News of the Week: Minimal Tech, Mr. Sandman, and Mrs. Dash Loses the “Mrs.”

Before we unplug, Bob Sassone takes a look at Millennial Brits, James Lipton and other news.

Illustration of an unplugged power cord

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The National Day of Unplugging

You shouldn’t be reading this.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy that you are reading it, but you probably shouldn’t be. At least not for a couple of days, because today and tomorrow mark the National Day of Unplugging, the day we get away from our smartphones, our computers, and all of our other distracting devices (you don’t have to unplug your toaster or coffee maker).

This is a good thing. In fact, I think we should have more days during the year where we unplug. Doing it for just one day a year shouldn’t be too hard for most people — HAHAHAHAHA! — and if we were to just ease up on how much we use our devices, I think we’d be a whole lot better off.

Over the holidays, I noticed that every single member of my family always had their phone next to them at the dinner table. They had them in their hands or next to them as we talked and had coffee and ate pie and watched football on TV. I remember looking around and saying to myself — and I say this every year — “hmmm, that’s really odd.”

It’s so hard to make younger people understand that there was a time when we didn’t have a phone with us constantly. We hung up our landlines at home and left the house. (People my age and older, I’ve noticed, are having an equally hard time remembering those days.) I remember those days vividly and I try to live that way as much as I can now.

So unplug for the day and talk to someone without looking down. Go to a movie without having something glowing in your hand that annoys the people around you. Have a meal or a conversation that you don’t feel the need to photograph and upload to Facebook. Maybe you’ll find that you actually like being away from a screen and maybe you’ll make it a regular part of your life.


I was going to make a joke about how Mrs. Dash is now single, because B&G has announced that they’re taking the “Mrs.” off the product’s name and it will now just be known as “Dash.” Of course, that joke doesn’t make a whole lot of sense because, if she were suddenly single, the name would have been changed to “Miss Dash” or “Ms. Dash.” (And yes, I’m doing in-depth analysis regarding the relationship status of a salt substitute.)

B&G marketing director Julie Gould says the new name “captures the salt-free seasoning line’s ability to quickly and easily add salt-free flavor to any dish.” Yes, when it was called “Mrs. Dash” it slowed everything down. It took hours to add salt-free flavor to any dish.

They can talk in general terms about how the rebranding does this and does that, how shortening the name is more catchy and modern, but why do I have the feeling this was also done to make the product’s name more gender-neutral, because it was too “old-fashioned” to believe that women are the ones that cook?

Goodbye Leap Years?

I hope you had a happy Leap Day last Saturday. If two academics have their way, you won’t be able to celebrate them in the future.

Johns Hopkins University economists Steve Hanke and Richard Conn Henry have created a new kind of calendar that not only gets rid of the concept of a leap year, it also makes sure that January 1 is always a Monday, rearranges the months so they’re more uniform, and adds an extra week to the end of December every five or six years. January will now have only 30 days (sorry if you were born on the 31st) and there will now be a February 30.

Oh, they also want to change the way we tell time. You can read about it at their site.

How Many British Millennials Does It Take to Screw In a Light Bulb?

Actually, it doesn’t matter, because they don’t know how.

RIP James Lipton, Jack Welch, Lee Phillip Bell, Freeman Dyson, Lee Evans Mand, Joyce Gordon, Joe Coulombe, and Bobbie Battista

James Lipton had a very interesting life. He’s best known as the host of Inside the Actor’s Studio, but he started out as an actor himself. He appeared on shows like The Guiding Light, Inner Sanctum, and Armstrong Circle Theatre. He also played the Lone Ranger’s nephew on radio, wrote for many soap operas and Bob Hope specials, and even worked as basically a pimp in Paris after World War II. He died Monday at the age of 93.

Jack Welch was the former chairman and CEO of General Electric. He died Sunday at the age of 84.

Lee Phillip Bell created, along with her husband Bill, The Young and the Restless and The Bold and the Beautiful. She was also a talk show host. She died last week at the age of 91.

Freeman Dyson was a science and technology genius who influenced an entire generation of thinkers on the subjects of physics, math, climate, and war. He died last week at the age of 96.

Lee Evans Mand was the lead singer of The Chordettes, famous for such ’50s songs as “Mr. Sandman” and “Lollipop.” She died last month at the age of 95.

Uploaded to YouTube by The Chordettes – Topic / The Orchard Enterprises)

Joyce Gordon was not only the first female president of a Screen Actors Guild branch, she had a lot of other firsts too: the first woman to do TV network promos, the first female announcer for a political convention, even the first person who wasn’t a TV character to wear glasses on TV (scroll down in this PDF). She also did live commercials on The Price Is Right and The Jack Paar Show and acted on several radio and TV shows. She died last week at the age of 90.

Joe Coulombe was the founder of Trader Joe’s. He died last week at the age of 89.

Bobbie Battista was a former anchor and reporter for CNN. She died Tuesday at the age of 67.

