Friday, February 03, 2023

To market, to market. Non-shopping at Addie's.

My grandfather, Jake Wolf, was a butcher who built his meat market into a grocery store. I was not yet two when Grandpa died, so I have no recall of him at Wolf's Market. But I have a vivid picture in my mind of Jake Wolf, in his long white coat and jaunty paper white butcher's cap, beaming behind his meat counter. (I don't have a copy of this photo, but I can see it in my mind's eye as clearly as if I were holding it in my hand. My sister Trish couldn't find the one I had in mind - the one with the overhead lights bouncing off Grandpa's glasses, but she did find this one from an early vintage. When Jake Wolf's Market was just Jake Wolf's Butcher Shop, not a full blown grocery. That's Jake Wolf on the left. No idea who the other two guys are.


Somehow, the store stayed open after Jake Wolf's death.

Did my Uncle Jack have something to do with running it?  That's what my memory tells me. But Jack would have been just 21 years old when his father died. Is it possible he jumped in and kept the store going?

I do know that Wolf's Market did stay open because, fast forward a couple of years, and on my family's biannual trip to Chicago, we stopped by. Uncle Jack was there, as was my Uncle Bob - then maybe 15 or 16 years old - who was wearing a white apron, stocking shelves and packing boxes for delivery to customers. 

Jack or Bob gave us - my sister Kath and I, maybe my brother Tom - balloons. And not just any old balloon.

This one was in the shape (sort of) of a man and had cardboard feet, so that, when you tossed the balloon man up, it landed on its feet. 

Later "the boys" - as Jack and Bob were always called - turned the grocery store into a ship chandlers business, delivering groceries to Great Lakes merchant ships.

Fast forward a couple more years, and we went down to the Chicago piers and watched "the boys" making deliveries. I remember Bob hoisting a carton full of groceries on his shoulder, and walking up the gangway of a freighter.

So I knew from the get go that groceries could be delivered.

I also knew it because my family's groceries were delivered every Friday afternoon. Not, of course, from Wolf's Market, which was 1,000 miles from Worcester. But from Morris Market, a small non-chain grocery store that was probably a lot like Wolf's Market. 

It was owned by butcher Morris Burack, who manned the meat counter, and run by Morris, his wife, and their daughter and son-in-law. 

When my grandmother Wolf made her biannual trip to Worcester, she always made a beeline over to Morris Market to yack it up with Morris and his wife. Grandma prattled to them in German; they prattled back in Yiddish. 

Anyway, every Friday morning, my mother called her order in to the Morris Market. Every Friday afternoon, it was delivered to our house in a station wagon driven by the son-in-law, our neighbor Joey who worked there as a teenager, or - later on - by one of Morris' grandsons as they got old enough.

So when online grocery shopping began, and was positioned as an industry disruptor, my reaction was pretty much 'meh.' 

Who'da thunk that my mother was in the vanguard? Liz and the folks who called in their orders to Wolf's Market or Morris Market all those decades ago.

Personally, I have zero desire to order online (or by phone, for that matter). 

Even during the throes of the pandemic, I masked up and trekked off to the grocery story during their early morning geezer hours. Heavy items in my backpack, lighter items in my recyclable shopping bags. Who needs delivery?

Basically, I really don't trust anyone to shop the way I do.

Are they going to examine the "best by" dates stamped on bread, egg, milk? The "packed on" dates on cut fruit? Are they going to eyeball the peppers for the best looking one? 

If there's no quart of Brigham's Mocha Almond ice cream, will they know enough to substitute a pint of Ben & Jerry's Cherry Garcia and/or Talenti Pistachio? Or are they going to make an error in judgement and swap in Brigham's Mocha Chip?

Are they going to make spur of the moment 'why not?' decisions and spring for scallops for dinner?

So, I'm not a candidate for online shopping that's delivered to my door. And, even if I had a car and lived in the suburbs, I'm not a candidate to shop at Addie's, the new kid in town when it comes to innovative grocery concepts. Addie's just opened what it hopes to be the first of 2,000 stores in a suburban town south of Boston.

From the outside, Addie's just looks like same old/same old online shopping experience. They don't deliver - you drive-by and pick up your order - but that doesn't look a lot different than curbside pickup.

But Addie's looks different from the inside. Because no one can physically go into Addie's and push a cart around, the aisles are narrower. And an algorithm has determined what food goes where, so items aren't logically grouped. No canned corn near canned beans; no flour near sugar and other baking needs. Instead, the aisles are optimized for speedy pickup by the "shoppers." (For now, these are humans, but this model has AI/robot written all over it.)

