News of the Week: Hurricane Dorian, Cheetos Fashion, and the Many Ways to Make Ants on a Log

In the news for the week ending September 6, 2019, are Waffle House, Space Command, Cheetos fashion, old computer tech, funky snack foods, and more.

(Rosty McFly / Shutterstock)

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The Waffle House Index

As I write this, Hurricane Dorian has ravaged the Bahamas and is skirting up the East Coast toward the Carolinas and the Outer Banks. No matter what anyone says, there’s nothing we can do about it except watch where it goes and prepare.

Over at his always-interesting (and long-running) blog, Jason Kottke describes the “Waffle House Index,” a phrase first used by FEMA director E. Wayne Fugate that describes the extent of a restaurant’s operations and service after a big storm. Believe it or not, there’s even a color code. Green means the Waffle House is open and offering a full menu; yellow means it’s open but has a limited menu; and red means that the natural disaster has closed the location.

The John Hancock Building in Boston — now called the Berkeley Building, which I didn’t know about until two minutes ago, and I live here — has a code too, based on the lights at the top of the building. There’s even a rhyme:

Steady blue, clear view

Flashing blue, clouds due

Steady red, storms ahead

Flashing red, snow instead

Remember that the next time you’re in Boston and you look up and see the lights. If you’re here in the summer, flashing red means that the Red Sox game for that night has been canceled.

Space Command

President Trump has officially authorized the creation of the U.S. Space Command, which will eventually lead to a Space Force. It will become a sixth branch of the military, joining the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard.

This isn’t a new idea, actually. President Reagan created a Space Command in 1985, but it was stopped in 2002 when the Pentagon’s focus changed after 9/11.

At first I was lukewarm on a Space Force. I thought it was unnecessary and sounded a little silly. But if it eventually leads to bases on the moon, cool handheld communicators, and the construction of the Starship Enterprise, I’m all for it.

Orange Is the New Black

New York Fashion Week is taking place right now. I know, I know, every year you decide to go and every year something else comes up: work, the new school year, common sense. Since you’re not going, I did want to tell you about one of the shows that took place yesterday, hosted by Frito-Lay and a cheetah.

The Cheetos House of Flamin’ Haute Show featured 21 “high-fashion-yet-playful” clothing designs based on the popular snack food. The styles were inspired by fans online and featured Cheetos-ish hair, nails, and makeup. I have no idea what that means. It was the first runway show ever for Cheetos, but I guess they had to start somewhere.

I have a Cheetos Fashion Show twice a year in my apartment, when I’m eating Cheetos and I wipe the orange dust on my shirt.

The Version Museum

I miss the old internet. It took longer to get online and everything was slower (and noisier, with those screeching dial-up modems), but it was also a world without social media, autoplay videos, and viral this-and-that. I even miss the look of the old web. Sure, compared to the sleek design of sites today, it probably looks basic, maybe even crude. But if you were there at the time, you loved it, and compared to what we experience now online, its simplicity was a feature, not a bug.

The web was a destination then and not where people lived, which is what we have today.

If you miss it too, check out the Version Museum, a site that shows you “a visual history of your favorite technology.” It shows you what well-known sites, computer programs, and games looked like when they first launched, including The New York Times, Yahoo!, Facebook, Microsoft Windows, Apple’s OS, and Super Mario Kart. There isn’t a ton there right now, but they’re adding stuff all the time.

RIP Valerie Harper, James Leavelle, Franco Columbu, and Rosemary Kuhlmann

Valerie Harper was best known for her Emmy-winning role as Mary’s best friend and upstairs neighbor Rhoda Morgenstern on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and the spinoff, Rhoda. She also appeared in shows like Columbo, The Simpsons, The Office, Hot in Cleveland, and Valerie (later changed to Valerie’s Family when she left the show and, eventually, The Hogan Family). She received a Tony nomination for her role as actress Tallulah Bankhead. Harper died last week at the age of 80.

James Leavelle was one of the men in one of the most famous photos of all time, the detective in the light-colored cowboy hat who was escorting Lee Harvey Oswald when he was shot and killed by Jack Ruby. He also survived the attack on Pearl Harbor and was a Dallas officer and detective for 26 years. He died last week at the age of 99.

