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Modern Living: Odds & Trends

3 minute read

New Brews. As rising coffee prices break through the $3-per-lb. barrier, consumers are eying all kinds of exotic substitutes. Celestial Seasonings in Boulder, Colo., offers two: Roastaroma Mocha Spice, made of roasted barley, malt, chicory, dandelion root, carob and spices; and Morning Thunder, a concoction of black tea and a South American herb called yerba mate. An Orlando, Fla., businessman, George Sarantakos, is getting ready to market Bravo, an herbal mix that can be drunk alone or used to stretch out real coffee. It tastes like supermarket instant and, says Sarantakos, is made partly from “weeds we can pick up anywhere.”

Medipet. San Francisco pet owners who feel distempered by runaway veterinary costs can now sign up for Medipet, a prepaid insurance plan for dogs and cats. For $68 a year, pets are covered for routine treatment such as physical exams, rabies shots, defleaing and worming—all of which can cost up to $100 a year without insurance. They also get prescription drugs and emergency hospital care. Medipet founder Paul E. Murray Jr. says some 13,000 pets are put to death in the U.S. each day because their owners cannot afford vet bills. Murray, who started the San Francisco program last October, hopes to extend his coverage nationwide. To ensure the program against ripoffs, pets entitled to benefits get a ten-digit number tattooed on one ear.

Minitube. For anyone who wants to make Howard Cosell smaller than life, the answer is Microvision, a new pocket-size TV set from England, which will go on sale in the U.S. next month. Developed by Britain’s Sinclair Radionics, the 26½ oz., minitube measures 6 in. by 4 in. by 1½in., which calls for an ample pocket. Says Inventor Clive Sinclair, who also pioneered in developing the pocket calculator: “It’s not a toy, but a perfect set for the businessman.” The battery-powered sets are designed to operate in both the U.S. and Europe. Thus a traveling executive can catch the evening news on his way to Kennedy Airport and the early bulletins next morning in London or Paris. All he needs is the $300 purchase price. And perhaps a magnifying glass to make out the lilliputian, sometimes blurry, figures on Microvision’s 2-in. screen.

Open Letters. Richard Nixon’s handwriting is just terrible, and so was J.F.K.’s. The penmanship of most Americans is not much better. According to the Writing Instrument Manufacturers Association, many thousands of federal tax returns are held up each year because the IRS cannot make out the pigeon-track figures on the tax forms. Illegible handwriting, claims W.I.M.A., is responsible for annual U.S. business losses of more than $100 million in garbled records, billing mistakes and unreadable bookkeeping entries. W.I.M.A., whose members make pens, pencils and felt-tipped markers, has launched a campaign to battle the epidemic of indecipherable script. The association urges the nation’s scribblers to slow down, make their letters open and rounded, cross t’s and watch out for the troublesome trio: a, e and r. The time to turn over this new leaf is Jan. 23, National Handwriting Day—which also happens to be John Hancock’s birthday.

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