Anyway, here's what Addie's has to say:
We built Addie’s because we value your time, your money, and your food – so nothing goes to waste.

Traditional grocery stores are designed for display and distraction: Spend more! Pick me! And online options are designed for convenience with few guarantees: Add to your cart and hope we have it in stock!

Addie’s is designed to be different. We’re offering you a shopping experience that’s faster than traditional supermarkets, more accurate than other online options, and easier to fit into your life than delivery or curbside.

We’ve reimagined every aspect of our operation to ensure orders are fresh, complete, and priced competitively. We also pride ourselves on a customer-curated selection that reflects your preferences and suggestions. And we do it all sustainably – using just a quarter of the energy required of regular supermarkets.

It’s a delightful experience we call drive-up grocery – all the convenience of ordering online, without any of the compromise. (Source: Addie's)
They're big differentiator is that inventory is updated in real time. If they don't have exactly what you want, you'll know right away. No finding out what's missing when the order's delivered. Or worse, having to put up with a substitute you don't want. So good. But great? Disruption-worthy?

The inspiration for Addie's came to co-founder/CEO Jim McQuade - a Harvard MBA with a couple of science degrees from Princeton; i.e., a pretty bright guy - when "his wife asked him to pick up a few items at the supermarket on his way home.
"It took me 25 minutes to get what we needed and to get home," he said. "The kids were hungry. I was late. It was not a great experience." (Source: NBC Boston)
McQuade tried the concept out a while back - and failed, attributing the failure to the market not yet being ready for this sort of market. Now, post-covid, he believes the moment has arrived. 

I don't see that Addie's is so different and breakthrough when compared to online grocery shopping. 

Yes, it's good to learn in real time whether something's available or not. But is that such a big lure?

Maybe if I were a working mom with a couple of kids, desperate to save any time where and when I could, I'd feel different. But, meh-squared.

But what do I know?

Addie's has received $10.1M in seed funding from the late Clay Christensen's venture fund. Christensen was a Harvard B-School professor who came up with the concept of "innovative disruption" (e.g., Uber and Lyft vs. medallion cabs; now that was a disrupter!) and whose 1997 book The Innovator's Dilemma had a major impact on business thinking.

So the smart money - at least $10.1M worth of it - is on Addie's.

We'll see. 

As for me? I'll just keep schlepping over to Roach Brothers, examining the "best by" dates and reaching back into the recess of the shelves looking for whatever's freshest.

Thursday, February 02, 2023

Nice try, Janaye!

Well, it's Groundhog Day, so it's no surprise to see an online scam pop its head out.

Mine was from someone going by the handle Janaye, who emailed to tell me:

You’re Yearly Product Subscription FOR McAfee Computer Security Has Been AND Updated Successfully
You're Yearly Product???? 

Has Been AND Updated?

You're got to be kidding me. One would think that international scam artists would hire someone who was a tad more familiar with the English language.

And you'd think that any scammer worth their salt would use a fake email address - something like janaye@mcafeescam.com - that looked a bit more professional and authentic than janayeXXXX@gmail.com. Not to mention send the email directly to my email address, rather than bcc-ing me on a generic customerXXXX@gmail.com.

Anyway, I was informed that my subscription would be renewing in the next day or so, and I would be charged - get this - $399.65. Which is an order of magnitude greater than what one would pay for a box o' McAfee.

Oh, Janaye, you're - or is it your - out of your fake scammin' mind if you think I'd pay this for that. I mean, I make some crazy purchase mistakes, but this ain't going to be one of them.

The kicker, of course, is that if I want to cancel my nonexistent subscription "and Claim A Refund" I should "Call Refund & Settlement Dept."

I should "Call Refund & Settlement Dept.?"

Who wrote this email? Boris Badenov? Or was it Natasha Nogoodnik?

And I should call and give you my credit card info so you can reverse the charges? 

Let me get on that right away.

I can see how people can get sucked into these scams. They're distracted. They're busy. They're panicked they're going to be stuck with this crazy overcharge. 

Even reasonably bright and savvy folks, under the right conditions, could fall for this. 

Which is what Janaye, Boris, and Natasha are banking on. 

This scam has been rolling around for a few years, by the way. And McAfee - the real McAfee (you know, the security company founded by the late nutter John McAfee) - has something to say about it:

Sorry for the inconvenience caused. We would like to inform you that McAfee communicates with the customer with e-mail address ending with (domain) mcafee.com.