Franco Columbu was a bodybuilder and actor who appeared in many films starring his good friend Arnold Schwarzenegger, including The Terminator, Conan the Barbarian, and The Running Man. He died last week at the age of 78.

Rosemary Kuhlmann was an opera singer who got rave reviews for her performance as the mother in the acclaimed 1951 live TV version of Amahl and the Night Visitors. She died last month at the age of 97.

This Week in History

RMS Titanic Found (September 1, 1985)

Explorer Robert Ballard and his team found the sunken vessel while working on other projects for the Navy. Recent photos of the ship show that it is experiencing significant decay, and some parts may collapse in a few years.

Frederick Douglass Escapes Slavery (September 3, 1838)

After two failed attempts to escape, Douglass finally succeeded by boarding a train on the Philadelphia, Wilmington, and Baltimore Railroad.

Here’s Professor Ben Railton’s Post essay on the famous speech Douglass made on July 5, 1852, and the impact it had on the debate over race and the nation’s founding ideals.

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: Crossing Guard (September 6, 1952)

Saturday Evening Post cover depicting a young traffic monitor preventing other school children and a grown-ass man crossing the street.
Crossing Guard

The adult on this George Hughes cover is probably thinking, “I could take this kid,” but realizes that rules are rules.

September 10 Is National Ants on a Log Day

I’ve had celery with peanut butter, but never Ants on a Log. That’s when you put raisins on top of the peanut butter to make … well, ants on a log. With school starting — and next Tuesday being National Ants on a Log Day — I thought I’d give some recipes, so you can put some in with your child’s lunch.

You’re probably thinking, wait, didn’t you just give the recipe (celery + peanut butter + raisins = Ants on a Log)? I did, but there are other ways to make them, as you can see from this page at The Lemon Bowl. You can top them with strawberries, dried cherries, tuna salad, herbed goat cheese and salami, hummus and cherry tomatoes, even guacamole and pickled jalapeños.

By the way, if you make Ants on a Log and your toppings are moving, those might be actual ants.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

U.S. Open Finals (September 7 and 8)

The women’s final airs on ESPN Saturday at 4 p.m., and the men’s final airs on the same network Sunday at the same time. And remember: You’re never going to find three tennis balls in a Pringles can.

NFL’s 100th Season Starts (September 8)

Sure, the official start of the season was last night, when the Packers played the Bears, but the real official start of the season is this Sunday. Here’s the schedule for every game that’s going to be played this season.

Jeopardy! Season Premiere (September 9)

Alex Trebek is finished with his chemotherapy and will be back as host this Monday when the 36th season of the game show launches.

By the way, if you’re feeling down, go on over to the Trebek Affirmation Soundboard for a pep talk.

Featured image: Rusty McFly /

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  1. The Waffle House Index is more than what you described. It is actually used by FEMA to determine the effect of a storm and the likely scale of assistance required for disaster recovery. It tells how the community is doing after a major event. Plus Waffle House has their own in house preparedness team.

  2. One of the big bright spots this week with the hurricane disaster is the fantastic dog rescue work done by Chella Phillips, rescuing over 100 dogs! She needs a bigger place, and over $100k has been raised to help her care for the many more dogs that will need her help in the difficult days ahead.

    I encourage all of us enlightened POST dog lovers to look her up online and see for yourselves the wonderful work Ms. Phillips is doing for these otherwise homeless dogs; even singing to them to soothe their stress at this difficult time. I’m sending her $10. Whatever you can do will be greatly appreciated.

    I’ll have to check out the ‘Version Museum’. Maybe it’ll show me how nice and professional Yahoo! e-mail used to look around 2006, with the available toolbars, fonts and when you could forward something and it looked great. With the newer technology since 2011, all of that’s gone! And when you forward something, it’s all scrunched up to the left, looking very primitive and being really embarrassing!

    Valerie Harper was a national treasure as positive inspiration for everyone going through adversity with dignity, grace and class, living life to the fullest. She was one terrific actress/entertainer and a fine person.

    Thanks for running another great, vintage POST cover. I’m pleased to see the feature on Nixon at the top also.


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