This Week in History

Alexander Graham Bell Born (March 3, 1847)

I bet even the inventor of the telephone would unplug once in a while. He would also probably be very confused that the phone is now being used for things like Tinder.

Elvis Presley’s First TV Appearance (March 5, 1955)

Many people think the King made his first TV appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. But that wasn’t even his first national appearance (that was on The Dorsey Brothers Stage Show in January 1956). His first appearance on any kind of TV was a year earlier on a local Louisiana show called Louisiana Hayride. No footage exists, but you can listen to audio here and here.

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: No Defrosting Ever (March 5, 1960)

Vintage refrigerator ad.

I still remember when freezers became jam-packed with ice and snow. Is it weird that I kinda miss that? (Answer: yes.)

Today Is National Frozen Food Day

And who do we have to thank for the day to celebrate the foods that we put in those freezers? President Ronald Reagan. He declared March 6 to be National Frozen Food Day back in 1984.

How can you celebrate? Step one: buy some frozen foods. Frozen veggies, frozen chicken and meat, TV dinners, frozen pizza. It’s hard to remember a time before Clarence Birdseye made our everyday lives so much easier.

Here’s a recipe from my favorite cookbook, Peg Bracken’s 1960 classic The I Hate To Cook Book, a book I’ve mentioned here before. It’s for Hellzapoppin Cheese Rice:

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons minced onion
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire
  • 1 pound grated sharp cheddar
  • 1 package chopped, cooked frozen spinach
  • 4 cups cooked rice
  • 1/2 stick melted butter
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • small pinch of thyme and marjoram

Beat the eggs until they’re light. Add milk and the seasonings. Fold in the cheese, spinach, and rice. Pour into a greased casserole dish. Pour melted butter over the top and cook in a 375 degree oven for 35 minutes.

And yes, to answer your question, Bracken did indeed write for the Post.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

Daylight Saving Time Begins at 2 a.m. (March 8)

Those two guys who want to change the calendar don’t want you to spring forward an hour either.

More Democratic Primaries and Caucuses (March 10)

If this week’s Super Tuesday wasn’t enough political drama for you, here’s part two, the day when voting takes place in Idaho, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, and Washington.

Featured image: Shutterstock

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  1. Oh my goodness, I made the rice dish last night and it was delicious! Very “retro” flavor. Thanks for sharing it!

  2. “Mr Sandman” is a delightful song, though I’ve always sensed it has a musical kinship to “Dream A Little Dream of Me,” from the 1920s. Having no musical training, I can’t begin to say why I think this. I’m certainly not implying plagiarism. I do, however, think some sort of relationship, probably chordal, exists, and again, wonder plaintively why it is I don’t know a musicologist.

  3. Bob, I tried unplugging on Saturday from reading the column Friday with mixed success. I’m sorry. With daily practice I should get better. Gradual might ease me and others, rather than all at once. I think Alexander Graham Bell would unplug permanently, he’d be so overwhelmed at what a nightmare his telephone has become.

    Bob M, I have an Absopure mini fridge at my job that’s frozen over too. Taking it outside to melt it away is a great idea. I agree with you on the spring forward and your remarks about changing the calendar. There’s just something about the way you say things in all of your comments in addition to what you say, I find fascinating and unique. Your third paragraph about the Johns Hopkins economists is a very good new example here. I point out your comments to my friends to read after a given article for your insights and more. Please promise to continue them.

  4. At my 1st job, we have a mini-fridge where the (upper) freezer portion is jam-packed with snow ice.

    On the next hot day, I’m taking it outside to let the sun defrost it.

  5. A national day of unplugging is a great concept. It’s good I’m writing this today then, isn’t it?! I want to read the articles in the new Post this weekend anyway. The idea of unplugging is good and may get a larger niche following if it isn’t just a one-shot thing.

    I like the name ‘Mrs. Dash’ and feel it should be left alone. ‘Dash’ is what Mr. Dash would have been called in the service! I think it’s unnecessary, but as long as the products remain the same it should be fine.

    It is NOT hard to believe what a calamity changing the calendar would make if those Johns Hopkins guys got their way! Too much time on their hands has been ticking away with their sanity, I say.

    Lee Evans Mand had the beautiful, perfect voice for ‘Mr. Sandman’, one of the ALL-time great songs! It’s fascinating how it has kind of a ’50s Doo-Wop sound, then goes into a ’40s big-band portion, then back again. The melody, harmony, arrangement, lyrics are phenomenal, Bob. Thanks for including it here!

    On the other hand, if the two Johns Hopkins scientists can get rid of spring forward (which by the way is still WINTER) that would be great! I HAAAAAAATE losing an hour. Too rushed as it is. It messes me up for several weeks. I even tried putting the clock back an hour a week early, getting to bed earlier. My friends have said “you’re fooling yourself” and I reply back “No, I’m not. That’s the problem!”


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