This e-mail is not legitimate so we request you to move this e-mail to the spam folder so that the sender will be blocked from sending mail to your e-mail address in future.

Not to worry!

As for Janaye: nice try! 

Wednesday, February 01, 2023

Amazon Frown? Not really.

My first reaction when I heard that, later this month, Amazon will be terminating its AmazonSmile charity program, was that those cheapo bastards are out of Jeff Bezos' mind. Through Smile, which has been around since 2013, Amazon shoppers could direct donations representing a half percent of what they're spending to a charity of their choosing.

Nonprofits great and small could register. Any organization with a tax id - from big kahunas like the ASPCA way down to your local pet shelter - could get themselves on the list. The democratization of giving. Yay! (Hate groups need not apply. However, some covid-denier groups managed to slip in and collect $42K to spend on spreading misinformation.)

While it's pretty easy to sign up to receive, I found it was a bit clumsy to sign up to direct my donations. Still, I managed to do so for two local charities I volunteer with. 

I do plenty of shopping on Amazon, so multiply my spending by a kabillion Amazon shoppers, and that 0.5% can add up. And over the 10 years it was around, over $400M went to charity.

Just not to Amazon's satisfaction. And, lets face it, a complete pittance when compared to Amazon's revenue, which for 2022 alone was roughly $500B. (Amazon does direct community philanthropy as well.)

One of Amazon's concerns was that the donations were "spread too thin." With hundreds of thousands of registered charities taking part in Smile, this is true. 

Over the years, the program distributed hundreds of millions of dollars to nonprofit organizations, including St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the American Cancer Society, and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The ASPCA said in February that it had raised $10 million through Amazon’s program. (Source: WaPo)

Them's the winners. On the other hand:
...only four groups — the ASPCA, St. Jude’s, the Nature Conservancy and the American Red Cross — received more than $1 million. Only 24 secured more than $100,000, while about 230 got more than $10,000. Thousands of churches, neighborhood associations, animal shelters and little leagues received just $5.

I can't imagine that, however automated the process is, it doesn't cost more than $5 to process an aggregate donation amount of $5.

Moving forward, to ease the pain, Amazon will give each impacted organization approximately one-quarter of what they received in 2022. Which may translate into $1.25 for your local little league. Sweet!)

I used to know what "my" charities received through this program. More than $5, for sure. But I've forgotten the numbers. Maybe one of them has collected $10K over the years? Maybe not?

All I know that it wasn't a major gain to receive Amazon money, and it won't be a major loss when it's gone. (I did read that a few small charities that received $1K or so do feel that they'll miss it.)

Since its launch, “the program has not grown to create the impact that we had originally hoped,” the company said, adding that it will still “pursue and invest in other areas where we’ve seen we can make meaningful change” such as affordable housing, education and food-assistance programs.

Although I was certainly prepared to be shrilly outraged when I heard AmazonSmile would be no more, it actually does make sense to close it down. 

Except that it was a way to let people do some "feel good" shopping, which seems like a loss for us shoppers - hey, I'm buying something stupid that I don't need, but St. Francis House will get $.50 - and maybe folks did shop a bit more because of it. (Although just not enough to make up for the cost of administering the program.)

Maybe they'll come up with something similar, but just not make it an everyone's invited to play program. Pick a couple of dozen charities that no one can object to - ASPCA, St. Jude's - and let us Amazon-ers send a few bucks their way. It could add up pretty nicely. Just a thought.

I harbor no illusion that Amazon is a benevolent organization, motivated by goodness. I'm sure they had an angle in mind when they set AmazonSmile up. And I'm sure they had an angle in mind when they turned it into AmazonFrown.

Even though I would have preferred entering into a high dudgeon snit when I read the news, I just don't blame them for their decision.

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

The latest goat

When it comes to sports, there are goats and then there is the G.O.A.T.

One is a good thing. That would be G.O.A.T., which stands for the Greatest of All Time, and is applied, often with great reverence, to a truly amazing athlete. As in Tom Brady.

Although I was happy enough when the Patriots, thanks in no small part, to the magic that was Number 12, were thrilling the locals with all those Super Bowl wins, I don't especially like Tom Brady. Yet when it comes to quarterbacks, it's hard to argue that Brady isn't the Greatest of All Time. In his prime, the man just amazed me with his sangfroid, his stunning mental toughness, the absolute brilliance with which he performed extraordinary feats of quarterbackery. 

So, there are G.O.A.T.s. Or at least there is one indisputable one.

