was the closest I’d ever come to being tempted to try it!  The only thing that stopped me was knowing that it probably smelled much better than it could ever taste, and I didn’t want to ruin the one highlight of my pizza-riddled days.


Filed under Articles, Musings

Just for Fun #3: Vegetarian

Vegetarian, Bad Hunter


May 11, 2016 · 9:44 PM

Anonymously Bad Grammar 2

Found perchance online, I thought I’d share this with you.  For those of you who, like me, cringe at bad grammar and spelling, you’ve just been duly forewarned.

In (one hopes purely sarcastic) response to the following information:  “Terms for being admitted to Harvard in the 17th century (around the age of 15 or 16): ‘Whoever shall be able to read Cicero, or any other such-like classical author at sight, and correctly, and without assistance to speak and write Latin both in prose and verse, and to inflect exactly the paradigms of Greek nouns and verbs, has a right to expect to be admitted into the college, and no one may claim admission without these qualifications.'”

“Hay, i took a fence @ that! i thinking hour educations more better then ever!”





Filed under Cartoon, Humor, Mistranslations

Lost in Translation: Pepsi

In 1963, Pepsi launched the “Come Alive!  You’re in the Pepsi Generation!” campaign.  All well and good until they took it to China, where the slogan translated as “Pepsi – Bring Your Ancestors Back from the Dead”.

Needless to say, it was a short-lived campaign, despite its claim to resurrect Grandpa.

LIT - Pepsi, Come Alive with the Pepsi Generation, 1963


LIT - Pepsi, Chinese of Come Alive with the Pepsi Generation, 1963


Filed under Humor, Images, Mistranslations, Signs