Batavick: Closing out some 2018 grudges

Before we ring out the old and embrace the new, there are some grudges I have with 2018 that I’d like to single out.

The so-called “War on Christmas.” Stores start displaying Christmas decorations after Halloween, and after Thanksgiving, radio stations begin playing carols and road signs advertise Christmas trees. Fine with me, but non-Christians must think the war’s over and Christians won.


Gun shops in downtown Westminster. First the Westminster Common Council approved tattoo parlors for downtown and now gun shops are soon to follow. Welcome to Pottersville.

Campaign signs for both winners and losers that over-stay their welcome months after the election.

“Dark money” in politics. I am suspicious when I receive campaign literature for local candidates and it carries a return address in a distant county.

Membership campaigns on public TV and radio. I say this as a supporter and 16-year veteran of public TV. I even used to do on-air pitches. Every other advanced nation fully funds its public media. We do so only partially and then give them a beggar’s bowl to make-up the difference. Disgraceful.

College basketball coaches who coach the refs as much as the players. Coaches Tom Izzo and Mike Krzyzewski have been amazingly successful, but when the ball isn’t bouncing their way they start jawboning the refs in the old Bobby Knight tradition. Soon calls start going against their competitors. Not sportsmanlike.

The Beguine. I let them begin it (with apologies to Cole Porter).

Re-organized store shelves. Merchants do this on a cyclical basis to get us to look at other products, but it adds another 10 minutes to my shopping when my favorite wines or grocery items have been mixed and matched two aisles over.

Pumpkin spice. This past fall the seasonal flavor migrated from coffee, beer, ice cream, and cookies to cereal as Kellogg’s rolled out Frosted Mini-Wheats, Frosted Flakes and Special K — all laced with pumpkin spice. What’s next? Pumpkin spice bottled water? (Editor’s note: We hate to break this to you, Frank, but it already exists.)

Canned pumpkin. Food & Wine reported that cans of pumpkin puree, even those advertising “100 percent pumpkin,” are actually made of a range of different winter squashes like butternut, golden delicious and Hubbard. Next I’ll find out that those really aren’t clams in my canned clam chowder.

Ever-shrinking product sizes. When did tuna get down-sized from a 6-ounce to a 5-ounce can? Funny how the price didn’t change.

Romaine lettuce bans. Why is it always romaine lettuce that gets contaminated with E. coli bacteria and not iceberg, arugula or spring mix? Are the field workers sending us an unwelcome message?

“Topped with sea salt” and “artisanal.” The marketeers are having a ball with these two descriptors and they can be found plastered on myriad food products. I don’t know what the difference is between the flavor of sea salt and Kosher salt, and artisanal is supposed to mean the product is “made in a traditional or non-mechanized way.” I don’t see how bread from a supermarket bakery can be labeled as such.

President Donald Trump’s crab tax. The cost of Maryland crab meat and crab cakes in restaurants soared this year, thanks to Trump’s imbecilic lottery for nonimmigrant H-2B visas. It deprived Eastern Shore crab processors of over 30 percent of their dependable pickers from Mexico.

My 401K and the “Trump Slump.” Mr. President, you are right. I am getting “tired of winning” and now want my investment portfolio’s performance transported back to the Obama years. “Stable genius” indeed.


Discontinued parts. Our 10-year-old food processor’s bowl broke and I contacted the manufacturer. They’ve discontinued the part and I was told to do an internet search for a replacement. It proved fruitless. The $175 base with motor and controls work fine, but I can’t find a $30 bowl to use it.

Climate change deniers. Not until we have even more wildfires, erratic weather, sinking cities, famine, drought, wars over water and arable soil, and the rapid spread of infectious diseases will they believe 97 percent of the world’s scientists and their own lying eyes. Fair enough, but better write that letter of apology to the grand- and great-grandkids now.

There, I feel better. That’s it for 2018. There are political storm warnings for 2019, so batten down the hatches before some likely momentous events unfold.

Meanwhile, I hope you and yours have a happy and healthy new year!