And then there are goats, the athletes who screw something up, in a big and public way, at a crucial moment. And the something they screw up becomes the proximate cause of a big, public loss.

Oh, there have been plenty goats over the years, the most famous local goat-o being Bill Buckner. Buckner (in)famously  let the ball go through his legs, resulting in the Red Sox losing a World Series to the Mets that they should have won. As it turned out, losing in 1986 made winning in 2004 all the sweeter. And Buckner was welcomed back to Boston. But he will always be remembered for the one, brief, unshining moment when he became the Boston Red Sox' goat.

G.O.A.T.s are few and far between, but there's always a new goat being made. And the latest is Joseph Oassi, a young - very young - defensive end for the Cincinnati Bengals. 

On Sunday, the Bengals played the Kansas City Chiefs for the conference championship and the opportunity to play in the Super Bowl.

The game, in its last few seconds, looked like it was going to go into overtime when Oassi hit Kansas City QB Patrick Mahomes when Mahomes was out of bounds. A late hit's a big no-no, and it resulted in a 15 yard penalty that put the Chiefs in field goal range. Which they took advantage of, and won the game.

Oassi is just 22, and - since he spent most of last season on the injured reserve list - this is his first full season in the NFL. 

He's had a good year, and played a good game. Up until the moment when, carried along by momentum and maybe not even realizing that he'd already chased Mahomes out of bounds, he brought Mahomes down. 

And brought the rath of Cincinnati Bengals fans down on his head, big time.

There was Oassi, in what may have been the worst moment of his young life, crying on the sidelines. There was Oassi in the locker room, sitting there with a towel covering his face. There was Oassi, getting called every name in the book on Twitter.

Sure, he makes a ton of money, but I feel bad for Joseph Oassi.

Who among us hasn't screwed something up at work?

I know I did. Making a bad hire against my boss' advice. Okaying a brochure - back in the day when brochures were printed - that had a big old homonym spell-o on the first page. 

I'm sure I could come up with plenty more.

But my professional errors were mostly just known to me and a few colleagues. And I'm betting no one remembers them other than me. Goat-ness was fleeting. Unlike the goat-ness that attaches to a professional athlete. Sure, the mistake will eventually be forgiven by most,  but not forgotten. 

Just ask Bill Buckner. Or you could, if he were still alive. Tragically, he died a few years back, just short of his 70th birthday of Lewy Body Dementia. (Ugh!) Predictably, the news articles on his death all mentioned the ball-through-the-legs episode.

JosephOassi seems like a nice young man, and he didn't try to duck responsibility for his momentary lapse. 

And, of course, it's not his fault that the Bengals missed other opportunities throughout the game that put them in a position where they could lose at the last moment. The Bengals young quarterback was sacked repeatedly, so maybe they lost because of the failures of the O line.

Alas, Joseph Oassi will likely be forever associated with this loss.

I hope he takes heart from knowing that, sooner or later - maybe even at the upcoming Super Bowl - there'll be a new goat on the block.

Monday, January 30, 2023

First, do no harm?

There's been a lot of hysteria of late - at least social media hysteria - about the covid/vax deniers who are posting videos that purport to show themselves having severe tremors as a result of getting the jab. 

These TikToks aren't very artful, and they aren't very believable. They've been debunked by neurologists et al. as low-grade fakery. Bad acting in every sense of the word.

Other than that, there hasn't been a ton of wacky news on the covid front of late. Either there just isn't any, or it's getting drowned out by more critical news. Gun massacres. FBI corruption. Looming Congressional witch hunts.

And then emerged the story about the Utah plastic surgeon who's just been with selling bogus CDC immunization cards. Dr. Michael Kirk Moore, Jr. and his crew - two office colleagues (a coordinator and a receptionist), and a neighbor -  allegedly cash-cowed their way to nearly $100K. That translates into 2,000 fake cards. 

Unlike some of the earlier covid scams - and there were plenty of stories about fake vax cards back in the day when vax cards were still a thing - Moore's story has a couple of additional sinister twists. For one thing, to make it seem that Moore's office was legitimately dispensing shots:

The group allegedly destroyed about $28,000 or more in government-provided COVID-19 doses, usually by squirting syringes containing doses down sink drains, court documents said. (Source: ABC News)

Remember when we were all frantically looking for vaccination appointments? And this a-hole was squirting Moderna down the drain?

Whatever happened to first, do no harm?  

Then there were the saline shots, which were administered to some of the children of those seeking fake cards. Their ultra-concerned parents wanted their kids to believe they'd been vaccinated. Presumably the kiddos weren't sophisticated enough thinkers to agree with their parents that they should just say no to vaccination. Either that or their parents feared that the kids were blabbermouths who would brag about having a real fake vaccination card and get their folks into trouble. 

Moore and one of his fellow schemers - his neighbor, Kristin Jackson Andersen - were part of a group that was "trying to 'liberate the medical profession from government and industry conflicts of interest.'"

Right.

Pretty interesting that Moore was a plastic surgeon, the wing of the medical professional most likely to be given over to fakery. Or, at least, to vanity rather than necessity.  

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, in 2020, cosmetic procedures outnumbered reconstructive procedures 15.6 million to 6.8 million. Granted the vast majority of those cosmetic procedures were minimally invasive treatments like botox. But there's an awful lot of tummy tuck, lipo, and facelift in there.

Not that I'm opposed to cosmetic procedures. One of my best friends regularly goes for botox injections. And people are entitled to try to look their best. If it makes you feel better, have at it. That said, we've all seen pictures - like the cat lady, the Ken doll twins - of too much of a good thing.

And full disclosure: I've apparently had a surgical procedure that's considered cosmetic. In 2015, after experiencing an awful lot of eye fatigue, I had eyelid surgery. In order for Medicare to pay for it, you had to take a special eye test. I passed the test - or was it flunked? - so Medicare paid the tab. I wasn't aware this was considered cosmetic. Other than that: no botox for me, thanks. I'm going the aging in place route, wrinkles, gray hair, and all.

Anyway, it was no surprise to me that Dr. Michael Kirk Moore, Jr.'s expertise is squarely on the cosmetic side of the house. 

Throughout his educational journey, Dr. Moore devoted himself to excellence. His training in the discipline of cosmetic surgical techniques is unequaled. (Source: Plastic Surgery Institute of Utah)

Is it just me, or is the use of the term "educational journey" a bogosity signal?

Weirdly, in setting out his bona fides, Moore's bio notes that his medical degree comes from the University of Miami med school, which is described as "reputable."

Maybe there's a Joe Blow Fly-by-Night School of Medicine out there, but I don't think I've ever heard an educational institution categorized as "reputable."

His main area of expertise is breast augmentation, but he offers a "full library" of "aesthetic enhancements:"

Dr. Moore is largely known for his work with breast augmentations, breast lifts, breasts revisions, tummy tucks, rhinoplasties, CoolSculpting, injections (such as BOTOX and Juvéderm), and advanced weight loss techniques (such as ORBERA and Obalon)....
No matter what type of enhancement areas you are seeking, Dr. Moore can make that dream a reality!

So I guess it was a natural extension of his work and ethos to help those who dreamed about getting the benefits of holding a vaccination card without taking the shot. (Remember when you had to show one to get into a restaurant?) He's all about turning dreams in to reality.

He may or may not be going to prison. He may or may not be losing his license. But thanks to his covid vaccination card - and saline injection - fakery, what might be turning into reality for Moore is his worst nightmare.

Friday, January 27, 2023

The ice castle business may be melting away

Ask me how I feel in a few weeks if February turns out to be, well, February. But so far, I miss winter.

After all, I'm a New Englander. A four separate and distinct seasons New Englander. 

Sure, we have snow in May, Indian Summer, January thaws.

But in the winter, while it may vary from year to year, we get cold, and we get snow.

So far, we've had precious little of either.

Which, admittedly, makes it easier to go out and take long walks. And it saves on heating.

But I miss winter.

And I'm pretty sure that the folks with winter-related businesses miss it a lot more than I do.

One of these business is Ice Castles New Hampshire

I don't have kids or grandkids, so I haven't spent a lot of time at this sort of attraction, but Ice Castles, which has five locations in the US (cold places only: UT, NY, WI, MN) looks like fun. 

Even a chickenshit like me knows that it would be fun to whoosh down an ice slide. To crawl through ice tunnels. To meander around an ice maze. 

I'd like to ooh and aah at the "Mystic Forest Light Walk", an illuminated path. I'd like snow tubing, which looks like an even funner version of the flying saucer sliding of my childhood. And when it's coldy and snowy, well, that's 'lovely weather for a sleigh ride together with you.'

Unfortunately, New England weather has been lovely. Just not lovely weather for a sleigh ride, or snow tubing, or ice tunneling. 

For Ice Castles New Hampshire, the unseasonal weather has meant delaying their opening by a couple of weeks.

They're hoping to open today - chilled fingers and frozen toes crossed - but even a few missing weeks makes a difference when your season (January - March) is so short. 
"The opening date has been pushed back due to the weather," Melissa Smuzynski, a spokesperson for the Ice Castles, said in an email to NBC10 Boston on Tuesday. "We are now targeting the end of January or early February."

The tentative opening date had been this Thursday, Jan. 19, which was already later than the attraction opened last year. (Source: NBC Boston)
When I checked, the Ice Castles at Lake George, NY hasn't opened yet either. Guess they're not quite close enough to the Buffalo weather belt. Utah, Minnesota, and Wisconsin are up and running, and Wisconsin is even sold out for it's peak season. 

Seasonal businesses are tough. My husband's family ran a golf course, and a couple of bad weather weeks could break - and a couple of early or late fair-weather weeks could make - the year. 

So I know that seasonal businesses all skate on thin ice. 

Especially those counting on New England winter to be New England winter. 

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Is it werewolf or weirdwolf?

As we see time and time and time and again, people are weird. Really weird. 

And some people are really, really weird. Like really. 

Really.

Case in point, the fellow in Japan who has dreamed, from the time he was a little boy, of being an animal.
The man was delighted when he finally got to wear the gray and white costume modelled on a timber wolf and created by Zeppet Workshop, which cost three million yen (£18,600). (Source: Telegraph-UK)

In case you're wondering, that's about $23K.  

The costume is a full body suit, covering the man from head to toe.
He said: "At the final fitting, I was amazed at my transformed self in the mirror.

"My order to look like a real wolf walking on hind legs was difficult to say the least but the complete suit looked exactly like what I imagined." 

I wish there'd been more info on exactly what this fellow had in mind in terms of always wanting to be an animal.

Once he dons the suit, does he really feel something other than human?

Sure, people may react to him differently than they do when he's walking around in standard issue clothing (e.g., a salary-man business suit) or even in his birthday suit. I can imagine that if he's loping along, even if it's not exactly at the same speed as a real wolf-in-the wild, and someone spots him, there's a bit of a fear factor reaction. 

Does this make the wolfman feel powerful? 

Wolves are carnivores. Does wolfman hunt for meat? Is he quick and savvy enough to catch a mouse? A rabbit? A deer?

And do wolves stand on their hind legs? Or, by standing, is this guy just waltzing around in a really expensive cos-play costume.

Just what does on in this guy's mind?

Is he just a variant on a furry - someone who's interested (sometimes fetishistically) in anthropomorphic animal characters? Or something else?

I'm all for anthropomorphisizing animals. Who among us who's ever known an animal up close and personal hasn't imposed at least a tiny bit of humanity on them?

But I draw the line at pretending to be Daisy Duck or Petunia Pig or RinTinTin.

Maybe an animal who's closer to us DNA-wise. Like bonobos. 

Long story. I've made the acquaintance of a few bonobos - a.k.a. pygmy chimpanzees - in my time. And during that time, I did occasionally ask myself what might be going on in their minds. (Bonobos have nearly 99% of their DNA in common with ours. Wolves share about 84%. Petunia Pig, as a cartoon animal, shares approximately 0%, as she has no DNA to share.)

But perhaps because I'm singularly lacking in imagination, it never occurred to me to wonder what it's like to actually be one.

Some things I just don't get. 

Anyway, Zeppet Workshop is a Japanese company that actually doesn't specialize in costumes for really weird people.

They do a lot of cool and interesting things around robotics and animatronics, digital models, special displays, and costumes for normie stuff like making realistic animals for use in ads. (You really don't want, say, a grizzly bear breaking bread - or anything else it cares to break - in an ad for, say, honey.)

But Zeppet was happy to help the would-be wolfman out. And he's happy as a pig in shit, to borrow another image from the animal kingdom.

When he put on his costume:

"It was a kind of excitement I have not felt for a long time."

This figures. After all, when I first read this story, I asked myself whether this guy is someone whose girlfriend is an anime pillow that goes everywhere with him. And wondered whether he was going to get a wolf suit for his anime pillow GF, too. (Interesting, my brother-in-law had the same reaction.)

For wolfman, this dream was a wish his heart made years ago. And:

 "Thanks to the studio, one of my childhood dreams has come true."

Hmmm. Wonder what other dreams Howlin' Wolf has had. 

On second thought, I'd put those dreams on a 'need to know' basis. And I don't need to know.

So I do have one question: is it werewolf or weirdwolf?

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A shout out - make that a howl - goes to my sister Kath, who spotted this article and sent it my way. Awoo!